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Clarifying Federal, Provincial, and Municipal Government Responsibilities for Accessibility

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 under the AODA. 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. Furthermore, Donovan outlines tactical recommendations the province should follow to fulfill its remaining responsibilities in the public sector. One of these tactical recommendations is a framework for clarifying federal, provincial, and municipal government responsibilities for accessibility.

Clarifying Federal, Provincial, and Municipal Government Responsibilities for Accessibility

The review states that there is a lack of clarity about the responsibilities different levels of government have for making accessibility improvements. Currently, there are two (2) levels of government responsible for accessibility under the AODA:

  • The Ontario provincial government
  • Municipal governments of towns and cities

In addition, the review recommends that the federal government should take responsibility for accessibility in the private sector. As a result, the federal government would also have responsibilities under the AODA.


Therefore, the review recommends that the accessibility agency should assess the need for change in the current distribution of government responsibility. The agency should assess a variety of municipal governments that differ according to factors such as:

  • Age
  • Population
  • Population density

The agency may find that certain governments do not understand their responsibilities for accessibility improvements. However, these governments can fulfill their responsibilities once they clearly understand what the AODA requires them to do. Alternatively, the agency may find that there should be reform in the distribution of responsibilities. For example, the provincial government’s current responsibilities largely involve funding programs that towns and cities run. However, the agency may find that the province should have more direct responsibility or oversight in some areas.

Moreover, the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs should appoint a federal liaison who will work with the agency. The liaison should support all three (3) levels of government to work together to fulfill their responsibilities for accessibility improvement.

This recommendation aligns with the third review of the AODA’s recommendation that Ontario should coordinate with the federal government to ensure accessibility.