ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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Text of Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid’s December 8, 2014 Letter to the AODA Alliance

Note: Minister Duguid indicates that he is responding to the AODA Alliance’s May 2, 2014 letter to his predecessor, Economic Development Minister Eric Hoskins. To read the AODA Alliance’s May 2, 2014 letter to former Economic Development Minister Eric Hoskins.

Ministry of Economic Development,
Employment and Infrastructure

Office of the Minister

8th Floor, Hearst Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto ON  M7A 2E1
Telephone: 416-325-6900
Facsimile:   416-325-6918

December 8, 2014

Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter dated May 2, 2014 to my predecessor, The Honourable Dr. Eric Hoskins, seeking information about accessibility. I believe you will find responses to many of your questions in the letter you will be receiving from Premier Wynne. I am pleased to provide the following additional information in response to your inquiries.

With regard to your query on how our government will enforce standards and obligations under the AODA, I can confirm that the Accessibility Directorate enforces all requirements under the act and its standards as they come into effect. To date, compliance and enforcement activities have occurred after reporting deadlines.

Requirements of accessibility standards are being phased in between 2011 and 2021 based on organizational type (e.g. public, private, not-for-profit) and size (e.g. the Government of Ontario is required to comply before a small private business) in order to allow organizations time to plan and make accessibility improvements in stages.

Our government has been implementing the compliance and enforcement program since 2011, when we first began confirming compliance within the broader public sector. Since this time, the majority of the Directorate’s compliance activities have been focused on providing compliance assistance, supporting accessibility reporting, and assisting in making compliance improvements in both public and private sector organizations.

In 2013, the ministry began enforcement action on organizations that failed to report, and is following through on enforcement activities. This includes sending Director’s Orders with financial penalties, where warranted.

To date, the Directorate’s compliance model focuses on:

•           providing compliance assistance to organizations to help them comply with the act and its standards
•           providing direct support to help organizations with compliance if we find they are having difficulty meeting their obligations
•           utilizing enforcement tools, as a last resort, if organizations are either unwilling or un-cooperative in meeting their legislated obligations.

Our government is committed to ensuring all organizations comply with the standards set out in the AODA, and the ministry has been pursuing enforcement action against obligated organizations where warranted. Beginning in the fall of 2013, over 50,000 organizations that had not filed accessibility compliance reports were sent compliance letters.

Since November 2013, the ministry has issued more than 3,250 Notices of Proposed Order, which are mandatory to issue before sending a Director’s Order. Since November 2013, the ministry has also completed more than 2,000 audits.

Enforcement processes are ongoing. As of June 2014, the ministry had issued 332 Director’s Orders with administrative monetary penalties. We have resolved approximately 95 per cent of all cases.

With regard to your concerns about enforcing all accessibility requirements under the current accessibility standards, my ministry is committed to conducting compliance and enforcement activities under the act and its standards as they come into effect.

My ministry has conducted compliance activities with both the broader public sector and private sector organizations. For example, designated broader public sector organizations were required to submit their second accessibility compliance report in 2013 to demonstrate compliance with the requirements under both the Customer Service Standards and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). We will continue to conduct compliance activities (such as audits) on the broader public sector to confirm compliance with all applicable standards.

To date, the ministry has not begun to enforce requirements under the IASR across the private sector. Although private sector organizations may currently have requirements under the IASR, obligated private sector organizations are not required to report compliance with these standards until December 31, 2014. My ministry plans to systematically oversee and enforce the standards after the reporting deadline.

Addressing your inquiries about staffing under the act, currently four directors and two inspectors have been appointed. Of the two inspectors, one was appointed on a permanent basis and an additional inspector was appointed on a temporary basis.

Lastly, for 2013-2014, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario’s budget was $16.1 million, with actual expenditures being $13.7 million. The Directorate is an important part of my ministry and is actively helping us reach our goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025.

The AODA will help create inclusion for everyone in Ontario, regardless of their abilities, so that everyone can participate in their community. Our government knows that greater accessibility means greater opportunity for Ontario. My ministry is committed to continuing to support an accessible province where everyone has the opportunity to connect, contribute and achieve their goals.

Once again, thank you for writing, and please accept my best wishes.

Sincerely,

Original Signed By

Brad Duguid
Minister