The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and York’s Centre for Human Rights will celebrate International Human Rights Day this Friday with the launch of the OHRC’s Human Rights and Rental Housing e-learning. As the OHRC says, housing is a human right.
This is the second of a series of e-learning modules developed by the OHRC. It will launch on Dec. 10, from 12:15 to 1pm, at 280N York Lanes, Keele campus. Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the OHRC, will speak at the event along with Noël Badiou, director of York’s Centre for Human Rights. A short video, Human Rights and Rental Housing, will also be screened at the launch.
“I’m pleased that the Centre for Human Rights is hosting the OHRC’s launch of this e-learning tool at the University, as students at York who are living near campus can experience the types of concerns that the e-learning tool is meant to help address,” says Badiou. “While some of York’s Ontarian students may have some basic knowledge, there are many international students who would not necessarily know all of their rights as protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. In this regard, it seems fitting that the tool will be launched on International Human Rights Day, as it will not only benefit Ontarian students, but also York’s impressively diverse international student complement.”
Left: Noël Badiou
The Human Rights and Rental Housing e-learning was developed by York alumnus Richard Fouchaux (BFA Spec. Hons. ’97, BEd ’97), electronic education specialist at the OHRC, following the release of the Right at Home: Report on the Consultation on Human Rights and Rental Housing in Ontario and the Human Rights and Rental Housing policy.
“It’s an innovative policy,” says Shaheen Azmi, acting director, policy, education, monitoring & outreach for the OHRC. “Housing policy has not been well developed in this country. There have been circumstances where bylaws have been passed that are discriminatory to students.” Often, communities close to universities and colleges are against student housing and want it restricted. “We’ve addressed these as a human rights concern,” he says.
The e-learning tool will help advance human rights across Ontario, providing an accessible, easy-to-navigate way to reach some of the more vulnerable groups, such as low-income individuals, youth, seniors, newly arrived refugees and immigrants, and people with disabilities. The e-learning tool is also targeted to students, who are sometimes discriminated against when applying for rental housing because they often have a short employment history. In developing the tool, the OHRC consulted with, and had input from, hundreds of groups, including the Ontario Federation of Students.
Rental housing is an area where it’s not immediately clear to people what their rights are, says Azmi. “The e-learning tool will inform users of what their human rights are and how to exercise them.” It is designed to educate both tenants and landlords about their rights and responsibilities related to human rights and housing.
The Human Rights and Rental Housing e-learning will take an average learner 30 minutes or less to complete, but they can come back to it any time. It will allow users to access human rights information from anywhere there is Internet: a café, their school or workplace, even from the comfort of their home. For students, office or factory workers or newcomers to Canada who may be unsure of their rights, they can access Human Rights 101 on the Internet at any time of the day.
Each unit begins with an introduction telling users what they will learn including:
- patterns of discrimination in rental housing;
- rights and responsibilities of tenants and housing providers, under the Ontario Human Rights Code;
- questions that can and cannot be asked when screening tenants.
After going through the sections, users can review the information and take a quiz to see how much they learned.
For more information about the Human Rights and Rental Housing e-learning tool, visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission website. For more information about human rights at York, visit the Centre for Human Rights.