The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 is a law that allows the government to improve the lives of Ontarians by establishing standards for accessibility. Standards have been created for customer service, information and communications, transportation, the design of public spaces and employment. The purpose of these standards is to foster the integration of accessibility in public, private and not-for- profit organizations. These standards are part of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.

One of the requirements in the regulation is for organizations in Ontario to develop multi-year accessibility plans that outline how they will meet their obligations under the legislation and remove barriers for people with disabilities.

The 2017-2021 Ontario Public Service Multi-Year Accessibility Plan is a roadmap that shows how the Ontario Public Service will continue to identify, remove and prevent accessibility barriers through the province’s policies, programs and services.

This five-year plan was developed with feedback from employees, including those with disabilities, and accessibility stakeholders and includes 60 commitments organized around the act’s accessibility standards.

The 2018 Annual Status Report demonstrates ways the Ontario Public Service is helping to make Ontario more accessible and inclusive for everyone. It is not meant to be an inventory of accomplishments. It highlights key areas of progress made in 2018.

Executive summary: year two at a glance

Approximately 50% of the 60 commitments in the 2017-2021 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan were completed by the end of year two (2018). In year one (2017), 20% of the 60 commitments were completed.

Progress made in 2017 and 2018
Accessibility standard% complete in
% complete in
Customer service5743
Information and communications4314
Transportationfootnote 1200
Design of public spaces6010
Governance, policies and legislation7129

The Multi-Year Accessibility Plan achievements translate into improved accessibility in public services, products and facilities for Ontarians and public service employees. As our population ages, a more accessible province is more inclusive for everyone, including seniors and people with disabilities.

Customer service

Key outcome: people with disabilities receive goods and services in a timely manner.

57% complete: 4 out of 7 customer service commitments achieved.

We are committed to ensuring that government goods and services are accessible for everyone in Ontario, including people with disabilities. Accessible customer service for the public begins with well-trained Ontario Public Service employees. Ontario is the first jurisdiction in the world to legally require both public and private organizations to train employees on accessibility. Mandatory accessibility training in the Ontario Public Service focused on how to provide quality service to people with disabilities. At a minimum, all employees must complete accessibility courses on the following topics:

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
  • Accessible Customer Service
  • Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation
  • Ontario Human Rights Code

Some staff must complete additional job-specific training (for example Accessible Built Environment Standards).

All managers in the Ontario Public Service must also complete training on the Employment Standards under the act, including how to accommodate employees with disabilities.

In addition to training, the government continues to develop and demonstrate innovative ways to provide accessible customer service to the public. For example, the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Victims and Vulnerable Persons Division expanded its Support Dogs for Victims of Crime project. Its purpose is to ensure vulnerable clients of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program have access to support dog services where appropriate, and available. Support dogs are offered for use during client meetings and, with judicial approval, in courtrooms during testimony.

All Ontarians, including people with disabilities, should be able to participate in amateur sports, such as tennis, skiing and lacrosse. The government facilitates this through the Sport Hosting Program, offered by the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. The program funds non-profit organizations to deliver national and international sporting events in Ontario. To receive funding, organizations must demonstrate how barriers will be removed to allow people with disabilities to participate or attend sporting events.

Information and communications

Key outcome: accessible information and communication supports are delivered to all Ontario Public Service employees and clients.

43% complete: 3 out of 7 information and communications commitments achieved.

The Ontario Public Service is focused on increasing the availability of accessible information for Ontarians and Ontario Public Service employees. One of the ways to accomplish this is to design and deliver more online digital services that meet the province’s web accessibility requirements. The government maintains an accessible public facing website – – in addition to an accessible internal website platform for employees – InsideOPS.

The Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines launched the Mining Lands Administration System in 2018, moving Ontario’s mining lands administration systems from ground staking and paper map staking to online registration of mining claims.

There are many other examples of digital modernization and creation of online services across government, for example:

Government’s objective is to make information accessible to everyone in appropriate formats. For example, Map Design Considerations for Accessibility helps people design maps so they are accessible to people with varying abilities. The Ministry of the Attorney General’s law library has moved a large portion of its collection to electronic formats. The library consults with stakeholders to identify more ways to make its printed material more accessible.

Employees are also encouraged to learn how to make documents accessible. Training courses are offered in many formats: in person, by webinar and by enrolling in e-learning. To date, thousands of employees have taken training courses, contributing to making internal information and communications accessible to all employees, and advancing a culture of inclusion.

Many people with disabilities increasingly rely on the internet to independently access the services and resources they require. For example, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services has implemented Stop Now and Plan (SNAP). SNAP provides a framework for teaching children struggling with behaviour issues, and their parents, effective emotional regulation, self-control and problem-solving skills. This internationally recognized model can be accessed using an iPad.

Another example is the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Family Claims Online, which enables users to electronically file for joint and simple divorces. Family Claims Online removes the need for paper filing in some cases and the need to physically visit a courthouse. This online filing service is complemented by Community Legal Education Ontario’s Guided Pathways to Family Court forms, developed in partnership with the Ministry of the Attorney General. This online, interactive tool asks users a series of plain-language questions and uses their answers to populate the applicable court forms and generate a next-steps checklist.


Key outcome: More people with disabilities are employed, engaged and advancing in the Ontario Public Service.

53% complete: 8 out of 15 employment commitments achieved.

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities in Ontario age 25 to 64 is 50% higher than for people without disabilities.footnote 2 To address this, the Ontario Public Service strives to show leadership in accessible recruitment and employment, internally as well as with external partners.

An important commitment is to provide training to employees and managers to help them understand how hidden biases impact the workplace. Workshops were designed to increase employees’ understanding of barriers and hidden biases and how they can negatively impact people with disabilities. There is a module on privilege that focuses on invisible power dynamics, assumptions and systemic barriers that can exist in workplaces. Other training about accessibility, accommodation and leadership was developed for senior leaders. This is one of the many ways the Ontario Public Service strives to diversify its talent pool and remove barriers to career advancement for people with disabilities.

The goal of employment accommodation is to enable people with disabilities to participate fully in their work environment. The Ontario Public Service is committed to the regular review and evaluation of recruitment, leadership development and accommodation practices. In the 2018 Employee Experience Survey, new data was collected about accommodation for employees with disabilities. These results were analyzed and shared with senior managers. Actions are underway to improve communication to staff and management, leading to better employee experiences with accommodation processes.


Key outcome: the Ontario Public Service continues to support the development of transportation services that are barrier-free.

20% complete: 1 out of 5 transportation commitments achieved.

Transportation is a vital link for people with disabilities to take part in their communities. It enables participation in education, work, recreation and access to services, like healthcare. Through the Community Transportation Grant Program, the province is providing up to $30 million to 39 municipalities over five years to support local transit and intercommunity bus service in areas that are currently unserved or underserved by public transit. The program will make it more convenient for Ontarians, including seniors, students, youth, people with disabilities and others, to access essential services in their communities, connect with other transportation services, and travel between cities and towns.

Other transportation projects are underway around the province that will make it easier for people with disabilities to get around. Construction has started on two new passenger ferry vessels for service in the Kingston area. The vessels incorporate accessibility features and will be completed in 2020.


Key outcome: a procurement program that considers the needs of people with disabilities to help ensure that goods and services at government facilities are accessible

50% complete: 4 out of 8 procurement commitments achieved.

As one of Ontario’s largest purchasers, the Ontario Public Service makes it a priority to integrate accessibility considerations into the procurement process. This is one important way to ensure that Ontarians have access to accessible goods, services and facilities.

To ensure that government employees have the knowledge and tools to procure accessible goods and services, procurement training modules that include accessibility requirements are available to all staff. Government buyers are prompted to consider accessibility criteria when they use the procurement templates and guidelines to ensure that vendors consistently provide accessible goods and services to government.

Design of public spaces

Key outcome: greater accessibility into, out of and around Ontario Public Service facilities and public spaces.

60% complete: 6 out of 10 design of public spaces commitments achieved.

Accessible public spaces include specific features that make it easier for everyone, including people with disabilities, to use public spaces.

Governance, policies and legislation

Key outcome: clear roles, accountability and barrier-free legislation.

71% complete: 5 out of 7 governance, policies and legislation commitments achieved.

Accessibility accountability is being built into all levels of the Ontario Public Service, with defined roles and responsibilities. This means that employees at all levels of the Ontario Public Service know what their obligations are and work towards creating a more accessible organization. The government has developed and set in motion an executive governance structure designed to drive the implementation of the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. The new governance structure embeds accessibility into existing leadership tables at the deputy minister, assistant deputy minister, director-manager and staff levels, and includes two new committees at the executive level. These executive level committees work in tandem with a network of designated accessibility leads in every ministry.

Accessibility leads provide a strong operational foundation to support the Ontario Public Service accessibility governance structure. Their role is to coordinate each ministry’s accessibility reporting commitments under this plan. They also serve as key resources for accessibility-related issues in their ministries by sourcing accessibility expertise and providing advice and guidance to employees in their ministries.

Above and beyond: government as a leader

Accessibility innovation in the Ontario Public Service goes above and beyond the commitments in the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. Across the Ontario Public Service, accessibility champions seek ways to make Ontario more accessible. For example, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs partnered with the University of Guelph to deliver the 10th Annual Guelph Accessibility Conference, an event that brings accessibility education and awareness to the western region of the province. The conference took place in May 2018 to coincide with National AccessAbility Week and the theme was designing for diverse abilities. The conference attracted over 400 provincial, national and international participants over three days.

Ministry accessibility leads are passionate champions of accessibility and seek opportunities to showcase and improve accessibility across the organization. For example, originating from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and now including over 15 partner ministries, enterprise partners and the Ontario Public Service Employee Networks/Groups, the Ontario Public Service Multi-ministry Inclusion Café Speaker Series pilot launched in 2018. The first café of the series focused on bias awareness and included a lived experience storyteller with a vision disability. This event reached over 1,200 Ontario Public Service employees across the province and built awareness and capacity to deliver more inclusive public services for Ontarians.

Continuing progress

In two years, approximately 50% of the 60 commitments in the 2017-2021 Ontario Public Service Multi-Year Accessibility Plan are complete. We know that more progress is needed in order to make the Ontario Public Service a more accessible organization that helps people with disabilities participate fully in their life and work. Forging new partnerships and innovative ways of working will enable the Ontario Public Service to remove more barriers and continue driving towards becoming a more accessible employer and service provider.