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2013 AODA Summary: The Year of Doing Nothing, And Writing About It

By Victor Schwartzman
December 16, 2013

These columns began in mid-2013, after the Ontario Government failed to meet a legislated deadline to appointment a new AODA reviewer. So the columns began about nothing, and that’s pretty much how it’s been ever since. Week after week, the Ontario Government did nothing to implement AODA, except perhaps lie. Week after week, nothing new had to be written about. Writing a weekly column felt necessary because so little was being written about AODA implementation. However, writing about nothing every week proved to have its challenges.

This, thankfully, is not another column about nothing.

It is a summary of the implementation of accessibility legislation in Ontario during 2013.

At first, the intention was to write a Top Ten List of Accomplishments, but there I couldn’t think of any. But nothing is farther from the truth than to think that nothing has happened in 2013. For starters, Ontario’s legislation inspired a growing movement. As 2013 draws to a close, the accessibility movement has spread like the tentacles of an octopus to Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

Perhaps using an octopus as a symbol for accessibility law is not a good choice. Okay. But it’s a great choice for accessibility law implementation. Octopi have a creepy aura, and for some people so does access legislation which sticks its tentacles into their business. Also, octopi have short and ineffective lifespans and, despite having many tentacles with which to reach out, never seem to get anywhere. So octopi are really quite similar to accessibility legislation implementation, especially the part where they live under water.

Yet, similar legislation is well underway in Manitoba and is being pushed for in Nova Scotia. How can this be, given the failure of the AODA legislation to be implemented in Ontario? There are two reasons.

First, people who have disabilities and their advocates have grown desperate. After half a century of human rights law, little has changed. Those most involved in the issues felt a whole new law was necessary.

Second, Canadian politeness. People in Ontario knew what was going wrong but being good Canadians they did not tell anyone else. So it took a long time for the folks in Manitoba and other Provinces to find out that things were not quite right in Ontario. Of course, first it took a long time for Ontario advocates to get implementation information from the Ontario Government. Being polite is a Canadian trademark. Smiling at someone and not telling them what you really think is who Canadians are.

Perhaps by now you are thinking, this summary of AODA implementation in 2013 appears to be another column about nothing. It also seems to continually divert illogically from the topic, whatever that topic actually is. Occasionally, this column has even been devious. All of this is on purpose. This column is in both form and content a completely reasonable summation of AODA implementation in 2013.

Be that as it may, what can one learn from the Ontario Government’s implementation of AODA during 2013? Plenty! No nothing there! Since 2005, Ontario has become a role model for how Governments can manage accessibility legislation. Although ironically the model is only useful if the Government wishes to accomplish nothing.

The Ontario Government has quietly become a leader among Governments, and that is something! As proof, recently the B.C. Government called for a survey of people with disabilities on what they need. The Government is regularly told by such people what they need, including in law suits. The same Government conducted a similar survey in 2007, so a new survey is apparently irrelevant (there are lots of irrelevants in this circus.)

Not irrelevant at all! The Ontario experience spreads. Even before considering access legislation, the B.C. Government is already keeping those wheels spinning while still going nowhere.

Interprovincial collegiality about doing nothing on access issues bonds us coast to coast as Canadians. Aren’t you proud?

Next: Top Ten List To Look For In 2014: Nothing Really But Let’s Not Get Into That Again

Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satiric column to Accessibility News–nothing in these columns is true except what they are about. His graphic novel (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, www.redfez.net. He also contributes a monthly poetry review to the online magazine, Target Audience (www.targetaudiencemagazine.com.), has had poetry and short fiction published (by someone else), and has edited novels.