ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

Sign Up for AODA Alliance Updates by writing: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Learn more at: www.aodaalliance.org
United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

Compare the Major Ontario Parties' Records On Disability Accessibility

May 7, 2014

Summary

We have asked the major parties in the Ontario June 12, 2014 general election to send us their
platforms on disability accessibility by 5 pm on Friday, May 9, 2014. They have had over two months to mull over the election commitments we seek. We wrote the party leaders on March 3, 2014 to set out the election commitments on disability accessibility that we are requesting.

In the meantime, it is helpful to give you a summary of the records of the three major parties in the Ontario Legislature on disability accessibility. In offering this assessment, we emphasize as strongly as we can that as a non-partisan community coalition, we do not try to get any particular party or candidate elected or defeated. We offer no opinion on which party's record is "better." That is for voters to decide. Obviously a party can do much more on disability accessibility when it is in power than when it is in opposition.

The organized campaign for an Ontario disability accessibility law began in 1994. Below we offer a summary of the activities of each of the major parties dating back to 1990. Each of the three major parties has held power during part of that period.

Of course, any summary of events over a 24 year period runs the risk of leaving out something that you or one of the parties had preferred us to include. We have done our best to be fair and accurate. 

Please spread the word about the parties' records in this important area.

To see the disability accessibility commitments we have sought from the Ontario political parties in this election.

To see the major parties' disability accessibility commitments in the recent February 13, 2014 Ontario by-elections.

To see the major parties' disability accessibility commitments in the 2011 Ontario general election.

To see the major parties' disability accessibility commitments in the 2007 Ontario general election.

To learn about the efforts of the AODA Alliance on the disability accessibility issue since 2005.

To learn about the efforts of the AODA Alliance's predecessor coalition, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, on this issue from 1994 to 2005.

Send your feedback to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

Please "like" our Facebook page and share our updates.

Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance 

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

MORE DETAILS

Record of the Ontario Liberal Party

The Ontario Liberal party is the only party that made election commitments on disability accessibility in every election since 1995, including 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. The Ontario Liberal Party was in opposition from 1990 to 2003. It has been in power since 2003. This includes three terms, from 2003 to 2007, from 2007 to 2011 and from 2011 to the present.

The Ontario Liberal party's record on disability accessibility while in opposition from 1990 to 2003 includes

* pressing the Conservative Ontario Government from 1995 to 2003 to keep its 1995 promise to pass a disability accessibility law.

* in 1998, introducing into the Legislature and voting for a landmark resolution that called for Ontario to enact a disability accessibility law that fulfilled our 11 principles to ensure that it is strong and effective.

* seeking to strengthen the Conservative Party's weak Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 when it was being debated in the Legislature.

* promising in 1999 and 2003 to enact a strong effective disability accessibility law, if elected.

During its first two terms in power, (2003-2007 and 2007-2011), the Liberal Party's record included:

* in 2005, keeping its promise to enact a strong disability accessibility law which covers all disabilities and barriers, which covers the public and private sectors, and which has effective enforcement, after consulting the disability community. This included making several amendments to its initial bill that we requested, though not all the amendments we wanted. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 (AODA) requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to becoming fully accessible by 2025. It must do so by enacting and enforcing all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that Ontario reaches that goal.

* promptly deciding that the initial accessibility standards to be enacted under the AODA would cover barriers in customer service, transportation, employment, information and communication, and the built environment.

* enacting accessibility standards principally addressing prevention of new barriers in customer service (2007), and transportation, information and communication and employment (2011). These were not as strong as we requested.

* in 2006, over our strenuous objection, privatizing the enforcement of human rights by passing the controversial Bill 107. That bill eliminated the Ontario Human Rights Commission's public investigation and enforcement of discrimination human rights claims. It forced discrimination victims to privately investigate and prosecute their own discrimination claims. The Liberals invoked closure in the Legislature to cancel public hearings on that bill that it promised, advertised and scheduled. That prevented organizations like us from presenting our concerns to the Legislature.

* in 2010, passing weak legislation to address barriers in municipal and provincial elections that impede voters and candidates with disabilities, Bills 212 and 231. The Liberals used their majority to vote down a series of opposition amendments, presented at our request, that would have strengthened Bill 231 re Ontario provincial elections.

The Liberal Government's record during its third term in office, 2011 to the present, includes:

* in December 2012, enacting the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard, to address the prevention of certain new barriers in the built environment in public spaces such as recreational trails, beach trails, public parking, sidewalk curbs and public service areas inside buildings.

* in December 2013, enacting limited amendments to the Ontario Building Code to address the prevention of some new barriers in the construction of certain new buildings, and in major renovations of existing buildings. However, a promised Built Environment Accessibility Standard was not enacted under the AODA to address these barriers. This carves much of the built environment out of the AODA. Amendments to the Building Code, while helpful, are not an accessibility standard under the AODA, replete with all the protections and safeguards for the disability community that AODA accessibility standards ensure.

* no action on 2009 commitments to address barriers in existing buildings through the standards development process, promised to take place  after enacting the first part of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard.

* no action on the 2009 promise  to deal through the standards development process with access to residential housing.

* as of the summer of 2013, reforming the way new accessibility standards will be developed and existing ones will be reviewed, by assigning this task to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council.

* Not appointing all the new members to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council for at least six months in 2013.

* not deciding which accessibility standards to be enacted next. This is despite our efforts for almost three years to get the Government to develop the next accessibility standards in the areas of education, health and residential housing. The Government has had the question of which accessibility standards to develop next as a live issue for some five years.

* breaking its promise to effectively enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. On November 18, 2013, we revealed that according to the Government's records, it knew that fully 70% of private sector organizations with at least 20 employees violated the AODA. Yet the Government had not imposed any monetary penalties, or conducted a single inspection or audit, or issued a single compliance order, as of that time, against any private sector organizations. It later only belatedly took limited enforcement action, after negative publicity brought this to public light. As far as we have been told, it has only taken these later enforcement steps in relation to 2,500 of the 36,000 private sector organizations with at least 20 employees, that are known to have violated the AODA.

* not releasing its promised plan for enforcement of the AODA. On December 3, 2013, the Government publicly said it had such a plan. On February 20, 2014, the Government said this plan would be made public "in short order." 

* refusing for 10 months in 2012 to disclose requested information regarding non-compliance with the AODA and Government plans for enforcing the AODA. This information was only disclosed  after we filed a Freedom of Information Act Request and secured media publicity of the Government's attempt to charge $2,325 for providing the requested information.

* violating the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by not appointing the mandatory Independent Review of the AODA by May 31, 2013. The Government was in violation of the AODA for a full 102 days, after which it belatedly appointed University of Toronto Dean Mayo Moran to conduct that Independent Review.

* in the 2012 summer, releasing an on-line policy guide on implementing the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation.

* regarding the 2007 and 2011 election promises to review all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers, the Government only started this review in 2011. It has only committed to complete the review of 52 high-impact laws by the end of 2014.

* not keeping its 2011 election promise to make further progress towards making Ontario  elections fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities. We have seen no progress on this since the 2011 election.

* proposing in 2012 to take action that breaks its 2011 election promise not to reduce any protections in the AODA or in regulations enacted under it. In 2012, the Government tried to reduce disability entitlements in an accessibility standard passed in 2011, without complying with the AODA’s process for reviewing and revising an existing accessibility standard. In late 2012, the Government withdrew that proposal under pressure from the disability community.

* not keeping its 2011 election promise to extend the Government's disability accessibility requirements, set out  in its 2011 Ten-Year Infrastructure Plan, to information technology and electronic kiosks.

* not keeping its 2011 election promise to restore the full-time position of Assistant Deputy Minister of Government Services for Accessibility in the Ontario Public Service

* as far as we can ascertain, not keeping its 2007 election promise regarding including disability in school curriculums, and advocating to self-governing professions to include disability accessibility training in their curricula.

* not announcing a comprehensive disability accessibility legacy plan for the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games, in which the Government is substantially investing.

Record of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party has made disability accessibility commitments in two of the Ontario elections since 1995. These were made in the 1995 and 2007 elections. The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party was in power from 1995 to 2003. It has been in opposition from 2003 to the present.

* In the 1995 election, the Conservative Party under Mike Harris promised to enact a disability accessibility law in its first term, and to work with Ontarians with disabilities to develop it. It did not pass such legislation in its first term.

* Premier Harris repeatedly refused to meet representatives of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.

* in 1998, voting for a landmark resolution, which the Liberal Party introduced into the Legislature,  that called for Ontario to enact a disability accessibility law that fulfilled our 11 principles to ensure that it is strong and effective.

* In 2001, during its second term in power, it passed the weak, unenforceable Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001. It defeated virtually all opposition amendments, offered at our request to strengthen that legislation.

The Conservative Party's record in opposition from 2003 to the present includes:

* voting for the AODA in 2005 when the Liberal Government introduced it, and pressing for amendments at our request, to further strengthen that law.

* promising in the 2007 election to strengthen the implementation of the AODA.

* in the Legislature, raising our concerns about the Liberal Government's insufficient implementation and enforcement of the AODA, though not as often as did the NDP.

* in 2006, at our request, opposing the Liberal Government's privatization of human rights enforcement under the Liberal Government's controversial Bill 107. The Conservative Party also proposed amendments to that bill which we sought.

* in 2010, at our request, proposing amendments to strengthen the Liberal Government's weak accessibility reforms to Ontario election legislation, Bill 231.

Record of the Ontario New Democratic Party

Since the 1995 election, the Ontario New Democratic party has made disability accessibility commitments in every election except the 1995 election. It made disability accessibility commitments in the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections. The NDP was in power from 1990 to 1995. It has been in opposition since 1995.

The New Democratic Party's record When it was in power from 1990 to 1995, included:

* not introducing or passing a disability accessibility law into the Legislature. The organized disability accessibility law movement started during that period. When NDP backbencher Gary Malkowski introduced his own private member's disability accessibility bill into the Legislature in 1994, the NDP Government let it proceed to Second Reading and public hearings, but never said it would support its enactment. That bill died when the 1995 Ontario general election was called.

* passing the Employment Equity Act which would have torn down workplace barriers impeding persons with disabilities and certain other groups. The subsequent Conservative Government under Premier Mike Harris repealed that legislation.

The record of the New Democratic Party while in opposition from 1995 to the present includes:

* pressing the Conservative Government under Premier Mike Harris from 1995 to 2003 to keep its promise to pass a disability accessibility law. It sought to strengthen the weak Conservative Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 when it was before the Legislature in 2001.

* in 1998, voting for a landmark resolution, which the Liberal Party introduced into the Legislature,  that called for Ontario to enact a disability accessibility law that fulfilled our 11 principles to ensure that it is strong and effective.

* promising in 1999 and 2003 to enact a strong, effective disability accessibility law, if elected.

* seeking to strengthen the Conservatives' weak Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 when it was being debated in the Legislature.

* voting for the AODA in 2005 when the Liberal Government introduced it. It also pressed for amendments to further strengthen it.

* promising in the 2007 and 2011 elections to strengthen the implementation of the AODA.

* in the Legislature, raising our concerns about the Liberal Government's insufficient implementation and enforcement of the AODA.

* in 2006, at our request, opposing the Liberal Government's privatization of human rights enforcement under the Liberal Government's controversial Bill 107. It also proposed amendments that we sought to that legislation.

* in 2010, at our request, proposing amendments to strengthen the Liberal Government's weak accessibility reforms to Ontario election legislation, Bill 231.