In December 2021, the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility established the Design of Public Spaces Standards Development Committee to undertake an evidence-based and focused review of the province’s accessible built environment standards in regulation under both the AODA and the 2015 barrier-free accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code.

List of members and representation

The following is a full list of the committee members including the organization or sector they are representing. Committee membership may be subject to change.

Voting members:

  • Julie Sawchuk (Chair), Principle, Sawchuk Accessible Solutions
  • Catherine Bell, March of Dimes
  • Debbie Gillespie, CNIB
  • Kevin Collins, Easter Seals Ontario
  • Johanna Contreras, Metrolinx
  • John Lane, City of St. Catharines
  • Kenneth Logtenberg, B. M. Ross and Associates
  • Ute Maya-Giambattista, Ontario Professional Planner’s Institute
  • Diane Morrell, Disability Community Representative
  • Noor Ratansi-Iamurri, Canadian Hearing Services
  • Megan Richards, Association of Ontario Municipalities/ City of Ottawa
  • Ian Rogers, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Susan Ruptash, Ontario Association of Architects
  • Chris Stigas, Disability Community Representative
  • Dana Tulk, City of Toronto

Non-voting members:

  • Sarah Kayama, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
  • Mansoor Mahmood, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Scope and timelines

A Standards Development Committee will undertake the legislated review of the Design of Public Spaces Standard as prescribed in Section 9 of the AODA and summarized as follows:

  1. Re-examine the long-range objectives of the standard.
  2. If required, revise the measures, policies, practices, and requirements to be implemented on or before January 1, 2025, and the timeframe for their implementation.
  3. Develop another proposed standard containing modifications or additions that the Committee deems advisable for public comment.
  4. Make such changes it considers advisable to the proposed accessibility standard based on comments received and make recommendations to the minister.

The Minister has requested the committee to undertake an evidence-based and focused review of the province’s accessible built environment standards in regulation under both the AODA and the 2015 barrier-free accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code.

The committee’s work will carefully consider feedback and research regarding challenges and gaps in the province’s accessibility regulations. This includes user experiences for persons with disabilities and implementation issues for obligated sectors (for example, municipal requirements).

It has also been asked to leverage the expertise of its members and work collaboratively to identify priority areas for further committee discussion.

The committee has been encouraged to consider all possible solutions and tactics, including recommendations on practical non-regulatory measures to remove or prevent barriers, including recommendations related to public information and awareness or other programs that could complement a potential updated or new regulation.

They may also decide to establish technical sub-committees with representation from experts in built environment accessibility to support committee discussions and the development of its recommendations.

Guidelines for recommendations:

  • Review the long-term accessibility objectives of the standard and include a proposed timeframe for implementation of your recommendations.
  • Ensure that any recommendations the committee makes are cost-effective and make use of clear and straightforward language.
  • Respect and be complementary to the principles, purpose and requirements of the AODA, and support the commitment of achieving accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities on or before January 1, 2025, taking into account:
    • the range of disabilities that the measures, policies, practices and requirements are intended to address
    • the nature of the barriers that the measures, policies, practices and requirements are intended to identify, remove and prevent
    • any technical and fiscal considerations/ impacts that may be associated with their implementation (i.e., for obligated organizations, sectors, and the province more broadly)
  • Focus efforts on removing and preventing barriers both now and in the future.
  • Consider existing Ontario legislative and regulatory frameworks, as well as measures and supports that already exist in the sector.
  • Consider inter-jurisdictional best practices and innovative solutions, keeping in mind the context of Ontario’s current regulatory framework specific to the built environment sector.
  • Consider fiscal implications and feasibility for the sector to comply.
  • Consider the ‘enforceability’ of the requirements to support compliance and enforcement of the proposed Standard.
  • Where appropriate, reflect national and international standards, legislation, regulation, codes, and best practices in Ontario, other provinces, Canada, and internationally, in the area of built environment accessibility.

Throughout the process, the members of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) sitting on the committee should keep ASAC informed of the committee’s progress.

Key deliverables and timelines:

The committee will complete the following key deliverables within the specified timelines:

  1. Meetings—The committee will meet virtually on a schedule to be identified in the agreed-upon workplan. The ministry will continue to monitor public health guidelines with respect to COVID‑19 restrictions on in-person meetings. Per diems are provided at the discretion of the Minister.
  2. Committee work plan—The committee will prepare and provide to the Minister a draft work plan early in the development of its recommendations. The work plan will outline key milestones, activities, and timelines to achieve the deliverables described in this letter.
  3. Proposed Recommendations for Accessibility Standards for Built Environment —Within nine (9) months or sooner of the committee’s first meeting, the committee will deliver to the Minister initial recommendations to be posted for public review.
  4. Finalizing recommendations for revisions to the standard—As required by the AODA, a report on comments received during the public review will be prepared by the ministry and the comments collected will be given to the committee for its consideration. The committee will consider public comments, seek additional information if needed, and make changes based on public comments as the committee deems advisable. The committee will submit the final recommendations to the Minister no later than 14 weeks after receiving the report and public comments.
  5. Meeting Minutes and Progress Reports—No later than four weeks following each of its meetings, the committee will approve and provide the Minister a copy of its meeting minutes.

Meeting Minutes

Orientation Meeting: April 6, 2022

Letter from chair to the minister

April 25, 2022

The Honourable Raymond Cho
Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
5th Floor, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 2C8

Dear Minister Cho,

Re: Design of Public Spaces standard review kick-off meeting: minutes and progress report

On behalf of the members of the Design of Public Spaces Standards Development Committee, I am pleased to submit the minutes of the meeting held on April 6, 2022.

The committee has completed their initial orientation and training session. We thank both you and Deputy Alexander for taking the time to attend the meeting and for your kind words of encouragement.

We look forward to receiving the comprehensive foundational and research/information materials for our review in order that we are prepared for the next meeting following the provincial election. These materials will assist the committee in the development of our first deliverable which will include our workplan outlining the path forward for the review, as outlined in the Terms of Reference.

My thanks again for the privilege of leading this review and contributing to the goal of an accessible and inclusive Ontario.

(Original signed by)
Julie Sawchuk
Chair, Design of Public Spaces Standards Development Committee

Meeting Information

Date: April 6, 2022, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Location: Virtual

Format of committee minutes and references: For the purposes of referencing committee documents and items in the minutes: ‘O’ (Orientation Meeting) represents the meeting number/minute items/sections/action items.

Meeting present

Standards Development Committee members: Julie Sawchuk (Chair), Catherine Bell, Kevin Collins, Debbie Gillespie, John Lane, Kenneth Logtenberg (partial), Ute Maya-Giambattista, Diane Morrell, Noor Ratansi-Iamurri, Megan Richards, Ian Rogers, Susan Ruptash, Chris Stigas, Dana Tulk

Non-voting Standards Development Committee members: Sarah Kayama (Ministry of Government and Consumer Services), Mansoor Mahmood (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing)

Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility staff: Alison Drummond, Mary Bartolomucci, Susannah Bush, Sophia Christopher, Alex Ibrahim, Christopher Paulin, Alexandria Tadman

Guests: Minister Raymond Cho, Deputy Minister Carlene Alexander

Captionist: McKaya McDonald

Regrets: Johanna Contreras

Meeting minutes

O 1.1 Call to order, land acknowledgement

Julie Sawchuk welcomed the committee and gave a land acknowledgement statement.

O 1.2 Message from the Minister and Deputy Minister

The Honourable Raymond Cho and Deputy Minister Carlene Alexander of the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility provided remarks and thanked the members for their commitment to the work of the committee.

O 1.3 Chair’s introduction, agenda review

Julie Sawchuk introduced herself, spoke about the importance of accessibility in public spaces and identified her goals as the chair of the committee.

O 1.4 Housekeeping remarks and roll call

Alexandria Tadman, Senior Policy Coordinator, Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, conducted the roll call and reviewed best practices for meetings on an online format (Zoom) for full participation of members for the meeting.

O 1.5 Committee mandate

Mary Bartolomucci, Director, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Policy and Standards Branch, Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, provided a walkthrough of the committee’s roles, responsibilities, and processes, including an outline of the Terms and Reference as outlined in the minister’s letter to the chair.

Members had an opportunity to ask clarifying questions about the scope of the work.

O 1.6 Member introductions

Julie Sawchuk provided an opportunity for members to introduce themselves and their experiences related to accessibility in the built environment. Each member spoke about their “biggest wish” and their own personal view of the need for improved accessibility in public spaces in Ontario.

O 1.7 Indigenous engagement

Alex Ibrahim, Manager, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Standards Development Unit, Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, spoke about ensuring that Indigenous perspectives inform the work of the committee, and committed to bring information forward at future meetings.

O 1.8 Committee administration

Alison Drummond, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division, Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, discussed the work of the committee during the election writ period.

Alexandria Tadman directed members to materials regarding virtual meetings, accessibility accommodations, remuneration and communications protocols.

O 1.9 Wrap-up and next steps

Julie Sawchuk provided closing remarks - she thanked members for their attendance and noted that they would be contacted following the election when the ministry has been given direction to resume their work.