Your Personal Injury Lawyers
Call 1-888-404-5167
Preszler Injury Lawyers

Can You Be Fired While on Disability in Ontario?

According to a Statistics Canada survey conducted in 2012, nearly 4 million Canadians had a disability that limited their daily activities, including more than 15% of Ontarians. We’ve discussed before some of the benefits available to Ontarians when a disability prevents them from earning an income through work, including:

  • Private disability insurance purchased by the individual or her or his employer.
  • Workers’ compensation benefits if the disability results from a work-related injury. (Note that workers’ compensation benefits are subject to a special sets of rules, so we won’t be discussing them in more detail in this article.)
  • Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefits, which are monthly payments to Ontario workers who have a severe and prolonged disability, are younger than 65, and have contributed the required minimum amount to the CPP program.
  • Ontario Disability Support Program benefits, which provides an array of income-support benefits to Ontarians who are substantially disabled and financially needy.

Today, we want to discuss a related question that we often hear: Can an employee be fired while on disability in Ontario?

The short answer to that question is it depends — mostly on the reason that the employee was fired. Nothing in the law protects an employee from being fired while on disability for reasons unrelated to his or her disability. But the law does protect Ontarians against discrimination in employment on the basis of disability. If an employer fires a disabled employee, and the employee’s disability was a factor in that decision, then the employer may have violated the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Let’s explore those two points in more detail.

The Ontario Human Rights Code: Disabilities and Employment

In Ontario, the Human Rights Code protects Ontarians against discrimination and harassment in employment and other areas on the basis of disability or certain other grounds. Section 5 of the HRC states that “[e]very person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of . . . disability.”

In section 10, the HRC defines disability broadly. The term includes:

  • Any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness;
  • A condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability;
  • A learning disability or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language;
  • A mental disorder; or
  • An injury or disability for which workers’ compensation benefits were claimed or received.

In addition to prohibiting discrimination, the HRC requires employers to accommodate disabled employees to the point of undue hardship. Accommodation requires the employer to investigate the employee’s needs and how he or she may be accommodated. It also requires that any accommodation offered by the employer must be substantively reasonable.

(Note that, even if an employee’s disability cannot be accommodated without undue hardship, the employer may still be liable for wrongful dismissal if the employee’s disability does not rise to the level of frustration of contract. That’s a separate question that goes beyond the scope of this article, but you should discuss it with your lawyer if you’ve been fired for a disability.)

The HRC and Disability Benefits

So, let’s return to the two parts of the answer we gave to our question in the introduction in light of the HRC:

  • The HRC does not render a person on disability immune from firing.

The HRC doesn’t specifically protect an employee against being fired while the employee is on disability. Instead, the law only protects the employee from discrimination because of his or her disability. That’s not nothing, but it is a somewhat different protection than some people expect.

In other words, being on disability does not make an employee immune from being fired for other reasons, such as bad behaviour or if the entire business shuts down.

  • The HRC prohibits discrimination and requires accommodation.

Remember that, under the HRC, (1) An employer cannot discriminate on the basis of disability; and (2) the employer must accommodate a disabled employee (3) to the point of undue hardship.

Given those three provisions, an employer may violate the HRC’s prohibition on discrimination in employment on the basis of disability if the employer fires a disabled employee, and the employee’s disability was a factor in that decision. Firing an employee because he or she is absent as the result of a disability means that disability was a factor in the firing.

Instead of simply firing an employee absent because of a disability, the employer has a legal obligation to ascertain the employee’s needs and determine how it can accommodate the employee so that he or she can return to work.

Note that the employee’s disability need not have been the only factor or even the dominant factor — if it was a factor at all, the employee may have a claim under the HRC. Whether the employer intended to discriminate is also irrelevant. Workers rights under the HRC do not depend on the secret goings-on in employer’s minds.

How Preszler Injury Lawyers Helps Disabled Ontarians

Just as Ontario law protects disabled Ontarians against unscrupulous employers, it also protects them against unscrupulous insurers. Disability-insurance companies often try to use highly technical or confusing language in their policies to avoid keeping their promises to those covered by the policies.

Preszler Injury Lawyers in Toronto helps protect Ontarians who are or become disabled against such behaviour by insurance companies. We guide our clients through the process of qualifying for, obtaining, and appealing denials of short-term and long-term disability benefits offered by insurance companies, the Canadian Pension Plan, and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

If you or a loved one’s disability benefits have been denied, or if you need assistance in applying for the benefits you are entitled to, our Ontario disability lawyers are ready to help you. We represent clients on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay us anything unless and until we recover benefits for you.

related videos


Disabilities That May Warrant Disability Claims

Filing a Disability Claim

What to do If Denied Disability Benefits
Call us now at

151 Eglinton Ave W,
Toronto, ON
M4R 1A6
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
4145 N Service Rd
Burlington, ON
L7L 4X6
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
2 County Ct Blvd #400,
Brampton, ON
L6W 3W8
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
105 Consumers Drive
Whitby, ON
L1N 1C4
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
92 Caplan Ave #121,
Barrie, ON
L4N 0Z7
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
380 Wellington St Tower B, 6th Floor,
London, ON
N6A 5B5
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
2233 Argentia Rd Suite 302,
East Tower Mississauga, ON
L5N 6A6
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
1 Hunter St E,
Hamilton, ON
L8N 3W1
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
459 George St N,
Peterborough, ON
K9H 3R9
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
22 Frederick Street,
Suite 700
Kitchener, ON N2H 6M6
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
116 Lisgar Street, Suite 300
Ottawa ON
K2P 0C2
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
10 Milner Business Ct #300,
Scarborough, ON
M1B 3C6
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
*consultation offices

DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the header image and other images throughout this website may include both lawyer and non-lawyer/paralegal employees of Preszler Injury Lawyers and DPJP Professional Corporation and unrelated third parties. Our spokesperson John Fraser, or any other non-lawyer/paralegals in our marketing is not to be construed in any way as misleading to the public. Our marketing efforts are not intended to suggest qualitative superiority to other lawyers, paralegals or law firms in any way. Any questions regarding the usage of non-lawyers in our legal marketing or otherwise can be directed to our management team. Please also note that past results are not indicative of future results and that each case is unique and that case results listed on site are from experiences across Canada and are not specific to any province. Please be advised that some of the content on this website may be out of date. None of the content is intended to act as legal advice as each situation is independent and unique and requires individual legal advice from a licensed lawyer or paralegal. For legal advice on your individual situation – we can provide legal guidance after you have contacted our firm and we have established a lawyer-client relationship contractually. Maximum contingency fee charged is 33%. Finally, our usage of awards and logos for awards does not suggest qualitative superiority to other lawyers, paralegals or law firms. All awards received from third party organizations have been done so through their own reasonable evaluative process and do not include any payment for these awards except for the use of the award logos for our marketing assets. We are also proud to service additional provinces like Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia.