ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO
June 13 2014
We congratulate Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberal Party on winning a majority government in the June 12, 2014 Ontario general election. We congratulate all candidates from all parties who won a seat in the Legislature. We thank all candidates, winners or losers, who voiced their support for disability accessibility during this election campaign. We also thank everyone in the community who helped us wage our non-partisan disability accessibility campaign during this election. We have lots to be proud of, as a result.
We look forward to working with all parties and all MPPs over the next four years, as the Government tackles the challenge of leading Ontario to full accessibility by 2025, as the AODA requires.
Premier Wynne and the Liberal Party made important commitments to us on disability accessibility, detailed below. In her victory speech last night, she spoke with passion and conviction on Ontario’s strong support of inclusiveness. There is no better way to build on this, and to turn those words into action, than for her to deploy her new majority government to act boldly, promptly, and decisively to kick-start stalled promised efforts on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.
The Liberal Party is in charge of the Government through 2018. The AODA gave the Government 20 years, from 2005 to 2025, to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to persons with disabilities. This means that the Liberals have won the right to lead our Government for two-thirds of that period. By 2018, we must be two-thirds of the way to full accessibility.
Ontario is not on schedule for full accessibility. Premier Wynne promised to keep us on schedule for that goal. The next four years are the most critical. Ontario needs a comprehensive, bold plan now to ensure that Ontario will reach full accessibility by 2025.
As we discuss further below, the first steps we encourage Premier Wynne to take are:
* She should appoint a strong MPP as her next Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister and direct that person to act promptly and boldly on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. For example, that minister should swiftly make public its overdue, promised plan for AODA enforcement. Premier Wynne said that this couldn’t be released until the campaign’s end. The campaign has now ended.
* She should designate another cabinet minister with lead responsibility for implementing all her other accessibility pledges, so that our issues no longer fall between the cracks among the Government’s many ministries. This shouldn’t be the same minister who leads the AODA’s enforcement, since that would be a conflict of roles.
In this important post-election Update, we:
* review the commitments on disability accessibility we’ve won, and the opportunity this election presents to us to kick-start Government action on disability accessibility.
* reflect on what we achieved during our non-partisan campaign during the 2014 Ontario election.
* identify what’s next for us in our effort to make Ontario fully accessible for persons with disabilities.
* check in to see what the Accessibility Clock has to say.
* set out Premier Wynne’s May 14, 2014 letter to us. It lists her 2014 election disability accessibility pledges. We also again show you Premier Wynne’s December 3, 2012 letter to us. It announces her pledges on disability accessibility during the Ontario Liberal Leadership race.
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Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org
1. The Next Phase of Our Disability Accessibility Campaign Begins Today — What Government Promises We’ve Gained
We enter this next phase of our non-partisan campaign to make Ontario fully disability-accessible by 2025 (as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires), with the wind at our backs! Here is what we have going for us:
1. During this election campaign, all three parties in the Legislature reaffirmed their support for the AODA and for its goals. This remains a unanimously-supported agenda. It has been such since the Legislature unanimously passed the AODA in 2005. There are not many political issues that continue to secure comparable unanimous support. This is clearly a result of our advocacy efforts.
2. Kathleen Wynne has made very clear and specific commitments to us on disability accessibility. We look forward to working with her and her Government to ensure they are kept.
On December 3, 2012, when she was running for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Kathleen Wynne wrote us, pledging, among other things, to ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility, to maintain and not weaken progress under the AODA, to keep all previous Liberal pledges on accessibility, and to meet with us. In her letter, set out below, she wrote:
* “I will maintain the implementation of the AODA, 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce the progress weve made.”
* “I will honour the specific commitments made by my party and the government, and look forward to working with you to continue making progress.”
* “If elected Premier, I will ensure Ontario remains on schedule to become more accessible by 2025.”
* “I welcome the opportunity to maintain an open dialogue and meet with you to continue to move accessibility issues forward.”
2. As she promised, Premier Wynne made specific written election commitments to us in this election on disability accessibility. These are spelled out in her May 14, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance. We again set out that letter below. That letter included:
* “We continue to fully support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and its goals.”
* “The Ontario Liberal Party is dedicated to pursuing compliance and enforcement action to bring more private sector organizations into compliance with AODA.”
* The Liberals will see to it that public sector organizations’ compliance with AODA obligations rises from 99% to 100%.
* “We will ensure that organizations that fail to comply with AODA requirements are met with monetary penalties and be subjected to prosecution, where necessary.”
* “I am committed to using all enforcement provisions under the AODA to ensure that organizations that do not comply with the law are penalized and to encourage compliance.”
* The Liberals would monthly send out compliance notices under the AODA.
* The Liberals commit “to investigating the possibility of having government inspectors and investigators enforce the AODA within the context of existing resources and as training capacity exists.”
* Promptly after the election the Liberals would “make a detailed plan on all enforcement activities available, along with establishing and publicizing an accessible toll-free phone number to report violations of AODA requirements.”
* The Liberals would “make an annual report publicly available on levels of compliance including the effectiveness of our enforcement measures.”
* “We will continue to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to create or perpetuate barriers against Ontarians with disabilities.”
* “We will ensure that the Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Elections Ontario are committed to providing the best possible services to ensure accessible elections.”
* The Liberals pledge to “continue to implement our accessibility obligations and commitments. This includes directing Cabinet Ministers and senior public officials to implement accessibility obligations and commitments.”
* A new position has already been created at the Economic Development, Trade and Employment Ministry “to ensure that accessibility is integrated into all business practices.”
* On the review of all legislation and regulations for accessibility which the Liberals promised in the 2007 election, the Liberals promise to complete a review of 51 high-impact statutes by the end of 2014. “We commit to addressing the findings of the review and continuing to review additional Ontario statutes to remove any potential barriers. We commit to making amendments to regulations to remove accessibility barriers as required based on the findings of the current review and the review of additional Ontario statutes going forward.”
* The Liberals commit to “achieve our goal of full accessibility by the year 2025.”
* The Liberals commit that the Premier’s office is always happy to meet with the AODA Alliance’s representatives.
* The Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) will review Ontario’s existing accessibility standards and develop new accessibility standards. (Note the Government earlier made this commitment in the fall of 2012.)
* “The next accessibility standard we will develop will focus on education and/or health.”
As for this last commitment, we made progress in getting an even stronger commitment during the election campaign itself. We got a specific commitment on Twitter that the Liberals, if re-elected, would make an accessibility standard to address both education and health care.
Our May 31, 2014 AODA Alliance Update, stated the following (which we widely distributed,
“We have been trying for years to get the Government to agree to create the next three accessibility standards under the AODA to address barriers in health care, in education and in residential housing. Up until this election, we could not get an answer.
Then in her May 14, 2014 letter to us, setting out the Liberal Party’s 2014 disability accessibility election pledges, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne gave an equivocal answer. She said the next accessibility standard would address education and/or health care. She did not say whether it would be one, or the other, or both education and health care. She wrote:
“The next accessibility standard we will develop will focus on education and/or health.”
Since then, we have sent public tweets on Twitter to every Liberal candidate in this election who has a Twitter account, asking the following:
“Do you support our call 4OntGov 2enact Education HealthCare&Housing Disability #accessibility standards? #voteOn”
On May 31, 2014, we received a tweet from Ontario Liberal candidate, cabinet minister, and former president of the Ontario Liberal Party, Yasir Naqvi. He said for the first time that a Liberal Government, if re-elected, would create a standard for both health care AND education. This is a breakthrough. His two May 31, 2014 tweets, separately sent to both the AODA Alliance and to its chair, David Lepofsky, stated:
“Yasir Naqvi: @DavidLepofsky Yes, the next accessibility standard a re-elected @OntLiberal will develop will focus on education and health standards.”
“Yasir Naqvi: @aodaalliance Yes, the next accessibility standard a re-elected @OntLiberal will develop will focus on education & health standards.”
Tweets are on the public record. We will hold the Liberal Party to this new, strengthened commitment. We know the parties track Twitter activity on the election, including ours.
We immediately tweeted back:
“@Yasir_Naqvi pledges #OLP would create accessibility standard 4EducationANDHealthCare. B4 Libs only said and/or Progress! #voteOn”
We also tweeted to Premier Wynne about this:
“@Kathleen_wynne: “@Yasir_Naqvi committed next LibGov #accessibility standards will focus on education & health #AODA #voteOn”
In Twitter speak, #OLP refers to the Ontario Liberal Party. “OntGov means Ontario Government.” B4 means “before.” #voteOn makes this tweet searchable as being about the Ontario election.”
The May 31, 2014 AODA Alliance Update is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05312014.asp
We have widely publicized this pledge. Our May 31, 2014 AODA Alliance Update was immediately posted on the web, emailed to our supporters, and shared with the three major political parties. We also re-tweeted it daily, including tweets addressed to Premier Wynne. No one from the Liberal Party tried to walk back this commitment. We hold them to it!
The Liberals now have a majority government. They can no longer point to their previous minority government status since October 2011 to justify insufficient action on disability accessibility. We are eager to roll up our sleeves and get right to work with the Premier, with the next minister appointed with lead AODA responsibility, and with the rest of the Government and Legislature.
With this victory, the Liberal Party will be at the government’s helm through 2018. The AODA gave the Government 20 years, from 2005 to 2025, to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to persons with disabilities. This means that the Liberals have won the right to lead our Government for fully 13 of those 20 years, or two-thirds of that period. By 2018, we must be two-thirds of the way to full accessibility.
Right now Ontario is not on schedule for full accessibility. We look forward to working with the Government to kick-start progress which, in recent years, has slowed and slowed. If we are not on schedule and on track for full accessibility by 2018, there will only be some six years left to play catch up. For this reason, the next four years are by far, the most critical. Ontario needs a comprehensive plan now to ensure that Ontario will reach full accessibility by 2025.
Premier Wynne’s first pressing task is to appoint her next cabinet. We urge her to take two important steps.
First, it is important for her to appoint a strong Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister to kick-start the AODA’s stalled implementation and enforcement. This minister should be directed to be bold and decisive.
For example, they should swiftly make public a solid plan for the AODA’s effective enforcement. In her May 14, 2014 letter to us, setting out her party’s election pledges on accessibility, she wrote:
“We will make a detailed plan on all enforcement activities available, along with establishing and publicizing an accessible toll-free phone number to report violations of AODA requirements. Unfortunately, communication of the enforcement plan is on hold during the writ period. I look forward to releasing it promptly should we win the honour of re-election.”
Second, we urge her to designate a different minister, from among those she is appointing to Cabinet, with lead responsibility for ensuring that the Government keeps all its other commitments on disability accessibility. In the past, these have been scattered among many ministers, with no one in charge, no one with lead accountability and hence, undue delay in getting action. This was recommended to the Government four years ago in the 2010 report of the Charles Beer AODA Independent Review.
It is important that this minister not also be the Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister. It would be a counter-productive conflict for the same minister to have lead responsibility for enforcing the AODA, on the one hand, and lead responsibility for the Government itself obeying the AODA, on the other.
2. A Non-Partisan Disability Accessibility Election Campaign of Which We Can Be Proud
Our coalition, our many supporters, and Ontario’s disability community deserve to be very proud of the issues campaign we waged during this Ontario election. For the first time in a decade, we had to do so without prior notice, without the election taking place on a fixed date, known well before the campaign began. Despite the short notice, despite the need to also take part at the same time with the Government’s review of the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard and the Mayo Moran Independent Review of the AODA, you and e together swung right into action during this election campaign.
In six consecutive Ontario general election campaigns since 1995, our coalition, preceded before 2005 by its predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, have waged a non-partisan accessibility campaign. In this election campaign, we got more coverage and public attention on our accessibility issues than ever before. This included:
* With the winds of a possible spring election in the air, we got out in front, by writing the major parties back on March 3, 2014 to lay out a list of election pledges on disability accessibility that we need, to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025. To read the AODA Alliance’s March 3, 2014 letter to the party leaders, setting out the specific disability accessibility commitments in this election that the AODA Alliance seeks, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03042014.asp
* This constructive accessibility agenda built on our advocacy efforts over the past months. It was based on the nine priorities for immediate accessibility action that we presented to the parties six months ago, on December 3, 2013. You can see our December 3, 2013 list of nine immediate accessibility priorities by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12032013.asp
* We secured written accessibility pledges from all three Ontario political parties. This was only the second election when all three parties made written election pledges on disability accessibility. We, or our predecessor coalition before 2005, have convinced at least two of those parties to make disability accessibility pledges during an election. Since 1995, only in 2007 and in the current election did those pledges come from all three parties in the Legislature. In all cases, these were made in letters to us, or before us, to our predecessor coalition.
* Two weeks after the election was called, on May 16, 2014, we held our first-ever virtual news conference. At this novel event, we unveiled the parties’ accessibility pledges to us. This let every journalist, and you, as an AODA Alliance supporter, have a front row seat as we instantly see the political parties’ accessibility pledges to us, our analysis of them, and ournon-partisan election campaign strategy to raise disability accessibility issues. To watch the AODA Alliance’s virtual news conference, unveiling the parties’ 2014 election disability accessibility pledges, all made in letters to the AODA Alliance, visit http://youtu.be/05AoTreGF7A
* We kept you and the public posted on disability accessibility developments as they unfolded during the campaign.
* We and our issues won great media coverage during this election campaign. This included coverage in the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun, the Kingston Whig-Standard, the Waterloo Record, CBC Radio, CBC TV and TV Ontario.
* More than ever before, we vigourously deployed social media, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, to spread the word. Our tweets on Twitter got many, many retweets. We estimate that at least 20 candidates tweeted back to us. We had tweeted every candidate who had a Twitter presence, to seek personal accessibility commitments.
Our virtual news conference has had over 500 views so far on YouTube. That is far more than the attendance at any in-person news conference we have ever held.
* We brought to public attention more than ever before the barriers that voters with disabilities continue to unfairly face when trying to attend an All Candidates Debate, or get into a polling station, or privately mark one’s ballot and verify one’s choice.
We wish to express our deep and abiding gratitude to everyone who, in their own way, alone or with others, helped raise disability accessibility issues in this election campaign. To all who posed questions on disability accessibility to candidates, who attended an All Candidates Debate or tried to do so, who alerted us and the media of voting barriers, who tweeted or re-tweeted on this topic, or who shared our posts on Facebook, or who spread the word to friends and family members about our issues, or who otherwise chipped in, we could not have gotten our message out without you.
It is very odd that the hardest time for us to reach the public on provincial political issues concerning disability accessibility is during a formal election campaign. We can be proud that we did as much as could be done, when the media is so preoccupied riding the campaign buses with the party leaders, the polls, the leaders’ debate and the like.
3. What’s Next in Our Non-Partisan Disability Accessibility Campaign?
We appreciate your having endured more AODA Alliance Updates than we usually send out in a week. We hope you found them helpful. We aim to be Ontario’s news source for developments on disability accessibility, via email, and on Twitter and Facebook.
We will now be sending out fewer AODA Alliance Updates over the next weeks, as we focus on this next phase in our campaign to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025.
Our next immediate priorities include:
* Submitting our comprehensive brief to the Independent Review on the implementation and enforcement of the AODA, now being conducted by University of Toronto’s Dean Mayo Moran. Everyone must have their submissions delivered to Dean Moran by June 30, 2014. We are working feverishly on ours.
* We will gear up to work with the re-elected Wynne Government on keeping Premier Wynne’s promises, including her over-arching promise to ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility by 2025.
* We will ramp up efforts to ensure that yesterday’s election is the last one where voters with disabilities continue to face unfair disability barriers. Ontario needs telephone and internet voting. We need new elections legislation to achieve what the Liberal Government’s Bill 231 did not achieve when it was passed in 2010 — to ensure that Ontario elections are barrier-free.
Several voters with disabilities emailed us and Elections Ontario about barriers they faced when trying to vote. You can still do so! Email Elections Ontario at firstname.lastname@example.org Copy us at email@example.com
* We need to reach out to the cadre of new MPPs in the Ontario Legislature to educate and energize them on the AODA and on disability accessibility issues. With so much turnover in the Legislature since the AODA was unanimously passed in 2005, we have a lot of work to do to get many new MPPs up to speed, and on our side. Their parties all committed to support the AODA and its goals in this election campaign, but we need that to trickle down to the parties’ front lines.
* In the upcoming October municipal elections across Ontario, we need to raise disability accessibility with candidates across Ontario. We need municipalities across Ontario to become a stronger force for accessibility. Many support us, but we need to expand on that.
We want to hear your ideas about other priorities. Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. The Accessibility Clock Keeps Ticking Down to 2025, When Ontario Must Be Fully Accessible to Ontarians with Disabilities
The Accessibility Clock kept on ticking throughout the Ontario election campaign, and after the election was over. A troubling 207 days have now passed since we revealed that the Ontario Government was not enforcing the AODA, and that there have been rampant AODA violations in the private sector. The Government still has not made public its promised plan for the AODA’s effective enforcement. One hundred and thirteen days have passed since the Toronto Star reported on February 20, 2014 that the Government would be publicly posting that new enforcement plan “in short order.”
To read our November 18, 2013 revelation that the Government was failing to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act despite knowing of rampant private sector violations, and funds on hand for enforcement, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11182013.asp
To read the Government’s February 20, 2014 pledge to publish in “short order” its plan for enforcing the Disabilities Act, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/02202014.asp
As well, 289 days have passed since the Government unveiled its plans for the legacy of the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games. Yet it has still not released details and specifics of a comprehensive disability accessibility legacy for the Games.
May 14, 2014 Letter from Premier Kathleen Wynne to the AODA Alliance during the 2014 Election Platform on Disability Accessibility
Dear Mr. Lepofsky:
Thank you for your letter and questionnaire regarding the Ontario Liberals plans for disability accessibility. I would also like to thank your organization for working with us over the years on this important issue. I welcome this opportunity to respond to your questions.
As reflected in my answers, Ontario Liberals have a strong track record in creating an accessible Ontario by 2025. I am heartened by the progress we have made together. We hope to have the support of your organization.
Please accept my best wishes.
Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE: Response
Dear Mr. Lepofsky,
Thank you for your letters of March 3rd and May 4th providing me with the opportunity to speak to the strong track record of the Ontario Liberal Party to create an accessible Ontario by 2025 as well as our forthcoming plans to build on that commitment. You asked for our detailed commitments in the following eight areas regarding 19 specific commitments:
A. Generally strengthen implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
1. We continue to fully support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and its goals. We have created enforceable standards including customer service, information and communications, transportation, built environment and employment. In January 2013, we appointed the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standards Development Committee, chaired by Jim Sanders, former President and CEO of CNIB, to advise the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. Specifically, the Council will review Ontarios existing accessibility standards and develop new accessibility standards. The Committee is currently reviewing the Customer Service Standard.
2. Over the past few years, we have made a number of changes in the way we approach accessibility issues and have strengthened the implementation of the AODA, including moving the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment with its own dedicated Assistant Deputy Minister. This will encourage collaboration between the public and private sector to improve accessibility standard awareness, underline Ontarios commitment to ensuring businesses comply with AODA standards, and work together to explore new standards that will make Ontario the most accessible and inclusive region in the world. To aid organizations in carrying out the AODA objectives, a number of sector-specific tools and resources have been developed to support businesses in meeting the requirements of the accessibility standards. As an example, through our Enabling Change Program, we partner with umbrella organizations to educate an industry or sector as to their obligations to comply with Ontarios accessibility standards.
3. The AODA is ground-breaking legislation in Ontario introducing a new approach to accessibility. No doubt, our governments proactive effort on removing accessibility barriers across the employment life cycle has resulted in Ontario being recognized as a leader in accessibility.
B. Ensure that all enforceable requirements under the AODA are effectively enforced
4. The Ontario Liberal Party is dedicated to pursuing compliance and enforcement action to bring more private sector organizations into compliance with AODA. To speak to our track record, 99 per cent of Designated Broader Public Sector Organizations have submitted their reports by the deadline to date. If I am elected, I will see to it that this becomes 100 per cent.
We will ensure that organizations that fail to comply with AODA requirements are met with monetary penalties and be subjected to prosecution, where necessary. Under my government, we issued the first monetary penalties. I am committed to using all enforcement provisions under the AODA to ensure that organizations that do not comply with the law are penalized and to encourage compliance. To date, my government has issued over 500 Notices of Directors Orders and we will continue to send more out monthly. Paired with enforcement activities, we are actively reaching out to businesses and not-for-profit organizations to help them understand and follow their obligations under the AODA.
5. With respect to additional enforcement activities, we commit to investigating the possibility of having government inspectors and investigators enforce the AODA within the context of existing resources and as training capacity exists.
6. We will make a detailed plan on all enforcement activities available, along with establishing and publicizing an accessible toll-free phone number to report violations of AODA requirements. Unfortunately, communication of the enforcement plan is on hold during the writ period. I look forward to releasing it promptly should we win the honour of re-election.
7. To ensure increased transparency going forward, we will make an annual report publicly available on levels of compliance including the effectiveness of our enforcement measures.
C. Develop the new Accessibility Standards under the AODA needed to achieve full accessibility by 2025.
8. We are committed to a fully accessible Ontario by 2025. This is important work and we need to make sure it is done right. Our pride stems from our most recent accomplishments in which five accessibility standards became law under the AODA.
The existing standards focus on five key areas of daily living and the AODA requires that all public and private sector organizations comply with the existing standards. The next accessibility standard we will develop will focus on education and/or health.
The education sector, including publicly funded school boards, colleges and universities are responsible for compliance with the AODA and associated regulations. Healthcare organizations must also comply with accessibility standards. Examples of requirements that already apply to these organizations under the current five accessibility standards include:
o Establishing policies on providing accessible customer service; o Providing information in accessible formats upon request;
o Developing accommodation plans for employees with disabilities;
o Requiring schools and hospitals that provide transportation services to provide accessible vehicles or equivalent services upon request; and o Ensuring that public spaces are accessible.
9. In order to develop a new accessibility standard, the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment has been actively working with the Ministries of Education, Training, Colleges and Universities as well as Health and Long-Term Care to examine where changes and new standards are required to make our education and healthcare systems more accessible. This important work needs to be done prior to broad consultation with the accessibility community.
10. With respect to the Ontario Building Code, we made amendments to enhance accessibility in newly constructed buildings as well as existing buildings that are to be extensively renovated. These changes were filed December 27, 2013.
o Requirements for an elevator or other barrier-free access to be provided between storeys in most buildings, with some exemptions for small residential and business occupancy buildings;
o Requirements for power door operators to be provided at entrances to a wider range of buildings, and at entrances to barrier-free washrooms and common rooms in multi-unit residential buildings; o Updated requirements for barrier-free washrooms and universal washrooms; o Requirements for barrier-free access to public pools and spas; and
o Updated requirements for accessible and adaptable seating spaces in public assembly buildings such as theatres, lecture halls and places of worship.
D. Ensure taxpayers’ money is never used to create or buttress disability barriers
11. We will continue to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to create or perpetuate barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. Our current mandate fully supports responsible governance and we will continue to pursue objectives that align with this belief. The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has explicitly called for the elimination of 1/3 of all regulations, which could threaten enforcement of the AODA. By contrast, the Ontario Liberal Party believes that greater accessibility means greater opportunity and prosperity for Ontario.
12. On accessibility at the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, the organizing committee (TO2015) has developed an Accessibility Advisory Council to give advice on the development of an accessibility strategy, guidelines and programs. The Council will also identify and deliver legacy opportunities related to accessibility in this strategy. Examples of initiatives to date include training all employees and volunteers on the requirements of the Customer Service Standard as required by the AODA; focusing on accessibility of infrastructure developed including meeting applicable accessibility requirements under the Ontario Building Code and the AODA; and the development of a Transportation Master Plan with input and advice from the Accessibility Advisory Council as well as ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Accessibility Standard for Transportation.
E. Ensure accessibility of provincial and municipal elections
13. Ensuring the proper accessibility of the provincial and municipal elections falls in line is a top priority for us to safeguard the interests of Ontarians with disabilities through ease of access to the provincial and municipal elections as does every citizen of Ontario. We will ensure that the Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Elections Ontario are committed to providing the best possible services to ensure accessible elections.
F. Substantially improve how the Ontario Public Service ensures the accessibility of its services, facilities and workplaces
14. As stated earlier, we are dedicated to pursuing compliance and enforcement actions which includes ensuring accessibility of the Ontario Public Service including its services, facilities and workplaces.
15. If we win the honour of re-election, our government will continue to implement our accessibility obligations and commitments. This includes directing Cabinet Ministers and senior public officials to implement accessibility obligations and commitments.
16. The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment as the governments lead for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has created a new position in its Ministry, a Director of Accessibility Integration and Planning, to work within the Ministry to ensure that accessibility is integrated into all business practices.
G. Complete the overdue promised review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers
17. In September 2013, we appointed Dean Mayo Moran to review the AODA. This follows the first review of the act conducted by Charles Beer, completed in 2010. His review examined the process for developing accessibility standards, municipal accessibility advisory committees and the governments administration of the act. When our government introduced the AODA, we also required regular reviews to ensure the act remains effective.
Dean Moran has completed her public consultations but continues to accept written submissions from the stakeholder community. My government responded to the AODA Alliances request to move the deadline of the Customer Service Standard to ensure that stakeholders had adequate time to also submit their feedback to Dean Morans review. Dean Moran has committed to submit her review by October 1, 2014 one year from commencing her review.
In addition to the review of the AODA, the government is currently conducting a legislative review with the goal of identifying and considering steps to remove any potential barriers in Ontario statutes. In the current phase of the review, 13 ministries are reviewing 51 high impact statutes. The list of high impact statutes includes statutes that affect persons with disabilities directly, provide for the delivery of services to a large group, provide benefits or protections or affect democratic or civil rights. This phase of the review will be complete by the end of 2014. We commit to addressing the findings of the review and continuing to review additional Ontario statutes to remove any potential barriers.
18. We commit to making amendments to regulations to remove accessibility barriers as required based on the findings of the current review and the review of additional Ontario statutes going forward.
H. Foster our ongoing relationship with your party
19. Our government regards our current relationship with you as one of great importance and sees our partnership as a step towards fostering a more accessible and inclusive province. The Ontario Liberal Party will continue to safeguard the interests of Ontarians with disabilities and ultimately achieve our goal of full accessibility by the year 2025. We see the AODA Alliance as a principal partner in achieving this goal. My office is always happy to meet with you.
Kathleen Wynne’s December 3, 2012 Letter to the AODA Alliance, During the Ontario Liberal Leadership Race
December 3, 2012
Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance 1929 Bayview Avenue
Dear Mr. Lepofsky,
Thank you very much for your letter and for providing me with an opportunity to speak to my commitment to ensuring accessibility in Ontario.
With your help, our government crafted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and weve taken significant steps toward our goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025. If elected Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier, I commit to building on that progress and working with our accessibility partners across our province.
Ontario is facing unprecedented demographic shifts that will have a significant impact on issues like accessibility and mobility. In the next 20 years, the number of Ontarians with a disability will grow from one in seven to one in five. Over the next 10 years, Ontarios seniors population will grow by 40 per cent. Improving accessibility for people with disabilities is not just a moral imperative, but also an economic one.
If elected leader, I will move forward with the next poverty reduction strategy, due by the end of 2013. But this strategy will go further and will build on our success to identify additional areas for priority focus. One such area is on Ontarians with disabilities, and will include a measurable target and indicators for the subsequent 5 years.
We know that Ontarians with disabilities are over represented amongst Ontarios poor. We also know that many people with disabilities want to work but often have barriers place in front of them to achieve their dreams. We will work with our partners in the community non-profits, private sector, education sector, health sector and others and most importantly, people with lived experience, to develop the strategy.
The task of building a more prosperous and equitable province is far from finished. I look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our goals.
Mr. Lepofsky, thank you for your important work and your tremendous contribution to helping make Ontario more accessible.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
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. Im committed to building a more accessible Ontario as it is not only the smart thing to do, its the right thing to do. I will maintain the implementation of the AODA, 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce the progress weve made.
2. Will you stand by and fully honour the past commitments that your Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility?
Yes. I will honour the specific commitments made by my party and the government, and look forward to working with you to continue making progress.
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. If elected Premier, I will ensure Ontario remains on schedule to become more accessible by 2025. Ontario Liberals have taken significant steps toward our shared goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025. I recognize that the task of building a more prosperous and equitable province is far from finished. I look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our goals.
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. I will make specific, written election commitments to the AODA Alliance regarding the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities.
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. I look forward to continuing to build and strengthen our relationship with the AODA Alliance. I welcome the opportunity to maintain an open dialogue and meet with you to continue to move accessibility issues forward.