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Frequently Asked Questions
About the Customer Service Standard


Frequently asked questions


Who has to comply with the customer service standard?

The customer service standard applies to all people, businesses and organizations that:

* provide goods or services either directly to the public or to other businesses or organizations;

* have one or more employees in Ontario.

It applies to public, non-profit and private sector organizations.

By when do we have to comply?

All businesses and organizations including housing providers are required to comply by January 1, 2012. Designated public sector organizations were required to meet the requirements of the customer service standard by January 1, 2010.


What are the different requirements for organizations with 20+ employees?

Organizations with 20 or more employees have specific documentation requirements that other organizations do not have.

These organizations are required: to prepare documents describing their policies and procedures; to notify customers that this document(s) is available, and upon request to give a copy of the document to any person who requests it in a format that takes into account the person’s disability. Organizations with 20 or more employees must also file an online report with the Government of Ontario certifying compliance.

Organizations with fewer than 20 employees are still required to comply with the requirements of the standard by January 1, 2012, but do not have to document these efforts in writing and do not need to file a report.


How do we count employees to know if we have documentation requirements and have to file an accessibility report?

Under the standard, employees are staff members who are full-time, part-time, seasonal and/or working under contract. Volunteers and independent contractors should not be included when counting employees. At any point in time if you have 20 or more employees, you will need to comply with the additional documentation requirements.


Under this standard, do we have to make our building/ facilities accessible to people with disabilities?

The customer service standard addresses how you interact, communicate and provide services to your customers with disabilities. It does not specifically address the accessibility of the “goods” or actual “building and facilities”.

It should be noted that the AODA and the customer service standard do not replace or change responsibilities such as the “duty to accommodate” under the Ontario Human Rights Code or other relevant legislation. Section 38 of the AODA states, that the law that provides the higher level of accessibility is the law that must be followed.


Who must receive training under the standard?

Under the Standard, training must be received by everyone in your organization who deals with members of the public, as well as other third parties who act on your behalf. This would include:

- All individuals who develop, or who influence the development of policies (This may need to include leadership or senior managers if they are involved in this process and/or if they direct, monitor or evaluate policies on how goods or services are provided.
- All individuals including full-time, part-time, seasonal and contract employees, volunteers, agents, or others who provide service to or who interact with the “public” or other third parties.

What information must be covered in order for it to be compliant training?

The customer service standard not only identifies who must receive training, but also what information must be provided in the training. To be compliant, training must include:

  • A review of the Act (AODA) and the requirements of the Standard;
  • How to interact and communicate with people with various types of disability;
  • How to interact with people with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a guide dog or other service animal or the assistance of a support person;
  • How to use equipment or devices available on Member’s premises or otherwise made available by the housing provider that may help with the delivery of goods or services to a person with a disability; and
  • What to do if a person with a particular type of disability is having difficulty accessing your goods or services;

It is up to each organization to determine how to meet this training requirement.


Do we have ongoing training requirements?

Training must be provided to all current employees, volunteers, contractors and others by the date that you are required to comply with the standard, which is by January 1, 2012.

After that date, training must be provided as soon as practicable after an individual has been assigned duties that include interaction with the public, or development of policies, practices and procedures related to customer service.


How will compliance be monitored?

Organizations with 20 or more employees are required to submit a compliance report to the Government of Ontario. The AODA allows for enforcement of the customer service standard through inspections, compliance orders and administrative penalties.


What happens if an organization does not comply with the standard?

Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, the Government of Ontario can take enforcement action.

The government has placed an emphasis on compliance assistance through training, education and resources as a critical step in assisting organizations that do not comply.

The AODA does however identify enforcement and penalties. Both organizations and their directors can be penalized if they are found guilty of an offense under this Act.

The framework for administrative penalties includes a graduated scale of penalties based on a consideration of the severity of the impact of the contravention, the contravention history of the person or organization, and the nature of the organization (corporation, unincorporated association or individual). In the case of contraventions of major impact coupled with a major contravention history, administrative penalties can be assessed on a daily basis to a maximum of $100,000 for a corporation, and $50,000 for an individual or unincorporated association.



PSN Can Help

PSN’s – AODA/Customer Service Standard Facilitated Training Sessions

PSN’s – AODA/Customer Service Standard E-Learning Course

PSN’s – AODA/Customer Service Template Package