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 a process for auditing accessible procurement.
Auditing Accessible Procurement
Under the general requirements of the AODA, public-sector organizations must ensure the accessibility of goods, services, or facilities they procure from third-party vendors. However, this requirement does not apply to private-sector organizations. Nevertheless, some private-sector organizations wish to procure accessible goods, services, or facilities from third-party vendors. However, these organizations have no way to require accessibility from vendors they do business with.
The review notes that when governments require vendors to provide accessible products, these vendors have incentives to make more of their products accessible. As a result, more accessible products will exist in the market for private-sector organizations to purchase and use. Moreover, the review states that the federal government is purchasing more accessible hardware and software, to create this type of market. However, according to the review, the provincial government is not ensuring that products it procures are accessible. In other words, the Ontario government is not yet complying with its own standards.
Therefore, the review recommends that a member of the accessibility agency should audit processes for accessible procurement. This auditor should collaborate with many provincial ministries to identify and remove accessibility barriers in their procurement processes. For example, barriers in processes to procure accessible goods and services could be:
This work aligns with ministries’ efforts to identify and remove barriers as part of their accessibility plans for government services and employment.
In addition, the auditor should create a plan to audit the accessibility of products the provincial government has procured from third-party vendors. This plan should focus on goods and services used by the greatest number of people. Similarly, the plan should focus on goods and services that small private-sector organizations and medium-sized private-sector organizations also use. In this way, organizations in the private sector will benefit when the government requires accessibility from these products. Moreover, the auditor should publish the plan, so that private-sector organizations can learn from and apply its best practices.
Furthermore, the auditor should arrange accessible procurement agreements with the federal government, to give third-party vendors more incentives to make their goods and services accessible. This joint commitment aligns with the third review of the AODA’s recommendation for coordinating accessibility laws across Canada.
Finally, the government must require Supply Chain Ontario to procure only accessible products after January 1st, 2025. If supply Chain Ontario buys a product that is not accessible, the Premier must authorize this purpose. Moreover, the Premier must publicize the reason for allowing the purchase of a product that is not accessible.