OPSBA Concerned About Abrupt Closure on Bill 107

Toronto, November 30, 2006- Bill 107 proposes significant changes to Ontario?s Human Rights system and, in particular, reshapes the ways in which human rights complaints are handled. The Ontario Public School Boards' Association has written this week to Attorney-General Michael Bryant to express deep concern about the unexpected move to invoke closure on Bill 107 and push it through to Third Reading.

"Adherence to and active promotion of human rights is a fundamental value of all who work and learn in the public school system," said OPSBA President Rick Johnson. "Our Association fully supports the goal of having an exemplary human rights system in our province."

The intent of reform is, in the words of the Attorney-General, "to make our human rights system stronger, faster and more effective, to better serve the people of our province." Individuals and organizations who have experience of the current system have concerns about delays and inefficiencies in dealing with human rights complaints and have a range of ideas on how to improve the system. Hearings and written submissions to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy represented an important way for the public to put forward suggestions for reform.

With the motion for closure, the work of the Standing Committee on Justice Policy with regard to Bill 107 has been revised from a schedule of public hearings going into the winter to an accelerated clause by clause consideration of Bill 107, including a series of amendments announced on November 15th, preparatory to Third Reading on the Bill.

There is now no opportunity to bring forward issues of concern such as the effect on due process of the powers of the Human Rights Tribunal as proposed in Bill 107.

"The tenor of proposed changes would appear to give far-reaching power and discretion to the Tribunal and concurrently reduce the ability of applicants or respondents to appeal Tribunal decisions," said Johnson. "OPSBA is very concerned that the processes of the Tribunal take precedence over the Statutory Powers and Procedures Act, setting them above any oversight by the courts."

This key concern has been communicated in OPSBA?1/30/0's letter to Minister Bryant together with a request that the motion for closure on Bill 107 be revoked.

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For more information, please contact:

Jeff Sprang
Communications
(416) 340-2540

11/30/2006