As the governing body of a profession concerned with justice, The Law Society of Upper Canada (“Law Society”) has a strong public interest in promoting equality. The legal approach to equality recognizes that treating people identically is not synonymous with treating them equally. Substantive equality requires the accommodation of differences that arise from the enumerated grounds listed in the Code. If a rule, requirement or expectation of the Licensing Process creates difficulty for an individual because of factors related to one or more of the enumerated grounds listed in the Code, the duty to accommodate may arise.
This document outlines the policy and procedures for candidates in the Paralegal Licensing Process to request an accommodation based on the enumerated grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code (“the Code”). The accommodation policy is consistent with the Code and will be operated within the overall mandate of the Law Society to ensure that entrants to the profession are competent to deliver legal services.
The Law Society is committed to ensuring that the requirements of the Licensing Process are directly and logically connected to the competent delivery of legal services, and further that persons who wish to deliver legal services in Ontario are not effectively barred from qualifying because of one or more of the following enumerated grounds: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, gender identity, gender expression, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, or disability. It recognizes that its commitment to equality requires that it accommodate individuals, up to the point of undue hardship, in circumstances and situations that arise because of one or more of the enumerated grounds. Assessing whether an accommodation is needed and what accommodation may be appropriate is an ongoing obligation of the Law Society and its Support Services.
The purpose of this policy and procedures is as follows:
- to set out how the duty to accommodate will be carried out;
- to set out the procedures and strategies for accommodation for the Paralegal Licensing Process;
- to ensure conformity with other Law Society policies and procedures.
This policy and procedures are applicable to services offered by the Law Society in all Licensing Process locations and to all candidates registered in the Paralegal Licensing Process.
To protect the interest of candidates seeking an accommodation, the Law Society will keep information collected from that candidate in strict confidence and will use the information solely for the purpose of providing the accommodation. Access to this information is restricted to designated staff working on behalf of the candidate and will not be disclosed without the candidate’s written consent.
Procedure to Request and Accommodation and Responsibilities of Requesting Candidate
To make a request for an accommodation under this policy, candidates must follow the following procedure:
- The candidate makes the request for accommodation to Support Services.
- The request for accommodation and all supporting documents must be submitted 30 business days prior to the licensing examination.
- The candidate is encouraged to identify the ground(s), for example disability, religion or family responsibility/status, upon which the accommodation is requested.
- The candidate provides enough information to confirm the existence of a need for accommodation and the type(s) of accommodation required.
- The candidate provides suitable verifiable information about the need for accommodation as requested by Support Services.
- The candidate cooperates in obtaining necessary information and participates in discussions about solutions.
A request for accommodation must be made in sufficient detail, and be accompanied by appropriate verifiable documentation, to ensure that Support Services has all the information it requires to determine the best accommodation. A request for accommodation must be made in enough time to allow Support Services to arrange for the accommodation if approved. Support Services may not be able to accommodate requests that are made on very short notice.
Responsibilities of Support Services when Considering a Request for Accommodation
When a candidate requests an accommodation under this policy, Support Services has the responsibility to assess the need for accommodation. The procedures listed below will be followed:
- Support Services respects the dignity of the candidate requesting the accommodation. This means acting in a manner that recognizes the privacy, confidentiality, comfort, autonomy, and self-esteem of the candidate.
- Support Services presumes that the request for accommodation is made in good faith unless there are legitimate reasons for believing otherwise.
- Support Services consults the candidate and considers any suggestions offered by him or her in arriving at a strategy for accommodation.
- Support Services requests only information that is reasonably necessary to consider the request for accommodation.
- Support Services deals with accommodation requests in a timely manner, where the request has allowed a reasonable time to do so.
- Support Services considers alternatives if the request cannot be fully accommodated.
- If Support Services approves the request for accommodation, it will provide the accommodation required.
- Support Services may consult with the candidate to determine whether the accommodation is appropriate or should be modified.
- In the interest of both prompt attention to the needs of a particular candidate and the need to explore the utility of various accommodation strategies, an interim or experimental strategy may be implemented.
A record of the accommodation request, actions taken and other relevant documentation (the “record”) is maintained. All information and records are destroyed once a candidate has been licensed.
An accommodation will not be provided if it imposes undue hardship on the Law Society. This determination is made on a case-by-case basis by the Law Society. If an accommodation is refused, the refusal can be brought to the Director of Professional Development and Competence (see Appeal Procedure below). Considerations that may influence this determination include substantial economic hardship on the Law Society, health and safety considerations, the unavailability of persons with appropriate expertise, a significant adverse impact on learning opportunities for other candidates, a significant alteration of the fundamental nature of the program or service or undue disruption of the institution’s program operations.
If the Law Society asserts that a requested accommodation imposes undue hardship, it prepares a written report setting out the nature of the accommodation refused, and the factors that support its view that undue hardship would ensue.
If the accommodation cannot be made or is unsatisfactory, the candidate may:
- Discuss the request with the Team Leader, Examination Administration and Security.
- If unresolved, discuss the request with the Manager, Licensing and Accreditation.
- If unresolved, file an appeal with the Director of Professional Development and Competence.
The decision on an appeal by the Director of Professional Development and Competence is final.
Review of Practice, Policy and Procedures
The Law Society will undertake a review of its practices and this policy, on a regular basis, to address barriers that might affect candidates identified by the enumerated grounds listed in the Code.
Information about Policy and Practices
Third party service providers will be briefed concerning the Law Society’s policies and procedures, in recognition of their importance to the success of the Licensing Process and to promote their appropriate responses to candidates' needs.
The Law Society will inform all candidates of its accommodation policy and of the nature of available accommodations. The Law Society will encourage candidates to identify needs based on enumerated grounds that might involve a need for accommodation.
Addendum - Current Assistance Initiatives for Accommodations based on Enumerated Grounds in the Licensing Process
The following are examples of accommodation practices under this policy:
1. Exam Assistance Accommodations (Examples)
a. Extended time to complete examinations.
b. Use of special equipment such as a personal computer.
c. Use of private rooms.
d. Examinations in alternative forms such as audio tape, Braille, text to speech.
e. Use of readers, scribes in the examination setting.
f. Provide appropriate invigilation through Support Services.
Human Rights Code
R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER H.19
PART I - FREEDOM FROM DISCRIMINATION
1. Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 1; 1999, c. 6, s. 28 (1); 2001, c. 32, s. 27 (1); 2005, c. 5, s. 32 (1).
6. Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to membership in any trade union, trade or occupational association or self-governing profession without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 6; 1999, c. 6, s. 28 (7); 2001, c. 32, s. 27 (1); 2005, c. 5, s. 32 (7).
9. No person shall infringe or do, directly or indirectly, anything that infringes a right under this Part. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 9.
INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION
Definitions re: Parts I and II
10. (1) In Part I and in this Part,
“age” means an age that is 18 years or more; (“âge”)
(a) any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
(b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
(c) a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
(d) a mental disorder, or
(e) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997; (“handicap”)
“equal” means subject to all requirements, qualifications and considerations that are not a prohibited ground of discrimination; (“égal”)
“family status” means the status of being in a parent and child relationship; (“état familial”)
“group insurance” means insurance whereby the lives or well-being or the lives and well-being of a number of persons are insured severally under a single contract between an insurer and an association or an employer or other person; (“assurance-groupe”)
“harassment” means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome; (“harcèlement”)
“marital status” means the status of being married, single, widowed, divorced or separated and includes the status of living with a person in a conjugal relationship outside marriage; (“état matrimonial”)
“record of offences” means a conviction for,
(a) an offence in respect of which a pardon has been granted under the Criminal Records Act (Canada) and has not been revoked, or
(b) an offence in respect of any provincial enactment; (“casier judiciaire”)
“services” does not include a levy, fee, tax or periodic payment imposed by law; (“services”)
“spouse” means the person to whom a person is married or with whom the person is living in a conjugal relationship outside marriage. (“conjoint”) R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 10 (1); 1993, c. 27, Sched.; 1997, c. 16, s. 8; 1999, c. 6, s. 28 (8); 2001, c. 13, s. 19; 2001, c. 32, s. 27 (2, 3); 2005, c. 5, s. 32 (8-10); 2005, c. 29, s.1 (1).
(2) The right to equal treatment without discrimination because of sex includes the right to equal treatment without discrimination because a woman is or may become pregnant. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 10 (2).
Past and presumed disabilities
(3) The right to equal treatment without discrimination because of disability includes the right to equal treatment without discrimination because a person has or has had a disability or is believed to have or to have had a disability. 2001, c. 32, s. 27 (4).
11. (1) A right of a person under Part I is infringed where a requirement, qualification or factor exists that is not discrimination on a prohibited ground but that results in the exclusion, restriction or preference of a group of persons who are identified by a prohibited ground of discrimination and of whom the person is a member, except where,
(a) the requirement, qualification or factor is reasonable and bona fide in the circumstances; or
(b) it is declared in this Act, other than in section 17, that to discriminate because of such ground is not an infringement of a right. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 11 (1).
(2) The Tribunal or a court shall not find that a requirement, qualification or factor is reasonable and bona fide in the circumstances unless it is satisfied that the needs of the group of which the person is a member cannot be accommodated without undue hardship on the person responsible for accommodating those needs, considering the cost, outside sources of funding, if any, and health and safety requirements, if any. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 11 (2); 1994, c. 27, s. 65 (1); 2002, c. 18, Sched. C, s. 2 (1); 2009, c.33, Sched. 2, s. 35 (1).
14. (1) A right under Part I is not infringed by the implementation of a special program designed to relieve hardship or economic disadvantage or to assist disadvantaged persons or groups to achieve or attempt to achieve equal opportunity or that is likely to contribute to the elimination of the infringement of rights under Part I. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 14 (1).
17. (1) A right of a person under this Act is not infringed for the reason only that the person is incapable of performing or fulfilling the essential duties or requirements attending the exercise of the right because of disability. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 17 (1); 2001, c. 32, s. 27 (5).
(2) No tribunal or court shall find a person incapable unless it is satisfied that the needs of the person cannot be accommodated without undue hardship on the person responsible for accommodating those needs, considering the cost, outside sources of funding, if any, and health and safety requirements, if any. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 17 (2); 1994, c. 27, s. 65 (2); 2002, c. 18, Sched. C, s. 3 (1); 2006, c. 30, s. 2(1).