ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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PLEASE TELL THE MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT IF YOU ENDORSE THE AODA ALLIANCE'S FINALIZED BRIEF ON THE DRAFT INTEGRATED ACCESSIBILITY REGULATION

March 11, 2011

SUMMARY

Please contact the McGuinty Government to say if you or your organization endorses our just-released finalized brief on the Government's February 1, 2011 draft of the Integrated Accessibility Regulation that it proposes to enact under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Below we give you contact information on how to let the Government know what you think.

The Government has given the public until March 18, 2011 to give feedback. However, even if it is after that date, there is no harm in sharing your views with the Government.

We have just put the finishing touches on our brief to the Government. On March 11, 2011, we sent the Government our brief in its final form. You can download our brief in Microsoft Word format by clicking here: 
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp

The government's draft accessibility regulation, that our brief comments on, aims to address barriers facing people with disabilities in transportation, employment and in information and communication. You can find the Government's draft regulation on our website at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/02012011.asp

At the end of our brief is an Appendix that lists all the 145 amendments that we propose. In the end notes in our draft brief you will find the text of the sections of the regulation to which our proposed amendments relate.

We thank all of you who reviewed our March 3, 2011 draft brief and sent in your suggestions. Our final brief has four more recommendations than did our draft brief. We set the new or revised recommendations out below. The finalized brief also has some minor wording changes. Otherwise it is the same as the draft we circulated for public input on March 3, 2011. Because we added new recommendations, the numbering of recommendations in the final brief is slightly different from the numbering of the recommendations in the earlier draft brief.

We are delighted to have received encouraging support from the disability community on our proposed amendments. If we were not able to incorporate an idea that you had brought forward to us, given the crunch of time that we faced, we strongly urge you to send your ideas on directly to the Government.

MORE DETAILS

1.         How Do You Give the McGuinty Government Your Feedback?

It is easy to give your feedback on this to the Government. You can send an email that is just one sentence if you wish, i.e. saying if you endorse our brief. Of course, you can send more information than that, pointing out issues that are important to you, or adding ideas for improvements to the ones we have listed.

Write Premier McGuinty and Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur. You can write as an individual. If you are involved with a community organization, get it to write on behalf of that organization. If you are on a municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, please get your committee to write them as a group. Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees are created by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. They have expertise with the AODA from which the Ontario Government can benefit. If not, write the Government on your own behalf as a member of an accessibility advisory committee.

Here is how to reach the Premier and the Minister:

To reach Premier McGuinty, you cannot write to a public email address. You have to go to a website page and enter your email message there. Go to: http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/feedback

The Premier’s other contact information is:

Hon. Premier Dalton McGuinty
Room 281, Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1
Facsimile: (416) 325-9895
Voice phone: (416) 325-1941
 
To reach Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur:

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister
Community & Social Services
Hepburn Block
6th Floor, 80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1E9
Facsimile: (416) 325-3347
Email: mcssinfo@css.gov.on.ca
Voice phone (toll free): (888) 789-4199

2.         What's New in Our Finalized Brief?

We have four new or revised recommendations in our finalized brief, as compared to our earlier draft brief that we circulated for public comment. These are as follows:

A.        Regarding the Regulation's General Provisions

As compared with earlier proposals, the IAR commendably creates a new class of public sector organizations, namely those with 50 or more employees. There is a pressing need to also create a class of very large private sector organizations, those with over 200 employees.

Statistics Canada reports that as of December 2009, there are about 380,000 businesses in Ontario. The vast majority of them, 94.8 % (or about 360,000) have 1 to 49 employees. Of the remaining organizations, (50 or more employees) 1% (about 4,000 businesses) have over 200 employees.

When it comes to delivering accessibility of their workplaces, and of their goods, services and facilities, very large private sector organizations like IBM, Canadian Tire and the like, are not the same as a very modest organization with over 50 employees, such as a law firm with 20 lawyers and 30 support staff. To hold very large organizations to the longer time lines that might be justified for an organization of 50-199 employees would unjustifiably slow down efforts at accessibility of the very large organizations.

We therefore recommend that:

#4. Section 2 should be amended to add to the definition of “obligated organization” the term "very large organization," defined as a private sector organization with over 200 employees.

B.        Regarding The Regulation's Provisions on Website Accessibility

If despite our efforts, the Government insists on setting time lines and requirements that only require any organization (other than the Ontario Government) to meet WCAG Level A for some years, then we ask that the IAR's training requirements be amended so that organizations will train themselves on Level A and Level AA from the outset. This would reduce the costs of organizations having to re-train their staff on website accessibility twice.

We therefore recommend that:

#48. Section 14 should be amended to require any organization to train its relevant employees on WCAG Level AA requirements even if that organization is for a period of time only required to meet Level A.

C.        Regarding the Regulation's Provisions on Training of Staff of Public Transit Authorities on Accessibility

The proposed time lines for complying with this training requirement are too long. TTC was able to train all its bus drivers across Toronto on the need to announce all bus stops within a few short weeks of the Human Rights Tribunal ordering it to do so in Lepofsky v. TTC.

We therefore recommend that:

#79. Section 36(3) should be amended to provide:
"(3) Conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers shall meet the requirements of this section by July 1, 2012."

D.        Regarding the Regulations's Provisions on Who is Eligible for Para-Transit Services

Section 63 - Specialized Transportation Service Providers Categories of Eligibility

This provision sets out categories of eligibility for para-transit services. We are very concerned that one of those categories that it permits is "conditional eligibility." Section 63(2)(3) defines this as follows:

"3.        A person with a disability where environmental or physical barriers limit their ability to consistently use conventional transportation services shall be categorized as having conditional eligibility."

Section 63(3) gives a public transit provider sweeping discretion to pick and choose when a person may ride para-transit, and when he or she is forced to try to access the conventional transit system. Section 63(3) states: "(3) A specialized transportation service provider may deny requests for specialized transportation services to persons who are categorized as having temporary eligibility or conditional eligibility if the conventional transportation service is accessible to the person and the person has the ability to use it."

People with disabilities who are relegated to that class will never know day to day whether the transit authority will deem them eligible or not to use para-transit. People with disabilities require certainty, so they can organize their day.

We therefore recommend that:

#121. Section 63 be amended to delete the category of "conditional eligibility."