The Code has prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability for over 20 years. Persons with disabilities have the right to equal treatment in accessing services such as those provided by restaurants, shops, hotels, movie theatres and other public places. Businesses have an obligation to make their facilities accessible. A failure to provide persons with disabilities with equal access to a facility or equal treatment in a service would constitute discrimination under the Code and can be the subject of the human rights complaint to the OHRC. A restaurant would have to demonstrate as a defence to such discrimination that providing access or accommodating services would amount to undue hardship with regard to cost, outside sources of funding, or health and safety.
The OHRC’s Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate (“the Policy”) makes it clear that services and facilities must be built or adapted to accommodate individuals with disabilities in a way that promotes their integration and full participation. When constructing new buildings, undertaking renovations, setting up new policies and procedures, and offering new services, design choices should be made that do not create barriers for persons with disabilities. Where barriers exist, whether physical, attitudinal or systemic, organizations should actively identify and remove them. Where immediate barrier removal would cause undue hardship, interim or next-best measures should be put in place until more ideal solutions can be attained or phased-in, where possible.