Disabilities Training a New Law

Oct 14, 2011
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In Ontario, Canada, a new law will take effect in the beginning of this year that will make disability training mandatory. The new law states that every person who works at a business in Ontario will need to be trained in how to provide customer service to people with disabilities.

This latest change to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, (a six-year-old piece of legislation) aims to make life easier for people with disabilities. The law will require employers to train staff on what to do if a customer for an example: is blind, or uses a wheelchair, or relies on a service dog, comes in the door. The legislation also applies to public sector institutions and non-profit groups.

The training is complicated or costly. It can simply entail passing out literature and talking to employees. And, companies with more than 20 employees will need to file an electronic report to the government declaring they’re in compliance with the law.

As an enforcement measure, the government has attached a fine to those who do not comply with law. Failure to meet the new law, businesses may need to pay a $200 to $15,000 fine. However, the government adds that it will not take a heavy-handed approach of enforcement. “We’re not looking to penalize companies if they don’t comply. That’s not the point of this legislation. We want to work with them,” said Sandy Mangat, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Bil Smith, executive director of the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region, is offering a program that can train local businesses on how to get in compliance with the act. It’s designed to teach employees how to better serve people with disabilities, and to better understand their rights, he said. “What would be a horrible situation would be if a person arrived at a business with a service dog, and the person in that business kicked them out and said ‘there’s no animals allowed in here.’ The training is to address those kinds of issues,” Smith said.

Author: Jenny Carlton

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