Canada: New Rules Of Procedure For Initiating Human Rights Complaints In Ontario

Last Updated: June 26 2008
Article by Melany V. Franklin

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2016

On June 4, 2008, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario published its new Rules of Procedure. These Rules are effective June 30, 2008 and apply to discrimination applications filed with the Tribunal on or after June 30. Under the new Rules, parties must file substantive pleadings with the Tribunal and are subject to strict timelines for the filing of documents.


On April 6, 2006, the Government of Ontario introduced sweeping changes to the Human Rights Code with Bill 107, An Act to Amend the Human Rights Code. Those amendments take effect on June 30, 2008. Like reforms introduced in British Columbia in 2003, Bill 107 gives complainants direct access to adjudication.

Currently, human rights complaints are received and processed by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Commission investigates complaints and ultimately determines whether they should be referred to the Human Rights Tribunal for hearing. However, the Commission will shortly lose this gate-keeping function. As of June 30, all complaints (called applications) may be filed directly with the Tribunal.

In addition to adjudicating discrimination applications, the Tribunal will manage the intake of applications and responses to applications. Key to the success of the Government's reforms will be the Tribunal's ability to effectively manage these new responsibilities and conduct hearings within a reasonable time frame.

Timeliness is a major concern to many human rights stakeholders who have been frustrated by the "glacial speed"1 at which human rights complaints have traditionally made their way to adjudication. With that in mind, the Tribunal has publicly committed to core values of "accessibility, fairness, transparency, timeliness and the right to be heard" and has developed Rules of Procedure to reflect these values. These Rules of Procedure can be accessed from the Tribunal's website at

Timing of applications by or on behalf of a person

An individual has up to one year after an incident of discrimination to file an application with the Tribunal. Where the applicant complains of a series of incidents of discrimination, the application must be filed no later than one year after the last incident of discrimination is alleged to have occurred.

The Tribunal may relieve against these time limits if it is satisfied that the delay was incurred in good faith and no substantial prejudice will result to any party affected by the delay.

Application must be substantive

A complete application must set out all of the material facts including the circumstances of what happened, where and when it happened and the names of person(s) or organization(s) alleged to have violated the applicant's rights under the Code.

Although an application must include a list of witnesses and related witness information, the Tribunal will not include this information in its notification to the respondents and to any trade union, occupational or professional organization identified in the application.

Request to defer consideration can be made by any party

An applicant may request that the Tribunal defer consideration of an application if there are other legal proceedings relating to the same subject matter. The Tribunal may also defer consideration on its own initiative or at the request of another party.

Before the Tribunal will make a deferral order, it will first give notice to the parties, any identified trade union or occupational or professional organization and any identified affected persons and they will be given an opportunity to make submissions.

Response must be timely

A respondent must complete and file a response form no more than 35 days after the Tribunal sends the application to the respondent.

Response must be substantive

Unless a respondent alleges that the issues in dispute are the subject of a signed release between the parties, a civil court proceeding or a complaint filed with the Commission, the respondent must respond to each allegation in the application and include any additional facts and allegations on which the respondent intends to rely. The response must also include a list of witnesses and related witness information.

With the exception of the confidential list of witnesses and related witness information, the entire response will be sent to the applicant.

Effect of non-compliance with these Rules

The Tribunal has authority to relieve against technical defects or irregularities and may vary or waive the application of the Rules on its own initiative or at the request of a party.

Where a respondent does not respond to an application, the Tribunal may:

  • deem the respondent to have accepted all of the allegations

  • proceed to deal with the application without further notice to the respondent

  • deem the respondent to have waived all rights with respect to further notice or participation in a proceeding

  • decide the application based only on the material before the Tribunal.

In any case, the Tribunal may refuse to consider material that is not delivered in accordance with the Rules. It may also refuse a party the right to present evidence or make submissions with respect to a fact or issue that was not raised in the pleadings.

These Rules for the filing and processing of discrimination applications and responses represent a marked departure from the current system. For more information, contact any member of the Labour & Employment Group at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.


1 A reference by arbitrator Crljenica in Ontario Nurses' Assn. v. Chatham-Kent Board of Health to the Ontario Human Rights Commission's inability to address complaints on a timely basis. Ultimately, the arbitrator took jurisdiction of a pay equity issue on the reasoning that the statutory right to be paid in accordance with the Pay Equity Act is "...implicit in every collective agreement".

About BLG

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.