In the fourth review of the AODA, Rich Donovan states that Ontario will not be fully accessible by 2025. In other words, the provincial government will not meet its own deadline, set out in the AODA in 2005. Moreover, Donovan states that the province lacks the knowledge and resources to enforce needed accessibility regulations throughout Ontario. As a result, Donovan recommends federal government responsibility for accessibility in Ontario’s private sector. Under this new arrangement, the provincial government, with support from the accessibility agency, could focus on public-sector AODA enforcement. Therefore, the review recommends renewed focus on provincial government responsibility for accessibility in the public sector of Ontario.
Provincial Government Responsibility for Accessibility in the Public Sector of Ontario
The review recommends that the provincial and federal governments begin discussing the possibility that the federal government should regulate accessibility in the private sector. In this new arrangement, the provincial government would continue to enact and enforce AODA standards in the public sector.
Moreover, the federal government should provide funding for Ontario to create new AODA standards specific to the public sector. In addition, federal funding should support the province in its efforts to comply fully with or exceed existing standards. For example, this funding could help the province retrofit buildings and public spaces. Retrofits are not required under the Design of Public Spaces Standards or the Ontario Building Code. Nonetheless, retrofits would vastly improve the lives of Ontarians with disabilities.
Therefore, the review recommends that the federal government should fund fifty percent (50%) of the cost to retrofit public-sector buildings. Likewise, the federal government should fund fifty percent (50%) of the cost to ensure digital public-sector accessibility.
Ontario should receive this funding on an ongoing basis only if the province continues to comply with new and existing standards. Full compliance, and creation of new standards, would allow Ontario to become an accessibility role model for other provinces.