Ontario Budget 2014

Budget – 2014


While yesterday’s Ontario budget didn’t contain much for the disability sector we didn’t already know, there are a few areas that confirmed recent conversations, announcements and speculation.

First with respect to the equalization between ODSP and Ontario Works income supports the budget announced a 1% increase to both ODSP and OW, effective Sept 2014. In addition, Ontario Works recipient will receive a further ‘top up’ which will increase their total monthly income by $30 for a single person with no dependents. The combination of the 1% and the top up equals a total increase of 4.8% for these recipients.

A second issue, that has no financial impact from a budget perspective – I.e. will neither require additional revenues nor cut backs – didn’t garner much attention, however should be followed closely. Under the heading ‘Streamlining Employment Benefits’ the government announced the merging of 7 different employment benefits into one, consolidated work related benefit program. These include 3 benefits within ODSP and 4 for Ontario Works. For ODSP, these include the Employment Start Up Benefit (ESUB), Work Related Benefit (WRB – the $100 per month benefit for those who report income) and the Employment Transitions Benefit (ETB). This takes effect Jan 1, 2015 with a 6 month transition for the WRB. Essentially this means the 1% increase to ODSP Income Support will be offset by an approximate 10% loss for those people with disabilities who report income from non-employment sources e.g. sheltered workshops and a $1,200 per year loss to those working who still require some financial support from ODSP. This is of major concern for all those who have become dependent on that income, whether working or not.

The Minister will be working with the General Advisory Council on Social Assistance Reform and other stakeholder groups to determine how to implement this and the details of the 6 month transition period. Fortunately, the Network’s Executive Director, Joe Dale, is a member of the General Advisory Council and will have some input into this process.

The government also announced the continuation of existing initiatives related to employment, including the Partnership Council under the leadership of Dr. Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, and various activities planned within that body – Engaging Employers, Valuing Ability Campaign – a public awareness campaign – and Supporting Compliance with AODA (working with business by providing tools and assistance to help them meet the AODA standards)

The Network is very fortunate to have three representatives of the Champion’s League, along with its Executive Director as part of this 12 person team.

The Developmental Services Budget was released as previously announced without any changes.

Building on the Poverty Reduction Strategy the government announced:

  • Increases to Ontario Child Tax Benefit to $1,310. Indexing this to the Ontario Consumer Price Index, starting July, 2015
  • Apr, 2014 – Expanding program eligibility to Healthy Smiles Ontario & Health benefits for children in low-income families
  • Expanding the Ontario Student Nutrition program from $20 million to $32 million.

Of course, this is all dependent upon the budget being passed and the government remaining in power. The Ontario Disability Employment Network will continue to monitor this and keep you informed as things unfold.

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Invitation to Participate in Consultations for People with Disabilities in Ontario via Cathexis Consulting

Want to share your thoughts and ideas about your quality of life of people with disabilities in Ontario?
 There are two ways you can share your experiences: an online survey or joining an in-person meeting in Toronto (June 8th, 2012), Ottawa (June 14th, 2012), London (June 13th, 2012), Thunder Bay (June 11th, 2012), or Huntsville (June 6th, 2012).
Cathexis Consulting  are also hosting in-person sessions for family and caregivers of people with disabilities to share their ideas.
The purpose of the project is to find out from people with disabilities in Ontario what is important to them about their quality of life. What makes your day easier and better? Is it important to have:

  • Good public transportation?
  • Readable web pages?
  • Friendly and respectful customer service?
  • Stable jobs?
  • Accessible parks?

The project – conducted by Cathexis Consulting – will use your input to find the best way for determining the impact of Ontario’s accessibility standards in the future.
Cathexis Consulting  would like to hear about what is most important to you and what makes your life better. Your participation will ensure that the Ontario Government knows what is most meaningful to people with disabilities when they review the standards in the years to come.
For more information, or to participate, please contact Mathew Gagné at or by phone at 1-877-469-9954 ext. 231. For those requiring TTY, dial 711 or #711 from a mobile phone.
Find us on Facebook by searching: Public Discussion on Quality of Life for People with Disabilities
There are many ways to participate:
¦                 A face-to-face consultation: please visit to RSVP
¦                 On-line survey: go to
¦                 Blog: go to our Facebook page at
¦                 Email questionnaire: contact Mathew at to request one.
¦                 Mail-in questionnaire: contact Mathew at to request one.
The Dates for the In-Person Meetings are as follows.
Toronto: June 8th, 2012 at the Delta Chelsea Hotel
¦                 9:00 – 11:00 Older adults with disabilities (age 60 and up)
¦                 1:00 – 3:00    Adults with disabilities (age 18-59)
¦                 4:00 – 6:00    Caregivers/family of people with disabilities
Ottawa: June 14th, 2012 at the Travelodge Hotel Ottawa and Conference Centre
¦                 9:00 – 11:00    Francophone consultation with adults with disabilities
¦                 1:00 – 3:00      English consultation with adults with disabilities
¦                 4:00 – 6:00      Caregivers/families people with disabilities (English)
London: June 13th, 2012 at the London Convention Centre
¦                 9:00 – 11:00     Older adults with disabilities (age 60 and up)
¦                 1:00 – 3:00       Adults with disabilities (age 18-59)
¦                 4:00 – 6:00       Caregivers/families of people with disabilities
Thunder Bay: June 11th, 2012 at the Valhalla Inn
¦                 10:00 -  12:00   Adults with disabilities
¦                 2:00 – 4:00       Caregivers/families of people with disabilities
Huntsville: June 6th, 2012, at the Deerhurst Inn
¦                 10:00 -  12:00   Adults with disabilities
¦                 2:00 – 4:00       Caregivers/families of people with disabilities 


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Ontario Disability Employment Network – 2011, A Year in Review

2011 has been a great year that has provided the Ontario Disability Employment Network the ability to make strides in government relationships, engage other partners, and develop new initiatives and opportunities to make a difference for persons with disabilities seeking employment.

The following represents the highlights of our accomplishments over the past year and our commitment to being a unified voice for our membership. This has been achieved through the volunteer efforts of our Board of Directors, a one-day per week Executive Director and, of course, the contributions of our members.

We would like to take this opportunity to again thank our sponsors and patrons. As you may know, the Network has made a conscience decision not to pursue government funding, so that our advocacy efforts are not limited or impeded. The Network’s revenue sources come from membership dues, revenue from events and training sessions and a few organizations that have generously donated financial and in-kind contributions to help the Network continue its valued work.

It is important to the Network that we continue to remain responsive to the issues that matter most to you as we continue to meet the challenges that face us in finding and maintaining employment for people who have a disability. We are interested in getting your feedback along with your direction and support. This will assist the Network to continue to be a success and a strong voice for the employment services sector.

Joe Dale
Executive Director

Debbi Soucie

Bob Vansickle
Co- Chair

We have had the opportunity over the past year to develop a number of avenues to spread the message of the Network and also encourage conversation and provide a forum to engage others when issues/concerns have arisen.

• Website – we partnered with eSSENTIAL Accessibility Inc. in May which is a web browser for persons with a disability. This has ensured access to our website is more efficient and effective.
Special acknowledgement goes out to our volunteer contributors, Aerin and Jimmy Guy of SpaceRace! (, who make having a website possible for the Network. Our site is located at
• Twitter – for the past year we have been sharing news and updates on twitter and you can connect with the Network at!/odenetwork
• Facebook – we are up and running on Facebook with a page that will provide opportunities to share information and engage in conversations. We can be found at
• LinkedIn Group – we now have an Ontario Disability Employment Network group where opportunities are available to share resources and converse on topics of interest. Connect with us by going to
• Email – we can be contacted also at

Government Relations
It is essential that our member organizations continue to be able to deliver quality employment services and therefore the Network has been instrumental this year in developing strong and engaging relationships with government.

• In May the Board of Directors of the the Network became aware of the ODSP-ES evaluations that were being conducted by Cathexis Consulting. It came to our attention, however, that a number of our members were concerned about providing contact information for the employers they work with. THE NETWORK broached this issue on behalf of the membership with the consultants and ODSP. As a result, Cathexis took a different approach to gathering information from employers.
M.P.P. Election Strategy

• The Network developed a tool kit that was made available to services providers to assist them in getting the attention of the candidates for the provincial election in October and also provided key messages that targeted access to services including specialized services, greater investment in employment services and an ‘Employment First’ Policy framework.

Social Assistance Review Commission
• On August 25th the Network submitted a report and presented a PowerPoint presentation to the commission which was very well received and this relationship continues with the Commission’s interest in receiving input from the Network as their work unfolds. At the Network’s Conference and AGM that was held in November Leah Myers, Executive Lead, of the SAR Commission presented an overview of the Commission’s findings and dialogue about how we can help more people who have a disability get into the workforce. A number of the recommendations that the Network made at the August 25th meeting were adopted into the Commission’s findings and recommendations.

The Network’s ‘Employment Ontario Task Force’
• As EO deliberates on its ‘disability strategy’ it was apparent that their policy staff had a very superficial understanding of disability, the barriers facing people who have a disability with respect to accessing the labour market or the services and supports they need to be successful. The EO Task Force created two documents which were presented to the policy leads at MTCU – Barriers to Inclusion and Path to Employment.
• Along with these documents, the Network has attended a number of meetings with the ADM of MTCU and her staff team. This has resulted in the slowing down and delays to implementation of the disability strategy as they consider appropriate service options.
• More recently, the Network has been requested by MTCU to act as a reference group to the Employment Ontario team that is responsible for their disability service strategy.

• The Network continues its efforts in building relationships with ODSP and ensuring policy issues are brought to the Ministry’s attention. The Network has met with ODSP Directors Norm Helfand and more recently with the new Interim Director, Patti Redmond. Some of the issues discussed included the conflict of people supported under the DS branch that are working in private businesses without wages or at less than minimum; the inconsistency in back-dating ODSP applications across the province; the impact of modernization on referrals; challenges of the wage verification process; file review processes; and, the need to develop ‘service standards’ for the sector.
• The Network also had direct meetings and correspondence with the ODSP ‘Modernization’ unit.
• The Network continues to gather and promote input from our sector and shares this with MCSS.

Ontario’s Speech from The Throne
It must also be noted that the Network received an invitation by the Honourable David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in November to attend the Speech from the Throne, which was graciously attended by two of our Board members and Employer Champion League member Mayor Mike Bradley of Sarnia.

Employer Engagement and Marketing Initiatives
This area is extremely important not only to the Board, but also our members. It is vital that we develop opportunities and initiatives that will continue to improve the participation of people with a disability in the workforce. We have found that ‘employer champions’, as recognized through the Network’s Champion’s League, is a vital and effective way to extend our capacity and gain positive results.

Champion’s League
Finding and working with Champions is a tremendous help to moving forward and creating positive changes in the employment situation for people who have a disability.
• At our second annual AGM and Conference we were able to recognize and acknowledge a new Champion, Mr. Dennis Winkler who, as an employer, fit the criteria of someone deserving to be part of the Champion’s League.
• Our past Champion’s League recipients continue to demonstrate the value in hiring people with a disability and the work being done in our sector. The formation of this league has provided a venue to continue to promote and plan initiatives to advance the work being done on behalf of persons with disabilities.
• The Champion’s League continues to receive strong support from Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, David Onley. The League continues to hold strategy meetings with His Honour regularly at his offices at the legislature as well as participate in events geared to promote hiring to the business community in Ontario such as Rotary at Work and others.

Mayor’s Challenge
• Once again this year we have had the support of Mike Bradley, Mayor of Sarnia. His dedication and willingness to speak on behalf of the Network and its membership to other organizations and mayors has continue to provide an awareness and has challenged other communities start “Doing the Right Thing” by including a person with a disability in their workforce.
• Organizations across the province continue to approach their mayors to also put into action the need to respond to the hiring of persons with disabilities.
• A Mayor’s Challenge Toolkit has been made available on our website for Network members.

Other Niche Opportunities
Each of the Champions has continued to explore new opportunities. Joe Hoffer has been instrumental at gaining access to the Ontario Police Services Board and the Law Society of Ontario. We plan to exploit these opportunities in the coming year with strategies that will help bring education to these two major organizations. This will lead to further employment opportunities for people who have a disability.
• Mark Wafer has worked tirelessly to promote inclusive hiring practices through the Rotary at Work program. He has put in countless hours and helped expand this program to four districts of the province and is in discussions with three more. This has directly resulted in over 130 hires with very little staff input on the job development side. This leaves organizations free to use their resources on finding a good match and in follow up supports. The Network is currently in discussions with Community Living Ontario about taking on future responsibility for Rotary at Work under the Network’s umbrella.

Our continued success and the importance of having a voice are integral in getting the attention from the media on issues and perspectives that the Network and our members have. We had a number of opportunities throughout the year to engage the media.
• The continued recognition of the members of the Champion’s League in newspapers and trade publications and their great work with employing persons with a disability was highlighted in local newspapers.
• The Mayor’s Challenge and the ongoing media coverage of Mayor Bradley continues to draw attention to the benefits to hiring persons with a disability.
• The work that went into ensuring that our members and the people we support had a voice during this year’s provincial election.

We believe the Network has been able to work very hard over the last year to provide our members with the many benefits of their membership with us. We are a member-driven organization and our strength is with the membership. Please share all the information that has been provided in this review with other colleagues and encourage others to join Ontario’s only Provincial Network that continues to work on behalf of employment service providers. In addition the Network has been a part of some other initiatives.
• We have been able to provide a voice at committee levels (Canadian Disability Policy Alliance, ODSP Action Coalition, Canadian Association for Supported Employment, Community Living Ontario, JOIN and others).
• Executive Director Joe Dale has done a number of speaking engagements in the Niagara Region, Ottawa, North Bay, Belleville, London, Toronto and others.
• Provide training opportunities to our members. Co-sponsored with Southwest Employment Network ‘Job Developers Roadmap’ in May and then our own AGM and conference ‘Champions for Change: Leadership in Workforce Development’ in November.
• The Network hosted a forum in April – ‘Creating a Common Voice’, which gave regional networks and provincial organization the opportunity to take the first steps in having a unified voice to represented the needs of people who have a disability when it comes to accessing the workforce.
• Received recognition by JVS Toronto as one of their community partners at their 9th Annual Strictly Business Awards Luncheon in May.

What’s Next?
• To continue to build our organization with more membership.
• Provide training and networking opportunities for the sector.
• Build on the great work that has been accomplished through the Mayor’s Challenge and the Champion’s League.
• To continue with strategies for employer engagement.
• Look for other funding opportunities and private fund resources that share the same goals and objectives of the Network to ensure sustainability.
• To build on the work that is being done with government relations and ensure that policy and funding issues do not become the barrier to employment for people who have a disability.
• To continue to be responsive to the needs of our members. Please share what is important to you and how we can help.

From the Board of Directors of the Ontario Disability Employment Network we want to extend our thanks for your continued support in our journey to make positive changes for Ontarians who have a disability and are seeking employment.

We wish you much success in 2012 and look forward to the consolidated effort by this Provincial Network and its members to continue to remove barriers to employment for people who have a disability and our primary objective; to find meaningful and sustainable employment for those we serve.

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Ontario Disabilities Act Creates Compliance Confusion (The Globe and Mail)

Ontario disabilities act creates compliance confusion

View the original article here:

Shelley White

Special to Globe and Mail Update

Published Friday, Jan. 06, 2012

For Hans Sturzenbecher, catering to people with disabilities just makes good business sense.

His restaurant, Macy’s Diner & Delicatessen in Mississauga, Ont., has been making changes to accommodate people with disabilities for the past eight years, from creating space between tables to make room for wheelchairs and walkers to enlarging the print size on menus.

Other Ontario small and medium-sized businesses will have to start making changes of their own to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, provincial legislation to be phased in over the next 10 years that can carry fines of up to $100,000 a day for non-compliance.

As of the start of this year, all businesses in Ontario are required to comply with phase one of the AODA, known as the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service. But many small and medium-sized businesses may not be up to par.

Small businesses in the province “are just starting to really get on board” with the new customer service regulation, says Russ Gahan, vice-president of operations for People Access, a non-profit organization charged with helping the Ontario government raise awareness about the AODA.

He says there’s been some confusion about what the customer service standard is all about. “It’s not about putting in ramps and automatic doors; that’s the first thing people think. They think mobility when they think of disabilities, and what you need to do to accommodate them physically.

“What this is about is attitude change, empowering your employees to be confident when providing customer service to people with disabilities.”

If you’re an Ontario small business, what does that mean in practical terms? The customer service regulation has two major components.

First, all companies must create “an accessible customer service plan” that outlines how their business will provide service to people with disabilities. This includes identifying potential barriers and figuring out new ways of dealing with them.

“The example I like to give is, let’s say you have a store that has a no-refunds policy and you have change rooms that are not accessible,” says John Milloy, Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services. “Yes, it would be wonderful if someone could invest to make the change rooms accessible, but that may not be practical. What they might do is change their policy and say that if you’re in a wheelchair or can’t access those change rooms, you will be allowed to return those clothes.”

Another example, Mr. Gahan says, would be how to deal with customers with hearing loss. “They may be better off not having to negotiate their terms in a noisy office where they can’t hear what you’re saying.

“You start to think of these things, instead of just being oblivious to them.”

The second component of the regulation requires employers to train their staff to provide accessible customer service. Training topics must include how to communicate with people with different types of disabilities and how to interact with people who use assistive devices or service animals.

In addition, employers with 20 or more staff members must keep a copy of their accessible customer service plan and file reports with the ministry, indicating how and when their employees have been trained. They have until the end of 2012 to do so.

There are many businesses to go: According to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, 17 large and small Ontario businesses have filed reports since Jan. 1. Penalties for refusing to comply with the legislation can be serious – organizations can be fined up to $100,000 a day, or individuals can be fined up to $50,000 a day.

Mr. Milloy says that although the regulations are primarily about encouraging and educating the business community, the ministry will follow up with businesses that do not file their reports.

“We’re obviously going to reach out to those that have not filed to urge them to take the steps necessary, and we’re going to obviously be in touch with the disability community as people bring concerns to our attention,” he says. “We do ultimately have fines in place and that’s the last resort.”

To help businesses create their accessible customer service plan and train their staff without spending a lot of money, the ministry offers several free toolkits, including a 78-page employer handbook and a 51-page training resource. There are further resources available. Mr. Gahan says People Access offers both free and paid tools for small businesses.

“The paid one includes e-learning. If you have 20 employees and you don’t want to figure out how to put together a training program for them, for $149 you can have all the templates, tools, window stickers and 19 e-learning seats.”

With e-learning, staff can log in and go through a 25-minute course, reading and answering questions. They can then print a certificate and show their employer they’ve been through the training.

Another option is to hire a consultant to come in and teach a course in-house. “A physical workshop is the best,” says Suzanne Share, CEO of Access Consulting Services in Toronto. “It can be very difficult to change attitudes. I give people a good idea what it’s like to have dyslexia, to have arthritis, to have temporary disabilities or long-term disabilities.”

Once Ontario businesses have met the requirements of the customer service regulation, there will be more to come. The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation will be next – wider-ranging legislation requiring that transportation, employment and all forms of communication be accessible to people with disabilities.

According to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, these standards will be phased in over time between 2011 and 2025, to “give organizations the time they need to build accessibility into their regular business processes.”

Mr. Milloy says employers should look at the AODA regulations as not only important for people with disabilities, but good for business too, particularly in a province where close to two million citizens are identified as having a disability. “I think the message really needs to be that there is an enlightened self-interest there, because people are making decisions. Where do we go for lunch? Well, here’s a place that’s adapting to have a customer service standard that’s very welcoming.

“If I have a business, I want to be able to reach out to them and make them comfortable, because, at the end of the day, it’s going to mean more dollars in my bottom line.”

It’s a message that has long resonated with Mr. Sturzenbecher. “The majority of my clients are seniors. When we started up, we had lots of space and good daylight, and we realized there’s a niche market in our area, and it’s growing constantly.”

He decided to lose a few tables so customers would have extra space to get through with walkers or wheelchairs. When he saw his customers getting out magnifying glasses to read the menu, he tripled the print size. He also offers his menu online in a format that allows visually impaired customers to access it with a screen reader.

Customers with guide dogs get a bowl of water for their canine companions. As well, his staff is well-trained in assisting the patrons with disabilities that frequent Macy’s on a regular basis.

“The truth is, if you cater to them and they know you cater to them, they become loyal customers.”

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Equal Opportunity in the Workplace (National Post)

Equal opportunity in the workplace

National Post · Oct. 6, 2011

Mark Wafer, who owns six Tim Hortons stores in the greater Toronto area, believes legislation to make workplaces accessible to people with disabilities is necessary, because in many cases companies simply wouldn’t invest the money and effort without it.

“But there’s a far better reason for making your business accessible to people with disabilities, both as customers and employees,” he says. “It just makes really good business sense.”

Over the past 16 years, Mr. Wafer has hired more than 70 people with disabilities, and he has no doubt that it has given him a competitive advantage.

“I’ve hired people with disabilities for jobs ranging from customer service all the way up to management. They’re in meaningful positions. That means they get equal pay. There are no subsidies from the government,” Mr. Wafer says.

“What happens over a period of time is you start to notice that people with disabilities tend to stay with you for much longer, because it’s taken them so long to get the job in the first place. That’s a tangible benefit, because turnover is expensive. The other upside is because you’ve created an inclusive workforce the other employees want to stay, too. They want to be part of something special.”

As a result, while the typical turnover rate for Tim Hortons stores in southern Ontario is between 70% and 80%, at Mr. Wafer’s stores, it is 35%.

It’s time to dispel some of the myths that hold back employers from hiring people with disabilities, says Joe Dale, project manager at Rotary at Work and executive director at Ontario Disability Employment.

“There are all sorts of myths: that it’s going to cost them more, that productivity is not going to be as good and employees with disabilities are going to miss a lot more work. While there isn’t enough of a strong research base that dispels those myths, we do have lots of anecdotal information that does,” he says.

“What’s more, I think people are pretty resilient, but particularly so people with disabilities who have found ways to get around their disabilities and can be more creative than others. They develop great problem-solving skills. I am not sure most employers necessarily understand that yet, or what a valuable labour source that people with disabilities can be.”

Rotary at Work has helped a growing number of employers dispel the myths by connecting them to employees with disabilities.

“Rotary at Work reflects an important partnership between Community Living Ontario and Ontario Rotary Clubs to assist Ontarians with disabilities to find appropriate employment by forging relationships with businesses,” says David Onley, Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor.

Mr. Onley is a shining example: Afflicted by polio at a young age, he suffered partial paralysis. After extensive physical therapy, however, Mr. Onley regained the use of his hands and arms and partial use of his legs. He is able to walk with leg braces and canes or crutches, but he generally prefers to get around using his electric scooter. He is able to drive a car using hand controls for acceleration and braking.

Another issue many companies don’t understand – much to their detriment – is the fact that when they make their business accessible to employees with disabilities, they’re also making them accessible to customers with disabilities.

“If you use the same business model when looking at creating accessible retail space, the cost/benefit ratio also favours a return on your investment,” Mr. Wafer says.

In fact, Statistics Canada pegs the number of people with disabilities at around 16.5% of the population. “If you think about it in other terms, that’s the combined population of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba,” Mr. Dale says. “It’s the largest minority in the country. It’s a significant niche for businesses to tap into.”

And that’s what Mr. Wafer has found to be the case. At one of his stores, he worked with Excellence Canada to ensure the building met Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards. Included in the upgrades was a simple system in the drive-through for people with any communication disabilities.

“It’s just a sign with a bell that says if you are deaf or have other communication barriers, please press the button for better customer service and drive to the window,” Mr. Wafer says. “When they come to the window, if they can’t tell us what they want we have an order-assist pad they can use to order.”

Today, his Tim Hortons drive-through attracts customers who would never have previously have used a drivethrough.

The opportunities for businesses that understand the advantages of hiring disabled people as well as developing goods and services for them exist in every industry. One industry where there is enormous potential, however, is technology, which, through a combination of legislation and efforts by organizations such as the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC), has seen progress in developing technology and applications that are accessible to people with disabilities – although there is still a long way to go.

The IDRC is a research and development centre at OCAD University that works with an international community of open source developers, designers, researchers, advocates and volunteers to ensure that emerging information technology and practices are designed inclusively.

“We really need legislation for cultural change,” says Jutta Treviranus, professor and director, Inclusive Design Research Centre and Inclusive Design Institute at OCAD University.

“Even if people don’t follow the letter of the law, it increases awareness. It’s a necessary way for organizations to realize that yes, this is a right people have and we do need to attend to it. But the practicality needs to be supported by other things, the tools and necessary resources.

“There’s also an amazing opportunity here. The market size of individuals with disabilities around the world is approaching the market size of China, so if there’s an organization that takes this on and begins to support that market, the growth opportunity is huge.”

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A setback for disability rights (Windsor Star)

A setback for disability rights

By Linda Saxon, The Windsor Star May 27, 2011

I am not writing as the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee chair, but as an individual with a disability.

I was very disappointed with Essex County Council’s May 18 decision to not support Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee’s resolution regarding the Association of the Municipalities of Ontario’s position on the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Public Transit Association have urged the McGuinty government to delay enactment of the IAR and to weaken its protections for persons with disabilities.

I support the AODA Alliance’s concerns that AMO is asking to delay timelines for the IAR; asking for the legislation to be delayed until reviewed by an independent regulatory impact assessment to do a cost benefits analysis.

However, most provisions of the IAR are already obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and are not new; AMO already participated and provided input into the standards committees.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley likened this move by AMO and OPTA to slow changes related to the rights of persons with a disability to similar moves made in some of the southern United States during the American Civil Rights movement for African Americans in the 1960s.

Unfortunately, Essex County council did not distance themselves from the regrettable and counter-productive position that AMO and OPTA have taken on the Integrated Accessibility Regulation.

LINDA SAXON, Amherstburg

© Copyright (c) The Windsor Star

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Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act Alliance Update

Access in PDF file by clicking here


If you don’t now receive our updates directly from us, sign up for AODA Alliance e-mail updates by writing to our new email address:

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May 17, 2011


We are delighted that on the recommendation of Sarnia’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, the City of Sarnia and its mayor have both publicly distanced themselves from the call by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to weaken the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation which the McGuinty Government is now finalizing. We urge other Ontario municipalities to do the same!

Back on April 5, 2011 the AODA Alliance made public its serious concerns about the fact that AMO and the Ontario Public Transit Association (OPTA) were using public funds to advocate to weaken the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation that the McGuinty Government is finalizing. That regulation is intended to address barriers that persons with disabilities face in getting access to employment, transportation, and information and communication.

If anything, the McGuinty Government’s proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation needs to be made stronger, not weaker. On April 5, 2011, we urged municipal accessibility advisory committees to call on their city councils and mayors to distance themselves from AMO’s and OPTA’s troubling and counterproductive opposition. For more on this click here:

We here report on three great steps forward on this issue, all coming from Sarnia.

It is great that Sarnia’s accessibility advisory committee heeded our call. It passed a resolution urging Sarnia to distance itself from AMO on this issue. That resolution is set out below, in the body of the supportive report to Sarnia City Council from Sarnia staff.

We are also delighted that on May 9, 2011, Sarnia City Council passed that resolution. We set out that resolution below, as shared with us by Sarnia City staff.

This helps show that AMO’s view is not universally shared by all Ontario municipalities. When persons with disabilities fought for enactment of the AODA from 1994 to 2005, many municipal councils passed wonderful resolutions, that called for a strong Disabilities Act to be passed by Queen’s Park. In contrast, this year, AMO and OPTA take a troubling approach to achieving accessibility for persons with disabilities giving lip service to the goal of accessibility, followed by a call for the proposed new accessibility regulation to be delayed and weakened.

Finishing off this triple-header, Sarnia’s mayor, Michael Bradley is quoted extensively in a powerful news release, evidently issued by some community groups,  on May 6, 2011. the mayor  also strongly distances himself from AMO and OPTA. He called on other municipalities in Ontario to do the same, explicitly urging them to “follow the recommendations of the AODA Alliance Group in Ontario.”

We set out the related, compelling news release below which was provided to us. Among other things, it states (referring to AMO’s call for the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation to be weakened):

“Bradley likened this move by the AMO and OPT A to slow changes related to the rights of persons’ who have a disability to similar moves that were made in some of the southern United States during the American Civil Rights movement for African Americans in the 1960’s. “Ontario’s population is made up of close to 20% of persons who have a disability and combined with family and friends it amounts to over 50% of the population,” he said. “Do municipalities really want to disenfranchise that amount of their citizenry?” He went on to quote the late great Martin Luther King and the “fierce urgency of now”.”

We urge each municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, each municipal council and each mayor in Ontario  to follow Sarnia’s lead. For action tips, click here:

Let us know what results you achieve. Contact us at:

The Sarnia City Council’s resolution also calls for provincial funding to help municipalities comply with accessibility standards. For our part, we emphasize that even without new provincial funding, it is the responsibilities of all organizations in the public and private sectors to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, whether the Ontario Government finances that activity or not.




People Serving People



To:                   Mayor Bradley and Members of Sarnia City Council

From:               Lloyd Fennell, City Manager

Date:               April 20th, 2011

Subject:           AODA Integrated Standards


The Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee requests that Sarnia City Council pass the following resolutions:

1.         That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario by 2025 be supported; and

2.         That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and support.


The AODA Alliance has been asking municipal accessibility advisory committees to distance themselves from AMO’s submission on the Integrated Accessibility Standard to the province on behalf of municipal governments.

A copy of the AODA Alliance Communication as well as the AMO submission of March 16, 2011, and the AMO News Release of April 14, 2011 have been attached for Council’s Information.


The following is a brief summary of the AODA Alliance concerns regarding AMO’s position:

•           AMO is asking to delay timelines for Integrated Accessibility Regulations (IAR);

•           AMO is asking for the legislation to be delayed until reviewed by an independent regulatory impact assessment to do a cost benefits analysis, however most provisions of the 1AR are already obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and are not new;

•           AMO already participated and provided input into the standards committees;

•           Human Rights Commission, AODA Alliance, many disability groups and AAC’s feel IAR is already not strong enough and too slow;

•           The AODA Alliance is concerned that AMO is using public funds to fight for delays in advancing accessibility, and:

•           Without the above resolution, there may be a perception that AMO is representing all municipalities when working to slow this legislation.

Unlike the position of AMO, as set out in their March 16th submission, the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee supports the disability communities in their concern that the provincial government should move forward with timelines as in the draft legislation. The Committee further agrees with the disability communities that many of the provisions of the draft Integrated Legislation are already obligations under existing human rights legislation and should not be further delayed past the timelines already put forward in the draft legislation.


This report is being brought forward at the request of the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee after consultation with the AODA Alliance.


There are no financial consequences for the preparation of this report.

Reviewed by: Lloyd Fennell, City Manager

Approved by: Brian Knott, Acting City Manager

This report was prepared by Susan Weatherston, Accessibility Coordinator

Attachments:   AODA Alliance Communication

AMO Submission of March 16, 2011

AMO News Release of April 14, 2011

Report to Council dated September 28, 2010



The following motion regarding AODA Integrated Standards was adopted by Sarnia City Council at its meeting held on May 9, 2011:

That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario by 2025 be supported; and

That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and support; and

That the Government of Ontario commit to the provision of financial resources to enable municipalities to meet standards.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Mayor Mike Bradley Speaks out Against Associations

Sarnia, Ontario, May 6th, 2010 – Mayor Mike Bradley spoke out against the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) as well as the Ontario Public Transit Association (OPT A).

Both organizations have each urged the McGuinty Government to delay enactment of the Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR) made under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (commonly known as the AODA) and to weaken its protections for persons with disabilities. Mayor Bradley spoke out against the groups after receiving recommendations from top-ranking City staff based upon recommendations made by the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Bradley likened this move by the AMO and OPT A to slow changes related to the rights of persons’ who have a disability to similar moves that were made in some of the southern United States during the American Civil Rights movement for African Americans in the 1960’s. “Ontario’s population is made up of close to 20% of persons who have a disability and combined with family and friends it amounts to over 50% of the population,” he said. “Do municipalities really want to disenfranchise that amount of their citizenry?” He went on to quote the late great Martin Luther King and the “fierce urgency of now”. Mayor Bradley also announced his plans to request Sarnia City Council this Monday evening to follow the recommendations made by The Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee requesting that Sarnia City Council pass the following resolutions:

1. That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario

by 2025 be supported; and

2. That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and

the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and support.

Hoping that this will lead other municipalities to do the right thing and follow the recommendations of the AODA Alliance Group in Ontario.

Mayor Mike Bradley is well known for his on-going Mayor’s Challenge to the other Mayor’s in Ontario — “to do the right thing and take up the challenge of hiring persons’ who have a disability.”

Mark Wafer, who owns 7 Tim Horton’s stores in Toronto, area also spoke out in support of Mayor Bradley’s comments. Wafer is a business owner who is out in front of AODA as the first fast food franchise in Ontario to be certified under AODA. Wafer stated, “This argument that business can’t afford to comply with the AODA is simply ridiculous. It’s stupid not to comply. As a business owner complying with all of the requirements of the AODA has allowed me to see a whole new demographic of customers and I have the increased profits to prove it.”

Contact:                      Mayor Mike Bradley


Mike Bradley

Contact:                      Mark Wafer,

Backgrounder:                        AODA Report

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