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Posted by on Dec 2015 in Advocacy, All Stories, Features | 0 comments

ONPHA welcomes Ontario’s new Chief Commissioner of Human Rights

Ontario greeted Renu Mandhane as its new Chief Commissioner of Human Rights on November 2, 2015. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) works to promote, protect and advance human rights through research, education, targeted legal action and policy development. Contrary to common belief, the Commission does not deal with individual complaints. In 2008 complaints, such as discrimination in accommodation began to be heard at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Mandhane leaves her previous job as executive director of the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program. She was active advisor to PEN International – the world’s leading association of writers, working to promote literature and defend freedom of expression around the world.  She was also a member Canada Committee of Human Rights Watch.

As a passionate advocate of women’s human rights and an international human rights law expert Mandhane is a perfect fit for her new role. She has already spoken to ONPHA about the OHRC, signaling her interest in continuing the Commission’s focus on rental housing. We anticipate she will readily engage with ONPHA in addressing the issues that impact the non-profit housing sector.

According to Mandhane, the OHRC has a range of plain language resources geared to landlords and to tenants. These can be found in the OHRC’s Rental Housing brochure and Policy on Human Rights and Rental Housing.

The Policy outlines some key human rights principles:

  • Design inclusively, and create no new barriers
  • Identify and remove existing barriers
  • Maximize integration
  • Assess and accommodate individual needs short of undue hardship

The Policy also outlines how landlords can advance human rights in housing by taking a number of steps to prevent and address human rights in rental housing by developing:

  • Anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies
  • Plans for reviewing and removing barriers
  • Procedures for responding to accommodation requests
  • Procedures for resolving disputes quickly and effectively
  • Education and training programs.

Mandhane also stressed the OHRC is committed to using its mandate to address issues that impact social housing providers such as the influence of zoning bylaws or NIMBYism. Further, she confirms that the Commission is open to hearing concerns and feedback. Mandhane recognizes that ONPHA and its members are key partners in ensuring that people who are marginalized on Code-related grounds such as age, sex and race have access to housing. ONPHA will be sure to make the most of this openness and stay connected with Mandhane and the Commission!

For tools to help you meet your legislative requirements in the area of human rights, ONPHA members can contact us at member.support@onpha.org.

Resources for ONPHA members:

Duty to accommodate under the Human Rights Code
RTA Human Rights case study
Human rights and tenant selection

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