Ontario’s goal of becoming an accessible province by 2025 relies on the enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In the Second Legislative Review of the AODA, reviewer Mayo Moran prepared recommendations aimed at ensuring successful enforcement. These include making an enforcement plan, building transparency into the plan, and incorporating feedback into compliance and enforcement.
The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has made key strides in enforcement. A big step is the publishing of the annual Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report. This report details the activities undertaken by the directorate throughout the year to ensure compliance. The proactive communication and outreach strategies, as well as the reactive verifications of compliance that the directorate performs is included.
AODA Compliance Reports
The directorate requires organizations submit accessibility compliance reports. The report is a self-assessment of the organizations’ status with all provincial accessibility requirements. In 2017, every sector had to submit a report, meaning that 56,000 organizations were required to submit their reports. According to the directorate, 94% of the reports indicated their organizations were in full compliance. It should be noted, however, the directorate received reports from 24,000 of the 56,000 organizations that were required to comply.
The directorate can perform audits on organizations. Those that submit their compliance reports and those that failed to do so are equally open to audits. The directorate has different levels of audits:
- P1 audits are directed at helping organizations file their reports.
- P2 audits are conducted to confirm compliance with the accessibility requirements of the AODA and its regulations.
The directorate performs P2 audits based on a variety of requirements. The requirements are not the same across all organizations. In 2017, the P2 audits targeted the accessibility requirements in hiring and employment. The audits also collected data on four accessibility requirements that are verified year-over-year to identify trends.
Accessibility Compliance Plans
The directorate negotiates a plan with any organization that is found to be non-compliant during an audit. The compliance plan will outline the necessary steps and timelines for compliance. If an organization is found non-compliant during a P2 audit and fails to implement the necessary steps, the directorate refers the organization to an inspector. The inspector will recommend enforcement measures to a director. Under the AODA, these enforcement measures can include:
- Executing search warrants.
- Issuing Director’s Orders to comply.
- Levying administrative monetary penalties.
Finally, the directorate performs blitzes that are targeted at specific sectors. Each sector is audited with industry specific requirements. In 2017, there were 291 blitzes targeting tourism and manufacturing.
If Ontarians want to enjoy a fully accessible Ontario by 2025, it is essential the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario takes an active approach in enforcing the measures of the AODA. As evidenced by its annual report, the directorate has taken important steps towards strengthening their role in verification and enforcement.