ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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ATTEND THE AODA ALLIANCE’S MARCH 31 2010 PRESENTATION ON BILL 231 TO THE LEGISLATURE’S STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY – CONSIDER OUR Helpful Tips For Preparing A Written And/or Oral Presentation On Bill 231 To The Legislature's Standing Committee On the Legislative Assembly

March 21, 2010

SUMMARY

On March 24 and 31, 2010, the Legislature's Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly holds its public hearings on Bill 231. That bill is the McGuinty Government’s proposed legislation for reforming Ontario’s election laws. The AODA Alliance here offers helpful tips on preparing a written or oral presentation to the Standing Committee. These tips will help you whether you are scheduled to make an oral presentation, or are just sending in a written submission, or are doing both.

Everyone is welcome to come to the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park to watch the Standing Committee hearings. We encourage you to come. We are especially eager for you to be present when the AODA Alliance presents for 15 minutes on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 starting at 12:30 noon.

The public hearings are in Room 151 at the Legislature. They only run from noon to 3 p.m. on the two days set for the public hearings. If you cannot attend in person, we are told that they may be shown on the following Fridays on the Ontario Legislature TV channel, hopefully available on your local cable TV service.

Remember that even though its too late to book a chance to make an oral presentation if you haven't booked one already, its certainly not too late to send in a written submission. Those can be sent to the Standing Committee up until March 31, 2010. We encourage you to send in a written submission, even if it's just a 1-page or even one paragraph short note or email. For example, you might wish to just let the Standing Committee know in writing if you support the AODA Alliance’s brief on Bill 231. If you have time to add any additional ideas or feedback for the Standing Committee, that would be great. You can see or download that brief at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03172010.asp

To see Bill 231: http://www.aodaalliance.org/docs/1209-Bill-231.doc

To send in a written submission to the Standing Committee, whether via email or regular mail, use this contact information.

Ms. Tonia Grannum, Clerk
Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly
Email: grannum@ontla.ola.org
Fax (416) 325-3505

Everyone's contribution matters. This is your most important opportunity to have your say. After the Standing Committee holds these hearings, it will decide what amendments to make to Bill 231.

SUMMARY OF WHAT THE AODA ALLIANCE HAS SAID ABOUT BILL 231

In 2007, Premier McGuinty, the Conservative Party and the NDP each promised us an accessible election action plan. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires a fully accessible Ontario by 2025. That includes fully accessible provincial and municipal elections. 2025 is less than 15 years away.

Bill 231 does not ensure fully accessible elections now or ever. All it does for disability accessibility is:

  1. Section 23 permits Elections Ontario to use accessible voting machines. It does not require Elections Ontario to ever use these machines. The Government has given no budget for buying these machines. Section 23 seriously restricts what kinds of machines can be used. It would not allow telephone voting.
  2. Section 32 lets Elections Ontario do research and hold conferences on accessibility. It does not require Elections Ontario to do this. No law is needed for Elections Ontario to do research or hold conferences. We need more than conferences and research. We need accessible polling stations, ballots, all candidate’s debates and campaign information.
  3. Section 25 allows for “special ballots i.e. mail-in ballots, and home visits by Elections Ontario to a voter who cannot go to a polling station due to disability. This is an improvement. However, the bill does not require the special ballot to be fully accessible, or the use of portable accessible voting machines. We do not know how easy it will be to get Elections Ontario to do a home visit, or if Elections Ontario will have enough staff if many ask for home visits.
  4. The bill does not require polling stations to be fully accessible. Elections Ontario does not have a stellar record in providing fully accessible polling stations.
  5. The bill does not provide for adequate monitoring or enforcement, to ensure that Elections Ontario does what it is supposed to do.
  6. The bill does not require that all-candidates’ debates be accessible to persons with disabilities.
  7. The bill does not address accessibility of municipal elections, where voters and candidates with disabilities face the same barriers as they face in provincial elections.

The AODA Alliance has called for Bill 231 to be strengthened to:

  1. Make it effectively ensure the removal and prevention of all barriers impeding voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial elections;
  2. Make comparable provision requiring removal and prevention of the barriers that impede voters and candidates with disabilities in municipal elections. These are typically the same barriers as arise in provincial elections;
  3. Provide effective monitoring and enforcement to ensure that there is full compliance with these accessibility requirements.

You can see all our 23 recommendations in Appendix 1 to our brief, at the link above.

TIPS FOR YOUR ORAL AND/OR WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS TO THE LEGISLATURE'S STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY ON BILL 231

Whether making an oral or written submission or both, consider these tips.

TIPS FOR YOUR ORAL PRESENTATION

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR YOUR WRITTEN SUBMISSION

These tips are helpful whether you are just sending in a written submission or if you also are making an oral presentation to the Standing Committee.

We hope these tips are helpful. Let us know. Send us your feedback at:
aodafeedback@gmail.com