October 30, 2009
c/o Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Ministry of Community and Social Services
777 Bay St, 6th Flr., Suite 601A
Toronto ON M7A 2J4
Dear Mr. Beer,
Attached is the Submission of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) regarding the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Legislative Review.
The OHRC’s observations and recommendations stem from a long history of promoting and enforcing the rights of persons with disabilities, including commenting on successive government legislation leading to the AODA.
The OHRC has always taken the position that while the Code itself is the primal law in Ontario for disability rights, the Code and the OHRC must not stand alone. Complementary legislation, policies and programs that promote and enforce compliance are very necessary for achieving a barrier free society.
Certain principles should be core to ensure that accessibility requirements are: universal and apply to public and private spheres; harmonized with other related laws, standards and enforcement bodies; inclusive of persons with disabilities including those with mental health conditions; achievable without lowering current gains and standards; have clear implementation and strong enforcement mechanisms; as well as transparent including monitoring, reporting and accountability measures.
Government’s role in applying these principles and providing supports, promoting education, administrating compliance (either directly or at arms length) and measuring impact, will be key to the AODA’s success.
The OHRC looks forward to reviewing your final report anticipated early in the new year. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me or members of my staff if you wish to discuss these issues further or any other assistance we might be able to provide.
Original signed by Nancy Austin on behalf of Chief Commissioner
Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)
Copy Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Tracy MacCharles, Chair, Accessibility Standards Advisory Council of Ontario
David Lepofsky, Chair, AODA Alliance