Reasonable Accommodation – How Far Should an Employer Have to Go?

Increasingly, governments across Canada have been pushing private employers to do more to accommodate and hire disabled Canadians. For example, today, the Federal Government announced new programs and funding to help facilitate the process of finding work for disabled candidates and paying for additional training and/or resources. I think that it’s a great program and I applaud the government for this worthwhile initiative. However, will it be effective? Will it make a difference?

The human rights laws of all Canadian jurisdictions have long held that employers are obligated to accommodate disabled employees or candidates to “the point of undue hardship”. “Undue hardship” is a legal term of art which imposed different obligations on different employers. Larger employers with more employers and extensive resources (i.e., a Home Depot) are required to do more (and spend more) to accommodate than a small “mom and pop” retailer with one location and three employees.

However, regardless of the size of the employer, the Supreme Court of Canada has held that employers are generally not required to create a new position to accommodate a disabled employee or candidate if they are not, due to their disability, ableto carry out the core roles of a position already created by the employer. Simply put, employers can’t be required to hire two employees to do the job that one could / should normally be able to do so.

Is this fair? Should employers be expected or required to create positions in these situations? If it’s a financial burden, should the government support those efforts via tax credits or other funding? Personally, I don’t believe that the law should require this form of accommodation. It should be encouraged by all Canadians and supported by governments where possible. What do you think?


  1. Today’s word: Oxymoron.

    The argument has been made to add “reasonable accommodation” to the growing list of oxymorons: “military intelligence”, “business ethics” and “sustainable development”.