The Mayo Moran Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is both a welcome and timely document as it reflects the progressive goal of inclusion within business and social culture. There are a number of recommendations which outline the critical nature of the government’s role in the forward momentum of the AODA[i]. It would seem like a logical case to make that when a government produces new laws, they should also be responsible for its oversight that would be in keeping with a steady and rational progression towards the law’s implementation.
In the case of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) the treatment of the law should be no different and the review makes concise calls for improved enforcement, promotion and comprehensive capacity building with regards to inclusion, all of which should remain within the government’s purview. Specifically, the first few recommendations within the legislative review call for renewed government leadership and for more evolved enforcement, otherwise, views that are common place amongst those who support the AODA. A further view point that is mirrored by the review is that there should be more done to evolve accessibility within Ontario because the province benefits as a whole, and so does its people[ii].
Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development Employment and Infrastructure, made a statement wherein he realized that there was more work to be done[iii] and that Ontario is proud to be a global leader in accessibility[iv]. He is correct in alluding to the fact that Ontario still has a lot of road to travel before we can consider ourselves inclusive. And, to the same extent, Ontario is the first province in Canada to set actual accessibility goals and yet Ontario still can fall short of its goal and neglect of what has been built over the past decade. According to a recent article in the Toronto Star, there are plans to reduce the enforcement of the AODA from 2000 to 1200 ‘compliance activities’ [v]. At first reading this would not strike anyone as a more engaged or evolved method of enforcement, but a more lax version of what is already becoming a tenuous system.
The majority of businesses still haven’t filed their 2012 accessibility reports and it could be an easy fix to lessen the enforcement of the law if business was the only aspect affected. But this isn’t the case. The alternate side of the coin is represented by people with disabilities that would otherwise utilize services if there was no barriers, social or otherwise.
The AODA must have all cylinders firing in order for there to be any substantive change. With regards business and market culture, if the Government does not do an effective job of promoting, enforcing or building the capacity of organizations to engage with the law, then the AODA stagnates and there is no forward movement. Mayo Moran has written a perfectly timed piece that is akin to a benchmark, a fork in the road that is a deciding point between real progress and a mandate with no teeth. What is inspiring is that there were hundreds of actively engaged organizations and individuals who took part in the legislative review that volunteered their time to craft responses to ensure that the AODA can work effectively down the road.
[i] Mayo Moran (2015) Second Legislative Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Available: https://www.ontario.ca/document/legislative-review-accessibility-ontarians-disabilities-act . Last Accessed February 20 2015. 56
[ii] Mayo Moran (2015)
[iii] Duguid, B. (2015) Available: http://news.ontario.ca/medt/en/2015/02/statement-by-brad-duguid-on-provost-morans-review-of-the-accessibility-for-ontarians-with-disabiliti.html?utm_source=ondemand&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=m Last Accessed February 20,2015.
[iv]Brad Duguid (2015)
[v] Laurie Monsbaarten (2015) The Toronto Star. Ontario to Reduce Enforcement of Accessibility Law. Available: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/02/24/ontario-to-reduce-enforcement-of-accessibility-law.html Last Accessed February 20, 2015.