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Accessibility

A Look at the Law

The Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA) is a non-profit corporation that provides the people of Saskatchewan with understandable, useful information and education on our laws and legal system. 

The following article was prepared by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Accessibility

A hotel owner in a medium sized rural Saskatchewan town asks the question: My hotel was built more than 50 years ago and there is only one wheelchair user in town --- must I make my hotel wheelchair accessible?

The answer is likely yes.

Since 1979, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code has required that services and facilities to which the public is customarily admitted or which are offered to the public must provide these services on a non-discriminatory basis. This means the local credit union, the lawyer's office, the hotel and even the MLA office must be accessible to those with mobility impairments.

Make a business or service accessible means having "disabled parking" nearby, having a wheelchair accessible entrance (either a ramp, or built at grade) and having accessible pathways and washrooms inside the facility. Other requirements for full accessibility are spelled out in a publication of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission called Accessibility Standard.

There are a couple of exceptions to the general rule requiring accessibility. If the alterations cannot be completed in a structurally sound manner, the Commission may not require accessibility. Or if making a business accessible would cause "undue" financial hardship on the enterprise, the Commission may not require the changes be made. These exemptions may apply to smaller rural businesses, like the local hotel or restaurant, which were built may years ago and operate on a slim financial margin. Watch though, washrooms cannot be exempted.

On the other hand, if your business is the only one of its kind in the town, and that may be the hotel and restaurant, then efforts should be made to accommodate wheelchair users. As our population ages and innovations like "scooters" become more commonplace, more and more people who might have formerly been shut in will be seeking to further their independence by taking advantage of local services.

It makes good business sense to be able to attract these customers.

For more information contact the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission in Regina at (306)787-2530 or 1-800-667-8577. In Saskatoon at (306)933-5952 or 1-800-667-9249, or by e-mail at shrc@justice.gov.sk.ca