The government assigns one member of the Executive Council to be the Minister in charge of the AODA. Throughout the Act, this person is simply called the Minister. In this article, we will outline the tasks and responsibilities that the Minister is in charge of.
The Minister in Charge of the AODA
The Minister in charge of the AODA oversees the development of AODA standards to make the province more accessible. The Minister decides which people, industries, organizations, or sectors of the economy a standard applies to. In other words, the Minister mandates who must obey the standards once they are created. For instance, some sections of standards apply only to public sector organizations or large private businesses. Before developing standards, the Minister consults other Ministers who govern the industries or sectors that a standard will impact.
Overseeing Standards Development Committees
The Minister then creates standards development committees. These committees are groups of people who decide what rules a standard should include. The Minister invites people to be part of standards development committees. Committee members may include:
- People with disabilities
- Representatives from the industries or sectors that the standard will one day apply to
- Members of government organizations responsible for those industries or sectors
- Other people or organizations the Minister chooses to include
- Experts who advise the committee
- Members of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council
The Minister sets deadlines for the different stages of the committee’s work. In addition, the committee provides the Minister with reports on their progress creating the standard, upon request. Furthermore, the Minister may choose to pay committee members for their time and expenses. The Minister must make all this information, within a document called the terms of reference, public. For instance, the Minister can post the terms of reference on a government website or other location.
Submitting a Standard
Once a committee proposes an accessibility standard, the members submit it to the Minister. The Minister must make the proposed standard public, so that people can comment on it and recommend improvements. The Act suggests a forty-five-day time limit for comments. However, the Act gives the Minister the power to choose a different time limit. For instance, the Minister can extend the limit to accommodate someone with a disability, or for any other reason. The committee can then revise the proposed standard based on those public reactions and resubmit it to the Minister. Within ninety days of receiving the revised standard, the Minister must recommend how the government should respond. For instance, the Minister may recommend to the Lieutenant Governor that the standard be accepted:
- in whole
- in part
- with modifications
In other words, while the committee creates the standard, the Minister determines how much of it becomes law. Furthermore, the Minister must inform the committee of the response in writing.
The Minister and committee go through the same process when they make changes to an existing standard. For example, committees must review existing standards every five years. However, the Minister can choose to begin this process at an earlier time. Therefore, the Minister has a profound impact on how up-to-date the AODA is.
The Minister in charge of the AODA also writes a yearly report on how effective the Act is. In the report, the Minister analyzes how well the standards, committees, and enforcement procedures are fulfilling the AODA’s purpose. In short, the Minister has a very large influence on how soon the AODA will make Ontario accessible.