The Ontario Government announced an audit blitz this fall
pertaining to compliance with the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 ("AODA").
The blitz, which runs from October through to the end of December,
is targeting large retailers with 500 or more employees.
The blitz focuses on two specific AODA requirements, namely the
requirement to prepare a multi-year accessibility plan and the
requirement to put in place individual workplace emergency response
plans for employees with disabilities.
Most organizations are required to prepare a multi-year
accessibility plan, with the exception of "small" private
sector organizations (which are those with under 50 employees in
Ontario). The accessibility plan must set out the
organization's strategy to prevent and remove barriers and to
meet its requirements under the AODA Integrated Accessibility
Standard (which includes the Information and Communication
Standard, the Employment Standard, the Transportation Standard and
the Public Spaces Standard).
We recommend that organizations treat the accessibility plan
like a roadmap to AODA compliance. The accessibility standards
under the AODA have rolling deadlines. This has caused confusion
for some employers as to what requirements apply and when. An
effective accessibility plan will outline the requirements that
apply to the organization, the compliance deadlines, and steps
taken to achieve the organizations compliance goals. The
accessibility plan must be reviewed at least once every five years
and should be posted on the organizations website.
All organizations must create individual workplace emergency
response plans for employees with disabilities under the AODA
Employment Standard. This requirement is engaged where
individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware
of the need for accommodation. An individual plan may be necessary,
for instance, where there is a fire alarm, power outage or security
The individual workplace emergency response plan should be put
in place as soon as practicable once the employer becomes aware of
the accommodation need. In addition, employers should ensure that
the plan is updated to reflect changes, including when the employee
moves to a different location within the organization, the
employee's accommodation needs change, and when the
employer's general emergency response policies are
The blitz is part of a larger AODA compliance and enforcement
plan. The AODA is still relatively new legislation and the
government has, until recently, taken a passive approach to
enforcement, through requiring most organizations to file
accessibility reports, which is a self-reporting mechanism.
Although there have only been a handful of adjudicative decisions
released on AODA compliance matters (see our blog on these
decisions here), we will likely be seeing more in the
future as the government takes a more active approach to
Organizations should also take note of upcoming AODA deadlines
for January 1, 2016. In particular, large private sector
organizations (which are those with over 50 employees in Ontario)
will need to be compliant with the remaining requirements under the
AODA Employment Standard. This will require a review of current
employment policies and practices. The Employment Standard covers
all aspects of the employment relationship starting from the
recruitment stage. We can provide the tools to assist employers in
being compliant with these obligations.
This blog was first published on First Reference Talks.
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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