CMHA Ontario was pleased to present a mental health perspective on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) to Mayo Moran, Dean of the University of Toronto law school, as part of her legislative review of the Act. Moran was appointed in September 2013 to conduct this review of the AODA, and as part of the process, held consultations in London, Toronto, Thunder Bay and Ottawa. CMHA Ontario participated in the Toronto consultation on April 29, 2014. During its presentation, CMHA Ontario discussed positive impacts of the introduction, development and implementation of the AODA, particularly a noted increase in awareness and change related to accessibility on the part of organizations across Ontario. As a result of the AODA and its standards, CMHA Ontario has received requests for information and resources about mental health accessibility from a range of public, private and not-for-profit organizations.
To advance greater accessibility for people with mental health disabilities in Ontario, CMHA Ontario presented one recommendation: Ensure there is complete alignment between the AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). Given that much of the AODA largely focuses on the accessibility needs of people with physical disabilities, it is essential to strengthen the legislation’s capacity to address stigma, discrimination and attitudinal barriers faced by people with mental health- and other disabilities.
Three examples of the value of alignment with the Code were provided to Moran:
- The opportunity to require training on the Code under the Customer Service Standard
- The inconsistency of the definition of “service animal” under proposed changes to the Customer Service Standard with existing human rights case law and the Code
- The omission of volunteers and other non-paid individuals from coverage under the Employment Standard.
CMHA Ontario’s complete presentation is available online.