Accessibility for All
As Ontario scrambles to enforce its accessibility legislation for the disabled, government documents show the province had a detailed enforcement plan ready almost two years ago.
The June 2012 “briefing note” obtained through a Freedom of Information request outlines a two-year strategy to target 3,600 businesses, issue compliance orders, and conduct audits of violators.
As reported by the Star last fall, at that point no orders had been issued and no audits had been conducted, despite government statistics showing the vast majority of businesses covered by the legislation had failed to comply with the law’s reporting requirements.
“Clearly the bureaucrats had a plan. What happened to it? Where is the political will to enforce this legislation?” said lawyer David Lepofsky of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.
The province’s 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) includes a Customer Service Accessibility Standard, enacted in 2007, that requires companies with 20 employees or more to e-file reports on how they accommodate customers with disabilities, train staff and receive customer feedback. The plans had to be filed with the government by Dec. 31, 2012.
“Filing an accessibility report is a legislated requirement. . . Failure to do so is considered a major violation of the act,” says the briefing note, entitled “AODA Compliance and Enforcement Strategy.”
A spokesman for Eric Hoskins, the minister of economic development, trade and employment — who has been responsible for the legislation since last February — said the briefing note was an “internal planning document” and was never given to the former minister.