November 29 2012
Sandra Pupatello is the first candidate for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party to make a commitment on making Ontario fully accessible to over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities. We set out below the text of her letter to us, which we have just received.
On November 1, 2012, we made public an open letter to all candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party which requests specific commitments on this important issue. We had also subsequently emailed and tweeted this request to each Ontario Liberal leadership candidate. The person whom the Ontario Liberal Party selects as its next leader will become Ontario’s next premier. The AODA Alliance’s open letter to all candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11022012.asp
In her letter to us, Ms. Pupatello commits, if elected:
* to maintain the implementation of the AODA, 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce the progress we’ve made;
* to continue to build on progress made to date on accessibility, and that she is committed to an accessible Ontario by 2025;
* to ensure that Ontario remains on schedule to become more accessible by 2025, as required in legislation;
* to make specific election commitments to us on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to the AODA Alliance;
* as Premier, to personally meet with AODA Alliance representatives to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with appropriate cabinet ministers.
Of the five commitments we sought, the only one in which Ms. Pupatello’s response is much less specific than we requested was our request #2, that she commit to stand by and fully honour the past commitments that the Liberal Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility. In response to that request, she more generally states that she is committed to an accessible Ontario by 2025 and looks forward to building on progress on accessibility made to date.
The AODA Alliance is a non-partisan community coalition united to achieve a fully accessible province for all Ontarians with disabilities through the prompt and effective implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). As a non-partisan community coalition, the AODA Alliance will not endorse, support or oppose any candidate for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. We will continue to encourage each candidate for this position to make all the commitments that we have requested in our open letter.
We appreciate Ms. Pupatello making these commitments and commend her for doing so. With Ms. Pupatello stepping forward as the first candidate to make disability accessibility commitments, we encourage all the other candidates to do so as well. We will make public responses that we receive from any other candidates for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership.
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LETTER FROM SANDRA PUPATELLO TO THE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE RECEIVED BY EMAIL NOVEMBER 29, 2012
SANDRA PUPATELLO LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN
RESPONSES TO AODA ALLIANCE’S OPEN LETTER
November 23, 2012
Question 1: Under your leadership, will the Liberal Party fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives?
Answer: During my 16 years of public service at Queen’s Park, I had the pleasure of serving as Ontario’s Minister of Community and Social Services from 2003-2006. During that time, I learned first-hand of the importance in ensuring that all Ontarians are at their best, including individuals with disabilities.
On June 29, 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA, 2005) was transferred from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration to my ministry, and Premier McGuinty asked me to continue the extraordinary work of Dr. Marie Bountrogianni.
I understand how critical it is for us as a province, to make it possible for people with disabilities to fully participate in the social and economic life of Ontario. On October 17, 2005, I was the first minister to announce the development of the first two province-wide committees that worked on the transportation and customer service standard.
In December of the same year, our government appointed our current Lieutenant Governor and now Liberal MPP Tracy MacCharles to lead the province’s new Accessibility Standards Advisory Council.
I know how important accessibility is for Ontario’s growth and prosperity. I also understand how critical it is for people with disabilities to continue to move forward on the achievements already made. If elected leader and Premier, it is my sincere intention to maintain the implementation of the AODA, 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce the progress we’ve made.
Question 2: Will you stand by and fully honour the past commitments that your Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility?
Answer: I have and continue to be committed to an accessible Ontario by 2025 – and if elected Premier, I want our government to get it right. Accessibility doesn’t happen overnight. I am proud of what our Liberal government has accomplished to date – four out of the five standards that we committed to are completed.
I look forward to continuing to build on this progress.
Question 3: Will you ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities no later than 2025, the deadline that your Government’s AODA requires?
Answer: I have and continue to believe that any changes that make Ontario more accessible for people with disabilities are changes for the better. A barrier-free Ontario should and needs to be a key part of building a stronger, more inclusive province for us all. If elected leader and Premier, my government will ensure that Ontario remains on schedule to become more accessible by 2025, as required in legislation.
Question 4: In Ontario elections, will you continue the practice of the last two Ontario Liberal Party leaders, of making specific election commitments to us on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to us?
Question 5: Among other commitments, Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed to meetings with us to address accessibility issues (in addition to meetings we have had with several cabinet ministers). Will you agree to maintain this practice, of being agreeable to personally meet with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate cabinet ministers?
Answer: Yes, and I welcome the opportunity once again, to help change the lives of Ontarians with disabilities.