Christin Milloy:

Rise up and seize equality

The Economic Case To Support Ontario’s Bill-33 (Toby’s Act)


For better or worse (opinions vary), we have a Human Rights Code in Ontario. Toby’s Act is the chance to vote for, or against, new explicit inclusion of a “ground” which is already implicitly covered.

Bill 33 (Toby’s Act) will very slightly amend the Human Rights Code (HRC), to explicitly mention “Gender Identity and Expression” in the list of “prohibited grounds” for discrimination.

Toby’s Act is up for Second Reading tomorrow, Thursday, May 10.

What is the fiscally responsible decision?

The case for social equality has already been made, but what are the economic considerations associated with the question of passing Toby’s Act?

I have about 100 of these to take down to Queen's Park in a couple of hours.

The main group to whom these protections are relevant is Transgender and Transsexual persons (collectively, “trans” people). Although the general consensus among activists, lawyers, and other human rights experts is that trans people are already “implicitly” protected by the HRC, the lack of explicit mention makes the status of that protection ambiguous.

The costs when protections only exist “implicitly:”

Each year, many new trans discrimination cases are filed with the tribunal. Because Gender Identity and Expression are not yet in the HRC, HRTO accepts those complaints under the ground of “sex” (or sometimes, of “disability”). Unfortunately, because the protections are implicit only, the tribunals suffer from a lack of historical precedents in reaching decisions. Much of this is undiscovered country, and the result: cases that should be resolved rapidly instead drag on for months, even years.

Furthermore, the implicit nature of the protections leads more employers and service providers to think they can get away with acts of anti-trans discrimination, resulting in a higher number of cases filed.

All of this is disappointing and avoidable, because making protection explicit is much simpler and less costly—while at the same time it preserves the same level of Human Rights Code protection for everyone.

The economic benefit of adding explicit protection:

Explicit protection means fewer acts of discrimination will happen as employers and service providers are put on notice, so fewer cases will be filed at all. For cases which are filed, explicit protection means more cases will be settled in mediation which is much cheaper for the province.

Since the ground of “Sexual Orientation” was added explicitly to the HRC, those complaints filed have dropped to a trickle: Only 4% of new cases filed since 2009 (source: HRTO Statistics).

How Toby’s Act will boost Ontario’s economy:

Like all people, trans folk come from a wide variety of backgrounds. They have diverse skills, personalities and capabilities. But if there is one unifying trait that all trans people can lay claim to, it’s the hard determination that arises from fighting one’s way through the difficult path of gender transition in today’s world. Trans people are capable of bringing this sense of determination into the work they do, which makes them ideal employees.

When the explicit protection from employment discrimination afforded by the Human Rights Code is extended to include trans people, more of them will be able to take up and maintain positions in the province’s work force; bolstering the economy to be sure, but more importantly, keeping them off the streets and out of courts and prisons.

Guaranteed savings in social services, law & order:

In a world where protections from employment discrimination are extended to every group except trans-identified people, many are at higher risk for poverty and poverty-related criminal offenses such as theft and prostitution. The risk is especially pronounced for individuals who are already under privileged, for example trans people of colour, trans people who are not able to “pass” (live in their gender identity without being easily detected as trans), and trans people who were born into a lower socioeconomic class.

Explicit protection for trans people means less money spent by the province to police, arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate those caught up in a life of poverty. Trans people are just as capable of working, consuming, and contributing to our economy as anyone.

Voter Approval and All-Party Support:

A recent poll conducted by the CBC shows that 92% of Canadians favour explicit human rights protections for trans people.

Bill 33, Toby’s Act, is co-signed by members of all three parties:

  • PC (Christine Elliot – MPP Whitby)
  • NDP (Cheri DiNovo – MPP Parkdale-High Park)
  • Liberal (Yasir Naqvi – MPP Ottawa – Center)

Toby’s Act will help to wipe away the stigma which has kept many trans people from achieving their full Canadian potential. Toby’s Act is not just good for trans people, it’s good for everybody.

This report was prepared by Christin Scarlett Milloy for Ontario’s Members of Provincial Parliament, and delivered by email, and hard-copy (to be hand-delivered to internal mail at Queen’s Park later this morning) on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012.

8 Comments

  1. Wednesday, 2012.05.09 at 05:47

    Thank you Christin, for assembling this case in favor of Toby’s act. Is there anything that I can do to support the passage of this bill?

  2. Genna
    Wednesday, 2012.05.09 at 06:33

    Definitely like the “cost effectiveness” angle this forces the politicians to deal with.

    Any sitting MPP’s that try to ignore that may find it coming back to haunt them, if their competition brings their voting record up during the next election.

  3. femme
    Wednesday, 2012.05.09 at 13:28

    First let me start by saying that I agree with you that G.I. and G.E. needs to be written into the code.

    “Explicit protection means fewer acts of discrimination will happen as employers and service providers are put on notice, so fewer cases will be filed at all.”

    If this were fully true we would not still see the large amount of discrimination faced by people of colour and the higher then typical rates of incarceration.

    For that matter for the 3 years listed in the cases around sexual orientation , 4 percent has been a consistent since 2009 to present.

    I do agree that with it written in it will empower those who feel discriminated against as well as companies/organisations will have a direct knowledge and understanding of who is covered under the code.

    At present people born with transsexualism and people who are transgender aren’t always sure when they look at the human right site if they are covered, where as they would know 100 percent that they were if it was written in.
    And even more importantly the companies/organisations right now play ignorant around knowing, or not, of the protection. In other words they say they didn’t know they were breaching the code and depending on the company/organisation the complaint then needs to show that the company/organisation did or should have known. Under the new rules (system) this is a harder burden on the complaint then before.

    On the time front, the new system was put in place to speed up the process which was seen to take years from filing a case to resolution.

    Though like any society we will always see cases of discrimination regardless of being protected, again as we see with sexual orientation or colour.
    But it will also mean when a company wants to get rid of the person for deciding to live openly as their core gender and transition their sex to match that core gender, they will do so more carefully. Same for housing, services etc.

    I’m not sure stigma gets wiped away by being written in to the code, however having the medical issues understood as such and removed from the DSM would go a long way to heading in that direction.

    I’d like to take umbridge to your bringing in the sex worker and theft angle. Not all people who do sex work do so because they are poor (Lets just look at the last ruling and those fighting for the rights of sex workers), just as not all people in poverty steal. In fact I believe the average would be no more higher then any other segment of society, Less then the majority. Does it happen? Sure, but it’s a paint all type of way of speaking on the issue. Never mind that many working people still considered to be living in poverty.

    So again though I disagree with much of what you said it doesn’t change the fact that it’s an important step for a government to acknowledge that protection in this society does need to be explicitly written in if we are to see changes in people’s lives continue to move in a positive direction.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Wednesday, 2012.05.09 at 18:26

      Hi Femme,

      I appreciate your point of view. Please take note this was written to appeal to the only undecided voters in the Provincial Parliament – Progressive Conservative MPPs, therefore, I am attempting to explore the economic effects of Toby’s Act from that specific perspective.

      My points with regard to the effect on the crime rate (including prostitution) were simply an analysis. Regardless how I feel about it, because that ruling you alluded to is still subject to appeal, I have to write in acknowledgement of the fact that, as of this date, prostitution is still associated with criminal offences. I felt it best for the purpose of this article to explore the economic implications of that fact, without passing any judgement on it one way or the other (it isn’t relevant to my audience of PC MPPs considering Toby’s Act).

      But let me be clear, I do take a political position in support of sex workers, and I believe in the decriminalization of prostitution. It will allow sex workers to freely associate, form organizations, whatever they want to do in the light of day… It will also help defend them against true criminals such as those who would assault and/or rob them (bad dates as well as pimps).

      Sincerely,

      Christin

  4. femme
    Thursday, 2012.05.10 at 08:03

    Thanks for your response Christin.
    My point in bringing forward the sex worker case has to do with the fact that not all people who are poor, or who aren’t poor, are forced to do sex work. And not all who do sex work are born with transsexualism or are transgender. Further in order to make a strong case, or a case to convince someone to vote along side , it can not have glaring holes that are easily refuted, such as the “decrease in cases around sexual orientation” or “stigma” points you made. I just think it important to be strongly factual and stay on that point.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Friday, 2012.05.11 at 14:25

      Hi Femme,

      I do not believe it was implied in my work that all poor people resort to sex work, nor that all sex workers are trans. But some do, and some are, and if fewer were poor, fewer would. That was the point I made.

      Please explain if you have an issue with the accuracy of the stats I quoted on the number of ‘sexual orientation’ cases filed, or with the link I posted as my source for that information.

      Christin

  5. femme
    Saturday, 2012.05.12 at 18:21

    No I know you didn’t say all people who are in one way or another under the trans umbrella are also sex workers, but by bringing the sex work or petty crime issue into it there is an implication of that. The fact that many people chose sex work, for a great deal of reasons including for personal feelings of how it makes them feel, because they like it, because someone may have tricked them, because they feel they have little choice, it remains the point that you highlighted it that the only reason was focused (at least for those who are under the trans umbrella) on was no choice because they had no way other to make money due to not having explicit recognition within the code. People do sex work for a great number of reasons, attempting to assign one reason falsifies and dismisses other lives and reasons as to why that type of job.

    As to the point of sexual orientation, your argument was that since being put under the code things got better, but stats show the same numbers. That neglects that argument, which was my point about a number of things mentioned. The focus, if it’s going to be honest and work on changing mines should be just that. Honest and factual.

  6. femme
    Saturday, 2012.05.12 at 18:22

    Don’t get me wrong at one time in my life I also used to make that same mistake. It took someone else pointing out to me just why, just how many varies reasons, someone does sex work.

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Christin Milloy