Equity Lens, Impact Assessments and Plans

What is an Equity Lens and Human Rights Impact Assessment?

Using a gender, race, accessibility and equity lens based on all human rights grounds allows for the systematic assessment of the differential impacts on disadvantaged groups of  policies, programs and decisions. It also ensures that consideration is given to the diverse adverse impacts produced when disadvantage is experienced on multiple intersecting grounds.  Human rights impact assessment tools have been used both in Canada and internationally to plan for achieving human rights compliance and equity.


  • The Ontario government has committed to applying a gender, anti-racism and accessibility lens to public policies, practices and decision-making to end discrimination and promote equity. 

  • The Ontario Human Rights Commission has policies which call for an equity lens in decision-making by those with Human Rights Code obligations, including employers, unions and service providers and covering all the Code grounds, namely race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.  

  • Ontario’s Anti Racism Act requires the Ontario Government to use an anti-racism lens and to  create an anti-racism impact assessment framework to assess potential racial equity impacts and outcomes of public policies and programmes.

  • The Canadian Human Rights Commission applies an equity lens which addresses all the Canadian Human Rights Act grounds and considers impact assessments and solutions.  

  • Gender based analysis was first developed by the Federal government in 1995. The Federal Government continues to be committed to applying such a lens to governmental decision-making and budgeting.

What is an Equity Plan?

Equity plans or strategies provide the framework for achieving results and ensuring organizational and legal accountability. They usually include initiatives to eliminate both direct and systemic discrimination, remove barriers that contribute to inequity, provide for positive equity measures and include plans for targets, indicators and monitoring. They help to embed justice and equity compliance into overall organizational goals, planning and budgeting.  


  • Ontario’s Anti Racism Act requires the government to develop an anti-racism strategy  and to design and revise policies and programs to mitigate, remedy or prevent such impacts and to advance racial equity and to conducts reviews to analyze effectiveness and revise as necessary.

  • Canada’s Employment Equity Act requires the developments of employment equity plans.

  • The Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators’ Service Equity Policy calls for the creation of service equity plans to ensure the justice services are equitable.