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AODA Alliance Holds Queen’s Park News Conference on Eeve of Election Campaign to Unveil the Political Parties’ Platforms on Disability Accessibility

September 2, 2011

SUMMARY

The AODA Alliance has received and made public election commitment letters from four major political parties, the Liberals, NDP, Conservatives, and Green Party. We set out links to each of these below, as well as to an issue-by-issue comparison of them.

On Friday, September 2, 2011, the AODA Alliance held a news conference at Queen’s Park to unveil these election commitments on disability accessibility. We set out our news release below.

In a nutshell:

* all four parties agree to work with us on our issues if elected.

* The Liberals, NDP and Green Party each make a series of specific commitments on the 11 areas where we sought them. None commit to all the specifics that we ask. The commitments between the three parties vary in their detail and scope.

* In sharp contrast, the Conservatives make no specific commitments to us at all, other than generally promising to work with us on our issues, which they recognize as important issues.

* Thus, for example, the Liberals, NDP, and Green Party agree in one form or another that they will not cut back on gains in legislation or regulations that we have won to date. The Conservatives do not. The Liberals, NDP and Green Party each commit to varying degrees to actions to enhance the implementation of the AODA. The Conservatives do not. The Liberals, NDP and Green Party commit to some level of action to ensure that public tax money is not used to create new barriers against persons with disabilities. The Conservatives do not. The Liberals, NDP and Green Party each recognize in varying ways, the need for effective enforcement of the AODA. The Conservatives do not.

At our news conference, we called on the Conservative Party to reconsider its position, and to make specific commitments to action. We invited them to meet or beat the commitments that other parties have made. We are of course, also open to any of the other parties expanding on the commitments they have made to date. No matter who is elected this October, we will present all the strategies in our July 15, 2011 letter, for them to consider implementing.

To see a detailed breakdown, on an issue-by-issue basis, of what the parties promised, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220115.asp

To read the August 19, 2011 letter to us from Premier Dalton McGuinty of the Liberal Party, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220115.asp

To read the August 19, 2011 letter to us from Premier Dalton McGuinty of the Liberal Party, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

To read the August 24, 2011 letter to us from Andrea Horwath, leader of the New Democratic Party, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220112.asp

To read the August 31, 2011 letter to us from Ms. Hande Bilhan, a campaign staff official writing on behalf of the Conservative Party, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220113.asp

To read the September 1, 2011 letter to us from Emilia Melara, office coordinator for the Green Party, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220114.asp

To see our July 15, 2011 letter to the parties, setting out the commitments we seek, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07192011.asp

In the coming days, we will have more to say about the election, including action tips on how you can help raise disability issues in your community. Send us your feedback and ideas. Forward this information to your local media. Urge them to cover this topic. Let us know how you have spread the word on this issue. Let us know what coverage you see in your local media. Write us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

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ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DISABILITY COALITION UNVEILS MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES’ ELECTION PLEDGES TO OVER 1.5 MILLION ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES, AT QUEENS’ PARK NEWS CONFERENCE

September 2, 2011 Toronto: At a Queen’s Park news conference this morning, a major disability community coalition unveiled election promises by the Liberals, NDP, PC and Green parties to make Ontario accessible for over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities.

“This is the fifth election where parties made written election pledges to us on tearing down barriers that block over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities from fully participating in jobs, goods and services,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance, a coalition widely recognized for spearheading the campaign to make Ontario fully accessible. “Over a million voters with disabilities is a huge population politicians can’t ignore. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires Ontario to be fully accessible by 2025. We sought election pledges to ensure that the next Government makes substantial progress, and doesn’t slash gains we’ve won.”

The Liberals, NDP and Greens promised progress, no cutbacks on legislation or regulations protecting them, and to varying degrees, some specific actions the AODA Alliance requested. The PCs made no commitments, beyond agreeing to work with this coalition to address its issues. The parties’ commitments are at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp The AODA Alliance letter listing commitments it sought is at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07192011.asp

At Queen’s Park the AODA Alliance launched its non-partisan grassroots election strategy. “We don’t tell people who to vote for. We urge people to consider our issues, and the parties’ accessibility platforms,” said Lepofsky. “We urge voters with disabilities, their friends and families to raise these issues, and to ask candidates where they stand. If a party’s commitments are weak or non-existent, we encourage people to press those candidates to do better.”

The AODA Alliance’s predecessor coalition, chaired by Lepofsky, tenaciously campaigned for a decade from 1994 to 2005 to get the AODA unanimously passed in 2005. In 2005, the AODA Alliance replaced its predecessor coalition, now leading the campaign to get this law effectively implemented. Showing its leadership role on disability accessibility, election commitments were made to this coalition or its predecessor by at least two of the parties in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, and now in 2011. The parties have commended the work of the AODA Alliance and have raised its concerns in the Legislature in Question Period and via legislative proposals.

“Last year, we had a partial victory in getting amendments to remove some barriers impeding voters with disabilities, numbering over one million, from accessing their voting station and independently marking their ballot,” said Lepofsky. “With public opinion polls so close and unpredictable, every vote counts. Some pundits over-simplify elections by only discussing two or three issues. We’ve learned in election after election that voters in fact have far more concerns, including our issues.”

Ontario made progress over the past four years, but there’s still much to do. A 2010 Government-appointed Independent Review found that the Government must strengthen and revitalize implementation of the AODA to reach a fully accessible Ontario by 2025, under 13 years away. See http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05312010.asp The AODA Alliance offers affordable ideas to get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility.

Contact: David Lepofsky aodafeedback@gmail.com

Learn all about this issue at www.aodaalliance.org

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UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

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