In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees outlined many barriers that people with disabilities face. More improvements to the AODA would help to remove existing barriers and prevent future ones. Therefore, in addition to direct recommendations, Onley’s review also includes suggestions from attendees about how to remove these barriers. This article will explore reasons to fund accessibility, and strategies for funding.
Reasons to Fund Accessibility
Review attendees state that many organizations want to comply with more of the AODA standards. However, they lack funding to make changes, such as:
- Hiring consultants to audit existing accessibility and outline probable cost of improvements
- Renovating to comply with the Design of Public Spaces Standards
- Retrofitting buildings and houses to include features such as:
- Door openers
- Inside layouts that better meet people’s needs
- Meeting requirements that the AODA may mandate in future standards, such as:
Many of these efforts at barrier removal and prevention will be costly. However, barrier removal will result in better quality of life for Ontario patients, students, and citizens. Moreover, when these patients, students, and citizens encounter fewer barriers, they can contribute to the economy by working and through their purchasing power. Therefore, provincial and national funding costs will one day result in a stronger Ontario and Canada.
Strategies to Fund Accessibility
Review attendees suggest that the provincial government should create a funding pool specifically for auditing and updating the current accessibility of spaces and services in:
- Local governments
In addition, attendees suggest that the government should create cost-sharing programs to fund any renovations needed to comply with current or upcoming AODA standards.
Onley’s review also recommends tax incentives and deductions, grants, or loans for retrofitting buildings and houses. Similarly, the review recommends incentives for strengthening standards so that new buildings will be more accessible.
Furthermore, attendees suggest that the government redistribute some funding currently allotted to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO). Attendees suggest that the government offer this funding to entrepreneurs who develop ways to remove barriers. For example, the Stop Gap Foundation provides ramps for businesses with one step leading to their front doors. This funding could encourage further entrepreneurship and remove more barriers.
Finally, attendees suggest that the province hold a yearly awards program to celebrate the achievements of people and organizations that improve accessibility in their communities or businesses. These people and organizations could encourage others to enhance their accessibility and provide guidance and expertise.