Ontario's commitment to promoting and advancing
accessibility for persons with disabilities is continuing, with
amendments to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities
Act, 2005 ("AODA") scheduled to become effective on
July 1, 2016.
Under the current legislation, the requirements for employers
and businesses operating in Ontario are split between O. Reg.
429/07 – Accessibility Standards for Customer Service and O.
Reg. 191/11 – Integrated Accessibility Standards (Information
and Communication, Employment, Transportation and Design of Public
Spaces). Effective July 1st, these two regulations will be
consolidated into a single Integrated Accessibility Standards
regulation through amendments contained in O. Reg. 165/16.
Many of the changes that will be coming into effect serve to
clean up and streamline the existing legislation and in particular,
to align the requirements of the Customer Service Standards with
those set out in the Integrated Accessibility Standards on issues
(a) the definition of "small organization", which will
apply to organizations with at least one (1) but fewer than fifty
(50) employees in Ontario, other than the Government of Ontario,
the Legislative Assembly or a designated public sector organization
(previously, a "small organization" under the Customer
Service Standards had a threshold of at least one (1) but fewer
than twenty (20) employees in Ontario);
(b) the application of the customer service related requirements
to the provision of goods, services and facilities
(previously only goods and services); and
(c) the requirement to provide documents in an accessible format
or with the use of communications supports upon request, which will
be a consistent requirement across all standards.
In addition to the "alignment" changes noted above,
employers should make note of the following substantive changes
that may impact their workplaces and their existing AODA compliance
Animals – Previously, the AODA required a note
from a physician or nurse to certify a service animal. The
legislation will be amended to include an expanded list of
regulated health professionals who may certify a service animal,
including psychologists, psychotherapists, audiologists,
speech-pathologists, chiropractors, nurses, occupational
therapists, physicians, optometrists, and mental health therapists,
thereby facilitating easier access to such certification for
persons with disabilities.
– Previously, under the old Customer Service Standards, only
those persons who provided goods or services to the public or other
third parties had to be trained under the AODA. Going forward,
all employees, volunteers and other persons who provide
goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization, as
well as all persons involved in policy development, must undergo
AODA customer service training (along with all other AODA
Persons – Previously, an organization could
require a person with a disability to be accompanied by a support
person where necessary to protect health and safety. Under the
amendments, prior to requiring a support person, the organization
will be required to consult with the person with a disability and
must consider and assess whether there is actually a health and
safety concern associated with their being unaccompanied.
Organizations will only be permitted to require the presence of a
support person if there is no other reasonable way to ensure the
health and safety of the person with a disability and/or others on
the premises. If a support person is required, the organization
will have to waive any applicable admission fee or fare for that
Documentation – Given the change to
the definition of "small organization", private sector
employers with less than fifty (50) employees in Ontario will no
longer be required to document in writing their customer service
policy or make it publicly available, or to maintain training
records. If you fall into this category and already maintain such a
policy and records, consider whether it may be a best practice to
continue to do so.
– Under the amendments, existing customer service-specific
feedback mechanisms will be required to solicit feedback on the
accessibility of the process itself and any alternate means
provided for under that process.
We recommend that all organizations review their existing AODA
programs (including policies and training programs) to ensure that
they comply with these amendments and, where applicable, update
their multi-year accessibility plans to address the changes.
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