Raj Anand, WeirFoulds partner and former Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, collaborated with Kathy Laird and Ron Ellis, QC, on an opinion piece that appeared in the Globe & Mail on January 29, 2021.
The writers state that under the cover of our current health crisis, Premier Doug Ford’s government has been quietly and steadily reducing the quality of justice that people in the province can expect from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
They discuss the ways in which the Ontario’s human rights enforcement system has become dysfunctional even as awareness of systemic discrimination has grown.
First and foremost, the number of full-time adjudicators has now been reduced to just 11 from 22, even as the number of new discrimination cases has grown to more than 4,400 in each of the past three years. Thousands of discrimination applications are now stalled in the early stages of the process. A critical factor in these delays has been the removal of experienced adjudicators from the Tribunal.
There are also concerns about the qualifications of new Tribunal leadership appointed by the Ford government. According to the government’s own website, neither the new associate chair of the tribunal, nor the executive chair of Tribunals Ontario, the person to whom she reports, have any adjudication or mediation experience, any legal or academic expertise in human rights or tribunal law, or any litigation or employment experience at an adjudicative tribunal.
Today, Ontarians who appear before the Human Rights Tribunal cannot be confident that their case will move forward in a reasonable time period. Nor can they be sure that the adjudicator hearing the case is expert in the relevant law and will decide the case free of influence from the government that appointed them.