Part Two: Another "3 Ps" in Condos? Policies, Programs, and Plans
Earlier this week we wrote about policies, programs, and plans in condominiums. This post is the second in the series where we briefly discuss some other required policies and some recommended ones.
REQUIRED POLICIES, PROGRAMS AND PLANS
Condominiums may be required to create policies in a variety of situations. The most common situation is where a condominium has an employee (or more broadly a “worker” in some cases).
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) is designed to make Ontario accessible for persons with disabilities by January 1, 2025. It aims to do so by developing, implementing, and enforcing accessibility standards.
The requirements for the accessibility standards differ based upon the number of employees of an organization and if the organization is a public or private organization. “Small organizations” are organizations with at least 1 employee and less than 50 employees, which captures many condominiums in Ontario. These condominiums should have created an accessibility policy by January 1, 2015. As a small organization there is no obligation to put the policy in writing, although it is recommended. The policy must be explained to employees.
Interestingly, the focus for the AODA is on “employees” not “workers” like with workplace violence and harassment policies. Under the AODA the term “employee” excludes independent contractors and volunteers. Accordingly, it is possible that some condominiums may have no employees. In this case, the condominium would not be obligated to create accessibility policies or comply with other requirements of the AODA. That said, these condominiums should still ensure their contractors and others comply with the AODA where required to do so.
COVID-19 Policies & Plans
Employers in Ontario have an obligation to protect employees from unsafe working conditions and hazards. As condominiums remain open throughout the lockdown, it is important for condominiums to create a COVID-19 workplace safety plan. A template COVID-19 workplace safety plan is available on the Ontario website here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/develop-your-covid-19-workplace-safety-plan
Some municipalities have additional policy requirements for condominiums, such as mask requirements in common elements and amenity areas.
RECOMMENDED POLICIES, PROGRAMS AND PLANS
Even where condominiums are not obligated to create a policy it may be desirable to do so as they can be useful at describing expectations for the community.
Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policies
The Human Rights Code (the “Code”) prohibits discrimination in five social areas. The Code protects against discrimination based on 17 grounds, including age, sex, family status, disability, and race.
Anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies are intended to make it clear that harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated. These policies set standards and expectations for behaviour within the condominium. The policies typically explain what types of behaviour are not permitted and set out the roles and responsibilities of various individuals. In recent years, many condominiums have passed these policies as rules to make them easier to enforce using the provisions of the Condominium Act, 1998. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has sample policies available on its website: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-primer-guide-developing-human-rights-policies-and-procedures/5-anti-harassment-and-anti-discrimination-policies
Additions, Alterations, or Improvements Policies
Some condominiums have created policies to set out guidelines for owners looking to make additions, alterations, or improvements (“changes”) to the common elements under section 98 of the Condo Act. For example, the guidelines may explain the permitted types, materials, and colours of commonly requested changes, such as fences, screen doors, and landscaping features. These policies do not eliminate the need to comply with section 98 of the Condo Act, but they do make it easier for condominiums to ensure these requests are treated fairly and consistently for all owners.
The lists above and in our previous post are not exhaustive. It is also important to note that the samples or templates provided are not substitutes for legal advice. Condominiums should speak to their lawyers for advice prior to enacting these policies.