By Victor Schwartzman
June 6, 2015
Starting shortly, athletes from all over North, South and Central America WERE planning on converging on Toronto for the PanAm summer games, including Paralympic athletes. However, while the Games facilities are accessible, virtually nothing else has changed in Toronto.
Money allocated for access has not been spent. Less than half of Toronto’s subway stations are accessible, and only a mere seven of its 200 street cars can be boarded by someone using a manual wheelchair.
Why is the Ontario Government not doing more, despite the spotlight being shown on Toronto by the Games?
When asked, the Ontario Government stated that it is applying Access Austerity to Toronto. As a result, athletes and their entourages plan to hold a referendum on whether to hold the summer Games in Toronto or Greece.
Greece, struggling with debt problems, recently it voted solidly against austerity measures, and as a result wants to attract more tourists. It has already made offers to athletes. Athens is willing to open itself to accommodation, unlike Toronto. Local shops, cabs and restaurants are all willing to accommodate. There is nothing like an economic crisis to help accommodation!
“This was predictable,” Uncle Scrooge advised Accessibility News. “The Ontario Government brought me in as its access spending consultant. Naturally, while I advised the Ontario Government to save money by not spending it on access, I also invested in Greek hotels. Quack!!”
Uncle Scrooge has since advised the Government to spend the money it already budgeted for access–but he did not give up his Greek holdings. “I realized that they hired me because they knew my natural inclinations not to spend. But my advice on austerity has been bad for ducks, who need access. This Government seems determined to lay an egg! Quack!!”
The accommodation problem in Toronto has divided athletes and upset the Ontario Government. The situation evolved from Ontario politicians living not beyond their means, but under them. They have consistently done less than they could have. Why?
It is not as if Ontario has been offered no help. As the implementation of the access legislation AODA grew worse and worse, the IAFthe International Accessibility Fundoffered a generous infusion of interest. This was because it believed the Ontario Government was desperately short of interest on access. (We’re talking philosophical interest, not the financial kind.)
But the Ontario Government rejected the IAF’s access improvement plan.
“Access austerity is our answer,” said Minister Brad Duguid. “We can’t have other people telling us what to do, whether it is people with disabilities or anyone else. Ontario will follow its own course. Access is tough to create and must be portioned out in little drippy drops. If having the Games means being forced to break our austerity plan, then the Ontario Government supports moving the Games to Greece. That would be far easier for everyone than forcing us to improve access in Toronto.”
His response has many people in Ontario asking why Access Austerity? Have people with disabilities lived beyond their means and now have debts they cannot pay? Is this like overcharging their credit cards?
“Yes,” Minister Duguid told us. “They have overspent their capital! In creating AODA, these people with disabilities used up all of our good will. We didn’t have much good will towards them to begin with, and now the glass is empty.
“We do plan to summon up enough good will to continue to implement AODA, despite the demands that we respect the law. This whole Games pressure has thrown us for a loop, and apart from sending out media releases, we didn’t know what to do, so we continued to do nothing.
“Give us a few more years and we’ll have built up enough good will to continue implementing AODA! This Access Austerity programme, while tough in the long term, will work! Don’t ask for too much and that’s what you’ll get!”
Next: Nostradamus On How Long It Will Take Ontario To Be Interested In Access, And Predicts You Have Time For A Nap.
Victor Schwartzman has contributed this weekly satirical column to Accessibility News and the AODA Alliance since May 13, 2013. Check out the first nine chapters of his current satirical fantasy novel, King Of The Planet, for .99 on Kindle at http://www.amazon.ca/King-The-Planet-Victor-Schwartzman-ebook/dp/B00NE0CCRC, or for free on Facebook. The unpolished first nine chapters got a “4 out of 5 star” review! He is currently polishing the novel. His graphic novel The Winnipeg Weakly Herald (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, http://www.redfez.net. He has had poetry and short fiction published, has edited novels and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.