Ontario Marks National Access Awareness Week
McGuinty Government Breaking Down Barriers While Supporting Business
Ontario is celebrating National Access Awareness Week and marking the fifth anniversary of the province's groundbreaking Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.
The first standard to be implemented under the act - for accessible customer service - is already in place for the broader public sector. By January 1, 2012, Ontario businesses will also have to meet the standard.
The province is currently developing four more accessibility standards: for information and communications, employment, transportation, and the built environment. The first three of these standards will be integrated into a single regulation, making them more flexible for businesses. It also responds to a key recommendation in Charles Beer's review of the Act, which was released today.
People with disabilities regularly face barriers that prevent them from working, traveling in and enjoying their communities. Seniors also experience barriers to activities as part of the natural aging process. Ontario's accessibility standards will break down these barriers so that people of all ages and abilities can more easily live, work and travel throughout the province.
Making the province accessible by 2025 will help Ontario tap into the economic power of thousands of customers and visitors with disabilities and harness a larger, more diverse labour pool. It supports the Open Ontario Plan to create new opportunities for jobs and growth.
- These standards could help Ontario become a destination choice for tourists with disabilities, which would generate $1.5 billion in new spending and grow the tourism sector between two and seven per cent.
- Canadians with disabilities spend $25 billion every year and influence the spending decisions of 12 to 15 million other consumers.
- More than 1.85 million Ontarians have a disability and this number is quickly rising as the population ages.
- By 2017, for the first time, Ontarians aged 65 and over will account for a larger share of the population than children aged 0-14.
“The progress that we are making under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is transforming Ontario into a world leader in accessibility. As we kick-off National Access Awareness Week 2010, that is something that we should all be proud of.”
“Ontario's accessibility legislation is an ambitious social policy that should serve to bring equality to all. Consistent and pragmatic rules and timelines will help businesses understand and meet their obligations to remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities.”