Assistive technology provided by rehabilitation engineers can play a major role in helping to realize the goals of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which goal is to make Ontario accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.
Every employer has experience accommodating employees due to their religion, family needs, health or disability. Accommodation is a necessary practice to manage a workplace today, and it’s the law in Canada, enshrined in the Canadian Human Rights Act and various provincial statutes. But every case of accommodation is different, and interpretations of the law vary.
The Ontario Human Rights Code provides for a variety of prohibitions against discrimination on stated grounds, including disability. However, the Code goes on to specify “a right of a person under this code is not infringed for the reason only that the person is incapable of performing or fulfilling the essential duties or requirements attending the exercise of the right because of disability”. Reading through the legalese, what this means is that it is not a prohibited act of discrimination to deny an employee a job for the reasons that his disability prevents him from performing that job. However, the Code goes on to provide that a person cannot be found incapable of performing the duties of his position if it is possible for the employer to accommodate his particular needs “without undue hardship”.
Under human rights legislation in all jurisdictions in Canada, employers cannot ignore the religious needs or observances of employees but must work with employees to try to accommodate them. In addition, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects freedom of religion and expression…
In Donna Jodhan v. Attorney General of Canada, a recent significant accessibility ruling, a Federal Court judge has ordered Ottawa to make all of the government websites accessible to the blind within 15 months.
While Canada perceives it’s role as one of accommodating all forms of religious expression in a neutral manner, Quebec has decided to apply a more restrictive and formally secular approach. At a general level, this means the official separation of church and state. However, this proposed policy of secularity (bill 94) clashes with the religious traditions of many recent immigrants to Canada. To summarize, Bill 94 would require anyone providing or receiving government services to do so with their face uncovered for reasons of identification, security and communication. This includes services from hospitals, schools, universities, and daycare centres that receive provincial funding.
Read the full article on Slaw.ca.
On March 24, 2010, the Quebec government tabled in legislature Bill 94, An Act to establish guidelines governing accommodation requests within the administration and certain institutions. The Bill would create rules on how departments or agencies of the government can provide reasonable accommodation to citizens, certain organizations and public servants. These departments and agencies include health agencies, schools, colleges and universities, and services from child care to nursing homes. To this end, the Bill defines the concept of accommodation, asserts that the government will make any compromise to respect the right to equality between women and men and the principle of religious neutrality of the state, and provides that an accommodation cannot be granted if it imposes an undue hardship on the government department or agency. If enacted, the Bill would come into force on proclamation.
Premier Jean Charest and Justice Minister Kathleen Weil say the Bill upholds gender equality and secularism—the values that unite Quebecers. They said it, not me; but you’ve got to love it!
Read the full article on Slaw.ca.