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Spending Public Money on Accessible Structures and Services

In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need to ensure that public money funds structures and services accessible to everyone. During public meetings Onley held before his review, attendees requested government commitment to spending public money on accessible structures and services.

Spending Public Money on Accessible Structures and Services

Onley’s review states that many buildings funded by taxes are not accessible. Instead, some of these buildings are full of physical and information barriers, including:

  • Lack of elevators
  • No ramps or railings
  • Weak colour contrast
  • Incorrect Braille on signs

When taxpayers’ money has funded a building, every person in Ontario should be able to use that building. People with disabilities are part of the public and pay taxes. Therefore, people with disabilities should be able to use the buildings that their money has helped to pay for.

Possible Solutions

Meeting attendees suggest possible solutions to avoid creating new barriers in buildings using public money. For instance, some attendees suggest creating a process to monitor the plans for public buildings. This review process would ensure that every public building would be designed with accessibility features. In addition, if reviewers noticed any barriers in a building’s design, they could help the designers remove them. Similarly, attendees suggest that the provincial auditor should recommend improvements to Infrastructure Ontario’s process of planning for accessibility.

Furthermore, attendees suggest that when reviewers recommend accessibility improvements, these recommendations should be made public. Likewise, if anyone involved in the design process rejects an accessibility recommendation, this rejection should also be made public. For instance, attendees suggest that this public record should include:

  • The name of the person who rejects a recommendation
  • The person’s reasons for rejecting the recommendation

Attendees also recommend inspections after projects are completed. Moreover, attendees suggest that if inspectors find barriers, the builders must be required to remove them.

Onley’s review also considers funding that the government supplies to people and companies. For instance, some of these types of funding are:

  • Capital and infrastructure spending
  • Transfer payments
  • Procurement of goods, services and facilities
  • Business development grants and loans
  • Research grants

Onley’s review recommends the development of a government strategy preventing people or companies from using funding to create barriers. All these recommendations will help the government ensure that it is spending public money on accessible structures and services. All buildings and services funded through public money should be accessible to members of the public who have disabilities.