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What is the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario?

HRTOsharpThe role of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) is to resolve claims of discrimination and harassment brought under the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990,c.19.  The Human Rights Code is the statue or law which the HRTO follows.  The Human Rights Code or the Code is the law that protects all people in Ontario from discrimination and harassment in areas ranging from employment to housing.  A person does not have to be a Canadian Citizen to be protected by the Code.   Persons who feel they have encountered an incident(s) where they have been discriminated or harassed under the Code, may file an application with the HRTO.

The Process

There is no cost to submit an application to the HRTO.  The applicant may also contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for assistance in filing out the form.  The Tribunal sends a copy of the application to the respondent who has 35 days to file a response with the HRTO, a copy of which is sent to the applicant.  The applicant can then respond to any new issues arising from the respondent’s response.  The HRTO can proceed in several ways: it may dismiss all or part of the application where it is found that another proceeding has dealt with the substance of the application, it may schedule a short Hearing to decide the important preliminary issues, schedule a conference call involving the parties or conduct a case assessment.  Mediation is always an option to both parties at any point.

The HRTO has the power to hold Hearings, render decisions and order remedies where applicable.  The decision-makers are called Vice-Chairs, members or adjudicators.  The Hearing is oral, and all witnesses as well as parties are in attendance.  Both parties may retain legal representation who may also appear at the Hearing.


The decision-maker after hearing all the arguments and weighing the evidence may decide to dismiss the application, or find in favor of the applicant.  Remedies range from ordering a monetary award, or ordering the respondent to attend or hold training sessions dealing with the Code.  Fines may also be issued against the respondent.

The HRTO does not have an “appeal” process, but parties may ask for reconsideration based on grounds such as errors during the process, or new relevant information not available at the time of the Hearing. If the party is still unsatisfied after the reconsideration they may apply to the Divisional Court to have the decision reviewed.

 Kevin Sambrano is a human rights paralegal practicing in Toronto. Do you have a human rights issue we can help you with? Contact Sambrano Legal today at 647 860 8339 or through the contact link for a free consultation. Or you may visit

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