ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

The AODA Alliance Writes Kent Hehr, Canada's New National Minister for People with Disabilities, who is Now Responsible for Developing Canada's Promised National Accessibility Law

August 29, 2017

Summary

On August 28, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his federal cabinet. As a result, Mr. Kent Hehr was appointed Canada's new Minister Responsible for People with Disabilities. He takes over responsibility for leading the development and enactment of the new national accessibility law which Prime Minister Trudeau promised in the 2015 federal election.

On August 29, 2017, the AODA Alliance wrote Minister Hehr to extend our congratulations and offer our help. We set out that letter below. We also acknowledge with thanks the important and ground-breaking leadership and effort by Carla Qualtrough, the minister who has had responsibility for this issue over the past two years.

It remains realistic for the Federal Government to bring forward a bill and introduce it into Parliament by the end of this year or early next year, despite this cabinet shuffle. As himself a person with a disability, Minister Hehr has ample life experience with the many disability accessibility barriers in our society. That and his other skills will enable him to quickly get up to speed on this file. Moreover, Carla Qualtrough has moved to another portfolio that will be important to the success of this legislation, namely responsibility for public services and procurement.

Our letter to Minister Hehr points him to key resources that will help him dig into this issue, including the online recording of the August 22, 2017 policy experts' conference on what the promised national accessibility law should include.

At the end of this Update, as always, we offer you links to key background resources, and to information on how to sign up for or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance Updates.

MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance's August 29, 2017 Letter to Canada's New Minister for People with Disabilities, Kent Hehr

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance www.aodaalliance.org

To: The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister for Persons with Disabilities

Via email: kent.hehr@parl.gc.ca

25 Eddy Street, 14th Floor
Les Terrasses de la Chaudiere
Gatineau Quebec, K1A 0M5

Dear Minister

I write on behalf of the AODA Alliance. We are a non-partisan grassroots disability coalition in Ontario that has led the campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario since 2005.

We want to congratulate you on your appointment on August 28, 2017, as Canada's Minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities. You now take over the lead responsibility for the development and enactment of the national accessibility legislation which your Government promised to enact in the 2015 federal election.

We are eager to offer you any and all assistance as you take on this historic task. There are many great sources of input and advice from Canada's disability community. We would welcome the chance to continue to be counted among them.

Your colleague the Honourable Carla Qualtrough is to be heartily commended for her strong and inclusive leadership on this issue over the past two years. She correctly said time and again that Canada has a chance to make history, as it creates the promised national accessibility law. That she is now to serve as the federal minister responsible for public services and for procurement means that she will be in a great position to support your work on the finalization, enactment and implementation of the promised national accessibility law.

Your predecessor, Minister Qualtrough, had indicated her aim to bring forward a bill to Parliament by the end of this year or early next year. May we bring to your attention           three easy-to-use resources that will help you quickly get up to speed on this important project:

1. One year ago, we made public a 33-page Discussion Paper, eventually to be published, which outlines the key ingredients that a strong national accessibility law should include. During Minister Qualtrough's nationwide public consultations over the past year, there was clear support for the key ingredients set out in that Discussion Paper. You can find the Discussion Paper on what the promised national accessibility law should include by visiting:
 http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/august-19-2016-discussion-paper-on-a-Canadians-with-Disabilities-Act-by-David-Lepofsky.docx

2. Just one week ago, on August 22, 2017, I had the privilege of chairing and moderating a three-hour online policy expert's conference on what the promised national accessibility law should include. Minister Qualtrough attended two of the three hours. Your deputy minister on this issue, Lori Sterling, attended the entire conference.

Organized under the auspices of the Alliance for an Inclusive and Accessible Canada, and held  at OCAD University's Inclusive Design Research Centre, with federal funding, this event brought together experts from around the world, sharing advice for your Government on the tough issues that you must decide upon when designing this law. As a volunteer leading the discussion, I probed each speaker to give your Government the best advice available.

I am pleased to report that you can watch this entire three-hour conference from the comfort of your office or home. My voice is a bit over-modulated for the first twenty minutes, but all others are clear throughout, and my voice becomes clear after that initial period. To watch the policy experts conference on what Canada's promised national accessibility law should include, visit:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94PEEbhI4TU

3. Earlier this summer, your Government released a helpful report on the key findings arising from Minister Qualtrough's cross-Canada public consultation.

To read the Federal Government's report on its consultation on the promised national accessibility law, visit
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05292017-Federal-Accessibility-Legislation.docx

To read the AODA Alliance's commentary on the Federal Government's report on its consultation, visit:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06132017.asp

We would welcome an opportunity to meet with you. We look forward to continuing to work together with your Government on the development and enactment of this historic legislation.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc:  The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Email: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement
Email: Carla.Qualtrough@parl.gc.ca

More Background from the AODA Alliance

To read the Federal Government's report on its public consultation on promised federal accessibility legislation.

To read the Federal Government's summer 2016 Discussion Guide for this consultation, released last summer.
 
To read the Discussion Paper on what the Canadians with Disabilities Act should include, which AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky made public in August, 2016.

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our "Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our "Picture Our Barriers" campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

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

We encourage you to use the Ontario Government's toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

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