Who should pay for personal assistive devices?

Line of accommodation ‘blurred’ in Ontario dispute, says arbitrator
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/26/2012

The use of assistive personal devices such as hearing aids, reading glasses and prosthetics could become more prevalent as the workforce ages.

Many employers provide subsidies for these through health benefit plans, but a recent decision highlights the fact such devices may fall under the purview of accommodation if they’re absolutely required for an employee to do his job.

In Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board v. Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, the union filed a policy grievance alleging the school board failed to properly accommodate a high school teacher’s disability. The woman had a hearing disability and suffered from progressive hearing loss. But when she requested reimbursement for digital hearing aids she purchased in 2008 and 2009, her employer refused.