In the fourth review of the AODA, Rich Donovan states that Ontario will not be fully accessible by 2025. In other words, the provincial government will not meet its own deadline, set out in the AODA in 2005. Limited creation, implementation, and enforcement of AODA standards impacts the well-being and safety of Ontarians with disabilities. Therefore, Donovan recommends that the Ontario government should declare this lack of progress on accessibility a crisis. This crisis state should last six (6) months. During this time, the Ontario government should form a crisis committee to implement crucial accessibility improvements in the province. The Premier should act as the chair of this committee, and the Secretary of Cabinet should act as co-chair. One of the improvements the committee should implement is the creation of an accessibility action plan.
Accessibility Action Plan
The review notes that the AODA has no clear way to accurately assess Ontario’s accessibility. While the Act’s goal is an accessible province by 2025, there is no simple way to measure progress toward attainment of that goal.
Most long-term laws or conventions include definitions and constant standards that help organizations recognize progress toward achievement of the goal. Clear measurements of progress allow organizations to model success for others. However, AODA standards need to change on a regular basis. Moreover, as the previous AODA review notes, definitions of key terms are missing or out of date. For example, the AODA contains no definition of accessibility. Similarly, the Act’s definition of disability does not align with definitions in more recent laws and conventions. This lack of clarity makes it difficult for organizations, and even the government, to recognize whether they are or are not accessible.
Therefore, the review recommends that the Secretary of Cabinet should create an accessibility action plan with clear steps that other organizations must follow. This plan should be based on goals for barrier removal found in the government ministries’ accessibility plans. In addition, the accessibility action plan should include measurable steps for private-sector organizations. These organizations need to recognize how their specific business practices impact the lives of people with disabilities in positive or negative ways.
The Secretary of Cabinet should create the accessibility action plan within five (5) years. Furthermore, the Secretary of Cabinet should work closely with the head of the accessibility agency to develop the plan. Finally, the plan must include a budget for actions involving more than one (1) government ministry.