ODA Committee Update
dated March 11, 2004
posted March 12, 2004
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE UPDATE
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT MAKES PUBLIC ITS FIRST SET OF ACCESSIBILITY PLANS UNDER THE ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2001
Thursday, March 11, 2004
On Thursday, March 11, 2004, the Ontario government at last made public the first series of annual accessibility plans for each Ontario government ministry, as is required under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001.
You can visit these on the internet at:
According to the relevant provisions of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, which were passed into law in December, 2001 and which were proclaimed in force on September 30, 2002, the Ontario government's various ministries were each required to develop, to adopt and to make public their first annual accessibility plan by September 30, 2003. Similarly, public sector organizations such as municipalities, school boards, universities, colleges, hospitals and public transit providers were required to make their first annual accessibility plans public on that date.
As many will remember, when September 30, 2003 arrived, the Ontario government did not fulfil this requirement. On that date, the Ontario public was embroiled in a provincial election campaign, culminating in an election two days later, on Thursday, October 2, 2003. On September 30, the Ontario government, then under the Progressive Conservative party, announced that because the election was in progress, the government would not release its accessibility plans.
Nothing in the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 permitted a government to decline to fulfil the September 30, 2003 deadline for making public its first accessibility plans. However, because there was no enforcement mechanism in effect under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, there was no way to make the Conservative government fulfil its own legislation.
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 had included a provision, Section 21, which made it an offence punishable by a fine up to $50,000.00 for a public sector organization (such as a provincial ministry) to fail to comply with the requirement to make an annual accessibility plan by the deadline. However, the Conservative government then in power had declined to proclaim in force Section 21 of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001.
As all will remember, the Progressive Conservative government was defeated on October 2, 2003. It was replaced by the newly-elected Liberal government, which had campaigned on an election pledge to strengthen the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to make it strong and effective.
Now, some five months after the September 30, 2003 deadline, the new Ontario government has at last made public its ministries' first set of annual accessibility plans. These can all be reached on the internet through one central link at the URL above.
We encourage everyone to look at these accessibility plans. Let us know what you think of them. Send us your feedback at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, we encourage everyone to take advantage of the current public consultations which the Ontario government is conducting, on how to strengthen the Ontarians with Disabilities Act to make it strong and effective. You might wish to give the government your feedback on its first set of provincial government accessibility plans. You might also want to comment on the need for making the ODA effectively enforceable, through a strong and effective enforcement mechanism.
For further information on the government's consultation process, and how you can have your say, visit the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship's website
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Page last updated March 12, 2004