Human Rights Protection
1. What are the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizens?
Canadian citizens have rights and responsibilities.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees Canadians the freedom of speech and peaceful meetings, the creation of unions and associations. Canadians can live and work anywhere in the country, have dual citizenship, freely leave the country and come back. Canada respects people of all nationalities and skin colors. Women have equal rights with men. The law also protects freedom of religion and the rights of poorly protected groups: women, children, seniors and people with disabilities.
Canadians are not required to serve in the Canadian Forces, but young people have the right to enlist. If after immigration in the past four years you have lived for three years in Canada and have permanent resident status, can communicate in English (it is necessary to pass the exam IELTS 4 points) or French, if you familiar with the rights and responsibilities of Canadians and have a general idea of the country, then, after 18 years of age, you can apply for citizenship in Canada. You can attend courses to prepare for the Citizenship test. The free brochure "Discover Canada", published by the Ministry of Immigration Canada will help provide you with the necessary information. After becoming a Canadian citizen, you can get a Canadian passport and the right of visa-free entry to many countries.
Of course, in addition to the rights there are duties. First of all, Canadians must understand and obey Canadian laws, participate in elections, work and take care of their families, preserve nature, respect the rights and interests of other people and contribute to the unity and prosperity of the country.
2. What is the Human Rights Code?
In addition to the federal Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which all governmental authorities are obliged to comply to, each province has their own human rights laws, which all residents of the province must follow. In Ontario, the provincial law is called the Human Rights Code. The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination at home, at the workplace, in the service industry, and in professional associations and unions. There is a special list of factors that fall under the definition of discrimination, called Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination. Such factors include race, descent, place of birth, skin color, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age (applies to workers aged 18 to 65 years), marital status. The employer during an interview should not ask questions that affect Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination.
To control the observance of human rights in Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission was established. This is an agency which is accountable to the Parliament. Its responsibilities include: investigating complaints of discrimination and harassment, attempting the reconciliation of opposing sides, preventing discrimination in schools and workplaces. The central office is located in Toronto and there are offices across the province.
3. How does the court system work?
The Canadian judicial system includes the Supreme Court of Canada, Tax Court, the Federal courts, Military courts and courts of the provinces and territories.
The duties of the Supreme Court includes the consideration of appeals against decisions of the courts of appeal of the lower court, the provision of advice on the constitutional issues asked by the federal government, and others. The Tax Court hears appeals of individuals and companies on issues related to income taxes, taxes on goods and services, as well as the payment of unemployment benefits. The federal courts hear and decide on legal disputes arising in Canada, for example, review of judicial decisions on immigration matters and disputes related to intellectual property. Military courts handle cases involving the crimes of military personal.
Each province and territory has its own appellate courts, Superior Courts and the lower courts. Provincial Superior Courts consider the most serious criminal offenses related to murder, grievous bodily harm, rape, use and distribution of drugs, burglary, and others. Superior Courts also consider applications for divorce and civil disputes. Lower courts hear civil and criminal cases, as well as cash and property disputes. In Ontario there are family and small claim courts. The Canadian justice system guarantees that the courts are available to every citizen and that the proceedings are open, transparent and free from government intervention. Each Canadian citizen is presumed innocent until their guilt is proven; he or she has the right to an interpreter and to a free lawyer who will represent him in court.
4. How can I complain of discrimination?
Canada is a democratic country with a strong legal protection, so do not allow any infringement of you rights. If you are claiming against a federal government organization, you must go to The Ontario Human Rights Commission. During the year it receives about 1,800 complaints and 65.7% complaints are solved to the satisfaction of both sides. For example, the plaintiff gets satisfied by apology or by financial compensation for the defendant. If at this stage the parties do not come to an agreement, the case is referred to the Human Rights Tribunal.
5. What is the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal?
For the proceedings in the Human Rights Code the victim must apply for a special form (https://tribunalsontario.ca/en). After receiving the application, the Human Rights Tribunal has to decide whether the case falls under the Human Rights Code, and if it found to be related, the application will be accepted. The first step of the hearing is offering to the conflicting parties to begin negotiations through an intermediary, and only if this is refused, the Human Rights Tribunal will be responsible for making a decision. If you do not agree with the decision, you can go to court.
6. Who is an ombudsman?
When seeking protection from a provincial government official's discrimination you should contact the Ombudsman - an independent officer appointed by Parliament who has the right to investigate citizens' complaints. He sees more than 15,000 complaints a year, and in 75% of the complaints the decision is made within 24 hours. The rules about applying to an Ombudsman are available online https://www.ombudsman.on.ca/home. It is recommended that the victim, first of all, has try to resolve the conflict by himself, turning to a higher official in writing and, if you're not satisfied, you can appeal to the Ombudsman. He may consider your complaint, for example, the refusal to issue a driver's license, health insurance or disability benefits. The Ombudsman does not consider some complaints regarding the police, doctors, lawyers. In these cases you can bring your case to court. You can also go to the Member of the Parliament, but the Ombudsman will not review complaints that are already being investigated by in MP.
7. Do I have religious rights?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees Canadians the freedom of religion. Walking in the streets you will see places of worship everywhere and there are also religious newspapers and TV channels. Every newcomer can find their appropriate religious group by looking in local media, talking to people in their community or contacting a settlement agency. You can enrol your child in religious schools; many of them have programs and graduation certificates that they can use to apply for colleges and universities.
8. How can I call the police?
If you are in danger and need urgent assistance of the police or you are a witness of crime, call 911 and report your case. This number can be dialled free of charge from any city phone box. You can ask for an interpreter; service 911 provides service in many languages. If the case is not related to exceptional circumstances, for example, you cannot sleep because of a noisy party or discover something stolen, you should call your local police department. In Toronto, dial 416-808-2222. In other cities you can find the police telephone number in the telephone directory under the heading "Police-Emergency Calls”. Teach your children when and how to call the police.
9. What services are provided by the police?
Police services include maintaining public peace, engaging in crime prevention and assistance to victims. The police will respond to your request for assistance regardless of your status in Canada. When dealing with the police you should be polite and patient so that they can perform their duties. Insist on an interpreter if you do not understand English. If a police officer stops you on the street, he must explain why he did it. You are not required to present an identification document, except when you are driving a car. You do not have to let the police into your apartment if you did not call for them, unless they come with a search warrant. Do not sign any papers if you do not understand what they mean.
In case of any suspicion the police officer can take you to the police station. During the arrest, you have the right to immediately contact your lawyer or ask for free legal aid. Detained kids can immediately call their parents or relatives.
10. Where can I complain about police actions?
If you believe that a police officer violated your rights, in Toronto, you can file a complaint with The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). You must fill in a special form which is available on the website https://www.oiprd.on.ca/complaints/ and send it to the specified address within 6 months after the incident you described. The form must be signed, anonymous complaints will not be considered. Your complaint will be reviewed by an independent expert, and you will be told the result, for example, if your complaint is found to be equitable, the police officer who violated your rights can obtain reproof. If you do not agree with the OIPRD decision, you can request a new review of your complaint with the submission of additional materials.
11. How are consumers protected in Canada?
In Canada the rights of consumers are protected by law. If you have purchased substandard goods, the seller must replace or refund them. Pay attention to the conditions for the return or exchange of goods, which are listed on the receipt you received. Keep receipts for purchases, they can be useful to you if the item becomes broken during the warranty period. The same applies to the services. You may find that you have paid for services not provided or not provided in full. In this case, you may ask the service provider to give you the service you paid for or a refund.
If you think that the seller violated your rights, you can file a complaint. First, it is recommended to try to resolve the conflict with the organization that violated your rights verbally and then in writing, and if you're not satisfied, you should contact the Consumer Affairs Office. Finally, you can complain in small claims court, which usually can be done without lawyer, although representing yourself in court is generally not recommended.
12. How can I be protected against fraud?
Modern technology and media such as the Internet and e-mail are used by scammers to deceive people, especially newcomers. Here are some examples.
•On behalf of the Revenue agency you have been asked to report the number of your bank account for money return.
•Somebody calls to tell you that you have won two trips to Florida and asks you to send money for "office expenses".
•A Website offers you a way to earn good money working from home and asks you to send money to get instructions.
•On behalf of your friends you would receive an E-mail that they had been robbed abroad, or they have an accident and need immediate cash assistance, etc.
•There are cases of fraud by persons that help you in obtaining immigration documents. Do not believe, if somebody promises you in advance a positive decision on your application. If you decided to take help from a third person, it must be either a lawyer or an immigration consultant with a license from the ICCRC, the regulatory body for immigration consultants.
Check carefully all calls and E-mail from strangers. Do not send money to any strangers and do not report your private information. In the event of loss of any important cards or documents, immediately notify the appropriate organization. Keep your private documents and receipts from major purchases you have made in a safe place.
13. Where can I get free legal advice?
There is a free legal aid in Canada (https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fund-fina/gov-gouv/aid-aide.html) for those who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. To get free legal advice, find your nearest Community Legal Clinic; bring your identification card, SIN, bank book and other documents stating your income or benefits. If it will be decided that you really need free legal assistance, you will get a Legal Aid Certificate, which you can use to pay a lawyer, whose services will be paid for by the government.
The Community Legal Clinic, which is an independent, non-profit organization that receives annual funding from Legal Aid. This organization serves the residents of the surrounding area without a Legal Aid Certificate and usually you will be not asked about your income. Also, you can contact the Community Legal Clinic during the 10-day period with the complaint in the case that your application to get Legal Aid Certificate is denied. In the case of a judicial review of your case they can help you prepare the necessary documents. Also there is The Law Society Referral Service, which will give you a free 30-minute consultation and advise lawyers about your case. They can refer you to a lawyer who speaks your native language.
14. What are the LGBT rights in Canada?
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Canada is prohibited by law. The employer has no right to ask about sexual orientation when hiring an employee. Jokes or ridicule on the subject is not permitted at the workplace and the right to dress in accordance with one’s gender identity is protected. The representatives of LGBT minorities have the right to same-sex marriage, child adoption, service in the military forces and equal access to government benefits. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) sometimes covers the cost of certain sex change surgery, but only in a small minority of cases.
15. What are the rules for smoking, alcohol and drugs in Canada?
In Canada, you can smoke in limited spaces only. As a rule, smoking is not permitted in public buildings, workplaces, cafes, restaurants and public transport. The cost of private health insurance and life insurance is higher for smokers. In some buildings there are rooms for smoking, so if you decide to smoke, find out whether this is permitted at a given location.
Alcohol can be bought by people over 18-19 years (depending on the province). Driving a car while intoxicated is prohibited, especially for young drivers under 19, whose tests should show a complete absence of alcohol in their blood. The police regularly check drivers for the presence of alcohol, especially in case of an accident, and the punishment for drunken and driving in Canada is more severe than in many countries and in some cases, can include jail time.
Buying, selling and use of drugs not prescribed by a doctor and purchased in pharmacies is prohibited. There is a network of health care institutions and organizations in Canada to help get rid of smoking, alcohol and drugs. Recent changes in government suggest that the legalization and control of marijuana will soon become a reality, however for the time being, marijuana remains an illegal drug in Canada.
16. Can immigrants serve in the Canadian Army?
Canada maintains a small army, which is mainly used for peacekeeping operations with United Nations. To be engaged in military service you have to be no less than 17 years old with the consent of parents, and over 18 without. In addition, you have to graduate from at least grade 10 and must be a Canadian citizen. However, some sections of the armed forces take people with landed immigrant status. If your application is approved, then in a month you will have to undergo a medical examination, a criminal record check and a skills assessment. Then, you'll have to go through the basic training at a military base, but at that time you will be able to visit relatives and friends.
Upon completion of training you will be able to choose a military profession, which in the Canadian Army there are almost one hundred to choose from. The duration of military service depends on your contract; the minimum term is three years, and then you can renew it. If you will refuse to serve a term of the contract, you will lose many of the benefits provided by the military. If your friend also joined the Canadian Forces, you can ask to serve with him in the same section of the military.
17. How can I find additional information about human rights protection in Canada?
We recommend the following sources about human rights protection
Guide to your rights and responsibilities under Human Rights Code www.ohrc.on.ca.
Canada's Court System https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/ccs-ajc/.
A Guide to Police Services in Toronto https://www.torontopolice.on.ca/
18. Are there any Canadian sources in other languages?
Legal Services in Ontario in 11 languages http://settlement.org/ontario/legal-services including:
•Legal Aid and Community Clinics.
•Lawyers and Other Legal Help.
In Toronto you can get brochures about police services in 22 languages by calling 416-808-7070.