In December 2013, The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) became law, with the goal of making meaningful strides in accessibility by 2023. The AMA seeks to remove barriers to accessibility in the lives of all Manitobans, with a focus on barrier-free access to:
- customer service;
- information and communications;
- public spaces; and
Of particular interest to employers is the Accessibility Standard for Employment, which was enacted on May 1, 2019. This standard is intended to eliminate barriers faced by the Manitoban labour force. To be compliant with the Accessibility Standard for Employment, employers must implement a number of policies and practices as prescribed by the regulations.
By May 2022, all employers operating in the private sector, in the nonprofit sector, and in small municipalities within Manitoba will have to comply with the AMA by doing the following:
- offering reasonable accommodations during recruitment;
- informing “applicants about workplace accommodation policies and practices when making an offer of employment”;
- informing employees about policies, practices, and any updates in accessible formats and with communication supports when requested;
- developing and implementing accommodation plans for employees upon request;
- considering “workplace accommodations to remove a barrier affecting an employee’s performance”;
- considering “workplace accommodations to remove a barrier that may affect an employee’s opportunities for training and advancement”;
- abiding by a return-to-work policy for employees who missed work due to a disability;
- having a process to identify reasonable workplace accommodations for employees returning to the workplace; and
- training “management and staff with human resource responsibilities about accessible employment and related legislation.”
Employers with at least 50 employees must also:
- maintain “a written record of accessible employment policies and practices, including a summary of training content and when training is offered”;
- ensure that the policy on individualized accommodation plans abides by section 13(2) of the Accessible Employment Standard Regulation; and
- inform members of the public of the availability of the workplace’s accessible employment policies and practices.
Governmental and public-sector employers in Manitoba are already subject to similar requirements.
Many of these requirements mirror the requirements of Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and its Integrated Accessibility Standards regulations and will be familiar to employers with operations in Ontario.
In advance of the May 2022 deadline, Manitoba employers may want to ensure that they have prepared and implemented the policies and practices necessary to meet the compliance deadline. Compliance may involve consulting employees about the accommodations they currently utilize or that the employees may need in future. Employers may also wish to review policies and practices around recruitment, training, retention, advancement, and return-to-work procedures.