DX Announces Boundless: A Post-Secondary Challenge


ONTARIO, CANADA: Design Exchange, in partnership with the Government of Ontario, announces its 7th annual post secondary design challenge.

This provincial, post secondary design challenge seeks to explore design that is accessible to the greatest number of people, to the largest extent possible, regardless of age, ability, across all design disciplines.

The Concept

This year, students currently registered at Ontario universities and colleges studying environmental design, urban planning, graphic/interactive design, architecture, interior design, and industrial design to develop creative solutions focused on the accessible navigation of public spaces such as trails, beach access routes, parking, service counters, and fixed waiting areas, eating areas, play spaces, and paths of travel.

Submissions should be accessible to the greatest number of individuals, and entrants are asked to acknowledge the seven universal design principles, the requirements of Design of Public Spaces standards (Part 4.1) of the Integrated Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and encouraged to consider cost, time, and dignity. All students are invited to submit proposals for innovative projects that demonstrate how the universal design principles and compliance with mandatory requirements of the Design for Public Space standards can be applied to create complete accessibility for all.

Eligibility

Among the projects that can be considered: infrastructure, print and digital way-finding, shelter amenities, and physical support. Competitors are encouraged to apply themes and learning priorities specifically related to their own curriculum, making it easier for students and instructors to incorporate the competition into their current course-work.

Participation is open to all currently enrolled students studying design-focused programs (industrial, architecture, graphic, digital, interior, and landscape) and related programs (social work, occupational health, disability studies) in the undergraduate and graduate levels in Ontario in a college or university program.

Submission Requirements

  • 1.All submitted projects must be completed during the students 2018-19 course of study in an Ontario undergraduate or graduate program.
  • 2.Projects may be completed independently or as course work, and group or individual projects are eligible for entry. In the case of group projects, all members must be enrolled in a 2018-19 course of study in an Ontario undergraduate or graduate program.
  • 3.A completed competition registration form, available at dx.org/connect
  • 4.A one-page concept statement that includes: Entrant name, mailing address, school, and Program. Text should be between 16 and 24 points, depending on selected font.
  • 5.Summary of the design concept, its objectives, and description of how the project addresses the competition theme (no less than 250 words, no more than 500 words). Text should be between 16 and 24 points, depending on selected font. Text must be separate from image.
  • 6.A minimum of three (3) or maximum of five (5) full-colour sketches or renderings of the proposal submitted as a single PDF. Please reserve one image per page. Image must have 1920×1024 resolution. No text may be included in the images.

For additional guidance, please consult Access Ability: A Practical Handbook on Accessible Graphic Design by the Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario. https://www.rgd.ca/database/files/library/RGD_AccessAbility_Handbook.pdf

Entrants are encouraged to consider making submissions accessible to members of the public who are blind or partially sighted, have mobility aids, have hearing loss, have invisible disabilities and more. Think: use of braille, tactile overlays, accessibility checker, closed-captioning, etc.

Entries must be received by midnight on April 2, 2019. Late entries will not be accepted. Design Exchange will only accept digital submissions sent to [email protected]

Questions should be directed to the Competition Coordinator at [email protected]

Original at http://globalaccessibilitynews.com/2018/11/29/dx-announces-boundless-a-post-secondary-challenge/



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Accommodating Workers with Physical or Mobility Disabilities


Under the employment standard of the AODA, employers must accommodate workers who have physical or mobility disabilities. Employers and coworkers can easily learn how to make the workplace accessible for workers with physical or mobility disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries, amputations, and muscular or neurological conditions that affect mobility.

Workers will be able to explain what their individual needs are and which accommodations, if any, they require.

Accommodating Workers with Physical or Mobility Disabilities

Assistive Devices and Service Animals

Some workers may use mobility devices to get to and around the workplace. For instance, these devices include:

  • Canes
  • Crutches
  • An orthotic brace
  • Prosthetic limbs
  • Scooters
  • Walkers
  • Manual or power wheelchairs

Some workers may always use assistive devices. Others may never use them, use them for part of the time, or use them for specific tasks, such as when they are fatigued or travelling long distances.

Workers may also have service animals, which help people perform tasks, such as regaining balance, retrieving dropped or out-of-reach items, or opening doors. Owners are trained to work with their animals, which learn how to behave in public places where non-service-animals are not allowed. Employers and coworkers should never touch an assistive device or service animal without its owner’s permission.

Invisible Physical Disabilities

Workers who do not use assistive devices or service animals may identify as having an invisible physical disability. They may have difficulty with tasks, such as standing, walking, balance, climbing stairs, or travelling long distances. Workers should choose whether or not to disclose their disabilities.  Furthermore, they should choose which colleagues, if any, they wish to disclose to.

General Communication Tips

Look at and speak to a worker with a physical disability directly instead of addressing a colleague or support person.

Employers or coworkers who think a worker might need help should ask instead of automatically assuming that the worker does. The worker will be best able to describe what kind of help is needed.

It is acceptable to use language or figures of speech relating to walking or grasping things or to offer to shake hands. If workers are uncomfortable with any of these behaviours, they will suggest alternatives.

Words and phrases like “immobile”, “wheelchair-bound”, or “confined to a wheelchair” are inappropriate since wheelchairs and other mobility devices promote users’ freedom of movement.

Employers or colleagues who are talking to a worker in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes should sit down to be at eye level.

When giving directions, think about routes without stairs, sharp curbs, or steep hills. Some workers may need more time to traverse longer distances, while others will find outdoor travel more difficult in rain and snow.

Travelling To and Around the Workplace

Some workers will drive, possibly using vehicles equipped with hand controls or left foot gas pedals, and will require accessible parking spaces. In contrast, others will arrive using public transit or a para-transit service. In addition, workers’ routes to, into, through and between work buildings, especially locations like washrooms, lunch rooms, or break rooms, must be accessible. Some workers will need level or ramped entrances or automatic doors. Others will require that their workstations be near these locations and any machines they use on a regular basis. Some workers may always use elevators or stair lifts to navigate between floors, while others may need rest breaks after climbing stairs or walking across a building. Hallways and open areas should be wide and obstacle-free.

Accessibility at Work Stations

Some workers may need their desks to be at a certain height. They may use height-adjustable tables or have desks raised on wooden blocks. They may also arrange files or supplies at heights they can reach. Some may avoid high or low drawers or shelves. Workers who use machines may need to operate them from a seated position, with hand controls rather than pedals, or by voice control. Some people may use a telephone with voice activation, large buttons, automatic dialing, a holder for the receiver, or a headset. To help with reading, some workers may use page turners or book holders.

There are many writing and typing devices to assist workers with physical or mobility disabilities. For instance, they may use:

  • Writing grip aids
  • A large-key keyboard
  • Keyguards
  • A one-handed keyboard
  • A touchpad or touchscreen with a stylus
  • An ergonomic keyboard or mouse
  • An adjustable keyboard tray
  • Wrist supports
  • A foot mouse
  • A trackball
  • A joystick
  • Speech recognition software
  • A head pointing system (a device that controls a computer through head or eye movement or facial muscles)
  • A mouthstick

Scheduling Work Hours

Workers may benefit from a variety of scheduling accommodations, such as:

  • A longer work day with lengthened or more frequent breaks
  • A compressed work week
  • Remote work, either permanently or for part of the time

Some workers may have attendants come in at times to assist with personal care needs.

Finally, employers who consider accommodating workers with physical or mobility disabilities will discover a multitude of job candidates eager to exercise their diverse talents for workplaces that make themselves accessible.

 



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Canada’s House of Commons Unanimously Passes Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act , Sending It to the Senate, But the Federal Liberal Government Blocked Many Key Amendments that Would Have Made It Strong Legislation


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

November 29, 2018

SUMMARY

1. Bill C-81 Moves Forward Through the Parliamentary Process

On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Canada’s House of Commons unanimously voted on Third Reading to pass Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. A number of amendments were made to the bill while it was being debated at the House of Commons’ Standing Committee that held public hearings about the bill in October. However, the federal Liberals used their majority in the House of Commons to defeat a series of important amendments that the opposition parties had commendably sought on behalf of people with disabilities in Canada, including on behalf of the AODA Alliance among others.

Bill C-81 remains a weak bill, even though it was modestly improved by the Government’s amendments. It remains strong on intentions but weak on implementation and enforcement. The Federal Government systematically voted against important amendments that the opposition parties proposed, and that would have substantially strengthened this bill.

Over the past weeks, a strong and impressive consensus has emerged from the disability community on key amendments to Bill C-81 that are needed. Yet the Federal Government has largely rejected this consensus position. Before the Standing Committee began to debate amendments to the bill last month, a compelling October 30, 2018 Open Letter was sent to the Federal Government. It was co-signed by 34 disability organizations, including the AODA Alliance. The number of signing organizations has grown to an incredible 91. To find out how your community organization can sign on to this Open Letter, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/in-a-powerful-open-letter-sent-to-the-federal-government-an-extraordinary-lineup-of-thirty-four-disability-organizations-unite-to-press-for-key-amendments-to-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada/ Below we list the names of all the community organizations that have co-signed this October 30, 2018 Open Letter.

After the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities finished its consideration of Bill C-81, the bill went back to the House of Commons for Third Reading debates. Those debates took place on November 21 and 22, 2018. We are honoured that several MPs quoted and spoke in positive terms about the position that the AODA Alliance has advanced on Bill C-81.

During those debates, the Federal Government made a number of statements on which we need to comment. For example, the Government made it sound like the disability community is happy with the bill as it now is. This disregards the positions of so many who appeared before the Standing Committee. It also ignores the October 30, 2018 Open Letter, already signed by 91 disability organizations.

The Government statements also at points clearly overstate what the bill actually does. The minister said that among key messages that the Government received from the disability community was that this bill should be “ambitious.” We regret that without passing the amendments sought in the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government, this bill falls well short on that score. This is especially so when we venture beyond the Government’s good intentions to examine its actual implementation and enforcement. See below our comments on key statements during Third Reading debates.

We will have more to say in the coming days and weeks on the amendments to Bill C-81 that the Federal Government passed and those which it blocked. In a forthcoming article in ARCH Alert, the publication of the ARCH Disability Law Centre, ARCH lawyer Kerri Joffe offers this summary of some of the key amendments that were made to Bill C-81:

“In its amended form, the Bill now requires the CRTC, CTA and government to make at least one regulation about accessibility plans, feedback processes or progress reports within 2 years from the time the Bill becomes law. It still allows for organizations to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements, but those exemptions are now limited to 3 years and reasons for granting the exemption must be made public. The Bill now requires organizations to take into account important principles set out in the Bill when they create their accessibility plans. The definitions of barrier and disability have been expanded by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities, and by clarifying that disability includes those that may not be evident. Communication and facilities were added as areas in which barriers must be identified, removed and prevented, and barriers must now be addressed in the design and delivery of programs and services, not just the delivery of programs and services. These are just some examples of the amendments to the Bill that were adopted by HUMA.”

During Third Reading debates, the opposition Conservatives brought a motion to have Bill C-81 referred back to the Standing Committee, so it could consider further amendments to address the unmet concerns that the disability community had raised. All opposition members voted in support of that motion. The federal Liberals all voted against it, so it was defeated. The House of Commons then voted to unanimously pass the bill, on Third Reading.

Bill C-81 now goes to the Senate for debate and vote. It is open to Canada’s Senate to make amendments to Bill C-81. We will have more to say about that in the coming days.

2. Another Important Anniversary in the History of Ontario’s Grassroots Accessibility Movement

Believe it or not, it was 24 years ago today that Ontario’s grassroots movement was born. It fought for the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. We now campaign to get that law effectively implemented. It is also now very active in trying to get Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, turned into a strong law of which Canada can be proud.

We have had quite a journey, and still have so much work to do. Twenty-four years ago today, a group of about twenty individuals ended up together in a meeting room at Queen’s Park. They agreed to form a coalition to campaign for a strong Ontario accessibility law.

The rest is an amazing history. As a result of tenacious grassroots efforts by individuals and community organizations across Ontario, we have clearly made some real progress. We’ve won Ontario accessibility legislation, and several accessibility standards enacted under it. Yet we still have a long way to go. Our non-partisan campaign continues. Check out how we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the birth of our movement, four years ago, by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015-whats-new/aoda-alliance-holds-successful-celebration-at-queens-park-to-mark-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-birth-of-ontarios-non-partisan-movement-for-strong-disability-accessibility-legislation/ Meanwhile, the Ontario Government has continued its freeze on the work of the Education Standards Development Committee and the Health Care Standards Development Committee. Students with disabilities and patients with disabilities must still keep facing disability accessibility barriers, with no end in sight. We will persist in our advocacy efforts to get these committees unfrozen so they can go back to work.

MORE DETAILS

AODA Alliance Commentary on Key Quotations from Third Reading Debate in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

* Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“We know that people with disabilities are very happy with this bill, and we are very committed to making sure we follow through on this bill.”

Liberal Darrell Samson SackvillePrestonChezzetcook, NS said:

“People with disabilities are extremely proud of the bill. It will improve as we move forward.”

Our Comment: Many were happy that the Federal Government brought forward a bill to open this discussion and debate. However many are not happy with the bill as written.

This is demonstrated by the 91 disability organizations that signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on Bill C-81. It is demonstrated by the overwhelming thrust of the presentations from the disability community to the Standing Committee. It was also amply shown by the AODA Alliance’s detailed brief, showing the many problems with the bill. It sought fully 97 amendments. A good number of disability organizations supported our brief.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough said:

“Bill C-81 is, without any doubt, a game-changing piece of legislation for Canada, especially for Canadians with disabilities. It sends a strong message that our government is taking action to advance accessibility and inclusion. We are leading the way to make Canada a barrier-free country for everyone.”

Our Comment: As written now, Bill C-81 is unfortunately not a game changer for people with disabilities. Its provisions are tepid, not strong. Unless substantially strengthened, there is no assurance that it will be “leading the way to make Canada a barrier-free country for everyone”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The new Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, would be a forum for technical experts, industry and Canadians with disabilities to come together to develop accessibility standards that would work for everyone. Once accessibility standards are developed, the Government of Canada would adopt them into regulations to make them law. Having regulations based on standards rather than enacting regulations directly in the proposed act would ensure that rules could be changed more fluidly over time to reflect new advances and best practices.”

Our Comment: It is good that the bill allows for the establishment of CASDO, the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization. It can recommend accessibility standards. These are not binding and enforceable until and unless the Federal Cabinet enacts them into enforceable regulations.

However, contrary to the minister’s statement, the bill does not ensure that “Once accessibility standards are developed, the Government of Canada would adopt them into regulations to make them law.” The Government would be free to never enact any of them. It would also be free to substantially water down an accessibility standard that CASDO proposes.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“We expect that CASDO, the accessibility commissioner, and the chief accessibility officer would be up and running within 12 months of the legislation’s coming into force. We also plan that the first set of regulations under the legislation would come into force in 2020-21.”

Our Comment: The bill sets no deadline for the establishment of CASDO, or for the appointment of the Accessibility Commissioner or the Chief Accessibility Officer. It requires a first regulation to be enacted by the federal Cabinet, by the Canada Transportation Agency, and by the CRTC within two years of the bill coming into force. That first regulation could be very narrow and weak. Moreover, if the Federal Government delays the bill’s coming into force for an extended period, that two-year time line for enacting the first regulation could be years from now.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The changes made to Bill C-81 in committee advanced the vision we had for the law. The suggestions of stakeholders were incorporated into the bill in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation, the same spirit that has guided the evolution of the bill to date.”

Our Comment: It is good that some amendments were passed that were recommended at the Standing Committee, including some recommended by the AODA Alliance. However, as noted earlier, absolutely essential amendments needed to transform this from a weak bill to a good bill were defeated in Committee by the Federal Government, even though they were supported by opposition parties and by so many from the disability community who presented to that Standing Committee.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The testimony from witnesses and written submissions informed the 74 amendments accepted at committee. I am supportive of the changes not only because they came from the community, but also because I believe they have made this good legislation into great legislation.

I would like to highlight four key changes that were made at committee to strengthen Bill C-81.

First, the current purpose clause was amended to add communication as a priority area. We heard compelling testimony in committee that spoke to the impact of barriers to communication, particularly for persons with communication and language disabilities. This amendment prioritizes the barriers experienced by people with communication and language disabilities that can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities.

By making communication a priority in and of itself, we can guarantee a consistent, harmonized approach to addressing the barriers to accessibility faced by people with communication disabilities in every federally regulated sector.”

Our Comment: It is good that “communication” was added to the bill’s purpose provision. However, seriously undermining the bill’s effectiveness, the Federal Government refused to enshrine in the bill an end-date in the bill for Canada to become accessible. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets such an end-date in its purpose provision. The Federal Government did not listen to the many calls from the disability community for Bill C-81 to do so as well.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Second, while legislation applies to federally regulated entities, we know that achieving a barrier-free Canada means that accessibility needs to extend beyond federal jurisdiction. Accessibility is an area of shared federal, provincial and territorial responsibility, and realizing a truly accessible Canada would require working with our provincial and territorial partners. Stakeholders have echoed the sentiment, stressing the need for collaboration to harmonize accessibility practices across the country and the importance of making sure that the minister responsible for these are required to work with provinces and territories.”

Our Comment: We agree that “achieving a barrier-free Canada means that accessibility needs to extend beyond federal jurisdiction.” However, the Federal Government has refused to amend Bill C-81 to deploy in it the Federal Government’s most powerful means to advance accessibility across all jurisdictions.

Specifically, the Federal Government did not amend Bill C-81 to require that no federal money can be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. Under Bill C-81, as now written, a province could get a grant from the Federal Government to build a hospital or university building, without ever requiring that this new infrastructure be fully accessible.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Third, the disability community has made it very clear that accessibility is everybody’s responsibility. The community asked for increased accountability and transparency on exemptions. Like stakeholders, I agree that exemptions should never provide a loophole from accessibility. This would be counter to the spirit of Bill C-81. That is why I am pleased that Bill C-81 has now been changed in two key areas: first, by placing a three-year limit on all exemptions; and second, by requiring that the rationale for any exemptions be published. We must bolster transparency in the exemptions process, and in doing so we would ensure that the public and the disability community can hold authorities accountable on exemptions.

I believe that stricter provisions regarding accountability and transparency strengthen Bill C-81.”

Our Comment: These are only modest improvements. The bill still gives far too much sweeping power to exempt obligated organizations from some of their duties under the bill, even though no such exemptions are justified. Why should the Federal Government ever be able to give itself such an exemption? Why should the unelected and unaccountable Canada Transportation Agency ever be able to give a transportation organization like Air Canada or ViaRail such an exemption? The bill does not even delineate what reasons there must be to justify an exemption. An obligated organization could be given an exemption even if their accessibility provisions are poor and their plans to correct them are feeble.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Finally, I want to make clear that our intent with this bill has always been to hit the ground running on day one. I am pleased to see that an amendment was made to reflect this intent in the bill. It requires all bodies with authority to make regulations under this act to make their first regulations within two years of the act’s coming into force. The establishment of these regulations would also trigger the clock for the five-year review of the act by Parliament. This will ensure that the review would begin by 2025. In like manner, there is no end date for accessibility. Accessibility requires consistent, conscious and continual effort. The bill also provides mechanisms that require people with disabilities to be at the table to monitor implementation and support meaningful progress, independent of the government of the day.

We listened to people in the disability community who told us that accessibility in Canada has been long outdated, and I know that we need to take action right away. That is why I want to reiterate that we are strongly committed to ensuring that this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner. We are determined to do what it takes to accomplish that.”

Our Comment: It is good that the minister recognizes that “Accessibility requires consistent, conscious and continual effort” and that “we are strongly committed to ensuring that this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner.” However the bill does not require either to occur. It requires that the first regulations are enacted in the first two years, no matter how weak or limited they may be. After that, it sets no time lines for implementation action by the Government itself, before appointing an Independent Review, five years after the first regulation is enacted, or seven years after the bill goes into force.

The bill still does not require the Federal Government or the CRTC or the Canada Transportation Agency to ever make a proposed voluntary accessibility standard into an enforceable accessibility standard regulation. Under this bill, there may never be any federal accessibility standard regulations enacted. Without enforceable accessibility standard regulations, the Federal Government will not ensure that “this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“For too long, Canadians with disabilities have had to fight on their own when it came to advancing their rights. By bringing in new measures to improve accessibility, with a focus on accountability and transparency, we are moving toward a new culture of accessibility. The accessible Canada act would work to put an end to the practice of exclusion. With Bill C-81, we can have a system where our institutions, not individuals, are responsible for enabling change. We can move on from the principle of nothing about us without us to simply nothing without us, because everything is about us.””

Our Comment: The minister here again talks about measures to “improve accessibility.” She acknowledges that in the bill, “there is no end date for accessibility.” This is a dramatically less ambitious goal than the one people with disabilities need, namely the goal of achieving accessibility in Canada by a legislated deadline.

It is good that the Minister endorses the principle of “Nothing about us without us.” Unfortunately, her Government’s rejection of key amendments to the bill, around which such a strong consensus has developed within the disability community, fails to be true to the principle “Nothing about us without us.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Each standard will be developed in concert with the disability community and through the board of the Canadian accessibility standards development organization, or CASDO. We will decide. We will let the community decide which standards and what the priorities of the community are as we move forward with them to ensure that everyone comes along for this journey.”

Our Comment: This overstates the participation of the disability community. It is true that a majority of the CASDO board, some six of eleven board members, must have a disability. As well, it is anticipated that CASDO will engage in consulting the public, including individuals with disabilities in its work developing voluntary accessibility standards. These are all good measures, if they materialize.

However, contrary to the minister’s statement, the bill does not let the community decide which accessibility standards will be recommended by CASDO as voluntary standards, i.e. where the minister suggested: “We will let the community decide which standards and what the priorities of the community are” Six people with disabilities on the CASDO board are not “the community.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Let me give my colleagues an example of how the life of a Canadian with a disability would change because of this. Right now, as someone who is legally blind, I walk into a bank, and I cannot access an ATM. What do I do? What are my options? I have to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. I file that complaint. I say that this particular ATM is not accessible. Two years from now, someone may tell me, You are right. That wasn’t accessible. You were discriminated against, and order that this one ATM in that one bank be changed.

With this new regime we would be setting up, the accessibility commissioner would set up a standard for ATMs so that every ATM and every bank in this country would be accessible. We would not be relying on the individual to fight these fights alone. It is our system that we are acknowledging is broken, not the people.”

Our Comment: Contrary to the minister’s statement, there is no assurance that any enforceable accessibility standard regulation would ever be enacted under the bill to address accessibility of
ATM’s (automated teller machines). It is open to the Federal Government to enact one, but there is no requirement that it do so. Moreover, it is the federal Cabinet, and not the Accessibility Commissioner, who would have the power to make such a regulation.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“I can assure the member opposite that we are committed to hitting the ground running with respect to the creation of these standards and organizations. We know that there are existing standards that will be easy to adopt, but I am not going to compromise on ensuring that the voices of Canadians with disabilities continue to be heard through these processes and that they continue to have places at our tables as we move forward with the creation of standards. If it takes a year or two to get this started, it will be worth it.”

Our Comment: We don’t know which existing standards the Minister considers worthy of prompt adoption. It is important for the Federal Government to make them public now. For example, we would not recommend an adoption of most of the accessibility standards enacted to date under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as they are far too weak.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“We built the system contained in Bill C-81 on the existing system. This system was not drawn up on a whiteboard. We have existing regulators. We are trying to be efficient. We have expertise within government organizations. We have complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA. We have a Canadian Human Rights Commission that is very well respected and that does very good work. Building on those existing entities, we had to fill in the gaps. We knew that there were areas within federal jurisdiction that were not covered, so we would create the position of the accessibility commissioner.

We would enshrine in this law, and we would have agreements between these organizations, that there would be no wrong door. Wherever people went to state their concern or file a complaint, they would be pointed in the right direction. Canadians can be assured of this.”

Our Comment: The minister here is again rejecting the strong message from so many voices from the disability community, who objected to the bill’s splintering its implementation and enforcement among four federal agencies. We want a simple and easy-to-use one-stop-shopping approach, where the Accessibility Commissioner has responsibility for all enforcement under the bill.

For example, the minister rejects the strong opposition from the disability community to the bill’s giving authority, or more authority, in this area, to the Canada Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunication Commission. The 91 disability organizations that signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter have united in opposition to the minister’s view.

The minister gives four poor reasons for the Government’s intransigence on this issue. First, she says that splintering the bill’s implementation and enforcement is “efficient.” We have shown that this splintering will cost the public and the disability community more, will slow the bill’s implementation, and will risk inconsistent implementation of the bill. That is not efficient. This splintering only serves the interests of those obligated organizations that will want to exploit this splintering to delay and drag out the implementation and enforcement process.

Second, the minister said that these organizations have expertise. To the contrary, the CTA and CRTC have not shown themselves to have the required expertise in disability accessibility. They have had years if not decades to prove that they had such expertise.

Third, the minister said that there would be no “wrong door”. The Government is superficially only focusing on the door. It has disregarded the inequities that are risked after people with disabilities go through the door. The bill does not ensure fair and consistent processes or results across the four splintered federal agencies where people with disabilities must struggle for justice.

Fourth, the minister said: “We have complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA.” That shows why they are an unfair place to subject people with disabilities to their systems. Their complexities will favour well-funded obligated organizations. People with disabilities need a simple, fast process, like the one the bill commendably sets up at the new Accessibility Commissioner. Why, in the case of recurring disability accessibility barriers in transportation, broadcasting, or telecommunication services, should people with disabilities, who seek accessibility, be subjected to “complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA”?

* Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“I want to say specifically that our government wants to hit the ground running when this bill passes. New regulations will be in place very quickly, within two years after the act comes into force. That means that we are going to start moving right away and that the regulations will be enacted. Once Bill C-81 receives royal assent, the Canadian accessibility standards organization would be up and running within one year.”

Our Comment: Nothing in the bill ensures that CASDO will be up and running within one year of the bill’s proclamation.

Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“I wanted to ask her about the fact that as far as the Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, is concerned, it will establish Canada as a national and global accessibility leader by putting Canadians with disabilities in control of setting the accessibility standards that affect their lives. Does the member agree with that?

I know that our minister has always felt that people with disabilities have not had a say, but that now this bill gives them a say. They have a majority stand on this committee. Does the member not agree that this bill gives people with disabilities a stake in this bill and will have them at the table making decisions about them?”

Our Comment: This overstates the power that this bill gives the disability community. As stated earlier, at CASDO, at least some six people with disabilities whom the Federal Government will select will serve on the CASDO board of up to 11 members. That is not the same as ensuring that the bill “will establish Canada as a national and global accessibility leader by putting Canadians with disabilities in control of setting the accessibility standards that affect their lives.”

* “Rosemarie Falk BattlefordsLloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, could the member tell us what will come into effect the day the bill receives royal assent and how soon the CASDO board will be established?

Liberal
Darrell Samson SackvillePrestonChezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are confident that the standards will be in place within one years, so things will get moving as soon as the bill passes. We expect regulations to be in place no later than two years.”

Our Comment: Nothing in the bill requires a standard to be in place within one year, or ever. An earlier statement by the Government said that CASDO would be up and running within a year, something that the bill does not itself require. However, even if CASDO is up and running within one year, it is not clear how CASDO can have a voluntary standard developed by that same one year mark.

Updated List of the 91 Organizations that Signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on the Need to Strengthen Bill C-81

Council of Canadians with Disabilities – Conseil des Canadiens avec déficiences (CCD) Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)
DAWN-RAFH Canada
Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)
National Network for Mental Health (NNMH)
Independent Living Canada (ILC)
March of Dimes Canada
Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)
Barrier Free Canada Canada sans Barrières
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)
People First of Canada
Canadian Centre on Disability Studies
Canadian Epilepsy Alliance/ LAlliance canadienne de lépilepsie (CEA/ACE) National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs in Canada National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) Muscular Dystrophy Canada
Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Association (CASDA)
Canadian Association of the Deaf Association des Sourds du Canada LArche Canada
Hydrocephalus Canada
AODA Alliance
ARCH Disability Law Centre
Québec Accessible
Views for the Visually Impaired
Physicians of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Advocacy (PONDA)
Unitarian Commons Co-Housing Corporation
Citizens with Disabilities Ontario (CWDO)
Community Living Ontario (CLO)
Barrier-Free Manitoba
Regroupement des associations de personnes Handicapées de lOutaouais (RAPHO) Barrier Free Saskatchewan
DeafBlind Ontario Services
Community Living Toronto (CLT)
Ontario Autism Coalition
Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec (COPHAN) Canadian Multicultural Disability Centre, Inc. (CMDCI)
Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)
Northwest Territories Council for Disability
Voice of Albertans with Disabilities
Ontario Disability Coalition
SPH Planning and Consulting Ltd.
The Law, Disability & Social Change Project
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD)
Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO)
Nova Scotia Association for Community Living
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunity
Disability Alliance of British Columbia
Disability Positive
Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NL)
Realize / Réalise
Calgary Ability Network Human Rights
Down Syndrome Association of Ontario
Southern Alberta Individualized Planning Association
Gateway Association (Edmonton)
BALANCE for Blind Adults
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians Toronto Chapter (AEBC Toronto Chapter) The Keremeos Measuring Up Team
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
Altergo
Aphasie Québec Le réseau
Association multiethnique pour lintégration des personnes handicapées DéPhy Montréal
Ex aequo
Regroupement des organismes de personnes handicapées du Centre-du-Québec
Regroupement des Usagers du Transport Adapté et accessible de lîle de Montréal (RUTA Mtl) Réseau international sur le Processus de production du handicap (RIPPH) Société logique
North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre Inc.
Older Women’s Network
Association dinformations en logements et immeubles adaptés (AILIA) Association du syndrome de Usher du Québec (ASUQ)
Réseau québécois pour linclusion sociale des personnes sourdes et malentendantes (ReQIS) Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Québec (RAAQ)
Saskatoon Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians
Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (C.I.L.T.) Inc
The League for Human Rights of Bnai Brith Canada – Ligue des driots de la personne de B’nai Brith Canada Barrier-Free New Brunswick
Canadian Association of Professionals with Disabilities
The BC Disability Caucus
The Independent Living Centre London and Area
Ontario Association of the Deaf (OAD)
Handicapped Action Group Inc. (HAGI)
Community Services for Independence North West (CSINW)
Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NSLEO)
Alberta Disability Workers Association
reachAbility Association
Champions Career Centre
The Peterborough Council for Persons with Disabilities
Guide Dog Users of Canada
Action des femmes handicapées – Montréal

Excerpt from the Analysis of Amendments to Bill C-81 at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

Note: Thanks to Kerri Joffe, legal counsel at ARCH Disability Law Centre, for preparing an analysis, of which this is the summary.

Bill C-81 Second Reading, as amended by HUMA Committee, November 19, 2018

Summary of Amendments Made by HUMA to Bill C-81

In the Preamble, Canadians was changed to persons in Canada.

The definition of barrier was expanded by adding the words an impairment, including and by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities.

The definition of disability was expanded by adding the words any impairment, including and by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities, and by adding whether evident or not.

Throughout the Bill, the words progressive realization were changed to realization.

The areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention were expanded to include an additional area of communication, other than information and communication technologies.

Regulated entities now have requirements to include communication in their accessibility plans.

Within the areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention, the procurement of goods and services was expanded to goods, services and facilities.

Within the areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention, the delivery of programs and services was expanded to the design and delivery of programs and services.

Throughout the Bill, the use of abilities or disabilities was changed to disabilities. In particular, this change affects the principles (section 6).

An additional principle was added to the Bill, that the development and revision of accessibility standards and the making of regulations must be done with the objective of achieving the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Regulated entities now have an additional requirement that they must take into account the principles set out in section 6 when it prepares an accessibility plan or an updated version of its accessibility plan.

The requirement for the Minister to work with the provinces and territories to coordinate accessibility efforts was strengthened. The Bill now states that the Minister must make every reasonable effort to collaborate with provincial or territorial authorities with a view to coordinating efforts in relation to matters relating to accessibility.
An additional consideration was added to the appointment of CASDO directors, regarding the importance of having directors that are representative of the diversity of disabilities faced by Canadians.
The CRTC and CTA and Government now have powers to make regulations respecting the feedback process which regulated entities must create in order to receive feedback about the steps they are taking to identify, remove and prevent barriers.
The CRTC, CTA and Government are now required to make at least one regulation about accessibility plans, feedback processes or progress reports within 2 years of the ACA becoming law.
Any exemptions from complying with accessibility requirements are now limited to 3 years. Any orders granting exemptions must be published in the Canada Gazette and reasons for the granting of an exemption must be made public.
The Accessibility Commissioner may decline to investigate a complaint if the complaint is based on acts or omissions the complainant became aware of more than one year, or any longer period of time that the Accessibility Commissioner considers appropriate in the circumstances, before filing the complaint. This amendment clarifies that the one year period begins from the time the complainant became aware of the complaint, not from the time the failure to comply occurred.
When Accessibility Commissioner reviews a decision not to investigate a complaint or to discontinue an investigation, the complainant will be given opportunity to make submissions in a manner that is accessible to them.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal now has power to extend the 30 day time period for appealing an accessibility complaint. The period for appealing cannot be more than 60 days.

The Bill now clarifies that an appeal of an accessibility complaint can be made based to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal based on a question of law or fact or mixed law and fact, including a principle of natural justice. The request for an appeal must set out the evidence that supports the appeal.

The Bill now clarifies that at an appeal, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal may confirm, change or rescind the Accessibility Commissioners decision, or may give the decision that the Accessibility Commissioner should have given or refer the complaint back to the Accessibility Commissioner for reconsideration in accordance with any direction the Tribunal may give.

The Bill now permits the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing an appeal to allow arguments and new evidence not previously available when the complaint was heard by the Accessibility Commissioner.



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Canada’s House of Commons Unanimously Passes Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act , Sending It to the Senate, But the Federal Liberal Government Blocked Many Key Amendments that Would Have Made It Strong Legislation


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Canada’s House of Commons Unanimously Passes Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act , Sending It to the Senate, But the Federal Liberal Government Blocked Many Key Amendments that Would Have Made It Strong Legislation

November 29, 2018

          SUMMARY

1. Bill C-81 Moves Forward Through the Parliamentary Process

On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Canada’s House of Commons unanimously voted on Third Reading to pass Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. A number of amendments were made to the bill while it was being debated at the House of Commons’ Standing Committee that held public hearings about the bill in October. However, the federal Liberals used their majority in the House of Commons to defeat a series of important amendments that the opposition parties had commendably sought on behalf of people with disabilities in Canada, including on behalf of the AODA Alliance among others.

Bill C-81 remains a weak bill, even though it was modestly improved by the Government’s amendments. It remains strong on intentions but weak on implementation and enforcement. The Federal Government systematically voted against important amendments that the opposition parties proposed, and that would have substantially strengthened this bill.

Over the past weeks, a strong and impressive consensus has emerged from the disability community on key amendments to Bill C-81 that are needed. Yet the Federal Government has largely rejected this consensus position. Before the Standing Committee began to debate amendments to the bill last month, a compelling October 30, 2018 Open Letter was sent to the Federal Government. It was co-signed by 34 disability organizations, including the AODA Alliance. The number of signing organizations has grown to an incredible 91. To find out how your community organization can sign on to this Open Letter, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/in-a-powerful-open-letter-sent-to-the-federal-government-an-extraordinary-lineup-of-thirty-four-disability-organizations-unite-to-press-for-key-amendments-to-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada/

Below we list the names of all the community organizations that have co-signed this October 30, 2018 Open Letter.

After the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities finished its consideration of Bill C-81, the bill went back to the House of Commons for Third Reading debates. Those debates took place on November 21 and 22, 2018. We are honoured that several MPs quoted and spoke in positive terms about the position that the AODA Alliance has advanced on Bill C-81.

During those debates, the Federal Government made a number of statements on which we need to comment. For example, the Government made it sound like the disability community is happy with the bill as it now is. This disregards the positions of so many who appeared before the Standing Committee. It also ignores the October 30, 2018 Open Letter, already signed by 91 disability organizations.

The Government statements also at points clearly overstate what the bill actually does. The minister said that among key messages that the Government received from the disability community was that this bill should be “ambitious.” We regret that without passing the amendments sought in the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government, this bill falls well short on that score. This is especially so  when we venture beyond the Government’s good intentions to examine its actual implementation and enforcement. See below our comments on key statements during Third Reading debates.

We will have more to say in the coming days and weeks on the amendments to Bill C-81 that the Federal Government passed and those which it blocked. In a forthcoming article in ARCH Alert, the publication of the ARCH Disability Law Centre, ARCH lawyer Kerri Joffe offers this summary of some of the key amendments that were made to Bill C-81:

“In its amended form, the Bill now requires the CRTC, CTA and government to make at least one regulation about accessibility plans, feedback processes or progress reports within 2 years from the time the Bill becomes law. It still allows for organizations to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements, but those exemptions are now limited to 3 years and reasons for granting the exemption must be made public. The Bill now requires organizations to take into account important principles set out in the Bill when they create their accessibility plans. The definitions of “barrier” and “disability” have been expanded by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities, and by clarifying that disability includes those that may not be evident. Communication and facilities were added as areas in which barriers must be identified, removed and prevented, and barriers must now be addressed in the design and delivery of programs and services, not just the delivery of programs and services. These are just some examples of the amendments to the Bill that were adopted by HUMA.”

During Third Reading debates, the opposition Conservatives brought a motion to have Bill C-81 referred back to the Standing Committee, so it could consider further amendments to address the unmet concerns that the disability community had raised. All opposition members voted in support of that motion. The federal Liberals all voted against it, so it was defeated. The House of Commons then voted to unanimously pass the bill, on Third Reading.

Bill C-81 now goes to the Senate for debate and vote. It is open to Canada’s Senate to make amendments to Bill C-81. We will have more to say about that in the coming days.

2. Another Important Anniversary in the History of Ontario’s Grassroots Accessibility Movement

Believe it or not, it was 24 years ago today that Ontario’s grassroots movement was born. It fought for the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. We now campaign to get that law effectively implemented. It is also now very active in trying to get Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, turned into a strong law of which Canada can be proud.

We have had quite a journey, and still have so much work to do. Twenty-four years ago today, a group of about twenty individuals ended up together in a meeting room at Queen’s Park. They agreed to form a coalition to campaign for a strong Ontario accessibility law.

The rest is an amazing history. As a result of tenacious grassroots efforts by individuals and community organizations across Ontario, we have clearly made some real progress. We’ve won Ontario accessibility legislation, and several accessibility standards enacted under it. Yet we still have a long way to go. Our non-partisan campaign continues. Check out how we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the birth of our movement, four years ago, by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015-whats-new/aoda-alliance-holds-successful-celebration-at-queens-park-to-mark-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-birth-of-ontarios-non-partisan-movement-for-strong-disability-accessibility-legislation/

Meanwhile, the Ontario Government has continued its freeze on the work of the Education Standards Development Committee and the Health Care Standards Development Committee. Students with disabilities and patients with disabilities must still keep facing disability accessibility barriers, with no end in sight. We will persist in our advocacy efforts to get these committees unfrozen so they can go back to work.

          MORE DETAILS

AODA Alliance Commentary on Key Quotations from Third Reading Debate in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

* Kate Young  Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“We know that people with disabilities are very happy with this bill, and we are very committed to making sure we follow through on this bill.”

Liberal Darrell Samson Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS said:

“People with disabilities are extremely proud of the bill. It will improve as we move forward.”

Our Comment: Many were happy that the Federal Government brought forward a bill to open this discussion and debate. However many are not happy with the bill as written.

This is demonstrated by the 91 disability organizations that signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on Bill C-81. It is demonstrated by the overwhelming thrust of the presentations from the disability community to the Standing Committee. It was also amply shown by the AODA Alliance’s detailed brief, showing the many problems with the bill. It sought fully 97 amendments. A good number of disability organizations supported our brief.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough said:

“Bill C-81 is, without any doubt, a game-changing piece of legislation for Canada, especially for Canadians with disabilities. It sends a strong message that our government is taking action to advance accessibility and inclusion. We are leading the way to make Canada a barrier-free country for everyone.”

Our Comment: As written now, Bill C-81 is unfortunately not a game changer for people with disabilities. Its provisions are tepid, not strong. Unless substantially strengthened, there is no assurance that it will be “leading the way to make Canada a barrier-free country for everyone”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The new Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, would be a forum for technical experts, industry and Canadians with disabilities to come together to develop accessibility standards that would work for everyone. Once accessibility standards are developed, the Government of Canada would adopt them into regulations to make them law. Having regulations based on standards rather than enacting regulations directly in the proposed act would ensure that rules could be changed more fluidly over time to reflect new advances and best practices.”

Our Comment: It is good that the bill allows for the establishment of CASDO, the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization. It can recommend accessibility standards. These are not binding and enforceable until and unless the Federal Cabinet enacts them into enforceable regulations.

However, contrary to the minister’s statement, the bill does not ensure that “Once accessibility standards are developed, the Government of Canada would adopt them into regulations to make them law.” The Government would be free to never enact any of them. It would also be free to substantially water down an accessibility standard that CASDO proposes.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“We expect that CASDO, the accessibility commissioner, and the chief accessibility officer would be up and running within 12 months of the legislation’s coming into force. We also plan that the first set of regulations under the legislation would come into force in 2020-21.”

Our Comment: The bill sets no deadline for the establishment of CASDO, or for the appointment of the Accessibility Commissioner or the Chief Accessibility Officer. It requires a first regulation to be enacted by the federal Cabinet, by the Canada Transportation Agency, and by the CRTC within two years of the bill coming into force. That first regulation could be very narrow and weak. Moreover, if the Federal Government delays the bill’s coming into force for an extended period, that two-year time line for enacting the first regulation could be years from now.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The changes made to Bill C-81 in committee advanced the vision we had for the law. The suggestions of stakeholders were incorporated into the bill in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation, the same spirit that has guided the evolution of the bill to date.”

Our Comment: It is good that some amendments were passed that were recommended at the Standing Committee, including some recommended by the AODA Alliance. However, as noted earlier, absolutely essential amendments needed to transform this from a weak bill to a good bill were defeated in Committee by the Federal Government, even though they were supported by opposition parties and by so many from the disability community who presented to that Standing Committee.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The testimony from witnesses and written submissions informed the 74 amendments accepted at committee. I am supportive of the changes not only because they came from the community, but also because I believe they have made this good legislation into great legislation.

I would like to highlight four key changes that were made at committee to strengthen Bill C-81.

First, the current purpose clause was amended to add communication as a priority area. We heard compelling testimony in committee that spoke to the impact of barriers to communication, particularly for persons with communication and language disabilities. This amendment prioritizes the barriers experienced by people with communication and language disabilities that can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities.

By making communication a priority in and of itself, we can guarantee a consistent, harmonized approach to addressing the barriers to accessibility faced by people with communication disabilities in every federally regulated sector.”

Our Comment: It is good that “communication” was added to the bill’s purpose provision. However, seriously undermining the bill’s effectiveness, the Federal Government refused to enshrine in the bill an end-date in the bill for Canada to become accessible. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets such an end-date in its purpose provision. The Federal Government did not listen to the many calls from the disability community for Bill C-81 to do so as well.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Second, while legislation applies to federally regulated entities, we know that achieving a barrier-free Canada means that accessibility needs to extend beyond federal jurisdiction. Accessibility is an area of shared federal, provincial and territorial responsibility, and realizing a truly accessible Canada would require working with our provincial and territorial partners. Stakeholders have echoed the sentiment, stressing the need for collaboration to harmonize accessibility practices across the country and the importance of making sure that the minister responsible for these are required to work with provinces and territories.”

Our Comment: We agree that “…achieving a barrier-free Canada means that accessibility needs to extend beyond federal jurisdiction.” However, the Federal Government has refused to amend Bill C-81 to deploy in it the Federal Government’s most powerful means to advance accessibility across all jurisdictions.

Specifically, the Federal Government did not amend Bill C-81 to require that no federal money can be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. Under Bill C-81, as now written, a province could get a grant from the Federal Government to build a hospital or university building, without ever requiring that this new infrastructure be fully accessible.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Third, the disability community has made it very clear that accessibility is everybody’s responsibility. The community asked for increased accountability and transparency on exemptions. Like stakeholders, I agree that exemptions should never provide a loophole from accessibility. This would be counter to the spirit of Bill C-81. That is why I am pleased that Bill C-81 has now been changed in two key areas: first, by placing a three-year limit on all exemptions; and second, by requiring that the rationale for any exemptions be published. We must bolster transparency in the exemptions process, and in doing so we would ensure that the public and the disability community can hold authorities accountable on exemptions.

I believe that stricter provisions regarding accountability and transparency strengthen Bill C-81.”

Our Comment: These are only modest improvements. The bill still gives far too much sweeping power to exempt obligated organizations from some of their duties under the bill, even though no such exemptions are justified. Why should the Federal Government ever be able to give itself such an exemption? Why should the unelected and unaccountable Canada Transportation Agency ever be able to give a transportation organization like Air Canada or ViaRail such an exemption? The bill does not even delineate what reasons there must be to justify an exemption. An obligated organization could be given an exemption even if their accessibility provisions are poor and their plans to correct them are feeble.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Finally, I want to make clear that our intent with this bill has always been to hit the ground running on day one. I am pleased to see that an amendment was made to reflect this intent in the bill. It requires all bodies with authority to make regulations under this act to make their first regulations within two years of the act’s coming into force. The establishment of these regulations would also trigger the clock for the five-year review of the act by Parliament. This will ensure that the review would begin by 2025. In like manner, there is no end date for accessibility. Accessibility requires consistent, conscious and continual effort. The bill also provides mechanisms that require people with disabilities to be at the table to monitor implementation and support meaningful progress, independent of the government of the day.

We listened to people in the disability community who told us that accessibility in Canada has been long outdated, and I know that we need to take action right away. That is why I want to reiterate that we are strongly committed to ensuring that this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner. We are determined to do what it takes to accomplish that.”

Our Comment: It is good that the minister recognizes that “Accessibility requires consistent, conscious and continual effort” and that “…we are strongly committed to ensuring that this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner.” However the bill does not require either to occur. It requires that the first regulations are enacted in the first two years, no matter how weak or limited they may be. After that, it sets no time lines for implementation action by the Government itself, before appointing an Independent Review, five years after the first regulation is enacted, or seven years after the bill goes into force.

The bill still does not require the Federal Government or the CRTC or the Canada Transportation Agency to ever make a proposed voluntary accessibility standard into an enforceable accessibility standard regulation. Under this bill, there may never be any federal accessibility standard regulations enacted. Without enforceable accessibility standard regulations, the Federal Government will not ensure that “this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“For too long, Canadians with disabilities have had to fight on their own when it came to advancing their rights. By bringing in new measures to improve accessibility, with a focus on accountability and transparency, we are moving toward a new culture of accessibility. The accessible Canada act would work to put an end to the practice of exclusion. With Bill C-81, we can have a system where our institutions, not individuals, are responsible for enabling change. We can move on from the principle of “nothing about us without us” to simply “nothing without us,” because everything is about us.””

Our Comment: The minister here again talks about measures to “improve accessibility.” She acknowledges that in the bill, “…there is no end date for accessibility.” This is a dramatically less ambitious goal than the one people with disabilities need, namely the goal of achieving accessibility in Canada by a legislated deadline.

It is good that the Minister endorses the principle of “Nothing about us without us.” Unfortunately, her Government’s rejection of key amendments to the bill, around which such a strong consensus has developed within the disability community, fails to be true to the principle “Nothing about us without us.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Each standard will be developed in concert with the disability community and through the board of the Canadian accessibility standards development organization, or CASDO. We will decide. We will let the community decide which standards and what the priorities of the community are as we move forward with them to ensure that everyone comes along for this journey.”

Our Comment: This overstates the participation of the disability community. It is true that a majority of the CASDO board, some six of eleven board members, must have a disability. As well, it is anticipated that CASDO will engage in consulting the public, including individuals with disabilities in its work developing voluntary accessibility standards. These are all good measures, if they materialize.

However, contrary to the minister’s statement, the bill does not let the community decide which accessibility standards will be recommended by CASDO as voluntary standards, i.e. where the minister suggested: “…We will let the community decide which standards and what the priorities of the community are…” Six people with disabilities on the CASDO board are not “the community.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Let me give my colleagues an example of how the life of a Canadian with a disability would change because of this. Right now, as someone who is legally blind, I walk into a bank, and I cannot access an ATM. What do I do? What are my options? I have to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. I file that complaint. I say that this particular ATM is not accessible. Two years from now, someone may tell me, “You are right. That wasn’t accessible. You were discriminated against”, and order that this one ATM in that one bank be changed.

With this new regime we would be setting up, the accessibility commissioner would set up a standard for ATMs so that every ATM and every bank in this country would be accessible. We would not be relying on the individual to fight these fights alone. It is our system that we are acknowledging is broken, not the people.”

Our Comment: Contrary to the minister’s statement, there is no assurance that any enforceable accessibility standard regulation would ever be enacted under the bill to address accessibility of
ATM’s (automated teller machines). It is open to the Federal Government to enact one, but there is no requirement that it do so. Moreover, it is the  federal Cabinet, and not the Accessibility Commissioner, who would have the power to make such a regulation.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“I can assure the member opposite that we are committed to hitting the ground running with respect to the creation of these standards and organizations. We know that there are existing standards that will be easy to adopt, but I am not going to compromise on ensuring that the voices of Canadians with disabilities continue to be heard through these processes and that they continue to have places at our tables as we move forward with the creation of standards. If it takes a year or two to get this started, it will be worth it.”

Our Comment: We don’t know which existing standards the Minister considers worthy of prompt adoption. It is important for the Federal Government to make them public now. For example, we would not recommend an adoption of most of the accessibility standards enacted to date under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as they are far too weak.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“We built the system contained in Bill C-81 on the existing system. This system was not drawn up on a whiteboard. We have existing regulators. We are trying to be efficient. We have expertise within government organizations. We have complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA. We have a Canadian Human Rights Commission that is very well respected and that does very good work. Building on those existing entities, we had to fill in the gaps. We knew that there were areas within federal jurisdiction that were not covered, so we would create the position of the accessibility commissioner.

We would enshrine in this law, and we would have agreements between these organizations, that there would be no wrong door. Wherever people went to state their concern or file a complaint, they would be pointed in the right direction. Canadians can be assured of this.”

Our Comment: The minister here is again rejecting the strong message from so many voices from the disability community, who objected to the bill’s splintering its implementation and enforcement among four federal agencies. We want a simple and easy-to-use one-stop-shopping approach, where the Accessibility Commissioner has responsibility for all enforcement under the bill.

For example, the minister rejects the strong opposition from the disability community to the bill’s giving authority, or more authority, in this area, to the Canada Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunication Commission. The 91 disability organizations that signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter have united in opposition to the minister’s view.

The minister gives four poor reasons for the Government’s intransigence on this issue. First, she says that splintering the bill’s implementation and enforcement is “efficient.” We have shown that this splintering will cost the public and the disability community more, will slow the bill’s implementation, and will risk inconsistent implementation of the bill. That is not efficient. This splintering only serves the interests of those obligated organizations that will want to exploit this splintering to delay and drag out the implementation and enforcement process.

Second, the minister said that these organizations have expertise. To the contrary, the CTA and CRTC have not shown themselves to have the required expertise in disability accessibility. They have had years if not decades to prove that they had such expertise.

Third, the minister said that there would be no “wrong door”. The Government is superficially only focusing on the door. It has disregarded the inequities that are risked after people with disabilities go through the door. The bill does not ensure fair and consistent processes or results across the four splintered federal agencies where people with disabilities must struggle for justice.

Fourth, the minister said: “We have complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA.” That shows why they are an unfair place to subject people with disabilities to their systems. Their complexities will favour well-funded obligated organizations. People with disabilities need a simple, fast process, like the one the bill commendably sets up at the new Accessibility Commissioner. Why, in the case of recurring disability accessibility barriers in transportation, broadcasting, or telecommunication services, should people with disabilities, who seek accessibility, be subjected to “complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA”?

* Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“I want to say specifically that our government wants to hit the ground running when this bill passes. New regulations will be in place very quickly, within two years after the act comes into force. That means that we are going to start moving right away and that the regulations will be enacted. Once Bill C-81 receives royal assent, the Canadian accessibility standards organization would be up and running within one year.”

Our Comment: Nothing in the bill ensures that CASDO will be up and running within one year of the bill’s proclamation.

Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“I wanted to ask her about the fact that as far as the Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, is concerned, it will establish Canada as a national and global accessibility leader by putting Canadians with disabilities in control of setting the accessibility standards that affect their lives. Does the member agree with that?

I know that our minister has always felt that people with disabilities have not had a say, but that now this bill gives them a say. They have a majority stand on this committee. Does the member not agree that this bill gives people with disabilities a stake in this bill and will have them at the table making decisions about them?”

Our Comment: This overstates the power that this bill gives the disability community. As stated earlier, at CASDO, at least some six people with disabilities whom the Federal Government will select will serve on the CASDO board of up to 11 members. That is not the same as ensuring that the bill “…will establish Canada as a national and global accessibility leader by putting Canadians with disabilities in control of setting the accessibility standards that affect their lives.”

* “Rosemarie Falk Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, could the member tell us what will come into effect the day the bill receives royal assent and how soon the CASDO board will be established?

Liberal

Darrell Samson Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are confident that the standards will be in place within one years, so things will get moving as soon as the bill passes. We expect regulations to be in place no later than two years.”

Our Comment: Nothing in the bill requires a standard to be in place within one year, or ever. An earlier statement by the Government said that CASDO would be up and running within a year, something that the bill does not itself require. However, even if CASDO is up and running within one year, it is not clear how CASDO can have a voluntary standard developed by that same one  year mark.

Updated List of the 91 Organizations that Signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on the Need to Strengthen Bill C-81

Council of Canadians with Disabilities – Conseil des Canadiens avec déficiences (CCD)

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)

DAWN-RAFH Canada

Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)

National Network for Mental Health (NNMH)

Independent Living Canada (ILC)

March of Dimes Canada

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)

Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)

People First of Canada

Canadian Centre on Disability Studies

Canadian Epilepsy Alliance/ L’Alliance canadienne de l’épilepsie  (CEA/ACE)

National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs in Canada

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

Muscular Dystrophy Canada

Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Association (CASDA)

Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada

L’Arche Canada

Hydrocephalus Canada

AODA Alliance

ARCH Disability Law Centre

Québec Accessible

Views for the Visually Impaired

Physicians of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Advocacy (PONDA)

Unitarian Commons Co-Housing Corporation

Citizens with Disabilities Ontario (CWDO)

Community Living Ontario (CLO)

Barrier-Free Manitoba

Regroupement des associations de personnes Handicapées de l’Outaouais (RAPHO)

Barrier Free Saskatchewan

DeafBlind Ontario Services

Community Living Toronto (CLT)

Ontario Autism Coalition

Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec (COPHAN)

Canadian Multicultural Disability Centre, Inc. (CMDCI)

Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)

Northwest Territories Council for Disability

Voice of Albertans with Disabilities

Ontario Disability Coalition

SPH Planning and Consulting Ltd.

The Law, Disability & Social Change Project

Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD)

Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO)

Nova Scotia Association for Community Living

Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunity

Disability Alliance of British Columbia

Disability Positive

Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NL)

Realize / Réalise

Calgary Ability Network Human Rights

Down Syndrome Association of Ontario

Southern Alberta Individualized Planning Association

Gateway Association (Edmonton)

BALANCE for Blind Adults

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians Toronto Chapter (AEBC Toronto Chapter)

The Keremeos Measuring Up Team

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)

Altergo

Aphasie Québec – Le réseau

Association multiethnique pour l’intégration des personnes handicapées

DéPhy Montréal

Ex aequo

Regroupement des organismes de personnes handicapées du Centre-du-Québec

Regroupement des Usagers du Transport Adapté et accessible de l’île de Montréal (RUTA Mtl)

Réseau international sur le Processus de production du handicap (RIPPH)

Société logique

North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre Inc.

Older Women’s Network

Association d’informations en logements et immeubles adaptés (AILIA)

Association du syndrome de Usher du Québec (ASUQ)

Réseau québécois pour l’inclusion sociale des personnes sourdes et malentendantes (ReQIS)

Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Québec (RAAQ)

Saskatoon Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians

Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (C.I.L.T.) Inc

The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada – Ligue des driots de la personne de B’nai Brith Canada

Barrier-Free New Brunswick

Canadian Association of Professionals with Disabilities

The BC Disability Caucus

The Independent Living Centre London and Area

Ontario Association of the Deaf (OAD)

Handicapped Action Group Inc. (HAGI)

Community Services for Independence North West (CSINW)

Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy

Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NSLEO)

Alberta Disability Workers Association

reachAbility Association

Champions Career Centre

The Peterborough Council for Persons with Disabilities

Guide Dog Users of Canada

Action des femmes handicapées – Montréal

Excerpt from the Analysis of Amendments to Bill C-81 at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

Note: Thanks to Kerri Joffe, legal counsel at ARCH Disability Law Centre, for preparing an analysis, of which this is the summary.

Bill C-81 Second Reading, as amended by HUMA Committee, November 19, 2018

Summary of Amendments Made by HUMA to Bill C-81

 

In the Preamble, Canadians was changed to persons in Canada.

The definition of barrier was expanded by adding the words an impairment, including and by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities.

The definition of disability was expanded by adding the words any impairment, including and by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities, and by adding whether evident or not.

 

Throughout the Bill, the words progressive realization were changed to realization.

The areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention were expanded to include an additional area of communication, other than information and communication technologies.

Regulated entities now have requirements to include communication in their accessibility plans.

Within the areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention, the procurement of goods and services was expanded to goods, services and facilities.

Within the areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention, the delivery of programs and services was expanded to the design and delivery of programs and services.

Throughout the Bill, the use of abilities or disabilities was changed to disabilities. In particular, this change affects the principles (section 6).

An additional principle was added to the Bill, that the development and revision of accessibility standards and the making of regulations must be done with the objective of achieving the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

 

Regulated entities now have an additional requirement that they must take into account the principles set out in section 6 when it prepares an accessibility plan or an updated version of its accessibility plan.

The requirement for the Minister to work with the provinces and territories to coordinate accessibility efforts was strengthened. The Bill now states that the Minister must make every reasonable effort to collaborate with provincial or territorial authorities with a view to coordinating efforts in relation to matters relating to accessibility.

An additional consideration was added to the appointment of CASDO directors, regarding the importance of having directors that are representative of the diversity of disabilities faced by Canadians.

The CRTC and CTA and Government now have powers to make regulations respecting the feedback process which regulated entities must create in order to receive feedback about the steps they are taking to identify, remove and prevent barriers.

The CRTC, CTA and Government are now required to make at least one regulation about accessibility plans, feedback processes or progress reports within 2 years of the ACA becoming law.

Any exemptions from complying with accessibility requirements are now limited to 3 years. Any orders granting exemptions must be published in the Canada Gazette and reasons for the granting of an exemption must be made public.

The Accessibility Commissioner may decline to investigate a complaint if the complaint is based on acts or omissions the complainant became aware of more than one year, or any longer period of time that the Accessibility Commissioner considers appropriate in the circumstances, before filing the complaint. This amendment clarifies that the one year period begins from the time the complainant became aware of the complaint, not from the time the failure to comply occurred.

When Accessibility Commissioner reviews a decision not to investigate a complaint or to discontinue an investigation, the complainant will be given opportunity to make submissions in a manner that is accessible to them.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal now has power to extend the 30 day time period for appealing an accessibility complaint. The period for appealing cannot be more than 60 days.

The Bill now clarifies that an appeal of an accessibility complaint can be made based to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal based on a question of law or fact or mixed law and fact, including a principle of natural justice. The request for an appeal must set out the evidence that supports the appeal.

The Bill now clarifies that at an appeal, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal may confirm, change or rescind the Accessibility Commissioner’s decision, or may give the decision that the Accessibility Commissioner should have given or refer the complaint back to the Accessibility Commissioner for reconsideration in accordance with any direction the Tribunal may give.

The Bill now permits the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing an appeal to allow arguments and new evidence not previously available when the complaint was heard by the Accessibility Commissioner.



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Individualized Workplace Emergency Response Plan: Part 2


In Individualized Workplace Emergency Response Plans: Part 1 of this article, we discussed accessible emergency information, defined what an individualized workplace emergency response plan is, and described some arrangements employers can have in place to make their emergency strategies more accessible. Now, we explore what should be included in an individualized workplace emergency response plan.

Who needs an Individualized Workplace Emergency Response Plan?

Workers who have disclosed their disabilities to their employers may discuss their need for an individualized workplace emergency response plan. However, some workers may not need a plan. Other workers may need a plan but may not mention it because they are focused on every-day accommodations instead of emergencies. Therefore, if someone with a disclosed disability does not mention the need for a plan, the employer should do so.

Moreover, the employer should offer every worker the chance for a plan, whether they have disclosed disabilities or not. Workers may have disabilities that they have chosen not to disclose, such as hearing loss or a learning disability. Workers may not disclose because their disabilities do not affect their day-to-day job tasks, but these workers may benefit from a plan if their disabilities affect their emergency response. Employers can help keep all workers safe by telling all workers that plans are possible. In addition, employers should offer plans to any workers with temporary disabilities, such as a broken leg or a short-term visual impairment after eye surgery.

Creating an Individualized Workplace Emergency Response Plan

Involved Parties

Workers with disabilities and employers develop an individualized workplace emergency response plan together and sign it. Employers must also seek out co-workers who will volunteer to help a worker in the event of an emergency. The plan must be kept confidential. For this reason, the employer must receive a worker’s consent before sharing any of the worker’s information with chosen volunteers. Kinds of help that volunteer coworkers can provide include:

  • Telling a worker that the fire alarm is sounding
  • Guiding a worker to the exit
  • Explaining to emergency responders how a worker can communicate with them
  • Calming a worker in the crowded environment of an emergency exit
  • Physically supporting a worker and/or the worker’s mobility aid[s]
  • Waiting with a worker away from designated waiting areas

Furthermore, the plan should list:

  • The names, locations, and contact information of volunteers
  • How the worker will be involved in every part of the emergency response, from the first alarm signal to the end of the process
  • Which parts the worker will know about or do on their own, which parts they will perform with assistance, and what volunteers should do
  • Any alternate routes a worker and volunteer may use when exiting the building

Volunteers will need to learn how to provide assistance, and how to offer physical support if necessary. Volunteers and others involved in the plan do not need to know about a worker’s diagnosis. Instead, they need to know what tasks the worker will need help with and how to provide that help.

Employee information

The individualized workplace emergency response plan should include the following employee information:

  • The worker’s name and department
  • The address of the worker’s location, if the workplace has multiple buildings and addresses
  • The worker’s floor, room name or number, and work station location

Co-Worker Information

The plan should also list the same information about co-workers who have volunteered to help the worker. There should be more than one volunteer, in case the first person is absent or away from their work station at the time of an emergency.

Emergency contact information

A worker’s personal emergency contact information is good to have if the worker is experiencing panic, stress, or injury. Include the following emergency contact information in the plan:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Relationship to the worker

Assistance methods and equipment

The plan should list any assistance workers with disabilities need, and explain how volunteers should offer it. In addition, the plan should describe any mobility devices the worker uses. Some devices the worker might use every day. Other devices, such as evacuation chairs, might only be needed for emergencies. This section of the plan should include:

  • What kind of device(s) a worker uses, for example, a walker, wheelchair, cane, crutches, or service animal
  • The location of the equipment or device(s), if it is stored
  • How to use the equipment or device(s)

Reviewing the Plan

Employers and workers should review an individualized workplace emergency response plan when the:

  • Worker’s location changes
  • Worker’s individual accommodation plan is reviewed
  • Employer reviews its general emergency response policies

Why do we need individualized workplace emergency response plans?

It is the duty of employers to protect their workers. Ensure compliance with the IASR by creating and implementing an individualized workplace emergency response plan for individuals with disabilities. You never know when an emergency will happen. Have a plan in place.  Be prepared!



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Individualized Workplace Emergency Response Plan


Under the Employment Standard of the AODA, employers must provide accessible emergency information to workers with disabilities. Employers must also create an individualized workplace emergency response plan for any worker with a disability who needs assistance during an emergency. This requirement may cause people to wonder: what is accessible emergency information and what is an individualized workplace emergency response plan?

What is Accessible Emergency Information?

Emergency information is any visual or audio material that explains what workers should do if there is an emergency at the workplace. Examples of emergency information include:

  • Posters displayed in prominent locations
  • Videos workers watch during training

Workers with disabilities must receive emergency information in formats they can access. For instance, if a worker cannot read the information on a poster, the employer may send the text of the poster in an email that the worker can read with a screen reader or magnifier. Another worker may not be able to hear the instructions in a video but could read captions on the screen or a text transcript of the video.

Employers should provide accessible emergency information to all workers who receive workplace information in accessible formats. In most cases, a worker who needs this accommodation will ask for it. However, some workers may not remember to ask for this accommodation, because emergencies do not happen every day. Employers should open a discussion with any workers who use accessible formats or communication supports to find out how best to make emergency information accessible to them.

What is an Individualized Workplace Emergency Response Plan?

An individualized workplace emergency response plan is a written document that details all assistance a worker needs during a workplace emergency. A worker might need assistance with various tasks involved in responding to an emergency, including:

Activating an alarm, or finding out that an alarm is sounding or flashing

  • Locating or following paths to building exits
  • Communicating with emergency responders
  • Moving through crowds in stressful situations
  • Travelling through and out of buildings without using elevators
  • Finding and using designated waiting areas

While there are only a few guidelines that outline what an individualized workplace emergency response plan must include, there are some best practices that all businesses should follow when creating one.

Emergencies at Your Workplace

Before employers are ready to create individualized workplace emergency response plans, they must be aware of what happens during an emergency at their workplaces. They should be aware of everything workers are expected to know and do during an emergency. Employers should also know whether their building has set-ups that will help workers with disabilities know and do these things. They can start by reviewing:

  • Evacuation and fire safety plans
  • Alarms
  • Maps
  • Exits
  • Designated waiting areas

Employers should then think about how people with different disabilities might find out what they need to know, and get where they need to go, during an emergency. Employers’ knowledge about the emergency procedures in their buildings can help them make these procedures as accessible as they can.

Emergency alerts and signage

Buildings should have multiple signals, such as audio, visual, and vibratory alarms. There are many devices on the market that emit both audio and visual cues. Workers must know what cues they can expect to receive if an emergency arises.

Visual signage needs to be legible for anyone to read. Signage should contain images, Braille, large print, and good colour contrast. Another way employers can strengthen their plans is by offering audio directions via public address system (PA system). These directions must be clear enough to lead workers unassisted to a general exit route, where they can seek assistance and safely exit the building.

Exit route

The exit strategy must be safe for everyone to use. If stairs are the only option for exiting the building, the employer should offer backup aids, such as a stair-descent device or evacuation chair, for any worker who does not use stairs. Elevators should not be considered as an option to use in an emergency exit strategy.

Exit paths should be clear of any obstacles on the floor and overhead. All doors should be labelled.

Individualized workplace emergency response plans help workers in cases where the employer cannot implement some of these strategies, or where the worker needs other forms of assistance. In Part 2 of this article, we will discuss what is involved in creating an individualized workplace emergency response plan.

 



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Send Us Feedback on the AODA Alliance’s Draft Brief to the David Onley Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

November 23, 2018

SUMMARY

Today we make public a draft of the brief that the AODA Alliance is aiming to submit to the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which the Ontario Government appointed the Honourable David Onley to conduct. We are eager for your feedback. Do you have any additional findings that we should suggest to Mr. Onley, or any additional recommendations that we should make?

What is this about? Under the AODA, every few years, along a timetable that the AODA sets, the Ontario Government must appoint an independent person to conduct an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Government’s implementation and enforcement of the AODA. The AODA was enacted in 2005. The third AODA Independent Review is now underway.

As in the past, our main way to have our say is to submit a detailed brief to this AODA Independent Review. We have been hard at work preparing a brief for Mr. Onley. We make it public as a draft today and welcome any feedback you can give us. Send any feedback to us by December 3, 2018, at [email protected]

We will then take into account the feedback we receive as we finalize the brief. We will be submitting the brief to Mr. Onley by December 8, 2018.

You can download the entire brief in an accessible MS Word format by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Nov-23-2018-Draft-AODA-Alliance-Brief-to-David-Onley.docx

We realize that the brief is rather long about 450 pages! Many won’t have the time to read it all.

To make it much easier for you, we set out below the brief’s appendix. It gives you, chapter by chapter, an introduction to each chapter’s subject, the findings we ask Mr. Onley to make, and the recommendations we are urging upon Mr. Onley.

If you cannot look at all of it, feel free to look at any of it! We regret that we cannot allow more time for feedback. We have been inviting and collecting your feedback over the past weeks and months. We have to get this brief finalized and submitted in time for Mr. Onley to be able to make full use of it.

As you can imagine, the preparation of this brief took quite a bit of work. We are indebted to all who have helped us along the way, resulting in this brief’s detailed analysis. We believe it is likely the most thorough and detailed exploration of what has been done, and what has not been done, to implement and enforce the AODA.

When sending us your feedback, please do not use track-changes. Just explain in the email anything you want to say, and mention which chapter of the brief you are commenting on, if you are able to do so.

MORE DETAILS

Appendix to the November 23, 2018 Draft AODA Alliance Brief to the David Onley Independent Review of the Implementation and Enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Chapter 1 The Big Picture How is Ontario Doing?

1. Introduction

Before this brief’s detailed discussion in the following chapters of each of the major facets of the Ontario Government’s implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), this chapter first takes a look at the “big picture.” It addresses some common themes that the later chapters’ discussions, proposed findings and recommendations address in greater detail.

This chapter considers first whether Ontario is on schedule for reaching accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025. It concludes that we are not. That is not to say that nothing has been done, or that no progress has been made. Rather, our conclusion is that progress has continued to be far too slow, compared to what is readily achievable in Ontario with proper leadership from our Government.

This chapter then addresses the need for new Ontario Government leadership on this file, as both the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review and the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review urged. It addresses the need for Ontario to develop and implement a comprehensive multi-year plan to lead Ontario to accessibility by 2025. The rest of this brief fills in details of what that plan should include.

This chapter then takes a look at the lead office within the Ontario Government, charged with leading the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. It addresses the need for significant reform there. Finally, this chapter explores the excessive confidentiality and secrecy that the Ontario Government has too often sought to achieve with the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, including the development and review of AODA accessibility standards. This all sets the stage for the more specific topics considered in the following chapters.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make these findings:

* There has been progress on accessibility since the AODA’s enactment. However, this progress has been far too slow.

* Ontario is not now on schedule for becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. At the present rate of progress, Ontario will not even come close to reaching full accessibility by 2025. A dramatic improvement is needed now to the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.

* Since the 2014 report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review, the Ontario Government did not show the renewed leadership and revitalized approach to the AODA’s implementation that the Moran report recommended.

* The Ontario Government has never had and now has no comprehensive plan for leading Ontario to reaching accessibility by 2025. There is a clear and present need for such a plan.

* There is a clear need for substantial reform at the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, the Government office that has lead responsibility for the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, such as the development of AODA accessibility standards. This is so despite the fact that there are many hard-working, dedicated people working at various positions in the Accessibility Directorate.

* The Ontario Government has tried to shroud the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, including the development and review of AODA accessibility standards, with far too much secrecy. The public is entitled to expect the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, including the development and review of AODA accessibility standards, to be open, transparent and publicly accountable.

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

3 Recommendations Regarding the Big Picture

We therefore recommend that:

#1-1. The Ontario Government must act promptly to re-vitalize and breathe new life into the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This should start with strong new leadership from the top, including the Premier, the Cabinet and he senior leaders within the Ontario Public Service.

#1-2. The Ontario Government should act quickly to adopt, implement and make public a comprehensive multi-year plan for effectively leading Ontario to become accessible by 2025, which includes the issues regarding the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that are addressed in this brief.

#1-3. There should be substantial reform at the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario so that it better provides the leadership on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that Ontario needs.

#1-4. As is addressed in further detail elsewhere in this brief, the Ontario Government’s implementation and enforcement of the AODA, including the development and review of AODA accessibility standards, should be carried out in an open, public transparent and accountable way. The current pre-occupation with secrecy and confidentiality should be eliminated. For example, members of and presenters at Standards Development Committees should not be asked or required to sign non-disclosure agreements.

* * Chapter 2 the Ongoing Unmet Need for the AODA’s Effective Enforcement

1. Introduction

It has been widely recognized and repeatedly reported in the media that the AODA has not been effectively enforced, despite the former Ontario Government’s repeated promises to effectively enforce this legislation. Part 2 of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran demonstrated the importance for the AODA to be effectively enforced. It also documented the former Ontario Government’s failure to keep its promise to effectively enforce the AODA, up to the spring of 2014.

In this chapter of this brief, we bring the situation up to the present. In short, the former Ontario Government continued to fail to effectively enforce the AODA for the past four years, even though it had unused funding on hand that could be used for enforcement, and even though the Government knew of rampant AODA violations in the private sector. The limited enforcement that the former Ontario Government did deploy was weak and limited in scope.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make the following findings:

* For years, the AODA has not been effectively enforced, even though the former Ontario Government knew for years about unacceptably high levels of AODA non-compliance, particularly within the private sector. Enforcement efforts have been too weak.

* This ineffective AODA enforcement does a disservice to Ontarians with disabilities, to the broader public, and to all the obligated organizations who have opted to comply with the AODA.

* The former Ontario Government did not significantly improve AODA enforcement after the 2014 Mayo Moran Report called for strengthened enforcement. To the contrary, within a week of the former Ontario Government’s public release of the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review in February 2015, the former Ontario Government instituted a substantial cutback of the already-weak AODA enforcement. In June 2015, the former Ontario Government announced that it had a new plan for increased AODA enforcement, to begin in 2016. Subsequent Government records and the results of an AODA Alliance Freedom of Information application demonstrate that this never took place.

* The former Ontario Government failed to effectively publicize the Government’s promised toll-Free number for the public to report AODA violations, for purposes of AODA enforcement.

* It is important to make AODA enforcement independent of the Ontario Government. The Ontario Government should not enforce the AODA against itself. Moreover, independent enforcement of the AODA will better ensure effective enforcement of the AODA. AODA enforcement should not be subject to any political involvement.

* While enforcement is not the only way to get obligated organizations to comply with the AODA, it is one important way to do so. The failure to effectively enforce the AODA has contributed to low rates of AODA compliance.

* The failure to effectively enforce the AODA also works against the efforts of those who try to get obligated organizations to comply, such as accessibility consultants. Those consultants can point to strong enforcement powers in the AODA. However, the fact that only five monetary penalties were imposed in 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined, is ample proof that obligated organizations need not fear any real consequences if they don’t comply with the AODA.

* It is not sufficient for AODA enforcement to take the form of “paper audits”, where Government officials review an obligated organization’s documentary records on AODA compliance, such as records of an obligated organization’s accessibility policy and of its staff training on accessibility. Effective auditing or inspections need to include on-site examination of the actual accessibility of the obligated organizations, not just its accessibility paper trail.

3. Recommendations on the AODA’s Enforcement

We therefore recommend that:

#2-1. AODA enforcement should be substantially strengthen, including effectively using all AODA enforcement powers, enforcing all AODA accessibility requirements, and enforcing the AODA in connection with all classes of organizations that must obey the AODA. The Government should not just enforce the requirement of certain obligated organizations to file an accessibility self-report. The Government should effectively enforce AODA requirements vis à vis both the public and private sectors, and vis à vis all classes of organizations within each sector.

#2-2. AODA enforcement should be transferred outside the Ministry responsible for the AODA, and be assigned to an arms-length public agency to be created for AODA enforcement.

#2-3. The number of inspectors and directors appointed with AODA enforcement powers should be significantly increased.

#2-4. Among other things, Ontario Government and local municipal inspectors and investigators under other legislation should be given a mandate to enforce the AODA when they inspect or investigate an organization under other legislation or by-laws.

A core feature of AODA enforcement should be the on-site inspection of a range of obligated organizations each year on the actual accessibility of their workplace, goods, services and facilities, not a mere audit of their paper records on accessibility documentation.

#2-5. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and any successor body assigned responsibility for AODA enforcement should publicly release and promptly post detailed information on AODA enforcement actions at least every three months. It should report on how many obligated organizations are actually providing accessibility, and not, as too often is the case at present, how many organizations simply tell the Government that they are providing accessibility. This should include prompt reports of quarterly results and year-to-date totals, broken down by sector and size of organization. At a minimum, it should include such measures as the number of notices of proposed order issued, the total amount of proposed penalties, the number of orders issued and total amounts and number of penalties imposed, the number of appeals from orders and the outcome, the total amount of penalties including changes ordered by the appeal tribunal, and the orders categorized by subject matter.

#2-6. Obligated organizations should be required to report to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario or any successor AODA enforcement agency on accessibility complaints received via their required AODA feedback mechanisms, and on how they were resolved, while protecting individual privacy.

#2-7. New ways for crowd-sourced AODA monitoring/enforcement should be created, such as the Government beginning to post all online AODA compliance reports from obligated organizations in a publicly-accessible searchable data base, and by requiring each obligated organization to post its AODA accessibility policy and its AODA compliance report on its own website, if it has one.

#2-8. To reverse the public perception that the Government is not and will not be effectively enforcing the AODA, the Government should immediately and widely publicize its enforcement plans and its intention to substantially increase its efforts at AODA enforcement. This should not be limited to postings on Government website.

#2-9. The Government should develop an effective strategy for ensuring that municipalities effectively enforce the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility requirements as well as any built environment accessibility requirements in AODA accessibility standards, including

a) providing effective training tools on the Ontario Building Code accessibility requirements that can be used by municipal enforcement officials;

b) monitoring levels of enforcement and compliance at the municipal level across Ontario regarding the Ontario Building Code accessibility requirements.

Chapter 3 Current AODA Accessibility Standards Don’t Ensure Ontario Will Become Accessible to People with Disabilities by 2025

1. Introduction

The accessibility standards which the Ontario Government has enacted under the AODA over the past 13.5 years have been helpful, but only to a limited extent. They do not ensure that Ontario will become fully accessible ever, much less by 2025. Moreover, work on developing accessibility standards over the past six years has been much slower than it was during the AODA’s first five years.

No new accessibility standard has been enacted since the end of 2012, some six years ago. only one accessibility standard has been revised in the past six years, the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard. Those revisions instituted improvements that were marginal at best, and counterproductive in part, as this chapter explains.

The 2014 Mayo Moran Report identified serious problems with the current accessibility standards. The former Ontario Government did not fix those problems. They persist to this day.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make the following findings:

* The current AODA accessibility standards will not ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, even in the specific areas they regulate, e.g. customer service, employment, transportation, or information and communication.

The 2014 final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review correctly identified significant deficiencies with these accessibility standards. In the intervening years, the former Ontario Government did not rectify those deficiencies.

* The Government’s mandatory 5-year review of the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard did not rectify most of the significant deficiencies with that accessibility standard. In one way, it made that weak accessibility standard even weaker.

* The Government’s mandatory 5year- review of the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard resulted in weak recommendations to the Government from the Transportation Standards Development committee. Even if those recommendations were all implemented, these would not materially or substantially improve that accessibility standard.

* Similarly, the 2018 draft recommendations from the Employment Standards Development Committee on how to improve the very limited Employment Accessibility Standard would not significantly improve that accessibility standard.

3. Recommendations Regarding Deficiencies in Current AODA Accessibility Standards

We urge this Independent Review to recommend as follows:

#3-1. The Ontario Government should substantially strengthen all the existing accessibility standards.

#3-2. Any accessibility standards enacted under the AODA should, at least, measure up to the accessibility standards and accommodation and undue hardship requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Where any existing standard falls below that standard, or provides defences to obligated organizations that are broader than those under the Human Rights Code, the AODA accessibility standard should be amended as part of any review of that accessibility standard, to bring it in line with the Human Rights Code.

#3-3. The Ontario Government should direct each Standards Development Committee that is now developing recommendations for a new accessibility standard or that is reviewing an existing standard, or that is appointed in the future, to make recommendations on accessibility that live up to the Ontario Human Rights Code. To assist with this, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario should give each Standards Development Committee up-to-date information on relevant rulings by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and courts, and should centrally involve the Ontario Human Rights Code in each Standards Development Committee on an ongoing basis, including appointing a representative of the Ontario Human Rights Commission as an ex officio non-voting member of each Standards Development Committee.

#3-4. When any Standards Development Committee is conducting a review of an existing AODA accessibility standard, that Committee should be advised that its mandate is not simply to decide if the existing accessibility standard is working “as intended”. Rather, it should investigate whether the accessibility standard will ensure that accessibility in the area that the standard addresses will be achieved by 2025. If it does not, then the Committee should recommend measures needed to ensure that accessibility in that area will be achieved by 2025.

#3-5. The Ontario Government should appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the sufficiency of the general provisions in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, since no Standards Development Committee appears to be reviewing them.

#3-6. The Ontario Government should now launch the next review of the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, since that standard remains so weak, and since the last review of that accessibility standard failed to significantly improve it. As part of that review, that accessibility standard should be revised to remove the barrier it impermissibly creates. That review should be mandated to consider, among other things, the low-cost revisions that the AODA Alliance and ARCH Disability Law Centre recommended to the Ontario Government in their joint March 15, 2016 brief.

#3-7. The Ontario Government should now convene a summit with leaders from the disability community and the transportation sector to identify substantially stronger reforms to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard than those which the Transportation Standards Development committee had recommended.

#3-8. The Ontario Government should ask the Employment Standards Development Committee to expand its efforts, and to develop recommendations on measures to remove and prevent specific workplace disability barriers.

Note: See also the recommendations in Chapter 4.

Chapter 4 The Need for New Accessibility Standards, Including a Strong and Comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard

1. Introduction

Chapter 3 of this brief shows that the accessibility standards enacted to date under the AODA, while helpful to a degree, are not sufficient to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025. It recommends needed actions in so far as those specific accessibility standards are concerned. This chapter addresses the need for the Ontario Government to enact new accessibility standards, to address issues and barriers that are beyond the areas that the existing accessibility standards address.

Part 4 of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran shows that since 2012, the Ontario Government’s work on developing new accessibility standards under the AODA had slowed to a virtual crawl. That Part of our 2014 brief reached this conclusion:

“This Part of this brief shows that the Government has in recent years taken an unjustified and inordinate amount of time just to decide which accessibility standards to next develop under the AODA. It seems as if the Government has been stuck in neutral. With the 2025 deadline growing ever nearer, this was time that Ontario could not afford to squander.”

That slow pace of progress has persisted to the present time. Since June 2014, no new accessibility standards have been enacted. The former Ontario Government only completed the mandatory review of one of the existing accessibility standards, the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard. The mandatory 5-year reviews of the Transportation Accessibility Standard, the Employment Accessibility Standard and the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard are still underway. The mandatory 5-year review of the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard has not even begun. As shown later in this chapter, the Ontario Government has violated the AODA by not starting that mandatory review by the end of 2017.

Chapter 3 of this brief shows that the mandatory 5-year review of the weak 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard did not lead to that standard being substantially strengthened. In one respect, it led it to be weakened even more.

Throughout the past decade, the AODA Alliance has been in the lead in trying to get the Ontario Government to create new accessibility standards. During that period, the Ontario Government did not undertake a comprehensive effort to ascertain all the new accessibility standards that are needed. At most the former Ontario Government only focused on two of the new subject areas which we had emphasized, namely education and health care. In those two areas, the former Ontario Government took an unconscionably long time to eventually decide whether to create accessibility standards in education and health care.

As an illustration of another much-needed new accessibility standard, we have been calling for the Ontario Government to create a Residential Housing Accessibility Standard for over half a decade. In July 2009, the former Ontario Government promised to address residential housing through the standards development process, once the promised Built Environment Accessibility Standard was enacted. It never kept that promise. The former Ontario Government never gave a reason for failing to address accessibility barriers in residential housing. It has never denied to us that there is a protracted and critical shortage of accessible housing in Ontario a shortage which will get worse as our population continues to age.

In this chapter, we first document the exceedingly long delays for the Ontario Government to decide to take action under the AODA on education and health care barriers. We then address the unmet need for a strong and effective Built Environment Accessibility Standard. Finally, we turn to the need for other accessibility standards to be created under the AODA.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make the following findings:

* Ontario has a pressing need for an Education Accessibility Standard and a Health Care Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the AODA. students with disabilities face too many barriers in Ontario schools, colleges, universities and other education programs. Patients with disabilities face too many disability barriers in Ontario’s health care system.

* After the AODA has been part of Ontario law for 13 and a half years, the built environment in Ontario remains replete with far too many disability accessibility barriers. The AODA has not had a significant effect on removing existing barriers or preventing new ones in the built environment. A new building can be built in full compliance with the AODA and the Ontario Building Code and yet have serious accessibility problems. The Ontario Building Code’s accessibility requirements, like the few built environment requirements in AODA accessibility standards, are entirely inadequate to meet the known modern needs of people with disabilities.

* Ontario also has a pressing need for a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the AODA. The former Ontario Government’s decision to carve the built environment largely out of AODA accessibility standards and to only address it in the Ontario Building Code was wrong. It set Ontario back.

* The former Ontario Government’s failure to keep its August 19, 2011 election promise to enact the promised Built Environment Accessibility Standard promptly set Ontario back.

* The former Ontario Government’s failure to act effectively on the 2014 Mayo Moran recommendations to address retrofits in existing buildings further set Ontario further back.

* Ontario has a pressing need for a Residential Housing Accessibility Standard. There is a serious shortage of accessible housing in Ontario for people with disabilities. It is getting worse because the demand for r accessible housing increases as Ontario’s population ages. There is no effective strategy in place in Ontario to ensure a sufficient increase in the supply of accessible housing in Ontario.

* Ontario needs a Goods and Products Accessibility Standard to be created under the AODA.

* The former Ontario Government never undertook a comprehensive consultation or other effort to determine what additional accessibility standards need to be created in order for the AODA to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025.

3. Recommendations Regarding Next Accessibility Standards to be Developed

#4-1. The Government should consult with the public, including with people with disabilities, over the next three months, on all the sectors that other accessibility standards need to address, to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025, with a decision to be announced on the economic sectors to be addressed in those standards within three months after that consultation.

#4-2. The Government should not delay a decision on whether to have a new accessibility standard developed, while the Ontario Public Service decides what barriers it might include.

#4-3. Immediately after the Government decides what remaining accessibility standards need to be created, it should promptly create Standards Development Committees to develop recommendations for each of those new accessibility standards.

#4-4. The Government should now publicly recognize that there is a problem with the inaccessibility of the built environment in Ontario. It should launch a concerted and comprehensive strategy that will address new construction, major renovations, and the retrofit of existing buildings that are undergoing no major renovations, using feedback from the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal complaints and findings, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policies and advice.

#4-5. The Government should develop and enact a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA, ensuring that it effectively addresses accessibility retrofits in existing buildings, as well as accessibility in new construction and major renovations (not limited to those covered in the DOPS accessibility standard). Among other things, the new and comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard should include additional accessibility requirements for elevators that are not currently addressed by the requirements in the Ontario Building Code and other provincial laws. To this end, the Ontario Government should appoint a new Built Environment Standards Development Committee, both to review the 2011 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard and to develop recommendations for a far more comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard.

#4-6. The Government should create a Residential Housing Accessibility Standard under the AODA, and should promptly appoint a Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on what it should include, or assign this to the Built Environment Standards Development Committee, referred to in the preceding recommendation.

#4-7. The Government should direct each AODA Standards Development Committee now in operation to make recommendations on standards for the built environment as it relates to the area that that Standards Development Committee is studying. For example, the Education Standards Development Committee should be directed to make recommendations for accessibility in schools, colleges or universities. The Health Care Standards Development Committee should be directed to recommend requirements for the accessibility of the built environment in the health care system.

#4-8. The Government should announce a comprehensive strategy on accessible housing to address the current and growing crisis in accessible housing in Ontario, in addition to creating an AODA accessibility standard on point).

#4-9. The Government should strengthen enforcement of accessibility in the built environment. For example, it should require that before a building permit or site plan approval can be obtained for a project, the approving authority, municipal or provincial, must be satisfied that the project, on completion, will meet all accessibility requirements under the Ontario Building Code and in all AODA accessibility standards.

#4-10. The Government should require professional bodies that regulate or licence key professionals such as architects, interior designers, landscape architects, and other design professionals, to require detailed training on accessible design, to qualify for a license, and continuing professional development for existing professionals. The Government should also require, as a condition of funding any college or university that trains these key professions, that their program curriculum must include sufficient training on accessibility and universal design. This should be designed to ensure that no new graduates in these fields will make the same mistakes as too often is the case for those now in practice.

#4-11. The Government should substantially reform the way public sector infrastructure projects are managed and overseen in Ontario, including a major reform of Infrastructure Ontario. This should include

a) A requirement that accessibility advice be obtained on all major projects starting at the very beginning, during master planning, feasibility studies, and functional programming, with any accessibility advice that is received being made public. This input should also be obtained through consultations with people with disabilities.

b) A requirement to track any decisions to reject any accessibility advice, identifying who made that decision and the reasons why. That information should promptly be publicly reported.

c) To require the Government to promptly make public the accessibility requirements under consideration as a requirement for a contract for any infrastructure, with enough time before the start of the bidding competition to allow for feedback and adjustments. It is too late to make this public only after the bidding competition.

d) A requirement for post-project accessibility commissioning inspections which would include compliance with the project specific output specification accessibility requirements as well as the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards.

e) A requirement in all contracts that any accessibility deficiencies found must be the financial responsibility of the Project Company who built the project to fix them.

#4-12. The Government should require that when public money is used to create new public housing, 100% of that housing should include universal design and visit-ability as mandatory design features.

#4-13. The Government should agree to create a Goods and Products Accessibility Standard.

#4-14. Accessibility standards should include, where appropriate, not only end-dates for achieving results, but also interim benchmarks for major milestones towards full accessibility.

Chapter 5 The Need to Substantially Reform the Standards Development Process Under the AODA

1. Introduction

This brief has already shown that an absolutely central part of the AODA is the creation of effective accessibility standards that will ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025. This brief has also already shown that the accessibility standards enacted to date, while helpful, are woefully insufficient to ensure that Ontario reaches accessibility at any time, much less by 2025.

Much more needs to be done to develop sufficient accessibility standards in Ontario. At the same time, there is a pressing need to reform the standards development process under the AODA. the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review report recommended this. Our 2014 brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review demonstrated this. Events since our 2014 brief to Mayo Moran further demonstrate this.

Part 5 of our June 30, 2014 brief to Mayo Moran showed that the reforms to the standards development process which the former Ontario Government implemented in response to the 2010 Beer report did not work. Events since 2014 further show this.

The former Ontario Government eventually abandoned those reforms over the past two to three years, without announcing that it was doing so. We supported the Government’s abandoning those reforms. This is because they had accomplished nothing positive, and, if anything, set back our progress.

Since we submitted our brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review in June 2014, further problems with the standards development process have come to light. Last spring, we called upon the former Ontario Government’s minister responsible for the AODA, Tracy MacCharles, to implement a series of changes to the standards development process. These were well within her authority as minister. There was no need for new legislation or regulations to be enacted. Nevertheless, she did not make these changes.

The need for reforms to Ontario’s standards development process that we recommend are reinforced by the current activities surrounding Parliament’s consideration of Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. That bill incorporates helpful improvements on Ontario’s standards development process, though that federal bill too, requires strengthening, as our September 27, 2018 brief to Parliament on Bill C-81 demonstrates.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* There is a pressing need to reform the standards development process under the AODA. The problems with the standards development process that the 2010 final report of the Charles Beer AODA Independent Review identified remain present to this day. the former Ontario Government’s attempt to address these by temporarily assigning the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council with responsibility for developing recommendations for all accessibility standards was a failure and was properly abandoned by the former Ontario Government by 2016.

* The Government has been and remains in violation of the AODA, because it has thrice failed to appoint Standards Development Committees on time to conduct mandatory 5-year reviews of existing AODA accessibility standards by the AODA’s deadline. This includes the former Ontario Government’s failure to appoint the mandatory review of the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard until sometime in 2013, and its current failure to appoint the mandatory review of the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard by the end of 2017 and the review of Part I of the2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation by 2016.

* Once the former Ontario Government had decided to develop new accessibility standards in the area of education and health care, it took far too long to take the simple first step of appointing Standards Development Committees to start working on recommendations on what those accessibility standards should include. It took some two years to appoint the Health Care Standards Development Committee and over one year to appoint the K-12 and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees. It took the Government longer to set up any of these Standards Development Committees than it had taken the Government to develop the entire AODA legislation and introduce it for First Reading in the Legislature back in 2003-2004.

* The new Ford Government has unjustifiably created further delays in reaching accessibility in Ontario, by its excessively-long freeze of the work of existing Standards Development Committees that were already appointed and working on their mandates before the June 7, 2018 Ontario election.

* The former Ontario Government inappropriately tried to restrict or narrow the work of some of the AODA Standards Development Committees it had appointed.

* There has been too much secrecy maintained around the work of the AODA Standards Development Committees, particularly in recent years.

* The mandatory minutes that each Standards Development Committee must keep and publicly post, regarding their meetings, are too often insufficiently detailed and informative to enable the public to know what they are doing, and have confidence in their work.

* The former Ontario Government was wrong to require Standards Development Committees to have a 75% vote in support before a recommendation for an accessibility standard could be submitted to the Government, or for any other decision by a Standards Development Committee, e.g. a decision to approve an amendment to its minutes.

* It put the cart before the horse for the former Ontario Government to require a Standards Development Committee in its first six months to set priorities for its work, before it had fully assessed which barriers exist in the area that the committee was assigned to study.

* The former Government did not give the public sufficient advance notice of when it would be consulting on a proposed accessibility standard.

* The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has been overstepping its role, when supporting the work of Standards Development Committees, by attempting to inappropriately micromanage and influence the direction of their work and recommendations.

* Standards Development Committees have not been effectively fulfilling their role under the AODA to propose an accessibility standard for the Government to consider enacting. For example, in 2018 the Transportation Standards Development committee submitted recommendations that are in significant part made up of items that are not a proposal for revisions to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard.

* The recommendations from Standards Development Committees for revisions to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard and the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, and the draft recommendations for revisions to the 2011 Employment Accessibility Standard, are all very weak, and dramatically less than people with disabilities need.

* The standards development process requires much more extensive involvement by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

* Standards Development Committees have at times insufficiently consulted with the disability community, especially when formulating their draft recommendations.

* Since 2013, the former Ontario Government has broken its 2007 election promise to provide dedicated staff support to disability sector representatives on Standards Development Committees.

* In and after May 2018, the Government has inappropriately failed to consult the public on final recommendations it received for revisions to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard from the Transportation Standards Development committee.

* The Government’s has repeatedly failed to comply with the statutory deadline for deciding on making an accessibility standard after a Standards Development Committee recommends one.

* The former Government took the extraordinary and highly problematic step in June 2016 of purporting to amend parts of the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation without first appointing a Standards Development Committee to review the relevant parts of that standard, a mandatory precondition under the AODA.

3. Recommendations on Improving the Process for Developing New Accessibility Standards and Revising Existing Standards

We urge this Independent Review to recommend as follows:

#5-1. There is a strong need for the standards development process under the AODA to be substantially strengthened so that it produces stronger accessibility standards that will fulfil the AODA’s purposes.

#5-2. The Government should lead by example, by always ensuring that it meets all of its own deadlines set by the AODA, such as the deadlines for appointing Standards Development Committees 5-year mandatory reviews of existing AODA accessibility standards.

#5-3. The Government should immediately lift its freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, and the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee.

#5-4. The Government should modify the Mandate Letter for the Health Care Standards Development Committee so that it ensures that that Standards Development Committee makes recommendations on barriers throughout the health care system, and not merely or primarily regarding barriers in hospitals.

#5-5. The Government should Ensure that the Standards Development Committees, appointed under the AODA to make recommendations on what an accessibility standard should include, can operate in a more open and accountable manner and are fully independent of Government. These should not be shrouded in secrecy and non-disclosure requirements. An independent Ontario Access Board should be created to oversee this work, that is independent of and arms-length from the Ontario Government.

#5-6. The Ontario Government should not try to get members of Standards Development Committees to sign non-disclosure agreements when inviting them to serve on an AODA Standards Development Committee.

#5-7. The Accessibility Directorate should provide effective dedicated staff support to the disability sector representatives on each Standards Development Committee.

#5-8. The Government should amend the Terms of Reference for Standards Development Committees, to allow them to make a recommendation on what an accessibility standard should include as long as that recommendation is supported by a simple majority of 50% of the voting members, at least half of which comprise representatives on the Committee from the disability sector

#5-9. The Accessibility Directorate should not to direct Standards Development Committees that when they vote on other matters such as approving or amending Committee meetings’ minutes, they require a 75% super-majority. A simple majority should be all that is required.

#5-10. Minutes kept by Standards Development Committees should be more detailed and informative. They should include minutes of any sub-committee and should have appended to them, as part of any public posting, any documents which are tabled with the Standards Development Committee to review. Minutes of meetings of an Standards Development Committee should accurately and comprehensively record the detailed issue-by-issue deliberations of that Council on accessibility standard proposals, and should be written in a fashion to make them fully understandable by members of the public who did not attend those meetings.

#5-11. Standards Development Committees should not be directed to decide, within their first six months of work, on priorities for their work.

#5-12. The Government should widely publicize the opportunity for community groups to request a chance to present to Standards Development Committees , when it is developing proposals for an accessibility standard.

#5-13. Because several different public consultations will be coming up over the next months, please make public a schedule of all the forthcoming public consultations that will come up over the next 24 months under the AODA, and ensure they are not overlapping, so that the public can adequately prepare to participate in them all.

#5-14. The Government should now launch the process to recruit members of a new Standards Development Committee to review disability barriers in the built environment, including those addressed in the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard.

#5-15. The Government should now appoint a Standards Development Committee to conduct the overdue mandatory 5-year review of Part I of the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.

#5-16. When it is developing proposals for the contents of an accessibility standard, the Government should strongly encourage Standards Development Committees to extensively and publicly consult the public, including the disability community. As part of this, Standards Development Committees should be encouraged to invite stakeholders from the disability community and regulated sectors to meet together with ASAC to informally discuss issues that the Standards Development Committee have found challenging to resolve.

#5-17. When a Standards Development Committee submits an initial proposal to the Government for the contents of a new accessibility standard, or for revisions to an existing accessibility standard, the Government should convene face-to-face stakeholder meetings as one avenue for gathering input and should not restrict input to written submissions from the public.

#5-18. When a Standards Development Committee submits to the Government a final proposal for the contents of a new accessibility standard, the Government should obey s. 9(7) of the AODA by the minister, responsible for the AODA, deciding within 90 days what to enact from that proposal. The Government should immediately make that decision public.

#5-19. When a Standards Development Committee is developing an accessibility standard, the Accessibility Directorate should provide to it, and post on the internet for public input, a review of measures adopted in other jurisdictions to advance the goal of accessibility for persons with disabilities in the area that the new accessibility standard or the existing accessibility standard under review is to address.

#5-20. The Human Rights Commission should be far more extensively involved in the formal and informal work of each Standards Development Committee, including during review of public input and discussion and votes on clauses of proposed accessibility standards. This could include having a representative of the Ontario Human Rights Commission sit on each Standards Development Committee, as they work on proposals for the contents of accessibility standards.

#5-21. The Government should encourage each Standards Development Committee, when developing proposals for the contents of an accessibility standard, to identify where changes are needed to provincial or municipal legislation, regulations or bylaws, to advance the goal of a fully accessible Ontario.

#5-22. Standards Development Committees should fulfil their mandates under the AODA by each recommending a proposed accessibility standard, or revisions to an existing accessibility standard. The accessibility standard or revisions to a standard that they recommend should be designed to meet the AODA’s goal of achieving accessibility in Ontario by 2025. If they are to recommend any other measures at all, such as non-legislative measures, this should be secondary to their core mandate, and not the core of their recommendations.

#5-23. The Government should now conduct a robust consultation with the public on the Transportation Standards Development committee’s final recommendations for revisions to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, because those recommendations are so weak.

#5-24. The Government should never attempt or purport to amend an AODA accessibility standard without first fulfilling the mandatory requirement to appoint a Standards Development Committee to consider revisions to that accessibility standard.

Chapter 6 Public Education on Accessibility Remains Insufficient

1. Introduction

Since the organized disability accessibility movement began in Ontario in 1994, every Government and every minister responsible for this issue has proclaimed the importance of and their passionate dedication to educating the public on the need for and benefits of accessibility for people with disabilities. Yet these rhetorical flourishes and the promises that accompanied them too often did not translate into sufficient effective action.

Part 6 of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran demonstrated that up to that date, the Ontario Government did a quite inadequate job of discharging its responsibility to undertake public education on disability accessibility and the AODA. As that brief showed, there were times that the former Ontario Government actually gave out harmful and inaccurate information, such as its website for years incorrectly claiming that accessible customer service does not include providing customers with ramps and automatic door openers.

The former Ontario Government made some limited and efforts on public education since June 2014. However that action was not close to sufficient to address the problems in this area which both the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review and the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review identified. We here provide an addendum to Part 6 of the June 30, 2014, AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make the following findings:

* With only six years left before we reach 2025, and with the AODA having been the law since 2005, the findings in the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review report and the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review report remain valid Many if not most in the public are not aware of their AODA obligations. Of those who are aware of the AODA, too many, including too many within the Ontario Government itself, are not aware that the Ontario Human Rights Code and, where applicable, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms impose disability accessibility obligations that are as high as or higher than those now imposed by AODA accessibility standards.

* Government efforts on public education on the AODA since 2014 have not solved this problem. Moreover, the former Ontario Government’s ineffective enforcement of the AODA has undermined efforts at public education on the AODA, since the message has been widespread that failing to comply with the AODA likely brings no adverse consequences for an obligated organization.

* It works against the AODA’s goals for the Ontario Government to have publicly posted that accessible customer service does not include providing ramps or automatic door openers.

* There is a pressing need to include disability accessibility and inclusion in school curriculums. Moreover, professional training for a range of professions, such as design professionals, needs to include sufficient training on disability accessibility. The former Ontario Government never kept its promises to take action in these two important areas.

* This many years after the AODA was enacted, it would be wrong to contend that effective AODA enforcement must now await further efforts to educate the public and obligated organizations on their obligations under the AODA. It is incorrect and harmful to treat public awareness and education as some unending precondition to effective AODA enforcement.

* While it has made available some useful tools and resources, the Ontario Government has not provided obligated organizations all the tools that could help them comply with the AODA and has not effectively and sufficiently publicized the tools and resources it has provided.

* The public, including obligated organizations, will pay far more attention to public education and awareness efforts on accessibility when they know there is effective AODA enforcement.

* The aim and core focus now should be raising action, not raising awareness.

3. Recommendations on Public Education on the AODA

We urge this Independent Review to recommend as follows:

#6-1. The Government should widely advertise on the mass media, and not just on the internet, via email and on Twitter the availability of resources, training materials and guides it has already developed for organizations to comply with accessibility standards enacted under the AODA.

#6-2. Promptly after any new AODA accessibility standard is enacted or an existing accessibility standard is revised in the future, the Government should make available and widely publicize a free guide, policy guideline and other like resource materials for obligated organizations to comply with that accessibility standard’s accessibility requirements

#6-3. The Government should develop, make available and widely publicize a free web-authoring tool for creating accessible web pages, to comply with the IASR’s information and communication website accessibility requirements.

#6-4. The Government should promptly implement a permanent program to ensure that students in the school system are educated in disability accessibility. For example:

a) The Government should identify the Minister and public officials responsible for this program’s development and implementation.

b) School boards and teachers’ representatives should be consulted on its development and implementation.

c) The Government should develop a sample curriculum which school boards could adopt if they wish, in lieu of developing their own curriculum.

d) The Government should report to the public on this program’s implementation and effectiveness. Among other things, the Government should promptly implement a permanent program to advocate to self-governing professional bodies to educate people training in key professions, such as architects, on disability accessibility. The Government should identify the Minister and public officials responsible for this program’s development and implementation. The Government should report to the public on its implementation and effectiveness.

#6-5. The Government should promptly implement a program to advocate to the self-governing bodies for key professions (such as architects, interior designers, planners, other design professionals, lawyers, doctors and social workers) to adopt, implement and require education on disability accessibility to qualify for those professions, and to require continuing professional development on this topic for those already qualified in those professions. Among other things, as part of this effort:

a) The Government should advocate to key professions such as architects and planners that to qualify in future for a licence or other qualifications certificate as an architect or other designer of the built environment, a specified amount of training in barrier free design must be completed, that goes beyond the insufficient requirements of the Ontario Building Code.

b) A lead minister and public servants should be identified as responsible for this initiative.

c) The Government should make available to those self-governing body any readily-available resource materials to help those self-governing professional bodies develop needed disability accessibility curriculum on accessibility needs of persons with disabilities.

d) The Government should report to the public on this program’s implementation and effectiveness.

e) Funding to any post-secondary faculty or self-governing professional organization for any of these professionals should be made conditional on compliance with this provincial policy and goal.

#6-6. The Government should promptly consult with persons with disabilities, including the AODA Alliance, on the content of these public education materials. This should involve in-person discussions, and not merely an invitation to provide on-line feedback to the Government.

#6-7. The Government should not treat AODA public education or AODA awareness-raising as a substitute for or precondition for effective AODA enforcement. The Government’s aim and core focus now should be raising action, not raising awareness.

Chapter 7. The Government’s Failure to Effectively Ensure that Public Money Is Never Used to Create, Perpetuate or Exacerbate Disability Barriers

1. Introduction

One notion that meets with universal and instantaneous acceptance whenever it is discussed is that public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities. This is a powerful lever for positive social change in the hands of the Government, if it is used effectively. Public money to which accessibility strings can and should always be attached includes, for example, infrastructure spending, spending on procurement of goods, services and facilities, and spending on grants or loans such as those given to businesses or local authorities, or the broader public sector.

Yet over 13 years after the AODA was enacted, the Ontario Government has not taken the full range of actions that it should to turn this proposition into a practical reality. Disability accessibility barriers continue to be created or perpetuated using public money, for no good reason. Some public officials and offices that should lead in this area too often fail to do so. Rhetoric too often fails to match reality. There is no discernable public accountability for a public official or office that continues to use public money to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.

Part 7 of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran explains how the AODA Alliance has tried for many years to get the Ontario Government to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability accessibility barriers. We had too little success on that front up to 2014, as our earlier brief shows.

We here show that from June 2014 to the present, the Ontario Government has continued to fail in this area. Strong new Government action is needed.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* Public money should never be used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers against people with disabilities. Public money to which accessibility strings can and should always be attached includes, for example, infrastructure spending, spending on procurement of goods, services and facilities, and spending on grants or loans such as those given to businesses or local authorities, or the broader public sector. It would be irresponsible for any public official or office to permit public money to be used to create or perpetuate disability accessibility barriers. It creates more future costs the cost of removing barriers that should never have been created in the first place.

* The Ontario Government does not have in place effective, monitored procedures for ensuring that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability accessibility barriers. There is no real accountability or consequences for a public official who permits or directs the use of public money in a way that creates or perpetuates disability barriers. The public has no way to find out who made the bad decisions that result in these barriers.

* The former Government did not take effective new action to address this concern after the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review Report identified it as a concern. As a result, the former Ontario Government broke Premier Wynne’s 2014 Ontario election pledge not to use public money to create or perpetuate disability barriers.

* Where the Government has put in place some policies regarding accessibility considerations when undertaking public procurement of goods, services or facilities, there are no publicly-disclosed regimes for monitoring or enforcing these. There are no known consequences for contravening these policies or procedures.

* As online videos produced by the AODA Alliance in 2016, 2017 and 2018 reveal regarding the new Centennial College the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, and new and recently-renovated Toronto area public transit stations, the former Ontario Government broke Premier Wynne’s pledge in the 2014 Ontario election that public money would not be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.

* There was no discernable progress in ensuring accessibility of publicly-funded infrastructure from June 2014 to June 2016, when the Minister of Infrastructure was also the minister responsible for the AODA. The fact that both subjects were under one minister should have led to far better provincial efforts at ensuring that new infrastructure is fully accessible to people with disabilities.

* An effective use of the Government’s lever of power over the use of public money could have a very dramatic impact on the removal and prevention of disability accessibility barriers, at little or no cost to the Ontario Government.

3. Recommendations on Ensuring Public Money Is Not Used to Create, Perpetuate or Exacerbate Barriers

We urge the Independent Review to recommend that:

#7-1. The Ontario Government should adopt and broadly publicize a cross-government policy that public money may never be used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers against people with disabilities.

#7-2. The Government should set standards for, implement, widely publicize, monitor, enforce and publicly report on a comprehensive strategy to ensure that public money is never used by anyone to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, for example, in capital or infrastructure spending, or through procurement of goods, services or facilities, or through business development grants or loans, or research grants. A senior public official within the Ontario Public Service should be designated with lead responsibility and authority for this effort.

#7-3. The Government should make it a condition of research grants that it funds or to which it contributes that people with disabilities should, where feasible and appropriate, be included in research study as subjects.

#7-4. In any Government strategy to ensure that public money is not used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers, it is not sufficient for the Government to make it a condition that a recipient of public money merely obey the AODA and AODA accessibility standards. It should require that recipients of public money comply with accessibility requirements in the Ontario Human Rights Code, and where applicable the Charter of Rights. It should require, among other things, that the recipient organization’s specific capital project or goods, services or facilities be fully disability accessible or require a commitment to remediate these to become fully accessible by time lines to be set out in the grant, loan or other terms of payment of public money.

#7-5. Any Government contract for infrastructure or for the procurement of goods, services or facilities should include a mandatory, enforceable term that requires the recipient of the public money to remediate any accessibility barriers that the recipient allows to be created or perpetuated at the recipient’s expense.

#7-6. The Government should make it a condition of transfer payments and capital or other infrastructure funding to municipalities, hospitals, school boards, public transit providers, colleges, universities, and transfer partners that these recipient organizations adopt comparable initiatives to ensure that their procurement and infrastructure spending, and any loans or grant programs, do not create, exacerbate or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities. The Government should make public a resource guide to assist those transfer partners to know how to effectively implement this requirement.

#7-7. The Government should promptly establish a process for monitoring and enforcing the recommended comprehensive strategy to ensure that public money is not used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate accessibility barriers. It should not be left to each ministry to do as little or as much as it wishes to implement Government policy and procedures on this topic.

#7-8. The Government should widely and prominently publicize as soon as possible to any organization that seeks Ontario infrastructure or procurement funds, or any Government funded or subsidies, loans or grants, that they must prove in their applications that they will ensure that public money isn’t used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.

#7-9. The Government should establish and widely publicize an avenue for the public to report to the Government on situations where public money is used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate disability accessibility barriers.

#7-10. The Provincial Auditor should audit the Government to ensure compliance with recommendations on ensuring that public money is not used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate disability accessibility barriers.

#7-11. It should be a mandatory Government policy that when an accessibility consultant is retained on an infrastructure project to which Ontario public funds are contributed, the accessibility consultant should report directly to the Ontario Government, with the consultant’s advice being made promptly public.

#7-12. When a public infrastructure project is undertaken involving any Ontario Government funds, the Project Specific Output Specifications (on disability accessibility PSOS) for the project should be made public before the competition process, and subject to public input.

#7-13. The Provincial Auditor should audit the accessibility practices at Infrastructure Ontario, and provide a report to the public, including on any recommended reforms to how that Government organization approaches the planning for accessibility in infrastructure projects.

#7-14. When a Government-funded infrastructure project is undertaken, successive plans for the project should be made public on a real time basis, for crowd-sourced input on accessibility.

#7-15. Where a public official or project team member, paid out of the public purse, vetoes or decides against an accessibility measure that an accessibility consultant recommends, the identity of that public official should be recorded and made public, when successive plans for the project are made public, with an explanation of what the accessibility feature is that was excluded from the project on the decision of that public official.

Chapter 8. Ensuring that All Ontario Laws Do Not Authorize or Require Disability Barriers

1. Introduction

The Ontario Government has a special obligation to ensure that the legislation that the Legislature passes and the regulations that the Cabinet passes are barrier-free for people with disabilities. They should not create or permit the creation of disability accessibility barriers. They should be written in a way that ensures that people with disabilities have their disability-related needs accommodated, so that they can enjoy the rights, opportunities and responsibilities that our laws afford to all.

To that end, it is necessary for the Ontario Government to review all Ontario legislation and regulations, to ensure that they are barrier-free. It also needs to put in place and effective system for ensuring that whenever new laws are passed or old laws are amended, these changes to the law are also barrier-free.

It is commendable that in the 2007 election, just two years after the AODA was enacted, Premier Dalton McGuinty gave an election pledge to review all Ontario laws for accessibility problems. It is entirely indefensible that 11 years later, that promise remains largely unkept. Only a small percentage of Ontario laws have been reviewed for accessibility. Only a fraction of the required changes to those laws were made. The Ontario Government has had in place no plans for the past four years to complete this project.

Part 8 of the June 30,2018 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran demonstrates that up to 2014, the former Ontario Government had done very little to review all Ontario laws, both statutes and regulations, to ensure that they neither create nor mandate any disability barriers. Part 8 of that brief began as follows:

“An important step for Ontario to reach full accessibility by 2025 is to ensure that all Ontario statutes and regulations are themselves barrier-free. The Government needs to ensure that all existing laws and any new laws neither require nor mandate the creation or perpetuation of barriers against persons with disabilities. Among other things, the Government must ensure that Ontario statutes and regulations incorporate active measures to ensure the full accessibility of the programs, policies, rights and opportunities that they address.

To achieve this, the Government must do more than simply creating, enacting and enforcing AODA accessibility standards. The Government must conduct a thorough review of all of its statutes and regulations for accessibility barriers. Where any are found, these laws must be amended to ensure they are barrier-free. The Government must also implement new proactive measures to ensure that new statutes or regulations are carefully screened before they are enacted, to ensure that they are entirely barrier-free.”

This chapter is an addendum to that Part of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran. Since 2014, the former Ontario Government took some further action on this front, but far too little. The last time the former Ontario Government reviewed any legislation to look for accessibility barriers was before the end of 2014. As of now, the vast majority of Ontario statutes and regulations have never been reviewed for accessibility. The former Ontario Government had only reviewed a scant 50-55 of Ontario’s 750 statutes and none of its regulations, as far as we have been told. In the spring of 2016, the former Ontario Government made a number of relatively minor amendments to the 50-55 statues that had been reviewed. This left in place many if not most of the barriers in those statutes. As is the case with so many other issues addressed in this brief, the AODA Alliance has led the charge for more than a decade to get the Ontario Government to ensure that its legislation and regulations do not mandate or permit disability accessibility barriers.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:
* The Ontario Government has a special obligation to ensure that Ontario legislation and regulations are barrier-free for people with disabilities. They should not create or permit the creation of disability accessibility barriers.

* The former Ontario Government promised to review all Ontario laws for accessibility issues in the 2007 election. It repeated that pledge in the 2011 and 2014 elections.

* The former Government delayed even starting this review until 2011. That effort was further delayed for another two years after that.

* Eleven years after the initial pledge, the former Ontario Government has only reviewed a mere 51 of Ontario’s 750 statutes and no Ontario regulations, for accessibility problems. Of the 51 statutes reviewed, the former Ontario Government only amended a mere 11 of them. The former Ontario Government rejected further NDP amendments. The former Ontario Government did not correct a number of barriers in the 51 statutes it reviewed.

* Within the former Government, this issue was shuffled from ministry to ministry over the past eleven years, and through a revolving door series of deputy ministers.

* After some amendments were made to 11 Ontario statutes in spring 2016, the former Ontario Government in effect did nothing further on this review for its last two years in power.

* It should not take 11 years to complete this review, much less a review of only 51 Ontario statutes. Between 1982 and 1985, the Ontario Government reviewed all laws for compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including its equality guarantee in section 15.

3. Recommendations on the Government’s Duty to Review Ontario Statutes and Regulations for Accessibility Barriers

We urge this Review to recommend that:

#8-1. The Government should announce, within four months of this Independent Review’s report, a detailed plan for completing a comprehensive review of all Ontario statutes and regulations for accessibility problems, and for ensuring that new legislation and regulations will be screen in advance to ensure that they do not authorize, create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.

#8-2. The Government should complete this review of all legislation for accessibility barriers by the end of 2020, and of all regulations by the end of 2021. The Government should introduce into the Legislature, with the intent of passing it, an omnibus bill or bills to amend any legislation as needed a result of this review, along time lines that the Government would announce by the end of March 2019.

#8-3. Cabinet should amend any regulations that the government deems necessary as a result of the accessibility review, by the end of 2022.

#8-4. The Government should appoint the Attorney General of Ontario to lead this review of all Ontario laws for accessibility problems, in coordination with the Secretary of Cabinet.

#8-5. The Government should report to the public by the end of 2018, the end of 2019 and the end of 2020 on its progress toward meeting the deadlines for reviewing all legislation and regulations for accessibility barriers. These reports should give specifics on what the Government has done and plans to do, whether by legislative amendments or other actions, to address accessibility barriers it has discovered in this review.

#8-6. When the Government identifies a potential barrier in an Ontario law, it should consult with the public, including with people with disabilities, on options for addressing the barrier, before deciding on the contents of possible amendments to those laws.

Chapter 9 Making Ontario and Municipal Elections Accessible to Voters and Candidates with Disabilities

1. Introduction

Many find it hard to believe that in 2018, voters with disabilities in Ontario still encounter disability barriers in provincial and municipal elections. Yet over 13 years since the AODA was passed, provincial and municipal elections in Ontario are still not fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities. There is no justification for this. The former Ontario Government did not act sufficiently to address this, and did not keep key election promises on this.

Part 9 of the June 30 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran documented the history of this problem in detail up to the middle of 2014. This chapter is an addendum to that Part of our 2014 brief to Mayo Moran.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:
* In 2018, voters and candidates with disabilities in Ontario provincial and municipal elections continue to face too many disability barriers. This is unjustified and unacceptable.

* The same disability barriers can present themselves in provincial and municipal elections. It is inappropriate to have to reinvent the accessibility wheel in the election context at both the provincial and municipal levels, and then again, from one municipality to the next. This slows progress on accessibility while costing the taxpayer more.

* Elections Ontario has not solved this problem at the provincial level, even though it has been within its mandate for many years.

* A comprehensive new strategy is needed to ensure elections accessibility for voters and candidates with disabilities, which can be expected to require legislative reforms.

3. Recommendations on Ensuring Municipal and Provincial Elections are Barrier-free for Voters and Candidates with Disabilities

We urge this Independent Review to make these recommendations:

#9-1. By October 2014, the Government should appoint an independent person to conduct a three month independent review of barriers facing voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections, including both the campaign process and the voting process. This Review, should, among other things, gather information on the use of telephone and internet voting in municipal elections in Ontario. This Review should hold an open, accessible and province-wide public consultation, and report to the public within six months of its appointment. Its report should be made public immediately on its being submitted to the Government.

#9-2. Within six months after the report of the Disability Elections Accessibility Independent Review, the Government should introduce into the Legislature omnibus elections accessibility reforms for both municipal and provincial elections, to remove and prevent barriers impeding voters and candidates with disabilities in the voting process, and in participating in election campaigns, to ensure that:

a) all voters with disabilities can independently mark their own ballot in private and verify their choice. This bill should, among other things, ensure telephone and internet voting in Ontario elections and by-elections.

b) get full physical accessibility to all polling stations and all public areas in polling stations,

c) including sharing at the provincial and municipal levels information on accessible polling station venues, so each does not have to reinvent the same accessibility wheel.

d) Ensure that election campaign information is immediately and readily available in accessible formats, and that campaign websites are designed to be fully accessible.

e) ensure that all-candidates debates are accessible.

Chapter 10 Ontario Government – Leading by Example, But by What Example is it Leading?

1. Introduction

Every party in power since Ontario’s grass roots accessibility campaign began in 1994 has said that the Government of Ontario would lead by example, when it comes to accessibility for people with disabilities. By what kind of example has the Ontario Government been leading? Too often, it has led by a poor example.

This chapter serves as an addendum to Part 10 of our June 30, 2014 brief to Mayo Moran, which begins as follows:

“For Ontario to reach full accessibility by 2025, it is important for the Ontario Government to lead on accessibility by example. The Ontario Public Service is by far Ontario’s largest employer and provider of services to the public.

Other obligated organizations will look to see how seriously the Government takes the AODA. If the Government does not take its AODA duties seriously, obligated organizations will be incentivized to think that they can and should do the same. Moreover, if the Government does not hold itself to full and strict compliance with the AODA, obligated organization won’t expect the Government to expect any more of them.”

Part 10 of our brief to Mayo Moran revealed however that far too often, the Ontario Government was leading by a poor example. This included:

* Failing to put in place an effective front-line internal system within the Government for embedding accessibility across the Ontario Public Service.

* Examples of the Ontario Government violating or attempting to violate its own disability accessibility laws.

* More recent Government initiatives before the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review to improve its implementation of the AODA did not make a significant difference.

* The Government’s failing to consistently provide a simple, cost-free accommodation – the case study of Government documents in PDF format.”

The 2014 Mayo Moran Report in substance agreed that improvement was needed. Sadly however, the former Ontario Government did little that was at all effective at changing this since June 2014. As such, strong action is needed now, more than ever.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* There is a pressing need to revitalize the AODA’s implementation, as both the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review and the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review recommended. This revitalization never took place in response to those reports’ recommendations.

* The former Government did not keep Premier Wynne’s commitment to instruct all ministers on their accessibility commitments. This contributed to slower progress on accessibility.
* The fact that the new Ontario Government has not made its Mandate Letters public makes it impossible for the public, including people with disabilities, to know what the Premier has instructed his ministers to do on accessibility for people with disabilities.

* The transfer from 2013 to 2016 of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to the Ministry of Economic Development was well-intentioned and held great promise. However it turned out to be a failure.

* It is important for the Ontario Government to have a full-time Minister of Accessibility, to lead the AODA’s implementation. It was inappropriate for the former Ontario Government to assign to the same minister both the responsibility as Minister for Accessibility and the conflicting role of Minister of Government Services.

* There is a pressing need for the Ontario Government to re-engineered the way the Government delivers and oversees the delivery of accessibility within the Ontario Public Service, as an employer and service-provider.

* The Ontario Government’s efforts at becoming an accessible employer and service-provider were slowed and hampered by virtue of the fact that the Government has no Chief Accessibility Officer, at the level of a deputy minister or associate deputy minister, with lead responsibility and authority for ensuring that the Ontario Public Service becomes accessible as an employer and service-provider.

* The Ontario Government missed an extraordinary opportunity to achieve advances on accessibility in the tourism and hospitality sector, when Ontario hosted the 2015 Toronto Pan/Parapan American Games. Despite our repeated efforts over two years, the former Ontario Government did not undertake a strategy to use the Games to leverage an increase of accessibility in the tourism and hospitality sector, such as in hotels, restaurants and tourism sites.

* The Minister of International Trade did not incorporate disability accessibility as a prominent part of the International Trade Ministry’s strategy for economic development and innovation.

* The Minister of Research and Innovation did not ensure disability accessibility is a key focus of research and innovation programs and projects that the Government operates or finances.

3. Recommendations on the Ontario Government Leading By Example on Accessibility

#10-1. The Government should designate a single minister to be responsible for ensuring that the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible employer and service provider, and to ensure that the Government keeps all its accessibility commitments and duties, other than those for which the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors is responsible.

#10-2. The Government should establish a full-time Deputy Minister or associate deputy minister responsible for ensuring the accessibility of the Ontario Government’s services, facilities and workplaces, to be called the Chief Accessibility Officer.

#10-3. The Premier should include in the mandate letter that his office issues to each cabinet minister, specific directions to fulfil the Government’s commitments and duties on disability accessibility which fall in whole or in part in that ministry’s purview. The Premier’s instructions to cabinet ministers on accessibility should be made public.

#10-4. The Premier’s office should direct the Secretary of Cabinet to ensure that the Government’s disability accessibility commitments and duties are kept, and direct the Secretary to Cabinet to take all needed steps to implement them.

#10-5. The Government should announce and implement a plan to re-engineer how the Ontario Public Service discharges its duty to ensure that its own services, facilities and workplaces are fully accessible.

#10-6. The Government should ensure that the Accessibility Lead position in each ministry is a full time position, which reports directly to the deputy minister of that minister, with an option for a dual report as well to the ministry’s Chief Administrative Officer.

#10-7. The Government should promptly implement and widely publicize within the Ontario Public Service a comprehensive permanent periodic program for auditing and monitoring its workplaces and public services and facilities for disability accessibility and barriers. This program should include, among other things, on-site audits and inspections, and not merely paper trail audits. The results of this monitoring should annually be made public.

#10-8. The Government should promptly implement a constructive program for ensuring accountability of public servants in the Ontario Public Service for efforts on disability accessibility. Among other things, the Ontario Public Service should require that every employee include in his or her annual performance review, performance goals on disability accessibility within the scope of their duties. Performance on this criterion should be assessed for performance, pay and promotion decisions.

#10-9. The Government should not solely or predominantly rely on on-line programs to train the Ontario Public Service on accessibility. It should implement live, interactive programming where possible that involves face-to-face interaction with persons with disabilities.

#10-10. The Minister responsible for international Trade should incorporate disability accessibility as a prominent part of Ontario’s international trade strategy for economic development and innovation.

#10-11. The Minister who is responsible for research and innovation should ensure disability accessibility is a key focus of research and innovation programs and projects that the Government operates or finances.

Chapter 11 The Unmet Need for a Strong and Effective Ontario Strategy to Substantially increase the Employment of Ontarians with Disabilities

1. Introduction

To fulfil the AODA’s goal of accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025 in the context of employment, Ontario needs a strong and comprehensive strategy to promote expanded employment opportunities for people with disabilities. It is widely recognized and undisputed that people with disabilities face excessive and unfair unemployment rates.

This chapter explores what the Ontario Government has done about this. In summary, the former Ontario Government commendably committed to act on this in February 2013. However, it took far too long and did far too little in this area.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* People with disabilities continue to face unfair and high rates of unemployment. This inflicts serious hardships on people with disabilities and on society. Society significantly benefits by increasing the employment of people with disabilities

* The Ontario Government is a significant cause of the disability unemployment problem

* Ontario does not now have in place sufficient measures to combat this. At the present rate, employment in Ontario will not be achieve full accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025. A stronger AODA Employment Accessibility Standard would help. However, companion Government strategies on increased employment for people with disabilities are also needed. Short term tax cuts or financial incentives are no long term solution

* Barriers that students with disabilities face in Ontario’s education system contribute to the unemployment plight facing too many people with disabilities. A good education is needed to get a good job. As such* delays in creating a strong and effective AODA Education Accessibility Standard contributes to the ongoing unemployment plight facing people with disabilities. That includes the previous ‘Governments multi-year delay in deciding to create an AODA Education Accessibility Standard, and the current Government’s freeze on the work of the K-12 and Post-Secondary Standards Development Committees.

* If Ontario had in place a combination of a stronger Employment Accessibility Standard, a strong Education Accessibility Standard, a stronger Transportation Accessibility Standard, a strong Built Environment Accessibility Standard, and a strong provincial disability employment strategy, the workplaces of 5 to 6 years from now can and should be fully accessible to people with disabilities.

* It was unjustifiable for the former Ontario Government to have taken over four years to develop a disability employment strategy. There have already been ample studies, reports and advisory councils on employment for people with disabilities. What is needed now is action, not more delay for extensive study and discussions.

* The former Government’s “Access Talent” disability employment strategy, announced in June 2017, has some helpful ingredients. However these were too often too high-level or preliminary. More concrete action is needed with prompt benefits for people with disabilities trying to enter or remain in the workforce.

3. Recommendations to Improve Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

#11-1. The Ontario Government should designate a specific minister and deputy minister with lead responsibility for ensuring that all the needed measures are taken to ensure substantially increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

#11-2. The Ontario Government should, within two months, make public a list of options for a strengthened disability employment strategy, drawn from the Government’s own past and present programs, and from the programs and ideas that others have accumulated, e.g. those readily discovered on the internet. The Government should promptly consult the public, including employers and people with disabilities on those options, and any additional options that the public bring forward. Within three months of releasing that list of options, the Government should announce a new and strengthened Ontario disability employment strategy, supplementing the existing Access Talent strategy, to substantially increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As part of this strategy:

a) The Government should not treat “raising awareness” among employers about the benefits of employment for people with disabilities as its core strategy for substantially increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

b) The Government should become a role model –
leading by example through employment of people with disabilities in the Ontario Public Service (OPS) and the broader public sector and procuring services, providing grants or financing to organizations with a strong orientation toward supporting employment of people with disabilities

c) The Government should eliminate Government-created barriers to increased employment of people with disabilities

d) The Government should promptly implement a pro-active strategy to ensure that all students with disabilities in K-12 education secure an experiential learning opportunity, to work towards getting a good job reference to assist them in securing their first paid job.



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By December 3, 2018, Please Send Us Feedback on the AODA Alliance’s Draft Brief to the David Onley Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

By December 3, 2018, Send Us Feedback on the AODA Alliance’s Draft Brief to the David Onley Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

November 23, 2018

          SUMMARY

Today we make public a draft of the brief that the AODA Alliance is aiming to submit to the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which the Ontario Government appointed the Honourable David Onley to conduct. We are eager for your feedback. Do you have any additional findings that we should suggest to Mr. Onley, or any additional recommendations that we should make?

What is this about? Under the AODA, every few years, along a timetable that the AODA sets, the Ontario Government must appoint an independent person to conduct an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Government’s implementation and enforcement of the AODA. The AODA was enacted in 2005. The third AODA Independent Review is now underway.

As in the past, our main way to have our say is to submit a detailed brief to this AODA Independent Review. We have been hard at work preparing a brief for Mr. Onley. We make it public as a draft today and welcome any feedback you can give us. Send any feedback to us by December 3, 2018, at [email protected]

We will then take into account the feedback we receive as we finalize the brief. We will be submitting the brief to Mr. Onley by December 8, 2018.

You can download the entire brief in an accessible MS Word format by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Nov-23-2018-Draft-AODA-Alliance-Brief-to-David-Onley.docx

We realize that the brief is rather long – about 450 pages! Many won’t have the time to read it all.

To make it much easier for you, we set out below the brief’s appendix. It gives you, chapter by chapter, an introduction to each chapter’s subject, the findings we ask Mr. Onley to make, and the recommendations we are urging upon Mr. Onley.

If you cannot look at all of it, feel free to look at any of it! We regret that we cannot allow more time for feedback. We have been inviting and collecting your feedback over the past weeks and months. We have to get this brief finalized and submitted in time for Mr. Onley to be able to make full use of it.

As you can imagine, the preparation of this brief took quite a bit of work. We are indebted to all who have helped us along the way, resulting in this brief’s detailed analysis. We believe it is likely the most thorough and detailed exploration of what has been done, and what has not been done, to implement and enforce the AODA.

When sending us your feedback, please do not use track-changes. Just explain in the email anything you want to say, and mention which chapter of the brief you are commenting on, if you are able to do so.

          MORE DETAILS

Appendix to the November 23, 2018 Draft AODA Alliance Brief to the David Onley Independent Review of the Implementation and Enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

 Chapter 1 The Big Picture – How is Ontario Doing?

1. Introduction

Before this brief’s detailed discussion in the following chapters of each of the major facets of the Ontario Government’s implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), this chapter first takes a look at the “big picture.” It addresses some common themes that the later chapters’ discussions, proposed findings and recommendations address in greater detail.

This chapter considers first whether Ontario is on schedule for reaching accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025. It concludes that we are not. That is not to say that nothing has been done, or that no progress has been made. Rather, our conclusion is that progress has continued to be far too slow, compared to what is readily achievable in Ontario with proper leadership from our Government.

This chapter then addresses the need for new Ontario Government leadership on this file, as both the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review and the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review urged. It addresses the need for Ontario to develop and implement a comprehensive multi-year plan to lead Ontario to accessibility by 2025. The rest of this brief fills in details of what that plan should include.

This chapter then takes a look at the lead office within the Ontario Government, charged with leading the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. It addresses the need for significant reform there. Finally, this chapter explores the excessive confidentiality and secrecy that the Ontario Government has too often sought to achieve with the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, including the development and review of AODA accessibility standards. This all sets the stage for the more specific topics considered in the following chapters.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make these findings:

* There has been progress on accessibility since the AODA’s enactment. However, this progress has been far too slow.

* Ontario is not now on schedule for becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. At the present rate of progress, Ontario will not even come close to reaching full accessibility by 2025. A dramatic improvement is needed now to the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.

* Since the 2014 report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review, the Ontario Government did not show the renewed leadership and revitalized approach to the AODA’s implementation that the Moran report recommended.

* The Ontario Government has never had and now has no comprehensive plan for leading Ontario to reaching accessibility by 2025. There is a clear and present need for such a plan.

* There is a clear need for substantial reform at the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, the Government office that has lead responsibility for the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, such as the development of AODA accessibility standards. This is so despite the fact that there are many hard-working, dedicated people working at various positions in the Accessibility Directorate.

* The Ontario Government has tried to shroud the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, including the development and review of AODA accessibility standards, with far too much secrecy. The public is entitled to expect the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, including the development and review of AODA accessibility standards, to be open, transparent and publicly accountable.

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

3 Recommendations Regarding the Big Picture

We therefore recommend that:

#1-1. The Ontario Government must act promptly to re-vitalize and breathe new life into the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This should start with strong new leadership from the top, including the Premier, the Cabinet and he senior leaders within the Ontario Public Service.

#1-2. The Ontario Government should act quickly to adopt, implement and make public a comprehensive multi-year plan for effectively leading Ontario to become accessible by 2025, which includes the issues regarding the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that are addressed in this brief.

#1-3. There should be substantial reform at the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario so that it better provides the leadership on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that Ontario needs.

#1-4. As is addressed in further detail elsewhere in this brief, the Ontario Government’s implementation and enforcement of the AODA, including the development and review of AODA accessibility standards, should be carried out in an open, public transparent and accountable way. The current pre-occupation with secrecy and confidentiality should be eliminated. For example, members of and presenters at Standards Development Committees should not be asked or required to sign non-disclosure agreements.

* * Chapter 2 the Ongoing Unmet Need for the AODA’s Effective Enforcement

1. Introduction

It has been widely recognized and repeatedly reported in the media that the AODA has not been effectively enforced, despite the former Ontario Government’s repeated promises to effectively enforce this legislation. Part 2 of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran demonstrated the importance for the AODA to be effectively enforced. It also documented the former Ontario Government’s failure to keep its promise to effectively enforce the AODA, up to the spring of 2014.

In this chapter of this brief, we bring the situation up to the present. In short, the former Ontario Government continued to fail to effectively enforce the AODA for the past four years, even though it had unused funding on hand that could be used for enforcement, and even though the Government knew of rampant AODA violations in the private sector. The limited enforcement that the former Ontario Government did deploy was weak and limited in scope.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make the following findings:

* For years, the AODA has not been effectively enforced, even though the former Ontario Government knew for years about unacceptably high levels of AODA non-compliance, particularly within the private sector. Enforcement efforts have been too weak.

* This ineffective AODA enforcement does a disservice to Ontarians with disabilities, to the broader public, and to all the obligated organizations who have opted to comply with the AODA.

* The former Ontario Government did not significantly improve AODA enforcement after the 2014 Mayo Moran Report called for strengthened enforcement. To the contrary, within a week of the former Ontario Government’s public release of the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review in February 2015, the former Ontario Government instituted a substantial cutback of the already-weak AODA enforcement. In June 2015, the former Ontario Government announced that it had a new plan for increased AODA enforcement, to begin in 2016. Subsequent Government records and the results of an AODA Alliance Freedom of Information application demonstrate that this never took place.

* The former Ontario Government failed to effectively publicize the Government’s promised toll-Free number for the public to report AODA violations, for purposes of AODA enforcement.

* It is important to make AODA enforcement independent of the Ontario Government. The Ontario Government should not enforce the AODA against itself. Moreover, independent enforcement of the AODA will better ensure effective enforcement of the AODA. AODA enforcement should not be subject to any political involvement.

* While enforcement is not the only way to get obligated organizations to comply with the AODA, it is one important way to do so. The failure to effectively enforce the AODA has contributed to low rates of AODA compliance.

* The failure to effectively enforce the AODA also works against the efforts of those who try to get obligated organizations to comply, such as accessibility consultants. Those consultants can point to strong enforcement powers in the AODA. However, the fact that only five monetary penalties were imposed in 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined, is ample proof that obligated organizations need not fear any real consequences if they don’t comply with the AODA.

* It is not sufficient for AODA enforcement to take the form of “paper audits”, where Government officials review an obligated organization’s documentary records on AODA compliance, such as records of an obligated organization’s accessibility policy and of its staff training on accessibility. Effective auditing or inspections need to include on-site examination of the actual accessibility of the obligated organizations, not just its accessibility paper trail.

3. Recommendations on the AODA’s Enforcement

We therefore recommend that:

#2-1. AODA enforcement should be substantially strengthen, including effectively using all AODA enforcement powers, enforcing all AODA accessibility requirements, and enforcing the AODA in connection with all classes of organizations that must obey the AODA. The Government should not just enforce the requirement of certain obligated organizations to file an accessibility self-report. The Government should effectively enforce AODA requirements vis à vis both the public and private sectors, and vis à vis all classes of organizations within each sector.

#2-2. AODA enforcement should be transferred outside the Ministry responsible for the AODA, and be assigned to an arms-length public agency to be created for AODA enforcement.

#2-3. The number of inspectors and directors appointed with AODA enforcement powers should be significantly increased.

#2-4. Among other things, Ontario Government and local municipal inspectors and investigators under other legislation should be given a mandate to enforce the AODA when they inspect or investigate an organization under other legislation or by-laws.

A core feature of AODA enforcement should be the on-site inspection of a range of obligated organizations each year on the actual accessibility of their workplace, goods, services and facilities, not a mere audit of their paper records on accessibility documentation.

#2-5. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and any successor body assigned responsibility for AODA enforcement should publicly release and promptly post detailed information on AODA enforcement actions at least every three months.  It should report on how many obligated organizations are actually providing accessibility, and not, as too often is the case at present, how many organizations simply tell the Government that they are providing accessibility. This should include prompt reports of quarterly results and year-to-date totals, broken down by sector and size of organization.  At a minimum, it should include such measures as the number of notices of proposed order issued, the total amount of proposed penalties, the number of orders issued and total amounts and number of penalties imposed, the number of appeals from orders and the outcome, the total amount of penalties including changes ordered by the appeal tribunal, and the orders categorized by subject matter.

#2-6. Obligated organizations should be required to report to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario or any successor AODA enforcement agency  on accessibility complaints received via their required AODA feedback mechanisms, and on how they were resolved, while protecting individual privacy.

#2-7. New ways for crowd-sourced AODA monitoring/enforcement should be created, such as the Government beginning to post all online AODA compliance reports from obligated organizations in a publicly-accessible searchable data base, and by requiring each obligated organization to post its AODA accessibility policy and its AODA compliance report on its own website, if it has one.

#2-8. To reverse the public perception that the Government is not and will not be effectively enforcing the AODA, the Government should immediately and widely publicize its enforcement plans and its intention to substantially increase its efforts at AODA enforcement. This should not be limited to postings on Government website.

#2-9. The Government should develop an effective strategy for ensuring that municipalities effectively enforce the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility requirements as well as any built environment accessibility requirements in AODA accessibility standards, including

  1. a) providing effective training tools on the Ontario Building Code accessibility requirements that can be used by municipal enforcement officials;
  1. b) monitoring levels of enforcement and compliance at the municipal level across Ontario

regarding the Ontario Building Code accessibility requirements.

 Chapter 3 Current AODA Accessibility Standards Don’t Ensure Ontario Will Become Accessible to People with Disabilities by 2025

1. Introduction

The accessibility standards which the Ontario Government has enacted under the AODA over the past 13.5 years have been helpful, but only to a limited extent. They do not ensure that Ontario will become fully accessible ever, much less by 2025. Moreover, work on developing accessibility standards over the past six years has been much slower than it was during the AODA’s first five years.

No new accessibility standard has been enacted since the end of 2012, some six years ago. only one accessibility standard has been revised in the past six years, the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard. Those revisions instituted improvements that were marginal at best, and counterproductive in part, as this chapter explains.

The 2014 Mayo Moran Report identified serious problems with the current accessibility standards. The former Ontario Government did not fix those problems. They persist to this day.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make the following findings:

* The current AODA accessibility standards will not ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, even in the specific areas they regulate, e.g. customer service, employment, transportation, or information and communication.

The 2014 final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review correctly identified significant deficiencies with these accessibility standards. In the intervening years, the former Ontario Government did not rectify those deficiencies.

* The Government’s mandatory 5-year review of the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard did not rectify most of the significant deficiencies with that accessibility standard. In one way, it made that weak accessibility standard even weaker.

* The Government’s mandatory 5year- review of the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard resulted in weak recommendations to the Government from the Transportation Standards Development committee. Even if those recommendations were all implemented, these would not materially or substantially improve that accessibility standard.

* Similarly, the 2018 draft recommendations from the Employment Standards Development Committee on how to improve the very limited Employment Accessibility Standard would not significantly improve that accessibility standard.

3. Recommendations Regarding Deficiencies in Current AODA Accessibility Standards

We urge this Independent Review to recommend as follows:

#3-1. The Ontario Government should substantially strengthen all the existing accessibility standards.

#3-2. Any accessibility standards enacted under the AODA should, at least, measure up to the accessibility standards and accommodation and undue hardship requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Where any existing standard falls below that standard, or provides defences to obligated organizations that are broader than those under the Human Rights Code, the AODA accessibility standard should be amended as part of any review of that accessibility standard, to bring it in line with the Human Rights Code.

#3-3. The Ontario Government should direct each Standards Development Committee that is now developing recommendations for a new accessibility standard or that is reviewing an existing standard, or that is appointed in the future, to make recommendations on accessibility that live up to the Ontario Human Rights Code. To assist with this, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario should give each Standards Development Committee up-to-date information on relevant rulings by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and courts, and should centrally involve the Ontario Human Rights Code in each Standards Development Committee on an ongoing basis, including appointing a representative of the Ontario Human Rights Commission as an ex officio non-voting member of each Standards Development Committee.

#3-4. When any Standards Development Committee is conducting a review of an existing AODA accessibility standard, that Committee should be advised that its mandate is not simply to decide if the existing accessibility standard is working “as intended”. Rather, it should investigate whether the accessibility standard will ensure that accessibility in the area that the standard addresses will be achieved by 2025. If it does not, then the Committee should recommend measures needed to ensure that accessibility in that area will be achieved by 2025.

#3-5. The Ontario Government should appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the sufficiency of the general provisions in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, since no Standards Development Committee appears to be reviewing them.

#3-6. The Ontario Government should now launch the next review of the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, since that standard remains so weak, and since the last review of that accessibility standard failed to significantly improve it. As part of that review, that accessibility standard should be revised to remove the barrier it impermissibly creates. That review should be mandated to consider, among other things, the low-cost revisions that the AODA Alliance and ARCH Disability Law Centre recommended to the Ontario Government in their joint March 15, 2016 brief.

#3-7. The Ontario Government should now convene a summit with leaders from the disability community and the transportation sector to identify substantially stronger reforms to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard than those which the Transportation Standards Development committee had recommended.

#3-8. The Ontario Government should ask the Employment Standards Development Committee to expand its efforts, and to develop recommendations on measures to remove and prevent specific workplace disability barriers.

Note: See also the recommendations in Chapter 4.

 

 Chapter 4 The Need for New Accessibility Standards, Including a Strong and Comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard

1. Introduction

Chapter 3 of this brief shows that the accessibility standards enacted to date under the AODA, while helpful to a degree, are not sufficient to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025. It recommends needed actions in so far as those specific accessibility standards are concerned. This chapter addresses the need for the Ontario Government to enact new accessibility standards, to address issues and barriers that are beyond the areas that the existing accessibility standards address.

Part 4 of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran shows that since 2012, the Ontario Government’s work on developing new accessibility standards under the AODA had slowed to a virtual crawl. That Part of our 2014 brief reached this conclusion:

“This Part of this brief shows that the Government has in recent years taken an unjustified and inordinate amount of time just to decide which accessibility standards to next develop under the AODA. It seems as if the Government has been stuck in neutral. With the 2025 deadline growing ever nearer, this was time that Ontario could not afford to squander.”

That slow pace of progress has persisted to the present time. Since June 2014, no new accessibility standards have been enacted. The former Ontario Government only completed the mandatory review of one of the existing accessibility standards, the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard. The mandatory 5-year reviews of the Transportation Accessibility Standard, the Employment Accessibility Standard and the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard are still underway. The mandatory 5-year review of the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard has not even begun. As shown later in this chapter, the Ontario Government has violated the AODA by not starting that mandatory review by the end of 2017.

Chapter 3 of this brief shows that the mandatory 5-year review of the weak 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard did not lead to that standard being substantially strengthened. In one respect, it led it to be weakened even more.

Throughout the past decade, the AODA Alliance has been in the lead in trying to get the Ontario Government to create new accessibility standards. During that period, the Ontario Government did not undertake a comprehensive effort to ascertain all the new accessibility standards that are needed. At most the former Ontario Government only focused on two of the new subject areas which we had emphasized, namely education and health care. In those two areas, the former Ontario Government took an unconscionably long time to eventually decide whether to create accessibility standards in education and health care.

As an illustration of another much-needed new accessibility standard, we have been calling for the Ontario Government to create a Residential Housing Accessibility Standard for over half a decade. In July 2009, the former Ontario Government promised to address residential housing through the standards development process, once the promised Built Environment Accessibility Standard was enacted. It never kept that promise. The former Ontario Government never gave a reason for failing to address accessibility barriers in residential housing. It has never denied to us that there is a protracted and critical shortage of accessible housing in Ontario – a shortage which will get worse as our population continues to age.

In this chapter, we first document the exceedingly long delays for the Ontario Government to decide to take action under the AODA on education and health care barriers. We then address the unmet need for a strong and effective Built Environment Accessibility Standard. Finally, we turn to the need for other accessibility standards to be created under the AODA.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make the following findings:

* Ontario has a pressing need for an Education Accessibility Standard and a Health Care Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the AODA. students with disabilities face too many barriers in Ontario schools, colleges, universities and other education programs. Patients with disabilities face too many disability barriers in Ontario’s health care system.

* After the AODA has been part of Ontario law for 13 and a half years, the built environment in Ontario remains replete with far too many disability accessibility barriers. The AODA has not had a significant effect on removing existing barriers or preventing new ones in the built environment. A new building can be built in full compliance with the AODA and the Ontario Building Code and yet have serious accessibility problems. The Ontario Building Code’s accessibility requirements, like the few built environment requirements in AODA accessibility standards, are entirely inadequate to meet the known modern needs of people with disabilities.

* Ontario also has a pressing need for a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the AODA. The former Ontario Government’s decision to carve the built environment largely out of AODA accessibility standards and to only address it in the Ontario Building Code was wrong. It set Ontario back.

* The former Ontario Government’s failure to keep its August 19, 2011 election promise to enact the promised Built Environment Accessibility Standard promptly set Ontario back.

* The former Ontario Government’s failure to act effectively on the 2014 Mayo Moran recommendations to address retrofits in existing buildings further set Ontario further back.

* Ontario has a pressing need for a Residential Housing Accessibility Standard. There is a serious shortage of accessible housing in Ontario for people with disabilities. It is getting worse because the demand for r accessible housing increases as Ontario’s population ages. There is no effective strategy in place in Ontario to ensure a sufficient increase in the supply of accessible housing in Ontario.

* Ontario needs a Goods and Products Accessibility Standard to be created under the AODA.

* The former Ontario Government never undertook a comprehensive consultation or other effort to determine what additional accessibility standards need to be created in order for the AODA to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025.

3. Recommendations Regarding Next Accessibility Standards to be Developed

#4-1. The Government should consult with the public, including with people with disabilities, over the next three months, on all the sectors that other accessibility standards need to address, to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025, with a decision to be announced on the economic sectors to be addressed in those standards within three months after that consultation.

#4-2. The Government should not delay a decision on whether to have a new accessibility standard developed, while the Ontario Public Service decides what barriers it might include.

#4-3. Immediately after the Government decides what remaining accessibility standards need to be created, it should promptly create Standards Development Committees to develop recommendations for each of those new accessibility standards.

#4-4. The Government should now publicly recognize that there is a problem with the inaccessibility of the built environment in Ontario. It should launch a concerted and comprehensive strategy that will address new construction, major renovations, and the retrofit of existing buildings that are undergoing no major renovations, using feedback from the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal complaints and findings, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policies and advice.

#4-5. The Government should develop and enact a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA, ensuring that it effectively addresses accessibility retrofits in existing buildings, as well as accessibility in new construction and major renovations (not limited to those covered in the DOPS accessibility standard). Among other things, the new and comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard should include additional accessibility requirements for elevators that are not currently addressed by the requirements in the Ontario Building Code and other provincial laws. To this end, the Ontario Government should appoint a new Built Environment Standards Development Committee, both to review the 2011 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard and to develop recommendations for a far more comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard.

#4-6. The Government should create a Residential Housing Accessibility Standard under the AODA, and should promptly appoint a Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on what it should include, or assign this to the Built Environment Standards Development Committee, referred to in the preceding recommendation.

#4-7. The Government should direct each AODA Standards Development Committee now in operation to make recommendations on standards for the built environment as it relates to the area that that Standards Development Committee is studying. For example, the Education Standards Development Committee should be directed to make recommendations for accessibility in schools, colleges or universities. The Health Care Standards Development Committee should be directed to recommend requirements for the accessibility of the built environment in the health care system.

#4-8. The Government should announce a comprehensive strategy on accessible housing to address the current and growing crisis in accessible housing in Ontario, in addition to creating an AODA accessibility standard on point).

#4-9. The Government should strengthen enforcement of accessibility in the built environment. For example, it should require that before a building permit or site plan approval can be obtained for a project, the approving authority, municipal or provincial, must be satisfied that the project, on completion, will meet all accessibility requirements under the Ontario Building Code and in all AODA accessibility standards.

#4-10. The Government should require professional bodies that regulate or licence key professionals such as architects, interior designers, landscape architects, and other design professionals, to require detailed training on accessible design, to qualify for a license, and continuing professional development for existing professionals. The Government should also require, as a condition of funding any college or university that trains these key professions, that their program curriculum must include sufficient training on accessibility and universal design. This should be designed to ensure that no new graduates in these fields will make the same mistakes as too often is the case for those now in practice.

#4-11. The Government should substantially reform the way public sector infrastructure projects are managed and overseen in Ontario, including a major reform of Infrastructure Ontario. This should include

  1. A requirement that accessibility advice be obtained on all major projects starting at the very beginning, during master planning, feasibility studies, and functional programming, with any accessibility advice that is received being made public. This input should also be obtained through consultations with people with disabilities.
  1. A requirement to track any decisions to reject any accessibility advice, identifying who made that decision and the reasons why. That information should promptly be publicly reported.
  1. To require the Government to promptly make public the accessibility requirements under consideration as a requirement for a contract for any infrastructure, with enough time before the start of the bidding competition to allow for feedback and adjustments. It is too late to make this public only after the bidding competition.
  1. A requirement for post-project accessibility commissioning inspections which would include compliance with the project specific output specification accessibility requirements as well as the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards.
  1. A requirement in all contracts that any accessibility deficiencies found must be the financial responsibility of the Project Company who built the project to fix them.

#4-12. The Government should require that when public money is used to create new public housing, 100% of that housing should include universal design and visit-ability as mandatory design features.

#4-13. The Government should agree to create a Goods and Products Accessibility Standard.

#4-14. Accessibility standards should include, where appropriate, not only end-dates for achieving results, but also interim benchmarks for major milestones towards full accessibility.

 Chapter 5 The Need to Substantially Reform the Standards Development Process Under the AODA

1. Introduction

This brief has already shown that an absolutely central part of the AODA is the creation of effective accessibility standards that will ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025. This brief has also already shown that the accessibility standards enacted to date, while helpful, are woefully insufficient to ensure that Ontario reaches accessibility at any time, much less by 2025.

Much more needs to be done to develop sufficient accessibility standards in Ontario. At the same time, there is a pressing need to reform the standards development process under the AODA. the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review report recommended this. Our 2014 brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review demonstrated this. Events since our 2014 brief to Mayo Moran further demonstrate this.

Part 5 of our June 30, 2014 brief to Mayo Moran showed that the reforms to the standards development process which the former Ontario Government implemented in response to the 2010 Beer report did not work. Events since 2014 further show this.

The former Ontario Government eventually abandoned those reforms over the past two to three years, without announcing that it was doing so. We supported the Government’s abandoning those reforms. This is because they had accomplished nothing positive, and, if anything, set back our progress.

Since we submitted our brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review in June 2014, further problems with the standards development process have come to light. Last spring, we called upon the former Ontario Government’s minister responsible for the AODA, Tracy MacCharles, to implement a series of changes to the standards development process. These were well within her authority as minister. There was no need for new legislation or regulations to be enacted. Nevertheless, she did not make these changes.

The need for reforms to Ontario’s standards development process that we recommend are reinforced by the current activities surrounding Parliament’s consideration of Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. That bill incorporates helpful improvements on Ontario’s standards development process, though that federal bill too, requires strengthening, as our September 27, 2018 brief to Parliament on Bill C-81 demonstrates.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* There is a pressing need to reform the standards development process under the AODA. The problems with the standards development process that the 2010 final report of the Charles Beer AODA Independent Review identified remain present to this day. the former Ontario Government’s attempt to address these by temporarily assigning the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council with responsibility for developing recommendations for all accessibility standards was a failure and was properly abandoned by the former Ontario Government by 2016.

* The Government has been and remains in violation of the AODA, because it has thrice failed to appoint Standards Development Committees on time to conduct mandatory 5-year reviews of existing AODA accessibility standards by the AODA’s deadline. This includes the former Ontario Government’s failure to appoint the mandatory review of the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard until sometime in 2013, and its current failure to appoint the mandatory review of the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard by the end of 2017 and the review of Part I of the2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation by 2016.

* Once the former Ontario Government had decided to develop new accessibility standards in the area of education and health care, it took far too long to take the simple first step of appointing Standards Development Committees to start working on recommendations on what those accessibility standards should include. It took some two years to appoint the Health Care Standards Development Committee and over one year to appoint the K-12 and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees. It took the Government longer to set up any of these Standards Development Committees than it had taken the Government to develop the entire AODA legislation and introduce it for First Reading in the Legislature back in 2003-2004.

* The new Ford Government has unjustifiably created further delays in reaching accessibility in Ontario, by its excessively-long freeze of the work of existing Standards Development Committees that were already appointed and working on their mandates before the June 7, 2018 Ontario election.

* The former Ontario Government inappropriately tried to restrict or narrow the work of some of the AODA Standards Development Committees it had appointed.

* There has been too much secrecy maintained around the work of the AODA Standards Development Committees, particularly in recent years.

* The mandatory minutes that each Standards Development Committee must keep and publicly post, regarding their meetings, are too often insufficiently detailed and informative to enable the public to know what they are doing, and have confidence in their work.

* The former Ontario Government was wrong to require Standards Development Committees  to have a 75% vote in support before a recommendation for an accessibility standard could be submitted to the Government, or for any other decision by a Standards Development Committee, e.g. a decision to approve an amendment to its minutes.

* It put the cart before the horse for the former Ontario Government to require a Standards Development Committee in its first six months to set priorities for its work, before it had fully assessed which barriers exist in the area that the committee was assigned to study.

* The former Government did not give the public sufficient advance notice of when it would be consulting on a proposed accessibility standard.

* The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has been overstepping its role, when supporting the work of Standards Development Committees, by attempting to inappropriately micromanage and influence the direction of their work and recommendations.

* Standards Development Committees have not been effectively fulfilling their role under the AODA to propose an accessibility standard for the Government to consider enacting. For example, in 2018 the Transportation Standards Development committee submitted recommendations that are in significant part made up of items that are not a proposal for revisions to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard.

* The recommendations from Standards Development Committees for revisions to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard and the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, and the draft recommendations for revisions to the 2011 Employment Accessibility Standard, are all very weak, and dramatically less than people with disabilities need.

* The standards development process requires much more extensive involvement by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

* Standards Development Committees have at times insufficiently consulted with the disability community, especially when formulating their draft recommendations.

* Since 2013, the former Ontario Government has broken its 2007 election promise to provide dedicated staff support to disability sector representatives on Standards Development Committees.

* In and after May 2018, the Government has inappropriately failed to consult the public on final recommendations it received for revisions to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard from the Transportation Standards Development committee.

* The Government’s has repeatedly failed to comply with the statutory deadline for deciding on making an accessibility standard after a Standards Development Committee recommends one.

* The former Government took the extraordinary and highly problematic step in June 2016 of purporting to amend parts of the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation without first appointing a Standards Development Committee to review the relevant parts of that standard, a mandatory precondition under the AODA.

3. Recommendations on Improving the Process for Developing New Accessibility Standards and Revising Existing Standards

We urge this Independent Review to recommend as follows:

#5-1. There is a strong need for the standards development process under the AODA to be substantially strengthened so that it produces stronger accessibility standards that will fulfil the AODA’s purposes.

#5-2. The Government should lead by example, by always ensuring that it meets all of its own deadlines set by the AODA, such as the deadlines for appointing Standards Development Committees 5-year mandatory reviews of existing AODA accessibility standards.

#5-3. The Government should immediately lift its freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, and the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee.

#5-4. The Government should modify the Mandate Letter for the Health Care Standards Development Committee so that it ensures that that Standards Development Committee makes recommendations on barriers throughout the health care system, and not merely or primarily regarding barriers in hospitals.

#5-5. The Government should Ensure that the Standards Development Committees, appointed under the AODA to make recommendations on what an accessibility standard should include, can operate in a more open and accountable manner and are fully independent of Government. These should not be shrouded in secrecy and non-disclosure requirements. An independent Ontario Access Board should be created to oversee this work, that is independent of and arms-length from the Ontario Government.

#5-6. The Ontario Government should not try to get members of Standards Development Committees to sign non-disclosure agreements when inviting them to serve on an AODA Standards Development Committee.

#5-7. The Accessibility Directorate should provide effective dedicated staff support to the disability sector representatives on each Standards Development Committee.

#5-8. The Government should amend the Terms of Reference for Standards Development Committees, to allow them to make a recommendation on what an accessibility standard should include as long as that recommendation is supported by a simple majority of 50% of the voting members, at least half of which comprise representatives on the Committee from the disability sector

#5-9. The Accessibility Directorate should not to direct Standards Development Committees that when they vote on other matters such as approving or amending Committee meetings’ minutes, they require a 75% super-majority. A simple majority should be all that is required.

#5-10. Minutes kept by Standards Development Committees should be more detailed and informative. They should include minutes of any sub-committee and should have appended to them, as part of any public posting, any documents which are tabled with the Standards Development Committee to review. Minutes of meetings of an Standards Development Committee should accurately and comprehensively record the detailed issue-by-issue deliberations of that Council on accessibility standard proposals, and should be written in a fashion to make them fully understandable by members of the public who did not attend those meetings.

#5-11. Standards Development Committees should not be directed to decide, within their first six months of work, on priorities for their work.

#5-12. The Government should widely publicize the opportunity for community groups to request a chance to present to Standards Development Committees , when it is developing proposals for an accessibility standard.

#5-13. Because several different public consultations will be coming up over the next months, please make public a schedule of all the forthcoming public consultations that will come up over the next 24 months under the AODA, and ensure they are not overlapping, so that the public can adequately prepare to participate in them all.

#5-14. The Government should now launch the process to recruit members of a new Standards Development Committee to review disability barriers in the built environment, including those addressed in the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard.

#5-15. The Government should now appoint a Standards Development Committee to conduct the overdue mandatory 5-year review of Part I of the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.

#5-16. When it is developing proposals for the contents of an accessibility standard, the Government should strongly encourage Standards Development Committees to extensively and publicly consult the public, including the disability community. As part of this, Standards Development Committees should be encouraged to invite stakeholders from the disability community and regulated sectors to meet together with ASAC to informally discuss issues that the Standards Development Committee have found challenging to resolve.

#5-17. When a Standards Development Committee submits an initial proposal to the Government for the contents of a new accessibility standard, or for revisions to an existing accessibility standard, the Government should convene face-to-face stakeholder meetings as one avenue for gathering input and should not restrict input to written submissions from the public.

#5-18. When a Standards Development Committee submits to the Government a final proposal for the contents of a new accessibility standard, the Government should obey s. 9(7) of the AODA by the minister, responsible for the AODA, deciding within 90 days what to enact from that proposal. The Government should immediately make that decision public.

#5-19. When a Standards Development Committee is developing an accessibility standard, the Accessibility Directorate should provide to it, and post on the internet for public input, a review of measures adopted in other jurisdictions to advance the goal of accessibility for persons with disabilities in the area that the new accessibility standard or the existing accessibility standard under review is to address.

#5-20. The Human Rights Commission should be far more extensively involved in the formal and informal work of each Standards Development Committee, including during review of public input and discussion and votes on clauses of proposed accessibility standards. This could include having a representative of the Ontario Human Rights Commission sit on each Standards Development Committee, as they work on proposals for the contents of accessibility standards.

#5-21. The Government should encourage each Standards Development Committee, when developing proposals for the contents of an accessibility standard, to identify where changes are needed to provincial or municipal legislation, regulations or bylaws, to advance the goal of a fully accessible Ontario.

#5-22. Standards Development Committees should fulfil their mandates under the AODA by each recommending a proposed accessibility standard, or revisions to an existing accessibility standard. The accessibility standard or revisions to a standard that they recommend should be designed to meet the AODA’s goal of achieving accessibility in Ontario by 2025. If they are to recommend any other measures at all, such as non-legislative measures, this should be secondary to their core mandate, and not the core of their recommendations.

#5-23. The Government should now conduct a robust consultation with the public on the Transportation Standards Development committee’s final recommendations for revisions to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, because those recommendations are so weak.

#5-24. The Government should never attempt or purport to amend an AODA accessibility standard without first fulfilling the mandatory requirement to appoint a Standards Development Committee to consider revisions to that accessibility standard.

 Chapter 6 Public Education on Accessibility Remains Insufficient

1. Introduction

Since the organized disability accessibility movement began in Ontario in 1994, every Government and every minister responsible for this issue has proclaimed the importance of and their passionate dedication to educating the public on the need for and benefits of accessibility for people with disabilities. Yet these rhetorical flourishes and the promises that accompanied them too often did not translate into sufficient effective action.

Part 6 of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran demonstrated that up to that date, the Ontario Government did a quite inadequate job of discharging its responsibility to undertake public education on disability accessibility and the AODA. As that brief showed, there were times that the former Ontario Government actually gave out harmful and inaccurate information, such as its website for years incorrectly claiming that accessible customer service does not include providing customers with ramps and automatic door openers.

The former Ontario Government made some limited and efforts on public education since June 2014. However that action was not close to sufficient to address the problems in this area which both the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review and the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review identified. We here provide an addendum to Part 6 of the June 30, 2014, AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran.

2. Recommended Findings

We recommend that this AODA Independent Review make the following findings:

* With only six years left before we reach 2025, and with the AODA having been the law since 2005, the findings in the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review report and the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review report remain valid– Many if not most in the public are not aware of their AODA obligations. Of those who are aware of the AODA, too many, including too many within the Ontario Government itself, are not aware that the Ontario Human Rights Code and, where applicable, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms impose disability accessibility obligations that are as high as or higher than those now imposed by AODA accessibility standards.

* Government efforts on public education on the AODA since 2014 have not solved this problem. Moreover, the former Ontario Government’s ineffective enforcement of the AODA has undermined efforts at public education on the AODA, since the message has been widespread that failing to comply with the AODA likely brings no adverse consequences for an obligated organization.

* It works against the AODA’s goals for the Ontario Government to have publicly posted that accessible customer service does not include providing ramps or automatic door openers.

* There is a pressing need to include disability accessibility and inclusion in school curriculums. Moreover, professional training for a range of professions, such as design professionals, needs to include sufficient training on disability accessibility. The former Ontario Government never kept its promises to take action in these two important areas.

* This many years after the AODA was enacted, it would be wrong to contend that effective AODA enforcement must now await further efforts to educate the public and obligated organizations on their obligations under the AODA. It is incorrect and harmful to treat public awareness and education as some unending precondition to effective AODA enforcement.

* While it has made available some useful tools and resources, the Ontario Government has not provided obligated organizations all the tools that could help them comply with the AODA and has not effectively and sufficiently publicized the tools and resources it has provided.

* The public, including obligated organizations, will pay far more attention to public education and awareness efforts on accessibility when they know there is effective AODA enforcement.

*   The aim and core focus now should be raising action, not raising awareness.

3. Recommendations on Public Education on the AODA

We urge this Independent Review to recommend as follows:

#6-1. The Government should widely advertise on the mass media, and not just on the internet, via email and on Twitter the availability of resources, training materials and guides it has already developed for organizations to comply with accessibility standards enacted under the AODA.

#6-2. Promptly after any new AODA accessibility standard is enacted or an existing accessibility standard is revised in the future, the Government should make available and widely publicize a free guide, policy guideline and other like resource materials for obligated organizations to comply with that accessibility standard’s accessibility requirements

#6-3. The Government should develop, make available and widely publicize a free web-authoring tool for creating accessible web pages, to comply with the IASR’s information and communication website accessibility requirements.

#6-4. The Government should promptly implement a permanent program to ensure that students in the school system are educated in disability accessibility. For example:

  1. a) The Government should identify the Minister and public officials responsible for this program’s development and implementation.
  1. b) School boards and teachers’ representatives should be consulted on its development and implementation.
  1. c) The Government should develop a sample curriculum which school boards could adopt if they wish, in lieu of developing their own curriculum.
  1. d) The Government should report to the public on this program’s implementation and effectiveness. Among other things, the Government should promptly implement a permanent program to advocate to self-governing professional bodies to educate people training in key professions, such as architects, on disability accessibility. The Government should identify the Minister and public officials responsible for this program’s development and implementation. The Government should report to the public on its implementation and effectiveness.

#6-5. The Government should promptly implement a program to advocate to the self-governing bodies for key professions (such as architects, interior designers, planners, other design professionals, lawyers, doctors and social workers) to adopt, implement and require education on disability accessibility to qualify for those professions, and to require continuing professional development on this topic for those already qualified in those professions. Among other things, as part of this effort:

  1. a) The Government should advocate to key professions such as architects and planners that to qualify in future for a licence or other qualifications certificate as an architect or other designer of the built environment, a specified amount of training in barrier free design must be completed, that goes beyond the insufficient requirements of the Ontario Building Code.
  1. b) A lead minister and public servants should be identified as responsible for this initiative.
  1. c) The Government should make available to those self-governing body any readily-available resource materials to help those self-governing professional bodies develop needed disability accessibility curriculum on accessibility needs of persons with disabilities.
  1. d) The Government should report to the public on this program’s implementation and effectiveness.
  1. e) Funding to any post-secondary faculty or self-governing professional organization for any of these professionals should be made conditional on compliance with this provincial policy and goal.

#6-6. The Government should promptly consult with persons with disabilities, including the AODA Alliance, on the content of these public education materials. This should involve in-person discussions, and not merely an invitation to provide on-line feedback to the Government.

#6-7. The Government should not treat AODA public education or AODA awareness-raising as a substitute for or precondition for effective AODA enforcement. The Government’s aim and core focus now should be raising action, not raising awareness.

Chapter 7. The Government’s Failure to Effectively Ensure that Public Money Is Never Used to Create, Perpetuate or Exacerbate Disability Barriers

1. Introduction

One notion that meets with universal and instantaneous acceptance whenever it is discussed is that public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities. This is a powerful lever for positive social change in the hands of the Government, if it is used effectively. Public money to which accessibility strings can and should always be attached includes, for example,  infrastructure spending, spending on procurement of goods, services and facilities, and spending on grants or loans such as those given to businesses or local authorities, or the broader public sector.

Yet over 13 years after the AODA was enacted, the Ontario Government has not taken the full range of actions that it should to turn this proposition into a practical reality. Disability accessibility barriers continue to be created or perpetuated using public money, for no good reason. Some public officials and offices that should lead in this area too often fail to do so. Rhetoric too often fails to match reality. There is no discernable public accountability for a public official or office that continues to use public money to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.

Part 7 of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran explains how the AODA Alliance has tried for many years to get the Ontario Government to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability accessibility barriers. We had too little success on that front up to 2014, as our earlier brief shows.

We here show that from June 2014 to the present, the Ontario Government has continued to fail in this area. Strong new Government action is needed.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* Public money should never be used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers against people with disabilities. Public money to which accessibility strings can and should always be attached includes, for example,  infrastructure spending, spending on procurement of goods, services and facilities, and spending on grants or loans such as those given to businesses or local authorities, or the broader public sector. It would be irresponsible for any public official or office to permit public money to be used to create or perpetuate disability accessibility barriers. It creates more future costs – the cost of removing barriers that should never have been created in the first place.

* The Ontario Government does not have in place effective, monitored procedures for ensuring that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability accessibility barriers. There is no real accountability or consequences for a public official who permits or directs the use of public money in a way that creates or perpetuates disability barriers. The public has no way to find out who made the bad decisions that result in these barriers.

* The former Government did not take effective new action to address this concern after the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review Report identified it as a concern. As a result, the former Ontario Government broke Premier Wynne’s 2014 Ontario election pledge not to use public money to create or perpetuate disability barriers.

* Where the Government has put in place some policies regarding accessibility considerations when undertaking public procurement of goods, services or facilities, there are no publicly-disclosed regimes for monitoring or enforcing these. There are no known consequences for contravening these policies or procedures.

* As online videos produced by the AODA Alliance in 2016, 2017 and 2018 reveal regarding the new Centennial College the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, and new and recently-renovated Toronto area public transit stations, the former Ontario Government broke Premier Wynne’s pledge in the 2014 Ontario election that public money would not be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.

* There was no discernable progress in ensuring accessibility of publicly-funded infrastructure from June 2014 to June 2016, when the Minister of Infrastructure was also the minister responsible for the AODA. The fact that both subjects were under one minister should have led to far better provincial efforts at ensuring that new infrastructure is fully accessible to people with disabilities.

* An effective use of the Government’s lever of power over the use of public money could have a very dramatic impact on the removal and prevention of disability accessibility barriers, at little or no cost to the Ontario Government.

3. Recommendations on Ensuring Public Money Is Not Used to Create, Perpetuate or Exacerbate Barriers

We urge the Independent Review to recommend that:

#7-1. The Ontario Government should adopt and broadly publicize a cross-government policy that public money may never be used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers against people with disabilities.

#7-2. The Government should set standards for, implement, widely publicize, monitor, enforce and publicly report on a comprehensive strategy to ensure that public money is never used by anyone to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, for example, in capital or infrastructure spending, or through procurement of goods, services or facilities, or through business development grants or loans, or research grants. A senior public official within the Ontario Public Service should be designated with lead responsibility and authority for this effort.

#7-3. The Government should make it a condition of research grants that it funds or to which it contributes that people with disabilities should, where feasible and appropriate, be included in research study as subjects.

#7-4. In any Government strategy to ensure that public money is not used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers, it is not sufficient for the Government to make it a condition that a recipient of public money merely obey the AODA and AODA accessibility standards. It should require that recipients of public money comply with accessibility requirements in the Ontario Human Rights Code, and where applicable the Charter of Rights. It should require, among other things, that the recipient organization’s specific capital project or goods, services or facilities be fully disability accessible or require a commitment to remediate these to become fully accessible by time lines to be set out in the grant, loan or other terms of payment of public money.

#7-5. Any Government contract for infrastructure or for the procurement of goods, services or facilities should include a mandatory, enforceable term that requires the recipient of the public money to remediate any accessibility barriers that the recipient allows to be created or perpetuated at the recipient’s expense.

#7-6. The Government should make it a condition of transfer payments and capital or other infrastructure funding to municipalities, hospitals, school boards, public transit providers, colleges, universities, and transfer partners that these recipient organizations adopt comparable initiatives to ensure that their procurement and infrastructure spending, and any loans or grant programs, do not create, exacerbate or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities. The Government should make public a resource guide to assist those transfer partners to know how to effectively implement this requirement.

#7-7. The Government should promptly establish a process for monitoring and enforcing the recommended comprehensive strategy to ensure that public money is not used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate accessibility barriers. It should not be left to each ministry to do as little or as much as it wishes to implement Government policy and procedures on this topic.

#7-8. The Government should widely and prominently publicize as soon as possible to any organization that seeks Ontario infrastructure or procurement funds, or any Government funded or subsidies, loans or grants, that they must prove in their applications that they will ensure that public money isn’t used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.

#7-9. The Government should establish and widely publicize an avenue for the public to report to the Government on situations where public money is used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate disability accessibility barriers.

#7-10. The Provincial Auditor should audit the Government to ensure compliance with recommendations on ensuring that public money is not used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate disability accessibility barriers.

#7-11. It should be a mandatory Government policy that when an accessibility consultant is retained on an infrastructure project to which Ontario public funds are contributed, the accessibility consultant should report directly to the Ontario Government, with the consultant’s advice being made promptly public.

#7-12. When a public infrastructure project is undertaken involving any Ontario Government funds, the Project Specific Output Specifications (on disability accessibility PSOS) for the project should be made public before the competition process, and subject to public input.

#7-13. The Provincial Auditor should audit the accessibility practices at Infrastructure  Ontario, and provide a report to the public, including on any recommended reforms to how that Government organization approaches the planning for accessibility in infrastructure projects.

#7-14. When a Government-funded infrastructure project is undertaken, successive plans for the project should be made public on a real time basis, for crowd-sourced input on accessibility.

#7-15. Where a public official or project team member, paid out of the public purse, vetoes or decides against an accessibility measure that an accessibility consultant recommends, the identity of that public official should be recorded and made public, when successive plans for the project are made public, with an explanation of what the accessibility feature is that was excluded from the project on the decision of that public official.

 Chapter 8. Ensuring that All Ontario Laws Do Not Authorize or Require Disability Barriers

1. Introduction

The Ontario Government has a special obligation to ensure that the legislation that the Legislature passes and the regulations that the Cabinet passes are barrier-free for people with disabilities. They should not create or permit the creation of disability accessibility barriers. They should be written in a way that ensures that people with disabilities have their disability-related needs accommodated, so that they can enjoy the rights, opportunities and responsibilities that our laws afford to all.

To that end, it is necessary for the Ontario Government to review all Ontario legislation and regulations, to ensure that they are barrier-free. It also needs to put in place and effective system for ensuring that whenever new laws are passed or old laws are amended, these changes to the law are also barrier-free.

It is commendable that in the 2007 election, just two years after the AODA was enacted, Premier Dalton McGuinty gave an election pledge to review all Ontario laws for accessibility problems. It is entirely indefensible that 11 years later, that promise remains largely unkept. Only a small percentage of Ontario laws have been reviewed for accessibility. Only a fraction of the required changes to those laws were made. The Ontario Government has had in place no plans for the past four years to complete this project.

Part 8 of the June 30,2018 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran demonstrates that up to 2014, the former Ontario Government had done very little to review all Ontario laws, both statutes and regulations, to ensure that they neither create nor mandate any disability barriers. Part 8 of that brief began as follows:

“An important step for Ontario to reach full accessibility by 2025 is to ensure that all Ontario statutes and regulations are themselves barrier-free. The Government needs to ensure that all existing laws and any new laws neither require nor mandate the creation or perpetuation of barriers against persons with disabilities. Among other things, the Government must ensure that Ontario statutes and regulations incorporate active measures to ensure the full accessibility of the programs, policies, rights and opportunities that they address.

To achieve this, the Government must do more than simply creating, enacting and enforcing AODA accessibility standards. The Government must conduct a thorough review of all of its statutes and regulations for accessibility barriers. Where any are found, these laws must be amended to ensure they are barrier-free. The Government must also implement new proactive measures to ensure that new statutes or regulations are carefully screened before they are enacted, to ensure that they are entirely barrier-free.”

This chapter is an addendum to that Part of the June 30, 2014 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran. Since 2014, the former Ontario Government took some further action on this front, but far too little. The last time the former Ontario Government reviewed any legislation to look for accessibility barriers was before the end of 2014. As of now, the vast majority of Ontario statutes and regulations have never been reviewed for accessibility. The former Ontario Government had only reviewed a scant 50-55 of Ontario’s 750 statutes and none of its regulations, as far as we have been told. In the spring of 2016, the former Ontario Government made a number of relatively minor amendments to the 50-55 statues that had been reviewed. This left in place many if not most of the barriers in those statutes. As is the case with so many other issues addressed in this brief, the AODA Alliance has led the charge for more than a decade to get the Ontario Government to ensure that its legislation and regulations do not mandate or permit disability accessibility barriers.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* The Ontario Government has a special obligation to ensure that Ontario legislation and regulations are barrier-free for people with disabilities. They should not create or permit the creation of disability accessibility barriers.

* The former Ontario Government promised to review all Ontario laws for accessibility issues in the 2007 election. It repeated that pledge in the 2011 and 2014 elections.

* The former Government delayed even starting this review until 2011. That effort was further delayed for another two years after that.

* Eleven years after the initial pledge, the former Ontario Government has only reviewed a mere 51 of Ontario’s 750 statutes and no Ontario regulations, for accessibility problems. Of the 51 statutes reviewed, the former Ontario Government only amended a mere 11 of them. The former Ontario Government rejected further NDP amendments. The former Ontario Government did not correct a number of barriers in the 51 statutes it reviewed.

* Within the former Government, this issue was shuffled from ministry to ministry over the past eleven years, and through a revolving door series of deputy ministers.

* After some amendments were made to 11 Ontario statutes in spring 2016, the former Ontario Government in effect did nothing further on this review for its last two years in power.

* It should not take 11 years to complete this review, much less a review of only 51 Ontario statutes. Between 1982 and 1985, the Ontario Government reviewed all laws for compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including its equality guarantee in section 15.

3. Recommendations on the Government’s Duty to Review Ontario Statutes and Regulations for Accessibility Barriers

We urge this Review to recommend that:

#8-1. The Government should announce, within four months of this Independent Review’s report,  a detailed plan for completing a comprehensive review of all Ontario statutes and regulations for accessibility problems, and for ensuring that new legislation and regulations will be screen in advance to ensure that they do not authorize, create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.

#8-2. The Government should complete this review of all legislation for accessibility barriers by the end of 2020, and of all regulations by the end of 2021. The Government should introduce into the Legislature, with the intent of passing it, an omnibus bill or bills to amend any legislation as needed a result of this review, along time lines that the Government would announce by the end of March 2019.

#8-3. Cabinet should amend any regulations that the government deems necessary as a result of the accessibility review, by the end of 2022.

#8-4. The Government should appoint the Attorney General of Ontario to lead this review of all Ontario laws for accessibility problems, in coordination with the Secretary of Cabinet.

#8-5. The Government should report to the public by the end of 2018, the end of 2019 and the end of 2020 on its progress toward meeting the deadlines for reviewing all legislation and regulations for accessibility barriers. These reports should give specifics on what the Government has done and plans to do, whether by legislative amendments or other actions, to address accessibility barriers it has discovered in this review.

#8-6. When the Government identifies a potential barrier in an Ontario law, it should consult with the public, including with people with disabilities, on options for addressing the barrier, before deciding on the contents of possible amendments to those laws.

 Chapter 9 Making Ontario and Municipal Elections Accessible to Voters and Candidates with Disabilities

1. Introduction

Many find it hard to believe that in 2018, voters with disabilities in Ontario still encounter disability barriers in provincial and municipal elections. Yet over 13 years since the AODA was passed, provincial and municipal elections in Ontario are still not fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities. There is no justification for this. The former Ontario Government did not act sufficiently to address this, and did not keep key election promises on this.

Part 9 of the June 30 AODA Alliance brief to Mayo Moran documented the history of this problem in detail up to the middle of 2014. This chapter is an addendum to that Part of our 2014 brief to Mayo Moran.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* In 2018, voters and candidates with disabilities in Ontario provincial and municipal elections continue to face too many disability barriers. This is unjustified and unacceptable.

* The same disability barriers can present themselves in provincial and municipal elections. It is inappropriate to have to reinvent the accessibility wheel in the election context at both the provincial and municipal levels, and then again, from one municipality to the next. This slows progress on accessibility while costing the taxpayer more.

* Elections Ontario has not solved this problem at the provincial level, even though it has been within its mandate for many years.

* A comprehensive new strategy is needed to ensure elections accessibility for voters and candidates with disabilities, which can be expected to require legislative reforms.

3. Recommendations on Ensuring Municipal and Provincial Elections are Barrier-free for Voters and Candidates with Disabilities

We urge this Independent Review to make these recommendations:

#9-1. By October 2014, the Government should appoint an independent person to conduct a three month independent review of barriers facing voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections, including both the campaign process and the voting process. This Review, should, among other things, gather information on the use of telephone and internet voting in municipal elections in Ontario. This Review should hold an open, accessible and province-wide public consultation, and report to the public within six months of its appointment. Its report should be made public immediately on its being submitted to the Government.

#9-2. Within six months after the report of the Disability Elections Accessibility Independent Review, the Government should introduce into the Legislature omnibus elections accessibility reforms for both municipal and provincial elections, to remove and prevent barriers impeding voters and candidates with disabilities in the voting process, and in participating in election campaigns, to ensure that:

  1. a) all voters with disabilities can independently mark their own ballot in private and verify their choice. This bill should, among other things, ensure telephone and internet voting in Ontario elections and by-elections.
  1. b) get full physical accessibility to all polling stations and all public areas in polling stations,
  1. c) including sharing at the provincial and municipal levels information on accessible polling station venues, so each does not have to reinvent the same accessibility wheel.
  1. d) Ensure that election campaign information is immediately and readily available in accessible formats, and that campaign websites are designed to be fully accessible.
  1. e) ensure that all-candidates debates are accessible.

 Chapter 10 Ontario Government – Leading by Example, But by What Example is it Leading?

1. Introduction

Every party in power since Ontario’s grass roots accessibility campaign began in 1994 has said that the Government of Ontario would lead by example, when it comes to accessibility for people with disabilities. By what kind of example has the Ontario Government been leading? Too often, it has led by a poor example.

This chapter serves as an addendum to Part 10 of our June 30, 2014 brief to Mayo Moran, which begins as follows:

“For Ontario to reach full accessibility by 2025, it is important for the Ontario Government to lead on accessibility by example. The Ontario Public Service is by far Ontario’s largest employer and provider of services to the public.

Other obligated organizations will look to see how seriously the Government takes the AODA. If the Government does not take its AODA duties seriously, obligated organizations will be incentivized to think that they can and should do the same. Moreover, if the Government does not hold itself to full and strict compliance with the AODA, obligated organization won’t expect the Government to expect any more of them.”

Part 10 of our brief to Mayo Moran revealed however that far too often, the Ontario Government was leading by a poor example. This included:

* Failing to put in place an effective front-line internal system within the Government for embedding accessibility across the Ontario Public Service.

* Examples of the Ontario Government violating or attempting to violate its own disability accessibility laws.

* More recent Government initiatives before the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review to improve its implementation of the AODA did not make a significant difference.

* The Government’s failing to consistently provide a simple, cost-free accommodation – the case study of Government documents in PDF format.”

The 2014 Mayo Moran Report in substance agreed that improvement was needed. Sadly however, the former Ontario Government did little that was at all effective at changing this since June 2014. As such, strong action is needed now, more than ever.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* There is a pressing need to revitalize the AODA’s implementation, as both the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review and the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review recommended. This revitalization never took place in response to those reports’ recommendations.

* The former Government did not keep Premier Wynne’s commitment to instruct all ministers on their accessibility commitments. This contributed to slower progress on accessibility.

* The fact that the new Ontario Government has not made its Mandate Letters public makes it impossible for the public, including people with disabilities, to know what the Premier has instructed his ministers to do on accessibility for people with disabilities.

* The transfer from 2013 to 2016 of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to the Ministry of Economic Development was well-intentioned and held great promise. However it turned out to be a failure.

* It is important for the Ontario Government to have a full-time Minister of Accessibility, to lead the AODA’s implementation. It was inappropriate for the former Ontario Government to assign to the same minister both the responsibility as Minister for Accessibility and the conflicting role of Minister of Government Services.

* There is a pressing need for the Ontario Government to re-engineered the way the Government delivers and oversees the delivery of accessibility within the Ontario Public Service, as an employer and service-provider.

* The Ontario Government’s efforts at becoming an accessible employer and service-provider were slowed and hampered by virtue of the fact that the Government has no Chief Accessibility Officer, at the level of a deputy minister or associate deputy minister, with lead responsibility and authority for ensuring that the Ontario Public Service becomes accessible as an employer and service-provider.

* The Ontario Government missed an extraordinary opportunity to achieve advances on accessibility in the tourism and hospitality sector, when Ontario hosted the 2015 Toronto Pan/Parapan American Games. Despite our repeated efforts over two years, the former Ontario Government did not undertake a strategy to use the Games to leverage an increase of accessibility in the tourism and hospitality sector, such as in hotels, restaurants and tourism sites.

* The Minister of International Trade did not incorporate disability accessibility as a prominent part of the International Trade Ministry’s strategy for economic development and innovation.

* The Minister of Research and Innovation did not ensure disability accessibility is a key focus of research and innovation programs and projects that the Government operates or finances.

3. Recommendations on the Ontario Government Leading By Example on Accessibility

#10-1. The Government should designate a single minister to be responsible for ensuring that the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible employer and service provider, and to ensure that the Government keeps all its accessibility commitments and duties, other than those for which the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors is responsible.

#10-2. The Government should establish a full-time Deputy Minister or associate deputy minister responsible for ensuring the accessibility of the Ontario Government’s services, facilities and workplaces, to be called the Chief Accessibility Officer.

#10-3. The Premier should include in the mandate letter that his office issues to each cabinet minister, specific directions to fulfil the Government’s commitments and duties on disability accessibility which fall in whole or in part in that ministry’s purview. The Premier’s instructions to cabinet ministers on accessibility should be made public.

#10-4. The Premier’s office should direct the Secretary of Cabinet to ensure that the Government’s disability accessibility commitments and duties are kept, and direct the Secretary to Cabinet to take all needed steps to implement them.

#10-5. The Government should announce and implement a plan to re-engineer how the Ontario Public Service discharges its duty to ensure that its own services, facilities and workplaces are fully accessible.

#10-6. The Government should ensure that the Accessibility Lead position in each ministry is a full time position, which reports directly to the deputy minister of that minister, with an option for a dual report as well to the ministry’s Chief Administrative Officer.

#10-7. The Government should promptly implement and widely publicize within the Ontario Public Service a comprehensive permanent periodic program for auditing and monitoring its workplaces and public services and facilities for disability accessibility and barriers. This program should include, among other things, on-site audits and inspections, and not merely paper trail audits. The results of this monitoring should annually be made public.

#10-8. The Government should promptly implement a constructive program for ensuring accountability of public servants in the Ontario Public Service for efforts on disability accessibility. Among other things, the Ontario Public Service should require that every employee include in his or her annual performance review, performance goals on disability accessibility within the scope of their duties. Performance on this criterion should be assessed for performance, pay and promotion decisions.

#10-9. The Government should not solely or predominantly rely on on-line programs to train the Ontario Public Service on accessibility. It should implement live, interactive programming where possible that involves face-to-face interaction with persons with disabilities.

#10-10. The Minister responsible for international Trade should incorporate disability accessibility as a prominent part of Ontario’s international trade strategy for economic development and innovation.

#10-11. The Minister who is responsible for research and innovation should ensure disability accessibility is a key focus of research and innovation programs and projects that the Government operates or finances.

 Chapter 11 The Unmet Need for a Strong and Effective Ontario Strategy to Substantially increase the Employment of Ontarians with Disabilities

1. Introduction

To fulfil the AODA’s goal of accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025 in the context of employment, Ontario needs a strong and comprehensive strategy to promote expanded employment opportunities for people with disabilities. It is widely recognized and undisputed that people with disabilities face excessive and unfair unemployment rates.

This chapter explores what the Ontario Government has done about this. In summary, the former Ontario Government commendably committed to act on this in February 2013. However, it took far too long and did far too little in this area.

2. Recommended Findings

We urge this AODA Independent Review to find as follows:

* People with disabilities continue to face unfair and high rates of unemployment. This inflicts serious hardships on people with disabilities and on society. Society significantly benefits by increasing the employment of people with disabilities

* The Ontario Government is a significant cause of the disability unemployment problem

* Ontario does not now have in place sufficient measures to combat this. At the present rate, employment in Ontario will not be achieve full accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025. A stronger AODA Employment Accessibility Standard would help. However, companion Government strategies on increased employment for people with disabilities are also needed. Short term tax cuts or financial incentives are no long term solution

* Barriers that students with disabilities face in Ontario’s education system contribute to the unemployment plight facing too many people with disabilities. A good education is needed to get a good job. As such* delays in creating a strong and effective AODA Education Accessibility Standard contributes to the ongoing unemployment plight facing people with disabilities. That includes the previous ‘Governments multi-year delay in deciding to create an AODA Education Accessibility Standard, and the current Government’s freeze on the work of the K-12 and Post-Secondary Standards Development Committees.

* If Ontario had in place a combination of a stronger Employment Accessibility Standard, a strong Education Accessibility Standard, a stronger Transportation Accessibility Standard, a strong Built Environment Accessibility Standard, and a strong provincial disability employment strategy, the workplaces of 5 to 6 years from now can and should be fully accessible to people with disabilities.

* It was unjustifiable for the former Ontario Government to have taken over four years to develop a disability employment strategy. There have already been ample studies, reports and advisory councils on employment for people with disabilities. What is needed now is action, not more delay for extensive study and discussions.

* The former Government’s “Access Talent” disability employment strategy, announced in June 2017, has some helpful ingredients. However these were too often too high-level or preliminary. More concrete action is needed with prompt benefits for people with disabilities trying to enter or remain in the workforce.

3. Recommendations to Improve Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

#11-1. The Ontario Government should designate a specific minister and deputy minister with lead responsibility for ensuring that all the needed measures are taken to ensure substantially increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

#11-2. The Ontario Government should, within two months, make public a list of options for a strengthened disability employment strategy, drawn from the Government’s own past and present programs, and from the programs and ideas that others have accumulated, e.g. those readily discovered on the internet. The Government should promptly  consult the public, including employers and people with disabilities on those options, and any additional options that the public bring forward. Within three months of releasing that list of options,   the Government should announce a new and strengthened Ontario disability employment strategy, supplementing the existing Access Talent strategy, to substantially increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As part of this strategy:

  1. a) The Government should not treat “raising awareness” among employers about the benefits of employment for people with disabilities as its core strategy for substantially increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
  1. b) The Government should become a role model – leading by example through employment of people with disabilities in the Ontario Public Service (OPS) and the broader public sector and procuring services, providing grants or financing to organizations with a strong orientation toward supporting employment of people with disabilities
  1. c) The Government should eliminate Government-created barriers to increased employment of people with disabilities
  1. d) The Government should promptly implement a pro-active strategy to ensure that all students with disabilities in K-12 education secure an experiential learning opportunity, to work towards getting a good job reference to assist them in securing their first paid job.



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Accommodating Students With Disabilities on Campus: Moving Beyond Silos


A new report looks at how accessibility and accommodations are meeting the needs of disabled students across Canada. By MICHAEL RANCIC | NOV 21 2018

A new study aims to challenge how accessibility and accommodations are understood at postsecondary institutions. Released in October, the Landscape of Accessibility and Accommodation in Post-Secondary Education for Students with Disabilities report says that accessibility remains siloed within postsecondary education.

Accessibility and inclusion efforts in the postsecondary environment have lagged behind the evolution of the student experience and are limited to the academic (classroom and online learning) environment, reads the report, published by the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS).

Founded in 1986, NEADS mandate is to support access to education and employment for postsecondary students and graduates with disabilities across Canada. The Social Development Partnerships Program of Employment and Social Development Canada funded the Landscape project in 2016 to help inform the federal governments new national accessibility legislation, known as Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. The bill went through its first reading in June 2018 and was referred to committee in September for further study.

We recognized that it was very important that postsecondary students and graduates with disabilities have a significant input into the consultations relating to a federal disability act, said Frank Smith, NEADS national coordinator.

Beyond the opportunity to influence new federal legislation, there were more pressing reasons that necessitated the report, said Mr. Smith. [NEADS] started in 1986 that was before most students were using computers, the internet, social media. It was a time when, if you were a blind student, you got your books on tape, he said.

What has happened since then with technology, online learning and distance education has really helped to level the playing field for many people with disabilities who, without technology, would not be able to fully participate, Mr. Smith continued. However, technology has also introduced new challenges: with more students with disabilities able to participate on campus, is the accommodation process working for them the best that it can? How is the rest of campus life meeting their needs? This rapidly shifting learning dynamic hasnt been studied with this kind of national scope, Mr. Smith explained.

We often dont look at whole systems across a nation, said Christine Arnold, one of the co-investigators for the Landscape report and an assistant professor in the faculty of education at Memorial University (the two other co-investigators were Michelle Pidgeon, an associate professor of education at Simon Fraser University, and Deanna Rexe, vice-president, academic, at Assiniboine Community College). I dont know that weve seen this comprehensive of a scan across the entire country looking at the policies, programs and the literature, said Dr. Arnold

The project was a collaborative effort between researchers at SFU, Assiniboine and Memorial, along with a team of 15 graduate students with disabilities. The report and its recommendations came from a substantive literature review, environmental scans, data analysis from surveys like the Canadian Graduate Survey, as well as consultations with students, service providers and educators at various conferences across the country.

The report makes numerous recommendations for policy changes at the federal, provincial and institutional levels (the latter includes service providers, teaching staff and libraries).

These include: Mandate accessibility of features, methods, applications and protocols used by persons with disabilities in navigating education and employment, meaning that accessibility shouldnt be limited to certain areas of education and employment; and Mandate postsecondary institutions to outline a nationally accepted set of essential requirements for all their programs of study, which aims to eliminate the current regional and provincial disparities that exist with respect to policies and practices around accessibility and inclusion.

Information gaps

Across all recommendations, some themes emerged, said Dr. Arnold. First and foremost was the limited amount of research previously done in this area. We found there were gaps gaping gaps at times, she said.

Identifying those gaps was a key step before more original research could take place, Dr. Arnold added. We know theres real appetite to do this work and we know that its becoming increasingly important as we open up access for students and were trying to accommodate more students and try to make sure theyre successful.

Dr. Arnold cited the example of student transitions within institutions, between institutions and from postsecondary education into the job market as an area thats of particular interest to her, and yet a literature review she conducted yielded little research. How do our services allow our students to make those transitions successfully and where do we fall down? she asked.

Dr. Arnold also said more effort needs to be focused on the retention and attrition of students, making sure that they have supports they need and know where to find them. A lot of the literature focuses on support for students with disabilities with regard to their coursework their academics, making sure theyre proceeding in their program but theres this whole other dimension of student life, she said.

Acknowledging this, the Landscape report suggests that accommodations need to be built into programs and initiatives that fall under student services or student affairs. Co-curricular experiences, work-oriented learning, experiential learning, leadership opportunities all of these need to have accommodations built into them, she said.

Jay Dolmage, an associate professor of English at the University of Waterloo who researches disability accommodations, said the NEADS report reveals a culture thats failing its disabled students. Offices of disability services, especially in Canada, are doing a good job within the parameters theyre often really underfunded and understaffed. But, theres also a cultural stigma against disability that makes it difficult to do that job effectively, he said, noting that, according to the multi-year accountability agreements published by each university, fewer students are seeking accommodations from one year to the next.

Dr. Dolmage added: Universities map disability as a legal requirement and as something that needs to be medically verified, but they might not necessarily recognize disability as an important source of diversity or as a culture. Mr. Smith at NEADS agreed: That medical approach doesnt speak to the individual learning path or requirement of the student who happens to have a disability.

Fundamentally, said Dr. Arnold, the report and its recommendations are rooted in a push for universal planning in education. There are always going to be specific accommodations, she said. However, if we can be more universal and plan for those in advance, we would be doing ourselves a great favour and our students would be able to see themselves in the programming. Seeing yourself there and knowing youll be comfortable is honestly at times half the struggle.

Original at https://www.universityaffairs.ca/news/news-article/accommodating-students-with-disabilities-on-campus-moving-beyond-silos/



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