ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

Watch Captioned Videos of Last Fall’s Queen’s Park Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Ontario’s Grassroots Campaign for Strong Accessibility Legislation

and

AODA Alliance Presses the Wynne Government for Current, Detailed Information on Its Enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

January 22, 2015

Summary

1. If You Couldn’t Attend the November 28, 2014 Queen’s Park Celebration of Our Accessibility Campaign’s 20th Anniversary, You Can Now Enjoy Captioned Videos of it On YouTube

On Friday, November 28, 2014, the AODA Alliance hosted a very successful celebration at Queen’s Park of the 20th anniversary of Ontario’s grassroots campaign for strong and effective disability accessibility legislation. We now have available to you on YouTube, fully captioned videos of our one hour formal event and the news conference we held right afterwards at Queen’s Park. Together these videos provide you with a lively retrospective of our two decades of advocacy from 1994 to the present. Learn how our campaign got started, and how it maintained its tenacity for so many years. You can enjoy remarks from several of the public figures at Queen’s Park and in the media who have played important roles over these two decades.

We thank the Ontario College of Art and Design University’s Inclusive Design Institute for recording the event. We thank the Canadian Hearing Society for providing ASL and captioning. We thank Inclusive Media for putting these videos together, posting them, and ensuring proper captioning.

To watch the captioned 1 hour video of the November 28, 2014 formal event, celebrating our 20th anniversary.

To watch the 30 minute news conference that the AODA Alliance held at the Queen’s Park Media Studioright afterwards on the same morning.

To read more on the background of the 20th anniversary of Ontario’s grassroots campaign for strong accessibility legislation.

2. Here We Go Again –Trying to Get Information from the Government on the AODA’s Enforcement

For more than a decade, the Ontario Liberals have promised effective enforcement of Ontario’s disability accessibility legislation. We’re trying to find out current information on what the Government is doing about that promise.

Over a year ago, back on November 18, 2013, we revealed that the Government was not effectively enforcing the AODA, despite its knowing of rampant violations in the private sector. Further information from the Government last December did not make this picture any brighter.

In the 2014 election, premier Wynne promised to make public a detailed plan for the Government’s Enforcement of the AODA. Yet all it posted last fall was a short, non-detailed report that said little new. It did not ensure the AODA’s effective enforcement.

Therefore, on January 21, 2015, the AODA Alliance again wrote Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid. Its letter, set out below, asks for detailed current information on the AODA’s enforcement. This is information which the Government should have available at the push of a button.

When we first asked for this kind of enforcement information two years ago today, on January 22, 2013, the Government refused for seven months to respond. In august 2013, AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky had to resort to a Freedom of Information application. The Government initially tried charging Mr. Lepofsky a hefty fee for this. After the Government was slammed in the Legislature and in a Toronto Star editorial over this, the Government backed down, waived the fee and turned over the requested information.

In May 2014, the AODA Alliance asked the Government for an update on that information. The Government took a full seven months to answer.

Now we are trying again for more current information. We hope the Government will answer our inquiry more quickly. Below is the text of the AODA Alliance’s January 21, 2015 letter to Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid. It seeks information on how many organizations are complying with the AODA’s requirement to file an AODA Accessibility Report, and what the Government is doing about it.  

Premier Wynne has committed to make the Ontario Government the most open and transparent government in Canada. Our inquiry gives her Government a chance to act on that pledge.

To read the AODA Alliance’s January 22, 2013 letter to Community and Social Services Minister John Milloy, seeking information on the Government’s enforcement of the AODA.

To read the AODA Alliance’s May 2, 2014 letter to former Economic Development Minister Eric Hoskins (which Minister Duguid’s December 8, 2014 letter is said to answer).

The Ontario Liberal Government's 2014 disability accessibility election pledges are set out in Premier Wynne's May 14, 2014 letter to us.

To read Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid’s December 8, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance.

3. What Does the Accessibility Clock Have to Say as this New Year Gets Underway?

As the new year got underway, the Accessibility Clock ticked on. The Government has only nine years and 344 days left to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities, as the AODA requires.

A disturbing 430 days have now passed since we revealed that the Ontario Government was not enforcing the AODA, and that there have been rampant AODA violations in the private sector. The Government still has not made public its promised detailed plan for the AODA's effective enforcement. The Government’s November 7, 2014 web posting on AODA enforcement includes little new. It does not constitute the promised detail AODA enforcement plan.

Three hundred and thirty-six days have passed since the Toronto Star reported on February 20, 2014 that the Government would be publicly posting that new enforcement plan "in short order." Two hundred and fifty-one days have passed since Premier Wynne promised to establish a toll-free line for members of the public to alert the Government to accessibility barriers against people with disabilities in the community. None has been announced.

To read our November 18, 2013 revelation that the Government was failing to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act despite knowing of rampant private sector violations, and funds on hand for enforcement.

To read the Government's February 20, 2014 pledge to publish in "short order" its plan for enforcing the Disabilities Act.

To read the Government’s May 14, 2014 election promise to establish a toll-free line to report disability accessibility barriers.

To read our analysis of the Government’s paltry November 7, 2014 web posting on the AODA’s enforcement.

As well, 512 days have passed since the Government unveiled its plans for the legacy of the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games. Yet it has still not released details and specifics of a comprehensive disability accessibility legacy for the Games. Only 169 days remain until the 2015 Games begin. Time is running out!

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MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance’s January 21, 2015 Letter to Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance
www.aodaalliance.org

January 21, 2015

Via email: brad.duguid@ontario.ca

Hon. Brad Duguid,
Minister of Economic Development, Employment & Infrastructure
Hearst Block
900 Bay St, 8th Floor
Toronto ON M7A 2E1

Dear Minister,

Re: Ensuring Ontario Becomes fully Accessible to Ontarians with Disabilities by 2025

Thank you very much for your December 8, 2014 letter on the Government’s enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We are eager to obtain more information on this important topic. All the information we seek should be easily and quickly available to you from your Ministry’s officials.

1.         You have announced that last fall, you received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act conducted by Mayo Moran. On December 3, 2014, to mark the International Day for People with Disabilities, you committed in the Legislature:

“I look forward to reviewing her recommendations and tabling them in this Legislature at the earliest opportunity.”

We understand that the Legislature resumes sitting on February 17, 2015. Will you table the Moran Report in the Legislature and make it public that day? From today, that is the “earliest opportunity.” If not, when will you table it in the Legislature and make it public? We ask to receive advance notice of this, so that the disability community can be ready to receive and review that important report.

2.         On May 16, 2014, Premier Wynne made a written election promise to establish and publicize a toll-free phone number for the public to report AODA violations. When will this phone number be established and announced? What steps have been taken to date to establish it?

3.         What is the budget that was appropriated for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario for the fiscal year 2014-15? How much of has the Directorate spent as of the time of your response to this letter?

4.         By December 31, 2012, private sector organizations in Ontario with at least 20 employees were required to file a first AODA Accessibility Report with the Government under s. 14 of the AODA.

a) What is the total number of private sector organizations in Ontario with 20 or more employees that were required to file a first AODA Accessibility Report under section 14 of the AODA by December 31, 2012? If the Government does not have an exact number, then what estimates does the Government have or use?

b) As of November 1, 2014, how many private sector organizations, which were required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012, had still not filed the required AODA Accessibility Report? What percentage of the total number of private sector organizations which had been required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012 had not filed one?

c) As of the date of this letter, how many private sector organizations that were required to file a first AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012 had not filed that AODA Accessibility Report? What percentage of the total number of private sector organizations which had been required to file a first AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012 had not filed one? 

5.         We understand that public sector organizations were all required to file a first AODA Accessibility Report by December 2010. All public sector organizations were also required to file an AODA accessibility report by December 31, 2013.

a) How many public sector organizations were required to file accessibility reports under section 14 of the AODA as of December 31, 2013?

b) How many public sector organizations filed an accessibility report, required by December 31, 2013, by that deadline?

c) If all public sector organizations had not filed their required AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2013, by when had all of those organizations filed them? If all have still not filed them as of the date of this letter, how many have not filed them?

6.         By December 31, 2014, all private sector organizations in Ontario with at least 20 employees were required to file with the Government a second AODA Accessibility Report.

a) How many private sector organizations in Ontario were required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014? If the Ministry does not have a precise number, what number does the Government use for planning or policy purposes?

b) As of December 31, 2014, how many private sector organizations, which were required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014, had not filed the required AODA Accessibility Report? What percentage of the total number of private sector organizations which had been required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014 had not filed one?

c) As of the date of this letter, how many private sector organizations that were required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014 had not filed that AODA Accessibility Report? What percentage of the total number of private sector organizations which had been required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014 had not filed one? 

d) How many private sector organizations that were required to file a first AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012 and a second AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014 have not filed either required report as of December 31, 2014? And as of the date of this letter? In addition to statistics sought below regarding enforcement, what steps has the Government taken to deploy its enforcement powers under the AODA in relation to private sector organizations that have failed to file both a first AODA Accessibility Report and a second AODA Accessibility Report?

7.         How many public sector organizations have been audited for compliance with the AODA or accessibility standards enacted under it, broken down by year?

8.         How many public sector organizations have been the subject of an inspection of their premises for compliance with the AODA and any accessibility standards enacted under it, by an inspector, appointed under s. 18 of the AODA, pursuant to s. 19 of the AODA, broken down by year?

9.         How many private sector organizations have been audited for compliance with the AODA or accessibility standards enacted under it, broken down by year?

10.       How many private sector organizations have been the subject of an on-site inspection of their premises for compliance with the AODA and any accessibility standards enacted under it, by an inspector, appointed under s. 18 of the AODA, pursuant to s. 19 of the AODA, broken down by year?

11.       In how many cases per year since 2010 has any official of the Ontario Government or any official acting on its behalf, issued a compliance order under the AODA on a public sector organization for non-compliance with any provision of the AODA or accessibility standards enacted under it? Please break down this information by year.

12.       In how many cases per year since 2010 has any official of the Ontario Government or any official acting on its behalf, issued a compliance order under the AODA on a private sector organization for non-compliance with any provision of the AODA or accessibility standards enacted under it? Please break down this information by year, and by AODA requirement with which there was a lack of compliance.

13.       In how many cases per year since 2010 has any official of the Ontario Government or any official acting on its behalf, imposed a monetary penalty under the AODA on a public sector organization for non-compliance with any provision of the AODA or accessibility standards enacted under it? Please break down this information by year, by AODA requirement that was not complied with, and amounts of penalties.

14.       In how many cases per year since 2010 has any official of the Ontario Government or any official acting on its behalf, imposed a monetary penalty under the AODA on a private sector organization for non-compliance with any provision of the AODA or accessibility standards enacted under it? Please break down this information by year, by AODA requirement not complied with,  and amount of penalties.

15.       How many AODA compliance orders or monetary penalties have been appealed to the License Appeal Tribunal? Broken down by year and whether they were public sector or private sector organizations.

16.       How many AODA appeals have been decided by the License Appeal Tribunal, and with what results? Please provide copies of or links to all decisions. 

17.       How many times per year, commencing in 2010, has an administrative penalty order been filed with a local registrar of the Superior Court of Justice under s. 23 of the AODA.

18.       How many AODA compliance orders, monetary penalties or other enforcement efforts have been appealed to court? Please provide specifics of any such case or links to any decisions. How many such appeals or court proceedings now pending?

19.       In her May 14, 2014 letter to us, written  during the 2014 election, Premier Wynne committed:

"The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment – as the government’s lead for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario – has created a new position in its Ministry, a Director of Accessibility Integration and Planning, to work within the Ministry to ensure that accessibility is integrated into all business practices."

Last month, in Premier Wynne’s December 23, 2014 letter to us, she wrote:

“As referenced in your letter, the ministry has also worked to incorporate accessibility into all of its economic development and employment strategies, programs and initiatives. In support of this, a Director of Accessibility Integration and Planning position was created within the deputy minister’s office. A key outcome of this work is the integration of accessibility criteria into our Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy, and investment funding programs, services and supports.”

We understood that the Economic Development Ministry’s “Director of Accessibility Integration and Planning” position to which the Premier refers was only a temporary position, which terminated some weeks or months ago. Does that position still exist in your Ministry, as the Premier described it? If so, who currently fills that position? How long has that person been in that position? Is it a full time or part time position?

20.       In her May 16, 2014 letter to us, setting out the Government’s 2014 accessibility election pledges, the Premier stated:

“With respect to additional enforcement activities, we commit to investigating the possibility of having government inspectors and investigators enforce the AODA within the context of existing resources and as training capacity exists.”

Please let us know what pilot project has been conducted to date on this, with what Ministry or Ministries, and over what period.

a) How many inspectors or investigators in other ministries were given authority to engage in enforcement activity under the AODA?

b) How many public sector organizations were the subject of any audit or inspections as part of this program?

c) How many private sector organizations were the subject of any audit or inspections as part of this program?
 
d) How many AODA compliance orders were issued as a result of this program, broken down by public sector or private sector organization?

e) How many monetary penalties were issued as a result of this program, broken down by public sector or private sector organization?

f) What specific plans does your Ministry have to continue or expand using inspectors or investigators at other ministries to take part in enforcement of the AODA?

It may be that parts of the statistical information requested here have been provided in the past. Nevertheless, we would appreciate if all of the foregoing could be included in your response, to make it easy for Ontario’s disability community to see the whole picture on enforcement as it unfolded.

We would very much appreciate a prompt reply to these requests. If there is a delay of longer than two weeks in answering this request, we would ask that where possible, you also include statistics requested that are current to the date of your response, or as close to that date as is practicable. We would welcome your answers as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O.Ont.
Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc:       
Premier Kathleen Wynne, email premier@ontario.ca    
Giles Gherson, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, email Giles.gherson@Ontario.ca
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, email ann.hoy@ontario.ca 
Steve Orsini, Secretary to Cabinet Email: Steve.orsini@ontario.ca