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Reasonable accommodation requests

Reasonable accommodation requests

Reasonable accommodation requests

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The Commission has expertise in processing complaints in matters of discrimination and reasonable accommodation requests in Québec. Since it is mandated to see to compliance with the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms This link will redirect you to an external website in a new window., the Commission receives complaints from victims of discrimination, including complaints related to reasonable accommodation.

The Commission also has an Advisory service on reasonable accommodation that enables it to be informed of various kinds of situations experienced by employers or service providers who must respond to reasonable accommodation requests.

 
 

Complaints concerning accommodation requests

Every year the Commission receives many complaints from victims of discrimination on different grounds prohibited by the Charter (sex, religion, ethnic origin, disability, etc.). The number of complaints received on a given ground can serve as an indicator of the scope of a social problem.

The complaints regarding accommodation requests on religious grounds account for a tiny percentage of the complaints received by the Commission. Over the past 4 years (2009-2013), the Commission received 3,582 complaints in all. Among these, 0.7% concerned an accommodation request on religious grounds.

Pie chart indicating the number of complaints received by the Commission in the past 4 years regarding religion and reasonable accommodation. Pie chart indicating the number of complaints received by the Commission in the past 4 years regarding disability and reasonable accommodation. 

Pie chart indicating the number of complaints received by the Commission in the past 4 years distributed according to : religious ground,  disability ground and other complaints. 

Accommodation complaints on religious grounds are very few in number. In comparison, there are 13 times more files related to accommodation on the ground of disability.

There is also much talk about "tension" between freedom of religion and gender equality. An examination of the files shows that in the past 4 years there have been only 2 complaints in which both grounds for discrimination—religion and sex—were invoked in the same complaint. Both complaints involved direct discrimination and not a refusal to accommodate.


Find out more:Annual Report 2012-2013 (in French only)
 
 

Requests processed by the Advisory service on reasonable accommodation

In autumn 2009, the Commission established an accommodation advisory service to support managers, human resource managers and decision-makers who must respond to accommodation requests.

Between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2013, this Advisory service responded to 356 requests from the public and private sector and non-profit organizations.

In the service’s first years of operation, more than half the requests concerned accommodation on religious grounds. Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of requests for accommodation on the ground of disability.


In 2012-2013, 48% of requests had to do with accommodation and disability, as opposed to 35% on religious grounds and 8% on all other grounds of discrimination, notably pregnancy and language. 9% were about general subject matters

Pie chart indicating the number of requests received by our advisory service on reasonable accommodation according to the subject of requests : religion (35%), disability (48%), other grounds of discrimination (8%), general subject matter (9%).

57% of requests were from the private sector, 20% from the public sector and 23% from foundations, NGOs or community groups.

Pie chart indicating the origin of the requests received by our advisory service on reasonable accommodation : private sector, 57% ; public sector, 20% ; foundations, NGOs or community groups, 23%.

 
 

Reasonable accommodation in the workplace

We have heard it said that employers "are afraid and are not quite sure about how to act when it comes to accommodation."

And yet…

  • 98% of the employers that the Conseil du patronat du Québec consulted in September 2013 said they had never had to deal with problems or issues concerning accommodation requests. (Source: Survey by the Conseil du patronat du Québec, September 2013);
  • 99% of health and social services institutions, which employ 230,000 people, said that they had never encountered any significant problems concerning religious accommodation requests. (Source: Association québécoise d'établissements de santé et de services sociaux (AQESSS);)
  • As Martine Hébert, Vice President, Québec, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, has stated: "To my knowledge there is no real problem in this regard." Every year her organization receives some 8,000 calls from its 24,000 members and she can count the number of cases related to questions of reasonable accommodation based on religion on the fingers of one hand. (Source: http://blogues.radio-canada.ca/geraldfillion);
  • In an open letter to Premier Pauline Marois published on September 25, 2013, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec explained that "the ‛incidents′ related to religious questions are anecdotal and, contrary to what we may hear, business people are not demanding government intervention with regard to these questions";
  • In 2012, the Morneau Sheppell human resources consulting firm received 75,000 phone calls from Quebecers. Their concerns: personal relations, stress and mental-health issues. Questions about religious or cultural accommodation "literally do not make the list of employee concerns." (Source: Commentary by Bill Morneau, Executive Chairman of the company, published in the Globe and Mail, September 23, 2013).

Did you know?

In 2008, the Bouchard-Taylor report concluded that there were 73 cases of media-reported incidents related to reasonable accommodation in the preceding 22 years in Québec, that is, approximately 3 incidents per year.

Employers and persons who must respond to an accommodation request from an employee, a beneficiary or a client can contact the Commission for advice.

This information complements the Commission’s comments published on October 17, 2013.

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