Drafted by the S4S Committee and approved by the Board of Directors in June 2017, after reviews by the co-op lawyers.
See it in our list of by-laws and policies.
Drafted by the S4S Committee and approved by the Board of Directors in June 2017, after reviews by the co-op lawyers.
See it in our list of by-laws and policies.
In the Woodsworth Housing Co-op Accommodation Policy for Residents with Disabilities (“the Accommodation Policy”), the term “accommodation” refers to adapting or adjusting policies, procedures, structures, etc. for a resident with a disability, and not to its more common usage as lodging or housing. 1
Approved by the Board of Directors in June 2017.
1. Statement of Commitment
Woodsworth Housing Co-operative (“the Co-op”) commits to addressing residents’ needs in a manner consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code that is inclusive and free of barriers based on disability, unless to do so would cause undue hardship to the Co-op.2 This Accommodation Policy applies to all residents of the Co-op, as required by the Human Rights Code.
Accommodation will be provided in accordance with the principles of dignity, individualization, and inclusion. The Co-op will work cooperatively, and in a spirit of respect, with all partners in the accommodation process. 3
2. Appropriate Accommodations
The aim of accommodation is to remove barriers and ensure equality. Accommodations will be developed on an individualized basis. An accommodation will be appropriate where it results in equal opportunity to enjoy the same benefits and privileges experienced by others, and where it respects the principles of dignity, inclusion and individualization. Appropriate accommodations may include:
a) Unit adjustments
b) Transfer to a more appropriate unit;
c) Modifications to organization policies and practices;
d) Technical aids;
e) Provision of materials in alternative formats;
f) Building modifications;
g) Modification to membership criteria.
This list is not exhaustive.
Accommodation may take many forms. What works for one individual may not work for another. Each person's situation must be individually assessed. In each case, the Co-op will implement the most appropriate accommodation, short of undue hardship.
3. Application of the Accommodation Policy
This Accommodation Policy applies to all residents of the Co-op. Residents include Members, Long Term Guests, the children of Members and Long Term Guests, and anyone else who may legitimately be permanent residents.
It applies at all stages and to all aspects of residence in the Co-op, including but not limited to participation in Co-op events, meetings and committees, access to and use of common and private areas of the Co-op, and termination of membership.
The Accommodation Policy also applies to the procedures associated with applying for Membership or Long Term Guest status with the Co-op.
New members will be informed of the Accommodation Policy and all residents will be able to access it electronically through the Co-op’s website, and in hard copy form at the Co-op management office.
Decisions under the Accommodation Policy will be made by the manager of the Co-op within his/her spending authority. If the requested accommodation will cost over the manager’s spending limit, the request will be referred to the Board of Directors for a decision. 4
4. Requests for Accommodation
Requests for accommodation must be made, preferably in writing, to the Co-op management office and directed to the manager. 5
Accommodation requests should indicate:
The specific needs related to the accommodation seeker’s disability.
The reason why accommodation is required; and
All accommodation requests will be taken seriously. No person will be penalized for making an accommodation request.
5. Provision of Information 6
The manager of the Co-op (or Board of Directors in more complex accommodation requests) may require further information related to the accommodation request in the following circumstances:
a) Where further information related to the individual’s limitations or restrictions is required in order to determine an appropriate accommodation; or
b) Where there is a demonstrable objective reason to question the legitimacy of the person’s request for accommodation.
In particular, the manager may request documentation from an appropriate health practitioner detailing the nature of the individual’s disability (a diagnosis is not required), any restrictions resulting from the disability, the expected duration of the restrictions, and the basis for the medical conclusions.7
Where further information is needed in order to identify accommodation needs or potential solutions, the accommodation seeker is required to cooperate in obtaining that information. Any costs associated with obtaining such information will be borne by the Co-op.
Failure to respond to such requests for information may delay the provision of accommodation.
The Co-op will maintain information related to:
a) The accommodation request;
b) Any documentation provided by the accommodation seeker or by health practitioners;
c) Notes from any meetings;
d) Any accommodation alternatives explored;
e) Any proposed accommodations that were refused; and
f) Any accommodations provided.
This information will be maintained in a secure location, separate from membership files, and will be shared only with those persons who need the information.
6. Privacy and Confidentiality 8
The Co-op will maintain the confidentiality of information related to an accommodation request. It will only disclose this information with the consent of the person who requested accommodation.
7. Accommodation Planning
Accommodation requests will be dealt with promptly. When required, an interim solution will be provided while long-term solutions are developed.
The manager of the Co-op, the accommodation seeker and, where appropriate, the Board of Directors and any necessary health practitioners will work together cooperatively to develop an Accommodation Plan for the individual. 9
The Accommodation Plan, when agreed on, will be put in writing and signed by the accommodation seeker and an officer of the Co-op. A signed copy of the Accommodation Plan will be maintained by the Co-op.
An Accommodation Plan may include the following:
A statement of the accommodation seeker’s relevant limitations and needs, including any necessary assessments and information from health practitioners, bearing in mind the need to maintain the confidentiality of medical reports;
Arrangements for necessary assessments by health practitioners;
Identification of the most appropriate accommodation short of undue hardship;
Clear timelines for the provision of identified accommodations; and
Criteria for determining the success of the Accommodation Plan, together with a mechanism for review and re-assessment of the Accommodation Plan as necessary.
8. Monitoring Accommodations 10
The manager of the Co-op and the person receiving accommodation will monitor the success of the Accommodation Plan, and shall promptly address any deficiencies or relevant changes in the Co-op or the individual’s needs.
9. Undue Hardship
Accommodation will be provided to the point of undue hardship, as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Ableism and Discrimination Based on Disability. A determination regarding undue hardship will be based on an objective assessment of costs, outside sources of funding, and health and safety. 11 The standard for undue hardship is high, and the burden of proof is on the Co-op.
A determination that an accommodation will create undue hardship may only be made by the Board of Directors of the Co-op. 12
An individual making a request for accommodation may be encouraged to offset the costs of accommodation by applying for outside funding or programs that are only available to individuals. The manager of the Co-op may assist in identifying these funding sources.
Where a determination is made that an accommodation would create undue hardship, the person requesting accommodation will be given written notice, including the reasons for the decision and the objective evidence relied upon. The accommodation seeker shall also be informed of his/her recourse under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Where a determination has been made that an accommodation would cause undue hardship, the manager of the Co-op will work with the accommodation seeker to develop and implement the next best accommodation short of undue hardship, or will consider phasing in the requested accommodation.
1. This policy is intended to be consistent with and complement Human Rights By-Law #70.
2 For more information on undue hardship, please see section 8.
3 The “Duty to Accommodate” under the Human Rights Code is not limited to needs related to a disability, but applies to all enumerated grounds under the Code, including race, age, sex, gender identity, family status, creed (religion), place of origin and citizenship, and the receipt of public assistance. While the focus of this policy is accommodating the needs of residents with disabilities, the principles apply equally to all enumerated grounds.
4 See Spending By-Law #47 and Human Rights By-Law #70, subsection 2.7.
5 It is important to note that some individuals may be unable to disclose or communicate accommodation needs, due to the nature of their disability. For example, persons with some mental disabilities may be unaware of their accommodation needs, or may be reluctant to disclose them because of fear of stigma or stereotypes. The Co-op may offer assistance and accommodation to persons who are clearly unwell and in need of assistance, or who are perceived to have a disability, even where no accommodation request is made.
6 The Co-op will be careful to collect only information that is necessary. A careful approach to the collection of documentation not only protects the privacy of the accommodation seeker, it protects the Co-op from potential complaints. All parties must exercise good faith in seeking and providing information.
7 An appropriate health practitioner is a member of a regulated health care profession such as a medical doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, occupational therapist or social worker who is qualified to provide an opinion on a request for accommodation. In some cases, the need for accommodation is obvious and there will be no need for supporting medical information.
8 Requests for accommodation may involve the disclosure of private or highly sensitive information. In order for individuals to feel comfortable when making accommodation requests, they must feel confident that the information they provide will be treated confidentially, and shared only as necessary for the accommodation process.
9 A formal accommodation plan ensures that the parties clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, and facilitates accountability and regular monitoring.
10 Accommodation needs and the Co-op’s realities may change over time. As well, accommodation may require adjustments during and after implementation in order to improve effectiveness or efficiency.
11 A detailed explanation of these three factors can be found in the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Ableism and Discrimination Based on Disability (2016) at section 9, available online at: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-ableism-and-discrimination-based-disability.
12 The determination that an accommodation will cause undue hardship is a complex decision, with potentially significant legal consequences, and should therefore be made by the Board of Directors of the Co-op. The basis for this conclusion should be thoroughly documented, and the accommodation seeker provided with clear reasons for the decision.
Printable / downloadable PDF of this document:
CHFC Appendix C to the Human Rights By-Law
This Attachment contains background information relating to the Model Human Rights By-law. It does not form part of the By-law itself.
This Attachment may be updated from time to time. The CHF Canada website should be checked for the most recent version.
1. Why have a Human Rights By-law?
The Model Human Rights By-law does two things.
• First, it states the co-op’s commitment to the Ontario Human Rights
• Second, it states a procedure for dealing with human rights
problems at the co-op.
2. What is the Ontario Human Rights Code?
The Ontario Human Rights Code is a basic law of the Province of Ontario.
It states detailed rules and definitions on the human rights that are
protected in Ontario. It states procedures on how those rights can be
The rules in the Human Rights Code are explained by decisions of courts and tribunals on what the Code means and by policy statements and other materials issued by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
3. Does the Human Rights By-law state the human rights that are
No. People’s human rights are part of the law of the Province, not things that the co-op adopts in a by-law.
The basic commitment to human rights is a simple and straightforward
principle, but working it out according to law is complicated. Therefore,
the basic commitment is in the By-law, but not the detailed legal rules.
4. What are the human rights guaranteed by the Human Rights Code?
The Human Rights Code states that people have a right not be
discriminated against or harassed on certain specific grounds. It is only
discrimination on those grounds that is illegal.
5. What are the prohibited grounds of discrimination in housing?
The prohibited grounds of discrimination in housing are:
• place of origin,
• ethnic origin,
• sexual orientation,
• marital status,
• family status,
• the receipt of public assistance,
• gender identity,
• gender expression.
6. What are the prohibited grounds of discrimination in employment?
Co-ops are employers as well as housing providers. The prohibited grounds of discrimination in employment are the same as in housing except:
• An employer cannot discriminate based on record of offences. A
housing provider can take record of offences into consideration.
• A housing provider cannot discriminate based on receipt of public
assistance. This is not in the list of prohibited grounds for
7. Should we change the list for our co-op?
This is not recommended.
• The list in the Code is accompanied by definitions and other sections which explain and qualify the obligations. It is important that these apply.
• Experience shows that when co-ops adjust the list, they are basically covering the same things in different words. But there may be a slightly different meaning that is hard to predict.
• Co-op by-laws are legally operative documents. It is important to be
accurate and consistent so that co-ops do not have unexpected
8. What is harassment?
Harassment is inappropriate comment or conduct that is known or
should be known to be unwelcome. It is illegal if it is on a ground stated in the Human Rights Code. The prohibited grounds of harassment are substantially similar to the prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Some examples of harassment when based on a prohibited ground are:
• epithets, slurs or jokes;
• name calling or nicknames;
• jokes, cartoons or graffiti;
• verbal abuse;
• displaying offensive or derogatory images;
• practical jokes causing awkwardness or embarrassment;
• condescending or patronizing behaviour undermining a person’s self-
9. What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is harassment because of sex, sexual orientation,
gender identity or gender expression. Some examples are:
• gender-related comments about an individual's physical
characteristics or mannerisms;
• unwelcome physical contact, patting or pinching;
• suggestive or offensive remarks or innuendoes about members of a
• propositions of physical intimacy;
• gender-related verbal abuse, threats, or taunting;
• leering or inappropriate staring;
• bragging about sexual prowess;
• demands for dates or sexual favours;
• offensive jokes or comments of a sexual nature about a person;
• display of sexually offensive pictures, graffiti, or other materials;
• questions or discussions about sexual activities;
• paternalism based on gender which a person feels undermines his or her self-respect or position of responsibility;
• rough and vulgar humour or language related to gender.
10. Are there other kinds of sexual harassment?
Yes. In addition, sexual harassment is any kind of sexual advance made by someone who is in a position to grant or deny a benefit or
advancement such as someone’s employer or superior. It is also any
reprisal by such a person for rejection of a sexual advance.
11. Does the victim have to object for it to be sexual harassment?
No. It is not necessary for someone to object to behaviour for it to be
contrary to the Human Rights Code.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF CO-OPS
12. What are the co-op’s legal responsibilities?
As a housing provider the co-op has to follow the Human Rights Code in all areas of its operations. This includes its role as housing provider and as employer.
The co-op is responsible for the acts of the co-op as a corporation. It
also can have responsibility for the acts of its staff and anyone acting on its behalf. This can include directors, officers, committee members and others.
13. Is the co-op responsible for the acts of individual members?
If the co-op is a place where discriminatory or harassing language or
acts are common, it is said to have a “poisoned environment” or
“poisoned atmosphere”. Under the Human Rights Code the co-op could
The co-op has to do what is reasonable to ensure that the general
atmosphere at the co-op is free of discrimination or harassment on
human rights grounds. It cannot just ignore such conduct.
ACCOMMODATION OF DISABILITIES
14. Does someone who is disabled have to obey the same rules as other co-op members?
Yes. But those rules have to be adjusted to allow for the person’s
disability if it can be done without undue hardship.
15. Does the co-op have to go to special expense to fill the needs of
someone who is disabled?
Yes. The co-op has to provide equal housing to everyone, including any members who are disabled. In order to permit the disabled members to have equal housing, special measures may be needed, such as automatic door openers.
The co-op and anyone else providing accommodation has to take such
measures if it can be done without undue hardship.
16. What is undue hardship?
Undue hardship is not defined in any exact way. However, it would
include cost, outside sources of funding, if any, and health and safety
17. Doesn’t it cost a lot to accommodate people with disabilities?
No. The Human Rights Commission says that a great many examples of accommodation can be done very inexpensively.
For instance, some people are highly sensitive to certain chemicals such as cleaning fluids. Pricing out alternatives that are less offensive (and maybe better for the environment) shows that they only cost a co-op slightly more. The same is true of a great many other accommodations.
18. Is there a hard and fast dollar limit for an accommodation?
No. The Human Rights Code does not state a specific limit and the
explanations given in court and tribunal cases do not lead to any
specific limit. You should consult your local federation or lawyer when
this issue comes up.
19. What is indirect discrimination?
Indirect discrimination is also called “constructive” discrimination. It
exists if there is a requirement or factor that is not discrimination on a
prohibited ground but that results in the exclusion, restriction or
preference of a group of persons identified by a prohibited ground.
An example might be religious beliefs. Co-ops might be scheduling
meeting times for good reasons that have nothing to do with any human rights issues. But if a members’ meeting falls on a holiday that affects a lot of the members, that could be indirect discrimination.
20. Does the co-op have to go to expense or change its rules to avoid indirect discrimination?
Yes. But the co-op’s obligations are subject to the same test of undue
hardship as for accommodating disabilities.
EQUAL TREATMENT FOR ALL MEMBERS
21. Does accommodating disabilities and avoiding indirect discrimination
involve treating some members better than others?
No. This is the biggest issue that bothers co-op members. Co-ops are
founded on the basis that all members have equal worth. This is not like other kinds of corporations where worth depends on the number of
shares or the amount of investment.
But sometimes people have to be treated differently in order to receive
equal service. For instance, no one would suggest that there is anything wrong with giving a household of five a larger unit than a household of one. It is accepted that this better fits their needs.
In the same way co-op services need to be adjusted in a sensitive way to meet other specific needs of co-op members if it will not cause
22. Is the co-op entitled to proof of the needs?
Yes. The co-op is entitled to reasonable evidence if there is any need
However, the most important thing to remember is that the member
involved is entitled to be treated with dignity. People should get away
from the mindset that there is any kind of “special privilege”. Instead
recognize that whatever is being done is being done to give service that is effectively equal to others.
Therefore, any request should be treated with respect and dignity, and,
of course, complete confidentiality on a need-to-know basis.
23. Are there other legal issues related to the Human Rights Code and human rights at co-ops?
Yes. A lot of them. This paper only skims the surface. It is important to get legal advice when issues come up.
24. If a complaint is made against the co-op to the Human Rights
Tribunal, what should the co-op do?
First, the co-op should report it to the co-op’s insurance company. The
complaint might be covered by the co-op’s insurance.
It is important to do this whether or not the co-op thinks there is any
merit in the claim. That is because the legal or other costs can be very high, whether or not the co-op defeats any complaint. The insurance company may not provide coverage unless it is consulted from the beginning. It is a requirement of the insurance that the co-op consult it from the beginning.
Second, the co-op should not discuss the matter with the person
involved or their lawyer and no one acting on the co-op’s behalf should
Third, the co-op’s own lawyer should be notified in the case the
insurance company lawyer does not take over.
25. Will following the Human Rights By-Law mean that no claim can be made against the co-op?
No. The By-law is intended to be a way to enhance human rights at the co-op and to resolve problems. However, anyone who is dissatisfied or does not want to use the By-law can complain to the Human Rights
WOODSWORTH HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE INC.
By-law No. 70
HUMAN RIGHTS BY-LAW
Passed by the Board of Directors on March 30, 2016
Confirmed by the members on May 17, 2016
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 Rights, Principles and Obligations
Article 1.1 Statement of principles and obligations
Article 1.2 Background information
Article 1.3 Other rights
Article 1.4 No reprisals
2 Co-op Services
Article 2.1 Individual assessment
Article 2.2 Members with disabilities
Article 2.3 No indirect discrimination
Article 2.4 Limits
Article 2.5 Able to live independently
Article 2.6 Requests for accommodation or adjustment
Article 2.7 Authority to arrange for work
Article 2.8 Relation to Human Rights Code
3 Dealing with Problems
Article 3.1 Investigate complaints
Article 3.2 Procedure
Article 3.3 Complaints about co-op
Article 3.4 Complaints about members of the co-op community
Article 3.5 Eviction
4 Relation to Other By-laws
Article 4.1 Applying co-op by-laws
Article 4.2 Procedures under other laws or by-laws
Article 4.3 Repeal
Attachment A Complaint and Investigation Procedure
Attachment B Humans Rights By-law Complaint Form
About this By-law: This By-law states the commitment of Woodsworth Housing Co-operative to the human rights of the members of the co-op community and the co-op’s rules for fulfilling that commitment.
1. RIGHTS, PRINCIPLES AND OBLIGATIONS
ARTICLE 1.1 Statement of principles and obligations
(a) The co-op community is made up of all members, other residents and staff.
(b) Members of the co-op community must respect the human rights of other members of the co-op community and of people who deal with or visit the co-op.
(c) The co-op expects members of the co-op community to obey the Ontario Human Rights Code and not to do anything that would discriminate against or harass others in a way that would breach the Human Rights Code.
(d) The co-op itself must follow the requirements stated in paragraphs (b) and (c)
(e) The co-op and members of the co-op community should strive for an environment at the co-op that is fair, inclusive and respectful of people’s dignity.
1.2 Background information
Background information on these rights, principles and obligations and on the Ontario Human Rights Code is in Attachment C to this By-law.
1.3 Other rights
The rights in this By-law are in addition to any other rights that anyone has. Nothing in this By-law prevents anyone from exercising their legal rights in any way. The co-op encourages people to use the procedures in this By-law to deal with human rights issues, since this can help the co-op address any human rights problems at the co-op.
1.4 No reprisals
Any reprisal for making a good faith complaint under this By-law is a breach of this By-law.
2. CO-OP SERVICES
ARTICLE 2.1 Individual assessment
The co-op will consider the needs of each individual member of the co-op community in conducting its operations. The co-op will take all reasonable steps to adjust its services and operations to meet theindividual needs of members of the co-op community that are related to a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Code.
2.2 Members with disabilities
In providing its services the co-op will take all reasonable steps to accommodate the needs of members of the co-op community with disabilities.
2.3 No indirect discrimination
The co-op will take all reasonable steps to adjust any restriction, qualification or factor in the co-op’s operations that results in indirect discrimination contrary to the Human Rights Code.
The co-op will take the steps referred to in sections 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 if they can be taken without undue hardship. In deciding what steps to take the co-op will follow the definitions and be bound by the obligations under the Human Rights Code.
Indirect discrimination under section 2.3 does not include rules and procedures under government or other special programs to relieve hardship or economic disadvantage, to assist in achieving equal opportunity or to eliminate infringement of rights.
2.5 Able to live independently
The co-op’s obligations do not include providing any form of care or assistance in the activities of daily living. Members of the co-op community who need this kind of assistance must arrange for it without depending on the co-op.
2.6 Requests for accommodation or adjustment
Requests for accommodation or adjustment should initially be directed to the manager and should be in writing, if possible. The request will be dealt with promptly and with full respect for the dignity of the person who made the request.
A request should state what is being requested and why it is needed. The manager will obtain any necessary backup documentation, such as evidence of medical need, if necessary. With the approval of the Board, the manager will obtain advice from the co-op’s lawyer if necessary. The request and all material related to it will be kept in confidence and only shown to staff or others who have a need to know.
2.7 Authority to arrange for work
If the manager does not believe any issues are raised that should go to the board, the manager will have authority to grant an accommodation or adjustment by arranging for work that is within the manager’s spending authority or would normally be done by co-op staff. In any other case the manager will report to the board, which will make the decision unless a budget change is needed. If a by-law or budget change is needed, the board will make an appropriate proposal to the members. There will be full consultation with the person who made the request to ensure that everyone understands the issues and concerns.
2.8 Relation to Human Rights Code
The obligations of the co-op in this By-law are intended to implement its responsibilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code. They should not be interpreted in any way that is inconsistent with the Human Rights Code or that would give lesser or greater obligations to the co-op.
3. DEALING WITH PROBLEMS
ARTICLE 3.1 Investigate complaints
The co-op will deal with complaints about a breach of this By-law as stated in this By-law. The board of directors will deal with situations that it becomes aware of whether or not there is a specific complaint, but where there are reasonable grounds to believe a breach of the By-law has occurred.
The procedure for complaints and investigations is stated in Attachment A.
3.3 Complaints about co-op
If a complaint is established about the conduct of the co-op itself, or directors, officers, committees or others acting on behalf of the co-op, the board will take appropriate action to correct the situation and avoid any repetition.
· The action could include such things as one or more of
o a letter of apology;
o a performance agreement;
o mediation or conflict resolution between the parties;
o a warning or reprimand;
o removal from a committee;
o proceedings to remove someone from the board as stated in the Organizational By-law;
o development and introduction of policy statements and educational initiatives to avoid anything similar in the future;
o other actions referred to in this By-law.
· If the individual involved is a staff member, the board will consider requirements under any employment or property management contract, and other employment and contractual obligations. This could affect the method of investigation and the action taken. The board will obtain legal advice in all appropriate circumstances. The action taken could include such things as one or more of the items stated in the previous section and/or
o employee education and training;
o oral reprimand;
o written reprimand;
o termination of employment.
3.4 Complaints about members of the co-op community
If a complaint is established about the conduct of a member of the co-op community who is not acting on behalf of the co-op, the board will decide what action to take. The board’s basic intent will be to resolve the situation amicably if possible. The action taken could involve one or more of the items stated in the preceding sections.
Breach of this By-law can be grounds for eviction under the Occupancy By-law. In determining whether to consider eviction or whether to evict, the board will consider such things as:
· the evidence available as to what happened;
· the appropriateness of eviction as a response, considering the seriousness of the breach and other possible solutions to the underlying situation;
· the appropriateness of a performance agreement or other alternative to address the situation;
· the likely success or failure of legal action to evict;
· the costs involved in evicting someone.
4. RELATION TO OTHER BY-LAWS
ARTICLE 4.1 Applying co-op by-laws
The co-op must comply with the Human Rights Code when applying co-op by-laws and other co-op rules and decisions. If any by-law, rule or practice conflicts with the Human Rights Code, then it has to be changed. If the manager becomes aware of any need for changes, the manager will report it to the board. The board will make all changes that are needed and are within the board’s authority. If a by-law or budget change is needed, the board will make an appropriate proposal to the members.
If any change to comply with the Human Rights Code is needed urgently and cannot wait for a members’ decision, the board will make any decisions that are needed even if they conflict with the by-laws. The board will only do this after receiving a written opinion from the co-op’s lawyer. The issue will be reported at a members’ meeting, either specifically or as part of a proposal for a by-law change.
4.2 Procedures under other laws or by-laws
Someone may have a right of appeal or review under another law or by- law, such as if the board decides to evict someone or if a membership application is refused. If the member or applicant feels that the original decision was in breach of the Human Rights Code, the member or applicant may file a complaint under this By-law. However, the member or applicant should also file an appeal or request for review (as applicable). The board can decide to deal with the complaint and the appeal or review at the same time or to hold action on one until the other is decided.
Complaint and Investigation Procedure
1. Object: The objective of this procedure is to
• have a fair, prompt and effective investigation and resolution of complaints;
• avoid unnecessary cost, inconvenience or hardship on any party;
• have due regard to the dignity and the rights of persons who may have a complaint or may be complained about.
2. Complaints officer: The complaints officer is the person who is dealing with a specific complaint on behalf of the co-op. The complaints officer will be designated by the board after a complaint is reported to it. The complaints officer may or may not be a director or a staff member, or an elected member of the Reconciliation Committee or PIPED, but should be someone respected within the co-op community who does not have any conflict of interest relating to the complaint.
3. The complaints officer will take the lead role in dealing with the complaint and making sure that the procedures in this Attachment are followed in a timely way. In some cases the complaints officer will handle the investigation of the complaint. In other situations an outside investigator will be appointed to work with the complaints officer as stated in this Attachment.
4. Mediation: If the parties to the complaint are prepared to mediate their differences, the co-op will arrange for mediation. This can happen at any time during the investigation process and the process will be suspended until the mediation is complete. The complaints officer can suggest mediation to the parties. The cost of the mediator will be paid by the co-op.
5. Making a complaint: Members, residents, staff of the co-op, applicants for membership and persons who visit the co-op property can make a complaint about a violation of the Human Rights By-law.
6. A complaint can be about something that happened to the complainant or another person or that calls the co-op’s attention to a situation or problem.
7. In writing: A complaint must be in writing and signed by the person making the complaint. It should be delivered to the co-op manager. If the complaint is about the manager, it can be delivered to the President. If it is about both the manager and the President, it can be delivered to any director.
8. If someone has difficulty putting their complaint in writing, the person who receives the complaint should help them to do this. In doing this they should make sure to write out the person’s complaint and not to change the complaint or put words in the person’s mouth.
9. Complaint Form: Attachment B is a Form that can be used for complaints.
10. Confidentiality and disclosure: The person who receives the complaint will explain the confidentiality and disclosure provisions in Attachment B to the person who submits it.
11. A complaint will be accepted if not on Attachment B, but the person who submits it will be asked to sign a document stating they understand the confidentiality and disclosure rules. The document may use the relevant wording from Attachment B.
12. Time Limit: Unless there are special circumstances, a complaint should be filed within six months from the time when the violation took place, or if it took place over a period of time, six months from the last incident
DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS
13. Informal resolution: Depending on the nature of the complaint, the person who receives it may try to resolve the situation informally, such as by consulting with the parties involved and assisting them to come to agreement on the issue.
14. Initial report to board: Whoever receives a complaint will report the complaint to the board. In sensitive situations the initial report to the board may leave out the names and identifying features of one or more of the parties involved, unless the board decides that it needs to know that information. If the complaint is about a director, the director will be told only that there has been a complaint and told not to be present at the board meeting when it is discussed. This rule will not apply if it would prevent the board from having a quorum. The director will be given more information about the complaint later, as part of the investigation process.
15. Board action: When a complaint is reported to the board, the board will decide what steps to take. In most cases the board will appoint a complaints officer or decide that the manager should be the complaints officer.
16. Depending on the nature and urgency of the complaint the board may also do such things as:
• seek legal advice;
• ask the local co-operative housing federation or another sector body to advise the board on how to deal with the situation;
• take emergency steps to protect members, residents or staff;
• take action under an employment or other contract if appropriate.
17. Outside investigator: In some cases, such as specialized or exceedingly serious complaints, the board may decide to appoint an investigator from outside the co-op with expertise in that type of investigation. The investigator will work with the complaints officer to try to establish what happened and evaluate the situation and report to the board.
18. Lawyer: The complaints officer may be authorized to consult the co-op lawyer or the lawyer may be instructed to be the outside investigator or be present at interviews conducted by the complaints officer or outside investigator. Where there is a possible legal liability on the part of the co-op, the co-op lawyer will be consulted before proceeding further.
19. Employment matters: The procedure in this Attachment may not be appropriate for some employment-related complaints. The board will decide on the procedure for employment-related complaints. The board will consult the co-op’s lawyer. The board will consider any procedure stated in a staff contract.
20. Provisions in this Attachment and the Human Rights By-law relating to staff will apply to co-op staff employed by a management company with any adjustments that may be necessary.
21. Insurance company: The board may refer any complaint to the co-op’s insurance company before or at the same time as the investigation of the complaint.
22. No admission of liability: The complaints officer and outside investigator are not authorized to make any admission of liability on the part of the co-op. The co-op lawyer and the insurance company will be consulted in advance in cases where an admission of liability by the co-op may result from the investigation.
23. Other procedures: The board can decide to follow a procedure other than the one stated in this Attachment.
24. When board can refuse to consider a complaint: The board can decide not to consider a complaint or take any action on a complaint. This could be because it is clear that the complaint is without merit, trivial, frivolous, made in bad faith or it could be for other reasons. The decision must be made by motion appearing in the confidential minutes of a board meeting.
25. Interim Action: While a complaint is being considered, the board can decide to take immediate action until the investigation is complete.
Depending on the circumstances this could include such things as:
• try to limit contact between the complainant and the person complained of;
• provide extra security, if appropriate;
• arrange for counselling or other help, if appropriate;
• consider giving staff a leave of absence;
• removal of someone from the On-call or other committees.
26. Investigation and report: After the initial report to the board, then unless the board has decided something else, the complaint will be investigated and a report prepared for the board. The investigation will be conducted by the complaints officer or an outside investigator with the involvement of the complaints officer. This part of the Attachment refers to the complaints officer, but the duties and activities could be performed partly by an outside investigator.
27. Disclosure of Complaint: The complaints officer will show the complaint to the party complained about. The complaints officer may decide to give that person a copy. This is subject to the next paragraph.
28. Reprisals: Where reprisals are an issue, the board may decide to withhold the name or identifying details of the person who complained. The other party may only be provided with a summary of the complaint in order to prevent identification. This should only be done in the most extreme circumstances.
29. Representation: The party who complained and the party complained about can have a lawyer or other representative present at any interview or to represent that party generally.
30. Interviews and review of files: The complaints officer will be entitled to interview persons and review co-op files and inspect parts of the co-op property, as necessary for the investigation. This will be subject to applicable laws.
31. Comments in response to complaint: The complaints officer will ask the party complained about for comments. These should be in writing, but the complaints officer may accept oral comments.
32. Written record of interviews: The complaints officer may prepare a written statement based on interviews and ask the person interviewed to sign the statement, with or without changes, to verify the contents.
33. Information on investigation progress: The complaints officer will keep the party who complained and the party complained about informed of the status of the investigation.
34. Failure to co-operate: The party complained about may refuse to co-operate with the complaints officer and may refuse to answer questions, whether oral or in writing. Failure to co-operate or answer questions may result in an adverse inference by the complaints officer.
35. Right of response to go to board: The party complained about will have the right to respond to any complaint in writing and to have the written response form part of the report to the board.
36. Complaints officer’s report: The complaints officer, investigator or co-op lawyer will give a written report to the board. This will be confidential and will not be shown to either the party who complained or the party complained about unless the board decides to show it to them. The report should summarize the position of the party who complained and the party complained about, the steps in the investigation process, the conclusions of the complaints officer and any recommendations.
37. Timing: The investigation will be completed as quickly as possible. It should not normally take more than 21 days and sometimes much less. The delivery of the report should be timed in relation to a board meeting so that the board can take action as soon as possible.
38. The board will evaluate the complaint and the report. If the board determines that the complaint has merit, the board can take action as it considers appropriate, including the actions stated in the Human Rights By-law.
RECORDS OF COMPLAINTS
39. Member’s file: If the board determines that a complaint against a member has merit, the complaint, any report and a record of the board’s decision on it, and the supporting papers, will be placed in the member’s file, unless the board decides not to do this. This record will be removed from the file by the manager two years after insertion, if no further meritorious complaints have been made within the two-year period.
40. Staff file: If the board determines that a complaint against staff has merit, the complaint, any report and a record of the board’s decision on it and the supporting papers will be placed in the individual staff member’s file, unless the board decides not to do this. This record will be removed from the file by the President two years after insertion, if no further meritorious complaints have been made within the two-year period. If the board decided that progressive discipline at the level of written reprimand and/or warning or greater was not warranted, the two-year period will be reduced to one year.
41. When no action on complaint: If the board refuses to consider a complaint or determines that a complaint does not have merit or decides not to take action on a complaint, the complaint, any report and other papers relating to it will not be placed in the employee’s or member’s file, unless the board decides to place them in the file. They will be retained in a separate file dealing with complaints and will not be used for ordinary matters, such as letters of reference.
42. After removal: After a complaint, report and any other papers relating to it have been removed from the employee’s or member’s file, or if they are not placed in one of these files, they will be retained in the separate file dealing with complaints and will not be used for ordinary matters, such as letters of reference.
43. General: All persons involved should at all times be conscious of the sensitivity of complaints and their subject matter and should only collect information that is relevant to the complaint and should maintain strict confidentiality about that information and avoid disclosure except to persons who have a need to know. This includes information about the fact that there was a complaint and about the investigation.
44. Information to representatives: The party who filed the complaint and the party complained about are not authorized to provide their lawyer (or anyone else) with confidential or personal information about the co-op or any employee, member or occupant. The complaints officer will provide the lawyer or other representative with all necessary information, but only if the complaints officer is satisfied that there are adequate safeguards in place. These safeguards could include such things as deleting the names of persons, deleting irrelevant information and obtaining a confidentiality agreement from the lawyer or other representative. The confidentiality agreement could include such things as keeping the information confidential, limiting copying of the information and returning the information when the matter is completed.
45. Report of investigation: The report of the complaints officer and any outside investigator should not reveal more than is necessary to report on the investigation. It should include a record of all relevant information.
46. Unless the board decides something else, all other information gathered in connection with an investigation that is not in the report should be retained in a confidential location in the co-op office for thirty months after the board has received the report and then destroyed.
47. Board action: The board should limit what is disclosed about the report and the board’s action for the protection of both the complainant and the party complained about. This is true even when a complaint has been substantiated.
48. Part of the board’s decision will be what information about the action taken by the board will be given to the party who complained. That party should be given a reasonable explanation of what the board has done. However, it may not be possible to give that person all the information, such as if it involves personal health information about the other party.
49. Confidentiality of records of complaints: The materials placed in a member’s or employee’s file under this Attachment will be in a confidential part of the file and will not be available to the member or employee unless the board decides something else. The separate file dealing with complaints referred to in this Attachment will be confidential and will not be available except to staff and directors with a need to know.
WOODSWORTH HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE INC.
Human Rights By-law Complaint Form
Please print or type. Add additional pages if needed.
Name of member or
person making complaint: _____________________________________________
The undersigned is making a complaint to the co-op about a violation of the co-op’s
Human Rights By-law.
1. Person or persons complained about ____________________________________
2. Date or approximate date of incidents ___________________________________
3. What was done that broke the Human Rights By-law?
4. I am enclosing the following documents or papers, if any:
This form is continued on the next page. Add additional pages if needed.
5. The following are people who know something about this. I understand
the co-op may wish to contact them:
6. I understand that this complaint may be shown to the person complained
about and that person may be given a copy.
7. I understand that where reprisals are an issue, the board of directors may
decide to withhold my name or identifying details and only give the other
party a summary of the complaint in order to prevent identification. I
understand that the board does this only in the most extreme
8. I request the board to withhold my name or identifying details and only
give the person complained about a summary of the complaint as stated
Note: Complainant must initial here if making this request: Initials ________
Note: The board will only consider a request if the complainant’s initials
are above. The board may decide not to agree to the request.
9. The reasons for this request are:
10. I understand that the Human Rights By-law contains other rules about confidentiality of information, including that
• My file may be reviewed as part of the investigation.
• I may not provide confidential information about the co-op or anyone else to my lawyer or representative except through a complaints officer chosen by the board of directors.
• The report of the investigation will be confidential and the board may decide that it will not be shown to me.
• The action taken by the board may be confidential and I may be given only limited information about it.
I acknowledge that I have received a copy of the Human Rights By-law and I have had an opportunity to read it before signing this complaint. I consent to the confidentiality and other rules in the Human Rights By-law.
The information in this complaint is accurate and complete to the best of
Date: _____________________ Signature: ____________________________________
Downloadable PDF of the by-law:
For background information about this by-law, see http://www.woodsworthcoop.ca/index.php/by-laws/background-information-human-rights-law/
This Attachment contains background information relating to the Model Human Rights By-law. It does not form part of the By-law itself. This Attachment may be updated from time to time. The CHF Canada website should be checked for the most recent version.
At the request of the Board of Directors, two members, John and Jennifer gave Woodsworth members an overview of the duty to accommodate under the Ontario Human Rights code. The focus was on how it applied to housing.
Here are the PowerPoint slides as presented at the November 12, 2014 meeting.
Wednesday, November 12, 7 pm
Woodsworth strives to be an inclusive community, accessible to people of all ages and abilities. What role does the Ontario Human Rights Code play in ensuring co-ops, such as Woodsworth, respond to the needs of members with disabilities?
Woodsworth’s board of directors is pleased to sponsor Co-ops and the Duty to Accommodate under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, a presentation by our own John Fraser. Everyone is welcome, but we would strongly suggest that anyone on a core committee attend, or anyone who is thinking of running for the board or a committee. This is going to be a hot topic as members are aging. Please join us on Wednesday, November 12 @ 7:00 in the penthouse.
Missed the meeting? The presentation is on our website – The Duty to Accommodate in Housing Co-ops in Ontario
A brief list of websites for services and legislation for members with disabilities, seniors and others living in Woodsworth Housing Coop in Toronto, Ontario.
When you don't know where to turn – find community services in Toronto.
City of Toronto Seniors – services by category
Accommodation, transportation, health, library services, safety and more.
WOODSWORTH HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE
“STRATEGIES FOR STAYING”: POLICY ON MAKING WOODSWORTH ACCESSIBLE
Approved at the GMM on November 20, 2006
1. A maximum of nine (5%) of our units (including the original “accessible apartments”) will undergo major adaptations and/or architectural changes to improve their accessibility and safety.
2. If a need is demonstrated and if the project is structurally feasible, any unit (up to a total of 9) in the medium-rise may be altered.
3. The Co-op will spend a maximum of $5,000 per unit per major upgrading project (up to a total of 9). This maximum would be in addition to any grants or other contributions that might be available. The three original “accessible units” — namely apartments 306, 307, and 310 — will be exempt from this $5,000 guideline.
4. Alterations must be approved by the Board prior to the start of any construction. If a member wishes to apply for financial grants or subsidies from outside agencies or government programs, it is that member’s responsibility to provide the Board, or its designate, the required information and signatures in order to file or fulfill the application.
5. The accessible apartments 306, 307, and 310 will continue to be allocated to people with disabilities appropriate to those units.
6. Waiting lists will be maintained for members who want to relocate to an “enhanced unit” (apartments 315, 506, 521, and three apartments yet to be determined). When a vacancy occurs, the Membership Committee shall make every effort to allocate the vacant apartment to someone whose quality of life would be improved by the specific adaptations made to that unit. The Membership Committee, however, shall not be obliged to hold the unit for a qualified resident, if that would result in an unacceptably long uncompensated vacancy of no more than three months.
7. Expenditures on common areas accessibility upgrades will be referred to the Board or membership.
8. At the member’s written request, the Co-op will install minor safety and accessibility enhancements in any townhouse or medium-rise apartment. These minor assists or safety features shall include, but not be limited to, installation of bathroom safety grab bars, replacement of standard door handles with lever handles, installation of height adjustable shelving in bedroom closets.
9. All safety and accessibility changes to a unit are permanent changes to that unit. Members will not be expected to return the unit to its original condition when they move out, nor will the Co op agree to restore the unit to its previous state for subsequent residents.
Consolidated up to April 2010 and adopted September 30, 2010.