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Please Raise Disability Accessibility Issues in Two September 6, 2012 Ontario By-Elections

August 24, 2012

SUMMARY

We urge everyone to do what you can to raise disability accessibility issues in the two upcoming Ontario by-elections. On Thursday, September 6, 2012 Ontario will be holding by-elections to fill vacancies in two seats in the Ontario Legislature. These are in the Kitchener-Waterloo riding, previously held by Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer, and the Vaughan riding, previously held by Liberal MPP Greg Sorbara.

These by-elections give us a wonderful opportunity to raise issues on our long term, non-partisan campaign to make Ontario fully accessible to persons with disabilities. The stakes are unusually high in these by-elections, far more so than is typically the case in provincial by-elections. Media reports say that these by-elections could decide whether the current McGuinty Government will secure a majority government, or have to continue governing as a minority government. Public attention will be sharply focused on these by-elections.

Below we give you the names and contact information for the candidates of the major parties that we have been able to track down. We describe disability accessibility issues we encourage you to raise. We set out ideas of how you can help. You don’t need to take much time. A number of our action ideas don’t require you to even live in either of these ridings.

Our disability accessibility movement has been very successful since it started in late 1994 in using elections and by-elections as a way to raise our issues and press for action. As always, we are strictly non-partisan in any election or by-election. We don’t seek to elect or defeat any party or candidate.

Let us know what you can do to help. Share additional ideas for action on this front. Send us your feedback. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

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MORE DETAILS – HOW TO RAISE DISABILITY ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES IN THE TWO ONTARIO SEPTEMBER 6 2012 BY-ELECTIONS

1. THE DISABILITY ACESSIBILITY BY-ELECTION ISSUES WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO RAISE

We encourage everyone to raise any disability issues they feel are important. However, we offer these suggestions that spring from our campaign for a fully-accessible Ontario.

In 2005, the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It requires Ontario to become fully accessible to all persons with disabilities by 2025. To achieve this, the Government must develop, pass and enforce a series of accessibility standards that will ensure that Ontario will become fully accessible by 2025.

Ontario’s disability community fought a long and hard ten year campaign to win the enactment of that law. That law is important to over 1.7 million Ontarians who now have a disability. It is also important for everyone else, who likely will get a disability as they age.

Despite some progress since 2005, Ontario now is clearly behind schedule in meeting that deadline of full accessibility by 2025. Many people with disabilities can describe barriers they still face when trying to get a job, buy products in stores, ride public transit, or enjoy other parts of Ontario life. Measures the Ontario Government have implemented to date, while helpful, don’t go far enough or fast enough to ensure that Ontario will be fully accessible by 2025.

In the 2011 Ontario election, the McGuinty Government made a series of election promises to improve things, in an August 19, 2011 letter from Premier Dalton McGuinty to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. That letter is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

Over a year later, we have been able to detect no real progress on many of those election promises. To see how seven McGuinty Government cabinet ministers offer little in the way of plans to keep the McGuinty Government’s 2011 election promises on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05042012.asp

The fact that the McGuinty Government only has a minority government doesn’t justify its sluggishness in keeping its 2011 election promises to Ontarians with disabilities. It does not need the approval of the Legislature to take any of the steps that it promised to take in the last election in this area.

We want candidates from all parties in the two September 6, 2012 by-elections in the Kitchener Waterloo and Vaughan ridings to commit that if elected, they will press the Government to promptly keep all the disability accessibility promises it made in the 2011 Ontario General Election.

Here is one major example. In the 2011 election, the McGuinty Government promised to work with us, with the disability community and with others, to identify the next accessibility standards that it will create under the AODA to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025. Over a year later, the Government has not even started to consult the public on which new accessibility standards to make. We have recommended that the Government now start to develop new accessibility standards to address barriers that impede persons with disabilities in accessing three important areas of life in Ontario:

* access to education
* access to health care; and
* access to residential accommodations – a place to live.

You can learn more about our campaign to get the Government to create more accessibility standards in these three areas by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07102012.asp

2. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

Please raise these concerns and issues with the candidates, the media and the public in the campaign now underway leading to the by-elections on September 6, 2012. You might:

* Attend all-candidates debates in these ridings to raise these issues. You might say something like this:

“In 2005, the Legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It requires Ontario to become fully accessible to all people with disabilities by 2025.

Ontario is not on schedule to reach that goal. That hurts over 1.7 million Ontarians who now have a disability, and all the other Ontarians who will likely get a disability later in life as they age. The McGuinty Government has not kept many if not most of its 2011 election promises to fix this situation.

Will you promise, if elected, to pressure the Government to promptly keep all its 2011 election promises to make Ontario fully accessible to all people with disabilities? Will you press the Government to agree to develop accessibility standards to enable people with disabilities to get access to education, to health care, and to residential housing?”

* Call or visit the candidates and talk to them at their campaign offices, to raise these issues. If the candidate is not available, talk to their campaign manager and ask for a chance to talk to the candidate on the phone. Give them a copy of this Update.

* Contact your local media, or the media in or near these two ridings, to encourage them to cover this story.

* Phone in to a call-in radio station in or near these ridings, or in your own community, to raise these issues. Talk about the barriers you know about that impede persons with disabilities in getting access to education, to health care, or to finding an accessible place to live in Ontario.

* Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper or any newspaper in either of these ridings to raise these issues.

* Email friends and family members who live in these ridings to raise these issues with them. Send them this Update.

* Circulate this Update widely. Post it on the website of any organization with which you are connected. Tweet it to your followers on Twitter. Post it on your Facebook page, or “like” and “share” our Facebook page’s posting on it that you can find at: http://www.facebook.com/accessibilityforontarianswithdisabilitiesactalliance

* Let us know of the date, time and location of any all-candidates debates or call in shows on these by-elections. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

3. HOW TO REACH THE CANDIDATES FOR THE MAJOR PARTIES IN THE TWO BY-ELECTIONS

Kitchener-Waterloo

PC – Tracey Weiler
Campaign Office
156 King Street South
Waterloo, ON N2J 1P6
Tel: 519.208.4133

Liberal – Eric Davis
Campaign Office
380 King Street North
Waterloo, ON
N2J 2Z3
Tel: 519.746.1234
Email: info@ericdavis.ca

NDP – Catherine Fife
No address listed as Campaign Office – address below is “Where to pick up a lawn sign”:
182 Weber Street North
Waterloo, ON
Tel: 519.725.4888
Email: catherinefife@on.ndp.ca

Green – Stacey Danckert
No address listed as Campaign Office
Tel: 519.800.0476
Email: stacey@danckert.ca

Vaughan

PC – Tony Genco
Campaign Office
4451 Highway 7
Woodbridge, L4L 9A9
Tel: 905.266.0465

Liberal – Steven Del Duca
Campaign Office
7887 Weston Road, Unit 19
Vaughan, ON
L4L 1A6
Tel: 905.851.4698
Email: steven@votedelduca.ca

NDP – Paul Donofrio
No contact information

Green Party – Paula Conning
Email: paulaconning@gpo.ca

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