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Action Kit for Raising Disability Accessibility Issues in the September 1, 2016 Ontario By-election in Scarborough-Rouge River

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

August 8, 2016

1. SUMMARY

The Ontario Government called a provincial by-election for September 1, 2016 in the Scarborough-Rouge River riding. Let’s use this provincial by-election as a great opportunity to raise disability accessibility issues with all candidates, to get the Government to kick-start stalled efforts at getting Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025.

A large number of the members of the Ontario Legislature were not in elected office when we fought from 1994 to 2005 to win passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We want to ensure that every new member elected to the Legislature shares the enthusiasm for this law which pervaded the Legislature in 2005, when it was unanimously passed. That enthusiasm has sadly reduced at Queens Park since then.

We’ve mounted campaigns like this in numerous by-elections in the past. As a non-partisan community coalition we do not endorse, or seek to elect or defeat any party or candidate.

This Action Kit gives you:

* A list of the major parties’ candidates and their contact information.

* A summary of the disability accessibility issues in the September 1 2016 Scarborough-Rouge River By-election;

* A list of five important questions about disability accessibility to raise with candidates and their campaigns, the media, and voters;

* Easy-to-use action tips on how to raise these disability accessibility issues;

* A list of helpful background resources, for more information.

Ontario is now at the halfway point in the Ontario Government’s current four-year term in office. The next Ontario general election is scheduled for 2018.

After this by-election, the Liberal Party will still form Ontario’s provincial Government. The Conservative party and the New Democratic Party will still be in the opposition. We want to use this by-election as a platform to get the Liberal Ontario Government under Premier Kathleen Wynne to kick-start new action on accessibility. We also want to get the Conservative and New Democratic Parties, while in opposition, to ramp up support for our accessibility agenda for action. We also want them to use their position in the opposition to press the Government as much as possible, to support that agenda.

Our past successes on the road to a fully accessible Ontario have been built on these kinds of efforts by people like you! You can help our non-partisan campaign whether or not you live in the riding where the by-election will be held. Let us know what steps you take, and what responses you get. Email us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

2. Who Are the Major Parties’ Candidates in Scarborough-Rouge River

Liberal: Piragal Thiru
Twitter: @Piragal Email: info@electpiragalthiru.ca
Email: info@electpiragalthiru.ca
Phone: 647-667-1409
TTY: Not posted, if any.
Address: 5651 Steeles Avenue East, Unit 23
Website: http://www.electpiragalthiru.ca/

Progressive Conservative: Raymond Cho
Twitter: #rcho42
Email: No email address posted. You can message the campaign from the candidate’s website. We have messaged the campaign to request an email address to share. Phone: 416.479.1039
TTY: Not posted, if any.
Address: 4500 Sheppard Avenue, Unit 102
Scarborough, Ontario M1S1V2
Website: http://electraymondcho.com/Home/Policy

NDP: Neethan Shan
Twitter: @NeethanShanTeam
Email: Not posted on campaign website. May be possible to message the campaign from the campaign’s website. Phone: 647-479-4249
TTY: Not posted, if any.
Address: 4651 Sheppard Ave E (SE corner of Sheppard and McCowan) Website: http://www.neethanshan.ca/

3. Quick Summary of Disability Accessibility Issues in the September 1, 2016 Scarborough-Rouge River Ontario By-election

For a long decade starting in 1994, Ontarians with disabilities campaigned tenaciously and tirelessly to win the enactment in 2005 of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). All parties unanimously voted for that law.

The AODA requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, 20 years after it was passed. Ontario is now lagging behind schedule for reaching that deadline. The Ontario Government must take immediate and strong action to get us on schedule. For example:

* For a decade, the Government promised over and over that it would effectively enforce the AODA. It hasn’t kept that promise. For over three years, the Government has taken paltry and inadequate steps to enforce the AODA even though it has known throughout of rampant AODA violations in the private sector, and has had unused budget on hand every year in the Government office mandated to enforce that law, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.

* The Ontario Government is required to enact all the accessibility standards we need to reach the goal of full accessibility by 2025. Some have been enacted. However, they aren’t enough to get Ontario to full accessibility by 2025.

We have been trying for over half a decade to get the Ontario Government to agree to create an Education Accessibility Standard to address the many barriers in our education system from which students with disabilities suffer, including the 334,000 students with special education needs in Ontario-funded schools, as well as those in Ontario colleges and universities. The Government has still not agreed to create an Education Accessibility Standard. Ontario’s out-dated special education legislation is over a third of a century old and is showing its age.

* In the 2014 Ontario general election, Premier Wynne promised that public money would never be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities. Yet public money has been spent to create new barriers against people with disabilities. For example, the Ontario Government created the new Presto Smart Card, replete with barriers, for paying public transit fares. We need the Government to take immediate and effective action to ensure that no public money is ever used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers. To date, the Government has only announced limited actions. It hasn’t shown that it is effectively acting on those announcements.

* Kathleen Wynne promised in writing on December 3, 2012 that if she became Ontario’s Premier, she would honour all her Government’s disability accessibility commitments and would get Ontario on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. We want commitments from all by-election candidates for all parties that they:

a) Support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its goal of making Ontario fully accessible by 2025, and oppose any weakening of that law or measures under it.

b) support and advocate for immediate action to effectively enforce the AODA.

c) support and advocate for the Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA to make Ontario’s education system fully accessible for all students with disabilities.

d) support and advocate for immediate and effective Government action to ensure that no public money is used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers.

e) Agree not to take part in any all-candidates debate unless it is accessible to voters with disabilities.

4. Key Questions for You to Raise with the Candidates

The questions we encourage you to ask by-election candidates are:

1. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Do you support that law, and its goal of full accessibility by 2025, and will you oppose any efforts to weaken it or measures under it?

2. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Ontario Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Disabilities Act, to make Ontario’s education system fully accessible to students, parents, and education staff with disabilities?

3. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to act now to keep its promise to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act, and to reveal its plans for enforcing this important law?

4. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to now implement effective action to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers?

5. Will you promise not to attend any all-candidates debates unless they are in an accessible location for voters with disabilities to attend and take part?

6. Action Tips How You Can Help

ACTION TIP #1: Raise Our Issues at All Candidates Debates and Other By-Election Events

* Publicly ask the candidates some or all of the five questions we listed here. Ask each candidate to commit to support specific actions towards getting Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. We want these to be a priority for the Ontario Government’s actions, not just for its press releases and speeches.

* Bring many copies of this Action Kit to hand out to the public at these events. Ask people you meet at these events how disability barriers affect them and their families and friends.

ACTION TIP #2: Raise Our Disability Accessibility Issues With The Campaign Offices Of Candidates

* Contact the campaign offices of the by-election candidates. Their addresses are set out earlier in this Action Kit.

Email them this Action Kit. Ask them what their position is on our issues set out in this Action Kit. Urge them or their campaign workers to support our non-partisan call for the Government to kick-start stalled action on disability accessibility.

ACTION TIP #3: Use Social Media Like Facebook And Twitter To Spread The Word and Tweet Any By-Election Barriers Using the #AODAfail Hashtag as Part of Our “Picture Our Barriers” Campaign

Use the incredible power of social media to spread the word on our by-election issues. We have an impressive number of followers and supporters through these social media. We are proud of how many of our posts are re-tweeted on Twitter and are “liked” and shared on Facebook. We use these social media to send out punchy updates about accessibility in Ontario, elsewhere in Canada, and around the world. We are increasingly known as Ontario’s recognized Social Media source of news on disability access.

We will be tweeting to the candidates. Please tweet to them too, or just re-tweet our tweets to them. Tweet each candidate to ask them to answer our five questions, listed above.

* Take pictures on your smart phone of any accessibility barriers in this by-election. Check out each candidate’s campaign office, their campaign events, and the locations of all-candidates debates. If any lack full accessibility, take pictures of these.

Then tweet these photos with descriptions of the accessibility barriers. Use the phrase #AODAfail in your tweet. This is what our “picture Our Barriers” campaign is all about. It is having a real and growing impact on Twitter. Let candidates know that if there are any election barriers in any campaign events, you will publicize them on Twitter.

To learn more about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign, check out our “Picture Our Barriers” Action Kit and all the other helpful resources we make available at www.aodaalliance.org/2016

* If you use Twitter, be sure to follow us. Our Twitter handle is @aodaalliance Encourage others to follow us on Twitter, and to re-tweet our AODA Alliance tweets.

* If you use Facebook, visit our Facebook page. It is called “Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.” Our Facebook page is available at https://www.facebook.com/Accessibility-for-Ontarians-with-Disabilities-Act-Alliance-106232039438820/

* Click on your Facebook page that you “like” our Facebook page, so your Facebook friends will learn more about us.

* Click on your Facebook page to share and show you that you “like” as many of our specific postings as you feel comfortable endorsing.

ACTION TIP #4: Bring Our Disability Accessibility Issues To The Media

* Contact your local media. Urge them to cover this issue. Email them this Action Kit. Urge them to cover these by-election issues that concern over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities, as well as their families and friends. Remind them that the huge number of persons with disabilities in Ontario, 1.8 million, is growing as the population ages.

* If you know any reporters, columnists or editors in your community, urge them to cover these issues.

* Call in to phone-in radio shows to bring our issues to the public’s attention. Use this as a way to educate the audience.

* If a candidate or party leader is on a phone-in program, call to ask about our issues, using the questions we listed earlier in this Action Kit.

* If you have more time to offer, write a guest column or letter to the editor on our issues for your local newspaper. Feel free to cut and paste as much as you want from our AODA Alliance Updates, and from this Action Kit.

ACTION TIP #5: Community Organizations — Help Spread The Word Through Your Networks

* If you are a staff member, volunteer, or board member of a community organization, or are on a Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, please get your organization to use its network to spread the word on these issues through these action tips.

* Get your organization to link its website to the AODA Alliance’s website. Make this link directly to: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp

Your link might say “Learn about the campaign to make Ontario fully accessible for over 1.7 million people with disabilities.”

* Encourage people connected with your organization to sign up for AODA Alliance Email Updates. They can send a request to sign up to aodafeedback@gmail.com

* It would be especially helpful if your organization would take the steps we listed above regarding social media.

5. More Helpful Background Resources

Our website is chock full of useful background on our non-partisan campaign for a fully accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities. Here is a sampling:

* To learn why Ontario needs an Education Accessibility Standard to be developed under the Disabilities Act, visit [youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=p00EN6Z7GOM]

* Premier Wynne’s May 14, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out her Government’s 2014 accessibility election pledges, is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06132014.asp

* Kathleen Wynne’s written pledges to Ontarians with disabilities were she to become Ontario’s Premier are set out in Kathleen Wynne’s December 3, 2012 letter to the AODA Alliance, which is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12032012.asp

* The Ontario Liberal Government’s 2011 disability accessibility election pledges are set out in former Premier McGuinty’s August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance, available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

* The Ontario Liberal Government’s 2007 election promises to Ontarians with disabilities are set out in former Premier McGuinty’s September 14, 2007 letter to the AODA Alliance, available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09142007.asp

We always urge you to send us your feedback. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

Learn more about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario for people with disabilities by visiting : http://www.aodaalliance.org