The Ontario Government enacted the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the
"AODA") to develop standards to improve accessibility for
Ontarians with disabilities in the areas of customer service,
employment, information and communication, transportation and the
built environment. Provincially-regulated private sector employers
must be in compliance with the Customer Service Standard (the
"CSS") and certain provisions of the Integrated
Accessibility Standard (the "IAS") by January 1, 2012. Is
your company ready?
With few exceptions, the CSS and IAS standards apply to private
sector organizations that provide goods, services or facilities to
the public or a third party business or organization and have at
least one employee in Ontario (each, a "Provider"). In
addition, where a Provider contracts with another organization to
provide goods, services or facilities on its behalf, the Provider
must ensure that the third party organization also complies with
the CSS and the IAS.
overview of obligations
The CSS imposes the following principal obligations upon
Providers as of January 1, 2012:
Policies and Procedure – Establish policies
and procedures regarding the provision of goods and services to
people with disabilities, including in respect of:
o use of assistive devices and services available to the public;
o support persons' and service animals' access to business
Communication – Develop alternative modes of
communication with disabled individuals.
Notice of Disruption – Develop a procedure
to notify of a disruption to a facility or service and identify
alternative facilities or services.
Training – Provide training on the following
issues to all individuals who may interact with the public or
influence the development of policies, practices and procedures
related to customer service:
o the purpose of the AODA and the requirements of the CSS;
o policies and procedures;
o interacting and communicating with disabled people who have
different restrictions, use assistive devices or have a service
animal or support person;
o use of assistive devices available on the organization's
o what to do if a disabled person is having difficulty accessing
the Provider's services, including advising of potential
Feedback – Develop a process for receiving
and responding to feedback on the provision of goods and services
to people with disabilities.
Documentation/Accessibility Report – If the
Provider is a private sector organization with 20 or more employees
or a designated public sector organization, it must disclose
additional documentation and file an annual accessibility report
with the Ontario Government.
The IAS imposes the following principal obligation upon
Providers as of January 1, 2012 (with other obligations to follow
in succeeding years):
Workplace Emergency Response Information - Provide
individualized workplace emergency response information to all
employees with a visible or non-visible disability, if and as
What's the risk if your company does not meet these
obligations as of January 1, 2012? While the AODA is premised on a
system of self-certification, Ontario employers are at risk of
being inspected and fined if they fail to meet their obligations.
Offences carry significant fines of up to $50,000 for a director or
officer of a corporation and $100,000 for a corporation, for every
day or part day that the offence occurs.
implications for employers
There is no single way to provide accessibility for all disabled
persons and, as a result, compliance with the AODA, and
accessibility more generally, will be an ongoing process.
All Providers will have to comply with the CSS and certain
provisions of the IAS in one month. Considering the significant
obligations prescribed in these standards, Ontario employers are
well-advised to contact their legal counsel now to assist with
developing and implementing all required policies, procedures and
The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are
cautioned against making any decisions based on this material
alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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