ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
Please Raise Disability Accessibility Issues with Voters and Candidates Across Ontario! -- AODA Alliance Writes Party Leaders to Ask for their Disability Accessibility Platforms in the June 12, 2014 Election, by May 9, 2014
May 4, 2014
On Friday, May 2, 2014, Ontario was plunged into a general provincial election. We are poised to again raise important disability accessibility issues in this election.
This is the sixth Ontario general election in which we, preceded by our predecessor (the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee), have waged a strong, non-partisan campaign to raise disability accessibility issues with the parties and candidates. In every election, we have gotten disability accessibility pledges from at least two, if not more, of the major parties. Since 1995, every party's disability accessibility platform has been set out in letters to us, or before 2005, to our predecessor coalition.
As a non-partisan community coalition, we do not endorse or oppose any party, or try to get any specific candidate elected or defeated. Our goals in this blitz include:
- Getting the strongest commitments from the parties on what they will do, if elected, to ensure that Ontario becomes fully accessible to all persons with disabilities as soon as possible, and no later than 2025.
- Spreading the word on the parties' disability accessibility commitments, and encouraging all voters to takes these into account; and
- Doing our best to ensure that voters and candidates with disabilities can overcome the recurring barriers they still unfortunately face in an Ontario election.
During this election campaign, we will offer you tools and tips. Our strength, and our successes to date, are because people like you act on our action tips, come up with your own as well, and spread the word to candidates, the media, and voters, from one end of Ontario to the other. Let's roll up our sleeves and do it again between now and the June 12, 2014 Ontario election.
Stay tuned for a greater number than usual of AODA Alliance Updates during the election campaign, chock full of ideas for action and up-to the-minute news.
In this Update we
* Offer some quick tips on how you can start right now to raise disability accessibility issues in this election, and
* Update you on our efforts to get strong disability accessibility commitments from the major parties. Below we set out our May 4, 2014 letter to the leaders of the parties in the Ontario Legislature, asking them to send us their platform on disability accessibility by Friday May 9, 2014
As always, send your feedback to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org
How You Can Get Started Now to Raise Disability Accessibility Issues in this Election Campaign
Here are early quick tips on how to raise accessibility issues in this election with candidates, the media and voters:
* Contact candidates or their staff right now at their campaign offices in your riding. Press them to get their party to make all the disability accessibility commitments that our March 3, 2014 letter seeks from the party leaders. Also, press them to ensure that all campaign offices, campaign events, all-candidates' debates, campaign websites, campaign advertisements and campaign literature are fully accessible to voters with disabilities.
* Spread the word to your friends, family members and acquaintances on the importance of disability accessibility issues in this election. Urge them to take this into account when voting, whether or not the media profiles these issues. Circulate this email update widely. Urge friends and family to email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for AODA Alliance Updates.
* Raise disability accessibility election issues right now with your local media. Tell them to include this issue in their ongoing election coverage. Call in to radio call-in programs. Send letters to the editor of newspapers.
* Use the incredible power of social media to spread the word on disability accessibility election issues. If you use Facebook, visit our Facebook page. It is called "Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance." Click on your Facebook page that you "like" our Facebook page, so your Facebook friends will learn more about us. Click on your Facebook page to share and show you that you "like" as many of our specific postings as you feel comfortable.
If you use Twitter, be sure to follow us. Our Twitter handle is @aodaalliance Encourage others to follow us on Twitter. Re-tweet our AODA Alliance tweets.
Getting Specific Disability Accessibility Commitments from the Major Parties
We aim to again secure specific commitments from the major parties on what they would do, if elected, to ensure that Ontario becomes fully accessible no later than 2025, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires. On March 3, 2014, we wrote the three parties in the Legislature to request election commitments to:
- Generally strengthen implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
- Ensure that all enforceable requirements under the AODA are effectively enforced
- Develop the new Accessibility Standards under the AODA needed to achieve full accessibility by 2025
- Ensure taxpayers' money is never used to create or buttress disability barriers
- Ensure accessibility of provincial and municipal elections
- Substantially improve how the Ontario Public Service ensures the accessibility of its services, facilities and workplaces
- Complete the overdue promised review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers
- Foster our ongoing relationship with your party
Below we set out our new May 4, 2014 letter to the leaders of the parties in the Ontario Legislature, asking them to provide us with their disability accessibility platform by 5 p.m. on Friday May 9, 2014. You can read our March 3, 2014 letter to the party leaders.
On December 3, 2012, Kathleen Wynne, then campaigning to become leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Ontario's Premier, committed to us in writing that as Liberal leader, she would make specific election commitments on disability accessibility to us. Her letter responded to our survey of all candidates for leadership of the Liberal Party, by stating in material part:
"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."
In 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011, election commitments were made on disability accessibility by some or all of the three major parties. This included:
- In 1995, commitments by the Conservative and Liberal parties;
- In 1999, commitments by the Liberal and New Democratic parties;
- In 2003, commitments by the Liberal and New Democratic parties;
- In 2007, commitments by the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic parties; and
- In 2011, commitments by the Liberal and New Democratic parties.
May 4, 2014 Letter from the AODA Alliance to the Party Leaders
May 4, 2014
Hon. Ms. Kathleen Wynne, Premier
Room 281, Legislative Building
Mr. Tim Hudak, Leader - Official Opposition
Room 381, Legislative Building
Ms. Andrea Horwath, Leader - Third Party
Room 113, Legislative Building
Re: 2014 Election Commitments on Disability and Accessibility
On May 3, 2014, we wrote you to ask for your Party's commitments on disability accessibility, in the event of a spring election. Specifically, we requested detailed commitments on what your party would do to:
A. Generally strengthen implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
B. Ensure that all enforceable requirements under the AODA are effectively enforced
C. Develop the new Accessibility Standards under the AODA needed to achieve full accessibility by 2025
D. Ensure taxpayers' money is never used to create or buttress disability barriers
E. Ensure accessibility of provincial and municipal elections
F. Substantially improve how the Ontario Public Service ensures the accessibility of its services, facilities and workplaces
G. Complete the overdue promised review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers
H. Foster our ongoing relationship with your party
Our March 3, 2014 letter to you is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03042014.asp
We also urge your respective parties to ensure that all campaign offices, campaign events, all-candidates' debates, campaign websites, campaign advertisements and campaign literature are fully accessible to voters with disabilities. Voters and candidates with disabilities are entitled to fully accessible elections in Ontario.
In each of the past six general elections in Ontario, we have received election commitments on disability accessibility from some or all of the major parties, in letters to our non-partisan community coalition, or before 2005, to our predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. We hope and trust that your party will do so again in this election.
May we ask that we receive your Party's response in an accessible MS Word document no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, May 9, 2014. We plan to make public the responses received from any of the parties in this election. We want to be sure that all voters have the opportunity to learn of the parties' commitments on disability accessibility.
Please email your response to us to this address: email@example.com
Feel free to have one of your Party officials contact us at that email address in advance, if they have any questions.
David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont.
Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance