ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

Learn more at: www.aodaalliance.org

MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF AODA’S EFFECTIVENESS

June 15, 2009

SUMMARY

On Friday, June 12, 2009, the McGuinty Government announced the appointment of Mr. Charles Beer, a former Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly, to conduct an Independent Review of the AODA’s effectiveness. Below we set out the Government’s news release, the Governmen website’s Frequently Asked Questions on this announcement, and a short biography of Mr. Beer, taken from the website of his consulting firm, “Counsel Public Affairs.”

Section 41 of the AODA requires the Government to appoint this Independent Review of the AODA’s effectiveness four years after this legislation went into operation. That four year mark was reached on June 13, 2009, the day after the Government announced the appointment of Mr. Beer.

The Independent Review must “undertake a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of this Act and the regulations and report on his or her findings…”. The report of the Independent Review may, among other things, “include recommendations for improving the effectiveness of this Act and the regulations.” The Independent Review must consult the public, and in particular, the disability community. It must render a report to the Legislature. That report must be made public.

We are particularly pleased that the Government’s announcements indicate that the Independent Review is expected to deliver its report by January 2010. This provides the public, including the disability community, needed time to take part in this Independent Review, while making sure that its final report is available for full implementation well before the 2011 provincial election.

We are also pleased that in his first public statement on this Independent Review, Charles Beer has emphasized the need to see how things have been progressing, with a view to recommending ways to strengthen the AODA. He stated: “I look forward to consulting with a variety of people across the province to gauge, and ultimately strengthen, the effectiveness of the legislation."

The key issues that this Independent Review must address are these: Is Ontario now on schedule for becoming fully accessible for all people with physical, mental or sensory disabilities on or before 2025, as the AODA requires? If not, why not? What new changes are needed to the AODA itself or to the Government’s implementation of it to ensure that Ontario is on schedule for reaching the goal of full accessibility by 2025?

The Frequently Asked questions web page says that part of Mr. Beer’s task will be to devise a strategy for the repeal of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001. From the perspective of the AODA Alliance, at this point, the repeal of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 is quite premature and would be counterproductive. This Independent Review should instead consider how the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 might be better used to help achieve the shared goals of that law and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005.

The AODA Alliance looks forward to working together with Charles Beer to ensure that this Independent Review is effective and comprehensive. We are already hard at work developing our submission to the Independent Review. We will make more information available on this over the next weeks and months.

We encourage both individuals and community organizations, who are interested in equality for persons with disabilities, to plan to take active part in this Independent Review. We have already recommended to the Government that it is very important for the Independent Review to hold advertised, open, accessible, province-wide public forums to gather input from the public including the disability community. These forums must not be “invitation-only.”

Send us your feedback, including your ideas for recommendations that we should include in our brief to the Independent Review, to: aodafeedback@rogers.com

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Ontario Launches Review Of Accessibility Legislation
McGuinty Government Helping People With Disabilities

TORONTO, June 12 /CNW/ -

NEWS

Ontario has appointed Charles Beer to conduct a mandatory independent review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Under the act, Ontario is making the province accessible for people with disabilities by 2025 through standards (http://webx.newswire.ca/click/?id=ec448005365ed81), which will break down barriers (http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/topics/pop_ado_barriers.htm) in key areas of every day life. Beer will evaluate how these accessibility standards are being developed.

Through this review, Ontario can make sure accessibility takes place in a way that makes sense for people with disabilities, businesses and organizations. Ontarians will have the opportunity to participate in this review and provide feedback about the act (http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/accessibilityOntario/).

Beer will also consult with people from the disability, business and public sector communities. He is expected to submit his report in January 2010.

QUOTES

"Our accessibility legislation is built on a foundation of collaboration and flexibility. We have made a lot of progress over the past four years and we continue to work with our partners to make sure we're on the right track for 2025." - Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services (http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/ministry/minister/)

"I am honoured to have the opportunity to play a role in reviewing Ontario's accessibility legislation. I look forward to consulting with a variety of people across the province to gauge, and ultimately strengthen, the effectiveness of the legislation." - Charles Beer

QUICK FACTS

- 1.85 million Ontarians have a disability and this number will grow as the baby boomer generation ages.

- More than 200 people participated on committees that drafted the accessibility standards.

- Accessibility standards are being phased-in to give businesses and organizations time to break down barriers for people with disabilities over planning cycles.

LEARN MORE

Learn more about the status of the accessibility standards for:
customer service, transportation, information and communications, employment and the built environment.

See how an Ontario municipality (http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/mediaroom) is breaking down barriers for its citizens with disabilities.


ontario.ca/community-news
Disponible en français
For further information:
Kevin Cooke, Minister's Office, (416) 325-5219; Sandy Mangat, Media Office, (416) 212-3262

ONTARIO MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES - More on this organization
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FROM THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES WEBSITE

REVIEW OF THE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT: FAQS

Why are you launching this review?

Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), we have a goal to make the province accessible by 2025. This review, which is mandatory under the act, will help make sure we’re on the right track to achieving this goal.

Reviews are built into the AODA, beginning four years after the act becomes law and taking place every three years after that.

Who will conduct the review? Why was he chosen?

Charles Beer has been appointed to conduct an independent review of the AODA.

This review must be completed by an objective third party. Charles Beer has both the knowledge and experience that is needed to conduct a balanced review.

Mr. Beer has extensive experience working with diverse stakeholders. Through his tenure as Minister of Community and Social Services, Mr. Beer gained in-depth knowledge of the disability community. In addition, his understanding of government legislation and policies will help ensure the review is informed and effective.

When will it be complete?

The review will take approximately six months to complete.

Charles Beer is scheduled to submit a report to the Ontario government by January 2010.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services can then begin the process to implement recommendations, which may include introducing amendments to the legislation.

What will the review involve?

Charles Beer will help make sure accessibility is being achieved in a way that makes sense for everyone.

The review will involve three key channels:

  1. Consultations with people with disabilities, as well as those who helped draft accessibility standards and participated in public review.
  2. Online submissions from the general public.
  3. Meetings with key stakeholders across Ontario.

Through these channels, Charles Beer will gather information about accessibility standards and the standards development process. In addition, Beer will devise a strategy to repeal the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA).

Who will be able to provide feedback?

We want your input to make sure our accessibility legislation is on the right track. That’s why everyone in Ontario will have the opportunity to provide their feedback.

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BACKGROUND ON CHARLES BEER

Taken from the website of Mr. Beer’s consulting firm, “Counsel Public Affairs," at: http://www.counselpa.com/beer.htm

Charles Beer is currently a Principal with Counsel Public Affairs located in Toronto. Counsel provides strategic advice to a wide range of public and private sector clients as well as to the non-profit sector.

From October 2003 until September 2004 Charles served as Chief of Staff to the Honourable George Smitherman, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long Term Care.

From May 1998 to July 2003 he was the President and CEO of the Canadian Executive Service Organization. CESO is a Canadian, not-for-profit organization founded in 1967. CESO’s purpose is to transfer Canadian expertise to both private and public sector organizations in developing nations, in emerging market economics of Europe and the former Soviet Union and in Canadian Aboriginal communities.

Prior to joining CESO, Charles spent 23 years in the Ontario government, serving from 1987 to 1995, as a member of the provincial parliament. During this time, he was Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs. He was also Chair, parliamentary assistant or critic for a number of ministries and legislative committees.

Charles also served in senior level positions in ministries relating to citizenship, culture and recreation, intergovernmental affairs, and treasury and economics, and was executive director of the office of the leader of the official opposition from 1977 to 1981; assistant headmaster and teacher at Pickering College from 1981 to 1986 and founding executive director of the Canadian Education Standards Institute, 1986-87 and executive director of the Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres, 1996-98. He currently sits on a number of boards relating to health, education, and energy.

Charles and his wife, Mary Anna, a retired teacher, live in Newmarket. They have a daughter Stephanie (husband Sean) and a son, Greg (wife Tania) and two granddaughters, Grace and Hannah.