ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

WHAT PLANS DOES THE MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT HAVE FOR KEEPING ITS 2011 ELECTION ACCESSIBILITY PROMISES? SEVEN CABINET MINISTERS REPLY TO OUR INQUIRIES BUT GIVE VERY FEW SPECIFICS

May 4, 2012

SUMMARY

In the 2007 Ontario election, Premier Dalton McGuinty wrote us to make a series of important election promises on the issue of disability accessibility. We found it frustrating at times over the next four years when we tried to get the Government to keep those promises. No single cabinet minister had lead responsibility for all accessibility issues across the Ontario Government. The Minister of Community and Social Services is responsible for implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, but is not responsible for ensuring that the Ontario Government itself uses all the tools it can to become accessible and promote accessibility across society.

In the 2011 Ontario election, Premier McGuinty again wrote us to make a series of new disability election promises, including a pledge to keep all prior promises to us. Early in the Government's new term after the recent October 2011 election, we wanted to take active steps to try to prevent this frustration from happening again. Therefore late last fall, with the election behind us, we wrote seven cabinet ministers to identify the Premier's disability accessibility election promises for which they are responsible. We asked each for their specific plans for keeping those promises.

IThis is all in addition to our ongoing dialogue with the Community and Social Services Minister. We wanted to get a head-start on these issues because the Government is clearly behind on achieving a fully accessible Ontario for all persons with disabilities by 2025 – the mandatory deadline that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets.

Below we set out the responses from each of the seven ministers whom we wrote. In a recent AODA Alliance Update, we incorrectly stated that only two of the ministers had responded. We have since learned that all did respond. However, for reasons we haven't been able to discover, five of those seven letters did not reach us. We have them all now. We certainly have no reason to doubt that they were sent to us, even though we have no record of earlier receiving them. We strive to ensure that our Updates are accurate and reliable.

Below, before we set out the seven letters we have received from these ministers we first give you a letter-by-letter analysis of what the seven ministers said to us, as compared to the questions we asked of each.

In summary, these ministers' letters to us identify a number of helpful initiatives that have been underway on accessibility. However, they give very little in the way of specifics on the Government's future plans for new action to keep Premier McGuinty's election promises. A number of our key inquiries, anchored to Premier McGuinty's specific election commitments to us, go unanswered.

Where there are direct answers in these letters on the issue of accessibility, the ministers tend to refer only to their obligations to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. They don't generally also refer to their typically higher and more immediate accessibility obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Typically, when a letter from the public comes into a minister's office, it can get routed to a ministry's communications branch to prepare a reply. Often, that results in a responding letter from the minister that simply aims to list and promote the Government's record on the issue which the member of the public addressed. In other words, it is more of a public relations exercise than a serious policy re-examination. We leave it to you to assess the letters from each minister to decide if that was the case here.

The 2010 Independent Review of the AODA's implementation, conducted by Charles Beer, concluded that the Government needed to revitalize its implementation of the AODA, to breathe new life into this activity, and to show new leadership in this area, if we are to reach full accessibility in Ontario by 2025. A review of these letters to the AODA Alliance shows more than ever that Mr. Beer was correct. His conclusions remain relevant to 2012. The Government is taking a number of commendable steps on accessibility, but needs to do much more. To help this happen, Premier McGuinty needs to designate one minister with lead responsibility for all Government activity on accessibility. That is what the Charles Beer Independent Review Report recommended two years ago.

It is ironic that when we recently asked for five of these letters to be provided to us in an accessible electronic format (such as an MS Word file), the Government was unable to promptly respond.

MORE DETAILS

Nine months ago, on August 19, 2011, the eve of the last Ontario election, Premier McGuinty wrote the AODA Alliance. At our request, he made detailed election commitments on issues concerning accessibility for people with disabilities. To see the Premier's August 19, 2011 election commitments on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

To see the letters we wrote to the seven cabinet ministers on December 3, 2011, listing specific needed actions on the Government's accessibility election commitments, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12052011.asp

Last fall, after the election, we also wrote the new Community and Social Services Minister, John Milloy, to list the priorities for his ministry on the accessibility agenda. You can see our November 1, 2011 letter to new Community and Social Services Minister John Milloy at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11012011.asp Since then, we have had a number of discussions with that Ministry.

1. Letter from the Minister of Government Services

On December 3, 2011, we wrote Government Services Minister Harinder S. Takhar to ask him for his specific plans to:

1. Restore the position in his ministry of full-time Assistant Deputy Minister of Government Services responsible for accessibility of the Ontario Public Service.

2. Promptly complete the government's review of all Ontario legislation and regulations for disability barriers, for which his ministry has lead responsibility, and which the Premier promised back in the 2007 election.

3. Ensure that the Ontario government only procures goods, services and facilities that are accessible or that will be made accessible.

4. Ensure that accessibility is taken into account in all major government decisions.

Key points about the Government Services Minister Takhar's January 18, 2012 reply to us include:

* He said the Ontario Government will ensure that it exceeds the requirements of the AODA standards, but does not specify to what extent it will do so.

* He said the Government has "embedded accessibility considerations at key stages in its decision-making processes."

* He said "…key procurement mechanisms, including vendor of record agreements, are incorporating accessibility requirements as they are renewed." This lacks much-needed detail. It doesn't say what "accessibility requirements" are being incorporated, or whether they live up to the full accessibility obligations of the Ontario Human Rights Code. It also falls short of our request in our December 3, 2011 letter to the minister for his ministry "to establish a strong, effective, monitored and enforced policy that ensures that the goods, services and facilities that the government procures are, to the extent possible, fully accessible to and fully useable by people with disabilities."

* His letter says nothing about how his ministry will work to implement the Premier's August 19, 2011 commitment to extend the accessibility requirements of the Government's Ten Year Infrastructure Plan to include the procurement of accessible information technology and electronic kiosks. His ministry plays a pivotal role in the Ontario Government's procurement of information technology for use by the Ontario Government. As is shown later in this update, the other ministry with a shared responsibility for keeping that promise, the Ministry of Infrastructure, also said nothing about steps it would take to ensure accessibility of information technology infrastructure in Ontario, in its reply to us.

* He committed on behalf of the Ontario Government "…to ensuring that no Ontario law creates accessibility barriers to people with disabilities." This is a very important and categorical commitment. He also said the Government "…committed to reviewing all of our legislation and regulations to identify and remove any such barriers."

* We had asked for the Government's delayed review of all Ontario legislation and regulations to be sped up. This is because we learned last year that the Government had internally set excessively long time lines.

At its April 4, 2011 training session for public servants who will conduct this review, a senior Ministry of Government Services official announced that each ministry was requested to complete a review of its own legislation by 2015, and a review of all regulations by 2020. These excessive deadlines are 8 and 13 years respectively from the Premier's 2007 promise to conduct this review. In contrast, in 1982 the Charter of Rights gave governments three years to review all legislation for all equality issues.

The Minister's letter merely states: "Timelines for this review will be established early in the new year, following joint meetings of my ministry and the Ministry of the Attorney General." Five months into this new year, we have still not heard of any new time lines.

* His letter says nothing about our proposal that the Government bring to the Legislature an omnibus bill in the Legislature within two years, to address barriers in legislation that have been found in Ontario legislation by then by this legislative review.

* We had told the Minister that we know the Government has a "disability lens" which ministries are supposed to use to ensure that accessibility is considered in major Government policies. We asked what strategies his ministry would be instituting to implement and monitir a strategy to ensure that all major government decisions are screened for accessibility implications. We voiced a concern that otherwise, the other ministries can do as much or as little as they wish.

In his letter, the minister repeated that the Government has a disability lens to take accessibility into account when making major policy decisions. However it was silent on our specific request for a process to monitor and ensure compliance with this.

* His letter says nothing about any plans to fulfil Premier McGuinty's August 19, 2011 election pledge to restore the Position of Full-time Assistant Deputy Minister of Government Services responsible for accessibility within the Ontario Government. The 2010 Charles Beer Independent Review of the AODA had declared that position to be "vital". Yet his ministry eliminated that full time position in the fall of 2001, and reduced it to a part time function combined with other duties. We have been trying for a year and a half to get it restored. You can learn more about our campaign to get the Ontario Government to restore the full time position of Assistant Deputy Minister of Government Services for Accessibility by visiting:

http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12012010.asp

2. Letter from the Minister of Infrastructure

Our December 3, 2011 letter to Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli asked him to:

1. Effectively Implement the Government's 2011 Ten Year Infrastructure Plan's new Disability Accessibility Requirements. Learn more about the Ontario Ten Year Infrastructure Plan's new accessibility requirements by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07042011.asp

2. Widely and prominently broadcast as soon as possible to the public, including to any organization that seeks Ontario infrastructure or procurement funds, that they must prove in their applications that they will ensure that public money isn't used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.

To be even more specific and clear, our letter to the minister asked him to:

1. Promptly establish detailed guidelines for infrastructure accessibility, beyond those set out in the current AODA accessibility standards. These should, e.g.

a) ensure that to be accessible, they must meet the Human Rights Code's accessibility requirements, and not just the more limited AODA accessibility standards.

(b) ensure that "where feasible" in this policy will be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Human Rights Code's undue hardship standard.

c) establish Ontario Public Service implementation procedures for monitoring and enforcing this requirement, so it is not simply left to each ministry to decide whether or how much or how little it will implement this commitment, in choosing among competing applicants for Government grants and contracts.

2. Widely and prominently broadcast as soon as possible to the public, including to any organization that seeks Ontario infrastructure or procurement funds, that they must prove in their applications that they will ensure that public money isn't used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.

3. Expanding Ten Year Infrastructure Disability Accessibility Requirements to Information Technology and Electronic Kiosks"

Key points about the Infrastructure Minister's February 27, 2012 response to us include:

* He committed that: "the government will require all entities seeking provincial infrastructure funding for new buildings or major expansions/renovations to demonstrate how the funding will prevent or remove barriers and improve the level of accessibility where feasible." This appears to repeat what was already included in the Government's announcement last year of its Ten Year Infrastructure Plan.

* He stated: "The Ministry of Infrastructure and Infrastructure Ontario are striving to be leaders in developing an accessible built environment and uses barrier-free guidelines that are above current legislative requirements. Where enhanced accessibility could be achieved, it is incorporated into the facility design in cooperation and agreement with the client ministry and project design team.

The barrier-free guidelines are used as the accessibility design criteria for a variety of building elements and improve access within the built environment. They serve as the minimum requirement for new construction (including Alternative Financing Procurement projects) and major retrofits at Ontario government facilities. These guidelines are applied where it is technically feasible." This appears to be a description of what they are already doing, not what new steps they plan to take to enhance this, as we had asked.

* He gave some examples of efforts to include accessibility measures in new capital projects, and referred to the provisions on transportation accessibility in the Integrated Accessibility Regulation that the Government enacted last year.

* He did not address important specifics that we asked about in our December 3, 2011 letter. He didn't announce any detailed specific plans to

1. Ensure that to be accessible, new capital projects must meet the Human Rights Code's accessibility requirements, and not just the more limited AODA accessibility standards.

2. Ensure that "where feasible" in this policy will be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Human Rights Code's undue hardship standard.

3. Establish Ontario Public Service implementation procedures for monitoring and enforcing this requirement, so it is not simply left to each ministry to decide whether or how much or how little it will implement this commitment, in choosing among competing applicants for Government grants and contracts.

4. Widely and prominently broadcast as soon as possible to the public, including to any organization that seeks Ontario infrastructure or procurement funds, that they must prove in their applications that they will ensure that public money isn't used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.

5. Announce any steps to expand Ten Year Infrastructure Disability Accessibility Requirements to Information Technology and Electronic Kiosks. As discussed earlier in this Update, the Minister of Government Services was similarly silent in response to our inquiries regarding their plans to implement this clear pledge by Premier McGuinty.

3. Letter from the Minister of Health

On December 3, 2011, we wrote Health Minister Deb Matthews, asking her to commit to:

1. Ensure that the new eHealth Information and Infrastructure for electronic health records (HER) is fully accessible to people with disabilities. This new system for electronic health records is a major Ontario Government initiative. If accessibility isn't built into this technology now, it will cost more to retrofit it later.

2. Support our proposal that the Government develop a new accessibility standard to address barriers in our health care system.

Key points about Minister Matthews' February 14, 2012 response to us include:

* In response to our request that the Minister ensure that the new electronic health records system for Ontario is fully accessible to persons with disabilities, she stated: "In building the EHR, we'll ensure compliance with the AODA and associated regulations so the EHR is fully accessible for all users across the system, from health care providers to patients." She does not say what steps the Ministry is taking to achieve this. She does not indicate whether the E-Health system will go beyond the requirements of the AODA standards and meet the more immediate requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code. She doesn't specify whether her ministry will aim to act more promptly than the excessive time lines for accessible information technology set out in the Integrated Accessibility Regulation to which she refers.

*She did not respond to our request that she support our call for the Government to develop a new accessibility standard under the AODA to address barriers to health care./p>

4. Letter from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

On December 3, 2011, we wrote Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Kathleen Wynne. We asked her to commit to:

1. Expedite enactment of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard

2. Implement effective measures to ensure accessibility of municipal elections to voters and candidates with disabilities

3. Show leadership by effectively advocating to the municipal sector on achieving accessibility

Key points concerning the Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister's January 17, 2012 response to us include:

* In response to our request that the Minister expedite finalization of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard, to keep the Premier's August 19, 2011 election pledge that it would be enacted promptly, the Minister only said that when her ministry finishes its research on this standard, the Government will decide what to include in that standard. She provides no time frame.

Her letter notes that in some other jurisdictions, it has taken up to ten years to develop a standard in this area. We note that her ministry has certainly not been starting from scratch. It has had ongoing responsibility for many years for the Ontario Building Code, including its disability accessibility provisions.

* To explain what her Ministry plans to do to keep the Premier's August 19, 2011 election commitment to work on improving accessibility of municipal elections, the Minister said: "At this time, this ministry continues to monitor comments received by the public and will take them into consideration." She indicated no specific plans whatsoever for any action on this issue, or time frame for action.

She refers to the fact that local governments are responsible for operating their own local elections. However, the Ontario Government has oversight over the entire process and can pass legislation to set mandatory accessibility requirements.

* In response to our request that she show leadership by effectively advocating to the municipal sector on achieving accessibility, she said: "Municipalities have been strong supporters for achieving accessibility within their communities." We note that while some municipalities have been very supportive on accessibility, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Ontario Public Transit Association (OPTA) were likely the most vocal among the few opponents to strong accessibility standards last year. For more on the opposition to strong accessibility standards by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Public Transit Association, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/04052011.asp

The Minister also stated: "Our government will continue to engage the municipal sector through policy discussions and initiatives, such as the EnAbling Change Partnership Program. Such initiatives build awareness and support effective implementation of the standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005." This appears to say they will continue doing what the ministry has been doing up to now.

5. Letter from the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities

On December 3, 2011, we wrote Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Glen Murray. We asked him to

1. Advocate to self-governing professions to include disability accessibility training for their members

2. Voice support for our request that the government develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Key points concerning Minister Murray's February 15, 2012 response include:

* He states that his ministry "is committed to removing the barriers to postsecondary education across the province."

* We have been urging the government for four and a half years to keep Premier McGuinty's September 14, 2007 promise that his Government would encourage self-governing professions to include accessibility training in their professional training requirements. We could not get Minister Murray's predecessor to give a direct answer on what steps their Government was taking as of the summer of 2009 to keep this promise. To see our efforts three years ago to find out what had been done to keep these commitments regarding education on accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07212009.asp

To see the Government's largely non-responsive replies to that earlier inquiry, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11102009.asp

To see Premier McGuinty's September 14, 2007 election commitments to us on education on disability accessibility, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09142007.asp

* Minister Murray only referred to accessibility training requirements in the new Integrated Accessibility Regulation and said generally: "I can confirm that the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario is working with my ministry and a number of partners to further curriculum development, including encouraging the implementation of accessibility practices and education into curriculum, as well as into business practices." We received no specifics on whether this has involved any approaches to any self-governing professional bodies, such as those that govern lawyers, architects, doctors or social workers. The Minister gives no details on future plans in this area.

* He expresses no view on our proposal that the Government develop an accessibility standard to address barriers in education and training, including in school, and post-secondary education.

6. Letter from the Minister of Education

In our December 3, 2011 letter to her, we asked Education Minister Laurel Broten to:

1. Ensure school children receive education on disability accessibility. The Premier's hitherto unkept 2007 election promises on this issue are outlined at the links listed above regarding the letter from the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

2. Support the development by the Ontario Government of an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Key points concerning the Education Minister's March 2, 2012 response include:

* the Education Minister identified some positive efforts underway aimed at educating school children on accessibility issues.

* She took no position on our proposal that an Education Accessibility Standard should be enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

7. Letter from the Economic Development and Innovation Minister

On December 3, 2011, we wrote Economic Development and Innovation Minister Brad Duguid, asking him to commit to make disability accessibility a core part of the Government's Economic Development and Innovation Agenda. Minister Duguid's January 16, 2012 response to us does not answer or even mention this specific request. Rather, it talks in very general terms about the Government's commitment to comply with accessibility standards enacted under the AODA.

Send us your feedback. Write us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

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Ministry of Government Services
Office of the Minister
99 Wellesley Street West
Room 4320, Whitney Block
Toronto, ON M7A 1W3
Tel.: 416-327-2333
Fax: 416-327-3790

JAN 18 2012

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

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter of December 2, 2011, regarding accessibility in the province. As Minister of Government Services, I am pleased to respond. I also appreciate your kind words on my re-appointment as minister.

The Ontario Public Service (OPS) is proud to be a leader in the area of accessibility, both as an employer and as a service provider. We will be the first organization in Ontario to meet all of the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA), well ahead of the 2025 target. As such, we are setting a strong example and providing leadership to other organizations.

The government established the OPS Diversity Office within my ministry. This dedicated office plays a vital role in ensuring not only that the OPS is in compliance with AODA standards, but that it goes above and beyond compliance. The Chief Officer of Diversity and Accessibility reports directly to the Deputy Minister of Government Services. My ministry is responsible for ensuring that the OPS achieves its accessibility goals both as an employer and as a service provider. In partnership with our corporate services, the OPS Diversity Office has embedded accessibility considerations at key stages in its decision-making processes. As you know, the OPS Diversity Office has developed an award-winning Inclusion Lens to support policy and program review and development, as well as approval processes. l&IT decision frameworks have been updated to include accessibility requirements, while key procurement mechanisms, including vendor of record agreements, are incorporating accessibility requirements as they are renewed.

The government is also committed to ensuring that no Ontario law creates accessibility barriers to people with disabilities. As such, we have committed to reviewing all of our legislation and regulations to identify and remove any such barriers. In April 2011, all ministries participated in training for multidisciplinary teams on how to use the OPS Inclusion Lens to review laws for accessibility barriers. Ontario has over 750 acts and more than 1500 regulations. We recognize the desire to proceed promptly, and we are committed to conducting a review of all legislation. Currently, the OPS Diversity Office and the Ministry of the Attorney General are working together to support a co-ordinated approach to this legislative review. Timelines for this review will be established early in the new year, following joint meetings of my ministry and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Finally, I would like to thank you for participating in our Accessibility Expo on December 5, 2011, which was an important part of our observation of the International Day for People with Disabilities. The event provided us with a tremendous opportunity to reinforce the benefits of accessibility. I know that your comments struck a chord with the over 600 employees who attended in person or by webcast.

We look forward to continuing to work with you and our other stakeholders to make Ontario accessible.

Please accept my best wishes.

Sincerely,

Harinder S. Takhar

Minister

c: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
Hon. John Milloy, Minister of Community and Social Services
Bob Stark, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Government Services, Secretary of Management Board of Cabinet
Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community and Social Services
Shamira Madhany, Chief Officer, Diversity and Accessibility, OPS Diversity Office, MGS
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate, MCSS

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Ministry of Infrastructure
Ministry of Transportation
Office of the Minister
Ferguson Block, 3rd Floor
77 Wellesley St. West
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Z8
(416) 327 9200

www.ontario.ca/infrastructure
www.mto.gov.on.ca

FEB 27 2012

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

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance and for offering your congratulations on my reappointment as Minister of Infrastructure. I am pleased to respond to your concerns and apologize for the delay.

The Government of Ontario is committed to accessibility, opportunity and independence for persons with disabilities and has made significant progress towards an accessible and barrier-free province.

In my current role as the Minister of Infrastructure and the Minister of Transportation, I have the opportunity to manage infrastructure planning and priority setting for the province as well as create a balanced and effective transportation system that supports strong communities and offers a high quality of life for all Ontarians.

As you know, the government's 10-year infrastructure plan, Building Together, was released in June and contains a number of commitments to support the implementation of an accessible Ontario by 2025. For example, the government will require all entities seeking provincial infrastructure funding for new buildings or major expansions/renovations to demonstrate how the funding will prevent or remove barriers and improve the level of accessibility where feasible.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Infrastructure Ontario are striving to be leaders in developing an accessible built environment and uses barrier-free guidelines that are above current legislative requirements. Where enhanced accessibility could be achieved, it is incorporated into the facility design in cooperation and agreement with the client ministry and project design team.

The barrier-free guidelines are used as the accessibility design criteria for a variety of building elements and improve access within the built environment. They serve as the minimum requirement for new construction (including Alternative Financing Procurement projects) and major retrofits at Ontario government facilities. These guidelines are applied where it is technically feasible.

For example, the 222 Jarvis Street building in Toronto will allow the Ministry of Government Services to consolidate 13 offices into one location. This iconic building is currently being retrofitted and modernized into an accessible workplace. Some of the accessibility features will include exterior access ramps, power door operators on the accessible route of travel and tactile signage. The interior of the building will use colour and textural contrasting and all floors will have accessible washrooms. Within the workspace area, there will also be widened corridors and increased circulation room in common spaces. The building is anticipated to be completed by the end of December 2012.

Infrastructure Ontario and Waterfront Toronto are also working with Toronto 2015 to develop the section of the West Don Lands that will be home to the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games Athletes' Village. Locating the Athletes' Village in the West Don Lands will significantly increase the pace of transforming the area and will be a unique legacy of the Games. The Athletes' Village will be built based on Waterfront Toronto's vision for a green, modern and vibrant new community as outlined in its West Don Lands Precinct Plan and will include accessible, barrier-free, state-of-the-art facilities and amenities.

Work is also underway to improve accessibility in transportation services across the province. In 2011, our government enacted the Accessible Transportation Standard under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. It addresses ways to prevent and remove accessibility barriers to public transportation so that everyone, including people with disabilities, can travel more easily in Ontario. This Standard reflects a balanced approach and was shaped by the feedback our government received in consultation with both disability stakeholders as well as the transportation industry. This initiative, as well as others, demonstrates our government's ongoing commitment to achieving an accessible Ontario.

Accessibility benefits everyone. Accessible transportation services will assist people with disabilities in being able to live, work and participate in their communities. It will not only assist persons with disabilities living in Ontario, but also visitors, families with strollers, and seniors.

Integrated and accessible conventional transportation services will support inclusion and provide services in a manner that respects the dignity and independence of travellers with disabilities. Our government recognizes that all change takes time, and for this reason, transportation providers will require some time to make changes. However, the transit industry is already making progress toward accessibility and most new public transportation vehicles are already accessible to persons with a wide range of disabilities.

These are some of the many strides that have been made to date towards an accessible Ontario by 2025. Thank you again for writing and for the excellent work the AODA Alliance does to improve accessibility for all Ontarians.

Sincerely,

Bob Chiarelli
Minister

c: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Hon. John Milloy, Minister of Community and Social Services

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Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Office of the Minister
10e Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto ON M7A 2C4
Tel 416-327-4300
Fax 416-326-1571
www.health.gov.on.ca

FEB 14 2012

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

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter of December 2, 2011, regarding accessibility in the province. I also appreciate your kind words on my reappointment as Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. The Ontario Public Service (OPS) is proud to be a leader in accessibility, both as an employer and as a service provider. We'll be the first organization in Ontario to meet all the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, (AODA), well ahead of the 2025 target. We're setting a strong example and providing leadership to other organizations. As you may know, the government established the OPS Diversity Office in the Ministry of Government Services. This dedicated office plays a vital role in ensuring not only that the OPS is in compliance with AODA standards, but that it goes above and beyond compliance.

You may be pleased to know that my ministry works closely with the Diversity Office to ensure we're on the right track with key accessibility deliverables. In addition, key health care stakeholders, such as the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), the Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs, were represented on the Standards Development Communities for Information and Communication, Transportation and the Built Environment.

Health care stakeholders have also actively partnered with our government to deliver a variety of outreach and education activities supporting Ontario's accessibility legislation. For example, as recently as mid-December, the OHA hosted a provincial webcast about the newest requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.

You may also be interested to know that my ministry and eHealth Ontario have been working together on a variety of provincial eHealth initiatives to modernize our health care system through the use of information technology. The primary focus of these initiatives is the integration of the province's hospitals, laboratories, physician offices, pharmacies and other health care organizations, into a complete electronic health record (EHR) for all Ontarians by 2015. The EHR will allow patients and providers to share information more effectively, ultimately leading to improved, timely care and a more cost-effective health care system. In building the EHR, we'll ensure compliance with the AODA and associated regulations so the EHR is fully accessible for all users across the system, from health care providers to patients. Our government looks forward to contributing to work with you and our other stakeholders to make Ontario accessible.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write to me about this issue.

Sincerely,

Deb Matthews
Minister

c: The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier
The Honourable John Milloy, Minister, Ministry of Community and Social Services
Saki Rafi, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Bob Stark, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Government Services
Marg Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community and Social Services
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate, Ministry of Community and Social Services
Shamira Madhany, Chief Officer, Diversity and Accessibility, OPS Diversity Office

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LETTER FROM MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS AND HOUSING MINISTER KATHLEEN WYNNE

January 17, 2012

Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities
Act (AODA) Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto ON M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter regarding achieving a fully accessible Ontario for people with disabilities. I also thank you for your congratulations on my appointment as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

I appreciate the time that you have taken to share your concerns with me, and I look forward to working with you and your organization to support the government’s agenda on accessibility. I would like to address the issues you raised in your most recent letter, as outlined below.

Expediting Enactment of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard

I want to acknowledge the work done by the Accessible Built Environment Standards Development Committee, and the contribution of the AODA Alliance as members of the committee, for the development of its final proposed Accessible Built Environment Standard. As you know, the committee’s membership included people from the disability, municipal and business communities. All of them worked very hard to develop and submit their final proposed standard to the former Minster of Community and Social Services in July 2010.

It takes time to develop a standard of this complexity and magnitude. In other jurisdictions, it has taken up to 10 years to develop accessibility standards. The Accessible Built Environment Standards Development Committee also identified a number of areas where further research is required. Work is ongoing through analysis of the entire proposed standard by staff from this ministry as well as the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario at the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

New requirements will address both the internal built environment (buildings) and the external built environment (which includes parking spaces, signs and displays, and recreation areas such as parks and trails). Once this analysis is complete, our government will decide what requirements will be proposed as regulations and when they will come into force. Any requirements that the government moves forward on must be clear, consistent, enforceable, and must build on current accessibility standards.

2. Implementing Effective Measures to ensure Accessibility of Municipal Elections to Voters and Candidates with Disabilities

Let me turn to the matter of municipal elections as well as voters and candidates with disabilities. As you are aware, the administration of both municipal and school-board elections is a local responsibility. Municipal clerks are responsible for conducting the election, including addressing the needs of electors with disabilities within their communities.

Under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, municipalities can choose several different methods of voting. For example, a municipality can choose to have a traditional voting place as well as a range of other options to meet the needs and desires of the local electorate. Those options could include voting by mail, online voting, and voting using a telephone system – depending on the local circumstances.

Constituents interested in matters of electoral accessibility are encouraged to work with the local Accessibility Advisory Committee – if there is one within their community – or directly with the municipal administration to develop local solutions to meet local needs. At this time, this ministry continues to monitor comments received by the public and will take them into consideration.

3. Showing Leadership by Effectively Advocating to the Municipal Sector on Achieving

Accessibility

Municipalities have been strong supporters for achieving accessibility within their communities. I am proud of the many successes municipalities have achieved in removing barriers for persons with disabilities, as identified through annual accessibility plans under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001. Municipalities have also demonstrated their support and commitment to accessibility through their membership and participation in all of the standard development committees that were formed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

Our government will continue to engage the municipal sector through policy discussions and initiatives, such as the EnAbling Change Partnership Program. Such initiatives build awareness and support effective implementation of the standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

Once again, thank you for sharing your comments with me. I look forward to working with you and the AODA Alliance as we continue to build awareness for accessibility. Together we can make significant advances on our journey toward our shared goal of an accessible Ontario.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Wynne
Minister

c: The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
The Honourable John Milloy, Minister of Community and Social Services

*****

Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
Minister
Mowat Block
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1L2
Telephone (416) 326-1600
Facsimile (416) 326-1656

February 15, 2012

Dear Mr Lepofsky,

Thank you for your letter about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). I also appreciate your good wishes on my recent appointment as Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

I note your concerns about two key issues the AODA Alliance would like my ministry to address:

• encouraging self-governing professions to include disability accessibility training for their members; and,

• seeking support for the development of an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA.

Our government is making progress to ensure that the province is accessible by 2025. We have moved forward to implement accessibility standards in priority areas including customer service, information and communications, employment, and transportation. The province continues to work towards developing a standard for the built environment.

Key postsecondary education stakeholders were represented on each of the standards development committees, including the Council of Ontario Universities and Colleges Ontario. Through the EnAbling Change Partnership Program, the Ministry of Community and Social Services is working with the Council of Ontario Universities to develop resources for both colleges and universities to assist them to comply with the AODA and build an environment of accessibility and inclusion.

It is important to note that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities does not set the curriculum for postsecondary institutions and that regulatory colleges and professional associations set entry-to-practice requirements. However, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) includes requirements for training employees, volunteers, all those who participate in developing an organization's policies, and all others who provide goods or services on behalf of the organization. The training covers the requirements in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, as well as the Ontario Human Rights Code as it relates to people with disabilities.

I can confirm that the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario is working with my ministry and a number of partners to further curriculum development, including encouraging the implementation of accessibility practices and education into curriculum, as well as into business practices.

As for the development of additional standards under the AODA, our government is enacting the first five accessibility standards to establish a firm foundation for further progress on accessibility. Moreover, any decision to undertake the development of new standards is the responsibility of the Minister of Community and Social Services. Once the five standards are enacted, our government will work with Ontario's accessibility community and other partners to continue moving forward on accessibility in our province.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is committed to removing the barriers to postsecondary education across the province. I am confident that together we can achieve our common goal of a fully accessible Ontario.

Thank you for writing to share your concerns.

Sincerely,

c. The Honourable John Milloy
Minister of Community and Social Services

*****

Ministry of Education
Minister
Mowat Block
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1L2
Telephone 416 325-2600
Facsimile 416 325-2608

March 2, 2012

Mr. David Lepofsky Chair
AODA Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto ON M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky,

Thank you for your correspondence about measures for achieving a fully accessible Ontario for people with disabilities. The letter mentions ensuring that students in the school system receive curriculum on disability accessibility. This ministry continues to work on accessibility issues in the education setting.

I am pleased to inform you that further information has now been included in the introductory material of curriculum documents. For example, in the Grades 1-8, Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition (2010) document, there is a section entitled Planning the Use of Facilities and Equipment. Also, within this document you will see specific expectations, including teacher prompts that assist students in understanding accessibility. The document is available at www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health.html. In addition, as we revise other documents, there is a greater focus within the curriculum expectations for teachers and students to discuss information and supports relating to disability accessibility.

I note that you seek support for the development of an education accessibility standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). Development of these standards is the responsibility of the Minister of Community and Social Services. In 2011, the Premier committed to enacting the Accessible Built Environment Standard that will set a firm foundation for further progress on accessibility. Once enacted, our government will work with Ontario's accessibility community and other partners to continue moving forward on accessibility in our province.

The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) under the AODA includes requirements to increase accessibility for all Ontarians, including students in education settings.

There are some requirements within the (ASR that specifically pertain to the education sector. For example, education resources and information on programs must be provided in accessible formats to persons with disabilities upon request. IASR requirements began to take effect on July 1, 2011. Timelines for complying with the requirements are phased in over several years to give organizations time to integrate accessibility into their long-term business plans.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) is implementing a comprehensive, multi-year strategy to build accessibility awareness among Ontario's children, youth and young adults. The strategy is being enacted through a series of partnership projects involving education sector organizations and targeted stakeholder outreach. Through its EnAbling Change Partnership Program, MCSS has partnered with the Ontario Education Services Corporation to develop training resources that will support all school boards in their compliance with the IASR, and to create a curriculum promoting accessibility awareness among school children from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Thank you again for writing to share your comments.

Yours truly,

Laurel Broten

*****

Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation
Office of the Minister
8th Floor, Hearst Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto ON M7A 2E1
Telephone: (416) 325-6900
Facsimile: (416) 325-6918

JAN 16 2012

Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
(AODA Alliance)
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto ON M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter about accessibility for Ontarians

The Government of Ontario is committed to a barrier-free Ontario by 2025. Each year, our government sets a course to prevent, identify and remove barriers for persons with disabilities.

Every ministry participates through the development and public posting of its annual accessibility plans as required under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001. To view the current plans, please visit the website at:
www.ontario.ca/en/help/ONT05_024101.html?openNav=accessibility.

As you may be aware, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the Ministry of Research and Innovation were recently combined into a single ministry. Our future accessibility plans will reflect that integration as the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation. Subsequent to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 was enacted. The 2005 act focuses on the creation of regulations specific to customer service, transportation, information and communication, built environment, human resources/employment. To date two regulations have been filed: the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service 0. Reg. 429/97 and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, 0. Reg. 191/11.

The Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation continues to be compliant with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service 0. Reg. 429/97 since the compliance deadline of January 1, 2010.

The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, 0. Reg. 191/11 came into effect on July 1, 2011 and our government is working towards compliance by the various deadlines.

We look forward to working toward the achievement of a fully accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities.

Sincerely,

Brad Duguid,
Minister