New Obligations to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in 2016

December 8th, 2015 by

By Ivan Merrow

Organizations in Ontario have new obligations to accommodate persons with disabilities starting on January 1, 2016 under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).  The AODA first became law in 2005, “with the aim to create a fully accessible province by 2025.” Accordingly, compliance requirements have been introduced gradually year by year since 2012, and 2016 is no exception.

The obligations on employers under AODA are set out in two standards, the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (ACS) and Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). The maximum penalties for non-compliance are as follows:

  • For a person or unincorporated organization, $50,000 per day
  • For corporations, $100,000 per day
  • For directors and officers of a corporation, $50,000 per day

Compliance with AODA should be a major goal for organizations to meet legal standards for human rights, limit liability, and contribute to a truly accessible Ontario.

As of January 1, 2016, Ontario employers have the following obligations, in addition to their pre-existing requirements under AODA and the IASR.

Small organizations (with fewer than 50 employees) must:

  • Ensure that training is provided to employees, volunteers, and persons who develop the organization’s policies on the requirements of the accessibility standards referred to in the IASR and on the disability-related provisions of the Human Rights Code
  • Have processes for receiving and responding to feedback that are accessible to persons with disabilities upon request

Small designated public sector organizations (municipalities and public bodies with fewer than 50 employees) must:

  • Arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities, on request, in a timely manner, and at no additional cost to the disabled person

Large organizations (with 50 or more employees) must:

  • Arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities, on request, in a timely manner, and at no additional cost to the disabled person

Designated public sector organizations (municipalities and public bodies) must:

  • Comply with the “design of public spaces standards” contained in the IASR
  • These standards capture contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2012 to newly construct or redevelop any public space

If you have questions about how AODA and the compliance requirements outlined in the IASR apply to your organization, contact the employment lawyers at Devry Smith Frank LLP at 1-416-449-1400.


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