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The New Democratic Party’s Candidate in the September 1, 2016 Scarborough-Rouge River By-election Answered the AODA Alliance’s Questionnaire on Disability Accessibility Issues

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

Neither the Liberal Nor Progressive Conservative Candidates Responded

August 28, 2016

SUMMARY

On August 20, 2016, the AODA Alliance wrote the Liberal, NDP and Conservative candidates in the Scarborough-Rouge River September 1 by-election, to seek their commitments on disability accessibility. That letter is set out below. The AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any party or candidate. We have done this in a number of previous provincial by-elections.

It is the aim of our non-partisan campaign to ensure that whomever gets elected to the Ontario Legislature in any election or by-election is a strong supporter of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and of achieving accessibility for all Ontarians with disabilities. to see the AODA Alliance’s Action Kit for raising disability accessibility issues in the September 1, 2016 Scarborough-Rouge River by-election, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08082016.asp

We asked the candidates to answer these questions:

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 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?

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

We asked the candidates to respond by August 26, 2016, since the September 1, 2016 voting day is fast approaching. Only the NDP candidate, Neethan Shan, answered. We set out the NDP candidate’s accessibility commitments below.

We are deeply concerned that the standard-bearers for Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and for Patrick Brown’s Conservatives have not answered. Neither has committed to support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Neither has pledged to oppose any efforts to weaken it, or measures taken under it. This is especially troubling since this past June, Premier Wynne broke her promise to never weaken provisions or protections that we had won in or under the AODA. To learn about Premier Wynne’s breaking her promise to never weaken gains we’ve made on accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06072016.asp

It is not too late for the Liberal and Conservative candidates to answer our inquiry. We will make responses public, even if they are received after the August 26, 2016 time line that we shared with all candidates.

It is reasonable for us to expect candidates to answer our inquiry. In addition to writing the candidates on August 20, 2016, we have tweeted the same questions to each candidate several times during the by-election campaign.

We urge you to raise disability accessibility issues in this by-election. Contact the Liberal and Conservative candidates at the addresses or email addresses set out below, in the AODA Alliance’s August 20, 2016 letter to the candidates. Urge them to answer the AODA Alliance’s questions, and to make the disability accessibility commitments we seek. Attend any all-candidates debates in the riding to press them to make the commitments we have sought. Circulate this AODA Alliance Update widely.

Even if you don’t live in that riding, let the Liberal and Conservative Parties know you want them to answer, and to make strong accessibility commitments.

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

August 20, 2016 letter from the AODA Alliance to the Major Parties’ Candidates in the Scarborough-Rouge River September 1, 2016 By-election

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance www.aodaalliance.org

August 20, 2016

To: Piragal Thiru, Liberal Party Candidate
5651 Steeles Avenue East, Unit 23
Via email: info@electpiragalthiru.ca

Raymond Cho, Progressive Conservative Party Candidate
4500 Sheppard Avenue, Unit 102
Scarborough, Ontario M1S1V2
Via email: Info@electraymondcho.ca

Neethan Shan, New Democratic Party Candidate
4651 Sheppard Ave E (SE corner of Sheppard and McCowan)
Via email: neethanshan@ontariondp.ca

Dear Candidates in the Scarborough-Rouge River September 1, 2016 Ontario By-election:

I am writing on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan Ontario-wide community grassroots coalition. We seek to achieve a fully accessible Ontario for over 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities, through the effective implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 (AODA).

In 2005, all three of Ontario’s major political parties voted unanimously for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act after Ontarians with disabilities campaigned tirelessly for a decade to win its enactment. We have learned, through the experience of the eleven years since it was enacted, that passing a law is one thing; getting it effectively implemented is another.

Since the historic day when the AODA was passed, many of the MPPs who voted for it, and who supported our community over the years as we campaigned in support of it, have left the Ontario Legislature. Many newer MPPs know little about this important legislation.

We are working to renew and re-invigorate support for this legislation in the Legislature, among all the parties. We aim to ensure that all MPPs, old and new, strongly support this legislation’s effective implementation and enforcement.

We therefore write you as candidates in the September 1, 2016 Ontario by-election in the Scarborough-Rouge River riding. We seek your personal commitments on the following:

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 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?

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

You can learn more about the September 1, 2016 Ontario by-elections’ accessibility issues by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08082016.asp

Even if your party is not on record on some or all of these issues, we seek your personal commitment of support on them. Please email your response to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com Because the by-election date is approaching, and we want to share all responses on these issues with voters. As such, we would appreciate receiving your response by August 26, 2016.

We have already tweeted these questions to each of you several times over the past few days on Twitter. We would be happy to give you more background on Ontario’s accessibility issues, if you wish to contact us. Again, it is easiest to reach us via email by writing to aodafeedback@gmail.com. You can also learn more about these issues by visiting our website at www.aodaalliance.org

Sincerely,
David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont,
Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

August 25, 2016 Email to the AODA Alliance from NDP 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.