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To Mark International Day for People With Disabilities, AODA Alliance Identifies Major Actions Needed by Key Ontario Cabinet Ministers to Advance Ontario Towards Full Accessibility

December 3, 2011

SUMMARY

Today December 3, 2011, is the International Day for People with Disabilities. To mark this important occasion, we are making public our latest initiative to advance our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario.

The AODA Alliance has just written seven cabinet ministers in the Ontario Government. For each, we identify the key disability accessibility issues that they need to address. We link our proposals to election commitments that the Government has made. We offer each minister our help in addressing these issues

We have taken this step early in the Government’s mandate, hoping this will help prevent our issues from falling between the cracks. Each minister should present his or her letter to their ministry officials, ask what is happening to meet these commitments, direct that action on them is a priority, and oversee their officials to ensure prompt progress. These letters will help us measure progress over the next months.

We set out these letters below. In summary, we ask each minister to focus on these priorities:

A. To Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Kathleen Wynne:

1. Expediting Enactment of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard

2. Implementing Effective Measures to Ensure Accessibility of Municipal Elections to Voters and Candidates with Disabilities

3. Showing Leadership by Effectively Advocating to the Municipal Sector on Achieving Accessibility

B. To Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli:

1. Effectively Implementing the Government’s Ten Year Infrastructure Plan’s Disability Accessibility Requirements

2. Widely and prominently broadcasting as soon as possible to the public, including to any organization that seeks Ontario infrastructure or procurement funds, that they must prove in their applications that they will ensure that public money isn’t used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.

C. To Health Minister Deb Matthews:

1. Ensuring eHealth Information and Infrastructure is Fully Accessible to People with Disabilities

2. Supporting Development of a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

D. To Education Minister Laurel Broten:

1. Ensuring School Children Receive Education on Disability Accessibility

2. Seeking Support for the Development of an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

E. To Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Glen Murray:

1. Advocating to Self-Governing Professions to Include Disability Accessibility Training for their Members

2. Seeking Support for the Development of an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

F. To Economic Development and Innovation Minister Brad Duguid:

1. Making Disability Accessibility a Core Part of the Government’s Economic Development and Innovation Agenda

G. To Government Services Minister Harinder S. Takhar:

1. Restoring Position of Full-time Assistant Deputy Minister of Government Services Responsible for Accessibility of the Ontario Public Service

2. Promptly Completing the Government’s Review of All Ontario Legislation and Regulations for Disability Barriers

3. Ensuring the Ontario Government Only Procures Goods, Services and Facilities that are Accessible or that Will Be Made Accessible

4. Ensuring that Accessibility is Taken into Account in All Major Government Decisions

We earlier wrote the new Community and Social Services Minister, John Milloy, to list the priorities for his ministry on the accessibility agenda. You can see that letter at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11012011.asp

We await the designation of a cabinet minister with responsibility for provincial elections legislation. When one is designated, we will raise with them the need to focus on amendments to Ontario’s Elections Act to address remaining barriers that impede provincial voters and candidates with disabilities.

LAST AODA ALLIANCE UPDATE IN 2011

This is the last AODA Alliance Update for 2011. We will be off-line and not responding to email until the new year.

We wish one and all a happy, safe and enjoyable holiday season. We thank everyone for their efforts in helping our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities. Without your wonderful help, spreading the word, sharing your ideas and adding your support, we could not make the progress that we have sustained.

And may we all enjoy a happy and barrier-free 2012!

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

December 2, 2011

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne, Minister
Municipal Affairs & Housing
777 Bay Street
17th Floor, College Park
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 2E5
Email: Kathleen.Wynne@ontario.ca

Dear Ms Wynne,

Re: Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Achieving a Fully Accessible Ontario for People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which has united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities.

We want to congratulate you on your appointment as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for important areas that can support your government’s agenda for achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025. We wish to outline these, and offer to work closely with you, to assist in their achievement.

1. Expediting Enactment of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard

First, your ministry has taken on a major role in the development of the forthcoming built environment accessibility standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, setting out your party’s 2011 election commitments, Premier McGuinty pledged that: “It is a priority for us to enact the Accessible Built Environment standard promptly and responsibly.”

Over four years ago, in October, 2007, your government appointed the built environment standards development committee, under the provisions of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It was established to develop a proposal for this standard in consultation with experts in the field. After many hours of painstaking work, that Standards Development Committee submitted a very detailed initial proposal for the Built Environment Accessibility Standard to the government.

On July 14, 2009, your Government made public the initial proposed Built Environment Accessibility Standard for public comment. After public comment was received, the Built Environment Standards Development Committee undertook many more hours of study to refine their initial proposal in light of public feedback on the initial proposal. Well over a year ago, in July 2010, the Built Environment Standards Development Committee submitted its final proposal for the Built Environment Accessibility Standard to your Government. Since then, that proposal has been under study in your ministry and in the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

We understand that your Ministry was extensively involved with the work of the Built Environment Standards Development Committee throughout its many months of activity. As such, your Government should be well-positioned to fulfil the Premier’s commitment to promptly finalize and enact this much-needed accessibility standard.

Despite this, this initiative has unfortunately been behind schedule for some time. On June 1, 2010, the Minister of Community and Social Services Minister committed that the Built Environment Accessibility Standard would be enacted by the end of 2010. That deadline was missed.

Back on June 9, 2011, we wrote the relevant assistant deputy minister in your ministry and the assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of Community and Social Services, who together have lead responsibility for the development of the built environment accessibility standard. We asked for details on their plans for bringing this project to completion. Their answer to us, dated June 24, 2011, provided little information. You can find a detailed chronology of these events and supporting documentation at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07082011.asp

We understand that your ministry has taken on responsibility for the parts of the built environment accessibility standard that are to be incorporated in the Ontario Building Code. We ask you to expedite the work of your ministry’s officials on this project, so that your government can keep the Premier’s commitment to us. We also ask that any requirements that are incorporated into the Building Code also be enacted as accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, so that we have the full benefit of the protections we won in that legislation.

2. Implementing Effective Measures to Ensure Accessibility of Municipal Elections to Voters and Candidates with Disabilities

Second, your ministry has lead responsibility for taking provincial action to ensure the accessibility of municipal elections to voters and candidates with disabilities. In Premier McGuinty’s August 19, 2011 letter to us, he promised that his government would continue to make progress on accessible municipal and provincial elections. In that letter, he also re-affirmed all your Government’s previous commitments to us. In the Premier’s earlier September 14, 2007 letter to us, setting out your party’s 2007 disability accessibility election commitments, the Premier committed to establish an accessible elections action plan to address municipal and provincial elections. To date, that action plan has not materialised.

In 2009, your government included in an omnibus bill some brief amendments to address the accessibility of municipal elections. However, these were rushed, and were not the result of comprehensive consultations, because they were part of an omnibus bill.

On January 5, 2010, your predecessor, Municipal Affairs Minister James Watson committed to a provincial review of municipal election accessibility issues, after the 2010 municipal elections were completed. He wrote:

“We will be undertaking a review of the Municipal Elections Act after the 2010 municipal election. One component of that review will be an examination of any provincial-election reforms that may occur as a result of Bill 231.”

To fulfil these unmet commitments, we are eager to work with you and your ministry on developing new legislation and other strategies to make municipal elections fully accessible for voters and candidates with disabilities. We would prefer that these be harmonised in an omnibus bill that would also address the same barriers recurring in provincial elections. To date, your government has not designated a lead minister with responsibility for the accessibility of provincial elections.

3. Showing Leadership by Effectively Advocating to the Municipal Sector on Achieving Accessibility

Third, we would welcome your assistance and leadership by proactively advocating to the municipal sector, both to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and directly to municipalities themselves, on the importance of acting promptly to achieve accessibility at the municipal level. We regret that there has been some resistance, expressed earlier this year by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario through its unfortunate and unfounded objections to the government’s integrated accessibility regulation, since enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We know that AMO did not reflect a monolithic view of those working in municipal governments on this issue. We have been heartened by the support for the AODA and for accessibility standards enacted under it by a commendable representation from within the municipal sector.

In 2009, your Government appointed Mr. Charles Beer to conduct an independent review of the AODA and its implementation. Mr. Beer’s commendable 2010 report noted the pressing need for a much stronger Government public education strategy to ensure that the obligated sectors act effectively on accessibility. We believe that you, as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, are in a key position to help promote this by effectively advocating to and educating your government’s municipal partners.

We would be delighted to work with you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier, email dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Hon. John Milloy, Minister, Community & Social Services, email john.milloy@ontario.ca
William Forward, Deputy Minister, Municipal Affairs & Housing, email william.forward@ontario.ca
Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services, email marg.rappolt@ontario.ca
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate, Community & Social Services, email ellen.waxman@ontario.ca

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

December 2, 2011

Hon. Bob Chiarelli, Minister
Infrastructure
3rd Floor, Ferguson Block
77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M7A1Z8
Email: Minister.mto@ontario.ca
Dear Minister,

Re: Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Achieving a Fully Accessible Ontario for People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which has united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities.

We want to congratulate you on your renewed appointment as Minister of Infrastructure. In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for important areas that can support your government’s agenda for achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025. We wish to outline these, and offer to work closely with you, to assist in their achievement.

1. Effectively Implementing Ten Year Infrastructure Plan’s Disability Accessibility Requirements

We have commended your government for including disability accessibility in its ten-year infrastructure plan in relation to buildings and other physical infrastructure. We would welcome the opportunity to work with your ministry on the prompt and effective implementation of this commitment.

For example, we recommend that your ministry:

1. Promptly establish detailed guidelines for infrastructure accessibility, beyond those set out in the current AODA accessibility standards. These should, e.g.
a) ensure that to be accessible, they must meet the Human Rights Code’s accessibility requirements, and not just the more limited AODA accessibility standards.
(b) ensure that “where feasible” in this policy will be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Human Rights Code’s undue hardship standard.
(c) establish Ontario Public Service implementation procedures for monitoring and enforcing this requirement, so it is not simply left to each ministry to decide whether or how much or how little it will implement this commitment, in choosing among competing applicants for Government grants and contracts.

2. Widely and prominently broadcast as soon as possible to the public, including to any organization that seeks Ontario infrastructure or procurement funds, that they must prove in their applications that they will ensure that public money isn’t used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.

3. Expanding Ten Year Infrastructure Disability Accessibility Requirements to Information Technology and Electronic Kiosks

In the 2011 election, your government committed to extend its ten-year infrastructure plan’s disability accessibility requirements, to information technology and electronic kiosks. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, setting out your party’s election commitments, Premier McGuinty wrote:

“We are integrating accessibility as a fundamental principle when it comes to making vital decisions that affect the daily lives of Ontarians. For instance, as part of our 10-year infrastructure plan, we are requiring all entities seeking provincial infrastructure funding for new buildings or major expansions or renovations to demonstrate how the funding will prevent or remove barriers and improve the level of accessibility where feasible. We will also extend this to include information technology infrastructure and electronic kiosks.”

We would be delighted to work with you on implementing this pledge. Fulfilling this promise requires efforts of other ministries, not just yours. It will involve any ministry that develops electronic infrastructure technology. For example, the Ministry of Health is introducing the eHealth strategy. The Ministry of Transportation (for which you are also now the Minister) is falling short, by implementing the now inaccessible Presto smart card. You will need to spearhead a comprehensive strategy amongst all Ontario Government ministries and agencies to ensure that your government’s accessibility commitments on information technology and electronic kiosk infrastructure permeate the work of all the ministries it affects, and not merely your own ministry.

We would be pleased to work with you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier, email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Hon. John Milloy, Minister, Community & Social Services, email john.milloy@ontario.ca
Drew Fagan, Deputy Minister, Infrastructure, email drew.fagan@ontario.ca
Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services, email marg.rappolt@ontario.ca
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate, Community & Social Services, email ellen.waxman@ontario.ca

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

December 2 2011

Hon. Deb Matthews, Minister
Health & Long-term Care
Hepburn Block, 10th Floor
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2C4
Email: deborahmatthews@ontarioliberal.ca

Dear Ms Matthews,

Re: Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Achieving a Fully Accessible Ontario for People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which has united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities.

We want to congratulate you on your renewed appointment as Minister of Health and Long-term Care. In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for important areas that can support your government’s agenda for achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025. We wish to outline these, and offer to work closely with you, to assist in their achievement.

1. Ensure eHealth Information and Infrastructure is Fully Accessible to People with Disabilities

First, an example of an important potential barrier your Ministry needs to address concerns the eHealth strategy that your ministry is leading. Your Government is creating a new integrated electronic health records system to facilitate access to medical records. It is important that the new infrastructure for electronic health records be entirely accessible at all points for people with disabilities, be they patients, their families, health care providers, or other officials or workers in the health care system who access health records. It is important, for example, that the eHealth records be in an electronic format that is fully accessible. Also, any electronic kiosks, software or websites for accessing these records must be designed to be fully accessible.

To achieve this it is not just necessary to meet the accessibility requirements of the new integrated accessibility regulation (IAR) that your government passed in June, 2011, and to do so ahead of schedule. It is also necessary for this new publicly-funded information technology and records to meet the accessibility requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code. In several respects, the IAR falls short of the Human Rights Code’s accessibility requirements.

The action we request is also necessary to fulfil your government’s 2011 election commitment to us to ensure the accessibility of information technology and electronic kiosks as part of the government’s long-term ten-year infrastructure plan. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, setting out your government’s 2011 election commitments on accessibility, Premier McGuinty pledged:

“We are integrating accessibility as a fundamental principle when it comes to making vital decisions that affect the daily lives of Ontarians. For instance, as part of our 10-year infrastructure plan, we are requiring all entities seeking provincial infrastructure funding for new buildings or major expansions or renovations to demonstrate how the funding will prevent or remove barriers and improve the level of accessibility where feasible. We will also extend this to include information technology infrastructure and electronic kiosks.”

2. Support Development of a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Second, your Government has committed to consult with us and others to identify the next accessibility standards to be developed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us setting out your Government’s disability accessibility election commitments, Premier McGuinty wrote:

“Having the first five accessibility standards under the AODA enacted will set a firm foundation for further progress on accessibility, and we look forward to working with Ontario’s accessibility communities and partners to identify the next standards that will move accessibility forward in our province.”

We have recommended that among the next accessibility standards that need to be developed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is one directly addressing barriers that impede people with disabilities in the important area of health care. We would be delighted to work with you and your ministry on moving such an initiative forward, in conjunction with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, and seek your support.

We would welcome the opportunity to work with you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier, email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Hon. John Milloy, Minister, Community & Social Services, email john.milloy@ontario.ca
Rafi, Saäd, Deputy Minister, Health & Long-term Care, email saad.rafi@ontario.ca
Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services, email marg.rappolt@ontario.ca
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate, Community & Social Services, email ellen.waxman@ontario.ca

*****

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

December 2, 2011

Hon. Laurel Broten, Minister
Ministry of Education
Mowat Block, 22nd Floor
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1L2
Email laurel.broten@ontario.ca

Dear Ms Broten,

Re: Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Achieving a Fully Accessible Ontario for People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which has united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities.

We want to congratulate you on your appointment as Minister of Education. In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for important areas that can support your government’s agenda for achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025. We wish to outline these, and offer to work closely with you, to assist in their achievement.

1. Ensuring School Children Receive Education on Disability Accessibility

We would welcome the opportunity to work with you on fulfilling your government’s as-yet unkept 2007 election commitment (re-affirmed in the 2011 election) on ensuring that students in the school system receive curriculum on disability accessibility. In his September 14, 2007 letter to us setting out your party’s election commitments in that election, Premier McGuinty wrote:
“Institute a new program to ensure that students in schools and professional organizations are trained on accessibility issues.

We already include awareness of and respect for students with special needs: in every curriculum document there is a front piece on planning programs for students with special education needs. Disability awareness is an expectation in the Grade 12 Social Sciences and Humanities course. Our government also introduced character education.

Character education is about schools reinforcing values shared by the school community – values such as respect, honesty, responsibility and fairness. It is about nurturing universal values, upon which schools and communities can agree. We will ensure that this curriculum includes issues relating to persons with disabilities.”

Your government did not keep this election commitment in the last term, as far as we have been able to ascertain. However, Premier McGuinty recently re-affirmed his commitment to all previous pledges made to us. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, setting out your party’s 2011 election commitments on disability accessibility, Premier McGuinty wrote: “We will also continue to make progress on all previous commitments.”

Over two years ago, we wrote to your predecessor, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne. We sought an update on what your government had been doing to keep that election commitment, and asked about its future plans on this pledge. See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07212009.asp link.

Regrettably, the response we received from Minister Wynne dated September 15, 2009 was entirely unresponsive to this inquiry. See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11102009.asp

Over a year later, on November 12, 2010, we wrote the previous Minister of Community and Social Services (responsible for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), Madeleine Meilleur. We sought, among other things, an update on your government’s actions to date and future plans on this 2007 election commitment. See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11242010.asp

Minister Meilleur never wrote to us in response to that letter.

2. Seeking Support for the Development of an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Your Government has committed to consult with us and others to identify the next accessibility standards to be developed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, setting out your Government’s 2011 disability accessibility election commitments, Premier McGuinty wrote:

“Having the first five accessibility standards under the AODA enacted will set a firm foundation for further progress on accessibility, and we look forward to working with Ontario’s accessibility communities and partners to identify the next standards that will move accessibility forward in our province.”

We want to alert you to the fact that we have asked your government to develop an accessibility standard in the area of education under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We hope and trust that your government will be receptive to this proposal, which is now before the Minister of Community and Social Services. We would be delighted to work with your ministry along with the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, on ensuring that a strong and effective education accessibility standard is developed under the AODA.

We would welcome the opportunity to work with you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier, email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Hon. John Milloy, Minister, Community & Social Services, email john.milloy@ontario.ca
Kevin Costante, Deputy Minister, Education, email kevin.costante@ontario.ca
Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services, email marg.rappolt@ontario.ca
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate, Community & Social Services, email ellen.waxman@ontario.ca

*****

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

December 2, 2011

Hon. Glen Murray, Minister
Training, Colleges & Universities
3rd Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1L2
Email: glen.murray@ontario.ca

Dear Minister,

Re: Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Achieving a Fully Accessible Ontario for People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which has united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities.

We want to congratulate you on your appointment as Minister. In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for important areas that can support your government’s agenda for achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025. We wish to outline these, and offer to work closely with you, to assist in their achievement.

1. Advocating to Self-Governing Professions to Include Disability Accessibility Training for their Members

In the 2007 provincial election, your government committed to approach the self-governing bodies in Ontario responsible for the major professions, to urge them to ensure that they provide training on accessibility to people who want to qualify for their respective professions. For example, , someone studying to be an architect in Ontario should have to learn about accessible building design, in order to qualify to become an architect in this province. The same applies in a wide range of other professions such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers, and nurses. The same need exists for other career areas with focused expertise, such as software developers or urban planners, even if they are not self-governing professions.

In his September 14, 2007 letter to us, setting out your party’s 2007 disability accessibility election commitments, Premier McGuinty wrote:

“Institute a new program to ensure that students in schools and professional organizations are trained on accessibility issues….

…The Government of Ontario does not set the training curriculum for professional bodies such as architects, but we commit to raising this issue with the different professional bodies.”

To date, your government has not to our knowledge taken any steps to keep this promise. On July 20, 2009, we wrote your predecessor, Minister of Training Colleges and Universities John Milloy to ask what your government had done to date on this issue, and to find out about your government’s future plans. See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07212009.asp
We received a response from Minister Milloy dated October 6, 2009. The closest he came to responding to our inquiry was as follows:
“It is important that students starting new careers are able to ensure compliance with the legislation in their chosen profession. While the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities does not set the curriculum for postsecondary institutions, I have written to college presidents and university executive heads urging them to consider accessibility when conducting curriculum reviews.
See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11102009.asp

Over a year later, on November 12, 2010, we wrote to the previous Minister of Community and Social Services (responsible for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), Madeleine Meilleur. We sought, among other things, an update on your government’s actions to date and future plans on this 2007 election commitment. See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11242010.asp

Minister Meilleur never wrote to us in response to that letter.

In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, setting out your party’s 2011 election pledges on accessibility, Premier McGuinty re-affirmed all prior commitments in this area. He wrote: “We will also continue to make progress on all previous commitments.”

It should be easy for your government to fulfil this election commitment. Lawyers, paralegals, social workers, teachers, planners, architects, health care providers, and the like should receive accessibility training in order to qualify for their respective professions. They should learn how to serve all the public, not just those members of the public who have not yet acquired a disability.

2. Seeking Support for the Development of an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Your Government has committed to consult with us and others to identify the next accessibility standards to be developed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us setting out your Government’s 2011 disability accessibility election commitments, Premier McGuinty wrote:

“Having the first five accessibility standards under the AODA enacted will set a firm foundation for further progress on accessibility, and we look forward to working with Ontario’s accessibility communities and partners to identify the next standards that will move accessibility forward in our province.”

We want to alert you to the fact that we have asked your government to develop an accessibility standard in the area of education under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We would like this to encompass all aspects of education, including that delivered in colleges, universities, and other training institutions for which your ministry is responsible. We do not limit it to elementary, middle and high schools.

We hope and trust that your government will be receptive to this proposal, which is now before the Minister of Community and Social Services. We would be delighted to work with your ministry along with the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Education, on ensuring that a strong and effective education accessibility standard is developed under the AODA.

We look forward to working with you and your ministry on these outstanding election commitments. We would be delighted to help you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier, email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Hon. John Milloy, Minister, Community & Social Services, email john.milloy@ontario.ca
Deborah Newman, Deputy Minister, Training Colleges & Universities, email deborah.newman@ontario.ca
Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services, email marg.rappolt@ontario.ca
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate, Community & Social Services, email ellen.waxman@ontario.ca

*****

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

December 2, 2011

Hon. Brad Duguid, Minister
Economic Development & Innovation
8th Floor, Hearst Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2E1
Email: bduguid.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Dear Minister,

Re: Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Achieving a Fully Accessible Ontario for People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which has united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities.

We want to congratulate you on your appointment as Minister. In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for important areas that can support your government’s agenda for achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025. We wish to outline these, and offer to work closely with you, to assist in their achievement.

Making Disability Accessibility a Core Part of the Government’s Economic Development and Innovation Agenda

In the 2011 election, Premier McGuinty committed that your government is incorporating disability accessibility considerations in all major government decisions. In his August 19, 2011 letter, setting out your Government’s 2011 disability accessibility election commitments, he wrote: “We are integrating accessibility as a fundamental principle when it comes to making vital decisions that affect the daily lives of Ontarians.”

It is important for your ministry to incorporate disability accessibility as a prominent part of your strategy for economic development and innovation. To the extent that Ontario develops a world-leading capacity to produce accessible goods, services and facilities, and to provide accessibility training in support to other organizations who want to do the same, this will position Ontario well in the international marketplace. The demand for accessible goods, services and facilities and the demand for training and support to do the same is growing internationally as other major markets such as the U.S.A. and the European Union each ramp up their commitments to accessibility. A major study that your Government commissioned released an excellent report in 2010 that shows that making Ontario fully accessible to persons with disabilities is economically beneficial for Ontario, while leaving barriers against persons with disabilities in place hurts Ontario’s economy. See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06232010.asp

We ask your ministry to develop a comprehensive strategy for incorporating accessibility in your economic development and innovation activities. It should be part of your outreach to business in Ontario. It should be incorporated as a condition of grants and subsidies for economic development and innovation that your ministry provides to the broader public and the private sectors.

We look forward to working with you and your ministry on this outstanding election commitment. We would be delighted to work with you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier, email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Hon. John Milloy, Minister, Community & Social Services, email john.milloy@ontario.ca
Wendy Tilford, Deputy Minister, Economic Development & Innovation, email wendy.tilford@ontario.ca
Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services, email marg.rappolt@ontario.ca
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate, Community & Social Services, email ellen.waxman@ontario.ca

*****

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

December 2, 2011

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar, Minister
Government Services
Whitney Block, 4th Floor
99 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1W3
Email: htakhar.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Dear Mr. Takhar,

Re: Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Achieving a Fully Accessible Ontario for People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which has united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities.

We want to congratulate you on your renewed appointment as Minister of Government Services. In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for important issues that can support your government’s agenda of achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025. We wish to outline these, and offer to work closely with you, to assist in their achievement.

1. Restoring Full-time Assistant Deputy Minister of Government Services Responsible for Accessibility of the Ontario Public Service

First, in his August 19, 2011 letter to our coalition, setting out your government’s 2011 election disability accessibility promises, Premier McGuinty pledged to restore the full-time position of Assistant Deputy Minister of Government Services responsible for accessibility of the Ontario public service. He wrote: “• We will create a full-time Assistant Deputy Minister position in the Ministry of Government Services responsible for accessibility, and we will continue to consider options and advice on how to modernize our government structure to promote accessibility. The ADM will pay particular attention to breaking down the barriers and silos experienced across government when implementing accessibility initiatives.”

It is important that this position be restored immediately. The 2009 Charles Beer Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act declared that this position is vital.

Presumably the assistant deputy minister position would report to the Chief Officer, Diversity & Accessibility for the Ontario public service. We do not want this new assistant deputy minister position to take away from any of the other responsibilities that the Chief Officer for Diversity has been discharging to date.

We have been very concerned about the elimination last year of the full-time assistant deputy minister position for accessibility. We wrote your deputy minister fully one year ago to urge the restoration of that position. See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12012010.asp

We regret that we had to take the unusual step of approaching the Premier for an election commitment, in order to get this position restored.

It is important to promptly and effectively tackle and complete the mission to which the Premier committed — breaking down the isolated silos in which accessibility has been dealt with in the Ontario public service. We would welcome an opportunity to work with you on strategies for achieving this. This would help implement recommendations within the report of the 2010 Charles Beer independent review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05312010.asp

2. Promptly Completing the Government’s Review of All Ontario Legislation and Regulations for Disability Barriers

Second, your ministry has lead responsibility for spearheading the government’s review of all provincial legislation and regulations, to identify and remove barriers against people with disabilities.

In his September 14, 2007 letter to us, setting out your Government’s 2007 disability accessibility election pledges, Premier McGuinty wrote:

“Review all Ontario laws to find any disability accessibility barriers that need to be removed.

The Ontario Liberal government believes this is the next step toward our goal of a fully accessible Ontario. Building on our work of the past four years, we will continue to be a leader in Canada on accessibility issues. For Ontario to be fully accessible, we must ensure no law directly or indirectly discriminates against those with disabilities. To make that happen, we commit to reviewing all Ontario laws to find any disability barriers that need to be removed.”

In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, Premier McGuinty promised:

“We are committed to completing our review of all legislation for accessibility barriers and, through the work of a central team, we will ask ministries to report on their progress as part of their annual performance plans. We will also pursue strategies to address defined barriers in an efficient and suitable manner.”

It is important to substantially speed up the Government’s efforts on this, and to bring forward an omnibus bill within the next two years, to address any barriers that have been identified to date, that need legislative fixes.

3. Ensuring the Ontario Government Only Procures Goods, Services and Facilities that are Accessible or that Will Be Made Accessible

Third, your ministry is in the best position to spearhead an Ontario Government strategy to ensure that no public money is used to create, exacerbate or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities. Your ministry has lead responsibility for the hundreds of millions of dollars that the government expends annually on procurement of goods, services and facilities for use by the Ontario public service and the public.

It is important for your ministry to establish a strong, effective, monitored and enforced policy that ensures that the goods, services and facilities that the government procures are, to the extent possible, fully accessible to and fully useable by people with disabilities. We have provided advice to officials in your ministry on this over several months, and would welcome the opportunity to see this strategy entrenched, expanded, expedited and effectively enforced.

This dovetails with your government’s ten-year infrastructure plan. That Plan commits that buildings and built environment infrastructure that the Government funds will be accessible.

The strategy that we are recommending to you is also needed to effectively implement your government’s 2011 election commitment to us, to expand the ten-year infrastructure plan’s accessibility requirement, so that it will include electronic kiosks and information technology. Your ministry has substantial responsibility for the electronic kiosks and information technology that the government procures, funds and/or develops.

We know that your Ministry has beefed up procurement procedures to ensure that competitive procedures are followed. It is important for the same enhanced vigilance to be extended to accessibility considerations in the procurement process.

4. Ensuring that Accessibility is Taken into Account in All Major Government Decisions

Fourth, in his August 19, 2011 letter to us, setting out your party’s election commitments, Premier McGuinty committed that your government is making sure that accessibility is taken into account in all the Government’s major decisions. He wrote: “We are integrating accessibility as a fundamental principle when it comes to making vital decisions that affect the daily lives of Ontarians.”

At present, as we understand it, the Government has no systematic, monitored process for doing this. It is left to each ministry to do it on its own, reinventing the wheel, and doing it as much or as little as it chooses. This is a good illustration of one of the silos that needs tearing down.

Your ministry is in an especially good position to develop, implement and monitir a strategy to ensure that all major government decisions are screened for accessibility implications. We know that your Ministry has developed a Disability Lens to guide government decisions. It can help with this process.

We would be delighted to work with you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier, email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Hon. John Milloy, Minister, Community & Social Services, email john.milloy@ontario.ca
Ron McKerlie, Deputy Minister, Government Services, email ron.mckerlie@ontario.ca
Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services, email marg.rappolt@ontario.ca
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate, Community & Social Services, email ellen.waxman@ontario.ca