What is Creed? Ontario Human Rights Commission seeks input

February 11th, 2014 by Lauren Blumas

There has been a lot of confusion around “creed” as a protected ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) over the years. During our recent outing as presenters at the Golden Horseshoe Co‑operative Housing Federation conference, we were asked to define creed. The answer to this question is not straightforward. Generally speaking, courts and tribunals interpret creed to be the same as religion. Other decisions have left open the possibility that creed includes spiritual practices and non‑religious beliefs.

Fortunately, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is in the process of updating its Policy on Creed (last revised in 1996) that can be used as a tool by employers, service providers and housing providers to develop best practices. In the meantime, the OHRC has released its report titled Human Rights and Creed Research and consolation report, which addresses the confusion about the definition of creed, current social trends on how we identify as Canadians, and some preliminary questions on the scope and limitations of creed.

The report helpfully points out the difficulties organizations face regarding creed, identifying for example, sincerity of belief as a challenge to providing appropriate accommodation for creed beliefs and practices.

The policy is still very much in its early stages. The OHRC is looking for input from stakeholders on key questions outlined in the report. If you want to be part of the conversation, you can email your comments to the OHRC at [email protected] with your thoughts on what a helpful policy might look like.

The report can be found here (pdf).



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