Human Rights

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or “the Charter”, guarantees political and civil rights for all people in Canada. It was signed into law by Queen Elizabeth II of Canada on April 17th 1982.

Your rights and freedoms while in Canada will be protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was introduced to protect people from discrimination based on race, sex, age, skin colour, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

The Charter came into effect on April 17, 1982. It safeguards and guarantees:

  • freedom of speech, thought and religion
  • a democratic government
  • your right to live and seek employment anywhere in Canada
  • a lawyer and legal representation if you are accused of a crime
  • Aboriginal peoples’ rights
  • equality between women and men
  • your right to use either of Canada’s official languages
  • the right of French and English people to an education in their own language
  • Protection from discrimination based on race, country of origin, colour, religion, sex, age and mental or physical disability.

The Charter works with the Canadian Human Rights Act and Ontario’s Human Rights Code to stop unfairness (discrimination) in all parts of society, including the workplace, housing and educational system.

The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act applies to federally regulated employers, unions and service providers who offer goods, services, facilities or accommodation to the public.

The Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, colour, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability and other factors.

For more information, see the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Ontario Human Rights Code

The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law that gives all people equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific areas such as jobs, housing and services. The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, colour, sex, disability, creed, age and other grounds

For more information, see the Ontario Human Rights Commission website.

If you feel your rights have been violated, you can file a human rights complaint by contacting the Human Rights Legal Support centre of Ontario or the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Permanent Residents

Once you arrive in Canada and have a permanent resident card, you have certain rights and privileges. There are things you can and cannot do when you are a permanent resident. Learn about being a Permanent Resident of Canada.