AODA Requirements for Private and Non-Profit Businesses with 50 or More Workers


The AODA has different requirements for different kinds of workplaces, depending on whether they are public or private and how many workers they have. Here we outline the AODA requirements for private and non-profit businesses with 50 or more workers.

How to Count Workers

First, to find out which set of rules your private or non-profit business needs to comply with, you need to know how to count your workers. You must count every worker who is:

  • Full-time
  • Part-time
  • Seasonal
  • Contract

Do not count:

  • Volunteers
  • Workers from outside Ontario
  • Independent contractors

Although you should not count these workers, you must still ensure that their work complies with AODA standards.

AODA Requirements for Private and Non-Profit Businesses with 50 or More Workers

Below we outline the AODA requirements for private and non-profit businesses with 50 or more workers.

Customer Service

Since January 1st, 2012, businesses have been required to provide accessible customer service. For instance, this involves:

  • Training all staff and volunteers to serve customers with a variety of disabilities
  • Keeping a written record of who has been trained and when
  • Welcoming service animals and support persons
  • Providing accessible ways for customers to offer feedback
  • Creating an accessibility policy and putting it into place

Since January 1st, 2014, businesses have been required to create accessibility policies and multi-year plans. An accessibility policy outlines what an organization’s accessibility goals are and its commitment to achieving those goals. An accessibility plan lists the steps the business intends to take to reach its goals.

Policies and plans have to be in writing. They must be available to the public on the business’s website in accessible formats and updated at least every five years. Employers must inform staff about the content of policies and plans so that workers can implement them.

Businesses must also consider how accessible self-service kiosks are when they are buying or designing new ones. This includes interactive electronic terminals where customers can:

  • Purchase groceries
  • Pay parking fees
  • Validate tickets
  • Renew licences

Since January 1st, 2015, all workers and volunteers must be trained on all accessibility laws that affect their work. In addition, there must be processes in place so that people with disabilities can provide feedback in accessible formats.

Accessible Information and Communication

Since January 1st, 2012, businesses must make emergency and public safety information, such as brochures or evacuation plans, available in accessible formats upon request. In addition, businesses must provide individualized emergency evacuation plans for all workers who require them.

Businesses must also make their websites accessible. You can start to do so by ensuring that your website complies with WCAG 2.0 guidelines. This rule applies to:

  • New websites
  • Old websites that are being updated significantly
  • New web content

Businesses must comply with Level A guidelines by January 1st, 2014, and with Level AA guidelines by January 1st, 2021.

Since December 31st, 2014, businesses have needed to file accessibility compliance reports confirming that they have fulfilled all accessibility requirements under the AODA. This process consists of filling out and submitting a government form. Businesses and non-profits must complete the report every three years. The next compliance report date will be December 31, 2020.

Since January 1st, 2016, all information available to the public must be offered in an accessible format whenever someone asks. Businesses should consult with the person making the request to find out how to provide the information in a way the person can access.

Accessible Employment

Since January 1st, 2016, employment practices, such as hiring, retaining workers, and career development, must be accessible. Businesses must have written records of how they intend to create plans for accommodating workers with disabilities, including how workers who have needed leaves of absence will return to work.

Accessible Design of Public Spaces

Since January 1st, 2017, all new or significantly renovated public spaces must be accessible. Public spaces include:

  • Recreational trails and beach access routes
  • Outdoor public eating areas
  • Outdoor play spaces
  • Accessible parking
  • Outdoor paths of travel
  • Service-related elements like service counters, fixed queuing lines and waiting areas

The above are AODA requirements for private and non-profit businesses with 50 or more workers. You must follow these requirements in order to comply. These standards affect your physical workspace, your workers, and customers or clients. If you implement these standards, you will be obeying the law. You will also open your business to a growing market of workers and customers with disabilities.

 



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Harsher Penalties to Stop Workplace Discrimination, Boost Accommodation


by Stuart Rudner
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Human rights legislation across the country prohibits discrimination on the basis of various protected grounds. Accessibility legislation such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in Ontario seeks to remove barriers to employment for people who have disabilities.

The message seems clear: in 2018, people should not be prevented from working due to barriers that have no relation to their ability to do their job. And yet our courts and tribunals continue to award nominal compensation when organizations discriminate against candidates or employees in contravention of human rights legislation.

As part of the training required in Ontario to comply with the AODA, we are to review videos such as this. The video is a well-written, simple yet powerful reminder of the challenges that people with disabilities face in the workplace. One of the examples is an individual who was interested in applying for a position as a disability counsellor. Unfortunately, he was not able to review the details of the position, as the website was not accessible, and his screen reader could not read it. When he called to inquire, he was told that they were busy and that someone would call back. No one ever did.

So, here’s my concern: if he had filed a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, he would likely have been told that his claim is worth something in the range of $5,000-$10,000. And, of course, to obtain that, he would have to go through a lengthy proceeding and, while having a lawyer is not necessary, it is certainly advisable, and would probably cost as much if not more than what he would receive. Is that really consistent with the message that we are trying to send?

In recent years, our firm has represented many individuals who have been discriminated against on the basis of grounds protected by human rights legislation. They include individuals with physical and psychological disabilities, pregnant employees, mothers with young children, and in one case, an individual who was discriminated against because she had an abortion. We have attended many mediations at the tribunal, which are typically presided over by vice-chairs, who could otherwise be the “judge.” And we have repeatedly been told that this type of case, where there is no harassment or assault, is worth closer to $0 than $30,000, so settlement should be in the $5,000-$10,000 range.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is time for courts and tribunals to put their money where their mouth is by awarding substantial damages when there is a breach of human rights. The costs associated with such discrimination cannot be seen as a cost of doing business. I said the same thing last fall in the context of workplace sexual harassment.

So how does this change? We have seen positive change in recent years. As I have said before in a previous The Lawyer’s Daily article: “Harassment is not tolerated as it once was. However, before we can take even more significant strides toward eliminating harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace, we have to remove any notion that allowing such conduct, the damage it does to the victims and others, and the risk of liability, is all simply a cost of doing business. Harassment should never go unpunished, no matter who the harasser is.”

Currently, there is little to dissuade an employer from discriminating against a pregnant employee, or an applicant with a disability. After all, the odds are that the individual will simply walk away. If they file a claim, you can simply throw a few thousand dollars at them to make it go away.

At the same time, human rights tribunals need to have the authority to award costs as our courts do. Under the current model, there is nothing to discourage frivolous complaints. We have represented many employers that have been the victim of such, having done nothing wrong but facing the reality that they may have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees in order to obtain a relatively hollow victory. That is not right.

And, of course, in some cases employers take advantage of the reality that they have deeper pockets than the complainant and know that the complainant will not be able to fund a claim all the way to hearing and will ultimately have to accept less than they are entitled to. Cost awards should be used in those circumstances as well.

Discrimination on the basis of personal characteristic that are entirely unrelated to employment is reprehensible. Barriers should be eliminated, not created. That is true whether we are discussing an individual who cannot get to the second-floor office because they are in a wheelchair, a female employee dismissed because she is pregnant or an applicant unable to proceed through the hiring process because it is not accessible.

Employers will take their duty to provide accessible workplaces, accommodate their employees and not discriminate when the penalties for breaching those duties are more than token amounts.

Stuart Rudner is a leading Canadian employment lawyer and mediator at Rudner Law. He can be reached at 416-864-8500 or [email protected]

Original at https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/7194/harsher-penalties-to-stop-workplace-discrimination-boost-accommodation-stuart-rudner



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AODA Alliance Presses the Ford Government to Immediately Lift Its Freeze on the Work of Standards Development Committees, Appointed under Ontario’s Disabilities Act To Make Recommendations on Needed Accessibility Standards


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

AODA Alliance Presses the Ford Government to Immediately Lift Its Freeze on the Work of Standards Development Committees, Appointed under Ontario’s Disabilities Act To Make Recommendations on Needed Accessibility Standards

August 29, 2018

          SUMMARY

The AODA Alliance today wrote the Ford Government’s Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho. It urges the Government to now lift its freeze on the mandatory work of advisory committees which have been appointed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to advise the Ontario Government on needed reforms to tear down accessibility barriers that 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities suffer from in the areas of access to education, to employment, to health care and to information and communication.

That letter, set out below, shows how the Government’s immediately lifting that freeze would help Ontarians with disabilities. It is consistent with the position of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party, including during the recent Ontario election. A continuation of that freeze contradicts the Party’s earlier statements, position and commitments.

With students heading back to school next week, the AODA Alliance’s letter emphasizes the pressing example of the Education Standards Development Committee, which has been frozen since the Ford Government was elected to power. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was appointed as a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. A new “Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities”, which the Ontario Human Rights Commission released today, shows that hundreds of thousands of students with disabilities in Ontario still suffer from too many disability barriers when they try to take part in Ontario’s education system.

The AODA Alliance today urges its supporters around Ontario to contact their MPPs, and to urge them to get the Ford Government to lift its ongoing freeze on the work of the Standards Development Committees. Let these Committees get back to work. Let them fulfil their mandatory duties under the Disabilities Act. Any delay in the work of these Standards Development Committees pushes Ontario further and further behind schedule for becoming fully accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, the Disabilities Act’s mandatory deadline for which all political parties, including the Tories, voted in 2005.

The history of the AODA Alliance’s multi-year campaign to get a strong, effective Education Accessibility Standard enacted in Ontario under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, is available at www.aodaalliance.org/education

For more information, contact the AODA Alliance at [email protected] or via Twitter @aodaalliance

          MORE DETAILS

Text of the August 29, 2018 Letter to Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

August 29, 2018

To: The Hon. Raymond Cho, Minister of Accessibility and Seniors

Via Email: [email protected] [email protected]

Frost Building South

6th Floor

7 Queen’s Park Cres

Toronto, ON M7A 1Y7

Dear Minister,

Re: Pressing Need for You to Now Lift Your Government’s Freeze on the work of Standards Development Committees Appointed Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

We write to ask you, as an immediate priority, to lift the freeze on the work of the four Standards Development Committees which have been appointed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. These Committees were appointed to make recommendations to the Ontario Government on measures needed to remove and prevent disability accessibility barriers that impede 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities in the important areas of access to education, to employment, to health care and to information and communication.

We very much appreciated the opportunity for a warm introductory phone call with you on August 23, 2018, and your office’s having reached out to invite us to take part in that call. During that call, I emphasized the pressing importance for your Government to let all the AODA Standards Development Committees get back to work now.

Let me offer, as an illustration, the example of the Education Standards Development Committee, whose work is now frozen. Next week, students head back to school. Over one third of a million students with disabilities in Ontario schools face too many disability barriers in Ontario’s education system. They number around one out of every six students. That huge number swells even larger when we add to it the barriers impeding students with disabilities in Ontario post-secondary education programs.

These barriers make it harder for students with disabilities to succeed in Ontario’s education system. They contribute to the high unemployment rate among Ontarians with disabilities.

We tirelessly campaigned for over six long years to get the former Ontario Government to agree to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA. An Education Accessibility Standard is needed to remove recurring accessibility barriers in our education system, so students with disabilities and their families don’t have to sue one barrier at a time, one education organization at a time. It could eliminate the need for each education organization to have to re-invent the same solutions, saving them money.

An Education Accessibility Standard would better serve students with disabilities. It would better support the efforts of the many dedicated people working throughout our education system, who want to ensure that students with disabilities can fully benefit from education programs. It would reinforce Ontario’s commitment to achieve an accessible province by 2025, the mandatory deadline enshrined in the AODA for which your Party unanimously voted in 2005.

Former Lieutenant Governor David Onley has said that the unemployment rate facing people with disabilities in Canada is not only a national crisis, but a national shame. We agree, and add that a good education is essential to get a good job.

Originally, Ontario’s education system was not designed to fully include students with disabilities in the mainstream. As one example, when 2016 began, only 85 of the Toronto District School Board’s 550 schools had physical accessibility. Historically, mainstream classroom teachers were trained to teach students without disabilities. Only special education teachers were trained to teach students with disabilities. Too often, classroom curriculum, gym and playground equipment, and new digital equipment in our education system lack universal design and the accessibility that students with disabilities need.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s ground-breaking 2003 report, The Opportunity To Succeed: Achieving Barrier-Free Education For Students With Disabilities, documented serious education accessibility barriers. Despite some progress, too many of these barriers still persist today. A new policy on accessible education which the Ontario Human Rights Commission unveiled today demonstrates this.

Removing and preventing accessibility barriers lets students with disabilities be fully included in and fully participate in our education system. When it was in the opposition, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party took much-appreciated action to pressure the former Ontario Government to agree to create an AODA Education Accessibility Standard, after that Government unjustifiably dragged its feet for years on our request for this. For example, it was only when PC MPP Bill Walker pressed Premier Wynne in Question Period in the Legislature on December 5, 2016 that she finally agreed to create an Education Accessibility Standard.

After that, the former Ontario Government again dragged its feet for over one year before setting up the required Standards Development Committee to develop recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include. We very much appreciated PC MPP Sam Oosterhoff pressing the former Ontario Government in Question Period on April 13, 2017 to end that inexcusable delay.

I was honoured earlier this year to be appointed to serve as a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. Once we were finally appointed, we got right to work. We held two meetings, one in February and one in April. Our third meeting was scheduled for June 21 and 22, 2018. However, after the June Ontario election, but before your Government was sworn in, the Ontario Public Service cancelled that meeting, pending briefing the new Government. It froze all the work of any of the four Standards Development Committees then in operation.

Your government has not lifted that freeze since then. We have repeatedly tweeted to various MPPs to get this freeze lifted. We also identified this for you as a priority in our July 17, 2018 letter to you and its enclosed briefing note, and in our July 19, 2018 letter to Premier Ford. These list AODA priorities for you and the Premier. Neither your August 15, 2018 letter to us nor Premier Ford’s July 31, 2018 reply to us specifically address this request.

During the ongoing period of this freeze, your Ministry asked members of our K-12 Standards Development Committee to hold the week of September 24, 2018 for a possible next meeting. However last week, we were told to no longer hold that week.

The Chair of the K-12 Standards Development Committee advised our Committee that she briefed you back on July 20, 2018 on the work of our committee. However she has had no information to give us since then on when our work might resume.

Your Government has not indicated when it will decide on lifting this freeze, or on when our next meeting might take place. We were originally told that the freeze was to take place pending the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario briefing you. You now have been briefed by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, by the chair of the K-12 Standards Development Committee, and by us.

A resumption of the work of the Standards Development Committees which were already appointed is required under the AODA. These Committees have a statutory job to complete. This is not a discretionary matter.

There is no reason to delay the resumption of the work of the Standards Development Committees which have been appointed under the AODA. All those Committees can do is to make recommendations to the Government. They do not themselves adopt any policies or enact any accessibility standards. Once they give the Government their recommendations, your Government will have the freedom to decide what to enact in accessibility standards. Your Government will not be bound to follow any or all of their recommendations.

Lifting this freeze now is the first important step your government can easily take to fulfil its election commitments in this area. During the recent Ontario election campaign, your Party recognized that students with disabilities face too many barriers, and that the importance of tackling those barriers as part of the AODA’s intent. In his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out the PC Party’s election pledges on accessibility, Doug Ford wrote:

“Too many Ontarians with disabilities still face barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education, use our healthcare system, buy goods or services, or eat in restaurants.

Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA in 2005 was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities.

For the Ontario PCs, this remains our goal. Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.”

On your Party’s behalf, Doug Ford there also recognized the importance of tackling the barriers in Ontario’s education system, when he wrote:

“The Ontario PC Party believes our education system must minimize barriers for students with disabilities, providing the skills, opportunities and connections with the business community that are necessary to enter the workforce.”

Premier Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to us also recognized the leading role that Christine Elliot plays in the area of disability policy, writing:

“Christine Elliott, our former Health Critic and Deputy Leader, has been a tireless advocate for Ontarians with disabilities.”

Christine Elliot was designated to speak for your Party at the May 16, 2018 province-wide all-candidates’ debate on disability issues. At that debate, she spoke eloquently and passionately about the need to more effectively implement the AODA, and to take effective action on the barriers impeding students with disabilities in Ontario’s education system.

Under the former Ontario Government, Ontario fell behind schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025, the AODA’s mandatory goal. The three month delay in the work of the Standards Development Committees, since the election of your Government, has pushed Ontario further behind schedule for reaching that goal. Any further delay in our getting back to work pushes Ontario even further behind schedule.

Please now lift your Government’s freeze on the work of the Standards Development Committees. Let us get back to work. We are eager to do whatever we can to help your Government succeed in fulfilling its mandate under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Premier Doug Ford [email protected]

Marie-Lison Fougère, Deputy Minister of Accessibility, [email protected]

Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, [email protected]



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David Onley Schedules Public Hearings of the Third Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Without Notifying the AODA Alliance – Dates Coming Up Fast


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

David Onley Schedules Public Hearings of the Third Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Without Notifying the AODA Alliance – Dates Coming Up Fast

August 24, 2018

          SUMMARY

In February 2018, the previous Ontario Government appointed David Onley to conduct the next mandatory Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We have just recently learned through the grapevine that Mr. Onley has already scheduled some public hearings for this Independent Review. We set out his announcement below, taken from the website of that Independent Review.

We regret that this notification to you is so last-minute. However, the David Onley Independent Review did not notify us about any of this. As our website shows, in the case of the two earlier AODA Independent Reviews, in 2010 by Charles Beer and 2014 by Mayo Moran, we were active in publicizing the dates for their public hearings, and active in encouraging people to take part in them. We were unable to do this sooner, in the case of Mr. Onley’s review, as he has not contacted us to alert us about these dates, or to get our help in publicizing them.

We have also heard via the grapevine and on Twitter that Mr. Onley has held some earlier round-table discussions with invitees from the disability community. We were not invited to take part in any of those sessions. This is so, even though the AODA Alliance has been widely recognized for years as leading the non-partisan campaign in Ontario for accessibility.

Despite this last-minute notice, we encourage everyone to try to take part in these hearings. From our review, it does not appear that any public hearings are scheduled now for Toronto. If we learn of any, we will let you know. From the information set out below, some sort of event was held last June at Variety Village. It will be important for people with disabilities and others in Toronto to be able to take part in public hearings in Toronto.

From the website which we set out below, we have also just learned that the David Onley AODA Independent Review has set October 1, 2018 as its deadline for receiving written submissions. We call on that Independent Review to extend that deadline. For our part, we are already working on our brief. We do not anticipate that it will be completed by October 1, 2018. We will submit it when it is finished.

We note from the information set out below that there are two public hearings scheduled for next week, in Ottawa and York Region. They are scheduled during the last week of the August holiday period, just before the Labour Day Long weekend. We are concerned that the turnout at those events will be less than would have been the case, had these been held in September.

We always welcome your feedback on this or any other topic. We also again invite any feedback for our brief to this AODA Independent Review. Write us at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

Text of the Home Page of the 2018 Third AODA Independent Review Web Page as of August 24, 2018

Originally posted at:

http://www.aodareview2018.ca/

AODA Review

Third Review of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Led by The Honourable David C. Onley

Ontario has appointed the Hon. David Onley, CM, O.Ont., senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough and Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor, to lead a review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

The AODA’s goal is to make Ontario accessible for people with disabilities by 2025, helping build a fair society in which everyone can contribute their skills to our economy. Section 41 of the Act calls for a comprehensive review of the legislation and its effectiveness every few years. The review includes consulting with the public, in particular people with disabilities, in order to make recommendations.

The AODA uses the same definition of disability as the Ontario Human Rights Code, which includes both visible and non-visible disabilities.

About 1.85 million people in Ontario have a disability—that’s one in seven people or more than 15 per cent of the population and more than 40 per cent of those over age 65. As the population ages the number will rise to one in every five Ontarians. More than half of the population has a friend or loved one with a disability.

David C. Onley is the former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, having served from 2007 to 2014. He is now Senior Lecturer and Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where he teaches two senior seminar courses in Political Science – The Politics of Disability, and The Vice Regal Office in Canada. Prior to his appointment as Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Onley had a 22-year career with Toronto’s Citytv and was the first newscaster in Canada with a visible disability. Mr. Onley has been inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame and was named to the Order of Canada in 2017.

Quick Facts

  • The second review of the act was conducted by Mayo Moran, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, and was completed in 2015. The government has since implemented a number of Moran’s recommendations, including the appointment of a Minister Responsible for Accessibility and the development of new accessibility standards.
  • With the passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Ontario became an accessibility leader, establishing standards in key areas of daily life and implementing them within clear timeframes.
  • Accessibility standards have been developed in five key areas of daily living: customer service, information and communications, employment, transportation and the design of public spaces.
  • The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act includes legislative requirement for a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the act and its regulations every three years after tabling.
  • Ontario is working to develop new accessibility standards for health care and education to remove barriers.

Ways to get involved:

  • Call for Written Submissions

Until October 1, 2018 the Honourable David C. Onley will be accepting written submissions.

Text of the Web Page of the 2018 Third AODA Independent Review Meeting Schedule as of August 24, 2018

Originally posted at:

http://www.aodareview2018.ca/how-to-participate/events/

Over the course of 2018, Mr. Onley will engage with communities and individuals to listen and gather information with the end goal of creating a comprehensive report that captures many voices and views on accessibility in Ontario.

Public Consultation – Ottawa, Ontario

Location: Carleton University

Address: 1125 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa ON

Date: Monday August 27, 2018

Time: 2pm – 5pm

https://events.carleton.ca/have-your-say-on-the-aoda/

Public Consultation – The Regional Municipality of York

Location: York Region Administrative Centre, Seminar Room

Address: 17250 Yonge Street, Newmarket ON L3Y 6Z

Date: Wednesday August 29, 2018

Time: 12pm – 5pm

Register for Public Consultation – The Regional Municipality of York

Online Session

Date: Thursday August 30, 2018

Time: 2pm – 5pm

Register for Online Session

Public Consultation – Thunder Bay, Ontario

Location: Lakehead University

Room Conference Room A & the Fireside Lounge

Address: 955 Oliver Rd, Thunder Bay, ON, P7B 5E1

Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018

Time:: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Register for Public Consultation – Thunder Bay

Public Consultation – Windsor, Ontario

Location:

Address:

Date: tbd

Registration available soon

Past Events

Public Consultation Launch – Scarborough, Ontario

Location: Variety Village

Address: 3701 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M1N 2G2

Date: Monday June 25, 2018

Register For Public Consultation Launch – Scarborough

Third Review of Accessibility Act for Ontarians with Disabilties (AODA)

1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4



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Premier Ford and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho Write the AODA Alliance In Response to Our Recent Letters Recommending Key Accessibility Priorities for The Premier and Minister


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Premier Ford and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho Write the AODA Alliance In Response to Our Recent Letters Recommending Key Accessibility Priorities for The Premier and Minister

August 16, 2018

          SUMMARY

We recently received letters from Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford, and Ontario’s new Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho. These are the first official statements by the Ford Government on accessibility for people with disabilities, since it took office, as far as we have seen. We make these letters public in this Update. The text of these letters is set out below.

As well, the office of Accessibility Minister Cho appears to be now reaching out to stakeholders for introductory calls with the minister. It reached out to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to arrange an introductory phone call. That is scheduled to take place on August 23, 2018.

By way of background, the non-partisan AODA Alliance reached out to Ontario’s new Doug Ford Government right after it was elected to power in June of this year. We offered constructive advice on priorities for action in the area of accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

On July 17, 2018, we wrote Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho. We sent him a detailed briefing note, to bring him up to speed on the key accessibility issues that fall within his mandate as Accessibility Minister. Our briefing note identified these challenges facing him as Accessibility Minister:

  1. a) Ontario is behind schedule for reaching for accessibility by 2025.
  1. b) Ontario needs a multi-year plan to ensure the Government leads Ontario to full accessibility by 2025.
  1. c) AODA enforcement is far too weak.
  1. d) The development of new AODA accessibility standards has been too slow.
  1. e) The Ontario Government has failed to effectively use all available levers of Government power to promote accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.
  1. f) There are recurring problems at the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.
  1. g) Visible Government enthusiasm about achieving the AODA’s goals has reduced.

Our briefing note for the minister then identifies these priorities for the minister, all of which fall within his mandate:

  1. Develop an effective 6.5-year plan for Government action that will ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025, the AODA’s deadline.
  1. Immediately lift the Ontario Public Service’s current freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees, which have been working on recommendations for the Government in the areas of education, health care, employment, and information and communication.
  1. Free up the unduly narrow mandate of the Health Care Standards Development Committee that is now developing recommendations on what the Government should include in a Health Care Accessibility Standard, so it can consider any part of Ontario’s health care system. The previous Government tried to restrict that Committee to barriers in the hospital sector.
  1. Get a Standards Development Committee appointed to develop recommendations on accessibility standards needed to address barriers in the built environment, in residential housing, and in existing buildings whether or not they are undergoing major renovations.
  1. Working with the AODA Alliance and the disability community, identify any other areas of our economy where an AODA accessibility standard will be needed, to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025. After that, the Government should appoint any Standards Development Committee needed to develop recommendations in for those sectors of the economy.
  1. Effectively improve Ontario’s weak Customer Service Accessibility Standard, by bringing together representatives from the disability sector and obligated organizations to produce recommendations to strengthen the existing AODA Customer Service Accessibility Standard.
  1. Substantially strengthen the weak enforcement of the AODA.
  1. Spearhead efforts within the Ontario Government to ensure that all levers of power, open to it, are effectively used to promote accessibility for people with disabilities. For example, a comprehensive strategy is needed to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.
  1. Substantially strengthen the previous Government’s limited strategy for expanding employment for people with disabilities.
  1. Get the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to restore the robust relationship it had prior to the most recent five years with the AODA Alliance.
  1. Get the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to stop trying to directly or indirectly influence the agenda, work and recommendations of Standards Development Committees.

Two days later, we wrote Premier Doug Ford on July 19, 2018. We identified nine priority actions for him, as premier, on the topic of accessibility for people with disabilities. These are all actions that fall within the exclusive mandate of the premier, as leader of the Ontario Government. We recommended that Premier Ford:

  1. Issue written directions to the Secretary of the Cabinet, and to all cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and associate deputy ministers, to take effective action to ensure that the Ontario Government leads Ontario to full accessibility by 2025. Please include specific directions on this in Mandate Letters to each cabinet minister.
  1. Direct the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho to act on the priorities which the AODA Alliance identified for him in our July 17, 2018 Briefing Note.
  1. Have the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors now lift the freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees which the Ontario Public Service recently imposed, pending briefing ministers, as this has stalled progress on developing recommendations for the Government, including in the urgent area education for students with disabilities (an area where the PC Party had commendably helped us press the previous Ontario Government for action, in the face of many Government delays).
  1. Direct cabinet ministers to develop, implement, enforce and publicize effective across-the-board policies and practices to ensure that the public’s money is never used to finance barriers against persons with disabilities, especially in spending on infrastructure, procurement, research, innovation or other business grants or loans. This effort should be led by the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Infrastructure, the Minister of Government Services, the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors and the Treasury Board President. The Secretary of the Cabinet should be directed to devise an action plan to ensure that this is embedded across the Ontario Public Service.
  1. Direct the Secretary of the Cabinet to implement effective new strategies to ensure the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible employer and service provider, and to ensure that disability accessibility is embedded in all vital Government decisions.
  1. Direct that a full-time deputy minister or associate deputy minister position be immediately created, as a Chief Accessibility Officer, with lead responsibility and authority for ensuring that the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible workplace and service provider.
  1. Direct the Secretary of the Cabinet to require each Ministry’s Accessibility Lead be made a full-time position, reporting to the deputy minister of that Ministry, with needed accessibility expertise.
  1. Direct the Attorney General and Municipal Affairs Minister to prepare and introduce an omnibus bill to address barriers impeding voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections, after designating one of those ministers with responsibility to lead this project.
  1. Direct the Attorney General to lead a comprehensive review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers, and to complete it in the next two and a half years, in consultation with the disability community, with a view to bringing an omnibus bill before the Legislature to fix any disability accessibility barriers found.

With this background, let’s turn to the Ford Government’s recent responses to our two letters. First, on July 31, 2018, Premier Ford emailed us. Premier Ford thanked us for our contact, and responded to us as follows:

“I note that you’ve sent a copy of your email to the Honourable Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. As this issue falls in his area of responsibility, I’ve asked that Minister Cho or a ministry staff member respond to you as soon as possible.”

The Premier’s letter meant that we must look to Minister Cho for the Government’s responses to both the recommendations in our July 17, 2018 letter to the Minister, as well as our July 19, 2018 letter to the Premier. On August 15, 2018, we received an email from Accessibility Minister Cho. The substance of his response is set out in these two paragraphs:

“Through the development of policies and programs across government, we are committed to meeting the needs of seniors and people with disabilities to improve their quality of life and help them lead safe, engaged, active and healthy lives.

Delivering on the province’s goal of achieving accessibility in Ontario by 2025 remains a key component of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). We will continue to work towards supporting people with disabilities in obtaining meaningful employment so they can fully participate in the Ontario economy. I appreciate the insights and views you have shared. I look forward to continuing to work with all our partners, to ensure that seniors in our province receive the best care and support we can provide, and to promote and improve accessibility across Ontario.”

In the meantime, we have received no public indication of when or if the Ford Government will lift the freeze on the work of the various Standards Development Committees  that were working on recommendations for the Ontario Government before the June 2018 Ontario election. Below we set out the July 12, 2018 letter which Ontario’s Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, Ann Hoy, appears to have sent to all members of Standards Development Committees, and to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council, also appointed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Among others, it was sent to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who is a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.

This letter in effect reaffirms this freeze, and gives no indication of whether or when it will be lifted. Its key passage is as follows:

” Please note that the Minister is in the process of receiving briefings on key files related to accessibility and seniors. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division will connect as soon as possible with information on Accessibility Standards Advisory Council and Standard Development Committee meetings when it becomes available.

In the meantime, as no Standards Development Committee or Accessibility Standards Advisory Council work/research is required or has been assigned we are not in a position to reimburse members until direction has been provided. If you have any further questions, please contact [email protected].”

We understand that almost one month ago, on July 20, 2018, the chair of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee met with Accessibility Minister Cho to brief him on the work of the committee. However, as recently as yesterday, August 15, 2018, we have gotten no further information on whether or when the Education Standards Development Committee or any other existing Standards Development Committee will resume its work. We have tweeted several times on Twitter to several members of the Ontario Legislature about the pressing need for all Standards Development Committees  to get back to work. Ontario continues to fall behind schedule for becoming accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

In other accessibility news, we remind one and all in the Toronto area to try to attend tonight’s town hall meeting at 7 to 8:30 pm Toronto Time, on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. It is organized by Member of Parliament Arif Virani. His office confirms that at this event there will be American Sign Language interpretation and real time captioning. As well, we are told that the event will be live streamed at:

http://www.Facebook.com/ArifViraniMP

          MORE DETAILS

July 31, 2018 Letter/Email from Premier Doug Ford to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thanks for your email about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. I appreciate hearing your concerns and recommendations.

I note that you’ve sent a copy of your email to the Honourable Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. As this issue falls in his area of responsibility, I’ve asked that Minister Cho or a ministry staff member respond to you as soon as possible.

Thanks again for contacting me.

Doug Ford

Premier of Ontario

c:      The Honourable Raymond Cho

Please note that this email account is not monitored. For further inquiries, kindly direct your online message through https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx.

August 15, 2018 Letter/Email from Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

August 15, 2018

Mr. David Lepofsky

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Via Email

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter of congratulations on my appointment as Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. I appreciate your kind words of support and am honoured that the Premier has entrusted me with this important responsibility on behalf of the people of Ontario.

Through the development of policies and programs across government, we are committed to meeting the needs of seniors and people with disabilities to improve their quality of life and help them lead safe, engaged, active and healthy lives.

Delivering on the province’s goal of achieving accessibility in Ontario by 2025 remains a key component of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). We will continue to work towards supporting people with disabilities in obtaining meaningful employment so they can fully participate in the Ontario economy. I appreciate the insights and views you have shared. I look forward to continuing to work with all our partners, to ensure that seniors in our province receive the best care and support we can provide, and to promote and improve accessibility across Ontario.

Yours truly,

Raymond Cho

Ontario Minister for Seniors and Accessibility

July 12, 2018 Letter/Email from Assistant Deputy  Minister for

Accessibility Ann Hoy to Members of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council and Standards Development Committees

Dear Council and Committee Chairs and Members,

Premier Doug Ford announced his Cabinet on Friday June 29th, 2018. The Honourable Raymond Cho is the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. A full list of Cabinet can be found here: www.ontario.ca

Please note that the Minister is in the process of receiving briefings on key files related to accessibility and seniors. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division will connect as soon as possible with information on Accessibility Standards Advisory Council and Standard Development Committee meetings when it becomes available.

In the meantime, as no Standards Development Committee or Accessibility Standards Advisory Council work/research is required or has been assigned we are not in a position to reimburse members until direction has been provided. If you have any further questions, please contact [email protected]

Thank you for your continued commitment to making Ontario accessible.

Sincerely,

Ann Hoy

Assistant Deputy Minister

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division

Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility

416 325-5247

www.ontario.ca/accessibility



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Come to the August 16, 2018 Toronto MP’s Town Hall on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act, and Urge your Member of Parliament to Also Hold A Town Hall on This Bill


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Come to the August 16, 2018 Toronto MP’s Town Hall on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act, and Urge your Member of Parliament to Also Hold A Town Hall on This Bill

August 14, 2018

          SUMMARY

Are you in the Toronto area? Come to the Thursday, August 16, 2018 town hall meeting on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. This event is being organized by Arif Virani, Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park. The details of this event are set out below. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky will be one of the panelists speaking at this event. To get a free ticket to this event, sign up at www.arif-virani.eventbrite.ca

We thank MP Arif Virani for organizing this event. The AODA Alliance is happy to take part in this event. We are told that there will be American Sign Language interpretation at this event.

The organizers advise that they are trying to also arrange real time captioning, but this has not yet been confirmed. If you wish to find out what accessibility accommodations are provided, or to request any accommodation, contact the organizers by emailing [email protected]

Here is our key message about Bill C-81. Bill C-81 is a good start. However, it needs to be strengthened in order to be a good law. Our concerns largely boil down to these five points:

  1. The bill’s purpose, the progressive realization of a barrier-free Canada, is too weak. The bill needs to set a deadline by which Canada is to become accessible to people with disabilities, in so far as the Federal Government can achieve this.
  1. It is good that the bill gives the Federal Government a range of powers to promote the goal of accessibility for people with disabilities. However the bill doesn’t impose duties on the Federal Government to use those powers or time lines for action to implement this bill. For example, it lets the Federal Government enact enforceable accessibility standards but doesn’t require the Federal Government to ever do so.
  1. It is good that the bill aims to have a broad reach. However, it needs to be amended to ensure that it reaches all disabilities, all kinds of accessibility barriers, and all the organizations and activities that the Federal Government can reach.
  1. It is good that the law includes a range of powers for its implementation and enforcement. However, it will be unnecessarily complicated and confusing for people with disabilities to navigate. The bill splinters the bill’s implementation and enforcement across some four federal agencies. It should be amended to consolidate all of this in the proposed new Accessibility Commissioner, so people with disabilities will have clear, simple one-stop enforcement. The bill leaves too much to future federal regulations. The Federal Government may never enact them. A future Federal Government could gut this bill in private, by amending or repealing those regulations, without a word of public debate in Parliament.
  1. The bill does not ensure that the Federal Government uses all the levers of power it can to promote accessibility for people with disabilities. For example, it is good that the bill lets the Federal Government require accessibility of the goods and services it purchases. However, the bill doesn’t ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers in all areas, like the infrastructure in which the Federal Government invests public money. It doesn’t require that voting in federal elections become accessible for voters with disabilities, or that all federal laws are screened for accessibility problems.

We will be listening carefully to the input provided at this town hall. We will take that feedback into account as we work towards finalizing our draft brief to the Federal Government on Bill C-81 that we recently posted for public comment. We welcome your feedback by August 24, 2018 on our draft brief or on our short summary of that brief.

We encourage people across Canada to urge their own Member of Parliament from any of the federal parties to organize a similar town hall meeting on Bill C-81. Let us know about any such events, so we can do what we can to publicize them. We’d be happy to provide a speaker, if they’d like, either in person or over the internet.

The AODA Alliance is eager for Bill C-81 to be strengthened through amendments, and to be unanimously passed by Parliament before the fall 2019 federal election. To speed up the process at Parliament, we urge all federal political parties to agree that the House of Commons and Senate will hold one set of joint public hearings on Bill C-81 this fall. Parliament did this in 1980-81, when it debated the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It can do it again. Joint hearings by the House of Commons and Senate will also make it easier for the public, who can present at one set of hearings, rather than having to twice present at House of Commons hearings, and later, at Senate hearings.

We also urge all federal political parties to agree that these hearings will travel across Canada. This will let local communities, and not just Ottawa, host public discussions of the bill.

For more background on this issue, we encourage you to check out Youtube so you can watch the online August 22, 2017 policy experts’ conference on what the promised national accessibility law should include.

          MORE DETAILS

Poster for the August 16, 2018 Town Hall Meeting on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

TOWN HALL ON RIGHTS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

On June 20, 2018, our government introduced the Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-Free Canada. The Accessible Canada Act represents the most significant piece of federal legislation for the rights of persons with disabilities in over 30 years – we are finally putting “Nothing about us without us” into action, legally requiring the participation of people with disabilities in decision making that directly impacts their lives. Join me for an informative Town Hall and bring your questions and comments about this critical issue.

Please RSVP, as space is limited.

We have now confirmed our panel of expert guests! Our panel includes:

  • Jeff Adams (Canadian Paralympian and six-time world champion in wheelchair sports)
  • Luke Anderson (Executive Director, Stop Gap Foundation)
  • Connie Dejak (President and CEO, Runnymede Healthcare Centre)
  • Nancy Smith (Accessibility Consultant)
  • Deborah Gold (Executive Director, Balance for Blind Adults)
  • Renu Mandhane (Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission)
  • Madeline Burghardt (Director at Large, West Toronto KEYS to INclusion)
  • David Lepofsky (Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance)

Location: Swansea Town Hall (Rousseau Room)

95 Lavinia Ave.

Toronto, ON M6S 3H9

Date:        Thursday, August 16, 2018

Time:        7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Register:  www.arif-virani.eventbrite.ca



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By August 24, 2018, Please Send Us Your Feedback on Our Draft Brief to the Federal Government and Parliament on Bill C-81, the Proposed “Accessible Canada Act”


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

By August 24, 2018, Please Send Us Your Feedback on Our Draft Brief to the Federal Government and Parliament on Bill C-81, the Proposed “Accessible Canada Act”

August 3, 2018

          SUMMARY

On June 20, 2018, the Federal Government introduced into Parliament Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, for debate. This bill is meant to be the promised national accessibility law that the Federal Government promised in the 2015 federal election. We and others have been campaigning for strong national accessibility legislation for years.

Bill C-81 is a good start, but needs significant strengthening to make it a good law. We are eager to get the bill strengthened and passed by the House of Commons and Senate well before the fall 2019 federal election.

This fall, we expect that this bill will come before Parliament for public hearings and public debates. We will have the chance at that time to propose amendments to the bill, to make it as strong and effective as we can. We need to be ready to jump into action at those public hearings. We’re busy getting ready.

We have been working since Bill C-81 was made public on June 20, 2018, trying to develop concrete and constructive recommendations for improvements to the bill. We have drawn on our experience with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the feedback we have received on Bill C-81 from our supporters, and our knowledge of experience with such legislation around the world. Building on all of that, we have written a draft brief. We want to get your feedback on it, and then finalize it. Our aim is to submit our finalized brief to the Federal Government and Parliament by the end of August.

We just made public our draft brief. It lists and explains 93 amendments to Bill C-81 that we seek. Email us your feedback on our draft brief by August 24, 2018 by writing us at [email protected]

You can download our draft brief in MS Word format by clicking on https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Aug-2-2018-AODA-Alliance-brief-on-Bill-C-81.docx

You can download the text of Bill C-81 at First Reading in Parliament by visiting:

https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2018/click-here-to-download-in-ms-word-the-text-at-first-reading-june-20-2018-of-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act/

Below, we set out a five-page summary of the draft brief. If you don’t have time to read the entire draft brief, feel free to send us feedback on the ideas in this summary. The summary spells out what is good in the bill. It identifies the key parts of the bill that need to be improved. It then summarizes the key recommendations in the draft brief.

Our draft brief is quite long and detailed. This is because Bill C-81 is itself over 100 pages long, and quite complicated.

For each issue we identify in the draft brief itself, we explain what the issue is, and quote the relevant part of the bill. We explain our concerns, and make concrete recommendations on how to address those concerns.

At the end of the draft brief is Appendix 1. It gathers together in one place all the recommendations set out in the draft brief.

This brief builds on the AODA Alliance’s preliminary analysis of the bill which we raced to make public the day after the bill was tabled in Parliament. We want to emphasize that this draft brief is still very much a work in progress. We welcome feedback so we can figure out what to change in the draft brief, if anything, before we come up with the final finished product.

We are so indebted to all who have shared their input now and in the past. It has really helped with this major project. We hope that disability organizations and others across Canada will find our ideas helpful. Please circulate our draft brief and encourage others to send us their feedback, and to use the ideas we offer in this draft brief.

Do you want to learn the steps a bill like Bill C-81 must go through to get through Canada’s Parliament and become a law? Check out the AODA Alliance’s introductory guide for beginners on how a law gets through Parliament.

          MORE DETAILS

Summary of the AODA Alliance’s August 2, 2018 Draft Brief on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

a) General

The Federal Government is congratulated for committing in 2015 to pass a national accessibility law, and for introducing Bill C-81 in Parliament in June 2018 for First Reading. This bill is quite a good start. It contains a number of important ingredients. It reflects a number of the ideas that we shared with the Federal Government during its two-year public consultation. It reflects a serious effort by the Federal Government to craft constructive legislation.

However, the bill has substantial deficiencies that need significant improvement. These improvements are all readily achievable within the bill’s overall framework. We certainly don’t need or ask the Federal Government to start again from scratch.

With the amendments proposed in this brief, this bill can be turned into good legislation. Without those amendments it will not be sufficient to meet its important goals. The need for these improvements to this bill does not take away from the fact that the Federal Government is to be commended for bringing this bill forward, and for including in it a number of the core components that it did.

We look forward to working with the Federal Government and with all parties in Parliament to get the bill improved through the debates and hearings process. We strongly urge Parliament to hold robust, open nation-wide travelling legislative hearings on this bill, where people with disabilities and all Canadians can offer ideas for improvements.

b) Helpful Features in the Bill

This bill’s good and promising features include the following:

It is good that by its title, this bill aims to create an accessible and barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities.

The bill endeavours to broadly define the key terms “disability” and “barrier.”

The bill establishes several important new officials and agencies to achieve its goal. This includes a new Accessibility Commissioner to enforce the bill in part, a new federal Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) to create model accessibility standards that the Federal Government can choose to enact as enforceable federal regulations, a new Chief Accessibility Officer to advise and report on progress and needed improvements, and a minister to be responsible for certain key functions under the bill.

The bill allows for the development of non-binding accessibility standards, which can guide federally or provincially regulated organizations. It empowers the Federal Cabinet to enact these standards, as is or with modifications, as enforceable regulations, that are binding on organizations that the Federal Government can regulate.

The bill aims to provide effective enforcement and for the public accountability of obligated organizations for accessibility efforts, including a formal complaint process. It also provides for Independent Reviews of the bill’s effectiveness over a period of years.

The bill includes a regime for federally-related organizations to create multi-year accessibility plans and to update these over a period of years.

c) Areas Where the Bill Needs Improvement

The bill’s deficiencies, needing correction by amendments, include the following:

The bill’s “purpose clause” is too weak. It falls well short of the goal proclaimed in the bill’s title. The purpose clause only seeks the “progressive realization,” of a barrier-free Canada. It does not set a much-needed specific deadline for reaching full accessibility, which is something the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act commendably has. This means that people with disabilities could face the prospect of disability accessibility barriers for the indefinite future.

The bill’s well-intended definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are too narrow.

The bill gives the Federal Government and various accessibility agencies a set of helpful powers to promote accessibility. However, it does not impose any duty on them to use those powers, or any mandatory time lines for the major implementation steps that the Government must take to get this bill effectively implemented. For example, the bill commendably empowers the Government to create accessibility standards or regulations. However, it wrongly does not require the Government to ever do so.

The bill wrongly splinters enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over a number of different public enforcement agencies, rather than providing people with disabilities with the simple one-stop enforcement they need. This wasteful duplication will slow and weaken the bill’s effective implementation, and risks inconsistent and unpredictable enforcement. It unfairly makes the burden on people with disabilities to get effective enforcement harder, being shuffled back and forth from one federal enforcement agency to another.

For example, the bill wrongly leaves enforcement for broadcasting and telecommunications to the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and for transportation to the Canada Transportation Agency (CTA). It does so despite the CRTC’s and CTA’s long and inadequate track records on enforcing accessibility over many years.

Each of the Accessibility Commissioner, the CRTC and the CTA will have to get regulations enacted to cover very similar topics. This duplication again risks inconsistencies, even further delays, and the real possibility that some sectors of the economy will have these regulations ready for them before other sectors. It unfairly burdens the disability community to lobby each of these different public oversight agencies on the same issues in these duplicative regulations.

The bill unjustifiably gives various public bodies sweeping, unnecessary, unjustified and unaccountable powers to exempt any or all obligated organizations from a number of important of their accessibility obligations under the bill.

The bill helpfully requires obligated organizations to establish accessibility plans, but does not require them to be good plans. It does not require an obligated organization to implement its accessibility plan.

The bill unnecessarily delays some important duties of obligated organizations, and rights of people with disabilities, until certain technical regulations are passed. Thus, the disability community would have to lobby various federal entities, possibly for years, to get all those regulations passed.

The bill does not effectively ensure that the Federal Government will use all its levers of readily-available power to promote accessibility across Canada. For example, it does not require the Federal Government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds, to create or perpetuate disability barriers, e.g. when federal money contributes to new or renovated infrastructure, or when it is used for federal loans, grants or transfer payments.

While the bill commendably has some public accountability requirements, these are too weak. Both the Federal Government’s accessibility agencies and obligated organizations should have broader public accountability requirements regarding accessibility.

The bill assigns too much power to regulations that the Federal Cabinet can make. This allows a future Government to effectively weaken or gut this bill by mere amendments to regulations, without ever having to bring a bill before Parliament and publicly debate such plans.

Several needed ingredients are missing from the bill, such as provisions on the Federal Government in relation to Indigenous People, and federal duties to review all federal laws for accessibility issues, to ensure federal elections are accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities, and to ensure that the Federal Government itself operates as a model of an accessible employer and service-provider.

d) Recommended Amendments

This brief therefore recommends that the bill be amended to do such things as the following:

  1. Set the bill’s purpose as achieving a barrier-free Canada by a date the bill will fix, in so far as the Federal Government and Parliament can do so.
  1. Specify that the Federal Government as a whole is responsible for leading Canada to the goal of accessibility, in so far as the Federal Government has constitutional authority to do so.
  1. Ensure that the bill’s definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are broad and inclusive.
  1. Ensure that the bill reaches all organizations that the Federal Government and Parliament can reach, including any recipients of federal money and all operations within Parliament.
  1. Impose specific duties and implementation time lines on the Federal Government, and on specified public officials and agencies, regarding their roles to implement and enforce the bill. For example, the Federal Government should have a duty to enact and enforce all the accessibility standard regulations needed to achieve the bill’s purpose.
  1. Consolidate all of the bill’s enforcement in the Accessibility Commissioner, rather than it being splintered among several federal regulatory agencies. If not consolidated, then remove duplicative regulation-making requirements to ensure consistent implementation and enforcement across all accessibility enforcement agencies.
  1. Ensure that key bodies responsible for the bill’s oversight, such as CASDO and the Chief Accessibility Officer, are fully independent of the Government.
  1. Strengthen the mandates of CASDO, the Accessibility Commissioner and the Chief Accessibility Officer.
  1. Strengthen the openness of the standards development process under the bill, while ensuring that people with disabilities have effective input into accessibility regulations that the Federal Cabinet can enact.
  1. Remove from the bill, or drastically reduce and constrain the sweeping and unnecessary powers to exempt obligated organizations from certain of their obligations under the bill.
  2. Ensure that the accessibility plan that obligated organizations must establish are good plans, and ensure that they are implemented and enforceable.
  1. Remove preconditions in the bill that delay specified duties of an obligated organization until regulations are passed.
  1. Increase duties to make public key information on accessibility on a timely basis.
  1. Reduce the power of the Federal Cabinet and key accessibility enforcement agencies to make regulations, especially where regulations could weaken or gut the bill.
  1. Speed up the requirements for future reviews of this bill by Parliament and by an Independent Review which the Federal Government will appoint.
  1. Require the Federal Government to focus specific efforts to address its special responsibilities in relation to Indigenous People with disabilities.
  1. Guarantee that in the case of conflicting legal provisions, the strongest accessibility always prevails
  1. Ensure that Nothing in the Act, in its regulations or in any actions taken under it shall reduce in any way any rights which people with disabilities enjoy under law.
  1. Require the Federal Government to review all its statutes and regulations for accessibility barriers.
  1. Enforceably require that no public money can be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, e.g. money spent on procurement, infrastructure, grants, loans or transfer payments.
  1. Require the Federal Government to use all other readily-available levers of power to advance the goal of accessibility.
  1. Require that whenever a federal statute or regulation confers a discretionary power on any federal public official, department or agency, that decision-maker shall take into account, in its exercise, the impact on accessibility for people with disabilities.
  1. Require the Federal Government to ensure that federal elections become barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.
  1. Include strong measures to ensure that the Federal Government becomes a model accessible workplace and service-provider.

Require the Federal Government to develop and implement a plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts) become accessible.



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