Human rights and COVID
May 10, 2021
Human rights and COVID

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (HRTO) has found that visitor restrictions at a care home for youth violated section 1 of the Human Rights Code which states, “Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.”


The Tribunal agreed that human rights continue to exist in the pandemic, and the pandemic is just contextual. The case arose because a youth with a disability was restricted from seeing his parents in-person and prevented the youth from communicating with his parents. The youth was a non-verbal communicator, who used gestures, touch and physical direction to communicate with his family. During the restriction period, video conferencing was available but that was insufficient because it prevented the youth from communicating at all.

HRTO found that video conference was not a reasonable accommodation and the care home should have assessed what risk would result from the youth’s parents visiting him without physical distancing and should have considered alternative COVID precautions. 

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