Christin Milloy, Canada
The Economic Case To Support Ontario’s Bill-33 (Toby’s Act)
Posted on Wednesday, 2012.05.09 by Christin Scarlett Milloy
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
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
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
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
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.