06/17/2010

Timely Martin Prosperity Institute Study Assists in Ongoing Debate on the Impact of Implementing the AODA.
The Government of Ontario's commissioned report Releasing Constraints: Projecting the Economic Impacts of Increased Accessibility on Ontario’s Economy, examines the broad, beneficial economic impacts on individuals, markets and society of implementing the AODA, specifically, the current five standards.

The study is also useful in considering the emerging labour force shortage that is expected to peak at over 1 million people by 2031.

The Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) study is an important and timely undertaking. The government, along with key stakeholders has been working on developing accessibility standards in transportation, customer service, employment, information and communication and the built environment since the AODA was introduced. To date, one standard - the customer service standard - has been passed into law. The remaining standards, employment, information and communication and transportation, are expected to pass as one streamlined regulation in the near future, while the built environment is still undergoing development.

Throughout the standard development process, both the private and public sector have raised significant concern on the economic feasibility and sustainability of implementing the standards as developed. To date, the government has not carried out rigorous cost-benefit analysis across sectors and individuals on the implementation of any of the standards.

It should be clarified that the MPI study is not a cost-benefit analysis, rather, the study looks at broad “what if scenarios” on the prosperity impact of the AODA. The study assumes that regulations, once passed will generally be “optimal and effective” at achieving their objectives. The study also assumes that stakeholders-including municipalities-will have the financial and human resource capacity to meet the implementation obligations of all standards within the timelines specified by the government.

The key findings of the study include:

  • Employment income would increase due to higher educational attainment;
  • Percentage of persons with disabilities who are employed would increase from 50 to 52%- this would change employment income in Ontario by $359 million annually;
  • ODSP payments would decrease by $151 million with a total combined benefit of increase in employment income and decrease in ODSP payments of $510 million;
  • GDP would increase by $4.1 billion with a $49 per capita GDP increase;
  • Tourism would increase by 3%;
  • Retail sales would increase by 2%;
  • Decrease in social exclusion-subsequent decrease in poverty and income inequality.
The MPI study sustains the government’s momentum on moving towards a fully accessible province by 2025. It is indisputable that greater access in our communities would provide a quality of life that benefits all Ontarians and truly identify Ontario as a leader. However, AMO argues that the study is incomplete in the absence of the full understanding and examination of the standards as regulations and a cost benefit analysis that evaluates the impacts of implementing these standards across individuals, organizations and governments and within the timelines specified by the Minister of Community and Social Services.

AMO continues to struggle with the implementation of the AODA. AMO and municipalities understand both the price of exclusion and the benefits of social and economic inclusion through accessibility. AMO remains supportive of the objectives of the AODA, and it is for this reason that we continue to advocate for timelines and standards that are feasible, practical, implementable and affordable for all municipalities and their citizens. The MPI study while important, has not provided the full scope of research that definitively demonstrates that the objectives and goals of the AODA will be attained through the current standard development and implementation processes and 
timelines as currently defined by the government.

AMO will continue to monitor the progress of the AODA and work with its Resource Teams to understand the implications for municipalities and to develop principled recommendations for improvement to the government.