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Proposed integrated accessibility standards under the AODA

service-ontarioOn September 2, 2010, the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services published the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR) under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The proposed regulation is available for public consultation by interested stakeholders on the government’s Regulatory Registry website. The IAR combines the information and communications, employment and transportation standards into a single, integrated regulation. Proposed compliance timelines are also listed.

  • The Information and Communications Standard focuses on accessible information and communications relating to the provision of goods and services.
  • Requirements for employment prescribe how organizations provide accessibility for people with disabilities across all stages of the employment life cycle; for example, recruitment, retention, etc.
  • Requirements for transportation will prevent and remove barriers so that people with disabilities can more easily access transportation services across the province.

The requirements being proposed for inclusion in the Integrated Accessibility Regulation are intended to apply to all organizations that provide goods or services to the public or other third parties and have at least one employee in Ontario. The class structure is based on the following (unless otherwise stated):

  • Government of Ontario
  • Broader public organizations (BPS) with 50+ employees
  • Broader public organizations with 1–49 employees
  • Private and not-for profit organizations with 50+ employees
  • Private and not-for-profit organizations with 1–49 employees

Private and not-for-profit organizations with 1–49 employees will be exempt from certain requirements such as compliance reporting.

The Transportation Standard will mainly impact BPS 50+. However, if small transportation providers have transportation systems, they are subject to transportation requirements as scheduled for BPS 50+.

Proposed legal requirements common to all three standards include policies and procedures, training and enforcement as follows:

Policies and procedures

Every obligated organization will be required to establish, maintain and implement policies governing the implementation of the accessibility standards (Information and Communications, Employment and Transportation). The policies will be required to include:

  • A description of how the organization will meet the requirements of the accessibility standards; and
  • A statement of commitment for meeting the needs of persons with disabilities in a timely manner.

The government of Ontario and every broader public organization will be required to establish and maintain policies on how the organization will consider the needs of persons with disabilities when procuring or acquiring goods, services and facilities.

The government, all broader public organizations and private and not-for profit organizations with 50+ employees will be required to prepare one or more written document(s) describing their policies and be able to provide a copy of the document(s) to any person who requests them in a format that meets the person’s needs. Note: upon request for alternative formats, organizations are not required to have every format in stock, but rather have the means to provide the information as soon as possible, once the request has been made.

Training

In addition, all employees, volunteers, persons who provide services on behalf of an organization and persons who participate in developing the policies, practices and procedures of an organization, will be required to be trained on the requirements of the accessibility standards.

Training must be provided on an ongoing basis and be appropriate to the duties of the employees, volunteers and other persons. All obligated organizations will be required to provide accessibility training on achieving an accessible workplace to employees.

Enforcement

Two elements of the inspection and enforcement system will be regulated within the Compliance Assurance Framework under the Integrated Accessibility Regulation:

  • An administrative monetary penalties scheme is being established under the AODA. The scheme will allow the director or a designate to issue an order against a person, organization or corporation to pay a penalty amount as a result of non-compliance with the AODA or the accessibility standards. The largest lump sum penalty amount that can be issued to an individual or an organization that is not a corporation is $2,000, and the maximum for a corporation is $15,000. The amount of the penalties will be set out in a regulation.
  • Under section 26 of the AODA, the ministry must designate a tribunal within a reasonable time after the first accessibility standard is in place. It was determined that the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) will be designated as the tribunal to hear appeals of director’s orders under the AODA. The LAT is the most suitable existing tribunal for designation as it handles appeals related to businesses meeting prescribed standards or requirements under regulations and statutes. The tribunal will be responsible for hearing appeals from directors’ orders including orders for administrative penalties issued against a person or organization for contravention of the Act or accessibility standard(s) or other regulation.

Furthermore…

The government is also proposing to amend Ontario Regulation 629 to modernize the technical requirements for highway vehicles (e.g., buses, transit buses, motor coaches, taxis, physically-disabled-passenger vehicles and school buses) as part of the ministry’s proposed standards under the AODA. As mentioned, the ministry is proposing that the Transportation Standard be part of the Integrated Accessibility Regulation.

According to the government, the proposed integrated regulation will streamline, align and phase-in accessibility requirements. This will allow for progress on accessibility and reduce regulatory burden for obligated organizations.

Stakeholders and interested parties are invited to comment on the IAR and proposed amendments to Ontario Regulation 629 before October 16, 2010. All comments on the proposed regulation must be directed through the Regulatory Registry.

A more detailed commentary on these proposed standards and their specific requirements is published on HRinfodesk (login required).

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 15 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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