DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

Human Rights Now Only Available In Ontario
If You Can Afford It

Ontario Federation of Labour Press Release

April 27, 2006



(TORONTO) - "Human Rights legislation introduced in the Ontario legislature yesterday will only make matters worse for the very people the Commission was set up to help," said Terry Downey, executive vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

"Under the guise of 'direct access' to a Human Rights Tribunal this legislation only allows access to a court - not justice," Downey said. "This is privatization of a publicly funded human rights system. These amendments to the Code serve to Americanize the system - just like the government's plans to privatize Ontario's health care."

"The fundamental role of any Human Rights system is to make it as completely accessible as possible to all people who have a complaint. The Legislation before the House will do no such thing. It takes away previously guaranteed rights to free resources that include investigation, mediation and legal support. This Legislation even allows the Tribunal to charge user fees," Downey said. "If you're wealthy enough to afford a lawyer, your case will probably get to the Tribunal - otherwise - forget it."

"Under this model the Tribunal becomes the investigator, the Judge, the Jury and the ultimate decision-maker in deciding if a case should move forward. The Tribunal has the final say - there is no appeal.

"We are once again calling on the government to rethink this legislation and hold broad extensive public hearings. Human rights and justice are on the chopping block in Ontario. This is a crisis. We're asking the government to slow down, to reconsider and to talk to the people in the province. The state of human rights defines a society and how it treats its citizens. This legislation must be halted immediately," Downey said.

More Information:

Dana Boettger
OFL Communications

Terry Downey
OFL Executive Vice-President
416.578.3230 (cellular)


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