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Returning Officer's Manual

Chapter 21 – Policies, Acts and Regulations

This Chapter contains reference materials on the Canada Elections Act, regulations and policies that apply to elections.

21.1 Barriers to the Electoral Process and the Duty to Accommodate

This section will help you, as the returning officer (RO), in your work with elections officers, electors and office personnel. The "duty to accommodate" is described in the Canadian Human Rights Act as the obligation to take measures to remove barriers resulting from a rule, policy or physical environment that may have adverse effects on persons or groups on prohibited grounds.

Prohibited grounds include:

Sometimes it is necessary to treat someone differently in order to treat them equally. The duty to accommodate takes this into account, and includes all "prohibited grounds of discrimination", with a focus on the barriers faced by people with disabilities.

People with disabilities face barriers as part of their everyday lives. They also face barriers when participating in the electoral process. There are three main types of barriers: physical, informational and attitudinal.

21.1.1 Physical Barriers

Physical barriers are features of buildings or spaces that cause problems for people with disabilities. Examples include:

21.1.2 Informational Barriers

Informational barriers are faced when a person cannot easily understand information. Examples include:

21.1.3 Attitudinal Barriers

Attitudinal barriers are those that discriminate against people with disabilities. Examples include:

Attitudinal barriers are most often apparent in the words we use when we communicate with each other. We may use language that is based on negative attitudes that we are unaware of, or that we have not thought to be insensitive. The next section provides tips on communicating effectively with people with disabilities and examples of language you can use to shape more positive attitudes. Make sure to apply them in your daily work.

You, Elections Canada (EC), office staff and election officers are all required to make every reasonable effort to accommodate anyone with a physical, mental or developmental disability, whether an elector, or a potential or hired election officer or office personnel.

It is best to provide services that would not adversely affect anyone in the first place. For example, arrange to have training room on the ground floor, rather than determine how to help a person who uses a wheelchair to get up and down stairs.

Your staff should speak to you before offering significant accommodation measures, for example, anything that requires an expense or anything that makes it difficult to perform efficiently and effectively. Your staff should also communicate a person's accommodation needs to you in case accommodation is needed in the office or at the polling place.

Reasonable accommodation depends on circumstances. Sometimes the required accommodation measures are unreasonable or impossible. This is known as "undue hardship". If you are unsure if certain efforts are reasonable, contact EC. You can also visit the Canadian Human Rights Commission website for more information on the duty to accommodate at http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/eng.

For more information on overcoming negative attitudes through the words we use, please visit http://www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/disability/arc/words_images.shtml.

21.1.4 Communicating Effectively with People with Disabilities

The tips in this section are examples of measures to be taken as part of your duty to accommodate. Other tips on the list are reminders of the way you should relate to people, regardless of their abilities.

General tips
Tips on communicating over the phone
Tips on communicating with people who are deaf or blind
Tips on communicating with people who have hearing disabilities
Tips on communicating with people who have visual disabilities
Tips on communicating with people who have speech or language impairments
Tips on communicating with people who have physical disabilities
Tips on communicating with people who have learning disabilities
Tips on communicating with people with intellectual or developmental disabilities
Tips on communicating with people who have mental health disabilities

Note: Information in this section was provided by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, the Ontario Education Services Corporation and Employment and Social Development Canada

21.1.5 Acceptable Terms to Use When Referring to People with Disabilities

The following table provides acceptable terms to use when referring to people with disabilities.

Instead of Use
Birth defect, congenital defect, deformity Person born with a disability
Person who has a congenital disability
Blind (the), visually impaired (the) Person who is blind
Person with a visual impairment
Confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair-bound Person who uses a wheelchair
Wheelchair user
Cripple, crippled, lame Person with a disability
Person with a mobility impairment
Person who has a spinal cord injury, arthritis, etc.
Hard of hearing (the), hearing impaired Person who is hard of hearing
Note: These individuals are not deaf and may compensate for a hearing loss with an amplification device or system.
Deaf-mute, deaf and dumb Person who is deaf
Note: Culturally-linguistically deaf people (that is, sign language users) are properly identified as "the Deaf" (upper-case "D"). People who do not use sign language are properly referred to as "the deaf" (lower-case "d") or "persons who are deaf."
Epileptic (the) Person who has epilepsy
Fit, attack, spell Seizure
Handicapped (the) Person with a disability
Handicapped parking, bathrooms Accessible parking
Accessible bathrooms
Inarticulate, incoherent Person who has a speech disorder
Person who has a speech disability
Insane (unsound mind), lunatic, maniac, mental patient, mentally diseased, mentally ill, neurotic, psychotic Person with a mental health disability
Note: The term "insane" (unsound mind) should only be used in a strictly legal sense. The expression "person with a mental health disability" is broad. If relevant, you can specify the type of disability, for example, "person who has depression" or "person who has schizophrenia."
Invalid Person with a disability
Learning disabled, learning disordered, dyslexic (the) Person with a learning disability
Mentally retarded, defective, feeble minded, idiot, imbecile, moron, retarded, simple, mongoloid Person with an intellectual disability
Note: If relevant, specify the type of disability.
Normal Person without a disability
Person who has trouble... Person who needs...
Physically challenged, physically handicapped, physically impaired Person with a disability
Spastic Person who has spasms
Suffers from, stricken with, afflicted by Person with a disability
Note: People with disabilities do not necessarily suffer.
Victim of cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, etc. Person who has cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, etc.
Person with a mobility impairment
Person with a disability

Source: http://www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/disability/arc/way_with_words.pdf

21.2 Floor Plans

Figure 21a Floor Plan for a Single Polling Station
Figure 21a Floor Plan for a Single Polling Station

Figure 21b Floor Plan for a Central Polling Place
Figure 21b Floor Plan for a Central Polling Place

Figure 21c Floor Plan for RO Office (approx. 3,800 sq.ft.)
Figure 21c Floor Plan for RO Office (approx. 3,800 sq.ft.)

Figure 21d Floor Plan for RO Office on Election Day (approx. 3,800 sq. ft.)
Figure 21d Floor Plan for RO Office on Election Day (approx. 3,800 sq. ft.)

21.3 Frequently Consulted Obligations and Prohibitions

Election Officers
CEA
Reference
Description of Obligations Description of Prohibition or Offence
24(3) Every returning officer to whom a writ is directed shall, on its receipt, or on notification by the Chief Electoral Officer of its issue, cause to be promptly taken any of the proceedings directed by the Act that are necessary in order that the election may be regularly held. 484(2) – Offences requiring intent – summary conviction
Every person is guilty of an offence who, being a returning officer, wilfully contravenes subsection 24(3) (failure to take necessary election proceedings).
33(4) A returning officer may replace a revising agent at any time and the former revising agent shall return all election materials in his or her possession to the returning officer.
43 No person shall:
  1. wilfully obstruct an election officer in the performance of his or her duties;
  2. without authority, use identification simulating that used by a revising agent or intended to replace that prescribed by the Chief Electoral Officer for that purpose; or
  3. having been replaced as an election officer, fail to give to their replacement or to an authorized person any election documents or other election materials that the person has received or prepared in the performance of his or her duties.
See offences at section 484.
Register of Electors
CEA
Reference
Description of Obligations Description of Prohibition
56 No person shall:
  1. knowingly make a false or misleading statement, orally or in writing, relating to their qualification as an elector or relating to any other information referred to in section 49 of the CEA;
  2. knowingly make a false or misleading statement, orally or in writing, relating to another person's qualification as an elector, surname, given names, sex, civic address or mailing address for the purpose of having that person's name deleted from the Register of Electors;
  3. request the listing in the Register of Electors of the name of a person who is not qualified as an elector, knowing that the person is not so qualified;
  4. wilfully apply to have included in the Register of Electors the name of an animal or thing; or
  5. knowingly use personal information that is recorded in the Register of Electors for a purpose other than:
    • to enable registered parties, members or candidates to communicate with electors in accordance with section 110;
    • a federal election or referendum; or
    • an election or referendum held under provincial law, if the information is subject to, and transmitted in accordance with, an agreement made under section 55.
See offences at section 485.
Candidates
CEA
Reference
Description of Obligations Description of Prohibition
89 Ineligible Candidate
No person shall sign a Nomination Paper consenting to be a candidate knowing that he or she is not eligible to be a candidate.

See offence at para. 486(3)(a).
477.44(1) Official Agents
No person who is ineligible to act as an official agent of a candidate shall act in that capacity.

See offence at subsection 497.4(2).
477.44(2) Auditor
No person who is ineligible to act as an auditor of a candidate shall act in that capacity.

See offence at subsection 497.4(2).
91 Publishing false statements to affect election results
No person shall, with the intention of affecting the results of an election, knowingly make or publish any false statement of fact in relation to the personal character or conduct of a candidate or prospective candidate.

See offence at para. 486(3)(c).
92 False statement of withdrawal of candidate
No person shall knowingly publish a false statement of the withdrawal of a candidate.

See offence at para. 486(3)(d).
Lists of Electors
CEA
Reference
Description of Obligations Description of Prohibition
110(1) Registered parties
A registered party that, under section 45, subsection 93(1.1) or section 109 of the CEA, receives a copy of lists of electors or final lists of electors, respectively, may use the lists for communicating with electors, including using them for soliciting contributions and recruiting party members.
The prohibition is at paragraph 111(f) and the offence is at section 487.
110(1.1) Eligible Parties
(1.1) An eligible party that, under subsection 93(1.1), receives a copy of preliminary lists of electors may use the lists for communicating with electors, including using them for soliciting contributions and recruiting party members.
The prohibition is at paragraph 111(f) and the offence is at section 487.
110(2) Members
A member who, under section 45 or 109 of the CEA, receives a copy of lists of electors or final lists of electors, respectively, may use the lists for:
  1. communicating with his or her electors; and
  2. in the case of a member of a registered party, soliciting contributions for the use of the registered party and recruiting party members.
The prohibition is at paragraph 111(f) and the offence is at section 487.
110(3) Candidates
A candidate who receives a copy of preliminary lists of electors under section 94 of the CEA, or a copy of revised lists of electors or official lists of electors under subsection 107(3) of the CEA, may use the lists for communicating with his or her electors during an election period, including using them for soliciting contributions and campaigning.
The prohibition is at paragraph 111(f) and the offence is at section 487.
111 No person shall:
  1. wilfully apply to be included in a list of electors in a name that is not his or her own;
  2. wilfully apply, except as authorized by the CEA, to be included in a list of electors for a polling division if he or she is already included in a list of electors for another polling division, which list was prepared for use at the same election;
  3. wilfully apply, except as authorized by the CEA, to be included in a list of electors for a polling division in which the person is not ordinarily resident;
  4. apply to have included in a list of electors for an electoral district the name of a person, knowing that the person is not qualified as an elector or entitled to vote in the electoral district;
  5. compel, induce or attempt to compel or induce any other person to make a false or misleading statement relating to that other person's qualification as an elector for the purposes of the inclusion of that other person's name in a list of electors;
  6. wilfully apply to have included in a list of electors the name of an animal or thing; or
  7. knowingly use personal information that is recorded in a list of electors for a purpose other than:
    • to enable registered parties, eligible parties, members or candidates to communicate with electors, in accordance with section 110, or
    • a federal election or referendum.
See offences at section 487.
Voting and ballots
CEA
Reference
Description of Obligations Description of Prohibition
5 No person may:
  1. vote or attempt to vote at an election knowing that they are not qualified as an elector or not entitled to vote under section 4 of the CEA; or
  2. induce another person to vote at an election knowing that the other person is not qualified as an elector or not entitled to vote under section 4 of the CEA.
See offences at section 483.
126 116. (1)
  1. The returning officer shall, as soon as possible after 2:00 p.m. on the 19th day before polling day, authorize the printing of a sufficient number of ballots in Form 3 of Schedule 1.
  2. Ballots shall have a counterfoil and a stub, with a line of perforations between the ballot and the counterfoil and between the counterfoil and the stub.
  3. The ballots shall be numbered on the back of the stub and the counterfoil, and the same number shall be printed on the stub as on the counterfoil.
  4. Ballots shall be in books containing an appropriate number of ballots.
  5. Each printer shall return all of the ballots and all of the unused paper on which the ballots were to have been printed, to the returning officer.
  6. Ballots shall bear the name of the printer who, on delivering them to the returning officer, shall include an affidavit in the prescribed form that sets out a description of the ballots, the number of ballots delivered to the returning officer and the fact that all ballots were provided, and all paper returned, as required by subsection (5).
Re ballots
No person shall:
  1. forge a ballot;
  2. without authority under the CEA, print a ballot or what purports to be or is capable of being used as a ballot at an election;
  3. being authorized under the CEA to print a ballot, knowingly print more ballot papers than the person is authorized to print;
  4. print a ballot or what purports to be or is capable of being used as a ballot at an election, with the intention of causing the reception of a vote that should not have been cast or the non reception of a vote that should have been cast; or
  5. manufacture, import into Canada, have in possession, supply to an election officer, or use for the purpose of an election, or cause to be manufactured, imported into Canada, provided to an election officer, or used for the purposes of an election, a ballot box that contains a compartment into which a ballot may be secretly placed or a device by which a ballot may be secretly altered.
See offence at section 488.
132(1) Consecutive hours for voting
Every employee who is an elector is entitled, during voting hours on polling day, to have three consecutive hours for the purpose of casting his or her vote and, if his or her hours of work do not allow for those three consecutive hours, his or her employer shall allow the time for voting that is necessary to provide those three consecutive hours.
133
  1. No employer may make a deduction from the pay of an employee, or impose a penalty, for the time that the employer shall allow for voting under subsection 132(1).
  2. An employer who pays an employee less than the amount that the employee would have earned on polling day, had the employee continued to work during the time referred to in subsection 132(2) that the employer allowed for voting, is deemed to have made a deduction from the pay of the employee, regardless of the basis on which the employee is paid.
See offences at section 489.
134 No employer shall, by intimidation, undue influence or by any other means, interfere with the granting to an elector in their employ of the three consecutive hours for voting, as provided for in section 132 of the CEA.
See offences at section 489.
136(4) (4) A candidate's representative
  1. shall not take any photograph or make any audio or video recording at a polling station; and
  2. shall not, if he or she uses a communications device at a polling station, impede any elector from exercising their right to vote or violate the secrecy of the vote.
143(5) No elector shall attest to the residence of more than one elector at an election.
No elector whose own residence has been attested to at an election shall attest to another elector's residence at that election.

See offences at section 489.
161(6)(7) No elector shall attest to the residence of more than one elector at an election.
No elector whose own residence has been attested to at an election shall attest to another elector's residence at that election.

See offences at section 489.
164(1), (2) Every candidate, election officer or representative of a candidate present at a polling station or at the counting of the votes shall maintain the secrecy of the vote. 2) Except as provided by this Act, no elector shall
  1. on entering the polling station and before receiving a ballot, openly declare for whom the elector intends to vote;
  2. show his or her ballot, when marked, so as to allow the name of the candidate for whom the elector has voted to be known; or
  3. before leaving the polling station, openly declare for whom the elector has voted.
See offences at section 489.
165 Loudspeakers on polling day
No person shall use a loud-speaking device within hearing distance of a polling station on polling day for the purpose of promoting or opposing a political party that is listed on the ballot under the name of a candidate or the election of a candidate.

See offences at section 489.
166(1) Emblems, etc. prohibited in polling station
No person shall:
  1. post or display in, or on the exterior surface of, a polling place any campaign literature or other material that could be taken as an indication of support for or opposition to a political party that is listed on the ballot under the name of a candidate or the election of a candidate;
  2. while in a polling station, wear any emblem, flag, banner or other thing that indicates that the person supports or opposes any candidate or political party that is listed on the ballot under the name of a candidate, or the political or other opinions entertained, or supposed to be entertained, by the candidate or party; and
  3. in a polling station or in any place where voting at an election is taking place, influence electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate.
See offences at section 489.
167(1) Re: ballots
No person shall:
  1. apply for a ballot paper in a name that is not his or her own;
  2. use a forged ballot;
  3. knowing that he or she is without authority under the CEA to do so, provide a ballot to any person; or
  4. knowing that he or she is without authority under the CEA to do so, have a ballot in his or her possession.
See offences at section 489.
167(2) Other prohibitions
No person shall wilfully:
  1. alter, deface or destroy a ballot or the initials of the deputy returning officer signed on a ballot;
  2. put or cause to be put into a ballot box a ballot or other paper otherwise than as provided by the CEA;
  3. take a ballot out of the polling station; or
  4. destroy, take, open or otherwise interfere with a ballot box or book or packet of ballots.
See offences at section 489.
167(3) No deputy returning officer shall:
  1. with the intent of causing the reception of a vote that should not have been cast or the non-reception of a vote that should have been cast, put his or her initials on the back of any paper purporting to be or capable of being used as a ballot at an election; or
  2. place on any ballot any writing, number or mark, with intent that the elector to whom the ballot is to be, or has been, given may be identified.
See offences at section 489.
169(5)(6) No elector shall attest to the residence of more than one elector at an election.
No elector whose own residence has been attested to at an election shall attest to another elector's residence at that election.

See offences at section 489.
281 No person shall, inside or outside Canada:
  1. wilfully disclose information as to how a ballot or special ballot has been marked by an elector;
  2. wilfully interfere with, or attempt to interfere with, an elector when marking a ballot or special ballot, or otherwise attempt to obtain any information as to the candidate for whom any elector is about to vote or has voted;
  3. knowingly make a false statement in an application for registration and special ballot;
  4. knowingly apply for a ballot or special ballot to which that person is not entitled;
  5. knowingly make a false statement in a declaration signed by him or her before a deputy returning officer;
  6. knowingly make a false declaration in the statement of ordinary residence completed by him or her;
  7. wilfully prevent or endeavour to prevent an elector from voting at an election; or
  8. wilfully at the counting of the votes, attempt to obtain information or communicate information obtained at the counting as to the candidate for whom a vote is given in a particular ballot or special ballot.
See offences at section 491.
289(3) Count of the votes cast at an advance poll
No person shall make a count of the votes cast at an advance poll before the close of the polling stations on polling day.

See offence at paragraph 492(2)(b).
296(4) Obligation to comply with summons
Every person to whom a summons is directed under paragraph 296(2)(b) shall obey it. (If the returning officer is unable to obtain either the original statement of the vote or the ballot box, he or she may summon any deputy returning officer, poll clerk or other person to appear before him or her at a fixed date and time and to bring with them all necessary documents.)
493. Every person who wilfully contravenes subsection 296(4) (failure to appear before returning officer) is guilty of an offence.
331 Inducements by non-residents
No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate unless the person is:
  • a Canadian citizen; or
  • a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

See offence at section 495.
481(1) Offering bribe
Every person is guilty of an offence who, during an election period, directly or indirectly offers a bribe to influence an elector to vote or refrain from voting or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate.
481(2) Accepting bribe
Every elector is guilty of an offence who, during an election period, accepts or agrees to accept a bribe that is offered in the circumstances described in subsection 481(1) of the CEA.
482 Intimidation
Every person is guilty of an offence who:
  1. by intimidation or duress, compels a person to vote or refrain from voting or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate at an election; or
  2. by any pretence or contrivance, including by representing that the ballot or the manner of voting at an election is not secret, induces a person to vote or refrain from voting or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate at an election.
Communications
CEA
Reference
Description of Obligations Description of Prohibition
320 Message must be authorized
A candidate or registered party, or a person acting on their behalf, who causes election advertising to be conducted shall mention in or on the message that its transmission was authorized by the official agent of the candidate or by the registered agent of the party, as the case may be.

"Election advertising" is defined in section 319 as the transmission to the public by any means during an election period of an advertising message that promotes or opposes a registered party or the election of a candidate, including one that takes a position on an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated. For greater certainty, it does not include:
  1. the transmission to the public of an editorial, a debate, a speech, an interview, a column, a letter, a commentary or news;
  2. the distribution of a book, or the promotion of the sale of a book, for no less than its commercial value, if the book was planned to be made available to the public regardless of whether there was to be an election;
  3. the transmission of a document directly by a person or a group to their members, employees or shareholders, as the case may be;
  4. the transmission by an individual, on a non-commercial basis on what is commonly known as the Internet, of his or her personal political views; or
  5. the making of telephone calls to electors only to encourage them to vote.
See offence at section 495.
321(1) Government means of transmission
No person shall knowingly conduct election advertising or cause it to be conducted using a means of transmission of the Government of Canada.

See offence at section 495.
323(1) Blackout period
No person shall knowingly transmit election advertising to the public in an electoral district on polling day before the close of all of the polling stations in the electoral district.

(But see exceptions in 323(2) and 324.)

See offence at section 495.
325(1) Prevention or impairment of transmission
No person shall prevent or impair the transmission to the public of an election advertising message without the consent of a person with authority to authorize its transmission.

See offence at section 495.
326(1) Transmission of election survey results
The first person who transmits the results of an election survey – other than a survey that is described in section 327 – to the public during an election period and any person who transmits them to the public within 24 hours after they are first transmitted to the public must provide the following together with the results:
  1. the name of the sponsor of the survey;
  2. the name of the person or organization that conducted the survey;
  3. the date on which or the period during which the survey was conducted;
  4. he population from which the sample of respondents was drawn;
  5. the number of people who were contacted to participate in the survey; and
  6. if applicable, the margin of error in respect of the data obtained.
See offence at section 495.
328(1) Causing transmission of election survey results during blackout period
No person shall knowingly cause to be transmitted to the public, in an electoral district on polling day before the close of all of the polling stations in that electoral district, the results of an election survey that have not previously been transmitted to the public.

See offence at section 495.
328(2) Transmission of election survey results during blackout period
No person shall transmit to the public, in an electoral district on polling day before the close of all of the polling stations in that electoral district, the results of an election survey that have not previously been transmitted to the public.

See offence at section 495.
330 Use of broadcasting station outside Canada
1. No person shall, with intent to influence persons to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate at an election, use, aid, abet, counsel or procure the use of a broadcasting station outside Canada, during an election period, for the broadcasting of any matter having reference to an election.

During an election period, no person shall broadcast, outside Canada, election advertising with respect to an election.

See offence at section 495.
Voter Contact Calling
CEA
Reference
Description of Obligations Description of Prohibition
348.02 to
348.09
These sections create requirements for registration with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) of information related to agreements between persons or groups and "calling service providers" for "voter contact calling." The registration requirements are administered and enforced by the CRTC, not by EC.
348.16 to 348.19 These sections create obligations on persons, groups and calling service providers to keep scripts and recordings of calls that are "voter contact calling." Offences for contravening 348.16 to
348.19 are found at sections 495.1 and 495.2.
General
CEA
Reference
Description of Obligations Description of Prohibition
480.1 Every person is guilty of an offence who, with intent to mislead, falsely represents themselves to be, or causes anyone to falsely represent themselves to be,
  1. the Chief Electoral Officer, a member of the Chief Electoral Officer's staff or a person who is authorized to act on the Chief Electoral Officer's behalf;
  2. an election officer or a person who is authorized to act on an election officer's behalf;
  3. a person who is authorized to act on behalf of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer;
  4. a person who is authorized to act on behalf of a registered party or a registered association; or
  5. a candidate or a person who is authorized to act on a candidate's behalf.
548(1) Removal of notices
No person shall, without authority, remove, cover up or alter any Notice of Election or other document that is authorized or required by the CEA to be posted.

See offence at section 499.

21.4 Scents in the Workplace

Scents Cause Health Problems

We all know about allergens such as peanut butter or bee-sting venom, which can set off anaphylactic shock and possibly cause death. But fewer of us seem to know that exposure to substances, such as isocyanates, can cause sensitized workers to have acute asthmatic attacks that are possibly lethal. Scented products can trigger migraines, nausea, fatigue, weakness, malaise, dizziness and light-headedness, and allergic reactions in employees affected. Scents are included in a very large range of products such as shampoo and conditioners, hairsprays, deodorants, colognes and aftershaves, perfumes, lotions and creams, and more.

How Can We Protect Staff with Sensitivities?

Sensitization and allergies can be very serious. When staff raises concerns about a reaction to scents, the manager and supervisor should take the matter seriously by identifying the exact source of the problem and assess its extent. If the source is their employees, the manager and supervisor should let those employees know the effect their perfume has on other staff.

Maintain a Healthy Work Environment

In consideration for all employees' well-being, please consider minimizing your use of perfumes and scented aftershave lotions, toiletries and products at work and remind your staff to do so as well.

21.5 Hughes – Case Study

21.5.1 Sections of Law Related to Accessibility

Canadian Human Rights Act

2. "[...] all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated....without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on a prohibited ground,"

3.(1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.

5. It is a discriminatory practice in the provision of goods, services, facilities or accommodation customarily available to the general public:

  1. to deny, or to deny access to, any such good, service, facility or accommodation to any individual, or
  2. to differentiate adversely in relation to any individual, on a prohibited ground of discrimination.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

15.(1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

21.5.2 James Peter Hughes v. Elections Canada

Rev. Hughes and his wife lived for many years in the United States. They moved back to Canada upon retirement. Rev. Hughes uses a wheelchair or walker. They live in a condo in downtown Toronto, near St. Basil's Church, the polling location used in the two electoral events at issue in the case. Mr. Hughes testified that the March 2008 by-election was his first time voting in a Canadian election since he lived in Quebec in the 1970s.

On March 17, 2008, Rev. Hughes proceeded using his walker to vote at St. Basil's Church in downtown Toronto. St. Basil's has three entrances: entrance #1 (main one, south side), entrance #2 (back one, south side) and entrance #3 (side one, west side).

From the street, Rev. Hughes walked up a sloped hill on a long, winding path to entrance #1. At the front door was a handicap ramp that Rev. Hughes found to be acceptable. He found some "cryptic, yellow" EC signs, but they pointed away from entrance #1 and toward entrance #3. Entrance #1 was locked. Rev. Hughes proceeded around the building to entrance #3. When he opened the door, he found a flight of stairs leading downward.

Rev. Hughes was not able to get down the stairs without assistance. He called out for assistance, and an individual who appeared to be an EC official came over and told him he could either go down the stairs or walk around the building to entrance #2. Rev. Hughes chose to stay at entrance #3. The official took his walker down the stairs and Rev. Hughes then proceeded to go down the stairs on the seat of his pants. The walker was put back together and Rev. Hughes walked down the hallway to the election polling stations in the basement hall.

However, when he arrived in the hall, he was not able to vote in the polling booth because the tables were too close together, blocking his path. EC officials had to rearrange the tables. While in the church basement hall, Rev. Hughes told an EC official about his "difficult voting experience." Rev. Hughes recalled that the person replied that the lack of accessibility was for financial reasons.

After Rev. Hughes marked his ballot, his departure was no less difficult. Rather than go back through entrance #3, the EC officials offered to help him through the back way, entrance #2, adjacent to the parking lot. Rev. Hughes had to walk up a steep narrow ramp, which caused him great difficulty with his walker. The two doors leading out to the parking lot, which were heavy, steel doors, were not open. There was no automatic opening mechanism and only one of the two doors could be opened. Rev. Hughes' walker had to be folded in order to get through. Outside the doors, there was snow on the ground that had not been sufficiently cleared. The width that was shovelled looked like it had been done with ambulatory people in mind. It was barely wide enough for a person using a wheelchair. There was a sloped ramp downward that was described by Rev. Hughes as steep and slippery. Rev. Hughes could not have exited through entrance #2 without assistance.

In addition to his verbal complaint on the day of the election, Mr. Hughes made a written complaint to EC on March 20, 2008, with the assistance of his counsel. Although it was addressed correctly, it was routed to the wrong official at EC. It was then forwarded to the Legal Services Directorate at EC. Rev. Hughes heard nothing from EC regarding his verbal and written complaints (other than a letter from the official who had originally received the letter indicating that it had been forwarded to Legal Services) until receiving EC's August 6, 2008, letter to the Commission. On June 5, 2008, Rev. Hughes filed a Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) complaint with the Commission. The August 6th letter was EC's response to the CHRA complaint. EC had its officials investigate Rev. Hughes' complaint, although he did not speak to them directly about it and did not personally speak to the Toronto Centre RO or other relevant EC officials at the St. Basil's Church polling stations.

The Tribunal found that EC's response to the written complaint to EC and to the CHRA complaint was not timely, contained inaccuracies and was dismissive in tone. In the August 6th letter, EC made a number of factual errors, including stating that all three entrances were unlocked during voting hours.

On October 14, 2008, Canadians went to the polls in a federal general election. Mr. Hughes received a Voter Information Card (VIC), indicating that his polling station would be at St. Basil's Church once again. The VIC had the universal accessibility symbol on it. Mr. Hughes was hopeful that things would be different this time, and that EC had addressed his concerns.

However, Rev. Hughes experienced the same lack of accessible voting on October 14th, except for the snow on the ground. When he went to St. Basil's, the front door (entrance #1) with its accessible ramp was again unavailable. This time he proceeded to entrance #2, where he found one of the doors was being held ajar by a broken rock. He could not open the heavy steel door himself. With assistance, he entered via entrance #2, voted and left the same way. Rev. Hughes was quite upset that, notwithstanding his verbal and written complaints to EC some seven months earlier and his June 2008 complaint to the Commission, EC had not remedied the problem by providing a barrier-free polling facility to exercise his important democratic right to vote.

The Tribunal pointed out that the system is made up of people, and that the "problem is not so much the standards or policies on accessibility, or EC's training in regard to them," but "the problem is more in the nature of the policies and guidelines and training not being followed or applied by EC officials." The Tribunal reiterated the importance of the right to vote, and that it is protected in the Charter. The Tribunal also stated that it is arguably a duty of citizens of Canada to vote, and that the State has a legal duty to ensure that all barriers, whenever possible, are removed. The Tribunal also relied upon the evidence of disability rights/ accessibility expert Professor Catherine Frazee who explained the barriers that people with disabilities face in society, structurally and attitudinally, including details of "disability disadvantage."

The Tribunal awarded Rev. Hughes damages for compensation for pain and suffering. The amount was based in part on the fact that "voting is one of the most sacred rights of citizenship and that includes the right to do so in an accessible context." However, the majority of the remedies are systemic in nature and most are to be completed by EC within either six months or 12 months. (The time frames are to be suspended for three months in the event of a general election, other than the time frames for the individual remedies and the cease order.) The Canadian Human Rights Commission has a monitoring role over the implementation of the decision, and EC is to consult with the other parties (the Complainant, the Commission, and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities who intervened as an interested party in the case.) The following list is a summary of the systemic remedies that the Tribunal has ordered EC to carry out:

EC is to report to the Tribunal in at least three-month intervals about its progress in implementing the Order, and the Tribunal remains seized in the matter to the later date of the reporting of accessibility complaints by EC after the next general election and the implementation of the other parts of the Order, including any further implementation Orders as required.

21.5.3 Case Study – Rev. James Peter Hughes

In compliance to the orders of the decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, EC has put in place several new procedures to ensure polling sites are accessible for all electors. Following the reading of the summary, please reflect on the following questions: