The City of Toronto is committed to providing inclusive, barrier-free employment, facilities, and services that are free from discrimination as required under the City's Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/ Discrimination Policy (HRAP), the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
The goal of the City’s Accommodation Policy is to foster an inclusive community and workplace. The City of Toronto will fulfil its duty to accommodate by promoting inclusive employment practices, facilities, and service provision, and by exploring accommodation for persons and/or groups who request it based on the prohibited grounds in the Code and the City's Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy.
This policy applies to all employment policies, programs, practices, systems, communications, the use of facilities, and provision of all City services.
The City recognises its duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship, and commits itself to an accommodation process that respects the Code principles of dignity and privacy, inclusion and individualization.
The City’s commitment extends to all aspects of employment, use of facilities and the provision of services. Employment activities include: recruitment, assessment and selection, orientation, working conditions, promotion, training, performance management, career development, workforce transition, leaves of absence, return to work and redeployment. It also includes the purchase and management of information technology and communication systems, development and management of information services, decisions relating to real estate/property and purchases of internal fittings (e.g., chairs, desks, lights, etc.), and to the organization of conferences, seminars and training. Accommodation of service recipients relates to all aspects of service delivery, including the provision of accessible and inclusive buildings, information, communications, systems, policy/program design and modifications, etc.
Systemic Assessments - The proactive review of existing policies, rules, practices and procedures to identify and eliminate barriers to access and inclusion. Ensuring policies, standards and practices are barrier-free can minimize the need for individual assessments/accommodation.
Individual Assessment - Accommodation is assessed and delivered on an individual basis for persons who make their needs known. Each request must be considered individually in order to assess appropriate accommodation. Requests for accommodation must be dealt with in a timely manner so individuals can fully participate in all aspects of employment, use of facilities, and service provision, except where evidence does not support the need for accommodation or where undue hardship can be demonstrated.
Dignity and Privacy - Individuals must be accommodated in ways that respect their dignity and right to privacy. Information relating to specific requests for accommodation will be treated as confidential and will only be used for the purpose of assessing and implementing accommodation options and solutions. The City will comply with all privacy, confidentiality and security requirements of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Inclusion – Ensures programs, policies, systems, facilities, services, etc. are designed and administered to foster the full integration of diverse individuals and groups protected under the Code.
Legal Obligations and Limits – Exploring accommodation is a legal obligation for all employers, facility and service providers under the Code and related jurisprudence; failure to explore requests for accommodation in good faith related to any of the Code’s prohibited grounds may constitute discrimination and a breach of the Code. Even where it is determined that accommodation is not required, employers have a legal duty to fully explore every request for accommodation in good faith.
Accessibility – means access. It refers to the absence of barriers that prevent individuals and/or groups from fully participating in all aspects of employment and service provision. The term is often linked to people with disabilities and their rights to access.
Barriers – With respect to discrimination, it includes attitudes and designs that prevent people from fully participating in employment, use of facilities, and service provision. Individuals and groups can experience discrimination as a result of physical (building design), attitudinal (stereotypes or prejudices) or systemic barriers. Systemic barriers are formal or informal policies, practices or rules which, when applied in the same way to everyone, may have the effect of excluding or restricting the participation of some individuals, e.g., a work schedule or community meeting that conflicts with religious observance requirements.
Duty to Accommodate – The obligation of an employer, facility, and service provider to take steps to eliminate the disadvantage caused by systemic, attitudinal, or physical barriers that exclude individuals or groups protected under the Code from participating in all aspects of employment, use of facilities and service provision. There is a procedural obligation to explore all accommodation options, and a substantive obligation to implement an accommodation that is reasonable. Every accommodation request must be fully considered, and may be refused only if no Code-related need is substantiated or if undue hardship can be demonstrated.
- Universal Accommodation - A proactive process of identifying and eliminating barriers for everyone. This can be done through the initial design of and/or modifying facilities, policies, programs, procedures and practices, and ensuring that potential barriers are identified and removed. In some cases, new policies, programs, procedures and practices are required to eliminate barriers and achieve equitable outcomes.
- Individual Accommodation - An adaptation or adjustment that may be required to enable an employee to perform his or her essential job responsibilities effectively and/or a service recipient to participate in a City program.. For employees, this may involve purchasing equipment, modifying some duties or hours of the job, reassignment of the employee, or providing additional supports such as sign language interpretation. For service delivery, this may involve modifying facilities and programs, ensuring program delivery does not conflict with religious requirements/sincerely held beliefs, the provision of communications in alternative formats, making attendant care available, etc.
Protected/Prohibited Grounds – Protections in the Code, that every person has the right to equal treatment on the basis of the following: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, receipt of public assistance, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status, or disability. Protections in the City's Human Rights and Anti-Harassment Policy go beyond the Code and include: level of literacy, political affiliation, membership in a union or staff association.
Undue Hardship - Refers to the extent to which an employer, facility and/or service provider must attempt to accommodate the needs of an employee, job applicant and/or service recipient who has demonstrated that accommodation is required on grounds protected in the Code. This standard does not apply to additional grounds included in the City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy. However, language or literacy issues may be included under the grounds of ancestry, ethnic origin or place of origin and/or disability.
Bona fide accommodation requests require more than a minimal effort on the part of the City. The City must take all reasonable steps to determine if an employee, job applicant and/or service recipient can be accommodated. However, there are limits on how much the City is required to do. If the City can show that further efforts to accommodate would create undue hardship for it, the City has met its legal obligations.
The three factors under the Code that can be considered in determining undue hardship are:
- cost of the accommodation, i.e., whether or not the cost threatens the viability of the City of Toronto;
- outside sources of funding, if any, i.e., whether the City can access special funding, such as grants to alleviate some of the direct costs of the accommodation;
- health and safety requirements, if any.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Providing accessible, inclusive, barrier-free employment (programs, policies, procedures, systems, practices), facilities and services that are compliant with Code and AODA requirements
- Managing the accommodation process by individually assessing requests in good faith, considering all options, resolving disagreements, and documenting, monitoring and evaluating employment, service and facility accommodation solutions
- Consulting the Human Rights Office before denying an accommodation request
Employees, Job Applicants & Service Recipients:
- Identifying needs and initiating requests for accommodation
- Providing evidence to support accommodation needs and to support the assessment of accommodation options/solutions
- Participating in good faith, in the assessment and implementation of accommodation solutions
- Providing advice to support management in the assessment and implementation of accommodation
- Ensuring accommodation is incorporated into human resources policies, processes, practices, etc. (e.g., Strategic Recruitment)
- Providing accommodation guidance related to collective agreements and working with the City’s unions to address collective agreement barriers
Human Rights Office:
- Providing confidential, neutral advice to any party (employee, management, job applicant, service recipient) involved in the City of Toronto accommodation process
- Investigating allegations/complaints of harassment/discrimination regarding the City's duty to accommodate
- Participating and cooperating in the accommodation process and working with the employer to address barriers in collective agreements
For more details on requesting and assessing accommodation requests, refer to the Accommodation Procedures and the relevant Guidelines.
Toronto City Council
July 20, 2004
August 25, 2014
All employees may refer to the HR Policy and Pension, Payroll and Employee Benefits pages on the City's intranet for information on accommodation related to: absences from and returning to work, the staffing process and accessing pay and benefits.
Accommodation questions, concerns and/or complaints can be made to the Human Rights Office, (416) 392-8383.
Related links - external