Human Rights Protection
10. Where can I complain about police actions?
If you believe that a police officer has 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 available at the website www.oiprd.on.ca/EN/PDFs/Talk-to-Us-Step-by-Step-Large-Print_E.pdf and send it to the specified address within six months of 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 reasonable, the police officer who violated your rights can be reprimanded. 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, as they can be useful to you if the item becomes broken during the warranty period. The same applies to 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 that you 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 Offices, the addresses of which can be found at www.consumerinformation.ca/eic/site/032.nsf/eng/01170.html. 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 financial 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 receive an email that they have been robbed abroad, or they have had an accident and need immediate cash assistance, etc.
• There are cases of fraud by persons who help you in obtaining immigration documents. If somebody promises you in advance a positive decision on your application, do not believe them. If you decide to take help from a third person, it must be either a lawyer or an immigration consultant with a licence from the ICCRC, the regulatory body for immigration consultants.
Check carefully all calls and email from strangers. Do not send money to 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.
Source: Scams and Fraud www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/index-eng.htm.
13. Where can I get free legal advice?
For those who cannot pay for the services of a lawyer, there are the following options in Canada for receiving legal aid free of charge or for a small fee:
• You can contact the organization Legal Aid. If they find that you really cannot afford the services of a lawyer, Legal Aid you will give you a voucher for a free consultation with a lawyer on matters such as criminal and family law, and immigration issues.
• Free legal advice on social assistance, human rights and immigration is available from a Community legal clinic, for which there is no need to obtain a voucher.
• For a small fee you can get advice from lawyers' assistants and immigration consultants. You can find them by contacting the Community legal clinic. In the case of a judicial review of your case they can help you prepare the necessary documents.
• The Law Society Referral Service 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.
If you are denied free legal aid, you can appeal the decision.
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 drinking and driving in Canada is more severe than in many countries and in some cases can include jail time.
Buying, selling and using 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 the 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 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 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. Where can I find additional information about human rights protection in Canada?
We recommend the following sources about human rights protection
Discover Canada. The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship
Guide to your rights and responsibilities under Human Rights Code www.ohrc.on.ca.
Canada's Court System www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/ccs-ajc.
A Guide to Police Services in Toronto www.torontopolice.on.ca/community/newcomer/guides/tps_guide_eng.pdf.
18. Are there any Canadian sources in other languages?
Free Legal Answers online (in 107 languages) www.legalline.ca.
Legal Services in Ontario (in 11 languages) http://settlement.org/ontario/legal-services including:
• Legal Aid and Community Clinics
• Lawyers and Other Legal Help
• Human Rights