Equity and Inclusion Policy

The goal of this policy is to provide a workplace and client services based on inclusion, safety, diversity and access. It is divided into four components: preventing discrimination, preventing harassment, preventing violence, and access for persons with disabilities.

This policy applies equally to all levels of the organization (board of directors, managers, employees, trainees, volunteers and clients). The Executive Director is responsible for adopting internal procedures to apply/enforce? these four components.

Any violation of this policy may result in disciplinary measures being taken, such as suspension, termination, removal of the right to enter the building and/or deposition of criminal accusations. Similar disciplinary measures may be taken against any person acting in good faith while making complaints for vexatious reasons or any person making false accusations or spreading false information. 

1. Preventing Discrimination  

The Centre adheres to the Ontario Human Rights Code which states that ‘’It is public policy in Ontario to recognize the inherent dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination. As stated in its Preamble, the purpose of the Code is to create a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person, so that each person feels a part of the community and feels able to contribute to the community. Every person in Ontario has a right to equal treatment with respect to housing without discrimination.’’   

Therefore, the Centre promotes diversity and equality at all levels of the organization. It strives to create a culture of understanding and mutual respect so that each person feels part of and contributes positively to the Centre’s and the community’s development. It promotes racial, ethnic, cultural and sexual diversity in the communities that it serves.

The Centre plays an active role in eliminating racism and discrimination based on sexual orientation and all other forms of discrimination, including those based on health issues.  To this end, discrimination, harassment and all other similar behaviors are not tolerated. 

The various forms of discrimination are defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code.   

More specifically, the Centre has adopted strategies to deal with the following aspects: 

  1. Information sharing, communication between the different communities served by the Centre, orientation and training regarding the prevention of racism, efforts to discourage discrimination and encourage diversity at all levels of the organization (board of directors, employees, volunteers and clients). 
  1. Employment equity. 
  1. Recruiting volunteers and members for its board of directors who reflect the communities served by the Centre. 
  1. Equal access to services by all members of the community. 
  1. Identification of the community’s composition and needs. 
  1. Fair handling of client complaints.  

2. Preventing Harassment  

The Centre is also committed to complying with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (hereinafter called ‘’OHS Act’’) and offering a workplace where each person is treated with respect and dignity.    

a)  Workplace Harassment:1 

Workplace harassment is defined in the OHS Act as "engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome". The OHS Act also includes a definition of workplace sexual harassment.

Workplace harassment can also include a form of discrimination as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code, such as discrimination based on race, ascendance, origin, color, ethnicity, citizenship, beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, existence of a criminal record, marital status, family status or a disability. 

Harassment can include, but is not limited to:

  • Making jokes or insinuations that demean, ridicule, intimidate, isolate or offend; 
  • Making degrading jokes or unwanted remarks (offensive) about a person’s appearance, physical traits, religious affiliation, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability or other; 
  • Tyrannizing or persecuting someone; 
  • Making unkind telephone calls or sending unkind emails designed to intimidate repeatedly; 
  • Posting explicit, racist or sexist illustrations or photos or otherwise offensive or derogatory material (such as posters or emails); 
  • Making unnecessary physical contact;
  • Playing pranks leading to insults or embarrassment. 

b)  Sexual Harassment 2  

Sexual harassment means:  

  1. Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace, because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known to be unwelcome or 
  2. Making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome. 

3. Access for persons with disabilities 

The Centre complies with the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (20 + employees category), whose goal is to progressively eliminate barriers to accessibility and make Ontario accessible by 2025.  

The Centre fulfills its duties and responsibilities regarding this policy by training its employees, communicating with clients who have a disability, providing accessible telephone lines, online telephone services, functional devices and accessories, and welcoming service animals and service personnel. 

Definitions 3  

‘’Disability’’ is defined as:  

a) Any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness,  diabetes mellitus, epilepsy,  brain injury, and any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device;

b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability;

c) a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language;  

d) a mental disorder; 

e) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

4. Preventing violence in the workplace  

The Centre also complies with the provisions of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (hereinafter called OHS Act) in order to offer a healthy and safe workplace. This policy aims at identifying unacceptable behaviors and creating procedures to prevent, report and resolve violent incidents that could happen in our workplace.  It also aims at preventing risks in order to increase the protection of all involved.  

The Centre constantly assesses all acts of violence in the workplace and notes all factors contributing to this violence.  No act of violence, aggressive behavior or inappropriate verbal threats or gestures is tolerated at the Centre.   

Definitions and unacceptable behaviors 

Workplace Violence : 4  

  • the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker;
  • an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker;
  • a statement or behavior that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.

Acts of violence include: 

  • making an explicit or implicit threat to injure a person or a group of individuals; 
  • leaving threatening telephone messages or emails; 
  • having or holding a weapon or grabbing any object that could reasonably be categorized as a weapon in the Centre’s facilities;  
  • throwing an object to a co-worker, a client or a volunteer; 
  • acting in a threatening manner (making gestures with a fist, destroying material, throwing objects, causing vandalism, sabotaging); 
  • any other act or behavior that a reasonable person could interpret as a threat of violence.  

Family Violence  

The Centre acknowledges that family violence and sexual violence can happen in the workplace, putting at risk the victims and their co-workers and can cause a loss of productivity, higher health costs, increased absenteeism, and a higher staff turnover.  The Centre is committed to taking all reasonable precautions to protect an employee in the workplace who is subject to family violence and is risking bodily injury. 

If at all possible, the Centre will protect the employee’s confidentiality, while exercising its responsibilities regarding a violent situation.  

5. Resolution of a complaint

The Centre is committed to investigating all incidents and complaints of discrimination, violence and workplace harassment and intervening fairly and diligently while respecting the parties’ privacy.   

Any person who believes they are experiencing discrimination, harassment or violence, or who witnesses such incidents or who is aware of such incidents happening in the Centre must report the incident to his/her immediate supervisor or to the Executive Director.  In all cases, the Executive Director or his/her representative will be advised of the situation. 

The Executive Director will take note of the complaint and communicate with its author; he/she must indicate in writing, within 10 work days, its decision regarding admissibility of the complaint.  At his/her discretion, the Executive Director may hire outside expertise to conduct the investigation. 

The Executive Director will submit his/her investigation report and his/her decision in writing within 20 work days.  He/She may impose corrective measures, such as compensation for damage caused (public apology, denying false statements) or disciplinary measures including dismissal and/or a change of workplace.  Both the complainant and the person considered as the harasser (if he/she is an employee of the Centre) will be informed confidentially of the investigation results and any corrective measures taken. 

If the complaint concerns or involves the Executive Director, it will be immediately directed to the President of the Board of Directors. If the complaint is deemed admissible, the President will submit it to the Executive Committee for action.  

All complaints or incident reports will be kept confidential, including the identity of the complainant, except if the disclosure of this information is required to perform the investigation or resolve the complaint, or if the disclosure is required by law. This confidentiality requirement applies equally to authorities who are managing the complaint and the person lodging the complaint.  

Procedure to expel a client 

If the investigation reveals that the client did in fact demonstrate an inappropriate behavior under the terms of this policy, the Centre may expel the client and close his/her file, following these steps:  

  • The Executive Director will send the client a registered letter;  
  • All employees of the Centre will be advised by email or internal memo that the client has been expelled from the Centre; 
  • A note will be added to the client’s file. 

As an employer, the Centre ensures the application and maintenance of this policy and resulting procedures, and ensures that all supervisors and employees have the information and directives required to protect themselves against workplace violence. 

  1. Responsiblities of the Executive Director: 
  • Inform employees about the OHS Act and the policy described in this document. 
  • Promote a workplace free from all violence. 
  • Offer training to employees to help them better manage incidents of violence in the workplace. 
  • In cooperation with the Centre’s Health and Safety Committee, assess risks of violent incidents in the workplace, at least once a year or as needed. The Executive Director will read the assessment report and develop strategies to minimize and manage identified risks. 
  • When required and appropriate, inform certain staff members about employees who have a history of violent behavior, if it is likely that these staff members will be meeting these employees in the course of their daily work and if the risk of workplace violence could cause them bodily injury. 
  • Take reasonable precautions, depending on circumstances, to protect the employee, if the Centre is informed of a violent situation that could expose the employee or his/her co-workers to bodily injury in the workplace. 
  • Treat each incident report with diligence and objectivity; 
  • Encourage all victims of violent incidents to receive medical care and appropriate support. 
  • Inform the Health and Safety Committee about all workplace violence incidents in order to eliminate potential risks and dangers. 
  1. Responsiblities of employees: 
  • Always be respectful of others in the workplace and while participating in any work-related activity; 
  • Understand this policy and resuslting procedures; 
  • Ensure their own safety in the case of a violent incident in the workplace and then report the incident; 
  • Report all violent incidents or risk of violent incident in the workplace that they are aware of, by competing an ‘’Incident Report’’; 
  • Immediately report any act of violence or any threat that, for a reasonable person, could be considered a potential danger, committed toward them or witnessed by them; 
  • Cooperate in all investigations and problem resolution efforts undertaken under the terms of this policy; 
  • Participate in training programs and ensure they are able to react appropriately in any case of violent incident in the workplace. 

The Centre reserves the right to: 

  • Adopt all rules or procedures required to give effect to this policy; 
  • According to the terms of the OHS Act, disclose any information that is reasonably required to ensure that Centre employees are aware of any risk of violence in the workplace; 
  • Deny entry to the Centre to certain people; 
  • Refuse to deal with any organization, company or individual that does not take the appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the Centre’s employees according to the terms of this policy and the OHS Act; 
  • Hire specialized external expertise required to give effect to this policy; 
  • Advise police authorities of any violent behavior, following instructions from the Executive Director.