In a recent initiative, the Ontario government introduced the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“the Act”) with the objective of achieving a complete level of accessibility in Ontario for individuals with disabilities by 2025. Under this legislation, accessibility is to be achieved through the gradual introduction of standards dealing with employment, the provision of goods and services, access to buildings and structures, transportation and communication.
The first standard to be implemented – the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service – deals with the provision of goods and services by both public and private sector organizations, and is to be implemented in two phases. Compliance was mandated for public sector organizations beginning January 1, 2010. The next phase of compliance begins January 1, 2012 and applies to all private sector organizations who provide goods or services to the public or other third parties.
Under this Standard, private sector organizations are required to establish one or more policies, practices and procedures addressing the provision of goods and services to persons with disabilities. Among other things, these policies must speak to how the organization will ensure that:
For organizations who provide transportation services to members of the public or other third parties, additional obligations are coming into affect on January 1, 2012.
Failure to comply with any of the Standards established under the Act could result in fines up to $100,000 per day for a corporation or $50,000 per day for an individual or unincorporated organization. Directors or officers who fail to take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance are subject to fines up to $50,000 per day of non-compliance.
For more information on the application of the Act or the new Regulation, including assistance preparing your workplace to become fully accessible to people with disabilities, please consult one of our lawyers.