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Ability & EnterpriseCCRW Logo2 2
Leading the way for Inclusive Employment

  February 12, 2014
Winter's Back!!

In This Issue:
  • FAQ:  The Manager's Role in the Accommodation Process
  • Accessibility for Manitobians Act is now Law!
  • M-430 – Strengthening Employment for Canadians with Disabilities
  • The Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP)

 Please feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues - spread the word, hire persons with disabilities!

FAQ: The Manager's Role in the Accommodation Process

By Emily Jooste, Senior Job Accommodation Specialist, CCRW

While employees often have questions regarding disclosing their disability and need for accommodations the Job Accommodation Service (JAS®), receives just as many queries from managers concerning their role in the accommodation process. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions from managers pertaining to accommodating employees with disabilities in the workplace.

Help! An employee has disclosed that they have a disability; what should I do?
The manager should first ask the employee whether the disability impacts them at work and if they require any accommodations; not everyone with a disability does. Even if the employee indicates that they do not require accommodations it is important to make them awar
Manager at deske of their right to accommodation and provide details on the internal workplace accommodation policy. Once these resources have been provided the next step would depend on whether the employee is requesting accommodations or further support. Remember that, in principle, the duty to accommodate exists ONLY when the employee makes their needs known. Some employees may come to their manager requesting accommodations whereas others may just be disclosing their disability and either not require accommodations or need further support and information on the accommodation process.

Why do I have to provide accommodations for my employee?
Beyond internal policies and processes, employers have a legal duty to accommodate employees with disabilities; this has been well established in both federal and provincial human rights legislation and reiterated by the Supreme Court of Canada. The legal duty to accommodate states that employers MUST make every effort, short of undue hardship, to accommodate an employee who falls under one of the 11 prohibited grounds of discrimination which includes disability. Once an employee has indicated a need for accommodations there is immediately a legal onus for the manager to provide accommodation.

What is “undue hardship” and how do I know when I have reached that point?
Undue hardship describes the limit beyond which employers are not expected to accommodate. There are three elements which are taken into consideration; health, safety and financial; an employer is not expected to provide accommodation if doing so would bring about unreasonable difficulties in one or more of these areas. Beyond considering these key elements there are no specific criteria and each situation is judged on a case by case basis. It is important to note that significant qualitative and quantitative evidence is needed to prove undue hardship and that it must be within one of the three categories outlined

Does the employee have any responsibilities?
Yes! Once an employee requests accommodations the main legal onus in providing accommodations lies with the manager. However employees also have responsibilities in the accommodation process which include:
• Advising their employer that they have a disability and require accommodation
• Communicating accommodation needs (to the best of their abilities) to their employer
• Providing information regarding the nature of their disability and potential restrictions
• Participation in ongoing discussions regarding accommodation solutions
• Co-operation with any experts involved in the accommodation process
• Achieving job standards/performance when the accommodations are provided
• Acceptance of reasonable accommodations proposed

As a manager is there a standard accommodation process I should be following?
This depends on whether your organization has internal processes/procedures outlining a specific process. Generally the accommodation process begins when an employee discloses that they require accommodations but beyond internal processes there is no “set formula” for accommodation as each person’s needs are unique depending on how there disability impacts them, their job duties, what accommodations (if any) they are requesting etc.

Does the employee have to disclose their diagnosis?

In order for the employer’s duty to accommodate to apply the employee must disclose that they have a disability and require accommodations. The employee may also be required to provide further information outlining their restrictions and why particular accommodations are needed. However it is not necessary for the employee to provide their specific medical diagnosis to their manager. JAS® recognizes the need to protect the employee confidentiality while, at the same time, providing employers with the necessary information regarding how the employee’s disability impacts them at work (including limitations) and why particular job accommodations are needed. This is why JAS® Workplace Accommodation Assessment Reports contain no confidential medical information or diagnosis and focuses instead on describing the impacts of the employee’s disability.

How do I know what accommodations would help?

The best person to ask is the employee; many will have ideas about what accommodations would help or even propose specific accommodations. However, some employees may not be familiar with possible workplace accommodations or there may be conflict between the manager and employee regarding what is needed. In many cases working with a neutral third party with expertise in workplace accommodations, such as JAS®, is highly beneficial. One major benefit of utilizing JAS’® services is the Job Accommodation Specialist.  They speak with both manager and employee to ensure both parties’ perspectives are considered. Additionally, the JAS® assessment process entails having one of our affiliated subject matter experts, such as an Occupational Therapist, write a report outlining recommendations for accommodations. This takes considerable pressure off the manager and employee to come up with accommodations on their own and, by involving a neutral third party, can help mitigate potential conflicts.

JAS® offers consultations, workplace assessments, and educational presentations/workshops around mental health as they relate to the duty to accommodate and job accommodations.

For any enquiries, contact Nayla Farah,
JAS® Director at 1-800-664-0925 extension 224 or by email at

For more information on the JAS® program please visit our website

Accessibility for Manitobians Act

manitoba_logoIn December 2013, the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba passed the Accessibility for Manitobans Act into Law.  Congratulations Manitoba!!!

Click here to read the Act.

M-430 Strengthening Employment for Canadians with Disabilities 

M-430 – Strengthening Employment for Canadians with Disabilities

This Private Members' Motion was introduced by Phil McColeman is now being debated in the House of Commons.

The text of the motion is:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government endorse the report entitled "Rethinking disAbility in the Private Sector", the report of the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and its findings, and commit to further building public-private cooperation by:

a) Building on existing Government initiatives, such as the Opportunities Fund; the Registered Disability Savings Plan; the ratification of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities;

(b) Issuing a call to action for Canadian employers to examine the expert panel's findings and encouraging employers to take advantage of private sector-led initiatives to increase employment levels for persons with disabilities in Canada;

(c) Pursuing greater accountability and coordination of its labour market funding for persons with disabilities and ensuring that funding is demand driven and focused on suitable performance indicators with strong demonstrable results;

(d) Establishing an increased focus on young people with disabilities to include support mechanisms specifically targeted at increasing employment levels among youth with disabilities, through programs such as the Youth Employment Strategy;

(e) Strengthening efforts to identify existing innovative approaches to increasing the employment of persons with disabilities occurring in communities across Canada and ensuring that programs have the flexibility to help replicate such approaches.

Phil McColeman, MP Brant, Ontario has posted the videos of the debate around M-430 in the House of Commons 

The Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP)

New Research Centre to Help Injured, Ill and Disabled Workers Stay in Job Market

HAMILTON, ON--(Marketwired - February 04, 2014) - Vancouver-based Krystal Johnston, 29, has carpal tunnel syndrome. Two surgeries, one on each wrist, failed to fix the loss of feeling in her hands and arms.

Her doctor told her she is unlikely to return to ironworking, a job she loves. What's more, she was denied her claim for workers' compensation benefits, has used up her Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits (EI-DB), and will run out of her union disability benefits within months.

Johnston wants to work, but needs help. "I'm doing it all on my own," she says. "I don't know where to find support. I just never thought that if I ever got hurt I would be kicked out on the porch in the rain."

Workers like Johnston across Canada are losing their attachment to the labour force after they become injured, ill or disabled, slipping through the cracks of a disability policy system that is increasingly out of tune with the nature of today's work and workers.

How many workers with disabilities are not getting the supports needed to enter, remain in or return to the job market, and why? What policy changes are needed to ensure that all Canadians can work, regardless of their ability, in order to make a living and contribute to Canada's economy?

These are among the questions to be tackled by a new research centre being launched today at McMaster University. The Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP) aims to develop evidence-based policy options that will allow Canada's current disability policy system to provide better income support and labour-market engagement for people when they are injured, ill or disabled.

"Throughout my six years in office, I've spoken to employer groups, service clubs and community organizations around the province about the strong economic case for employing people with disabilities," the Hon. David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, said last month in his new year's message. "I'm pleased to say that I've witnessed some great progress, but there is still more work to do." His Honour, a long-time advocate for people with disabilities, is speaking at today's launch.

Also speaking are Alberta MP Mike Lake, whose 17-year-old son with autism is preparing to enter the world of permanent work, and Sarnia, Ont., Mayor Mike Bradley, who has called on all mayors in the province to take up the challenge of hiring people with disabilities. "Employment for the disabled is a civil right," says Bradley. "This exciting new national initiative can and will make a difference for disabled Canadians in opening up job markets, skills and minds."

The new research centre is a seven-year initiative funded by the federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Co-led by Drs. Emile Tompa and Ellen MacEachen, senior scientists at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto, the centre includes regional hubs in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The centre also involves 46 partners from across the country. These partners represent disability and injured worker community organizations, provincial and federal-level disability support program providers, labour organizations and employers, and research institutions.

According to Statistics Canada, about 2.3 million people in Canada between the ages of 15 and 64 -- representing one in ten working-age Canadians -- reported in 2012 that they were sometimes or often limited in their daily activity due to a long-lasting health impairment.

"Taking into account all forms of disability -- acute or chronic, temporary or episodic, physical or mental, coming early in life or late, work-related or otherwise -- it's not hard to see that work disability touches most people at some point in their lives," says Tompa. "We are bringing together academic talent from across the country and working closely with partners to identify a roadmap for the future of work disability policy in Canada."

"More and more people with health conditions or impairments are falling into the grey zone of unemployment," adds MacEachen. "They can and want to work, and need help to get there, yet may not qualify for work integration support from any one program. With our partners, we will do research to help us understand how this is happening and how our system might be improved to address it."

Source:  Digital Journal 

CCRW AODA Consultations--The Job Accommodation Service®
AODA training, policy review and development, accessibility audits and solutions. 
For more information and to book a consultation, contact Nayla Farah, or 1-800-664-0925 x 224 or visit our website at

Call for Article Submissions!

If you have something that would be of interest to the membership, we would be happy to consider it for a future issues of Abilities & Enterprise, please contact Monica at


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