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We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Accommodation Policy

Classification number LCG 1149
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority Board of Governors
Policy owner University Secretary and General Counsel
Approval date April 22, 2021
Review date April 2024

Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to:
  • Commit the University to a barrier-free and inclusive campus environment; and,
  • Demonstrate compliance with the obligations and responsibilities, required of the University under its Respectful Campus Policy and by the Ontario Human Rights Code (“the Code”), the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

 

Definitions

For the purposes of this Policy the following definitions apply:

Accommodation Measures” are adaptations or adjustments that are required to enable full participation. Accommodation Measures may include, but are not limited to:
  • Human support services such as sign language interpreters, readers, etc.
  • Technical aids and assistive devices
  • Workstation and/or office modifications
  • Flexible or alternative work/assignment schedules
  • Temporary re‐assignments

“Barriers” include attitudes (stereotypes or prejudices), designs, policies, practices and rules that prevent full participation of individuals or groups on the basis of a protected Ground

“Creed” is not defined in the Code, but courts and tribunals often refer to creed as religious beliefs and/or practices. As creed is not clearly defined, the following characteristics have been relied on when considering whether a belief system is a creed under the Code:

  • It is sincerely, freely, and deeply held
  • Is integrally linked to a person’s identity, self-definition, and fulfilment
  • Is a particular and comprehensive, overarching system of belief that governs one’s conduct and practices
  • Addresses ultimate questions of human existence, including ideas about life, purpose, death, and the existence or non-existence of a creator and/or a higher or different order of existence
  • Has some nexus/connection to an organization or community that professes a shared system of belief.

 “Disability” is defined in the Code as:

  • any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical coordination, blindness or visual impediment, Deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device;
  • a condition of mental impairment or a development disability;
  • a learning disability, or dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language;
  • a mental disorder; or
  • an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

“Duty to Accommodate” refers to the obligation to eliminate the disadvantage, to the point of undue hardship, caused by barriers that exclude individuals or groups protected under the Code from participating in all aspects of their employment, academic endeavors, or use of facilities and housing on campus. Failure to meet the Duty to Accommodate is a form of discrimination.  

 “Family Status” is defined in the Code as the status of being in a parent and child relationship. It includes any relationship that is equivalent to the care, responsibilities and commitment of a parent to a child. An adult child who is responsible for the care of a parent (e.g., providing elder care) is also in a relationship that is included in the definition of family status. In order to trigger a Family Status accommodation, the child/parent must be under the supervision or control of the University Member, there must be an essential need or legal obligation that flows from the relationship and the impact must create real disadvantages to the parental-child relationship and the responsibilities that flow from it (i.e. it is not trivial, insubstantial or merely a negative impact).

 “Functional Limitations” refer to the specific effect(s) an individual’s code related needs/obligations impact their ability to access services, facilities and housing and or perform the essential requirements of their academic or employment pursuits. For example, an employee is unable to lift objects greater than 10 pounds due to a disability, or a student will be late for class because they are a single parent and need to drop off their child to daycare at a specific time.

 “Gender Identity & Gender Expression” are not defined in the Code. Gender Identity is the gender that people identify with or how they perceive themselves, which may be different from their birth-assigned sex. Gender identity is linked to a sense of self, the sense of being woman, man, both, neither or anywhere along the gender spectrum (non-binary). Gender Expression is the way people communicate or express their gender identity publicly; often through behaviour and physical appearance, e.g., dressing, the length and style of hair, or by emphasizing, de-emphasizing or changing physical characteristics. Chosen names and preferred pronouns are also ways in which people express gender. Gender Identity and Gender Expression are completely separate from sexual orientation.

 Accommodations on the ground of gender identity or gender expression may be sought relating to:

  •  Pronouns
  • Name and Gender title changes
  • Transitioning
  • Gender affirming surgery
  • Washroom Access
  • Locker Room/Change Facilities

“Interim Accommodations” are temporary Accommodation Measures that are implemented on a good-faith basis while an accommodation request is under review and are typically reserved for complex cases that may require more time or specialist input to determine whether Accommodation is required and/or to identify and choose appropriate long-term Accommodation Measures.

"Person(s) of Authority" includes any person who has charge of a workplace, authority over another Employee or authority in the administration of education.  Anyone who supervises an Employee at Ontario Tech University is a Person of Authority. For the purposes of this policy, Faculty members, and Faculty Leadership (e.g. Deans, Associates Deans, etc.) are also considered Persons of Authority vis-à-vis their relationship to students.

"Protected Ground(s)" are the grounds contained in the Ontario Human Rights Code under which individuals are protected against discrimination and harassment.  All University Members are protected under the following Grounds: “race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, Record of Offences, marital status, family status or disability.”  Employees are additionally protected under the ground “record of offences.”

Sex (Including Pregnancy)” is not specifically defined in the Code, but is considered to be related to a person’s biological sex, male or female. Special needs and circumstances that may be experienced as a result of pregnancy are also included within the definition of sex. Special needs can relate to circumstances arising from:

  • breastfeeding
  • miscarriage or stillbirth
  • abortion
  • conditions which result directly or indirectly from an abortion/miscarriage or stillbirth
  • fertility treatments/ other interventions to get pregnant
  • medical complications resulting from pregnancy
  • recovery from childbirth
  • postpartum depression

Undue Hardshiprefers to the scope in which an organization’s Duty to Accommodate extends. In most cases, organizations must take all reasonable steps to determine if an individual can be accommodated. However, the Duty to Accommodate does not extend to cases in which Undue Hardship can be demonstrated. The three factors under the Code that can be considered in determining undue hardship are, Cost, Outside Sources of Funding and Health and Safety requirements.  

“University Member” means any individual who:

  • is employed by the University or holds an appointment with the University, including paid, unpaid and/or honorific appointments (“Employee”);
  • is registered as a student, in accordance with the academic regulations of the University (“Student); and/or,
  • Is otherwise subject to University policies by virtue of the requirements of a specific policy (e.g. Booking and Use of University Space) and/or the terms of an agreement or contract.

Scope and authority

The University Secretary and General Counsel is the Policy Owner.  The Policy Owner is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration, interpretation and application of this Policy.

This Policy applies to all University Members in all aspects of their engagement with the University.

This Policy does not override or diminish the rights provided to Employees under applicable Collective Agreements. Collective Agreements will supersede this Policy to the extent there is a conflict.

Policy

Ontario Tech University is committed to promoting an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to their fullest potential and where all are treated with sensitivity, fairness and respect. The University recognizes its duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship and commits itself to accommodation that reflects the principles of dignity, privacy, individualization and inclusion.

Ontario Tech University is committed to fully exploring all requests for accommodation in good faith, and to providing reasonable accommodation when the need for accommodation has been established unless the accommodation would alter a bona fide occupational or academic requirement and/or undue hardship can be demonstrated.

Ontario Tech University will consider on a case-by-case basis whether Interim Accommodations can be implemented during the exploration of accommodation requests.

Where there are multiple ways to provide accommodation without incurring Undue Hardship, the University reserves the right to accommodate in the manner most consistent with the University’s operational and academic requirements.

The Duty to Accommodate: General Principles

The University’s approach to providing accommodations will be based on the following principles:

  1. Individualization: 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 meet the specific circumstances of the individual seeking accommodation.
  2. Dignity: Requests for accommodation must be dealt with in a respectful and timely manner so individuals can fully participate in all aspects of employment, academic endeavors and in the use of facilities and housing.
  3. Privacy: individuals must be accommodated in ways that respect their 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 consideration of accommodation requests and the search for reasonable accommodation measures will involve the person requiring the accommodation and a Person of Authority. Consultations with third parties with specialized expertise in the development of the accommodation plan may also be required (e.g. the Human Rights Office, Student Accessibility Services and Human Resources).
  4. Inclusion: The University is committed to ensuring its programs, policies, practices, facilities, services, communications and systems are designed intentionally to foster the full integration of diverse individuals and groups protected under the Code. Periodic proactive reviews of existing policies, rules, practices and procedures to identify and eliminate barriers to access and inclusion can also promote a more inclusive campus while helping to minimize the need for individualized accommodations.

 

Making a Request for Accommodation

Although accommodation requests are most commonly made on the grounds of Disability, Family Status, Creed, Sex (more specifically related to pregnancy) and Gender Identity & Gender Expression, requests for accommodation can be made based upon any Protected Ground.

It is typically the responsibility of the University Member to make their Protected Ground-related needs known. Reach out to a relevant Person of Authority for information and assistance and/or to commence the accommodation process. [Note: The University has specialized procedures for Students and Employees related to making disability-related accommodation requests.]

A detailed, written account of your Code-related needs will assist the Person of Authority to understand your situation and will likely expedite the accommodation process. If appropriate and available, provide supporting documentation that verifies the need for accommodation (e.g. a medical form, a child’s daycare schedule or a custody agreement). Those requesting accommodation should focus on the Functional Limitations that are impacting their ability to work, participate academically or access other services, facilities or housing, and should avoid requesting specific Accommodation Measures at the outset.

Any University Member may book a consultation meeting with The Human Rights Office for additional information related to this policy instrument or for advice related to their specific circumstances.

Receiving a Request for Accommodation

Except in relation to disability-related requests, Persons of Authority will determine whether appropriate Functional Limitations have been identified in consultation with experts as necessary, and if not, will ask the requester to identify appropriate Functional Limitations. Once the functional limitations are identified, the Person of Authority will determine whether the need for accommodation has been verified.

If there is evidence to support the need for accommodation, the Person of Authority will identify and select appropriate accommodation measures in consultation with the individual seeking accommodation. If, on the other hand, the assessment concludes that accommodation is not required, the Person of Authority will advise the individual in writing.

Persons of Authority are encouraged to consult with the Human Rights Office for advice and assistance. In any event, if the Person of Authority concludes that accommodation is not required, they must consult with the Human Rights Office prior to informing the individual.

Dispute Resolution
The University has Dispute Resolution procedures to handle allegations of discrimination. University Members who have concerns about the manner in which their request for accommodation has been handled should consult the Respectful Campus Policy and related procedures.

 

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
All University Members
  1. Are responsible for familiarizing themselves with this Policy
  2. Will build and maintain positive and productive relationships and demonstrate Respect in their interactions; and,
  3. Will engage the accommodation process in good-faith and in a cooperative manner, which includes making their needs known in a timely fashion, providing additional information about their individualized needs when requested and being open to all reasonable Accommodation Measures.

 

Persons of Authority
  1. Are responsible for ensuring University Members under their authority are aware of this Policy and its associated procedures;
  2. Will respond to requests for Accommodation in good faith, in accordance with related Ontario Tech University policies and procedures, and in consultation with relevant stakeholders;
  3. Will handle requests for accommodation on the ground of “Disability” consistent with applicable procedures for Students and Employees;
  4. Will process requests for accommodation related to all other Protected Grounds pursuant to requirements under this policy, ensuring the University meets its Duty to Accommodate up to the point of undue hardship; and,
  5. Will cooperate with relevant stakeholders in the process of identifying and implementing reasonable Accommodation Measures.

 

Human Rights Office
  1. Is responsible for the interpretation and administrative direction of this policy and its associated policies and procedures to ensure their compliance with regulatory requirements;
  2. Will assist University Members to understand their rights and obligations under this policy and provide advice and/or direction; and,
  3. Will assist Persons of Authority to assess requests for accommodation and explore reasonable Accommodation Measures.

 

Human Resources
  1. Is responsible for administering the “Procedures for Accommodating Employees and Job Applicants with Disabilities;” and,
  2. Will assist Persons of Authority to implement Accommodation Measures in the workplace.

 

Student Life
  1. Is responsible for administering the “Procedures for Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities;” and,
  2. Will assist Persons of Authority to implement Accommodation Measures for students.

 

Monitoring and review

This Policy will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years. The University Secretary and General Counsel, or successor thereof, is responsible to monitor and review this Policy.

Relevant legislation

Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act

Related policies, procedures & documents

Respectful Campus PolicY

Accessibility Policy

Procedures for Accommodating Employees and Job Applicants with Disabilities

Procedures for Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities

Ontario Human Rights Commission (Policies and Guidelines)