ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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SARNIA CITY COUNCIL AND MAYOR DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPALITIES OF ONTARIO'S CALL FOR THE PROPOSED PROVINCIAL ACCESSIBILITY REGULATION TO BE WEAKENED – GET YOUR MUNICIPALITY TO DO THE SAME!

May 17, 2011

SUMMARY

We are delighted that on the recommendation of Sarnia's Accessibility Advisory Committee, the City of Sarnia and its mayor have both publicly distanced themselves from the call by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to weaken the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation which the McGuinty Government is now finalizing. We urge other Ontario municipalities to do the same!

Back on April 5, 2011 the AODA Alliance made public its serious concerns about the fact that AMO and the Ontario Public Transit Association (OPTA) were using public funds to advocate to weaken the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation that the McGuinty Government is finalizing. That regulation is intended to address barriers that persons with disabilities face in getting access to employment, transportation, and information and communication.

If anything, the McGuinty Government's proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation needs to be made stronger, not weaker. On April 5, 2011, we urged municipal accessibility advisory committees to call on their city councils and mayors to distance themselves from AMO's and OPTA's troubling and counterproductive opposition. For more on this click here: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/04052011.asp

We here report on three great steps forward on this issue, all coming from Sarnia.

It is great that Sarnia's accessibility advisory committee heeded our call. It passed a resolution urging Sarnia to distance itself from AMO on this issue. That resolution is set out below, in the body of the supportive report to Sarnia City Council from Sarnia staff.

We are also delighted that on May 9, 2011, Sarnia City Council passed that resolution. We set out that resolution below, as shared with us by Sarnia City staff.

This helps show that AMO's view is not universally shared by all Ontario municipalities. When persons with disabilities fought for enactment of the AODA from 1994 to 2005, many municipal councils passed wonderful resolutions, that called for a strong Disabilities Act to be passed by Queen's Park. In contrast, this year, AMO and OPTA take a troubling approach to achieving accessibility for persons with disabilities giving lip service to the goal of accessibility, followed by a call for the proposed new accessibility regulation to be delayed and weakened.

Finishing off this triple-header, Sarnia's mayor, Michael Bradley is quoted extensively in a powerful news release, evidently issued by some community groups, on May 6, 2011. the mayor also strongly distances himself from AMO and OPTA. He called on other municipalities in Ontario to do the same, explicitly urging them to follow the recommendations of the AODA Alliance Group in Ontario.

We set out the related, compelling news release below which was provided to us. Among other things, it states (referring to AMO's call for the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation to be weakened):

"Bradley likened this move by the AMO and OPT A to slow changes related to the rights of persons’ who have a disability to similar moves that were made in some of the southern United States during the American Civil Rights movement for African Americans in the 1960’s. “Ontario’s population is made up of close to 20% of persons who have a disability and combined with family and friends it amounts to over 50% of the population,” he said. “Do municipalities really want to disenfranchise that amount of their citizenry?” He went on to quote the late great Martin Luther King and the “fierce urgency of now”."

We urge each municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, each municipal council and each mayor in Ontario  to follow Sarnia's lead. For action tips, click here:  http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/04052011.asp

Let us know what results you achieve. Contact us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

The Sarnia City Council's resolution also calls for provincial funding to help municipalities comply with accessibility standards. For our part, we emphasize that even without new provincial funding, it is the responsibilities of all organizations in the public and private sectors to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, whether the Ontario Government finances that activity or not.

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REPORT TO SARNIA CITY COUNCIL

THE CORPORATION OF THE CITY OF SARNIA
People Serving People
CORPORATE SERVICES

OPEN SESSION REPORT

To:             Mayor Bradley and Members of Sarnia City Council
From:         Lloyd Fennell, City Manager
Date:          April 20th, 2011
Subject:      AODA Integrated Standards

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee requests that Sarnia City Council pass the following resolutions:

1.         That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario by 2025 be supported; and

2.         That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and support.

BACKGROUND

The AODA Alliance has been asking municipal accessibility advisory committees to distance themselves from AMO's submission on the Integrated Accessibility Standard to the province on behalf of municipal governments.

A copy of the AODA Alliance Communication as well as the AMO submission of March 16, 2011, and the AMO News Release of April 14, 2011 have been attached for Council's Information.

COMMENTS

The following is a brief summary of the AODA Alliance concerns regarding AMO's position:

           AMO is asking to delay timelines for Integrated Accessibility Regulations (IAR);

           AMO is asking for the legislation to be delayed until reviewed by an independent regulatory impact assessment to do a cost benefits analysis, however most provisions of the 1AR are already obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and are not new;

           AMO already participated and provided input into the standards committees;

           Human Rights Commission, AODA Alliance, many disability groups and AAC's feel IAR is already not strong enough and too slow;

           The AODA Alliance is concerned that AMO is using public funds to fight for delays in advancing accessibility, and:

           Without the above resolution, there may be a perception that AMO is representing all municipalities when working to slow this legislation.

Unlike the position of AMO, as set out in their March 16th submission, the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee supports the disability communities in their concern that the provincial government should move forward with timelines as in the draft legislation. The Committee further agrees with the disability communities that many of the provisions of the draft Integrated Legislation are already obligations under existing human rights legislation and should not be further delayed past the timelines already put forward in the draft legislation.

CONSULTATION

This report is being brought forward at the request of the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee after consultation with the AODA Alliance.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

There are no financial consequences for the preparation of this report.

Reviewed by: Lloyd Fennell, City Manager

           

Approved by: Brian Knott, Acting City Manager

This report was prepared by Susan Weatherston, Accessibility Coordinator

Attachments:    AODA Alliance Communication
                        AMO Submission of March 16, 2011
                        AMO News Release of April 14, 2011
                        Report to Council dated September 28, 2010

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RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE SARNIA CITY COUNCIL ON MAY 9, 2011

The following motion regarding AODA Integrated Standards was adopted by Sarnia City Council at its meeting held on May 9, 2011:

That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario by 2025 be supported; and

That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and support; and

That the Government of Ontario commit to the provision of financial resources to enable municipalities to meet standards.

            *****

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Mayor Mike Bradley Speaks out Against Associations

Sarnia, Ontario, May 6th, 2010 - Mayor Mike Bradley spoke out against the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) as well as the Ontario Public Transit Association (OPT A).

Both organizations have each urged the McGuinty Government to delay enactment of the Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR) made under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (commonly known as the AODA) and to weaken its protections for persons with disabilities. Mayor Bradley spoke out against the groups after receiving recommendations from top-ranking City staff based upon recommendations made by the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Bradley likened this move by the AMO and OPT A to slow changes related to the rights of persons’ who have a disability to similar moves that were made in some of the southern United States during the American Civil Rights movement for African Americans in the 1960’s. “Ontario’s population is made up of close to 20% of persons who have a disability and combined with family and friends it amounts to over 50% of the population,” he said. “Do municipalities really want to disenfranchise that amount of their citizenry?” He went on to quote the late great Martin Luther King and the “fierce urgency of now”. Mayor Bradley also announced his plans to request Sarnia City Council this Monday evening to follow the recommendations made by The Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee requesting that Sarnia City Council pass the following resolutions:

1. That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario

by 2025 be supported; and

2. That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and

the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and support.

Hoping that this will lead other municipalities to do the right thing and follow the recommendations of the AODA Alliance Group in Ontario.

Mayor Mike Bradley is well known for his on-going Mayor’s Challenge to the other Mayor’s in Ontario -- “to do the right thing and take up the challenge of hiring persons’ who have a disability.”

Mark Wafer, who owns 7 Tim Horton’s stores in Toronto, area also spoke out in support of Mayor Bradley’s comments. Wafer is a business owner who is out in front of AODA as the first fast food franchise in Ontario to be certified under AODA. Wafer stated, “This argument that business can’t afford to comply with the AODA is simply ridiculous. It’s stupid not to comply. As a business owner complying with all of the requirements of the AODA has allowed me to see a whole new demographic of customers and I have the increased profits to prove it.”

Contact:                        Mayor Mike Bradley
                                     519-332-0560                                     Mike Bradley mayor@sarnia.ca
Contact:                        Mark Wafer, mwafer@xplornet.com

    Backgrounder:               AODA Report