​Accessibility Plan and Policies

Purpose

This Accessibility Plan outlines the policies and actions that SSQ Insurance will put in place to improve opportunities for people with disabilities in order to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) deadline requirements as they come into effect during the years 2014 through 2021.

Introduction

SSQ Insurance is committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence. We believe in integration and equal opportunity. We are committed to meeting the needs of people with disabilities in a timely manner, and will do so by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The AODA was passed by the Ontario legislature in 2005, with the goal of creating a fully accessible Ontario by 2025.

AODA Section 1:
"Recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in Ontario, the purpose of this Act is to benefit all Ontarians by,

(a) developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025; and

(b) providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and of various sectors of the economy in the development of the accessibility standards."

This policy applies to either temporary or permanent disabilities.

SSQ Insurance is committed to excellence in serving all customers including persons with disabilities.

The following are the policies and procedures developed by SSQ Insurance to comply with the AODA.

Part 1: Employer Requirements under the Customer Service Standard

Under the Customer Service Standard, all employers must:

1. Establish policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities.

2. Use reasonable efforts to ensure that policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the core principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of opportunity.

3. Set a policy on allowing people to use their own, personal assistive devices to access goods and use services and any other measures the organization offers (assistive devices, services, or methods) to enable employees or clients to access goods and use services.

4. Communicate with a person with a disability in a manner that takes into account his or her disability.

5. Allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their guide dog or service animal in those areas of the premises the company owns or operates that are open to the public, unless the animal is excluded by another law. If a service animal is excluded by law, other measures to provide services to the person with a disability must be used.

6. Permit people with disabilities who use a support person to bring that person with them while accessing goods or services in premises open to the public or third parties.

7. Where admission fees are charged, provide notice ahead of time on what admission, if any, would be charged for a support person of a person with a disability.

8. Provide notice when facilities or services that people with disabilities rely on to access or use your goods or services are temporarily disrupted.

9. Train staff, volunteers, contractors and any other people who interact with the public or other third parties on the company's behalf, and who are involved in developing company policies, practices and procedures on the provision of goods or services, on the topics outlined in the customer service standard.

10. Establish a process for people to provide feedback on how the company provides goods or services to people with disabilities and how we will respond to any feedback and take action on any complaints. The information about your feedback process must be readily available to the public.

1.1 Assistive Devices

Assistive technology is a term used to describe the various forms of devices such as assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices used to assist persons with disabilities. These devices are used to support the needs of the individual person and specific disability by enabling them to perform tasks that they may not have been able to accomplish formerly.

Examples of assistive devices include hearing aids, speech amplification devices, white canes, wheelchairs, screen readers, etc. Ontario Employers are not responsible for providing any assistive devices under the Customer Service Standard, but rather, are responsible ensuring all employees are properly trained.

SSQ Insurance will ensure that our staff is trained and familiar with various assistive devices that may be used by customers with disabilities while accessing our services.

1.2 Communication

Accessible customer service requires employees to overcome and find ways around different barriers that customers may have. Employers need to ensure that their employees are trained on how to successfully communicate with customers with disabilities to ensure accessible services.

SSQ Insurance employees will communicate with people with disabilities in ways that take into account their disabilities.

1.3 Service Animals

With certain types of disabilities, an animal may be more of an assistive form of aid rather than a device. These services animals are trained to carry out certain tasks that help people with disabilities. There are three types of assistive animals that have been categorized by the international assistance animal community:

  1. Guide Animals: Used to guide the blind
  2. Hearing Animals: Used to help signal the hearing impaired
  3. Service Animals: Used to do work for persons with disabilities other than blindness or deafness

Under the Customer Service Standard, services animals must be allowed on parts of the workplace premises (excluding certain areas such as a kitchen). SSQ Insurance will welcome people with disabilities and their service animals into our workplace.

1.4 Support Persons

Support persons are those that help persons with disabilities perform day to day tasks. Without support, the person may not be able to access your organization. All support persons should be welcomed into the workplace.

A person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person will be allowed to have that person accompany them on our premises. SSQ Insurance will notify customers of this through a notice posted on our premises.

1.5 Notice of Temporary Disruption

Sometimes accessibility features or services require repair or are just temporarily unavailable. The Customer Service Standard requires employers to communicate this to their customers by posting a notice.

In the event of a planned or unexpected disruption to services or facilities for customers with disabilities SSQ Insurance will notify customers promptly.

A clearly posted notice will include information about the reasons for the disruption, its anticipated length of time and a description of alternative facilities or services, if available.

The notice will be placed at our premises located at 110 Sheppard Avenue East, Suite 500, Toronto, ON.

1.6 Training

Under the Customer Service Standard all employees who work with customers or create customer service plans must be trained. SSQ Insurance will provide training to employees, volunteers and others who deal with the public or other third parties on our behalf.

Our training will include:

  • An overview of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
  • The requirements for the Customer Service Standard
  • The requirements for the Integrated Accessibility Standard
  • What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty accessing our organization's services

This training will be provided to staff after being hired and they will be retrained in the event that changes are made to the plan.

1.7 Feedback Process

SSQ Insurance customers who wish to provide feedback on the way we provide services to people with disability can contact us:

Jérémie Clarke
416-840-0507 EXT 64663
jeremie.clarke@ssq.ca

Customers can expect to hear back within 7 days. Complaints will be addressed according to SSQ Insurance's regular complaint management procedures.

Part 2: Employer Requirements under the Employment Standard

The Employment Standard, under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, requires employers to provide for accessibility across all stages of the employment life cycle. The Employment Standard is a framework for integrating accessibility into regular workplace processes.

By pro-actively removing barriers across the employment life cycle, employers create workplaces that are accessible and which allow employees to reach their full potential.

The Employment Standard applies to paid employees. This includes, but is not limited to, full-time, part-time, paid apprenticeships and seasonal employment. SSQ Insurance will:

  • Provide Workplace emergency response information using accessible formats and communication supports
  • Make Recruitment, assessment and selection practices accessible
  • Tell staff about policies for supporting employees with disabilities
  • Make information accessible to employees using accessible formats and communication supports
  • Help employees with disabilities stay safe
  • Develop accommodation plans for employees with disabilities
  • Help employees with disabilities return to work
  • Make performance management, career development and job changes accessible to employees

2.1 Accessible Emergency Information

SSQ Insurance is committed to providing employees with disabilities with individualized emergency response information in an accessible format upon request. We will also provide customers and clients with publicly available emergency information in an accessible format when necessary.

Individualized emergency response information is a plan to help an employee with a disability during an Emergency, or emergency information that is formatted so an employee with a disability can understand it. SSQ Insurance will work with disabled employees to ensure they have the required assistance and support in these circumstances.

If any SSQ Insurance employee with a disability would require help in an emergency:

  • They will be given individualized emergency response information
  • Their consent will be obtained to share this information with persons designated to help them in an emergency
  • The employer will designate appropriate persons to assist the disabled employee during emergency situations
  • The employer is required to review the emergency response information when:
    • the employee changes work locations
    • there is a review of the employee's overall accommodation needs, or
    • there is a review or change to the organization's emergency response policies.

2.2 Kiosks

SSQ Insurance does not currently use self-service kiosks. SSQ Insurance will ensure employees consider the needs of people with disabilities when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks for use after January 1, 2014.

2.3 Information and communications

SSQ Insurance is committed to meeting the communication needs of people with disabilities. We will consult with people with disabilities as needed to assist in determining their information and communication needs.

In order to meet the requirements of the AODA for information and communications, SSQ Insurance will undertake the following steps:

2.3.1 In addition to the process outlined in Section 1.7 of this Policy, SSQ Insurance will ensure all publicly available information is made accessible upon request by January 1, 2016.

2.4 Employment

SSQ Insurance is committed to fair and accessible employment practices.

When notified we will take the following steps to accommodate people with disabilities during the recruitment and assessment processes and when people are hired:

  • Ensuring application processes are easily accessed by support devices such as screen readers and audio devices
  • Ensuring that interviews are conducted in a location that permits use of any assistive devices that the applicant/employee may require

2.5 Accommodation Policy

SSQ Insurance will develop and put in place a process for developing individual accommodation plans and return-to-work policies for employees that have been absent due to a disability. Please refer to these policies for more information about the accommodation process:

  • Reasonable Accommodation Policy
  • Return to Work Policy

2.6 Performance Review Process

Beginning in 2016, we will ensure the accessibility needs of employees with disabilities are taken into account when SSQ Insurance uses performance management, career development and redeployment processes by:

  • Ensuring any employment contracts or job descriptions clearly state any special accommodations or modifications to duties which apply to the specific employee
  • Ensuring a performance review process is created to take into account these accommodations or modifications
  • Ensuring there is a regular review of the employee's needs and duties

Part 3: For more information

For more information on this accessibility plan, please contact:

Jérémie Clarke
416-840-0507 EXT 64663
jeremie.clarke@ssq.ca

Accessible formats of this document are available free upon request from:

110 Sheppard Avenue East, Suite 500, Toronto, ON