In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need for accessible government workplaces and services. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees requested government commitment to employment and service accessibility. Attendees expect the government to show other organizations what full workplace and customer service accessibility looks like.
Accessible Government Workplaces and Services
The AODA requires the government to comply with all its standards. Moreover, previous deadlines for government compliance with existing standards have been earlier than the deadlines for private organizations. In other words, the AODA expects the government to show all other organizations how to comply with standards. Therefore, meeting attendees suggest that the government must fully comply with the AODA’s employment standards and customer service standards.
The government could show other organizations how to comply with employment standards by hiring more qualified people with disabilities. The government could start to do so by creating recruitment strategies that involve active outreach to people with disabilities. These strategies could alert possible candidates with disabilities that the government will make the hiring process accessible. Moreover, the government must remove any disability barriers in the hiring process, including:
- Attitudinal barriers
- Organizational barriers
- Information or communication barriers
- Technology barriers
- Physical barriers
Full Employment and Service Accessibility
Onley’s review also states that the Ontario Public Service (OPS) must become a fully accessible employer and service provider. Moreover, Onley suggests that a Minister should be responsible for overseeing this improvement. Similarly, a new minister or deputy minister, called the Chief Accessibility Officer, could support the government to fully obey its own laws.
In addition, the government could show other organizations how to comply with customer service standards by:
- Holding all meetings and public events in accessible locations
- Retrofitting washrooms in government buildings for accessibility
In short, Onley’s review recommends that the government must become fully accessible as a workplace and service provider. Moreover, the previous review of the AODA, in 2014, made a similar recommendation. In other words, Ontarians with disabilities have waited at least six years for accessible government workplaces and services.