If your workplace has 50 or more employees in Ontario, you have until January 1, 2015 to comply with a training requirement under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Not up to speed? "Take heart," says WSPS consultant Jennifer Threndyle. "With online tools and WSPS expertise, you can meet AODA deadlines and avoid the penalties some businesses are already paying."
AODA aims to eliminate barriers for Ontarians with disabilities so that they can participate fully in society. The act will achieve this through five standards, each having its own requirements and compliance dates. The end result: a fully accessible Ontario by 2025.
What's required by January 1, 2015
Workplaces with 50 or more employees in Ontario must train employees and volunteers on the requirements of the Integrated Accessibility Standards and the parts of Ontario's Human Rights Code pertaining to people with disabilities. This training is available online at no cost from the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Workplaces with less than 50 employees have one more year to meet these requirements.
"The challenge for many workplaces," says Threndyle, "is that they still haven't complied with a previous step - a January 1, 2014 requirement to develop, implement, and maintain policies on how they achieve or will achieve accessibility." Two non-compliant firms have already been fined, and more are facing penalties.
Threndyle attributes the lack of compliance to lack of awareness. She's been travelling the province, speaking about AODA at organizational and association meetings, as well as WSPS Safety Group meetings, Networking and Knowledge Exchange sessions, and regional conferences.
“The room goes very quiet when I start explaining what’s required, and when. But I always tell them, ‘It's not as bad as you think.’
"The biggest piece involves drafting a 'multi-tier accessibility plan.' It identifies all of the elements between 2012 and 2021 that an organization needs to comply with." Threndyle likens the plan to a gap analysis of where the organization is now, what the requirements are, and what the organization needs to do to comply by the various deadlines. Once completed, the plan can serve as a roadmap, helping the organization achieve compliance one step at a time.
How we can help
To learn what requirements apply to you, visit ontario.ca/aodawizard. In just a few minutes, you can generate a personalized list of accessibility standards that apply to your organization.
WSPS consultants are also on stand-by to help you prepare next steps. "We can help you get up to speed and in a position to manage compliance on your own," says Threndyle.
What many workplaces don't realize is that they can build on processes and skills already in place. For example, meeting the requirements under AODA and the Occupational Health and Safety Act involves similar approaches to policy development and implementation. Both acts require a policy. Both require assessing the current state, identifying opportunities for improvement, and developing an implementation plan.
"What this means in functional terms," says Threndyle, "is that applying an integrated approach to AODA and health and safety will help you reduce costs while increasing organizational effectiveness."
To learn more about what WSPS has to offer, contact Customer Care via telephone: 905-614-1400 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.