ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
AODA Alliance Marks Tenth Anniversary of the Legislature’s Historic Unanimous Passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by Issuing a News Release and Official Statement Calling for the Government to Release a Detailed Plan to Ensure Ontario Reaches Full Accessibility by 2025
May 8, 2015
Two key dates approach. Each marks ten years since the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was passed. Sunday, May 10, 2015 marks ten years since the day when the Ontario Legislature finally passed the AODA. June 13, 2015 will mark ten years since the day the Government proclaimed the AODA to go into effect.
To mark the first of these dates, the AODA Alliance today issues a short news release and a five-page Official Statement set out below. The public statement summarizes how far we have come, and what still needs to be done, to ensure that Ontario meets the AODA’s requirement of becoming fully accessible by 2025.
We also set out below the transcript (about five pages) of the historic May 10, 2005 Queen’s Park news conference, which the Government held moments after the Legislature unanimously passed the AODA. Its optimistic vision for this law stands in stark contrast with the progress to date, identified in the 2014 Final Report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review.
The Ontario Government now has nine years, eight months and 23 days to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities, by enacting and effectively enforcing all the accessibility standards needed to reach that goal.
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1. AODA Alliance May 8, 2015 News Release
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 10, 2015 is Tenth Anniversary of Ontario Legislature’s Historic Unanimous Passage of Law Requiring Ontario to Become Fully Accessible to 1.8 Million Ontarians with Disabilities by 2025 – But the Wynne Government Has Fallen Far Short in Implementing this Law
May 8, 2015 Toronto: Sunday, May 10, 2015 is the tenth anniversary of the historic day when the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The AODA requires the Government to lead Ontario to full accessibility for 1.8 million people with a physical, mental, sensory, intellectual, or learning disability by 2025. It aims to ensure that people with disabilities can fully use schools, universities, jobs, housing, goods, services, restaurants and stores.
After a decade, this law hasn’t lived up to its great potential. It has not yet made a significant difference in the lives of Ontarians with disabilities.
The AODA Alliance now releases an official statement, set out below. It shows that Ontario lags behind schedule for full accessibility by 2025. It explains how the Government can mark this anniversary by new action to get Ontario on schedule for full accessibility by 2025.
“We Ontarians with disabilities waged a tenacious decade-long grassroots campaign from 1994 to 2005 to get this law passed, and then waged a second decade-long campaign to try to get the Ontario Government to effectively implement and enforce it,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan coalition that spearheads this grassroots campaign. “We’re frustrated that Ontario isn’t on schedule for full accessibility, and that the Government’s action on accessibility lags far behind its promises and claims. But we’re more determined than ever to make this law work!”
The 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games are fast approaching. Recurring media reports of restaurants that deny access to blind people with a guide dog, and public transit that still falls short on accessibility, point to the pressing need for the Ontario Government to show strong new leadership on accessibility. A major Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODA by former Law Dean Mayo Moran found that the Government, including Premier Wynne must now breathe new life into this law, and show strong new leadership on accessibility.
“We believe Premier Wynne wants to keep her promise to us that she’d ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility by 2025,” said Lepofsky. “We urge her and her Government to now announce the concrete action we need to put that promise into action. Keeping Government accessibility promises to us, and implementing Moran Report recommendations that strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, would be a good start.”
Government records show fully 60% of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees are violating the AODA. Despite promising to effectively enforce this law, the Government announced a one third cut in the number of obligated organizations it will audit this year.
- AODA Alliance Official Statement on the AODA’s Tenth Anniversary; and
- Text of May 10, 2005 Queen’s Park News Conference when the Legislature passed the AODA
2. Official Statement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance to Mark the Tenth Anniversary of the Ontario Legislature’s Historic Unanimous Passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act on May 10, 2005
a) An Important Anniversary
Sunday, May 10, 2015 is a major anniversary in our long, arduous, grassroots, non-partisan campaign to make Ontario fully accessible to all people with disabilities. Ten years ago, on May 10, 2005, the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This is no ordinary law. It came from the grassroots of people with disabilities, their friends, families and other supporters across Ontario. They tenaciously waged an uphill ten-year campaign from November 29, 1994 to May 10, 2005, to win this law.
The AODA requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025. The AODA gave Ontario 20 years to achieve full accessibility. Now, only under ten years are left.
It is worthwhile to again acknowledge the historic unanimous passage of the AODA ten years ago, with all party support. A community coalition, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, campaigned for this law for a decade. Its successor, the AODA Alliance, has campaigned for the last decade to get the Ontario Government to effectively implement and enforce the AODA.
We again thank the many who toiled for years at the grassroots to win support for this law, one MPP at a time. They came out to public forums, spoke eloquently at legislative hearings, and brought our stories of barrier after barrier to the media.
We also again applaud those politicians who had the courage to support our agenda, and who pressed for the AODA to be as strong as possible. The political leadership of all three parties ten years ago, Dalton McGuinty for the Liberals, John Tory for the Conservatives, and Howard Hampton, as well as their caucuses, put the public interest above partisan politics. They stood together to vote for this law, to share ideas on how to make it better as it worked its way through the Legislature, and to enthusiastically applaud its final passage on May 10, 2005. Dr. Marie Bountrogianni was the Cabinet Minister who skilfully brought the disability community, the business community and the broader public sector together to effectively collaborate on its design.
The legislative debates and MPPs public statements that led to that historic vote ten years ago show what MPPs and people with disabilities expected and still expect from this law. MPPs from all parties saw this law’s huge potential, to tear down the many barriers that block people with disabilities from getting an education, a job, and access to stores, restaurants, and other important opportunities. They spoke of the AODA’s capacity to use the following twenty years to ensure that old and new buildings, so often inaccessible, will become accessible.
With Dr. Bountrogianni in the lead, all parties agreed that this law must be effectively enforced. At a Queen’s Park news conference on May 10, 2005, right after the AODA passed Third Reading (full transcript set out below), Dr. Bountrogianni drew on her expertise in human behaviour as a professional psychologist when she said:
“Well, once a standard is a regulation, it will be immediately enforceable. Which means if it's not complied with, there will be fines. Having said that, we do believe in an education campaign, so that there are no surprises, that people are educated with respect to what's expected of them. That there will be spot audits very, much like the environment in the United States uses these spot audits. We're talking about over three hundred thousand organizations, private and public, that will be affected. So can't have an inspector going in every one every day. So there'll be spot audits. Special technology will be used to track these audits, and where there will be inconsistencies, that is where the inspectors will go in. They will be given of course chances to remedy their situation. It's not about punishment. It's about doing the right thing. However if they do not comply, there is a fine -- fifty thousand dollars for individuals and a hundred thousand dollars for corporations. So we're serious. That was missing in the previous act. That was one of the things that was missing in the previous act. And without that enforcement compliance, when you just leave it to the good will of the people, it doesn't always get done. And so we know that we know that from the psychology of human nature. We know that from past research in other areas, like the environment, like seatbelts, like smoking. And so we acted on the research in those areas.”
If effectively implemented, the AODA had the potential to make Ontario among the leading jurisdictions in the world, at combating barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in education, employment, and all the other opportunities that the public expects.
b) How Far Have We Come in Ten Years Toward a Fully-Accessible Province?
It is not enough for Ontario to simply celebrate the great victory of ten years ago. Ontarians and our leaders must now be honest with ourselves about how far we have come over the ten years that have passed since that historic day.
Over the past ten years, Ontario has made progress on becoming more accessible. There has been more action on accessibility, and more public, political and media profile of accessibility issues, than would have been the case had we not won the AODA.
The Government has enacted AODA accessibility standards in the areas of Customer Service, transportation, employment, information and communication and in the built environment in a limited range of public spaces. The Government also enacted limited new accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code. The Government recently committed to develop a new accessibility standard to address barriers in the health care system.
In 2009-2010, the Government made very modest accessibility improvements to provincial and municipal elections legislation. It incorporated an unenforced accessibility requirement into its 2010 Ten-year Infrastructure Plan for Ontario. The Government’s Accessibility Directorate has sponsored a range of “Enabling Change” projects which can provide useful resources on accessibility.
While helpful, these limited measures are not enough to ensure that Ontario is now on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. Ontario is not now on schedule for that goal.
Two Government-appointed Independent Reviews of the AODA, one by Charles Beer reporting in 2010 and one by Mayo Moran reporting last fall, each concluded that the Government has needed to revitalize, strengthen, and breathe new life into its implementation of the AODA, and to show strong new leadership on accessibility, if Ontario is to reach full accessibility by 2025.
The 2014 Independent Review, conducted by law professor Mayo Moran, concluded that after a full ten years of the Government implementing the AODA, this law has not made a significant impact on the lives of Ontarians with disabilities. The Moran Report recognized that the AODA has not lived up to its early promise, in Premier Dalton McGuinty’s October 12, 2004 speech when the AODA was introduced into the Ontario Legislature for First Reading. Premier McGuinty stated: "Every person deserves the opportunity to learn, work and play to his or her full potential."
The Moran Report found that accessibility standards enacted to date are too weak, too vague and at times confusing. They need to be strengthened and simplified. The Government also needs to now create new accessibility standards to fill unaddressed gaps.
The Moran Report concluded that the Government needs to beef up its weak enforcement of the AODA. It needs to do a much better job of providing information and supports to the business community, and providing effective public education on accessibility.
The Moran Report concluded that Ontario can still get back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. To do so, the Government must act decisively, and must do so now, with the Premier in the lead, to show the needed leadership and to revitalize the AODA’s implementation.
We agree with the Moran Report’s findings and related recommendations that would strengthen and speed up the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We don’t agree with any action that would weaken AODA provisions or protections.
We have found that the Government’s implementation of the AODA started effectively and in earnest after the AODA was passed in 2005. However, since mid-2011, the Government has ground down to a snail’s pace, mired in increasing bureaucracy and inaction.
This is not the inevitable slow way the Government must work. From 2003 to 2005, the Government acted boldly, swiftly and effectively to develop and pass the AODA. From 2005 to June 2011, it also proceeded at a fair pace in the early stages of developing the first AODA accessibility standards. Since then, it dramatically shifted gears.
No AODA Standards Development Committee has met in Ontario since mid 2009 to work on any ideas for the contents of new accessibility standards, needed to ensure that the AODA effectively addresses all barriers and all disabilities. The Government took up to five years to decide that a next accessibility standard would address health care barriers.
The Government promised to effectively enforce the AODA. Yet a Freedom of Information application revealed that in fall 2013, the Government had not issued a single compliance order or monetary penalty, despite knowing of rampant AODA violations.
The ensuing public pressure over this led the Government to modestly step up its AODA enforcement in late 2013 and 2014, producing modest improvements. However, in 2015, the Government cut by over one-third the number of obligated organizations that it will audit. Yet the Government knows that fully 60% of private sector organizations with at least twenty employees are still violating the AODA.
The Government made this large cut to its AODA enforcement even after the Moran AODA Independent Review recommended that more robust enforcement be instituted. The Government has denied that this is a cut in AODA enforcement.
After over two years of our effort, the Government recently established a promised toll-free hotline for the public to report AODA violations. Yet it hasn’t kept its promise to publicize it. The Government has resisted agreeing to use reports of AODA violations, received over that hotline, to initiate any specific direct AODA enforcement.
The problem is not with the level of Government funding of the AODA’s implementation. The Accessibility Directorate has been under budget every year from 2005 to 2014.
The Moran Report found that the Ontario Government itself has not led by a good example on accessibility. It has not effectively incorporated accessibility into its own activities as an employer and provider of public services. It has also used public money to create new barriers against people with disabilities.
c) How Should the Ontario Government Honour the AODA’s Tenth Anniversary?
We have seen announcements that the Government is holding events to celebrate the AODA’s Tenth anniversary. We offer these constructive suggestions.
These AODA Tenth Anniversary events should focus on kick-starting substantial new action on accessibility. They are a great place for the Government to show the new leadership and revitalized AODA implementation that the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review and the 2014 Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review each found is necessary.
The Government should announce strong and effective actions -- all the specific new action needed from now to 2025 to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025. This should implement and honour all the Government’s commitments on accessibility, and all the Moran Report’s recommendations that strengthen and speed up the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. This should include Premier Wynne’s written promise on December 3, 2013 to ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility by 2025.
The Government should, for example:
- Substantially expand the Government’s enforcement of the AODA. For example, the Government should at the very least, reverse the Government’s 2015 cuts to the annual number of organizations to be audited under the AODA. In 2013 and 2014, this was around 2,000 per year. In 2015, the Government cut this to 1,200.
- Commit to develop new accessibility standards to address barriers in education and in residential housing, with completion dates to be set, and institute time lines for selecting all other accessibility standards needed to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025. This should include, among other things, action on needed retrofits in existing buildings.
- Commit to now bring together representatives from business, the public sector and the disability community to quickly give the Government a list of options to effectively strengthen the current Customer Service Accessibility Standard, in order to ensure that Customer Service becomes truly accessible.
- Unveil a multi-year plan for substantially expanded effective public education on the AODA, including reaching the broader public, educating children in school, and key professionals and students training to become key professionals e.g. architects, planners, doctors, nurses, and lawyers.
- Establish a comprehensive program to provide obligated organizations with information, practice directions, an advice hotline, and other resources so obligated organizations don’t each have to reinvent the wheel when trying to become accessible.
- Announce a comprehensive and effective plan of specific new actions to effectively incorporate accessibility into the Ontario Public Service as an employer and service-provider. This should include a comprehensive barrier-review of the Public service, the designation of a new full-time deputy minister to be called the Ontario Government Chief Accessibility Officer, a plan for the Government to periodically audit its own front-line accessibility, and assigning each Ministry’s “Accessibility Lead” position to be a full time post in the office of their Ministry’s deputy minister.
- Announce timing for an Omnibus Bill to be introduced in the Legislature, to address accessibility barriers in the first 50-55 Ontario statutes that the Government has reviewed for barriers over the past several years. As well, announce specific plans for reviewing all other Ontario statues and regulations for accessibility barriers, to be completed in the next three years, to be followed by another omnibus bill.
- Announce an immediate consultation on accessibility barriers in provincial and municipal elections facing voters with disabilities, and a target date for introducing a Bill into the Legislature to fix these. New elections accessibility legislation should go into effect before the next provincial and municipal elections.
- Announce a short term blitz for getting as many restaurants, stores, hotels, and other tourism/hospitality organizations as possible to improve their accessibility before the 2015 Pan/ParaPan American Games begin.
- Announce a comprehensive government-wide program for ensuring that no public money is ever used to create or perpetuate disability accessibility barriers, and to ensure that recipients of any Government grant or loan must make added accessibility commitments as a condition of receiving that grant or loan.
These AODA Tenth Anniversary events should provide an opportunity for people with disabilities drawn from across Ontario to describe barriers they still face. We commend the Government for recommending in its toolkit for these events that people videotape barriers they have faced. This should be juxtaposed with examples of progress that has been achieved by obligated organizations. Again, the Government’s idea of people videotaping examples of barriers that have been fixed would help here. That would give a balanced picture of gains made, and progress still needed.
d) What Should Not Be Done to Mark the AODA’s Tenth Anniversary
It is important for the AODA’s tenth anniversary not to become an exercise in Government self-congratulation and self-promotion. The Moran Report documented the great frustration Ontarians with disabilities feel with the AODA’s slow rate of progress. We don’t want anyone further alienated.
To that end, the Government should remove from its Toolkit for AODA Tenth Anniversary events, its urging people to tweet: “Ontario is admired around the world for being a leader in accessibility. Celebrate 10 years!” We question this use of public resources to recruit members of the public, in effect, to propagate the Government’s self-promotion. Ontario is not now a world leader on accessibility. For example, we lag well behind the United States. Ontario could become a world leader on accessibility if it substantially accelerates its efforts on accessibility, and ensures that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025.
Second, it is especially important that the Government not do anything to weaken any AODA provisions, protections or programs or other accessibility initiatives. Premier Dalton McGuinty and Premier Kathleen Wynne have promised Ontarians with disabilities not to cut back on or weaken any AODA provisions, protections or programs.
3. Transcript of Queen’s Park News Conference on May 10, 2005
Note: This news conference was held immediately after the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed Bill 118, the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, at Third Reading and gave it a standing ovation. Speaking at the news conference were:
* Dr. Marie Bountrogianni, the Minister of Citizenship who led the development of the AODA, and shepherded it through the Legislature from 2004 to 2005.
* David Lepofsky, then the chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, the predecessor to the AODA Alliance. The ODA Committee spearheaded the province wide grassroots campaign from 1994 to 2005 to get the AODA enacted.
* Doug DeRabbie, then the Director of Government Relations for the Retail Council of Canada.
Nicole Curling: Good afternoon and welcome everyone my name is Nicole Curling I am communication advisor to Doctor Marie Bountrogianni Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. In this conference we're going to begin with remarks by Minister Bountrogianni followed by David Lepofsky who's the chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee and then Doug DeRabbie who is the director of government relations for the Retail Council of Canada. After that we'll open it up for a few questions and we'll begin with the minister's comments. Minister?
Bountrogianni: Good afternoon. Today is a very important day for the people with disabilities who have worked relentlessly for a decade to make this legislation a reality. This bill is their bill. It is strong legislation that will allow every Ontarian to live work and play without facing barriers. To have a better life for themselves and for their kids. I'm proud of the role our government has played in crafting this legislation. We want to make a difference to the lives of people with disabilities. With this legislation we are making a difference.
This legislation is about empowerment and inclusion. It is about allowing all Ontarians to reach for their dreams. And thanks to the collaboration among all our partners it will be a success. They worked together to develop the legislation and will keep on working together to implement it.
I was very pleased with the willingness and active participation of business leaders. They wanted to figure out the best ways to build a more inclusive society. Business people in Ontario understand that they are helping to build a province where people want to live and invest -- A province that will be the leader in Canada on accessibility.
I also appreciated the help and advice of leaders from municipalities, hospitals, schools, colleges, universities and transportation organizations. These broader public-sector organizations have already been involved in accessibility planning. Some of them have made great strides in making their services and facilities accessible.
This bill has a long term vision. It has an action plan. It has clear rules. It has a precise process for developing standards that are both mandatory and fair. It has strong measures for enforcement. And it will benefit our province enormously. It will mean more participation in the workforce by people with disabilities. A higher quality of life for more than a million citizens. And the whole act will come into effect upon Royal Assent.
This legislation is fundamental to reaching the full economic, social, cultural and human potential of our province. It is fundamental to embracing and celebrating our common humanity.
About thirty years ago, hard to believe, I was a first-year engineering student at the University of Waterloo. I switched to psychology a year later. Some co-op placements were not available to me and my colleagues -- other female engineering students -- because the industries didn't think it was worth it to have washrooms for females. They said it's just not worth the expense for having washrooms for the number of females that go through our industries. Can you imagine that happening today?
I want this in the future for people to think back before 2005 and say: “What were they thinking before 2005?” You imagine people complaining about the price of a wrap? You imagine people complaining about having to have their menus in Braille? You imagine complaining about people with Tourette Syndrome eating loudly in a restaurant? What were they thinking before 2005?
Attitude change is important. We will need the continued help of our partners, of business, of people with disabilities, of government, of other stakeholders, to make this work. So far it's been near flawless, the co-operation, the work, and we have an excellent bill to move forward. I want to thank them all for working with us and for the continued work with us. Thank you.
Nicole Curling: David?
Lepofsky: Without doubt, today is the single most historic day in the campaign for equality for Ontarians with Disabilities since way back in 1981 when we first amended the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Ontario Human Rights Code to first prohibit discrimination because of disability. Over the past ten years we have campaigned for this legislation. We've seen three governments, three provincial elections. We've seen four premiers, seven Citizenship ministers. We've participated in dozens and dozens of public forums, public consultations, public hearings, press conferences and other public events. We've given hundreds of interviews, and we've sent thousands and thousands of emails and faxes. All that to bring us to this day.
I want on behalf of Ontarians with disabilities to first thank Premier McGuinty and the government for the leadership and the commitment that led to the introduction and delivery of the bill that the premier promised us in the 2003 election. I want to thank Doctor Bountrogianni for effectively skilfully and co-operatively bringing together us from the disability community, people from the business community, people from the broader public sector, at the same table for the first time, to develop a consensus that is reflected in a very very good new piece of legislation.
I want as well to thank the others within the Liberal Party who have fought on this cause over the past years both while in government and while in opposition. Most particularly those who've spearheaded this issue, Dwight Duncan, Ernie Parsons, Steve Peters, and the late Dominic Agostino.
Similarly, today is historically important because this bill not only passed, but passed unanimously.
I want to express very very passionate appreciation to both the opposition Conservatives led by John Tory, and the opposition New Democrats led by Howard Hampton, for their support of this legislation. I want to thank all critics who have pressed this issue in the Legislature over the past decade, and particularly Rosario Marchese and Cam Jackson who put forward so many amendments and debated them so vigorously to ensure that as many improvements to the bill as possible were considered, as this bill made its way through a very fair and open legislative process.
This legislation is critical for making Ontario truly open and accessible for people with disabilities. It will improve the lives of Ontarians with disabilities, once effectively implemented. And we know its effective implementation is promised to start, frankly, tomorrow.
I also want to emphasize that this would never have happened, this would never have happened, had it not been for the tireless efforts of men and women and children across Ontario, people with disabilities, people with friends and families with disabilities, people who think and probably know they're going to get a disability, who have been fighting for this cause across Ontario, city by city, campaign by campaign, leaflet by leaflet, email by email, for a decade. This is a unique piece of legislation, because it stems from the work not of a few, but of so very many.
So I want to express our incredible excitement at this important historic event our deep gratitude to the government and to all those who have worked with the government to support its passage.
Doug DeRabbie: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here as we celebrate the passage of Bill 118. This is indeed an historic occasion, one that sees government, people with disabilities and businesses all coming together to achieve a common objective, to ensure that people of all abilities have equal access. Today on behalf of the Retail Council of Canada and its members operating in Ontario, I would like to once again congratulate Minister Bountrogianni for putting together legislation that provides for flexibility, opens the lines of communication between the retail community and the disability community, and offers opportunities for both.
As retailers, we are very appreciative of the flexibility that is provided for in Bill 118. The flexibility to develop standards that take into account the differing circumstances of large retailers and small retailers is extremely important, as well as the flexibility to determine an appropriate time frame for the implementation of measures, policies and practices. We are also supportive of the twenty-year time period, which is vital to ensuring that retailers will be able to efficiently and effectively implement all of the required changes.
We are also appreciative of the standards development committees, which will provide an important forum for the dialogue that must take place between the business community and the disability community, in order to develop meaningful standards. Since last fall, RCC has been working with its members to look at how we can enhance accessibility in retail stores. Discussions so far have provided a strong framework for moving forward, and we have met with representatives from the disability community to help identify where the gaps are and what are the priorities.
We are further appreciative of the opportunities that enhancing accessibility will provide. Retailers will be able to share in the considerable spending power of the disability community, and more importantly, retailers will be looking to fill job vacancies with qualified people with disabilities.
It has been said that representatives of the disability community were determined that any legislation be as fair as possible to business. They were also looking for the opportunities to sit down with various business sectors to negotiate standards that are both world-leading and fair to everybody. We are here today to echo that spirit of co-operation and consultation.
RCC and the retail sector look forward to working with the disability community, to learn to understand and to make the changes required to enhance accessibility.
In closing, the minister has indicated that this legislation is about fairness, opportunity, and inclusion. It is also about building a better Ontario and reaching the full economic, social, cultural and human potential of our province. We couldn't agree more. For retailers, they take great pride in the communities in which they live. By helping to enhance accessibility, retailers will be building upon their efforts to deliver to Ontarians a quality of life that is second to none. Indeed for retailers, it is not just about being a good corporate citizen. It's about doing the right thing.
Congratulations again, Minister, and we look forward to working with the disability community to enhance accessibility in Ontario.
Nicole Curling: Thank you we're going to open it up now for any questions. Are there any questions? Yes?
Unidentified Journalist: I've got a question about compliance and how difficult it's going to be and how big a job is it going to be in the next years to come?
Bountrogianni: Well, once a standard is a regulation, it will be immediately enforceable. Which means if it's not complied with, there will be fines. Having said that, we do believe in an education campaign, so that there are no surprises, that people are educated with respect to what's expected of them. That there will be spot audits very, much like the environment in the United States uses these spot audits. We're talking about over three hundred thousand organizations, private and public, that will be affected. So can't have an inspector going in every one every day. So there'll be spot audits. Special technology will be used to track these audits, and where there will be inconsistencies, that is where the inspectors will go in. They will be given of course chances to remedy their situation. It's not about punishment. It's about doing the right thing. However if they do not comply, there is a fine -- fifty thousand dollars for individuals and a hundred thousand dollars for corporations. So we're serious. That was missing in the previous act. That was one of the things that was missing in the previous act. And without that enforcement compliance, when you just leave it to the good will of the people, it doesn't always get done. And so we know that we know that from the psychology of human nature. We know that from past research in other areas, like the environment, like seatbelts, like smoking. And so we acted on the research in those areas.
Nicole Curling : Any other questions? Thank-you very much.
David, you want to read your Chinese cookie or do you want me to read it? Chinese fortune cookie?
Lepofsky: I went for lunch today. Went for Chinese food. I took out the fortune, which you can't fit Braille into a cookie, just doesn't work.
Bountrogianni: It will someday.
(Reading the text of the fortune in the fortune cookie) “Every truly great accomplishment is at first impossible.”
Congratulations Mister Lepofsky.
Lepofsky: I'm going to frame it.