Ontario’s New Mental Health Disability Policy: A Big Step Forward

Jul 31, 2014

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (“the OHRC”) recently released a new mental health disability policy.  It addresses mental health disabilities and addictions.

This new policy recognizes that people with a mental health disability or addiction “have faced considerable and longstanding discrimination, stigmatization and social exclusion in Canada and across the world.

The new policy is a big step forward for employees suffering from mental health disabilities. At MacLeod Law Firm we see many employees who suffer from anxiety and depression which affect their work, but they are not comfortable disclosing the disability to their employers. The new OHRC policy highlights that disabilities are often invisible and reminds employers of their duty to inquire about the accommodation needs of employees.

The authoritative manual on mental disabilities used by mental health practitioners is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM”). The latest version of DSM – The Fifth Edition (or DSM-5) added a number of newly recognized mental disorders including sleep-wake disorder and caffeine withdrawal. The OHRC policy coupled with new mental disorders that have been recognized by the medical profession will result in more legal protections for employees. This means that more employees experiencing symptoms such as sleep deprivation affecting their work quality or attendance may have grounds for requesting accommodation from their employers.

With the increase in claims relating to mental disabilities, the OHRC’s new policy on mental health will provide employees and their lawyers with guidance and direction when it comes to interpreting employees’ rights under Ontario’s human rights legislation.

If you have a mental health disability and have experienced discrimination at work or are concerned that your human rights are being violated, please contact us at [email protected] or 1-888-640-1728 (toll free) or 647-633-9894 (within the GTA).

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