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12th Newspaper Editorial since 1998 Backs Our Accessibility Campaign

Toronto Star Publishes New Editorial Blasting the Ontario Government for Cutting Back on AODA Enforcement-
and – AODA Alliances Reaction to Economic Development Ministers February 26, 2015 Interview on CBC Toronto Radios Metro Morning Program March 2, 2015

SUMMARY

With only 9 years, 10 months and 29 days left for the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025, we bring you the latest news.

On February 28, 2015, the Toronto Star ran a powerful editorial. It blasted the Ontario Government for cutting back on the enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, when the Government knows so many private sector organizations are violating that legislation. We set that editorial out below.

This is the 12th editorial in an Ontario newspaper that has supported the efforts of our disability accessibility movement since 1998. It is the second editorial the Toronto Star has published in the past 16 months, that strongly criticizes the Ontario Government for failing to effectively enforce the AODA.

We express our deep appreciation to the Toronto Star for giving this issue the priority and prominence that it has. When a newspaper writes an editorial, it goes beyond the important function of reporting the news to the public it puts its prestige and weight in support of an issue here, the call for the Government to effectively enforce the AODA.

This is just part of a series of recent great media reports that have focused on our efforts to get the Government to strengthen its implementation and enforcement of the AODA. Of similar importance is the fact that CBC Radio Torontos highly-regarded morning radio public affairs program, Metro Morning, included interviews on this issue on two successive days. On Wednesday, February 25, 2015, AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky was interviewed. We will later make public the text of that interview. On the next day, February 26, 2015, Metro Morning interviewed Ontarios Economic Development Minister, Brad Duguid. Below we set out a transcript of that interview, and our responses to some of his remarks.

Below you will find:

* The Toronto Stars February 28, 2015 editorial calling for the Ontario Government to strengthen, not weaken, its enforcement of the AODA.

* The transcript of Economic Development Minister Brad Duguids February 26, 2015 interview on CBC Toronto Radios Metro Morning program.

* Our comments on certain points which the Government made in the February 25, 2015 interview on Metro Morning

* The Toronto Stars February 21, 2015 article by Star columnist Corey Mintz, interviewing AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky and CBC producer Ing Wong-Ward over dinner about accessibility issues. It is coincidentally timely that that article hit on a Star Trek theme, just days before legendary Star Trek star Leonard Nimoy passed away. That interview took place before the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review was made public, as well as the Governments plans to cut back on AODA audits.

* Links to some key resources you may find helpful.

MORE DETAILS

1. The Toronto Star February 28, 2015

Editorial

Failing the disabled

Originally posted at http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2015/02/27/letting-down-ontarios-disabled-editorial.html We like to think of ourselves as a caring society. But too often we fail Ontarios 1.8 million disabled residents.

Disabled advocate David Lepofsky in the Toronto subway system: ‘too often we fail Ontarios 1.8 million disabled’

Bernard Weil / Toronto Star

It’s a sight we see too often in Toronto and around the province: Someone in a wheelchair struggling to get into a chic clothing shop that lacks a power door. Or a blind person with a service dog being cold-shouldered in a restaurant. Or a disabled driver stuck at a self-service gas bar hoping an attendant will come out and help.

We like to think of ourselves as a caring society. But too often we fail Ontario’s 1.8 million disabled. Sometimes we don’t even try.

As reported by the Star’s Laurie Monsebraaten, more than 60 per cent of Ontario’s 53,000 private businesses with 20 workers or more have failed to file online reports that were required two years ago on how they accommodate customers with disabilities, train staff to interact with customers with special needs, and manage feedback. That’s an appallingly high level of non-compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It speaks to a culture of indifference, or ignorance.

Yet rather than crack down on scofflaws, the government gives every appearance of scaling back enforcement.

Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid confirms that officials expect to conduct some 1,200 “compliance activities” this year. That’s well below the 2,000 audits that were done last year and the 1,900 done the year before, says David Lepofsky, head of the AODA Alliance.

While nearly 3,600 compliance orders have been issued to the private sector over the years, and more than 300 fines have been levied, the message still doesn’t appear to be getting through to the majority of businesses.

Duguid says that many simply aren’t aware of their responsibilities. So Queen’s Park has launched an information campaign to remind them. Fair enough.

But as the Star has written before, the accessibility act is in danger of becoming “window dressing” and a sham as businesses fail to comply with its most basic requirements. What was needed then, as now, is compliance, beginning with an insistence that reports be filed, with inspections and fines to follow.

What was needed then, as now, is a government that is prepared to make a public example of scofflaws, not coddle them. Providing equal access for the disabled will require more robust, effective, visible enforcement than we’ve seen to date.

2. CBC Toronto Radio Metro Morning February 26, 2015

Interview with Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure –
Responsible for Implementing and Enforcing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

[Matt Galloway] It’s been a decade since the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act became law and yet the majority of businesses in this province are still not respecting the legislation, according to the government’s own information.

David Lepofsky, Chair of the AODA Alliance, is concerned that this government will be conducting fewer compliance inspections of businesses.

We heard from David yesterday. Here’s some of what he has to say.

[David Lepofsky] Well, the government needs to strengthen the enforcement of the act because after ten years the legislation hasn’t made a significant impact on the lives of people like us who have disabilities.

[Matt Galloway] That’s David Lepofsky, Chair of the AODA Alliance, on the province’s enforcement of accessibility laws.

Brad Duguid is the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. His ministry is responsible for enforcing those laws. Brad Duguid, good morning.

[Brad Duguid] Good morning Matt, how are you?

[Matt Galloway] I’m well, thanks. 60 percent of Ontario businesses are not making their, requirements when it comes to being accessible. Why is that the case?

[Brad Duguid] Well, for the most part, this act is being phased in over 20 years, so it’s a moving target for businesses. New standards are coming on, there’s, n- now there’s five accessibility standards, there’s gonna be more to come, uh, so it’s still in the process of being implemented.

Having 40 percent compliance, to me, isn’t acceptable at this point in time but at the same time, we have to make sure that we let the guys-
there’s a lot of businesses, and this, I think, is the challenge, that still don’t know that the- what they’re responsibilities are, number one.

But number two, uh, I think this is key, uh, businesses don’t realize how, how good a competitive advantage it is for them to become accessible, so I think that’s where our challenge lies.

[Matt Galloway] But, as you say it’s a moving target, but you’re own data shows that in 2014 the targets that you set aren’t being met. So, why would, would the government look then at pulling back on enforcement and on audits as to whether those targets are actually being achieved?

[Brad Duguid] Well, we’re not pulling back on our efforts to get compliance, what we’re doing is, is using other methods to get there. The problem right now isn’t a case of enforcement, uh, the problem is businesses are not quite aware of what their responsibilities are.

So the first thing we have to do is make them aware. So we’re putting resources into, for instance in the fall we, we had a very significant campaign – publicity campaign that involved radio ads and- among other things, and that really increased our compliance significantly during that period.

We received during the course of, of that campaign about 48,000 visits to our website, 18,000 calls to our help desk, 30,000 interactions on social media.

So what that tells me, is there’s, there’s an appetite for businesses to understand what it is they have to do and, I think it’s not fair to a small business or medium sized business to tell them that, send in an enforcement officer, write them a ticket, uh, without them knowing what their responsibilities are. It’s our job to make sure they know that.

[Matt Galloway] What it-… what it tells Mayo Moran, which is the person who put together the report on whether businesses in this province are actually meeting the guidelines or not, is that enforcement is needed. One of her key recommendations from the report is high visibility enforcement of these efforts.

You’re reducing them from 2,000 a year to something like 1,200 audits a year. So, why are you ignoring what she is recommending?

[Brad Duguid] But we’re actually not, what she wants, what, what she’s asked us to do, is make enforcement more transparent, so people know that when, when we are enforcing this act that, it’s public, and we’ve agreed to do that.

In fact, she, she wanted us to have a compliance action plan made public and we’ve already done that. So, so, her recommendations, actually, are, are very much in line with where we’re going…

[Matt Galloway] But her, her real, her real thrust in this, in the report, is that Ontario’s not moving quickly enough to reach the 2025 goal of full accessibility. I wanna read something to you that one of your predecessors put together, which was Marie Bountrogianni, who, uh, when the legislature passed the disabilities act said, “What was missing in the previous act was enforcement compliance.

When you leave it to the good will of the people, it doesn’t get done.” What’s changed since then?

[Brad Duguid] Well, there- there’s two things. Number one, you can’t enforce that if the businesses aren’t aware of what their responsibilities are. So, the first thing we need to do is make businesses more aware, and we’re doing that through a number of different initiatives. There’s the advertising campaign. We also have a partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce where we’re reaching out to businesses an- and educating them on what they need to do.

Secondly, and this is the key, and when you, and I, I just recently appointed David Onley as our special advisor, and this is something we’re working very, very closely on. We need to make sure that businesses are, are aware of why there’s a competitive advantage for them to become accessible.

We don’t want businesses just to reach a standard, we want them to go beyond the standard and there’s every- there’s a really good business case for businesses across this province to do this. In fact, the Martin Institute indicates that there’s 7.9 billion dollars in our economy if we can become more accessible.

So, that- what I’m saying there is, I don’t want to come in and, and take a really hard approach on businesses and turn them off. What I wanna do is get businesses to embrace what this will do to their bottom line. There’s a really good business case.

[Matt Galloway] But the law is the law and so the reality is and this is what we heard from David Lepofsky, it’s what we’ve heard from people who can’t get on transit, can’t get into buildings is that 60 percent of businesses in Ontario aren’t meeting the requirements of the laws. So, what does that say to then those who are disabled in this province?

[Brad Duguid] Well, I would, great deal of respect for David Lepofsky but-… this is where I disagree with him.

There are 400,000 businesses across this province. What Mr. Lepofsky’s asking me to do is put, is put together what I would call a- an accessibility police force to go out to these businesses. 400,000 businesses, that would be a huge undertaking, and all you would do is, is force businesses to find ways around the-… legislation rather than embrace it.

[Matt Galloway] Or you, or you would get them to make their businesses accessible.

[Brad Duguid] What we- that’s exactly what we’re going to do, but we wanna do that by educating the business community on the, on the competitive advantages to being accessible, and they’re real. We have a growing pool of- the people with disabilities that right now are not getting access to employment, need to be getting access to employment. It’s a huge talent pool.

We have all kinds of data to show that if businesses open their doors to those folks their productivity is gonna go up, their bottom line’s gonna go up. So, we need to make sure that our business community in Ontario is embracing this effort…

[Matt Galloway] We’ll leave – we’ll….

[Brad Duguid] …an effective. So then we can have a more effective, uh, enforcement campaign.

[Matt Galloway] We’ll leave it there. Brad Duguid, I do appreciate your perspective on this, thank you.

[Brad Duguid] Thanks Matt.

[Matt Galloway] Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, talking about why 60 percent of businesses in Ontario aren’t meeting the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act and what his government is hoping to do about that.

3. AODA Alliance Comments on Certain Points in Economic Development Minister Brad Duguids

February 26, 2015 Interview On CBC Radio Metro Morning Program

* The Minister did not deny that the Government is cutting the number of audits that the Government intends to conduct under the AODA in 2015, as compared to 2013 or 2014.

* When asked why there is such a high rate of business failures to obey this law, the Minister in part said the legislation and standards under it are a moving target for businesses.

Yet, the AODA requirement that 60% of businesses with at least 20 employees are violating is a simple one. It has never moved. It was enacted in 2007.

It is a requirement for businesses with at least 20 employees to electronically file with the Government a simple accessibility self-report. These were due at the end of 2012 (5 years after this target was set) and the end of 2014 (7 years after this target was set). We are concerned about the impact it will have on businesses for the Government to call its own legislation a moving target.

* The Minister spoke about needing to first educate businesses on their accessibility obligations under the AODA before undertaking enforcement. He said his Ministry is now partnering with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to do this. He said:

Well, there- there’s two things. Number one, you can’t enforce that if the businesses aren’t aware of what their responsibilities are. So, the first thing we need to do is make businesses more aware, and we’re doing that through a number of different initiatives. There’s the advertising campaign. We also have a partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce where we’re reaching out to businesses an- and educating them on what they need to do.

Yet the project of educating businesses and other obligated organizations on their AODA duties did not just start. The Government has been saying for years that it has been very busy educating the business community and other obligated organizations about their AODA obligations.

For example, in response to a Freedom of Information application by AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky, the Ministry said this in the 2013 fall:

The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, and officials, persons or organizations acting on its behalf or under its direction sent 934,925 emails, letters and other correspondence to organizations, in 2011 or 2012, to advise them of obligation or potential obligation to file an accessibility report under s. 14 of the AODA by the end of 2012.

And

The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, and officials, persons or organizations acting on its behalf or under its direction, sent 113,920 emails, letters and other correspondence to organizations, in 2013 to advise them that they have not filed an accessibility report under s. 14 of the AODA by the end of 2012.

The Government here said that it is partnering with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The Government also announced fully five years ago that it had already partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and other organizations to do outreach and education programs on this topic. The Government has operated its Enabling Change program for several years to partner with other organizations for activities such as this.

In the Governments 2009 AODA Annual Report that it must make public under s. 40 of the AODA, it stated:

Ontario Chamber of Commerce
This project will develop a website and online training module that will help obligated businesses meet the requirements of the standard. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce will also work with chambers of commerce to host local information sessions across Ontario.

In that Report, the Government also stated:

The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO) also conducted presentations and workshops on the customer service standard to various boards of trade, chambers of commerce, private sector associations and not-for-profit conferences, associations and organizations across the province.

In the Governments 2011 AODA Annual Report, it stated:

The Accessibility Directorate’s collaborative approach has helped the Ontario Chamber of Commerce effectively communicate the standards surrounding AODA and emphasize the importance of customer service to the business Community. – Louie DiPalma, Director, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Programs

* Under the AODA, the first enforcement step is to give an obligated organization formal written notice for a compliance order. This gives the organization a chance to bring themselves into compliance. The Government has said that in the instances when it has taken this first enforcement step, many organizations bring themselves into compliance. That is proof positive that enforcement now is appropriate, and that it works. It need not await more public education by the Government.

* To now suggest almost 8 years after the Government passed the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard, that before taking enforcement steps now, or before beefing up its AODA enforcement, the Government should first try to educate the business community is not sufficient. The Government cannot justify its failure to now deploy the effective enforcement of the AODA that it promised us, by its failure to do a better job of educating obligated organizations.

* The Government suggested that the Governments approach is what the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review has recommended. We respectfully disagree.

In fact, the position the Government voices in this interview sounds like an implicit rejection of the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review recommendations to strengthen the AODAs enforcement. Mayo Moran made it clear that stronger enforcement is needed to get many non-complying organizations to take this legislation seriously. Her Report made these observations, among others:

There can be no doubt of one central theme that emerged loud and strong from all of the consultations, and that is the vital importance of robust, effective and visible enforcement to the integrity of the AODA regime. A wide range of stakeholders reported that the lack of visible enforcement is a critical impediment that is holding Ontario back from achieving the 2025 goal for an accessible province. Just as the Ontarians with Disabilities Act was criticized by the disability community as toothless, some now feel the same way about the AODA. This concern, it should be noted, is by no means limited to disability advocates. Others, including business groups observed that the Government has shown little appetite to wield the substantial enforcement mechanisms contained in the legislation. The result as reported to the Review is a very mixed message about the importance of the AODA.

Also found in the Moran Report was this:

Disability stakeholders described the tolerance of such non-compliance as a stunning contrast with the way government enforces other laws, such as environmental protection measures. A number of consultants and disability groups that work with the private sector feel some businesses are waiting to see who gets fined and will not move until they see enforcement happening. As one participant put it, how effective would speed limits be without speeding tickets? Many called for the Government to take steps to ensure non-compliant organizations correct their infractions in a timely fashion. The Review was frequently told that a few high-profile fines could make a big impact. Despite weak public education efforts by Government, some disability stakeholders felt that the private sector has still had ample notice of the AODAs requirements. Hence they did not believe that enforcement should be delayed while publicity campaigns are ramped up.

A wide range of stakeholders reported that the lack of visible enforcement is holding Ontario back from achieving the 2025 goal for an accessible province. One asked, How effective would speed limits be without speeding tickets?

It would contradict the Moran Report to take the position that what is needed now is simply more effort at educating obligated organizations, but not expanded enforcement of the AODA now. We agree with the Moran Reports recommendation that the Government also needs to do a better job of educating obligated organizations. Its advertising campaign late last fall was a good start at doing more on this front.

However, it is impossible to read the Moran Report as sanctioning a cutback in the number of audits that the Government will conduct of obligated organizations.

* In this interview, an impression may be created that the AODA Alliance has asked for the Government to send accessibility police to every single one of the 400,000 private sector organizations with AODA obligations. The Minister stated:

There are 400,000 businesses across this province. What Mr. Lepofsky’s asking me to do is put, is put together what I would call a- an accessibility police force to go out to these businesses. 400,000 businesses, that would be a huge undertaking, and all you would do is, is force businesses to find ways around the-… legislation rather than embrace it.

We have never said that the Government must inspect or audit every one of the 400,000 obligated private sector organizations. We have said that the number of organizations audited in the past, a mere 1,906 in 2013 and 1,954 in 2014, has been insufficient. We have also said that cutting that even further to 1,200 in 2015, as the Government plans, is a step in the wrong direction.

The only AODA obligation that the Government has enforced to date in the private sector, as far as it has reported to us, is the duty of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees to file an accessibility compliance self-report. By the Governments own information, that only applies to some 53,000 private sector organizations. There are just over 33,000 of these which are violating the law, according to Government records.

As for calling for the Government to have accessibility police, the AODA establishes positions of AODA inspectors and AODA directors, with powers to audit, investigate, inspect and enforce this legislation. We just want the Government to effectively deploy those powers, as it said it would do when it introduced this legislation.

* In this interview, the Government said it has made public a plan for enforcing the AODA, as the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review recommends.

In fact, she, she wanted us to have a compliance action plan made public and we’ve already done that.

Yet that posting which the Government made public on November 14, 2014, included nothing new. It included very little detail. It was not the detailed plan that we were promised in the 2014 election.

It largely re-announced things the Government earlier said it has been doing for months or years. Only about 5 pages long, it also talked about topics other than enforcement. It reflects no change in the Government action to beef-up the AODAs enforcement, in response to the Moran Report.

It lists actions the Government was already taking when Mayo Moran formulated her final report. Although it did not comment on this specific posting, the Moran Report found that the level of AODA enforcement in effect during the period of her study (from September 2013 to November 2014) to be insufficient. At the end of this Update is a link to the detailed analysis of that Government posting that we made public on November 18, 2014.

* We have said for years that the Government should first offer to educate obligated organizations on their AODA obligations, but that after giving a fair opportunity to comply, the Government must keep its promise to effectively enforce this legislation. The Government enacted accessibility standards that gave obligated organizations very generous time lines for learning about the AODA and bringing themselves into compliance.

The Government has had some eight years to deploy education efforts. It has said it was very busy throughout that period, doing just that.

After the Government has already sent out hundreds of thousands of notices to obligated organizations, and sponsored a range of programs over several years to educate obligated organizations, with the 2025 deadline for full accessibility getting closer every day, and with Ontario behind schedule for full accessibility, there is no time for further delay in beefing-up AODA enforcement. The Government should now both expand its enforcement activities and expand its public education activities.

4. Toronto Star February 21, 2015

Accessibility is their final frontier:

Corey Mintz serves up pizza risotto to his guests, both passionate advocates for disability rights (and one a serious Star Trek fan).

Food writer Corey Mintz makes his take on Italian fusion, pizza risotto.

By: Corey Mintz

From left, Corey Mintz, Ing Wong-Ward, her husband Tim Wong-Ward and their 6-year-old daughter Zhenmei, and David Lepofsky dining in Corey’s home.

When I open the door for lawyer David Lepofsky, he extends his hand for a shake, then his cane, to probe the entrance. With one smooth stride, he moves through the door, stepping immediately to his right to land on the rubber floor mat I bought for wet boots. He is the first guest to notice or use the mat.

This is like a blind date, says Lepofsky as I take his coat. He admits that he reuses this joke too often. He had already warned me, via email, that his only allergy was to small portions and that no cruise ship had ever made money on him.

Lepofsky joins CBC Radio producer Ing Wong-Ward, with her husband Tim and daughter Zhenmei, a big little food enthusiast who will eat anything but kids food, as I put the finishing touches to a salad.

Back when I reviewed restaurants, I measured the bathroom doors and the turning radius at the entrance, to determine if they were wheelchair accessible, according to guidelines I got from city hall.

Wong-Ward rolls her eyes at the idea of someone in government determining how much space her wheelchair needs. Sooner or later, she says, we all get some form of disability. Its called aging. She just has more experience with the discrimination.

Id wanted to have her over before, to do a column about accessibility. But my old third-floor walk up made that impossible.

Lepofsky, who spent years fighting the TTC just to get them to announce the transit stops out loud (which cost nothing, though they spent $450,000 in legal fees to fight it), says that the governments default position is to obstruct progress.

Theres no Ministry of Good Ideas, he says. Rather than looking at the idea and thinking it through, they come up with a million reasons why they shouldnt or they send you a letter telling you all the great things theyre doing anyway.

Having won some hard-fought legal battles, Lepofskys activism now seems less about fighting the governments laws in court than shaming them into compliance.

Though creating a more accessible world is his passion, hes just as eager, maybe more so, to talk about Star Trek. Hes seen every episode so many times that his lips move with the dialogue.

We power through the salad and then a lentil and beef dish, Wong-Ward always finding a moment to narrate each course to Lepofsky.

I have to interrupt you to describe the risotto, says Wong-Ward, at the table with Lepofsky while her husband and daughter are helping me over at the stove.

From left, Corey Mintz, Ing Wong-Ward, her husband Tim Wong-Ward and their 6-year-old daughter Zhenmei, and David Lepofsky dining in Corey’s home. Kevin Van Paassen / for the Toronto Star

From left, Corey Mintz, Ing Wong-Ward, her husband Tim Wong-Ward and their 6-year-old daughter Zhenmei, and David Lepofsky dining in Corey’s home.

Challenged by Lepofskys appetite, Ive doubled the recipe, needing my largest vessel to simmer and stir the pizza risotto with chicken stock and tomato sauce.

Its been cooking in a wok. Theres a lot of gooey cheese going into it, Wong-Ward describes as I finish the rice with mozzarella and oregano, stuffing each portion into a crock dish.

She continues describing for Lepofsky as her daughter wipes the cascade of cheese off the dish sides and her husband garnishes with pepperoni.

Back at the table, Wong-Ward says that attitudes, social and professional, have changed about people with disabilities during the 20 years shes been working as a journalist. But were still failing to meet the accessibility goals already set.

Theres a billion people with disabilities around the world. Thats a heck of a tourist market if we can attract them, says Lepofsky, speaking of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games this summer. But youve got to have tourism and hospitalities to meet their needs. Youve got to have restaurants they can get into, hotel rooms, taxis, all that stuff.

His attempts have so far only yielded a government promise to prepare a list of what is accessible, at which he laughs.

A list of how little there is doesnt improve anything. Theyre either going to have a wonderful opportunity this summer to showcase Toronto as a destination for the billion people with disabilities, tourist and conference destination and so on. Or its going to be a global embarrassment, which is what we think theyre barreling towards.

For the two weeks the games are going to run in Toronto, Wong Ward sets her sights lower, could the TTC ensure that all its elevators work?

Shes baked a chocolate Guinness cake and warns me to cut a small slice for her daughter. Still, after devouring the sugar, Zhenmei runs laps around the kitchen before collapsing onto the sofa, marking her bedtime. But I have one last question.

Launched in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is supposed to make the province accessible by 2025.

Are we on schedule? Lepofsky asks rhetorically. Nobody from the government can credibly say we are.

Did we give the province too much rope? Is 2025 too long a timeline?

At the time, there were people in the disability community who said, Its too long. I may not live that long. But it was long enough that it got the business people to buy into the legislation and all three political parties to vote for it. We didnt want to win it from one government and just have the next government repeal it, Lepofsky says. The other function it served is, it started the clock running.

How on track are we for a more generous timeline, say the utopian Star Trek future of the 2260s, a world of smooth ramps and automatic doors, where discrimination only exists as allegory?
Sadly, at the present rate of progress, I doubt wed reach full accessibility in our lifetimes, or even by the time the Starship Enterprise is boldly exploring the galaxy in the 23rd century.

PIZZA RISOTTO

1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1¼ cups (310 mL) Arborio rice
1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine
3 cups (750 mL) stock (chicken or vegetable), warm
1½ cups (375 mL) tomato sauce, warm
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 mL) grated parmesan
1 cup (250 mL) grated mozzarella
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh herbs (oregano, basil)
12 slices pepperoni

In a large pan on medium heat, use butter to sauté shallots until soft, about 2 minutes. Add rice and stir, letting it colour a little, about 2 minutes. Add wine and allow rice to absorb liquid, while stirring, about 3 minutes. Add stock and tomato sauce, just a small ladle at a time, stirring constantly and only adding more liquid as the rice absorbs it. Continue until rice is al dente, about 18-20 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in parmesan, mozzarella, herbs and pepperoni and serve immediately.

Makes four servings.

5. Key Links

To read the AODA Alliances January 21, 2015 letter to Economic Development Minister Duguid, seeking current information on the AODAs enforcement, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/01222015.asp

To read our November 18, 2013 revelation that the Government was failing to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act despite knowing of rampant private sector violations, and funds on hand for enforcement, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11182013.asp

To read the Government’s February 20, 2014 pledge to publish in “short order” its plan for enforcing the Disabilities Act, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/02202014.asp

To read the Governments May 14, 2014 election promise to establish a toll-free line to report disability accessibility barriers, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06132014.asp

To read the AODA Alliances February 13, 2015 news release, responding to the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/02132015.asp

To read the AODA Alliances February 13, 2015 brief summary of key findings in the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/02132015a.asp

To visit the Governments web page where it has posted the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review originally only in PDF format, and later also in MS Word format (after we pressed the Government to do so), visit https://www.ontario.ca/document/legislative-review-accessibility-ontarians-disabilities-act To download the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review in MS Word format, posted on our website, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/Final-Report-Second-Legislative-Review-of-the-AODA.docx To read our analysis of the Governments paltry November 14, 2014 web posting on the AODAs enforcement, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11182014.asp

To read the Toronto Stars November 19, 2013 editorial on the Governments failure to effectively enforcement the AODA, and to get links to the other newspaper editorials that have supported our accessibility campaign since 1998, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11212013.asp

To read the Ontario Governments fall 2013 disclosure in response to AODA Alliance chair David Lepofskys August 2013 Freedom of Information application, identifying (among other things) how many letters and emails it has sent to obligated organizations between 2011 and 2013 re AODA compliance, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11182013.asp

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