ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT MAKES PUBLIC NEW DRAFT REGULATION TO ADDRESS BARRIERS IN TRANSPORTATION, INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION AND EMPLOYMENT Ė WE HAVE 45 DAYS TO GIVE THE GOVERNMENT FEEDBACK

February 1, 2011

SUMMARY

Today the McGuinty Government posted for public comment a draft ďIntegrated Accessibility RegulationĒ (IARĒ). It aims to address barriers facing persons with disabilities in transportation, employment, information and communication.

We have 45 days to give the Government feedback on this draft regulation. After that, the Government will decide what its final regulation will include. This is the last phase in the process of making an accessibility standard that is an enforceable law.

We here:

We welcome your feedback as quickly as you can, so we can write a brief on this draft IAR. Send your feedback to us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

If you want to see the Governmentís announcement, including the text of the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation, visit the Governmentís website. The Government unfortunately leaves these documents on its website only temporarily. We will post them on our website on a permanent basis.

You can see the draft IAR in English: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/OntarioAccessibilityLaws/DevelopingStandards/IAR/introduction.aspx

and in French at: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/fr/mcss/programs/accessibility/OntarioAccessibilityLaws/DevelopingStandards/IAR/introduction.aspx

If you want us to email you the draft IAR in MS Word format, send a request to us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

MORE DETAILS

1. Where Are We Now and Whatís Next?

Today Ontario came an important step closer to enacting an enforceable regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to remove and prevent barriers that persons with disabilities face in the areas of transportation, information, communication and employment.

The Government has been working for over five years on developing an accessibility standard to cover this. The AODA requires the Government to make these standards and then to enforce them. If you want to see what we have said along the way over those five years, visit:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp

As the final stage in the process of making an accessibility standard, the Government must publicly post a draft of the proposed standard it plans to enact. It must then give the public 45 days to give feedback on the draft. After that, the Government can enact the standard, either as posted, or with final changes based on the publicís feedback. We hope the Government will take seriously the feedback the public gives on this draft IAR.

The AODA Alliance has tried to play a constructive role throughout these long years of consultations by getting feedback from the disability community and developing a platform to assist the Government. To do that again here, we need your feedback on this draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation. We also encourage you to directly tell the Government what you think about the proposed IAR.

Here is how we will evaluate this latest Government proposal: Back on September 2, 2010, the Government posted for public comment a plain language summary of what it intended to include in this standard. You can see that at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09152010.asp

Last fall, based on feedback from people like you, we prepared and submitted to the Government a very detailed brief on that proposal. We concluded that even though the Governmentís September 2, 2010 proposal contained some helpful ingredients, it was very weak and inadequate. We offered 79 constructive recommendations on how to fix it. You can see our brief at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/10082010.asp

Ours was certainly not the only voice calling for the Governmentís September 2, 2010 proposal to be substantially strengthened. We were delighted last fall at how many individuals and community organizations endorsed our October 8, 2010 brief. Moreover, the McGuinty Governmentís own human rights watchdog, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, slammed the Governmentís September 2, 2010 proposal as substantially too weak. You can see the Human Rights Commissionís critique at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/10192010.asp

We measure todayís new Government proposal against our October 8, 2010 brief and its 79 recommendations.

2. Highlights Of the Governmentís February 1, 2011 Draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation

Here is our very preliminary review. After a more thorough review, and after getting your feedback, this initial take on the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation may well be modified.

(a) General Observations

This draft IAR has been strengthened in a number of ways, compared to the very weak proposals the Government circulated for public comment on September 2, 2010. On the other hand, in many other important ways, it has not been improved, despite the feedback we and so many others gave the government last fall. Many of our 79 recommendations in our October 8, 2010 brief have not been implemented. However there are clearly instances where our advocacy efforts have paid off, at least to some extent.

(b) IARís General Provisions

There have been some distinct improvements in the draft IARís general provisions:

However, among the draft IARís general provisions have been some important areas where needed improvements were not made:

(c) IARís Provisions Regarding Accessible Information and Communication

There have been some improvements in the IARís provisions on accessible information and communication:

There are also important areas where needed improvements were not made in the draft IAR. For example:

(d) IARís Provisions on Accessible Employment

If the general accessibility plan provisions are clarified and strengthened, these could provide a significant improvement that would help in the employment context, as well as the transportation and information and communication areas. Otherwise, our initial review identified no significant improvements to the IARís employment accessibility requirements.

(e) IARís Provisions on Accessible Transportation

There are a few improvements in the IARís accessible transportation provisions:

However, the transportation provisions are otherwise very much the same as the substantially inadequate ones which the Government proposed on September 2, 2010. For example:

(f) Enforcement Provisions

The IARís provisions on enforcement of the AODA do not appear to adopt any of the recommendations we presented to the Government in our October 8, 2010 brief.

Let us know what you think! Write us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com