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Breaking down barriers in the built environment

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a cross-government framework that will help focus the government's work in four key areas...

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a cross-government framework that will help focus the government's work in four key areas. The four key areas are:

  • breaking down barriers in the built environment

  • government leading by example in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer

  • increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and

  • improving understanding and awareness about accessibility

The first area in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario - breaking down barriers in the built environment - shows how government is working with partner ministries and businesses to reduce barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in the built environment and housing. Work the government is doing to break down barriers in the built environment includes:

  • Making buildings safer and more accessible for people with disabilities by increasing harmonization of Ontario's Building Code with the National Construction Codes. This process is reducing barriers and has resulted in accessibility changes, including new requirements for the design of barrier-free ramps, clearer accessibility requirements in barrier-free washrooms and easier-to-understand requirements for universal washrooms in large buildings and equipment such as grab bars and faucets.

  • Investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings. An update on the program will be announced shortly.

  • Improving access to buildings and places for people with disabilities by working with key partners in architecture, design, and building. We are exploring ways to enhance training for those practicing in the field and undertaking discussions with the post-secondary sector to reach a new generation of professionals. For example:

    • We are partnering with the Ontario Building Officials Association to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility, helping to ensure that new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.

    • The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada is introducing a new course on accessibility to be available March 2020. Introduction to Successful Accessible Design will analyze the impacts of accessibility in society, the built environment, and the development industry. The course will be offered in English and French, both as a complete university graduate level course and as a continuing education course for practicing professionals.

  • Making places of worship more accessible so people can connect with their faith groups by funding Our Doors Are Open - a free guide created by OCAD University that provides practical information on how places of worship can remove physical barriers to accessibility.

  • Helping main street businesses earn more customers and employees by providing them with tips on how to become more accessible through funding a free handbook created by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association called "The Business of Accessibility: How to Make Your Main Street Business Accessibility Smart."

  • Giving retailers of all sizes in Ontario practical information on how to make their store more welcoming for customers and staff with disabilities by funding EnAbling Change for Retailers: Make your Store Accessible - a free guide created by Retail Council of Canada that covers how stores can implement accessibility in their communications, customer service and recruitment and retention.

  • Providing $1.4 billion in funding for the 2019-20 school year to help school boards provide safe and healthy learning environments for students, such as installing important accessibility features like elevators and ramps.

  • Ensuring better access for people with disabilities throughout Ontario by continuing to require that all public transportation vehicles bought with provincial funding be accessible.

  • Continuing to help Ontario residents with long-term mobility disabilities remain in their homes and participate in their communities by funding the Home & Vehicle Modification Program, which is administered by March of Dimes Canada. With an annual investment of $10.6 million, this program reduces safety risks by approving grants up to $15,000 to make basic home and vehicle modifications.

As the government moves forward with making Ontario more accessible, upcoming work includes:

  • Funding free resources and training materials for the building sector through the EnAbling Change Program to further educate associations and employers about how to improve accessibility in the built environment. Many of these resources are available on a comprehensive one-stop-shop government web page that provides businesses and communities with information to help them be more accessible and inclusive.

  • We are committed to developing an innovation guide with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that will be used to support the implementation of Ontario's Housing Supply Action Plan. The action plan will address housing challenges and support fresh approaches to help make homes more accessible.


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