Ontario is continuing to work towards an inclusive and barrier-free province through its comprehensive accessibility framework. They announced on January 28 that Ontario has developed a new cross-government framework called Advancing Accessibility in Ontario.
The framework includes key areas of focus, one of which is the government leading by example. This area demonstrates the government’s commitment and leadership in improving accessibility in its role as a policy maker, service provider, and employer.
The government is working on numerous initiatives that show how we are leading by example in accessibility. Some of them include:
- Developing the provincial criteria for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). As part of this, the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility worked closely with the Ministry of Infrastructure to establish accessibility as one of the four main objectives that applications will be evaluated on under the program’s Community, Culture and Recreation stream. Projects will additionally be evaluated based on exceeding minimum standards; use of Universal Design Principles, accessible guidelines and innovative solutions to increasing accessibility.
- Increasing opportunities for hands-on work experience and training in the Ontario Public Service for youth with disabilities by expanding eligibility for the Ontario Internship Program. The criteria have recently changed so that students with disabilities that have graduated within the last five years – rather than two years – can now apply to the year-long program.
- Providing organizations and the public with practical tips on how to be more accessible by delivering regular free webinars on various topics, such as accessible transit and creating accessible tourism experiences and customer service in Ontario.
There is still a lot of work to be done to make the province accessible for everyone. When a society is inclusive and barrier-free, people can fully participate in their communities. Making Ontario a province where communities and businesses are accessible for everyone benefits us all.
The new framework will make a positive difference in the daily lives of people with disabilities. It was informed by the recommendations made by the Honourable David C. Onley in the third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as well as input from key partners, organizations, and people with disabilities.