Getting Services Right for Torontonians With Disabilities

The “Getting Services Right for Torontonians with Disabilities” research project was part of an effort to demonstrate the Parks, Forestry and Recreation division’s (PFR) commitment to reaching out to those who are disenfranchised through disability, including evelopmental/intellectual, physical, cognitive, emotional, mental health and social. Although the PFR division has the challenge of increasing participation by 1000 per cent during a time of fiscal restraint and cost containment, it is responsible, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA), 2001, to reduce barriers and increase universal access. It also has a duty to accommodate individually, provide opportunities for full participation and respect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Newly legislated provincial st andards are in development for people with disabilities in the areas of:

  • Customer Service (which took effect on January 1, 2008)
  • Transportation
  • Information and Communication
  • The Built Environment and
  • Employment

In light of the need to incorporate these standards into PFR’s service delivery, it is recommended that the division develop performance measures to ensure accountability for reducing barriers and increasing accessibility across all sectors.

Data was gathered in 2005 through 14 public focus groups held across Toronto, a survey sent to approximately 6,200 Toronto residents with disabilities, and a separate survey sent out to 56 Toronto disability service agencies. Two divisional staff focus groups were also conducted in 2007. Data was received from 150 public focus group attendees representing thousand of people with disabilities/special needs, 667 resident survey respondents, 51 agencies and 23 divisional staff.

The public focus groups and the Toronto Residents with Disabilities survey provided data on: age, gender, residence, disability type and disability severity of survey respondents; previous participation in the City of Toronto’s Adapted Programs and Integrated Services; the importance and meaning of recreation; barriers to recreational participation; use of parks, trails and natural areas; program and service improvements; communication of information; recreational respite needs; employment and recruitment issues; Youth Outreach Worker – Disability priorities; cultural and social concerns; and policy improvements.

The Community Agency Survey Regarding Programs and Services for People with Disabilities provided a disability service agency perspective on: client demographics; primary function of the agency; recreational opportunities available through the agency; provision of multilingual services to clients; and cultural and social concerns.

Read the Executive Summary.

Read the Getting Services Right full report.

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