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. Moreover, Donovan states that the province lacks the knowledge and resources to enforce needed accessibility regulations throughout Ontario. In contrast, the federal government has the resources to create widespread change. Moreover, the federal government has recently made more progress toward accessibility than the provincial government. For example, the Accessible Canada Act requires federally-regulated employers to have accessibility plans, feedback processes, and progress reports. In short, Ontario should coordinate with the federal government to ensure accessibility. As a result, Donovan recommends federal government responsibility for accessibility in the private sector of Ontario.
Federal Government Responsibility for Accessibility in the Private Sector of Ontario
The third and fourth reviews of the AODA note limited enforcement of the Act. Despite previous recommendations of new ways to enforce the Act, Donovan states that enforcement remains low. The fourth review recognizes that the AODA applies to over one million (1,000,000) organizations. However, the review states that the provincial government does not have the resources to thoroughly audit all these businesses. Likewise, the province lacks the resources needed to enforce businesses’ compliance with the AODA.
In contrast, the government of Canada has more resources and expertise in this area. For example, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) frequently collects statistics, including about people with disabilities. Moreover, the federal government can supply more funding that can be used to quickly remove any accessibility barriers that audits identify. Therefore, federal organizations like the CRA seem more capable of ensuring that organizations in Ontario’s private sector follow the mandates of accessibility standards.
Therefore, the review recommends that the provincial and federal governments begin discussing the possibility that the federal government should regulate accessibility in the private sector. In this new arrangement, the provincial government would continue to be responsible for enacting and enforcing AODA standards in the public sector. However, the federal government would be responsible for enforcing existing AODA standards that apply to the private sector. In addition, the federal government would be responsible for creating new AODA standards for private-sector organizations to comply with. Under this new arrangement, the provincial government, with support from the accessibility agency, could focus fully on enforcing the AODA in the public sector. Moreover, continued coordination and funding from the federal government could support the provincial government as it implements and enforces new public-sector AODA standards.