The Ontario Human Rights Commission has released its report
entitled Minds that matter: Report on the consultation on human
rights, mental health and addictions.
Minds that Matter reports the findings from the
OHRC's province-wide consultation on the human rights issues
experienced by people with mental health disabilities or
addictions, summarizing the insights gleaned from more than 1,500
individuals and organizations across Ontario that it surveyed. The
report also sets out recommended actions for government, housing
providers, employers, service providers and other parties, as well
as a series of OHRC commitments towards eliminating discrimination
based on mental health and addictions in Ontario.
Employers will be most interested in chapter 12,
"Employment", which sets out a number of experiences from
individuals with mental health or addiction issues. In brief, many
individuals with mental health and addiction issues expressed
concerns that they continue to experience discrimination in the
employment hiring process and discrimination and harassment in the
workplace in the course of employment. Some of the specific
experiences noted included the following:
Gaps in employment history due to periods of disability may be
hard to explain during the employment process and may create a
barrier to being hired.
Systemic barriers to employment were created by having
non-criminal contact with police relating to mental health or
addiction issues recorded and disclosed as part of a police record
The rules around workplace violence risk assessments and the
disclosure of personal information about employees under the Bill
168 amendments to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety
Act may negatively affect people with psychosocial
disabilities if they are applied improperly, especially if
employees with past, present or perceived mental health issues are
assumed incorrectly to be a danger to other workers.
In response to these experiences and others, the OHRC made the
following recommendations to employers:
All employers should develop human rights policies and
procedures outlining their organization's obligations under the
Human Rights Code, including the duty to accommodate
people with psychosocial disabilities to the point of undue
Employers should ensure their human rights policies identify
that people with mental health issues and addictions are protected
under the ground of disability, and eliminate systemic barriers in
the workplace (such as in their organizational culture) that may
exclude or disadvantage people with mental health issues and
All employers should train their employees and managers on
their responsibilities under the Code regarding the human
rights issues that affect people with mental health disabilities
and addictions. This training should address preventing and
responding to discrimination and harassment, systemic issues
affecting people with psychosocial disabilities and the duty to
The OHRC committed to discuss with the Ministry of Labour the
impact of disclosure requirements under the OHSA on people with
mental health issues, and consider how this issue could be
monitored and addressed.
On Thursday, September 22, 2016, Dentons hosted a panel discussion about the management of liabilities and risks associated with environmental crises, including potential liabilities for directors and officers and provided insight into risk and liability techniques associated with environmental crisis management.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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