The Customer service Standards under the AODA and the Accessible Customer service Standard under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act both require organizations to make service accessible to customers with disabilities. Moreover, both standards require many of the same processes and practices to ensure accessibility. However, there are many important differences between the standards. The third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should coordinate with other provinces and the federal government to ensure that accessibility laws are consistent across Canada. Therefore, requirements in the AODA may one day change to align with mandates under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act. In this article, we will explore requirements for welcoming support persons in Ontario and Manitoba.
Requirements for Welcoming Support persons in Ontario and Manitoba
The AODA’s Customer service Standards and the Accessible Customer service Standard of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) both require welcome for support persons. In both provinces, organizations serving the public must permit customers to bring their support persons with them when accessing goods and services. In addition, customers must be able to keep their support persons with them at all times.
Moreover, many venues have policies allowing support persons to attend events for a reduced or waived fee. These policies are not support persons law, but they remove barriers for customers who cannot attend events without support persons. Otherwise, such customers would need to pay double what others pay. All venues must let customers know whether or not they reduce prices for support persons and what the reduction is. Furthermore, if an organization requires support persons to accompany customers with disabilities, the organization must waive any fees for those support persons.
Organizations in Ontario can require that a customer has a support person with them. However, organizations can only impose this requirement if the support person’s absence would create health or safety risks for:
- The customer
Organizations cannot decide to require a support person unless they first consult with the customer whom they believe should not receive service without personal support. Some service organizations may not understand how people with various disabilities accomplish tasks. As a result, they may feel that most customers with disabilities should have support persons with them. However, this belief is false. As a result, organizations cannot usually require that customers with disabilities bring support persons with them. Likewise, organizations usually cannot deny service to customers who do not have support persons. Furthermore, if an organization requires support persons to accompany customers with disabilities, the organization must waive any fees for those support persons.
Conversely, Manitoba’s mandate makes no mention of organizations requiring customers to have support persons. Ontario’s accessibility law may one day align with Manitoba’s by removing any mention of organizations requiring support persons.