ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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Read the August 24, 2011 Letter from the Ontario New Democratic Party to the AODA Alliance Setting Out its 2011 Election Commitments on Disability Accessibility

September 2, 2011

SUMMARY

August 24, 2011

David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont

Chair, AODA Alliance

1929 Bayview Avenue

Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8

Dear David Lepofsky,

Thank you for the opportunity to outline the Ontario NDP’s stance on the important issues you and the AODA Alliance Committee advocate for.

Please allow me to respond to your questions point-by-point:

-          The Ontario NDP recognizes the vital importance of building a truly accessible Ontario. That is why we have worked to strengthen the AODA and other legislation with accessibility implications, whenever possible. New Democrats are committed to fully implementing the AODA and related initiatives.

 

-          In addition to the full implementation of the AODA, New Democrats also support the timely enactment of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard and the accompanying amendments to the Ontario Building Code. We are committed to working with the AODA Alliance and other stakeholders to develop additional accessibility standards in the next session of the Legislature.

 

-          Losing rights and protections for persons with disabilities goes against the goal of full accessibility. Therefore, New Democrats do not support any measure that would weaken accessibility protections in Ontario. Charles Beer’s 2010 Report on the AODA included recommendations that, if acted on, would ensure Ontario is able to achieve full accessibility by 2025. New Democrats support the implementation of Beer’s report, especially the recommendations that do not require legislative amendments.

 

-          Coordination and clear expectations for the whole of government and the Public Service are necessary for achieving the goals of the AODA. The McGuinty government has ignored recommendations to designate a lead Minister and Ministry and this has come at a cost (i.e. the proposed elimination of the Employment Accommodation Fund). As noted above, the Ontario NDP supports the recommendations of the Beer report and understands the importance of a coordinated approach to fulfilling the requirements of the AODA. Ontario’s New Democrats will oppose any weakening of protections for persons with disabilities and this includes accommodation programs.

 

-          New Democrats are committed to the full enforcement of the AODA. The AODA Alliance’s recommendation to allow existing government inspectors to enforce the AODA is a sensible proposal that is supported by the Ontario NDP.

 

-          The Ontario NDP is committed to working with all stakeholders to find opportunities to strengthen accessibility requirements in Ontario. Including these requirements in Ontario’s Ten-Year Infrastructure Plan was a step forward. New Democrats would maintain and look for opportunities to strengthen these standards by partnering with the AODA Alliance and other relevant stakeholders.

 

-          The Ontario NDP worked closely with the AODA Alliance to bring forward numerous amendments to Bill 231 that would have strengthened its accessibility provisions. We remain committed to these issues and ensuring full accessibility in elections for both voters and candidates. The NDP would be supportive of introducing legislation that implements the substantive issues addressed in our amendments to Bill 231. 

 

-          A comprehensive review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers is long overdue. The Ontario NDP remains committed to this important undertaking, including the introduction of an omnibus Bill, and would accelerate the current review process.  

 

-          Designating a Minister responsible for accessibility issues in Ontario is a necessary first step in developing a coordinated education strategy.  The public education campaign you described would require input and buy-in from multiple stakeholders. We will engage all relevant stakeholders in order to develop a comprehensive education strategy and meet the goals outlined in your letter.

 

-          The Ontario NDP had very serious concerns with the Liberal government’s overhaul of the Human Rights System in Ontario. We will continue to work to improve access to legal services and other human rights protections for persons with disabilities.

 

-          The Ontario NDP is committed to fostering our relationship with the AODA Alliance. We would be pleased to meet with your group, as requested in your letter.

 

I hope this letter addresses your concerns.

Sincerely,

Andrea Horwath

Leader, Ontario’s NDP