Human Rights Tribunals

… a core term in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100


Human rights commissions in most jurisdictions are quasi-judicial bodies with statutory mandates to apply and interpret human rights acts.

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT)

The CHRT has a full-time chairperson, a full-time vice-chairperson, an dup to 13 full- or part-time members (see biographies at On 1 November 2014:

“through the coming into force of the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada Act (ATSSCA), the Government of Canada consolidated the provision of support services to eleven administrative tribunals – including the CHRT – into a single organization, the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada (ATSSC). The CHRT ceased to exist as a public service organization, but continued as an adjudicative body.” (See

The CHRT (website at describes its role as:

“The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) has a statutory mandate to apply the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) based on the evidence presented and on the case law.

“Created by Parliament in 1977, the Tribunal legally decides whether a person or organization has engaged in a discriminatory practice under the Act. The purpose of the CHRA is to protect individuals from discrimination. It states that all Canadians have the right to equality, equal opportunity, fair treatment, and an environment free of discrimination.

“The CHRT applies these principles to cases that are referred to it by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC). The Tribunal is similar to a court of law, but is less formal and only hears cases relating to discrimination.”

The CHRT’s Rules of Procedure can be found at and its Glossary of terms at

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO)

The HRTO is one of the seven tribunals administered by Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO, see The HRTO has a full-time Associate Chair (Yola Grant), 20 full-time Vice-Chairs and 29 part-time members (adjudicators). See for names an brief biographies.

The HRTO (website at describes its role as:

“If you believe you have experienced discrimination or harassment, you can file an application with the HRTO. The HRTO resolves claims of discrimination and harassment brought under the Human Rights Code in a fair, just and timely way.

“The HRTO first offers parties the opportunity to settle the dispute through mediation. If the parties do not agree to mediation, or mediation does not resolve the application, the HRTO holds a hearing.

“Hearings and mediations are held in Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, London, North Bay, Ottawa, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Timmins, Thunder Bay and Windsor. See also: Practice Direction on Hearings in Regional Centres.

“HRTO decisions are made by adjudicators called vice-chairs or members. HRTO adjudicators have experience, knowledge and training in human rights law and issues.

“The HRTO’s Rules of Procedure, Practice Directions and Policies apply to its proceedings.

“The HRTO is one of seven tribunals which form Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO). HRTO does its work in keeping with the core values of SJTO:

  • Accessibility
  • Fairness and independence
  • Timeliness
  • Transparency
  • Professionalism and public service

“What is the Human Rights Code?

“The HRTO resolves claims of discrimination and harassment brought under the Human Rights Code, a law that protects people in Ontario from discrimination and harassment in five areas:

  • employment
  • accommodation (housing)
  • goods, services and facilities
  • contracts
  • membership in trade and vocational associations.

“The Code prohibits discrimination and harassment on any of the following grounds:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic origin
  • Disability
  • Creed
  • Sex, including sexual harassment and pregnancy
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression
  • Family status
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Receipt of public assistance (Applies only to claims about housing.)
  • Record of offences (Applies only to claims about employment and to criminal convictions for which you have received a pardon.)

“Harassment is a form of discrimination. The Code defines harassment as “a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome”. It includes offensive comments or actions directed at you that are related to one or more of the Code grounds.

“The Code also prohibits:

  • Discrimination against a person because he or she has a relationship, association or dealing with someone who is identified by one of the grounds listed above.
  • Reprisal (a legal term that means punishment or retaliation) or threats of reprisal, because a person has either claimed their rights, refused to discriminate against someone else or was a participant in a human rights proceeding.
  • Sexual solicitation or advances by a person who is in a position to give or deny a benefit.
  • Reprisal or threats of reprisal for rejecting a sexual solicitation or advance.

“You can read more about the grounds and areas of discrimination in the Applicant’s Guide.

“What is not discrimination?

“Not all unfair conduct or unequal treatment is covered by the Code. For the Code to apply, unequal treatment must have occurred in one of the five areas in the Code and be based on one or more of the grounds in the Code.

“The Code includes some defences and exemptions to discrimination. For example, although the Code prohibits different treatment based on age, different insurance rates based on age are allowed.

“Another example of an exemption occurs in housing. The Code allows an owner to refuse to rent to someone based on gender or race if:

  • the owner or his or her family also lives on the premises; and,
  • the owner or his or her family would be sharing a kitchen or bathroom with the tenant”

The HRTO Rules of Procedure are found at

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Courts, Tribunals, and Commissions ( (core topic) in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100 Governance and Institutions.


Websites from the CHRT, HRTO, and SJTO noted above.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 8 February 2017.