Ontario Public Service Accessible Customer Service Policy
The Government of Ontario supports the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in its laws, policies, programs and services.
The Government of Ontario supports the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in its laws, policies, programs and services. This is spelled out clearly in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA), 2001 and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005.
The government’s goal is to make Ontario accessible by 2025. As we move closer to that date, changes will be taking place across the OPS. It is expected that government goods, services and facilities will become progressively more accessible and responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities.
The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, Ontario Regulation 429/07 came into force on January 1, 2008. It is the first accessibility standard created under the authority of the AODA and is a significant step toward the goal of a barrier-free Ontario. The Government of Ontario was required to be compliant with the regulation by January 1, 2010. Accessibility standards will set requirements in a number of other key areas and will be reviewed at least every five years. New requirements may be added over time. Whenever new or revised standards are developed under the AODA, this policy will be reviewed and updated as necessary to ensure consistency.
This policy has been prepared to outline what the government must do to comply with the regulation and what our customers can expect from us. The term "customer" applies both to our employees and the services they can expect from the OPS as an employer, as well as to our external customers who are the recipients of our programs, policies and services. This policy also supports the service vision, principles and mandatory requirements of the OPS Service Directive, which is intended to guide ministries in their efforts to meet or exceed customer needs and expectations.
The policy is intended to benefit the full range of persons with disabilities, as defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Whether a person’s disability is apparent or not, everyone should be treated with courtesy, made to feel welcome, and have their need for accommodation respected whenever they interact with a government service.
Updated information about the AODA and accessibility standards is available at Accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities or by calling the AODA Contact Centre at 1-866-515-2025 (TTY 416-325-3408) or 1-800-268-7095 (toll-free).
This policy is available in alternate formats upon request.
The OPS is a professional service organization committed to providing high-quality, cost-effective services that keep pace with rising public expectations.
The OPS strives at all times to provide goods and services in a way that respects the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities. Ministries are committed to ensuring that customers with disabilities receive accessible goods and services with the same quality and timeliness that others do.
Training for staff
The OPS will provide training on customer service to all employees who provide government services. This includes those who are involved in the development and approvals of customer service policies, practices and procedures.
New staff as well as those who take on duties that involve interaction with the public or other third parties will receive training as part of their orientation.
Each ministry will provide staff with training that includes:
- A review of the purpose of the AODA and the requirements of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service;
- How to interact and communicate with persons with various types of disabilities;
- How to interact with persons with disabilities who use assistive devices or require the assistance of service animals or support persons;
- How to use the equipment or devices available on the provider’s premises (or otherwise) that may assist with the provision of goods or services to persons with disabilities;
- What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty accessing OPS goods and services; and
- OPS policies, practices and procedures on the provision of goods or services to persons with disabilities.
Staff will be trained on policies, practices and procedures that affect the way goods and services are provided to persons with disabilities. Training will also be provided on an ongoing basis when changes are made to these policies, practices and procedures.
Ministries will ensure that organizations providing services on behalf of government receive training on accessible customer service.
Ministries are committed to effectively serving persons with disabilities who use assistive devices to obtain, use or benefit from our goods and services.
Ministries will inform customers of the assistive devices that are available at their various locations and ensure staff know how to use them.
Use of service animals and support persons
Persons with disabilities may bring their service animal to premises that are open to the public or other third parties. Ministries will ensure that all staff, volunteers and third parties dealing with the public are trained on how to interact with persons with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal.
On rare occasions — such as when other laws need to be considered a manager may determine that a support person is required, or that a service animal cannot enter an area of the premises. In these cases, managers will suggest appropriate alternatives and provide assistance.
Any person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person will be allowed to enter government premises open to the public or other third parties with that person. At no time will a person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person be prevented from having access to that person while on our premises.
Government attractions will not charge an admission fee for support persons. This policy will be posted (1) on the ministry’s website; (2) included in information where admission fees are published; and (3) at entrances and/or location(s) where fees are collected. This is consistent with recent decisions such as the “one person one fare” case.
Support persons (e.g., sign language interpreters, real-time captioners, attendants) may be required for ministry-sponsored meetings, consultations or events. In these cases, ministries will arrange to pay support persons directly for their time and reasonable travel expenses on request, in accordance with government travel and hospitality guidelines.
Ministries will communicate with people who have disabilities in a way that takes their disability into account. Staff will communicate using methods that enable people with disabilities to use, receive and request OPS goods, services and facilities.
Staff who communicate with customers will be trained on how to interact and communicate with persons who have various types of disabilities.
The ultimate goal of this policy is to meet service delivery expectations while serving customers with disabilities. Comments on how well those expectations are being met are welcome and appreciated.
Ministries will inform customers of methods are available for giving feedback. If a method is not suitable, customers may request another way of providing their thoughts. Privacy will be respected and all feedback will be reviewed for action that may be taken to improve ministry services. Feedback received by ServiceOntario will be directed to a contact person at the appropriate ministry.
Complaints will be addressed immediately if at all possible. However, some complaints may require more time and effort to address, such as consultations at a higher level. As outlined in the OPS Common Service Standards, customers can expect acknowledgement of verbal/telephone feedback, or feedback left on a comment card, within two business days. Response to a mailed/e-mailed complaint is made within 15 business days. The acknowledgement must indicate when the matter will be addressed and when the customer will be notified. Ministries must follow up with any required action within the timeframe noted in the acknowledgement. Every effort will be made to provide the response in a format that is accessible to the person who provided the comments.
Notice of temporary disruptions
Ministries will provide customers with notice in the event of a planned or unexpected disruption at the facilities or with the services used by persons with disabilities. This notice will include information about the reason for the disruption, how long the disruption is expected to last, and whether any alternative facilities or services are available.
The notice will be placed at all public entrances and service counters on our premises. Depending on the nature of the disruption, notice will also be provided on outgoing telephone and TTY messages and on ministry websites.
This notice will be provided in accessible formats.
Modifications to this or other policies
Ministries are committed to ensuring that their customer service policies, practices and procedures respect and promote the dignity and independence of all persons with disabilities. Therefore, no changes will be made to this policy before considering the impact on persons with disabilities.
Any OPS or ministry operational policy affecting customer service that does not respect and promote the dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity of persons with disabilities will be modified or revoked.
Questions about this policy
The goal of this policy is to help achieve service excellence to customers with disabilities. If you have any questions, concerns or requests, please contact:
OPS Diversity Office
375 University Avenue, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2J5
Website: OPS Diversity Office
ISBN 978-1-4435-9630-5 (Print)
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