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In order to bring about the internal change necessary to maximize the benefits of diversity, organizations need to engage in a diversity framework.

Diversity Framework
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Engagement in a diversity framework creates a context within programs and organizations to continually recognize and challenge attitudes, behavior and practices that create barriers to the meaningful participation of every individual in the community and larger society.

Understanding diversity, inclusion through anti-oppression education provides us with the tools to unpack the systemic factors that affect our lives. It challenges us to explore other ways of being and learning.

What does it mean to work
from a diversity framework?

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Actively working to acknowledge and shift power towards inclusiveness, accessibility, equity and social justice.
Ensuring that diversity/anti-oppression is embedded in everything that you do by examining attitudes and actions through the lens of access, equity and social justice.
Being conscious and active in the process of learning and recognizing that the process as well as the product is important.
Creating a space where people are safe, but can also be challenged.

The Legal Framework For Diversity
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Source: Achieving Cultural Competence: A Diversity tool Kit, 2008
Ontario Ministry of Children & Youth Services

There are many reasons why human service organizations will want to become competent in serving a diverse range of clients. Everybody has a place in this country – regardless of their age, disability, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, skin colour or socio-economic status. It’s not only a moral right; it’s a legal one, enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The following are highlights of the pertinent legislation (although organizations need to use the full text of any legislation for information and decision-making)

THE CANADIAN MULTICULTURALISM ACT (1970)
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http://www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/progs/multi/policy/act_e.cfm
(Canadian Department of Heritage)

The Canadian Multiculturalism Act sets the stage for different ethnic and linguistic groups to advocate that public service organizations provide services in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for them. The provision of socially and culturally appropriate services by human service agencies would be an activity that is in compliance with the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. The Act obliges the Government of Canada to recognize and promote cultural, linguistic and racial diversity within the Canadian population.

Selected passages from Section 3.1 of the Act state:

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Government of Canada to: recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian Society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage.

It is the policy of the Government of Canada to; ensure that all individuals receive equal treatment and equal protection under the law, while respecting and valuing their diversity.

It is the policy of the Government of Canada to: encourage and assist the social, cultural, economic and political institutions of Canada to be both respectful and inclusive of Canada’s multi-cultural character.

THE CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT (1981)
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http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/H-6/index.html
(Canadian Department of Justice)
The Canadian Humans Rights Act specifies that all individuals in Canada shall have equal opportunity and have their needs accommodated. There are two important aspects of this Act. The first pertains to accommodation.

Section 2 if the Act states:

All individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society.

The implication of the Act is that individuals can demand that their needs – based on their particular characteristics such as race, gender, age, culture, disability – be accommodated by service providers. An example of this would be a request to have interpreters available to assist people who do not speak English or French.

The second critical element of the Canadian Human Rights Act is that it prohibits systemic discrimination. The Act defines systemic discrimination as “a seemingly neutral policy or practice which in fact is discriminatory.”

Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, it is unlawful for any employer or service provider to discriminate against anyone on the basis of:
Race
Colour
Sex (including pregnancy and childbirth)
Family status
Sexual orientation
Religion
Age
National or ethnic origin
Mental or physical disability (including previous dependence on drugs or Alcohol)
Marital status
Pardoned conviction

THE CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS (1982)
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http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/
(Canadian Department of Justice)
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrines in law the rights and freedoms of all people in Canada. It specifies that services for the public shall be delivered in an egalitarian manner while respecting and valuing diversity among citizens.

Section 15 of the Charter focuses on “Equality Rights” of Canadians:

(1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

 

Section 28 of the Charter guarantees equal rights and freedoms to both men and women:

Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

Section 27 directs Canadians to value, preserve and maintain cultural diversity in the exercise of their rights and freedoms:

This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (2005)
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http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/accessibilityOntario/
(Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services)

The purpose of the AODA is to improve opportunities for people with disabilities by developing, implementing and enforcing standards for accessibility related to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation and buildings. The target date for reaching this goal is no later than January 1, 2025.

The Act requires organizations to;
Meet specific sectoral accessibility standards: and
File an annual report.

The legislation also:
Allows for inspection;
Provides for sanctions for non-compliance; and
Holds directors & officers liable, with significant financial penalties

 

 

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