The Right of Returning to Work


Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), employers, landlords, and service providers must accommodate people with disabilities. In other words, organizations have a duty to make changes in order to meet the needs of workers, tenants, customers, or clients with disabilities. In this article, we will explore the right of returning to work after acquiring a disability.

The Right of Returning to Work

Under the employment standards of the AODA, employers must develop plans to support workers who return to their jobs after a disability-related absence. Similarly, the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) also mandates accommodation for people returning to work with disabilities. Moreover, many guidelines governing returns to work under the AODA also apply to returning to work under the Code.

For instance, under the AODA, a worker can approach the employer, either through a manager or human resources personnel, and request a leave of absence. If the worker agrees, the employer and worker should stay in contact during the worker’s absence so that the employer can be aware of any changes in:

  • when the worker will be returning
  • what job tasks the worker may need to perform differently after returning
  • what kinds of accommodations the worker may need

When the worker is ready to return, the manager and worker should continue to share information.

The worker has the most knowledge about their own needs and what accommodations will best meet those needs. At other times, the employer may ask the worker whether accommodation would help them perform job tasks.

Similarly, under the Code, someone may approach their employer to discuss accommodations they need after they return to work. Alternatively, the employer also has a duty to recognize that returning workers may have disability-related needs and require accommodations. As a result, if an employer notices that someone is having difficulty accomplishing tasks after a return to work, that person may need accommodations. The employer must start a discussion to determine how best to meet the person’s accessibility needs.

Discussing Accommodations

Next, the worker and employer should discuss what the worker’s accommodation needs are. During this discussion, the worker and employer do not need to talk about exactly what the worker’s disability is. Instead, they should discuss the functions of the worker’s job and the accommodations needed to perform those functions.

In some cases, the worker may return to their previous job with few or no accommodations. In other cases, the worker might remain in their previous job but exchange some job tasks with colleagues. A third option is for the worker to transfer to a different role or department. The option best for each worker will depend on how the worker’s disability affects the functions of their job.

For example, a worker may no longer be able to lift heavy objects. If their job rarely involved lifting, the worker could continue the job and use a cart for lifting boxes. If the worker’s job involved sometimes lifting heavy objects up and down stairs, a colleague could perform this function. In exchange, the worker could take on a different small task. If the same worker’s job involved lifting frequently, the worker might need a job that included less lifting.

Under the Code, workers have the right to return to their previous jobs, when possible. In other words, the employer cannot require the worker to go through a re-hiring process. Likewise, the employer should not automatically deploy the worker to a different job. Instead, the worker and employer must determine whether the worker can perform their original job with accommodations.

In addition, there is no time limit that prevents someone from returning to work. For example, an employer cannot create a policy preventing people from returning after an absence of three months or more.

Confidentiality

Under both the AODA and the Code, an employer must keep a worker’s personal and medical information secure and confidential, and disclose it only to people involved in that worker’s accommodation process.

The right of returning to work ensures that workers have the tools and support they need to re-enter their previous jobs and work well after they gain disabilities. In addition, employers can retain talented, competent, and creative workers.




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Alternative Work


In our last article, we outlined some employment accommodations that workers with disabilities may use. Workers have the right to accommodations under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). In addition, the AODA requires employers to accommodate workers with disabilities. In this article, we explore the accommodation of alternative work.

Alternative Work

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), workers who gain disabilities have the right to continue working in their current jobs. In other words, their employer must implement accommodations so that the worker can remain in their current role. However, a worker may not always be able to perform the essential tasks of their job, even with accommodations. For instance, a worker who loses their vision can no longer perform the essential functions of a truck driver. In these cases, the worker instead has the right to alternative work. In other words, the worker has the right to a different job with the same employer. Moreover, this job should not be a promotion or a demotion.

Some workers may need alternative work permanently. Alternatively, other workers may need alternative work temporarily, because their disabilities change over time. For instance, a worker with a mental health disability may experience periods of difficulty with concentration, between times when they are feeling their best. As a result, this worker may sometimes be able to perform job tasks requiring intense focus. However, at other times, the worker may need job tasks requiring less close attention. Therefore, the employer may need to restructure the worker’s job. In other words, the worker could permanently exchange some job tasks with a colleague. As a result, the worker has a job requiring differing levels of focus, to accommodate their changing levels of concentration.

In contrast, a worker with a brain injury may need alternative work when they first return to the workplace. However, they may later regain lost brain function, and be able to perform the tasks of their previous job.

Discussing Accommodations

In all these cases, the workers have the right to the accommodation of alternative work. Furthermore, the employer has a duty to help the worker determine what type of alternative work would be most appropriate for them. For example, the worker and employer must discuss how the worker’s disability impacts the job functions they can perform. Then, the employer must identify jobs or job tasks most suitable for the worker, given their qualifications and abilities.

In addition, the employer must also consider how the worker could enhance those qualifications or abilities, if necessary. For example, a worker could be almost, but not quite, qualified for a position that the employer is hoping to fill. The employer could arrange for the worker to take a course that would qualify them for the open position. Once the worker is qualified, they could return to work in the new position.

Alternative work and other employment accommodations allow workplaces to access more potential employees eager to use their diverse skills and expertise. Moreover, workplace accommodation helps the economy because it allows workers to contribute to society in meaningful ways.




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Ontario’s Life-and-Death Emergency Triage Protocol Remains a Work In Progress


Jeff GrayQueen’s Park Reporter
Published February 7, 2021

If a third wave of COVID-19 overwhelms Ontario hospitals, and intensive care units run out of beds, the province’s doctors could be forced to make previously unthinkable decisions about who gets access to life-saving treatment. Precisely how they would do that remains largely under wraps even as concern mounts about the spread of more contagious new variants of the virus.

Ontario has cancelled procedures, added beds and helicoptered patients from hotspots to less-crowded hospitals to avoid the worst. But its contingency planning for how doctors would cope with an uncontainable COVID-19 surge has occurred largely behind closed doors. That has raised alarms with disability-rights activists and the Ontario Human Rights Commission, who warn hospital triage protocols must guard against discrimination.

Meanwhile, some doctors say a draft “emergency standard of care” distributed to hospitals last month but not publicly released —
does not go far enough. They say it lacks a grim but necessary provision: The power to unplug patients who are unlikely to survive from life support without consent to make room for those with a better chance.

Not allowing this kind of triage, some doctors argue, could create a kind of first-come, first-served system, in which patients who might have lived are denied access to scarce ICU beds because others who have little hope already occupy them. More people, they say, would end up dying.

The problem is a legal one. In Ontario, removing life support without the consent of the patient or their next of kin or designated decision maker has been barred since the Supreme Court of Canada decision ruled in 2013 that the province’s Health Care Consent Act applies to both providing and withdrawing care. The decision did not affect other provinces.

Quebec’s triage protocol, which has been made public, would allow doctors to apply a set of criteria to remove patients from life support without consent if needed. Other jurisdictions, including New York, have had to invoke triage protocols, formal or informal, to deal with tidal waves of COVID-19 cases.

Ontario’s COVID-19 bioethics table, made up of critical-care doctors and academics, recommended in a September “framework” document that the government issue an emergency order “related to any aspect [of the triage plans] requiring a deviation from the Health Care Consent Act.” It also called for an order to provide liability protection for doctors. The document laid out the principles for triaging patients in a COVID-19 surge.

In response to inquiries from The Globe and Mail, Ontario’s Ministry of Health said in a statement that an emergency order, which would need cabinet approval, “is not currently being considered.” It also said it had not yet officially approved any triage protocol and that the bioethics table would continue to discuss the proposals with “stakeholder groups.”

The draft emergency standard of care distributed to hospitals would classify new patients needing life support based on how likely they are to survive for 12 months. But those already inside the ICU, no matter how small their chance of recovery, would stay put.

Michael Warner, the head of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto’s east end, said the government has to issue an emergency order to fix an unfair triage plan that would leave more people dead. But he said he realizes politicians would rather not confront the issue before it is necessary: “I understand that this is a nuclear football for any government.”

Last month, with more than 400 COVID-19 patients in ICUs across the province, hospitals raised frantic alarms. But with the recent slowdown in infections, numbers have declined. On Friday, the province said it had 325 patients in its ICUs with the virus.

Critics say Ontario is wrong to keep the life-and-death deliberations quiet. Disability rights activists obtained leaked copies of the framework and the proposed standard of care and posted them online. Neither of the co-chairs of the bioethics table responded to requests for comment for this article.

“That’s just the way Doug Ford likes to do things, behind closed doors, and in secret,” Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said. “But on something like this, literally life-and-death decisions … there’s just no excuse to not make these kinds of policy decisions the result of massive engagement with Ontarians.”

Disability rights activists say the current proposal would discriminate against the disabled. Some hold that doctors should never remove a patient from life support without consent.

“That is a point that we shouldn’t have to get to,” said Mariam Shanouda, a lawyer with the ARCH Disability Law Centre, who argues the government must do more to ensure such drastic measures are never needed.

David Lepofsky, a lawyer and chairman of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, said the triage protocol lacks an arm’s-length process to appeal decisions, which doctors say is not compatible with acting quickly in a crisis. He also questions the government’s legal authority to issue an emergency order that would allow doctors to remove a patient from life support without consent.

“Any doctor that would consider doing this, I hope they’ve got a lawyer,” Mr. Lepofsky said.

Andrea Frolic, an ethicist and the director of the medical assistance in dying program at Hamilton Health Sciences, who served on the bioethics table until last September, said no protocol is perfect, but the current draft includes safeguards and is designed to protect human rights. It focuses on the individual patient’s risk of dying, she said, not any disability.

Dr. Frolic said the government needs to assure ICU doctors that the protocol and an emergency order are in place long before infections begin to spike again, so that doctors — and the public — are prepared: “That’s not necessarily something that can turn on overnight.”

Original at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-ontarios-life-and-death-emergency-triage-protocol-remains-a-work-in/




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Can you make a long-term disability claim to get out of a toxic work environment?



Workplace stress is on the rise in Canada. A 2019 survey by Morneau Shepell, a human resources consulting, found that more than one-third of employees are more stressed out from work than they were five years ago. That same survey revealed that a quarter of workers identified their stress from work as being high to extreme.

Employees often resort to long-term disability (LTD) leave through their insurance policy when anxiety impacts their ability to do their job.

Insurers often deny disability claims, though, even when your doctors say that you are in no condition to return to work. Your insurer may say that you have “workplace issues” or a “toxic work environment” and therefore you do not qualify for long-term disability benefits.

Are they right? Does it matter? Here’s what to know if your disability claim is denied on the grounds of “workplace issues.”

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What’s the difference between situational disabilities and general?

To understand why your insurer is focusing on your employment, you first need to understand the difference between situational and generalized disabilities.

A situational disability is triggered only in specific situations. It could be triggered by a place, like your workplace, or the presence of a specific person, such as a supervisor at work or an estranged family. A situational disability only appears in those specific situations and goes away when you’re no longer in that situation.

A generalized disability is one that exists in all situations. Even if it was first triggered by a particular situation, such as a bad work environment or marital discord, it is now always present and is a factor in all facets of life.

 

READ MORE: Canadians willing to take new job for less pay if it means more mental health support: study

 

What insurers mean by “workplace issues” or “toxic work environment”

One of the more common explanations long-term disability insurance companies give for claim denials is that they found your symptoms are the result of “workplace  ” or a “toxic work environment.”

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Either way, they are suggesting that you are not really disabled. The insurance company believes that you merely have a difficult work environment.

 

Why does a toxic work environment matter for my LTD claim?

Long-term disability policies are insurance policies that pay your benefits when you become disabled from your own occupation. They are not “toxic work environment” insurance policies. If the problem is not that you have a mental health issue, but rather a bad work environment, a standard LTD policy would not be required to pay benefits.

 

Can I get long-term disability if I have a bad work environment?

Finding yourself in a toxic work environment does not disqualify you from getting LTD benefits. Whether or not you have a toxic work environment, the question is still the same: do you have a disability that prevents you from working in your own occupation?

 

READ MORE: Coronavirus: How to use disability insurance if your mental health is suffering

 

What’s the difference between “occupation” and “job”?

Your occupation is a general description of what you do for a living, whereas a job is what you do for your own employer. For instance, my occupation is a lawyer, but my job is a disability lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

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The distinction is very important for long-term disability cases. When defining the term “totally disabled” (sometimes simply called “disabled”) under an insurance policy — which is the test used to determine if you are entitled to benefits — the analysis is not whether you can return to your job, but whether you can return to your occupation.

If your issues are simply the result of a bad work environment (i.e., a situational disability relating to your job), and you would be otherwise able to perform your occupation for a different employer, you are likely not going to be deemed disabled for the purposes of the policy. You would not be entitled to long-term disability benefits.

On the other hand, even if your workplace could reasonably be called a toxic work environment, this does not mean you aren’t entitled to disability benefits. If you are suffering from a mental health disability that would prevent you from doing your occupation with any employer — a generalized disability — it doesn’t matter at all that your workplace is a toxic work environment.

Even if the workplace environment is the sole trigger for your disability, you are entitled to LTD benefits if you are now disabled from doing your occupation for any employer.

 

Situational conditions and severance pay

If you are experiencing a situational problem, such as workplace harassment, you may be able to pursue a constructive dismissal claim against your employer. If the company fails to address or remedy the toxic atmosphere, you can treat your job as having been terminated. The employment lawyers at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP would then help you secure your full severance package.

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I have a generalized condition, but they still said it was a work issue

This is, unfortunately, a situation we see all the time in the disability law practice at Samfiru Tumarkin. Insurers look for any information they can use to justify denying a legitimate disability claim. If they see that the work environment has caused or contributed to a disability, they will often label it a workplace issue or toxic work environment, and deny the.

Just because the insurance company tells you that you aren’t entitled to benefits, however, doesn’t mean they are correct.

If you have a generalized disability and your benefits are denied, the disability lawyers at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can help you obtain the compensation you are legally entitled to.


Has your long-term disability claim been denied? Is the insurance company threatening to cut off your payments?

Contact the firm or call 1-855-821-5900 to secure assistance from a disability lawyer in Ontario or British Columbia. Get the advice you need — and the compensation you deserve.

James K. Fireman is a disability lawyer and partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, one of Canada’s leading law firms specializing in disability claims and employment law.






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Returning to Work After the COVID-19 Pandemic


As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we cheer ourselves by thinking of future socializing in-person. We also think about returning to work or activities we love. These hopes help us through the challenges of physical distancing. Moreover, these challenges show us that we can be more flexible or more creative than we thought we could. For instance, work during the pandemic has taken new forms and new strategies for success. Many of these strategies are also practices that help employers accommodate workers with disabilities. For instance, employers have needed to plan closures and reopenings, or how to do business during the pandemic. In the same way, employers can make plans to support people who return to work with disabilities. Returning to work after the COVID-19 pandemic may help employers learn how to accommodate workers who have disabilities.

Returning to Work After the COVID-19 Pandemic

Essential workplaces have used many new procedures since the start of the pandemic. For instance, workers have:

  • Worn masks, or provided masks to customers
  • Created and followed distancing rules
  • Increased or decreased staffing in response to demand

As a result, workers have taken on new responsibilities, or changed their hours of work. Alternatively, non-essential workplaces have closed and re-opened. In both cases, workplaces have quickly planned and implemented changes. Moreover, employers made these plans in response to government dictates and recommendations. In other words, they have consulted experts and created plans based on that expertise to safeguard their workers and the public.

This same level of planning and collaboration is vital for employers supporting workers who develop disabilities. These workers may need to take leaves of absence from work due to their new disabilities. In addition, they may need accommodations when they return to work. Therefore, employers, workers, and other professionals must work together to create return to work plans.

Sharing Information

During the pandemic, employers have made plans for their organizations based on information and recommendations from various sources, including:

  • The federal and provincial governments
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and other reliable health organizations
  • Professional consultants

These sources alerted workplaces about the need for large- and small-scale changes to their businesses. Moreover, these consultants also worked with employers to recommend and implement new procedures. In the same way, employers create return-to-work plans in consultation with others, including:

  • The worker with a disability
  • The worker’s healthcare provider(s)
  • Other health and safety professionals
  • Volunteers from the workplace, or the union if there is one

Workers alert employers about their disabilities, and their need for leaves of absence. Medical and other professionals recommend when the worker can return to work, and how the employer can accommodate.

Planning for Different Options or Stages

As the pandemic continues, employers have needed to make plans based on different possible outcomes of the pandemic. For instance, employers may have needed to lay off some of their workers. However, because of government funding, some employers could afford to continue employing those workers. Likewise, when workers with disabilities return to work, they may need to plan for different outcomes, depending on their abilities when they return. For example, returned workers may be able to:

  • Return to their old jobs, with no changed duties
  • Return to their old jobs, with some changed duties

Work in a different role or department

Similarly, employers’ plans in response to the pandemic may include stages. For example, a store may plan three stages of serving customers during the pandemic, with different levels of contact:

  • Online service only
  • Curbside pick-up
  • In-person service

In the same way, a worker’s return may also happen in stages. For instance, a worker may be able to return to work part-time at first. The worker may work for a few hours a day, or a few days a week. Then, the worker’s hours can slowly increase until they are working full time again.

Accommodations and Responsibilities

During the pandemic, employers need to accommodate workers taking time off for COVID-related reasons. For instance, workers may need time off if they:

  • Develop symptoms
  • Care for loved ones

Alternatively, workers may need accommodations, such as remote work or scheduling changes. Employers must accommodate workers in the same way when they return to work with disabilities.

Our next article will discuss more accommodations, and how dealing with the pandemic may help employers better support workers who have disabilities.




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Covid-19 Work Flexibility Improves Accessibility for People With Disabilities


8 June 2020
Eleisha Foon, Journalist

More flexibility with hours and working from home will help people with physical and intellectual challenges to be a part of the workforce, disability advocates say.

New Zealanders with disabilities have been calling for more flexibility in working arrangements for years and Covid-19 has made that more of a possibility.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero said one in four New Zealanders have a disability, so workplaces must stay flexible, and have improving the diversity of their workforce on their radar to fully utilise their skills.

“During Covid New Zealanders at large got real insight into the disabling world that many people with impairments or chronic health conditions have to deal with on a daily basis,” she said.

She said about 30 percent of public sector respondents in a 2019 survey on diversity reported disability as an important issue compared to 19 percent for those in the private sector.

Both numbers were low in her view and she encouraged employers to understand the benefits to having people with disability in the workforce.

Tanya Harrison is blind and has a sleeping disorder due to low melatonin, and has been looking for work since January.

She said her ideal job would be working from home for a company like Emerge Aotearoa providing support for people needing mental health services.

“I was telling people months ago, I really want to work from home because for me it is much more suitable.

“People used to say ‘oh, bet jobs like that would be scarce’ … now you don’t get that response. There is a fresh canvas where we can put new ideas out there and hear how things work for others.”

Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand chief executive Prudence Walker said most of the staff she hired had a disability.

“Catering for the flexibility that people need, the access that people need is day-to-day heart of what we do. We have a really talented team and it they didn’t have the flexibility – people wouldn’t work for us.”

Before the coronavirus, 39 percent of young people with disabilities were not in any employment, training or education. There is hope the government’s free apprenticeship scheme could help change this.

Walker said employers needed to remove all barriers within the recruitment process to make things accessible and welcoming to all. Employers must understand what they need to perform best and not assume people’s needs.

“Employers really lose out when they undervalue what disabled people might be able to bring. That could be to do with people’s personal bias, discomfort or not knowing a lot around disability.”

Deaf Aotearoa chief executive Lachlan Keating said there had been increased awareness and interest in learning sign language thanks to the daily press conference on Covid-19 case updates.

More opportunities for interpreters had been opening up and sign classes had been hugely popular, with some selling out across the country, he said.

He said greater awareness of New Zealand Sign Language – one of three official languages in New Zealand – must continue.

“Sometimes the greatest hurdle disabled people can be up against is others’ low expectations and assumptions about abilities and that can start when disabled children are at school and it continues right throughout the recruitment process.”

Paula Tesoriero agreed a change in mindsets was a must and said a lot of that responsibility rested with employers and recruiters.

She said the greatest barrier to employment for disabled people seeking work was employers’ assumptions.

The commissioner pointed out there was generally little to no added cost to hiring someone with a disability.

Belong well-being and equity specialist Jody Brownlie works with businesses to help their staff and organisations thrive, and said well being and staff retention would be at the forefront of most employers’ minds.

Covid-19 had forced changes to how companies operated, and the ones continuing to embrace flexibility would hire and attract better people for the role.

Tesoriero said “now is the time to have the conversation around how we increase the participation rate of people with disabilities.”

Original at https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/418547/covid-19-work-flexibility-improves-accessibility-for-people-with-disabilites




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Tell Doctors, Nurses, EMTs or Others You Know That Work in the Health Care System About the AODA Alliance’s Discussion Paper on Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Tell Doctors, Nurses, EMTs or Others You Know That Work in the Health Care System About the AODA Alliance’s Discussion Paper on Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities

April 15, 2020

          SUMMARY

Please help us ensure that no people with disabilities who get the COVID-19 virus face any discrimination due to their disability when they seek help from our health care system. This Update offers you ways that you can quickly help, while you remain self-isolating at home.

          MORE DETAILS

Yesterday, the AODA Alliance made public a short but extremely important document. It is our Discussion Paper ensuring that medical triage or rationing of health care services during the COVID-19 crisis does not discriminate against patients with disabilities. We urge you to share this Discussion Paper far and wide. We set out specific action tips below.

The AODA Alliance‘s April 14, 2020 Discussion Paper describes 9 hypothetical situations which could arise in our health care system if the growing number of COVID-19 patients is greater than our hospitals can serve. We want to make sure that no patient with disabilities is denied needed medical care because of their disability, or is discriminated against because of their disability.

We are very concerned about this because since at least late last month, the Ontario Government has had in circulation a protocol on rationing or triage of medical services during the COVID-19 crisis. On April 8, 2020, the ARCH Disability Law Centre made public an open letter, signed by over 200 community organizations (including the AODA Alliance ) and by thousands of individuals. That open letter raises serious concerns with the Ontario Government’s medical care triage or rationing protocol that was in circulation. The open letter called on the Ontario Government to ensure that any medical care rationing or triage never discriminates against patients because they have a disability.

For our part, the AODA Alliance prepared our new Discussion Paper on this topic to kick start a much-needed public discussion of this topic. We were delighted that within minutes of making this Discussion Paper public, CBC Radio in Winnipeg invited AODA Alliance Chair, David Lepofsky, to appear on its afternoon program “Up to Speed” to discuss this topic. We are eager to spread the word as much as we can.

We regret that the Ontario Ministry of Health, responsible for our health care system, has not reached out to us to engage in this discussion. Ontarians with disabilities cannot wait, given the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus and the growing demand on health care services. We again offer the Government our help. We believe that the grassroots disability community must be a key part of Government discussions in this area.

We want to get our Discussion Paper directly to people working in the health care system. We are eager for them to read the nine specific examples we give of situations where discrimination against patients with disabilities must not be permitted. We emphasize that these are not the only situations that can give rise to concern. That is why we’ve tried to start a public dialogue, via this Discussion Paper.

* If you know any physician, nurse, emergency medical technician (EMT), hospital administrator, nursing home or other long term care administrator, or anyone else working in the health care system, send them our Discussion Paper titled, Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities. It is available online at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/a-discussion-paper-on-ensuring-that-medical-triage-or-rationing-of-health-care-services-during-the-covid-19-crisis-does-not-discriminate-against-patients-with-disabilities/

Urge them to read it and to share it with other health care professionals.

* Post our Discussion Paper’s link on your website and your Facebook page and urge your Facebook friends to share it with any physicians, nurses, EMTs or others working in the health care system.

* Call, text, email, tweet or Facebook message your member of the Ontario Legislature. Let them know about our Discussion Paper. Tell them to make sure the situations addressed in our Discussion Paper are not permitted to happen in the Government’s medical triage and rationing protocol.

* Contact the media. Urge them to cover our Discussion Paper and the issues it addresses, like CBC Radio Winnipeg’s Up to Speed program commendably did on April 14, 2020. They can email the AODA Alliance at [email protected] to get a speaker or more information on this.

* If you know of situations where people with disabilities have faced possible denial of needed medical services due to their disability, let the media and your MPP know as soon as possible. As a volunteer disability coalition, the AODA Alliance is not able or equipped to give advice or advocate in specific cases. If you are a person with a disability in Ontario, you can reach ARCH Disability Law Centre for free confidential legal information, referrals, and summary

legal advice. For more information about how to contact ARCH, please use the following link:

www.archdisabilitylaw.ca/contact

* If you are a member of a religious community, urge your congregation and your spiritual leader to circulate our Discussion Paper and to take a public stand in support of the concerns it identifies, so that patients with disabilities don’t suffer discrimination in our health care system during the COVID-19 crisis.

*If you have not already done so, watch our April 7, 2020 Virtual Public Forum, jointly organized with the Ontario Autism Coalition. It is on the important subject of what Government must now do to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities during its emergency COVID-19 planning. This includes the issue of medical triage and rationing, among other important and inter-connected issues. It is captioned and has American Sign Language interpretation.

In just 8 days, our Virtual Public Forum has been viewed more than 1,700 times. That is very encouraging. Spread the word to others to check it out. It is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ23it9ULjc

As of now, the Ontario Government’s Ministries of Health, Education, Colleges and Universities and Children, Community and Social Services have not reached out to us to discuss any of the practical recommendations for action that our ten experts brought forward during our Virtual Public Forum.

* Let us know what steps you take to help spread the word. Also, give us feedback on our Discussion Paper. We can always be reached at [email protected]

There have now been 440 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no good comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report.

There have now been 21 days since we wrote Ontario Premier Doug Ford on March 25, 2020 to urge specific action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. He has not answered. His office has not contacted us. The plight facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis is made even worse by that delay. We repeat that we are reaching out our hand to help the Government.



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Tell Doctors, Nurses, EMTs or Others You Know That Work in the Health Care System About the AODA Alliance’s Discussion Paper on Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: http://www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

April 15, 2020

SUMMARY

Please help us ensure that no people with disabilities who get the COVID-19 virus face any discrimination due to their disability when they seek help from our health care system. This Update offers you ways that you can quickly help, while you remain self-isolating at home.

MORE DETAILS

Yesterday, the AODA Alliance made public a short but extremely important document. It is our Discussion Paper ensuring that medical triage or rationing of health care services during the COVID-19 crisis does not discriminate against patients with disabilities. We urge you to share this Discussion Paper far and wide. We set out specific action tips below.

The AODA Alliance’s April 14, 2020 Discussion Paper describes 9 hypothetical situations which could arise in our health care system if the growing number of COVID-19 patients is greater than our hospitals can serve. We want to make sure that no patient with disabilities is denied needed medical care because of their disability, or is discriminated against because of their disability.

We are very concerned about this because since at least late last month, the Ontario Government has had in circulation a protocol on rationing or triage of medical services during the COVID-19 crisis. On April 8, 2020, the ARCH Disability Law Centre made public an open letter, signed by over 200 community organizations (including the AODA Alliance ) and by thousands of individuals. That open letter raises serious concerns with the Ontario Government’s medical care triage or rationing protocol that was in circulation. The open letter called on the Ontario Government to ensure that any medical care rationing or triage never discriminates against patients because they have a disability.

For our part, the AODA Alliance prepared our new Discussion Paper on this topic to kick start a much-needed public discussion of this topic. We were delighted that within minutes of making this Discussion Paper public, CBC Radio in Winnipeg invited AODA Alliance Chair, David Lepofsky, to appear on its afternoon program “Up to Speed” to discuss this topic. We are eager to spread the word as much as we can.

We regret that the Ontario Ministry of Health, responsible for our health care system, has not reached out to us to engage in this discussion. Ontarians with disabilities cannot wait, given the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus and the growing demand on health care services. We again offer the Government our help. We believe that the grassroots disability community must be a key part of Government discussions in this area.

We want to get our Discussion Paper directly to people working in the health care system. We are eager for them to read the nine specific examples we give of situations where discrimination against patients with disabilities must not be permitted. We emphasize that these are not the only situations that can give rise to concern. That is why we’ve tried to start a public dialogue, via this Discussion Paper.

* If you know any physician, nurse, emergency medical technician (EMT), hospital administrator, nursing home or other long term care administrator, or anyone else working in the health care system, send them our Discussion Paper titled, Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities. It is available online at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/a-discussion-paper-on-ensuring-that-medical-triage-or-rationing-of-health-care-services-during-the-covid-19-crisis-does-not-discriminate-against-patients-with-disabilities/

Urge them to read it and to share it with other health care professionals.

* Post our Discussion Paper’s link on your website and your Facebook page and urge your Facebook friends to share it with any physicians, nurses, EMTs or others working in the health care system.

* Call, text, email, tweet or Facebook message your member of the Ontario Legislature. Let them know about our Discussion Paper. Tell them to make sure the situations addressed in our Discussion Paper are not permitted to happen in the Government’s medical triage and rationing protocol.

* Contact the media. Urge them to cover our Discussion Paper and the issues it addresses, like CBC Radio Winnipeg’s Up to Speed program commendably did on April 14, 2020. They can email the AODA Alliance at [email protected] to get a speaker or more information on this.

* If you know of situations where people with disabilities have faced possible denial of needed medical services due to their disability, let the media and your MPP know as soon as possible. As a volunteer disability coalition, the AODA Alliance is not able or equipped to give advice or advocate in specific cases. If you are a person with a disability in Ontario, you can reach ARCH Disability Law Centre for free confidential legal information, referrals, and summary
legal advice. For more information about how to contact ARCH, please use the following link: www.archdisabilitylaw.ca/contact

* If you are a member of a religious community, urge your congregation and your spiritual leader to circulate our Discussion Paper and to take a public stand in support of the concerns it identifies, so that patients with disabilities don’t suffer discrimination in our health care system during the COVID-19 crisis.

*If you have not already done so, watch our April 7, 2020 Virtual Public Forum, jointly organized with the Ontario Autism Coalition. It is on the important subject of what Government must now do to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities during its emergency COVID-19 planning. This includes the issue of medical triage and rationing, among other important and inter-connected issues. It is captioned and has American Sign Language interpretation.

In just 8 days, our Virtual Public Forum has been viewed more than 1,700 times. That is very encouraging. Spread the word to others to check it out. It is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ23it9ULjc

As of now, the Ontario Government’s Ministries of Health, Education, Colleges and Universities and Children, Community and Social Services have not reached out to us to discuss any of the practical recommendations for action that our ten experts brought forward during our Virtual Public Forum.

* Let us know what steps you take to help spread the word. Also, give us feedback on our Discussion Paper. We can always be reached at [email protected]

There have now been 440 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no good comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report.

There have now been 21 days since we wrote Ontario Premier Doug Ford on March 25, 2020 to urge specific action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. He has not answered. His office has not contacted us. The plight facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis is made even worse by that delay. We repeat that we are reaching out our hand to help the Government.




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Accessible Remote Work in the COVID-19 Pandemic


As Ontarians continue social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, workplaces are encouraging people to work from home. In addition, some workplaces are providing workers with the technology they need to do their jobs at home. For many Ontario workers, remote work may be a new and strange experience. However, some workers with disabilities already benefit from the accommodation of remote work. Employers who already accommodate employees who work remotely may have an advantage as they extend the same accommodation to non-disabled workers. Workers and employers with previous remote work experience may be able to offer best practices for accessible remote work in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessible Remote Work in the COVID-19 Pandemic

When the world is healthy, working from home is useful or preferable for some workers, but not for everyone. Likewise, remote work is usually helpful for some workers with disabilities, but not others. Nonetheless, remote work can be a valuable accommodation for many reasons, such as:

  • Enhanced focus in quiet locations
  • Physical barriers in the workplace

Alternatively, some people may work part of the time from home and come to their workplace for specific job tasks. This is another accommodation that may increase the health and safety of workers who need to be on the worksite for part but not all of the day during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The accommodation of remote work ensures that people can continue to earn their living and use their skills to help colleagues. Remote work also helps people keep busy and gives them a reason to interact with others despite physical isolation. These benefits have allowed many remote workers in the past, with or without disabilities, to thrive at work. Now, this useful option has become a necessity throughout the province. Here are a few best practices for accessible remote work in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Best Practices

Remote workers can easily miss the social benefits of working and of being part of a team. In a traditional worksite set-up, workers greet each other when they walk in together and wish each other a good evening when they all leave. They chat and get to know each other when they work in the same space and they keep each other posted about major and minor life events. Now that workers are avoiding in-person contact, they may miss this level of social interaction with colleagues. However, workers can find ways to have that same interaction at a distance. For instance, they can extend any Skype meetings or conference calls they have arranged. Remote workers can then stay online for a few extra minutes and chat. When conference calling is not a good option, workers may set up departmental email threads, group chats, or group texts. Having these channels open throughout the workday creates an atmosphere where colleagues can casually turn to each other and ask questions, point things out, or share jokes and stories just as they would when in the same physical space.

Workplaces that try one or more of these strategies should find that morale is boosted during this difficult time. In this way, all people can do their best work while also feeling valued and supported socially.




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Attitudinal Barriers at Work


In our last article, we explored how attitudinal barriers, based on false beliefs about disability, limit people’s lives. In this article, we will discuss attitudinal barriers at work.

Attitudinal Barriers at Work

False assumptions about disability often involve the idea that people with disabilities cannot do most every-day tasks. People may then guess that, based on these perceived limits, someone with a disability must not be able to work. Alternatively, employers may believe various myths about workers with disabilities. As a result, an employer might choose not to hire someone with a disability because they believe that people with disabilities cannot work as well as non-disabled applicants.

For instance, an applicant who is deaf might request a Sign language interpreter for their interview. The employer might assume that this applicant would be unable to communicate with colleagues and would slow productivity. Therefore, the employer might choose not to hire the applicant. However, this applicant may have a strong work ethic, educational background, and well-honed skills that would make them an asset to the workplace. In addition, the applicant may quickly and easily work with colleagues through writing, emailing, or texting. This employer’s false beliefs about people with disabilities may cause them to lose the chance of hiring a valuable worker.

The Value of Time

Moreover, the idea that people with disabilities cannot work may also convince service providers that customers with disabilities’ time is less valuable than non-disabled customers’ time. For instance, specialized transportation companies may arrive at clients’ homes anywhere within a forty-five-minute timeframe. They may then schedule the trip so that the client stays in the vehicle for an hour. Companies may schedule this way because they believe that all their clients are travelling to social or fun events, so that their arrival time is not important. However, travellers with disabilities often have as many demands on their schedules as travellers without disabilities. The trip lasting an hour and forty-five minutes may make a client often late for their work. Consequently, employers may start to believe that their workers with disabilities do not care about being on time. This cycle creates more attitudinal barriers at work

Attitudinal barriers at work are harmful for workers with disabilities. However, they are equally harmful for employers and colleagues. When businesses hire applicants with disabilities, and provide needed accommodations, they gain employees with knowledge and willingness to work.




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