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

JOIN OUR NON-PARTISAN CAMPAIGN TO GET THE GOVERNMENT-APPOINTED CHARLES BEER REPORT ON THE AODA FULLY IMPLEMENTED TO REVITALIZE THE AODA’S IMPLEMENTATION

June 17, 2010

SUMMARY

We now enter a new, important phase in our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities. After much hard work in 2009, the disability community successfully convinced the Government-appointed Charles Beer Independent Review to recommend that the Government breathe new life into the AODA. Mr. Beer echoed our call that the Government should revitalize its approach to the AODA by making transformative changes to its implementation, and by showing strengthened Government leadership on the AODA.

We now must convince the Ontario Government to fully implement the Report of the Charles Beer Independent Review of the AODA.

We need your help. We here offer easy-to-use tips on what you can do.

As always, our campaign is completely non-partisan. To kick it off, on June 15, 2010, we wrote all three party leaders. In our letter to Premier McGuinty, we ask him to commit to fully implement the Beer Report’s recommendations, except its proposal that the next Independent Review of the AODA be delayed from three years from now (which the AODA now requires) to four years from now. In our letters to Conservative leader Tim Hudak and NDP leader Andrea Horwath, we ask their respective parties to press the McGuinty Government to fully implement the Beer Report. In the event that the McGuinty Government does not do so, we ask each of the opposition parties to commit that if they are elected, they would implement that Report. Those letters are set out below. Their wording is quite similar.

Please join in this campaign. Please email, phone or fax Premier McGuinty and Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur. Also, contact Conservative leader Tim Hudak and NDP leader Andrea Horwath. We give you their contact information below. Urge them each to commit to fully implement all of the recommendations in the Charles Beer Independent Review Report on the AODA, except its proposal to delay the next Independent Review of the AODA.

Below we give you all the information you need to have at your fingertips to help. We:

Any time you can spend helping us would be greatly welcomed. Please circulate this update widely. Urge others to help with our campaign. Let us know what steps you have taken. Write us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

MORE DETAILS

1. Action Tips

Here is how you can help.

* Take a quick look at what the Beer Report recommends to improve the implementation of the AODA, and what the Government has said about this so far. For a quick summary of this, just read our letter to Premier McGuinty, set out below. It contains all you need.

If you want to read more, we can certainly give you more!

a) You can read the Beer Report at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05312010.asp

b) You can read the AODA Alliance’s analysis of the Beer Report at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06032010.asp

c) You can read the AODA Alliance’s December 11, 2009 brief to the Beer Independent Review at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12152009.asp

* Please email, fax, or phone the leaders of the three political parties, as well as the Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur (responsible for the AODA) You can even do something quaint, like writing a snail-mail letter.

Urge them to support all the Charles Beer Report’s recommendations, except for his proposal to delay the next AODA Independent Review by an additional year. Urge the Government to implement the full Report. Urge the opposition parties to press the Government on this, and to promise to put the Beer Report into full effect if they are elected.

Here is how to contact them:

To reach Premier McGuinty, you cannot write a public email address. You have to go to a website page and enter your email message there. Go to: http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/feedback

The Premier’s other contact information is:

Hon. Premier Dalton McGuinty
Room 281, Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1
Facsimile: (416) 325-9895
Voice phone: (416) 325-1941

To reach Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur:
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister
Community & Social Services
Hepburn Block
6th Floor, 80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1E9
Facsimile: (416) 325-3347
Email: mcssinfo@css.gov.on.ca
Voice phone (toll free): (888) 789-4199

To reach PC Leader Tim Hudak:
The Hon. Tim Hudak, Leader,
Official Opposition
Room 381, Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A8
facsimile: (416) 325-0491
email: tim.hudakco@pc.ola.org
Voice phone: (416) 325-0445

To reach NDP leader Andrea Horwath:
The Hon. Andrea Horwath, Leader
New Democratic Party
Room 113, Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A5
facsimile: (416) 325-8222
email: ndpmail@ndp.on.ca
Voice Phone: (416) 325-8300

* Call, email or fax your own member of the Ontario Legislature. Send them our letters to the three party leaders. Ask for their personal endorsement of the Beer Report.

* If you are a member of a municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, get your committee to pass a resolution calling on the Government to fully implement the Beer Report (except the one year delay in the next AODA Independent Review). Send that resolution to the Premier, the Minister and the two opposition party leaders. The resolution might simply say:

“Based on our experience with the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, be it resolved that our Accessibility Advisory Committee support the prompt implementation of the Charles Beer 2010 Independent Review Report on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and urge the Government and the two opposition parties to commit to this.”

* If you are a staff member, board member or volunteer of a community organization, urge your organization to write the Government and the two opposition leaders to urge them to support the prompt and full implementation of the Beer Report. Also, write the Government and opposition parties as an individual.

* Send your friends our letters to the three party leaders, family members, work colleagues, and people you know through community organizations. Urge them to learn more about this issue, and to also contact the three party leaders to endorse our message.

* If you use any social networking services like FaceBook or Twitter, post messages urging your friends to join our campaign.

* Urge your local media to cover the Beer Report. Try calling your local radio station’s call-in program to raise this subject. Tell them about barriers you still face and why you need them removed.


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8

June 15, 2010

Hon. Premier Dalton McGuinty
Room 281, Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1
Facsimile: (416) 325-9895

Dear Premier McGuinty,

Re: Requesting A Commitment to Fully Implement the Report of the Government-Appointed Charles Beer Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

As a non-partisan disability coalition, we are writing to ask your Government to commit to fully implement all the recommendations of the Report of the Government-appointed Charles Beer Independent Review on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), with one exception. We ask that you not implement the Report’s recommendation that the next Independent Review of the AODA be delayed from three years from now to four years from now.

Last year, your Government appointed former Liberal cabinet minister Charles Beer to conduct an Independent Review of the AODA and its implementation. At the urging of the disability community, your Government included in the AODA a requirement for this Independent Review. We wanted safeguards in the legislation to ensure that the AODA was being effectively implemented, and that Ontario was on schedule for achieving full accessibility by 2025, the deadline which your Government set in the AODA.

Many from the disability community, the business community and the broader public sector commendably invested their time and effort to give the Beer Independent Review their feedback on progress under the AODA to date. The AODA Alliance worked hard to ensure that as many from the disability community as possible took part in Mr. Beer’s consultations.

After thorough open public consultations, Mr. Beer’s Report concluded that despite the Government’s good intentions in its implementation of the AODA, for Ontario to reach full accessibility by 2025, there is a need for the Government to breathe new life into the AODA. It concluded that the Government needs to revitalize the AODA its implementation with transformative new measures, and with new Government leadership on the AODA. Mr. Beer made it clear that mere tinkering with the Government’s current implementation of the AODA would not be enough.

Mr. Beer’s Report and its findings reflect many of the concerns that we raised with him, and with your Government. His Report documents that there is concern in the disability community that Ontario is not on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. You can see our brief to the Beer Independent Review at
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12152009.asp

Mr. Beer made measured recommendations, after balancing the needs and concerns of the disability community on the one hand, and the obligated sectors including the business community, on the other. His recommendations did not go as far as we had wanted. We believe that his recommendations constitute the bare minimum of what now must be done to get Ontario back on schedule.

The Beer Report recommended that the Government should

  1. Harmonize the forthcoming new accessibility standards before enacting as regulations
  2. Renew leadership for implementation of the AODA by
    1. formally designating the Minister of Community and Social Services as the Minister Responsible for Accessibility
    2. strengthening the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario by:
      1. elevating the role of the assistant deputy minister for the Accessibility Directorate to deputy minister, and
      2. focusing on renewed priorities including a public awareness and education campaign to support the AODA
  3. Amend the AODA to establish an arm’s-length advisory body — the Ontario Accessibility Standards Board — to review and develop accessibility standards — replacing the standards development committee process.
  4. Strengthen support for municipal accessibility advisory committees that advise municipal governments on accessibility issues, and
  5. Not repeal the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 until addressing all of its contents in amendments to the AODA or in new accessibility standards.

Your Government has now had some four months to review the 68-page Beer Report. On June 1, 2010, when you were away from the Legislature, The minister of Community and Social Services, Ms. Madeleine Meilleur, speaking for the Government, publicly agreed that the Beer Report is “a good report.”

We hope and trust that you and your Government have complete confidence in Charles Beer, as the source of these recommendations. It was your Government that decided to enshrine this Independent Review of the AODA in law. It was your Government that selected Mr. Beer to conduct this Independent Review. When the Government appointed Mr. Beer to conduct this review in June 2009, the Ministry of community and Social Services’ website announced the following:

“Who will conduct the review? Why was he chosen?

Charles Beer has been appointed to conduct an independent review of the AODA.

This review must be completed by an objective third party. Charles Beer has both the knowledge and experience that is needed to conduct a balanced review.

Mr. Beer has extensive experience working with diverse stakeholders. Through his tenure as Minister of Community and Social Services, Mr. Beer gained in-depth knowledge of the disability community. In addition, his understanding of government legislation and policies will help ensure the review is informed and effective.”

Your Government has not made a comprehensive, public statement committing to fully implement all of the Beer Report’s recommendations. On May 31, 2010, when your Government made the beer Report public, it only identified one of the Beer Report recommendations so far that is keeping, namely the proposal that the forthcoming new accessibility standards on access to transportation, employment and information and communication, be harmonized with each other.

That was the Beer Report’s least ambitious recommendation. Implementing that one recommendation alone won’t correct the full range of concerns that the Beer Report identified with the AODA’s implementation. In any event, it is not clear whether your Government decided to harmonize those forthcoming standards as a result of the Beer Report, or whether your Government had already decided to do this before the Beer Report was delivered.

In Question Period on June 1, 2010, NDP leader Andrea Horwath asked the Community and Social Services Minister when the Government will implement the Beer Report. In response, Minister Meilleur said that your Government is implementing “a lot” of the Beer Report’s recommendations. She did not specify which recommendations are being implemented, beyond her May 31, 2010 announcement that the Government is harmonizing the forthcoming transportation, employment and information and communication accessibility standards.

We understand that it will be you, as Premier, who ultimately decides whether the Beer Report’s recommendations will be fully implemented. For example, Mr. Beer found that new Government leadership is needed on the AODA. That recommendation ultimately speaks to the Premier. To achieve this, among other things, he recommended that a new full-time deputy minister be appointed with lead responsibility for accessibility, that the Minister of Community and Social Services be formally designated as the Minister Responsible for Accessibility, and that “…in addition to the minister, it is important for the Premier and senior ministers to reinforce accessibility in their speeches and communications to the public.” It is the Premier who will decide whether to adopt these recommendations.

The only Beer Report recommendation with which we do not agree is its proposal that the next Independent Review of the AODA be moved back, from three years from now (which the AODA requires), to four years from now. The Bee RReport suggested that this delay was needed for the Government to set up the new Accessibility Standards Board, and to see how it is operating. We disagree. Ontario is not on schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025. We need the next Independent Review to start on schedule in three years. If it were delayed for an additional year before that review even begins, its report may not be made public until 2015, just ten years before the 2025 deadline for full accessibility. Ontarians with disabilities cannot afford to wait until 2015 to see if Ontario is back on schedule to reach full accessibility by 2025.

We have commended you and your Government for showing leadership and vision by legislatively committing Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025, and by enacting the AODA to achieve that goal. In the 2007 election, you showed commendable leadership by promising to strengthen the Government’s efforts at implementing the AODA. Mr. Beer’s Report shows that a series of specific additional measures are now needed to achieve the goal you set for Ontario back in 2005. We urge you to show that leadership now, by committing to adopt all the Beer Report recommendations, except for his proposed delay of the next Independent Review of the AODA. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you and your Government on fully implementing the Beer Report.

Yours sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont, Chair AODA Alliance

cc: Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister, Community & Social Services, fax (416) 325- 3347, via email madeleine.meilleur@ontario.ca

Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services via facsimile (416) 325-5240, via email marg.rappolt@ontario.ca

Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate via facsimile (416) 325-9620, via email Ellen.Waxman@ontario.ca


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8

June 15, 2010

The Hon. Tim Hudak, Leader,
Official Opposition
Room 381, Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A8
facsimile (416) 325-0491
email tim.hudakco@pc.ola.org

Dear Mr. Hudak,

Re: Requesting A Commitment to Fully Implement the Report of the Government-Appointed Charles Beer Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

As a non-partisan disability coalition, we are writing to ask your Party to press the McGuinty Government to fully implement all the recommendations of the Report of the Charles Beer Independent Review on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), with one exception. We have asked the Government not to implement the Report’s recommendation that the next Independent Review of the AODA be delayed from three years from now to four years from now. We also ask your Party to commit that if elected, you would fully implement the Beer Report.

Last year, the Government appointed Charles Beer to conduct an Independent Review of the AODA and its implementation. At the urging of the disability community, the Government had included in the AODA a requirement for this Independent Review. We wanted safeguards in the legislation to ensure that the AODA was being effectively implemented, and that Ontario was on schedule for achieving full accessibility by 2025, the deadline which the AODA set.

Many from the disability community, the business community and the broader public sector commendably invested their time and effort to give the Beer Independent Review their feedback on progress under the AODA to date. The AODA Alliance worked hard to ensure that as many from the disability community as possible took part in Mr. Beer’s consultations.

After thorough open public consultations, Mr. Beer’s Report concluded that despite the Government’s good intentions in its implementation of the AODA, for Ontario to reach full accessibility by 2025, the Government needs to breathe new life into the AODA. It found that the Government needs to revitalize its implementation with transformative new measures, and with new Government leadership on the AODA. Mr. Beer made it clear that mere tinkering with the Government’s current implementation of the AODA would not be enough.

Mr. Beer’s Report and its findings reflect many of the concerns that we have raised with him, and with the Government. His Report documents that there is concern in the disability community that Ontario is not on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. You can see our brief to the Beer Independent Review at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12152009.asp

Mr. Beer made measured recommendations, after balancing the needs and concerns of the disability community on the one hand, and the obligated sectors including the business community, on the other. His recommendations did not go as far as we had wanted. We believe that his recommendations constitute the bare minimum of what now must be done to get Ontario back on schedule.

The Beer Report recommended that the Government should

  1. Harmonize the forthcoming new accessibility standards before enacting as regulations
  2. Renew leadership for implementation of the AODA by
    1. formally designating the Minister of Community and Social Services as the Minister Responsible for Accessibility
    2. strengthening the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario by:
      1. elevating the role of the assistant deputy minister for the Accessibility Directorate to deputy minister, and
      2. focusing on renewed priorities including a public awareness and education campaign to support the AODA
  3. Amend the AODA to establish an arm’s-length advisory body — the Ontario Accessibility Standards Board — to review and develop accessibility standards — replacing the standards development committee process.
  4. Strengthen support for municipal accessibility advisory committees that advise municipal governments on accessibility issues, and
  5. Not repeal the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 until addressing all of its contents in amendments to the AODA or in new accessibility standards.

We very much appreciated your Party’s unanimous support for the AODA in 2005, including your Party’s proposing amendments to the AODA bill at the request of the disability community that would have made that legislation even stronger. We also appreciated your Party’s opposition in 2006 to the McGuinty Government’s bill 107 that privatized the enforcement of human rights in Ontario. We welcomed your Party’s making a series of election commitments to us in the 2007 election to strengthen the implementation of the AODA, as well as your recently pressing the Government to strengthen the weak Bill 231 (election reform legislation) to effectively assure equal access to the vote for voters with disabilities.

We also appreciate Conservative MPP Sylvia Jones’ writing the Community and Social Services Minister on June 3, 2010 to ask about the Government’s plans regarding implementation of the Beer Report. For your Party to now support the full implementation of the Beer Report would be consistent with these commendable earlier actions by your Party. For example, the Beer Report recommends that the process of developing proposed accessibility standards under the AODA be transferred to a new public agency that is arm's length from the Government, with the Government retaining the ultimate power to decide whether to enact those proposed accessibility standards. Your Party proposed amendments to that overall effect in 2005, at the request of the disability community. The Government rejected those amendments at that time.

The Government has now had some four months to review the 68-page Beer Report. During Question Period on June 1, 2010, the minister of Community and Social Services, Ms. Madeleine Meilleur, publicly agreed that the Beer Report is “a good report.”

We hope and trust that the Government has complete confidence in Charles Beer, as the source of these recommendations. It was the Government that decided to enshrine this Independent Review of the AODA in law, and that selected Mr. Beer to conduct this Independent Review. When the Government appointed Mr. Beer to conduct this review in June 2009, the Ministry of community and Social Services’ website announced the following:

“Who will conduct the review? Why was he chosen?

Charles Beer has been appointed to conduct an independent review of the AODA.

This review must be completed by an objective third party. Charles Beer has both the knowledge and experience that is needed to conduct a balanced review.

Mr. Beer has extensive experience working with diverse stakeholders. Through his tenure as Minister of Community and Social Services, Mr. Beer gained in-depth knowledge of the disability community. In addition, his understanding of government legislation and policies will help ensure the review is informed and effective.”

To date, the Government has not made a comprehensive public statement committing to fully implement all of the Beer Report’s recommendations. On May 31, 2010, when the Government made the beer Report public, it only identified one of the Beer Report recommendations so far that is keeping, namely the proposal that the forthcoming new accessibility standards on access to transportation, employment and information and communication, be harmonized with each other.

That was the Beer Report’s least ambitious recommendation. Implementing that one recommendation alone won’t correct the full range of concerns that the Beer Report identified with the AODA’s implementation. In any event, it is not clear whether the Government decided to harmonize those forthcoming standards as a result of the Beer Report, or whether the Government had already decided to do this before the Beer Report was delivered.

In Question Period on June 1, 2010, NDP leader Andrea Horwath asked the Community and Social Services Minister when the Government will implement the Beer Report. In response, Minister Meilleur said the Government is implementing “a lot” of the Beer Report’s recommendations. She did not specify which recommendations are being implemented, beyond her May 31, 2010 announcement that the Government is harmonizing the forthcoming transportation, employment and information and communication accessibility standards .

The only Beer Report recommendation with which we do not agree is its proposal that the next Independent Review of the AODA be moved back, from three years from now (which the AODA requires), to four years from now. The Beer Report suggested that this delay was needed for the Government to set up the new Accessibility Standards Board, and to see how it is operating. We disagree. Ontario is not on schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025. We need the next Independent Review to start on schedule in three years. If it were delayed for an additional year before that review even begins, its report may not be made public until 2015, just ten years before the 2025 deadline for full accessibility. Ontarians with disabilities cannot afford to wait until 2015 to see if Ontario is back on schedule to reach full accessibility by 2025.

We have commended you and your Party for supporting the enactment of the AODA, for urging amendments to strengthen it, for agreeing in the 2007 election to strategies to improve its implementation, and for opposing the privatization of human rights enforcement in Ontario. Mr. Beer’s Report shows that a series of specific additional measures are now needed to achieve the goal that the Legislature unanimously set for Ontario back in 2005. In the same spirit, we urge your Party to press the Government to fully implement the Beer Report, and to agree to implement it if the current Government does not. We would welcome the opportunity to brief your Party on the Beer Report if that would be helpful.

Yours sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont,
Chair AODA Alliance

cc: Hon, Christine Elliot, email cje@pc.ola.org , fax: 416-325-1423
Sylvia Jones, email sylvia.jones@pc.ola.org , fax: 416-325-1936
Ted Chudleigh, email ted.chudleigh@pc.ola.org , fax: 416-325-5750


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M4G 3E8
New Email Address: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Visit: http://www.aodalliance.org/

June 15, 2010

Hon. Andrea Horwath, Leader
New Democratic Party
Room 113, Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A5
facsimile (416) 325-8222
email ahorwath-qp@ndp.on.ca

Dear Ms. Horwath,

Re: Requesting A Commitment to Fully Implement the Report of the Government-Appointed Charles Beer Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

As a non-partisan disability coalition, we are writing to ask your Party to continue to press the McGuinty Government to fully implement all the recommendations of the Report of the Charles Beer Independent Review on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), with one exception. We have asked the Government not to implement the Report’s recommendation that the next Independent Review of the AODA be delayed from three years from now to four years from now. We also ask your Party to commit that if elected, you would fully implement the Beer Report.

Last year, the Government appointed Charles Beer to conduct an Independent Review of the AODA and its implementation. At the urging of the disability community, the Government had included in the AODA a requirement for this Independent Review. We wanted safeguards in the legislation to ensure that the AODA was being effectively implemented, and that Ontario was on schedule for achieving full accessibility by 2025, the deadline which the AODA set.

Many from the disability community, the business community and the broader public sector commendably invested their time and effort to give the Beer Independent Review their feedback on progress under the AODA to date. The AODA Alliance worked hard to ensure that as many from the disability community as possible took part in Mr. Beer’s consultations.

After thorough open public consultations, Mr. Beer’s Report concluded that despite the Government’s good intentions in its implementation of the AODA, for Ontario to reach full accessibility by 2025, the Government needs to breathe new life into the AODA. It found that the Government needs to revitalize its implementation with transformative new measures, and with new Government leadership on the AODA. Mr. Beer made it clear that mere tinkering with the Government’s current implementation of the AODA would not be enough.

Mr. Beer’s Report and its findings reflect many of the concerns that we have raised with him, and with the Government. His Report documents that there is concern in the disability community that Ontario is not on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. You can see our brief to the Beer Independent Review at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12152009.asp

Mr. Beer made measured recommendations, after balancing the needs and concerns of the disability community on the one hand, and the obligated sectors including the business community, on the other. His recommendations did not go as far as we had wanted. We believe that his recommendations constitute the bare minimum of what now must be done to get Ontario back on schedule.

The Beer Report recommended that the Government should

  1. Harmonize the forthcoming new accessibility standards before enacting as regulations
  2. Renew leadership for implementation of the AODA by
    1. formally designating the Minister of Community and Social Services as the Minister Responsible for Accessibility
    2. strengthening the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario by:
      1. elevating the role of the assistant deputy minister for the Accessibility Directorate to deputy minister, and
      2. focusing on renewed priorities including a public awareness and education campaign to support the AODA
  3. Amend the AODA to establish an arm’s-length advisory body — the Ontario Accessibility Standards Board — to review and develop accessibility standards — replacing the standards development committee process.
  4. Strengthen support for municipal accessibility advisory committees that advise municipal governments on accessibility issues, and
  5. Not repeal the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 until addressing all of its contents in amendments to the AODA or in new accessibility standards.

We very much appreciated your Party’s unanimous support for the AODA in 2005, including your Party’s proposing amendments to the AODA bill at the request of the disability community that would have made that legislation even stronger. We also appreciated your Party’s opposition in 2006 to the McGuinty Government’s bill 107 that privatized the enforcement of human rights in Ontario. We welcomed your Party’s making a series of election commitments to us in the 2007 election to strengthen the implementation of the AODA, as well as your recently pressing the Government to strengthen the weak Bill 231 (election reform legislation) to effectively assure equal access to the vote for voters with disabilities.

We also appreciated your asking the Government when it will implement the Beer Report, during Question Period on June 1, 2010. For your Party to support the full implementation of the Beer Report would be consistent with these earlier commendable actions by your Party. For example, the Beer Report recommends that the process of developing proposed accessibility standards under the AODA be transferred to a new public agency that is arms-length from the Government, with the Government retaining the ultimate power to decide whether to enact those proposed accessibility standards. Your Party proposed amendments to that overall effect in 2005, at the request of the disability community. The Government rejected those amendments at that time.

The Government has now had some four months to review the 68-page Beer Report. During Question Period on June 1, 2010 the minister of Community and Social Services, Ms. Madeleine Meilleur, publicly agreed that the Beer Report is “a good report.”

We hope and trust that the Government has complete confidence in Charles Beer, as the source of these recommendations. It was the Government that decided to enshrine this Independent Review of the AODA in law, and that selected Mr. Beer to conduct this Independent Review. When the Government appointed Mr. Beer to conduct this review in June 2009, the Ministry of Community and Social Services’ website announced the following:

“Who will conduct the review? Why was he chosen?

Charles Beer has been appointed to conduct an independent review of the AODA. This review must be completed by an objective third party. Charles Beer has both the knowledge and experience that is needed to conduct a balanced review. Mr. Beer has extensive experience working with diverse stakeholders. Through his tenure as Minister of Community and Social Services, Mr. Beer gained in-depth knowledge of the disability community. In addition, his understanding of government legislation and policies will help ensure the review is informed and effective.”

To date, the Government has not made a comprehensive public statement committing to fully implement all of the Beer Report’s recommendations. On May 31, 2010, when the Government made the beer Report public, it only identified one of the Beer Report recommendations so far that is keeping, namely the proposal that the forthcoming new accessibility standards on access to transportation, employment and information and communication, be harmonized with each other.

That was the Beer Report’s least ambitious recommendation. Implementing that one recommendation alone won’t correct the full range of concerns that the Beer Report identified with the AODA’s implementation. In any event, it is not clear whether the Government decided to harmonize those forthcoming standards as a result of the Beer Report, or whether the Government had already decided to do this before the Beer Report was delivered.

In Question Period on June 1, 2010, when you asked the Community and Social Services Minister when the Government will implement the Beer Report, Minister Meilleur said the Government is implementing “a lot” of the Beer Report’s recommendations. She did not specify which recommendations are being implemented, beyond her May 31, 2010 announcement that the Government is harmonizing the forthcoming transportation, employment and information and communication accessibility standards.

The only Beer Report recommendation with which we do not agree is its proposal that the next Independent Review of the AODA be moved back, from three years from now (which the AODA requires), to four years from now. The Beer Report suggested that this delay was needed for the Government to set up the new Accessibility Standards Board, and to see how it is operating. We disagree. Ontario is not on schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025. We need the next Independent Review to start on schedule in three years. If it were delayed for an additional year before that review even begins, its report may not be made public until 2015, just ten years before the 2025 deadline for full accessibility. Ontarians with disabilities cannot afford to wait until 2015 to see if Ontario is back on schedule to reach full accessibility by 2025.

We have commended you and your Party for supporting the enactment of the AODA, for urging amendments to strengthen it, for agreeing in the 2007 election to strategies to improve its implementation, and for opposing the privatization of human rights enforcement in Ontario. Mr. Beer’s Report shows that a series of specific additional measures are now needed to achieve the goal that the Legislature unanimously set for Ontario back in 2005. In the same spirit, we urge your Party to press the Government to fully implement the Beer Report, and to agree to implement it if the current Government does not. We would welcome the opportunity to brief your Party on the Beer Report if that would be helpful.

Yours sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont, Chair AODA Alliance

cc: Hon. Michael Prue, email mprue-qp@ndp.on.ca , fax 416-325-1367


LETTER TO COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTER FROM CONSERVATIVE PARTY MPP SYLVIA JONES

June 3, 2010

The Hon. Madeleine Meilleur
Ministry of Community and Social Service
80 Grosvenor St, 6th Flr, Hepburn Block
Toronto ON M7A 1E9

Dear Minister Meilleur:

I have some questions arising from reading Charles Beer’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, entitled “Charting a New Path.”

I would appreciate knowing what the next steps are following this report. I understand from your May 31st ministerial statement that you intend on following through on the recommendation of harmonizing the standards before they are set in regulation.

As only one standard has been implemented over the last five years, I would like to know whether your ministry is on track with the implementation of the other four standards, and the goal of full accessibility by your government’s 2025 deadline. As Mr. Beer pointed out in his report, 15% of Ontarians live with a disability, and the number continues to rise.

I look forward to receiving your response on this matter.

Sincerely,

Sylvia Jones, MPP
Dufferin-Caledon

cc. Mr. David Lepofsky, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance