Ontario’s goal of becoming a fully 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 made recommendations aimed to determine who enforces AODA accessibility compliance requirements. These included making an enforcement plan, building transparency into the plan, and incorporating feedback into compliance and enforcement.
The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has made advances in enforcement, and a big step was the publishing of the annual Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report. This report details the activities throughout the year to ensure compliance. The proactive communication and outreach strategies, as well as the verifications of compliance that the directorate performs is included.
AODA Compliance Reports
The directorate, who enforces AODA accessibility compliance requirements, 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. Over 56,000 organizations were required to submit their reports and 94% of the reports indicated their organizations were in full compliance. However, only 24,000 of the 56,000 organizations were required to comply.
The directorate performs audits on organizations, and those who submit their compliance reports and those who failed to do so are open to audits. There are 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.
P2 audits are 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 collect data on four accessibility requirements that are verified on a yearly basis 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 outlines 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 an inspector to the organization. The inspector will then recommend enforcement measures to the director. Under the AODA, these measures enforce AODA Accessibility Compliance Requirements:
- Executing search warrants.
- Issuing Director’s Orders to comply.
- Levying administrative monetary penalties.
Finally, blitzes target specific sectors and 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. The directorate has taken important steps towards strengthening their role in verification and enforcement.