What are my religious rights?

Discrimination because of religion is against the law in Canada.

You have the right to observe your religion unless it interferes with others' rights or is a safety or health concern. Religion, as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, "includes the practices, beliefs and observances that are part of a faith or religion."

Freedom of religion in Canada is protected by the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Government laws cannot restrict your religious freedom unless they infringe on other rights and values in Canada, for example, the right to equality.

The Ontario Human Rights Code also prohibits religious discrimination. You are entitled to the same opportunities and benefits as others and you must be treated with equal dignity and respect.

Your religious rights are protected in:

  • Employment (e.g. job interviews)
  • Housing (e.g. hotels, rental housing)
  • Services, goods and facilities (e.g. restaurants, education)
  • Contracts (e.g. cellphone contract)
  • Unions, professional associations, and other vocational associations

You have the right to observe your religion unless it would cause undue hardship on the organization or person accommodating you. Undue hardship can include cost or health and safety concerns.

What do I do if I experience religious discrimination?

If you believe you have experienced discrimination, you can contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) for free legal support about your situation.

Read What can I do if I feel harassed or discriminated against? for more information.

For More Information

  • Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) - This body provides leadership for the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights, and builds partnerships across the human rights system.
  • The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) - This body investigates complaints of discrimination and harassment based on the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  • Human Rights Complaints Guides - Easy-to-read guides about how to file a claim, how a claim is processed, how to respond if a complaint is filed against you. From The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
  • Justice Ontario - This website has information about Ontario's legal system, including family and criminal law, lawsuits, human rights, wills and estates, and tickets and fines. You can get legal information in over 170 languages.
Last updated: November 4, 2016 4001532