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On Live TV, AODA Alliance Chair Asks PC Leader Tim Hudak for Disability Accessibility Election Commitment

October 2, 2011

SUMMARY

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has again been asked on television to make election commitments on disability accessibility. This time Mr. Hudak was asked by AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky.

On Friday, September 30, 2011, Tim Hudak took part in a live televised town hall meeting for the current election on cable TV channel CP24’s Stephen LeDrew Show-LeDrew Live. As a question from the audience, David Lepofsky asked Mr. Hudak to clearly commit that he won’t cut new accessibility regulations enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In his answer, Mr. Hudak said, among other things: “So that anything that we would do to change regulations with respect to those with disabilities would be to help improve things, to help get better access, to help people move forward, to help them get jobs and move into the workplace, if they want to.”

We set out below our transcription of the entire exchange. You can also view it on YouTube, with automated captioning available if desired. Our video recording of the show that is posted on YouTube produced a low level of volume. You will need to turn your computer’s volume up to the maximum. To watch the exchange, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joUKHjplZRU

We will also be posting an MP3 file of the audio of this exchange on our website. If you want us to email you that MP3 file, send a request to aodafeedback@gmail.com

Later in the one-hour town hall meeting (in a passage not included in the posted video excerpt), Mr. Hudak repeated his clear and unequivocal commitment that he would cut fully 30% of all the regulations now in force in Ontario. He said he’d dock his Cabinet’s pay and his own pay if that goal is not met. He said: “…We will reduce that red tape burden. And in fact, if my Cabinet doesn’t cut the regulatory burden by at least 30%, I’ll dock their pay, and I’ll dock my pay as Premier as well.” He didn’t specify which regulations he plans to cut.

This is the second time in three days that Mr. Hudak was asked on TV to make election accessibility commitments we seek. On Wed., September 28, 2011, TV Ontario’s Steve Paikin asked Mr. Hudak why the PCs are the only major party who won’t commit not to cut gains Ontarians with disabilities have made on accessibility. Mr. Hudak there responded by saying he still supports the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. You can read that exchange at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09302011.asp

Let us know what you think of Mr. Hudak’s responses to our request. Write us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

To see what each of the major parties have committed to us in writing in this election, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220116.asp

To read our guest column in the September 29, 2011 on-line edition of the Toronto Star, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09282011.asp

For practical ways you can help us with our non-partisan campaign, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09162011.asp

Plan ahead to vote on Election Day, if you have not already voted. If you need to arrange accessible transportation, plan for it now. Try to get to the polls early, in case you encounter unexpected barriers or long lines.

Elections Ontario has advised us that according to the requirements of the Elections Act, Elections Ontario may not let voters use the accessible voting machine on the actual Election Day, October 6, 2011. It seems peculiar to us that such accessibility technology should not be available on the very day when most voters actually go to vote. If you want to use that accessible voting technology before October 6, 2011, we recommend that you call Elections Ontario to find out when and where they make it available.

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TRANSCRIPTION OF EXCHANGE BETWEEN AODA ALLIANCE CHAIR David Lepofsky AND CONSERVATIVE LEADER TIM HUDAK ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 EDITION OF CP24’S LEDREW LIVE PROGRAM

David Lepofsky: My name is David Lepofsky. I lead a non-partisan coalition of people with disabilities across Ontario who are trying to achieve a fully accessible province so we can enjoy the jobs, the goods and the services everybody else can enjoy, on an equal footing. As you know, Mr. Hudak, we’ve for the fifth election in a row asked all the parties to commit not to cut the gains we’ve made, and instead to take specific action to improve things. The only leader of the major parties who hasn’t, is you. And I want to ask a very clear and simple question. You’ve said that you will cut, if elected, at least 30% of the regulations in force in Ontario. Will you promise that off of that chopping block you will take—you will not cut the accessibility regulations that we fought for over the past five years and only recently won? Will you commit that you will not cut those regulations?

TIM HUDAK: Well, David, listen, thanks for being here and I’ve enjoyed working with you in the past in moving legislation through the House and the advice you’ve given me in my capacity as leader of the Ontario PC Party, and, if I get a chance, as Premier of the province. So that anything that we would do to change regulations with respect to those with disabilities would be to help improve things, to help get better access, to help people move forward, to help them get jobs and move into the workplace, if they want to. And I’ll give you one example of some of the red tape that we need to clear aside to help people with disabilities. Right now if you’re on Ontario Disability Support Program and you try to get a job, a part time job or full time job, the money gets clawed back. So 50 cents of every dollar you make gets taken away from you. That’s a disincentive. If somebody wants to get out there in the workforce, we want to help them do that –to get a full time job, part time job, and help as best as we can to contribute back to society. So there’s an example of something I think we’d agree upon, to help clear aside, to allow more people to move into the workforce.

And moving forward, David, I’d look for a chance to work with you to make sure we can help move even more people – make sure they have access to the right buildings. They can get in the Government offices. They get the services that they need as citizens here in the Province of Ontario. I think that one of the most important things that you can judge a society by is how you treat our most vulnerable.

David Lepofsky: Could you just say yes?

TIM HUDAK: Yeah, I think I answered your question. Like, there’s some red tape I think we need to move aside that actually holds people back. Why, if somebody is getting into the workplace, why in the world you’d punish somebody, taking 50 cents off every dollar that they make? I think we’d want to reward work in our system, and those that have disabilities, to help them when they want to get a job, to move into the workplace.

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