The Heart of Election Day
Working for Elections Ontario
In Ontario we recently participated in the exercise of democracy by casting ballots for members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. From there, the leader of the party with the most members becomes Premier of Ontario. Thus, democracy functions once more.
It was rather late in the election period, about two weeks before election day, when I decided I wanted a one-day job, which was on election day, working for Elections Ontario.
On June 7th, 2018 Elections Ontario was Ontario’s largest employer.
Elections Ontario is an independent agency of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. However, the agency does have to follow all applicable laws with regards to employment and, in particular, in accessibility.
When I first called and spoke with the recruiter, she was excited. It was probably because she had one less person to find. Admittedly, Elections Ontario did a fantastic job advertising its open jobs for election day.
So, this recruiter and I talked for some time. It looked as if I was going to be a Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) in Oro-Medonte. This was driven by the fact that I both have a valid drivers license and a vehicle I can drive to the location.
However, when I revealed to the recruiter (whom I will not name,) that I was unable to help set up the polling location I would be working at the night before, due to medical requirements of a disability, the role of DRO was taken off the table.
No one mentioned to me about Elections Ontario’s “Workplace Accommodation Policy and Procedures” brochure, nor that there was a form (FO273) that I could file to ask for help. Does one expect the applicant to leap through all those hoops?
I do not know the training this recruiter had, but I imagine that it was similar to the training for my downgraded role as Information Assistant. (Jokingly referred to as Greeter.) So she must have read the brochure (FO277). It was mandatory.
Elections Ontario policy is to accommodate applicants and employees with disabilities who need workplace accommodations.
On June 7th, I arrived bright and early at my polling station, ready for the next 13 hours. The actual voting hours are 9 am – 9 pm. However, we had to be there an hour before for any final setup items. We also could not leave the premises at all during those times. Bathrooms were on site.
While I am frustrated that I did not get to carry out the DRO role, originally offered, I had a great day. I got to greet voters, help them with the process, and send them merrily on their way afterwards.
Since employment is short-term, individual accommodation plans will not be reviewed after the election is over.
I firmly believe that Elections Ontario has gone to great lengths to accommodate voters exercising their democratic right to vote. However, I do not believe that Elections Ontario has gone far enough to accommodate their very short term, one day employees, who just want to help out to ensure democracy prevails.
I think if I could talk directly to Greg Essensa, Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer, then I would make the following recommendations:
In the end, we all want democracy to prevail! So, let us give democracy a hand and accommodate those one-day employees.
This article was written by J2DW CEO Peter V Tretter and edited by volunteer editor Scott Jacobsen.