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BFM Releases Preliminary Comments on the Proposed Employment Standard

Jan 10, 2017

Last year ended off with the government’s release of a 13-page discussion paper that sets out the initial proposal for the accessible employment standard under the landmark Accessibility for Manitoba Act (AMA). We are starting 2017 by releasing Getting to Work, our report on findings from our preliminary review on what is being proposed.

Our review is based on our efforts to answer one essential question:

  • If implemented as described, will the proposed employment standard ensure that substantial progress toward a fully accessible labour market is achieved by 2023 as required under the AMA?

Our answer to this question, as is described in detail in our report, is an unequivocal ‘No’. While what is proposed in the discussion paper may ‘inch’ us forward, achieving the substantial progress that is required under the Act will depend on much stronger and considerably expanded measures.

We invite you to provide comment to us on the findings presented in this report by January 24, 2017 via email at:

Based on the feedback we receive, as well as on further analysis, Barrier-Free Manitoba will prepare and submit our final brief on the proposed standard by the February 15, 2017 deadline provided for public comment.

List of Preliminary Recommendations

Getting to Work includes a total of 18 recommendations. The first fifteen relate to building on key strengths, addressing significant limitations and completing further work that will be needed to establish and implement a strong and effective accessible employment standard in Manitoba. Three other recommendations are made to address other matters of great concern regarding the implementation of the AMA.

Following is a full list of our preliminary recommendations.

BFM Recommendation 1: That, contingent on the accessible employment standard coming into force by January 1, 2018, dates for compliance be set at:
• One year for the Government of Manitoba
• Two years for designated public sector organizations
• Three years for all other obligated organizations.

BFM Recommendation 2: That the standard adopt the 20 or more employees as the benchmark for requiring that employers prepare written documentation of policies, practices and procedures related to accessible employment.

BFM Recommendation 3: That consideration be given to harmonizing Workers Compensation’s return to work requirements and those that will be established under Manitoba’s accessible employment standard.

BFM Recommendation 4: That the standard require that all employers develop, implement and maintain policies that:
• Includes a statement of the employer’s commitment to meet accessibility needs of persons with disabilities related to employment in a timely manner.
• Includes a statement of the employer’s commitment to proactively identify and remove barriers to accessible employment as a basic part of its planning processes.
• Governs how the employer achieves or will achieve employment accessibility through meeting its requirements under the standard.

BFM Recommendation 5: That the standard require that all employers ensure that training about accessible employment is provided to all employees, volunteers, and persons involved in policy development to whom the standard is relevant to the performance of their duties. The training must include:
• A review of The Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Manitobans Act and the standard.
• A review of the employer’s accessible employment policies and procedures and how these apply to the performance of their duties.

BFM Recommendation 6: That, consistent with the Customer Service Standard, the standard require that all employers ensure that:
• Training is provided to a person as soon as reasonably practicable after the person is assigned the applicable duties.
• On-going training is provided in connection with changes to the employer’s policies and practices respecting accessible employment.

BFM Recommendation 7: That, consistent with the Customer Service Standard, all employers with 20 or more employees be required to document their training policy, including a summary of the content of the training and when training is to be provided.

BFM Recommendation 8: That clear and proscriptive language is used in the next version of this standard to be developed by the Minister to describe the standard’s requirements.

BFM Recommendation 9: That focused research on best practices related to accessible employment policies and practices be conducted and reported on to provide the basis for establishing specific requirements as part of the standard.

BFM Recommendation 10: That the standard be expanded to include requirements that employers provide information about employment opportunities to agencies and organizations that provide employment services to Manitobans with disabilities.

BFM Recommendation 11: That consideration be given to expanding the standard to address the process of removing and preventing barriers to effective workplace accommodation and accessibility in the collective bargaining process and in collective agreements. This process could:
• Focus the attention of an employer and union involved in the process of bargaining a collective agreement towards identifying and removing existing barriers in the collective agreement, and preventing the creation of new barriers.
• Require an arbitrator, undertaking binding arbitration of the collective agreement, to address identification and removal of existing barriers, and prevention of new barriers in the collective agreement, including inviting submissions from the union and employer on this topic during the arbitration process.

BFM Recommendation 12: That consideration be given to adjusting or expanding the standard to address the accessibility of volunteer and internship positions.

BFM Recommendation 13: That the standard be expanded to require employer participation in a measurement and monitoring system that provides the basis for assessing the standard’s impact and the province’s progress toward achieving substantial progress toward achieving a fully accessible labour market.

BFM Recommendation 14: That, following Ontario’s recent decision, the Government of Manitoba commit to the development of an accessible education standard under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act and that this standard be developed and implemented within the government’s current term in office.

BFM Recommendation 15: That the Government of Manitoba develop and adequately resource a robust implementation strategy that will provide increased supports to employers and Manitobans with disabilities, facilitate greater awareness of the value of employing, retaining and promoting persons with disabilities and address other barriers to employment that will not be adequately addressed through employers’ development and implementation of accessible human resource policies and practices.

BFM Recommendation 16: That the Government of Manitoba review and commit to providing the level of resources needed to ensure the full and timely implementation of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

BFM Recommendation 17: That the Government of Manitoba provide financial and other resources to Manitoba’s disability communities to ensure their capacity to conduct independent research and to support their fair and equal participation in the implementation of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

BFM Recommendation 18: That the Government of Manitoba take immediate and dedicated action to develop clear plans for a strong and effective compliance regime under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act.



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