ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
2014 Ontario Election Action Kit
May 20, 2014
Introduction - It's Time for Grassroots Action!
This Election Action Kit gives you quick and easy ways to help our non-partisan campaign to get stronger accessibility pledges from the political parties that want our votes. You don't need to be "into politics" or a veteran community grassroots advocate. Use our action tips! You just need to spend a few minutes. Circulate this Action Kit to others. Get them to do the same!
This Action Kit gives you what you need. It includes:
* our non-partisan disability accessibility goal in this election.
* easy-to-use practical action tips you can use in your community.
* a short, wonderful article in the May 18, 2014 Toronto Star. It says everything you need to know. Several of our action tips give you creative ways to use that article.
* At the bottom, links to great resources for anyone who wants to learn more, e.g. links to the major parties' letters to us listing their disability accessibility pledges, a summary and analysis of those pledges, our May 16, 2014 on-line Virtual News Conference on our disability accessibility election strategy, our March 3, 2014 letter that lists the commitments we asked the parties to make and a summary of the parties' 25 year records on disability accessibility.
We are ready for action! The AODA Alliance wrote the Ontario parties to list the disability accessibility commitments we need. We recently secured written commitments from the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP. On May 16, 2014, we made these promises all public at a novel, cool Virtual News Conference, that anyone can attend at any time on-line (See links at the end of this Action Kit.)
Now it's time for voters with disabilities and voters without disabilities across Ontario to swing into action. This Action Kit tells you how. Our many successes over two decades on the road to a fully accessible Ontario come from people like you, using action tips like these. Let us know what you can do. Write us at email@example.com
As in the last five elections, our non-partisan coalition does not try to elect or defeat any party or candidate. No matter who is elected, we want Ontario to promptly get back on schedule to become fully accessible by 2025, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires. You can help us, no matter what party you support, or if you support no party.
In this election, the leaders of the Ontario Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and NDP each made commitments in letters to our coalition. Their commitments vary. The NDP makes the strongest commitments. The Liberals commit to much less. The Conservatives promise the least. None of the parties' commitments are specific and strong enough to ensure that we reach full accessibility by 2025.
We aim to get candidates in each party to press their leader to make stronger commitments. We need to build better support on all sides of the Ontario Legislature, one member of the Legislature at a time.
We want to press candidates in each party to go beyond what their leaders have pledged. We want each party's back-benches to lead their leaders.
What to Ask the Candidates
Questions for Progressive Conservative Candidates
1. In this election and the last one, PC leader Tim Hudak has refused to give a clear commitment that a Conservative Government won't cut back on disability accessibility regulations, policies, programs or gains. We want to be sure our gains are not on any party's chopping block.
Will you personally commit to oppose any cuts to any disability accessibility regulations, policies, programs or gains we have made? Will you commit to urge Tim Hudak to do the same?
2. Do you agree that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act should be effectively enforced? Will you commit to urge Tim Hudak to pledge to effectively enforce this law?
Questions for Liberal Candidates
1. People with disabilities face too many barriers when trying to get an education, or use our health care system, or find a place to live. We have been trying for almost three years to get the Liberal Ontario Government to create accessibility standards in these three areas. Under the Disabilities Act, an accessibility standard lets organizations know what they need to do to become accessible, and spells out time frames for action.
Rather than deciding which accessibility standards to make next, the Liberal Ontario Government has been dithering for years. In this election, Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne has only said that at some future date, she will decide whether to create an accessibility standard for education or health care or both. She doesn't say which. She says nothing about accessible housing.
Do you agree that people with disabilities deserve accessibility to education, AND health care services, AND a place to live? Will you commit to urge Kathleen Wynne to make accessibility standards in these three areas?
2. The Liberal Ontario Government promised us in the 2007 and 2011 elections to make voting fully accessible for voters with disabilities. Yet they haven't fixed the problem. In this election, Kathleen Wynne just makes a vague promise to work on it.
Do you agree that every voter, regardless of their disability, should be able to get into any polling station, and should be able to privately mark their own ballot in secret and verify their choice? Will you commit to urge Kathleen Wynne to make a specific commitment to test telephone and internet voting, to help make voting accessible to one million voters with disabilities?
Questions for the New Democratic Party
1. NDP leader Andrea Horwath has committed to come up with a plan to enforce the Disabilities Act, but gave no specifics. The Liberal Party said they will establish a toll free number, so the public can report violations of the Disabilities Act.
Do you agree that the public should have a toll-free number to report violations of the Disabilities Act? Will you commit to urge Andrea Horwath to pledge to establish one?
2. The Liberals promised to annually report to the public on how many organizations are complying with the Disabilities Act, and on their enforcement efforts. The Liberals track-record on enforcing this law is terrible. Yet Andrea Horwath did not commit to annually report to the public on compliance with the Disabilities Act and enforcement efforts.
Do you agree that the Ontario Government should annually report to the public on how many organizations are complying with the Disabilities Act? Will you commit to urge Andrea Horwath to commit to do this?
Action Tip#1: Raise Our Disability Accessibility Issues Directly With the Candidates And Their Campaign Offices in Your Community
* Contact the campaign offices of the candidates running in your riding. Email or fax them the May 18, 2014 Toronto Star article on the election's disability issues, and this Action Kit. Ask them what their position is on the questions for the parties listed earlier in this Action Kit. Urge them or their campaign workers to support our non-partisan call that the next Ontario Government make faster progress towards full accessibility by 2025, and not cut any gains we've made to date.
Action Tip #2: Widely Circulate the Excellent May 18 2014 Toronto Star Article on the Election's Accessibility Issues
* Paste the May 18, 2014 Toronto star article, set out later in this Action Kit, into an email. Send it to your friends and family. In your email’s subject line, you might say “Read About this Election’s Disability Accessibility Issues.” In your email you could suggest that the recipient forward it on to their friends and family.
* Print up copies of the May 18, 2014 Toronto Star article. Give hard copies of it to your friends and family. Keep a pile in a handy place at home to give to visitors.
* Post a copy of the May 18, 2014 Toronto Star article on public bulletin boards.
* Bring copies of the May 18, 2014 Toronto Star article with you to community organization meetings and social gatherings. Hand them out, or leave them on a table where others make leaflets and other such things available for the public.
* Drop copies of the May 18, 2014 Toronto Star article at neighbours' homes. If you live in an apartment, leave it at neighbours' doors or in their mail slots.
* If you use public transit, bring copies of the May 18, 2014 Toronto Star article to a bus or subway station. Hand it out to passengers while you wait for your bus or subway. If you use para-transit, make copies available in the para-transit vehicle you ride.
Action Tip #3: Raise Our Issues at All Candidates Debates and Other Election Events in Your Community
* Publicly ask candidates the questions we list earlier in this Action Kit. Ask them to lead their party leaders, because the party leaders are not showing the strong leadership on disability accessibility that Ontarians with disabilities need.
* Bring many copies of the May 18, 2014 Toronto Star article on the election's disability issues to hand out at these events.
* If you hear that an All-Candidates Debate or other campaign event may be held in an inaccessible location, immediately raise it with the campaigns and media. Let us know about it. We have tweeted every candidate on Twitter a call for them to pledge not to attend an inaccessible All-Candidates Debate. Email us if this issue arises in your community, at firstname.lastname@example.org
* If you have more time to help us, organize an All-Candidates' Debate in your community on disability issues. National Access Awareness Week will be from June 1 to 7, 2014. This falls right in the midst of this election campaign. It is a great time to schedule an election event on accessibility.
Action Tip #4: Bring Our Message to Your Local Media
* Contact your local media. Urge them to cover this issue. Email or fax them the May 18, 2014 Toronto Star article on the election's disability issues, and this Action Kit. Let them know about our grassroots election blitzes that many in the mainstream media often don't sufficiently cover. Send them the links at the end of this Action Kit to our May 16, 2014 Virtual News Conference and the parties' election promises to us. Urge them to cover these election issues that concern over 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities, as well as their families and friends. Remind them that the number of persons with disabilities in Ontario is growing as the population ages.
* If you know any reporters, columnists or editors in your community, urge them to cover this.
* Call in to phone-in radio shows. Bring our issue directly to the public. Educate the audience. This Action Kit gives you all you need.
* If a candidate or party leader is on a phone-in program, call to ask the questions for the parties we list earlier in this Action Kit.
* Write a guest column or letter to the editor on our issue for your local newspaper. Feel free to cut and paste as much as you want from this Action Kit, our AODA Alliance Updates, and our website.
Action Tip #5: Use Social Media like Facebook and Twitter to Spread the Word
* 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 that you "like" our specific postings on the Ontario election and click to share them with your Facebook friends.
* Post a direct link on your Facebook wall to our May 16, 2014 Virtual News Conference, and to the important documents we made available via that on-line event. Use the key links at the end of this Action Kit.
* If you use Twitter, be sure to follow us. We are at @aodaalliance. Our chair David Lepofsky is at @davidlepofsky. We use both addresses to share the same updates. Following either will ensure that you get the latest news. In addition to tweeting our AODA Alliance Updates that you can also get via email, we also use Twitter to share other quick bits and bites of information about this election's disability issues, and about disability issues around the world, that may not find their way into our email AODA Alliance Updates.
* Encourage others to follow us on Twitter. Re-tweet our AODA Alliance tweets. Use Twitter to widely circulate the link at the end of this Action Kit to our May 16, 2014 Ontario Election Virtual News Conference.
Action Tip #6: Community Organizations -- Spread The Word Through Your Networks!
* If you are a staff member, volunteer or board member of a community organization, or are on a Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, please use these networks to spread the word on this election's disability accessibility issues.
* Get your organization to link its website to ours. Make this link directly to:
Your link might say “Learn about the campaign to make Ontario fully accessible for over 1.5 million people with disabilities.”
* Get your organization to take the steps we list earlier regarding social media.
The Toronto Star May 18, 2014
Disability alliance calls for ambitious agenda; Provisions in party platforms so far aren't impressive, accessibility advocates say
Andrea Horwath's New Democrats are the most committed to upholding legislation aimed at making Ontario barrier-free by 2025, but are "light on specifics," say accessibility advocates.
The governing Liberals' commitment under Kathleen Wynne to enforce the 2005 accessibility law is "very tepid," however a promised 24-hour telephone hotline for complaints is a "breakthrough."
Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives offer Ontarians with disabilities "by far the least" of the three parties vying for support in the June 12 provincial election. However, after ignoring the issue in the last election, at least the Tories have responded to queries about where they stand this time, advocates add.
"The three parties unanimously passed the disabilities act in 2005," said David Lepofsky, of the non-partisan Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.
"But dithering by the government since the summer of 2011 has led Ontario to fall further behind schedule," he said in a "virtual news conference" posted online Friday. "We need strong leadership and bold commitments to get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025."
The alliance, which has been pressing politicians to enact and then enforce accessibility legislation for two decades, sent letters to the three party leaders in March, asking where they stand on eight areas of concern.
These include a commitment not to weaken the disability legislation or cut regulatory gains; to endorse specific enforcement measures such as a 24-hour telephone complaint hotline; to bring in electronic or telephone voting as an alternative to inaccessible polling stations; and to promise not to spend public money to erect new barriers.
This is just the third election since 1995 that all parties have answered the coalition's letters, Lepofsky noted. (The other election where all three parties responded was in 2007.)
In light of what it regards as a weak showing by Hudak and Wynne, who are leading the polls, the alliance is calling on voters to encourage candidates to support a more ambitious agenda. More than 1.8 million people in the province have some physical, mental, sensory, learning or intellectual disability, Lepofsky noted.
"Far too many of them face barriers when they try to get a job or go to school, ride public transit, or simply go shopping," Lepofsky said.
"Everyone eventually gets a disability as they age, and suffers from these barriers. And these barriers hurt our economy."
As a start, Lepofsky has tweeted every candidate with a Twitter account, asking them not to participate in a non-accessible all-candidates' meeting. "Because the leaders are not leading sufficiently, we believe it's time for the backbenchers to lead the leaders," Lepofsky said. "It is crucial to ensure the gains we have made are not at risk."
Laurie Monsebraaten Toronto Star
To watch the AODA Alliance's virtual news conference, visit http://youtu.be/05AoTreGF7A
To read the Ontario Liberal Party's 2014 election commitments to the AODA Alliance on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-pledges-Kathleen-Wynne.asp
To read the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party's 2014 election commitments to the AODA Alliance on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-pledges-Tim-Hudak.asp
To read the Ontario New Democratic Party's 2014 election commitments to the AODA Alliance on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-pledges-Andrea-Horwath.asp
To read the AODA Alliance's March 3, 2014 letter to the party leaders, setting out the specific disability accessibility commitments in this election that the AODA Alliance seeks, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03042014.asp
To read the speaking notes for the AODA Alliance's May 16, 2014 virtual news conference, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-accessibility-issues-speaking-notes.asp
To read the AODA Alliance's summary of the three parties' 2014 election commitments on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-accessibility-pledges.asp
To read the AODA Alliance's analysis of the three parties' 2014 commitments on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-analysis-of-accessibility-pledges.asp
To see the records of the Liberals, PCs and NDP on disability accessibility from 1990 to the present, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05072014.asp
For full background on the ongoing campaign to make Ontario disability-accessible, visit www.aodaalliance.org
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