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The Conservative Candidate in the September 1, 2016 Scarborough-Rouge River By-election Answered the AODA Alliance’s Questionnaire on Disability Accessibility Issues, After We Made Public that Only the NDP Candidate Had Responded

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

The Liberal Candidate Still Has Not Answered

August 29, 2016

SUMMARY

Here is late-breaking news on the Ontario political front. Now the Ontario Liberal candidate is the only major party’s candidate competing for votes in the September 1, 2016 Scarborough-Rouge River Ontario by-election that has not answered the AODA Alliance’s request for commitments on disability accessibility.

Yesterday we made public the fact that of the three major parties competing in the September 1, 2016 Ontario by-election in the Scarborough-Rouge River riding, only the New Democratic Party’s candidate, Neethan Shan, had answered the AODA Alliance’s questionnaire on disability accessibility issues in this by-election. To read the August 28, 2016 AODA Alliance Update, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08282016.asp

After we made this news public, we received a response today from the Progressive Conservative candidate, Raymond Cho. We set it out below, exactly as we received it. We also again set out the NDP candidate’s response, so that voters can compare the two. These responses repeat each of the AODA Alliance’s questions.

This means that of the three major Ontario parties, only the Ontario Liberals have not answered our questionnaire. It is still not too late. We urge Liberal candidate Piragal Thiru to respond! We will do our best to make any response public.

We have tweeted our questions to each candidate several times. We have also sent a joint letter to the three candidates on August 20, 2016, which sets out all our disability accessibility questions for them. You can read the AODA Alliance’s August 20, 2016 letter to the candidates for the three major parties by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08282016.asp

When she was running for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Kathleen Wynne wrote the AODA Alliance on December 3, 2012, promising, among other things, the following in relation to elections (without a specific reference to by-elections):

“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?

Yes. I will make specific, written election commitments to the AODA Alliance regarding the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities.”

Kathleen Wynne’s December 3, 2012 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12032012.asp

As always, the AODA Alliance remains non-partisan. We do not endorse any party or candidate. We seek to get strong accessibility commitments from all candidates. We Make public the responses we get.

For action tips on how you can help, check out the AODA Alliance’s Action Kit for the Scarborough-Rouge River by-election, available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08082016.asp

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our “Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

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

We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign. https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates: https://www.facebook.com/Accessibility-for-Ontarians-with-Disabilities-Act-Alliance-106232039438820/

Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org

Please also join the campaign for a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act, spearheaded by Barrier-Free Canada. The AODA Alliance is proud to be the Ontario affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada. Sign up for Barrier-Free Canada updates by emailing info@BarrierFreeCanada.org MORE DETAILS

1. August 29, 2016 Response to the AODA Alliance from Progressive Conservative Candidate Raymond Cho

AODA Alliance Questionnaire
Ontario PC Candidate Raymond Cho
August 29, 2016

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?

The Ontario PC Party believes that every Ontarian has the right to lead his or her life to its fullest potential – regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, we have a responsibility to remove the barriers that prevent those with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities.

As a result, we support the goal of the AODA to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025. As the Official Opposition, our goal is to hold Premier Wynne accountable to her commitment to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025.

2. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Ontario Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to make Ontario’s education system fully accessible to students, parents, and education staff with disabilities, including the 334,000 students with special education needs in Ontario-funded schools?

The Ontario PC Party is currently undergoing the largest and most inclusive policy consultation process in our Party’s history. We want to hear from those involved on the ground floor – including the AODA Alliance – about how to build a better province. We are open to any and every idea to bridge society’s gap regarding persons with disabilities, and better employ and support persons 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?

The Ontario PC Party supports the push for an Ontario that is accessible for persons with disabilities. We hope the government takes this matter seriously and leads by example by ensuring that all government buildings and institutions are accessible. As the Official Opposition, our goal is to hold Premier Wynne accountable to her commitment to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025.

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?
The Ontario PC Party believes that no new public money should be used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers. As MPP, I would work tirelessly to ensure the Liberal Government is not creating further obstacles for my constituents in Scarborough-Rouge River.

Ontario’s New Democrats strongly support the principle that public money should never be spent to create additional barriers for people with disabilities.

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?

All-candidates debates are an important forum for the exchange of ideas, and serve an important purpose in informing voters about the important ballot issues. We believe that everyone, regardless of their disability, should have the right to participate in important community town hall discussions. If an Ontario PC Party candidate is informed that a town-hall location isn’t accessible to those with disabilities, we will take appropriate action to ensure they can still participate in the discussion. We commit to raising concerns about any debate locations that are not accessible and will push to have them moved to other locations that meet accessibility requirements.

6. Have you ensured that your campaign office has full disability accessibility?

Unfortunately the rented space where our office is located does not have an automatic door opener. With that said, we do permanently leave the campaign office door open during office hours to ensure sufficient access. We believe the office to be accessible in all other ways.

2. August 25, 2016 Response to the AODA Alliance from New Democratic Party Candidate Neethan Shan

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?

Ontario’s New Democrats and I fully support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its requirement that the Ontario Government become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals have been dragging their feet when it comes to fully implementing and enforcing all aspects of the Act and even ensuring that the government itself complies with this legislation. Ontario’s New Democrats and I fully understand how important enforcement and compliance are when it comes to removing barriers faced by people with disabilities.

Ontario’s New Democrats and I also strongly support the principle that public money should never be spent to create additional barriers for people with disabilities. The government should immediately and fully enforce and comply with the AODA and any public contracts, particularly for those related to infrastructure, should come with a guarantee of accessibility and at the very minimum they should not perpetuate existing barriers. I am committed to do everything in my power to ensure that this happens.

2. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Ontario Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to make Ontario’s education system fully accessible to students, parents, and education staff with disabilities, including the 334,000 students with special education needs in Ontario-funded schools?

The need for universal, equitable, public education is at the core of the values that Ontario’s New Democrats and I most strongly believe in. The education system must be truly accessible to all Ontarians and that includes doing the hard work to remove systemic barriers faced by people with disabilities. The Wynne government has failed to prioritize making education accessible and New Democrats will continue to fight for compliance with the AODA.

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?

Andrea Horwath and Ontario’s New Democrats have repeatedly called on the Wynne government to implement and enforce all aspects of the AODA. The Wynne government has failed to comply with its own legislation and continues to delay on the very important goal of making Ontario truly accessible. As your MPP I would be committed to doing everything in my power to push the Liberal Government to action on this important issue.

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?

Ontario’s New Democrats strongly support the principle that public money should never be spent to create additional barriers for people with disabilities. The government should immediately and fully enforce and comply with the AODA and any public contracts, particularly for those related to infrastructure, should come with a guarantee of accessibility and at the very minimum they should not perpetuate existing barriers. I am committed to do everything in my power to ensure that this happens.

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?

While we cannot make specific promises about individual debates without detailed information about those debates Neethan and Ontario’s New Democrats believe that debates must be held at locations that are fully accessible for all Ontarians. We fully commit to raising concerns about any debate locations that are not accessible and will push to have them moved to other locations that meet accessibility requirements.

6. Have you ensured that your campaign office has full disability accessibility?

Unfortunately the building where our office is located does not have an automatic door opener however all of the team members in the office have been alerted to this issue in order to ensure that they are consistently checking to see if someone needs help to enter the building. In addition we do have several regular volunteers who use wheelchairs and they have been able to access the office with little to no difficulty. We believe the office to be accessible in all other ways.