By Geof Collis
January 2, 2010
In case you don’t already know, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Customer Care Standard became law on January 1st, 2010.
Now those living with disabilities in Ontario woke up to a much more accessible Province. Or did they?
To hear Minister Meilleur tell it in her interview with CBC Radio1 Ottawa December 31, 2009, she is proud of her Governments work on this matter and she hopes other Provinces follow suit.
So let’s take stock.
Public sector organizations must now treat Persons With Disabilities(PWD) as equal human beings not because it is the right thing to do but because it is now “The Law”. Municipalities and the like have trained their staff on how to treat us. No more discrimination, no more ignoring us. No more barriers. Oh Happy Day!
This has all magically happened over night because the Government has made it Law!!
But wait, there’s nothing in this Standard that isn’t covered by the “Human Rights Act” or the “How to treat Human Beings Right Act” except as Dalton McGuinty promised as Leader of the Opposition back in 2003, to the then Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, “We will introduce, with the intent of passing within one year of forming government, a strong and effective Ontarians With Disabilities Act”
So where is this enforcement?
As stated in the Act:
18. (1) The Deputy Minister shall appoint one or more inspectors for the purposes of this Act and the regulations within a reasonable time after
the first accessibility standard is established under section 6. 2005, c. 11, s. 18 (1).
Lieutenant Governor in Council shall, by regulation, designate one or more tribunals for the purposes of this Act and of the regulations
within a reasonable time after the first accessibility standard is established under section 6. 2005, c. 11, s. 26 (1).
So where are the Inspectors and Tribunals? And what is a reasonable time? This Standard was enacted back in 2007.
As I had said in the same interview as the Minister, nothing much has changed, everybody is still on their best behavior with no resolution in sight.
If I have a problem with my Municipality regarding an issue covered in this Standard, where do I go to voice my complaint and how long will it take to train Inspectors and set up a Tribunal once they decide to?
I’m sure many Municipalities and Public sector organizations will adhere to the Standard without any enforcement but as sure as I am sitting writing this there will be those who wont, because they know as well as the rest of us that there is no enforcement that we are aware of.
The Minister is correct when she hopes other Provinces follow Ontario’s lead but I hope they do a better job of enactment and enforcement.
As my straw poll at http://www.aoda.ca/?page_id=140 suggests, 73% of us don’t think the Province will reach its target by 2025 and 16% aren’t sure. Any wonder why?
No one will argue that the AODA isn’t a good Law and long overdue but this Government needs to do a better job of implementation if we are to reach the target that many think is too far off anyway.
When all is said and done it is a sad day when you consider it takes a Law to make people treat those with Disabilities as equals.