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AODA Alliance Sends the Deloitte Company its Submission on the First Phase of the Deloitte Company’s Public Consultation on the Wynne Government’s Problem-Ridden Proposal to Fund a New Private Accessibility Certification Process

Deloitte’s Draft Report on its Consultations to Date is Seriously Flawed and Ignores or Rejects the AODA Alliance’s Key Input

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

February 1, 2016

SUMMARY

The AODA Alliance has finalized and submitted its initial submission on the Wynne Government’s problem-ridden proposal to establish and fund a private accessibility certification process in Ontario. We sent our written feedback to the private Deloitte company. The Wynne Government hired Deloitte to conduct this public consultation on the Government’s proposal to establish a private accessibility certification process.

To download in an accessible MS Word format the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 written submission to the Deloitt company on the first phase of its private accessibility certification process consultation, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/feb12016-aoda-alliance-accessibility-certification-submission-to-deloitt-final.docx Our submission shows in detail that the entire idea of a private accessibility certification process is riddled with serious problems. Such a certification process should not be funded by the Government using public money.

We instead need the Wynne Government to ramp up its work on developing new accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and to keep its promise to effectively enforce the AODA accessibility standards that are already on the books. A private accessibility certification process would be an inappropriate use of public money, and an unhelpful distraction from the Government’s ongoing failure to properly fulfil its duties under the AODA.

Recently, the Deloitte company posted for public comment a draft of its First Phase Report on the consultation it has conducted so far. Our February 1, 2016 submission to the Deloitte company gives detailed feedback on that draft Deloitte Report.

Our submission shows that there are serious problems with that draft report. It fails to properly and squarely consider whether the Government should finance the creation of a private accessibility certification process. The draft report wrongly leaps ahead to explore administrative questions over how a private accessibility certification process should be designed and operated. That puts the cart before the horse. The draft Report also appears to ignore the feedback that the AODA Alliance gave the Deloitte organization.

Below we set out a short backgrounder on this issue, and a summary of the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 submission to the Deloitte company. We thank all who gave us feedback on our November 25, 2016 draft of this submission. All feedback helps us develop and finalize our positions.

We encourage you to:

* Let the Deloitte company know if you support our concerns regarding the proposal for the Wynne Government to use public money to finance the creation of a private accessibility certification process. You can go to Deloitte’s website to send a message with feedback. Even a short message to Deloitte would be very helpful. Deloitte wants feedback on their draft Report by February 5, 2016 another of Deloitte’s short time lines for public participation. Even if you send feedback in after that deadline, it always can help.

We have not located a Deloitte email address for you to use. Instead Deloitte uses a website name based on the term “Certified for Access.” That name itself seems to presume that this private accessibility certification process is inevitably going to be implemented. The web page to visit to send a message to Deloitte is: https://www.certifiedforaccess.ca/

* Let your local media know about this issue, and, as always

* Please continue to share your thoughts on this issue with us, as we continue trying to get the Deloitte company and the Wynne Government to listen to our concerns about this issue.

It is a troubling accessibility deficiency that when seeking public input on it, the Deloitte organization only posted its draft First Phase report in a PDF format. We were later able to get an MS Word copy from Deloitte. Where a PDF is posted, an alternate format document that is fully accessible, such as in html and MS Word, should be posted as well. You can download the Deloitte company’s draft report on the first phase of its publicly-financed consultation on a private accessibility certification process, in MS Word format, by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/Phase-1-Deloitt-Report-Identifying-the-Issues.docx You can see the Government’s original announcement of this consultation by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11252015.asp

Check out the AODA Alliance’s December 5,2015 letter to Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid (which the Government has not answered), seeking more details about its private accessibility certification process, by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12052015.asp

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

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Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign. https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

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Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org

Please also join the campaign for a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act, spearheaded by Barrier-Free Canada. The AODA Alliance is the Ontario affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada. Sign up for Barrier-Free Canada updates by emailing info@BarrierFreeCanada.org

MORE DETAILS

1. Backgrounder on the Deloitte Consultation

Back on November 16, 2015, the Wynne Government launched a public consultation on its proposal that the Government create a private process for an as-yet-unnamed private organization to provide a private, voluntary accessibility certification of the obligated organization. The Government’s November 16, 2015 email, news release and web posting on this were thin on details.

The Government did not have its own Accessibility Directorate conduct this consultation. Instead, at public expense, the Wynne Government hired the private Deloitte firm to consult the public.

Last fall, we moved as fast as possible to prepare and circulate a draft submission to Deloitte. It was emailed and posted on the web for public comment on November 25, 2015. We have repeatedly sent out invitations for input on it via Twitter and Facebook.

Last fall, we promptly shared our draft submission with Deloitte and with senior Government officials. On December 5, 2015, we wrote Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid to ask for important specifics on the Deloitte consultation. The Government has not answered that letter.

2. Summary of the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 Submission to the Deloitte Company

This submission’s feedback on the idea of the Ontario Government financing the creation of a private accessibility certification process is summarized as follows:

1. It is important to probe beyond any superficial attractiveness that some might think a private accessibility certification process has.

2. It is important for the Government to first decide whether it will adopt a private accessibility certification process, before public money and the public’s effort are invested in deciding on the details of how such a process would work. Several serious concerns set out in this submission are fatal to any such proposal, however its details are designed.

3. Instead of diverting limited public and private resources, effort and time into a problematic private accessibility certification process, the Government should instead increase efforts at creating all the AODA accessibility standards needed to ensure full accessibility by 2025, and keeping its unkept promise to effectively enforce the AODA. A private accessibility certification process is no substitute for needed accessibility standards that show obligated organizations what they need to do, and a full and comprehensive AODA audit or inspection, conducted by a director or inspector duly authorized under the AODA.

4. The Government cannot claim that it has deployed the AODA’s compliance/enforcement powers to the fullest, and gotten from the AODA all it can in terms of increasing accessibility among obligated organizations. The Government has invested far too little in AODA enforcement.

5. The entire idea of a private organization certifying an obligated organization as “accessible” is fraught with inescapable problems. Obligated organizations will ultimately realize that a so-called “accessibility certification” through a private accessibility certification process is practically useless. It does not mean that their organization is in fact accessible. It cannot give that obligated organization any defence if an AODA inspection or audit reveals that the organization is not in compliance with an AODA accessibility standard, or if the organization is subject to a human rights complaint before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. An obligated organization cannot excuse itself from a violation of the AODA, the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Charter of Rights by arguing that thanks to its private accessibility certification, it thought it was obeying the law.

6. A private accessibility certification could mislead people with disabilities into thinking an organization is fully accessible in a situation where that organization is not in fact fully accessible.

7. Obligated organizations that have spent their money on a private accessibility certification will understandably become angry or frustrated when they find that this certification does not excuse unlawful conduct. They will understandably share these feelings with their business associates. Ontarians with disabilities don’t need the Government launching a new process that will risk generating such backlash.

8. A private accessibility certification could have a very limited shelf-life. When the Government enacts a new accessibility standard (as it has promised to do in the area of health care), or revises an existing one, (as the Government is required to consider every five years in the case of existing AODA accessibility standards), that certification would have to be reviewed once new accessibility requirements come into effect.

9. The Government’s idea that a private accessibility certification process would be self-financing creates additional serious problems.

10. Any private certification process raises serious concerns about public accountability. As such, the public will not be able to find out how it is operating, beyond any selective information that the Government or the private certifier decides to make public. Without full access to the activities and records of a private certifier, the public cannot effectively assess how this private accessibility certification process is working, and whether it is helping or hurting the accessibility cause.

This submission also gives our feedback on the draft First Phase Report of the Deloitte company on its public consultation, that it posted for comment in January 2016. We summarize our feedback as follows:

1. Deloitte’s draft Report doesn’t squarely address up front the vital first issue whether Ontario should establish and finance a private accessibility certification process. Readers of this draft Report would be led to incorrectly think that no one suggested to Deloitte that a private accessibility certification process was a bad idea. Yet all the feedback we have received on this topic has been negative about that proposal.

2. The draft Report describes supposed benefits of a private accessibility certification process that are better achieved in other ways.

3. The draft Report appears to presume that people with disabilities and other stakeholders will be needed to extensively contribute to a private accessibility certification process, without contemplating whether they will be compensated for their time and effort

4. The draft Report makes inaccurate claims about Deloitte’s consultation.