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Opportunity or penalty? AODA vs. HRC

Going back two posts to “How to comply with two laws at the same time” I asked a skill testing question to which nobody responded! Nevertheless, I will answer the question here because I know you are busy and don’t have the time to respond to my skill testing questions.

Is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA):

  • Opportunity focused?
  • Penalty focused?

Is the Ontario Human Rights Code (HRC):

  • Opportunity focused?
  • Penalty focused?

Both laws provide:

  • opportunities for persons with disabilities (and others)
  • opportunities for employers, landlords and others to avoid penalties
  • penalties for non-compliance

The AODA (and regulations) is opportunity focused because this law:

  • tell you exactly what is expected of you
  • provides opportunities for the involvement of various groups in the development of specific standards
  • reverses historical trends of discrimination against persons with disabilities
  • gives you a positive opportunity to create a welcoming environment for persons with disabilities
  • requires you to accept feedback directly from the public thus creating the opportunity for change
  • requires that you regularly report to the government (and the general public) that you have created specific programs, policies and procedures
  • allows for government inspection to ensure compliance
  • is specific about assistive devices, service animals, support persons and communication style.
  • Accomplish their goals via proactive requirements and reporting procedures
  • Are proactive

The HRC is penalty focused because this law:

  • Tells you what not to do (infringe a person’s rights)
  • Sets up a list of infractions
  • Allows an individual to file a complaint against you with a quasi-judicial tribunal (a formal, court-like process)
  • Does not require a feedback system for public complaints thus denying an opportunity for change
  • Does not tell you HOW to avoid discrimination; only that you must
  • Does not direct you to create specific programs, policies and procedures
  • Does not provide for inspectors to check for compliance
  • Is vague and open to wide interpretation
  • Accomplishes its goals with the use of penalties
  • Is reactive

Your obligations under the  AODA and the regulations are extensive–I hope this perspective helps you see your obligations in a positive light!

Learn don’t litigate!

Andrew Lawson
www.learndl.ca

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Andrew Lawson

Trainer and advisor at Learn Don't Litigate
Andrew Lawson is a human rights and health and safety trainer and advisor, currently consulting to both the federal and Ontario governments. Since 1996, he has conducted extensive legal research in the areas of human rights and occupational health and safety law. He has worked in the people management business for over 25 years. Read more
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