Gowlings is committed to ensuring that members of the public and third parties who access Gowlings' services and anyone with a disability who visits Gowlings' premises will be able to be accompanied by their support persons.
Gowlings will allow members of the public and/or third parties to use their support persons while accessing Gowlings' services on the parts of its premises open to the public or third parties.
A support person may be a paid personal support worker or a volunteer, friend or family member. He or she does not necessarily need to have special training or qualifications.
Gowlings recognizes that support persons may assist people with disabilities in many different ways, such as:
- A person who is deafblind may use a support person to guide, to provide transportation or to provide adaptive communication such as tactile or adapted American Sign language, large print notes, print on palm or two-handed manual signing.
- A person who is Deaf, deafened or oral deaf may use a support person to provide sign language or oral interpretation services.
- A person with a learning disability may use a support person to help with complex communication or note-taking.
- A person with an intellectual or developmental disability may use a support person to help with travel, daily activities, prompting medication, complex tasks, or to keep them from dangerous situations.
- A person with a mental disability may use a support person to help with communication tasks such as completing complex forms or to assist in high-stress situations.
- A person with a physical disability may use a support person to provide services related to travelling, personal care such as toileting or eating, or monitoring medical conditions.
- A person with a seizure disorder may use a support person to assist in the event of a seizure.
- A person with a speech impairment who uses an augmentative or alternative communication system may use a support person to relay or interpret a person's communications.
- A person with vision loss may use a support person to read information or guide.
Gowlings recognizes that people with disabilities who use a support person are often unable to attend places or participate in activities without that support person.
Gowlings will provide advance notice to members of the public and/or third parties as to whether or not a fee will be charged for support persons to attend at Gowlings events (e.g. training courses, seminars and/or conferences). Requirements with respect to fees for support persons, if any, will be documented on event invitations and/or registration forms.
When communicating with a client in the presence of a support person, the Gowlings professional or staff member must advise that while the Firm will consider the communication privileged, it cannot guarantee that privilege will be maintained if a support person participates.
Professionals must be mindful of whether the support person's participation affects the instructions provided by the client. It is vital that the instructions come from the client and no one else. When the Law Society of Upper Canada adopts a policy or provides guidance on the question of privileged communications involving a client's support person, Gowlings will abide by that policy or guidance.
Complaints about the improper treatment of persons with disabilities accompanied by their support person can be initiated by contacting: