AODA Compliance: Are you ready for the next phase?
It’s been 10 years since the government enacted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and set a goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025, which means employers in Ontario and their employees should be aware of the guidelines.
This goal will be achieved by ensuring the identification, removal and prevention of barriers. To ensure that people with disabilities are able to fully participate in their communities, since 2012, new requirements and timelines have been rolled out on an annual basis for small companies (1–49 employees) and large companies (50 or more employees) in both private and public sectors. The mandatory accessibility standards that have been identified are: customer service; employment; information and communications; transportation and design of public spaces.
What’s happened so far?
- January 1, 2012: the law required compliance in the area of customer service. The other three standards—information and communications; and employment and transportation—are gradually being introduced.
- January 1, 2014: large companies were required to develop and implement accessibility policies, provide a multi-year plan outlining their commitment to comply with the standards, and document these updates on their website.
- January 31, 2014: large companies were also required to file an additional report containing the same documentation (policy and multi-year plan) confirming their compliance.
- December 31, 2014: large companies were obligated to file a second report confirming they continue to comply with the customer service standard.
- January 2015: compliance includes training employees and volunteers who provide service, in addition to policy development, and accessible communication (e.g., conversion-ready documentation). In addition, buildings and public spaces must comply with the AODA as well as Ontario’s building Code.
What is the next deadline?
Every three years, large organizations are required to file an accessibility report under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation for the following four standards: customer service; information and communications; employment; and transportation.
- December 31, 2015: all public sector organizations are required to file an accessibility compliance report.
- January 1, 2016: all employers (any size and sector) must be fully compliant with the AODA employment standards, which will require addressing accessibility issues in the workplace such as recruitment, accommodation, and return to work processes. As such, we recommend completing a review of your company’s policies and procedures for these areas.
Have questions? We can help.
Our Health and Disability Management experts are a great resource if you have questions on accessibility matters and compliance, as they regularly work within the legislative guidelines while balancing employer policies and procedures for successful accommodation and return to work programs.
For more information, please contact your Benefits Consultant.