Harassment and Discrimination

Law & Policy – Rights & Responsibility   

To live and work free of harassment and discrimination is a human right – guaranteed under the federal and provincial laws of Canada.  Such laws create both rights and responsibilities – a right to live without harm and an obligation to act within certain parameters of behaviour.  

Generally speaking, law arises from the legislation enacted by parliaments; and from the courts, in which judges interpret legislation and create a body of case law – which is then further relied upon to apply laws in an evolving society. 

Sources of Human Rights Law

Federal:  - Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [1]       

The Charter, which is the foundation of all human rights law in Canada, sets out three domains of rights and freedoms: 

1.   Fundamental Freedoms (religious observance, thought and expression, assembly)  

2.   Legal Rights (life, liberty and the security of the person)  

3.   Equality Rights **   

Of these domains, it is Equality Rights, specifically, section 15, which guarantees equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability. 


                - Canadian Human Rights Act [2]

Sets out protections against discrimination and harassment  in federal jurisdictions, governing those individuals working in crown corporations or federal agencies. 


Provincial: The Ontario Human Rights Code [3]

  • Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome  

  • Sexual solicitation or advance made by a person in a position to grant or deny a benefit to the person  

  • Reprisal or threat of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance where the reprisal is made or threatened by a person in a position to grant or deny   a   benefit to the person  

Regulated Health Professions Act [4]

      In preventing sexual abuse: 

  • No sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual relations between member and patient 

  • No touching of a sexual nature of the patient by the member 

  • No behavior or remarks of a sexual nature by the member towards the patient 


Each province in Canada has a human rights code.  In most situations related to the study and practice of medicine, It is the provincial code that ensures the rights and responsibilities of human rights in the workplace and classroom. While the protected groups vary slightly across Canada, all provinces offer protection on the basis of:

  1. Race 

  2. Colour 

  3. Ethnicity 

  4. Ancestry 

  5. Religion 

  6. Sex or gender 

  7. Sexual orientation 

  8. Disability 

  9. Family and/or marital status 

  10. Age  


Links to the provincial and territorial human rights commissions or tribunals:


British Columbia  


New Brunswick 

Newfoundland and Labrador 

NorthWest Territories

Nova Scotia 



Prince Edward Island 





1. http://www.efc.ca/pages/law/charter/charter.text.html

2. http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/H-6/index.html

3. Ontario Human Rights Code http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en

4. http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/DBLaws/Statutes/English/91r18_e.htm

All references for this section