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Re: Initial Proposed Employment Accessibility Standard

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May 22, 2009

Robert E Kosnik, Chair
Employment Accessibility Standards Development Committee
C/O Accessibility Directorate Of Ontario
777 Bay St, 6th Flr Suite 601
Toronto ON M7A 2J4

Dear Chair,

Please find attached, the Submission of the Ontario Human Rights Commission regarding the Initial Proposed Employment Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The Commission recognizes the hard work of the Employment Accessibility Standards Development Committee in preparing the initial proposed Standard that sets out important requirements to help workplaces become fully accessible for applicants and employees with disabilities.

The Commission’s submission details a number of issues for consideration by the Committee as it works to develop the final proposed standard:

  • Human rights principles should be set out to help employers interpret the provisions of the Standard in accordance with human rights obligations
  • The scope of the Standard should be expanded to cover family members, volunteers and other unpaid workers
  • Requirements for developing accessibility policies should include accommodation request procedures and an appeal mechanism
  • Timelines to begin informing employees and applicants about accessibility policies should match timelines for their development
  • Requirements for explaining and documenting information on essential duties of vacant positions might also apply to existing positions, should be expanded to include bona fide occupational requirements, and may be immediately necessary to help facilitate individual accommodation need
  • While the Standard can appropriately set out implementation timelines for putting in place systemic measures to make workplaces more accessible in general, it should be made clear that employers have an immediate and ongoing duty to explore and accommodate individual requests or existing plans as soon as possible short of undue hardship
  • Similarly, workplace requirements, practices and benefits afforded other employees cannot be delayed or denied to employees with disabilities
  • The duty to accommodate employees returning to work applies regardless of organizational size, or whether a disability is a result of a workplace injury, and may require access to alternative work depending on the circumstances
  • Additional requirements and timelines might be set out for employers to review, identify and remove barriers and design hiring and retention policies and practices more inclusively
  • Government’s role in providing resources, education and compliance will be key to implementing the Standard and measuring its impact

The Commission looks forward to reviewing the final proposed employment accessibility standard. In the meantime, please feel free to contact the Commission if we can be of further assistance.

Yours truly,

ORIGINAL SIGNED BY

Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)
Chief Commissioner

Copy Hon. Madeleine Meilleur
Minister of Community and Social Services

Ellen Waxman
Assistant Deputy Minister
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario