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Human Rights in Canada: An Historical Perspective

The Birth of Human Rights Codes

Toronto, Ontario

In 1962, the province of Ontario repealed most of its human rights laws in order to make way for the Ontario Human Rights Code - the first comprehensive human rights code in Canada. The Saskatchewan Bill of Rights Act in 1947 and the Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960 were general laws that affirmed the existence of certain rights but lacked the enforcement mechanisms, penalties, and punishments provided in Ontario's new code.

The Ontario Human Rights Code marks the beginning of modern human rights protection in Canada as it exists in the year 2000. It sends the message that discrimination is a public matter. As such, victims of discrimination receive the full support of the government of Ontario in the shape of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Finally, discrimination is recognized as a serious issue.

Did you know?

The Ontario Human Rights Code:

  • prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, colour, nationality, ancestry or place of origin - but not sex
  • is the first human rights act to provide a full time staff to administer it
  • creates an independent Human Rights Commission to ensure that the Code is complied with

" A right without a remedy is no right."

Legal maxim

Want to know more?

Ontario Human Rights Code S.O. 1961-62, c.93