Antonella Artuso ,Queen’s Park Bureau Chief
First posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak stressed his softer side Tuesday with a pledge to help the disabled and disadvantaged realize their potential in the workforce.
At a campaign stop in Richmond Hill, Hudak said his plan would deliver jobs for those who currently struggle to find work.
“Who’s closest to my heart? Those who are falling through the cracks today, those with disabilities, the disadvantaged, young people graduating from school with a lot of energy and hope but no job. That’s who I’m going to fight for every day,” Hudak said.
Hudak noted that 20 unions, many of them representing public sector workers, have joined with his political challengers in a barrage of negative messages about him and his party in the lead up to the June 12 vote.
His opponents would have voters believe that the sky would fall if the PCs gain government, he suggested.
“I’m going to set the record straight. The sun is still going to shine. Cows will still give milk. The sky’s still going to be blue,” he said.
The PCs have said they will not cut teachers or educational assistants who work with children with special needs, or social workers who help the disabled overcome their difficulties.
David Lepofsky, chair of the Alliance of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), said the organization is non-partisan but did analyse the commitments of the three major political parties.
Hudak has pledged to cut one-third of the “red tape” in provincial government, and has refused a request to protect regulations that ensure accessible workplaces for Ontarians with disabilities, Lepofsky said.
The community has fought hard to make these gains and wants assurances that they’re not on the chopping block, he said.
“We aren’t happy with any of the leaders,” he said. “With that, we have to say that Tim Hudak’s position on disability-accessibility is by far the weakest.
“We requested a series of commitments the NDP made the most of any, the Liberals made some but we feel they should have been making more given their leadership on accessibility.”
Hudak has said this issue is “personal” for him as one of his two daughters has developmental needs.