Ontario employers take note. A number of minor changes under the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
("AODA") will take effect commencing July 1, 2016.
On that date, all of the accessibility standards to the AODA,
including the Customer Service Standards, will be consolidated in
the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. Pursuant to this
change, both small and large organizations will be required to do
Training – currently, organizations are
only required to provide customer service training to employees and
volunteers who deal with third parties, as well as to those who
participate in developing the organization's policies. However,
the changes will require organizations to, as soon as practicable,
train: (a) all employees and volunteers; (b) every person
who participates in developing the organization's policies; and
(c) every other person who provides goods, services or facilities
on behalf of the organization.
It is expected that an updated customer service training module
will be added to the Government of Ontario's AccessForward
website in early-August, 2016. Persons who have already received
training do not need to be trained again.1
Documenting policies, practices and procedures
– currently, organizations with 20 or more employees must
"document" their customer service policies, practices and
procedures, and make a copy of that document available on request.
Starting July 1, this requirement will only apply to organizations
with 50 or more employees (meaning organizations with 20-49
employees no longer need to document their customer service
policies, practices and procedures).
Large organizations2 must also (a) notify3
persons to whom it provides goods, services or facilities that the
document which describes the organization's policies, practices
and procedures is available upon request; and (b) prepare a
document that describes the organization's training policy,
summarizes the content of the training and specifies when the
training is to be provided. Both documents must be provided to any
person upon request.
Support persons – current standards allow an organization
to require a support person to accompany a person with a disability
when on the organization's premises for health or safety
reasons. However, the changes will require organizations to do the
following before making this decision: (a) consult with the person
who has a disability regarding their needs; (b) consider the health
and safety reasons based on available evidence; and (c) determine
whether there is another reasonable way to protect the health and
safety of the person who has a disability or others on the
Service animals – current standards allow organizations
to request a note from either a physician or nurse to confirm that
a person with a disability requires use of a service animal. The
new changes will permit the note to be from a regulated health
professional, meaning a wider variety of health professionals will
be able to confirm the status of a service animal.
Feedback – organizations must currently provide a way for
persons with disabilities to comment on accessible service
standards. The changes mandate that this feedback process will have
to be accessible to persons with disabilities, such as by providing
accessible formats and communication supports on request.
All organizations with 20 or more employees must confirm their
compliance with the above requirements by submitting an
accessibility compliance report by no later than December 31,
2017. Applicable policies, practices and procedures should
also be updated to reflect the upcoming changes.
1 Subject to an organization's duty to provide
training on an ongoing basis in respect of changes to the
organization's policies, practices and procedures.
2 50 or more employees in Ontario.
3 Notice may be given by posting the information at a
"conspicuous place" on the premises owned or operated by
the organization, by posting it on the organization's website
or by other reasonable means.
4 If a support person is required by the
organization, the organization must waive the admission fee or fare
for the support person, if one exists.
The foregoing provides only an overview and does not
constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any
decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal
advice should be obtained.
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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