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AODA administrative monetary penalties scheme – three strikes you’re out!

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The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) allows for severe maximum monetary penalties for any violation to the Act. The maximum penalties under the AODA include:

  • A person and unincorporated organizations that are guilty of a major offence under this Act can be fined up to $50,000 dollars for each day the violation continues
  • A corporation that is guilty can be fined up to $100,000 per day
  • Directors and officers of a corporation with fiduciary responsibility who are guilty are liable to a fine of up to $50,000 a day

This said, to encourage compliance, the government has established an administrative monetary penalties scheme that determines how and why an individual or corporation might face a penalty or fine. The scheme was established under Part V, Compliance, of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, which came into force July 1, 2011.

The scheme allows a ministry director or a designate to issue an order against a person, organization or corporation to pay a penalty amount as a result of non-compliance with the AODA or any of the accessibility standards.

These penalties and fines will depend on the severity and history of the contravention. The director will determine the severity of the contravention by ranking the contravention as minor, moderate or major.

  • A contravention of an administrative requirement is minor
  • A contravention of a requirement for organizational preparedness is moderate
  • A contravention is major where it involves a priority requirement that includes, but is not limited to, a contravention that may pose a health or safety risk to persons with disabilities

The contravention history of the person or organization will be determined by ranking it as minor, moderate or major in the following manner:

  • A contravention history is minor where there has been no more than one previous contravention within the period of the current two reporting cycles
  • A contravention history is moderate where there have been between two and five previous contraventions within the current two reporting cycles period
  • A contravention history is major where there have been six or more previous contraventions within the current two reporting cycles period

A reporting cycle is a 12-month period. The current two reporting cycles period discussed above begins on the first day the person or organization must file the accessibility report and ends on the last day before the next report must be filed. If a person or organization filed an accessibility report before July 1, 2011, the two reporting cycles period is calculated from the first day that the person or organization was required to file an accessibility report.

For organizations and individuals that are exempt from the reporting requirement, the two reporting cycles period consists of the 12-month period that begins at the earliest of the following and ends at the end of each 12-month period:

  • The first day that a director requests reports or information from the person or organization
  • The first day that an inspector requires a person or organization to produce a document, record or thing
  • The first day that the person or organization receives or is deemed to have received a notice of order under Act

So what are these escalating administrative penalties for non-compliance?

The largest lump sum penalty amount that can be issued to an individual or an organization that is not a corporation is $2,000 and the maximum for a corporation is $15,000. These maximum amounts can be issued per day. The potential for daily amounts will be reserved for contraventions that fall within the “major compliance history and major impact” category. Decision will be made on a case-by-case basis with careful consideration of the circumstances before an order for a daily amount is issued.

Table 1. Individuals or unincorporated organizations
Impact of Contravention

Major
(priority requirement)

Moderate
(organizational preparedness)

Minor
(administrative/ operational)

Major compliance history
(>6 previous contraventions)

$2,000
(can be issued
per day)

$1,000 $500

Moderate compliance history
(2–5 previous contraventions)

$1,000 $500 $250

Minor compliance history
(first contravention)

$500 $250 $200

 

Table 2. Administrative penalties for corporations
Impact of Contravention

Major
(priority requirement)

Moderate
(organizational preparedness)

Minor
(administrative/ operational)

Major compliance history
(>6 previous contraventions)

$15,000
(can be issued
per day)

$10,000 $5,000

Moderate compliance history
(2–5 previous contraventions)

$10,000 $5,000 $2,500

Minor compliance history
(first contravention)

$2,000 $1,000 $500

Thus, to be issued an order with the maximum penalty amount, the person, organization or corporation must:

  • Have a compliance history that includes six or more previous contraventions; and
  • The contravention must be a priority requirement of the accessibility standard, as determined by the ministry

Persons and organizations that are facing a director’s order will receive notice and will have an opportunity to make written submissions explaining the non-compliance. The person or organization must submit a response within 30 days after the order was made. A director’s review of the submission can result in the decision to reduce or rescind the initial penalty amount. The decision to reduce or rescind the initial penalty amount will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the explanation provided by the organization and other factors such as steps taken to come into compliance and any economic benefit derived from the contravention.

In the event a person or an organization appeals a fine, the Regulation designates the Licence Appeal Tribunal to hear and determine the appeal.

If an organization fails to pay an administrative monetary penalty within the time specified in the order (within 30 days after the order was made, unless the order specifies a longer period), and makes no submission to the director, or appeal to the designated tribunal, the order can be filed with a local registrar of the Superior Court of Justice to be enforced like a civil court order.

Failing to comply with a director’s order is an offence under the AODA that can be prosecuted.

The government is appearing to use a nurturing approach to ensure compliance. The AODA has harsh maximum penalties but the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation softens the blow with substantially lower monetary penalties before the maximum penalties can occur.

I hope everyone is now clear on the approach a director will take to first encourage compliance and then prepare to give the non-compliant organization smaller monetary penalties. The initial penalties act as a reminder to organizations that after two years the higher amounts may be rapidly enforced.

This is just one of the tools directors may use to enforce compliance. Directors can also issue general compliance orders.

We all have a lot of work to do to accomplish accessibility, but one thing is clear: early recognition of the AODA allows organizations time to learn and plan ways to meet legal obligations. By understanding your obligations now, you can begin to draft your policies, practices and procedures, as well as your accessibility plan. Then, you actually have to do what you promise to do in those policies , practices and procedures and multi-year plans.

There is still a lot to talk about. Don’t forget to tune in for my next post.

Suzanne Cohen Share
Access (SCS) Consulting Services

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Suzanne Cohen Share

Accessibility consultant and author at Access (SCS) Consulting Services
Suzanne Cohen Share holds a master’s degree in Health Policy and Critical Disabilities, including disability law. Suzanne is a well-known cross-disability accessibility expert and consultant, a popular lecturer, trainer, researcher and author. She is the author of Accessibility Standards PolicyPro published by First Reference Inc. Suzanne is the proprietor of Access (SCS) Consulting Services. Read more
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2 thoughts on “AODA administrative monetary penalties scheme – three strikes you’re out!
  • Dear Neila,
    My pleasure! We all have the moments you describe. Enjoy the information,
    Suzanne

  • Thank you Suzanne for the valuable and informative article – how wonderful to have you extract all of this information from the Act for all of us to read and more easily understand.
    If it weren’t for the fact that I’m so exhausted that I have no active brain cells left to respond further, I would, but alas…
    Thank you again, much appreciated!

    Kind Regards,
    Neila