Ontario Committed to Accessibility
Mayo Moran's comprehensive review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) provides valuable advice and important feedback that will serve as a guide to making Ontario accessible by 2025.
As part of the review, Provost Moran consulted with:
- accessibility stakeholders
- people with disabilities
- non-profit organizations
- the broader public sector
- members of the public.
She found overwhelming support for accessibility across all sectors. Provost Moran also identified areas where improvements can be made -- including helping businesses understand their accessibility requirements and finding ways to help them comply.
The province has already taken action on a number of items highlighted in the report. Over the coming months, these recommendations will also inform the development of a comprehensive plan for accessibility in Ontario.
Ontario's Accessibility Accomplishments to Date
Increasing Awareness about Accessibility
A public awareness campaign targeting small- and medium-sized businesses launched by the province last fall demonstrated the importance of educating businesses about accessibility and compliance with the AODA. That campaign helped increase end-of-year reporting rates from 16 per cent in December 2012 to 38 per cent in December 2014.
Exploring New Accessibility Standards
The government is also exploring how to remove barriers in individual sectors -- starting with the health sector -- by examining how current standards are being implemented and investigating gaps that may currently exist. This analysis will illuminate barriers that will be overcome through education, outreach and new standards.
Exploring Opportunities for People with Disabilities in the Workplace
The province has taken three important steps in championing the hiring of people with disabilities:
- The Honourable David C. Onley will work closely with Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure Brad Duguid to expand the government's partnerships with employers and other organizations and to help develop more innovative approaches to addressing common barriers to employment.
- The Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities, which includes representatives from business, advocacy groups, non-profits and the disability community, will provide strategic advice on enhancing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
- The province is launching a new pilot program with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to promote accessibility in the workplace.
Recognizing People who Promote Accessibility
In 2014 the government launched the annual David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility which will recognize four individuals and organizations who demonstrate leadership in accessibility and disability issues. The inaugural awards will be presented in June 2015 during National Access Awareness Week.
Working with the Ontario Human Rights Commission
The government works closely with and consults regularly with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to help private, non-profit and broader public sector organizations understand how the law and the human rights code work together to promote inclusion and accessibility in Ontario.
Accessibility at the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games
The 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games this summer will provide a significant opportunity for Ontario to showcase to the world our leadership in accessibility.
Ontario is working with public transit agencies, municipalities and TO2015 to make accessible transportation a priority for the games. The government is also working to ensure new buildings and renovated facilities used during the games meet the requirements of the AODA and Ontario's Building Code. TO2015 is providing accessibility training to more than 23,000 volunteers at the games so that people of all abilities can participate in, compete in and watch the games.
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act
The province is committed to continuous improvement with respect to the implementation of the AODA. As recommended by the Honourable Charles Beer in his first review, as well as by Provost Moran, the government is carefully considering how best to proceed with repealing the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001.
Accessibility in the Ontario Public Service
The government is committed to leading by example when it comes to accessibility, including taking a stronger approach to the employment of persons with disabilities in the public and private sectors, and making the Ontario Public Service as inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible as possible.
Helping Organizations Comply with the Law
In 2014, a compliance action plan was released outlining the province's compliance and enforcement activities with private, non-profit and broader public sector organizations across Ontario. A subsequent report back on results earlier this month showed the need to improve compliance through creative approaches that help maintain Ontario's position as the global leader in accessibility.
The government would like to reiterate its thanks to Provost Moran for her dedication to an inclusive review process that reached a diverse group of stakeholders from across the province. This review was completed at a critical point in the province's journey toward an accessible Ontario by 2025. As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the AODA, let us reflect on what we have accomplished so far -- and focus on all that we can achieve by building a more inclusive and fair province for all Ontarians.