Party Leaders’ Responses to CLGRO’s 2003 Election Questions

Will you and your party:

1. recognize lesbian, gay and bisexual Ontarians as a distinct population with broad health and wellbeing issues beyond HIV/AIDS, in social policy and funding dealing with health and social services, as other populations are?

EVES (PC): Our government is committed to ensuring that Ontario is a province in which the rights and dignity of our diverse communities are respected. That’s why the Ontario Human Rights Code is such a vital guardian of human rights in Ontario. Ontario’s Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination based on a number of grounds, including sexual orientation and same-sex partnership status. Protection against discrimination and the complaint process are the same for all grounds covered by the code.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission, an agency of the Ministry of Citizenship, in addition to enforcing the Code, has a mandate to conduct promotion and awareness activities to inform Ontarians of their rights and responsibilities under the Code.

Following a consultative process initiated in 1999, the Commission released new policies in 2000 regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. The policy on Discrimination and Harassment Because of Sexual Orientation sets out Human Rights Code protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and same-sex partnership status. The policy on Discrimination and Harassment Because of Gender Identity sets out OHRC position on Human Rights Code protection against discrimination based on gender identity.

In 2001-02, 2% of complaints filed with the Commission cited sexual orientation as a primary ground of discrimination. This is consistent with the past number of years.

MCGUINTY (Liberal): Ontario Liberals recognize lesbian, gay and bisexual Ontarians as a distinct population. As with Ontario’s other distinct populations and all Ontarians, we will work in government to ensure that every person in Ontario gets their unique health and social service needs met.

HAMPTON (NDP): Yes. We fully support this approach. For example, in Government we funded the Gay and Lesbian Youth Line.

2. ensure that government ministries produce and monitor compliance with anti homophobia guidelines for healthcare professionals so that we receive treatment that respects our dignity and does not endanger our health?

EVES: The Ontario Human Rights Code is in place to provide a strong foundation for the protection of rights of all Ontarians. Protection against discrimination and the complaint process are the same for all grounds covered by the Code including sexual orientation.

It may interest you to know that ethical standards are in place to protect to ensure all patients are treated fairly and equally ie: College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Health Professions Procedural Code. In addition, most Ontario hospitals have on staff a ‘Patient Ombudsman’ who can investigate and resolve service complaints made by hospital patients.

MCGUINTY: Ontario Liberals will ensure that all Ontarians receive treatment that respects their dignity and does not endanger their health, including monitoring compliance with anti homophobia guidelines.

HAMPTON: Yes. We would work with professional organizations in the healthcare sector as well as gay and lesbian community representatives to develop such guidelines and methods of ensuring compliance.

3. support amending the Police Services Act to:
(a) establish effective civilian oversight and public accountability of municipal police services?
(b) establish an effective system of civilian oversight of the investigation and adjudication of third-party complaints to be laid?

EVES: The Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services (OCCPS) is an arms-length agency of the crown which is appointed by the Executive Council of the Government of Ontario. The Commission operates under the same rules and authority as the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

OCCPS ensures that all complaints against the police are investigated properly and in a timely way. The complainant may request, at any step in the process, that OCCPS intervene and rule on the decisions taken by the investigating agency and may direct alternative action. OCCPS may conduct an investigation into any matter on its own discretion and direct that appropriate action be taken against an officer or a police service.

In addition, at the local level, the Police Services Board is required by law to oversee the public complaints precess within their respective police service and ensure that the Chief of Police is following the regulatory requirements of the Police Services Act. OCCPS is expanding its education and outreach programs to make minority communities more aware of the complaints process and how it works.

MCGUINTY: An Ontario Liberal government will establish an independent police Complaints and Civilian Oversight Agency. This Civilian oversight Agency must have the confidence of both the broader community as well as the police themselves. The creation of an effective, fair, and accessible Agency demands that we commit to involving all the stakeholders to lend us their best advice to ensure that the Agency is, above all, reflective of the communities it will be charged to serve and, secondly, that there is an appropriate complaints process put into place that will address and enhance the civilian oversight role of the Agency.

HAMPTON: [a] Yes. [b] Yes. The NDP would establish an independent civilian complaints commission. Our Leader Howard Hampton has introduced Bill 220, a private members bill that would do just that and includes the ability for third party complaints to be laid.

4. mandate schools to provide a safe and positive environment for dealing with LGBT students and staff?

EVES: Our government has made a commitment to enhance respect and responsibility in schools. Over the past two years our government has fulfilled that commitment by launching a range of Safe Schools initiatives.

One of our commitments is prevention and timely intervention to keep our schools safe. That is why the elementary curriculum focuses on teaching students and equipping them with knowledge on how to resolve conflict and to treat others with respect.

Moreover – it was the Conservative Government that was also the first ever to introduce an Ontario Schools Code of Conduct (released in April 2000) that sets clear, consistent, province-wide standards for behaviour for everyone in the school system and includes a standard for how students and all those in the education system should be treated with dignity and respect.

MCGUINTY: Ontario Liberals will work with school boards to ensure that LGBT students and staff have a safe and positive environment.

HAMPTON: Yes. We would move quickly to enact a Charter of Rights for Education. This includes a guarantee of accessibility. Every child will be guaranteed access to an education unimpeded by a financial barrier or any other barrier. Bullying and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should have no place in our schools. The NDP will work with educators, students and the gay and lesbian community to ensure that all students can learn in a barrier free environment.

5. commit to making it government policy to mandate school boards to provide policies to deal with homophobia and anti-gay violence in the schools through education and anti-harassment/violence and bullying policies?

EVES: Our government was the first ever to implement a Safe Schools Act in 2000, which included the Ontario Schools Code of Conduct. Our legislation has created safer school environments throughout Ontario and helps to ensure that no student is bullied, threatened, or intimidated for whatever reason. Our position is clear – a school is a place for learning and no student should feel threatened for any reason whether it be rase, religion, creed, orientation or gender or any other reason for that matter.

Our Code of Conduct states that all members of the school community should be treated with respect and dignity and that diversity should be valued. Moreover, our government requires school boards to put in place their own codes of conduct to augment the tough Provincial Code. As part of this local code of conduct, school boards have the flexibility to set any number of unacceptable behaviors and link them to the Provincial standards of behavior.

MCGUINTY: Our Excellence for All Education platform includes A Safe Schools Plan with measures to put an end to bullying in our schools, school surveillance cameras and a school safety hotline. Included in our Plan will be initiatives to deal with homophobia and anti-gay violence in our schools. In addition, our plan includes a mandatory Character education program for all secondary schools. This program will include teaching to reinforce values such as respect for all, honesty, and fairness. Additional information on our Safe Schools and Character Education Plan are available .

HAMPTON: Yes. See answer to question 5 [4]. The NDP will ensure that schools teach and implement anti-discrimination and violence prevention policies.

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