Encouraging business to be accessible in Canada is no small feat. Canada is, after all, a vast country. However, if Canada, and Ontario in particular, really wanted to increase accessibility then encouraging businesses to be accessible needs to become a priority. One avenue would be to create programs where tax incentives could be provided to assist with the structural costs associated with removing barriers to access.
Show me the money
Let’s face it, it’s not rocket science – we all know it is about the money because structural changes cost real dollars.
Personally, I don’t think forcing businesses out of business is a good idea. On the other hand, I do think if the AODA (Accessible Ontario Disability Act) wanted to live up to their commitment to the citizens of Ontario then they would put some money behind their words. Government financial incentives would bring the level of support needed to make change happen sooner than later.
Our neighbours south of the border (USA) have been at this a lot longer than us, as the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) was passed in 1990. Therefore, we could take a lesson from them; I’ve outlined below the incentives they offer.
Tax Incentives Available for Businesses who comply with the ADA
Two US Federal tax incentives are offered to businesses who comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is geared to assist in covering cost associated with improving access. In order to use the tax credit, businesses must show proof they incurred eligible expenses in the tax year associated with barrier removal. The tax credits cannot be used for cost incurred in new construction it is specific to retrofits.
“Business Expenses” Tax Deduction (IRS Code Section 190). Businesses of any size may deduct up to $15,000 per year for costs associated with barrier removal.
Disabled Access Credit (Internal Revenue Code, Section 44). This credit is available to small businesses (30 or fewer employees or total revenues of less than a million). A credit may be taken for half of eligible expenses up to $10,250 (no credit received for first $250). Eligible expenses include barrier removal and providing or modifying equipment for accessibility, providing information in multiple formats, or providing services that improve accessibility.
Q: Can both tax incentives be used?
If a small business spends more than $10,250 they can deduct the difference between the amount spent and the amount applied to the Credit ($5,000).
Encouraging business to be accessible in Canada
Surely our government could provide tax benefits to help businesses who want to improve physical access for their customers. Many businesses are willing but lack the resources to pay the extra money needed to make structural changes. In Ontario, through the AODA there is a stated commitment to make Ontario fully accessible by the year 2025. That gives us 7 more years and without the intervention of strong government leadership backed with financial resources, we won’t meet our goal.
Clearly, other aspects of life require greater access as we discuss in our post about future playgrounds. We have a long way to go so let’s all get on board and work toward change.