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Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation Endorses Our Call for the Ontario Government to Develop an Education Accessibility Standard

September 3, 2013

SUMMARY

We are delighted to announce that the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) wrote the Ontario Government on September 3, 2013 to endorse and support our call for the development and enactment of an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. OSSTF represents public high school teachers in Ontario. The OSSTF’s September 3, 2013 Letter to the Ontario Government is set out below.

This supplements the much-welcomed endorsements that we have received from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations OCUFA (representing university professors in Ontario) and the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario ETFO (representing public school elementary teachers in Ontario). So many who work in the front lines of Ontario’s education system agree that we need an Education Accessibility Standard, to ensure that our education system becomes barrier-free by 2025, as the AODA requires. It is time for the Ontario Government to heed our collective call.

To learn more about why Ontario needs and would benefit from an Education Accessibility Standard, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06282013.asp

To read the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association’s endorsement of our call for an Education Accessibility Standard, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06282013.asp

To read the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario’s endorsement of our call for an Education Accessibility Standard, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07162013.asp

It has been over three years since a Standards Development Committee under the AODA has been at work developing any new proposals for accessibility standards under the AODA. We have been calling for an Education Accessibility Standard for some four years. Three months ago, the Ontario Government appointed a new Council to develop new accessibility standards under the AODA. However it has not assigned that new Council any new accessibility standards to develop. To learn more about the Ontario Government’s Accessibility Standards Advisory Council, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06282013.asp

Ontario remains well behind schedule for achieving full accessibility by 2025. In her December 3, 2012 letter to us, Kathleen Wynne, now Ontario’s premier, and then running for leadership of Ontario’s Liberal Party, pledged that she would ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. You can read Kathleen Wynne’s December 3, 2012 letter to the AODA Alliance by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12032012.asp

In other accessibility news, a stunning 222 days have passed since we wrote the Ontario Government to ask for its plans to keep its pledge to effectively enforce the AODA. We have received no substantive public response to that inquiry. To learn more about our request for the Ontario Government’s plans to enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, visit http://is.gd/XdwlVG

The Ontario Government now has 13 days left to respond to the Freedom of Information Act request that AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky filed. He resorted to filing this application for access to information on the Government’s actions and plans to keep its promise to effectively enforce the AODA. To see what information on enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act has been requested under Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08152013.asp

As well, a disturbing 95 days have passed since the legal deadline for the Ontario Government to appoint an Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Government is still violating that law. You can read our May 31, 2013, guest column in the on-line edition of the Toronto Star on the Government’s failure to appoint an Independent Review of the Disabilities Act by the May 31, 2013 legal deadline by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05312013.asp

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Text of September 3, 2013 Letter to the Ontario Government from OSSTF

September 3, 2013

The Honourable Eric Hoskins
Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
Hearst Block, 8th Floor
900 Bay St
Toronto ON
M7A 2E1

Dear Minister,

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) has been involved in and advocated for positive changes in assuring all Ontarians are treated with dignity and respect since its inception in 1919. In continuing that advocacy, OSSTF/FEESO fully supports the establishment of an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) 2005.

OSSTF/FEESO represents over 60,000 members across Ontario, who believe that accessibility in the public education system must be a priority. They include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, university support staff, and many others in education.

As you are aware, the AODA Alliance has been calling for the establishment of additional accessibility standards in the areas of education, health care services and residential housing. The development, enactment, and enforcement of an Education Accessibility Standard, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, while beneficial to all Ontarians, would especially address the barriers that OSSTF/FEESO members, other education sector employees and students with disabilities at all levels of Ontario’s education system encounter.

In order to ensure that Ontario’s public education system is barrier free and fully accessible for all by the year 2025, work must begin on the establishment of a strong Education Accessibility Standard as soon as possible. We urge the government to act now and begin the process.

Sincerely,

Paul Elliott
President, OSSTF

c. The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
The Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
The Honourable Liz Sandals, Minister of Education
Mr. David Lepofsky, Chair of the AODA Alliance