The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) was enacted with the goal of creating an accessible Ontario by 2025 through the development, implementation and enforcement of accessibility standards that apply to the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
The standards under the AODA apply to businesses and organizations with one or more employees in Ontario, and are designed to identify, remove, and prevent barriers faced by persons with disabilities. Currently, there are five accessibility standards under AODA:
- information and communications
- design of public spaces
- customer service
The AODA sets a statutory requirement for review of the effectiveness of the legislation and its regulation every three years. In the second legislative review of AODA in 2014, the appointed reviewer, Mayo Moran, identified health care as one of “the clearest areas of consideration” for the creation of a new standard. While many of the above-noted standards already apply to most healthcare providers, there is not yet a standard that speaks specifically to their requirements.
In 2017, the then Minister Responsible for Accessibility (now called the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility), established the Health Care Standards Development Committee (Committee). The Committee was comprised of people with disabilities, disability organizations and sector experts. The Committee was asked to develop recommendations for a new accessibility health care standard that would apply to hospitals. To develop this standard, the Committee was specifically asked to determine the measures, policies, practices, and requirements to be implemented before January 1, 2025, and the timeframe for their implementation.
In 2021, the Committee put forward initial recommendations and asked for public and stakeholder feedback to help them draft their final recommendations to the government. In April 2022, the Committee published their final recommendations and submitted them to the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility for consideration.
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