Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), employers, landlords, and service providers must accommodate people with disabilities. In other words, organizations have a duty to make changes in order to meet the needs of workers, tenants, customers, or clients with disabilities. Accommodation providers must implement accommodations unless they would cause the provider undue hardship. There are only two reasons a provider can have to claim undue hardship. One is the cost of accommodation for people with disabilities. The other is health and safety concerns about accommodating people with disabilities.
Cost of Accommodation for People with Disabilities
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) writes policies to help people understand what types of discrimination are. In addition, these policies outline how to prevent and respond to different forms of discrimination. According to the OHRC’s Policy on Ableism and Discrimination based on disability, accommodation providers do not have to make accommodations if doing so will cause undue hardship. However, it is the responsibility of the accommodation provider to prove that making an accommodation would cause them undue hardship.
To prove undue hardship, an employer, a landlord, or a service provider must show that they cannot afford the accommodation. For instance, they can show that an accommodation is too costly by comparing the cost of the accommodation to their annual financial statements and budgets. However, they cannot prove undue hardship simply by stating that they believe they cannot afford to implement an accommodation.
Furthermore, grants, tax incentives or deductions, and other funding sources may be available to help a business or a landlord improve the accessibility of structures and services. For example, a business or landlord could apply for funding from:
- Federal, provincial, or local government grants, programs, or services
- local Lions Club, Rotary Club, or Kiwanis Clubchapters
These sources of financial support can assist employers, landlords, or service providers to fund costly accommodations, such as:
- Building renovations
- Technology or equipment
- Ongoing communication accommodations, such as Sign language interpretation or captioning
As a result, an accommodation provider must attempt to find funding from all possible sources before they can claim undue hardship.
In our next article, we will explore how health and safety considerations may cause undue hardship.