The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
("AODA") is being phased in over a number of years with
the aim of achieving accessibility for persons with disabilities in
the whole of the Province of Ontario by 2025. All
organizations in both the private and non-profit sectors that
provide goods and services in Ontario, with at least one employee,
are required to comply with the provisions of the Accessible
Customer Service Standard.
The definition of customers is quite broad, and many
organizations that do not think they provide goods and for services
directly to a customer may still need to comply with the
AODA. For example, the definition of customer is broad enough
to include the organization's vendors, suppliers and other
contacts, even if those contacts are not an end user of the
organization's products or services.
The following new AODA requirements are now in force:
all employees and others providing services on behalf of a
large organization (meaning 50 or more employees) must receive
training on the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with
disabilities and the AODA standards;
all organizations must ensure that their feedback processes can
be administered in accessible formats and with the communications
supports, upon request;
small organizations (being organizations of 1 to 49 employees)
must ensure they have developed and implemented an accessibility
policy describing how the organization will achieve accessibility
in compliance with the AODA regulations;
small organizations must have regard to accessibility issues
when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks.
In addition to the above, amendments to the Ontario Building
Code will substantially enhance accessibility in buildings.
Any organization constructing a building or renovating existing
space will need to comply with these updated standards.
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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