The purpose of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA) is to improve opportunities for people with disabilities in Ontario by identifying, preventing and removing physical and other barriers that may limit opportunities for people with disabilities to fully participate in society.
Since 2004, all municipalities in the province have a legal obligation under the ODA to prepare an annual accessibility plan. Each municipality's plan must include a complete overview of all operations including bylaws, programs and procedures, practices, policies, facilities and services.
This year, The Regional Municipality of York presents its seventh annual accessibility plan titled Accessing York: York Region's 2010 Accessibility Plan. This plan continues to break down barriers for people with a broad range of disabilities by identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility.
Accessing York highlights barriers that were identified and/or eliminated in 2009 and outlines the actions that the Region will take in 2010 to identify, prevent and remove remaining barriers across York Region's departments, including York Regional Police.
York Region Facts
The Regional Municipality of York is made up of the following nine local municipalities: Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville. Our diverse region is a unique combination of urban centres and rural areas that sits on the northern border of the Greater Toronto Area. York Region is one of six regional governments in Ontario and was created on January 1, 1971, by the provincial government.
In general, York Region provides services and programs that are best delivered across wide areas or those requiring large-scale coordination. The nine local municipalities provide programs and services that are more local in nature. The Municipal Act, 2001, is the Provincial legislation that outlines the areas of regional and local municipal responsibility. The following list shows the range of services provided at the regional and local municipal levels.
Regional and Local Municipal Responsibilities
|The Regional Municipality of York
|Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
||Local Emergency Preparedness|
|Family and Children's Services
|Housing and Residential Services
||Curbside garbage, Green Bin, Blue Bin recycling pick up, yard waste collections|
|Long Term Care Services
|Public Health Services
||Parks and Recreation|
|Solid Waste Management/Water and Wastewater
|Transit and Rapid Transit (YRT/VIVA)
|Regional Emergency Planning
|Planning and Economic Development Services
||Local Water and Sewage|
York Region's population has more than quintupled since its creation in 1971 and has grown 22.4 per cent between 2001 and 2006.1 With a population of about 1,032,606 as of December 31, 2009,2 York Region is the third fastest growing Census Division in Canada.
Most of our population growth (2001-2006) has been concentrated in the three southern local municipalities of Vaughan (31.2 per cent), Markham (25.4 per cent) and Richmond Hill (23.2 per cent).1
Across Ontario, York Region had the highest growth rate for all age groups. Between 2001 and 2006, the growth rate among the different age groups was: 14.3 per cent for residents between 0 and 14 years, 22.8 per cent for residents between 15 and 64 years and 38.6 per cent for residents 65 years and older.1
According to the Statistics Canada 2006 Census, there are 91,920 seniors (those aged 65 and older) living in York Region. Seniors represent approximately 10 per cent of the region's population. Among urban municipalities, we have one of the fastest growing senior populations. By 2031, we expect the number of seniors living in York Region to increase to 311,745 or 21 per cent of the population.3 The expected increase is mostly due to the high proportion of baby-boomers in York Region.
This rapidly growing population, that includes an aging population who may also have disabilities, has wide-range implications for our region. This will pose challenges for all levels of government to find better ways to predict the needs of residents and to ensure that our programs and services are accessible to everyone.
According to the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) (Statistics Canada 2006)4, approximately 4.4 million (14.3 per cent) Canadians reported having a disability. This number has increased by 21.2 per cent from 3.6 million in 2001. Of these, 5 per cent are under 15 years, 55 per cent are between 15 and 64 years and 40 per cent are 65 years or older.
Almost three million Canadians (11 per cent of the population 15 - 64 years) indicated that they have a disability related to pain, mobility or agility and 43.4 per cent of people aged 65 or older have a disability. Between 2001 and 2006, there was also a large increase in the number of adults and children who reported having learning disabilities.
In 2006, there was an estimated 1.9 million Ontario residents with a disability - representing 15.5 per cent of the population. This is an increase of 2 per cent from 2001.
Using the Ontario figure, we estimate that in York Region the number of people with disabilities increased by approximately 55 per cent, or close to 50,000, between 2001 and 2006. In 2006, we estimate that there were 140,000 York Region residents with a disability. The following graph shows the estimated number of residents with a disability in York Region.
- Statistics Canada, Census 2006 (Note: This census provides the most recent census data available).
- York Region Population Estimate, Planning and Development Services Department, 2009.
- The Regional Municipality of York, "Just the Facts About Your Community, Seniors Living in York Region," 2008.
- Statistics Canada, Participation and Activity Limitation Survey, 2006
Statistics Canada, Custom Tabulations, Census 2001
Note: Statistics are based on self-identification and include a broad scope of disability
Accessibility to York Region's programs, services and facilities is important to residents. Consistent responses in the past four York Region Environics Surveys (2004 – 2008) show that full accessibility to the Region's programs, services and facilities continues to matter to our residents. The 2009 York Region Environics Survey results once again confirm that accessibility for people with disabilities remains a spending priority for York Region residents. The following graph provides a view of municipal spending priorities of York Region residents.
York Region residents were asked about municipal spending priorities and 45 per cent of respondents favoured more spending for services for people with disabilities, while 46 per cent felt that spending should remain the same. This was rated behind hospitals and health facilities (60 per cent) and network and roads (52 per cent), and slightly above public health (44 per cent) and public transit (43 per cent).
As reflected in the following graph survey respondents also stated that the most important issue facing people with disabilities is:
- General attitudes (63 per cent, slightly down from 67 per cent in 2008).
- Public transit (60 per cent, down from 64 per cent in 2008).
- Accessible affordable housing (58 per cent, down from 63 per cent in 2008).
- Accessible buildings (56 per cent, down from 60 per cent in 2008).