McGuinty Government Makes Good On Commitment To Provide Better Customer Service To People With Disabilities



    New Customer Service Standard Means Greater Accessibility

    TORONTO, Aug. 24 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is implementing a new
accessible customer service standard that will connect more customers to
products, services and employment by requiring businesses to be accessible,
Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services, announced
today.
    "I am proud to launch the accessible customer service standard which will
help people with disabilities get the same level of customer service as
everyone else," said Meilleur. "Improved accessibility makes good business
sense. It connects businesses with more potential customers and builds
customer loyalty."
    The new accessible customer service standard will require all
organizations that have at least one employee to identify, remove and prevent
barriers to accessible customer service. The standard, which will come into
force on January 1, 2008, is based on the recommendations of the Customer
Service Standards Development Committee whose membership includes individuals
from the business sector, government and people with disabilities.
    "The Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario
(AMCTO) is proud to be playing a major role in supporting municipalities with
training and information to help them comply with the new accessibility
standards for customer service," said Betteane M. Cadman, President of AMCTO.
"We are working in partnership with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
to develop educational materials and resources to support our members so that
they can help make customer service across Ontario accessible to all."
    The Ministry of Community and Social Services is working with AMCTO and
the Retail Council of Canada to build awareness of the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the new customer service standard and the
issue of accessibility in the public and retail sectors.
    A Transportation Accessibility Standard has also been proposed and is
currently on the ministry website for public review and feedback. The deadline
for providing comments and feedback on the proposed standard has been extended
to September 28, 2007.
    This is just one more example of how, working together, Ontarians are
building a more inclusive and prosperous society. Other results include:

    
    -   Launching a new public awareness website on accessibility called
        AccessON.ca, which challenges attitudes and encourages all Ontarians
        to learn about barriers to accessibility;
    -   Committing nearly $276 million to strengthen community supports for
        adults with a developmental disability; and
    -   Implementing a new Ontario Child Benefit to help nearly 1.3 million
        children in low-income families.

    "Ontario is a prosperous province with a thriving economy," said Meilleur.
"Accessibility creates opportunities for all Ontarians to contribute to the
growth and sustainability of their communities."

    Disponible en français

                               www.AccessOn.ca

                             www.mcss.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

               DEVELOPING ACCESSIBLE STANDARDS FOR A STRONGER,
                    MORE PROSPEROUS AND INCLUSIVE ONTARIO
    

    The landmark Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005,
provides for the development of accessibility standards that will apply to
both the private and public sectors across Ontario. The standards will set
minimum requirements for organizations to identify and address barriers for
people with disabilities.
    These standards are being developed by standards development committees,
which consist of people with disabilities, representatives from industry and
the business community, the public sector, and Ontario government ministries.
The five key areas are:

    
    -   customer service
    -   transportation
    -   information and communication
    -   the built environment, and
    -   employment.

    Each Standards Development Committee is responsible for:

    -   developing long-term accessibility objectives, requirements for
        removing and preventing barriers (taking into account economic and
        other considerations) for people and organizations that are to be
        covered by the standard, and setting a timeframe for implementation;
    -   submitting the proposed accessibility standard to the Minister of
        Community and Social Services for public review;
    -   considering the input received from the public review; and
    -   submitting a final proposed accessibility standard to the Minister
        for the government's consideration for adoption by regulation.
    

    The aim of the act is to make the province accessible by 2025. This
allows for the implementation of accessibility standards in a phased-in manner
over several years, and gives private businesses and public organizations the
time to spread out their accessibility investments as part of their normal
planning and capital investment cycle. The committees may propose different
requirements and timelines for different types and sizes of organizations.
    A Transportation Accessibility Standard has been proposed by the
Transportation Standards Development Committee and is currently on the
ministry website for public review and feedback. The deadline for individuals
and organizations to provide comments and feedback on the proposed standard
has been extended to September 28, 2007.

    Contacts:
    John Letherby
    Communications and Marketing Branch
    416-325-5187

    
    Disponible en français

                               www.AccessOn.ca

                             www.mcss.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

               PROVIDING EXCELLENT ACCESSIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE
                         FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

    Ontario's first mandatory accessibility standard developed under the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 is the Accessible
Customer Service Standard. Organizations that provide goods or services to the
public and have at least one employee will have to:

    -   establish policies, practices and procedures governing the provision
        of goods or services to persons with disabilities, including a policy
        about the use of assistive devices.

    -   use reasonable efforts to ensure that their policies, practices and
        procedures are consistent with the following principles:

        -  the goods or services must be provided in a manner that respects
           the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities
        -  the provision of goods or services to persons with disabilities
           and others must be integrated unless an alternative measure is
           necessary, whether temporarily or on a permanent basis, to enable
           a person with a disability to obtain, use or benefit from the
           goods or services (for example, assisting a person with a
           disability to reach items on a shelf)
        -  persons with disabilities must be given an opportunity equal to
           that given to others to obtain, use and benefit from the goods or
           services

    -   communicate with customers with disabilities in a manner that takes
        into account the customer's disability (for example, providing a
        publication in an alternative format, such as audio or Braille)
    -   train their customer service staff, volunteers and people responsible
        for developing the organization's customer service policies,
        practices and procedures in the provision of accessible customer
        service
    -   permit customers with disabilities who are accompanied by support
        persons or service animals to use them while accessing goods or
        services in premises open to the public and, where admission fees are
        charged, provide advance notice concerning what admission, if any,
        would be charged with respect to a support person
    -   provide notice when accessibility to services or facilities for
        customers with disabilities is temporarily disrupted (for example,
        posting signs at the entrance of a building to let customers know
        that one or more elevators is temporarily out of service)
    -   establish a process for customers to provide feedback respecting the
        provision of customer services to persons with disabilities and for
        the organization to take action on complaints.


    Members of the Customer Service Standards Committee

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Member                                      Affiliation
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Judith Sandys (Chair)    Ryerson University
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cynthia Archer           Ontario Library Association
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cathie Auger             Association of Colleges of Applied Arts and
                              Technology of Ontario
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Beverly Ball             Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and
                              Treasurers of Ontario
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Colleen Bell             City of Toronto
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mike Bonnah              Ontario Hospital Association
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Richard Clarke           Ontario Ministry of Government Services
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Della Derrough           Community Living Ontario
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Terry Downey             Ontario Federation of Labour
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Israel Lyon              Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and
                              Trade
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Dennis Finucan           Canadian Council of the Blind (Ontario Division)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Martha Johnson           Canadian Bankers Association
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Stuart Johnston          Ontario Chamber of Commerce
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Douglas Jure             Toronto Association of Business Improvement
                              Areas
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    David Kelly              Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health
                              and Addiction Programs
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Elaine Darling           Ontario March of Dimes
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sheila Larmer            Ontario Ministry of Tourism
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Adina Lebo               Motion Picture Theatres Association of Canada
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Lorin MacDonald          Individual Representative
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Kerry Ann Markle         Ontario Ministry of Community and Social
                              Services
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ashley McClinton         Retail Council of Canada
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Victor Palmer            Adult Learning Disabilities Resource
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rod Seiling              Greater Toronto Hotel Association
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Margaret Shenton         Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (Ontario
                              Chapter)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sharon Vilcini           Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Walter Edward Visser     Association of Municipalities of Ontario
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Jane Warwick             Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For additional information, please call 1-888-520-5828 or toll-free
teletypewriter (TTY) 1-888-335-6611.

    Contacts:
    John Letherby
    Communications and Marketing Branch
    416-325-5187

    Disponible en français

                               www.AccessOn.ca

                             www.mcss.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Marc Despatie, Minister's Office, (416)
325-5219, (416) 433-8584 (cell); John Letherby, Communications and Marketing
Branch, (416) 325-5187

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Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services

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