As the government moves forward with implementing the AODA, we continue to advocate for the Act and accompanying standards to meet the vision and the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
This included commenting on Charles Beer’s 2010 report, Creating a Path Forward – Report of the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) 2005.
We agreed with Mr. Beer on the need to raise accountability and public profile for the AODA. While we appreciate the work the Ministry of Community and Social Services is doing to educate the private and non-profit sectors, more needs to be done to get the general public to fully embrace the AODA. Barriers in Ontario are not just physical – they are also attitudinal. We need a kind of social awakening that can only happen when people at the highest levels get involved in public communication and education.
We also supported Mr. Beer’s call to harmonize legislation and standards. We are currently looking at the proposed integrated accessibility regulation, which will help to do this. But harmonization also requires applying the Human Rights Code and human rights principles such as inclusive design, no new barriers, individualized accommodation, and no gains lost.
Other legislation, regulations, standards, policies, programs and services also need to harmonize with the AODA and the Code to make sure people with disabilities benefit equally in such vital areas as education, housing, health care, social supports, access to justice and accessible elections. This is why we strongly support Mr. Beer’s recommendation for a provincial policy framework on accessibility that would set out goals and expectations for the AODA’s vision along with core principles and criteria for developing and evaluating standards.
This framework should also include tools and procedures to make sure the AODA, the Code and other disability rights are properly considered and addressed when developing, revising and implementing legislation, policies and programs, signing contracts and spending public funds.