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Will the McGuinty Government Fully Implement the Recommendations of the Government-Appointed Charles Beer Independent Review of the AODA?

June 13, 2010

SUMMARY

A very current question in our campaign for a fully-accessible Ontario is whether the McGuinty Government will fully implement the Report of the
Government-appointed Charles Beer Independent Review of the AODA. The McGuinty Government received the Beer Report in February 2010, some four months ago. It did not release it to the public until May 31, 2010.


Echoing concerns that the AODA Alliance and others have been raising with
the Government for some time, the Beer Report found that there were several
significant problems with the way the Ontario Government was implementing
the AODA, despite its good intentions. It found that there is a need for new
Ontario Government leadership in this area and a revitalized, transformative
change in how the Government implements this legislation. It found that the
Government needs to breathe new life into the AODA. This reform must be much
more than mere tinkering with the AODA’s implementation, the Report found.

The Beer Report recommended that the Government should

  • 1. Harmonize the accessibility standards prior to releasing the remaining proposed standards as regulations
  • 2. Renew leadership for implementation of the AODA by
    • A. formally designating the Minister of Community and Social Services as the Minister Responsible for Accessibility
    • B. strengthening the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario by:
    • i. elevating the role of the assistant deputy minister to deputy minister, and
    • ii. focusing on renewed priorities including a public awareness and education campaign to support the AODA
  • 3. Amend the AODA to establish an arm’s-length advisory body – the Ontario Accessibility Standards Board – to review and develop accessibility
    standards – replacing the standards development committee process.
  • 4. Strengthen support for municipal accessibility advisory committees that advise municipal governments on accessibility issues, and
  • 5. Not repeal the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 until addressing all of its contents in amendments to the AODA or in accessibility standards.

The McGuinty Government has had some four months to review the 68-page Beer
Independent Review Report. Yet the Government has not made a comprehensive,
clear public statement committing to fully implement all of it.

The most that the McGuinty Government has said so far, as far as we can tell, is that it is acting on the Beer Report’s least ambitious
recommendation, the Report’s proposal that the Government harmonize the
forthcoming accessibility standards. Even then it is not clear whether the
Government is doing so as a result of the Beer Report, or whether it had already decided to do this before the Beer Report was delivered.

The Government has also said vaguely that it is implementing “a lot” of the Beer Report’s recommendations.

On June 1, 2010, the McGuinty Government acknowledged in the Legislature that the Beer Report is a good report. At the same time, it has claimed that
Ontario is in effect on schedule for achieving full accessibility. That claim directly conflicts with the spirit and content of the Beer Report, as
well as the daily experience of Ontarians with Disabilities.

We here bring together all the public statements by the Government that we have found to date on whether the Government will fully implement the Beer
Report. The day that the Report was made public, we called on the McGuinty Government to implement all of the Beer Report’s recommendations, except its proposal that the next Independent Review of the AODA be deferred from the required three years from now to an additional year i.e. four years from now.

You can read the Beer Report at:
http://www.aoda.ca/?page_id=468
You can read the AODA Alliance’s analysis of the Beer Report at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06032010.asp

More Details

1. The Government’s Statements on May 31, 2010

The Government chose to make the Beer Report public on Monday, May 31, 2010 at about 1 pm. The Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur, did so in a statement in the Legislature, when she honoured National Access Awareness Week. Her complete statement is set out below. She had invited several leaders from the disability community and others involved in developing accessibility standards to the Legislature for this statement, and for a reception to honour the fifth anniversary of the
passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

In this May 31, 2010 statement in the Legislature, the Minister did not commit to fully implement the Beer Report. She did not acknowledge the Beer
Report’s fundamental findings that there is a need for new Government leadership and transformative change in the way the AODA is implemented to
ensure that Ontario becomes fully accessible by 2025, as the AODA requires.
The Government did not commit to provide that new Government leadership, nor the recommended transformative change in approach.

Before she mentioned the Beer Report, the Minister indicated that the Government plans to harmonize three of the accessibility standards that are
now under development, the Employment Accessibility Standard, the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, and the Transportation
Accessibility Standard. She said that the Government heard from business that there is a need for this harmonization during the public review of
these proposed standards, and that the Government agrees. In other words, this was something the Government knew before, and apart from, the Beer
Report’s recommendation on harmonization of accessibility standards.

She said: “The development of the information and communication employment and transportation standards is currently under way. During the public
review process, we heard consistently that businesses want the requirements of the standards to be aligned. We listened and we agree.

Notre prochaine étape consiste à incorporer les trois normes-emploi, transport, et information et communications-dans un projet de règlement rationalisé. Nous afficherons l’information au sujet de l’harmonisation de
ces normes dans les prochains mois pour satisfaire au processus d’examen public.

This integrated approach will make the standards easier to understand and implement. It will offer greater flexibility and reduce costs and regulatory
burden, all in keeping with our government’s Open for Business initiative.”

In this statement, the Minister then acknowledged that the Beer Report was being tabled with the Legislature. She said: “I am also pleased to table the
independent review of the AODA that was recently completed by Mr. Charles
Beer, who is in the House today. From September to December 2009, Mr. Beer
consulted extensively with individuals and organizations across the
province. I would like to thank Mr. Beer for his dedication to this project.

Le rapport de M. Beer formule des recommandations spécifiques. Pour certaines d’entre elles, comme l’harmonisation des normes, je suis fière de vous annoncer que nous avons déjà fait de grandes avancées.”

In that announcement, the only Beer Report recommendation that she committed to implement was to harmonize the three forthcoming accessibility standards that are now under development, and which have been in the works since as far back as 2006 or 2007. She made no comment on the Beer Report’s other findings or recommendations, despite by then having had over three months to
study it. As our detailed analysis of the Beer Report shows, the Report’s
recommendation that the accessibility standards be harmonized is its least ambitious. No one opposed their harmonization, as long as this did not
eviscerate the standards. Moreover, harmonizing these standards would not correct most of the problems with the AODA’s implementation that the Beer
Report identified.

At the same time, the Government issued a news release to honour National Access Awareness Week. All the news release said about the Charles Beer
Independent Review Report was: “The province is currently developing four more accessibility standards: for information and communications,
employment, transportation, and the built environment. The first three of
these standards will be integrated into a single regulation, making them more flexible for businesses. It also responds to a key recommendation in
Charles Beer’s review of the Act, which was released today.”

The Ministry’s “Backgrounder” released with that news release, only said the following about the Beer Independent Review Report:

“Making the Standards Easier to Implement

In response to public feedback from the standards review process, Ontario will integrate these next three standards into one streamlined regulation.
This was also one of the recommendations made by Charles Beer in his independent review of the AODA.

The integrated accessibility regulation, if passed, will make the standards
easier to understand and implement. It will offer greater flexibility and
reduce both costs and regulatory burden, all in keeping with the
government’s Open for Business initiative.

When the Accessible Built Environment Standard is finalized and when the Customer Service Standard comes up for review in 2013, the government will
consider how best to streamline those as well.”

On May 31, 2010, at the same time that the Government made the Beer Report
public, it also released the Minister’s annual report on progress under the
AODA in 2009. Section 40 of the AODA requires the Minister to annually
report to the public on progress made under the AODA. In her covering letter
accompanying her 2009 annual report, the Minister made a statement that
suggests or implies that the Government may have actually decided to
harmonize the next three accessibility standards even before the Beer Report
was delivered to the Government. If so, then the Government is not acting on
the Beer Report. It is doing what it planned to do all along, and then
pointing to the Beer Report as after-the-fact justification. In the Minister’s
undated covering letter accompanying her 2009 s. 40 report, she stated:

“The government has recently approved an integrated approach to regulating the standards under the AODA. As a result, the requirements for the
Transportation, Information and Communication, and Employment standards will
all be aligned into one, single regulation in order to simplify compliance for obligated organizations, increase flexibility and reduce regulatory
burden.

The Accessible Built Environment Standard Development Committee released their initial proposed standard for public review in Fall 2009. The
committee is expected to submit their final proposed standard to the
government for consideration in 2010.”

Since the Minister’s annual report, which that letter accompanies, refers to the Beer report as then being forthcoming in 2010, and since the report
describes progress in 2009, it seems that the Government may have reached this decision to harmonize the next three accessibility standards in 2009.
That would be before Charles Beer finished his report.

On May 31, 2010, after the Minister made her statement in the Legislature, the opposition Conservative and New Democratic Parties each had a chance to make a public statement on the occasion of National Access Awareness Week.
Neither opposition party addressed the Beer Report. This was understandable. Neither opposition party had had a chance to review the Beer Report at that time. That Report was made public that very hour.

In their statements in the Legislature, both opposition parties (unlike the Government) acknowledged the contribution of the AODA Alliance, with
specific reference to the effort to strengthen Bill 231. Bill 231 is the
recent McGuinty Government legislation that addresses barriers that voters with disabilities face in Ontario elections. For more on Bill 231, see
generally:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp

Later that day, at the reception that her office organized at Queen’s Park for the AODA’s fifth anniversary, Community and Social Services Minister
Meilleur gave a speech on the AODA. She extolled the progress made to date on the AODA, but made no commitments on implementing the Beer Report. Copies of the Beer Report were not given out to the attendees. They would have to wait to get home and see the Report on line.

Typically, when a Government wishes to embrace a public report on its activities, or recognize the report’s importance, it gives it more central
recognition and profile. Here, the Government invited many who are interested in the AODA to travel to Toronto to attend this speech in the
Legislature and follow-up reception. They got to watch the Government make self-congratulatory speeches on the AODA’s implementation to date. They
would not know until later that day that the Government was at the same time giving low profile to an Independent Review which identified the need for
the Government to show new leadership, and revitalize its implementation of the AODA with transformative change.

2. The Government’s Statement on June 1, 2010

On the next day, June 1, 2010, NDP leader Andrea Horwath raised the Beer Report in Question Period in the Legislature. She asked the acting Premier, Kathleen Wynne, (in Premier McGuinty’s absence) when the Government will
adopt the Beer Report’s recommendations. (See the full exchange in the
Legislature, set out below.) It was appropriate for her to ask this of the acting Premier, and not Minister Meilleur, since many of the Report’s recommendations would require the Premier’s approval.

The acting Premier referred the question to Minister Meilleur. The Minister agreed that the Beer Report was “a good report.” She said: “A lot of his recommendations – we’re already in progress to accomplish them.”

It is helpful for the Government to at least agree to implement “a lot” of
the Beer Report’s recommendations. However, the Minister did not specify
which of the Report’s short list of recommendations it was implementing, and
which it was not. Of those it is not now implementing, the Minister did not
say if the Government has rejected them, or if it is still considering them.

In her answer to the NDP leader’s question, the Minister also stated: “I can
assure the House that we are in a good position to be fully accessible by
2025.” She went on to reinforce her view that Ontario is on schedule for
full accessibility, when she also stated: “We will be on time.”

This is to our knowledge the first time the Government has publicly claimed that it is now on schedule for Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025, some 14 and a half years from now.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with a Government being proud of accomplishments it has achieved. However, to claim that Ontario is now on schedule for full accessibility flies in the face of the content and the
spirit of the Charles Beer Report and the real life experience of many Ontarians with disabilities. The minister’s claim is proven to be quite inaccurate, by the content of our December 11, 2009 brief to the Charles
Beer Independent Review. You can see that brief at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12152009.asp

The Beer Report confirmed that the Independent Review received clear
feedback from many in the disability community that Ontario is not on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. The Report states: “A strong sense exists, particularly among people with disabilities, that momentum has been
lost since the AODA was passed in 2005. With only one standard in effect after four years, many – especially in the disability community – feel the province is behind schedule as the clock ticks toward the 2025 deadline.” It
also states: “Over the past several months I have often been asked if
Ontario is moving fast enough toward the 2025 deadline. That is, are we
going to meet the goal of accessibility by 2025? In fact, many have told me
that they believe we are behind schedule.” As well, it states: “The
legislative requirement for an independent review under the AODA is an
important step towards keeping Ontario’s commitment to accessibility for
persons with disabilities by 2025. My review is taking place at a crucial
time – a time when a number of stakeholders have begun to express disenchantment with the implementation of the act, the timelines for change
and the ability to realize the 2025 vision.”

The Beer Report did not reject these concerns as inaccurate, or conclude that Ontario is in fact now on schedule for 2025. To the contrary, the Report found that transformative change is needed in the Government’s
implementation of the AODA if Ontario is to achieve full accessibility by
2025. The Report states: “The review has found that transformative change is
necessary to achieve accessibility by 2025.”

As well, the facts on the ground contradict the Minister’s claim. As of fully five years after the AODA was enacted, only one accessibility standard has been enacted, the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. That standard
is far too weak. In one context, it even creates a barrier against persons
with disabilities. You can see our analysis of the Customer Service
Accessibility Standard at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09122007.asp

As of 2010, only the broader public sector need do anything under the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. The private sector need not comply with it until 2012.

The Government has had four other accessibility standards under development for several years, namely those to govern the built environment, transportation, information and communication and employment. The Minister
said in Question Period on June 1, 2010 that the four additional accessibility standards that are now under development will be enacted by the end of this year. She stated: “Before the end of this year, the five
standards will be in place.” Yet we have no commitment from the Government
that they will be strong and effective, and that they will meet the minimum accessibility requirements under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

3. The Pressing Need for the Government to Commit Now to Fully Implement the Beer Report

Our predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, and the broader disability community, fought hard for there to be a meaningful Independent Review of the AODA enshrined in that legislation. We wanted the
Independent Review to provide a real safeguard in case Ontario fell behind
schedule for achieving full accessibility by 2025. Many were concerned that
the AODA’s 20 year deadline was too long, and that action that is not swift
enough was a real risk after the AODA was enacted.

Last year, the disability community, and the obligated sectors invested a great deal of time and effort into giving their feedback to the Charles Beer
Independent Review. The Government agreed to include these independent
reviews in the AODA, and itself hand-picked Charles Beer to conduct the
review. The taxpayer paid for the Independent Review.

The Government has had sufficient time to review the Report and decide whether to fully implement it. It should now announce that it will implement all the Beer Report recommendations except the proposed delay in the next
Independent Review of the AODA.

Send us your feedback. Write us at:
aodafeedback@gmail.com

*****

ONTARIO HANSARD Monday May 31, 2010

NATIONAL ACCESS AWARENESS WEEK /

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Today marks the beginning of National Access Awareness Week. It’s a time for Canadians to think about what it means to live in a society that welcomes people of all abilities.

Nous célébrons cette année le cinquième anniversaire de l’adoption de la Loi
de 2005 sur l’accessibilité pour les personnes handicapées de l’Ontario par
l’Assemblée législative.

Under the act, we are developing province-wide accessibility standards to
break down barriers to make key areas of everyday life more accessible for
us all. Once in place, it will be the most comprehensive set of accessibility standards in the world. It’s important for us to realize what this will mean for our province.

When people with disabilities cannot fully participate in our community, we miss out on our own potential.

Improving accessibility is critical to strengthening our economy. Canadians
with disabilities spend $25 billion every year and influence the spending decisions of 12 to 15 million other customers. Accessible businesses will be
better positioned to attract these customers and will also be able to
capitalize on an expanded labour market that includes Ontarians with
disabilities.

N’oubliez pas non plus les personnes âgées. La population de la province
vieillit. Cela veut dire qu’un plus grand nombre de personnes vont être confrontées à des obstacles qui leur étaient étrangers auparavant.

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Accessible customer service is now a requirement for our broader public
sector, and 96% of Ontario’s broader public sector has either reported full
compliance with the standard or is in the process of reporting.

Dans moins de deux ans, la norme d’accessibilité pour les services à la
clientèle entrera en vigueur dans les entreprises privées et les
organisations à but non lucratif. Nous tendons la main à ces organisations
en leur fournissant les outils et l’information dont elles ont besoin pour
assumer leurs engagements.

The development of the information and communication employment and transportation standards is currently under way. During the public review process, we heard consistently that businesses want the requirements of the
standards to be aligned. We listened and we agree.

>Notre prochaine étape consiste à incorporer les trois normes-emploi,
transport, et information et communications-dans un projet de règlement
rationalisé. Nous afficherons l’information au sujet de l’harmonisation de
ces normes dans les prochains mois pour satisfaire au processus d’examen
public.

This integrated approach will make the standards easier to understand and
implement. It will offer greater flexibility and reduce costs and regulatory
burden, all in keeping with our government’s Open for Business initiative.

More information about the progress we are making towards an accessible
Ontario is available in the 2009 annual report on the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which I have tabled in this House today.

I am also pleased to table the independent review of the AODA that was
recently completed by Mr. Charles Beer, who is in the House today. From
September to December 2009, Mr. Beer consulted extensively with individuals
and organizations across the province. I would like to thank Mr. Beer for
his dedication to this project.

Le rapport de M. Beer formule des recommandations spécifiques. Pour
certaines d’entre elles, comme l’harmonisation des normes, je suis fière de
vous annoncer que nous avons déjà fait de grandes avancées.

The progress we are making will make Ontario a world leader in accessibility. As we kick off National Access Awareness Week 2010, that is something we can all be proud of.

In closing, I would like to thank everyone in the House and those who have
helped us to develop the standard. Thank you for your co-operation, thank
you for making Ontario more accessible, and thank you for making Ontario a
leader in accessibility.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Responses?

Ms. Sylvia Jones: I rise today on behalf of Tim Hudak and the Progressive
Conservative caucus to mark National Access Awareness Week. Each year,
National Access Awareness Week encourages Canadians to think about and find
ways to break down the barriers faced by individuals with disabilities. The
barrier can be a building or a space design that limits mobility;
communication that limits understanding of information or lack of technology
that prevents information access; potentially limiting policies and
practices; and attitudes that foster discrimination. “Access” means more
than just removing barriers; it means changes in attitudes and supports that
allow all people with visible or invisible disabilities to be part of
community life.

People with learning, developmental and psychiatric disabilities or other
invisible impairments should not be forgotten when we strive for equal access. National Access Awareness Week promotes access for all people with
disabilities, including people with mobility, sensory, non-visible and
intellectual disabilities. It is very important that we raise awareness for
accessibility standards not only during this week of recognition but every
day. I fully support the intent to break down the barriers for Ontarians
with disabilities.

I recently had the opportunity to participate, alongside some of my
colleagues in the House, in the Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario’s
Chair-Leaders awareness event. I quickly found out my first barrier to
accessibility not too long after I got into my chair that day. As I made my
way to my office in this building, I realized that I could open my door and
I could knock on my door, but I could not get in my door. I had to have my
assistant come and open it for me. As I made my way through the narrow
doorway to get to my office, I again had to ask someone to move a table so
that I could have access to my own office.

While this experience gave me a deeper appreciation for what people in
wheelchairs experience daily, I know that I only experienced a small portion
of what that experience is like. I am sure there are many other daily tasks
like grocery shopping, transportation and work that are more difficult and
more time-consuming, which I did not get to experience.

I was happy to participate in this event and enjoyed meeting members of the
Ontario branch of the Canadian Paraplegic Association and discussing with
them the challenges they face with accessibility. I want to thank the
Canadian Paraplegic Association for their advocacy and for involving MPPs
and other politicians across the province in creating awareness. I’m sure
this will bring much discussion going forward as the province and
municipalities discuss accessibility issues within their own communities.

I also want to thank David Lepofsky, the AODA and members of the disabled
community who participated and presented at the committee on Bill 231, the
Election Statute Law Amendment Act. I was happy to see that the amendments
of the PC caucus addressed some of the concerns of the differently abled in
our community. In all, our party had seven motions accepted by the
government, which will ultimately strengthen accessibility during Ontario
elections.

That said, a number of our attempts to improve accessibility were rejected.
We tried to ensure involvement of the disability community by requiring the
Chief Electoral Officer to consult with Ontarians. We tried to make
information more accessible by requiring that documents be available on an
accessible website. We tried to ensure that the most cost-effective and
accessible means of voting in a provincial election would be available to
all Ontarians. However, as I said, these proposed amendments, among others,
were turned down.

While we made some progress in ensuring that our elections process is fair
and accessible to all Ontarians, we know we can do better, and it is
incumbent on us as legislators to keep that pressure on.

Mr. Michael Prue: I listened intently to the minister, and she started by
making the statement: “It’s time for Canadians to think about what it means
to live in a society that welcomes people of all abilities.” I don’t
disagree with that statement, but I think a much stronger statement-and the
statement that should have been made-is that it’s time for Canadians and
this Legislature to take all the initiatives that are necessary to make full
participation a reality, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today.

It was five years ago when we were in this House that the government
introduced a bill and talked about making participation a reality for
everyone in Ontario. Unfortunately, I think the one drawback to that bill
was that it has a 25-year time span, and 25 years is a long time for people
to wait to have equality. Twenty-five years is a long time in a government’s
or in any society’s life to tell people they have to wait and wait. A child
born at the time that legislation was proclaimed would be finished
university and starting a job, never having known what it was like to have
full equality.

I stand here today saying that I celebrate the contribution of people with
disabilities, but I think the government needs to do far more than simply
talk about it. The government needs to do far more than just say we’re
having more reports and more studies, and two years from now there are going
to be some regulation changes. I believe that the government has an
obligation, through the financial levers it has, to do a number of things.

The first is to start building supportive housing, especially for people who
have disabilities. That would include individuals with mental health issues,
addictions and disabilities of all types, so that they have supportive
housing, because we very often find that people with disabilities are among
our poorest citizens.

The second thing that I think the government needs to do is increase the
number of supportive housing units that are available to people with
disabilities. I think we need to change that ratio, so that people have full
access.

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We have to start looking at our attendant care legislation. For example,
people with spinal cord injuries require more hours of attendant service
than are currently available, and I am given to understand that most people
are limited to three hours a day of attendant service once they find
themselves in a chair, once they find, through spinal injures, that they’re
no longer able to care totally for themselves. They are limited, most times,
to three hours a day for attendant service, and I think we can do better.

We need to start looking at the inadequate Ontario disability support
incomes for our most vulnerable people and those who are disabled, because
right now, it’s a maximum of about $1,000 a month, which is totally
inadequate to live in anything except poverty. It is tantamount, if you are
disabled, for many people, to have your life lived in poverty. There’s no
real way out of it. I think we need to look, if people are disabled, that we
can do better than simply giving them $1,000 a month. I would suggest that
if the government can find monies to bail out banks and to give tax breaks
to the wealthy, then they should be able to find money for our most needy
citizens.

I think the government has also removed key income supports, such as the
special diet allowance, which isn’t doing much to help those who are
disabled in our community.

My colleague from the Conservative Party talked about changes to the
Election Act. New Democrats voted against that act, not because we didn’t
like what was in the act but because we didn’t think it did enough for the
disabled community. David Lepofsky came and suggested some 20 amendments
that could strengthen the act so that persons with disabilities could run
for office and could vote. We put forward all 20 of those amendments. Every
single one of them was defeated by the government. Accessible voting places
was defeated by the government, accessible returning offices was defeated by
the government, accessible ballots was defeated by the government, and
accessible all-candidates meetings was defeated by the government. I think
we, as a Legislature, have to say that we can do more, and we should have
done more in that.

Last but not least, I want to just say that Gary Malkowski, a former member,
is here, and he is advocating flashing-light smoke detectors. It’s a small
item. I hope the government is listening to that one.

ONTARIO HANSARD June 1, 2010

Question Period

ACCESSIBILITY FOR THE DISABLED

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Acting Premier. Yesterday, the
independent review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians
with Disabilities Act was tabled. Five years ago, the McGuinty government
made a commitment to a fully accessible Ontario, but yesterday we learned
that Ontario is not on track to meet its 20-year target. Instead, the
implementation of the AODA is falling behind because of a complete lack of
leadership, coordination and enforcement.

When will this government adopt the recommendations in the independent
review?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: To the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: First of all, let me thank Charles Beer for his
report. We asked for this independent review, and I want to thank him for
the good report that he wrote. A lot of his recommendations-we’re already in
progress to accomplish them.

I am very proud of what this government has done with regard to
accessibility in Ontario. We have developed the standards in four areas, and
we are working on the built environment. You will understand, Mr. Speaker,
that the built environment is more challenging, but we have slowed down the
process, at the request of the disabled community, who wanted to be more
involved and to have time to review what we are proposing-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The government had the last three months to study this
report. The recommendations that advocates are telling us they want to see
prioritized are simply common sense. They are: Designate a ministry and a
deputy minister responsible for disability issues, so some leadership
actually can take place on this issue, and create a clear process of
enforcement.
Is this government prepared to get serious about meeting its disability
targets and implementing all of the recommendations in that report, or will
it sit back as Ontario falls further and further behind in achieving its
goals of full accessibility by 2025?

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Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I can assure the House that we are in a good
position to be fully accessible by 2025. I want to thank all of those who
helped us to develop standards. We have hundreds of people sitting on this
committee to help us to develop the standards.
It’s very easy for the leader of the third party to talk about
accessibility, but what did they do when they were in power? Nothing.
They’re now here to criticize instead of helping all of us to make sure that
it works.

We will be on time. Before the end of this year, the five standards will be
in place. We’re very proud of the progress we have made. Again, thanks to
everyone who helped us in that endeavour.