An Employer’s Guide to Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

  • Employer advice
Olivia Cicchini

Olivia Cicchini, Employment Law Expert

(Last updated )

What is the AODA?

The AODA is Ontario’s Accessibility Act, otherwise known as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. The purpose of the Act is to develop, implement, and enforce standards that achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. In addition to certain other persons and organizations, the Act establishes accessibility standards that apply to those who employ people in Ontario.

Making Ontario Workplaces Accessible

Improving accessibility for persons with disabilities is part of the government’s plans to make Ontario more accessible by the year 2025. Being accessible means recognizing both visible and non-visible disabilities, such as visual impairments or deafness, or learning and mental health. It means making accessibility changes that allow people with disabilities to participate more actively in their communities. To achieve accessibility, the province has established standards that recognize five areas of daily life:

  1. Customer service;
  2. Information and communications;
  3. Transportation;
  4. Employment; and
  5. Design of public spaces.

In doing so, this makes Ontario the first province and one of the first jurisdictions in the world to set a goal and time-frame for becoming fully accessible. Whether in government, business, non-profit, or the public sector, there are standards that apply under the AODA.

How does the AODA apply to employers in Ontario?

As an employer, Ontario’s accessibility standards require that you make your workplace and employment practices accessible. In doing so, you must meet these standards to accommodate the needs of employees and job applicants who have disabilities. If you are the owner of a business or non-profit, the AODA establishes rules that depend on the type and size of your organization.

What can you do to make your workplace AODA compliant?

When it comes to employment standards, making the workplace accessible means providing the right resources and taking the proper steps to accommodate. You should consider accessible employment practices in areas such as:

  • Recruiting and hiring
  • Employee accommodation
  • Training
  • Retention
  • Performance management
  • Workplace emergency response
  • Return to work process

Think about how you, as an employer, can make it possible for people with disabilities to participate fully in an inclusive work environment.

Am I required to submit an accessibility compliance report?

You must submit an accessibility compliance report if you are:

  • a business or non-profit with 20 or more employees
  • a designated public-sector organization

The report confirms that the employer has met their current accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If an employer does not complete their accessibility compliance report, they could face enforcement measures, including financial penalties.

Filing your report is a legal obligation under the AODA. A business or non-profit organization with 20 or more employees must file an accessibility compliance report every three years.

A designated public sector organization, including municipalities and other organizations identified in Schedule 1 of Ontario Regulation 191/11 or Table 1 of Ontario Regulation 146/10, must file an accessibility compliance report every two years.

The last reporting deadline for both categories was December 31, 2023.

Do you have questions related to HR and employee management?

Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as with any other HRhealth and safety, or employment advice you need. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation. To learn more about how our service can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652.

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