Ministry Accessibility Plans

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Accessibility Plan

Table of Contents


Report on Achievements

Commitments and Strategies for 2003-2004

For more information


In 2001, there were an estimated 1.5 million people in Ontario with self-disclosed disabilities. This number is expected to increase as the population ages.

In December 2001, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA) was passed into law. Its purpose is to improve opportunities for people with disabilities and to provide for their involvement in the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to their full participation in the life of the province.

One of the requirements under the ODA is that Ontario government ministries, municipalities, hospitals, school boards, colleges, universities, and public transportation organizations develop annual accessibility plans to make programs, services and buildings more accessible to people with disabilities. The plans must be made available to the public.

In the Speech from the Throne, delivered on November 20, 2003, the Ontario Government confirmed its commitment to working with Ontarians with disabilities on meaningful legislation that will allow them to fully participate in building a stronger province.

This document is the first annual accessibility plan for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The plan describes improvements to accessibility that the ministry has made to date and its commitments for the balance of the 2003-2004 fiscal year.

Report on Achievements

The purpose of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's annual accessibility plan is to describe the measures that the ministry took last year, and the measures it has taken in past years, to identify, remove and prevent barriers experienced by people with disabilities.The ministry has made significant achievements to all required sections noted in the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001(ODA). These include the following:

Government buildings, structures and premises

Section 4 of the ODA requires the government to develop and design guidelines to ensure its buildings, structures and premises will be barrier-free and accessible to people with disabilities. The Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC) has the lead responsibility for this and uses a consultative approach in developing these guidelines for the buildings the government buys, leases, builds or renovates significantly. The ORC first developed barrier-free design guidelines in 1990 to support and help the design community and serve as a guide to achieving barrier-free access.

The ministry achievements in this area are as follows  :

  • The ministry has revised its leasing criteria to make accessibility a mandatory requirement for all lease searches, including site and building, transportation routes, and adjacent facilities. The ministry has also reviewed existing sites to determine compliance with the Building Code Act, 1992, and other relevant codes.
  • The ministry has developed and implemented procedures to monitor compliance with all acts and regulations and to identify necessary site modifications based on code requirements, accessibility needs and obligations, and issues with the potential to expose the ministry to liability.
  • The ministry has established a Strategic Accommodation Planning Group to address employee accommodation issues in existing buildings and new premises, and requests for special accommodations that may have an impact on the ministry.
Government goods and services

Section 5 of the ODA states that the government must have regard for people with disabilities when it buys goods and services for the public, government, or its employees. The ministry achievements in this area are as follows :

  • The ministry has developed specifications for furniture, seating, and furniture accessories in accordance with ergonomics standards. This design approach has resulted in the purchase of goods that are adjustable for use by people with disabilities (e.g. height adjustable keyboards for people in wheelchairs).
  • Provincial Psychiatric Hospitals (PPHs) have developed and implemented a process for buying furnishings and equipment that facilitates patient health and helps eliminate and/or minimize barriers.
Ministry Internet sites

Section 6 of the ODA requires Government of Ontario Internet sites to be implemented in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities, unless such accessibility is not feasible technically.

The ministry achievements in this area are as follows :

  • The ministry's public Internet site ( has been made accessible to people with disabilities where accommodating technology exists. The site, re-designed in 2002 to comply with the international web accessibility standard (W3C -WAI), now incorporates the following features:
    1. Simplified site navigation, structure and content,
    2. A text-only view of all pages with the style of text, colour and background under user control,
    3. A "tab" feature that allows users with limited mobility or visual impairments to tab through the page links and skip from column to column,
    4. Audio screen reader software to enhance readability for people with visual impairments,
    5. Embedded text equivalents for all images.
  • Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) is not widely viewed as an accessible format and has been eliminated wherever possible.
  • Upgrades and accessibility enhancements to the site continue.
Government publications and communications

Section 7 of the ODA requires the government, upon request, to make available publications in alternate formats (unless it is not feasible, technically, to do so) so that they are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The ministry achievements in this area are as follows :

  • In co-operation with Publications Ontario, the ministry has put procedures in place to provide ministry publications in accessible formats, upon request.
  • All current ministry television advertisements have been closed-captioned for hearing impaired viewers.
  • The ministry's INFOline service provides a TTY (tele-typewriter) service to callers who are hearing or speech impaired. Callers can leave a message. Agents respond within 24 hours. The TTY number, 1-800-387-5559, is published by a variety of provincial government programs and services.
  • All ministry public forms have been converted to an accessible HTML format.
Government employees

Section 8 of the ODA requires the government to accommodate the accessibility needs of its employees in accordance with the Human Rights Code, to the extent that these needs relate to their employment. Under the ODA, the government must accommodate accessibility needs of job applicants with disabilities. The government is also required to ensure that employees with managerial or supervisory functions are trained to fulfill its accessibility obligations and inform its employees of these obligations and their rights.

The ministry achievements in this area are as follows :

  • The ministry has developed and implemented policies and processes, consistent with government direction, to provide employment accommodations to employees. It has met the accommodation needs of employees and, upon request, job applicants invited for interviews.
  • The ministry has undertaken an Employment Accommodation Process Review to help overcome systemic barriers in the work place and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of accommodation services. The ministry has developed internal expertise to ensure managers address the employment accommodation needs of employees with disabilities.
  • The ministry has met the access requirements of employees with disabilities, including those with :
     – Visual limitations - call lights on telephones, large print documents, strobe lights tied to the fire and emergency alarms;
     – Physical limitations - automatic entry doors to office and washrooms, height-sensitive design and positioning of office equipment and kitchen facilities to accommodate people using wheelchairs; and
     – Hearing limitations - specialized telephone devices.
  • The ministry has applied the Employment Accommodation Fund (EAF) to help meet the access needs of employees. This includes a process for identifying barriers and supports the acquisition of specialized computer programs and services and specialized office equipment.
  • The ministry has developed and implemented special recruitment measures to encourage individuals with disabilities to apply for ministry employment, including the removal of systemic barriers from job ads (e.g. driving requirements, where alternative travel arrangements can be made and job duties can still be met).
  • The ministry has delivered sensitization training to managers and staff (1995), through a program entitled "Your Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities," to promote greater awareness and understanding of the barriers faced by people with disabilities and how these barriers can be removed or eliminated.
  • The ministry has provided managers and supervisors with on-line accessibility awareness training in order to fulfil the government's obligations to accommodate the accessibility needs of its employees and job applicants who have disabilities.
  • The ministry has developed and implemented the Employment Accommodation for People with Disabilities Operating Policy (1998). Under it, the ministry provides specialized training programs to meet job specific accommodation needs of employees with disabilities (e.g. job coaching for people with learning disabilities, and acquired brain injury).
  • The ministry has developed and implemented policies and processes to provide modified return-to-work arrangements for employees with disabilities (e.g. gradual return to full-time work).
  • The ministry has developed specialized protocols for the safe evacuation from ministry sites of staff with disabilities. Managers have been trained to establish roles and responsibilities around these protocols. An 'Emergency Measures Planning and Resource' manual, containing templates, self-help tools, contact lists, descriptions of roles and responsibilities, and recommended work plans has been developed. Training for all ministry Emergency Measures Leads have been put in place. All evacuation procedures have been posted on the ministry's website.
Government-funded capital programs

The ODA stipulates that accessibility may be required under government-funded capital programs and that capital projects involving new or existing buildings must meet or exceed accessibility requirements under the Building Code Act, 1992. Access provisions are eligible for project funding under some existing Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal transfer payment funds.

The ministry achievements in this section are as follows :

  • The ministry has implemented a requirement that any transfer agent (or publicly funded) partners proposing and/or undertaking a capital project assume responsibility for ensuring that all applicable codes and requirements, including the Building Code Act, 1992, and those of the Ontario Fire Marshal, are met.
  • The ministry, in conjunction with the ORC, has made plans for redeveloping of the Oak Ridge Division of the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene (MHCP). It is appropriate to assume that planning for a new facility would incorporate accessibility consideration. With respect to accessibility, a master program, program parameters and a functional program are being finalized.
Ministry accessibility plans

The ODA requires all ministries to develop annual accessibility plans in consultation with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.

The ministry achievements in this section are as follows :

  • The ministry has established an Accessibility Working Group, with representation from all divisions specifically affected by the requirements of the ODA. The working group has developed and distributed an accessibility survey to senior management to identify barriers. The results of this survey will be analyzed and will support the prevention, removal and identification of barriers in the future.

Other achievements include :

  • The PPHs have established patient councils, which provide input into programs and services, including those that relate to access. In addition, PPHs have established processes to encourage mental health service consumers to participate in the development of annual strategic and operational plans.
  • Two of the three PPHs have established Community Advisory Boards to provide advice on facility management and services, including accessibility services, for patients and the community.
  • Recognizing the degree of disability and vulnerability of the populations served, PPHs, in conjunction with the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, have implemented processes to ensure that rights advice and advocacy is provided to patients in accordance with the Mental Health Act.

Commitments and Strategies for 2003-2004

Methods to be used to prevent new barriers

Section 10 (3) (b) of the ODA requires the annual accessibility plan to "include the measures in place to ensure that the ministry assesses its proposals for Acts, regulations, policies, programs, practices and services to determine their effect on accessibility for persons with disabilities".

Commitment Statement :

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's vision is : "Advancing healthcare and enhancing physical and mental health in all life's stages, through a high quality system that is easily accessible for all Ontarians."

Accessibility is integral to this vision. The ministry has put processes in place to develop a plan to identify barriers and target them for removal from ministry acts and regulations, policies, programs, practices and services.

  • The Accessibility Working Group will meet regularly to review the accessibility plan, identify future training needs for all staff, and discuss achievements and progress in ODA compliance.
  • The ministry will continue to provide all current and future new managers and supervisors with online accessibility awareness training.
  • The ministry will update and renew its accessibility plan every year in partnership with the Accessibility Directorate.
  • The ministry will continue to respond to employment accommodation requests consistent with the standard of timeliness it has established in its practices to date.
  • The ministry, in partnership with local Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs), will deal with any issues relating to compliance, or any requests for accommodation to meet accessibility needs in ministry facilities, in a timely and cost effective manner.
  • The Provincial Psychiatric Hospitals (PPHs) will monitor current research and hospital standards in a systematic and ongoing way to identify, prevent, assess and remove barriers.

Business areas to be reviewed

Section 10 (3) (c) of the ODA requires the annual accessibility plan to "include a list of the Acts, regulations, policies, programs, practices and services that the ministry will review in the coming year in order to identify barriers to persons with disabilities".

  • Program areas will submit recommendations yearly to identify appropriate amendments to legislation that seek to identify barriers to persons with disabilities.
  • Legal counsel and ministry staff will review legislative and regulatory issues on a case-by-case basis with respect to accessibility issues.

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) will :

  • Conduct a review of job ads to identify any systemic barriers for persons with disabilities. The results of this review will be used in future ministry accessibility planning to address and remove any identified barriers.
  • Review how it delivers employment accommodation services within the ministry. The results of this review will be used to improve delivery.
  • Consider and identify any possible impacts the ODA may have on ministry recruitment and service delivery processes. The ministry will remove any identified barriers that may affect applicants and employees with disabilities.

Actions to be taken

Section 10 (3) (d) of the ODA requires the accessibility plan to "include the measures that the ministry intends to take in the coming year to identify, remove and prevent barriers to persons with disabilities."

In that context, the ministry will :

  • Analyze responses from the survey of senior management to determine accessibility issues and priorities for the coming year and future years.
  • Require all managers and supervisors to complete the online accessibility awareness training by end of fiscal year.
  • Identify for ministry staff education and awareness activities regarding ODA so that staff can become more knowledgeable about disability issues.
  • Update its corporate French Web site by early 2004 to make it compliant with appropriate standards. The ministry's corporate English Web site and English and French Web sites are already in compliance.

For more information

Questions or comments about the ministry's accessibility plan are always welcome. Please phone :

General inquiry number : 1-866-532-3161 (in Toronto 416-314-5518)

TTY number : 1-800-387-5559

1-800 number : 1-866-532-3161

E-mail :

Ministry Web site address :

Visit the Ministry of Citizenship's Accessibility Ontario Web portal at : The site promotes accessibility and provides information and resources on how to make Ontario a barrier-free society.

Ontario's consumer health information Web portal :

Alternate formats of this document are available free upon request from :

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