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Minister Duguid Explores Options

By Victor Schwartzman
June 1, 2015

Although implementation of AODA is now officially older than a decade, older than your dog but maybe not your car, Ontario continues to claim its “world leadership” in access by.exploring options!

A new media release from the Province states that “Ontario is continuing its work towards an accessible province by 2025 by exploring options for a new accessibility certification program. The province will consult with industry, disability advocates, certification experts, municipalities, and not-for-profits to develop a voluntary, third-party certification program..

This program would help leaders stand out in their sector or community and promote the economic advantages of accessibility. It would encourage businesses to go beyond the requirements of the law and make accessibility part of daily life.”

Minister Duguid is also quoted: “Working towards making Ontario more accessible is an exciting business and community-building opportunity. A new certification program can help make accessibility top of mind for businesses and their customers across the province. It’s another way we’re building an accessible province filled with economic and social opportunity for people of all abilities, and I look forward to working with all of our partners to make this a reality.”

In plainer language, nothing concrete now or for what will seem like forever.

First there will be consultations. That’s six months to a year. Then the voluntary programme will be developed. That’s another few months. The purpose of the (deliberately) time-consuming process? To award “good” businesses with a gold star! Or maybe a smiley elephant stamp!

How about extra jello with lunch?

The media release presents some actual facts. “One in seven Ontarians has a disability, a number that will increase to one in five by 2035..” and “People with disabilities and their families represent an economic market worth $25 billion in Canada.” The August Accessibility Innovation Showcase is noted but then the release abandons facts, perhaps assuming no one was still reading. “With the passage of the AODA, Ontario became an accessibility leader, establishing standards in five key areas of daily life and implementing them within clear timeframes.”

Technically, after ten years of implementation and accessibility leadership, only one standard has been established. We just gotta get us some of those “clear timeframes”!

The mention that access was good for sales worth $25 billion-that is, selling to people who need access-sounded suspiciously familiar. We checked, because we are fearless internet journalists who refer to ourselves as we (so that must mean something.) Be that as it may, we checked and confirmed that the sales pitch came from Government consultant P.T. Barnum. “Forget about the law,” he told us. “Talk about where the bucks are. You can assume that the companies selling products to people with disabilities are themselves accessible. You can assume that. I would! Mr. Duguid did!”

Minister Duguid and his team have spent the last several months exploring options. Welcome to the first fruit of their labours. It is reasonable to assume they were labouring. Certainly the whole option is laboured. If this is the best Ontario can offer in exploring options, clearly Minister Duguid and his team need help. For example, there are many other options which can be explored, some immediately-golly, the Government could actively enforce AODA! How can we get the Ontario Government to explore better options for implementing AODA than awarding voluntary smiley face stamps?

Contacting famous explorers seemed like a good idea so we asked Christopher Columbus for his advice. “First you get the Queen to give you a lot of money. There are ways to do that. Then you take your ships and soldiers and keep sailing until you arrive at someone else’s land. Then it becomes your land. Then you kill whoever was there first, or exploit them and sell things to them, sometimes all three.” However well-intentioned Columbus’ advice was, it was not appropriate for 2015, when only corporations are permitted to colonize.

Equally famous explorer Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise was not only more up to date than Columbus, he was beyond the date. “I would love to help, but considering the history of your Ontario government, I could never say ‘make it so.’ I could say, ‘make it so-so’,” and then he laughed. “My apologies. The problem here is a failure of courage. You should find courageous role models for Minister Duguid.”

Next: AODA Die Hard: John McLain And John Wayne And Johnny Quest Try To Teach Minister Duguid How To Be Courageous Or At Least Act Like It! Famous Acting Coaches Must Be Called In!

Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satirical column to Accessibility News and the AODA Alliance. Check out the first nine chapters of his current satirical fantasy novel, King Of The Planet, for .99 on Kindle at http://www.amazon.ca/King-The-Planet-Victor-Schwartzman-ebook/dp/B00NE0CCRC, or for free on Facebook. The unpolished first nine chapters got a “4 out of 5 star” review! He is currently polishing the novel. His graphic novel The Winnipeg Weakly Herald (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site,
http://www.redfez.net. He has had poetry and short fiction published, has edited novels and his email is vschwartzman@gmail.com.