For 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Today is a Frustrating Anniversary of Inaction by the Ford Government – We Are Still Waiting for the Government to Announce an Effective Plan of Action to Implement the David Onley Report Received One Year Ago Today


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

For 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Today is a Frustrating Anniversary of Inaction by the Ford Government – We Are Still Waiting for the Government to Announce an Effective Plan of Action to Implement the David Onley Report Received One Year Ago Today

January 31, 2020

          Summary

Fully one year after the Ford Government received a compelling report that shows a need to substantially strengthen the implementation and enforcement of Ontario’s 2005 disability accessibility law, the Government continues its foot-dragging, with no end in sight. For example, it continues its failure to take important action required under that legislation.

At the same time, the Ford Government instead pushes forward with an unhelpful distraction, its plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars to the problem-ridden Rick Hansen Foundation private accessibility certification program. That public money would be far better spend funding such things as the development and enactment of long-overdue new regulations that would ensure that Ontario’s built environment becomes accessible to Ontarians with disabilities .

While this anniversary of inaction is very frustrating, we remain unstoppably tenacious. We will continue and redouble our efforts in our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities.

1. A Deeply Troubling One Year Anniversary of Government Foot-Dragging

One year ago today, the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, conducted by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. That ground-breaking report called on the Ontario Government to show strong new leadership on accessibility for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities. It found that Ontario remains a province full of “soul-crushing barriers” that daily impede Ontarians with disabilities. It recommended specific, long-overdue actions to speed up and strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We and the Ford Government agreed that Mr. Onley did a marvelous job.

For an entire year, we have pressed the Ford Government to release a strong and comprehensive plan of action to implement the Onley Report. It still has not done so.

Earlier this week, on January 28, 2020, the Ford Government staged a media event to unveil its response to the Onley Report that has been a year in the making. Our news release that day showed that the Ford Government’s announcement offered thin gruel for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. It largely re-announced existing programs. Progress on accessibility will continue at the glacial rate that the Onley Report documented to have been the case in Ontario for years.

For example, the Onley Report said that the recurring barriers that people with disabilities face in the built environment must become a major priority. The Onley Report called for new accessibility regulations to be enacted to fix this. Doug Ford recognize the importance of this in his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance where he set out his party’s 2018 election promises on disability accessibility.

No one can credibly deny that the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions are inadequate. A new building can be built that fully complies with the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards, and still be replete with serious accessibility barriers. For example, thousands of people know this to be the case from viewing three captioned online videos produced by the AODA Alliance. They show serious accessibility barriers in the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre, and the new subway stations recently opened on Toronto’s subway line – all public buildings.

At its media event earlier this week, the Ford Government said that action on barriers facing people with disabilities in the built environment was one of its four priorities. Yet, the Ford Government still has not announced any plans to create a long-overdue Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. Last May, during National Accessibility Week, Doug Ford’s Government hurtfully derided such an idea as “red tape,” as if the rights to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities were red tape.

Under the AODA, a very limited and weak accessibility standard was enacted by the previous Ontario Government in 2012 to address some barriers in public spaces, mainly outside buildings. The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review that weak accessibility over two years ago. That committee is needed and required to advise the Government on any revisions to it that are needed to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025, the AODA’s mandatory deadline. The Government continues to be in open, flagrant and ongoing breach of that obligation. No such Standards Development Committee has been appointed. The previous Wynne Government was in breach of that duty for its last six months in power. The Ford Government has been in breach of it for its entire 19 months in power.

In its weak January 28, 2020 announcement, the Ford Government did not say that it would create a Built Environment Accessibility Standard. Instead, it only re-announced that it would harmonize the weak Ontario Building Code with the weak national building code. That could make things worse for people with disabilities.

So far, the Ford Government’s thin gruel for Ontarians with disabilities has not been well received by people with disabilities. The feedback we have received from people with disabilities has been quite critical of the Government’s announcement. Similar sentiments were expressed in the January 29, 2020 Thunder Bay Chronicle Herald (article set out below) and in a Radio 610 CKTB interview on January 28, 2020 with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. Ontario NDP Disability Critic Joel Harden issued a news release on January 28, 2020, set out below, that was to the same effect.

2. Instead of Embarking on Developing Long-Overdue New Regulations for the Accessibility of Ontario’s Built Environment, the Ford Government is Going Ahead with Its Wasteful Investment in the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Private Accessibility Certification Program

Making this situation even worse, instead of investing public money into developing new, modernized and effective accessibility regulations for the built environment, whether under the Ontario Building Code, the AODA or both, the Ford Government is going ahead with its seriously flawed plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars into the problematic Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) private accessibility certification program. Last year, we exhaustively documented that the RHF program has major deficiencies. Public money should not be spent on it:

*  The RHF purports to “certify” a building as accessible. In reality, it certifies nothing. The fact that the RHF proclaims that a building is accessible does not mean that it is accessible.

* The RHF has an unfair, selective approach to accessibility which, per its own news release, looks at barriers facing people with disabilities relating to mobility, vision and hearing. Yet to properly assess a building’s accessibility, it is important to look at the needs of people with all disabilities, not just those that the RHF has unfairly chosen to prioritize.

* The Standard and process that the RHF uses to assess a building  are deficient and unreliable.

* The RHF’s meager 8-day training program for its assessors is entirely inadequate to qualify a person to conduct such assessments.

Neither the RHF nor the Ford Government have disproven our serious and fully documented concerns. Nevertheless, the Ford Government is forging ahead with this improper use of public money. On January 30, 2020, the RHF issued a news release. We set it out below. It obviously was coordinated with the Ford Government.

That news release invites organizations in ten Ontario cities to apply for a free RHF assessment of their building, entirely at the Ontario taxpayer’s expense. That news release adds new concerns to the many that we have already documented.

Months ago, we asked the Ford Government a number of important questions about this scheme. Many remain unanswered. For example, we have asked who is going to decide which organizations and which buildings will get this free RHF assessment at public expense. From the news release, set out below, we learned that applications for this public benefit go to the RHF, a private foundation, and not to the Ontario Government which will be paying for it. The news release states:

“RHF will be engaging municipalities and their Accessibility Advisory Committees to select finalists in their local communities.”

This strongly implies that the RHF may be the final decision-maker. That would be entirely inappropriate. The RHF is not publicly accountable for such decisions. There is a real risk of conflicts of interest, since the RHF is a charitable foundation that also solicits donations from the public, including those who apply for this publicly-funded offering.

To the extent that the Government is partially downloading the burden to select finalists to municipalities and their accessibility advisory committees, there is no indication that the Ford Government will cover their added costs. Members of the public who serve on municipal accessibility advisory committees are volunteers. They have far more important things to do to serve the needs of their communities.

Neither the Ford Government nor the RHF have announced any criteria for deciding which organizations will get this taxpayer-funded benefit. It is critically important to know how these decisions will be made, with full public accountability for this use of public money.

Because the Ontario Building Codes accessibility provisions are so inadequate, several of these ten Ontario municipalities have their own stronger accessibility standards. Nothing in the RHF program ensures that RHF assessors have the required knowledge and expertise about the technical requirements in the municipal accessibility standards in the relevant municipality. The RHF’s 8-day training course does not ensure that they have that knowledge and expertise. If the RHF certifies a building in London, Ontario that does not comply with London’s accessibility standards, it would be seriously misleading for the RHF to declare it as an accessible building.

We strongly recommend that organizations not apply to the RHF for its assessment of their buildings in this program. There are far better options for taking action to address accessibility issues in their buildings.

If, despite our serious concerns, a municipality and its accessibility advisory committee are still going to get involved in this, they should insist that buildings be assessed for compliance with their own local accessibility standard. They should also insist that the RHF ensure that any RHF assessor that assesses a building in their community proves that they have been properly trained in and have expertise in that municipality’s accessibility standard, well beyond the inadequate 8-day RHF training course.

We welcome your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

t         More Details

Thunder Bay Chronicle Herald January 29, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/local/accessibility-in-ontario-will-take-time-minister/article_5a0f00b4-425e-11ea-bccb-2be18f1bdb14.html

Accessibility in Ontario will take time: minister

BY CARL CLUTCHEY, NORTH SHORE BUREAU Jan 29, 2020

Advocates for Ontario’s 2.6 million disabled people chided the government Tuesday for continuing to move at a “glacial pace” towards a goal of making the province fully accessible by 2025.

The Toronto-based Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Alliance said an announcement by Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho was more like a “re-announcement” of earlier pledges that have yet to be fulfilled.

“This is the best they can do?” Alliance chairman David Lepofsky scoffed in a news release.

See the full story in the print and digital editions of The Chronicle-Journal.

January 28, 2020 News Release by the Ontario New Democratic Party

 

Originally posted at http://www.joelharden.ca/ford_government_announcement_offers_no_real_commitment_to_enforcing_accessibility_ndp_critic_for_accessibility

 

Ford government announcement offers no real commitment to enforcing accessibility: NDP critic for Accessibility

Published on January 28, 2020

 

QUEEN’S PARK — The NDP’s critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities, Joel Harden, made the following statement in response to this morning’s Ford government announcement on accessibility:

 

“Ontarians with disabilities have waited nearly a year for the Ford government to respond to David Onley’s report on the third review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) with a concrete plan of action for improving Ontario’s accessibility. After years of being let down by the Liberals, who failed to make Ontario more accessible, they were again disappointed today, this time by the Ford government.

 

Not only has the Ford government failed to release a comprehensive plan for ensuring that Ontario achieves full accessibility by 2025 — as the AODA requires — but today’s government announcement falls woefully short of addressing the many barriers that prevent Ontarians with disabilities from living their fullest lives.

 

The framework that Ford’s Minister of Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho mentioned today offers no actual commitment to enforcing accessibility standards in Ontario, creates no new standards to ensure that buildings in Ontario are accessible, and makes no pledge to ensure that public money isn’t used to create new barriers to accessibility.

People with disabilities have waited long enough to access the same opportunities as able-bodied Ontarians. The NDP calls on this government to act with urgency to make our province fully accessible, and to release a real plan of action that incorporates the key recommendations from Onley’s report.”

 

January 30, 2020 News Release by the Rick Hansen Foundation

 

Originally posted at https://www.rickhansen.com/sites/default/files/press-release/2020-01/acp-922-rhfac-and-ontarioaccessibleen.pdf

 

Rick Hansen Foundation calls on people of Ontario to improve accessibility

Complimentary accessibility ratings through the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ program available to 250 sites in Ontario

 

(Toronto) Thursday, January 30, 2020 – Thanks to funding of $1.3 million from the Government of Ontario’s Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) is accepting applications from organizations across 10 municipalities in Ontario to obtain a snapshot of their buildings’ accessibility through the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) program.

RHF is calling on non-profit, public and private organizations to apply to receive complimentary RHFAC ratings. This includes spaces such as community centres, libraries, schools, retailers and office buildings. Two hundred and fifty sites will have the opportunity to be rated through the RHFAC program. The 10 eligible municipalities are:

  1. Brampton
  2. Greater Sudbury
  3. Hamilton
  4. Kitchener
  5. London
  6. Markham
  7. Mississauga
  8. Ottawa
  9. Toronto
  10. Windsor

RHFAC rates the level of meaningful access of the built environment, keeping in mind user experience of people with varying disabilities affecting their mobility, vision and hearing. This means attracting more consumers and potential employees for organizations across the province. According to the Conference Board of Canada, improvements to workplace access would allow more than half a million Canadians with disabilities to work more hours, increasing GDP by $16.8 billion by 2030. To date, more than 1,200 buildings across Canada have been rated through the program.

“People with disabilities and our seniors deserve to be independent and fully participate in their communities as consumers and employees,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “This certification pilot project will help businesses and communities understand how to be more accessible and inclusive for everyone – so that we all benefit. By helping to build awareness of accessible built environments, we are fostering a culture of accessibility and inclusion.”

Speaking about the complimentary ratings, Brad McCannell, VP of Access and Inclusion at RHF, said, “This generous funding from the Ontario government will enable many organizations to

understand and showcase their building’s accessibility, and help inform their future accessibility plans with respect to the built environment. This is a great opportunity for organizations to help make Ontario more inclusive for our aging population and the growing number of people with disabilities.”

Applications from building owners and tenants can be submitted online until March 27, 2020. RHF will be engaging municipalities and their Accessibility Advisory Committees to select finalists in their local communities.

To learn more and apply for a complimentary rating, visit RickHansen.com/FreeRating   

 

About the Rick Hansen Foundation

The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) was established in 1988, following the completion of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour. For nearly 30 years, RHF has worked to raise awareness, change attitudes, and remove barriers for people with disabilities. Visit www.rickhansen.com to learn more.

RHF Media Contact:

Yulu Public Relations

Nora Eastwood / Monica McCluskey

[email protected]

778-751-4542

Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility Media Contact:

Leah Wong

[email protected]

647-962-9892



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Ford Government’s Long Delayed Response to the Blistering Report of the David Onley Independent Review of the Implementation of Ontario’s Disability Accessibility Law Offers Thin Gruel to 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 28, 2020 Toronto: After a year delay, the Ford Government today offered thin gruel to 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities in its response set out below to the searing report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of Ontarios disability accessibility law conducted by David Onley. On January 31, 2019, the Government received Onleys blistering report that concluded that for people with disabilities, Ontario is not a place of opportunity, but is instead full of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing Barriers, with progress on accessibility being barely detectable and coming at a glacial pace.

To fix this, today the Ford Government mainly re-announced existing measures, in place for months or years, primarily focusing on public education efforts that are proven to be insufficient. Among these, it even re-announced a program for purchasing accessible buses that was started a quarter century ago by the Bob Rae Government.

After a year, this is the best they can do? Premier Ford has still announced no action plan to implement the Onley Reports important recommendations to strengthen and speed up the implementation and enforcement of the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The AODA requires the Government to lead Ontario to become accessible by 2025, under five years from now, said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance that leads the campaign for accessibility in Ontario. How long must we wait for a real plan to actually implement the Onley Report? A years dithering mainly produced a re-announcement of earlier voluntary programs that the Onley Report shows were insufficient to meet the needs of Ontarians with disabilities who want to ride public transit, get an education, use our health care system or get a job.

The Onley Report found that Ontario has suffered from years of ineffective leadership on accessibility. Todays announcement shows none of the new leadership by the premier for which the Onley Report called. Indeed, Premier Ford has to date refused to even meet with the AODA Alliance.

Since taking office, the Ford Government has taken steps setting back accessibility, such as:

* For months, it froze the work of five advisory committees, appointed under the AODA to propose new measures to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities in education, health care, information and communication and employment. The AODA Alliance had to campaign hard to get that unjustified freeze lifted.

* It rejected recommendations to create a long-overdue Accessibility Standard to ensure that buildings in Ontario become accessible. The Ford Government unfairly slammed that proposal as “red tape.” Todays re-announcement that the Ford Government plans to harmonize the weak Ontario Building Code with the weak federal building code could lead to a further weakening of already-inadequate accessibility protections for Ontarians with disabilities.

* Again re-announced today, it wastefully diverted $1.3 million public dollars into the deeply-flawed and unaccountable Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification program funds which should have been used to create new regulations on building accessibility, rather than having the Hansen Foundation use inadequate standards to have its insufficiently-trained people inspect a meager 250 buildings across all of Ontario.

* It mandated the creation of serious new barriers against people with disabilities by legalizing electric scooters on Ontario roads and sidewalks, endangering accessibility and safety of people with disabilities and others. Todays announcement says the Ford Government will lead by example on accessibility, but its example so far is one that no one should follow.

* It is considering allowing builders to hire the private building inspector of their choice to inspect their construction project a proposal riddled with conflicts of interest. Here again the Government is showing a weak commitment to accessibility in the built environment, despite the Onley Reports emphasizing it as a top priority and the Governments announcement today emphasizing barriers in the built environment.

* It has not committed to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. This is so even though the Government has emphasized its commitment to be responsible in the use of public money.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Text of the Ford Governments January 28, 2020 Announcement In Response to the Onley Report

Ontario Establishes a New Framework to Continue Progress on Accessibility Applying Cross-Government Actions to Advance Accessibility

NEWS
January 28, 2020
TORONTO When a society is inclusive and barrier-free, people can fully participate in their communities. Making Ontario a province where communities and businesses are accessible for everyone benefits us all.

The government continues to build momentum in creating a barrier-free Ontario, but a lot of work still needs to be done to make the province accessible for everyone. That is why Ontario has developed a new framework informed by the recommendations made by the Honourable David C. Onley in the third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), as well as input from key partners, organizations and people with disabilities. The new framework will make a positive difference in the daily lives of people with disabilities.

Today, Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, announced Advancing Accessibility in Ontario at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. This cross-government framework will help focus the provinces work in four key areas:

* breaking down barriers in the built environment
* government leading by example
* increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and * improving understanding and awareness about accessibility

We know that making Ontario accessible is a journey that cannot be completed overnight or alone. The Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework will support our work with all of our partners across government and beyond to remove barriers for people with disabilities, said Minister Cho. Our government created a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility because we are working towards a more accessible and inclusive province today and for future generations.

As I conducted the third legislative review of the AODA, it became increasingly clear that the people of Ontario wanted an all-of-government commitment to making Ontario far more accessible. This could not be achieved with a single stand-alone ministry attempting to resolve the problem alone, said David C. Onley. That is why I am pleased that the government is coordinating access activities and programs with multiple ministries in an-all-of-government commitment.

The first area in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario breaking down barriers in the built environment shows how government is working with partner ministries and businesses to reduce barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in the built environment and housing.

For example, the Ontario Building Officials Association is receiving funding from the governments EnAbling Change Program to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility. By making building officials more aware of the challenges people with disabilities face in accessing buildings and training them about areas of improvement, new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.

There are several additional examples that illustrate progress and upcoming initiatives as the government continues its work towards making Ontario accessible.

Ontario is committed to protecting what matters most to people with disabilities.

QUICK FACTS

* There are 2.6 million people in Ontario that have a disability.

* The government is investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings. An update on the program will be announced shortly.

* Further information on the other key areas in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario will be announced in the coming weeks.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Breaking down barriers in the built environment

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Accessibility in Ontario: Information for Businesses web page

-30-

MEDIA CONTACTS

Pooja Parekh
Ministers Office
[email protected]

Matt Gloyd
Communications Branch
647-268-7233
[email protected]
ontario.ca/msaa-news
Disponible en français
Ontario Government Backgrounder

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario:
Breaking down barriers in the built environment

BACKGROUNDER
January 28, 2020Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a cross-government framework that will help focus the governments work in four key areas. The four key areas are:

* breaking down barriers in the built environment
* government leading by example in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer * increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and * improving understanding and awareness about accessibility

The first area in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario breaking down barriers in the built environment shows how government is working with partner ministries and businesses to reduce barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in the built environment and housing.

Work the government is doing to break down barriers in the built environment includes:

* Making buildings safer and more accessible for people with disabilities by increasing harmonization of Ontarios Building Code with the National Construction Codes. This process is reducing barriers and has resulted in accessibility changes, including new requirements for the design of barrier-free ramps, clearer accessibility requirements in barrier-free washrooms and easier-to-understand requirements for universal washrooms in large buildings and equipment such as grab bars and faucets.

* Investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings. An update on the program will be announced shortly.

* Improving access to buildings and places for people with disabilities by working with key partners in architecture, design, and building. We are exploring ways to enhance training for those practicing in the field and undertaking discussions with the post-secondary sector to reach a new generation of professionals. For example:
o We are partnering with the Ontario Building Officials Association to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility, helping to ensure that new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.
o The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada is introducing a new course on accessibility to be available March 2020. Introduction to Successful Accessible Design will analyze the impacts of accessibility in society, the built environment, and the development industry. The course will be offered in English and French, both as a complete university graduate level course and as a continuing education course for practicing professionals.

* Making places of worship more accessible so people can connect with their faith groups by funding Our Doors Are Open a free guide created by OCAD University that provides practical information on how places of worship can remove physical barriers to accessibility.

* Helping main street businesses earn more customers and employees by providing them with tips on how to become more accessible through funding a free handbook created by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association called The Business of Accessibility: How to Make Your Main Street Business Accessibility Smart.

* Giving retailers of all sizes in Ontario practical information on how to make their store more welcoming for customers and staff with disabilities by funding EnAbling Change for Retailers: Make your Store Accessible a free guide created by Retail Council of Canada that covers how stores can implement accessibility in their communications, customer service and recruitment and retention.

* Providing $1.4 billion in funding for the 2019-20 school year to help school boards provide safe and healthy learning environments for students, such as installing important accessibility features like elevators and ramps.

* Ensuring better access for people with disabilities throughout Ontario by continuing to require that all public transportation vehicles bought with provincial funding be accessible.

* Continuing to help Ontario residents with long-term mobility disabilities remain in their homes and participate in their communities by funding the Home & Vehicle Modification Program, which is administered by March of Dimes Canada. With an annual investment of $10.6 million, this program reduces safety risks by approving grants up to $15,000 to make basic home and vehicle modifications.

As the government moves forward with making Ontario more accessible, upcoming work includes:

* Funding free resources and training materials for the building sector through the EnAbling Change Program to further educate associations and employers about how to improve accessibility in the built environment. Many of these resources are available on a comprehensive one-stop-shop government web page that provides businesses and communities with information to help them be more accessible and inclusive.

* We are committed to developing an innovation guide with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that will be used to support the implementation of Ontarios Housing Supply Action Plan. The action plan will address housing challenges and support fresh approaches to help make homes more accessible.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Matt Gloyd
Communications Branch
647-268-7233
[email protected]
ontario.ca/msaa-news
Disponible en français




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Ford Government’s Long Delayed Response to the Blistering Report of the David Onley Independent Review of the Implementation of Ontario’s Disability Accessibility Law Offers Thin Gruel to 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ford Government’s Long Delayed Response to the Blistering Report of the David Onley Independent Review of the Implementation of Ontario’s Disability Accessibility Law Offers Thin Gruel to 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

January 28, 2020 Toronto: After a year delay, the Ford Government today offered thin gruel to 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities in its response set out below to the searing report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of Ontario’s disability accessibility law conducted by David Onley. On January 31, 2019, the Government received Onley’s blistering report that concluded that for people with disabilities, Ontario is not a place of opportunity, but is instead full of “countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing Barriers”, with progress on accessibility being “barely detectable” and coming at a “glacial” pace.

To fix this, today the Ford Government mainly re-announced existing measures, in place for months or years, primarily focusing on public education efforts that are proven to be insufficient. Among these, it even re-announced a program for purchasing accessible buses that was started a quarter century ago by the Bob Rae Government.

“After a year, this is the best they can do? Premier Ford has still announced no action plan to implement the Onley Report’s important recommendations to strengthen and speed up the implementation and enforcement of the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The AODA requires the Government to lead Ontario to become accessible by 2025, under five years from now,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance that leads the campaign for accessibility in Ontario. “How long must we wait for a real plan to actually implement the Onley Report? A year’s dithering mainly produced a re-announcement of earlier voluntary programs that the Onley Report shows were insufficient to meet the needs of Ontarians with disabilities who want to ride public transit, get an education, use our health care system or get a job.”

The Onley Report found that Ontario has suffered from years of ineffective leadership on accessibility. Today’s announcement shows none of the new leadership by the premier for which the Onley Report called. Indeed, Premier Ford has to date refused to even meet with the AODA Alliance.

Since taking office, the Ford Government has taken steps setting back accessibility, such as:

* For months, it froze the work of five advisory committees, appointed under the AODA to propose new measures to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities in education, health care, information and communication and employment. The AODA Alliance had to campaign hard to get that unjustified freeze lifted.

* It rejected recommendations to create a long-overdue Accessibility Standard to ensure that buildings in Ontario become accessible. The Ford Government unfairly slammed that proposal as “red tape.” Today’s re-announcement that the Ford Government plans to harmonize the weak Ontario Building Code with the weak federal building code could lead to a further weakening of already-inadequate accessibility protections for Ontarians with disabilities.

* Again re-announced today, it wastefully diverted $1.3 million public dollars into the deeply-flawed and unaccountable Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification program – funds which should have been used to create new regulations on building accessibility, rather than having the Hansen Foundation use inadequate standards to have its insufficiently-trained people inspect a meager 250 buildings across all of Ontario.

* It mandated the creation of serious new barriers against people with disabilities by legalizing electric scooters on Ontario roads and sidewalks, endangering accessibility and safety of people with disabilities and others. Today’s announcement says the Ford Government will lead by example on accessibility, but it’s example so far is one that no one should follow.

* It is considering allowing builders to hire the private building inspector of their choice to inspect their construction project – a proposal riddled with conflicts of interest. Here again the Government is showing a weak commitment to accessibility in the built environment, despite the Onley Report’s emphasizing it as a top priority and the Government’s announcement today emphasizing barriers in the built environment.

* It has not committed to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. This is so even though the Government has emphasized its commitment to be responsible in the use of public money.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, [email protected]

Twitter: @aodaalliance

Text of the Ford Government’s January 28, 2020 Announcement In Response to the Onley Report

Ontario Establishes a New Framework to Continue Progress on Accessibility

Applying Cross-Government Actions to Advance Accessibility

TORONTO — When a society is inclusive and barrier-free, people can fully participate in their communities. Making Ontario a province where communities and businesses are accessible for everyone benefits us all.

The government continues to build momentum in creating a barrier-free Ontario, but a lot of work still needs to be done to make the province accessible for everyone. That is why Ontario has developed a new framework informed by the recommendations made by the Honourable David C. Onley in the third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), as well as input from key partners, organizations and people with disabilities. The new framework will make a positive difference in the daily lives of people with disabilities.

Today, Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, announced Advancing Accessibility in Ontario at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. This cross-government framework will help focus the province’s work in four key areas:

  • breaking down barriers in the built environment
  • government leading by example
  • increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and
  • improving understanding and awareness about accessibility

“We know that making Ontario accessible is a journey that cannot be completed overnight or alone. The Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework will support our work with all of our partners across government and beyond to remove barriers for people with disabilities,” said Minister Cho. “Our government created a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility because we are working towards a more accessible and inclusive province today and for future generations.”

“As I conducted the third legislative review of the AODA, it became increasingly clear that the people of Ontario wanted an all-of-government commitment to making Ontario far more accessible. This could not be achieved with a single stand-alone ministry attempting to resolve the problem alone,” said David C. Onley. “That is why I am pleased that the government is coordinating access activities and programs with multiple ministries in an-all-of-government commitment.”

The first area in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario – breaking down barriers in the built environment – shows how government is working with partner ministries and businesses to reduce barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in the built environment and housing.

For example, the Ontario Building Officials Association is receiving funding from the government’s EnAbling Change Program to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility. By making building officials more aware of the challenges people with disabilities face in accessing buildings and training them about areas of improvement, new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.

There are several additional examples that illustrate progress and upcoming initiatives as the government continues its work towards making Ontario accessible.

Ontario is committed to protecting what matters most to people with disabilities.

QUICK FACTS

  • There are 2.6 million people in Ontario that have a disability.
  • The government is investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings. An update on the program will be announced shortly.
  • Further information on the other key areas in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario will be announced in the coming weeks.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Breaking down barriers in the built environment

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

 

Accessibility in Ontario: Information for Businesses web page

-30-

Ontario Government Backgrounder

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario:

Breaking down barriers in the built environment

BACKGROUNDER January 28, 2020

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a cross-government framework that will help focus the government’s work in four key areas. The four key areas are:

  • breaking down barriers in the built environment
  • government leading by example in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer
  • increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and
  • improving understanding and awareness about accessibility

The first area in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario – breaking down barriers in the built environment – shows how government is working with partner ministries and businesses to reduce barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in the built environment and housing.

Work the government is doing to break down barriers in the built environment includes:

  • Making buildings safer and more accessible for people with disabilities by increasing harmonization of Ontario’s Building Code with the National Construction Codes. This process is reducing barriers and has resulted in accessibility changes, including new requirements for the design of barrier-free ramps, clearer accessibility requirements in barrier-free washrooms and easier-to-understand requirements for universal washrooms in large buildings and equipment such as grab bars and faucets.
  • Investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings. An update on the program will be announced shortly.
  • Improving access to buildings and places for people with disabilities by working with key partners in architecture, design, and building. We are exploring ways to enhance training for those practicing in the field and undertaking discussions with the post-secondary sector to reach a new generation of professionals. For example:
    • We are partnering with the Ontario Building Officials Association to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility, helping to ensure that new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.
    • The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada is introducing a new course on accessibility to be available March 2020. Introduction to Successful Accessible Design will analyze the impacts of accessibility in society, the built environment, and the development industry. The course will be offered in English and French, both as a complete university graduate level course and as a continuing education course for practicing professionals.
  • Making places of worship more accessible so people can connect with their faith groups by funding Our Doors Are Open – a free guide created by OCAD University that provides practical information on how places of worship can remove physical barriers to accessibility.
  • Giving retailers of all sizes in Ontario practical information on how to make their store more welcoming for customers and staff with disabilities by funding EnAbling Change for Retailers: Make your Store Accessible – a free guide created by Retail Council of Canada that covers how stores can implement accessibility in their communications, customer service and recruitment and retention.
  • Ensuring better access for people with disabilities throughout Ontario by continuing to require that all public transportation vehicles bought with provincial funding be accessible.
  • Continuing to help Ontario residents with long-term mobility disabilities remain in their homes and participate in their communities by funding the Home & Vehicle Modification Program, which is administered by March of Dimes Canada. With an annual investment of $10.6 million, this program reduces safety risks by approving grants up to $15,000 to make basic home and vehicle modifications.

As the government moves forward with making Ontario more accessible, upcoming work includes:

  • Funding free resources and training materials for the building sector through the EnAbling Change Program to further educate associations and employers about how to improve accessibility in the built environment. Many of these resources are available on a comprehensive one-stop-shop government web page that provides businesses and communities with information to help them be more accessible and inclusive.
  • We are committed to developing an innovation guide with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that will be used to support the implementation of Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan. The action plan will address housing challenges and support fresh approaches to help make homes more accessible.
   
MEDIA CONTACTS

Matt Gloyd

Communications Branch

647-268-7233

[email protected]

ontario.ca/msaa-news

Disponible en français



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Almost 8 Months After Receiving the Blistering Onley Report, Both Premier Doug Ford and His Accessibility Minister Write the AODA Alliance But Offer Nothing New to Strengthen the Implementation and Enforcement of Ontario’s Beleaguered 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

August 26, 2019

SUMMARY

Two more letters have come in to the AODA Alliance from the Doug Ford Government. They were sent in response to an open letter which the Government received from us on July 10, 2019. The Government’s new letters offer Ontarians with disabilities simply more of the same foot-dragging on accessibility for people with disabilities. There is no indication of any new plan for a strengthened Government approach to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

In substance these letters just repeat things the Government has already been doing on accessibility. These are measures that are proven to be insufficient to overcome the serious problems that the Onley Report documented in detail.

It is regrettably typical for governments in such a situation to simply regurgitate what it has been doing, instead of offering needed new actions. It is noteworthy that in listing its actions of which it is proud, the Government did not in these letters point to its deeply troubling plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars to the problem-ridden private accessibility certification program offered by the Rick Hansen Foundation. That Government plan has come under heavy criticism over the past months.

You can read both of the Government’s new letters below. You can read the July 10, 2019 open letter to the Doug Ford Government by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/in-a-compelling-open-letter-21-disability-organizations-unite-to-call-on-the-doug-ford-government-to-announce-a-plan-to-implement-the-report-on-ontarios-disabilities-act-submitted-by-former-lieuten/

Meanwhile, an inexcusable 208 days have now passed since the Doug Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Yet Doug Ford’s Government has still announced no plan for implementing its key recommendations that would strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.

The July 10, 2019 open letter was originally co-signed by an impressive 21 community organizations and groups. The expanded list of signatories, set out later in this Update, has since grown to 27 organizations. If any organizations want to sign on, send us an email at [email protected]

Do you find this frustrating? There’s something you can do to help us! Join in our Dial Doug campaign. Call or email Premier Doug Ford. Ask him where is his plan to get Ontario to become accessible to over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025?

Doug Ford’s office number is +1 (416) 325-1941. His email address is [email protected]

We are delighted to hear from those who have already taken part in the Dial Doug campaign. Action tips on how to take part are available for you at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/join-in-our-new-dial-doug-campaign-a-grassroots-blitz-unveiled-today-to-get-the-doug-ford-government-to-make-ontario-open-for-over-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

We also invite and encourage you to download, print up and give out our 1-page leaflet on the Dial Doug campaign. Spread the word about it. Email it to friends. Post it on your Facebook page. Our 1-page Dial Doug leaflet is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/dial-doug-leaflet.docx https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/dial-doug-leaflet.docx

MORE DETAILS

A Closer Look — The Doug Ford Government’s Response to the July 10, 2019 Open Letter Just Offers Over 2 Million Ontarians with Disabilities More of the Same, Not Strong New Action

The July 10, 2019 open letter called on the Ford Government to announce a plan to implement the final report by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley, of his Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of Ontario’s accessibility law, the AODA. The Onley Report found that the AODA’s required goal of becoming a fully accessible province for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities is nowhere in sight. It concluded that Ontario remains replete with “soul-crushing” barriers against people with disabilities. That report recommended a series of important new measures needed to get Ontario back on schedule for becoming accessible by 2025.

The AODA Alliance led the preparation of this July 10, 2019 open letter. We did so after the Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature on May 30, 2019 to defeat a non-partisan motion by NDP MPP Joel Harden. That motion called on the Doug Ford Government to develop a plan to implement the Onley Report. Several MPPs from the Ford Government, including Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho, disparaged taking the action recommended in that proposed motion as “red tape”.

On that day, the Ford Government gave prepared speeches that sound like they reject the Onley Report’s recommendations as “red tape.” That is an extremely inaccurate and unfair description of the Onley Report. The Doug Ford Government has not retracted those statements in the three months since it made them.

The Ford Government’s two written responses to the July 10, 2019 open letter are deeply disappointing. They embody no plan of effective action, nor any pledge to establish one.

We heard once again in the Accessibility Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter that the Government is still studying the Onley Report. That report is only 81 pages. This is a top responsibility for the Accessibility Minister. David Onley’s key recommendations are ones which we have been presenting to all parties in the Legislature for years. This is not rocket science.

The Ford Government’s Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho had earlier studied this report sufficiently after having it for a little over two months that he publicly declared in the Legislature on April 10, 2019 that David Onley had done a marvelous job.” As we have noted in the past, the Doug Ford Government has shown itself willing to act quickly, decisively, and vigorously in areas that it considers important. In those areas, it has not taken almost eight months to keep studying a report. This delay of almost eight months is hardly consistent with the Accessibility Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter where the Government says it is taking the Onley Report “very seriously.”

In the Minister’s detailed letter, the Government did not say it would ever bring forward such a plan. We respectfully but profoundly disagree with the Ford Government’s claim in the Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter that the Government is now on the right track on accessibility. Its protracted failure to bring forward a plan to implement the Onley Report is proof positive that it is on the wrong track. The Minister wrote:

“We are on the right track to creating an Ontario where communities offer opportunities instead of barriers.

A place where everyone can be independent, work, and contribute to the economy wherever they live.”

Both the Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter and the Premier’s July 24, 2019 letter raise a serious concern that the Doug Ford Government is not even trying to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities, the goal which the AODA requires by 2025. Those letters speak instead about merely trying to “improve accessibility” and about “making Ontario more accessible and preventing barriers for people with disabilities.”

It is not good enough for the Government to merely aim to improve accessibility. Just one new ramp, installed somewhere in Ontario, or just one newly-retrofitted website, would fulfil that feeble goal.

In his August 19, 2019 letter, the Minister pointed in support to his Government’s having agreed to resume the work of the Health Care and Education Standards Development Committees. The Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter states:

“Right after tabling the report, we announced that we would be resuming the Health Care and Education Standards Development Committees. As the Minister, I was proud to immediately begin working with the chairs to re-start work on these valuable committees.”

Yet it was the Ford Government itself that left those important Standards Development Committees frozen since the Government took power in June 2019. Moreover, even though the Ford Government announced on March 7, 2019 that it was lifting its freeze on the work of those Standards Development Committees, over five months have passed since then. Those committees have not held a meeting, as far as we can tell. As an initial step, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee is expected to hold its first re-engagement telephone conference call some time on September 10, 2019. That is a small glimmer of progress, that will take place over six months after the Ford Government lifted this freeze, and over 14 months after this freeze was first imposed.

The rest of the Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter basically rehashes what we had been hearing for years from the Wynne Government. The Onley Report adds up to a stinging indictment of that strategy as far too little and far too slow. For example, the Accessibility Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter summarizes what the Government says it is now doing on accessibility as follows:

Weve also taken action through a number of key initiatives, including working across government to take a whole-of-government approach to accessibility, supporting businesses to better understand accessibility and its benefits, and engaging with employers through our Employers Partnership Table.”

It is true that the Onley Report recommends that the Ontario Government take a “whole of Government approach” to accessibility. However, all the Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter does is to repeat this phrase without specifying any concrete changes, much less any substantial improvements. The previous Government similarly claimed to be taking a whole of Government approach to accessibility, without demonstrating concrete improvements.

The Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter refers to its strategy within the Government which is very similar to, if not identical to, the internal Government strategy of the Wynne Government (2013-2018, the McGuinty Government before that (2003-2013, and the Mike Harris Government before those two (1995-2003), as follows:

“As Mr. Onley recommended, we are working across ministries to make accessibility a responsibility of all ministries and inform a whole-of-government approach to advancing accessibility.

As part of this work, we are working with ministries to look at their policies, programs and services and identifying areas where we can work together to remove the barriers faced by Ontarios 2.6 million people with disabilities.”

The Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter focuses predominantly if not entirely on efforts to educate organizations on accessibility, and efforts to get organizations to voluntarily do more. The letter refers to two specific initiatives which the former Wynne Government had been using for years, the Enabling Change Fund and the Government’s Partnership Council on Employment for People with disabilities. As a core Government strategy on accessibility, that is a formula for more progress at a snail’s pace. The Onley Report’s recommendations call for the Government to do much, much more.

The only tiny glimmer of progress in these letters came where the Minister stated:

“For example, with our ministry partners, we have begun discussions with the Ontario Building Officials Association and the Retail Council of Canada and have been meeting with other stakeholders such as the Ontario Association of Architects.”

To “begin discussions” is very preliminary. We ask the Government to speed up this effort and to now bring us to the table with those organizations and with an ambitious plan for action, so we can work together throughout on progress.

We also again urge the Ford Government to now fulfil its duty under the AODA to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard, and to mandate that committee to make recommendations for a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It’s time the Ontario Government obeyed the AODA. Both the Doug Ford Government and the previous Wynne Government stand together as having violated the requirement to appoint that mandatory review of the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard by the end of 2017. To take these action we seek is consistent with the Onley Report’s recommendations.

Premier Doug ford’s July 24, 2019 letter to us is no more encouraging than is the Accessibility Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter. As he has in all his prior letters to us since taking power, Premier Ford simply punted all our issues back to Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho. There are two powerful reasons why this is insufficient for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities:

First, the Onley Report itself called for new Government leadership on accessibility, pointing to the premier’s office. The report included the damning heading “Restoring Government Leadership.” The Onley Report found:

“The Premier of Ontario could establish accessibility as a government-wide priority with the stroke of a pen. Our previous two Premiers did not listen to repeated pleas to do this. I am hopeful the current one will.”

Second, key areas where we need action are ones which the Premier himself must take. The Accessibility Minister, acting alone, cannot do so. We listed examples of priority actions in the AODA Alliance’s July 19, 2018 letter to Premier Ford. Premier Ford’s response to that letter was to punt it entirely to Accessibility Minister Cho.

Text of the August 19, 2019 Letter to the AODA Alliance from Ontario Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho

Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
Minister

College Park, 5th Floor
777 Bay St.
Toronto ON M7A 1S5

Ministre des Services aux aînés et de lAccessibilitée Ministre

College Park, 5ème étage
rue 777 Bay
Toronto ON M7A 1S5

August 20, 2019

Mr. David Lepofsky

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

I would like to respond to your Open Letter to the Premier of Ontario, dated July 10, 2019.

Thank you for sharing your concerns and for continuing to raise this very important issue.
We are taking Mr. Onleys report on the Third Legislative Review very seriously as we continue to work towards making Ontario more accessible.

In an effort to be open and transparent, we tabled Mr. Onleys report and made it public as soon as possible, just over a month after receiving it.

Right after tabling the report, we announced that we would be resuming the Health Care and Education Standards Development Committees. As the Minister, I was proud to immediately begin working with the chairs to re-start work on these valuable committees.

Weve also taken action through a number of key initiatives, including working across government to take a whole-of-government approach to accessibility, supporting businesses to better understand accessibility and its benefits, and engaging with employers through our Employers Partnership Table.

As Mr. Onley recommended, we are working across ministries to make accessibility a responsibility of all ministries and inform a whole-of-government approach to advancing accessibility.

As part of this work, we are working with ministries to look at their policies, programs and services and identifying areas where we can work together to remove the barriers faced by Ontarios 2.6 million people with disabilities.

For example, with our ministry partners, we have begun discussions with the Ontario Building Officials Association and the Retail Council of Canada and have been meeting with other stakeholders such as the Ontario Association of Architects. We will continue to work collaboratively with other ministries to promote accessibility and explore opportunities to develop resources and make it easier to understand how to build using universal design principles.

We continue our outreach with people with disabilities and disability organizations, and consult with businesses, non-profits and industry groups to get their perspectives on how to improve accessibility in Ontario.

On employment, we are working through our Employers Partnership Table, which was brought together to support the creation of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The Table is comprised of 17 members representing a range of small, medium and large businesses, industry associations, non-profit and public organizations, and post-secondary education institutions from across Ontario. It is currently developing business cases to demonstrate that hiring people with disabilities improves the bottom line because productivity goes up.

The table will share their work and experiences with other businesses in Ontario to help them realize the benefits of employing people with disabilities. We will continue to consult with businesses and business associations through the Employers Partnership Table and other forums.

Government alone cannot create a barrier free Ontario.

That is why while all the work on the Onley report is ongoing, I have been hard at work every day meeting with Ontarians and engaging with disability and business stakeholders to make accessibility into a reality in this province.

We work closely with many partners to spread the word about the importance of accessibility.

We partnered with OCAD Universitys Inclusive Design Research Centre to develop “Our Doors Are Open: Guide for Accessible Congregations” which was shared and highlighted at the 2018 Parliament of Worlds Religions Conference. The guide offers simple, creative ideas for different faith communities in our province to increase accessibility during worship services and community events.

We also support some of these partners through a program called Enabling Change. Some recent examples of EnAbling Change projects include:
* A resource guide produced by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association. The guide gives helpful tips for businesses on how to become more inclusive and accessible including addressing barriers in the built environment such as entrances and exits, space layout and design.
* A partnership with the Conference Board of Canada to develop: Making Your Business Accessible for People with Disabilities which is a guide that helps small businesses employ and serve people with disabilities, attract customers and improve services.
* AccessForward.ca which is a free online training portal with modules and videos that businesses can use to train staff on Ontarios accessibility laws

We will continue to work with businesses and communities to help them better understand the benefits of accessibility. To address the recommendation in the Third Legislative Review on creating a comprehensive website for accessibility resources, we have taken steps to begin re-designing our ministry website to make it a comprehensive one stop shop on accessibility for the public and businesses. In order to make it easier for businesses to access resources on accessibility, we have created a new webpage dedicated to supporting businesses with practical guides and resources to help them understand the benefits of accessibility and break down barriers for people with disabilities.

A business that commits to accessibility sends a strong message that people with disabilities are welcome. For this reason, it is much more likely to attract people with disabilities and their families. This goes for any and all businesses in Ontario that are providing goods and services to the public.

Accessibility is a journey and we are eager to continue to work with all our partners in the disability community, not-for-profit, public and private sector to make change that will have a positive impact on the daily lives of people with disabilities and seniors.

We are on the right track to creating an Ontario where communities offer opportunities instead of barriers.

A place where everyone can be independent, work, and contribute to the economy wherever they live.

Thank you again for writing and please accept my best wishes.

Sincerely,

(Original signed by)

Raymond Cho
Minister

c: The Honourable Doug Ford

Text of the July 24, 2019 Letter to the AODA Alliance From Premier Doug Ford

Dear Mr. Lepofsky and Colleagues:
Thanks very much for writing to me about the Honourable David C. Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. I appreciate hearing your views and concerns.
My team is here for all the people. We are working to make our province a great place for all the people of Ontario today, and every day. Our government remains committed to making Ontario more accessible and preventing barriers for people with disabilities.
I note that you have sent a copy of your email to the Honourable Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. As the issue you raised falls in his area of responsibility, I have asked that he respond to you as soon as possible. Thanks again for contacting me.

Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
C: The Honourable Raymond Cho

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

Updated List of Signatories to the July 10, 2019 Open Letter to the Ontario Government As of August 26, 2019

As of August 23, 2019, the following 27 organizations and groups are signatories to the July 10, 2019 Open Letter to the Ford Government on the need to promptly implement the Onley Report:

1. AODA Alliance
2. CNIB
3. March of Dimes Canada
4. Older Women’s’ Network
5. Ontario Autism Coalition
6. Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)
7. StopGap Foundation
8. BALANCE for Blind Adults
9. Community Living Ontario
10. DeafBlind Ontario Services)
11. Ontario Disability Coalition
12. Guide Dog Users of Canada
13. Views for the Visually Impaired
14. Physicians of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Advocacy (PONDA) 15. ARCH Disability Law Centre
16. Easter Seals Ontario
17. Inclusive Design Research Centre, Ontario College of Art and Design University 18. Centre for Independent Living in Toronto CILT
19. Canadian Disability Policy Alliance
20. Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)
21. Citizens With Disabilities – Ontario
22. Autism Ontario
23. Electromagnetic Pollution Illnesses Canada Foundation (EPIC) 24. Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre
25. Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO)
26. Unitarian Commons Co-Housing Corporation
27. Peterborough Council for Persons with Disabilities [CPD]




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Almost 8 Months After Receiving the Blistering Onley Report, Both Premier Doug Ford and His Accessibility Minister Write the AODA Alliance But Offer Nothing New to Strengthen the Implementation and Enforcement of Ontario’s Beleaguered 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

Almost 8 Months After Receiving the Blistering Onley Report, Both Premier Doug Ford and His Accessibility Minister Write the AODA Alliance But Offer Nothing New to Strengthen the Implementation and Enforcement of Ontario’s Beleaguered Disabilities Act

August 26, 2019

          SUMMARY

Two more letters have come in to the AODA Alliance from the Doug Ford Government. They were sent in response to an open letter which the Government received from us on July 10, 2019. The Government’s new letters offer Ontarians with disabilities simply more of the same foot-dragging on accessibility for people with disabilities. There is no indication of any new plan for a strengthened Government approach to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

In substance these letters just repeat things the Government has already been doing on accessibility. These are measures that are proven to be insufficient to overcome the serious problems that the Onley Report documented in detail.

It is regrettably typical for governments in such a situation to simply regurgitate what it has been doing, instead of offering needed new actions. It is noteworthy that in listing its actions of which it is proud, the Government did not in these letters point to its deeply troubling plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars to the problem-ridden private accessibility certification program offered by the Rick Hansen Foundation. That Government plan has come under heavy criticism over the past months.

You can read both of the Government’s new letters below. You can read the July 10, 2019 open letter to the Doug Ford Government by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/in-a-compelling-open-letter-21-disability-organizations-unite-to-call-on-the-doug-ford-government-to-announce-a-plan-to-implement-the-report-on-ontarios-disabilities-act-submitted-by-former-lieuten/

Meanwhile, an inexcusable 208 days have now passed since the Doug Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Yet Doug Ford’s Government has still announced no plan for implementing its key recommendations that would strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.

The July 10, 2019 open letter was originally co-signed by an impressive 21 community organizations and groups. The expanded list of signatories, set out later in this Update, has since grown to 27 organizations. If any organizations want to sign on, send us an email at [email protected]

Do you find this frustrating? There’s something you can do to help us! Join in our Dial Doug campaign. Call or email Premier Doug Ford. Ask him where is his plan to get Ontario to become accessible to over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025?

Doug Ford’s office number is +1 (416) 325-1941. His email address is [email protected]

We are delighted to hear from those who have already taken part in the Dial Doug campaign. Action tips on how to take part are available for you at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/join-in-our-new-dial-doug-campaign-a-grassroots-blitz-unveiled-today-to-get-the-doug-ford-government-to-make-ontario-open-for-over-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

We also invite and encourage you to download, print up and give out our 1-page leaflet on the Dial Doug campaign. Spread the word about it. Email it to friends. Post it on your Facebook page. Our 1-page Dial Doug leaflet is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/dial-doug-leaflet.docx

https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/dial-doug-leaflet.docx

          MORE DETAILS

A Closer Look — The Doug Ford Government’s Response to the July 10, 2019 Open Letter Just Offers Over 2 Million Ontarians with Disabilities More of the Same, Not Strong New Action

The July 10, 2019 open letter called on the Ford Government to announce a plan to implement the final report by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley, of his Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of Ontario’s accessibility law, the AODA. The Onley Report found that the AODA’s required goal of becoming a fully accessible province for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities is nowhere in sight. It concluded that Ontario remains replete with “soul-crushing” barriers against people with disabilities. That report recommended a series of important new measures needed to get Ontario back on schedule for becoming accessible by 2025.

The AODA Alliance led the preparation of this July 10, 2019 open letter. We did so after the Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature on May 30, 2019 to defeat a non-partisan motion by NDP MPP Joel Harden. That motion called on the Doug Ford Government to develop a plan to implement the Onley Report. Several MPPs from the Ford Government, including Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho, disparaged taking the action recommended in that proposed motion as “red tape”.

On that day, the Ford Government gave prepared speeches that sound like they reject the Onley Report’s recommendations as “red tape.” That is an extremely inaccurate and unfair description of the Onley Report. The Doug Ford Government has not retracted those statements in the three months since it made them.

The Ford Government’s two written responses to the July 10, 2019 open letter are deeply disappointing. They embody no plan of effective action, nor any pledge to establish one.

We heard once again in the Accessibility Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter that the Government is still studying the Onley Report. That report is only 81 pages. This is a top responsibility for the Accessibility Minister. David Onley’s key recommendations are ones which we have been presenting to all parties in the Legislature for years. This is not rocket science.

The Ford Government’s Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho had earlier studied this report sufficiently after having it for a little over two months that he publicly declared in the Legislature on April 10, 2019 that David Onley had done a “marvelous job.” As we have noted in the past, the Doug Ford Government has shown itself willing to act quickly, decisively, and vigorously in areas that it considers important. In those areas, it has not taken almost eight months to keep studying a report. This delay of almost eight months is hardly consistent with the Accessibility Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter where the Government says it is taking the Onley Report “very seriously.”

In the Minister’s detailed letter, the Government did not say it would ever bring forward such a plan. We respectfully but profoundly disagree with the Ford Government’s claim in the Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter that the Government is now on the right track on accessibility. Its protracted failure to bring forward a plan to implement the Onley Report is proof positive that it is on the wrong track. The Minister wrote:

“We are on the right track to creating an Ontario where communities offer opportunities instead of barriers.

A place where everyone can be independent, work, and contribute to the economy – wherever they live.”

Both the Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter and the Premier’s July 24, 2019 letter raise a serious concern that the Doug Ford Government is not even trying to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities, the goal which the AODA requires by 2025. Those letters speak instead about merely trying to “improve accessibility” and about “making Ontario more accessible and preventing barriers for people with disabilities.”

It is not good enough for the Government to merely aim to “improve accessibility.” Just one new ramp, installed somewhere in Ontario, or just one newly-retrofitted website, would fulfil that feeble goal.

In his August 19, 2019 letter, the Minister pointed in support to his Government’s having agreed to resume the work of the Health Care and Education Standards Development Committees. The Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter states:

“Right after tabling the report, we announced that we would be resuming the Health Care and Education Standards Development Committees. As the Minister, I was proud to immediately begin working with the chairs to re-start work on these valuable committees.”

Yet it was the Ford Government itself that left those important Standards Development Committees frozen since the Government took power in June 2019. Moreover, even though the Ford Government announced on March 7, 2019 that it was lifting its freeze on the work of those Standards Development Committees, over five months have passed since then. Those committees have not held a meeting, as far as we can tell. As an initial step, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee is expected to hold its first re-engagement telephone conference call some time on September 10, 2019. That is a small glimmer of progress, that will take place over six months after the Ford Government lifted this freeze, and over 14 months after this freeze was first imposed.

The rest of the Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter basically rehashes what we had been hearing for years from the Wynne Government. The Onley Report adds up to a stinging indictment of that strategy as far too little and far too slow. For example, the Accessibility Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter summarizes what the Government says it is now doing on accessibility as follows:

“We’ve also taken action through a number of key initiatives, including working across government to take a whole-of-government approach to accessibility, supporting businesses to better understand accessibility and its benefits, and engaging with employers through our Employers’ Partnership Table.”

It is true that the Onley Report recommends that the Ontario Government take a “whole of Government approach” to accessibility. However, all the Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter does is to repeat this phrase without specifying any concrete changes, much less any substantial improvements. The previous Government similarly claimed to be taking a whole of Government approach to accessibility, without demonstrating concrete improvements.

The Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter refers to its strategy within the Government which is very similar to, if not identical to, the internal Government strategy of the Wynne Government (2013-2018, the McGuinty Government before that (2003-2013, and the Mike Harris Government before those two (1995-2003), as follows:

“As Mr. Onley recommended, we are working across ministries to make accessibility a responsibility of all ministries and inform a whole-of-government approach to advancing accessibility.

As part of this work, we are working with ministries to look at their policies, programs and services and identifying areas where we can work together to remove the barriers faced by Ontario’s 2.6 million people with disabilities.”

The Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter focuses predominantly if not entirely on efforts to educate organizations on accessibility, and efforts to get organizations to voluntarily do more. The letter refers to two specific initiatives which the former Wynne Government had been using for years, the Enabling Change Fund and the Government’s Partnership Council on Employment for People with disabilities. As a core Government strategy on accessibility, that is a formula for more progress at a snail’s pace. The Onley Report‘s recommendations call for the Government to do much, much more.

The only tiny glimmer of progress in these letters came where the Minister stated:

“For example, with our ministry partners, we have begun discussions with the Ontario Building Officials Association and the Retail Council of Canada and have been meeting with other stakeholders such as the Ontario Association of Architects.”

To “begin discussions” is very preliminary. We ask the Government to speed up this effort and to now bring us to the table with those organizations and with an ambitious plan for action, so we can work together throughout on progress.

We also again urge the Ford Government to now fulfil its duty under the AODA to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard, and to mandate that committee to make recommendations for a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It’s time the Ontario Government obeyed the AODA. Both the Doug Ford Government and the previous Wynne Government stand together as having violated the requirement to appoint that mandatory review of the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard by the end of 2017. To take these action we seek is consistent with the Onley Report’s recommendations.

Premier Doug ford’s July 24, 2019 letter to us is no more encouraging than is the Accessibility Minister’s August 19, 2019 letter. As he has in all his prior letters to us since taking power, Premier Ford simply punted all our issues back to Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho. There are two powerful reasons why this is insufficient for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities:

First, the Onley Report itself called for new Government leadership on accessibility, pointing to the premier’s office. The report included the damning heading “Restoring Government Leadership.” The Onley Report found:

“The Premier of Ontario could establish accessibility as a government-wide priority with the stroke of a pen. Our previous two Premiers did not listen to repeated pleas to do this. I am hopeful the current one will.”

Second, key areas where we need action are ones which the Premier himself must take. The Accessibility Minister, acting alone, cannot do so. We listed examples of priority actions in the AODA Alliance’s July 19, 2018 letter to Premier Ford. Premier Ford’s response to that letter was to punt it entirely to Accessibility Minister Cho.

Text of the August 19, 2019 Letter to the AODA Alliance from Ontario Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho

 

Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
Minister

College Park, 5th Floor
777 Bay St.
Toronto ON M7A 1S5

Ministre des Services aux aînés et de l’Accessibilitée Ministre

College Park, 5ème étage
rue 777 Bay
Toronto ON M7A 1S5

August 20, 2019

Mr. David Lepofsky

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

I would like to respond to your Open Letter to the Premier of Ontario, dated July 10, 2019.

Thank you for sharing your concerns and for continuing to raise this very important issue.

We are taking Mr. Onley’s report on the Third Legislative Review very seriously as we continue to work towards making Ontario more accessible.

In an effort to be open and transparent, we tabled Mr. Onley’s report and made it public as soon as possible, just over a month after receiving it.

Right after tabling the report, we announced that we would be resuming the Health Care and Education Standards Development Committees. As the Minister, I was proud to immediately begin working with the chairs to re-start work on these valuable committees.

We’ve also taken action through a number of key initiatives, including working across government to take a whole-of-government approach to accessibility, supporting businesses to better understand accessibility and its benefits, and engaging with employers through our Employers’ Partnership Table.

As Mr. Onley recommended, we are working across ministries to make accessibility a responsibility of all ministries and inform a whole-of-government approach to advancing accessibility.

As part of this work, we are working with ministries to look at their policies, programs and services and identifying areas where we can work together to remove the barriers faced by Ontario’s 2.6 million people with disabilities.

For example, with our ministry partners, we have begun discussions with the Ontario Building Officials Association and the Retail Council of Canada and have been meeting with other stakeholders such as the Ontario Association of Architects. We will continue to work collaboratively with other ministries to promote accessibility and explore opportunities to develop resources and make it easier to understand how to build using universal design principles.

We continue our outreach with people with disabilities and disability organizations, and consult with businesses, non-profits and industry groups to get their perspectives on how to improve accessibility in Ontario.

On employment, we are working through our Employers’ Partnership Table, which was brought together to support the creation of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The Table is comprised of 17 members representing a range of small, medium and large businesses, industry associations, non-profit and public organizations, and post-secondary education institutions from across Ontario. It is currently developing business cases to demonstrate that hiring people with disabilities improves the bottom line because productivity goes up.

The table will share their work and experiences with other businesses in Ontario to help them realize the benefits of employing people with disabilities. We will continue to consult with businesses and business associations through the Employers Partnership Table and other forums.

Government alone cannot create a barrier free Ontario.

That is why while all the work on the Onley report is ongoing, I have been hard at work every day meeting with Ontarians and engaging with disability and business stakeholders to make accessibility into a reality in this province.

We work closely with many partners to spread the word about the importance of accessibility.

We partnered with OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre to develop “Our Doors Are Open: Guide for Accessible Congregations” which was shared and highlighted at the 2018 Parliament of World’s Religions Conference. The guide offers simple, creative ideas for different faith communities in our province to increase accessibility during worship services and community events.

We also support some of these partners through a program called Enabling Change.

Some recent examples of EnAbling Change projects include:

  • A resource guide produced by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association. The guide gives helpful tips for businesses on how to become more inclusive and accessible including addressing barriers in the built environment such as entrances and exits, space layout and design.
  • A partnership with the Conference Board of Canada to develop: Making Your Business Accessible for People with Disabilities which is a guide that helps small businesses employ and serve people with disabilities, attract customers and improve services.
  • ca which is a free online training portal with modules and videos that businesses can use to train staff on Ontario’s accessibility laws

We will continue to work with businesses and communities to help them better understand the benefits of accessibility. To address the recommendation in the Third Legislative Review on creating a comprehensive website for accessibility resources, we have taken steps to begin re-designing our ministry website to make it a comprehensive one stop shop on accessibility for the public and businesses. In order to make it easier for businesses to access resources on accessibility, we have created a new webpage dedicated to supporting businesses with practical guides and resources to help them understand the benefits of accessibility and break down barriers for people with disabilities.

A business that commits to accessibility sends a strong message that people with disabilities are welcome. For this reason, it is much more likely to attract people with disabilities and their families. This goes for any and all businesses in Ontario that are providing goods and services to the public.

Accessibility is a journey and we are eager to continue to work with all our partners in the disability community, not-for-profit, public and private sector to make change that will have a positive impact on the daily lives of people with disabilities and seniors.

We are on the right track to creating an Ontario where communities offer opportunities instead of barriers.

A place where everyone can be independent, work, and contribute to the economy – wherever they live.

Thank you again for writing and please accept my best wishes.

Sincerely,

(Original signed by)

Raymond Cho

Minister

c: The Honourable Doug Ford

Text of the July 24, 2019 Letter to the AODA Alliance From Premier Doug Ford

Dear Mr. Lepofsky and Colleagues:

Thanks very much for writing to me about the Honourable David C. Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. I appreciate hearing your views and concerns.

My team is here for all the people. We are working to make our province a great place for all the people of Ontario today, and every day. Our government remains committed to making Ontario more accessible and preventing barriers for people with disabilities.

I note that you have sent a copy of your email to the Honourable Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. As the issue you raised falls in his area of responsibility, I have asked that he respond to you as soon as possible.

Thanks again for contacting me.

Doug Ford

Premier of Ontario

C: The Honourable Raymond Cho

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

Updated List of Signatories to the July 10, 2019 Open Letter to the Ontario Government As of August 26, 2019

As of August 23, 2019, the following 27 organizations and groups  are signatories to the July 10, 2019 Open Letter to the Ford Government on the need to promptly implement the Onley Report:

  1. AODA Alliance
  2. CNIB
  3. March of Dimes Canada
  4. Older Women’s’ Network
  5. Ontario Autism Coalition
  6. Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)
  7. StopGap Foundation
  8. BALANCE for Blind Adults
  9. Community Living Ontario
  10. DeafBlind Ontario Services)
  11. Ontario Disability Coalition
  12. Guide Dog Users of Canada
  13. Views for the Visually Impaired
  14. Physicians of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Advocacy (PONDA)
  15. ARCH Disability Law Centre
  16. Easter Seals Ontario
  17. Inclusive Design Research Centre, Ontario College of Art and Design University
  18. Centre for Independent Living in Toronto CILT
  19. Canadian Disability Policy Alliance
  20. Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)
  21. Citizens With Disabilities – Ontario
  22. Autism Ontario
  23. Electromagnetic Pollution Illnesses Canada Foundation (EPIC)
  24. Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre
  25. Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO)
  26. Unitarian Commons Co-Housing Corporation
  27. Peterborough Council for Person’s with Disabilities [CPD]



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Despite No Announced Plans to Implement the David Onley AODA Independent Review Report, the Ford Government Gives 1.3 Million Dollars to Help Finance a Private Accessibility Certification Program — A Use of Public Money We Don’t Support


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

May 17, 2019

SUMMARY

Why has the Ford Government dragged its feet for months on taking new action to effectively implement and enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)? Why instead, amidst a flurry of its controversial budget cuts across the Ontario Government, has the Government decided to invest 1.3 million new public dollars over two years in the private accessibility certification process now operated by the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF)?

This is not an appropriate use of public money. Instead, the Ford Government needs to now announce a bold and comprehensive plan of action to implement the key recommendations of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Any new public money in this area should be allocated to that effort.

The Ford Government has in effect done nothing new to strengthen the AODA’s implementation in its first 11 months in office, apart from this new announcement. It has been 106 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and Enforcement. The Government has announced no plans to implement that Report’s spectrum of recommendations. This is so even though Ontario’s Accessibility minister Raymond Cho said in the Legislature on April 10, 2019 that David Onley did a “marvelous job” in that report and that Ontario has only progressed 30% towards its target of becoming fully accessible to people with disabilities.

The Onley Report found that Ontario is well behind schedule for reaching full accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025 as the AODA requires. It concluded that progress on accessibility in Ontario has proceeded at a glacial pace, and that Ontario remains a province full of disability barriers.

Instead of announcing any new measures that the Onley Report recommended, in this spring’s Ontario Budget, the Ford Government announced that it is giving the RHF some 1.3 million dollars over two years for its private accessibility certification process. We have serious concerns with this.

We have been on the public record for over four years expressing our strong opposition to any public money going into any private accessibility certification process, no matter who runs it. This Update tells you why. In summary:

a) A private accessibility certification in reality certifies nothing. It provides no defence to enforcement proceedings under the AODA, the Ontario Building Code, a municipal bylaw, the Ontario Human Rights Code, or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

b) A private accessibility certification process lacks an assurance of public accountability.

c) A private certification of accessibility can be misleading to the public, including to people with disabilities.

d) The Government should not be subsidizing one accessibility consultant over another.

e) Spending public money on a private accessibility certification process is not a priority for efforts on accessibility in Ontario or a responsible use of public money.

f) The Onley report recommended important and much-needed measures to address disability barriers in the built environment that the Ford Government has not yet agreed to take, but it did not recommend spending scarce public money on a private accessibility certification process.

MORE DETAILS

1. Why We Oppose Public Money Being Spent to Help Finance a Private Accessibility Certification Process, No Matter Who Operates It A Closer Look

1. Overview

The RHF has for some time been offering a private accessibility certification process for buildings. From what we understand, an organization can choose to pay the RHF to have someone visit that building and give it an accessibility rating based on whatever standard of accessibility that the RHF has decided to use. They call this an accessibility “certification.” You can learn more about the RHF program by visiting its website at: https://www.rickhansen.com/become-accessible

We have several serious concerns about investing any public money in this. It is not a responsible use of public money. We voice these concerns no matter what organization were to be publicly funded to conduct this private accessibility certification process. We voiced these concerns before the RHF began offering its certification services. We recognize the RHF’s good work in other areas.

Whether a private organization wants to offer its accessibility certification services, and whether any organizations wish to pay for those services, is up to those organizations. The issue we address here is whether the taxpayer’s money should be used to help subsidize this.

We have publicly stated over the past four years that the Ontario Government should not invest any public money in a private accessibility certification process. The former Ontario Government flirted with the idea of investing public money in a private accessibility certification process four years ago. It evidently invested a great deal of public money in a private consulting firm, Deloitt, to create a public report exploring this idea. We took part in that consultation and voiced our strong and principled opposition to this whole idea as a place to put any public money.

Fortunately, the former Government eventually saw the light, and dropped the idea. It is deeply troubling that the new Ford Government is going further down the wrong road that the former Government had explored.

To read the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 brief to Deloitt on the problems with publicly funding any private accessibility certification process, visit https://www.aoda.ca/aoda-alliance-sends-the-deloitte-company-its-submission-on-the-first-phase-of-the-deloitte-companys-public-consultation-on-the-wynne-governments-problem-ridden-proposal-to-fund-a-new-private-ac/

2. A Private Accessibility Certification in Reality Certifies Nothing

The very idea of a private organization certifying another organization or its building as accessible is fraught with problems. Organizations that seek this certification of their building will eventually realize that a so-called accessibility certification through a private accessibility certification process is not what it may appear to be.

Such a certification does not mean that the organization is in fact accessible. All that is certified is a building. The services delivered inside the building may have serious accessibility barriers.

Moreover, the certification does not even mean that the built environment in the building is in fact accessible and free of disability barriers.

Such a certification cannot give that organization a defence if there is an objection that the building does not comply with accessibility requirements in the AODA, the Ontario Building Code or a municipal bylaws. An accessibility certification similarly does not provide a defence if the organization is subject to a human rights complaint before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, or in the case of a public-sector organization, a disability equality rights claim under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. An organization cannot excuse itself from a violation of the AODA, the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Ontario Building Code or a municipal bylaw, or the Charter of Rights by arguing that thanks to its private accessibility certification, it thought it was obeying the law and was accessible.

In addition, a private accessibility certification can have a very limited shelf-life. If anything changes in that building, such as a garbage can blocking an accessibility ramp, the assertion of certified accessibility becomes disconnected with the actual experience of people with disabilities.

When the Government enacts a new accessibility standard (as is under development in the area of health care), or revises an existing one, (as the Government is required to consider every five years in the case of existing AODA accessibility standards), that certification would have to be reviewed once new accessibility requirements come into effect.

An accessibility certification from a private accessibility certification process ultimately means nothing authoritative. At most, it is an expression of opinion by a private self-appointed certifying organization that it thinks the building in question meets whatever standard for accessibility that the private certifying organization chooses to use. That standard may itself be deficient. Its inspection may be faulty or incomplete.

It is therefore an over-statement to call this an accessibility certification. What it boils down to in real terms is something along the lines of the advice an organization might seek from one of many accessibility consultants.

Several such consultants now operate in Ontario, on a fee-for-service basis. They are available to audit an organization’s building or its plans for a new building. They can give advice on barriers in the building. They can recommend accessibility improvements to an existing building or plans for a new building. What they give is advice, not certification.

As well, there is no assurance that the people who do the actual certifying have as much expertise on accessibility as do other accessibility consultants.

3. A Private Accessibility Certification Process Lacks an Assurance of Public Accountability

There is no assurance of public accountability in a private accessibility certification process. For example, the public has no way to know or assure itself that the private certifier is making accurate assessments.

4. A Private Certification of Accessibility Can Be Misleading to the Public, Including to People with Disabilities

If an organization receives a top-level accessibility certification, that organization may be led to think they have done all they need to do on accessibility. The public, including people with disabilities, and design professionals may be led to think that this is a model of accessibility to be emulated, and that it is a place that will be easy to fully access. This may turn out not to be the case if the certifier uses an insufficient standard to assess accessibility, and/or if it does not do an accurate job of assessing the building and/or if things change in the building after the certification is granted.

5. The Government Should Not Be Subsidizing One Accessibility Consultant over Another

In a field where there are a number of accessibility consultants providing advisory services, there is no good reason why the Ontario Government should choose to subsidize one of them. If it were to do so, it should presumably first hold an open competitive bid process. It should not be limited to an organization that calls its accessibility advice a “certification” for the reasons set out above.

Moreover, we see no reason why there should be any public subsidy here. Such an accessibility certification should simply operate on a fee-for-service basis, as do all other accessibility consultants and advisors, whether or not they call their advice accessibility certification.”

6. Spending Public Money on a Private Accessibility Certification Process Is Not a Priority for Efforts on Accessibility in Ontario or a Responsible use of Public Money

Due to its concern over the public debt and deficit, the Ford Government is now implementing major and controversial budget cuts in a large number of areas across the Government. At least some of those cuts have real and troubling implications for people with disabilities.

If the Ontario Government was looking for somewhere to inject a new spending of 1.3 million public dollars to serve the needs of people with disabilities, including in the accessibility context, public spending on a private accessibility certification process would certainly not be a priority. It is not an appropriate public expenditure.

For example, as we covered in our May 13, 2019 AODA Alliance Update, the Ford Government appears to be cutting its expenditures on existing Standards Development Committees that are doing work in the health care and education areas. This new 1.3 million dollars could better be spent in part to ensure that there is no cut to the number of days that those Standards Development Committees can work.

As well, there is a pressing need for the Government to now appoint a Built Environment Standards Development Committee to recommend an appropriate accessibility standard to deal with barriers in the built environment. These public funds could also be far better used to beef up the flagging and weak enforcement of the AODA.

7. The Onley Report Recommended Important Measures to Address Disability Barriers in the Built Environment that the Ford Government has not yet Agreed to take, But it did not Recommend Spending Scarce Public Money on a Private Accessibility Certification Process

It is striking that the final report of the David Onley AODA Independent Review, which Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho called “marvelous,” did not recommend that public money be spent on a private accessibility certification process. This takes on special importance since the AODA Alliance had urged the Onley Report not to recommend any public investment in a private accessibility certification process. Below we set out an excerpt from Chapter 4 of the AODA Alliance’s January 15, 2019 brief to the Onley AODA Independent Review.

It makes no sense for the Ford Government to announce only one new action on the accessibility front, and for it not to be any of the priority actions that that the Onley Report recommended. The Ford Government indicated last fall that it was awaiting the Onley Report before deciding on what to do in the area of accessibility for people with disabilities. In his December 20, 2018 letter to the chair of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, Accessibility Minister Cho wrote:

“In this regard, we will be waiting to review Mr. Onleys report before considering the best path forward to further improving accessibility in Ontario.”

We commend the Onley Report for not recommending that public money be spent in that area. Mr. Onley clearly knew about this issue from our brief and from his prior activities in the accessibility field. He declared that the built environment should be a priority area for new action. Moreover, he offered other specific recommendations to address barriers in the built environment recommendations that the Ford government has not yet agreed to take.

More broadly, the Onley Report also made a number of important recommendations for new Government action on accessibility beyond the built environment. With one exception addressed below (that is not relevant here), the Government has not yet announced any action on any of them, even though it has had the Onley Report for some 106 days.

Moreover, last July, long before the Onley Report was submitted, we called on the Ford Government to take a number of the priority actions that the Onley Report was later to recommend. See the AODA Alliance’s July 17, 2018 letter to Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho and our July 19, 2018 letter to premier Doug Ford. Publicly funding a private accessibility certification process is not a substitute for, or better than, Government action on any of those important priorities.

Over the past eleven months, the only new action which the Ford Government has announced on accessibility and that is recommended in the Onley Report has been to belatedly lift the Government’s unwarranted and harmful 9-month freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees that were previously developing recommendations for what to include in new accessibility standards in the areas of health care and education. Yet it was the Ford Government that let that freeze run for nine months.

Investing public funds in implementing key recommendations in the Onley Report is far more important to progress on accessibility for people with disabilities than publicly subsidizing a private accessibility certification process.

2. Excerpt from Chapter 4 of the AODA Alliance’s January 15, 2019 Brief to the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s Implementation and Enforcement, Entitled “The Need for New Accessibility Standards, Including a Strong and Comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard”

d) The Ontario Government Should Not Invest Public Funds in or Support any Private Accessibility Certification Process in Ontario

Several years ago, the former Ontario Government toyed with the idea of supporting the establishment of a private accessibility certification process in Ontario. It evidently spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a private consulting firm, Deloitt, to explore this. Eventually, after Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid was shuffled out of the AODA portfolio in June 2016, this idea was in effect dropped. We opposed the idea of a private accessibility certification process and opposed the Government investing any public money in it. We urge this AODA Independent Review not to re-open that topic, and not to recommend a private accessibility certification process.

The February 1, 2016 AODA Alliance Update set out this backgrounder on this issue, including a summary of the AODA Alliance’s submission to the Deloitt consulting firm. It said:

“Back on November 16, 2015, the Wynne Government launched a public consultation on its proposal that the Government create a private process for an as-yet-unnamed private organization to provide a private, voluntary accessibility certification of the obligated organization. The Government’s November 16, 2015 email, news release and web posting on this were thin on details.

The Government did not have its own Accessibility Directorate conduct this consultation. Instead, at public expense, the Wynne Government hired the private Deloitte firm to consult the public.

Last fall, we moved as fast as possible to prepare and circulate a draft submission to Deloitte. It was emailed and posted on the web for public comment on November 25, 2015. We have repeatedly sent out invitations for input on it via Twitter and Facebook.

Last fall, we promptly shared our draft submission with Deloitte and with senior Government officials. On December 5, 2015, we wrote Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid to ask for important specifics on the Deloitte consultation. The Government has not answered that letter.

2. Summary of the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 Submission to the Deloitte Company

This submission’s feedback on the idea of the Ontario Government financing the creation of a private accessibility certification process is summarized as follows:

1. It is important to probe beyond any superficial attractiveness that some might think a private accessibility certification process has.

2. It is important for the Government to first decide whether it will adopt a private accessibility certification process, before public money and the public’s effort are invested in deciding on the details of how such a process would work. Several serious concerns set out in this submission are fatal to any such proposal, however its details are designed.

3. Instead of diverting limited public and private resources, effort and time into a problematic private accessibility certification process, the Government should instead increase efforts at creating all the AODA accessibility standards needed to ensure full accessibility by 2025 and keeping its unkept promise to effectively enforce the AODA. A private accessibility certification process is no substitute for needed accessibility standards that show obligated organizations what they need to do, and a full and comprehensive AODA audit or inspection, conducted by a director or inspector duly authorized under the AODA.

4. The Government cannot claim that it has deployed the AODA’s compliance/enforcement powers to the fullest and gotten from the AODA all it can in terms of increasing accessibility among obligated organizations. The Government has invested far too little in AODA enforcement.

5. The entire idea of a private organization certifying an obligated organization as “accessible” is fraught with inescapable problems. Obligated organizations will ultimately realize that a so-called “accessibility certification” through a private accessibility certification process is practically useless. It does not mean that their organization is in fact accessible. It cannot give that obligated organization any defence if an AODA inspection or audit reveals that the organization is not in compliance with an AODA accessibility standard, or if the organization is subject to a human rights complaint before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. An obligated organization cannot excuse itself from a violation of the AODA, the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Charter of Rights by arguing that thanks to its private accessibility certification, it thought it was obeying the law.

6. A private accessibility certification could mislead people with disabilities into thinking an organization is fully accessible in a situation where that organization is not in fact fully accessible.

7. Obligated organizations that have spent their money on a private accessibility certification will understandably become angry or frustrated when they find that this certification does not excuse unlawful conduct. They will understandably share these feelings with their business associates. Ontarians with disabilities don’t need the Government launching a new process that will risk generating such backlash.

8. A private accessibility certification could have a very limited shelf-life. When the Government enacts a new accessibility standard (as it has promised to do in the area of health care), or revises an existing one, (as the Government is required to consider every five years in the case of existing AODA accessibility standards), that certification would have to be reviewed once new accessibility requirements come into effect.

9. The Government’s idea that a private accessibility certification process would be self-financing creates additional serious problems.

10. Any private certification process raises serious concerns about public accountability. As such, the public will not be able to find out how it is operating, beyond any selective information that the Government or the private certifier decides to make public. Without full access to the activities and records of a private certifier, the public cannot effectively assess how this private accessibility certification process is working, and whether it is helping or hurting the accessibility cause”



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Despite No Announced Plans to Implement the David Onley AODA Independent Review Report, the Ford Government Gives 1.3 Million Dollars to Help Finance a Private Accessibility Certification Program — A Use of Public Money We Don’t Support


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

Despite No Announced Plans to Implement the David Onley AODA Independent Review Report, the Ford Government Gives 1.3 Million Dollars to Help Finance a Private Accessibility Certification Program — A Use of Public Money We Don’t Support

May 17, 2019

          SUMMARY

Why has the Ford Government dragged its feet for months on taking new action to effectively implement and enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)? Why instead, amidst a flurry of its controversial budget cuts across the Ontario Government, has the Government decided to invest 1.3 million new public dollars over two years in the private accessibility certification process now operated by the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF)?

This is not an appropriate use of public money. Instead, the Ford Government needs to now announce a bold and comprehensive plan of action to implement the key recommendations of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Any new public money in this area should be allocated to that effort.

The Ford Government has in effect done nothing new to strengthen the AODA’s implementation in its first 11 months in office, apart from this new announcement. It has been 106 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and Enforcement. The Government has announced no plans to implement that Report’s spectrum of recommendations. This is so even though Ontario’s Accessibility minister Raymond Cho said in the Legislature on April 10, 2019 that David Onley did a “marvelous job” in that report and that Ontario has only progressed 30% towards its target of becoming fully accessible to people with disabilities.

The Onley Report found that Ontario is well behind schedule for reaching full accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025 as the AODA requires. It concluded that progress on accessibility in Ontario has proceeded at a glacial pace, and that Ontario remains a province full of disability barriers.

Instead of announcing any new measures that the Onley Report recommended, in this spring’s Ontario Budget, the Ford Government announced that it is giving the RHF some 1.3 million dollars over two years for its private accessibility certification process. We have serious concerns with this.

We have been on the public record for over four years expressing our strong opposition to any public money going into any private accessibility certification process, no matter who runs it. This Update tells you why. In summary:

  1. a) A private accessibility certification in reality certifies nothing. It provides no defence to enforcement proceedings under the AODA, the Ontario Building Code, a municipal bylaw, the Ontario Human Rights Code, or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  1. b) A private accessibility certification process lacks an assurance of public accountability.
  1. c) A private certification of accessibility can be misleading to the public, including to people with disabilities.
  1. d) The Government should not be subsidizing one accessibility consultant over another.
  1. e) Spending public money on a private accessibility certification process is not a priority for efforts on accessibility in Ontario or a responsible use of public money.
  1. f) The Onley report recommended important and much-needed measures to address disability barriers in the built environment that the Ford Government has not yet agreed to take, but it did not recommend spending scarce public money on a private accessibility certification process.

          MORE DETAILS

1. Why We Oppose Public Money Being Spent to Help Finance a Private Accessibility Certification Process, No Matter Who Operates It – A Closer Look

1. Overview

The RHF has for some time been offering a private accessibility certification process for buildings. From what we understand, an organization can choose to pay the RHF to have someone visit that building and give it an accessibility rating based on whatever standard of accessibility that the RHF has decided to use. They call this an accessibility “certification.” You can learn more about the RHF program by visiting its website at: https://www.rickhansen.com/become-accessible

We have several serious concerns about investing any public money in this. It is not a responsible use of public money. We voice these concerns no matter what organization were to be publicly funded to conduct this private accessibility certification process. We voiced these concerns before the RHF began offering its certification services. We recognize the RHF’s good work in other areas.

Whether a private organization wants to offer its accessibility certification services, and whether any organizations wish to pay for those services, is up to those organizations. The issue we address here is whether the taxpayer’s money should be used to help subsidize this.

We have publicly stated over the past four years that the Ontario Government should not invest any public money in a private accessibility certification process. The former Ontario Government flirted with the idea of investing public money in a private accessibility certification process four years ago. It evidently invested a great deal of public money in a private consulting firm, Deloitt, to create a public report exploring this idea. We took part in that consultation and voiced our strong and principled opposition to this whole idea as a place to put any public money.

Fortunately, the former Government eventually saw the light, and dropped the idea. It is deeply troubling that the new Ford Government is going further down the wrong road that the former Government had explored.

To read the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 brief to Deloitt on the problems with publicly funding any private accessibility certification process, visit https://www.aoda.ca/aoda-alliance-sends-the-deloitte-company-its-submission-on-the-first-phase-of-the-deloitte-companys-public-consultation-on-the-wynne-governments-problem-ridden-proposal-to-fund-a-new-private-ac/

2. A Private Accessibility Certification in Reality Certifies Nothing

The very idea of a private organization certifying another organization or its building as accessible is fraught with problems. Organizations that seek this certification of their building will eventually realize that a so-called accessibility certification through a private accessibility certification process is not what it may appear to be.

Such a certification does not mean that the organization is in fact accessible. All that is certified is a building. The services delivered inside the building may have serious accessibility barriers.

Moreover, the certification does not even mean that the built environment in the building is in fact accessible and free of disability barriers.

Such a certification cannot give that organization a defence if there is an objection that the building does not comply with accessibility requirements in the AODA, the Ontario Building Code or a municipal bylaws. An accessibility certification similarly does not provide a defence if the organization is subject to a human rights complaint before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, or in the case of a public-sector organization, a disability equality rights claim under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. An organization cannot excuse itself from a violation of the AODA, the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Ontario Building Code or a municipal bylaw, or the Charter of Rights by arguing that thanks to its private accessibility certification, it thought it was obeying the law and was accessible.

In addition, a private accessibility certification can have a very limited shelf-life. If anything changes in that building, such as a garbage can blocking an accessibility ramp, the assertion of certified accessibility becomes disconnected with the actual experience of people with disabilities.

When the Government enacts a new accessibility standard (as is under development in the area of health care), or revises an existing one, (as the Government is required to consider every five years in the case of existing AODA accessibility standards), that certification would have to be reviewed once new accessibility requirements come into effect.

An accessibility certification from a private accessibility certification process ultimately means nothing authoritative. At most, it is an expression of opinion by a private self-appointed certifying organization that it thinks the building in question meets whatever standard for accessibility that the private certifying organization chooses to use. That standard may itself be deficient. Its inspection may be faulty or incomplete.

It is therefore an over-statement to call this an accessibility certification. What it boils down to in real terms is something along the lines of the advice an organization might seek from one of many accessibility consultants.

Several such consultants now operate in Ontario, on a fee-for-service basis. They are available to audit an organization’s building or its plans for a new building. They can give advice on barriers in the building. They can recommend accessibility improvements to an existing building or plans for a new building. What they give is advice, not certification.

As well, there is no assurance that the people who do the actual certifying have as much expertise on accessibility as do other accessibility consultants.

3. A Private Accessibility Certification Process Lacks an Assurance of Public Accountability

There is no assurance of public accountability in a private accessibility certification process. For example, the public has no way to know or assure itself that the private certifier is making accurate assessments.

4. A Private Certification of Accessibility Can Be Misleading to the Public, Including to People with Disabilities

If an organization receives a top-level accessibility certification, that organization may be led to think they have done all they need to do on accessibility. The public, including people with disabilities, and design professionals may be led to think that this is a model of accessibility to be emulated, and that it is a place that will be easy to fully access. This may turn out not to be the case if the certifier uses an insufficient standard to assess accessibility, and/or if it does not do an accurate job of assessing the building and/or if things change in the building after the certification is granted.

5. The Government Should Not Be Subsidizing One Accessibility Consultant over Another

In a field where there are a number of accessibility consultants providing advisory services, there is no good reason why the Ontario Government should choose to subsidize one of them. If it were to do so, it should presumably first hold an open competitive bid process. It should not be limited to an organization that calls its accessibility advice a “certification” for the reasons set out above.

Moreover, we see no reason why there should be any public subsidy here. Such an accessibility certification should simply operate on a fee-for-service basis, as do all other accessibility consultants and advisors, whether or not they call their advice “accessibility certification.”

6. Spending Public Money on a Private Accessibility Certification Process Is Not a Priority for Efforts on Accessibility in Ontario or a Responsible use of Public Money

Due to its concern over the public debt and deficit, the Ford Government is now implementing major and controversial budget cuts in a large number of areas across the Government. At least some of those cuts have real and troubling implications for people with disabilities.

If the Ontario Government was looking for somewhere to inject a new spending of 1.3 million public dollars to serve the needs of people with disabilities, including in the accessibility context, public spending on a private accessibility certification process would certainly not be a priority. It is not an appropriate public expenditure.

For example, as we covered in our May 13, 2019 AODA Alliance Update, the Ford Government appears to be cutting its expenditures on existing Standards Development Committees that are doing work in the health care and education areas. This new 1.3 million dollars could better be spent in part to ensure that there is no cut to the number of days that those Standards Development Committees can work.

As well, there is a pressing need for the Government to now appoint a Built Environment Standards Development Committee to recommend an appropriate accessibility standard to deal with barriers in the built environment. These public funds could also be far better used to beef up the flagging and weak enforcement of the AODA.

7. The Onley Report Recommended Important Measures to Address Disability Barriers in the Built Environment that the Ford Government has not yet Agreed to take, But it did not Recommend Spending Scarce Public Money on a Private Accessibility Certification Process

It is striking that the final report of the David Onley AODA Independent Review, which Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho called “marvelous,” did not recommend that public money be spent on a private accessibility certification process. This takes on special importance since the AODA Alliance had urged the Onley Report not to recommend any public investment in a private accessibility certification process. Below we set out an excerpt from Chapter 4 of the AODA Alliance’s January 15, 2019 brief to the Onley AODA Independent Review.

It makes no sense for the Ford Government to announce only one new action on the accessibility front, and for it not to be any of the priority actions that that the Onley Report recommended. The Ford Government indicated last fall that it was awaiting the Onley Report before deciding on what to do in the area of accessibility for people with disabilities. In his December 20, 2018 letter to the chair of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, Accessibility Minister Cho wrote:

“In this regard, we will be waiting to review Mr. Onley’s report before considering the best path forward to further improving accessibility in Ontario.”

We commend the Onley Report for not recommending that public money be spent in that area. Mr. Onley clearly knew about this issue from our brief and from his prior activities in the accessibility field. He declared that the built environment should be a priority area for new action. Moreover, he offered other specific recommendations to address barriers in the built environment – recommendations that the Ford government has not yet agreed to take.

More broadly, the Onley Report also made a number of important recommendations for new Government action on accessibility beyond the built environment. With one exception addressed below (that is not relevant here), the Government has not yet announced any action on any of them, even though it has had the Onley Report for some 106 days.

Moreover, last July, long before the Onley Report was submitted, we called on the Ford Government to take a number of the priority actions that the Onley Report was later to recommend. See the AODA Alliance’s July 17, 2018 letter to Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho and our July 19, 2018 letter to premier Doug Ford. Publicly funding a private accessibility certification process is not a substitute for, or better than, Government action on any of those important priorities.

Over the past eleven months, the only new action which the Ford Government has announced on accessibility and that is recommended in the Onley Report has been to belatedly lift the Government’s unwarranted and harmful 9-month freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees that were previously developing recommendations for what to include in new accessibility standards in the areas of health care and education. Yet it was the Ford Government that let that freeze run for nine months.

Investing public funds in implementing key recommendations in the Onley Report is far more important to progress on accessibility for people with disabilities than publicly subsidizing a private accessibility certification process.

2. Excerpt from Chapter 4 of the AODA Alliance’s January 15, 2019 Brief to the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s Implementation and Enforcement, Entitled “The Need for New Accessibility Standards, Including a Strong and Comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard”

d) The Ontario Government Should Not Invest Public Funds in or Support any Private Accessibility Certification Process in Ontario

Several years ago, the former Ontario Government toyed with the idea of supporting the establishment of a private accessibility certification process in Ontario. It evidently spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a private consulting firm, Deloitt, to explore this. Eventually, after Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid was shuffled out of the AODA portfolio in June 2016, this idea was in effect dropped. We opposed the idea of a private accessibility certification process and opposed the Government investing any public money in it. We urge this AODA Independent Review not to re-open that topic, and not to recommend a private accessibility certification process.

The February 1, 2016 AODA Alliance Update set out this backgrounder on this issue, including a summary of the AODA Alliance’s submission to the Deloitt consulting firm. It said:

“Back on November 16, 2015, the Wynne Government launched a public consultation on its proposal that the Government create a private process for an as-yet-unnamed private organization to provide a private, voluntary accessibility certification of the obligated organization. The Government’s November 16, 2015 email, news release and web posting on this were thin on details.

The Government did not have its own Accessibility Directorate conduct this consultation. Instead, at public expense, the Wynne Government hired the private Deloitte firm to consult the public.

Last fall, we moved as fast as possible to prepare and circulate a draft submission to Deloitte. It was emailed and posted on the web for public comment on November 25, 2015. We have repeatedly sent out invitations for input on it via Twitter and Facebook.

Last fall, we promptly shared our draft submission with Deloitte and with senior Government officials. On December 5, 2015, we wrote Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid to ask for important specifics on the Deloitte consultation. The Government has not answered that letter.

  1. Summary of the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 Submission to the Deloitte Company

This submission’s feedback on the idea of the Ontario Government financing the creation of a private accessibility certification process is summarized as follows:

  1. It is important to probe beyond any superficial attractiveness that some might think a private accessibility certification process has.
  1. It is important for the Government to first decide whether it will adopt a private accessibility certification process, before public money and the public’s effort are invested in deciding on the details of how such a process would work. Several serious concerns set out in this submission are fatal to any such proposal, however its details are designed.
  1. Instead of diverting limited public and private resources, effort and time into a problematic private accessibility certification process, the Government should instead increase efforts at creating all the AODA accessibility standards needed to ensure full accessibility by 2025 and keeping its unkept promise to effectively enforce the AODA. A private accessibility certification process is no substitute for needed accessibility standards that show obligated organizations what they need to do, and a full and comprehensive AODA audit or inspection, conducted by a director or inspector duly authorized under the AODA.
  1. The Government cannot claim that it has deployed the AODA’s compliance/enforcement powers to the fullest and gotten from the AODA all it can in terms of increasing accessibility among obligated organizations. The Government has invested far too little in AODA enforcement.
  1. The entire idea of a private organization certifying an obligated organization as “accessible” is fraught with inescapable problems. Obligated organizations will ultimately realize that a so-called “accessibility certification” through a private accessibility certification process is practically useless. It does not mean that their organization is in fact accessible. It cannot give that obligated organization any defence if an AODA inspection or audit reveals that the organization is not in compliance with an AODA accessibility standard, or if the organization is subject to a human rights complaint before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. An obligated organization cannot excuse itself from a violation of the AODA, the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Charter of Rights by arguing that thanks to its private accessibility certification, it thought it was obeying the law.
  1. A private accessibility certification could mislead people with disabilities into thinking an organization is fully accessible in a situation where that organization is not in fact fully accessible.
  1. Obligated organizations that have spent their money on a private accessibility certification will understandably become angry or frustrated when they find that this certification does not excuse unlawful conduct. They will understandably share these feelings with their business associates. Ontarians with disabilities don’t need the Government launching a new process that will risk generating such backlash.
  1. A private accessibility certification could have a very limited shelf-life. When the Government enacts a new accessibility standard (as it has promised to do in the area of health care), or revises an existing one, (as the Government is required to consider every five years in the case of existing AODA accessibility standards), that certification would have to be reviewed once new accessibility requirements come into effect.
  1. The Government’s idea that a private accessibility certification process would be self-financing creates additional serious problems.
      1. Any private certification process raises serious concerns about public accountability. As such, the public will not be able to find out how it is operating, beyond any selective information that the Government or the private certifier decides to make public. Without full access to the activities and records of a private certifier, the public cannot effectively assess how this private accessibility certification process is working, and whether it is helping or hurting the accessibility cause…”



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Come to the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall – and – Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls on Ford Government to Swiftly Implement the Onley Report


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

Come to the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall – and – Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls on Ford Government to Swiftly Implement the Onley Report

March 13, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. Come to Queen’s park on April 10, 2019!

Here is a great chance to have your say and to show your support for action to achieve n accessible Ontario. We encourage one and all to come to Queen’s Park on April 10, 2019 to attend an Accessibility Town Hall that is being hosted by Ottawa Centre NDP MPP Joel Harden. Below we set out Mr. Harden’s announcement of this event. It includes a link for you to RSVP if you are going to attend.

We are honoured that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky will be speaking at this event. This is your chance to share information about the disability barriers you face and the actions that you need the Government to take.

The AODA Alliance is strictly non-partisan. We are open to take part in similar events, organized by any of the political parties. We encourage all the parties in the legislature to organize similar events.

2. A Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls for Swift Government Action to Implement the Onley Report on the Disabilities Act’s Implementation and Enforcement

Here’s another great development in the long road to a constitutional Ontario for people with disabilities. A strong editorial in the March 13, 2019 Toronto Star, set out below, endorses the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. This is the fourteenth time a newspaper editorial has backed our cause since our predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, was formed in the late fall of 1994.

That editorial, the Onley report itself, and the AODA Alliance’s March 8, 2019 news release on the Onley report, together are a great starting point for the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Town Hall on accessibility in Ontario. We encourage you to widely circulate both that editorial and the announcement of the April 10, 2019 Town Hall that are included below in this Update.

In our March 11, 2019 letter to Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho, the AODA Alliance called on the Ford Government to act now on the Onley report’s findings and recommendations. We don’t want the Government to now drag its feet with months of study and pondering before it acts. It took the Ford Government fully nine months to lift its unnecessary freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees that are developing recommendations for new accessibility standards in the important areas of education and health care. We don’t want that kind of delay repeated here.

          MORE DETAILS

Text of MPP Joel Harden’s Announcement of the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall

March 11, 2019

Friends,

I’ve had the pleasure to act as Critic for Accessibility & People with Disabilities; Seniors’ Affairs; Pensions in the Ontario Legislature, and in that time I’ve met with many folks in the disability rights community. I have had a lot to learn, and greatly benefited from conversations with passionate leaders.

Time and again, I’ve heard that we are not prepared to meet Ontario’s obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), most notably that Ontario be a fully accessible province by the year 2025. This message was powerfully reinforced recently by the Honourable David C. Onley’s Report on the Third Review of the AODA.

Ontario needs a plan of action on accessibility, and it’s time to open up the Ontario Legislature to hear from those directly impacted by failing to meet AODA targets.

And so, with that in mind, I write to invite you to an Accessibility Town Hall at the Ontario Legislature on April 10, 2019. Following Question Period, a lunch will be hosted in Room 351, followed by three hours of open presentations to listen to your perspectives.

I am pleased that David Lepofsky (Chair, AODA Alliance) and Sarah Jama (Disability Justice Network of Ontario) will be on hand to offer brief remarks prior to these open hearings. All necessary accommodations will be available to ensure you can participate.

Please join us! Ontario needs your ideas, expertise, and passion to ensure this province is accessible to all, where everyone can live their lives to the fullest.

RSVP here: http://www.joelharden.ca/accessibility_town_hall

My very best,

Joel Harden

MPP for Ottawa Centre

Official Opposition Critic for Accessibility & People with Disabilities; Seniors’ Affairs; Pensions

The Toronto Star March 13, 2019

Originally posted at: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/03/12/ford-government-must-fulfill-ontarios-promise-to-people-with-disabilities.html

Editorial

Time to clear the way

Accessibility review

Fourteen years ago, Ontarians with disabilities might have been hopeful that the barriers that prevent them from fully participating in daily activities,

from getting to work to eating in a restaurant, would be dismantled.

After all, the government of the day was ahead of its time when it passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act with the goal of making

the province fully accessible by 2025. But last week their disappointments were given heartfelt voice in a scathing review that concludes the province

is nowhere near accomplishing its goal.

Indeed, Ontario’s former lieutenant governor David Onley found that for “most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless,

dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

This is clearly unacceptable. The Ford government must quickly implement Onley’s 15 sensible recommendations, starting with his request that Premier Doug

Ford make accessibility a government-wide priority.

As it stands, 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities are receiving the message that “you don’t belong here,” says Onley, who himself uses a wheelchair.

That should be viewed as a violation of both human and civil rights.

In fact, it’s no different, Onley says, than “the signs of a bygone era in foreign countries telling people which water fountains they could or could not

use and which restaurants and buses they could or could not use.”

The bottom line, he says, is that investing in accessibility is both the right thing to do and also provides social and economic benefits for everyone,

including the province’s increasing numbers of seniors.

Among Onley’s common-sense recommendations:

Offer tax breaks and other financial incentives to improve accessibility in public and private buildings alike.

Ensure that architects are trained in inclusive design.

Redesign Ontario’s education curriculum to educate students about accessibility issues, starting in kindergarten.

Reform the way infrastructure projects are managed to ensure public money is never spent on actually creating barriers to accessibility.

Review accessibility standards in building code amendments for new construction projects and major renovations, as well as in provincial guidelines for

how public space is designed.

Onley’s review is not the first to point out the glacial pace of progress on accessibility reform in this province. It is the third. It’s time the government

listened and acted.



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