By Franz Kafka, as told to Victor Schwartzman
February 24, 2014
First the Ontario Government was forced to reveal a massive failure by businesses to comply with AODA. Then Minister Hoskins promised that maybe 500 businesses (of many thousands) would be held accountable (at some time in the future, perhaps the same future in which AODA will be implemented.)
Then came the revelation that the Government possibly could have prevented the compliance failures by implementing a plan it had sat on for two years.
The plan was prepared by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. It is detailed, targeting 60,000 organizations for initial review (not Minister Hoskins’ 1,500.) The plan predicted a failure by businesses to send in required AODA forms. It detailed what should be done to correct the problem and how to ensure future compliance.
Why did the Government ignore its own plan to prevent businesses breaking the law? This is the question I, Franz Kafka, has been asked to explain. I am not certain why it was felt only Franz Kafka could understand this situation. To me, it seems quite normal.
My explanation takes the form of the following little fiction:
Frank walked into the office that morning feeling better than usual, even though yet another of his apartment neighbours had turned into a concrete block. The gray human shapes he had grown used to, but stepping around the increasing numbers of them in the hallways had become annoying.
When he walked into the Government administrative offices, the security guard asked for his identification, even though Frank had checked in with the same guard every working day for twelve years. The security guard from his cubicle floor smiled as he stepped off the elevator and asked who he was and for his identification, even though she had been the floor guard for eight years.
Frank felt comfortable with their behaviour. Many of his colleagues spent much of their time trying to forget everything about where they worked.
Inside his cubicle, Frank spent the morning putting the finishing touches on his plan to enforce compliance with AODA. This plan predicted that almost all private organizations would fail to file a required report. The reports were critical, as AODA compliance was based on self-reporting. So the plan provided a detailed way to ensure large scale compliance with the law. Frank was scheduled to present the plan that afternoon to a management meeting of his Department.
He enjoyed his work, which was to prepare plans for the Government to consider. To date, none of his plans had been implemented but he still was happy in his job because it was the closest he had come to his ambition, which was to write fantasy novels. It paid well and he felt he did something socially useful.
Frank worked on five separate projects. He attended five main meetings for each project each week, along with attending the related pre- and post-meeting meetings. More than half of his work time was spent in meetings or preparing for them.
This, however, was the first project Frank had chaired. It was important that it meet expectations.
Each committee had a budgeted amount of staff years. He brought in the project exactly on budget. That was important. Too many staff years spent and he would not chair another committee. Too few staff years, and he would be given another committee to chair but less time.
But bringing in the report on budget was not the only reason Frank was proud.
It was also the right length (about fifteen pages, with appropriate white space between the paragraphs.) Thick enough to demonstrate significant work had gone into it but not too thick to read if anyone wished. Detailed but not too detailed. Bold but cautious. It met all the criteria for a good project report.
In fact it was almost perfect. Frank thought it was missing something, but could not think what.
Then his manager phoned and told him that the afternoon meeting had been cancelled. He should simply forward the plan to his manager, who would then forward it to his manager and so on until it vanished.
Frank smiled. That made the report perfect.
It was a report prepared for a meeting which was cancelled, making recommendations the Department needed to say had been made but which would not be made so no changes would occur, prepared for a Deputy Minister who would not even show it to the Minister.
That was ideal. This project was done. Tomorrow he would be assigned a new additional project. And then, only seventeen more years until retirement!
Next: We Moved, Unpacked And Now My Wife Thinks The TV Is Too Big For The Living Room. Next Week: Troubles.
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 www.targetaudiencemagazine.com., has had poetry and short fiction published, and has edited novels. His email is email@example.com.