What is Duty to Accommodate?


The duty to accommodate refers to the obligation of an employer or service provider to take measures to eliminate disadvantages to employees, prospective employees or clients that result from a rule, practice or physical barrier that has or may have an adverse impact on individuals or groups protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act or identified as a designated group under the Employment Equity Act. In employment, the duty to accommodate means the employer must implement whatever measures necessary to allow its employees to work to the best of their ability. In the provision of services, the provider must implement whatever measures necessary to allow clients to access its services. Unions are also obligated to facilitate the accommodation of the needs of their members by not impeding the reasonable efforts of the employer to accommodate an employee. The duty to accommodate recognizes that true equality means respecting people’s different needs. Needs that must be accommodated could be related to a person’s gender, age, disability, family or marital status, ethnic or cultural origin, religion or any of the other human attributes identified in the two federal acts.

Excerpt taken from the Government of Canada’s “Canadian Human Rights Commission” website 

The Premier’s Council on the Status of Disabled People is offering an invite-only workshop on Duty to Accommodate in partnership with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the Learning Disabilities Association of New Brunswick.


Session Speakers:
Conni Kilfoil has a wealth of expertise on the duty to accommodate in the workplace, with a focus on the accommodation of disabilities. As legal counsel for several major B.C. public sector unions for 25 years, she was involved in negotiating and/or arbitrating many accommodation cases and she has reviewed hundreds of human rights and accommodation-related policies. In her current role as Equality Representative for CUPE B.C., Conni has developed and taught duty to accommodate courses to joint union/management groups in B.C. and across the country. She also teaches in the Labour Studies Program at Capilano University. Conni serves as Staff Advisor to the CUPE National Persons with Disabilities Working Group and recently received the Canadian Labour Congress inaugural Carol McGregor award for disability rights activism.

Wendy Johnston works on human rights and equality initiatives in New Brunswick and on PEI as Equality Representative for CUPE Maritimes. She provides education and advice to members, staff and elected leaders and does community outreach on matters including the duty to accommodate, pay equity and workplace harassment. Wendy recently co-faciliated a weeklong duty to accommodate course for CUPE members at CUPE B.C.’s Fall School. Wendy’s work at CUPE follows a decade with the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women, where she was responsible for research, policy analysis and awareness initiatives.

These sessions will take place in Saint John and Fredericton late May/early June. Official dates and some details have yet to be determined.