DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

Barbara Hall contradicts Attorney General's Claim
that She Supports his Human Rights Reform Proposal

April 13, 2006



In a public statement posted on the Ontario Human rights Commission's website, Chief Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall has made it clear that she has not expressed support for the Ontario Government's proposal to provide "direct access" to the Human Rights Tribunal.

She plans to await all details regarding any reform proposal before expressing a view on it. See her statement below, obtained from the OHRC website.

This public statement directly contradicts Attorney General Michael Bryant's earlier claim that Chief Commissioner Hall supported his proposal.

In the Ontario Legislature on Monday April 10, 2006, the Attorney General said (responding to a question from Opposition Leader John Tory):

"That's why many people, including past commissioners of the Ontario Human Rights Commission as well as the current human rights commissioner, Barbara Hall -- whom I know Mr. Tory has experience of and some respect for -- are supportive of moving forward on direct access."

This shows that there is even less support for the Attorney General's proposal for weakening the Human Rights Commission than he had claimed.

Here is what is now posted on www.ohrc.on.ca

OHRC - Chief Commissioner clarifies that statements regarding direct access are inaccurate

April 13, 2006

I would like to clarify my position regarding support for any proposed model to amend the human rights system. Recent reports suggest that I support the direct access model. These statements are inaccurate. I do not support any specific system, and will not until all of the parameters are made public. Any reform must be based on international principles and involve all affected communities.

As you know, the Commission has long requested changes to help it be more effective in the delivery of its services to the public. We have publicly welcomed change, in particular, the government's goals to improve and strengthen the human rights system, its focus on systemic issues, on the promotion and advancement of human rights and on the improvement of the enforcement of the Code. We will continue to work with the Attorney General to achieve these stated goals.

At the same time, I strongly believe that any change must build on the strengths of the existing system, and not jeopardize the international leadership this province has shown in protecting groups and individuals against discrimination. This will be essential to the Commission's support for any reform.

In this ongoing process, I would urge every interested party to continue the discussion in a positive way and identify the change necessary for a system that will meet the needs of the people of Ontario.

Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)
Chief Commissioner

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