Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we will explore accessible employment in Ontario and Manitoba.
Accessible Employment in Ontario and Manitoba
The Employment Standards under the AODA and the Accessible Employment Standard under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act both require service providers to make their employment practices accessible for workers with disabilities. Moreover, both standards require many of the same processes and practices to ensure accessibility. For instance, both standards require employers in the public and private sectors to:
- Make the hiring process accessible
- Provide accessible workplace information to workers with disabilities
- create individualized workplace emergency response plans for all workers with disabilities
- Make workplace performance management, career advancement, and redeployment processes accessible
- Have processes in place to create:
Differences Between Standards
However, Manitoba’s standard includes additional requirements mandating further accessibility training for workers who are in charge of:
- Recruiting, hiring, or training new workers
- Supervising, managing, or coordinating workers
- Promoting, redeploying, or terminating workers
- Creating or overseeing employment policies and practices
Training must cover the following topics:
- How to make employment opportunities accessible to workers with disabilities
- Communicating with workers who have disabilities
- Interacting with workers who have:
- Service animals
- Support persons
- Assistive devices
- Requirements of:
- The Human Rights Code
- The Accessibility for Manitobans Act
- The Accessible Employment Standard
Workers must be trained as soon as possible after they are hired. Furthermore, workers must have training whenever their organizations’ employment accommodation policies are updated. In addition, all public-sector organizations and private sector organizations with fifty or more workers must document every time they train workers. Documentation must include a summary of the training that workers received.
Manitoba’s accessibility training for supervisors has many elements similar to required customer service training in both provinces. Nonetheless, this training could offer guidance about how accessibility applies to the employment context. In contrast, Ontario’s standard does not require additional accessibility training that covers accessible employment. However, the addition of this employment-specific training could help to dispel many harmful myths about workers who have disabilities. In other words, accessibility training that focuses on the workplace could help employers learn that people with disabilities can be not only customers, but workers.
The employment standards in the AODA and the Accessibility for Manitobans Act may change to improve accessibility in both provinces. To do so, the standards can exchange best practices, or learn them from standards that develop in other Canadian regions or jurisdictions.