11/02/2006

Government Announces Public Review of the Customer Service Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Correction: This ALERT, previously released on October 24, 2006, is being reissued to provide a point of clarification regarding AMO’s advocacy for provincial funding to assist in the implementation of the standards developed under the AODA.

On October 23, 2006 the Minister of Community and Social Services, Madeleine Meilleur, announced the beginning of the public review process of the draft Customer Service Standards  as prescribed under the AODA, 2005. 

The AODA, 2005, requires the Minister of Community and Social Services to develop accessibility standards that will remove barriers for people with disabilities. The standards are expected to apply to the public sector, including all municipalities in the Province, as well as the not-for-profit and private sectors.  They will address a full range of disabilities including physical, sensory, mental health, developmental and learning and will be implemented in phases leading to full accessibility in Ontario by 2025.

Once completed, the standards will be introduced into legislation and therefore will become mandatory and enforced by the Province.  

A sector costing analysis was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Customer Service Standards. In the costing analysis, municipalities, post-secondary education (PSE), public transit were analyzed together as a single sector. Projected total cumulative costs for municipalities, PSE and public transport, from 2007-2025, are between $52.2 million ($2.9 million/year) and $156.7 million ($8.7 million/year). Direct municipal cost impacts, both low and high per year, are not available. 

While some may characterize the anticipated cost impacts as relatively low, it should be noted that cost impacts from the remaining four standard development committees are yet to be determined.

AMO has advocated for provincial funding to assist in the implementation of the SDC’s under the AODA. To date, no funding to support the legislation has been made available.

AMO will be recommending to the Ministry that in order to fully understand the meaning and impact of any of the standards, it will be important to consider them together. 

AMO is recommending that municipalities review the proposed standards and provide comments to the Ministry of Community and Social Services by the December 20, 2006 deadline.

AMO, through the Barrier Free Access Working Group and on the future SDCs, will continue to participate in the SDC process and advise the membership of arising issues, concerns and critical timelines.