Complaints About Mask-wearing in Services Paused for One Year

Revised April 20, 2022.

As an emergency interim measure, the Tribunal is pausing processing complaints about mask requirements in services for one year.

In this notice, the Tribunal explains:

  • what the pause means for complaints
  • the reasons for this approach.

What does the pause mean for your complaint?

If the Tribunal has already asked you for more information or has issued a notice that the complaint is proceeding, the Tribunal will continue to process your complaint. In other cases, the pause means that you will not hear from the Tribunal for at least one year. After one year:

  • For complaints filed on or before March 31, 2022, the Tribunal may give a complainant an opportunity to provide more information.
  • For complaints filed after March 31, 2022, the Tribunal will dismiss any complaint that does not include the criteria set out in the Practice Direction – Requirements for complaints about mask requirements in services. The Tribunal will not give a complainant an opportunity to provide more information.

The Tribunal will not respond to communications related to complaints about mask-wearing in services until the emergency pause is lifted. Please check the Tribunal website for updates.

Background and rationale

This emergency measure is to enable the Tribunal to better fulfill the purposes of the Human Rights Code [Code]. The Tribunal has a duty to resolve complaints in a just and timely manner. The number of complaints about mask-wearing in services under s. 8 is interfering with the Tribunal’s ability to fulfil its obligations under the Code. Therefore, on an emergency interim basis, the Tribunal has decided that it will focus its limited resources on the other complaints in its system.
The context for this issue is that the Tribunal faces a significantly increased workload, resulting in delays in all aspects of the Tribunal’s process. The number of complaints filed this year is more than double the number filed two years ago.

A large percentage of services complaints are about the requirement to wear a mask to access a service.

Of the complaints processed to date, most have not set out facts that, if proven, could violate the Code. It appears that almost all were filed based on a misunderstanding of the Code:

  • Almost all complaints are based on disability, and do not state what the disability is or how it prevented the complainant from wearing a mask for the time needed to access the service.
  • Most complainants said the respondent failed to comply with the Provincial mask mandate which provides exemptions. This is not relevant to a human rights complaint as the Tribunal does not apply or enforce Ministerial Orders.

In the very few cases where a complaint alleged a possible violation of the Code, the respondent had often offered reasonable accommodation such as on-line shopping and curb-side pick-up. In these cases, there is no reasonable prospect the complaint will succeed.