ACCESSIBILITY RULES FOR BUSINESSES AND NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

Jane’s Question: I own a non-profit organization with 17 full-time employees, 20 volunteers, 8 part-time employees, and 10 seasonal employees. What are the rules and deadlines that I must follow in order to meet Ontario’s accessibility standards? What happens if I refuse to follow them?

Thank you for your questions Jane. The rules that you need to follow are dependent on the type and size of your organization.

Businesses and non-profits that are exempt from meeting Ontario’s accessibility standards include:

  1. Individuals that are self-employed; and
  2. Businesses/Non-Profits that do not have any employees.

There are different timelines for businesses and non-profit organizations that have:

  1. 1 to 19 employees;
  2. 20 to 49 employees; or
  3. 50 plus employees.

1. How to Count your Employees:

When determining the number of your employees you are to count all full-time, part-time, seasonal, and contract workers.

Do not count:

  1. Employees outside of Ontario;
  2. Volunteers; or
  3. Independent Contractors.

Therefore, for the purposes of Ontario’s accessibility standards, your non-profit organization has thirty five (35) employees.

  • 17 Full-Time Employees
  • + 8 Part-Time Employees
  • + 10 Seasonal Employees

2. Standards for Businesses or Non-Profit Organizations with 20 to 49 Employees:

While a number of the deadlines have already passed, here is a full list of Ontario’s accessibility standards.

3. By January 1, 2012 you must have:

  1. Incorporated accessible customer service. This includes:
    1. Training your staff and volunteers to serve all customers;
    2. Welcoming service animals and support persons;
    3. Creating accessible ways for people to provide feedback; and
    4. Putting an accessibility policy in place.
  2. Provided accessible emergency and public safety information. This includes providing evacuation plans or brochures in an accessible format to the public.
  3. 3. Provided accessible emergency information to staff. When asked, provide employees with evacuation plans or brochures in an accessible format. Keep in mind that some employees may need accommodation in the case of an emergency.

4. By December 31, 2014, you must have:

  1. Filed an Accessibility Compliance Report. The Accessibility Compliance Report confirms that you have met your current accessibility deadlines.

5. By January 1, 2016 you must have:

  1. Created accessibility policies, by drafting and enacting policies that help you to achieve your accessibility goals; and inform your employees and customers about your policies.
  2. Considered accessibility when purchasing or designing self-service kiosks. Examples of self-service kiosks include parking meters, buying groceries, and/or renewing licenses.

6. By January 1, 2017 you must have:

  1. Made your public information accessible. You can do this by working with an employee/volunteer/customer in order to best meet their needs.
  2. Made your employment practices accessible. This pertains to how you hire and train, volunteers and employees.

7. By January 1, 2018 you must have:

Filed another Accessibility Compliance Report. In your report, you are to state whether your organization has had a change in:

  1. Address;
  2. Primary contract information;
  3. Number of employees; and/or
  4. Status (IE: no longer in business/fewer than 20 employees).

8. By January 1, 2018, you must have:

  1. Made public spaces accessible. Examples include recreational trails, beach access routes, parking lots, service counters, fixed waiting lines, and waiting areas with fixed seating.

9. By December 31, 2020, you need to:

File another Accessibility Compliance Report. In your report, you are to state whether your organization has had a change in:

  1. Address;
  2. Primary contract information;
  3. Number of employees; and/or
  4. Status (IE: no longer in business/fewer than 20 employees).

10. By December 31, 2023 you need to:

File another Accessibility Compliance Report. In your report, you are to state whether your organization has had a change in:

  1. Address;
  2. Primary contract information;
  3. Number of employees; and/or
  4. Status (IE: no longer in business/fewer than 20 employees).

11. Non-Compliance:

Service Ontario’s main responsibility is to help Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations comply with Ontario’s accessibility standards under the OADA. Penalties are given on a sliding scale to businesses and non-profit organizations that do not cooperate. For example, if your organization refuses to submit their Accessibility Compliance Report on multiple occasions, they will be dealt with more severely than a business/organization that has accidentally missed a deadline.

12. Conclusion:

It is highly recommended that you comply with the OADA and meet Ontario’s accessibility standards. If you refuse to cooperate, you will be given a number of substantial fines.

13. Suzanne Desrosiers Professional Corporation:

For more information, or to book an appointment please contact Suzanne Desrosiers today, at suzanne@sdlawtimmins.com or 705-268-6492.

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