Accessibility Plan & Policy

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The best care for everyone

In compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), NorWest Community Health Centres (NorWest CHC) has an established plan, policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities where:

  • Guiding principles establish our beliefs around accessibility.
  • Policies are directions for staff on how services are to be provided.
  • Procedures describe the steps staff are expected to take.
  • Practices describe day-to-day operations. 
Guiding Principles and Statement of Commitment

As stated in our policy on Diversity and Inclusion, the we recognize diversity in our employees, clients, volunteers, students, and communities. NorWest CHC defines diversity to specifically include disability. As an organization, we take an anti-discriminatory approach to our governance, hiring, and service delivery policies and practices to eliminate barriers that prevent equitable participation.

As stated in our provincial Model of Care Charter, we are committed to accessibility. This is reflected in our design of facilities, hours of operation, provision of advanced access, expansion of urgent care services, Mobile Health services, and outreach services, including home visits as appropriate.

We believe everyone has the right to be treated with respect, dignity, and privacy, including clients, employees, volunteers, and students.

Client services will be provided in a manner that promotes independence, delivered to optimize participation.

Clients will be allowed to use their own personal assistive devices (e.g. walkers, white canes used by people who are blind or who have low vision, note-taking devices, and personal oxygen tanks to assist breathing) to give them equal opportunity to access programs and services.

A Community Health Worker will be available to provide intensive case management for primary care clients as needed, when no other case managers are involved.

Support Persons

If a client with a disability is accompanied by a support person (someone who accompanies the client to help with communication, mobility, personal care, or medical needs), the support person will be accommodated in the clinical areas, or space will be provided in the program area.

In addition, as outlined in Program Guideline #12 of the General Policies and Procedures Manual, clients who are not independent for daily living activities are encouraged to be accompanied by an attendant and we will try to accommodate the attendant.

Service Animal

If a client with a disability is accompanied by a guide dog or other service animal, the animal will remain with the client. A service animal can be a guide dog (as defined in section 1 of the Blind Persons’ Rights Act), apparently used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability, or confirmed by a letter from a physician or nurse confirming the person requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability.

Service dogs will be allowed in program areas where food is prepared, as allowed in the Ontario Regulation 562 under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

In the circumstances where there are health and safety concerns for other clients (e.g. severe allergies) the service dog will be allowed to stay in an adjacent program room.


Communication is delivered verbally, in writing, via our website, or social media. Health literacy is considered in our communication with clients.

We will communicate with a person with a disability in a manner that takes into account their disability, as outlined in Appendix A – How to Communicate with people with different types of disabilities.

Notice of Interruptions in Accessible Service

NorWest CHC has made provisions for accessibility for individuals with physical limitations and disabilities (Program Guideline #12 of the General Policies and Procedures Manual). These provisions include an elevator, wheelchair accessible washrooms, pocket talkers, and use of a wheelchair available for clients. We will provide advance notice when these services are not available by posting notices for the public.

When a disruption occurs unexpectedly (the elevator is out of order), we will provide notice as soon as we become aware of the problem.

When possible, we may be able to offer additional services for clients with disabilities when our accessibility measures are disrupted (e.g. home visits when the elevator out of service).


Accessibility policies and practices will be posted in public areas and on the website.

Feedback will allow for concerns to be expressed in person, by telephone, in writing, or electronically via the client feedback section on the website.

Client feedback will be handled as outlined in the Client Complaint Protocol (Client Relations, Policy 1.15 General Policies & Procedures Manual).

NorWest CHC conducts a yearly client survey to gather feedback on accessibility, satisfaction with services provided, communication with providers, and impact on health.


All staff, students, and volunteers who have contact with clients will be provided training in accessibility, including policies, practices, and procedures in place at NorWest CHC as part of program orientation. The Manager of Health and Social Programs is responsible for ensuring this training is completed. A record of the training will be maintained in their personnel files.

Staff, students, and volunteers involved in FASD programs will receive an orientation to the disorder and its effects with the FASD Coordinator.

Accessibility and Employment

As stated in our policy on Diversity and Inclusion and reaffirmed in the Guiding Principles and Statement of Commitment, NorWest CHC recognizes diversity in our employees. We define diversity to specifically include disability. As an organization, we will take an anti-discriminatory approach to our governance, hiring, and service delivery policies and practices to eliminate barriers that prevent equitable participation.

During the Recruitment Process

  1. Job applicants will be notified of the availability of accommodation during the recruitment process.
  2. We will consult job applicants who request accommodation to provide effective accommodation measures during the recruitment process.

Accommodations for Employees

  1. Employees who require an accommodation plan for a disability should notify their supervisor as soon as practical. An accommodation plan will be developed by the employee, their supervisor, and the Manager of Human Resources, for final approval by the CEO or alternate. The employee can ask for assistance from an inside representative or outside expert (e.g. ergonomic assessment), to assist with the development of this plan. This plan will be confidential employee information and treated as such. If the plan is not approved, a written reply will be provided to the employee about this decision.
  2. An accommodation plan will be developed for an employee absent from work due to a disability who returns to work prior to or when they return to work.
  3. NorWest CHC will consider accessibility needs of employees with disabilities in performance management and career advancement.

If you have questions or concerns regarding our Accessibility Plan, policies or procedures, please contact:
Manager of Allied Health & Social Programs
NorWest Community Health Centres
525 Simpson Street,
Thunder Bay, ON P7C 3J6
T (807) 626-7868
F (807) 622-7637

Appendix A

How To Communicate With People With Different Types Of Disabilities - Basic Principles
  1. If you’re not sure what to do, or what assistance is required, just asks the person “Can I help you?”
    1. Treat everyone with respect, just as you would want to be treated yourself.
    2. Be patient and take your time.
    3. Address the client, not the support person.
  2. People with physical disabilities (may be using a wheelchair, cane, using other assistive devices, have limited mobility)
    1. If possible, sit with them
    2. Don’t touch items or equipment without permission.
    3. Do not leave the equipment in the way if they are not using it.
  3. People who have hearing loss
    1. They may be deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, or oral deaf – unable to hear, but prefer to talk instead of using sign language.
    2. Be in a well-lit area where they can see your face and read your lips.
    3. As needed, attract the customer’s attention before speaking (gentle touch, wave of hand)
    4. Move to a quieter area if they are using a hearing aid
    5. Offer to communicate by writing
  4. People with vision loss (may be using a guide dog or white cane, a support person)
    1. Many will still have some sight.
    2. Identify yourself when you approach and speak directly to the customer.
    3. Ask if they would like you to read printed material out loud to them
    4. When providing directions, be precise and descriptive.
    5. Offer your elbow to guide them if needed.
  5. People with a service animal
    1. Remember that a service animal is not a pet. Avoid touching or addressing them.
    2. If you’re not sure if the animal is a pet or a service animal, ask the client.
  6. People with a support person
    1. If you’re not sure which person is the client, take your lead from the person speaking to you or simply ask.
    2. Speak directly to the client, not to their support person.
  7. People who are deaf and blind
    1. Speak directly to the person and not their support person.
  8. People with speech or language impairments
    1. Try to ask questions that can be answered with “yes” or a “no”.
    2. Don’t interrupt or finish your customer’s sentences.
  9. People who have learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia)
    1. Be patient and give them time to respond
    2. Try different ways (verbal, in writing)
  10. People who have intellectual developmental disabilities
    1. Use plain language.
    2. Provide one piece of information at a time.
  11. People who have mental health disabilities
    1. Treat them respectfully like everyone else
    2. Be confident, calm and reassuring.
    3. If a customer appears to be in crisis, ask them how you can help them


Am I eligible for Ontario health insurance?

You must have Ontario health insurance to receive health care services for which OHIP is a requirement. You may be eligible for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) if you are included under one of the following categories:

  • you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or landed immigrant, convention refugee, or are registered as an Indian under theIndian Act;
  • you have submitted an Application for Permanent Residence or an Application for Landing and have been confirmed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada as having satisfied the medical requirements for landing;
  • you are a foreign worker who holds a valid work permit or employment authorization which names a Canadian employer situated in Ontario and your prospective occupation, and is valid for at least six months;
  • you are a foreign clergy member who will be providing services to a religious congregation in Ontario for at least six months;
  • you hold a Temporary Resident Permit or Minister’s Permit with case type 80 (for adoption only), 86, 87, 88 or 89;
  • you are the spouse, same sex partner, or dependent child (under 22 years old or 22 years and over if dependent due to a mental or physical disability) of a foreign clergy member or eligible foreign worker who is to be employed in Ontario for a period of at least three consecutive years;
  • you hold a work permit or employment authorization under the Live-In Caregivers in Canada Program or the Foreign Domestic Movement;
  • you have been issued a work permit or employment authorization under the Caribbean Commonwealth and Mexican Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program administered by the federal department of Citizenship and Immigration;
  • and you make your permanent and principal home in Ontario;
  • and you are in Ontario for at least 153 days of the first 183 days immediately following the date you establish residency in Ontario (you cannot be absent for more than 30 days during the first 6 months of residency);
  • and you are in Ontario for at least 153 days in any 12-month period.

Tourists, transients or visitors are not eligible for OHIP coverage.

Your eligibility for Ontario health insurance coverage is not determined by whether you have a job or are unemployed, or where you pay your income tax. It is based solely on your meeting one of the above citizenship or immigration categories and on you making your permanent and principal home in Ontario.

Everyone, including babies and children, must have their own health card. Always carry your health card with you. You should be ready to show it every time you need medical services.

For more details about OHIP eligibility:
refer to Regulation 552 of Ontario’s Health Insurance Act (can be purchased from Publications Ontario at 1-800-668-9938 or reviewed via website

For more information:

  • Call the Ministry INFOline at 1-800-664-8988 (toll free in Ontario only).
  • In Toronto, call 866-532-3161
  • For TTY service, call 1-800-387-5559.
  • Access the Ministry website at:
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