The County of Simcoe is pleased to present its 2021 annual status report that demonstrates the progress taken to implement the 2019-2023 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan, as required by the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).
The County of Simcoe's 2019–2023 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan was prepared in consultation with person with disabilities and the County of Simcoe's Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee and received County Council's approval in May 2018. The Plan outlines the County of Simcoe's strategy to identify, remove and prevent barriers faced by persons with disabilities and outlines how the County will continue to comply with accessibility legislation.
The Accessibility Annual Status Report for 2021 highlights the County of Simcoe's accomplishments over the past year (September 2020 to December 2021), which have improved accessibility and removed or prevented barriers within the County of Simcoe's facilities, programs and services. The report also demonstrates the County's continued commitment to accessibility and awareness as well as meet its legislative requirements.
This report and other accessibility information related to the County's programs and services will be made available in alternate formats upon request and will be posted on the County of Simcoe's website.
Statement of Organizational Commitment
The County of Simcoe is committed to providing people with disabilities consistent opportunity and access to County of Simcoe goods, services, and facilities. The County will ensure that policies, procedures, and practices are provided in a manner that is timely and addresses integration, independence, dignity, and equal opportunity. The County will end Eavor to follow the compliance schedule of the legislation when implementing each of the requirements addressed in this policy.
Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee
The County of Simcoe participates as a member of a Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee with the Township of Oro-Medonte, Township of Adjala-Tosorontio, Township of Springwater and Township of Tay. The Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee advises the Councils of the participating municipalities on matters regarding the accessibility of County and Township owned and operated facilities as well as programs and services offered by the municipalities. The members of the 2018-2022 Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee are listed below:
Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee Members
- Doug Mein, Chair (Citizen Appointee)
- Susan Hamer, Vice-Chair (Citizen Appointee)
- Liz Grummett (Citizen Appointee)
- Fred Heyduk (Citizen Appointee)
- Jan Dobson-Rose (Citizen Appointee)
- Deputy Warden Barry Burton (County of Simcoe)
- Councillor Sandy Talbot (Township of Tay)
- Councillor Shawn Scott (Township of Oro-Medonte)
- Councillor Ron O'Leary (Township of Adjala-Tosorontio)
- Councillor Anita Moore (Township of Springwater)
It should be noted that although the County of Simcoe, Township of Springwater, Township of Tay, Township of Oro-Medonte and Township of Adjala-Tosorontio have a Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee, the five participating municipalities continue to maintain and implement separate multi-year accessibility plans and prepare separate annual status reports.
Community Accessibility Partnerships
- The County of Simcoe continued to participate as a member of the Simcoe County Accessibility Group. This group consists of staff from the County of Simcoe, 16 member municipalities, the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia, and Neighboring municipalities who are responsible for accessibility activities and legislative compliance at their respective organizations. Members continued to share information via email and telephone, as required.
- The Clerk's Department maintained membership in the Ontario Network of Accessibility Professionals (ONAP), which is comprised of staff at municipalities and other broader public sector organizations across Ontario. The Clerk's Department maintained regular contact with the group via email in order to share information and resources and discuss accessibility questions and concerns.
- The Clerk's Department continued membership in the South Western Ontario Accessibility Group, which is a sub-group of ONAP, consisting primarily of accessibility staff in South Western Ontario.
The Clerk's Department maintained email contact with the group. Various accessibility topics were discussed, and resources shared to assist staff in the implementation of accessibility initiatives.
Council Proclamations to Promote Accessibility and Disability Awareness
On behalf of County Council, the Warden continued his annual proclamation of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3, 2020 and December 3, 2021) and National Accessibility Week (May 30 to June 5, 2021). By observing these events, County Council acknowledges the importance of accessibility and disability awareness. Media releases and social media posts followed these proclamations.
The County ran a week long social media campaign during National Accessibility Week. The County's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts were used to raise awareness and promote inclusion. Some examples of the social media posts for the week include:
- DYK – The Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee implements a yearly work plan to keep on track with objectives for the JAAC, which will assist the participating municipalities in achieving its accessibility goals and compliance with legislation. Visit the County's Portal to view the
Committee's 2021 Work Plan.
In celebration of National #AccessAbility Week, check out this insightful TED Talks “I'm not your inspiration, thank you very much" by Stella Young.
- DYK – The County has a Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee established by the County of Simcoe, the Township of Springwater, the Township of Tay, the Township of Oro-Medonte and the Township of Adjala-Tosorontio. Visit the
County's Portal to view the Committee's agendas and minutes.
Accessibility Planning and Reporting
This annual status report outlines the County of Simcoe's accessibility activities and accomplishments over the past year. This report meets the annual status reporting that is required by the IASR under the AODA and will be posted on the County's website.
The County's 2019–2023 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan was approved by County Council on May 22, 2018. The final plan is posted on the County's website and internal intranet and is made available in alternate formats as requested.
- The County of Simcoe and participating municipalities prepared a 2021 Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee Work Plan. The work plan outlined projects and tasks for the Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee for 2021. An annual work plan will continue to be developed for the Committee.
The County continued to provide training on the AODA and its Regulations, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and general accessibility and disability awareness to new County of Simcoe employees. Records are kept on the completion of the training as per the legislative requirements. During the period of this annual status report, approximately 97 new employees received training.
It is recognized that there are natural synergies between the County's 2018-2023 Positive Aging Strategy and the requirements under the AODA. With an aging population, the age friendly initiative works towards providing enhanced opportunities for older adults and/or persons with disabilities throughout the County. Updates on the Age-Friendly Initiatives during the period of this annual status report that most benefit persons with disabilities are highlighted below:
- The County continued the Age-Friendly Seniors Housing Grant Program that provides $500,000 in annual funding to support the development of age-friendly housing. This annual program supports the development of age-friendly housing by including accessible, adaptable and inclusive designs and/ or incorporating a range of support services that would allow older adults to continue to live independently in their homes and participate in their community for as long as possible.
- In 2021, the County received 103 applications, compared to 54 in 2020, 76 in 2019 and 30 in 2018.
- The majority of accessibility projects applied for by individuals were to convert bathrooms, walkways and to add stair lifts and grab bars.
Due to the increase in application numbers, the total funding amount awarded exceeded the $500,000 allotted annually as there were funds left over from previous years. The total funding amount awarded was $666,622.08 to applicants from across all municipalities of Simcoe County.
Community Paramedicine Program
On March 1, 2021, the County's Community Paramedicine Program received notification from the Ministry of Long Term Care that their funding to support seniors who are on the long-term care waitlist, or will soon be eligible for long-term care, was approved. The funding supports recruiting and training additional Community Paramedics to help patients to stay independent and healthy in their own homes. The funding extends to 2024.
On November 1, 2021, the County's Community Paramedicine Program received notification from Ontario Health that their one-time funding to support Paramedic Wellness Clinics at various Homeless Shelters across the County was approved.
Compliance with the Customer Service Standards
- The County of Simcoe maintained its compliance with the Customer Service Standards, including the legislative requirements for use of service animals, support persons, and assistive devices. The County notified the public when there was a service disruption to facilities, programs and services that are used by persons with disabilities. Training on accessible customer service is provided to all new employees, as noted earlier, as part of the County's “Creating an Accessible Simcoe County" training program on the Learning Management System.
Response and tracking of resident feedback and accommodation requests
- Service Simcoe continued to track and respond to all feedback, concerns and requests from residents. Responses were provided in a timely manner and considered each person's needs and the County's ability to meet those needs and requests. During the period of this annual status report, 160 accessibility-related feedback and inquiries were logged by the Service Simcoe Team. These requests for information were related to the Solid Waste Management change over to the new cart collection.
Information and Communication
Accessible formats and communication support
In collaboration with the Information Technology Department, the Clerk's Department created a guide for staff called 'Making an Accessible Document' as well as easy one-page checklists for creating accessible Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents as well as webpages. These documents incorporate best practices to keep in mind when creating documents and webpages. They were circulated to staff in January 2021 as well as to the lower tier municipalities in the County.
In conjunction with the resource documents created, the Legislative Coordinator created training. The training incorporated voiceovers and step-by-step instructions for using the best practices and was released to all staff in June 2021.
The County of Simcoe continued to incorporate accessibility features into both internal and external documents created by its many departments. Considerations include font size and style, color contrast, spacing, use of white space, and use of formatting techniques such as bold, italics, underlining and use of capital letters. In addition, the County provided documents in alternative format and/or with communication support, upon request.
The County of Simcoe continued to live stream all Council and Committee of the Whole meetings. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the County also began live streaming all sub-committee and advisory committee meetings.
- The County of Simcoe continued to utilize a software application called Siteimprove to regularly check the accessibility features of the public website, based on criteria set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). The County of Simcoe's Information Technology Department and web content contributors receive regular reports on the accessibility of their department's webpage including PDF documents. Siteimprove identifies any formatting or style errors on webpages as well as incorrect HTML codes and highlights those errors so they can be fixed.
Accessible employment policies and procedures
- The County of Simcoe maintained its compliance with the employment standard by monitoring and documenting employment policies and procedures, where required, to provide accommodations in all stages of employment, accessible formats and communications supports to employees, workplace emergency response information, return to work and related accommodation plans.
Use and inspection of accessible vehicles at long term care facilities
- The County continued to operate para-transit vehicles at the long term care facilities for resident transport. Inspection occurred regularly to ensure accessible and safe transport and to meet requirements of applicable legislation such as the Highway Traffic Act. Equivalent services are available upon request should the long term care vehicles not be accessible to all residents.
Simcoe County LINX and LINX Plus Transit Service
- The County continued to operate and expand the conventional and specialized public transit system that links major urban hubs and local transit services in the County of Simcoe.
- LINK continued to see a decline in ridership numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Transit service hours were reduced until September when full service was reinstated. Throughout the year, staff continue monitoring ridership numbers and increasing service hours as needed.
- From January to December 2021, there were 126,183 riders using LINX (conventional transit).
- From January to December 2021, 655 riders used LINX Plus (specialized transit), and there are 153 registered users.
- The County purchased 4 conventional transit buses in 2021. All transit buses purchased meet the technical requirements under the Transportation Standards Regulation.
- Route 6 – Midland to Orillia – began operation in August 2021.
The County has continued to ensure its compliance with the Transportation Standards Regulation. This includes:
- Ensuring current information regarding specialized transit, conventional transit, routes and services available are posted for the public's information on the County's website.
- Awarding a contract to First Student through a competitive bid process. First Student employs the transit operators and is responsible for training all operators on the general accessibility training requirements as well as job specific training with respect to:
- The safe use of accessibility equipment and features,
- Acceptable modifications to procedures in situations where temporary barriers exist or accessibility equipment on a vehicle fails, and
- Emergency preparedness and response procedures that provide for the safety of persons with disabilities.
- Ensure mobility aids and mobility assistive devices are stored safely within reach of the person with the disability who uses the aid, at no charge.
- The County has utilized existing bus stops when taking over already established routes. A process for identifying priority stops for future enhancements and improvements (poured concrete pads or shelters) is being developed.
- An application process for visitors to the County of Simcoe who wish to utilize specialized transportation services (LINX Plus) was established and implemented as outlined in the Transportation Standards Regulation.
- An application process for a support person for conventional transit was established and implemented. Once granted, a card is issued to the person with a disability so that a support person can accompany them on conventional transit, free of charge.
- From January 2021 to December 2021, 28 applications have been received for specialized transit. Any application refused was deemed to be incomplete or outside of the service area.
- The Transit and Information Technology Department have begun work on an automated transit scheduling and online booking system for LINX Plus ridership. This system will allow for customers to book their trips online as well as still having the ability to call Service Simcoe. The system will allow for same-day bookings, last-minute bookings, pre-payment for trips and will send updated information to the bus driver as well as confirmations and real-time notifications to the customer. Customers will be able to book, view, cancel or request a modification through online access or an integrated voice recognition system during business and non-business hours. The customer database will enable County staff and the bus drivers to view the customers travel needs and tailor the service to the client's ability.
Solid Waste Management – Cart Program
Accessible Features of the New Waste Carts
On November 1, 2021, the County of Simcoe rolled out the new automated cart collection program. As part of this new program, the County of Simcoe introduced new garbage, recycling and organics carts to residents across the County. The use of the new carts reduced barriers for many and feature the following accessible characteristics:
- Reduce reaching and bending
- Carts allow users to maintain an upright posture and avoid manually lifting or lowering material to or from the floor. The increased capacity of carts reduces the overall number of trips to the curb.
- Cart handles are ideally situated within the midrange posture. The human body is stronger, more efficient, and less prone to injury when work is performed within midrange posture of above the knees, below the shoulders, and close to the body (joints of the neck, back, legs, arms, and wrists are not bent in extreme positions as they are when manually carrying waste).
- Reduce the stress on your back and shoulders and the effort to perform the task
- Ergonomic principles recommend sliding, pushing or rolling instead of lifting and carrying. Additionally, using wheeled carts minimizes start forces (inertia) and reduces rolling resistance.
- Larger wheels (a minimum of 6 inches in diameter, which our carts exceed) move more easily over surface irregularities.
- Improved grip
- Carts replace an inverted pinch grip (used for recycling boxes) with a more desirable power grip and a straight wrist. A pinch grip involves grasping items with the thumb and tips of the other fingers (the lip of the current recycling box). A power grip involves wrapping all the fingers around an object (the handle on a cart). When grasping objects (cart handles) with a diameter of 1.25 – 2 inches (which our handles fall within) and a straight wrist, the power grip can provide up to 75% more strength compared with a pinch grip.
- Reduces collector injuries and increases pool of operators
- Reduces significant work stresses and injuries and makes collection much safer (currently one of the top 5 most dangerous jobs in North America). Increases pool of potential workers that can perform the work by removing the need to stop, exit the truck then get back in up to 2,000 times per day and physically lifting up to 13 tonnes of waste per day.
Barrier-free design features in County facilities
The County continued to incorporate accessible features in renovations and upgrades to facilities. Ontario Building Code requirements are followed, and consideration is given to barrier-free design features that improve accessibility for persons with disabilities.
In 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person facility reviews were cancelled, however, the Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee conducted 6 virtual facility reviews across all participating municipalities.
This Accessibility Annual Status Report for 2021 will be available on the County of Simcoe's website and internal Intranet. Printed copies can be requested.
This document will be available in alternate format or with communication support, upon request.
The County of Simcoe welcomes all questions and comments on the 2021 Annual Status Report and accessibility matters in general. Please contact the County in person, by mail, telephone, email or fax.
County of Simcoe
1110 Highway 26
Midhurst, ON L9X 1N6
Telephone: 705-726-9300 Extension 1246
Toll Free: 1-866-896-9300
Customer Service: 705-735-6901