When you make an application, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) will give your application a file number. You must use this number in all future communications with the HRTO about your application.
HRTO staff will review your application to make sure that it is correct and complete. If there is a question you have not answered, or if you have not given in all the forms, the HRTO will write to ask you for the missing information or document. HRTO staff will then review the application to see if it appears to raise issues that are covered by the code, and that the HRTO has the power to decide.
If they think that your application is about issues that the HRTO does not have the power to decide, they may send you a Notice of Intent to Dismiss (NOID), which means they intend to dismiss your application. If you disagree, you must contact the HRTO registrar in writing by a specific date. If you think you will need more time to respond, you must write to the registrar to ask for an extension. Unless you are given an extension, you must respond to the HRTO by the date set in the NOID.
The NOID form explains why it was issued and what information the HRTO needs from you. It may also identify certain HRTO decisions that will help you understand the issues better. You may want to look at other HRTO decisions (link below) that could support your case, and outline these in your response.
An HRTO adjudicator will then review your application and submissions and decide whether, at this very early stage, it is plain and obvious that the HRTO does not have the power to decide your application. If your application is about an issue that is covered under the code and is within the HRTO’s power to decide, the application will continue and a hearing date will be set.
Your Application WILL Undergo Case Assessment Directions
Closer to the hearing date, an HRTO adjudicator will go over the documents and witness statements in your file and may decide to issue a Case Assessment Direction. This process will help the parties figure out which witnesses to call and what types of evidence to produce. This process aims to clarify:
- the main issues that need to be addressed at a hearing
- any common ground between the parties
- any procedural issues that need to be decided before the start of the hearing
Your Application Will Be Reviewed for Summary Hearing
If it appears that your application is within the HRTO’s power to decide but that your application has no reasonable prospect of succeeding, the HRTO may schedule a summary hearing.
If the HRTO decides to hold a summary hearing, it will send all the parties a Case Assessment Direction explaining why it has ordered a summary hearing and giving directions about the summary hearing. Summary hearings usually take half a day and take place by telephone.
The Case Assessment Direction will tell you what the HRTO wishes to talk about at the summary hearing and whether there are any documents that it needs to help the adjudicator make a decision. After considering the parties’ submissions, the HRTO will issue a decision either dismissing the application because there is no reasonable prospect of success or allowing some or all of the application to proceed.
The Respondent Will Be Notified
When your application is scheduled for a hearing, the HRTO will send you and the respondent a Notice of Confirmation of Hearing. Once you receive this notice, you and the respondent have 21 days to exchange all documents that are part of your application.
The Respondent Will Submit a Reply
(Form 2) respondent must use the HRTO’s response form (Form 2) to respond to the issues raised in your application and will have 35 days to complete and return the response form to the HRTO.
Questions on the response form include:
- Did the applicant tell you about the human rights concern?
- Did you investigate?
- Do you have a human rights policy?
- What is your response to what the applicant says happened and the applicant’s proposed remedy?
The respondent must also list the important witnesses and documents that they have. The respondent will be asked to explain why each witness can help prove their case (for example, if a proposed witness was there when an incident happened). The respondent will also have the opportunity to list relevant documents that other people have and that they need to prepare their case.
You Will Be Asked to Consider Mediation:
The HRTO offers mediation to assist parties to resolve disputes. This process is more casual and faster than a hearing. Mediation is voluntary. It can take place if the parties agree to it. The parties must sign a mediation agreement that says they promise to keep what is said in the mediation confidential.
If both you and the respondent have agreed to try mediation, the HRTO will schedule a mediation session with an HRTO adjudicator. Mediations are usually scheduled for a half day at the HRTO regional hearing centre that is closest to where the events described in the application took place.
During the mediation, the parties will have an opportunity to tell the HRTO adjudicator what happened and what they would like to see done about it. The HRTO adjudicator will ask the parties questions and help them to think about a fair resolution of the matter.
Requests for Order During Proceedings and Preliminary Issues May Be Made:
At any time during the HRTO process, a party may ask the HRTO to make an order about an issue in the case. This can be done by filing a Request for an Order During Proceedings (Form 10). Other parties or persons affected by the request can deliver and file a Response to a Request for an Order During Proceedings (Form 11). The Form 11 must be filed within 14 days of being provided with the Form 10. A decision may be made based on the information in the Forms 10 and 11, so you must include all the information in support of your position that you consider necessary. If you don’t respond to a Request for Order, a decision may be made without considering your position.