Accessibility Law Reviews Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility law reviews across Canada.

Accessibility Law Reviews Across Canada

Ontario

Every four (4) years, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario appoints someone to review the AODA. This reviewer spends time meeting with the public, especially people with disabilities, discussing possible improvements the AODA might need. Based on this public feedback, the reviewer writes a report about how effective the AODA and its mandates are. In addition, the reviewer recommends steps the government can take to improve the Act. The reviewer then submits this report to the Minister in charge of the AODA.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia

Manitoba and Nova Scotia’s accessibility acts include similar review processes. However, these reviews take place every five (5) years, instead of every four (4) years. Moreover, while Ontario’s review process includes consultation with people who have disabilities, the other provinces’ review processes mandate more consultation. For instance, the reviewer of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act must consult with:

  • People with disabilities
  • Members of organizations that represent people with disabilities

In addition, reviewers of the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act must consult people representing the sectors of the economy that accessibility standards impact.

Accessible Canada Act

Likewise, committees from the Canadian House of Commons or the Senate must review how effective the Accessible Canada Act is. While preparing their review, committee members must consult with:

  • People with disabilities
  • Members of organizations that represent people with disabilities
  • People representing the sectors of the economy that accessibility standards impact

The second review of the Act must take place five (5) years after the first. However, the Act only mandates later reviews every ten (10) years.

Requirements under all these accessibility laws ensure that, from time to time, one or more people analyze how effective standards are. Moreover, accessibility law reviews ensure that the provincial and federal governments know whether or not standards are working well. In addition, the governments also receive reviewers’ suggestions about ways to improve the standards. If governments choose to implement any recommendations in the reviews of these laws, structures and services may gradually become accessible to people of all abilities.

However, none of these accessibility laws require the governments to implement any of the recommendations that reviewers make. As a result, these valuable suggestions for making Canada a more accessible country may never become reality.




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