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Coordinating Accessibility Laws Across Canada

In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need to make accessibility law throughout Canada more similar. During public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees requested government commitment to coordinating accessibility laws across Canada. In addition, Onley states that a 2018 federal law requires the Canadian government to work with the provinces on accessibility. As a result, Onley recommends that the Ontario government make the same commitment. In other words, the Ontario government should work more closely with the federal government and the governments of other provinces.

Coordinating Accessibility Laws Across Canada

Onley’s review points out that Ontario was the first province to enact accessibility standards. However, other provinces have created laws that will allow them to develop accessibility standards of their own. These provinces are:

  • Manitoba
  • Nova Scotia

In addition, other provinces may one day choose to develop accessibility standards. Furthermore, Canada has recently enacted the Accessible Canada Act, which governs accessibility standards throughout the country. In other words, many separate accessibility standards exist in Canada.

On one hand, all these laws show that many governments are starting to understand how important accessibility is. On the other hand, the separate development of these laws may create conflicts for businesses. For instance, a business that operates in Ontario and Manitoba may need to follow different laws in each province. Onley’s review states that many organizations find it difficult to learn how the AODA applies to them. As a result, the review recommends more resources to help organizations learn how to comply with AODA standards. However, different standards in different provinces will mean that organizations will need resources for each set of provincial standards. In contrast, if provinces work together to develop standards, they will need to create fewer learning resources.

Working Together to Create Standards

Ontario could help other provinces to enact standards similar to our own. Alternatively, if other provinces create stronger standards, Ontario could strengthen its standards. This strengthening would help Ontario reach its goal of becoming accessible by 2025. Moreover, there are many standards which Ontario has not developed yet. Therefore, several provinces that need to develop the same standards could work together to create them. Similarly, the federal government could also work with the provinces on coordinating accessibility laws across Canada at both the federal and provincial levels.