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AODA Alliance Urges PC Leader Tim Hudak to Commit to Strengthen, and Not Weaken Efforts to Make Ontario Fully Accessible to Over 1.5 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

September 13, 2011

SUMMARY

ON September 13, 2011, the AODA Alliance wrote Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak. We asked him to reconsider his party’s platform. We urge him to commit to strengthen, and not weaken Ontario’s efforts to achieve a fully accessible province for over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities. This letter is set out below.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is the only major party in this Ontario election that has declined to make any commitments for specific action to ensure that Ontarians with disabilities gain ground, and don’t lose ground, on the long road to a fully accessible province. Mr. Hudak’s declining to date to make specific commitments leaves at risk our gains on the road to an accessible Ontario.

We urge everyone to widely circulate this letter:

* Email it to friends and family.

* Post it on your website or Facebook wall.

* Print it up and give it out to others. You can fit it on both sides of one page.

* Take copies to hand out at all candidates debates.

* Email it to your local media and urge them to cover this election issue.

* Distribute it in your neighbourhood. Hand it out as a leaflet.

* Give copies of this letter to candidates from all parties.

* Tweet it to people who follow you on Twitter.

Let us know what actions you take. If you want a copy of this letter in MS Word format to make it easy to print up in two pages, write us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

You can see the positions of all the major parties on disability accessibility in this election at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220116.asp

As a non-partisan coalition, we don’t campaign for or against any party or candidate, and don’t tell people who to vote for or against. Our non-partisan agenda is to get strong commitments from all parties on accessibility for persons with disabilities. Let’s use this letter as a way to pursue that goal.

*****

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com Visit: www.aodalliance.org Twitter: twitter.com@aodaalliance

September 13, 2011

The Hon. Mr. Tim Hudak, Leader – Official Opposition
Room 381, Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A8
Email: tim.hudakco@pc.ola.org

Dear Mr. Hudak,

Re: Seeking Commitment to Move Forward, Not Backward, on the Road to an Accessible Ontario for Ontarians with Disabilities

Our non-partisan community coalition asked each party to commit that if elected, it would move Ontario forward, not backward, on the road to becoming fully accessible for over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities. Only your party declined to commit to this. Please reconsider. In this election, our hard-won gains towards making Ontario fully accessible are at risk.

This is the fifth election where we or our predecessor coalition have raised disability issues and gotten commitments from some or all of the parties. This time, the PC position came from a member of your campaign staff: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220113.asp

Only PCs didn’t commit to specific action to make Ontario fully accessible. Only PCs didn’t agree not to cut gains we’ve made. Only PCs don’t agree to any steps to strengthen implementation of the 2005 Disabilities Act, and to effectively enforce that important law. We fought for that law for ten years. Your party (including you) unanimously voted for that law. It requires Ontario to be fully accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

Only PCs didn’t promise any action to ensure you won’t use our tax dollars to erect new barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. Such a pledge would help an agenda of responsibly using public money.

PCs haven’t agreed to any action to make elections accessible to over 1 million voters with disabilities, measures your party proposed in 2010 in the Legislature, at our request. You haven’t committed to actions that the PCs promised us in the 2007 election, like reviewing Ontario laws for accessibility barriers, and exploring strategies to ensure school children and relevant professionals get accessibility education: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09072007-ACCESSIBILITYFORONTARIANSWITHDISABILITIESACTALLIANCE UPDATE.asp

Why should you reconsider? First, all the other parties made specific, helpful commitments for positive action, and pledged not to weaken laws we’ve won to date. See http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220116.asp

We appreciate PCs saying you’d work with us on our issues. Yet that falls far short of what we’ve requested, and of what other parties promise.

Second, we seek affordable actions that are good for Ontario. Virtually every family is touched by disability. Everyone has a disability or will likely get one later as they age. Over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities still face too many barriers when trying to get a job, buy goods, or use public services. Despite progress towards a fully accessible Ontario, we’re behind schedule.

In the 1995 election, PC leader Mike Harris promised in writing to pass a Disabilities Act in his first term and to work with the disability community to develop it. Unfortunately, his Government strongly resisted keeping its pledge. It didn’t work cooperatively with our community. It delayed over six years before passing a weak accessibility law in 2001, halfway through its second term.

That law wasn’t enforceable. It required no barriers to ever be removed or prevented. It only addressed the public sector. The PC Minister championing it through the Legislature in 2001, Cam Jackson, later conceded his law was too weak, saying on November 22, 2004: “I think it is important that disabled people have a strengthened Ontarians with Disabilities Act.”

In opposition (2003-2007), PCs commendably were more supportive on our issues. The Liberal Government brought forward its promised new, stronger and enforceable Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, requiring Ontario to be fully accessible by 2025. In a dramatic break with the past, the PCs under John Tory supported this new Disabilities Act. PCs even proposed amendments we wanted, to make it even stronger.

In the 2007 election, PC leader John Tory pledged to strengthen implementation of the new 2005 Disabilities Act. In 2010, with you as leader, PCs supported our call for stronger voting accessibility measures in Ontario’s Elections Act.

To commit to strengthen, not weaken, our gains under the 2005 Disabilities Act, would build on your party’s position while in opposition. There is no reason why any party would want to now leave over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities at risk of losing what they worked so hard to gain.

All parties (including you) voted for and gave a standing ovation for the 2005 Disabilities Act in a non-partisan spirit. Please build on that historic day’s non-partisan consensus by agreeing to strengthen, not weaken, gains we’ve made. Please meet or beat the other parties’ commitments. Our non-partisan coalition would be delighted if this issue were eliminated from this election. We remain happy to help your party, and all parties, before and after the election.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont. Chair, AODA Alliance

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