We have been following the Accessibility for Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, 2005 (the AODA) and watching for related
developments in other provinces. The filing deadline of
December 31, 2012, for the Accessibility Standards for Customer
Service (the Customer Service Standards) in Ontario is fast
Recently, the Ministry has provided some guidance on the
Integrated Accessibility Standards (the Integrated
Standards) and has published a "Guide to the Integrated Accessibility
Standards". The Ministry has also released a draft version
of the Accessibility Standards for the Design of Public Spaces
in the Built Environment (the Built Environment
Outside Ontario, we are seeing significant developments in this
area in Manitoba. The Manitoba government is in the process
of adopting accessibility legislation. The government has appointed
an Accessibility Advisory Council, which has released a report with
recommendations for proposed accessibility legislation.
ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS IN ONTARIO RECENT
ACCESSIBLITY STANDARDS FOR CUSTOMER
As of January 1, 2012, most private sector employers with one or
more employees in Ontario who are providing goods or services to
Ontario customers should be complying with the Customer Service
Standards, which require organizations to provide goods and
services to customers and third parties in an accessible
manner. The Customer Service Standards include requirements
to create policies, provide training, notify customers and create a
feedback process (For more information, see the Osler AODA
Please note: Most organizations with 20
or more employees in Ontario must file a Customer Service
Accessibility Report with the Ontario Ministry of Community and
Social Services (the Ministry) on or before December 31,
Some organizations in Ontario may not be covered by the
legislation, as they are subject exclusively to the federal
Canadian Human Rights Act and Employment Equity
The Integrated Standards outline new standards in the areas of
information and communication, employment and transportation that
started to be phased in as of 2011. We have summarized the
more immediate compliance requirements below. We will continue to
monitor the Integrated Standards and will provide further updates
as requirement deadlines approach.
Workplace Emergency Response Information
Employers must provide individualized workplace emergency
response information to employees who have a disability if the
disability is such that individualized information is necessary and
the employer is aware of the need for accommodation.
Emergency Information Accessible to the
If an organization prepares emergency procedures, plans or
public safety information and makes the information available to
the public, the organization must provide information in an
accessible format or with appropriate communication supports, as
soon as practicable, upon request. For example, information that is
given to the public about how emergency alarms work must be
provided in accessible formats.
ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS FOR THE DESIGN OF PUBLIC
SPACES IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
The draft Built Environment Standards which will only apply to
new construction and planned development are now available on the
Ministry's website (click here for the Standards). The Built
Environment Standards include requirements such as installing
accessible service counters, accessible seating in waiting areas
and accessible parking. The Ministry has stated that
enhancements to accessibility in buildings will happen at a later
date through Ontario's Building Code.
PROPOSED ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS IN
As we noted above, Manitoba's Accessibility Advisory Council
has published a report outlining recommendations for accessibility
legislation. The Ministry of Family Services and Labour is
inviting public comments on the report until October 21,
2012. The report is calling for legislation very similar to
the AODA in Ontario. Please advise us if you would like to
send comments on the report.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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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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