ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

AODA ALLIANCE ISSUES NEWS RELEASE ON ONTARIO PREMIER-DESIGNATE KATHLEEN WYNNE’S IMPORTANT COMMITMENTS TO ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES

January 27, 2013

SUMMARY

We have just made public a news release, set out below that highlights Ms. Kathleen Wynne’s recent commitments to Ontarians with disabilities. Yesterday, the Ontario Liberal Party selected Ms. Kathleen Wynne as its new leader. She will replace Dalton McGuinty as Ontario’s Premier.

Our news release congratulates Premier-Designate Wynne on her new position, and offers to work with her to promptly fulfil all her important commitments to Ontarians with disabilities.

We encourage you to:

* Send this news release to your local media outlets. Urge them to report on this.

* Email, tweet and Facebook-post this information to share it with your friends and family.

We can be proud that we succeeded during the Ontario Liberal Party leadership campaign in winning commitments from all six of the candidates to replace outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty, and got important media profile for this effort, on TVOntario’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin.” Stay tuned for more AODA Alliance Updates, as we gear up for the next phase in our tenacious, non-partisan campaign for a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities.

We always welcome your feedback, which you can send to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

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ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE  

NEWS RELEASE  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH NEW ONTARIO PREMIER-DESIGNATE  KATHLEEN WYNNE TO HELP HER KEEP THE IMPORTANT PLEDGES SHE MADE TO ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES

January 27, 2013 Toronto:

Kathleen Wynne, chosen at the Ontario Liberal Party’s January 25-26, 2013 leadership convention to become Ontario’s new premier, made important commitments to Ontarians with disabilities during the recent campaign for the leadership of Ontario’s Liberal Party. In her December 3, 2012 letter to the AODA Alliance, set out below, Ms. Wynne made all of the commitments sought from the candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. She committed to:

* fully maintain the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 and the 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.

* stand by and fully honour the past commitments that the Ontario Liberal Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility.

* ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities no later than 2025, the deadline set out by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

* continue the practice of making specific election commitments in letters to the AODA Alliance, on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities.

* personally meet with AODA Alliance representatives to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to meetings with appropriate cabinet ministers.

In addition to these important pledges, Ms. Wynne committed to:

* move forward with the next poverty reduction strategy, due by the end of 2013, including a priority focus on Ontarians with disabilities, and to work with persons with disabilities among others to develop this strategy. 

“We congratulate Ms. Wynne on becoming Ontario’s next premier and appreciate her making her important commitments to Ontarians with disabilities. We look forward to working with her Government to promptly and effectively fulfil them all,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance, a widely-recognized non-partisan province-wide disability community coalition. “It is powerfully symbolic that Ms. Wynne made her accessibility commitments to over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities, on December 3, the International Day for People with Disabilities.  Ontario has fallen behind schedule for achieving full accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities by 2025 . It is important for the Wynne Government to immediately roll up their sleeves and get right to work to get Ontario back on schedule.”

In 2005, the Legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, a law that requires all barriers that block Ontarians with disabilities from access to jobs, goods and services, to be torn down by 2025. Ontarians with disabilities waged a long, arduous ten-year campaign to get that law passed.  In the 2003 Ontario election, then-Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty promised strong and effective disabilities accessibility legislation.

On November 1, 2012, the AODA Alliance made public an open letter to all candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, who were seeking to succeed outgoing Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. It sought five specific commitments on disability accessibility. It made public the written responses it receive from all six candidates for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership. As a non-partisan community coalition, the AODA Alliance does not endorse, support or oppose any candidate for leadership of any political party. Its Open Letter to Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidates was part of its ongoing non-partisan campaign to make Ontario fully accessible to all persons with disabilities. That open letter, and the responses received from all Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidates are available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp   

On January 16, 2013’s edition of TVO Ontario’s flagship public affairs program “The Agenda with Steve Paikin,” AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky gave a 20-minute update on the campaign to make Ontario fully accessible to persons with disabilities and the tasks facing Ontario’s next premier. This appeared  right after Steve Paikin’s interview with Kathleen Wynne on the Ontario Liberal Party leadership race. The AODA Alliance chair’s January 16, 2013 interview on The Agenda with Steve Paikin can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHWxUCzhTsU

Contact: David Lepofsky Chair AODA Alliance aodafeedback@gmail.com

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

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TEXT OF THE DECEMBER 3 2012 LETTER FROM KATHLEEN WYNNE TO THE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

December 3, 2012

Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky,

Thank you very much for your letter and for providing me with an opportunity to speak to my commitment to ensuring accessibility in Ontario.

With your help, our government crafted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and we’ve taken significant steps toward our goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025.  If elected Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier, I commit to building on that progress and working with our accessibility partners across our province.  

Ontario is facing unprecedented demographic shifts that will have a significant impact on issues like accessibility and mobility.  In the next 20 years, the number of Ontarians with a disability will grow from one in seven to one in five.  Over the next 10 years, Ontario’s seniors population will grow by 40 per cent.   Improving accessibility for people with disabilities is not just a moral imperative, but also an economic one. 

If elected leader, I will move forward with the next poverty reduction strategy, due by the end of 2013.  But this strategy will go further and will build on our success to identify additional areas for priority focus.  One such area is on Ontarians with disabilities, and will include a measurable target and indicators for the subsequent 5 years.

We know that Ontarians with disabilities are over represented amongst Ontario’s poor. We also know that many people with disabilities want to work but often have barriers place in front of them to achieve their dreams.   We will work with our partners in the community – non-profits, private sector, education sector, health sector and others – and most importantly, people with lived experience, to develop the strategy.

The task of building a more prosperous and equitable province is far from finished.  I look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our goals. 

Mr. Lepofsky, thank you for your important work and your tremendous contribution to helping make Ontario more accessible. 

Sincerely,

Kathleen Wynne

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

1. Under your leadership, will the Liberal Party fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the 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?

Yes. I’m committed to building a more accessible Ontario as it is not only the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.  I will maintain the implementation of the AODA, 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce the progress we’ve made.

2. Will you stand by and fully honour the past commitments that your Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility?

Yes.  I will honour the specific commitments made by my party and the government, and look forward to working with you to continue making progress.

3. Will you ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities no later than 2025, the deadline that your Government's AODA requires?

Yes.  If elected Premier, I will ensure Ontario remains on schedule to become more accessible by 2025.  Ontario Liberals have taken significant steps toward our shared goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025.   I recognize that the task of building a more prosperous and equitable province is far from finished.  I look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our goals. 

4. In Ontario elections, will you continue the practice of the last two Ontario Liberal Party leaders, of making specific election commitments to us on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to us?

Yes.  I will make specific, written election commitments to the AODA Alliance regarding the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities.

5. Among other commitments, Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed to meetings with us to address accessibility issues (in addition to meetings we have had with several cabinet ministers). Will you agree to maintain this practice, of being agreeable to personally meet with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate cabinet ministers?

Yes.  I look forward to continuing to build and strengthen our relationship with the AODA Alliance. I welcome the opportunity to maintain an open dialogue and meet with you to continue to move accessibility issues forward.