Accessibility Plan 2003-2004
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Report on Achievements
  3. Commitments and Strategies for 2003-2004
    1. Methods to be taken to prevent new barriers
    2. Business areas to be reviewed
    3. Actions to be taken
  4. For More Information

Introduction

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 Agriculture and Food. 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 ministry is committed to ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities in both its roles as Employer and service provider.

Existing practices, within the ministry, already serve to ensure that a number of the key Employer and Service Provider requirements identified in the new Ontarian's with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA) are met. For example:

  • ministry properties provide barrier-free access for staff and visitors as well as accessible washrooms, technology and areas of refuge for persons with disabilities;
  • individual staff accommodation requirements, are addressed by a team of professionals who provide consultation, assessment, and recommendations for alterations to workspaces and equipment;
  • the ministry posts open competitions on the website and provides related materials in a variety of formats;
  • the ministry accommodates individuals involved in a competitive process, based on the requirements identified by the applicant;
  • the ministry considers accessibility issues in planning public meetings and stakeholder consultations, uses accessible premises meetings/consultations, and provides interpretation services and background materials in accessible formats as required;
  • the ministry provides TTY services;
  • the ministry included an Accessibility Planning section in its 2003-2004 Business Plan
  • the ministry considers accessibility issues in its collaborations with other ministries (e.g. the transition of the rural mandate from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing).

The ministry met the requirements of Section 7 of the ODA through the development/ implementation of a process, in partnership with Publications Ontario, that facilitates the ability to provide ministry produced materials, in accessible formats (e.g. large print, braille, etc.) when requested by members of the public or staff.

In the area of electronic service delivery, the ministry worked to ensure that the public facing internet website met the requirements of Section 6 of the ODA and adhered to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Priority 1 and Priority 2. These W3C priorities addressed the design, layout, visual attributes and technical functionality of all parts of the ministry's Internet website without affecting the look or feel of the current site.

The enhancements made to the ministry website are transparent to the existing client group, while making the site more accessible to clients with disabilities, ensuring better service and information to a significant segment of the public. Remedial work on the ministry's public facing website www.omafra.gov.on.ca was completed in February 2003.

The ministry promoted and monitored the participation of its managers and supervisors in the ODA electronic training program provided by the Shared Services Bureau to meet the training requirements outlined in the ODA.

Commitments and Strategies for 2003-2004

1. Methods to be taken to prevent new barriers

The ministry is committed to establishing an accessibility planning working group comprised of ministry staff with disabilities, and those who have an expertise in disability issues. During the 2003-2004 fiscal year, the working group will:

  • assist in the development of strategies to eliminate and prevent new barriers to people with disabilities;
  • assist in development of the ministry's accessibility planning process, and provide input into the annual accessibility plan;
  • assist in the completion of the accessibility quotient questionnaire;
  • assist in developing protocols to ensure that accessibility issues are taken into consideration when developing legislation/regulations, policies, programs and services and in conducting program evaluations;
  • provide input into the business and operational planning processes;
  • assist in the review of the new Management Board Guidelines for procurement, to ensure that the ministry meets its obligations under the ODA.

During the 2003-2004 fiscal year, the ministry will review new and commence the review of existing legislation, regulations, policies, programs and services with respect to their effect on people with disabilities. The ministry will utilize accessibility evaluation protocols to assess operating proposals in the 2004-2005 business planning submissions and revise planning templates to ensure that accessibility is considered in all operational planning.

The ministry will ensure that accessibility is taken into consideration in the procurement of goods and services by: providing guidance to managers and supervisors on considering accessibility in all procurement activities under Section 5 of the ODA; providing all staff with responsibility for procurement with the "Guidelines for Implementing the Procurement Provisions of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act" once they are made available by Management Board; and monitoring the procurement of services to ensure that practices conform to the MBS Guidelines and requirements of the ODA.

The ministry commits to considering accessibility issues in the review/approval of requests/proposals for funding through transfer payments, as well as in the consideration/approval of applications for government-funded capital programs (e.g. Tile Drainage Loan Program).

The ministry will continue to ensure that its public facing internet websites remain accessible and meet the ongoing requirements specified in the ODA guidelines, by testing all new site content and making adjustments as required to meet defined standards.

The ministry remains committed to ensuring that one hundred percent of its managers and supervisors complete the ODA electronic training program provided by the Shared Services Bureau, as well as to provide all front line staff with disability awareness training.

The ministry will continue to consider accessibility issues in its collaborations with other ministries (e.g. joint responsibilities with MOE under the Nutrient Management Act).

The ministry is committed to an ongoing partnership with the Accessibility Directorate to facilitate the development of annual accessibility plans and strategies and ensure compliance with ODA requirements.

2. Business Areas to be Reviewed

a) Acts and Regulations

Commencing in 2003-2004, the ministry will develop a process and a multi-year schedule to review all new/existing legislation and regulations to ensure the appropriate use of language with respect to people with disabilities, as well as to identify any other accessibility issues for people with disabilities.

b) Policies and Programs

Commencing in 2003-2004, the ministry will develop a process and a multi-year schedule to review all new/existing programs and services with respect to accessibility for persons with disabilities.

The ministry will continue to consult with its Agencies, Boards and Commissions to determine the impact of the ODA on these organizations.

c) Practices and Services

In 2003-2004, ministry human resources staff will review existing employment practices and processes to identify areas that may need to be improved to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities.

The ministry will continue to provide accommodation, as requested, to individuals involved in a competitive process, as well as to respond to individual staff requests for accommodation as it relates to their employment.

Actions to be Taken

a) Barrier Identification and Prevention

The ministry's accessibility planning working group will assist in the identification of existing barriers and the development of strategies to eliminate existing and prevent new barriers, including assisting in the completion of the Accessibility Quotient Questionnaire, identifying priorities, defining timetables, and recommending the allocation of resources.

The ministry will co-ordinate disability awareness training for its front line staff.

The ministry will ensure that its TTY numbers are clearly identified in publications, advertisements, etc. and that all new staff, where appropriate, are trained in the use of TTY equipment and are able to provide information on the ministry's numbers.

The ministry will promote and monitor the participation of its managers and supervisors in the ODA electronic training program to ensure one hundred percent compliance with the ODA training requirements.

The ministry will ensure: that ministry program managers and supervisors are given guidance on considering accessibility in all procurement activities under Section 5 of the ODA; and that all staff with responsibility for procurement receive the "Guidelines for Implementing the Procurement Provisions of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act" once they are made available.

b) Improved Accessibility in Communications

The ministry will review and re-engineer its intranet site to ensure compliance with ODA requirements.

The ministry will test new site content and monitor its public facing internet website to ensure the ongoing compliance with ODA requirements.

The ministry will: consider accessibility issues in the planning of public meetings and stakeholder consultations; and continue to ensure that these meetings/consultations engage the appropriate groups and are conducted in accessible premises with interpretation services and background materials available in accessible formats as required.

The ministry will continue, in partnership with Publications Ontario, to provide its publications in accessible formats as requested by members of the public and staff.

c) Improved Accessibility to Facilities

The ministry will undertake an accessibility audit of its properties in relation to the new ORC barrier-free guidelines for government buildings, structures and premises.

The ministry will ensure that all signage complies with universal standards, is written in plain language, clearly posted and readable at an appropriate height.

d) Improved Accessibility to Facilities

The ministry will continue to review desktop accessibility tools, screen readers and text browsers to ensure ongoing compliance with ODA requirements.

For More Information

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

General inquiry number: (519) 826-3100

TTY number: (519) 826-7402

Toll Free: 1 888 466-2372

Ministry website address: www.omafra.gov.on.ca

Visit the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration's Accessibility Ontario web portal at: www.gov.on.ca/citizenship/accessibility. The site promotes accessibility and provides information and resources on how to make Ontario a barrier-free society.

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

Publications Ontario
880 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M7A 1N8. Tel: (416) 326-5300
Out of town customers except Ottawa call: 1 800 668-9938
In Ottawa, call (613) 238-3630 or toll-free 1 800 268-8758
TTY Service 1 800 268-7095

Queens Printer for Ontario

ISSN 1701-2901 Accessibility Plan. Ontario. Ministry of Agriculture and Food (Print)
ISSN 1710-291X Accessibility Plan. Ontario. Ministry of Agriculture and Food (Online)



Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 2003
Last Reviewed: 2003