ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
Still More Great Media Coverage and NDP Critic’s Response Against Ontario Government Plans to Cut Back on Already-Inadequate AODA Enforcement – and – Our Response to More Government Comments in Defence of Its Stance on AODA Enforcement
March 9, 2015
The Ontario Government only has 9 years, 10 months and 22 days left to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities. Our campaign to get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires, has gotten yet more media attention. We show you examples below.
This media coverage focuses on three important recent developments:
1. The Ontario Government’s February 13, 2015 public release of the final report of Professor Mayo Moran’s November 2014 final report of her Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the AODA. In that report, Professor Moran concluded that Premier Wynne must show strong new leadership on disability accessibility and revitalize the AODA’s implementation. She found that after ten years of implementing the AODA, it has not made a significant difference in the lives of people with disabilities. Its implementation and enforcement must be beefed up.
2. The Government knows there are still a staggering 60% of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees that are violating the AODA. The Government knows that many if not most of those organizations have been clearly violating that legislation for over two years.
3. Despite this, the Government told the AODA alliance in its February 19, 2015 letter that it plans to cut back on its enforcement of the AODA this year, reducing by one-third the number of organizations it will audit for AODA compliance.
We here respond to a few of the Ontario Government’s statements in this media coverage.
1. From The February 25, 2015 CITY TV News
First, in an excellent CITY TV news item that appeared on the nightly news on February 25, 2015, it is good that Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid acknowledges that even ten years after the Government passed the AODA, there is still a lot of work to do on accessibility. It is also helpful that Minister Duguid stated publicly for the Government that: “…we're looking forward to embracing many, if not all, the recommendations in Mayo Moran's report.”
We have urged the Government to now specify which of the Moran Report’s recommendations the Government is implementing or will in future implement. To date, all we know is that the Government announced on February 13, 2015 that it will develop a new accessibility standard to address disability accessibility barriers in Ontario’s health care system. This is good news for Ontarians with disabilities. In the 2014 Ontario election, Premier Wynne had promised that the Government would next develop accessibility standards under the AODA in the areas of health and/or education.
In that CITY TV news interview, Economic Development Minister Duguid is also shown saying the following:
“Enforcement and putting in place an accessibility police to police 400,000 plus businesses, across this province in my view, is probably the least effective tool we have.”
He is also shown in this interview saying:
“The focus, in my view, needs to be on awareness and on helping ensure that the business community embrace the competitive advantage that becoming accessible will provide.”
The tenor of these Government’s statements is troubling. It reads like a virtual repudiation of the Government’s promises to effectively enforce the AODA. It is a signal to obligated organizations that they need not worry about facing effective enforcement of the AODA.
This reads like a rejection of key findings and recommendations in the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review. That report found that the Government’s inadequate enforcement of the AODA is contributing to the high levels of non-compliance with the AODA. The Government’s inadequate AODA enforcement is holding Ontario back from reaching full accessibility by 2025.
By conjuring up the unpalatable image of “accessibility police,” the Government appears to paint the AODA’s effective enforcement in a negative light. Of course, under the AODA, there are no “accessibility police.” There are instead directors and inspectors to enforce this law, as the Government has under many other Ontario regulatory laws. It does not help for the Government to speak of its own AODA enforcement powers and officials in such a way.
We have always agreed that an effective implementation of the AODA requires the Government to use a combination of public education, giving tools to help obligated organizations comply, and effective enforcement. The Government has for years promised to do all three, including promising to effectively enforce the AODA.
A transcript of this February 25, 2015 CITY TV news item is set out below. For the captioned audio and video of the February 25, 2015 CITY TV News item on the AODA.
2. From the March 3, 2015 Toronto Star
Second, the March 3, 2015 Toronto Star included a letter to the editor from Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid. He was responding to the Toronto Star’s February 27, 2015 editorial that blasted the Government for its plan to cut back on the number of organizations it will audit for AODA compliance this year. The Toronto Star’s February 27, 2015 editorial on the Government’s plans to cut back on AODA enforcement.
In Minister Duguid’s letter to the editor, set out below, the Government sets up an inaccurate straw person argument, and then tries to knock it down. It tries to make it sound like the Toronto Star’s excellent February 27, 2015 editorial had pressed for an “enforcement first” approach to the AODA. This paints an image of the Government unfairly showing up at a business to take draconian enforcement steps before first giving that organization a chance to comply. In his letter to the editor, the minister said:
“However, I respectfully disagree with your view that the most effective way to advance our goal of building a more accessible Ontario is through enforcement. While our government will still utilize enforcement to encourage greater compliance with business responsibilities under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, at this stage of implementation, it is not our only tool. There are more than 400,000 Ontario businesses that must comply with the act. An enforcement-first approach would be very challenging to effectively implement and it would be counterproductive because businesses would simply find ways around the standards and see compliance as a burden rather than a competitive advantage.”
Neither the Star, nor we, nor, to our knowledge, anyone, has pressed the Government to only use enforcement, or to use enforcement first. Instead, we, the Toronto Star’s editorial, the Mayo Moran Report, and many others, have in unison argued that without effective AODA enforcement, we will not make enough progress. Indeed, that was the position of the Ontario Liberal Party for years.
In the accessibility standards it has enacted to date, the Government has already given obligated organizations, including businesses, excessively long time lines to comply with the AODA. For example, a business with at least 20 employees did not need from the 2007 summer to the end of 2012 just to create an accessible Customer Service policy, to train its employees on that policy, and to set up a way for the public to give it feedback. Yet that is how much time the Government gave these obligated organizations.
Moreover, the Government has said it has been very active for years reaching out to obligated organizations, to educate them on the AODA and offering them tools to help. As well, when AODA enforcement powers are used, an obligated organization is first given a chance to bring itself into compliance before a monetary penalty is imposed. Therefore, the image that the Government’s letter to the editor implies, of an unfair imposition of enforcement on an obligated organization before it is given a chance to comply, is inaccurate.
The AODA and accessibility standards under it were not just enacted. The AODA itself is over ten years old. Accessibility standards have been enacted in 2007, 2011 and 2012. Moreover, the AODA implements duties to provide accessibility that have been imposed under the Ontario Human Rights Code since 1982, over three decades ago.
We do not share the Government’s view that deploying effective enforcement of the AODA now will simply lead organizations to find ways to get around it. The Government’s own claims prove that this is not correct. Between November 2013 and the present, when the Government deployed its enforcement powers at some 3,250 of the 3,600 private sector organizations with at least 20 employees that were violating the AODA as of November 2013, the Government has said it was able thereby to bring about very high levels of compliance by those specific organizations.
In none of these new statements has the Government provided a plausible reason for cutting back on the number of obligated organizations that it will audit in 2015. We again call for the Government to bring the number of obligated organizations to be audited back to the levels in 2013 and 2014, and for it to institute a meaningful increase in the numbers of obligated organizations to be audited, above the levels it achieved in 2013 and 2014.
Finally, in these and a number of other public statements, the Government has emphasized that it has appointed former Lieutenant Governor David Onley as a special advisor to the Economic Development Minister on accessibility. We applaud David Onley as a tireless advocate for accessibility.
The Government now has had the benefit of excellent sources of advice from the two Independent Reviews that have been conducted under the AODA, by Charles Beer in 2009 and by Mayo Moran in 2014, as well as from David Onley. This is supplemented by our detailed, constructive recommendations for action. These all point towards the same need for more Government action now.
In the words of both the Charles Beer and Mayo Moran Reports, the Government needs to show new leadership on accessibility, to revitalize the implementation of the AODA and to breathe new life into it.
We urge the Government to now act boldly and decisively on that advice. Premier Wynne and Minister Duguid have voiced strong genuine support for the AODA and for accessibility for people with disabilities. Now is an excellent chance to turn that into decisive new action. We remain eager to work with them to achieve this now.
Below we set out:
* a transcript of the February 25, 2015 item on CITY TV news on the Government’s cut back on the AODA’s enforcement.
* Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid’s letter to the editor that appeared in the Toronto Star on March 3, 2015
* Two letters to the editor that appeared in the March 6, 2015 on-line edition of the Toronto Star from Janis Jaffe-White and Reva Schafer of the Toronto Family Network, and from Valentina Gal. This is akin to feedback we have received on the Government’s plans to cut back on the AODA’s already-weak enforcement. We commend all efforts to raise these concerns with the media and with your MPP.
* a transcript of AODA Alliance’s chair David Lepofsky’s February 25, 2015 interview on CBC Toronto Radio’s Metro Morning program. For the captioned audio of AODA Alliance David Lepofsky’s February 25, 2015 interview on CBC Toronto Radio’s Metro Morning Program.
* The February 19, 2015 statement in the Legislature on the implementation of the AODA by NDP MPP Cindy Forster, calling for the Government to strengthen the AODA’s implementation in light of the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review.
* NDP MPP’s February 19, 2015 news release criticizing the Government’s flagging implementation of the AODA and on the important conclusions in the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review Report.
* NDP MPP Cindy Forster’s February 25, 2015 news release, commendably criticizing the Government’s plans to cut back on AODA enforcement.
To download the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review in MS Word format, posted on our website.
To read the Toronto Star’s November 19, 2013 editorial on the Government’s failure to effectively enforce the AODA, and to get links to the other newspaper editorials that have supported our accessibility campaign since 1998.
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Transcript of February 25, 2015 Item on CITY TV Evening News
[David Lepofsky] They are not on schedule for full accessibility. So it's time for the government to keep their promise and effectively enforce this law.
[Adrian Ghobrial] Ten years from now, legally, the province has to be barrier free, but the Ontario government is scaling back inspections at private businesses. This despite a year long review of the accessibility act just released this month that states higher visibility of enforcement efforts lead to higher compliance.
[Brad Duguid] Enforcement and, and putting in place an accessibility police to police 400,000 plus businesses across this province, in my view, is probably the least effective tool we have.
[David Lepofsky] I find it deeply troubling that he said that.
[Adrian Ghobrial] A letter to accessibility advocate, David Lepofsky, from the minister's office says only 1,200 compliance audits will take place this year. That's down from 2,000 in 2014.
[Brad Duguid] But the focus, in my view, needs to be on awareness and on helping ensure that the business community embrace the competitive advantage that becoming accessible will, will provide.
[David Lepofsky] They've had ten years of educating them and still they've got a 60 percent of private sector organizations that are flagrantly violating the law and the government knows it.
[Adrian Ghobrial] Here's an example of some of accessibility issues that are popping up at commercial properties.
Behind this tarp and wooden door is supposed to be an elevator. Now, it's privately owned but there's an agreement in place for it to service the TTC stop below. Unfortunately, the elevator has been out of service for five months.
[Woman] I think people worry that it's not a real law if there's no enforcement behind it. And those who are complying worry, "Well, why would I comply if there's no effort to enforce against the people who don't. I've heard a lot of that from businesses.
[Adrian Ghobrial] Mayo Moran spent the last year independently reviewing the act for the government.
[Mayo Moran] I think it's fair to say, the actual progress on the ground has been pretty slow and that many people with disabilities don't feel a big change in their lives.
[Adrian Ghobrial] During her extensive review, Moran was shocked by the lack of understanding surrounding the mandatory legislation.
[Mayo Moran] After ten years and, you know, a, kind of a groundbreaking bill that was passed unanimously, I was really surprised to see that there wasn't more awareness.
[Adrian Ghobrial] With ten years still to go, Minister Duguid says the focus this year will be on pilot projects to improve private sector compliance.
[Brad Duguid] At the tenth year anniversary there's still a lot of work to do going forward and we're lookin' forward to embracing many, if not all, the recommendations in Mayo Moran's report.
[Adrian Ghobrial] Minister Duguid does say he believes the province can still meet its mandate by 2025. He says he'll be working closely with former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, who's recently been appointed as Special Advisor on accessibility.
At Queen's Park, Adrian Ghobrial, CityNews.
The Toronto Star March 3, 2015
Originally posted at http://on.thestar.com/1K9G73a
Letters to the Editor
Enforcement not the only accessibility tool; Failing the disabled,
Editorial Feb. 28
I'd like to thank the Star for raising the profile of accessibility and its economic and social impacts. However, I respectfully disagree with your view that the most effective way to advance our goal of building a more accessible Ontario is through enforcement.
While our government will still utilize enforcement to encourage greater compliance with business responsibilities under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, at this stage of implementation, it is not our only tool.
There are more than 400,000 Ontario businesses that must comply with the act. An enforcement-first approach would be very challenging to effectively implement and it would be counterproductive because businesses would simply find ways around the standards and see compliance as a burden rather than a competitive advantage.
The Martin Prosperity Institute has confirmed that a more accessible Ontario could produce up to a $7.9-billion boost to our economy. We need businesses to embrace, not fear, this opportunity. We need businesses to recognize that standards are a minimum requirement and by meeting or exceeding those standards they can enhance their competitiveness, expand their customer base, and tap into the incredibly skilled talent pool represented by people with disabilities.
I look forward to working with Ontario's new Special Advisor on Accessibility, former lieutenant governor David Onley, to bring forward some new and creative ways to enhance compliance and maintain Ontario's position as a global leader in accessibility.
Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment, and Infrastructure
Toronto Star On-line March 6, 2015
Opinion / Readers' Letters
Accessibility laws must be enforced
Re: Enforcement not the only accessibility tool, Letter March 3
Is the Honourable Premier Kathleen Wynne actually honourable?
The premier says she believes in social justice and is committed to the legislation that the government has passed. Yet, she refuses to enforce legislation related to individuals with differing abilities or additional needs. The government refuses to enforce compliance to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Education Act, etc.
It is not good enough for Minister Brad Duguid to say the government “has more work to do.” That is a slap in the face to the 1.8 million people with disabilities who are to be treated with dignity based on the Ontario Human Rights Code.
This government, by its inaction, is discriminating against the very individuals it is supposed to be protecting. This is absolutely shameful.
Janis Jaffe-White and Reva Schafer, Toronto Family Network
Toronto Star On-line March 6, 2015
Brad Duguid’s well-intended but misinformed letter stated that enforcement isn’t the best tool for making sure that businesses comply with the AODA legislation.
I’d like to bring forward an experience of my own that has convinced me that, without enforcement, legislation is a waste of our time and money.
I am a totally blind person living in the Yonge-Eglinton area of the city. I chose my apartment with the notion of being close to the subway and thereby having the best possible accessibility to public transit so that I could go about my business just like every other citizen of this city. After all, it is supposed to be a “walkable city,” isn’t it?
Little did I know that my neighbours have an aversion to shoveling their walks. While they take great care to make sure their driveways are clear for vehicles, for some reason they never clear the snow on the public right of way where folks like me have to pass. This also affects senior citizens, mothers with strollers and many apartment dwellers who don’t drive.
“No problem,” I said to myself, “I’ll complain to city hall.”
This is where the fun really begins.
To make a very long story short, if one wants to have a sidewalk complaint go through, one has to put one complaint in per each address rather than for a given area of the city. For a totally blind person, that means finding a fellow traveler on the street or a relative to go back to each address and make sure one has the number of each building right. Then the complainant has to sit on the phone for God knows how long and enter the complaint address by address with the 311 call centre.
Then, one waits until the city officer goes to each address with warnings etc. And, if the person doesn’t shovel, the blind, already inconvenienced person gets to do it all over again.
Why can’t we simply report the problem block by block, for instance, and have the city officer tag each property that he finds unclear? A traffic enforcement officer tickets all of the parking violators in a given area, not just the one in front of a given address.
With due respect, Mr. Duguid, everyone in Toronto knows that after 12 hours the walk has to be shoveled. How many of our good citizens actually do it? So your notion of education holds as much water as the unused snow shovels of the city of Toronto. Unfortunately, if bylaws and other laws aren’t enforced, they are too easy to ignore.
Unenforced laws help create systemic discrimination as an unintended consequence. It is already difficult for someone like me to travel in the city. I don’t have the option of driving a car nor do I have the money for expensive cab fares.
When I do brave the nasty weather, as I often have to, I can’t travel quickly or safely because of uncleared rights of way. How does my right to accessibility hold up here?
So, let’s get honest. If Ontarians really want an accessible province, stop wasting money on expensive education campaigns and put it into enforcement where it will do the most good.
Valentina Gal, Toronto
CBC Radio Toronto Metro Morning with Matt Galloway - Feb 25, 2015 Interviewing David Lepofsky
[Matt Galloway] The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was passed with much fanfare ten years ago. Now, ten years later, the provincial government is planning to scale back enforcement of that Act. This news comes just a week and a half after an independent review called for more robust enforcement to protect the rights of people with disabilities. It is estimated that 60 percent of businesses with at least 20 employees are still not in compliance with the legislation.
So, why is it that the government is pulling back on enforcement of the law?
David Lepofsky is Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.
David, good morning.
[David Lepofsky] Good morning.
[Matt Galloway] What was your reaction when you heard that the province would be easing enforcement of this Act?
[David Lepofsky] This is really, really appalling. The government's already been doing a paltry job of enforcing this law. An Independent Review that the government itself appointed told it a week ago that the government needs to strengthen the enforcement of the Act, because after ten years, the legislation hasn't made a significant impact on the lives of people like us who have, have disabilities.
The government's solution, instead of showing the strong new leadership that the Independent Review, conducted by Professor Mayo Moran, recommended, is actually going the wrong way. It decided to cut back on its already paltry enforcement – makes no sense.
[Matt Galloway] What is not being done in those 60-so or percent of businesses that have more than 20 employees? What are they not complying with?
[David Lepofsky] What we so far know, and the government knows, this is an a letter from the government to us. We pressed for this information.
Businesses and other organizations with at least 20 employees were required to file an accessibility self report in 2012 and again in 2014, where they simply self report on whether they've established a customer service accessibility policy, and the appropriate requirements that they need to fulfill, whether they've trained their staff on it and if they've got a feedback mechanism, so we can report concerns.
It's pretty basic stuff, and the government knows, because these are supposed to be e-filed, who's filed and who hasn't. So, it's not like they’ve got to go out and find that out. They already know that there is this rampant non-compliance, yet, up until about a year ago November, they weren't doing anything to enforce it, using compliance orders or monetary penalties.
We first raised this publicly... in November of 2013, the government said, "Oh this is awful, we've got to do better." And a year and a quarter later what we are finding is that was a flash in the pan, now they're talking about scaling things back. And this isn't because the government hasn't got enough money on hand to undertake these enforcement activities.
[Matt Galloway] Right.
[David Lepofsky] The office that the government has charged with this responsibility, we've revealed, has been under budget every year since 2005, meaning it's spent less than it was given, sometimes in the tune of two and a half million bucks a year.
[Matt Galloway] What does that say to you given the fact that this Act was, as I said, introduced ten years ago with great fanfare?
[David Lepofsky] Well, having had the privilege of leading the volunteer campaign across this province from 1994 to 2005 to win this law, we were really excited when it was passed. And now we are enormously frustrated that the government's prepared to pass it, but not prepared to effectively implement it. And when their own Independent Review comes out and says, "Not making much of a difference -- enough of a difference in the lives of people with disabilities." "Government – " it says, "show new leadership." It points directly to Premier Wynne and says, "You've got to take the reins on this file and show some strong leadership." And the government's solution is to come out bragging, claim to be world leaders on accessibility, which they're most assuredly not.
[Matt Galloway] Why would they not move on this though?
[David Lepofsky] You’re asking the question that we'd like to know the answer on. Nobody's ever given us a straight answer. It's bad policy. It's also going to be a global embarrassment in a few months because the world will - all eyes will be on Toronto for the Pan and Parapan American Games.
They're expecting hundreds of thousand of tourists – that includes a lot of people with disabilities.
[Matt Galloway] In the meantime though, you have a lot of people with disabilities who live here right now. What does this mean for them if, as I said…
[David Lepofsky] It means...
[Matt Galloway] …60 percent of these businesses aren't complying?
[David Lepofsky] It means that we are going to continue to face a lot of problems, trying to make use of stores, and restaurants, and public services, and public transit, and all those kinds of things that, that are supposed to become, that the, the legislation requires to become, fully accessible by 2025.
There is a toll free number, by the way, which the government has told us about. We've been pressing for this for years, and now they've told us there is one that you can call to report violations of the Disabilities Act. It's 866-515-2025, but it's the best kept secret. They don't - if you go to their website, they don't describe it as a place to report violations.
[Matt Galloway] But the lack of accessibility is no secret. We keep hearing from people, even this morning, but we've done stories on this.
You look at transit in this city and how difficult it is to get around, and how they're trying to ramp up, and that's going to take a bit longer, but other areas around the city where accessibility is not a priority at all.
[David Lepofsky] Well, it's bizarre because, while the province is not doing an effective job at enforcing to get these businesses to become accessible, we've got the City of Toronto trying to force a restaurant, the Signs restaurant, to tear down a ramp they put up, trying to force it to become inaccessible. There's something really wrong in our community when the government power is, is more effectively wielded to oppose accessibility then to enforce it.
[Matt Galloway] A spokesperson for the government says that it's shifting focus this year to concentrate on pilot projects with the Ministry of Labour and Transportation, to improve compliance with the Act. So, do you give them the benefit of the doubt there that they're trying to educate first?
[David Lepofsky] No, it's complete nonsense. We've been pressing that idea with them from - since about 2011. And it's not a matter of shifting emphasis – that was to expand enforcement, not to contract it. They said that they did 2,000 audits in 20 13. 2,000 audits in 2014 and they've told us they're only going to do 1,200 in 2015. That's a 33 or something percent cut in audits, which is still a paltry number of organizations, given that they know there are 33,000 or so violators.
[Matt Galloway] So, just finally and briefly, the law calls for a fully accessible Ontario by 2025. Is it even likely that we'll get anywhere near that?
[David Lepofsky] Not unless the premier listens to the recommendations of the Independent Review that she appointed, and shows the strong leadership that she's promised, but sadly, isn't delivering.
[Matt Galloway] David, thank you.
[David Lepofsky] Thank you.
[Matt Galloway] David Lepofsky, Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, talking about the fact that the Ontario government is scaling back enforcement of that Act, despite the fact that more than 60 percent of businesses with 20 or more employees are not actually complying with the accessibility laws in Ontario.
Transcribed with compliments of inclusivemedia.ca
Ontario Hansard February 19, 2015
Accessibility for the disabled
Ms. Cindy Forster: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, mandating that our province be fully accessible by 2025. Last week, an independent report revealed that Trinity College Provost Mayo Moran confirmed that at this government’s rate, we’re nowhere near reaching that target. The report reiterates what accessibility advocates, the AODA Alliance and supporters have been flagging for four years, confirming that in the last 10 years, 1.8 million affected Ontarians who face barriers have not seen any significant improvement to services or access.
Moran’s report also echoes that OSSTF, OECTA and EFTO call for the need to develop specific standards in the areas of education, health and residential housing. The Minister of Economic Development, Infrastructure and Employment responded, claiming, “We’re already moving on some of these recommendations.” I challenge this government to disclose what, when and how. If it was that serious about these recommendations and the report, it should have made the report accessible to start with when they first released it.
This report is a wake-up call to the government’s leadership to stop dithering and to commit to making accessibility a priority by developing the standards and ensuring we’re not just paying lip service to those people who need it most.
New Democratic Party News Release Thursday, February 19, 2015
MPP Forster criticizes Liberal government’s accessibility failures
QUEEN’S PARK – In a statement in the Legislature today, Welland MPP Cindy Forster criticized the Liberal government for failing in its promise to implement adequate and timely standards that will establish Ontario as fully accessible and barrier-free by 2025.
“An independent report revealed last week by Trinity College provost Mayo Moran confirmed that at this government’s rate we’re nowhere near reaching that target,” said Forster. “This report is a wake-up call for this government’s leadership to stop dithering and commit to making accessibility a priority by developing the standards and ensuring we’re not just paying lip service to those who need it most.”
MPP Forster’s statement follows the release of a government-mandated periodic review of Ontario’s groundbreaking accessibility legislation passed ten years ago.
“The report reiterates what accessibility advocate groups, the AODA Alliance and supporters have been flagging for over 4 years” said Forster, “it confirms that in the last 10 years, the 1.8 million affected Ontarians who face barriers have not seen any significant improvement in access to Ontario’s public or private spheres.”
New Democratic Party News Release February 25, 2015
NDP MPP Forster condemns government’s failure to enforce accessibility standards
QUEEN’S PARK – Less than a week after Welland MPP Cindy Forster criticized the Liberal government for breaking its promise to implement timely standards aiming to establish Ontario as fully accessible by 2025, a letter from Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid reveals that 2015 will be even worse as the Liberals dramatically cut the number of inspections to enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
“Just weeks after calling Ontario a 'global leader in accessibility,’ this Liberal government continues to fail on the enforcement front,” said Forster. “It’s appalling that 60% of private businesses have failed to file mandated accessibility reports for three years in a row and yet this Liberal government is cutting the number of inspections.”
MPP Forster’s statement follows the release of a government-mandated periodic review of Ontario’s accessibility legislation passed ten years ago, showing this government’s lack of progress on accessibility in both private and public spheres. Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid’s most recent letter confirms the Liberals have no plan to improve enforcement of the AODA.
“It’s the same old empty promises from this scandal-plagued government” said Forster, “There are 1.8 million Ontarians who face barriers in our province and all they’re getting is lip service, empty promises and absolutely no action. The Liberal government has failed them.”
Media contact: Justin Stayshyn, 416-325-2130