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Premier Leaves it to Community and Social Services Minister to Respond to Beer Report

Conservatives Criticize Government’s Failure to Implement More of Charles Beer’s Recommendations

August 31, 2010

SUMMARY

We update you on two letters to the AODA Alliance from the Ontario Government, and a news release from Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party. These all concern the fate of the Report earlier this year of the Government-appointed Charles Beer Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The AODA required the Ontario Government to have an Independent Review conducted last year to assess how effectively the AODA is being implemented. The Government appointed Charles Beer to conduct that review.

Back on June 15, 2010, the AODA Alliance wrote Premier Dalton McGuinty. We asked him to commit to fully implement the recommendations of the Beer Report, with one minor exception.

We here make public the Government’s two letters to us, that respond to our letter. In short, Premier McGuinty did not answer our request. Instead, he punted the matter over to Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur by a letter to us dated June 28, 2010, set out below. His response concerns us, since only the Premier, and not his minister, can make the final decisions on several of the Beer Report’s most important recommendations.

Minister Meilleur then wrote us on August 10, 2010. Her letter, set out below, merely attaches the Government’s August 11, 2010 formal response to the Beer Report. It does not adopt most of that Report’s key recommendations. We have been very critical of that weak response, released earlier this month.

The AODA requires Ontario to become fully accessible to persons with disabilities by 2025. That is now only 14½ years away.

The Charles Beer Independent Review Report found serious problems with how the Ontario Government has been implementing the AODA since it was enacted in 2005. It calls for significant changes in the Government’s implementation of the AODA, which are necessary if Ontario is to become fully accessible to persons with disabilities by 2025. Last year, the disability community successfully convinced the Charles Beer Independent Review to recommend that the Government breathe new life into the AODA. Mr. Beer echoed our call that the Government should revitalize its approach to the AODA by making transformative changes to its implementation, and by showing strengthened Government leadership on the AODA. To date, the Government has not committed to show the recommended new leadership on the AODA, nor to make transformative change to its implementation, nor to revitalize or breathe new life into it.

On August 18, 2010 Conservative MPP Christine Elliott issued a news release, set out below. That news release criticized the McGuinty Government’s failure to implement more of the Beer Report’s recommendations.

You can see the Government’s weak August 11 response to the Beer Report and our analysis of it at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08112010.asp

You can see our June 15, 2010 letter to Premier McGuinty at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06172010.asp

You can read the Beer Report at:
http://www.aoda.ca/?page_id=468

You can read the AODA Alliance’s analysis of the Beer Report at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06032010.asp

You can read the AODA Alliance’s December 11, 2009 brief to the Beer Independent Review at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12152009.asp

Send us your feedback by writing aodafeedback@gmail.com

*****

June 28, 2010

Mr. David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont
Chair
Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance regarding the independent review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. I appreciate your having taken the time to share your organization’s valued feedback with me.

I note that you have also sent a copy of your correspondence to my colleague the Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services. I trust that the minister will take your views into carful consideration.

Thank you again for writing. Please accept me best wishes.

Yours truly,
ORIGINAL SIGNED BY PREMIER
June 28, 2010

Dalton McGuinty
Premier

c: The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur

*****

Ministry of Community and Social Services
Minister’s Office
Hepburn Block
Queen’s Park
Toronto ON M7A 1E9
Tel.: (416) 325-5225
Fax: (416) 325-3347

August 10, 2010

Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair
AODA Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Premier Dalton McGuinty has forwarded me your letter on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance regarding Charles Beer’s review of the AODA.

I appreciate the time you have taken to write and am pleased to advise you that the attached letter to stakeholders will be distributed and posted on my ministry’s website today.

Once again, thank you for writing and for your commitment to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

Sincerely,
Madeleine Meilleur
Minister

Enclosure

*****

CHRISTINE ELLIOTT, MPP Whitby-Oshawa

For Immediate Release
August 18, 2010

MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO BEER REPORT FAILS
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES
NEWS

QUEEN’S PARK – Progressive Conservative Deputy Leader and Health Critic, MPP Christine Elliott, spoke out today against the Ontario Government’s response to the Beer report entitled “Charting a Path Forward: Report of the Independent Review of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.”

In June, 2009, the McGuinty Government appointed former Minister of Community and Social services, Charles Beer, to conduct a review of the Act, which requires Ontario to be fully accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

Though Mr. Beer’s report was submitted to the Ministry of Community and Social Services in February, 2010, the Ministry did not issue its response until August 11, 2010.

After sitting on the report for 6 months, the Ministry released its response, which has many critics concerned that the reaction of the government is not up to standard.

“The Beer Report contains thoughtful and practical recommendations on how to make the transformational change necessary to achieve full accessibility. Unfortunately the McGuinty Government has chosen to ignore many of the Report’s key recommendations, and in so doing, has failed Ontarians with disabilities,” said Elliott.

QUOTES

“In my view, the implications of implementing the AODA are far-reaching and necessitate a shift in attitudes and transformational change at a number of levels including cultural, social, political and economic. This shift can be likened to changes that have unfolded in society with respect to attitudes and actions on issues like the environment, smoking and diversity. Achieving transformational change on this scale requires more focused attention at the highest levels of government”
— Beer Report, page 45

“These are core elements – a change management strategy and an effective public awareness campaign – are essential if Ontario is to meet the goals of the AODA.”
— Beer Report, page 46

QUICK FACTS

The Beer Report calls on the government to, among other things;

• Strengthen its commitment to ensuring full accessibility by formally designating the Minister of Community and Social Services as the Minister responsible for Accessibility and embarking upon a public awareness and education campaign.
• Amending the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to establish an arm’s length advisory body – the Ontario Accessibility Standards Board – to review and develop accessibility standards – replacing the standards development process.

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CONTACT:

Christine Elliott | 905-430-1141| christine.elliottco@pc.ola.org

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