ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

PREMIER WYNNE MAKES UNEXPECTED PHONECALL TO AODA ALLIANCE CHAIR; AND - CANADA’S PARLIAMENT INVITES AODA ALLIANCE TO PRESENT TO MARCH 7, 2013 FEDERAL STANDING COMMITTEE HEARINGS ON EMPLOYMENT FOR CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES

March 6, 2013

SUMMARY

Here are two unrelated recent developments that highlight the recognition of the AODA Alliance as a source of good ideas on how governments can meet the needs of Ontarians with disabilities.

1. Premier Kathleen Wynne Makes Welcoming Phone Call to AODA Alliance Chair

On March 4, 2013, AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky received an unexpected phone call from Ontario’s new premier, Kathleen Wynne. She said she wants to work together with us.

David Lepofsky congratulated Premier Wynne on becoming Ontario’s new premier, and told her that the AODA Alliance is eager to work together with her and her Government. He told Premier Wynne that the AODA Alliance had just sent her Government a practical list of action suggestions that are all workable within Ontario’s tough budgetary crunch. He explained that the AODA Alliance had written Dr. Eric Hoskins to offer action proposals for the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. That is the Ministry that now has lead responsibility to implement and enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. He explained that earlier that same day, he had written Premier Wynne with proposals for actions that the Premier could take to assist as well. Mr. Lepofsky told Premier Wynne that, taken together, those two letters deliver an affordable, constructive and readily achievable agenda for action to move forward on disability accessibility.

David Lepofsky expressed the AODA Alliance’s appreciation for the call, and for the Premier’s decision to move the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario from the Community and Social Services Ministry to the Economic Development, Trade and Employment Ministry. That move was announced in the February 19, 2013 Ontario Throne speech.

Read the AODA Alliance’s February 27, 2013 letter to Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister Hoskins.
 
Read the AODA Alliance’s March 4, 2013 letter to Premier Wynne.
 
Almost ten years ago, on October 9, 2003, then-Premier-designate Dalton McGuinty took a similar step. Just one week after winning the 2003 election, he called David Lepofsky, who was then the chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. That coalition was the predecessor to the AODA Alliance.

Dalton McGuinty’s call to us ten years ago was especially significant because over the previous eight years, Premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves had refused each of the many requests that the ODA Committee had made to meet with them. You can read about Dalton McGuinty’s October 9, 2003 phone call to ODA Committee chair David Lepofsky, and its significance in the campaign for a fully accessible Ontario.

Let’s build on the important message that Premier Wynne’s recent call to us symbolizes. Her call  shows that we and our issues are on her radar.

We again encourage you to call, write, visit or email your local MPP. Send them our recent letters to Premier Wynne and Minister Hoskins. Urge them to support our practical agenda for prompt action on accessibility. Also, share this message with your local media.

2. AODA Alliance to Make March 7, 2013 Presentation on Employment Barriers to the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

Unrelated to Premier Wynne’s call to us, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities of the Parliament of Canada has invited the AODA Alliance to make a presentation on strategies to remove and prevent barriers facing people with disabilities in employment. This will take place on Thursday, March 7, 2013 from noon to 1 pm. AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky will present via video hook-up. Two other presenters from other organizations will be making presentations over that same hour.

This is the first time that the Parliament of Canada has invited the AODA Alliance to share its expertise. We are delighted to take our message on a national stage.

You can watch the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities live at noon on March 7, 2013.

The Government of Canada committed six years ago to enact a Canadians with Disabilities Act. We need strong, effective disability accessibility legislation at the federal and provincial levels across Canada, to ensure that all barriers facing persons with disabilities are effectively addressed. To read Prime Minister Harper's February 6, 2007 commitments to enact a Canadians with Disabilities Act.

It is thanks to the tenacious efforts of all supporters of the AODA Alliance who advocate for accessibility for people with disabilities across Ontario that we have won these two unrelated instances, where we are recognized as a collective source of good ideas and expertise on disability accessibility.

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