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Involving Others in the Accommodation Process

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. The right to accommodation ensures that people can work productively, live independently, and access services open to non-disabled people. In some cases, colleagues, neighbours, or others may be involved in the accommodation process. Involving others in the accommodation process requires collaboration and confidentiality.

Involving Others in the Accommodation Process

Implementing some accommodations may require the assistance of colleagues or neighbours. For example, some workers with disabilities may need assistance during workplace emergencies. Therefore, the worker and employer may invite colleagues to be part of an individualized workplace emergency response plan.

Similarly, a tenant may need to move to a different apartment in the same building. For example, a university student who gains a physical disability while living in residence may need to move to an accessible room or apartment. However, in a full residence building, some non-disabled students may live in rooms that have accessibility features. Therefore, the residence manager may require a non-disabled student to exchange rooms with the student who needs these features.

The person receiving the accommodation, or the accommodation provider, may need to disclose that the person has a disability. However, colleagues or neighbours providing assistance do not need to know exactly what the person’s disability or diagnosis is. Instead, they simply need to know what the person’s needs are, and how to provide appropriate support.

In addition, the employer, landlord, or service provider needs the permission of the person receiving accommodations before disclosing their disability.

Some other third parties who may be involved in the accommodation process include:

  • Human Resources personnel
  • Building managers or superintendents
  • Housekeeping staff or building caretakers
  • Volunteer representatives from unions
  • Medical professionals or other experts, consulted at the expense of the accommodating organization

In our next article, we will discuss how medical professionals or other consultants can also be part of the accommodation process.