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Ontario in a ‘crisis state’ on accessibility, unlikely to meet 2025 goal: Report

December 18, 2023
The Canadian Press

Photo: VadimGuzhva/AdobeStock
By Paola Loriggio

A new report says Ontario is in a “crisis state” when it comes to accessibility, noting it’s a “near certainty” the government will fail to meet its goal of making the province accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.

The final report examining the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act says the declaration of a crisis is meant as a catalyst — it says the crisis state is intended to last six months to allow the province to fast track “key overdue processes to get accessibility right in the coming years.”

It says that within 30 days of the report being tabled, the province must form a crisis committee chaired by Premier Doug Ford and tasked with implementing urgent recommendations, including the creation of a new accessibility agency to enforce accessibility standards within the government.

The committee must implement the crisis recommendations, or submit a detailed plan for their implementation, within 180 days of its creation.


Other, more long-term recommendations including shifting oversight and enforcement of accessibility in the private sector to the federal government.

The report is dated June 5 but was tabled in the provincial legislature last week. The office of the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility could not immediately be reached for comment.

Accessibility advocates and opposition legislators criticized the government’s delay in tabling the report.

The report “calls on Premier Ford to immediately establish a crisis committee, chaired by Ford, to oversee urgent reforms over six months,” said David Lepofsky, who chairs the disability consumer advocacy group AODA Alliance.

“But instead of using the past six months to follow this wise recommendation, Premier Ford squandered those months by keeping (the report) secret.”

New Democrat Monique Taylor, the critic for children, community and social services, said it “speaks volumes” that the government “sat on this report for six months.”

“It’s clear they are not taking it seriously. We need urgent action to address this serious challenge,” she wrote in a statement.

The report notes that 2.9 million people in Ontario currently have a disability.

Ontario’s accessibility law was the first of its kind in Canada when it passed in 2005, with a stated goal of ensuring universal accessibility in the province by Jan. 1, 2025.

The report is the fourth review of the law’s implementation. It was conducted by Rich Donovan, the former chair of the province’s Accessibility Standards Advisory Council.

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