Human Rights Further Steps

What Happens Next?

After the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hearing, the adjudicator will either deny the remedy you seek, grant the remedy you seek or grant some but not all of the remedies you seek.

The HRTO’s orders must be complied with. If your remedy is granted, but you are concerned that it may not be followed, you can seek a court order. The decision may be registered with the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Once registered, there are ways that an uncooperative respondent can be made to follow the order.

You cannot appeal an HRTO decision, but you can ask for a reconsideration of the decision in some cases.

You may also apply to the Divisional Court for judicial review of the decision. Before taking this step, you should consult a lawyer.

Ombudsman Ontario

The Ombudsman does not have the power to overturn decisions or change tribunal decisions, but if you believe an administrative tribunal treated you unfairly you can make a formal complaint with the Ombudsman.  If the Ombudsman agrees, he can make recommendations to the tribunal to address the problem, and he can also make recommendations about government legislation, policies or programs.  For more information on the powers of the Ombudsman over tribunals, go to: Ombudsman Ontario.

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Tribunal Number: 

Human Rights Hearing Process

Go to:
Gathering Witnesses
The Hearing
The Law
Final Arguments

Disclosure of Documents

As you get ready for the hearing, you will need to give copies of all your documents to the other side, and the other side will need to give copies of their documents to you. This exchange is called disclosure. Each party has a right to know what the other side’s case is about.

Within 21 days of the Confirmation of Hearing, you must deliver to every other party (if more than one respondent)

  • all arguably relevant documents in your possession. These are documents that you plan to use at the hearing or documents that could still be relevant to the case.
  • a copy of each document on the list, except for any documents over which privilege is claimed.

If you claim privilege over any document, you must describe what the document is, how you plan to use it and why you want to keep it private.

The documents do not go to the HRTO at this point. They go to the other parties. But, you have to send Statements of Delivery (Form 23) to the HRTO to confirm that disclosure is complete.

Forty-five days before the hearing date, you must deliver to the parties, AND file with the HRTO:

  • A list of documents that you plan to rely on at the hearing (you do not need to include arguably relevant documents); and
  • A copy of each document on the list (if it has not already been provided), or confirmation that each document has already been shared.

Include only the documents you plan to use at the hearing to prove or support your position, including the remedy you seek. Often this will be a much smaller number of documents than the party disclosed as arguably relevant to the issues in dispute. 


Unless the HRTO tells you otherwise, you must still disclose and send your documents by the original deadline, even if you have rescheduled the haring date.

Also, your responsibility to disclose does not end after you have given the other side documents to meet the first deadline. If you find a new document or learn that information has changed after the above deadlines are met, you must deliver the new document or information to the other parties right away.

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Failing to share arguably relevant documents is a serious. Missing a deadline could lead to the document being left out.

Gathering Witnesses

Witnesses are people who can provide evidence about an issue or fact that is relevant to the dispute between the parties. A witness could be someone who was present when an incident happened, and can talk about what he or she saw or heard. Witnesses can also have special knowledge about an important part of the case. For example, a witness may know about an organization’s policy or may be able to tell the HRTO adjudicator how the policy was developed and how it was applied in the past. Witnesses usually give information rather than opinion about a claim. But, parties sometimes call expert witnesses. Expert witnesses are people who have special experience, education, or skills, who can offer opinions that will help the adjudicator to decide.

  1. Make a list of the people that you think have information or who can give a relevant opinion that will support your case.
  2. Write down the questions you want to ask your witness(es). These questions should help the witness to talk about the things that you think are important for your case. Think about what the person knows that can support your claim, and ask questions that will help bring out those details.
  3. Meet with your witness(es), tell them why you have asked them to speak for you, and practice asking them your list of questions.

** NOTE ** Not later than 45 days before the first scheduled hearing day, you must give your list of witnesses to the HRTO along with a description of what your witnesses will say. Also, if you want to call an expert witness, you must include a copy of the expert witness’s written report, or a full summary of what the witness will say, as well as a resumé that lists the witness’s qualifications and training. Be sure the witness list is filed with the HRTO along with Form 23.

Making Sure Your Witnesses Show Up

It is up to you to make sure that your witnesses show up at the hearing. If you are worried that a witness may not attend the hearing, you can summon the witness. To do this, contact the HRTO to get a signed Summons to Witness (Form 24). Sometimes a witness needs a summons in order to be able to be absent from work.

The summons will be signed by a HRTO adjudicator but will otherwise be blank. You must complete the Summons to Witness (Form 24) by filling in the following information:

  • the name of the witness
  • the address of the witness
  • the date, time and location of the hearing
  • any documents that the witness must bring with him/her
  • the date the summons was completed
  • the name, address and telephone number, and Law Society of Upper Canada Number (for lawyers and paralegals) of the person issuing the summons

You must make sure that the summons is served on (given to) the witness in person. You can do this yourself or pay a professional to do it for you. Witnesses are allowed to claim expenses and a daily rate for appearing. They are allowed to ask for their attendance money, in cash, at the time they are served with the summons. You may have to pay this fee yourself, but if you are successful in your claim, you may be able to recover these costs.

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The Hearing

A hearing at the HRTO gives an opportunity for each party (side) to present its case, including facts and legal arguments, to the HRTO adjudicator. An adjudicator is an impartial (neutral) decision-maker with experience, knowledge and training in human rights law and issues.

At the hearing, the adjudicator will listen to information presented by the applicant and the respondent and by any witnesses. At the end, the adjudicator will write a decision after reviewing all the information and submissions presented at the hearing.

People who are involved in HRTO proceedings are entitled to accommodation for special requirements. If you or any of your witnesses need this sort of support, consult the HRTO’s Policy on Accessibility and Accommodation and ask for the support you need.

Ontario Human Rights Tribunal hearings are open to the public. Many people like to see a hearing before their own hearing begins so they know what to expect. To find out what hearings are scheduled, including what topics will be addressed, you can call 416-326-1312 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to learn about what hearings will take place the next day. In Toronto, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal hearings take place at 655 Bay Street, 14th floor. You can call the same number to find out about the hearings that will take place outside Toronto. There is no guarantee that a hearing will take place even if it is scheduled as many hearings can be settled or adjourned in the hours before it was to begin. 


Unless all the parties agree about what the facts are, evidence will have to be presented.

You should come to the hearing ready to show evidence about what discrimination took place, what effect it caused and what remedy you would like. If you would like monetary compensation, you must be ready to explain to the HRTO the amount of money you are asking for and how the amount was calculated.

A remedy example could be an order that you be given an opportunity to return to work with the appropriate accommodation. The respondent may be ordered to correct the discriminatory situation, to develop policies or hold training sessions for staff. The adjudicator may also order actions to ensure that, in future, the respondent follows the Human Rights Code.

It is important to note that the purpose of the code is remedial, not punitive. Remedies are not supposed to punish the respondent for his or her bad behaviour. An order will aim to help people cope with the harm suffered because of discrimination and help prevent someone else from going through the same situation.

The HRTO adjudicator must base his or her decision only on the evidence and argument heard at the hearing, so it is essential to include everything important to your case. After the parties have presented all the evidence, they have a chance to review it, and to tell the adjudicator how they think the case should be decided. The tribunal is not there to decide which party has the best story. Its job is to decide if the complainant’s Code rights were violated and, if so, what ought to be done about it.

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The Law

In making your case, it will be helpful if your evidence is supported by rulings from other cases. It will also be useful to refer to the parts of the code that you think apply to your case. 

Hearing Participants

The participants in a hearing include:

  • you and your representative, if you have one
  • the respondent(s)and any person or organization against whom you have made a complaint
  • any interveners that the HRTO has said can participate in the hearing
  • witnesses, spectators (people who have come to watch the hearing, including in some cases the media), interpreters (for persons who require language interpretation or sign language interpretation) or support persons may also be present

NOTE ** Unless the HRTO decides otherwise, hearings are open to the public.

The Hearing Process

Before the hearing starts, the adjudicator will ask any witnesses to leave the room until it is their turn to testify. This is done so that witnesses won’t change their story after they have heard other witnesses.

The adjudicator will then ask whether any one has any questions. This is your chance to ask about anything you don’t understand, or to ask for more time to get ready. You will need a very good reason to ask for an extension. (See HRTO practice directions)

You go first. Start with your opening statement. It is important to tell the panel why you are there, what remedy you seek and how you plan to prove that your protected rights were violated by the respondent(s). If you have witnesses, ask them what they know. Your questions should bring out facts and information that support your case. The other side will have a chance to ask your witnesses questions. Then, if new information comes out, you will get a chance to ask more questions.

The other side is next. They will ask their witnesses questions. Listen for anything a witness says that you think is not correct. You will have a chance to ask the other side's witnesses some questions. Be polite, but it is OK to doubt their opinion or ask them about other facts that support your story. 

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Option A

Making your case without other witnesses

Option B

Making your case with other witnesses

If you are your only witness, you can just tell your story. Try to give details supporting all the points you made on your application form.

If you have other witnesses, you should ask them questions about the information they have, facts they know and/or opinions they can give that support your case.

If you do not have a representative, simply tell your story in a clear and true way.

DO NOT put words into the witness’s mouth or make long statements and then ask the witness if he or she agrees.

Share any exhibits you have when they come up in your story.

Commenting on the answers given by a witness is not allowed. You must save your thoughts about what they are saying until your closing statement.

Once you are done, the other side (respondent) will have a chance to ask you and each of your witnesses questions. Answer honestly and directly. If you do not understand the question or do not know the answer, just say so.

Sometimes new issues or information comes up when the other side is questioning you or your witnesses. If this happens, you can ask more questions about those new points. Remember: when questioning a witness for the second time, you must ask only about the new information; you cannot ask the same questions as you did before.

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Final Arguments

Once all the witnesses have had their turn and the exhibits have been shared, the adjudicator will ask each side to talk about why, after hearing the information that came out at the hearing, they should make a decision in their favour. This is not the time to testify all over again; just go over the evidence and summarize your points.

  • Prepare an outline of what you want to say.
  • Go over the best evidence that supports your side of the story.
  • List the reasons why the other side’s case is weak.
  • Tell the adjudicator the area and grounds of discrimination.
  • Review the evidence that shows that this discrimination happened.
  • Tell the adjudicator how the discrimination affected you emotionally, financially and otherwise
  • Review the evidence that shows details about these effects
  • Take a few moments to challenge any of the respondents’ points that might have impressed the adjudicator.
  • Try to make a link between the discrimination you faced, the harm you suffered and the response you would like to see.
  • Finish by telling the adjudicator what you would like him or her to remember as they make their decision.

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< Back to Application Process          Continue to Further Steps >

Tribunal Number: 

Human Rights Application Process

Go to:
Your Application will undergo Case Assessment Directions
The Respondent Will Submit a Reply

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.

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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.

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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. 

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< Back to Claims          Continue to Hearing Process >

Tribunal Number: 

Human Rights Claims

Go to:
When to File
The Questions
Naming an Ontario government ministry or agency as a respondent
Questions 7-9, Information that Supports your Application
Monetary Compensation
Questions 12-15, Other Legal Proceedings
Questions 16-18, Documents that Support this Application
Questions 21-22, Final Steps Before Filing the Application

If you think your situation is the type of case that the HRTO will hear, you have the right to make an application. Making a claim is a long process with many steps and sub-steps, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. This guide will take you through each step, and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre will also provide information and legal support if you need it.

Your human rights complaint begins when you file a completed application form with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). You will then be called the applicant. On the application (Form 1), you must name the organization(s) and any individuals you believe are responsible for the discrimination. They are then called respondents.

The Form

The application form to begin a human rights complaint (Form 1) can be downloaded from the HRTO’s website, or filed directly through the HRTO’s website using a smart form, a form you can fill out right on the website.

This guide is set up to help you fill out your application (Form 1) through the HRTO’s smart form. There are 23 questions on the form. The numbers used in this guide are the same as the numbers used on the application form.

Your application may be delayed if you do not include all the information. Make sure you give all the information asked for on both the application and the supplemental forms, and remember to attach any required documents. The HRTO has prepared an Applicant's Guide to Filing at Application with the HRTO that is helpful.

When to File

You must file your application within one year of the incident you are bringing to the HRTO. If there was more than one incident, the application should be filed within one year of the last one. Applications filed after one year are not accepted unless the HRTO finds that there was a good reason for filing late and that the delay is not an issue.

Things to Think About Before Filling in the Form

Before filling in the smart form, you should read this section and think about the information and documents you will need to start your complaint. The application form asks you to name who you blame for the human rights violation (the respondent). There can be more than one respondent. You must also give a detailed account of what led to the claim. Questions on the form include:

  • In what area and on what grounds do you believe your rights were violated?
  • What happened that makes you feel that you were discriminated against?
  • What do you want the tribunal to do about what happened?
  • Do you want to see any changes in policies or practices?

The form asks you to list the important witnesses and relevant documents that support your application. You will be asked to explain why each witness can help prove your case (For example, if a witness was there when an incident happened, you would say that on the form.)

The form asks about any relevant documents that other people have and that you need in order to prepare your case.

The form also asks you to identify anyone else who may be affected by the application, for example, your union.

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The Questions

This section will help you to fill in the smart form. The questions are grouped together under topics. Read carefully through this guide and be sure to fill in the answers to all 23 questions on the application form. You can also see the Applicant's Guide to Filing an Application with the HRTO.  It provides instruction about the form in both English and French.

Questions 1-4, Contact information

Q1: Applicant

This question asks for basic details about you, how you want to be contacted, and if you are filing on behalf of someone else.

Your Contact Information

It is very important that you give the HRTO your most recent contact information. If this changes, you must let the HRTO know right away or you may delay and ruin your application.

Q2 Alternative

You may not want the HRTO to share your contact information with other people involved in your application. You might also think it will be difficult for the HRTO to contact you at your current address. If either of these is a concern, you may give them contact information for someone who will act as your alternative contact person. This person will get all the mail from the HRTO on your behalf. Make sure that the person agrees to be your alternative contact. It is very important that your alternative contact person knows how important it is to pass along any HRTO material to you as soon as it arrives.

Q3 Representative

If you have a lawyer, paralegal or other person acting as your representative, all communication from the HRTO will be sent to that person. You must give the HRTO his or her complete contact information, and you must check the box on the form that allows this person to act as your representative.

Q4 Respondent

List the name of each organization and any person who might become a respondent in your complaint. If you are not sure exactly whom to name, you should call the HRTO Legal Support Centre for help.

You will also need to name a contact person for the organization and give contact information for that person. The contact person should be someone who will be able to respond on behalf of the organization (for example, the president, the human resources manager or the property manager). A contact person is not a respondent to the application. If you also want to name the contact personal as a respondent, you must include his or her information in both places on the form.

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Naming an Ontario government ministry or agency as a respondent

The HRTO DOES hear claims against the Ontario government. When you name a government ministry as a respondent in your Application, you must write it like this:

Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario, as represented by the Minister of ___________________ (Fill in the name of the ministry)

Questions 5 and 6: Grounds of Discrimination Claimed / Area in Which it Occurred

Q5 Grounds:

There are many specific grounds of discrimination (Click Here). Check through the list carefully to see which one(s) apply to your situation. Click beside each ground that you believe applies to the discrimination you are claiming.

You can check off more than one ground, for example, age and disability, or country of origin and disability.

You may have faced indirect discrimination. The code protects people from being discriminated against because of association. The code also protects people who are punished for trying to protect their rights. This is called reprisal.

Q6 Area of Alleged Discrimination

Your answer to Question 6 will lead you to another form you must fill in. On your application, click the boxes for the area(s) where you feel you have faced discrimination. The Code prohibits discrimination ONLY IN THESE 5 AREAS and if your application does not relate to one of them, it will be dismissed. If you believe you were discriminated against in more than one area, you should check “yes” to the box that asks, “Does your application allege discrimination in any other areas?” and then list the other areas.

Examples​ from Each Area

  • Employment: You were denied a promotion because you use a wheelchair. (Form 1-A)
  • Housing: You were denied an apartment because you are a person with a disability. (Form 1-B)
  • Goods, services and facilities: You were denied access to a recreation program because of your disability. (Form 1-C)
  • Contracts: You were denied the option to buy a house or condo because you are a person with a disability. (Form 1-D)
  • Membership in a vocation association: You were denied membership a sailing club or a legion because you are a person with a disability.

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Questions 7-9, Information that Supports Your Application

Q7: Location and Date

Be specific. The HRTO usually won’t accept applications that are filed more than a year after the event.

Q8: What Happened?

Tell the HRTO what happened to make you believe that the respondent has discriminated against you based on one of the grounds in the code. It will be easiest to understand your story if you start from the beginning and end with the last incident of discrimination. A very helpful way to make your story clear is to include only one incident or event in a paragraph and to number the paragraphs so you can refer back to them if necessary.

Explain each event and include:

  • what happened
  • who was involved
  • when it happened (day, month, year)
  • where it happened

If the way you were treated is different from the way other people are treated, be sure to explain that as well. You must explain why you believe that the treatment you received was because of the prohibited grounds you identified in Question 5 (e.g., your disability). If your application is about a policy or practice that has a negative impact on you, be sure to describe the policy or practice and describe how its impact on you is related to a code ground.

*** It is very important to include every incident of discrimination and every fact and issue you wish to raise. It may not be possible for you to raise new incidents of discrimination at the hearing if they are not mentioned in the Application. ***

Q9 How the Events You Described Affected You

Explain how the discrimination affected you (financial, social, health or other). For example:

  • if you lost money or income because of the discrimination, give details.
  • if your emotional or mental health suffered, describe this problem and how it affected you.
  • if you lost an opportunity (such as a promotion or new apartment) because of the discrimination, explain how.

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Q10: The Remedy

The code gives the HRTO powers to make orders and to award remedies. Explain what remedies you want and what remedies the HRTO can order if it finds that discrimination did happen.

Monetary Compensation: The HRTO can make an order that the respondent pay you money damages for:

  • Money that you have lost or have been forced to spend because of the discrimination, such as lost wages and benefits, increased rent or moving expenses.
  • Injury to your dignity, feelings and self-respect as a result of the discrimination.

The HRTO can also order the respondent to pay interest on the money that is awarded as damages.

Non-Monetary Remedy: The HRTO can order the respondent to do something that will put you in the position you would have been in if the discrimination had not happened. For example, if you lost your job because of the discrimination, the HRTO could order that you get your job back. Or, if your employer refused to accommodate your disability, the HRTO could order that the employer meet those needs.

Remedy for Future Compliance with the Code: A remedy for future compliance with the code is an action that the respondent can be ordered to take to prevent other people from facing the same type of discrimination in the future. For example, the HRTO could order the respondent to change hiring practices to encourage people with disabilities to apply.

Q11: Choosing Mediation to Resolve Your Application

The HRTO offers mediation to help parties to solve their disputes. It can be faster and more casual than a hearing. Mediation can happen only if the parties agree to it. An HRTO mediator will be assigned to the case. The parties must sign a mediation agreement agreeing to, among other things, keep what is said in the mediation private. The adjudicator will meet with all the parties to talk about the application and to try and work out a solution that all parties can accept. If a settlement is reached, the parties will sign a written agreement. Any party can come back to the HRTO if the agreement is broken.

If mediation does not settle all the issues, a hearing will still take place and a different adjudicator will decide the application. What is said during the mediation by the mediator or by any party cannot be mentioned at the hearing unless both parties agree. If you want to try mediation, put an X in the “Yes” box on the application form. The HRTO encourages you to try mediation.

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Questions 12-15: Other Legal Proceedings

The application asks if you are now involved, or have been involved with other legal proceedings related to the same facts or issues that are raised in your application. They want to know if you have attempted to deal with these same issues in another setting, for example a court or workplace tribunal. You must answer “yes” or “no” to all the questions in this section, or your application may be treated as incomplete, and the HRTO will not be able to process it.

Q12: Civil Court Action

If you have made a claim in a court that is related to the events in your application, you must include a copy of the statement of claim with your application. The HRTO may not process your application without a copy of the Statement of Claim. If this applies to you, you may have to delay or change your HTRO application. Consult the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for details.

Q13: Complaint Filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission

Tell them if you have previously filed a complaint with the commission based on the same or almost the same facts as this current application. If so, you will need to include a copy of the complaint. The HRTO will not process your application until it receives a copy of the commission complaint.

Q14: and 15: Grievance or another tribunal

You need to tell the HRTO about any other places where you have made a complaint, and include a copy of that document with your application to the HRTO. The HRTO may not process your application until it receives this document.

If the other proceeding is still going on, the HRTO may decide to postpone your application until the other proceeding is finished. If the other proceeding is complete, the HRTO may dismiss your application in whole or in part if it finds that the other proceeding has properly dealt with the main issues raised in your application. You will have an opportunity to explain why you believe the other proceeding did not appropriately deal with the substance of your application.

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Questions 16-18 Documents That Support This Application

This is the section where you list the most important documents that you believe will support your application.

Q16: Important Documents You Have

List the important documents that you have. At this point you only need to write down the names of the documents you will be using; you don’t have to send copies with your application. Any documents you send with your application will be shared with the respondent.

You must let them know if you are claiming that any of the documents are privileged and will not be disclosed. If you have questions about whether a document may be privileged, ask a legal advisor.

Q17: Important Documents the Respondent Has

List the important documents that you do not have, but that you believe the respondent has in their possession.

Q18: Important Documents Another Person or Organization Has

List the important documents that you believe someone else - other than the respondent - has that you do not have.

Question 19: Witnesses

List the names of witnesses who have important information that will support your application. Explain why their information is important. This part of your application will be kept confidential by the HRTO. It will not send this section of your application to the respondent when they deliver the application. Once your application is scheduled for a hearing, you and the respondent must exchange witness lists and statements.

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Question 20: Other Information the Tribunal Should Know

This is your opportunity to tell the HRTO any other information that you believe is important but that did not fit into any other question on the application. For example, it may be important to tell the HRTO if you are aware of other similar or related applications filed against the same respondent.

Question 21-22: Final Steps Before Filing the Application

Checklist of Required Documents:

Use this checklist to make sure that you have attached or will send all of the documents you need to complete your application. You can send the documents together with your application, or separately by mail, fax or email. If you are sending your application separately, you must clearly write your name and the respondent(s) name on each document.  

Q21: Area of Discrimination under the Code

This question reminds you to fill in and include the supplemental form that relates to the social area you chose and checked off in Question 6.

If you fill in the smart form on-line, the supplemental form will attach to your application automatically. If not, you must remember to send to the HRTO or your application will be considered to be incomplete and the HRTO will not process it.

Q22: Documents from questions 12-15

This question reminds you to include the documents related to another legal proceeding if you answered “yes” to one or more of Questions 12-15. If you are filing your application online, you must remember to send the document to the HRTO right away.

*If you don't give all the required documents to the HRTO, your application may not be processed.

Question 23: Declaration and Signature

Before you sign your application, carefully read:

  • the statement on Freedom of Information and Privacy
  • the declaration that goes above your signature

When you sign your application, you declare that your application is as complete and accurate as you can make it. This means that, to the best of your knowledge, you have included everything you were asked to and that all of your answers are true. If you are filing your application electronically, clicking the box in the Declaration section represents your legal signature.

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Human Rights Overview

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Types of Issue the HRTO Hears
Other Areas Covered by the Code
Areas Not Addressed by the HRTO

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) is set up to resolve claims of discrimination and harassment brought under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the code) in a way that is fair, just and timely.  

This site offers general information only, and not legal advice. If you want to make an application to the HRTO, you can contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for help. The centre can offer legal advice and also legal representation at mediations and hearings. The centre is separate from the tribunal. Call the Legal Support Centre at 1-800-387-9080.

This resource aims to take you through the online application form AND guide you through the steps after you apply. The HRTO also has an Application Guide you can download from the Internet. 

Is the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for You?

The HRTO can hold hearings, make decisions and order remedies. All HRTO decision-makers are experienced in human rights law and issues. They are impartial, and have no stake in the outcome. In some ways the HRTO is like a court, but the setting is not as formal, its rules are not as strict, and the interaction between parties is not as adversarial. 

The HRTO's core values are:  

  • Accessibility, both physically and functionally
  • Fairness
  • Transparency (openness)
  • Timeliness
  • The opportunity to be heard

Types of Issues the HRTO Hears

The HRTO deals with violations of a person’s rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code

The code gives each person the right to equal treatment in these five areas:

  • Employment
  • Accommodation (housing)
  • Goods, services and facilities
  • Contracts
  • Membership in vocational associations and trade unions

The code gives each person the right to be free from discrimination or harassment on any of the grounds listed below. The Code defines harassment as a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome beecause of: 

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic origin
  • Disability
  • Creed (religion)
  • Sex, including pregnancy
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Family status
  • Marital status (including same sex partners)
  • Age
  • Receipt of public assistance (Note: This ground applies only to claims about housing.)
  • Record of offences (Note: This ground applies only to claims about employment.)
  • Gender expression

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Other Areas Covered by the Code:

The code also protects people who:

  • Are discriminated against because they have a relationship, association or other dealing with a person or persons who are identified by one of the grounds listed above (e.g., you are married to a person with a disability).
  • Face reprisal or threats of reprisal because they have claimed rights or taken part in a proceeding under the code.
  • Face reprisal or threats of reprisal because they have refused to infringe on another person’s rights.
  • Have experienced sexual solicitation or advances by a person who is in a position to give or deny a benefit.
  • Face reprisal or threats of reprisal for rejecting a sexual solicitation or sexual advance.

Simply put, you likely have a valid application for the HRTO if you have been discriminated against and/or harassed:

  • in one of the five areas (e.g., housing or employment)
  • on the basis of a listed grounds (e.g., disability or age)

Common Exceptions to the Ontario Human Rights Code

There are a number of situations that may appear to be discriminatory but which do not, in fact, violate the code. Six of the more common exceptions are listed below. 

 Defences and exemptions to discrimination under the code

Age: The code allows certain exemptions based on age. For example, although the code states that a person cannot be treated differently because of his or her age, it allows different insurance rates based on age.

Shared Housing: There can be an exemption in housing. For example, the code allows an owner of a house to refuse to rent to someone based on their gender or race if: 

  • the owner or his or her family also lives there; and
  • the owner or his or her family would be sharing a kitchen or bathroom with the tenant.

Personal Care: Another type of exemption can be in employment. For example, when a person hires someone for intimate and personal care such as bathing or washroom assistance, she or he can insist on caregivers of a certain gender.  

Undue Hardship: The code states that employers, landlords and service providers must make arrangements for human-rights related needs to the point of undue hardship. An exemption can be made for an organization or person to NOT accommodate a person’s code-protected needs if it can be shown that doing so would be too expensive or too unsafe.

For example, it may be considered undue hardship for a small restaurant to re-design their kitchen in order to assist a dishwasher who uses a wheelchair. Among other things, the tribunal would have to look at the cost, the finances of the restaurant, the importance of the accommodation (for the complainant and the public as a whole), the industry practice and the other circumstances of the particular case.

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Areas that are not addressed by the HRTO 

The HRTO may not hear applicatons about federal respondents.

The HRTO cannot hear applications about organizations that fall under federal jurisdiction, like banks and airlines. If you think your complaint may be against a federal respondent, contact the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal at 1-888-214-1090.

The HRTO may not deal with claims made in another proceeding.

The HRTO avoids dealing with issues it feels have been properly addressed through another proceeding.  The HRTO listens to the positions of both sides before dismissing an appeal. The HRTO may decide to defer an appeal until the results of the other proceeding are known. If you are also dealing with this issue through another process or tribunal, you should contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre to talk about it. 

The HRTO may not accept applications about discrimination that happened outside Ontario.

In most cases you cannot apply to the HRTO for discrimination that happened outside Ontario. To find out about exceptions, you should contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

You may not apply through the HRTO about a previous human rights settlement that is not being followed.

If you settled a previous human rights complaint, and the respondent didn't follow the settlement agreement, you should contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for help. There is a special application for that, called Application for Contravention of Settlement, Form 18.

There are different requirements if you are filing on behalf of another person. Links to the forms are listed below and will open in a new window.

To file an application on behalf of another person you must submit Form 1 as well as one other form. Form 4A should be used by those who are applying on behalf of a person under the age of eighteen. Form 4B should be used by those who are applying on behalf of a person who does not have the mental capacity to file on their own. Form 27 should be used by those who are filing on behalf of another perons who would be permitted to bring an application on their own, and who consents to the application.

PDF Links 

Form 4A

Form 4B

Form 27 


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