News Release
July 4, 2022

The City of Toronto abides by all human rights legislation and all contractors must also abide by the City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy (HRAP), and all applicable human rights legislation.

The City was investigating a complaint from the World Sikh Organization of Canada that some of the City’s security guard contractors are not accommodating its employees who maintain facial hair for religious reasons and, therefore, cannot wear protective N95 respirators, which are required by public health directive in shelter settings where a COVID-19 outbreak is present. Today, the World Sikh Organization of Canada has made that complaint public and expressed their dissatisfaction at the City’s response thus far.

The City itself has granted seven accommodation requests to its own employees who have sought religious exemptions in shelter settings and fully expects such accommodations, if requested by contract employees, to also be granted by contractors to those employees.

The City has directed these contractors to accommodate their employees who have requested religious exemptions and to reinstate any employee whose employment was terminated, immediately. The City has contracts with many large security guard organizations and is confident that these employees can be accommodated in other City settings, including shelters that are not in outbreak, if required. The City is working directly with security guard companies contracted to its shelter system to ensure these accommodations are provided and no contract employee is unable to work as a result of public health masking directives.

As part of its investigation, the City will be looking at its legal options, up to and including terminating the contracts of any contractors found to be in violation of City policy or human rights legislation. The City does not tolerate, ignore, or condone discrimination, and is committed to promoting respectful conduct, tolerance and inclusion, always.

City staff work to ensure policies are inclusive, and policies are assessed routinely to ensure they respect the rights and freedoms of all those who work for the City – be they full-time or part-time employees, or employees of contractors.

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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