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Toronto Star Reports That Conservatives Promise to Cut at Least 30% of Ontario Regulations – Are New Accessibility Regulations on That Large Chopping Block?

September 21, 2011

SUMMARY

Concerns mount that gains toward a fully accessible Ontario for over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities are directly in issue in this election. Key parts of those gains are set out in new regulations enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. To learn more about the newest accessibility regulation that we fought for and just recently won, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06032011.asp

Those regulations could end up on the chopping block. Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party has pledged to cut at least fully 30% of all Ontario regulations if they are elected in the October 6, 2011 Ontario election, according to the September 19, 2011 Toronto Star. It reported: “If elected, Hudak told small business owners, he plans to appoint a cabinet minister to identify red tape and reduce regulatory requirements by at least 30 per cent.” (Full article set out below.)

In our July 15, 2011 letter we sought election commitments on disability accessibility from the major party leaders. The very first thing we raised in that letter was a request for a commitment that if elected, they won’t cut gains we’ve made in the past on accessibility. The Liberals, NDP and Green Party each committed not to cut gains in legislation or regulations. The PCs did not. You can see the key extracts from their letters set out below. You can read their full letters by visiting: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220116.asp

You can read our September 13, 2011 letter to PC leader Tim Hudak, asking him to reconsider his position, by visiting: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09132011.asp

We found no explicit statement in the Progressive Conservative Party’s campaign platform, entitled “ChangeBook” that at least 30% of regulations will be cut. We can only conclude from the information in this Toronto Star report that the PCs appear to have added this commitment on the campaign trail. ChangeBook generally complains about the amount of regulations, and promises to make Ontario Government deputy ministers accountable for meeting the PCs’ goals, including in the regulatory area. Their platform states:

* “Dalton McGuinty’s high taxes, large deficits, soaring energy costs, crushing regulatory burden, and pronounced lack of leadership are the reasons we have fallen so far behind.”

* “We will make Ministers and senior civil servants accountable for the results we expect.
Leadership accountability is essential in business. But it’s something radical for government. The entire Cabinet will have its pay docked if it misses important financial or regulatory goals. We will work with senior civil servants to set aggressive but achievable targets so that their performance is closely tied to the mandate the people of Ontario give our government.”

If the PCs made this commitment on the campaign trail, as seems apparent from the Toronto Star, they can add a commitment that legislation and regulations on accessibility will be kept off that chopping block.

Our non-partisan campaign during this election seeks to ensure that persons with disabilities move forward as quickly as possible under Ontario’s next Government towards the mandatory goal of full accessibility by 2025, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 requires. In 2005, all parties in the Legislature unanimously set that goal when they voted for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

At the very least, it is critical that we not be at risk of losing any gains made to date. At least thirty percent of all Ontario regulations is a huge volume of laws now on the books, covering everything from consumer protection to environmental protection.

Send your feedback to us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

Would you like to devote just a few minutes to help with our campaign? For action tips on how to help us raise this issue in this election, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09162011.asp

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EXCERPT FROM OUR CHART COMPARING THE PARTIES’ 2011 ELECTION COMMITMENTS

Note: You can see the full comparison of the major parties’ commitments to us on all the proposals we presented to them by visiting: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220115.asp

A. Generally Strengthen Implementation of the AODA 2005 and ODA 2001

We asked the parties to commit to:

1. strengthen the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the companion 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.

The Liberals committed:

• “We will ensure that we maintain and/or strengthen the current provisions and protections in the AODA or any regulations enacted under the legislation.”

The NDP committed:

• “New Democrats are committed to fully implementing the AODA and related initiatives.”

• “Losing rights and protections for persons with disabilities goes against the goal of full accessibility. Therefore, New Democrats do not support any measure that would weaken accessibility protections in Ontario.”

The Conservatives made no specific commitments on these. They globally said they look forward to partnering, dialogue and working with us on the important issues we raised.

The Green Party committed:

• “The Green Party of Ontario is fully committed to government that encourages citizens to actively participate in their community and have a say in decisions that affect them. We support strong implementation of the AODA 2005 and ODA 2001 and will not weaken or repeal any legislation that has already been passed.”

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Toronto Star September 19 2011
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1055852–mcguinty-and-hudak-spar-over-games
News
McGuinty, Hudak spar over Games; PC leader calls Pan Am management a ‘mess’
Graphic: Tim Hudak, above, sent an open letter to Dalton McGuinty on Sunday about mismanagement of the Pan Am Games.

Tim Hudak says the management of the Pan Am Games is a “mess.” Dalton McGuinty completely disagrees.

Hudak, the provincial Progressive Conservative leader, sent an open letter to the Liberal leader on Sunday after a column appeared in the Star about the apparent mismanagement of the Games.

“Dalton McGuinty said this will be a party without a hangover, but the music’s barely started and they’re already wasting all kinds of money,” Hudak said. “Obviously, we have to clean up the growing mess of the Pan Am Games.”

But McGuinty defended the Games organizers.

“We are very confident in our ability to deliver them on time and on budget,” he said.

“Infrastructure Ontario is an active participant and they’ve got a track record of 99 per cent success in terms of bringing those projects in on time and on budget.”

Sunday’s Star story said preparations for the Games are behind schedule, with contracts unsigned, venues up in the air and requests for proposals not yet put out.

“Four years out, we are on track,” said a statement from TO2015, the Games organizing committee, which represents a collective of 16 municipalities and the federal and provincial governments.

The five major venues are now at the request-for-proposal stage, the statement issued Sunday said, and construction is slated to begin next spring or summer, with test events scheduled for 2014.

The province is on the hook if the Games go over budget, but has $45 million budgeted for such a scenario.

If the Conservatives are elected, the Star column said, sources say a new management team will be brought in, and it could possibly include former premier Mike Harris and Chris Rudge, former head of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Rudge said he was, “flattered to have my name considered,” but hasn’t been offered anything.

“If there’s a change in government leadership, it’s not inconceivable that the new leaders would go in a different direction,” he said.

During Toronto campaign stops Sunday, Hudak also spoke about jobs while McGuinty focused on health care.

If elected, Hudak told small business owners, he plans to appoint a cabinet minister to identify red tape and reduce regulatory requirements by at least 30 per cent.

He also pledged to suspend a $120 million, five-year deal to refurbish GO trains that the Liberal government awarded to a Quebec company, CAD Railway Industries, near Montreal.

“Dalton McGuinty failed at his job as premier when he let that contract be signed without looking at the local economic impact or the big picture,” Hudak said.

His pledge came a day after NDP Leader Andrea Horwath promised to kill the same deal, saying the contract should have gone to Ontario Northland, which has a plant in North Bay.

McGuinty countered by calling his rivals’ contract-scrapping plans “a reckless approach.”

“Those are signed, sealed. They will be expensive to disengage from,” McGuinty said Sunday, while on a visit to SickKids hospital in Toronto.

“I just don’t think it’s appropriate to say to the taxpayers, ‘Regardless of the costs, we’re just going to get this done.’ ”

After making crafts with children, McGuinty visited the nearby construction site for the hospital’s Research and Learning Tower, to which the Liberals have committed $75 million. The tower will house more than 2,000 pediatric researchers.

It was a quiet day for Horwath after she spent the past week campaigning in northern Ontario.

Dalton McGuinty, Liberals: In Ottawa to tour the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in the morning, then to Kanata for an evening campaign event.

Tim Hudak, Progressive Conservatives: Afternoon appearances in Trenton and Prescott, then a campaign event in Cornwall in the evening.

Andrea Horwath, New Democrats: In Toronto for an announcement at the Ossington TTC station at 8:45 a.m., then to Ottawa to campaign with local candidates and address the federal Ontario NDP caucus.

Liam Casey
Toronto Star