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Employees with disabilities

Region: Ontario Answer # 1685

Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) sets out a process for developing accessibility standards in the Ontario workplace. Employers are now legally required to make their employment practices accessible to meet the needs of both current employees and job applicants with disabilities.

Who do the AODA standards apply to and when?

Under the AODA, which rules a business must follow depend on the size and type of the organization. Generally, however, the standards apply to all businesses, including non-profits (except where stipulated), which employ full-time, part-time, seasonal and contract workers.

Volunteers and independent contractors should not be counted when determining a business’s number of employees, however, these individuals must still be covered under the new accessibility standards.

Self-employed people who do not have employees are exempt from the new rules.

Accessibility requirements

To meet the Accessible Employment Standard requirements, employers must comply with the following rules.

For all employers with at least 1 or more employees:

  • Provide accessible customer service
  • Provide accessible emergency and public safety information
  • Provide accessible emergency information to staff
  • Create accessibility policies
  • Consider accessibility when purchasing or designing self-service kiosks
  • Train staff on Ontario’s accessibility laws
  • Make it easy for people with disabilities to provide feedback
  • Make public information accessible when asked
  • Make employment practices accessible
  • Make new or redeveloped public spaces accessible. This applies to:
    • recreational trails and beach access routes
    • parking lots
    • service counters
    • fixed queuing guides
    • waiting areas with fixed seating

Employers with 20-49 or more employees:

In addition to the above requirements for all employers, employers with 20-49 employees must also:

Employers with 50+ or more employees:

In addition to the above requirements for all employers, employers with 50+ employees must also:

  • Create accessibility policies and a multi-year plan
  • Make websites accessible (includes only new websites and old websites you significantly update and new web content you create)
  • File Accessibility Compliance Reports
  • New or redeveloped accessible public spaces must include the above and:
    • outdoor public use eating areas
    • outdoor play spaces
    • public outdoor paths of travel
    • fixed waiting lines

By January 1, 2021 companies with 50+ employees, employers must also make all websites and website content accessible.

Federal legislation

Federally, there is the Accessible Canada Act, created as a result of the Government of Canada’s mandate to develop federal legislation addressing greater inclusion of Canadians with disabilities.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects a number Canadian rights and freedoms, including banning the discrimination of people with a mental or physical disability.

The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits the discrimination or harassment of people on a number of grounds, including disability.

Get help

For more information on the accessibility rules and deadlines, visit Ontario.ca.

A criminal record will appear on an employment police check and will affect your ability to get or keep a job. To erase your criminal record, learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you are involved in an employment dispute and require legal advice and assistance, contact our preferred paralegals Nicola (Nick) Giannantonio Legal Services.

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