ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO
June 30, 2014
1. Please Email Mayo Moran to Support our Final Brief
We have submitted our June 30, 2014 final brief to the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Below we set out our summary of our brief’s conclusions and recommendations. We also set out a list of all our recommendations.
You can download the AODA Alliance’s June 30, 2014 final brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06302014-Final-Brief-Mayo-Moran-AODA.doc We believe our brief is the most thorough investigation of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that has been produced since that law was enacted in 2005.
The deadline for delivering written submissions to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review is June 30, 2014. Nevertheless, we are eager for you to email the Moran Independent Review to simply indicate your support for our brief. One sentence in an email will do! Send your email to:
2. What is Different About our Final Brief, Compared to our June 19, 2014 Draft Brief
We thank everyone so very much who sent us feedback on our June 19, 2014 draft of this brief. Our final brief contains everything that was in our June 19 draft that we circulated for public comment, including in the summary of it that we included in our June 19, 2014 AODA Alliance Update. There have been some minor edits to wording.
The draft brief’s content was also expanded to include references to the AODA Annual Reports that must be made each year by the cabinet minister responsible for implementing and enforcing that legislation. Our final brief adds one recommendation in Part X, Recommendation #79.
Because the Government has now merged the Economic Development Ministry (responsible for implementing and enforcing the AODA) with the Infrastructure Ministry, we recommend that the Accessibility Directorate be embedded into the work of both. We need to better ensure that accessibility is embedded in any new infrastructure in Ontario, as Part VII of the brief describes in detail.
3. The Brief Can Be Helpful to Many
We of course hope this brief will be helpful to Dean Moran as she prepares her Independent Review’s final report, expected this October.
We also commend this brief to the new minister responsible for the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, Brad Duguid. We congratulate him on this new Cabinet post. We and look forward to working together with him.
This brief can also serve as a helpful source of information to anyone in the community who wants to know what has happened over the past nine years with the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.
4. Time for a Break!
Unless there is critical late-breaking news, we will be off-line for July, and back in full swing in August. After the blizzard of AODA Alliance Updates during the recent Ontario election, this break no doubt will come as a relief to you!
5. Checking In on the Accessibility Clock
Even when we are on a break, the Accessibility Clock just keeps on ticking! A troubling 223 days have now passed since we revealed that the Ontario Government was not enforcing the AODA, and that there have been rampant AODA violations in the private sector. The Government still has not made public its promised plan for the AODA’s effective enforcement.
One hundred and twenty-nine days have passed since the Toronto Star reported on February 20, 2014 that the Government would be publicly posting that new enforcement plan “in short order.”
To read our November 18, 2013 revelation that the Government was failing to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act despite knowing of rampant private sector violations, and funds on hand for enforcement, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11182013.asp
To read the Government’s February 20, 2014 pledge to publish in “short order” its plan for enforcing the Disabilities Act, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/02202014.asp
As well, 305 days have passed since the Government unveiled its plans for the legacy of the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games. Yet the Government has still not released details and specifics of a comprehensive disability accessibility legacy for the Games.
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Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org
Summary of the AODA Alliance’s June 30, 2014 Final Brief to the Mayo Moran Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
In this introductory Part of this brief, we explain who the AODA Alliance is. We give a quick explanation of how the AODA works. We propose the questions that we encourage this Independent Review to ask about the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We explain why we have concluded that Ontario is now not on schedule for reaching full accessibility for persons with disabilities by 2025.
We then summarize the 2010 final report of the Charles Beer AODA Independent Review, as a starting point for the Moran Independent Review, and our December 2009 submissions to the Beer Independent Review. That is followed by some general reflections on this brief’s conclusions.
In each of the following parts of this brief, we address an important area of concern and then offer recommendations for reform. In Part II, we address the effectiveness of the Government’s enforcement of the AODA. In Part III, we explore the accessibility standards enacted to date, and comment on whether they go far enough.
In Part IV, we describe the ordeal we have had to undergo to try to get the Government to develop new accessibility standards, and to keep its commitments regarding the Built Environment Accessibility Standard. In Part V, we address the need for further improvements to the way that the Government develops accessibility standards.
Part VI looks at the effectiveness of Government efforts to educate the public on accessibility. Part VII explores how effectively the Government has acted to ensure that public money is never used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate disability barriers. Part VIII delves into what the Government has done to keep its promise to review all Ontario legislation and regulations for accessibility barriers. Part IX addresses barriers facing persons with disabilities in elections in Ontario.
Part X examines how effectively the Government has kept its commitment to lead by example in the accessibility context. Part XI offers some general conclusions and recommendations.
At the end of this brief are two appendices. Appendix 1 sets out all the recommendations that we propose in this brief. Appendix 2 sets out all the recommendations that we proposed in our December 11, 2009 brief to the Charles Beer AODA Independent Review.
In this brief, we establish the following:
1. Ontario is not on schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025.
2. The AODA requires the Ontario Government to lead the public and private sectors, to become fully accessible by 2025. To achieve this, the Government has two major duties, and a third supportive role. First, it must develop and enact all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025. Second, it must effectively enforce those standards, to ensure full compliance. Third, as a subsidiary duty to support the first two, the Government must deploy effective public education on the AODA to reinforce compliance. Despite a range of good efforts by the Government, the Government is now failing at all of these tasks.
3. The Charles Beer 2010 AODA Independent Review found that, to ensure Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025 the Ontario Government must show new leadership on the AODA, to revitalize, institute transformative change and breathe new life into its implementation. Since then, the Government has done none of this, even though it implemented some of the Beer report’s recommendations.
4. The Government is not effectively enforcing the AODA. Yet the Government promised to effectively enforce it, has ample enforcement powers, unused budget and an internal enforcement plan available. The Government failed to enforce the AODA even when it knew of rampant AODA violations among private sector organizations with at least 20 employees. The Government attempted for months to suppress this information from coming to public light.
5. The Government has no good reason for failing to effectively enforce the AODA, and, after being driven to enforce it by adverse publicity, for having only used paltry efforts to only enforce one of many enforceable AODA duties, the duty of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees to file an accessibility self-report under the Customer Service Accessibility Standard.
6. The Government’s failure to effectively enforce the AODA contributes to Ontario falling behind schedule for full accessibility by 2025. It undermines the efforts of those who try to persuade and motivate obligated organizations to comply with the AODA. It is unfair to obligated organizations who comply with the AODA, especially if their competitors do not. It creates a harmful disincentive against investing a person’s or organization’s limited time and scarce resources to take part in the development of accessibility standards, or other consultations vital to the AODA’s effective implementation.
7. The need for the AODA’s effective enforcement is amplified because in 2006, the Government privatized enforcement of human rights. This made it harder for persons with disabilities (and other discrimination victims) to challenge barriers, one at a time, by complaints filed under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
8. It was good for the Government, in 2005-2006, to decide that the first AODA accessibility standards to be created would address barriers in customer service, transportation, employment, information and communication, and in the built environment. However, the accessibility standards enacted to date in these areas, while helpful, are grossly insufficient to effectively ensure that all recurring barriers in those fields are removed and prevented by 2025. Several requirements are too weak. They mostly if not totally deal with preventing new barriers, but not removing existing barriers. They don’t address a number of important recurring barriers. Their time lines are often too long. They wrongly create exceptions, exemptions and defences that are broader than the undue hardship defence in the Human Rights Code. We and the Ontario Human Rights Commission unsuccessfully pressed the Government to ensure that AODA accessibility standards be at least as strong as the Human Rights Code’s accessibility requirements. As a result, obligated organizations face the risk of multiple litigation over the same barrier.
9. It was counterproductive for the Government to administratively carve out of the AODA the important area of the built environment. It did so by addressing built environment barriers inside buildings only via amendments to the Ontario Building Code. These are not also incorporated in an AODA accessibility standard. This broke the Government’s repeated promises to enact a Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA.
10. Also dragging Ontario behind schedule for full accessibility by 2025, the Government took an unwarranted number of years to enact its modest regulations addressing some barriers in the built environment. The Government has not kept its 2009 promise to address the need for retrofitting of existing buildings which are not undergoing a major renovation, and barriers in residential housing, via an AODA accessibility standard. As such, Ontario’s built environment is now not on schedule for full accessibility by 2025, or ever.
11. The Government’s unexplained and unjustified multi-year dithering over which AODA accessibility standards to create next has squandered important time, as the 2025 deadline grows closer. The Government has taken longer to decide which accessibility standards to next make than it takes to develop an accessibility standard. This delay cannot be justified by the fact that Ontario had a minority government from October 2011 to June 2014. As the Government dithered, old barriers remained in place. New ones were created that could have been prevented.
12. There are still residual problems with the process for developing AODA accessibility standards, despite the Government’s reforms to date. The Government has consolidated responsibility for developing proposals for the content of all new accessibility standards in the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC), acting as a Standards Development committee, with the possibility of other members being added. This has not yet yielded any of the benefits that it was expected to deliver.
13. The Government’s efforts on AODA public education, while helpful, have been too limited and delayed. This too has held Ontario back behind schedule for full accessibility by 2025. The Government, as far as we can tell, has not kept its 2007 promise to promote public education on accessibility aimed at school children, and at key professionals such as architects. Despite producing some good educational materials on accessibility, there are also some very troubling instances of Government public statements that undermine efforts at accessibility.
14. The Government’s failure to provide effective accessibility public education makes it likely that fewer organizations are complying with the AODA. In rare instances when the Government has of late started limited enforcement steps, too often there is push-back, because the obligated organizations say they hadn’t known of their obligations or appreciated why they are beneficial.
15. Despite our many efforts and some progress, the Government still has in place no comprehensive, monitored policy to ensure that public money is never used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate disability barriers. A number of huge opportunities were lost. Even though we made some progress in the 2011 summer, the Government has in some instances continued to engage in conduct that can create new barriers against persons with disabilities, using public money.
16. The Government has been very tardy in addressing its 2007 election promise to review all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers. In 2007, the Government called this review “the next step toward our goal of a fully accessible Ontario.” Almost seven years later, despite progress at the speed of a turtle, this promised review is still years away from completion, due to Government lethargy. The longer laws remain on the books that require or permit disability accessibility barriers, the longer it will take Ontario to reach full accessibility.
17. Voters and candidates with disabilities continue to face preventable barriers when trying to exercise their fundamental legal and constitutional rights in municipal and provincial elections. These include barriers impeding them from attending an All Candidates Debate, from getting into a polling station and/or from being able to independently mark their own ballot in private and verify their choice. To become fully accessible, Ontario must ensure that municipal and provincial elections become fully accessible for voters and candidates with disabilities. Elections accessibility continues counterproductively to be addressed in isolated silos in the Ontario Government. The Government wastefully requires the same barriers to be separately tackled in the provincial and municipal levels, and separately in each municipality. Legislative reforms in 2009 and 2010 have not solved this problem. Ontario still does not have the accessible elections action plan we were promised in 2007, or the further progress towards accessible Ontario and municipal elections we were promised in 2011. Telephone and internet voting, as a solution, is thankfully spreading in municipal elections but is unjustifiably stalled at the provincial level.
18. The Ontario Government has taken some commendable steps to achieve accessibility within its own house. Yet there are a series of stunning examples of the Government leading by a very poor example, setting back progress towards a fully accessible Ontario. This has included, among other things, palpable violations of the AODA and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001. The Government needs to take significant action to better ensure that the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible employer and service provider.
19. Commendable efforts by the Government in the past two years to improve the AODA’s implementation have not made a positive difference. This includes its moving lead responsibility for implementing and enforcing the AODA from the Community and Social Services Ministry to the Economic Development, Trade and Employment Ministry. There has been enough time for such measures to make a difference. We have not seen accessibility effectively incorporated into the work of the Economic Development, Trade and Employment Ministry. Its promised strategy to increase private sector employment for persons with disabilities has been much talk and delayed action. We have seen no progress on getting Ontario businesses to produce accessible goods and services, for use by persons with disabilities here and abroad.
20. The continued periodic elusiveness of one specific cost-free, easy-to-provide accommodation provides a good illustration of the roadblocks we too often encounter, and of the Government’s failure to effectively lead by example. We have had a seemingly-endless battle in our unsuccessful effort to get Government to consistently ensure that whenever it posts a PDF document on its public websites or internal intranet, it also posts that document in an accessible format such as an accessible MS Word or HTML document.
21. Accessibility has not been effectively entrenched within the Ontario Public Service on a day-to-day basis. It is too often seen as a superficial “add-on” that pops up infrequently and is someone else’s responsibility. The Government’s 2011 pledge to integrate accessibility as a fundamental principle when it comes to making vital decisions that affect the daily lives of Ontarians, has not become a reality in the Ontario Public Service for the most part.
22. A serious deep-rooted problem with the AODA’s implementation is demonstrated by the ordeals that Ontario’s disability community has had to undergo for many years, for example:
a) to get the Government to enforce the AODA, and to find out what the Government has done on its enforcement.
b) to get the Government to keep its promise to enact the Built Environment Accessibility Standard, and to decide which accessibility standards it would next develop;
c) to get the Government to implement an effective, monitored and enforced program to ensure that public money is never used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate disability barriers.
d) to get the Government to undertake and complete its promised review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers.
e) to get the Government to implement effective measures for ensuring that municipal and provincial elections in Ontario are fully accessible.
23. The Government’s recurring foot-dragging cannot be written off as simply the inevitable delay in government. This Government has shown itself to be capable of prompt and bold action on the disability accessibility front, when it wishes. From October 2003 to October 2004, as a new, inexperienced Government, it quickly and effectively conducted a broad, open and inclusive public consultation and developed Bill 118, the proposed AODA.
24. Since the 2011 summer, the Government’s progress on accessibility has ground down to a virtual stand-still. Among the many causes for this has been a stunning lack of leadership on this issue within the Government, and the Government’s failure to put in place effective measures to ensure that accessibility is taken seriously across the government, and that all its accessibility promises are kept. The result is that Ontario falls further behind schedule for full accessibility by 2025, while many Government accessibility promises languish, unkept.
25. It is critical for Ontario to now develop, make public, and implement a comprehensive plan
for ensuring that our province gets back on schedule, and reaches full accessibility by 2025. Unless that plan is developed now, and unless the Government quickly gets to work on developing all the remaining accessibility standards needed to ensure full accessibility, the Government in the next four years will condemn Ontario to miss the 2025 goal of full accessibility.
Our brief therefore presents a series of recommendations to:
1. ensure that the AODA is effectively enforced.
2. strengthen the accessibility standards that have been enacted to date under the AODA.
3. get the Government to immediately get to work, developing new accessibility standards to address barriers in health care, education and residential housing.
4. keep the Government’s commitment to address retrofits of built environment barriers in existing buildings that are not undergoing any major renovation, through the standards development process.
5. enact under the AODA an accessibility standard that incorporates the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility requirements, as amended in 2013.
6. ensure that the Government promptly identifies all the other accessibility standards that need to be developed to ensure Ontario becomes accessible by 2025, and gets to work developing them.
7. further reform the process for developing new accessibility standards and for revising existing standards under the AODA.
8. expand public education on accessibility, aimed at obligated organizations, at school children, at key professions such as architects, and at the general public.
9. ensure that public money is never used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.
10. substantially speed up and complete the Government’s review of all Ontario statutes and regulations for accessibility barriers that it promised in 2007.
11. enact new, effective legislation and implement new strategies to ensure that municipal and provincial elections in Ontario are fully accessible to persons with disabilities, including the option of telephone and internet voting which at least 44 Ontario municipalities already use.
12. ensure that the Ontario Government itself obeys Ontario’s accessibility laws, and leads by a good example on accessibility.
List of The AODA Alliance’s Recommendations to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review
#1. The achievement of a fully accessible Ontario requires the AODA to be effectively enforced.
#2. The Government should now effectively enforce all requirements under accessibility standards, as soon as the applicable time line for compliance with a requirement has been reached. The Government should not wait for months or years after an accessibility requirement has become enforceable to enforce it.
#3. The Government should not just enforce the requirement of certain obligated organizations to file an accessibility self-report.
#4. The Government should effectively enforce AODA requirements vis à vis both the public and private sectors, and vis à vis all classes of organizations within each sector.
#5. Effective enforcement includes deployment of all enforcement powers as needed to ensure full compliance with the AODA.
#6. The Government should immediately give a wide range of Ontario Government inspectors and investigators under other legislation a full mandate as AODA inspectors or directors. The Government should give these officials training and instructions to include enforcement of the AODA when they inspect or investigate an organization for any reason and under any other legislation.
#7. The Government should develop an effective strategy for ensuring that municipalities effectively enforce the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility requirements, including
a) providing effective training tools on the Ontario Building Code accessibility requirements that can be used by municipal enforcement officials;
b) monitoring levels of enforcement and compliance at the municipal level across Ontario regarding the Ontario Building Code accessibility requirements.
#8. If it still has not done so by the time of this Independent Review’s report, the Government should immediately make public its promised comprehensive plan on how it will enforce all requirements enacted in or under the AODA. This plan should substantially increase the level and breadth of enforcement activities. “Enforcement” refers to deployment of enforcement powers such as inspections, audits, compliance orders and monetary penalties. This is not meant to include other voluntary compliance strategies such as public education and offering compliance resources and supports to obligated organizations. This plan should, at a minimum:
a) have the goal of achieving full compliance with all AODA requirements.
b) apply to and ensure effective enforcement of all AODA requirements whose deadlines have been reached, as they are reached, without delay;
c) apply to all organizations in all sectors, not merely those organizations with an obligation to file an accessibility self-report.
d) not withhold enforcement of an AODA accessibility requirement once its compliance deadline is reached for some arbitrary reason, e.g. until an organization has also reached a deadline for having to file an accessibility self-report;
e) include the Government’s efforts to ensure that the accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code are effectively enforced, and levels of compliance with those requirements.
#9. If it has not done so by the time of this Independent Review’s report, the Government should immediately establish and widely publicize an accessible toll-free phone number for members to report violations of AODA requirements. The Government should make public summaries of complaints received without disclosing names or identifying information about the caller or obligated organization.
#10. The Government should publicly report every six months in detail on the steps it has taken to effectively enforce the AODA, the specific accessibility requirements to which these steps pertained, the results achieved, the levels of compliance or non-compliance of which the Government is aware, and any changes to its enforcement plans. This should include the amount of funds appropriated for, and the funds spent by the Government on implementing the AODA, including on enforcement.
#11. To reverse the public perception that the Government is not and will not be effectively enforcing the AODA, the Government should immediately and widely publicize its enforcement plans and its intention to substantially increase its efforts at AODA enforcement. This should not be limited to website postings.
#12. The Government should within three months of its re-election, establish and make public protocols to ensure that there is no political interference with or restraining of AODA enforcement activities and procedures.
#13. Any accessibility standards enacted under the AODA should, at least, measure up to the accessibility standards and accommodation and undue hardship requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Where any existing standard falls below that standard, or provides defences to obligated organizations that are broader than those under the Human Rights Code, the AODA accessibility standard should be amended as part of any ASAC review of that accessibility standard, to bring it in line with the Human Rights Code.
#14. Because of the IASR’s deficiencies, the Government should immediately accelerate the start of the mandatory review of the IASR’s provisions on accessibility of transportation, employment and information and communication. This review is required to commence no later than five years after they were enacted in 2011, but it should be started in 2015, not 2016.
#15. If it has not done so by the time of this Independent Review’s report, the Government should immediately direct ASAC to develop proposals for the contents of new AODA accessibility standards in the areas of education and of health care, with ASAC’s work on these to begin immediately. These should encompass the entire education system, including pre-school, school, post-secondary institutions and job training programs. These should also encompass the entire health care system.
#16. The Government should not delay a decision on whether to have a new accessibility standard developed, while the Ontario Public Service decides what barriers it might include. That is the job of ASAC, as it develops proposals for the content of an accessibility standard.
#17. For three months commencing immediately, the Government should consult with the public, including the disability community, to identify all the other accessibility standards that need to be developed under the AODA to ensure that Ontario becomes fully accessible by 2025, with a Government decision to be made, and to be announced to the public, on those standards within three months after that consultation is completed.
#18. Immediately after the Government announces the remaining standards that need to be developed to ensure Ontario becomes fully accessible by 2025, the Government should assign ASAC responsibility to develop proposals for the contents of all those other accessibility standards to be created under the AODA. ASAC’s work on developing proposals for the contents of those accessibility standards should begin no later than 2016.
#19. The Government should ensure that the accessibility of the built environment is fully and effectively addressed by requirements enacted under the AODA, e.g.
a) To keep the Government’s promise to enact the Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA, and to ensure that full AODA enforcement can be deployed in relation to built environment barriers against persons with disabilities, the Government should immediately enact a Built Environment Accessibility Standard that incorporates the same terms and requirements as were enacted in the accessibility provisions of the Ontario Building Code, including the Government’s 2013 accessibility amendments to the Building Code.
b) The Government should direct ASAC to immediately start developing the promised next phase of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard, to address accessibility retrofits in existing buildings, and barriers in residential housing. These should not be artificially constrained by traditional protocols used in the Ontario Building Code if these impede effective action on accessibility.
#20. Accessibility standards should include, where appropriate, not only end-dates for achieving results, but also interim benchmarks for major milestones towards full accessibility.
#21. The Government should enable ASAC to effectively work on developing proposals for the content of more than one accessibility standard at a time, as was contemplated when the Government assigned ASAC to develop all new accessibility standards, e.g.
a) by appointing ASAC sub-committees to work on different accessibility standard proposals, ensuring that each has at least 50% representation from the disability community, in accordance with Premier McGuinty’s September 14, 2007 election promise.
b) by ensuring that the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario provides effective staff support to the disability sector representatives on ASAC, including on its sub-committees, in accordance with Premier McGuinty’s September 14, 2007 election commitments.
c) by ensuring that ASAC subcommittees vote on a clause-by-clause basis on proposals and recommendations for new accessibility standards, in accordance with Premier McGuinty’s September 14, 2007 election promises.
#22. The Government should widely publicize the opportunity for community groups to request a chance to present to ASAC, when it is developing proposals for an accessibility standard.
#23. When it is developing proposals for the contents of an accessibility standard, the Government should encourage ASAC to invite stakeholders from the disability community and regulated sectors to meet together with ASAC to informally discuss issues that ASAC have found challenging to resolve.
#24. When ASAC submits an initial proposal to the Government for the contents of a new accessibility standard, or for revisions to an existing accessibility standard, the Government should convene face-to-face stakeholder meetings as one avenue for gathering input, and should not restrict input to written submissions from the public.
#25. When ASAC submits to the Government a final proposal for the contents of a new accessibility standard, the Government should obey s. 9(7) of the AODA by the minister, responsible for the AODA, deciding within 90 days what to enact from that proposal. The Government should immediately make that decision public.
#26. The Municipal Affairs and Housing Ministry may be consulted, but should not be put in charge of or have lead responsibility for the development or finalization of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard.
#27. When ASAC is developing an accessibility standard, the Accessibility Directorate should provide to it, and post on the internet for public input, a review of measures adopted in other jurisdictions to advance the goal of accessibility for persons with disabilities in the area that the new accessibility standard is to address.
#28. The Human Rights Commission should be far more extensively involved in the formal and informal work of each Standards Development Committee, including during review of public input and discussion and votes on clauses of proposed accessibility standards. This could include having a representative of the Ontario Human Rights Commission sit on ASAC subcommittees as they work on proposals for the contents of accessibility standards.
#29. The Government should encourage ASAC, when developing proposals for the contents of an accessibility standard, to identify where changes are needed to provincial or municipal legislation, regulations or bylaws, to advance the goal of a fully accessible Ontario.
#30. The Government should not conduct or make public costing studies on accessibility standards, until it ensures that costing studies reliably document the net additional costs, if any, of compliance with the proposed accessibility standard, over and above the pre-existing cost of complying with the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights, as offset against the benefits produced by compliance with the proposed accessibility standard. Any future costing studies should also identify the cost to Ontario of not providing accessibility in the sector in issue for people with disabilities.
#31. The Government should ensure that the minute-keeping of ASAC, when developing proposals for the contents of an accessibility standard, or of any of its sub-committees should make it clear when an option or proposal is discussed and rejected, and the reasons for this.
#32. Minutes of meetings of ASAC should accurately and comprehensively record the detailed issue-by-issue deliberations of that Council on accessibility standard proposals, and should be written in a fashion to make them fully understandable by members of the public who did not attend those meetings.
#33. When ASAC considers a document at a meeting where it is considering proposals for the contents of an accessibility standard, such as a draft of an accessibility standard, that document should be made public along with the minutes of the meeting which considered it.
#34. The Government should leave initial and final proposed accessibility standards, submitted by ASAC acting as a Standards Development Committee, on the Governments website on a permanent basis.
#35. The Government should widely advertise on the mass media, and not just on the internet, via email and on Twitter the availability of resources, training materials and guides it has already developed for organizations to comply with accessibility standards enacted under the AODA.
#36. The Government should immediately make available and widely publicize a free guide, policy guideline and other like resource materials for obligated organizations to comply with the accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, as amended in December 2013.
#37. Promptly after any new AODA accessibility standard is enacted or an existing accessibility standard is revised in the future, the Government should make available and widely publicize a free guide, policy guideline and other like resource materials for obligated organizations to comply with that accessibility standard’s accessibility requirements
#38. Whenever a new accessibility standard is enacted or an existing one is revised, the Government should promptly and widely publicize it. This should include much more than posting it on the internet, and sending out tweets and emails about it.
#39. The Government should promptly develop, make public and widely publicize a guide for persons with disabilities and other members of the public (apart from obligated organizations), a plain language guide to the accessibility obligations of obligated organizations under the AODA, as well as under the Human Rights Code and Charter of Rights, including e.g. a list of the information which obligated organizations are obliged to make available on request, and the accessibility supports that the obligated organizations are required to provide. It should also include information on what to do to enforce those standards in the case of non-compliance. As new accessibility standards are enacted or existing ones or revised, these resource materials should be promptly revised and re-publicized.
#40. The Government should develop, make available and widely publicize a free web-authoring tool for creating accessible web pages, to comply with the IASR’s information and communication website accessibility requirements.
#41. The Government should immediately launch an effective public education campaign (including, but not limited to community speeches by ministers and other members of the Legislature), on the benefits and importance of removing and preventing barriers against persons with disabilities and the AODA obligation to become fully accessible by 2025, as well as accessibility obligations under the Human Rights Code and Charter of Rights.
#42. The Government should promptly implement a permanent program to ensure that students in the school system are educated in disability accessibility. For example:
a) The Government should identify the Minister and public officials responsible for this program’s development and implementation.
b) School boards and teachers’ representatives should be consulted on its development and implementation.
c) The Government should develop a sample curriculum which school boards could adopt if they wish, in lieu of developing their own curriculum.
d) The Government should report to the public on this program’s implementation and effectiveness. Among other things, the Government should promptly implement a permanent program to advocate to self-governing professional bodies to educate people training in key professions, such as architects, on disability accessibility. The Government should identify the Minister and public officials responsible for this program’s development and implementation. The Government should report to the public on its implementation and effectiveness.
#43. The Government should promptly implement a program to advocate to the self-governing bodies for key professions (such as architects, lawyers, doctors and social workers) to adopt, implement and require education on disability accessibility to qualify for those professions, and to require continuing professional development on this topic for those already qualified in those professions. Among other things, as part of this effort:
a) The Government should advocate to key professions such as architects and planners that to qualify in future for a licence or other qualifications certificate as an architect or other designer of the built environment, a specified amount of training in barrier free design must be completed, that goes beyond the insufficient requirements of the Ontario Building Code.
b) A lead minister and public servants should be identified as responsible for this initiative.
c) The Government should make available to those self-governing body any readily-available resource materials to help those self-governing professional bodies develop needed disability accessibility curriculum on accessibility needs of persons with disabilities.
d) The Government should report to the public on this program’s implementation and effectiveness.
#44. The Government should promptly consult with persons with disabilities, including the AODA Alliance, on the content of these public education materials. This should involve in-person discussions, and not merely an invitation to provide on-line feedback to the Government.
#45. The Government should immediately implement, widely publicize and report to the public on a comprehensive strategy to ensure that public money is never used by anyone to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against people with disabilities. This should include recipients of public money expended for example, through Ontario capital or infrastructure spending, through procurement of goods, services or facilities, or through Government grants or loans of any sort. As part of this activity, the Government should keep its August 19, 2011 promise to extend its Ten Year Infrastructure Plan’s accessibility requirements to information technology and electronic kiosks.
#46. The Government should make it a condition of research grants that it funds or to which it contributes that people with disabilities should, where feasible and appropriate, be included in research study as subjects.
#47. In any Government strategy to ensure that public money is not used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate accessibility barriers, it is not sufficient for the Government to make it a condition that a recipient of public money merely obey the AODA and AODA accessibility standards. It should require that recipients of public money comply with accessibility requirements in the Ontario Human Rights Code, and where applicable the Charter of Rights. It should require, among other things, that the recipient organization’s specific capital project or goods, services or facilities be fully disability accessible or require a commitment to remediate these to become fully accessible by time lines to be set out in the grant, loan or other terms of payment of public money.
#48. The Government should immediately announce a comprehensive, effective plan to ensure that the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games will have a strong disability accessibility legacy. Among other things:
a) It should lead public and private sector organizations to significantly increase the accessibility of the infrastructure, services, facilities and goods for serving the public, especially the tourism market, in the regions that will host the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games. This should include such things as public transportation, taxis, hotels, stores, restaurants, tourist sites and other tourism facilities. Among other things, the Government should ensure that no venue is used for any formal or informal activities related to the Games, including any celebrations, in a venue that is not fully accessible, and should immediately announce that it will urge all 2015 Games employees and volunteers not to patronize any establishments that are not fully accessible to people with disabilities during the Games.
b) It should also leave a lasting accessibility legacy by investing in Ontario’s parasports system to ensure that children and young people with disabilities have equal opportunity for participation in sports and recreation.
#49. The Government should also make it a condition of transfer payments and capital or other infrastructure funding to municipalities, hospitals, school boards, public transit providers, colleges, universities, and transfer partners that these recipient organizations adopt comparable initiatives to ensure that their procurement and infrastructure spending, and any loans or grant programs, do not create, exacerbate or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities. The Government should make public a resource guide to assist those transfer partners to know how to effectively implement this requirement.
#50. The Government should promptly establish a process for monitoring and enforcing the recommended comprehensive strategy to ensure that public money is not used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate accessibility barriers. It should not be left to each ministry to do as little or as much as it wishes to implement Government policy and procedures on this topic.
#51. The Government should widely and prominently publicize as soon as possible to any organization that seeks Ontario infrastructure or procurement funds, or any Government funded or subsidies, loans or grants, that they must prove in their applications that they will ensure that public money isn’t used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.
#52. The Government should establish and widely publicize an avenue for the public to report to the Government on situations where public money is used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate disability accessibility barriers.
#53. The Provincial Auditor should audit the Government to ensure compliance with
recommendations on ensuring that public money is not used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate disability accessibility barriers.
#54. The Government should complete a review of all legislation for accessibility barriers by 2015, and all regulations by 2016.
#55. The Government should introduce into the Legislature a first omnibus bill to amend any legislation as needed a result of this review, by the end of 2014 (to address barriers that the Government’s legislative review has already unearthed), with a further omnibus bill to be introduced at the review’s completion by July 1, 2016.
#56. The Government should amend any regulations the Government deems necessary as a result of the review by the end of 2016.
#57. The Government should institute a formal process for ensuring that in future, no bill is introduced into the Legislature until Legislative Counsel certifies that it has been reviewed for disability accessibility barriers, and it will not mandate, permit or create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities. The same certification requirement should apply for regulations that are presented to the Ontario Cabinet or other body authorized to enact regulations under Ontario legislation.
#58. The Government should report to the public by the end of 2014, the end of 2015 and the end of 2016 on its progress toward meeting the deadlines for reviewing all legislation and regulations for accessibility barriers. These reports should give specifics on what the Government has done and plans to do, whether by legislative amendments or other actions, to address accessibility barriers it has discovered in this review.
#59. By September 1, 2014 the Government should make public a comprehensive plan for ensuring that it completes its review of all legislation and regulations for disability accessibility barriers in accordance with this Independent Review’s recommendations.
#60. By October 1, 2014, the Government should implement and announce a permanent screening process to ensure that new bills introduced into the Legislature and new proposed regulations brought to Cabinet or other body with regulation-making power, have been certified that no new barriers are being created, and none are being perpetuated, in or under the proposed enactment.
#61. The Government should immediately designate a single minister with lead responsibility for ensuring that both provincial and municipal elections are fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities.
#62. Elections Ontario should test telephone and internet voting at the next Ontario by-election.
#63. Elections Ontario should immediately make public:
a) any research on telephone and internet voting since its June 2013 report on telephone and internet voting.
b) any other options for accessible voting that Elections Ontario has examined or considered since the October 2011 election, and any conclusions it has reached regarding those options as solutions to voting accessibility barriers. .
#64. By October 2014, the Government should appoint an independent person to conduct a three month independent review of barriers facing voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections, including both the campaign process and the voting process. This Review, should, among other things, gather information on the use of telephone and internet voting in municipal elections in Ontario. This Review should hold an open, accessible and province-wide public consultation, and report to the public within six months of its appointment. Its report should be made public immediately on its being submitted to the Government.
#65. Within six months after the report of the Disability Elections Accessibility Independent Review, the Government should introduce into the Legislature omnibus elections accessibility reforms for both municipal and provincial elections, to remove and prevent barriers impeding voters and candidates with disabilities in the voting process, and in participating in election campaigns, to ensure that:
a) all voters with disabilities can independently mark their own ballot in private and verify their choice. This bill should, among other things, ensure telephone and internet voting in Ontario elections and by-elections.
b) get full physical accessibility to all polling stations and all public areas in polling stations,
c) including sharing at the provincial and municipal levels information on accessible polling station venues, so each does not have to reinvent the same accessibility wheel.
d) Ensure that election campaign information is immediately and readily available in accessible formats, and that campaign websites are designed to be fully accessible.
e) ensure that all-candidates debates are accessible.
#66. The Government should designate a single minister to be responsible for ensuring that the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible employer and service provider, and to ensure that the Government keeps all its accessibility commitments, other than those for which the Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister is responsible.
#67. The Government should establish a full-time Deputy Minister or associate deputy minister responsible for ensuring the accessibility of the Ontario Government’s services, facilities and workplaces.
#68. The Premier should include in “the “mandate letter” that her office issues to each cabinet minister, specific directions to keep the Government’s commitments on disability accessibility which fall in whole or in part in that ministry’s purview.
#69. The Premier’s office should direct the Secretary of Cabinet to ensure that the Government’s disability accessibility commitments are to be kept, and directing the Secretary to Cabinet to take all needed steps to implement them.
#70. After promptly launching a consultation with people with disabilities within the Ontario Public Service and in the general public for no more than two months, the Government should announce and implement a plan to re-engineer how the Ontario Public Service discharges its duty to ensure that its own services, facilities and workplaces are fully accessible.
#71. The Government should ensure that the Accessibility Lead position in each ministry is a full time position, which reports directly to the deputy minister of that minister, with an option for a dual report as well to the ministry’s Chief Administrative Officer.
#72. The Government should restore the fulltime position of Assistant Deputy Minister of Government Services for Accessibility.
#73. The Government should promptly implement and widely publicize within the Ontario Public Service a comprehensive permanent periodic program for auditing and monitoring its workplaces and public services and facilities for disability accessibility and barriers. This program should include, among other things, on-site audits and inspections, and not merely paper trail audits. The results of this monitoring should annually be made public.
#74. The Government should promptly implement a constructive program for ensuring accountability of public servants in the Ontario Public Service for efforts on disability accessibility. Among other things, the Ontario Public Service should require that every employee include in his or her annual performance review, performance goals on disability accessibility within the scope of their duties. Performance on this criterion should be assessed for performance, pay and promotion decisions.
#75. The Government should not solely or predominantly rely on on-line programs to train the
Ontario Public Service on accessibility. It should implement live, interactive programming where possible that involves face-to-face interaction with persons with disabilities.
#76. The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment should quickly assemble and make public a list of options for a disability employment strategy, drawn from the Government’s own past and present programs, and from the programs and ideas that others have accumulated, e.g. those readily discovered on the internet.
#77. Within the next four weeks, the Government should convene its Disability Employment Council to list ideas for expanding employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. The attendees should be given the Ministry’s list of action options from Ontario and around the world, for comment. The Council should meet for no more than one day, and remit to the Government its ideas, with no need for preparing a formal final report.
#78. The Government should release a private sector jobs strategy within two months of receiving its Employment Council’s feedback.
#79. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario should be given a dual reporting responsibility within the new Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, to ensure that it can effectively influence the ministry’s infrastructure work.
#80. The Government should generally strengthen the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the companion Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation, in regulations enacted under them, in any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives, or any rights that persons with disabilities enjoy under the Ontario Human Rights Code or in rules or regulations made under it.
#81. The Government should establish and make public a comprehensive multi-year plan detailing the steps it will take to ensure that it leads Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025.
#82. The Government, including public servants in the Ontario Public Service, should not treat the Government’s “Open for Business” strategy as in any way diluting or watering down its commitment to disability accessibility, or the need to and the Government’s commitment to implement measures that will effectively ensuring that Ontario becomes fully accessible by 2025. For example, it does not warrant and should not be used in a way that weakens any accessibility standards to be set, or measures to be deployed for the AODA’s effective enforcement. The Government should issue a directive to public servants in the Ontario Public Service to this effect and should ensure that they are effectively trained on this, to root out any misconceptions within the Government and Ontario Public Service.