If so, you need to be aware that as of January 1, 2012, all employers in Ontario, Canada who provide goods and services must be compliant with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service issued under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Employers already have a legislated obligation to take reasonable steps to accommodate employees who have a disability under the Human Rights Code. The purpose of the Customer Service Standards is to impose a new responsibility to accommodate customers with disabilities. These standards will apply to all providers of goods or services (except federally regulated employers) in Ontario effective January 1, 2012 and will require employers to:
- Establish policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of goods and services to persons with disabilities;
- Provide training to all people who interact with the public on the organization's behalf, as well as to those who are involved in developing the organization's policies and procedures;
- Allow persons with disabilities who use service animals or support persons to enter areas that are open to the public or that are open to other third parties where the organization is providing goods or services;
- Notify the public regarding temporary planned or unexpected disruptions to facilities or services that persons with
disabilities use to access the organization's goods or services;
- Establish a process by which people can give feedback on how its organization provides goods or services to persons with disabilities and describe how the organization will respond to the feedback; and
- Maintain documents containing the general policies, feedback processes and training materials developed pursuant to the above requirements, as well as to provide such documents to any person upon request. This last requirement applies only to organizations with 20 employees or more.
The Customer Service Standards will be enforced by workplace inspections, compliance orders and administrative fines of up to $100,000 for each day that a corporation is not in compliance. These standards will also require organizations to file compliance reports through the Service-Ontario website. Keep in mind that the purpose of the AODA is to also develop accessibility standards with respect to facilities, information and communication, employment, buildings, structures and premises. Proposed standards are currently being considered.
This information should not be construed as "legal advice" for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.