Skip to main content Skip to main menu >Toggle high contrast

Grassroots Disability Coalition’s New Report Reveals Five Consecutive Years of Rampant Violations of Ontario’s Disabilities Act, Known to the Wynne Government, And Ineffective Provincial Enforcement, Despite Unkept Government Promises to Effectively Enforce this Law

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 18, 2018 Toronto: The Wynne Government has known of five consecutive years of rampant violations of Ontario’s disability accessibility law, but still hasn’t taken the effective enforcement action that 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities need. This is so, even though each year it leaves unspent large amounts of budgeted funds that could have been used to beef up this legislation’s enforcement. That is the conclusion of a detailed report, set out below, on the enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which has just been released by the AODA Alliance, a widely-respected non-partisan disability coalition that spearheads the campaign in Ontario for accessibility for people with disabilities.

In 2005, after a decade of grassroots non-partisan campaigning by Ontarians with disabilities, the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). It requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Yet Ontarians with disabilities still face too many disability barriers in Ontario when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education, use our health care system, buy goods or services, or eat in restaurants.

Drawing on public Government reports and on information that the AODA Alliance unearthed from the Government (including by its resort to Freedom of Information applications), today’s new blistering report’s key findings include:

* Government records confirm that as of the start of 2018, a staggering 57% of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees had failed to even file their mandatory accessibility compliance self-report with the Ontario Government.

* the Government knew of similar or worse reporting rates in each year since 2013. Yet rather than effectively enforcing this legislation throughout, the Government eventually abandoned any further enforcement efforts regarding the duty to make 2012 and 2014 filings. This rewarded those long-term repeat violators, against whom the Government had taken no enforcement steps, with an undeserved free pass.

* In 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined, for the thousands of private sector organizations known to have violated this legislation, the Government only imposed a total of five monetary penalties. That’s less than two monetary penalties for each of those years. That conveys the clear message to violators that their risk of a monetary penalty is extremely slim.

* As for the small number of organizations against whom the Government directs enforcement action, (numbers addressed further below), the main enforcement tool that the Government appears to deploy was for public officials to audit an obligated organization’s files or records on accessibility. As long as an obligated organization’s paper trail or records looked good, it did not matter whether the organization was actually providing accessibility to employees or customers with disabilities.

* When the Government annually reports to the public on its enforcement efforts under the AODA, it in large part reports on how many obligated organizations tell the Government that they are obeying the AODA. For example, the Government’s 2017 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report states:

“An encouraging sign is that 94% of the organizations that submitted an accessibility compliance report indicated that they are in full compliance with the act and its associated accessibility standards.”

Yet imagine how effective any law enforcement would be if Government simply takes on faith when an organization says it has paid all its taxes, or has never discharged any pollutants into the environment, or has properly paid all its employees.

* Over the past five years during which the AODA became fully enforceable, the Government has only selected a very small number of private sector obligated organizations to audit or inspect. Until we made the Government’s total lack of private sector enforcement public in November 2013, no private sector organizations were subject to such enforcement action. After our expose of this failure, the Government set about auditing just under 2,000 private sector organizations in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Then without any explanation, it cut the number of private sector organizations to be audited in 2015 by over one third. After we exposed this cut in 2015, the Government announced on June 3, 2015 that it would launch a major new crackdown on AODA violators, starting in 2016, with the number of obligated organizations to be audited to eventually ramp up to 4,000. Yet today’s Analysis reveals that this new enforcement plan, which the Government leaked to the Toronto Star to secure a front page headline on June 3, 2015, never actually materialized. There was no such new detailed AODA enforcement plan, as far as we have been able to discover. In fact, the number of obligated organizations the Government has annually audited since 2014 has never even reached the numbers the Government initially audited in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The numbers are as follows:

2013: 1,906
2014: 1,954
2015: 1,324
2016: 1,604
2017: 1,746

* Premier Wynne’s September 23, 2016 Mandate Letter directs Accessibility Ministry Tracy MacCharles to increase by 50% the private sector organizations that are complying with the AODA in 2017. Yet the Government’s own progress report shows that in 2016, 57% of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees were not in compliance. In 2017, the rate remained at 57%. There is no indication that the Premier is calling on the Minister to take bold new enforcement action, to fulfil her assigned priorities.

* Even though the Government has power to do on-site accessibility inspections, we have only unearthed one instance of the Government conducting an on-site inspection. In 2015, one Government ministry inspected another Government ministry under the AODA, after writing to give the target ministry advance notice of the inspection. This shows the fatal weakness of the Government investigating itself.

* Ontario currently has a minuscule 3 inspector and 3 directors to discharge enforcement powers under the AODA for the entire province, including both the public and private sectors. Some of their functions can also be delegated to others.

In contrast, the much smaller State of Israel has double this number of enforcement officials. In Israel, unlike in Ontario, enforcement routinely involves on-site inspection of an organization’s actual accessibility.

* This lack of effective enforcement is not due to a lack of available budget for enforcement. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario was operating under budget in every year from 2005 to 2016. Together across all those years combined, it left $28.1 million budgeted dollars unspent. That could have bought a significant increase in AODA enforcement.

* When the Wynne Government actually takes AODA enforcement action it can have an impact.

* Three years later, the Wynne Government has still not implemented a key 2014 recommendation on effective reporting to the public on the Government’s AODA enforcement. The Government’s annual Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Reports fall well short of what a Government-appointed AODA Independent Review had recommended in late fall 2014.

* The Wynne Government has failed to effectively publicize the Government’s toll-Free number for the public to report AODA violations, for purposes of AODA enforcement.

Less than seven years remain for the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, the deadline that the AODA imposes. For over one million voters with disabilities, this will be an important issue in the June 2018 Ontario general election. We are seeking election commitments on AODA enforcement from all the parties. Without strong and effective enforcement, the Government cannot expect that the thousands of non-complying organizations will take this legislation seriously now, after so many years of its disregard. The AODA Alliance does not claim that enforcement is the only way to make progress. However, in the absence of effective enforcement, progress on accessibility has been far too slow.

On May 10, 2005, the historic day that the Legislature unanimously passed the Disabilities Act, the Government proudly proclaimed at a Queens Park news conference that there would be spot audits, inspections, and available monetary penalties and enforcement for violators. Then-Minister Marie Bountrogianni, who led the AODA’s development and passage through the Legislature, reiterated why it is important for the AODA to be effectively enforced, not voluntary, referring to the previous Mike Harris Conservative Governments weak and unenforceable disability law:

They will be given of course chances to remedy their situation. It’s not about punishment. It’s about doing the right thing. However if they do not comply, there is a fine — fifty thousand dollars for individuals and a hundred thousand dollars for corporations. So we’re serious. That was missing in the previous act. That was one of the things that was missing in the previous act. And without that enforcement compliance, when you just leave it to the good will of the people, it doesn’t always get done. And so we know that we know that from the psychology of human nature. We know that from past research in other areas, like the environment, like seatbelts, like smoking. And so we acted on the research in those areas.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance
All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in Ontario is available at: www.aodaalliance.org

The Toronto Star April 18, 2018

Originally posted at:
https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2018/04/18/activists-push-for-independent-enforcement-of-ontarios-accessibility-law.html Note: The Toronto Star’s headline incorrectly states that the AODA Alliance seeks private enforcement. As the article itself correctly states, we seek public enforcement, but through a public agency that is independent of the Government.
Disability activists seek private enforcement; Advocates unhappy with government’s lack of action on accessibility

Graphic: Lawyer David Lepofsky, who is blind, is chair of the AODA Alliance, a non-partisan coalition that monitors progress on the province’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Bernard Weil/Toronto Star File Photo

After five years of lax enforcement of Ontario’s groundbreaking accessibility legislation, disability activists want Queen’s Park to hand over enforcement responsibilities to an independent public agency.

The call comes in the wake of a new report that shows a 2015 government crackdown on accessibility scofflaws never really happened and that the government has imposed just six monetary penalties despite thousands of known violations.

“We need enforcement taken out of the government’s belly and assigned to an independent, arms-length public agency,” said lawyer David Lepofsky, chairperson of the AODA Alliance, a non-partisan coalition that monitors progress on the province’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA.)

“The government should not be investigating itself,” he added.

The alliance has asked all party leaders to commit to moving enforcement of the AODA to an independent public agency, if elected premier in June.

Under the 2005 legislation, the first of its kind in Canada, Queen’s Park is responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards for Ontario’s 1.8 million people with disabilities to ensure the province is fully accessible by 2025. The act covers goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment and buildings.

For example, the customer service standard requires restaurants to welcome service animals when accompanied by people with disabilities. Under the employment standard, employers must provide an accessible desk and washroom for an employee who uses a wheelchair.

A spokesperson for Tracy MacCharles, minister responsible for accessibility, said the government recognizes “there is more to do” and reorganized the ministry last fall “to focus solely on compliance and enforcement.”

A newly-created compliance and enforcement branch of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario operates call centres to respond to consumer complaints and requests from organizations for help to meet reporting requirements, said Mahreen Dasoo. The branch is also responsible for “compliance outreach activities” and audits of organizations most likely to neglect their duties.

“To support the government’s efforts to increase reporting rates among businesses in Ontario, we launched a digital media marketing campaign targeting businesses and raised awareness about the deadline,” Dasoo said in an email. “We also connected directly with businesses, sending 70,000 emails, phone calls and letters reminding them of their requirement to report.”

But Lepofsky, who is blind, says Ontarians with disabilities still face too many barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education, use the health care system, buy goods and services or eat in restaurants.

A big part of the problem, Lepofsky says, is that “a staggering” 57 per cent of Ontario’s 56,000 private and non-profit sector organizations with at least 20 employees have failed to file mandatory reports to the government declaring they have met current accessibility requirements.

“If they can’t even bother to file a report, what does that say about the priority they are giving to accessibility?” he said.

Lepofsky began highlighting the government’s lack of enforcement action in 2013 when some 70 per cent of mandated organizations had failed to file their reports. As a result, the government began conducting compliance audits of about 2,000 organizations a year.

In 2015, after annual compliance audits had dropped to 1,324 and a legislative review found the government needed to step up enforcement, former minister Brad Duguid told the Star he would take action to double the number of audits to 4,000 – or 1 per cent of Ontario’s 400,000 private businesses – starting in 2016.

But Duguid’s crackdown never happened, Lepofsky says. In 2016, the government initiated only 1,604 “compliance activities.” But these were, at most, a review of the documents and not an examination of an organization’s actual practices, he said.

A year later, there were 1,746 compliance activities, but still fewer than in 2013 and 2014, according to Lepofsky’s report.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s September 2016 mandate letter directed MacCharles, the current minister responsible for accessibility, to “take steps” to increase by 50 per cent the number of private sector organizations in compliance with the act by 2017.

And yet, the government’s progress report for 2017 shows the non-compliance rate has remained unchanged at 57 per cent. It means 32,000 private sector companies required to file accessibility compliance reports have failed to do so, Lepofsky said.

Dasoo, in the minister’s office, said the directorate’s outreach and compliance team will “continue to work with organizations that missed their deadline and it is expected that the submission rate for the 2017 version of the report will continue to grow over the next two years.”

Robert Lattanzio, executive director of ARCH Disability Law centre, a specialty legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario, called Lepofsky’s latest report “concerning.”

“If the government is serious about meeting its goal and serious about giving meaning to the AODA, there needs to be some very clear action. And a big part of that is enforcement,” he said in an interview.

“Enforcement is part of education,” Lattanzio said. “And compliance orders are part of that education process because they tell companies what they should be doing.”

Laurie Monsebraaten Toronto Star

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

An Analysis of the Wynne Government’s Enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act from 2013 to 2018 Protracted Inadequate Government Action in the Face of Known Rampant Violations of the Law

April 18, 2018

1. Introduction

This is the AODA Alliance’s detailed analysis and report card on the Wynne Government’s efforts at enforcing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act from 2013 to the present. This analysis draws on earlier AODA Alliance Updates on this topic, on news reports, on the Government’s annual Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report that it posts on line, on correspondence from the Government to the AODA Alliance on this topic, and on the results of Freedom of Information applications that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has brought to unearth information on this topic. Key documents on which we rely, and which have not previously been made public, are posted at the end of this Analysis.

Our conclusion is that the Government has not kept its promise to effectively enforce the AODA. It has taken far too few steps and has made it difficult to keep track on a current basis of what it is doing in this regard. This analysis explores these topics:

* Years of Rampant AODA Violations, Well Known To The Wynne Government, Continue To Persist In The Private Sector Even In 2015, 2016 And 2017

* The Wynne Government Imposed a Meagre Five Monetary Penalties under the AODA for 2015, 2016 and 2017 Combined

* The Wynne Government’s June 3, 2015 Headline-Grabbing Crackdown on AODA Violators Did Not Materialize Over Two and a Half Years Since the Government Promised It

* Troubling Levels of AODA Violations Among the Small Number of Organizations that the Wynne Government Examined More Closely

* There’s Been Only One On-Site AODA Inspection Since the AODA Was Enacted in 2005?

* There are A Minuscule Number of AODA Inspectors and Directors for All of Ontario.

* The Government Had Funds on Hand for More AODA Enforcement

* If and When the Wynne Government Actually Takes AODA Enforcement Action It Can Have an Impact

* Three Years Later, the Wynne Government has Still Not Implemented a Key 2014 Recommendation on Effective Reporting to the Public on the Government’s AODA Enforcement. The Government’s Annual Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Reports Fall Well Short of What a Government-Appointed AODA Independent Review Had Recommended in Late fall 2014.

* The Government has Failed to Effectively Publicize the Government’s Toll-Free Number for Reporting AODA Violations

The AODA Alliance expresses its gratitude to an excellent team of law students at the Osgoode Hall Law School who volunteered their time to assist with this project. Errors, if any, are the responsibility of the AODA Alliance and not of those wonderful volunteers.

2. Years Of Rampant AODA Violations, Well Known To The Wynne Government, Continue To Persist In The Private Sector Even In 2015, 2016 And 2017

Over four years ago, back on November 18, 2013, the AODA Alliance first made public the fact that the Government knew of rampant AODA violations in the private sector. We now make public the fact that this has continued to persist, to the Government’s knowledge, for four and a half years since then. In the face of the huge number of AODA violations, Government efforts to combat this through AODA enforcement have been a mere drop in the bucket.

A period of over a half decade of rampant law-breaking began back in 2012. According to Government records, fully 65% of obligated organizations did not file with the Ontario Government a mandatory AODA 2012 accessibility self-report. Some two years after those reports were due, the Wynne Government just gave up on getting that 2012 report filed. The Minister’s July 20, 2017 letter to the AODA Alliance, set out below, states:

“At the closing of the 2012 reporting period in September 2014, 33,285 or 65 per cent of obligated organizations had not filed the 2012 Accessibility Compliance Report. This statistic will not change as the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO) then moved on to tracking submissions for the more recent compliance reports, and consequently removed the option to file the 2012 version.”

Since then, a massive 57% of obligated organizations had not filed their mandatory 2014 accessibility self-report even as long as some two years after it was due. The Minister’s July 20, 2017 letter to the AODA Alliance states:

“By December 31, 2016, 30,152 or 57 per cent of obligated private sector organizations had not filed the 2014 Accessibility Compliance Report. As with the 2012 version of the report, this statistic will not change. Organizations could not file a 2014 report beyond December 31, 2016 because the 2017 reporting window had opened. As an updated version of the report is now expected, the ADO has removed the option to file the older 2014 version.”

This means that the Wynne Government also gave up on getting known delinquent organizations to comply with their obligation to file 2014 AODA compliance self-reports. We were never consulted on that decision. We had not learned about it before receiving the documents on which this analysis relies. We would have objected to the Government rewarding law-breakers with such an obvious free pass.

Through the back door, the Wynne Government has administratively created an inappropriate statute of limitations on AODA compliance. If an organization does not file a mandatory accessibility self-report, after two years, the Government will just give up on enforcing it for that year. Imagine if the Government decided that if an organization doesn’t file its tax returns, it need not worry after two years, because the Government won’t bother tracking it after those two years, or asking it to file for the year that the organization missed.

The Government’s 2015 and 2016 reports to the public on its AODA enforcement, set out below, do not admit that the Government has in effect abandoned any enforcement of the duty to file 2012 and 2014 AODA compliance self-report. Had we not made our inquiries of the Wynne Government and analyzed the results as we do here, the public would not know that the Government had taken the wrong-headed step of rewarding massive AODA violations with an undeserved free pass. This is hardly the effective AODA enforcement that the Ontario Government promised 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities.

Government records also reveal a similarly-troubling level of AODA violations in 2017. Regarding the duty of obligated organizations to file accessibility self-reports by the end of year, fully 57% of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees were in violation, known to the Government. Assistant Deputy Minister Ann Hoy’s March 7, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance included this:

“2017 was a reporting year for every sector, including roughly 56,000 business/non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees in Ontario.
o Over 24,000 reports were submitted from business/non-profit sector organizations by the December 31 deadline, representing an increase of roughly 4,000 reports over the last reporting year in 2014.
o By the reporting deadline, roughly 32,000 business/non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees in Ontario (roughly 57%) had not filed an accessibility report.
o Eighty-six per cent (692 of 806) of the designated public sector organizations submitted their accessibility compliance report by the reporting deadline.”

The fact that 14% of public sector organizations had not complied with the requirement to file their 2017 AODA compliance self-report is also troubling. In past years, the Ontario Government has trumpeted higher levels of public sector AODA compliance. In her May 14, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out her party’s 2014 election pledges on accessibility, Premier Wynne wrote:

“To speak to our track record, 99 per cent of Designated Broader Public Sector Organizations have submitted their reports by the deadline to date. If I am elected, I will see to it that this becomes 100 per cent.”

Four years after writing that, and with the AODA already over 12 years on the books, this public sector backsliding cried out for more substantial enforcement action.

Viewed from another perspective, did the Accessibility Minister achieve the progress on AODA enforcement and compliance that the Premier directed her to achieve? The answer is a clear “no”.

Premier Wynne’s September 23, 2016 Mandate Letter to Accessibility Minister Tracy MacCharles set this as a priority for the minister:

“Taking steps to increase compliance reporting rates among private/not-for-profit sector organizations by an additional 50 per cent in 2017.”

As of the end of 2016, 57% of private sector obligated organizations with at least 20 employees had not filed their required 2014 AODA self-report. the Government reported the same 57% of non-complying private sector organizations with at least 20 employees that had not filed their required 2017 AODA self-report. This was certainly not the 50% increase in private sector reporting that the Premier directed the minister to achieve.

3. Wynne Government Imposes a Meagre Five Monetary Penalties under the AODA for 2015, 2016 and 2017 Combined

Despite these large numbers of ongoing, known rampant AODA violations, the Wynne Government only imposed a paltry three monetary penalties on AODA violations in 2017, and two monetary penalties on AODA violators in 2016. It did not report to us imposing any in 2015.

This sends a loud, clear message to obligated organizations that they need not worry about serious financial penalties if they violate the AODA. This is so, even though the AODA includes strong monetary penalty provisions.

4. Wynne Government’s June 3, 2015 Headline-Grabbing Crackdown on AODA Violators Did Not Materialize Over Two and a Half Years Since the Government Promised It

Three years ago, in the first half of 2015, the Wynne Government was under a great deal of criticism. This is because in February 2015, the Government cut back by over one third on its already-weak AODA enforcement. In his February 19, 2015 letter to the AODA Alliance, Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid announced this massive enforcement cut. He did this, even though one week earlier, the second AODA Independent Review, conducted by Mayo Moran, had recommended strengthened AODA enforcement.

Weeks later, in June 2015, the Wynne Government decided to do something about all the bad press it was getting about AODA enforcement in the 2015 spring. It chose to make a splashy announcement about a new AODA enforcement crack-down, as part of its June 3, 2015 celebration of the AODA’s tenth anniversary.

The Wynne Government therefore fed this story as an exclusive “leak” to the Toronto Star. That led the Star to run a front page headline on June 3, 2015:

“Ontario to crack down on accessibility violators”

Among other things, that article led with this key passage:

“Queen’s Park is beefing up compliance and enforcement measures in response to criticism that it has been treating accessibility scofflaws with kid gloves.

Starting next year, Ontario’s economic development ministry will move to double compliance audits to 4,000, or 1 per cent of Ontario’s 400,000 businesses.

Under the province’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, businesses with 20 or more employees were supposed to have filed customer service plans with the government by the end of 2012. But to date, only about 40 per cent have submitted the necessary reports on how they accommodate customers with disabilities, train staff and receive customer feedback.

Accessibility advocates have criticized the government’s weak response to businesses that continue to flout the law.”

We were encouraged by that announced new AODA enforcement plan. However, we were also troubled by the fact that the Government had announced no enforcement specifics. In contrast, at the same time as this announcement, the Government released a detailed package of new initiatives regarding other aspects of the AODA’s implementation. Why was such an important part of the Government’s announcement missing from its entire package of released materials?

Therefore, the next day, June 4, 2015, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky filed a Freedom of Information application. Among other things, he asked the Government to hand over the new enforcement plan that it had announced the day before with so much fanfare, on the Toronto Star’s front page.

If there was in reality a new AODA enforcement plan, it should have been easy for the Government to find it. After all, the Government just announced it in the media.

Yet the Government didn’t turn it over to Lepofsky. Instead, the Government mounted an incredible effort to put barriers in the way of the Lepofsky Freedom of Information application. Lepofsky had to appeal to the Information and Privacy Commission over several issues, including this one. Eventually last summer, two years after this announcement, the Government was ordered to hand over the new AODA enforcement plan that it announced on June 3, 2015.

There’s only one problem. It does not appear that there actually was a detailed specific new AODA enforcement plan. No specific new June 3, 2015 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act enforcement plan was turned over, with time lines for ramped up enforcement leading to a total of 4,000 obligated organizations to be annually audited.

Normally, when the Government works up a new plan or policy like this, and then announces it with much media flourish, there is a robust paper trail within the Government, as it works its way through the policy process. Under the Lepofsky Freedom of Information application we obtained from the Government various documents from that spring, but no detailed plan on ramping up AODA enforcement to 4,000 organizations, and no time lines or specifics. There was a record of the Government considering hiring an outside organization to do enforcement work. However, the Government had been looking at that idea for years.

Out of an abundance of caution, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky wrote Assistant Deputy Minister Ann Hoy on September 13, 2017, to find out if there was such a specific plan among the documents the Government disclosed to him after he partially won his Freedom of Information appeal. That email is set out below. He asked:

“On June 3, 2015, the Ministry was reported in the Toronto Star to have announced a new AODA enforcement program to crack down on AODA violators. It announced that starting in 2016, the Government would increase the number of obligated organizations it would audit for AODA compliance, to increase eventually (no date specified) to double the number annually audited previously, namely 4,000.

I write to ask if among the documents that the Ministry released to me earlier this week in response to my Freedom of Information application, there is any document or documents that sets out the new AODA enforcement program or plan represented in the June 3, 2015 announcement. If so, can you specify which document or documents?”

On October 3, 2017, Assistant Deputy Minister Hoy responded. We set her response out below. It did not point to any specific document setting out the new enforcement plan that the Government announced to the Toronto Star on June 3, 2015. Rather, she pointed to the fact that internally the Government had been talking about aiming for enforcement with 4,000 organizations as far back as 2011. She talked vaguely and generally about efforts to improve enforcement and compliance. However, she clearly did not identify a document dated on or near June 3, 2015, that lays out some new specific AODA enforcement plans akin to the Government’s announcement in the June 3, 2015 Toronto Star.

Beyond this, we also have further proof from the Government’s own records, that shows that the Wynne Government’s June 3, 2015 announcement in the Toronto Star of an AODA enforcement crackdown plan was more smoke than reality. This comes from looking at the actual number of obligated organizations that the Government says it has annually audited under the AODA over the past years since making that announcement.

As we earlier made public, in 2013 and 2014 each, the Government audited just short of 2,000 obligated organizations each year. Yet in February 2015, the Government cut that number for the 2015 year by over one third, revealing its target of a mere 1,200 in a February 19, 2015 letter from the Economic Development Minister to the AODA Alliance. The Government was blasted for this in the media. That is what led the Government to announce on June 3, 2015 that it would start increasing AODA audits in 2016, to rise to the goal of 4,000.

Yet in the ensuing period of almost three years, the number of annually audited obligated organizations has never even returned to the 2013-2014 levels of about 2,000 audited organizations per year, much less has it come anywhere near close to the promised goal of 4,000 audited obligated organizations per year.

The numbers of organizations audited since 2014 total:

2013: 1,906
2014: 1,954
2015: 1,324
2016: 1,604
2017: 1,746

The following analysis of Government records shows how we arrived at this:

* As for 2015, the Accessibility Minister’s July 20, 2017 letter says the Government conducted “1,324 compliance activities.” The Government does not say what a “compliance activity” is. It could be something much less than an all-out “audit by an authorized public servant”. It could be something as simple as a form letter or phone call from a Government employee, reminding an obligated organization to file its overdue AODA Accessibility self-report.

The Government’s 2015 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report, set out below, only uses the word “audit” to refer to 324 obligated organizations.

* The Government’s 2015 and 2016 enforcement reports and the Accessibility Minister’s July 20, 2017 letter to the AODA Alliance never refer to conducting any on-site inspections. The Government’s 2015 enforcement report only refers explicitly to one instance of visiting an obligated organization. It referred to conducting a site visit to the Ontario Public service. It did not indicate how much of, or what parts of that huge organization it physically visited, or what it physically examined there, if anything. This is further addressed later in this analysis.

* The AODA Alliance’s June 12 2017 letter had asked the minister how many “audits” and “inspections” had been conducted in 2015 and 2016. The Minister’s letter, by talking only of “compliance activities”, does not give a direct and clearly responsive answer.

* The minister’s July 20 2017 letter tried to make the Government’s action on enforcement in 2015 look like a positive improvement. It stated:

“In 2015, we conducted 1,324 compliance activities, surpassing our public commitment of 1,200.”

Yet 1,324 compliance activities in 2015(even if all were audits, which we do not know to be the case) falls well short of the almost 2,000 organizations audited in each of 2013 and 2014.

* As for 2016, the Accessibility Minister’s July 20, 2017 letter stated:

“In 2016, the ADO achieved this by completing 1,604 compliance activities, exceeding 2015s total by 280.”

Again, this number fell well short of the almost 2,000 organizations audited in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Here again, the Minister used the term “compliance activities”, but did not specify any number of audits or inspections. Here again, we do not know from the Minister’s July 20, 2017 letter how many of those compliance activities amounted to a full audit.

We tried to decipher these figures by also looking to the Government’s 2016 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report. It referred to the Accessibility Directorate conducting 1,205 “phase 1 audits in 2016. Phase 1 audits only appear to focus on an obligated organization’s duty to file a 2012 and 2014 accessibility self-report. They do not appear to focus on how accessible the organization actually has become. That report describes these audits as follows:

“Phase 1 audits focus on an organizations requirement to submit a self-certified accessibility compliance report online.”

The Government’s 2016 AODA enforcement report referred to conducting 361 Phase 2 audits. That report stated:

“In 2016, 361 audits were closed at the Phase 2 level.”

The report defines a Phase 2 audit as also just an audit of an obligated organization’s records on steps that AODA accessibility standards may require. That report defines a Phase 2 audit as follows:

“In a Phase 2 audit, documents are requested and reviewed for the purposes of verifying compliance with other requirements beyond reporting.”

Here again, the only reasonable conclusion is that the Government was only here looking at an obligated organization’s records, and not at what is going on site at the organization, regarding accessibility. An obligated organization could presumably write up excellent documents and tell the Government that it is doing what it is supposed to do, without the Government checking to see if an obligated organization took any actual required steps to remove or prevent accessibility barriers. It is not clear if any of the conclusions in any of the Government’s AODA enforcement reports include any Government verified findings, or if they are just summarizing how compliant obligated organizations claim to be.

The Government’s 2016 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report claims it audited a “selection” of small private sector organizations, but it tellingly never disclosed how many organizations were subject to this. Nothing suggests it went beyond a paper audit.

The Government’s 2016 AODA enforcement report also referred to an additional 498 AODA audits that a private sector firm conducted on the Government’s behalf, in addition to the foregoing numbers. The Government’s 2016 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report states:

“In addition to the 1,604 compliance activities conducted internally, the pilot resulted in 424 Phase 1 audits among organizations that failed to meet their reporting requirements and 74 Phase 2 audits among organizations that had submitted accessibility reports indicating compliance. The service provider also conducted 700 outreach calls reminding organizations of their compliance requirements.”

The Government appeared to consider this a pilot project. The 2016 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report says the Government is assessing the data from that private firm’s work. The Minister’s July 20, 2017 letter does not appear to include this test activity in the Government’s enforcement for the 2016 year. Absent a showing that this was as effective as a Government audit, we feel that the Minister was correct not to include these added compliance activities in her July 20, 2017 letter to us.

* In 2017, the total number of “compliance activities” that the Government undertook was 1,746. The March 7, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance from Assistant Deputy Minister Ann Hoy included this:

“1,746 compliance activities were conducted in 2017. These activities included Phase 1 and Phase 2 audits (described in the ACER), as well as enforcement activities conducted by an inspector.”

Over the past two and a half years, the Government has referred to some enforcement blitzes, focuses on specific sectors. However these do not change the fact that what was announced on June 3, 2015 has in fact not materialized, as far as we can discover.

5. Troubling Levels of AODA Violations among the Small Number of Organizations that the Wynne Government Examined More Closely

The Government’s 2015, 2016 and 2017 AODA enforcement reports are written in a way that can create the positive impression that of the small number of organizations that the Government examined more closely, the Government found a high level of AODA compliance. However, a slightly closer look shows quite the opposite.

The Government’s 2015 AODA enforcement report states:

“The Directorate issued compliance plans to 31% of the 324 organizations selected for audit. A compliance plan lays out the steps an organization must take to come into compliance.”

The Government’s 2016 AODA enforcement report states:

“We issued compliance plans to 45% (164) of the 361 organizations selected for Phase 2 audit in 2016.”

The Wynne Government’s 2017 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report includes further troubling information on known levels of AODA violations:

“In 2016, a selection of small organizations from the business/non-profit sector was audited on three foundational requirements. Their rates of compliance were: develop accessibility policies: 64%
provide accessibility training: 63%
establish a method to receive and respond to public feedback on accessibility: 92%
In 2016, organizations from the designated public sector were audited on the foundational requirement to develop a multi-year accessibility plan. Their rate of compliance was 66%.
In 2017, a selection of large organizations from the business/non-profit sector was audited on three foundational requirements. Their rates of compliance were: provide accessibility training: 63%
establish a method to receive and respond to public feedback on accessibility: 87% develop a multi-year accessibility plan: 67%
In 2017, organizations from the designated public sector were audited on the foundational requirement to develop accessibility policies. This marked the first year in which organizations from this sector were required to have accessibility policies in place that address each of the accessibility standards. In many cases, organizations audited on this requirement had policies in place that needed to be updated to include the requirements of standards that had only recently taken effect, which resulted in a 40% compliance rate overall.”

6. Only One On-Site AODA Inspection Since the AODA Was Enacted in 2005?

We have been asking the Ontario Government over and over about its efforts to inspect obligated organizations on-site. If the Government does not go to the site of an obligated organization, it won’t be able to get a good picture of how accessible that organization is to customers and employees with disabilities. To simply audit an obligated organization’s paper trail or record-keeping on accessibility falls far short of effective enforcement.

As far as we can tell from the information the Government has released to us, we only know of one on-site AODA inspection taking place. In that instance, it was the Ontario Government inspecting itself in 2015!

Among the documents which the Ontario Government was forced to disclose to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky as a result of his June 4, 2015 Freedom of Information application was a December 22, 2014 memo from the deputy minister responsible for the AODA’s enforcement to the deputy minister responsible for the operations of the Ontario Public service. In it, one deputy lets another deputy minister that they are about to be inspected. That December 22, 2014 memo from Giles Gherson, Deputy Minister of Economic Development to Wendy Tilford, Deputy Minister of Government and Consumer Services, included:

“I am writing to let you know that the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (the Directorate) intends to conduct a site visit on the Ontario Public Service in the Greater Toronto Area.

As you know, the Directorate oversees compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the Act), and has developed a compliance assurance framework to fulfill this mandate. The framework’s progressive approach enables the Directorate to confirm an organization’s compliance through the filing of accessibility compliance reports, audits and site visits.

Site visits represent an opportunity to:
1. Provide hands-on, in-person assistance, while helping the Directorate ensure that organizations are complying with their accessibility obligations.
2. Discuss and review any questions organizations may have with respect to accessibility requirements and how they relate to their business.

In line with a progressive approach to overseeing compliance and implementing accessibility requirements, the Directorate will be conducting the first site visit on the Ontario Public Service.

This is consistent with past practice and will provide an opportunity to show that the government is a committed champion of accessibility in Ontario.

During the site visit, compliance staff from the Directorate will conduct a facility tour, ask to see documentation that is required under the Act, and interview a representative from the selected location. Staff may also, at their discretion, choose to interview employees.

The site visit will help to verify the government’s compliance with the Act and will be conducted under Section 19 of the Act.

The Directorate will be contacting the Diversity Office to notify them of the selected location and date for the site visit, and to finalize the logistics of the visit itself. At that time, the Directorate will be able to answer any questions that the Diversity Office may have.”

Assistant Deputy Minister Ann Hoy’s somewhat non-specific March 7, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance seems in effect to imply that no on-site inspections have occurred in 2016 or 2017, and that the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario hopes to be able to do some (not indicating how many) in 2018. Almost two third’s into the AODA’s 20 year event horizon, the chief law enforcement officials are still figuring out how to do an on-site inspection, it seems. Assistant Deputy Minister Hoy’s March 7, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance includes:

“Pertaining to your request for updates regarding AODA-related site visits, I can provide that in 2015-16 the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario continued to develop its inspections framework by designing and carrying out an on-site inspections pilot, further testing its processes and protocols.

In 2017, the directorate applied the lessons learned from the inspections pilot and continued to seek additional resources that would allow it to conduct further on-site inspections. In 2018, we look forward to having the capacity to conduct on-site inspections among non-compliant organizations.”

7. A Minuscule Number of AODA Inspectors and Directors for All of Ontario.

Ever since the AODA became enforceable, the Government has had a tiny number of directors and inspectors appointed with enforcement powers under that legislation. As of the 2017 fall, the Wynne Government had only 2 inspectors and 3 directors appointed under the AODA to deploy AODA enforcement powers. The Minister’s July 20, 2017 letter to the AODA Alliance states:

“Regarding directors and inspectors working within the Government of Ontario, there are currently three directors and two inspectors appointed under the AODA. Further to that, no activities are taking place regarding recruitment or appointment for these positions at this time.”

As of March 7, 2018, this number had increased by one, so that there are now three directors and three inspectors for the entire province.

In sharp contrast, the State of Israel has 12 inspectors, which do on-site inspections, not just audits of an organization’s files or paper trail on accessibility. In other words, Israel has twice the inspection force that Ontario does, for a country that is far smaller and has far fewer people.

Moreover, Israel’s inspectors go into the field and inspect organizations themselves, not just their paper trail or their files on accessibility. In sharp contrast, the Wynne Government’s approach to AODA enforcement has largely if not entirely been, at most, to audit an organization’s documentary paper trail on accessibility, but not to conduct an on-site audit or inspection of the organization’s measures in place to ensure accessibility to customers and employees with disabilities. This makes a big difference. An organization in Ontario can readily fill a file with great documents saying great things on accessibility, without needing to ever actually do much if anything to be accessible to customers and employees with disabilities.

For some seven years, the AODA Alliance has urged the Ontario Government to give AODA inspection powers to investigators, inspectors and other officials authorized under other Ontario laws. It costs little if anything to simply add this mandate to the wide range of other enforcement officials that the Ontario Government already deploys around Ontario.

In the 2014 election, Premier Wynne promised to consider this. Despite many efforts, we have not been able to get the Government to make public detailed information on what it has tried, and how it has worked.

The Government’s 2015 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report makes brief reference to this. It shows only very modest efforts, and little information on how it has worked or what exactly the Government is doing now, if anything, or plans to do in the future, on this front. The Government’s 2015 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report states:

“Finally, in 2015 we: continued our partnerships with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Labour to conduct 50 audits respectively, on a pilot project basis:
o Ministry of Labour inspectors collected documentation that organizations are required to produce under the Customer Service Standard.
o Ministry of Transportations Carrier Safety & Enforcement Branch and Regional Operations Branch similarly helped the Directorate in conducting audits among businesses that have a trucking component to their operations”

That Report also states that in 2016, the Government will:

” continue to work with the Ministry of Transportation to complete the compliance pilot project that began in 2015″

The Government’s 2016 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report says nothing about doing anything further on this front. It announces no plans to do anything further in 2017.

8. Government Had Funds on Hand for More AODA Enforcement

Is this protracted inadequate AODA enforcement due to a lack of funds on hand for the Wynne Government to enforce the AODA? The answer remains a resounding “No!”

Every Year Since the AODA was Enacted in 2005 for which we have been able to obtain budget numbers from the Government, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has left unspent ample budgeted funds. These funds could have beefed up AODA enforcement.

The most recent budget information that we obtained from the Wynne Government reveals that for over a decade, the Accessibility Directorate has left a significant amount of its annual allocated budget unspent. This means that the Wynne Government had money on hand, that it could have used for more AODA enforcement.

In her September 1, 2017 email to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, Assistant Deputy Minister Ann Hoy said that in fiscal 2015, a total of $15,071,800 was budgeted for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. However, all the Accessibility Directorate spent in that year was $14,433,598

That means $638,202 was available but was not spent.

The AODA Alliance earlier showed that from 2005 to 2014-2015, the Accessibility Directorate left a total of $27.5 million of its allocated budget unspent. When we add this new figure of unspent money to that earlier figure, we conclude that from 2005 to 2015-2016, the Accessibility Directorate has left a total of $28.1 million unspent of its allocated budget over those years. That could buy a lot of AODA enforcement.

We also asked the Government how much it allocated to the Accessibility Directorate for the last complete fiscal year, namely 2016-2017. We were told that the Accessibility Directorate was allocated $15,071,800. However, in her September 1, 2017 email to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, Assistant Deputy Minister Ann Hoy declined to tell us how much the Accessibility Directorate spent in that year. She stated:

“The actual results for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario for the fiscal period 2016-17 are not available for this table as at September 1, 2017. These results will be made available upon the tabling of the 2016-17 Public Accounts with the Legislature.”

The Government has never given us that requested information over the intervening half year since then. It is hard to believe that as of September 2017 the Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario did not know how much her own division has spent in the previous fiscal year.

9. If and When the Wynne Government Actually Takes AODA Enforcement Action, It Can Have an Impact

The Government’s efforts at taking direct enforcement actions, set out in the Government’s 2015, 2016 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Reports, show that enforcement can have a positive impact, when the Government actually tries it. the Government reported that its enforcement interventions got those organizations that they approached to at least say that they took action to get themselves into compliance. This proves what we have said all along, and what the Government said when it enacted the AODA in 2005. When organizations know there is real and imminent enforcement, they are far more likely to comply.

This reinforces the AODA Alliance’s call for the Government to beef up its AODA enforcement. The more non-complying organizations that the Government addresses with real enforcement teeth, the more compliance it can produce.

10. Three Years Later, Wynne Government Has Still Not Implemented the 2014 Recommendation on Effective Public Reporting to the Public on Its AODA Enforcement

Over four years ago, in late 2014, the second Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, conducted by Mayo Moran, submitted its final report to the Wynne Government. It called for beefed-up AODA enforcement. Among its recommendations were the following:

“A. Prepare and make public an enforcement plan.
Because of the uncertainty that has existed concerning the enforcement of the AODA, it is especially important for the Government to develop and make public an enforcement plan in a timely way. If the enforcement plan has not been released by the time this Report is published, I urge the Government to release it immediately. I emphasize that the credibility of the AODA regime at this juncture depends to a significant extent on confidence in the enforcement plan. Timeliness and public release of this plan are key factors in building the credibility that the AODA requires to achieve its crucial goals.

B. Build transparency into the enforcement plan.
Since sharing information can among other things help to enhance compliance, transparency is an increasingly significant feature of modern regulatory systems. Indeed, transparency is a common practice within the Government of Ontario itself. For example, the Ministry of Labour posts the number of employment standards inspections, investigations and prosecutions as well as lists of employers convicted, nature of offences and fines. It also identifies the top five complaints for each year. Similarly, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has a searchable online public record that lists businesses that have been charged and/or convicted under consumer protection legislation or that have not responded to the Ministry regarding a complaint. The Ontario Energy Board website posts annual complaints data for electricity retailers and natural gas marketers, by company (number of complaints per 1000 contracts).

In this context, it is important for the AODA enforcement plan to incorporate transparency. Making the results of AODA enforcement activities known in a timely way will achieve key accessibility objectives including encouraging greater compliance as well as enabling consumers and others to direct their choices to organizations that support accessibility.

I emphasize that timeliness is a key aspect of transparency. While time frames vary widely across government, some regulators post enforcement information on a quarterly basis or even more frequently. Given that enforcement was a top issue raised during the consultations for this Review, I recommend that the ADO release information on AODA enforcement actions at least every three months. This information should be posted promptly and should reflect quarterly results as well as year-to-date totals, broken down by sector and size of organization. At a minimum, it should include such measures as: Number of notices of proposed order issued
Total amount of proposed penalties
Number of orders issued and total amount of penalties imposed Number of appeals from orders and the outcome
Total amount of penalties including changes ordered by the appeal tribunal Orders categorized by subject matter.”

The Government has left the clear majority of this recommendation unimplemented. It only makes public an Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report annually. This is often posted weeks or months late. Those reports don’t include the totality of the information that the Mayo Moran Report recommended.

Therefore, on June 4, 2015, AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky submitted a Freedom of Information application to the Government. In it, he sought, among other things, the specific information that the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review had recommended. Specifically, he asked for this:

“5. Please provide information on enforcement action under the AODA taken in 2014 on a quarterly basis, and as an annual total, and for the current year on a quarterly basis to date, and as an aggregated total, broken down by sector (private sector versus public sector) and size of organization, including, e.g.

a) The number of organizations audited for compliance with the AODA and any accessibility standards enacted under it.

b) The number of organizations that were the subject of an inspection of their premises for compliance with the AODA and any accessibility standards enacted under it, by an inspector, appointed under s. 18 of the AODA, pursuant to s. 19 of the AODA. Included within this is a request to know the number of organizations that an inspector, appointed under s. 18 of the AODA, has physically visited to discharge the powers of conducting an inspection under the AODA.

c) The number of notices of proposed compliance orders issued under the AODA, also broken down by the AODA requirement with which there was a lack of compliance.

d) Numbers and amounts of proposed monetary penalties under the AODA, also broken down by AODA requirement with which there was a lack of compliance.

e) The number of compliance orders issued and numbers and amounts of monetary penalties imposed, each also broken down by AODA requirement with which there was a lack of compliance.

f) The number of appeals to the appeal tribunal designated under the AODA, from any AODA orders, and the outcome, also broken down by AODA requirement with which there was a lack of compliance. Please also provide copies of, or links to accessible postings of all appeal tribunal decisions.”

The Government insisted on a huge $4,250 fee for fulfilling his overall Freedom of Information application. He had to appeal to the Information and Privacy Commission. The Government fought him every step of the way. The Information and Privacy Commission knocked that fee down by over 80%, holding that the Government had substantially overcharged David Lepofsky. Nevertheless a fee remained in place for this part of Lepofsky’s request, among other things. The Wynne Government has refused to waive that fee, even though an August 6, 2017 Toronto Star editorial slammed the Government for insisting on that fee.

11. Failure to Effectively Publicize the Government’s Toll-Free Number for Reporting AODA Violations

In the 2014 election, Premier Wynne promised to establish and publicize a toll-free number for the public to report AODA violations, in connection with AODA enforcement. It took months of our advocacy to get this started. While it exists, there is no indication it has been effectively publicized. In fact the AODA Alliance appears to have done more than the Government to publicize it.

As a result of the Government’s poor effort on this, the Government’s 2017 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report states that a meagre 203 reports have been received on that hotline. We know from our contact with the public that far more AODA infractions are being experienced.

12. Conclusion: A Pressing Need for Prompt New Government Action on AODA Enforcement

Since we first made this issue public in the 2013 fall, the public and media have focused again and again on the Ontario Government’s having repeatedly fallen down on the job of AODA enforcement. This has led to media reports and newspaper editorials blasting the Government for its inadequate enforcement action.

What Ontario needs now is real action, such as the ramped-up enforcement and serious crackdown on AODA violators that the Government promised back on June 3, 2015. We also need AODA enforcement taken out of the Government’s belly and assigned to an independent arms-length public agency. The Government should not be investigating and enforcing against itself. Its efforts on enforcement should not be subject to so much political constraint.

When running for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Kathleen Wynne wrote the AODA Alliance on December 3, 2012, commendably pledging that as Premier, she would ensure that Ontario is on schedule for accessibility by 2025. It is clear to all, including to Ontarians with disabilities, that Ontario is behind schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025. The lack of effective AODA enforcement has been a major contributing cause.

Key Background Documents

1. Excerpt from Premier Wynne’s May 14, 2014 Letter to the AODA Alliance, Setting Out Her Government’s Disability Accessibility Promises in the 2014 Ontario Election

Originally posted at:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015-whats-new/may-14-2014-letter-from-liberal-party-leader-premier-kathleen-wynne-on-her-partys-2014-disability-accessibility-election-pledges/ “B. Ensure that all enforceable requirements under the AODA are effectively enforced

4. The Ontario Liberal Party is dedicated to pursuing compliance and enforcement action to bring more private sector organizations into compliance with AODA. To speak to our track record, 99 per cent of Designated Broader Public Sector Organizations have submitted their reports by the deadline to date. If I am elected, I will see to it that this becomes 100 per cent.

We will ensure that organizations that fail to comply with AODA requirements are met with monetary penalties and be subjected to prosecution, where necessary. Under my government, we issued the first monetary penalties. I am committed to using all enforcement provisions under the AODA to ensure that organizations that do not comply with the law are penalized and to encourage compliance. To date, my government has issued over 500 Notices of Director’s Orders and we will continue to send more out monthly. Paired with enforcement activities, we are actively reaching out to businesses and not-for-profit organizations to help them understand and follow their obligations under the AODA.

5. With respect to additional enforcement activities, we commit to investigating the possibility of having government inspectors and investigators enforce the AODA within the context of existing resources and as training capacity exists.

6. We will make a detailed plan on all enforcement activities available, along with establishing and publicizing an accessible toll-free phone number to report violations of AODA requirements. Unfortunately, communication of the enforcement plan is on hold during the writ period. I look forward to releasing it promptly should we win the honour of re-election.

7. To ensure increased transparency going forward, we will make an annual report publicly available on levels of compliance including the effectiveness of our enforcement measures.”

2. June 12, 2017 Letter from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to Accessibility Minister Tracy MacCharles

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance www.aodaalliance.org

June 12, 2017

Via Email Tracy.MacCharles@ontario.ca
The Honourable Tracy MacCharles,
Minister of Accessibility and Minister of Government and Consumer Services Office of the Minister Responsible for Accessibility
6th Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay St,
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2

Dear Minister,

Re Updated Information on the Government’s Enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

We would very much appreciate it if you could send us specific updated data on compliance with and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In the past, the Government has given us the kinds of data we request below. This is a request to get that information updated.

Specifically, we would welcome the following. It should be readily available to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario with minimal effort. It also should be helpful for you and your staff, in your work overseeing the AODA’s implementation and enforcement:

1. By December 31, 2012, private sector organizations in Ontario with at least 20 employees had to file a first Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Accessibility Report with the Government under s. 14 of the AODA.

a) As of the time you answer this letter, how many private sector organizations, that were required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012, had still not filed the required AODA Accessibility Report?

b) What percentage of the total number of private sector organizations which had been required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012 had not filed one as of the date of your response to this letter?

2. By December 31, 2014, private sector organizations in Ontario with at least 20 employees had to file a second AODA Accessibility Report with the Government under s. 14 of the AODA.

a) As of the time you answer this letter, how many private sector organizations, that were required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014, had still not filed the required 2014 AODA Accessibility Report?

b) What percentage of the total number of private sector organizations which had been required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014 had not filed one as of the date of your response to this letter?

3. As of the date of your response to this letter, how many private sector organizations that were required to file a first AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012, and a second AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014, had not filed either required report? Please state this as a number of organizations, and as a percentage of the organizations which were required to so file.

4. I understand from the Government’s AODA toll free line that designated public sector organizations were all required to file their most recent AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2015.

a) What number and percentage of all designated public sector organizations had filed their most recent AODA compliance report by December 31, 2015?

b) As of the date of your response to this letter, if all had still not filed them, how many have not filed them? And what percent of designated public sector organizations that were required to file then?

5. What number of specific enforcement actions has the Government taken in 2015, or 2016, or in 2017 up to now, broken down by year. to deploy its enforcement powers under the AODA, in relation to private sector organizations or in relation to public sector organizations, including how many audits, inspections, compliance orders imposed, or monetary penalties imposed, or other enforcement/compliance efforts (excluding efforts to inform or educate obligated organizations). We are eager to know this:

a) regarding private sector with under 20 employees

b) regarding private sector organizations with 20-50 employees

c) regarding private sector organizations with over 50 employees, and

d) regarding designated public sector organizations.

6. How many AODA audits or inspections did the Government plan to undertake for 2016? For 2017?

7. How many times have any compliance orders or monetary penalties, imposed under the AODA, been appealed to the License Appeal Tribunal, in 2015 or 2016 or in 2017 up to now? We would appreciate a copy in an accessible format or a link to any and all decisions, and a list of the tribunal’s decision or order or any settlement that is not confidential.

8. How many AODA compliance orders, monetary penalties or other enforcement efforts have been appealed to court in 2015, or 2016, or up to now in 2017? Please provide specifics of any such case or links to accessible postings of any decisions. How many such appeals or court proceedings are now pending?

9. How many times in 2015, or 2016 or 2017 to date has a compliance order or an administrative penalty order been filed with a local Registrar of the Superior Court of Justice under s. 23 of the AODA?

10. In the years 2016, and up to now in 2017, what are the numbers of:

a) Directors appointed under s. 30 of the AODA working within the Ontario Government or under its authority;

b) Inspectors appointed under s. 18 of the AODA employed in or on behalf of the Ontario Government;

c) Inspectors that the Government plans in the next six months to appoint under s. 18 of the AODA; and

d) Directors that the Government plans to appoint in the next six months under s. 30 of the AODA.

11. What is the budget that was appropriated for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario for the fiscal year 2014-15? How much of that amount did the Directorate spent in that fiscal year?

We would be happy to do whatever your Ministry may need us to do, to help clarify these questions, and to make it as easy as possible for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to promptly provide the answers. If some questions can quickly be answered, and others will take more time, we would welcome receiving it in stages, rather than having to wait until it is all assembled before we see any answers.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Premier Kathleen Wynne, premier@ontario.ca
Marie-Lison Fougère, Deputy Minister of Accessibility, marie-lison.fougere@ontario.ca
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, ann.hoy@ontario.ca Steve Orsini, Secretary to Cabinet steve.orsini@ontario.ca

3. July 20, 2017 Letter from Accessibility Minister Tracy MacCharles to the AODA Alliance

Minister Responsible
for Accessibility

6th Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto ON M7A 1L2

Ministre responsable
de lAccessibilité

Édifice Mowat, 6e étage
900, rue Bay
Toronto ON M7A 1L2

July 20, 2017

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your email regarding our governments enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Its always nice to hear from you.

Our government remains committed to implementing and enforcing the AODA, as well as other initiatives, such as Access Talent, our recently released Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities, that help promote a more accessible and inclusive Ontario. Currently, we are continuing to build momentum in the development and review of new and existing standards, with a new Health Standards Development Committee meeting and recruitment of Standards and Development Committee members for new Education Standards.

Of course, implementing and enforcing the AODA remains the foundational element in our plan to create an accessible province by 2025. And I am pleased to provide you with updated statistics in that regard where they are available.

At the closing of the 2012 reporting period in September 2014, 33,285 or 65 per cent of obligated organizations had not filed the 2012 Accessibility Compliance Report. This statistic will not change as the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO) then moved on to tracking submissions for the more recent compliance reports, and consequently removed the option to file the 2012 version.

By December 31, 2016, 30,152 or 57 per cent of obligated private sector organizations had not filed the 2014 Accessibility Compliance Report. As with the 2012 version of the report, this statistic will not change. Organizations could not file a 2014 report beyond December 31, 2016 because the 2017 reporting window had opened. As an updated version of the report is now expected, the ADO has removed the option to file the older 2014 version.

As for the number of obligated organizations required to file reports, these figures are obtained annually through information published by Statistics Canada. As this information does not specify which organizations have merged, opened, or closed within the last 12 months, it is not possible to compare data sets from one year to another.

As noted earlier, the total number of non-filers for the 2012 version of the report was 33,285 or 65 per cent based on the number of obligated organizations from Statistics Canada in 2012. Also, as of the end of 2016, the total number of non-filers for the 2014 version of the report was 30,152 or 57 per cent based on the number of obligated organizations from Statistics Canada in 2014.

Our government is committed to raising awareness about the AODA and the need for compliance and reporting, and we continue to reach out to organizations in a variety of ways. For instance, when the accessibility compliance reporting rate was under 100 per cent at the end of 2015, the ADOs compliance assurance units proactively contacted all remaining public sector non-filers in early 2016 in order to offer assistance. Thanks to these efforts, the 2015 version of the accessibility compliance report reached a 100 per cent filing rate.

The ADO views compliance activities, like audits, as opportunities to identify challenges and help organizations overcome them. The idea is to offer compliance assistance to help more organizations to come into compliance. In cases where non-compliance persists, the ADO will exercise its authority to enforce the law by issuing Directors Orders, which may include an administrative monetary penalty. The ADO also has the authority to recommend that organizations who have committed an offence under the AODA be prosecuted through the courts.

As the government has indicated in its public reports on AODA compliance, the majority of the ADOs compliance activities are organized and tracked based on the requirement being audited rather than employee size. Although organizations being audited on the requirement to file an accessibility compliance report could fall into any of the employee categories listed in your question, the ADO groups and tracks them together under the single requirement to file.

In 2015, the ADOs compliance activities focused on business/non-profit sector (BNP) organizations. There were 1,324 compliance activities that year, with 26 files escalated to the inspector for review. Additional information about these activities can be found in the governments 2015 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report.

In 2016, the ADO conducted compliance activities among 250 designated public sector organizations and 1,354 BNP organizations. There were 1,604 compliance activities that year, including two Directors Orders that involved a requirement to pay an administrative monetary penalty. Furthermore, an additional 498 compliance activities among BNP organizations were conducted in 2016 through a pilot program by a third-party service provider. Among these 498 activities, zero files required escalation to the inspector. Additional information about these activities can be found in the governments 2016 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report.

Over the last few years, the ADO has aimed to enlarge its compliance footprint in the province by increasing the number of activities undertaken year over year, while still maintaining its modern, assistive approach to compliance assurance. In 2016, the ADO achieved this by completing 1,604 compliance activities, exceeding 2015s total by 280. In 2017, the ADO will aim once again to expand its compliance activities, supporting the Ministers mandate letter priority to take progressive steps to increase compliance and enforcement.

In 2015, 2016, and 2017, no Directors Orders (with or without monetary penalties) were appealed to the License Appeal Tribunal. No Directors Orders (with or without monetary penalties) were appealed to the court in these years. And no Directors Orders (with or without monetary penalties) were filed with a local Registrar of the Superior Court of Justice during this same timeframe.

Regarding directors and inspectors working within the Government of Ontario, there are currently three directors and two inspectors appointed under the AODA. Further to that, no activities are taking place regarding recruitment or appointment for these positions at this time.

As for budget, were happy to share with you information from the governments 2014-15 printed estimates and public accounts, volume 1. This indicates that the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario had a budget of $15,071,800 and actual spending of $13,758,104. The budget breakdown is noted in the cart below.

Accessibility Directorate of Ontario Allocation
Budget
Actual
Salaries and wages
5,690,900
5,595,957
Employee benefits
815,400
731,060
Transportation and communication
143,000
151,981
Services
6,683,700
4,431,711
Supplies and equipment
238,800
107,714
Transfer payments

EnAbling Change
1,500,000
2,739,681
Total Operating Expense Allocation
15,071,800
13,758,104
I trust that you will find this update helpful. And I would like to thank you, once again, for your continued support. The feedback we receive from Ontarians helps inform our collaborative approach to accessibility. I look forward to continuing our work with organizations, businesses, stakeholders, and members of the public, so that we stay on track to becoming an accessible province by 2025.

Sincerely,

Original signed by

Tracy MacCharles
Minister

c: The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier
Steve Orsini, Secretary of the Cabinet, Head of the Ontario Public Service
Marie-Lison Fougère, Deputy Minister of Accessibility, Francophone Affairs and Senior Affairs
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Susan Picarello, Assistant Deputy Minister, Employment Division, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

4. The Ontario Governments 2015 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report

Ontario Government Public 2015 Report on Its Efforts or Plans on the Enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Originally posted at
https://www.ontario.ca/page/accessibility-compliance-and-enforcement-report

Top of Form

The Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report
This report outlines how the Government of Ontario built awareness, promoted compliance and enforced the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the Act) in 2015.

On this page
1. Getting to compliance
2. Building awareness
3. Encouraging compliance
4. Verifying and enforcing compliance
5. Compliance and enforcement going forward

Getting to compliance
2015 was another busy year for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. As we hit the half-way point in our goal of an accessible Ontario by 2025, we continued in our efforts to: * build awareness of the Act and the five accessibility standards * encourage compliance reporting through submission of self-certified reports * enforce compliance of the Act

Building awareness
In 2015, we continued to work hard to build awareness of accessibility requirements and the many tools and resources we offer to help organizations fulfill their obligations.

We launched a marketing campaign focused on the accessible employment standard and the need for businesses and non-profits with 50+ employees to comply with it starting January 1, 2016. The standard requires that organizations make their employment practices accessible to people with disabilities. The campaign, which ran into the early part of 2016, encouraged affected businesses to visit the government webpage for accessibility information, and take advantage of the free templates and other compliance resources.

As part of the campaign, advertisements were placed:
* in elevators in office buildings of larger organizations
* as radio and print ads placed in major urban centers
* in publications such as The Globe and Mail

Encouraging compliance
To encourage compliance, we continued to reach out to the 400,000 companies, non-profits and public sector organizations across the province required to meet the accessibility standards. Our message was clear. You need to: * understand your legal obligations
* make sure you are in compliance with the standards applicable to your organization * submit a self-certified report

In 2015, we continued our efforts to get the word out across the province. Our activities included:
* 254 outreach opportunities across the province such as community fairs, trade shows, and business conferences * speaking with 27,547 people and distributing information on accessibility * 31 webinar presentations

We also launched a new website to make it easier to understand and complete compliance requirements. The website includes a new online feedback page which will help us improve accessibility in Ontario.

In addition, our dedicated help desk provided one-on-one assistance to thousands of organizations.

We also continued to expand our reach through our EnAbling Change program. This program funds projects with industry leaders to support organizations in their compliance with the Act. Through EnAbling Change, we empower organizations to become champions of accessibility by connecting them with partners in a variety of sectors who demonstrate a commitment to accessibility. In 2015, we worked with 18 partners on projects that ranged from supporting employers in complying with the accessible employment standard to promoting a cultural shift for organizations to move beyond the requirements of the Act.

A particular emphasis in 2015 was put on providing information and support to broader public sector organizations that were required to file compliance reports by December 31, 2015. These include school boards, colleges and universities, hospitals, provincial agencies and municipalities.

To remind them of their obligations and the free online tools and resources we provide to help them comply we delivered tailored presentations and webinars, sent out emails and made phone calls to senior officials in the broader public sector.

By the December 31, 2015 deadline, 91% of broader public sector organizations had submitted their reports. Since the deadline that number has climbed to 99%.

Verifying and enforcing compliance
In addition to building awareness and helping organizations comply with the Act, the Directorate also verifies and enforces compliance.

In 2015, we conducted 1,324 compliance activities, surpassing our public commitment of 1,200. We reached out to organizations that had either: * never filed an accessibility compliance report
* not met their requirements under the law
* filed a report in 2012 but not in 2014

As part of these activities, we audited 324 organizations that had filed a fully compliant report in order to verify they were in compliance. Organizations were audited on a variety of requirements across the standards and not all organizations were audited on the same set of requirements.

Our audits revealed that, for the most part, organizations across Ontario are fulfilling the core requirements. Specifically:
* 93% of 224 organizations audited on the requirement to have accessible customer service policies, practices and procedures in place were compliant
* 91% of 202 organizations audited on providing individualized workplace emergency response information were compliant
* 90% of 224 organizations audited on providing a feedback process on accessible customer service were compliant

Where they fell down was in fulfilling some of the sub-sections of the standards. For instance, when it came to the requirement to have in place a multi-year accessibility plan:
* 31% of the 150 organizations audited had not posted their plan on their website
* 22% of the 150 organizations audited had not included a commitment to review and update their plan at least every 5 years
* 18% of the 150 organizations audited didnt include a commitment to provide their plan in an accessible format upon request

In addition, 16% of 50 organizations audited on customer service training didnt include at least one of the mandatory subjects, such as how to interact with persons who use assistive devices.
The number of audits, types of organizations and requirements reviewed vary from year to year. As a result, compliance rates are not directly comparable across years. For example, the variability in compliance in 2015 versus 2014 is illustrated in the table below. Future compliance rates will also vary, and it is possible that the rate of compliance may decrease in 2016 as organizations may be less familiar with new requirements that are audited.

Compliance Rates in 2015 versus 2014
Year
Sectors
Requirements
Audits
Compliance Rate
2014
Private sector (41 organizations with 20-49 employees, 56 with 50+ employees) Broader public sector
Customer Service Standard Sections 3(5), 6(5), 7(4)
Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation Sections 4(1), 5(1-2), 7(1-4), 11(1), 16, 22, 23(1-2), 27(1), 34 (1-2), 36 (1-2), 41(1,2), 42(1),43(1) 197
46%
2015
Private sector (focus on organizations with 500+ employees)
Customer Service Standard 3(5), 6(5), 7(4)
Integrated Accessibility Standards 4(1), 11(1), 27(1)
324
69% The Directorate issued compliance plans to 31% of the 324 organizations selected for audit. A compliance plan lays out the steps an organization must take to come into compliance. These plans are only considered closed once the Directorate has confirmed that the steps required to become compliant have been met by the organization. A compliance plan is ranked according to the severity of non-compliance, from low to high. The vast majority of the plans issued were of low to moderate severity, and all but one of the organizations that received a plan were brought into compliance without the involvement of an Inspector.

Organizations that are uncooperative in responding to the requests of the Directorate, including meeting compliance plan due dates, are referred to an inspector. An Inspector can recommend enforcement measures to the AODA director. These measures may include a directors order to comply, a monetary penalty, and prosecution. The Directorate has issued directors orders to non-compliant organizations ordering them to pay monetary penalties.

Of the 1,324 compliance activities that took place in 2015, 26 files in total were sent to an inspector. Of these escalated files, 84% were resolved in 2015. The Directorate will continue to pursue enforcement with the remaining 16%.

Included in these compliance activities was a targeted audit blitz among 100 large retail organizations. The blitz focused on encouraging organizations to meet their obligations and verify that they are taking the appropriate steps to ensure that their workplaces and employment practices are accessible. The blitz helped to gauge organizations preparedness to meet requirements of the employment standard coming into effect in 2016. In particular, the blitz looked at the requirements to develop a multi-year accessibility plan, and to prepare for emergency situations by providing employees with disabilities with individualized workplace emergency response information.

The results were encouraging. Out of 100 organizations:
* 86 had a multi-year accessibility plan in place
* 91 had individualized workplace emergency response information in place
* 34 compliance plans were issued. The majority were ranked as low severity. Only 2 organizations required enforcement measures involving the inspector.

Finally, in 2015 we:
* conducted a site visit to verify compliance within the Ontario Public Service (OPS). As a result of the tools and assistance offered, the OPS is now in compliance with the audited requirements
* continued our partnerships with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Labour to conduct 50 audits respectively, on a pilot project basis:
o Ministry of Labour inspectors collected documentation that organizations are required to produce under the Customer Service Standard.
o Ministry of Transportations Carrier Safety & Enforcement Branch and Regional Operations Branch similarly helped the Directorate in conducting audits among businesses that have a trucking component to their operations
* promoted and monitored our feedback phone line and webpage, and received 58 comments about the standards by phone and email. These comments may inform future outreach activities, audits, and legislative reviews. Out of these interactions the top 3 categories for feedback were the: o customer service standard
o design of public spaces standard
o information and communications standard

Compliance and enforcement going forward
Overall, many organizations are incorporating accessibility into their daily business practices.
Our 2015 public education initiatives clearly show that organizations benefit from practical and tailored information about accessibility compliance. Going forward, we will continue to provide this help to our stakeholders via: * webinars
* a regular e-newsletter
* targeted partnerships to reach specific sectors

In 2016, we will continue to encourage and verify compliance by:
* connecting via phone, email and/or direct mail with those that didnt file a 2014 compliance report or have never filed one * helping those whose 2014 reports show they are not in compliance * auditing those that filed a report indicating they are in full compliance

In 2016, we will continue our focus on the accessible employment standard to create inclusive workplaces that are accessible and which allow employees to reach their full potential. We will:
* increase our compliance efforts across private, non-profit, and public sectors
* conduct another sector-specific audit blitz to verify compliance with the employment standard, with a focus on the new requirements that have come into effect in 2016
* audit organizations that need to comply with the Act, but are not required to submit reports because they have fewer than 20 employees * audit “high-risk” organizations (ones with a history of non-compliance)
* continue to work with the Ministry of Transportation to complete the compliance pilot project that began in 2015
* work with a third-party service provider on a pilot project to complete up to 500 compliance activities

In short, we will continue to work hard to build awareness of the Act, and encourage and enforce compliance with it.

In presenting the report, we want to remind those who are experiencing challenges with compliance to visit Ontario.ca/Accessibility to find information on your obligations, and have access to multiple tools and resources to help you comply with the law.

We thank the many thousands of organizations that have embraced the vision of an accessible Ontario. Were confident youre seeing the benefits of your actions, and encourage you to continue to spread the word.

Frequently asked questions
Next
Updated: June 20, 2017

5. Ontario Government’s 2016 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report

Accessibility compliance and enforcement report 2016

Originally posted at:
https://www.ontario.ca/page/accessibility-compliance-and-enforcement-report-2016 Accessibility compliance and enforcement report 2016

This report outlines the activities undertaken by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario in 2016 to oversee compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the act) and its accessibility standards.

1. On this page Overseeing compliance Building awareness 1. Encouraging compliance
2. Verifying and enforcing compliance
3. Compliance and enforcement going forward

Overseeing compliance
The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario continued its compliance efforts in the following key areas: * Building awareness
o Strategic marketing campaigns that remind organizations of their requirements * Encouraging compliance
o Conducting education and outreach activities among the 400,000 obligated organizations across the province * Verifying and enforcing compliance
o Undertaking 1,604 compliance activities that help organizations understand and meet their requirements * Compliance and enforcement going forward
o Identifying compliance goals for 2017 that will help support the priorities outlined in the Premiers 2016 Mandate Letter to the Minister

Building awareness
Timelines for compliance with the requirements of the accessibility standards are being phased-in until 2021 and vary depending on an organizations size (i.e., small being 49 employees or less and large being 50 employees or more) and its sector (i.e., private/non-profit, public sector, or government of Ontario).

This past year we re-launched the marketing campaign on the employment standards for accessibility, highlighting the January 2017 compliance deadline for businesses and non-profits with 1-49 employees. The employment standards are fully in effect and require obligated organizations with one or more employees in Ontario (the standards do not apply to the federal government or providers of goods, services and facilities that are under federal jurisdiction) to meet accessibility requirements in their employment practices.

The campaign, which began in the fall of 2016, encouraged obligated businesses to visit the government webpage for accessibility information, and take advantage of the free templates and other compliance resources.

As part of the campaign, advertisements were placed:
* as print ads in newspapers
* on English, French and multicultural radio stations in major urban centres * as banner ads on websites

Encouraging compliance
We continued to reach out to the over 400,000 businesses, non-profits and public sector organizations across the province required to meet the accessibility standards. Our message was clear. You need to: * understand your legal obligations
* make sure you are in compliance with the standards applicable to your organization * make sure you have submitted your most recent self-certified report

Our activities in 2016 included:
* participating in over 80 events across the province such as community fairs, trade shows, and business conferences * launching two updated newsletter formats reaching over 6,000 subscribers: o a quarterly edition about whats new in our accessibility work
o a monthly bulletin that highlights helpful tools and tips to meet accessibility requirements
* 18 webinars delivered to all obligated sectors providing additional information and answering questions on the requirements of the standards
* sending over 30,000 reminder emails to organizations about their upcoming requirements

In addition, our dedicated help desk provided assistance through thousands of one-on-one interactions with organizations and individuals. Our agents offered support by answering questions about the act and its standards, providing assistance to encourage compliance with Ontarios accessibility laws.

We also continued to expand our reach through our EnAbling Change program. This program funds projects with industry leaders to support organizations in their compliance with the act. Through EnAbling Change, we empower organizations in a variety of sectors to become champions of accessibility. In 2016, we worked with partners on projects that ranged from supporting employers in complying with the employment standards to promoting a cultural shift to move Ontario organizations beyond the minimum requirements of the act.

Verifying and enforcing compliance
In addition to building awareness and helping organizations comply with the act, we also verify and enforce compliance. In 2016, we conducted 1,604 compliance activities, including Phase 1 and Phase 2 audits. Phase 1 audits focus on an organizations requirement to submit a self-certified accessibility compliance report online. In a Phase 2 audit, documents are requested and reviewed for the purposes of verifying compliance with other requirements beyond reporting.

Accessibility compliance reporting activities and trends for 2016
The requirement to submit accessibility compliance reports is established under the act and the calendar year of 2017 is the next reporting year for all obligated organizations. While organizations can be selected for audit whether they submit a report or not, a large component of compliance activities center around organizations that have failed to file their most recent report.
For example, in 2016, 1,205 audits were completed at the Phase 1 level among organizations that had either: * never filed an accessibility compliance report
* reported they had not met their requirements under the law * filed a report in 2012 but not in 2014

In conducting these activities we observed a number of trends in compliance:
* of the Phase 1 audits initiated in 2016, 95% were completed without requiring escalation to Phase 2 or enforcement, aligning with our overall compliance assurance approach
* a progressive approach to compliance reduces the need for punitive, enforcement measures by providing upfront education, resources and 1:1 compliance improvement opportunities that help organizations understand and meet their requirements
* 93% answered yes to providing emergency procedure plans or public safety information to the public in an accessible format, when asked
* 89% responded that they provided tailored emergency response information for their employees who had disabilities, when asked
* 81% were complying with the requirements of the Customer Service Standards that came into effect prior to the reporting year, according to their submitted accessibility compliance reports

We reached out to business and non-profit organizations that had never filed accessibility compliance reports. These activities continue to fulfill our commitment to increasing compliance reporting rates. By December 31, 2016, 43% of business/non-profit sector organizations had submitted their most recent version of the accessibility compliance report, up from 38% in 2014.
In 2015, 91% of designated public sector organizations submitted their accessibility reports. In 2016, we continued to work with the remaining organizations until 100% of all public sector organizations had met their reporting requirement.

2017 marks the first year where every sector (government, public, business/non-profit) is required to submit an accessibility compliance report. Approximately 56,000 organizations have until December 31, 2017 to submit their reports.

Phase 2 audits
In 2016, 361 audits were closed at the Phase 2 level. These audits requested evidence to either confirm compliance from organizations that had filed a fully compliant report or assist those that had failed to come into compliance at Phase 1. They were audited on a variety of requirements across the standards and not all organizations were audited on the same set of requirements. Among Phase 2 organizations, the following trends were found:
* 92% notified employees and the public about the availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities in their recruitment process
* 90% provided individualized workplace emergency response information for employees with disabilities
* 68% provided accessibility training to staff, volunteers and contract workers as soon as practicable

In general, the number of audits, types of organizations, and requirements reviewed vary from year to year. There are, however, four accessibility requirements that are verified year-over-year in order to identify trends in compliance across all types of organizations. These requirements have been selected because they speak to the spirit of the act and are best suited to gauge the progress being made in establishing an accessible Ontario by 2025:
* compliance in establishing accessibility policies, developing a multi-year accessibility plan and training staff suggests that an organization has a broad understanding of their requirements and what it means to provide goods, services or facilities in an accessible way
* establishing a system for receiving and responding to public feedback related to accessibility reflects an organizations preparedness and willingness to improve accessibility to goods, services or facilities in Ontario

In 2015, a selection of large organizations from the business/non-profit sector was audited on one or more of the four foundational requirements. Their rates of compliance were: * Develop accessibility policies: 93%
* Provide accessibility training: 80%
* Establish a method to receive and respond to public feedback on accessibility: 90% * Develop a multi-year accessibility plan: 65%

In 2016, a selection of small organizations from the business/non-profit sector was audited on three foundational requirements. Their rates of compliance were: * Develop accessibility policies: 64%
* Provide accessibility training: 63%
* Establish a method to receive and respond to public feedback on accessibility: 92%
In 2016, organizations from the designated public sector were audited on the foundational requirement to develop a multi-year accessibility plan. Audits completed among these public sector organizations with this particular requirement resulted in a compliance rate of 66%.

Compliance plans
We issued compliance plans to 45% (164) of the 361 organizations selected for Phase 2 audit in 2016. A compliance plan lays out the steps an organization must take to come into compliance. It is confirmed that an organization has put these prescribed steps in place before the plan is considered closed or completed.

Organizations that are uncooperative in responding to our requests, including meeting compliance plan due dates, are referred to an inspector. An inspector can either conduct an on-site inspection or recommend enforcement measures to the Director appointed under the act. Enforcement may include a Directors Order to comply, a monetary penalty, and prosecution. 84% (138) of 164 organizations that received a plan were brought into compliance without the involvement of an inspector.

Of the 1,604 compliance activities that took place in 2016, 38 were sent to an inspector with only two requiring monetary penalties.

Targeted audit blitz
Each year we conduct a targeted audit blitz intended to focus on a specific sector, verifying compliance with specific requirements. The 1,604 compliance activities included a targeted Phase 2 audit blitz of 125 large organizations from Ontarios hospitality sector.

The blitz focussed on the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation employment standards requirements to:
* notify employees and the public about the availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities in the recruitment process
* notify successful applicants of policies for accommodating employees with disabilities when making offers of employment

These requirements are valuable indicators of an organizations commitment to accessibility as they require employers to actively promote those policies to the public and to staff.

The results were encouraging. Out of 125 organizations audited as part of the blitz:
* 109 or 87% notified their employees of available accommodations for applicants with disabilities during the recruitment process
* 101 or 81% notified the successful applicants of their policies for accommodating employees with disabilities

22 compliance plans were issued. All compliance plan deadlines were met and no organizations required enforcement measures.

Public feedback
We continued to promote and monitor the single point of contact phone number that the public can use to receive information about the act, request assistance and provide feedback or complaints. The accessibility-related feedback was recorded and is used to identify trends and inform official legislative reviews, as well as outreach and compliance activities. In 2016, we received 103 comments about the act.

Out of these interactions the top three categories related to the standards were: * customer service
* transportation
* design of public spaces

Pilot project to increase enforcement capacity
As outlined in Ontarios Accessibility Action Plan, the government is committed to collaborating with service providers on pilot projects to enhance our compliance and outreach activities. In 2016, we secured a service provider to increase our capacity to verify and enforce compliance with the act to more than 400,000 obligated organizations in Ontario.

To ensure consistency, the service provider was trained using the same processes that were developed for, and used by, our own compliance and enforcement staff.

In addition to the 1,604 compliance activities conducted internally, the pilot resulted in 424 Phase 1 audits among organizations that failed to meet their reporting requirements and 74 Phase 2 audits among organizations that had submitted accessibility reports indicating compliance. The service provider also conducted 700 outreach calls reminding organizations of their compliance requirements.

We are currently assessing the data received from these additional compliance activities. Further opportunities to work with service delivery partners may be explored next year.

Compliance and enforcement going forward
Compliance activities conducted in 2016 reveal that overall many organizations are incorporating accessibility into their daily business practices.

Our 2016 public education initiatives show that organizations benefit from practical and tailored information about accessibility compliance. We will continue to provide this help to our stakeholders through: * webinars
* regular monthly bulletins
* targeted partnerships to reach specific sectors

In 2017, we will conduct compliance and enforcement activities that will:
* help increase compliance reporting rates among business/non-profit sector organizations
* raise awareness among obligated organizations of their requirements under the act
* allow us to verify compliance and conduct enforcement activities among a greater number of organizations
* support the implementation of a Provincial Employment Strategy for people with disabilities

In order to achieve these goals, we will:
* help organizations submit their accessibility reports using our new, easier to use reporting process
* increase our compliance efforts across public, business/non-profit sectors (including those that are not obligated to submit accessibility reports) * increase to two targeted audit blitzes instead of one
* explore opportunities to work with a third party service provider to conduct additional compliance activities on our behalf
* continue to audit the requirements of the employment standards to help ensure that organizations are establishing a baseline level of accessibility in their employment practices

The results of these activities will be made available in the next Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report. We are committed to report annually on our compliance activities as well as any observable trends.

In presenting the report, we want to remind those who are experiencing challenges with compliance to visit Ontario.ca/Accessibility to find information on your obligations, and access multiple tools and resources to help you comply with the law.

We thank the many thousands of organizations that have embraced the vision of an accessible Ontario. Were confident youre seeing the benefits of your actions, and encourage you to continue to spread the word.

Updated: June 28, 2017
Published: June 21, 2017

6. September 1,2017 Email to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky from Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

Dear David,

Per your request, please find attached a Word document with the budget information available to date.

Yours,
Ann

From: David Lepofsky
Sent: August 14, 2017 10:55 AM
To: Fougère, Marie-Lison (OFA)
Cc: Hoy, Ann (MEDG/MRIS); Pretlove, David (MGCS)
Subject: An on-the-record request

What is the budget that was appropriated for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario for the fiscal year 2015-16 and the budget that was appropriated for the fiscal year 2016-17? For each of those years, how much of that amount did the Directorate spent in that fiscal year?

Enclosure

Accessibility Directorate of Ontario Historical Financial Information for the fiscal periods of 2015-16 and 2016-17

The following table contains the budget that was appropriated for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and the actual results for the fiscal year 2015-16. The table also includes the budget that was appropriated for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario for the fiscal period 2016-17. The actual results for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario for the fiscal period 2016-17 are not available for this table as at September 1, 2017. These results will be made available upon the tabling of the 2016-17 Public Accounts with the Legislature.

Standard Account
2015-16 Appropriation
2015-16 Actual
2016-17 Appropriation
2016-17 Actual
Salaries and wages
5,690,900
6,116,845
5,690,900
Not available
Employee benefits
815,400
835,617
815,400
Not available
Transportation and communication
143,000
151,446
143,000
Not available
Services
6,683,700
5,076,118
6,683,700
Not available
Supplies and Equipment
238,800
106,199
238,800
Not available
Transfer payment: Enabling Change
1,500,000
2,147,373
1,500,000
Not available
Total
15,071,800
14,433,598
15,071,800
Not available 2015-16 Appropriation (Source: 2015-16 Printed Estimates, Volume 1) 2015-16 Actual (Source: 2015-16 Public Accounts, Volume 1)
2016-17 Appropriation (Source: 2016-17 Printed Estimates, Volume 1)

7. October 3, 2017 Email from Assistant Deputy Minister Ann Hoy to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

Good afternoon, David

The responsive documents provided as Phase One of the Information and Privacy Commissioners Order PO-3755, contain plans, policies, directives or instructions for enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA), or of any accessibility standards enacted under it.

These documents include foundational materials that reference an ongoing commitment to exploring opportunities to increase compliance activities.

The concept of conducting compliance activities among 1% of the obligated universe per year was first outlined in the Accessibility Directorate of Ontarios (the Directorate) Integrity Model Strategy (IMS).

The IMS was developed in 2011 and was provided to you as part of a similar request for information in 2013. As this document was already provided in 2013, it was not included in the package that was released under the June 2015 Freedom of Information request.

The IMS is intended to help ensure integrity in the framework used to oversee compliance with the AODA by outlining goals and priorities that help:

Use resources efficiently;
Respond to changing compliance risks effectively; and
Address varied compliance risks between sectors, sizes of organizations, etc.

As outlined in the Accessibility Directorate of Ontarios 2014 Accessibility Compliance Action Plan, the government is committed to collaborating with partners on pilot projects that can enhance our compliance and outreach activities. The 2016 calendar year marked the first step in piloting an Augmented Service Delivery program with a third party service provider. The 2016 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report highlights the results of the Directorates pilot, securing a service provider to increase the capacity to verify and enforce compliance with the AODA and the accessibility standards.

The strategy of progressively working towards conducting compliance activities among 1% of the obligated universe, as well as using a third party to assist in that work, are concepts that are reflected in responsive documents that were provided as part of Phase One of the Information and Privacy Commissioners Order PO-3755 (e.g., slides 6 and 7 of Compliance MO Briefing Deck -v 2 (Mar 30 2015) (2)).

As you are aware, through the recent ADO organizational realignment, a new and dedicated compliance and enforcement branch within the ADO has been created to enable a more robust and strategic focus on activities in this area.

This realignment, combined with our ongoing strategy to strengthen our compliance footprint, will reinforce our ability to advance accessibility and make meaningful progress towards assuring compliance with the AODA across Ontario. Yours,

Ann Hoy
Assistant Deputy Minister
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
416 325-5247
www.ontario.ca/accessibility

8. February 1, 2018 Letter from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to Accessibility Minister Tracy MacCharles ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance www.aodaalliance.org

February 1, 2018

Via Email Tracy.MacCharles@ontario.ca

The Honourable Tracy MacCharles,
Minister of Accessibility and Minister of Government and Consumer Services Office of the Minister Responsible for Accessibility
6th Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay St,
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2

Dear Minister,

Re Seeking Updated Information on the Government’s Enforcement and Implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

We would appreciate specific updated data on compliance with and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to supplement information your Ministry provided in the past.

This information is readily available to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario with minimal effort. This information should be helpful for you, in your work overseeing the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.

The information we seek will be important for the person whom your Government appoints to conduct the next Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. As you know, you are required to appoint that next AODA Independent Review within the next 12 days or less. We urge your Government to appoint this AODA Independent Review by the AODA’s deadline. Your Government failed to meet the mandatory deadline in 2013 for appointing the last AODA Independent Review. That had set a poor example for other obligated organizations who must meet AODA deadlines.

The June 7, 2018 Ontario election is fast approaching. We will again be raising disability accessibility issues in that election, in our non-partisan way. We would appreciate as prompt a response from you as possible, so that this information will be available to the Ontario public well before the election.

We would welcome the following.

1. Your Government promised to make public annual AODA Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement reports. We have been unable to find an Accessibility compliance and enforcement report for 2017. The Government’s 2016 report was posted in June 2017.

Has the Government prepared an Accessibility compliance and enforcement report for 2017? If so, please provide it to us. If not, when will it be made public?

2. By December 31, 2017, private sector organizations in Ontario with at least 20 employees had to file a third AODA Accessibility Report with the Government under s. 14 of the AODA.

a) As of December 31, 2017, how many private sector organizations in Ontario had at least 20 employees?

b) As of the time you answer this letter, how many private sector organizations that were required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2017, had still not filed the required 2017 AODA Accessibility Report?

c) What percentage of the total number of private sector organizations which had been required to file an AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2017 had not filed one as of the date of your response to this letter?

d) As of the date of your response to this letter, how many private sector organizations that were required to file an AODA accessibility report by December 31, 2017, had failed to do so, and had also failed to file a required AODA accessibility report either by December 31, 2012 or by December 31, 2014 (i.e. two-time violators)? Please state this as a number of organizations, and as a percentage of the organizations which were required to so file.

e) As of the date of your response to this letter, how many private sector organizations that were required to file a first AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012, a second AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2014, and a third AODA accessibility report by December 31, 2017, had not filed any of these three required reports? (i.e. three-time violators) Please state this as a number of organizations, and as a percentage of the organizations which were required to so file.

3. Designated public sector organizations were all required to file their most recent AODA Accessibility Report by December 31, 2017.

a) What number and percentage of all designated public sector organizations had filed their most recent AODA compliance report by December 31, 2017?

b) As of the date of your response to this letter, if all had still not filed them, how many have not filed them? And what percent of designated public sector organizations that were required to file then?

4. In 2016, how many private sector organizations had their place of business subject to an on-site inspection under the AODA by or on behalf of the Ontario Government? Of those:

a) How many had under 20 employees?

b) How many had 20-49 employees?

c) How many had 50 or more employees?

5. In 2016, how many private sector organizations were subject to an audit under the AODA by or on behalf of the Ontario Government, but with no on-site inspection of their place of business? Of those organizations:

a) How many had under 20 employees?

b) How many had 20-49 employees?

c) How many had 50 or more employees?

6. In 2016, how many public sector organizations were subject to an audit under the AODA by or on behalf of the Ontario Government, but with no on-site inspection of their place of business?

7. In 2016, how many public sector organizations had their place of business subject to an on-site inspection under the AODA by or on behalf of the Ontario Government?

8. In 2017, how many private sector organizations had their place of business subject to an on-site inspection under the AODA, by or on behalf of the Ontario Government? Of those private sector organizations:

a) How many had under 20 employees?

b) How many had 20-49 employees?

c) How many had 50 or more employees?

9. In 2017, how many private sector organizations were subject to an audit under the AODA by or on behalf of the Ontario Government, but with no on-site inspection of their place of business? Of those organizations:

a) How many had under 20 employees?

b) How many had 20-49 employees?

c) How many had 50 or more employees?

10. In 2017, how many public sector organizations had their place of business subject to an on-site inspection by or on behalf of the Ontario Government under the AODA?

11. In 2017, how many public sector organizations were subject to an audit under the AODA by or on behalf of the Ontario Government, but with no on-site inspection of their place of business?

12. In 2016 and in 2017 (broken down by year), for how many obligated organizations, has all or part of their website been audited or inspected by or on behalf of the Ontario Government, for compliance with AODA accessibility standards?

a) for private sector organizations with under 50 employees

b) for private sector organizations with 50 or more employees, and

c) for public sector organizations.

13. In 2018, at the place of business of how many obligated organizations does the Ontario Government plan to have an on-site AODA inspection?

14. In 2018, how many obligated organizations does the Ontario Government plan to audit for AODA compliance, without conducting an on-site inspection of the organization’s place of business?

15. In 2017, how many compliance orders were issued under the AODA?

16. In 2017, how many monetary penalties were imposed under the AODA? What were their amounts? How many were against private sector organizations? How many were against public sector organizations?

17. In 2017, how many times were AODA compliance orders or monetary penalties appealed to the License Appeal Tribunal?

18. In 2017, how many AODA compliance orders, monetary penalties or other enforcement efforts were appealed to court? Please provide specifics of any such case or links to accessible postings of any decisions. How many such appeals or court proceedings are pending?

19. In 2017, how many times has an AODA compliance order or an administrative penalty order been filed with a local Registrar of the Superior Court of Justice under s. 23 of the AODA?

20. As of now, what are the numbers of:

a) Directors appointed under s. 30 of the AODA working within the Ontario Government or under its authority?

b) Inspectors appointed under s. 18 of the AODA employed in or on behalf of the Ontario Government?

c) Inspectors the Government plans in the next six months to appoint under s. 18 of the AODA?

d) Directors that the Government plans to appoint in the next six months under s. 30 of the AODA?

21. What is the budget that was appropriated for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario for the fiscal year 2017-18? How much of that amount has the Directorate spent so far?

22. The June 3, 2015 Toronto Star included an article, on new plans for AODA enforcement. Among other things, it stated the following, regarding complaints of AODA violations which the Government receives on its toll-free line, which the Government promised to provide for the public to report AODA violations:

“New monthly reports to the minister’s office on complaints will ensure systemic problems are addressed promptly, officials say.”

We would welcome a chance to receive copies of those monthly reports since the Government made that commitment. If it would be burdensome to receive them for that entire period, please let us know what shorter period would be feasible. If any reports contain any personal information, we do not seek access to that personal information.

23. In 2016-2017, the Government hired the Leadership Intelligence consulting firm to conduct a review of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. The Accessibility Directorate is the lead Government office for the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We request a copy of the report which Leadership Intelligence submitted on the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act does not exempt from mandatory public disclosure, the advice to a minister or ministry, if, according to s. 13 (2) (f), it is:

” (f) a report or study on the performance or efficiency of an institution, whether the report or study is of a general nature or is in respect of a particular program or policy;”

As the chair of the AODA Alliance, the Leadership Intelligence consulting firm consulted me in late fall 2016, as part of this study. The focus of that consultation was on the performance and efficiency of the Accessibility Directorate.

As always, we are happy to do whatever we can, to make it as easy as possible for you to promptly provide answers. If some questions can quickly be answered, and others will take more time, we would welcome receiving the requested information in stages, rather than having to wait until it is all assembled before we see any answers.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Premier Kathleen Wynne, premier@ontario.ca
Marie-Lison Fougère, Deputy Minister of Accessibility, marie-lison.fougere@ontario.ca
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, ann.hoy@ontario.ca Steve Orsini, Secretary to Cabinet steve.orsini@ontario.ca

9. March 7, 2018 Letter from Assistant Deputy Minister Ann Hoy to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

DATE: March 7, 2018

Mr. David Lepofsky

Dear David:

Thank you for your February 1, 2018 email related to updates on the governments enforcement and implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). The Honourable Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Accessibility, provided your email to me for further response. I appreciate your continued interest in making our province accessible for Ontarians with disabilities.

The government remains committed to providing as much information as possible to Ontarians in a timely manner. But, as you know, occasionally some information requests require further research and dedicated resources which, as a result, can take longer to compile. However, I am able to provide you with many of the updates you have requested.

You will be pleased to know that we published the 2017 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report (ACER) to the governments website at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/about-accessibility-laws

ACER includes some of the information you requested in your email regarding compliance and enforcement activities undertaken in 2017, including:

* Compliance reporting analysis
o 2017 was a reporting year for every sector, including roughly 56,000 business/non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees in Ontario.
o Over 24,000 reports were submitted from business/non-profit sector organizations by the December 31 deadline, representing an increase of roughly 4,000 reports over the last reporting year in 2014.
o By the reporting deadline, roughly 32,000 business/non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees in Ontario (roughly 57%) had not filed an accessibility report.
o Eighty-six per cent (692 of 806) of the designated public sector organizations submitted their accessibility compliance report by the reporting deadline.

* Information about compliance activities
o 1,746 compliance activities were conducted in 2017. These activities included Phase 1 and Phase 2 audits (described in the ACER), as well as enforcement activities conducted by an inspector.
o Of the 1,746 overall compliance activities that took place in 2017, 16 were closed by an inspector. * 10 were closed without requiring enforcement measures
* 6 Directors Orders were issued
* 3 of these orders contained a requirement to pay an administrative monetary penalty
* None of these orders were appealed at the License Appeal Tribunal, in court, or filed with the local Registrar of the Superior Court of Justice.

Should you have any questions about our Annual Compliance and Enforcement Report, I would be pleased to discuss.

Pertaining to your request for updates regarding AODA-related site visits, I can provide that in 2015-16 the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario continued to develop its inspections framework by designing and carrying out an on-site inspections pilot, further testing its processes and protocols.

In 2017, the directorate applied the lessons learned from the inspections pilot and continued to seek additional resources that would allow it to conduct further on-site inspections. In 2018, we look forward to having the capacity to conduct on-site inspections among non-compliant organizations.

Your email also included a request for information that, while not reflected in the 2017 ACER, includes data that is currently gathered and managed by the directorate.
I believe you may find the following information, which reflects the type of breakdown of compliance and enforcement data we gather and manage, helpful.

Specifically, you requested information regarding the number of audits conducted in 2016 and 2017 among designated public sector organizations (250 and 31, respectively), as well as the number of inspectors (three) and directors (three) currently appointed under the AODA.

Additionally, you requested information about the budget that was appropriated for the directorate for the fiscal year 2017-18. The 2017-2018 expenditure estimates set out details of the operating and capital spending requirements of the directorate for the fiscal year commencing April 1, 2017. The estimates are available online at:
https://www.ontario.ca/page/expenditure-estimates-accessibility-directorate-ontario-2017-18

As reflected in the 2017 ACER, the directorate continues to explore opportunities to increase its capacity and to encourage and verify compliance among obligated organizations across Ontario. To this end, the Directorate has launched a new, easier-to-use compliance reporting system. We have also put in place a contract with a third party to conduct up to 900 compliance activities in 2018.

I hope this letter is helpful, however I am available to discuss the items in your letter in greater detail, as well as the appropriate process for response.

Again, thank you for your commitment to enhancing accessibility and promoting an inclusive Ontario.

Sincerely,

Ann Hoy
Assistant Deputy Minister
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

10. Ministry 2017 Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report

Posted online on March 6, 2018

Accessibility compliance and enforcement report 2017

Table of Contents
Overseeing compliance 3
Building awareness 3
Encouraging compliance 3
Verifying and enforcing compliance 5
Accessibility compliance reporting statistics for 2017 5
Phase 1 (P1) audits 6
Phase 2 (P2) audits 6
Compliance plans 8
Targeted audit blitzes 9
Tourism blitz 9
Manufacturing sector blitz 9
Public feedback 10
Pilot project to expand enforcement capacity 10
Compliance and enforcement going forward 10

This report outlines the activities undertaken by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario in 2017 to oversee compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its accessibility standards.

Overseeing compliance
The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario continued its compliance efforts in the following key areas: * Building awareness
o Strategic marketing campaigns that remind organizations of their requirements. * Encouraging compliance
o Conducting education and outreach activities among the 400,000 obligated organizations across the province. * Verifying and enforcing compliance
o Completing compliance activities that help organizations understand and meet their requirements. * Compliance and enforcement going forward
o Identifying compliance goals for 2018 that will help support the directorates mandate to oversee compliance and enforcement of the act and the accessibility standards.

Building awareness
Ontarios accessibility laws require organizations to file accessibility compliance reports to confirm that they have met their requirements. Organizations in all sectors (i.e. businesses/non-profits with 20 or more employees, all designated public sector organizations, as well as the Ontario Public Service/Ontario Legislative Assembly) were required to submit an accessibility compliance report by December 31, 2017. This marks the first time that both private and public sectors have been required to file reports in the same year.

During 2017, outreach and education efforts focused on reminding businesses and non-profits with 20 or more employees and all public sector organizations of the December 31, 2017 reporting deadline. Awareness was also raised among small businesses and non-profits about their January 2018 deadline to meet their accessibility requirements under the design of public spaces standards.

Encouraging compliance
In 2017, the directorate also focused on helping organizations to comply with their requirements under the act, and file their accessibility compliance reports by the December 31 deadline. In the Fall, a marketing campaign targeting businesses was launched in order to raise awareness about the reporting deadline.Advertisements on business-oriented websites encouraged organizations to visit the government webpage for information on submitting an accessibility compliance report. The campaign also included search engine marketing, as well as posts on social media channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The directorate also communicated to organizations by: * Reminding businesses about the compliance reporting deadline: o sending over 37,000 reminder emails
o mailing over 20,000 letters
o making over 15,000 phone calls

* Delivering 37 webinars to all obligated sectors to provide additional information and answer questions about how to submit an accessibility compliance report

* Participating in over 90 events across the province such as community fairs, trade shows and business conferences

* Publishing regular newsletters reaching over 7,200 subscribers: o a quarterly edition about whats new in the directorates work
o a monthly bulletin that highlights helpful tools and tips to meet accessibility requirements

In 2017, the directorate continued to work with industry/trade organizations and professional associations to generate further outreach opportunities. Thirty-one organizations worked with the directorate to circulate reminder emails, articles and other notices in various trade publications and newsletters.

The directorates dedicated help desks continued to provide assistance to the public by answering questions about the act and the accessibility standards. A large component of the assistance provided to organizations in 2017 pertained to filing accessibility compliance reports. The help desks are an important resource that thousands of organizations and individuals have used to increase their understanding of and compliance with Ontarios accessibility laws.

The directorate continued to expand its reach through the EnAbling Change program in 2017. This program funds projects with industry leaders to support organizations in their compliance with the act. Through EnAbling Change, organizations from a variety of sectors are empowered to become champions of accessibility. In 2017, the directorate worked with partners on projects that ranged from promoting the compliance reporting deadline and supporting employers to comply with the accessible employment standardsto fostering a cultural shift to move Ontario organizations beyond the minimum requirements of the act.

An additional effort undertaken in 2017 to encourage compliance was the launch of a new, easier-to-submit accessibility compliance report. The new report form was made available to the public on March 20, 2017 and was promoted to organizations throughout the year using the directorates regular communication channels to encourage filing. The new reporting process reduced the administrative burden on businesses by decreasing the number of steps required to file a report, and making it a downloadable form that could be shared.

The new form includes links to resources to help organizations understand and report on their compliance requirements. Organizations are able to access the report directly from the Government of Ontarios Central Forms Repository or via a link on the updated Accessibility Report webpage.

Verifying and enforcing compliance
In addition to building awareness and helping organizations comply with the act, the directorate also verifies and enforces compliance to it. In 2017, 1,746 compliance activities were conducted. These activities included Phase 1 and Phase 2 audits, as well as enforcement activities conducted by an inspector. Phase 1 audits focus on an organizations requirement to submit a self-certified accessibility compliance report. Phase 2 audits focus on verifying compliance with other requirements beyond reporting.

Accessibility compliance reporting statistics for 2017
As 2017 was a reporting year for every sector, roughly 56,000 organizations were required to submit accessibility compliance reports. Over 24,000 reports were submitted from business/non-profit sector organizations by the December 31 deadline. This represents an increase of roughly 4,000 reports over the last reporting year in 2014. The increase aligns with the directorates compliance and outreach efforts to work towards increasing reporting rates leading up to 2025.

The 2017 Accessibility Compliance Report questions asked organizations to confirm compliance with all provincial accessibility requirements. An encouraging sign is that 94% of the organizations that submitted an accessibility compliance report indicated that they are in full compliance with the act and its associated accessibility standards.

Among those that filed, the sectors that had the highest submission rates were: * manufacturing (e.g. chemical, mechanical, electrical, food and beverage) * retail trade
* accommodation and food services (e.g. hotels, restaurants)

The sectors that had the lowest submission rates were:
* management of companies and enterprises
* mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction
* utilities (e.g. electric, gas and water)

In 2018, the directorate will also undertake compliance activities targeting business/non-profit organizations that missed the 2017 reporting deadline.

Eighty-six per cent (692) of the designated public sector organizations submitted their accessibility compliance report. Reports have been received from 100% of the Government and Legislative Assembly offices required to file, including the Ontario Public Service. The directorate will continue to work with the remaining designated public sector organizations until all have met their reporting requirement.

Phase 1 (P1) audits
The directorate applies an assistive, progressive approach to compliance and this framework is reflected in the audits that are conducted. Organizations are provided with tools and resources to help them understand and meet their requirements through one-on-one interactions.

Organizations can be selected for audit whether they submit a report or not, but P1 audits centre on helping the selected organization file a compliance report. The directorate works with the organizations to ensure they understand the requirements they are being asked about in the report and provides resources if needed. Only if organizations prove uncooperative or unwilling to file would they then be escalated for additional compliance assurance activities.

In 2017, 1,254 audits were closed at the P1 level without needing to be escalated.

In conducting the P1 activities, a number of compliance trends were observed in the accessibility compliance reports, including:
* 100% of organizations answered yes to providing emergency procedure or safety information to the public in an accessible format, when asked
* 99% indicated they provide tailored emergency response information for their employees who had disabilities, when asked
* 99% responded that they were compliant with all requirements of the Customer Service Standards

These compliance trends suggest that organizations are not only incorporating accessibility requirements into their general customer service, but into their health and safety practices as well.

Phase 2 (P2) audits
In 2017, 476 audits were closed at the P2 level. P2 audits are conducted to confirm compliance with accessibility requirements beyond the requirement to submit a compliance report. In 2017, organizations were audited on a variety of requirements across the accessibility standards. Not all organizations were audited on the same set of requirements.

As a modern regulator, the directorate applies a risk-based approach to regulatory oversight by focusing its compliance resources on both large and small high-risk organizations. The database considers a number of organizational factors, including previous instances of non-compliance, when assessing the risk of an organization failing to comply with the act or its related standards.

In 2017, P2 audits focused on the accessible employment standards listed under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, targeting many of the new requirements that came into force in 2016 for large businesses and non-profit organizations, and in 2017 for small ones.

Among P2 audits conducted in 2017, compliance trends identified included:
* 93% of organizations audited demonstrated that they notify their employees and the public about the availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities in their recruitment process
* 85% demonstrated that they provide individualized workplace emergency response information for employees with disabilities
* 84% demonstrated that they notify successful applicants when making offers of employment of their policies for accommodating employees with disabilities

These audits supported Access Talent: Ontarios Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities by reinforcing a foundation of accessibility in the employment and hiring practices of businesses in Ontario. The data collected was also used to help inform the legislative review of the accessible employment standards.

The number of audits, types of organizations and requirements reviewed vary from year to year. There are, however, four accessibility requirements that are verified year-over-year in order to identify long-term trends in compliance across all types of organizations. These requirements have been selected because they speak to the spirit of the act and are best suited to gauge the progress being made in establishing an accessible Ontario by 2025:
* Compliance in establishing accessibility policies, developing a multi-year accessibility plan and training staff suggests that an organization has a broad understanding of its requirements and what it means to provide goods, services or facilities in an accessible way
* Establishing a system for receiving and responding to public feedback related to accessibility reflects an organizations preparedness and willingness to improve accessibility to goods, services or facilities in Ontario

In 2016, a selection of small organizations from the business/non-profit sector was audited on three foundational requirements. Their rates of compliance were: * develop accessibility policies: 64%
* provide accessibility training: 63%
* establish a method to receive and respond to public feedback on accessibility: 92%

In 2016, organizations from the designated public sector were audited on the foundational requirement to develop a multi-year accessibility plan. Their rate of compliance was 66%.

In 2017, a selection of large organizations from the business/non-profit sector was audited on three foundational requirements. Their rates of compliance were: * provide accessibility training: 63%
* establish a method to receive and respond to public feedback on accessibility: 87% * develop a multi-year accessibility plan: 67%

In 2017, organizations from the designated public sector were audited on the foundational requirement to develop accessibility policies. This marked the first year in which organizations from this sector were required to have accessibility policies in place that address each of the accessibility standards. In many cases, organizations audited on this requirement had policies in place that needed to be updated to include the requirements of standards that had only recently taken effect, which resulted in a 40% compliance rate overall.

In 2018, the directorate will work with organizations from the designated public sector to increase their rate of compliance with this requirement.

Compliance plans
When organizations selected for audit are found to be non-compliant, the directorate negotiates a compliance plan that outlines the steps the organizations must take, and the timelines for completion. In 2017, 9% (115) of the 1,254 P1 audits that were closed involved a negotiated compliance plan. Twenty-six per cent (125) of 476 P2 audits that were closed included a negotiated compliance plan.

Organizations selected for a P2 audit that are found to be non-compliant and that fail to implement the steps outlined in their compliance plan are referred to an inspector. An inspector gathers information from the organization for the purposes of recommending enforcement measures to a director. Enforcement measures established under the act include executing search warrants, issuing Directors Orders to comply, levying administrative monetary penalties and prosecution.

Of the 1,746 overall compliance activities that took place in 2017, 16 were closed by an inspector. Of those organizations: * 10 were closed without requiring enforcement measures
* 6 Directors Orders were issued
* 3 of these orders contained a requirement to pay an administrative monetary penalty * none of these orders were appealed

Targeted audit blitzes
Targeted audit blitzes are conducted each year to verify compliance with specific requirements in a particular sector. In 2017, the directorate met its goal of conducting two targeted audit blitzes. These included 149 organizations from the tourism sectors (arts/entertainment/food services) and 142 organizations from the manufacturing sector.

Tourism blitz
In anticipation of Ontario businesses experiencing an increase in tourism resulting from Canadas 150 anniversary activities, a review of the accessibility compliance in the arts/entertainment/food services sector was conducted. Organizations from these sectors contributed to the tourist experience and helped ensure that people of all abilities could participate in the provinces celebrations.

This blitz focused on three customer service-related Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation requirements and brought encouraging results.

Out of 149 organizations audited as part of this blitz:
* 91% indicated compliance with the requirement to establish a process for reviewing and responding to feedback and ensuring that the process was accessible to people with disabilities
* 70% indicated compliance with the requirement to provide staff with training on the accessibility standards and the Human Rights Code as it pertains to people with disabilities
* 92% indicated compliance with the requirement to provide service to people using a service animal and/or support person

Manufacturing sector blitz
A targeted blitz among organizations from the manufacturing sector was conducted in 2017. This sector was selected due to the concentration of organizations that have both a high number of employees and have been identified as higher risk of non-compliance with the act and the accessibility standards due to previous incidents of non-compliance.

This blitz focused on three of the requirements of the accessible employment standards, in order to help support a foundation of accessibility being established in the manufacturing sectors employment practices.

Out of 142 organizations audited as part of this blitz:
* 95% were found compliant with the requirement to notify their employees and the public about the availability of accommodation for applicants with disabilities in the staff recruitment process
* 87% were found compliant with the requirement to inform employees of their policies to support employees with disabilities
* 91% were found compliant with the requirement to provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who had a disability

Public feedback
The directorate continues to promote and monitor the single point of contact phone number that the public can use to receive information about the act, request compliance assistance and provide feedback or complaints related to the act. This feedback is recorded, and while the directorate does not specifically investigate individual complaints, the information is used to identify trends and inform official legislative reviews, as well as outreach and compliance activities. In 2017, 203 comments related to the act were received.

Out of these interactions the top three categories were:
* customer service
* design of public spaces
* employment

Pilot project to expand enforcement capacity
In 2017, the directorate explored options to expand our capacity to verify and enforce compliance with the act.The directorate is committed to building new and innovative ways to enhance our compliance and outreach activities among the more than 400,000 obligated organizations in Ontario. A service provider was successfully identified in 2017 that will provide support services in 2018 to help expand the directorates compliance activities.

Compliance and enforcement going forward
Compliance activities conducted in 2017 show that organizations continue to embrace the message of accessibility. The activities continued a growth in awareness and willingness to comply with the act and the accessibility standards on the part of obligated organizations across the province.

Public education initiatives conducted in 2017 once again demonstrated that organizations benefit from practical and tailored information about accessibility compliance. The directorate will continue to provide this help to its stakeholders through: * webinars
* regular monthly bulletins
* targeted partnerships to reach specific sectors

In 2018, compliance and enforcement activities will be conducted for the purposes of:
* increasing the rate of accessibility compliance report filing among organizations with 20 or more employees
* raising awareness among obligated organizations of their requirements under the act
* verifying compliance and conducting enforcement activities among a greater number of organizations

To achieve these goals, the directorate will:
* continue to promote the availability of free compliance resources * increase its compliance efforts across public and private sectors * work with a third-party service provider to expand compliance activities
* continue to audit the four foundational accessibility requirements in order to identify trends in compliance across all types of organizations

In publishing this Accessibility Compliance and Enforcement Report, the directorate is demonstrating its commitment to communicate the results of its efforts to increase compliance with the act and the provincial accessibility standards. If you have any questions about the details outlined in this report, please refer to the contact information link on this webpage to connect with compliance staff at the directorate who can assist you.

Organizations that are experiencing challenges complying with the act are reminded to visit Ontario.ca/Accessibility to find information on obligations, and access multiple tools and resources to help with compliance.

Thank you to the many thousands of organizations that have worked with the directorate to make accessibility part of their business practices. Please continue to spread the word to help reach the goal of an accessible Ontario by 2025.