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Eric Hoskins and Gerrard Kennedy are the Third and Fourth Liberal Party Leadership Candidates to Make Disability Accessibility Pledges

THREE OTHER CANDIDATES HAVE YET TO ANSWER OUR REQUESTS
January 7, 2013

SUMMARY

Here is a great way to kick off a new year in our non-partisan campaign for a fully accessible province for over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities.

We here announce that in the latter half of December 2012, Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidates Eric Hoskins and Gerard Kennedy each emailed us in response to our requests for commitments on disability accessibility. Their emails are set out below.

Both candidates made all five disability accessibility commitments that we sought. Each committed in writing to:

* fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives.

* stand by and fully honour the past commitments that the Ontario Liberal Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility.

* ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities no later than 2025, the deadline that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act AODA requires.

* continue the practice of making specific election commitments on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to the AODA Alliance.

* personally meet with AODA Alliance representatives to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to meetings with appropriate cabinet ministers.

We appreciate Dr. Hoskins and Mr. Kennedy making these commitments and commend them for doing so.

On November 1, 2012, we made public an open letter to all candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. It requested five specific commitments on disability accessibility. We had also subsequently emailed and tweeted this request to each Ontario Liberal leadership candidate. The person whom the Ontario Liberal Party selects as its next leader will become Ontario’s next premier. The AODA Alliance’s open letter to all candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11022012.asp

Sandra Pupatello was the first candidate for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party to make a commitment on making Ontario fully accessible to over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities. Sandra Pupatello’s commitments on disability accessibility, which the AODA Alliance received on November 29, 2012, can be viewed by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11292012.asp

On December 3, 2012, Kathleen Wynne became the second leadership hopeful to answer our requests. She made all five commitments we had sought. You can read Kathleen Wynne’s December 3, 2012 written commitments to the AODA Alliance on disability accessibility by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12032012.asp

We have received no response from the three other candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, namely Glen Murray, Charles Sousa and Harinder Takhar. We had asked all candidates to respond by the end of December 2012. There is still time for these three candidates to answer our requests.

Of the four candidates who have answered our requests, three have given all five commitments we sought, namely Kathleen Wynne, Eric Hoskins and Gerard Kennedy. The fourth, Sandra Pupatello, was the first candidate to answer our request. She gave all the commitments we requested except one. She has not yet specifically committed to honour all the past commitments on disability accessibility that the McGuinty Government has made. There is still time for Ms. Pupatello to give that commitment.

Our aim is for all candidates for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party to give all the commitments we have sought. As a non-partisan community coalition, we do not support or oppose any candidate in any political party.

We hope that one and all enjoyed a safe holiday season and will have a great new year. Let’s work together to make it a fully accessible one!

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

*****

TEXT OF THE EMAIL THE AODA ALLIANCE RECEIVED FROM THE ERIC HOSKINS LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN ON DECEMBER 19, 2012

*Question 1: Under your leadership, will the Liberal Party fully maintain
the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that
legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any policies, practices,
strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to
implement them or achieve their objectives?*

*Answer:* Yes. As the past Minister of Children and Youth Services,
former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and as MPP for St. Paul’s, I
am fully supportive of the implementation of the AODA 2005 and I am very
proud of the progress our Liberal Government has made in implementing to
date four of the five accessibility standards with the fifth standard well
on its way to implementation.

If elected as leader and Premier, I will fully maintain the implementation
of the AODA 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001. I believe
that this legislation is important not only to the one in seven Ontarians
who currently have a disability but is also important to ensure that all
Ontarians can reach their full potential by living and working in a
barrier-free province. A barrier-free province is not only important from a
fundamental human rights point of view, but is also good for Ontario’s
businesses and economy. As leader and Premier, I would commit to not
weakening or reducing any provisions of the legislation, nor its spirit or
intent.

If elected as leader and Premier I will also work with the leaders of the
opposition parties to engage them in meaningful ways to ensure the ongoing
and successful implementation of the AODA 2005. The AODA 2005 is a piece of
legislation that all parties can be proud of, having received unanimous
consent for its passage.

*Question 2: Will you stand by and fully honor the past commitments that
your Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability
accessibility?*

*Answer:* Yes. I am committed to honouring our party’s past commitments
and if elected as leader and Premier, I will want to have discussions with
persons with disabilities, stakeholders in the disability community and
organizations or representatives of organizations covered by the
accessibility legislation about what else is required in both the short
term and the longer term to make Ontario fully accessible. I also feel that
it is important to ensure that the Ontario Government applies an
“accessibility lens” to other key government priorities e.g. the Social
Assistance Review, The Youth Action Plan and the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

*Question 3: Will you ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full
accessibility for persons with disabilities no later than 2025, the
deadline that your Government’s AODA requires?*

*Answer:* Yes.

*Question 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?*

*Answer:* Yes.

*Question 5: Among other commitments, Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed to
meetings with us to address accessibility issues (in addition to meetings
we have had with several cabinet ministers). Will you agree to maintain
this practice, of being agreeable to personally meet with us to discuss
accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate
cabinet ministers?*

*Answer:* Yes. I believe that regular communications with the AODA Alliance
and other stakeholders is critical to the successful implementation of the
AODA.

*****

TEXT OF THE EMAIL THE AODA ALLIANCE RECEIVED FROM THE GERARD KENNEDY CAMPAIGN ON DECEMBER 27, 2012

Gerard Kennedy Campaign
595 Bloor St W
Toronto, Ontario M6G 1K4
gk@gerardkennedy.ca

December 27, 2012

To: David Lepofsky, Chair AODA Alliance,

Thank you very much for your request and your questionnaire. I appreciate the initiatives the AODA Alliance has done for Ontarians with disabilities and its continuing work to achieve a fully accessible Ontario. I am committed to working with you in the future to reach this goal by 2025.

To answer your questions:

1. Under your leadership, will the Liberal Party fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives?

Yes.

2. Will you stand by and fully honour the past commitments that your Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility?

Yes.

3. Will you ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities no later than 2025, the deadline that your Government’s AODA requires?

Yes.

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.

5. Among other commitments, Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed to meetings with us to address accessibility issues (in addition to meetings we have had with several cabinet ministers). Will you agree to maintain this practice, of being agreeable to personally meet with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate cabinet ministers?

Yes.

Please ensure my ongoing support and attention to addressing the issue of accessibility. I look forward to working with you in the future.

Sincerely,

Gerard Kennedy