Hon. Raymond Cho
Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
College Park 5th Flr
777 Bay St
Toronto, ON M7A 1S5
Dear Minister Cho,
I am writing to thank you for the opportunity to meet this week with you and your staff. My staff and I were pleased to hear about some of your Ministry’s efforts to promote accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario.
We agree that accessibility is good for business and that employment is a fundamental issue for people with disabilities. In fact, Canada and Ontario recognize through its international treaty obligations that people with disabilities have the right to work like everyone else. The right includes a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) helps deliver on this right.
The stated purpose of the AODA is not only to prevent new accessibility barriers in employment, services, housing and other areas, but also to remove existing barriers by 2025. However, as you are aware, the Honourable David C. Onley concludes in his independent report on the third legislative review of the AODA that, “This province is mostly inaccessible.” He says a top issue for Ontarians with disabilities is the accessibility of buildings and that it requires new standards for retrofitting buildings. He reminds us that, “Accessibility is not a cost – it is a benefit to everyone.”
Mr. Onley identifies other significant concerns and makes a number of important recommendations for developing new accessibility standards, renewing government leadership, reducing uncertainty, driving cultural change, strengthening support for implementation and tougher enforcement. The OHRC shares these concerns and supports Mr. Onley’s recommendations as reflected in our own submission to his review.
We look forward to your government’s response to Mr. Onley’s report and your plan to deliver on the AODA requirement of an accessible province by 2025. We welcome further opportunity to work with you and your staff to help fulfill the goal of the AODA along with the right of people with disabilities to be free from discrimination under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.
cc: Hon. Caroline Mulroney, Attorney General