Wednesday • 2012.05.09
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?
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.