Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation

What was recommended?

That the municipality requests the province of Ontario to extend the website compliance deadline to at least January 1, 2022 and that the province of Ontario consider providing funding support and training resources to meet these compliance standards.

The report for council’s September 24 meeting is not a status update; it is a request, 3 months in advance of the compliance deadline, for an extension to 15 months from now.

COVID-19/the pandemic is the most obvious reason for the recommendation and it is referenced nine times in the report:

  1. RECOMMENDATION: AND WHEREAS the declared pandemic, COVID-19, has impacted the finances and other resources;
  2. BACKGROUND:
    1. enhanced monitoring of declared pandemic, COVID-19;
    2. has been consumed by its response to COVID-19;
  3. DISCUSSION:
    1. did not anticipate the interruptions and redeployments caused by the declared pandemic, COVID-19.
    2. how the municipality ensures the provision of its services during a pandemic
    3. a number of staff were on unpaid leave during the pandemic,
    4. Due to the impact of the pandemic emergency on municipal operations
  4. FINANCIAL MATTERSsuggests that it cannot comply by January 1, 2021 due to COVID-19;
  5. CONCLUSION: extend the compliance deadline from January 1, 2021 to at least January 1, 2022 due to the impacts of the pandemic (COVID-19).

RISK ANALYSIS did not acknowledge the historical disadvantage of persons with disabilities. While the report mentioned administration will continue in its efforts to comply, the risk was relative to hypothetical consequences to the town: If non-compliant; can require; If this is the case; suggests that it cannot comply; may still enforce its timelines; there may be financial implications.

FINANCIAL MATTERS did not specify a dollar amount of hardship, given the reliance on how “COVID-19 has impacted the finances and other resources of the municipality.” Instead, it was noted the town might face financial implications in the form of administrative penalties or increased expenses in trying to meet the required standards after an order to comply. There was no mention of the AODA procedure relative to an Order.

CONSULTATIONS listed three staff; there was no mention of public consultations of ratepayers that pay for the town’s website or their thoughts on financial priorities for the community.

Council voted in favour of the resolution.

More to follow.

RelatedTown of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension.

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension

In a Report to Council by Kevin Fox for the September 14, 2020 council meeting, Administration recommends that Council request that the Province of Ontario extend the compliance deadline from January 1, 2021 to at least January 1, 2022 due to the impacts of the pandemic (COVID-19) emergency and the impacts it has had both on the finances and resources of municipalities such as the Town of Amherstburg.

And town council voted in favour.

SHAMEFUL.

COVID-19 has only existed for the past several months compared to provincial legislation that was enacted in 2005: the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act). Provincial Standards included deadlines for compliance but, suddenly, in September 2020, the town needs more time? 15 months more time?

More to follow.

Coffee With A Cop: Windsor Police Apologize For ‘Misstep’

Windsor Police held its ‘Coffee With A Cop’ on June 27 at the Caffeine & Co., housed in an inaccessible building in Amherstburg, Ontario.

stairs a barrier to coffee with a cop in amherstburg, ontarioStairs at Caffeine & Co. = #Accessibility barrier! #AODAfail

Windsor, as a Proponent to the Amherstburg RFP Police Services, was informed in section 33, ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (AODA), that it shall ensure that all its employees receive training regarding the provision of goods and services to per sons with disabilities in accordance with the AODA.

Windsor Police should have already created Accessible Customer Service policies pursuant to provincial legislation that included training:

7.(1) Every obligated organization shall ensure that training is provided on the requirements of the accessibility standards referred to in this Regulation and on the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities.

On February 24, 2011 the Windsor Police Service, Windsor Police Services Board, Ontario Human Rights Commission and Ontario Police College launched the Human Rights Project; Vision Statement:

The Windsor Police Service endeavours to be a professional, effective and accountable law enforcement organization that upholds the human rights and dignity of all people in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Windsor Police Service is committed to playing its part in making Windsor a community where everyone lives, works and visits in a safe, comfortable and inclusive environment.

The Human Rights Project Final Report 2014 noted next steps:

The inclusion of human rights themes through all WPS training and the requirement to monitor training programs to ensure that human rights issues are being addressed on an ongoing basis, will assist WPS members to provide services to the public without discrimination.

As a long time accessibility advocate, I asked Windsor Police for an explanation and received the following:

“My name is Jason Bellaire and I am the Inspector in charge of our uniform patrol officers at the Windsor Police Service (WPS). I was not at the “Coffee with a Cop” event last night (due to a prior commitment); however, I am somewhat familiar with the location where the event was held. This appears to be a regretful oversight on our part as co-organizers of the event. Please accept my apology on behalf of WPS and I assure you that better consideration regarding accessibility will be given when planning future events.

We genuinely appreciate your bringing this issue to our attention and we always welcome any critical feedback from our community members, partners and stakeholders. Once again, please accept our apologies for this misstep and always feel free to contact us with any concerns. Have a safe and happy summer.”

As much as I appreciate the apology, after the fact, I would rather this type of incident not occur in the first place.

Commentary by Linda Saxon