Every four years, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario appoints someone to review the AODA. This reviewer spends time meeting with the public, especially people with disabilities, discussing possible improvements the AODA might need. Based on this public feedback, the reviewer writes a report about how effective the AODA and its mandates are. In addition, the reviewer recommends steps the government can take to improve the Act. However, in order for this process to be useful, the government needs to take these steps for implementing the third review of the AODA.
Implementing the Third Review of the AODA
The Honourable David C. Onley, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, wrote the third review of the AODA. In this review, he outlines many barriers that Ontarians with disabilities encounter every day. Moreover, Onley states that the current AODA does not do enough to remove or prevent barriers. In short, Onley states that the current AODA will not meet its deadline of making Ontario fully accessible by 2025.
Recommendations from Previous Reviews Ignored
Furthermore, Onley outlines steps that the first and second reviewers of the AODA have recommended. In many cases, the government has not yet taken these steps. Therefore, some of the steps Onley recommends repeat recommendations that other reviewers have already made. For instance, some recommendations that also appeared in the second review of the AODA are:
- Accessible government workplaces and services
- Creating more standards, and updating the AODA’s general provisions
- Removing barriers for people with environmental sensitivities
- Strengthening the Ontario Building Code and the Design of Public Spaces Standards
- Retrofitting buildings affordably
- New methods of enforcing the AODA
- A resource centre to help organizations learn how AODA standards apply to their services
Ontarians have waited six years for these improvements to the AODA.
Likewise, some recommendations that all three reviews of the AODA have made are:
- Renewal of government Leadership in Implementing the AODA
- Clarifying how the AODA relates to Ontario human rights law
- Fostering awareness of every-day accessibility
- A public education campaign on the business case for accessibility
- Tax incentives for removing barriers in buildings
Ontarians have waited ten years for these improvements to the AODA.
Results of Ignoring AODA Reviews
The reviews of the AODA describe important concerns facing citizens with disabilities today. However, based on these repeat recommendations, the reviews do not ensure widespread change and barrier removal. Though the government must hold and publicize these reviews, the AODA does not require the government to follow their recommendations. As a result, reviewers do diligent work to create these insightful documents, but people with disabilities continue to face the same barriers decade after decade.
The third review of the AODA provides vital recommendations and suggestions to help Ontario reach its goal of becoming accessible by 2025. However, based on the outcomes of previous reviews, it seems unlikely that the government will implement many of these valuable strategies for improving the province. If the government does not begin following the recommendations in these mandated reviews, the province may never become accessible. Instead, Ontarians will always face barriers that Onley calls “soul-crushing.” Without this change, Ontario will continue to be “not a place of opportunity” for citizens with disabilities.