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July 1 Changes to AODA Customer Service Standards

Effective July 1, 2016, the Customer Service Standard Regulation will be revoked.  An expanded Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation will include all standards, including customer service requirements.

Following public consultations, there are certain changes to the accessible customer service standard:

Training Required for ALL Employees 

The primary change is with respect to the extent of training required on accessible customer service.  As you will recall, training on accessible customer service has been required for employees and third parties who work with customers or who participate in developing your policies on accessible customer service.  As of July 1, 2016 all employees must be trained on accessible customer service, as well as any third parties who provide goods, services or facilities on your behalf to the public or participate in developing your policies (for example, a member of your board of directors).  While the government has been notifying organizations that the training must be completed by July 1, 2016, the Regulation states that the training must take place “as soon as practicable”.  Ongoing training is also required on any changes to the company’s policy.  All organizations with 50 or more employees must keep records of the training provided, including the dates of training and the number of people trained.  We advise sign-in sheets or on-line logs with names included.  In addition, all organizations with 50+ employees must prepare a document that describes the training policy, summarizes the content of the training, specifies when training is to be provided and, on request, provide a copy of this document to any person who so requests.

Expanded Definition of “Service Animal”

While this is unlikely to affect many customer service policies, the definition of a service animal has been expanded to include a number of ways in which the individual with the service animal can confirm that they need the service animal for reasons relating to a disability.  Documentation from a number of different regulated health professionals will be acceptable, including, for example, a member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

Support Persons

In the event that your organization has health and safety reasons  to require a person with a disability to be accompanied by a support person when on your premises, you must consult first with the person with the disability, consider the available evidence and make a determination that the support person is necessary and there is no other reasonable alternative.

Expanded Feedback Process

The feedback process that you have established under the Accessible Customer Service Standard to allow the public to comment on how you provide accessible customer service has been expanded.  The feedback process must be accessible to people with disabilities, and accessible formats and communication supports must be provided on request.  Organizations with 50 or more employees must prepare a document describing the feedback process, provide this document to anyone on request and include a notice on the premises and/or on the website (or any other reasonable method) that this document is available upon request.

Because the Regulation now defines a large organization as having 50 or more employees, a business with 20 to 49 employees is no longer legally required to have the accessible customer service policy in writing or to make it public.  However, it is advisable, in our view, to have the policy in writing in the event of any complaints or disputes.

Reporting Online

As a reminder, the Regulation sets out the following timetable for filing the online compliance report:

  • Government of Ontario – annually commencing December 31, 2013
  • Public sector organizations – every 2 years commencing December 31, 2013
  • Large organizations with 50 or more employees – every 3 years commencing December 31, 2014
  • Organizations with 20 to 49 employees – every 3 years commencing December 31, 2014, but only with respect to the accessibility standards for customer service
  • Organizations with 1 to 19 – no online compliance reporting is required.

The Ontario government is preparing a new training module, expected to be available in August 2016.  In the meantime, you can access a free customer service training module at: http://curriculum.org/sae-en/index2.php Just click on the “Start course” button.

July 1 Changes to AODA Customer Service Standards

Police Records Checks Reform Act, 2015

On December 1, 2015, Ontario passed the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015, (the “Act”) which will have concrete implications for the ways in which employers conduct criminal background checks, and the information that will be made available to employers pursuant to these checks.

The Act establishes comprehensive province-wide standards governing the type of information that can be disclosed by police in response to record check inquiries, and is intended to remove unnecessary barriers to employment, suitability to hold a license or office, application to an educational program and participation in volunteer activities. The policy rationale underlying the Act is concerned with preventing the inappropriate disclosure of non-conviction and non-criminal records, such as information obtained from street checks or “carding”, as well as mental health information.

This new legislation creates three categories of record checks, as follows:

• Criminal record checks;
• Criminal record and judicial matters checks; and
• Vulnerable sector checks.

For each of these categories, the Act limits and standardizes the information that may be released by police authorities. From an operational perspective, employers most often rely upon the first category, criminal records checks, as a pre-employment screening tool. Pursuant to section 9 of the Act, the disclosure of “non-conviction information” is now largely prohibited in the context of criminal record checks, with “non-conviction information” being defined as including criminal offences for which an absolute or conditional discharge has been granted, criminal offences for which there are outstanding charges or warrants (i.e. outstanding charges for which no conviction has been entered), court orders made against individuals, and criminal offences that resulted in a finding of “not criminally responsible” on account of mental disorder, among other information.

Because vulnerable sector checks are carried out in contexts where the individual in question will be in a position of trust or authority in relation to vulnerable persons, such as children, the Act permits more extensive disclosure in response to this category of records checks. For instance, each of the types of “non-conviction information” listed above would be disclosed pursuant to a vulnerable sector check, subject to certain temporal and other limits. The Act also permits the “exceptional disclosure” of non-conviction information in relation to a vulnerable sector check where certain conditions are satisfied (see s. 10.1).

In all three categories, convictions for which a pardon has been granted will generally not be disclosed, although there is an exception where disclosure is authorized under the Criminal Records Act (Canada).

Perhaps the most significant implication of the Act is the fact that it requires that the individual about whom requested information relates first receive and have an opportunity to review the information, and then consent to its disclosure (see s. 12). In the event that potentially inappropriate non-conviction information is included in a record, subsection 10(4) of the Act provides that the individual may request a reconsideration of the disclosure. As a result, employers who conduct pre-employment criminal record checks will now only have the results of the checks disclosed to them by authorities where the prospective employee has consented to the disclosure. Employers should therefore familiarize themselves with the Act, and assess its implications for existing pre-employment background check practices.

The Act received Royal Assent on December 3, 2015, and comes into force on the date proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor. Its full text can be found here.

Police Records Checks Reform Act, 2015

Join us May 1st for Dentons’ Spring Employment and Labour Law Update

Please join us on May 1st for a complimentary seminar /webinar on the following topics:

July 1st Deadline Looming: How to Comply with Ontario’s New Safety Awareness Training Regulation
Adrian Miedema

Internal Fraud — Managing Termination and Asset Recovery Options
Mark Evans and Blair McCreadie

An Update on Ontario’s Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment Law
Saba Zia

CHRP Accreditation
This program may be eligible for recertification points.

CPD Accreditation
This 1.5 hour program can be applied toward 9 of the 12 educational hours for Continuing Professional Development required annually by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Please note that these CPD hours are not accredited for the Professionalism Requirement.

Event Details

May 1, 2014
Registration & Breakfast
8:00 – 8:30 a.m. EDT
Seminar
8:30 – 10:00 a.m. EDT

Dentons Canada LLP, 77 King St West, North Building, 5th Floor, Toronto

Or by webinar

To RSVP:

RSVP to Carla Vasquez, Specialist, Marketing and Events at carla.vasquez@dentons.com.

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Join us May 1st for Dentons’ Spring Employment and Labour Law Update