The AODA Clock is Ticking

There are until a fully Accessible Ontario! Will you be compliant?

Let our team of experts help with your AODA needs:

  • Website Audits
  • Multimedia
  • Web Design
  • Accessible Documentation

For more details email info@aoda.ca

Ontario Government Announces Measures to Implement Recommendations of 2014 Moran AODA Independent Review

Government Commits to Some Helpful Measures Including Increased Enforcement, But Much More Is Still Needed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

June 3, 2015

SUMMARY

On June 3, 2015, the Ontario Governments minister with lead responsibility for the AODAs implementation and enforcement, Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, announced a series of measures to respond to parts of the November 2014 final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review. Below we provide a detailed analysis of what the Government announced today. This is only an initial response, because we wish to make this public as quickly as we can.

Our Analysis includes this summary of our initial response:

We commend Minister Duguid for trying to kick-start the Governments implementation of the AODA which has for years been mired in lethargy. We also commend Minister Duguid for recognizing in this announcement that despite progress to date, theres still a long way to go to reach our goal of becoming an accessible province. This will require a sustained and collaborative effort. With that, we agree.

The Plan, combined with the Governments statements reported in the June 3, 2015 Toronto Star, announces some helpful and commendable new measures. Strengthening the AODAs enforcement, new pilot projects to help get more people with disabilities into jobs, and efforts to give organizations more direction on what they need to do to become accessible, and short-term education efforts on accessibility are all good steps. The Governments announcement of an intent to consult on possibly setting up a voluntary private accessibility certification process is interesting, but presents risks that need to be seriously considered.

Deeply concerning, the Plan does not address a number of important issues on the accessibility front that the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review addressed. It does not include plans to ensure that the Government creates all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025 a core duty of the Governments. It does not address the major problem of the need for accessibility retrofits in existing buildings that are undergoing no renovations. It offers no plan for ensuring that all Ontario legislation and regulations are free of accessibility barriers, offering instead helpful but very modest action. It does not announce any action to address serious problems regarding accessibility within the Ontario Public Service. In several other areas, the Plan re-announces measures already underway, or previously promised.

It is inaccurate for the Government to call this a 10 Year Plan to get Ontario to full accessibility by 2025. Rather, it lists actions to be taken principally in the next few months.

This Plan will not ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025, contrary to the Governments claims. If the Plan were fully implemented to the letter, Ontario would not reach full accessibility by 2025, or indeed, by 2035.

The first eight of the Plans fifteen pages announce nothing new. They describe activities that have been underway for some time, and in a number of cases, for years. For example, their description of measures regarding education of children with disabilities was largely mandated a third of a century ago.

Below you will also find, after our Analysis:

* the Toronto Stars June 3, 2015 article foreshadowing this announcement;

* the Governments June 3, 2015 announcement and its 10 Year Plan;

* the Governments May 29, 2015 news release, announcing a consultation on a possible voluntary accessibility certification program.

The Ontario Government only has 9 years, 6 months and 27 days left to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires.

Send your feedback to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

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

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Accessibility-for-Ontarians-with-Disabilities-Act-Alliance/106232039438820 Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

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

MORE DETAILS

A. AODA Alliances Analysis of the Ontario Governments 10 Year Accessibility Action Plan

1. Overview

We commend Minister Duguid for trying to kick-start the Governments implementation of the AODA which has for years been mired in lethargy. We also commend Minister Duguid for recognizing in this announcement that despite progress to date, theres still a long way to go to reach our goal of becoming an accessible province. This will require a sustained and collaborative effort. With that, we agree.

The Plan, combined with the Governments statements reported in the June 3, 2015 Toronto Star, announce some helpful and commendable new measures. Strengthening the AODAs enforcement, new pilot projects to help get more people with disabilities into jobs, and efforts to give organizations more direction on what they need to do to become accessible, and short-term education efforts on accessibility are all good steps. The Governments announcement of an intent to consult on possibly setting up a voluntary private accessibility certification process is interesting, but presents risks that need to be seriously considered.

Deeply concerning, the Plan does not address a number of important issues on the accessibility front that the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review addressed. It does not include plans to ensure that the Government creates all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025 a core duty of the Governments. It does not address the major problem of the need for accessibility retrofits in existing buildings that are undergoing no renovations. It offers no plan for ensuring that all Ontario legislation and regulations are free of accessibility barriers, offering instead helpful but very modest action. It does not announce any action to address serious problems regarding accessibility within the Ontario Public Service. In several other areas, the Plan re-announces measures already underway, or previously promised.

It is inaccurate for the Government to call this a 10 Year Plan to get Ontario to full accessibility by 2025. Rather, it lists actions to be taken principally in the next few months.

This Plan will not ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025, contrary to the Governments claims. If the Plan were fully implemented to the letter, Ontario would not reach full accessibility by 2025, or indeed, by 2035.

The first eight of the Plans fifteen pages announce nothing new. They describe activities that have been underway for some time, and in a number of cases, for years. For example, their description of measures regarding education of children with disabilities was largely mandated a third of a century ago.

2. Does the Plan Act on the Big Picture Conclusions in the Moran Report?

It is regrettable that the Plan appears to have missed the most important big picture conclusion that leaps from the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review. The Moran Report shows that after ten years of implementing the AODA, Ontario is now not on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. According to the Moran Report, the Governments implementation of this law has not made a significant impact on the lives of Ontarians with disabilities, with less than half of the 20 years left for reaching full accessibility by 2025. The final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review also found that the Government, and Premier Wynne personally, must show strong new leadership on accessibility to implement the course correction that Ontario needs now.

Yet in the face of this, the Governments lead Minister on this issue, Brad Duguid, states: Im proud of how far Ontario has come on its accessibility journey. The Government appears to deny Mayo Morans core finding by describing this new plan as part of a strategy “to ensure we remain on track” for creating an accessible Ontario by 2025. That presumes we are already on track and on schedule, which the Moran Report shows is certainly not the case.

The Governments June 3, 2015 news release states: The AODA has transformed the lives of people with disabilities by establishing standards in key areas of daily life Yet the Moran Report shows that the AODA has not transformed the lives of Ontarians with disabilities.

The Plan also makes a claim about the Ontario Government and the Ontario Public Service which the Moran Reports analysis shows to be palpably incorrect. The Governments Plan states: The OPS has consistently demonstrated its leadership in the area of accessibility as an employer, policy-maker and service provider.

Yet the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review and our own experience shows that this is not so. That is why the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review made detailed recommendations on how the Ontario Public Service should act to significantly improve its approach to accessibility recommendations which this Plan does not implement.

As long as the Government continues to deny the Moran Reports most fundamental finding, and the feedback Mayo Moran resoundingly received from people with disabilities, it will continue to take insufficient action on accessibility.

3. Enforcement of the AODA

Enforcement of the AODA is one of the Governments most important responsibility on the accessibility front. It is therefore puzzling that the Plan includes very little on the Governments plans regarding the enforcement of the AODA. The Government knows that fully 60% of Ontario private sector organizations with at least 20 employees are and have for months, if not years, been in violation of the AODA.

In a June 3, 2015 Toronto Star article, reporting information that the Government undoubtedly gave to the Star to get lead coverage of the Plan, there are a number of important and promising details about the Governments plan for the AODAs enforcement that are not included in the Plan.

The Stars article reports that the Government plans to ramp up the number of organizations it audits under the AODA to 4,000, beginning that ramping up next year. The article does not say when the Government plans to reach that 4,000 audits-per-year figure.

We have led the campaign to get the Government to substantially increase the AODAs enforcement. The final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review recommended strengthening the AODAs enforcement.

In 2013 and 2014, the Government audited about 2,000 organizations per year. Yet the Government decided to cut this by over 30%, reducing the number of organizations to be audited in 2015 to only 1,200.

The announcement in the Star that the Government will be substantially increasing the number of organizations to be audited is quite commendable. It shows that our pressure on the Government over the past months on this issue has produced results.

The Star reports that the Government is exploring hiring an outside firm to do the audits. We have no difficulty with this, so long as the Government ensures that there is full public accountability of the firms work.

The tenor or tone of the Governments posture on accessibility enforcement, as reflected in the Star article, is a potentially significant improvement. In past years, the Government avoided using the word enforcement in many public statements about the AODA. Over the past months, Economic Development Minister Duguid was quoted in the media making troubling statements that signalled a real downplay of AODA enforcements importance and profile. The Star article depicts a real and positive shift, echoed in its headline: Ontario to crack down on accessibility violators.

If the Government carries through with the tenor of the Stars report insofar as enforcement is concerned, that will be very helpful. It is important that this be lasting and not mere spin to get positive media coverage today for the Government.

We must ask why these details are left out of the Plan. The omission of this helpful change in Government messaging in the Plan will cause some to fear whether this change in tenor will continue. The Plan does not say that the Government will increase the number of organizations to be audited. Instead it talks about publicly promoting our enforcement and compliance efforts.

In the meantime, we also need the number of audits increased for 2015 above the planned 1,200. If the Government could audit 2,000 organizations last year, it should be able to do the same this year.

The Plan states that the Government will:

Release an annual compliance and enforcement plan which will include audit blitzes and report back to inform the public on our efforts, and monitor compliance trends among obligated organizations.

This is helpful, but doesnt look especially new. This is something that was in large part promised over a year ago. Premier Wynne promised in the 2014 election as follows:

6. We will make a detailed plan on all enforcement activities available, along with establishing and publicizing an accessible toll-free phone number to report violations of AODA requirements. Unfortunately, communication of the enforcement plan is on hold during the writ period. I look forward to releasing it promptly should we win the honour of re-election.

7. To ensure increased transparency going forward, we will make an annual report publicly available on levels of compliance including the effectiveness of our enforcement measures.

4. Promoting Employment for People with Disabilities

It is quite commendable that the Government is announcing new measures to try to get more employers to hire people with disabilities. The Government promised action on this over two years ago, in its February 2013 Throne Speech. To date, no actual action (beyond consultations) had been announced.

The Plan includes this new action:

Going forward, our government will launch a $9-million capacity-building pilot program Valuing Ability to:

Address barriers and challenges businesses face in hiring people with disabilities.

Engage employers, promote the business case for hiring people with disabilities and encourage a business culture of inclusion.

Complement and coordinate efforts with key partner ministries, including the Ministries of Training, Colleges and Universities and Community and Social Services, to continue to help people with disabilities secure employment.

There are three parts to the pilot:

Partnerships for Accessible Employment a new initiative which aims to build employer awareness of the supports and resources available to business when recruiting, retaining and supporting employees with disabilities by encouraging partnerships between business, not-for-profits, social enterprises, postsecondary institutions, associations and/or service providers.

Community Loans will build on the existing Social Capital Partners Community Loan Program by expanding low interest commercial loans for small businesses that demonstrate a commitment to hiring people with disabilities.

Mentoring opportunities to expand on the successful Dolphin Digital Technologies Disabilities Mentoring Day initiative. The existing program connects potential employers to qualified candidates through an annual one-day event and builds a strong business network to champion the hiring of people with disabilities.

The Plan also announces a commendable new program to create incentives to hire people with disabilities. It only aims at creating 1,100 new job placements. That is a tiny fraction of Ontarios unemployed people with disabilities. However, it is a helpful start.

The Plan states:

The Ontario Community Loans Program will give small- and medium-sized business owners discounted rates on financial products, such as loans, when they commit to hiring people facing barriers to employment including people with disabilities. Under the program, the interest rate will decrease for each person hired and retained for the required period of time. The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure will partner with leading Canadian financial institutions to deliver this first of its kind pilot program, modelled on the pioneering work of Social Capital Partners. I know this pilot program will result in a win-win scenario, with disadvantaged job seekers finding opportunities for meaningful employment and small businesses gaining access to attractive financing terms and motivated employees, says Bill Young, founder of Social Capital Partners. The pilot program aims to support up to 500 small businesses in creating up to 1,100 new employment opportunities.

It is good that the Plan announces that the Government will undertake a public education campaign on employment accessibility requirements later this year. It states: An awareness campaign is planned for later this year so companies of all sizes will understand whats required of them and when.

This will be helpful. It is however puzzling why the Government took from June 2011, when it enacted employment accessibility requirements under the AODA, to the 2015 fall, to take this step. The Government has said in the past that it is providing education to the public and private sector on the accessibility requirements that it has enacted. This is not unduly complex. The employment accessibility requirements enacted in 2011 largely aim to simply implement the duties which Ontario employers have had under the Ontario Human Rights Code for over three decades.

5. New Legislative Action

The Plan announces several steps that could involve action regarding legislation or regulations. We here address each:

* The Plan says the Government will:

Start to repeal sections of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act duplicated by the AODA, reducing burden on municipalities and public sector organizations.

Premier McGuinty promised us in writing on August 19, 2011 that no provisions of the Harris Governments Ontarians with Disabilities Act would be repealed until all of the first five AODA accessibility standards were enacted. To date, the Government has not enacted the promised Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It has only enacted a very limited Public Spaces Accessibility Standard under the AODA (that does not address the vast majority of the built environment) and made grossly inadequate amendments to the Ontario Building Code. As such, the Government should keep Premier McGuintys promise before repealing any provisions of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

* All the Plan says about creating new accessibility standards under the AODA is:

Work with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to review gaps and barriers in the delivery of health care as a first step toward illuminating barriers that will be overcome through education, outreach and new standards.

This is nothing new. The Government has been saying it has been doing this for months.

This delay regarding the development of new accessibility standards must stop. We need action now on creating a range of new AODA accessibility standards.

* In the 2007 election, Premier McGuinty promised that the Government would review all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers. In the eight years since then, the Government has only reviewed 51 of the 750 statutes in Ontario, and, as far as we know, none of its regulations. The review of those 51 laws finished at the end of 2014. On what the Government will do about this, the Plan announces:

Introduce legislation addressing barriers to accessibility identified through a government-wide review of high-impact legislation, ensuring that government documents and appeals processes are accessible for people with disabilities.

It is good that the Government plans to introduce legislation to fix barriers it discovered. However, if those amendments are limited to ensuring that government documents and appeals processes are accessible for people with disabilities, that will disregard the vast majority of potential barriers in those laws.

Moreover, this Plan says nothing about reviewing the other 700 Ontario statutes and all of Ontarios regulations for accessibility barriers. A Plan to ensure full accessibility by 2025 requires prompt and effective action on all barriers in Ontario laws.

* In 2007, the Government enacted the Customer Service Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It was required by law to review that accessibility standard five years after it was enacted. Here the Government announces nothing new where the Plan states:

Amend the Customer Service standard to clarify and streamline requirements based on advice from the Ministers Standards Development Committee.

We have called on the Economic Development Minister to arrange a joint consultation with the disability community and obligated organizations on ways to strengthen the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, which is very weak and limited. The Plan does not commit to such.

* The Plan announces that the Government will begin the review of the Transportation Accessibility Standard enacted in 2011. This is something the Government is legally required to do. This is nothing new.

* The Plan states:

Mayo Morans recent review of the AODA recommended a number of amendments to streamline and strengthen the implementation of the act and its standards. In response, we will:

Work with stakeholders on the steps the government could take regarding the timing of ongoing reviews of the act and accessibility standards. This would allow for collaboration with key stakeholders and the collection of critical implementation and compliance data to inform future reviews.

We welcome the chance to consult with the Government on the timing of the future reviews of accessibility standards and of the AODA itself. We are on record emphasizing that it is critical that the Government keep its important promise not to weaken any provisions or protections in the AODA, and to fully maintain that legislation. So long as the Government appoints the mandatory reviews of existing accessibility standards by the deadlines that the AODA mandates, i.e. starts those reviews by June 2016 where the accessibility standard was initially enacted in June 2011, the Government can stage the review of the parts of those standards, or the sectors to which they apply, consistent with the spirit of the recommendations in the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review.

For example, the Government must appoint the mandatory review of the Employment Accessibility provisions of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation by June 2016, as the AODA requires. It could designate that this review should first focus on the public sector. It could defer a review of that standards application to the private sector to the next year. The same could hold true for the information and communication provisions of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.

This could be a helpful approach, so long as the Government does not delay acting on any recommendations to strengthen those accessibility standards, as they apply to the public sector, until after the review the following year of their application to the private sector.

We would oppose any amendment to the AODA that would delay the initial appointment of those reviews of accessibility standards.

As far as the timing of the next mandatory Independent Review of the AODA itself, by this Government announcement, the Government is simply saying it will hold a future consultation on this issue. It is not here committing to act on the recommendation of the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review. The Moran Report had recommended delaying by one year the launch of the next AODA Independent Review, which by law must commence before February 13, 2018.

This statement in the Plan indicates that no decision on that topic has reached. We will be happy to speak with the Government about this issue. We will oppose any amendment to the AODA that would delay the appointment of any future mandatory Independent Review of the AODA itself beyond its current legal deadline. That would be counterproductive. It would also be a clear violation of the Governments promises to the disability community, not to weaken the AODAs provisions or protections.

6. Third Party Volunteer Accessibility Certification Program

The Government first announced last week and repeats in the Plan that it commits to consult on developing:

a voluntary third party certification program inspired by the success of LEED designation in promoting excellence in green building to recognize businesses and organizations that have championed accessibility within their sector or community.

This may be helpful. However it also presents serious risks that must be addressed.

Voluntary certification is no substitute for enforcing the law. Moreover any such certification should focus on the full accessibility requirements imposed by the Ontario Human Rights Code, and not just the limited and often weak accessibility requirements in existing AODA accessibility standards.

Moreover, a third party certification process does not ensure public oversight. What if the third party declares an organization to be a model of accessibility, even if there are glaring accessibility problems? Can a member of the public challenge that certification?

We are pleased that the Government will consult with us and other on this. No such program should be launched until and unless concerns like these are addressed.

7. 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games

The Plan includes nothing about trying to increase the accessibility of tourism and hospitality services in Ontario as a legacy of the Toronto 2015 Pan/ParaPan American Games. We have pressed the Government on this for almost two years, without success. The Plans claims about the accessibility legacy that the 2015 Games will leave for Ontario must be read in light of this glaring Government omission.

Last fall, Premier Wynne had commendably tasked the Minister responsible for the 2015 Games, Michael Coteau, with working with stakeholders to develop just such an accessible tourism/ hospitality legacy. We have seen no action or results.

8. Other Measures Announced

* The Government appears to plan new efforts to help obligated organizations know what they must do to comply with the AODA. The final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review recommended action on this. This can be a quite helpful step.

* The Plan may be announcing nothing new where it says that the Government will collaborate with service delivery partners both within and outside of government on pilot projects to enhance our compliance and outreach activities. The Government has operated its Enabling Change program for years. It is not clear whether this announcement is anything new or different than that program.

* The Plan announces an Accessibility Innovation Showcase for August 2015. As a modest effort at addressing the developing of accessible technology, this can be helpful.

9. Important Measures the Plan Does Not Cover

There are extremely important measures which the Plan leaves out.

* There is no announcement in this Plan of measures to ensure that the Government develops all the new accessibility standards under the AODA that are needed to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025. One of the Governments core responsibilities under this legislation is to fulfil its legal duty to make all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025.

In this Plan, the Government merely re-announces what it said some four months ago, on February 13, 2015. It then announced that it would next develop a Health Care Accessibility Standard. It is not clear that in the intervening four months, the Government has even assigned this to the Standards Development Committee which must develop proposals for that accessibility standards contents.

There is no announcement on what other accessibility standards the Government will develop, or on how or when it will decide on those. We have pressed this issue for at least five years. For example, there is no announcement to develop an Education Accessibility Standard, as we have urged, to tear down barriers impeding children with disabilities in our education system.

* The Plan announces no action to address the retrofit of existing barriers in Ontarios built environment, in the case of buildings where no major renovation is underway. To date, the Government has done nothing about this. The final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review found this deficiency to be a major concern.

* As indicated earlier, the Moran Report made important recommendations for transformative change in the Ontario Public Service. The Plan implements none of the Moran Reports recommendations on that issue.

B. Toronto Star June 3, 2015

Ontario to crack down on accessibility violators
Laurie Monsebraaten
The Toronto Star, June 3, 2015

Queen’s Park is beefing up compliance and enforcement measures in response to criticism that it has been treating accessibility scofflaws with kid gloves.

Starting next year, Ontario’s economic development ministry will move to double compliance audits to 4,000, or 1 per cent of Ontario’s 400,000 businesses.

Under the province’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, businesses with 20 or more employees were supposed to have filed customer service plans with the government by the end of 2012. But to date, only about 40 per cent have submitted the necessary reports on how they accommodate customers with disabilities, train staff and receive customer feedback.

Accessibility advocates have criticized the government’s weak response to businesses that continue to flout the law.

A recent legislative review of the act also urged the government to step-up enforcement. The new enforcement measures are part of the Liberals’ 10-year accessibility action plan to be released Wednesday. It is aimed at ensuring the province’s 1.8 million people with disabilities can live, work and play to their full potential by 2025, as set out in Ontario’s groundbreaking 2005 accessibility act.

“Enforcement is part of our efforts to move toward greater compliance,” said Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid.

“We’re not here to pound on them. We’re here to work with them to actually build a stronger economy,” he said in an interview.

“But we are going to enforce the regulations.”

To ensure the 1-per-cent target is reached, the ministry will hire an outside audit company to work with government staff. If successful, all future audits will be conducted by a third-party firm on behalf of the government, a ministry spokesperson said.

As recommended in February’s legislative review, the ministry will begin releasing annual compliance reports next year with information on complaints, fines and other enforcement measures along with action plans for improvement. (Fines for non-compliance range from $200 to $2,000 for individuals and from $500 to $15,000 for corporations.)

The government is also simplifying its complaint hotline to make it easier for the public to give feedback. New monthly reports to the minister’s office on complaints will ensure systemic problems are addressed promptly, officials say.

In addition to tougher enforcement measures, the ministry is announcing a $1.8-million pilot project with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to promote accessibility in the business community.

Key initiatives

Recruiting people with disabilities

Queen’s Park is partnering with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to promote the business case for hiring people with disabilities and to spread the word about best practices. The $1.8 million one-year initiative aims to build employer awareness of government and community support available to help recruit and retain people with disabilities.

Innovations in accessibility

Ontario is developing a new certification program to promote excellence in accessible design and to recognize businesses and organizations that champion accessibility. Modelled on the prestigious LEED environmental ratings, the government will consult with industry, disability advocates, municipalities and non-profits to develop the voluntary certification program.

Financial help for hiring

A new Ontario Community Loans Program will give low-cost loans to small- and medium-sized business owners who hire and retain workers with disabilities. The interest rate will drop for each person who gets a job. The $4 million pilot project aims to support up to 500 businesses and hire up to 1,100 employees with disabilities within two years.

Creating employment incentives

Ontario will spend $5 million over two years to help employers who want to hire people with disabilities find qualified candidates for the job.

The pilot project will include connecting employers with social agencies that train and support workers with disabilities.

New website for feedback

Ontario is launching a new website, similar to the popular TripAdvisor site, where residents can rate and give feedback on accessibility experiences and businesses can respond.

The goal is to allow people to search for accessible goods and services in their area and to encourage businesses to improve customer service.

C. Ontario Governments June 3, 2015 News Release

News Release

Ontario Launches Accessibility Action Plan
URL: http://news.ontario.ca/medt/en/2015/06/ontario-launches-accessibility-action-plan.html?utm_source=ondemand&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=o

June 3, 2015

Plan Introduced on the 10 Year Anniversary of Landmark Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Legislation

Ontario has released a new action plan to build on the progress made since the introduction of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in 2005 and to achieve the goal of becoming accessible by 2025.

The AODA has transformed the lives of people with disabilities by establishing standards in key areas of daily life, including customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation and the design of public spaces.

The Path to 2025: Ontario’s Accessibility Action Plan https://www.ontario.ca/business-and-economy/path-2025-ontarios-accessibility-action-plan focuses on three key priorities:

Engaging employers to understand the value of hiring people with disabilities, through initiatives like:

* Community Loans – a $4 million program to provide low-interest commercial loans to businesses that show a commitment to hiring persons with disabilities

* Partnership for Accessible Employment – a $5 million program that helps small and medium-sized businesses hire and employ persons with disabilities

* Abilities Connect – a $1.8 million partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to help employers build more inclusive workplaces and create a network of businesses that promote best practices.

Strengthening the foundation of accessibility in Ontario, by building on the province’s accessibility laws and standards by:

* Introducing legislation to address barriers to accessibility identified through a government-wide review of high impact legislation

* Working with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to review gaps and in the health care sector, as a first step toward illuminating barriers that will be overcome through education, outreach and new standards.

Promoting Ontario’s cultural shift to build awareness of accessibility in innovative ways, so that Ontarians of all abilities can reach their full potential by:

* Consulting with industry disability advocates, certification experts, municipalities and not-for-profits to develop a voluntary, third party certification program, similar to the “LEED” designation in green buildings.

* Collaborating with professional audit services to enhance our compliance and audit activities.

* Exploring opportunities through social media or online platforms to expand and strengthen the conversation on accessibility between businesses and persons with disabilities.

Supporting an accessible province is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.

QUICK FACTS

* June marks the 10th anniversary of the landmark Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Ontario also is also responding to the recommendations made by Mayo Moran http://www.ontario.ca/document/legislative-review-accessibility-ontarians-disabilities-act following her comprehensive review of the AODA. Many of Morans recommendations helped to inform the development of the action plan.

* Ontario will host its first Accessibility Innovation Showcase this August, which will promote accessible technology and innovative solutions to accessibility barriers.

* Ontario is reviewing recommendations made by the Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities to address the provinces growing skills shortage by finding opportunities in the workplace for educated and skilled people with disabilities.

* The Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standards Development Committee advises government on improving accessibility for people with disabilities. Current membership includes a cross-section of leaders from the disability community and businesses as well as organizations from the not-for-profit and public sectors.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

* Ontario Responds to Recommendations from Mayo Moran’s Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act http://news.ontario.ca/medt/en/2015/06/ontario-responds-to-recommendations-from-mayo-morans-review-of-the-accessibility-for-ontarians-with.html ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

* Read The Path to 2025: Ontarios Accessibility Action Plan https://www.ontario.ca/business-and-economy/path-2025-ontarios-accessibility-action-plan * Find out more about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). http://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/05a11

QUOTES

“Ontarios leadership in accessibility is something we can all take great pride in, but we know there is more work to do. The action plan gives us a map to continue working together to build a fairer and more diverse province where everyone can live, work and actively participate in their communities.” Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

“Our province inspires the world because our communities are becoming more accessible every day. With the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games nearly here, these are exciting times for Ontario. We will continue to tear down barriers and ensure people with disabilities have the opportunity to work and contribute to our society. This is a vision for Ontario we all share.”
David C. Onley, Special Advisor, Accessibility; Honorary Chair, 10th Anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontario with Disability Act

CONTACTS

Andrew Forgione
Ministers Office
416-212-4217
Andrew.Forgione@ontario.ca

Brigitte Marleau
Communications Branch
416-325-2479
Brigitte.Marleau@ontario.ca
Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure http://ontario.ca/economy

D. The Governments June 3, 2015 Accessibility Action Plan

The Path to 2025:
Ontarios Accessibility Action Plan

A Message From The Minister

People across Ontario are coming together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Thanks to this groundbreaking legislation, which was introduced in 2005, organizations and businesses have been removing barriers to make it easier for people with disabilities to participate in their workplaces and communities.

Im excited by the progress were making. Standards related to information and communications, transportation, public spaces, customer service and employment have been taking effect for the last several years and will be fully rolled out by 2021.

Im proud of how far Ontario has come on its accessibility journey. But theres still a long way to go to reach our goal of becoming an accessible province. This will require a sustained and collaborative effort.

As we reach the halfway point of this 20-year journey, its time to review our progress, renew our commitment and mobilize for another 10 years of action.

The release of The Path to 2025: Ontarios Accessibility Action Plan marks the first of many steps we are taking to ensure we remain on track to creating an accessible province in the decade ahead.

Over the coming months and years, we will continue to seek advice and new ideas from the many partners who play an essential role in helping realize this shared vision.

The plan builds on our strengths, sharpens our focus, and outlines our path forward. It describes the actions we are taking to engage businesses, strengthen our foundation, and promote a culture shift.

It will help the one in seven Ontarians who have a disability to better access their communities and employment opportunities.

And it will help employers and all Ontarians embrace accessibility as an exciting business and community-building opportunity. Combine that with legislative improvements, accessibility champions, and new compliance strategies and we have a formula for success.

In order to truly be successful in achieving our goal, we need to reach higher, to go beyond the requirements of the AODA and its standards. We need to integrate accessibility into everything we do, until it becomes second nature.

Working together, well arrive at the destination we set out for 10 years ago: an accessible Ontario by 2025.

Brad Duguid
Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

A Bold Vision

In 2005, the AODA passed into law with unanimous support from all three political parties. This landmark legislation started Ontario on a journey to create an accessible province within 20 years. We knew that changing the focus from disability to ability was necessary for our future prosperity, but would present a formidable challenge one that would require a culture change.

Embracing the business case for accessibility is a win-win proposition for organizations of all sizes and for people with disabilities. The bottom line is that an accessible province means more opportunities for all Ontarians.

For Ontarios 1.8 million people with disabilities, it means being able to actively participate in our communities, workforce and economy.

For business, it means tapping into an underused talent pool, creating new products and services based on universal design, and harnessing the buying power of more people, both in-store and online.

For our economy, it means up to a $600 a year per capita increase in the gross domestic product.

That makes becoming accessible and promoting accessibility not just the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do for businesses and organizations of all sizes.

FACT: Ontario is the first jurisdiction in the world to require staff to be trained on accessibility.

There are five accessibility standards in place under the AODA to support the creation of an accessible province by 2025:

Customer Service
Employment
Information and Communications
Transportation
Design of Public Spaces

FACT: Ninety per cent of Canadians believe that people with disabilities are not fully included in society.

The standards aim to ensure that all Ontarians can take part in everyday activities working, shopping, taking public transit, using the Internet, attending sporting and cultural events, and enjoying parks and other public spaces.

They were developed by committees comprised of people with disabilities and sector representatives.

The standards set out the requirements that businesses and organizations with one or more employees must meet between now and 2021.

FACT: Penalties for non-compliance range from $200 to $2,000 for individuals and unincorporated organizations; and from $500 to $15,000 for corporations.

Businesses, not-for-profits and public sector organizations must all file accessibility compliance reports on a regular basis.

Municipalities and their accessibility advisory committees continue to do the on-the-ground work implementing the standards that will make accessibility a reality in communities across Ontario.

The standards we have regulated and our systematic approach to implementing them are ensuring accessibility is both a guiding principle and a daily practice throughout Ontario.

Timeline chart:

Chart detailing the Timelines for full implementation of the Accessibility Standards from 2006 to 2025.

The Design of Public Spaces Standard began in 2007.
The Standard was enacted in 2013.
Full Implementation in Government is 2015.
Full Implementation in the Public Sector will be in 2016.
Full Implementation in the Private Sector will be in 2018.

The Employment Standard began in 2007
The Standard was enacted in 2011.
Full Implementation in Government was 2013.
Full Implementation in the Public Sector is 2015.
Full Implementation in the Private Sector will be in 2017.

The Information and Communications Standard began in 2007
The Standard was enacted in 2011
Full Implementation in Government will be in 2020.
Full Implementation in the Public Sector will be in 2021.
Full Implementation in the Private Sector will be in 2021.

The Transportation Standard began in 2006
The Standard was enacted in 2011.
Full Implementation in Government will be in 2017.
The Full Implementation in the Public Sector will be in 2017. Full Implementation in the Private Sector will be in 2017.

The Customer Service Standard began in 2006
The Standard was enacted in 2008.
Full Implementation in Government was 2010.
Full Implementation in the Public Sector was 2010.
Full Implementation in the Private Sector was 2012.

Spotlight article – Compliance Awareness Campaign

In November 2014, the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure launched a five-week marketing campaign to increase awareness of the importance of complying with the accessibility requirements and filing a compliance report. It worked. The number of reports filed increased by 150 per cent compared to the 2012 reporting deadline. We will build on this momentum with continued outreach and education to further increase compliance reporting rates.

Chart

This chart is entitled: Getting to Compliance A Progressive Approach.

It details 3 ways compliance can be achieved:

Awareness Communicating to business on requirements and benefits Improvement Supporting business with compliance
Enforcement Taking action on intentional non-compliance

Ontario Public Service Leadership

The Ontario Public Service (OPS) is committed to leading by example and serving as a role model to other employers on how to build an accessible organization.

The OPS has consistently demonstrated its leadership in the area of accessibility as an employer, policy-maker and service provider.

The OPS as Employer

In 2012, the OPS became the first organization to release a multi-year accessibility plan as required under the AODA. Developed by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services Diversity Office, the plan Leading the Way Forward outlines the key milestones planned and underway to achieve an accessible public service by 2025.

This includes providing training to Ontarios 63,000 public servants to ensure they understand their obligations under the act. Annual status reports track progress and compliance with legislative requirements.

The Diversity Office provides vision and leadership to achieve an accessible, diverse and inclusive public service.

FACT: The OPS has been named one of Canadas Best Diversity Employers for eight consecutive years (2008-2015).

Spotlight article – The OPS Inclusion Lens

Launched in January 2011 by the OPS Diversity Office, the Inclusion Lens has become a game changer in how the Ontario Public Service does business. Its a user-friendly, online tool that helps OPS employees become more knowledgeable about diversity, inclusion and accessibility, identify barriers in policy, program or service development processes, and develop strategies to remove barriers. The lens helps us ask the right questions so we can get the right results, says Virginia Hatchette, Chief Inclusion and Accessibility Officer, OPS Diversity Office. It is helping embed inclusion and diversity considerations into all of our business activities and decision-making processes. And its also attracting attention from businesses and organizations outside the OPS that are looking for ways they can become more inclusive and responsive as employers, as well as to the needs of their increasingly diverse customer base.

The Ontario Government as Policy-Maker

The Ontario government has programs in place to prepare people with disabilities who are looking for work, and support them once they secure jobs.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services has made employment a priority for the Ontario Disability Support Program, with initiatives to encourage and support clients who can and want to work.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services is helping to create a new Centre of Excellence for Employment Services in partnership with the Ontario Disability Employment Network. This service will provide agencies with better resources and training to prepare individuals for employment, provide effective employment supports, and reach out to employers to develop new job opportunities.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Employment and Training Services Integration initiative is ensuring people with disabilities can access programs and services particular to their needs that prepare them for jobs in all sectors of the economy.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy includes a strong focus on supporting employment and income security for Ontarios most vulnerable, including people with disabilities.

In addition to accessibility standards under the AODA, Ontarios Education Act provides an overall framework for special education programs and services. School boards province-wide are required to provide special education programs and services to students with special education needs. School boards must also establish a Special Education Advisory Committee to inform their annual special education planning and budgeting.

Through the Accessibility Directorate and partners, the government has supported the development of model lesson plans, training plans for educators, and other tools and resources to help schools be accessible and inclusive for all students.

Spotlight article – High Impact Legislation Review

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services Diversity Office recently collaborated with the Ministry of the Attorney General to review legislation that has a high impact on members of the public and specifically people with disabilities with a view to identifying barriers to accessibility. The review looked at 51 statutes related to health, education, seniors and social services. The review identified opportunities to address barriers, and we have included these in our action plan.

Spotlight article – Community Transportation Pilot Grant Program

Launched in November 2014, the Ministry of Transportations Community Transportation Pilot Grant Program is helping Ontario municipalities to partner with community organizations to better leverage and coordinate existing local transportation services. The overarching goal of the $2-million pilot program is to ensure more rides are available to help people get to more destinations. Twelve of the 22 funded projects target transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities. Funding is being used for a broad range of initiatives, including acquiring fully accessible vehicles, supplementing existing specialized transit service, providing a better level of service to those in need of assistance to complete their trips, and providing cross-boundary trips to people with mobility restrictions or those who find it difficult to make transfers.

The Ontario Government as Service Provider

As a service provider to millions of Ontarians, the government is committed to providing barrier-free customer service and seeks to continuously improve access for everyone.

For example, the Ministry of the Attorney Generals Courthouse Accessibility Coordinator Service offers a single point of contact for court users with disabilities to ask questions and request accommodations. Coordinators are in place at all 166 provincial courthouses across Ontario.

At ServiceOntario, brochures, signs and postings follow accessibility and inclusion guidelines, while websites and online services have been upgraded to make them more accessible and user-friendly including all driver and vehicle services and accessible parking permit applications. Other accessibility offerings by ServiceOntario include a signature guide designed for clients with vision loss and new procedures to support people who use sign language interpreters.

Spotlight article – Ontario Arts Council

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is committed to ensuring that all Ontarians have access to the arts and that its programs are open to Deaf artists and artists with disabilities. When the council realized that artists with disabilities were facing barriers applying for grants and/or participating on juries, it kicked into action. In October 2014, the OAC launched Vital Arts and Public Value, a new strategic plan for 2014-2020 that identifies Deaf artists and artists with disabilities as a new priority group. Initiatives introduced in the plan include: support for those who need it to help complete their applications and funding for successful applicants who need help covering accommodation expenses in the course of their work. A new funding program is being launched in spring 2015 dedicated to Deaf artists and artists with disabilities.

The Path to 2025

This year marks a significant milestone on our path to an accessible Ontario. At the halfway mark to 2025, accessibility is increasingly becoming a part of day-to-day life across the province.

Across the broader public sector, organizations that provide vital services to Ontarians including hospitals, school boards, colleges, universities and public transportation organizations have been leading the way.

Businesses and organizations are developing and implementing multi-year accessibility plans to ensure they meet the needs of Ontarians of all abilities. Accessibility leaders are emerging and serving as role models for others who want to learn about best practices. And more people with disabilities are getting jobs and taking on active roles within their communities.

But there is still important work to do in the decade ahead, which is why we have developed this accessibility action plan. The plan is designed to ensure we develop and implement the critical next steps towards building an accessible Ontario.

The plan incorporates many of the recommendations made by Mayo Moran in her comprehensive review of the AODA released by government in February, 2015. These include providing more guidance on the accessibility requirements, publicly promoting our enforcement and compliance efforts, and identifying gaps and barriers in current standards as well as health care.

FACT: Improving accessibility can create up to $9.6 billion in new retail spending and $1.6 billion in new tourism spending in Ontario over five years.

FACT: By 2035, 40 per cent of our consumer base will be people with disabilities.

Spotlight article – Accessible Beach Pathways at Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach, Ontario is home to some of the provinces most beautiful beaches. Thanks to a partnership between the Town of Wasaga Beach and Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, residents and tourists with disabilities are now able to enjoy them too. Accessible beach pathways featuring portable, durable and safe roll-out mats provide a walkway across the sand to access the water. Signs and designated accessible parking have been installed to provide direct access to the pathways. Local resident Frank Nunnaro, who has lived in the town for 35 years and used a wheelchair for the past 19, is thrilled. To see and hear and feel the breeze and the water again is a great experience, Nunnaro says. He also appreciates seeing how the pathways work for a range of people of all abilities, including people using walkers, parents with strollers, and people using service animals. As a member of the Town accessibility advisory committee for the past seven years, Nunnaro is continuing to work on new projects to make Wasaga Beach even more accessible for everyone.

Spotlight article – Jason Tung Focused on Ability

While attending university, Jason Tung developed a physical disability from a pre-existing medical condition. He graduated with an honours degree in engineering and was hired at Toronto-based Crossey Engineering Ltd., where he went through the companys graduate engineering training program and became a valued employee. Several years later, Tung resigned for personal reasons and travelled outside Canada. Upon his return, Tungs physical challenges prevented him from getting a full-time job elsewhere. He reapplied to Crossey as a mechanical designer and decided to participate in the companys flex time program. The program enables him to meet both his personal and professional commitments. Today Tung is a highly skilled and productive member of an interdisciplinary team delivering innovative and sustainable solutions in building design. I learned that having a disability is no reason to accept inferiority, Tung says. I regained my value and confidence and can again contribute to society. I think that this type of uplifting environment can turn challenges into strengths and rather than giving up on myself I will always strive for the best.

Ontarios Accessibility Action Plan

Ontarios accessibility action plan has three pillars, which include initiatives and commitments from across government.

Engage employers

Ontario is facing a growing skills shortage in a number of important sectors, including the trades, mining, financial services, information and communications technology, and hospitality and tourism. According to the Conference Board of Canada, the province could face a shortfall of 364,000 workers by 2025.

FACT: More than 40 per cent of Ontarians with disabilities have some type of postsecondary credential.

People with disabilities are ready and able to work. The challenge is getting business particularly small- and medium-size firms that are largely responsible for new job creation to step up and give qualified candidates with disabilities a chance to compete on a level playing field.

The biggest hurdle we need to overcome is the misconceptions businesses hold about employees with disabilities. Contrary to widely held beliefs, workers with disabilities generally have better retention and productivity rates.

FACT: Seventy per cent of small businesses say they have never hired a person with a disability.

A recent study shows that 20 per cent of employees with a disability require no accommodation at all, with the average cost for those who do being just $500.

Workers with disabilities also provide a different perspective, which can lead to innovative product and service design.

The disability community including people with disabilities and their families represents a $25 billion a year market in Canada alone.

To promote the hiring of people with disabilities, we are seeking advice from experts, including:
Former Lieutenant Governor David C. Onley, our governments Special Advisor on accessibility and a strong champion for opportunities for people with disabilities in both the private and public sectors.

The Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities. It presented its first set of recommendations to Minister Duguid in May 2015. Among the recommendations:

Heighten business awareness of the value of employing people with disabilities.
Involve business in addressing the challenges they face in hiring people with disabilities.
Engage youth with disabilities to ensure they gain labour market attachment at an early stage.

We have also:

Partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) to establish and deliver a one-year, $1.8-million Abilities Connect Fund pilot project with three program streams:

Valuing Ability Employment provides training and employment opportunities for college/university students and graduates with a disability. Valuing Ability Workplace Solutions helps employers build inclusive workplaces.
Valuing Ability Champions Network promotes best practices and success stories through OCCs communications network.

FACT: Seventy-five per cent of small business employers who have employees with a disability report that they meet or exceed their expectations.

Going forward, our government will launch a $9-million capacity-building pilot program Valuing Ability to:

Address barriers and challenges businesses face in hiring people with disabilities.

Engage employers, promote the business case for hiring people with disabilities and encourage a business culture of inclusion.

Complement and coordinate efforts with key partner ministries, including the Ministries of Training, Colleges and Universities and Community and Social Services, to continue to help people with disabilities secure employment.

There are three parts to the pilot:

Partnerships for Accessible Employment a new initiative which aims to build employer awareness of the supports and resources available to business when recruiting, retaining and supporting employees with disabilities by encouraging partnerships between business, not-for-profits, social enterprises, postsecondary institutions, associations and/or service providers.

Community Loans will build on the existing Social Capital Partners Community Loan Program by expanding low interest commercial loans for small businesses that demonstrate a commitment to hiring people with disabilities.

Mentoring opportunities to expand on the successful Dolphin Digital Technologies Disabilities Mentoring Day initiative. The existing program connects potential employers to qualified candidates through an annual one-day event and builds a strong business network to champion the hiring of people with disabilities.

Spotlight article – The Employment Standard

Many Ontario businesses have experienced first-hand that greater accessibility leads to a better bottom line. With the rollout of the Employment Standard for large businesses in 2016 and for small businesses in 2017, more Ontarians will start to see how the AODA standards work together to create an environment that leads to a positive and tangible culture change. The Employment Standard requires that any business with one or more employees provide for accessibility across the employment cycle, from recruitment to hiring to on-going support. Employers will benefit from a diversified workplace by making their hiring processes, workplace information and career development more accessible. In turn, this will empower more people to participate in our economy and enjoy all the opportunities this province provides. An awareness campaign is planned for later this year so companies of all sizes will understand whats required of them and when.

Spotlight article – Ontario Community Loans Program

The Ontario Community Loans Program will give small- and medium-sized business owners discounted rates on financial products, such as loans, when they commit to hiring people facing barriers to employment including people with disabilities. Under the program, the interest rate will decrease for each person hired and retained for the required period of time. The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure will partner with leading Canadian financial institutions to deliver this first of its kind pilot program, modelled on the pioneering work of Social Capital Partners. I know this pilot program will result in a win-win scenario, with disadvantaged job seekers finding opportunities for meaningful employment and small businesses gaining access to attractive financing terms and motivated employees, says Bill Young, founder of Social Capital Partners. The pilot program aims to support up to 500 small businesses in creating up to 1,100 new employment opportunities.

Spotlight article – Dolphin Disabilities Mentoring Day

In 2011, Kitchener-based ICT consulting firm Dolphin Digital Technologies, under the leadership of Scott and Jamie Burton, founded an annual Disabilities Mentoring Day. The first of its kind in Canada, the one-day event matches mentors from the business community with qualified people with a disability. The goal is to get employers to tap into this largely underused talent pool and to realize that its a candidates ability that counts, says Dolphin vice president Jamie Burton. The success of Dolphin is the success of our employees, many of whom have disabilities. Burton knows what shes talking about, as Dolphin has been acknowledged internationally for its innovative use of technology and creation of barrier-free employment strategies. And businesses are starting to take notice. From four firms and seven mentees in 2011, Disabilities Mentoring Day 2015 will attract some 30 businesses and 65 mentees in Kitchener-Waterloo alone, with the program also being held in London and Brantford.

Strengthen the foundation

To realize the AODAs bold vision and make Ontario accessible by 2025 we must take steps to create lasting change that ensures people with disabilities are able to participate actively in society. Stakeholder input and engagement is critical to our success.

Mayo Morans recent review of the AODA recommended a number of amendments to streamline and strengthen the implementation of the act and its standards. In response, we will:
Work with stakeholders on the steps the government could take regarding the timing of ongoing reviews of the act and accessibility standards. This would allow for collaboration with key stakeholders and the collection of critical implementation and compliance data to inform future reviews.

Start to repeal sections of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act duplicated by the AODA, reducing burden on municipalities and public sector organizations.

Work with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to review gaps and barriers in the delivery of health care as a first step toward illuminating barriers that will be overcome through education, outreach and new standards.

Introduce legislation addressing barriers to accessibility identified through a government-wide review of high-impact legislation, ensuring that government documents and appeals processes are accessible for people with disabilities.

Amend the Customer Service standard to clarify and streamline requirements based on advice from the Ministers Standards Development Committee.

Review the Transportation Standard beginning in the fall of 2015 to ensure requirements are working as intended and enabling Ontarians to travel easily to where they need to go including to their workplaces.

Accessibility Innovation Showcase

On August 7, 2015, 1,600 athletes from 28 countries will assemble in Toronto to compete in the largest ever Parapan Am Games. With all eyes on the city, Toronto will also welcome the first Accessibility Innovation Showcase. Hosted by the Ontario government, the five-day event will showcase the latest advances in accessibility technologies and assistive devices. The public will be able to experience and learn about accessibility technologies first-hand. Innovators will have a chance to pitch their ideas to angel investors, with a view to accelerating the development of leading-edge accessibility technologies and stimulating growth in the industry.

Promote the cultural shift

To be successful in creating a society where everyone can reach their full potential, accessibility must become a way of life for all Ontarians, including business.

There is a solid business case to be made for employing people with disabilities, especially in todays competitive global business environment where its been shown that leveraging diversity and inclusion leads to a better bottom line.

Between now and 2025, we will continue to promote the value of accessibility and support business in realizing the economic advantages that accessibility confers.

We will also continue to engage with people with disabilities and other partners and bring affected sectors together to keep moving forward and going beyond the requirements of the AODA.

To do this, we will:

Consult and partner with businesses and people with disabilities to develop a voluntary third party certification program inspired by the success of LEED designation in promoting excellence in green building to recognize businesses and organizations that have championed accessibility within their sector or community.

Collaborate with service delivery partners both within and outside of government on pilot projects to enhance our compliance and outreach activities.

We will also:

Build on the success of the 2014 marketing campaign to create public awareness campaigns focusing on raising awareness of the AODA and the Employment Standard.

Release an annual compliance and enforcement plan which will include audit blitzes and report back to inform the public on our efforts, and monitor compliance trends among obligated organizations.

Explore opportunities through social media or online platforms to expand and strengthen the conversation on accessibility between businesses and people with disabilities.

Work with the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario to launch a repository of municipal best practices, with input from local accessibility advisory committees.

Make it easier for businesses and other organizations to find the tools and resources they need on our website.

Spotlight article – Access Orangeville

The Town of Orangeville and its accessibility advisory committee are embracing accessibility and ensuring it is a key municipal priority. Under Access Orangevilles innovative portable ramp subsidy program, the town is offering residents, caregivers, organizations and businesses that reside or operate in Orangeville a subsidy to assist with the purchase of portable suitcase ramps. These ramps will enable access to places that may otherwise remain inaccessible to people with disabilities. Orangeville is working hard to remove barriers to accessibility so that everyone can enjoy and participate in everything our community has to offer, says Gail Campbell, Town Councillor and chair of the accessibility advisory committee.

Spotlight article – 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games

This summer, more than 7,000 athletes from across the Americas and Caribbean will put their years of intense training, perseverance and sacrifice to the test at the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. Ontario is committed to hosting games that are inclusive. All 31 competition venues will meet accessibility requirements; ensuring people with disabilities can access and enjoy these facilities, either as participants or spectators. And for the first time in the history of the Games, all medals will be embossed with Braille. Our accessibility investments will leave a legacy of benefits for all Ontarians and support the development of future para-athletes. The more than 23,000 volunteers will be accessibility trained based on their role and assigned venue.
The live broadcast of selected events will provide the largest Parapan Am Games coverage ever exposing millions of viewers to parasport and the abilities of people with disabilities.

A Call To Action

Creating an inclusive Ontario a place where everyone can participate, contribute and succeed requires leadership from government, the broader public sector, business and not-for-profit organizations.

The AODA and its standards could not have been created without the input and support of so many Ontarians. As we continue our journey over the coming decade, your ongoing efforts and continued participation will ensure we are successful in achieving our goal of an accessible Ontario by 2025.

We all have a stake in this journey, from the people with disabilities who want to be valued for their abilities, to the business community that needs their diverse talents in order to succeed.

We invite all Ontarians to embrace this challenge and join us in championing accessibility and inclusion in every aspect of daily life.

For more information on accessibility in Ontario, please visit www.ontario.ca/accessibility.

E. Ontario Governments May 29, 2015 News Release on Possible Accessibility Certification Program

May 29 2015 from website news.ontario.ca
URL:
http://news.ontario.ca/medt/en/2015/05/ontario-moving-forward-with-accessibility-certification-program.html

News Release
Ontario Moving Forward with Accessibility Certification Program Province Encouraging Businesses to Be Leaders in Accessibility May 29, 2015 10:30 A.M.
Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

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 —
inspired by the success of the LEED designation promoting excellence in green building — to recognize businesses and organizations that have championed accessibility.

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.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) would guide the program’s requirements. Since 2005, this act has set standards that make it easier for people with disabilities to participate in their workplaces and communities.

Improving accessibility is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic and innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.

Quick Facts

One in seven Ontarians has a disability, a number that will increase to one in five by 2035.
People with disabilities and their families represent an economic market worth $25 billion in Canada.

Ontario will host its first Accessibility Innovation Showcase this August.

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.

Additional Resources

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Quotes

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. Its another way were 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. – Brad Duguid
Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

Media Contacts

Brigitte Marleau
Communications Branch
brigitte.marleau@ontario.ca
416-325-2479

Andrew Forgione
Minister’s Office
andrew.forgione@ontario.ca
416-212-4217