Canada needs to be more accessible to people with disabilities. It is the right thing to do. It also makes good sense economically and socially. Ontario's population is getting older. Twenty years from now, 20 per cent of the people living in the province will probably have a disability of some kind. When barriers get in the way of people with disabilities participating fully in society as a result of their disabilities, everyone in Canada loses.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) provides a way for Ontario to become barrier-free. The AODA covers both the public and the private sectors. The AODA uses the Ontario Human Rights Code's definition of disability. This definition includes physical, mental health, developmental and learning disabilities. A disability may be visible or not visible.
A barrier is anything that keeps someone with a disability from participating fully in society because of his or her disability. A barrier can be visible or invisible. An example of a visible barrier is a building with steps but no ramp. An example of a barrier that is invisible is a policy that sets a time limit for completing a test for employment or for training or promotion opportunities.
Persons and organizations must comply with the accessibility standards that apply to them. It is the law. They must also send a report to the government to provide the information that the government will require to determine if the person or organization is complying with the standards. They must send the reports every year or when the director, under the AODA, requests the report. These reports must be available to the public. There could be reviews to check the accuracy of the reports and to check if the person or organization is complying with the standards. Individuals or organizations that do not comply with the requirements of the Act could face an order to take an action to comply with a standard, or financial penalties.
Accessibility is a right.