There are some changes to the AODA that will be effective July 1, 2016 that may effect your current policies and practices.
Training used to be only required for employees that work with customers or create polices and procedures on how to interact with people with disabilities. Starting in July, organizations must provide training to:
- all employees and volunteers (paid and unpaid, full-time, part-time and contract positions)
- anyone involved in developing your organization’s policies ( including managers, senior leaders, directors, board members and owners)
- anyone who provides goods, services or facilities to customers on your organization’s behalf (such as external contact centres or facilities management companies)
This training must be provided as soon as possible after an employee or volunteer joins your organization.
Previously, if it was not apparent that an animal was a service animal organizations could request a letter from a physician or nurse to verify that it is required due to a disability. Now when we cannot easily identify that an animal is a service animal, staff may ask a person to provide documentation (template, letter or form) from a regulated health professional that confirms the person needs the service animal for reasons relating to their disability.
Typically, a service animal can be easily identified through visual indicators, such as when it wears a harness or a vest, or when it helps the person perform certain tasks.
A regulated health professional is defined as a member of one of the following colleges:
- College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario
- College of Chiropractors of Ontario
- College of Nurses of Ontario
- College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario
- College of Optometrists of Ontario
- College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
- College of Physiotherapists of Ontario
- College of Psychologists of Ontario
- College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario
In certain cases, may require a person with a disability to be accompanied by a support person for the health or safety reasons. Additional guidelines have been created to assist in the decision making process to determine of a support person is required for safety reasons:
- consult with the person with a disability to understand their needs
- consider health or safety reasons based on available evidence
- determine if there is no other reasonable way to protect the health or safety of the person or others on the premises
If an organization determines that a support person is required, they will waive any applicable fees or fares for the support person.
Organizations will make sure their feedback process is accessible to people with disabilities by providing or arranging for accessible formats and communication supports, on request.
Organizations who employ 20-49 people no longer have to put their accessibility policies in writing or make them public. They do continue to have reporting requirements.
Details can be found at Ontario.ca