Governments across Canada are placing increased pressure on employers to ensure that their workplaces are both accessible and accommodating to individuals with a range of disabilities. The aim is to ensure that all Canadians, regardless of their physical advantages or disadvantages, benefit from free and equal access to workplaces.
Ontario is one of the provinces taking a leadership role in ensuring accessible workplaces through its Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”), which sets the accessibility standards for workplaces. The legislation specifically requires that employers make their workplace practices accessible to employees and customers with disabilities by recognizing, preventing, and removing barriers.
AODA standards apply to all public, private and not-for-profit organizations with one or more employees in Ontario. The AODA has a specific mandate to “develop, implement, and enforce standards for accessibility-related to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, and buildings” by 2025. The specific AODA requirements differ based on factors such as an organization’s type and size.
The upcoming AODA compliance deadlines are as follows (starting from earliest):
December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2020: AODA Compliance Report
Public organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and private businesses must complete a self-assessment of the organization’s status in terms of compliance with their provincial accessibility requirements.
- Further details regarding how to complete and access this report can be found here.
- Designated public sector organizations under the AODA must file this Accessibility Compliance Report by December 31, 2019.
- Private sector organizations and not-for-profit organizations with 20+ employees must file an Accessibility Compliance Report by December 31, 2020
January 1, 2021: Accessible Websites
Private and not-for-profit organizations, with fifty (50) or more employees and all public sector organizations are required to make their websites accessible.
- WCAG 2.0 is an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The Ontario government has posted guidelines to assist Ontario employers with ensuring their websites are accessible. The guidelines can be found here.
- Organizations must ensure that all public websites and web content (other than live captions and pre-recorded audio descriptions) posted after January 1, 2021 meets the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard.
As employment lawyers, we applaud the government for its initiative to ensure respect of and support for all citizens in both enjoying and benefiting from equal access to workspaces and places of business more generally.
If you are seeking assistance with respect to any employment matters or policies relating to AODA compliance, or assistance with determining what is considered good faith dealings by employers, whether in relation to hiring, employment or termination of employment, please contact Toronto employment lawyers Sultan Lawyers at email@example.com or 416-214-5111.
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