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ODA Committee Update
May 24, 2002



May 23, 2002


The ODA Committee plans to present to the Ontario Government a proposal for
a workplan, for the major activities which the Ontario Government needs to
carry out over the next twelve months to implement the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act 2001. Below we set out a draft of this proposed plan, and
seek your input. We welcome your feedback by May 31, 2002.

Send your comments to:

We will do our best to incorporate as much of the feedback as possible
before finalizing the proposed workplan and sending it to the Ontario
Government. We want to get the final document to the Ontario Government by
the first week in June, if possible.


The ODA Committee's strategy, since the ODA 2001 was passed last fall, has
included offering to do what we can to help the Ontario Government fulfil
its 13 major commitments to Ontarians with disabilities. There are many
tasks which the Ontario Government must undertake, if it is to act
seriously to implement the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001. We felt it
would be helpful for the Government to develop a "workplan" which lists the
major tasks they need to do, and to suggest time lines for completing them.

This draft is our starting point. We are eager to get any feedback and
ideas. The workplan is intended here to address activities over the next
twelve months. These months are especially critical as they are expected to
lead up to the next provincial election.

Please note that in this eight-page draft document, it is suggested that
among other things, the Government should work with the disability
community and other stakeholders over the next year, to establish standards
and timetables for barrier-removal and prevention in four important areas,
namely public transit, education, health care, and access to services,
goods and facilities at retail chain stores. As the draft workplan
suggests, these areas, taken together, cover many important needs of
persons with disabilities. The first three also relate to areas expected to
be the topic of much public attention over the next weeks and months,
especially at the Ontario Legislature.

No workplan can cover every detail and every issue, but we hope you find
that this draft workplan, if adopted by the Government, would provide for
real progress. The workplan also provides a good way to measure whether the
Government is acting in a serious and significant way over the next months
to implement the ODA 2001, and to keep the 13 important promises which it
made to persons with disabilities last fall.

Please send us your thoughts.




May _, 2002



In December 2001, the Ontario Legislature passed the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act 2001 (ODA). In the fall of 2001, the Ontario Government
made a series of 13 important promises to Ontarians with disabilities in
connection with the implementation of the ODA 2001. These promises are
posted on the ODA Committee website at www.odacommittee.net

The Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee wishes to assist the Ontario
Government, including its new Accessibility directorate and Accessibility
Advisory Council, with the implementation of the ODA 2001. We are eager to
do what we can to help achieve a barrier-free Ontario for persons with
disabilities as soon as reasonably possible.

To move forward, it is important for the Ontario Government to have a
workplan, detailing the major tasks that need to be undertaken in the next
year and time lines for them. To help, we have prepared this proposed
"Government One-Year ODA Workplan". Each task here is accompanied by a
suggested date by which the task should be completed.

We believe that the time-lines we propose are reasonable and practical. We
work from the starting point that the Government has had half a year for
preparation work since the ODA 2001 was passed. Before that, the Government
also had years leading to the tabling of this legislation in fall 2001. In
the fall of 2001, the introduction of the ODA 2001 into the Legislature was
accompanied by the publication of two important Government policy documents
on this subject. These, the Government's major policy document, entitled
"Independence and Opportunity - Framework for Change," and its Vision
Statement for Ontarians with disabilities, together with the ODA 2001
itself, and the Government's statements when its ODA bill was being debated
in the Legislature, combine to set out the Government's commitments and
strategies in this area.

We hope that this proposed workplan will help get some of the most
immediate and important actions underway. We encourage the Ontario
Government, including its Accessibility Directorate and the Accessibility
Council, to use this proposed ODA Workplan as an important basis for the
final workplan that the Government establishes. We hope they will find
these suggestions reasonable, or will adopt comparable strategies and
time-lines in their final workplan. The measure of success will be whether
and to what extent Ontario makes serious, substantial progress at removing
and preventing barriers against persons with disabilities in all sectors of
Ontario life, and whether after one year, people with disabilities
experience a significant improvement in their capacity to fully participate
in Ontario life.


For maximum Government accountability to the public, we propose that the
Government post its workplan on its Ministry of Citizenship website. It
should also post monthly updates on its progress on these and other
activities on the ODA 2001's implementation.


The Government committed that the disability community would be put in the
driver's seat, driving reform in Ontario, and developing regulations under
the ODA 2001, including setting standards and time lines for removing and
preventing barriers. The disability community, Ontario Accessibility
Advisory Council and local municipal accessibility councils, among others,
are to play a role in this consultation process.

When in the following areas we propose that public consultation be
undertaken on an issue, we suggest that these common practices be followed
except if impossible: The Government should widely publicize the
forthcoming consultation in advance, including through the media, so that
the disability community gets early notice of the opportunity for input.
The disability community and other stakeholders should get at least two
months' notice of the issues on which input is sought e.g. through the
publication of a Government Discussion Paper. After that two month period,
an opportunity for input should be provided around Ontario, not solely in
Toronto, and not solely in the form of written input. Wherever possible,
different stakeholders should be brought together to the same table to give
input at the same time, not segregated from each other. The Government
should make publicly available the input it receives from stakeholders, and
any recommendations formulated by the Advisory Council.


In this proposed workplan, we recommend that the Government's ODA 2001
implementation activities be grouped in the following categories:








Beyond these, there are other areas of work that the Ontario Government
will need to undertake during and after the next twelve months. The
Government should develop a workplan for those activities as well, in
consultation with the broad disability community and other stakeholders.


Some sections of the ODA 2001 were proclaimed in force in February 2002. As
of now, the majority of the provisions of the ODA 2001 have not been
proclaimed in force. Until they are proclaimed in force, no one need do
anything to obey those provisions. All will want to know now when they will
be expected to comply with the ODA 2001. The Government has announced that
it plans to have the legislation take effect by this fall but has not given
any details or timetable. We recommend:

1. ab The Ontario Government should immediately proclaim in force all
unproclaimed provisions of the ODA 2001 which do not need any work to be
done by Government before they can go into effect, including e.g.:

Section 12(1) (2) and (3) requiring municipalities to establish disability
advisory committees;

Section 23, power to make regulations. Section 24 requiring a report on
steps regarding accessibility taken by a riding's election returning
officer. This will enable Ontario to get such a report regarding the recent

Section 25 amendment to Election Finances Act. This could have benefitted
participants in the recent by-elections, and should be in place well before
the next provincial election, expected any time in the next year.

Section 26 Highway Traffic Act amendments regarding disability parking
spots and permits. These widely publicized provisions were part of the
Government's plans back in August 2000.

Section 28 amending the Legislative Assembly Act to require the Speaker of
the Ontario Legislature to work now on planning to remove and prevent
barriers in the Legislature. For example, barriers to physical
accessibility in the Legislative Building have been publicly highlighted
for years.

Section 29 amending the Municipal Act regarding disability parking spot
fines and empowering municipalities to impose disability accessibility
requirements in business licenses that the municipality grants.

Section 30 amending the Municipal Elections Act to provide for better
accessibility in upcoming municipal elections. It is important to proclaim
these now so that planning to implement this amendment can start now,
sufficiently in advance of the next municipal elections.

Section 31 amending the Planning Act to require that disability
accessibility become part of the approval criteria for matters such as
plans of subdivision.

Section 32 Social Housing Reform Act amendments requiring accessibility in
the event any new social housing is developed in Ontario.

2. abThe Ontario Government should (now) announce its timetable for
proclaiming in force all other provisions of the ODA 2001 that are not
proclaimed in force now. This will let everyone know when they will have to
start complying with those provisions, and will let them start preparing
now to comply. All provisions should be proclaimed in force by this fall,
preferably by October 29, 2002.

3. abThe Ontario Government should widely publicize the proclamation of
these provisions to the public, including publicity directed to those
sectors directly affected by the provisions proclaimed.


One element of the ODA 2001 which the Government has emphasized is the
creation of a provincial Disability Accessibility Advisory Council and the
creation by municipalities of Disability Accessibility Advisory Committees.
It is important that these bodies be recruited and appointed as quickly as
possible so that they can get to work. The Government has recently
appointed the first five members to the Ontario Accessibility Advisory
Council. It has not indicated when the rest of the Council's members will
be appointed. It has been receiving nominations since last fall. Some
municipalities previously established disability advisory committees while
numerous others have not.

We therefore recommend:

4. abThe Government should (now) announce an open consultation process for
selecting the remaining members of the provincial Disability Accessibility
Advisory Council, which provides the disability community a say in the
selection process. The Government could, for example, publish a list of
possible candidates and solicit feedback on that list from the disability
community. The rest of the Council should be appointed by the end of June
2002, if not sooner.

5. abBy July 2001, the Ontario Government should publish a short action kit
for municipalities with suggestions on how the municipality should recruit
and appoint members of local municipal accessibility committees. The kit
should include strategies for making sure that the committees' membership
includes membership that supports effective removal and prevention of
barriers against persons with disabilities,and includes equitable
representation of different disability groups and of both genders. It
should include strategies on how to involve the municipality's disability
community in the selection process. These municipal committees should all
be in place by the end of September 2002.


The Ontario Government has committed to show leadership in the removal and
prevention of barriers in its own house. The Ontario Government will have
to take several steps to bring itself into compliance with the ODA 2001.

The ODA 2001 assigns several tasks to the Ontario Government. However it
does not in all cases specify which ministry or office of the Government is
responsible and accountable for each major task. We therefore recommend:

6. abBy the end of June 2002, the Government should announce which Ministry
and within that ministry, which branch or office is responsible for each
provincial Government responsibility under the ODA 2001 and the time lines
within which major tasks are to be completed. These include, for example:
the offices responsible for these activities:

(a) developing guidelines, after consultation, for accessibility of
provincial government buildings (s.4) (by March 2003)

(b) developing procedures for ensuring that new goods and services, which
the Ontario Government purchases or procures, are disability-accessible
(s.5) (by January , 2003). These should promptly be publicized to
municipalities to assist them to comply with s. 13 of the ODA 2001, which
requires municipalities to aim at purchasing and procuring
disability-accessible goods and services;

(c) developing plans and establishing facilities for making Ontario
Government information available in an accessible format when requested by
persons with disabilities (s.7) (with this service to be available to the
public by February 2003);

(IV) developing standards, time lines and action plans for making Ontario
Government websites disability-accessible (s.6) (By December 2002, with
these websites to be completely accessible by March 2003;

(e) After consultation, making guidelines for accessibility plans and
policies (s.19) (by September 2002), and

(f) After consultation, particularly with people with disabilities working
in the Ontario Public Service, developing plans and undertaking training of
Ontario public servants regarding the accommodation of the needs of Ontario
public servants with disabilities (s.8) (By October 2002, with training to
be completed within one year after that).

7. abThe ODA 2001 requires the Ontario Government to maintain a fund to pay
for the accommodation of the needs of Ontario public servants with
disabilities,and provides for Management Board Secretariat to make
guidelines regarding such funding and payments. (s.8) Management Board
Secretariat should develop these guidelines after consultation with the
disability community including with Ontario public servants with
disabilities, and should have the final guidelines in place by January

8. abBy September, 2002, the Accessibility Directorate should make
available to the public, including public and private sector organizations,
a service, free of charge, that provides advice and information on how to
achieve accessibility and on the benefits of removing and preventing
barriers against people with disabilities. This advice should be available
over the phone and in writing on request. As this service becomes
available, the Government should advertise its availability.


In fall 2001, the Ontario Government committed that under the Accessibility
Directorate, it would launch an incentive program to encourage the
participation of all sectors in identifying and removing barriers against
persons with disabilities, including the private sector.

We therefore recommend:

9. abBy August 2002, The Government should launch its promised incentive
program. By January 2003, the Government should evaluate this program's
effectiveness in consultation with the disability community.


Under the ODA 2001, Ontario Government ministries, municipal governments,
and many other organizations (such as public transportation providers,
colleges, universities and hospitals) will be required to make
accessibility plans. Apart from this, the ODA 2001 also requires that
certain bodies called "agencies" must produce an accessibility policy.
(s.16) The ODA 2001 does not define or explain which bodies are "agencies."
Section 2 of the ODA 2001 says that the regulations shall define which
bodies are "agencies" for purposes of the requirement of developing an
accessibility policy.

We therefore recommend:

10. abBy August 2002, the Ontario Government should release a Discussion
Paper discussing options for defining "agency". Public consultation on this
discussion paper should be undertaken, with a view to the Government
proposing a draft regulation by December 2002. A final regulation should be
enacted within four months after that date.

11. ab By July 2002, the Ontario Government should announce timetable of
when first accessibility plans or policies will be required by provincial
ministries, municipalities and other organizations and agencies covered by
the ODA 2001.

12. abBy August 2002, the Ontario Government should release a preliminary
action kit for organizations that will be required to prepare an
accessibility plan or policy. The preliminary action kit should include
basic information on what an accessibility plan or policy is to achieve,
what it should include, and what steps should be undertaken to prepare it,
including measures to consult with the disability community. After further
consultation, the Ontario Government should produce a subsequent, more
detailed action kit in this area, to build upon experience garnered as
accessibility planning gets underway. This more comprehensive action kit
should be made available to municipalities by January 2002.


The Government has committed that it will set standards and time lines for
the removal and prevention of barriers against persons with disabilities in
all sectors under the ODA 2001. The Government has the power to do this by
making regulations under s. 23 of the ODA 2001, and must consult on draft
regulations before final regulations can be enacted into law.

We therefore recommend:

13. abThe Government should identify a sector-by-sector long term timetable
for developing standards and time-lines for barrier-removal and prevention.
This will let the affected sectors know when to expect action on this
front, and will let them start preparing. It will also let the disability
community, the Accessibility Council and others focus their efforts.
14. abFour specific areas should be identified now as the first areas for
attention, with a view to standards being put into effect within one year.
We recommend that these four areas be:

(a) Public Transit

(b) Education at all levels, including post-secondary education

(c) Health Care Services, and

(d) Access to goods, services and facilities offered at retail chain

We recommend these because: all touch on all disabilities and address
fundamental needs of persons with disabilities; the Ontario Human Rights
Commission recently made strong recommendations that the Ontario Government
should establish provincial standards for accessibility in public transit;
health care is a core focus of provincial funding strategies and public
policy review provincially and federally; education is similarly the
subject of major public attention now and will be the focus of concerted
action over the next months by the Ontario Human Rights Commission; retail
chain establishments provide a good start for addressing private sector
barriers in a way that will meet the needs of many and have a direct impact
across Ontario.

15. abBy August 2002, the Accessibility Directorate should release
discussion papers on standards and time-lines for removing and preventing
barriers in public transit and in education (including in public schools,
private schools, colleges and universities). These Discussion Papers should
among other things set out examples of standards and time lines for barrier
removal and prevention which are used now in other jurisdictions.

16. abBy October 2002, the Accessibility Directorate should release two
additional discussion papers on standards and time-lines for removing and
preventing barriers. One Discussion Paper should address health care
services. The other should address access to goods, services and facilities
in chain retail establishments.

17. abFull province-wide public consultations on the topics of public
transit and of education should begin by October 2002. Draft regulations in
these areas addressing standards and time lines for barrier removal and
prevention should be proposed and published by March 2003.

18. abFull public consultations on the topics of health care and access to
chain retail establishments should begin by December 2002. Draft
regulations regarding barrier removal and prevention in these sectors
should be proposed and published by May 2003.


In fall 2001, the Government made commitments regarding the development of
enforcement mechanisms under the ODA 2001 by regulations. In the fall of
2001 it announced that it was already developing such enforcement
regulations. For the ODA 2001 to have an impact, it will be necessary that
these regulations be developed and enacted as soon as possible. We
therefore recommend:

19. abBy August 2002, The Accessibility Directorate of the Citizenship
Ministry should release and make widely available a list of options for
possible enforcement mechanisms that could be enacted as regulations under
the ODA 2001 including any options and draft regulations on which the
Government had been working. After a consultation it should publish draft
regulations for public comment by December 2001.


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