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The AODA Alliance Makes Public an Open Letter, Seeking Disability Accessibility Commitments from the Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

February 4, 2018

SUMMARY

1. AODA Alliance Makes Public an Open Letter to Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party

In our ongoing non-partisan campaign for disability accessibility, the AODA Alliance tries to be poised to swiftly take constructive action in the face of late-breaking developments. Ontario’s new leadership race in the Progressive Conservative Party is the most recent example of a late-breaking development.

On February 4, 2018, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance here makes public an open letter to candidates who are already running or who will announce in the next days, for leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. We seek their commitments on disability accessibility. We set out below our open letter.

We will make public responses that we receive from the candidates, as soon as we get them. We have asked the candidates to answer our letter as soon as possible.

We here ask each PC leadership candidate to commit to strengthen the AODA’s implementation, and not to weaken it. We ask them to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025, the AODA’s mandatory deadline. We ask them to commit to work together with us on these issues.

As a non-partisan grassroots community coalition, we do not support or oppose any party or any candidate. Our aim is to secure strong disability accessibility commitments from all parties, and from all candidates for a party’s leadership.

We took similar steps to get strong commitments on disability accessibility from leadership candidates in the 2012-2013 race for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, and the 2014-2015 race for the Ontario PC leadership.

The Ontario PC leadership race is being conducted under incredibly tight timelines. This is due to the impending June 7, 2018 Ontario general election. We need your help getting the message through to the PC leadership candidates and to the media, as they scramble to deal with such a rapid leadership campaign. Help us press to get commitments. Please help us by:

* Forwarding this AODA Alliance Update, including the open letter to the PC leadership candidates, to the campaigns of the candidates. Press them to make the commitments we seek.

* Tweeting to the leadership candidates to press them to make the commitments we see. Even easier for you, just retweet the tweets on this that the AODA Alliance will regularly be tweeting over the next days.

* Sharing this AODA Alliance Update with people you know who are connected to the Ontario PC Party and any of the PC leadership candidates, so that they are aware of this issue. Please emphasize that we do not support or oppose any candidate for leader of any party.

* Letting your local media know about this issue. Urge the media to include this in their coverage of the PC leadership campaign.

* Letting us know what steps you take to help. Email us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

2. Still Waiting for the Ontario Government to Appoint the Next Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

The Wynne Government has a meager 9 days or less to appoint the next Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the AODA. It is important for the Wynne Government to obey the deadline for this that the AODA sets. In 2013, the Wynne Government broke its own law, by failing to meet the AODA’s deadline for appointing the previous AODA Independent Review. It waited over 100 days after that deadline to make that mandatory appointment.

MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance’s Open Letter to All Ontario Progressive Party Leadership Candidates

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Visit: www.aodalliance.org

February 4, 2018

AN OPEN LETTER

TO: All Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party

FROM: The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Who Are We?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance is a non-partisan grassroots voluntary community coalition. Founded in 2005, we united to achieve a fully accessible Ontario for over 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities, through the prompt and effective implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. (AODA) Our supporters include persons with disabilities, people who have not yet gotten a disability, and community organizations concerned with the rights of persons with disabilities in Ontario.

Our predecessor coalition was the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. From 1994 to 2005, the ODA Committee spearheaded a province-wide accessibility campaign. That led to the enactment of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 (passed by the Mike Harris Government), and later, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 (passed by the Dalton McGuinty Government).

Our expertise and leadership on the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as that of our predecessor coalition, has been repeatedly recognized by all parties in the Ontario Legislature, as well as the media. We have been recognized as a leading non-partisan grassroots voice in Ontario, that advocates to make Ontario a fully disability-accessible province. We have worked very extensively with the Ontario Government and all opposition parties since 2003 on the development of, and later the implementation of, the AODA.

We now ask each candidate for the leadership of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party, a short list of important questions. We seek your specific commitments on disability accessibility. These aim at ensuring that Ontario achieves the goal of full accessibility on or before 2025. The AODA’s purpose is to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

We will promptly make public each response we receive to this open letter. Because the PC leadership race is being conducted on such short timelines, we will make public any letter, received by a leadership candidate, as quickly as possible after we receive it.

As a non-partisan community coalition, we never seek to get any party or candidate elected. We do not endorse or oppose any candidate for leadership of any party.

We took similar action to survey leadership candidates on disability accessibility, both during the 2012-13 leadership race held by the Ontario Liberal Party, an during the 2014-15 leadership race by the Progressive Conservative Party. As well, during each of the last six provincial elections, starting in 1995, and during many by-elections between those general elections, the ODA Committee, and later, the AODA Alliance, has solicited election commitments from Ontario’s major parties, on the issue of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

The Ontario Progressive Party’s Past Positions on Disability Accessibility

Starting in 1995, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party has made written election commitments on accessibility legislation for persons with disabilities, in general elections held in 1995, 2007 and 2014. These commitments have been set out in letters from the leaders of the Progressive Conservative Party to the ODA Committee before 2005 and to the AODA Alliance since 2005. These letters were successively signed by PC leaders Mike Harris, John Tory and Tim Hudak. In the 2011 election, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party wrote us but made no specific election commitments on disability accessibility.

Almost 20 years ago, on October 29, 1998, the Ontario Legislature passed an historic resolution. It set out eleven important principles that a strong and effective Disabilities Act should fulfil. That resolution passed unanimously. Each MPP from the Progressive Conservative Party in the Legislature that day voted for that landmark resolution.

In 2005, all three Ontario parties in the Legislature voted unanimously for the passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. On the day that that legislation passed Third Reading, every MPP present in the Legislature that day, including every PC MPP, voted for it, and then stood in unison to join a unanimous standing ovation to applaud its enactment.

What the PC Party has promised in the past can be found in:

* the May 24, 1995 letter to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, our predecessor coalition, from PC leader Mike Harris during the 1995 election.

* the September 7, 2007 letter to the AODA Alliance from PC leader John Tory during the 2007 election.

* the August 31, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance from PC leader Tim Hudak during the 2011 election.

* the May 12, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance from PC Leader Tim Hudak during the 2014 election.

What We Ask of You

Ontario has made some progress on accessibility over the past years. Yet there is still a great deal to be done to achieve the goal of full accessibility by 2025 that the AODA requires of us all. We are eager to ensure that the leaders of all political parties in the Legislature will ensure that Ontario gets on schedule for full accessibility by 2025 and will speed up action on accessibility. In that spirit, we ask you the following:

1. Do you support the purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act? If you become Ontario PC leader, will you continue the Party’s commitment to that legislation and its purpose?

2. Under your leadership, will the Progressive Conservative Party fully maintain the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under it, or policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that implement it or help achieve its objectives?

3. Under your leadership, while your party is in in opposition, will you make it as a priority, to press the current Government to keep its commitments and fulfil its duties on disability accessibility?

4. Two Government-appointed mandatory Independent Reviews of the Government’s implementation of the AODA have been conducted, in 2009-2010 by Charles Beer and in 2013-2014 by Prof. Mayo Moran. Both reports called on the Government to revitalize and breathe new life into its implementation of the AODA, and for the Government to show strong new leadership on this. The 2014 Moran report specifically called on the Premier to show strong new leadership on disability accessibility.

If you become Ontario’s Premier, will you show new, strong leadership on accessibility and breathe new life into and revitalize the Government’s implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act?

5. Will you direct your cabinet ministers, the Secretary of Cabinet and other senior officials to implement your Government’s duties and commitments on disability accessibility?

6. In future Ontario elections, including the next general election scheduled for June 7, 2018, will you make specific election commitments to us on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities, in correspondence to us (As has been a practice among the major parties in past elections?

7. We have welcomed face-to-face meetings with the past three leaders of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, and with the present and previous Ontario Premiers to discuss accessibility issues (in addition to face-to-face meetings with a host of different cabinet ministers, successive Secretaries of Cabinet, and other senior government officials).

If you become your Party’s leader, will you maintain this practice of personally meeting with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate caucus members? If your Party is elected to form the Government of Ontario, will you agree to periodically meet with us, in addition to our meeting with appropriate cabinet ministers?

We would very much appreciate a response to these questions as soon as possible, given the tight timelines for the PC leadership race. We would be pleased to provide you or your staff with any information that might assist you in responding to our inquiry, including a full briefing of your team, on request. Please email your response to us in MS Word format. You can email us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

Our coalition’s mandate is to address disability accessibility issues. We do not wish to leave any impression that accessibility is the only disability issue that will require the attention of Ontario’s next leader of the progressive Conservative Party.

We look forward to working with the leaders of all parties now and in the future on the shared goal that all major parties have endorsed, of leading Ontario to become fully accessible to all people with disabilities no later than 2025.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont,
Chair AODA Alliance
Learn more about progress to date on achieving the AODA’s goals, by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org Follow us on Twitter at @AODAAlliance

For More Information About the AODA Alliance

To sign up for or unsubscribe from Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Updates, send your request to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com In late December 2017, our email list for these Updates unfortunately crashed. We have rebuilt it. In case you fell off the list but want to return, just email to ask us to sign you up. In case you had wanted to be removed from the list, but were accidentally restored to it, just email us to ask to be removed! Sorry for any inconvenience.

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our “Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Check out our new and expanded collection of online videos about the history, strategies and accomplishments of Ontario’s non-partisan grassroots accessibility campaign, available at:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-aoda-alliance-launches-part-2-of-its-series-of-online-videos-on-the-campaign-for-accessibility-to-mark-the-23rd-anniversary-of-ontarios-grassroots-campaign-for-disability-accessibility/ Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign. https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates: https://www.facebook.com/Accessibility-for-Ontarians-with-Disabilities-Act-Alliance-106232039438820/

Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org