Discrimination on the basis of personal characteristics


The right to equal treatment and opportunities without discrimination in the areas of goods, services and facilities, housing, contracts, employment and membership in trade and vocational associations is governed by the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Canadian Human Rights Act may also apply.

  • Discrimination means to treat someone differently because of some characteristic under the Code
  • You may be discriminated against if you are treated unfairly, denied a benefit, excluded, disadvantaged or have had obligations imposed upon you that others have not
  • You have the right to not be discriminated against on the basis of any of the following Code grounds:

    • race
    • ancestry
    • place of origin
    • colour
    • ethnic origin
    • citizenship
    • creed (faith, religion or system of beliefs)
    • sex (including gender identity)
    • receipt of public assistance (like OW)
    • you have children
    • sexual orientation
    • age
    • marital status
    • family status
    • disability (or perceived disability)

  • However, there are some situations where discrimination is allowed. You can be discriminated against if the reasons for the discrimination are reasonable and bona fide.
  • You have the right to not be discriminated against:
    • when you receive goods or services or use public facilities from businesses, the government, community agencies and other organizations in Ontario
    • when you buy, sell, rent or are being evicted from housing
    • when you offer, accept, pay for or reject a contract
    • when you apply for a job, are recruited, trained, transferred, promoted, dismissed or laid off
    • when you join a union, professional association or vocational association
    • when you associate with another person identified by a Code ground
  • If you have a Code need, such as a disability, employers, landlords and service providers have the duty to accommodate you up to the point of undue hardship
  • You have the right to be free from:
    • harassment in housing and the workplace
    • sexual harassment in housing and the workplace
    • unwanted sexual advances made a person in a position of power in housing and the workplace
    • reprisal or threat of reprisal for rejecting such unwanted advances
  • You have the right to contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, Canadian Human Rights Commission, consult a lawyer or make a human rights complaint, without reprisal or threat of reprisal, if you believe your rights have been violated
  • To complain about a federally regulated organization, contact the Canadian Human Rights Commission
    • Federally regulated entities include: airlines, radio, television stations, banks, shipping lines, federal civil service and railways

Learn more

  1. Decide if your legal problem relates to discrimination based on personal characteristics.
  2. Read Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about your rights and discrimination.
  3. Follow the Steps for instructions on how to enforce your rights.
  4. Review the Resources to find new and in-depth legal information.
  5. See the Links for news and other helpful websites

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DisclaimerLast updated 07/30/2009