Under the Code, housing providers have a duty to accommodate the Code-related needs of tenants, to ensure that the housing they supply is designed to be inclusive of persons identified by Code grounds, and to take steps to remove any barriers that may exist, unless to do so would cause undue hardship. Costs will amount to undue hardship if they are quantifiable, shown to be related to the accommodation, and so substantial that they would alter the essential nature of the enterprise or so significant that they would substantially affect its viability.
duty to accommodate
Under the Code, housing providers have a duty to accommodate the Code-related needs of tenants, to make sure that the housing they supply is designed to include people identified by Code grounds, and to take steps to remove any barriers that may exist, unless to do so would cause undue hardship.
The duty to accommodate will only arise where a prima facie case of discrimination on the basis of family status has been demonstrated, as discussed above. Generally, the duty to accommodate will only become an issue in cases where rules, policies, practices, or institutional structures, assumptions or culture are perpetuating or leading to the disadvantage of persons identified by a particular family status.
Section 1 of the Code prohibits discrimination based on family status in the social areas of services, goods and facilities. This is an extremely broad social area, covering everything from corner stores and shopping malls, to education, health services and public transit. The issues are therefore also extremely diverse. However, very little attention has been paid to these issues.
The ground of family status raises wide-ranging and complex issues. It is clear from this consultation that individuals with caregiving responsibilities face a range of systemic barriers to full participation in employment, housing and services. The Commission heard that families cannot, on their own, resolve all of these barriers. Addressing them will require a coordinated approach from government, employers, housing providers, service providers, and the Commission itself.
A number of submissions received by the Commission identified barriers for families in the receipt of services. The Commission heard concerns about a broad range of services, including large public services like transportation, education and health, as well as small private services.
What are the lessons we can learn? How can we move towards a different world: one where there is public support for child rearing and care giving; one where both men and women are given equal roles and responsibilities; one where care giving requirements don’t fall on people who are already struggling?
A number of conflicting rights scenarios and their potential resolutions have been presented throughout this paper in order to illustrate specific balancing tools. This section of the paper will utilize each of the tools noted above by working through one timely example of conflicting rights: same-sex marriage and civil marriage commissioners. This example has been chosen not only for its currency, but also because it encompasses both the service and employment contexts.