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Remedies available for human rights violations

Region: Ontario Answer # 835

If discrimination or harassment is proven, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) has very broad powers to order parties to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the Ontario Human Rights Code is complied with.

The purpose of human rights remedies is not to punish the wrongdoer but to put complainants into the position that they would otherwise have been in if the discrimination had not occurred. The Code protects people in Ontario from discrimination and harassment in five circumstances or social areas: employment; obtaining housing; obtaining goods, services and facilities; contracts; and, membership in trade and vocational associations. Both monetary and non-monetary remedies are available.

Monetary remedies

There are three monetary remedies that can be ordered by the HRTO. The applicant may receive money for:

  1. Restitution and compensation for money that the individual lost or was forced to spend because of the discrimination, such as lost wages and benefits, increased rent, or moving expenses;
  2. General damages, including the right to be free from discrimination, and injury to the person’s dignity, feelings and self-respect as a result of the discrimination; and
  3. Interest on any of these remedies.

If the HRTO determines that there are multiple instances of discrimination or harassment, multiple awards of general damages may be ordered. Also, the $10,000 limit for compensatory awards for mental anguish was removed in 2006. However, the monetary awards by the HRTO are still seen by some as being too low. As a result, many human rights complaints are actually pursued in the courts where it is perceived that higher amounts will be awarded.

Non-monetary remedies

Non-monetary remedies involve the HRTO ordering the respondent to “do” something. Examples of non-monetary remedies include:

  • correcting the discriminatory behaviour,
  • job reinstatement,
  • provide housing to the applicant,
  • allow the applicant to become a member, etc.


Public interest remedies

Another type of remedy is called a public interest remedy to ensure future compliance with the Code. This type of remedy does not always benefit the applicant directly but rather is an action that the respondent can be ordered to take to prevent similar discrimination from happening in the future. A public interest remedy can be requested by the applicant in the application, or ordered by the HRTO on its own initiative. Examples of public interest remedies include:

  • changing hiring practices,
  • developing new policies,
  • developing human rights policies and complaint process, and
  • requiring human rights training for staff and management.

For more information, visit the following websites: the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, or the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Warning, for employment and housing purposes, it is legal to discriminate against someone who has a criminal record. To prevent discrimination, erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you need help filing a human rights complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), or with other Court proceedings, contact our preferred experts, George Brown Professional Corporation .

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