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Make Sure the Polling Station for You in the October 2011 Election is Accessible to Voters with Disabilities

April 8, 2011

Summary

Here is the latest news in our 12-year long campaign to ensure that elections in Ontario are fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

1. Voters with disabilities across Ontario can now benefit from a hard-one new right for which we vigorously fought last year. Elections Ontario has publicly posted all the polling stations it plans to use in the October 2011 Ontario General Election. Let Elections Ontario know by May 6, 2011 if the polling station they have chosen for your area is fully accessible. If it isn’t, urge them to relocate that polling station.

Elections Ontario has never done this before. The Elections Act now requires Elections Ontario to give us 6 months notice of polling station locations thanks to an amendment we proposed and won last year. To see the entire saga of our fight to strengthen election legislation in Ontario last year in Bill 231, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp

2. Elections Ontario has posted a new accessibility action plan and launched an email list to keep you posted on its plans for addressing the accessibility needs of voters with disabilities. We set out some information below on this, and let you know how to get more information and to sign up for Elections Ontario’s email updates.

3. On December 3, 2010, Elections Ontario wrote the AODA Alliance, to answer our November 18 and May 3, 2010 letters. We regret that in their response, Elections Ontario rejected several good ideas for ensuring an accessible 2011 General Election in Ontario. Among other things, it rejected our proposal to use telephone and internet voting in that election. We showed that Elections Ontario has the power to use this technology in the 2011 election. Elections Ontario claims it doesn’t have the power to do this in the 2011 election, and is putting off the use of this technology until later, taking an impoverished and incorrect view of its own legislation.

In that letter, Elections Ontario also states that for the entire territory of Ontario, and its 11 million residents, there will only be up to 140 accessible voting machines for those who cannot mark their own ballot and verify their choice, due to a disability. In contrast, in the greater Chicago area, there are as many as 6,000 accessible voting machines. In the City of Chicago itself, there are fully 2,500.

4. We commend the Ontario Human Rights Commission for writing all Ontario registered political parties on March 3, 2011, to urge them to take action to ensure that the October 2011 General Ontario Election is fully accessible to persons with disabilities. A sample of their letter to each party is set out below.

Please circulate this update widely. Urge everyone to check out the accessibility of their polling station location, and let Elections Ontario know if that location needs to be changed. Remember – you only have until May 6, 2011 to act.

MORE DETAILS

1. FIND OUT IF YOUR POLLING STATION WILL BE ACCESSIBLE – IF NOT, LET ELECTIONS ONTARIO KNOW BY MAY 6, 2011

For the first time in Ontario history and, thanks entirely to our advocacy efforts last year, Elections Ontario has just posted on its website the locations it proposes to use for all polling stations in the upcoming October 2011 Ontario General Election.

Elections Ontario has invited your input to see if those locations are in fact fully accessible to voters with disabilities. You have up to May 6, 2011 to check out the proposed polling stations in your community, and let Elections Ontario know.

To find out where Elections Ontario plans to have polling stations near you, and to give Elections Ontario feedback on whether these locations are adequately accessible, please visit:
http://www.elections.on.ca/enCA/Accessibility/2011+GE+proposed+voting+locations/Site+Accessibility+Standards+and+Proposed+Voting+Location+Public+Consultation.htm

You may also give feedback, or ask where your nearest polling station will be by calling Elections Ontario at 1-888-668-8683, and press option 2 or download the feedback form. You may also submit feedback via email to the following email address: vlinfo@elections.on.ca .

2. CHECK OUT ELECTIONS ONTARIO’S NEW ELECTIONS ACCESSIBILITY ACTION PLAN

Elections Ontario has just made public its 2011 plan for addressing the accessibility needs of voters with disabilities in the upcoming 2011 General Election. It includes a number of helpful measures, but unfortunately has major flaws. It includes no plans for telephone and internet voting in the October 2011 election. It also doesn’t plan for enough accessible voting machines for the entire province. For more on this specific issue, see below.

You can find the Action Plan at http://www.aoda.ca/?p=1086

Elections Ontario also has an email update service. If you would like to be added to the Elections Ontario Election Connection e-blast, Elections Ontario’s electronic outreach publication, please email your request to outreach@elections.on.ca

3. ELECTIONS ONTARIO REFUSES OUR REQUEST TO DEPLOY TELEPHONE AND INTERNET VOTING IN THE OCTOBER 2011 ONTARIO GENERAL ELECTION

On November 18, 2010, the AODA Alliance wrote Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa, who has lead responsibility for administering provincial elections in Ontario. For the October 2011 Ontario election, we ask him to exercise his authority under new amendments to the Election Act, to provide more than one accessible voting machine per riding, and to provide internet and telephone voting. We requested this to overcome barriers facing voters with disabilities who cannot mark their own paper ballot and verify their choice. You can see that letter at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11222010.asp

It is a cruel irony that it was on December 3, 2010, the International Day for People with Disabilities, the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Greg Essensa wrote to refuse that request. He claims he has no authority to do so. We disagree with his impoverished approach to an amendment to the Elections Act that he himself proposed to let him override restrictions in that legislation.

His December 3, 2010 letter states that Elections Ontario will only have up to 140 accessible voting machines to service all of Ontario. Thus, a great number of voters with disabilities will have to travel considerably further than voters without disabilities to find a polling station where they can mark their ballot independently and verify their choice.

His December 3, 2010 letter to us also belatedly responds to a number of ideas we raised with him seven months earlier, in our May 3, 2010 letter to him. You can see that May 3, 2010 letter at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05032010.asp

In his letter, the full text of which is set out below, he said the following on the issue of making the paper ballot accessible:

* “1. The right to mark a ballot and verify that choice independently

In this area, you have recommended:

  • Elections Ontario examine telephone and internet voting and its use by other electoral agencies.
  • I keep an open mind to the use of telephone voting and that Elections Ontario should not adopt an “unfairly onerous test” for assessing its security.
  • Elections Ontario consults persons with disabilities, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.
  • I should recommend to the Legislative Assembly by January 1, 2012 that telephone and internet voting should be used in provincial elections.
  • Elections Ontario should test telephone and internet voting in the next provincial by-election.

In respect of the use of accessible voting equipment in the 2011 General Election, you have asked:

  • If only one device will be employed in each electoral district?
  • Where they will be deployed to make them as accessible as possible?
  • How will their location and use will be publicized and if electors will get to train on the devices?

With respect to your recommendations in this area, I can advise you that after passage of Bill 231 we began a research program to look at the use of alternative electronic voting and network voting along the lines you suggest.

We are retaining outside expertise to help ensure the study is complete and objective. As part of that study, we have asked the consultants to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations as to how to deploy at least two relevant well-defined technologies. We will be consulting our stakeholders when devising these options. We plan to be ready for this testing in by-elections held after January 1, 2012 as there are currently no vacancies in the Legislative Assembly and it will be dissolved less than a year from now.

The technologies being tested could involve internet and/or telephone voting; however, if our research finds that other more efficient, secure, or cost effective technologies exist, they may be tested instead. After any alternative technology is tested, I will report my findings on its use, and any recommendations I may have, in accordance with section 4.1 of the Election Act.

In answer to your questions, the Election Act provides that alternative voting equipment be stationed in each returning office. I can advise you that more than 107 devices will be deployed across Ontario. The Election Act provides that alternative voting equipment be stationed in each returning office. Because of the geographic size of some electoral districts, many returning officers, under the direction of the Chief Electoral Officer, set up “satellite” returning offices to ensure all electors in an electoral district can more conveniently access returning office services throughout the writ period. All returning offices and satellite returning offices are accessible to persons with disabilities. For the 2011 General Election, we are planning that as many as 140 devices could be located across the province.

While we are not planning on having electors practice using these devices, we will have devices available for demonstration purposes. As part of our outreach for the 2011 election, we will have Elections Ontario representatives speak to organizations and provide demonstrations of the equipment.

Our communication materials will ensure that electors are told how and where to vote using our accessible voting equipment.”

* “5. Accessible voting methods for the 2011 General Election

In this area, you have recently recommended that as Chief Electoral Officer I direct for the 2011 General Election that:

  • Telephone and Internet voting be used.
  • Networked accessible voting machines be used in more than one voting location in each electoral district.

I have reviewed these recent suggestions to override section 44.2 of the Election Act in a direction made by me under section 4.4 of the Election Act. As you note, this recommendation is different from your previous ones concerning telephone and internet voting. I appreciate your desire to have telephone and internet voting used as soon as possible in provincial elections but I do not believe that I have the discretion you suggest.”

*****

EXCERPT FROM THE ELECTIONS ONTARIO EMAIL UPDATE Accessibility Action Plan

Since the 2007 General Election, Elections Ontario has taken a giant leap forward in our understanding of and approach to accessibility.

“Inclusiveness” has become part of Elections Ontario’s culture. We no longer design processes and then make them accessible to accommodate special circumstances. We now design accessible processes from the ground up.

There are a lot of new options for electors and we want you to know about them. So, we’ve created an Accessibility Action Plan that details all that we are doing for the next general election to remove the barriers that prevent people from voting.

For more information on our Accessibility Action Plan for the next general election, please visit our website at www.elections.on.ca

Proposed Voting Locations and Site Accessibility Standards

Elections Ontario is making information on proposed voting locations available at www.elections.on.ca, from April 6 to May 6, 2011.

Throughout the fall, our Returning Officers carried out a review of more than 11,000 proposed voting locations across the province.

In order to assist the Returning Officers in that review, we created Site Accessibility Standards. The Standards ensure that the definition of what is required under the Election Act for an accessible voting location is transparent, consistently understood and uniformly applied across the entire province. The Standards are available on our website.

We invite your feedback on the posted locations. Please take a look at the proposed voting locations and, if you have feedback to provide, complete the response form on our website.

If you would like to suggest an alternate site, we recommend that you review the posted Site Accessibility Standards to help ensure that the location can be considered.

We encourage you to share this request with your contacts and members and to post it on your website and social networking sites.

Elections Ontario Accessibility Advisory Committee

On January 26, 2011, the first meeting of the Elections Ontario Accessibility Advisory Committee (EOAAC) took place. We’ve invited the EOAAC to advise on Elections Ontario’s initiatives to remove barriers to the electoral process and to improve service to all electors.

The EOAAC consists of a cross-section of Ontarians: nine individuals and six organizational representatives with rich backgrounds, experiences and skill sets. Between personal knowledge, work and volunteer experience, members have perspectives on a range of disabilities. We’re asking the committee members to draw on that knowledge and experience to help make elections more accessible to all voters.

The Committee will meet four times a year. To learn more about the Elections Ontario Accessibility Advisory Committee and to access the summaries of each meeting, please visit our website at www.elections.on.ca

See you soon!

We hope you’ve enjoyed the first edition of Election Connection. Our second edition, scheduled for distribution in June, will contain more information about the ways we are reaching out to you, the voter, with more days and more ways than ever before to take part in the electoral process!

*****

FROM ELECTIONS ONTARIO’S WEBSITE – GIVING FEEDBACK ON PROPOSED POLLING STATION LOCATIONS

Amendments to the Election Act, development of the Site Accessibility Standards, and public consultation

Ontario’s Election Act was amended on May 18, 2010.

The amendments that focus on improving accessibility are designed to ensure that all individuals:

  • are able to exercise their democratic right to vote and
  • receive service in a modern, responsive and efficient manner.

In order to ensure that all sites are accessible, we developed mandatory requirements for voting locations in consultation with the public and accessibility experts. These Site Accessibility Standards were used by Returning Officers and their staff to ensure the locations they selected were indeed accessible.

The Standards outline:

  • Mandatory criteria to select returning offices, satellite offices, advance poll and polling day locations;
  • Steps to improve the accessibility of a particular location (such as the addition of a ramp); and
  • A process to implement customer service solutions at essential locations that cannot be physically remedied or where no alternative location exists (such as providing a customer service representative at the entrance to a voting location).

Elections Ontario’s Site Accessibility Standards are based on the AODA draft Built Environment Standard, the City of London Facility Accessibility Design Standards (FADS) and the Ontario Building Code.

  • Elections Ontario’s Site Accessibility Standards
  • Elections Ontario’s Exemption and Customer Service Policy

Preparing for and Conducting Voting Location Inspections

Prior to inspecting locations, Returning Officers and their inspection teams received online and hands-on accessibility training resulting in AODA certification. In total, 630 staff were trained in 36 classes held in 10 cities across Ontario.

Between September 2010 and January 2011, returning office teams inspected more than 11,000 potential voting locations across the province. Locations included, but were not limited to, schools, churches, community centres, malls and apartment buildings. Teams used our Site Accessibility Standards to evaluate the physical accessibility of each location.

On average, each inspection took an hour to complete. In other words, teams spent more than 12,000 hours – or nearly a year and a half of time – conducting inspections. Inspections included a comprehensive accessibility review, discussions with onsite personnel, a location security assessment and diagramming the route from the door to the ballot box.

Proposed Voting Location Public Consultation

Voters in Ontario will go to the polls on October 6, 2011 for the 40th Provincial General Election. To ensure that voting locations are accessible, we’re asking for feedback from the public on the locations that have been inspected and proposed.

The proposed voting locations can be viewed in a number of ways:

  • by postal code format;
  • by electoral district format; or
  • by downloading all voting locations in Excel format.

Please look at the list of proposed locations and, if you would like to provide us with feedback, download the feedback form or call our public contact centre at 1-888-ONT-VOTE or 1-888-668-8683, press option 2.

If you would like to suggest an alternative voting location, please review the Site Accessibility Standards to help confirm its compatibility.

*****

LETTER TO AODA ALLIANCE FROM ELECTIONS ONTARIO

December 3, 2010

Mr. David Lepofsky, Chair AODA Alliance
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky,

As we approach the 2011 General Election, Elections Ontario is making sure that we implement the many changes made to the Election Act in May 2010 when Bill 231, the Election Statute Law Amendment Act, 2010 was enacted.

The changes include new measures the Legislature has adopted to provide for the accommodation of electors with disabilities in the voting process. You have asked several questions and made several recommendations in your letters of May 3 and November 18, 2010 concerning:

  • The right to mark a ballot and verify that choice independently
  • The accessibility of polling locations
  • Home visits
  • Publicizing Elections Ontario’s accessibility plan
  • Accessible voting methods

I would like to take this opportunity to describe what Elections Ontario is doing in each of these areas.

Before doing so, however, I also wanted to advise you of our initiative to create an Accessibility Advisory Committee composed of members from across the Province. In addition to the internal resources we are devoting to implementing accessibility, we will ensure that we hear from and consult individuals who are disabled and groups representing persons with disabilities.

I have summarized your inquiries and provided our response below.

1. The right to mark a ballot and verify that choice independently

In this area, you have recommended:

  • Elections Ontario examine telephone and internet voting and its use by other electoral agencies.
  • I keep an open mind to the use of telephone voting and that Elections Ontario should not adopt an “unfairly onerous test” for assessing its security.
  • Elections Ontario consults persons with disabilities, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.
  • I should recommend to the Legislative Assembly by January 1, 2012 that telephone and internet voting should be used in provincial elections.
  • Elections Ontario should test telephone and internet voting in the next provincial by-election.

In respect of the use of accessible voting equipment in the 2011 General Election, you have asked:

  • If only one device will be employed in each electoral district?
  • Where they will be deployed to make them as accessible as possible?
  • How will their location and use will be publicized and if electors will get to train on the devices?

With respect to your recommendations in this area, I can advise you that after passage of Bill 231 we began a research program to look at the use of alternative electronic voting and network voting along the lines you suggest.

We are retaining outside expertise to help ensure the study is complete and objective. As part of that study, we have asked the consultants to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations as to how to deploy at least two relevant well-defined technologies. We will be consulting our stakeholders when devising these options. We plan to be ready for this testing in by-elections held after January 1, 2012 as there are currently no vacancies in the Legislative Assembly and it will be dissolved less than a year from now.

The technologies being tested could involve internet and/or telephone voting; however, if our research finds that other more efficient, secure, or cost effective technologies exist, they may be tested instead. After any alternative technology is tested, I will report my findings on its use, and any recommendations I may have, in accordance with section 4.1 of the Election Act.

In answer to your questions, the Election Act provides that alternative voting equipment be stationed in each returning office. I can advise you that more than 107 devices will be deployed across Ontario. The Election Act provides that alternative voting equipment be stationed in each returning office. Because of the geographic size of some electoral districts, many returning officers, under the direction of the Chief Electoral Officer, set up “satellite” returning offices to ensure all electors in an electoral district can more conveniently access returning office services throughout the writ period. All returning offices and satellite returning offices are accessible to persons with disabilities. For the 2011 General Election, we are planning that as many as 140 devices could be located across the province.

While we are not planning on having electors practice using these devices, we will have devices available for demonstration purposes. As part of our outreach for the 2011 election, we will have Elections Ontario representatives speak to organizations and provide demonstrations of the equipment.

Our communication materials will ensure that electors are told how and where to vote using our accessible voting equipment.

2. The accessibility of polling locations

In this area, you have recommended:

  • Elections Ontario consult the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, and the disability community on the creation of a standard for voting location accessibility, and finalize that standard, by the beginning of August 2010.
  • Elections Ontario assess potential voting locations for the 2011 General Election using the new voting location accessibility standard we have adopted
  • Elections Ontario should post the proposed voting locations more than six months in advance of polling day and make this information available using methods other than through the internet.
  • Elections Ontario should provide a process for obtaining feedback on our proposed locations, communicating why a location is used even if there is criticism of its selection, and appealing the proposed selection.

Elections Ontario drafted a voting location accessibility standard this summer. Through focus groups, we consulted persons with disabilities on its design. We also advised a diverse number of agencies and organizations of our draft standard and invited them to provide their input. We have also invited the Ontario Human Rights Commission to meet with us and we are in the process of finalizing our standard. I thank you, as well, for the feedback you provided on the draft standard.

All proposed voting locations for the 2011 General Election will be assessed using the finalized standard. In accordance with subsection 13.1(4) of the Election Act, we are aiming to post this information by April 6, 2011. It is unlikely that we could do so earlier as the assessment of locations, and the identification of the necessary remediation at some locations, is going to take some time to complete.

As paragraph 13.1(3) 3 of the Election Act requires, we will make the information about proposed locations publicly available and we will establish a process for people to provide their feedback on our proposed sites. At present, we do not see the need for an appeal process. Before finalizing the voting locations, the feedback is going to be collected and assessed by the headquarters staff of Elections Ontario, who work under the direction of the Chief Electoral Officer. The final determination as to whether a location is used will be made at Elections Ontario.

3. Home Visits

In this area, you have recommended Elections Ontario:

  • Widely publicize the availability of home visits.
  • Provide an informal appeal to the Chief Electoral Officer where voters with disabilities are refused a home visit.

In response, I would note the Election Act now affords electors with disabilities a broader range of opportunities to vote. All our communications will ensure that electors are made aware of how and where to find information relevant to their accommodation needs.

Applying the standard set out in the Election Act, local returning officers are best placed to determine how to ensure when home visits are provided. Ultimately, any elector who is unhappy with the administration of the voting process can complain to the Chief Electoral Officer. That said, it is not practicable for there to be a routine appeal to the Chief Electoral Officer of such decisions, either formal or informal, in the course of an election.

4. Publicizing Elections Ontario’s accessibility plan

In this area, you have recommended Elections Ontario:

  • Publicize our accessibility plan for the 2011 General Election.
  • Report on how the use of telephone and internet voting will be studied.

We are in the final stages of completing our accessibility action plan and intend to launch it in the new year.

Elections Ontario also expects to make our report on the use of alternative electronic voting and network voting available, at the latest, by June 30, 2013.

5. Accessible voting methods for the 2011 General Election

In this area, you have recently recommended that as Chief Electoral Officer I direct for the 2011 General Election that:

  • Telephone and Internet voting be used.
  • Networked accessible voting machines be used in more than one voting location in each electoral district.

I have reviewed these recent suggestions to override section 44.2 of the Election Act in a direction made by me under section 4.4 of the Election Act. As you note, this recommendation is different from your previous ones concerning telephone and internet voting. I appreciate your desire to have telephone and internet voting used as soon as possible in provincial elections but I do not believe that I have the discretion you suggest.

In conclusion, thank you for providing me with your recommendations and for your interest in Elections Ontario’s preparations for the 2011 General Election.

Yours truly,

Greg Essensa
Chief Electoral Officer

cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community & Social Services
Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate
Tim Hudak, Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
Andrea Horwath, Leader, New Democratic Party of Ontario

*****

LETTER TO ALL REGISTERED POLITICAL PARTIES FROM THE ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

March 3, 2011

(Address of Party leader of registered Ontario political party)

Dear ____,

Pursuant to my duty under Section 29 of the Ontario Human Rights Code, I am writing to all registered political parties in Ontario to help promote awareness about the importance of accessible elections for voters and candidates with disabilities as well as those seeking nomination.

In March 2010, I made a submission before the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission raising concerns about Bill 231, the Election Statute Law Amendment Act. The Bill enacts new provisions for accessible polling stations and voting equipment that apply to provincial elections beginning this year.

The Bill does not address other disability-related barriers that electors, candidates and individuals seeking nomination can face before, during and after elections. These include:

  • Inaccessible facilities: Political party, constituency and riding association offices as well as nomination, fundraising, campaign rally and all candidate debate events located in facilities with entrances, stairs, washrooms and other features that are inaccessible to persons with mobility related disabilities
  • Communication and other services: meetings and events offering no sign language interpretation, real time captioning, deaf-blind intervention or attendant care, making them inaccessible to persons who are deaf, deafened, deaf-blind or hard-of-hearing or who have other types of disabilities
  • Inaccessible print and information technology: materials produced or used by parties, riding associations, candidates or individuals seeking nomination that is inaccessible to persons with vision disabilities. This includes flyers, brochures, position papers, etc. not available in alternative formats such as electronic text, Braille or large print. Websites not designed to meet international accessibility standards are also a barrier
  • Disability-related expenses: expenses incurred by candidates or other individuals with or without disabilities that are not reimbursed

Voting and standing for election are fundamental rights of democracy that any citizen may choose to exercise. A number of laws, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms require us to ensure citizens with disabilities may do so without discrimination. Tribunals and courts uphold both democratic and equality rights for persons with disabilities. The Ontario Human Rights Code sets out the duty to accommodate persons with disabilities to the point of undue hardship. In 2005, all parties of the Legislature passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to set standards for achieving an accessible province. In 2010, Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Article 29 expressly provides for “the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected”.

The obligation to uphold these laws during elections is under examination across Canadian jurisdictions. In 2010, in Hughes v. Elections Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found in favour of an elector with a disability who filed a complaint after experiencing physical barriers at his polling station. In January 2011, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities wrote to the House of Commons on the importance of accessible elections. In February 2011, it released a paper on implementing the UN CRPD, including reforms to the electoral process.

Although the passage of Bill 231 is a step in the right direction for Ontario, there is still much more to do. The OHRC is talking to Elections Ontario and other organizations concerned about accessible elections. We believe the executive of the registered political parties have a critical role to play.

Resources are available to help. Elections Ontario has published Draft Site Accessibility Standards for polling stations that could be adapted elsewhere. Non-partisan organizations such as the Canadian Hearing Society, the CNIB, the Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario and the Ontario March of Dimes worked together with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to publish three guides in 2008: Accessible Campaign Information & Communication; Accessible Constituency Riding Association, Central Party and Campaign Offices; Accessible All Candidates Meetings.

Some of these non-government organizations helped host accessible all candidate debates in Toronto during past elections. Such collaborative efforts would be welcome again for the upcoming provincial election, especially in other regions of Ontario.

The OHRC would be pleased to learn about your experiences and concerns and offer our assistance where appropriate. We also will be reviewing reports from Elections Ontario, as well as hearing directly from other organizations and individuals about barriers that voters, candidates and those seeking nomination may face over the coming months.

Yours truly,

Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)
Chief Commissioner

cc: Greg Essensa, Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario
Bas Balkissoon, Chair of the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services
David Lepofsky, Chair of the AODA Alliance
Len Mitchell, Chair, Canadian Hearing Society
Jim Maher, Chair, CNIB
Al Hanks, Chair, Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario
Elizabeth Greville, Chair, Ontario March of Dimes
Tony Dolan, Chair, Council of Canadians with Disabilities
Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada

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