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 further development of education standards and healthcare standards. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, the government had postponed work on these AODA standards. Therefore, Onley’s review recommended that the government allow the standards development committees creating these standards to continue their work. Currently, these committees have resumed their work creating education and healthcare standards.
Further Development of Education Standards and Healthcare Standards
The AODA does not yet have an education standard or a healthcare standard. However, two committees have been created to recommend what an education standard should include. One committee will find barriers facing students from kindergarten to grade twelve. It will then recommend how an education standard should remove those barriers. In contrast, the other committee will find barriers facing students in university and college. It will then recommend how a standard can support these students. Similarly, a third committee has been created to recommend what a healthcare standard should include. At the time of Onley’s review, the Ontario government had paused the work of all three committees. However, the government has now allowed further development of education standards and healthcare standards. Nonetheless, Onley’s review has more recommendations for the government to better support these three committees. Now that the committees have resumed their work, they can implement the suggestions that Onley’s review recommends.
Recommendations for Education and Healthcare Standards Development Committees
For instance, the review discusses a new education policy from the Ontario Human Rights Commission. This policy indicates many accessibility barriers in the education system. Therefore, Onley recommends that the education standards committees address these barriers through the standards they develop. Moreover, addressing these barriers will help connect the AODA to the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Furthermore, Onley’s review states that the government advised the healthcare standards development committee to address barriers in hospitals. However, this type of mandate means that barriers would continue in other healthcare settings, such as:
- Doctors’ offices
- Walk-in clinics
- Wellness centres
- Health regulatory colleges
Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that the healthcare standard address barriers throughout the healthcare sector.
Finally, Onley’s review recommends that all three committees introduce best practices for workers in both sectors. These best practices could support education and healthcare workers to make their fields more accessible. Moreover, best practices can reach the public before standards, because they take less time to develop than standards. As a result, workers in both fields can start implementing best practices while they are waiting for the standards. Onley’s review states that the terms of reference for both committees allow them to recommend best practices. Therefore, Onley’s review advises the committees to do so, to allow further development of education standards and healthcare standards.