ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

AODA Alliance Writes the Ontario Treasury Board, the International Trade Minister and the Attorney General to Identify Key Disability Accessibility Priorities for Their Ministries

September 19, 2014

Summary

As the Ontario Government marches ahead in its new term in power, we have written all key Ontario Government ministries to identify important steps they must take to keep the Government's promises on disability accessibility. This is part of our effort to help ensure that Ontario becomes fully accessible to persons with disabilities on or before 2025, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires.

We here make public three more of these letters. On September 16, 2014, the AODA Alliance wrote the new Ontario Treasury Board President, the International Trade Minister, and the Attorney General of Ontario. We set out these letters below.

We ask the Treasury Board President to:

  1. implement strong, monitored measures for ensuring that all Ontario Government programs are used effectively to ensure that Ontario becomes fully accessible by 2025.
  2. implement effective measures to ensure that no public money is ever used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities.

We ask the International Trade Minister to:

  1. incorporate disability accessibility as a prominent part of the International Trade Ministry's strategy for economic development and innovation.  
  2. develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for incorporating disability accessibility as a core focus in the Ministry's international trade agenda and activities.
  3. incorporate disability accessibility as a condition of grants and subsidies for economic development, innovation and international trade that the ministry provides to the broader public and the private sectors.
  4. take into account whether business representatives have accessible products to sell to the international market, when the Government decides which business leaders are to be invited to join the Government on international trade tours and missions.
  5. strengthen Ontario producers of adaptive technology in order to help reach international markets for these products.

We ask the Attorney General to:

  1. promptly complete the Government's review of all Ontario legislation and Regulations for disability barriers
  2. accelerate efforts at making Ontario's courts fully accessible to court participants with disabilities.
  3. ensure Ontario elections are fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities

Here is how to check out other letters to the Government that we earlier made public:

To read the AODA Alliance's August 14, 2014 letter to Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure Brad Duguid.

To read the AODA Alliance's August 28, 2014 letter to the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games Minister Michael Coteau.

To read the AODA Alliance's September 12, letter to the Government and Consumer Services Minister David Orazietti.

To read the AODA Alliance's September 16, 2014 letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and  Housing Ted McMeekin.

The Accessibility Clock never stops until Ontario becomes fully accessible. A troubling 305 days have now passed since we revealed that the Ontario Government was not enforcing the AODA, and that there have been rampant AODA violations in the private sector. The Government still has not made public its promised plan for the AODA's effective enforcement. Two hundred and eleven days have passed since the Toronto Star reported on February 20, 2014 that the Government would be publicly posting that new enforcement plan "in short order."

To read our November 18, 2013 revelation that the Government was failing to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act despite knowing of rampant private sector violations, and funds on hand for enforcement.

To read the Government's February 20, 2014 pledge to publish in "short order" its plan for enforcing the Disabilities Act.

As well, 387 days have passed since the Government unveiled its plans for the legacy of the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games. Yet it has still not released details and specifics of a comprehensive disability accessibility legacy for the Games. Only 294 days remain until the 2015 Games begin. Time is running out!

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MORE DETAILS

Text of the September 16, 2014 Letter from the AODA Alliance to the President of the Treasury Board

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

September 16, 2014

Via email: deb.matthews@ontario.ca

To: Hon Deborah Matthews, President of Treasury Board
Room 4320, 4th Floor
Whitney Block
99 Wellesley Street West,
Toronto Ontario M7A 1W3

Dear Minister:

Re: Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Ensuring Ontario Becomes Fully Accessible to People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities. Your Government set out election commitments on disability accessibility in letters to our coalition, including in the most recent Ontario election.

Please accept our congratulations on your appointment as President of the Treasury Board. In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for several important areas needed to support your government's agenda of achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025. We wish to work closely with you, to assist in promoting the Government's accessibility agenda.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which your Government was proud to enact in 2005, requires the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible for all persons with disabilities no later than 2025. Ontario is now clearly behind schedule. It needs renewed Government leadership to speed up action on accessibility. To see how and why Ontario is so clearly behind schedule for full accessibility by 2025, and what can be done across the Ontario Government to fix this, we invite you to examine our 368-page brief to the Independent Review of the AODA which your Government appointed University of Toronto's Dean Mayo Moran to conduct. You can find our June 30, 2014 brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06302014-Final-Brief-Mayo-Moran-AODA.doc
 
To assist, in this letter we outline a key priority requiring your immediate leadership and action.
In your position with lead responsibility for the Government's spending policy and plans, we ask you to implement strong, monitored measures for ensuring that all Ontario Government programs are used effectively to ensure that Ontario becomes fully accessible by 2025. As but one example, Ontario still lacks effective measures to ensure that no public money is ever used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities.

We are writing several key ministers who are in a position to help with this, such as the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, the Minister of Government and Consumer Services and the Minister of research and Innovation. However, in your central role, you are especially well-positioned to help make this happen.

What we seek is required by Premier Wynne's May 14, 2014 letter to us, setting out your Government's 2014 election commitments on disability accessibility. She wrote:

"We will continue to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to create or perpetuate barriers against Ontarians with disabilities."

It also dovetails with your government's 2010 10-year infrastructure plan. That Plan commits that buildings and built environment infrastructure that the Government funds, will be accessible. As well, it is needed to effectively implement your government's unkept 2011 election commitment, to expand the ten-year infrastructure plan's accessibility requirement, so that it will include electronic kiosks and information technology. Your ministry has substantial responsibility for the electronic kiosks and information technology that the government procures, funds and/or develops. In his August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out your Government's 2011 election pledges on accessibility, Premier McGuinty wrote:

"For instance, as part of our 10-year infrastructure plan, we are requiring all entities seeking provincial infrastructure funding for new buildings or major expansions or renovations to demonstrate how the funding will prevent or remove barriers and improve the level of accessibility where feasible. We will also extend this to include information technology infrastructure and electronic kiosks."

It also emerges from another promise that Premier McGuinty made to us in the 2011 election. In the 2011 election, Premier McGuinty committed that your government is incorporating disability accessibility considerations in all major government decisions. In his August 19, 2011 letter, setting out your Government's 2011 disability accessibility election commitments, he wrote:

"We are integrating accessibility as a fundamental principle when it comes to making vital decisions that affect the daily lives of Ontarians."
 
Premier McGuinty's August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

Premier McGuinty's 2011 election promises remain alive. When she was running for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Kathleen Wynne pledged to us in writing on December 3, 2012 that she would keep all of your Party's prior commitments on disability accessibility. Kathleen Wynne's December 3, 2012 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12032012.asp 

There are no doubt other ways that you, in your senior role at the cabinet table, can help find ways to use other Government programs to advance the Government's accessibility agenda. We would be delighted to work with you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

We have often written Ontario cabinet ministers, to make constructive proposals for specific actions on accessibility. To often our letters have simply been routed to a communications branch official for a "public relations" response. We too often end up receiving a letter, authored by communications officials, that thanks us for writing, praises our advocacy on accessibility, and voices support for making Ontario accessible. Such letters then simply repeat lists of things the Government has already done or promised. Too often these responses do not actually answer our inquiries or proposals.

Please don't let that happen here. We are eager to know what you are open to doing from among the proposals we here set out. We would be happy to discuss our ideas with you. Your Ministry officials have been brief over and over on these issues, so they should be able to bring you and your office up to speed in very short order.

We would welcome the chance to work together with you on taking bold new action on accessibility. 

Sincerely,

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

c:          Premier Kathleen Wynne
Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure email brad.duguid@ontario.ca
Greg Orencsak, Deputy Minister of the Treasury Board email Greg.Orencsak@ontario.ca
Giles Gherson, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure email giles.gerson@ontario.ca
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario email ann.hoy@ontario.ca

Text of the September 16, 2014 Letter from the AODA Alliance to the International Trade Minister

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

September 16, 2014

Via email - Michael.chan@ontario.ca

Hon. Michael Chan
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade
6th Floor
400 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2R9

Dear Minister:

Re:  Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Ensuring Ontario Becomes Fully Accessible to People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.  We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities. Your Government set out election commitments on disability accessibility in letters to our coalition, including in the most recent Ontario election.

Please accept our congratulations on your appointment as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade.  In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for several important areas needed to support your government's agenda of achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025.  We wish to outline these, and offer to work closely with you, to assist in their achievement.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which your Government was proud to enact in 2005, requires the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible for all persons with disabilities no later than 2025. Ontario is now clearly behind schedule. It needs renewed Government leadership to speed up action on accessibility. To see how and why Ontario is so clearly behind schedule for full accessibility by 2025, and what can be done across the Ontario Government to fix this, we invite you to examine our 368-page brief to the Independent Review of the AODA which your Government appointed University of Toronto's Dean Mayo Moran to conduct. You can find our June 30, 2014 brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06302014-Final-Brief-Mayo-Moran-AODA.doc 
 
To assist, in this letter we outline a key priority requiring your immediate leadership and action. 

It is important for your ministry to incorporate disability accessibility as a prominent part of your strategy for economic development and innovation.  To the extent that Ontario develops a world-leading capacity to produce accessible goods, services and facilities, and to provide accessibility training in support to other organizations who want to do the same, this will position Ontario well in the international marketplace.  The demand for accessible goods, services and facilities is growing internationally as other major markets such as the U.S.A., the European Union, Australia and other countries each ramp up their commitments to accessibility. A major study that your Government commissioned released an excellent report in 2010 that shows that making Ontario fully accessible to persons with disabilities is economically beneficial for Ontario, while leaving barriers against persons with disabilities in place hurts Ontario's economy. See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06232010.asp

We ask your ministry to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for incorporating disability accessibility as a core focus in your international trade agenda and activities. It should be part of your outreach to business in Ontario.  Your Government should use every lever available to it to encourage Ontario businesses to produce goods and services for the domestic and international markets that are fully accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. There are estimated to be one billion persons with disabilities around the world. That is a huge, untapped market that we should be addressing.

Disability accessibility should be incorporated as a condition of grants and subsidies for economic development, innovation and international trade that your ministry provides to the broader public and the private sectors.

In February 2013, Premier Wynne decided to move the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, and lead responsibility for the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. The Government commendably then intended to embed disability accessibility into the Government's broader agenda for economic development and international trade. We want to ensure that the Government's later decision in June-July 2014 to move International Trade to a different Ministry won't undermine the earlier commendable decision to ensure that accessibility is a core feature of our province's international trade agenda.

For example, when your Government decides which business leaders are to be invited to join you on international trade tours, the Government should take into account whether they have accessible products to sell to the international market. The Government should let the private sector know that this will be a selection criterion, in order to create a positive incentive for those businesses to make progress in this area.

Moreover, the Government should work towards strengthening Ontario producers of adaptive technology. It should help with international trade of these products.  

On May 28, 1013, then Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, Eric Hoskins, gave a speech in the Legislature to mark National Access awareness Week. As the minister then responsible for international trade, he said this, among other things:

"There are also opportunities that we must seize in the area of business and especially trade. Because of our province’s commitment to accessibility and inclusion, we have a thriving business sector producing goods and services for people with disabilities. I saw this yesterday at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery conference, where I presented awards to young innovators who have come up with new goods and services that will make our communities more inclusive and more accessible.

As we encourage companies to go global with their products, we must do the same for companies producing goods and services focused on accessibility."

To date we have seen no indication that the Government has done what we here again propose. What we seek makes good economic and policy sense. It also derives from election commitments that your Government has made to Ontarians with disabilities.

In the 2011 election, Premier McGuinty committed that your government is incorporating disability accessibility considerations in all major government decisions.  In his August 19, 2011 letter, setting out your Government's 2011 disability accessibility election commitments, he wrote:

"We are integrating accessibility as a fundamental principle when it comes to making vital decisions that affect the daily lives of Ontarians."
 
Premier McGuinty's August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

This promise remains alive. When she was running for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Kathleen Wynne pledged to us in writing on December 3, 2012 that she would keep all of your Party's prior commitments on disability accessibility. Kathleen Wynne's December 3, 2012 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12032012.asp   

In Premier Wynne's May 14, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out your Government's 2014 disability accessibility election pledges, Premier Wynne committed:

"16. The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment – as the government’s lead for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario – has created a new position in its Ministry, a Director of Accessibility Integration and Planning, to work within the Ministry to ensure that accessibility is integrated into all business practices."

Premier Wynne's May 14, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out your Government's 2014 accessibility election pledges, is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06132014.asp

We are not clear on whether you and your ministry have sole responsibility for international trade missions, or whether the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure Brad Duguid will also have a role in this. We are therefore copying this letter to him and to his senior officials. We ask that he act on this letter's proposals to the extent that they fall within his Ministry, rather than yours.

We would be delighted to work with you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

We have often written Ontario cabinet ministers, to make constructive proposals for specific actions on accessibility. To often our letters have simply been routed to a communications branch official for a "public relations" response. We too often end up receiving a letter, authored by communications officials, that thanks us for writing, praises our advocacy on accessibility, and voices support for making Ontario accessible. Such letters then simply repeat lists of things the Government has already done or promised. Too often these responses do not actually answer our inquiries or proposals.

Please don't let that happen here. We are eager to know what you are open to doing from among the proposals we here set out. We would be happy to discuss our ideas with you. Your Ministry officials have been brief over and over on these issues, so they should be able to bring you and your office up to speed in very short order.

We would welcome the chance to work together with you on taking bold new action on accessibility.  

Sincerely,

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

c:          Premier Kathleen Wynne
Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure email brad.duguid@ontario.ca
Chisanga Puta-Cheqwe, Deputy Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade email chisanga.puta-chekwe@ontario.ca
Giles Gherson, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure email giles.gerson@ontario.ca
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario email ann.hoy@ontario.ca

Text of the September 16, 2014 Letter from the AODA Alliance to the Attorney General of Ontario

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

September 16, 2014

Via Email - Madeleine.meilleur@ontario.ca

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur
Attorney General
720 Bay Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2S9

Dear Minister:

Re: Important Measures for which your Ministry is Responsible for Ensuring Ontario Becomes Fully Accessible to People with Disabilities

I write on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan, volunteer coalition which united to advocate for a fully-accessible Ontario for all people with disabilities. Your Government set out election commitments on disability accessibility in letters to our coalition, including in the most recent Ontario election.

Please accept our congratulations on your re-appointment as Attorney General for Ontario. In this capacity, you have lead responsibility for several important areas needed to support your government's agenda of achieving a fully-accessible Ontario by 2025. We wish to outline these, and offer to work closely with you, to assist in their achievement.

As you know, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which your Government was proud to enact in 2005, requires the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible for all persons with disabilities no later than 2025. Ontario is now clearly behind schedule. It needs renewed Government leadership to speed up action on accessibility. To see how and why Ontario is so clearly behind schedule for full accessibility by 2025, and what can be done across the Ontario Government to fix this, we invite you to examine our 368-page brief to the Independent Review of the AODA which your Government appointed University of Toronto's Dean Mayo Moran to conduct. You can find our June 30, 2014 brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06302014-Final-Brief-Mayo-Moran-AODA.doc
 
In this letter we outline three key priority areas requiring your immediate leadership and action.

1. Promptly Complete the Government's Review of All Ontario Legislation and Regulations for Disability Barriers

Your ministry, working together with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, has lead responsibility for spearheading the government's promised and long-overdue review of all provincial legislation and regulations, to identify and remove barriers against people with disabilities.

In his September 14, 2007 letter to us, setting out your Government's 2007 disability accessibility election pledges, Premier McGuinty wrote:

"Review all Ontario laws to find any disability accessibility barriers that need to be removed.
 
The Ontario Liberal government believes this is the next step toward our goal of a fully accessible Ontario. Building on our work of the past four years, we will continue to be a leader in Canada on accessibility issues. For Ontario to be fully accessible, we must ensure no law directly or indirectly discriminates against those with disabilities. To make that happen, we commit to reviewing all Ontario laws to find any disability barriers that need to be removed."

Premier McGuinty's September 14, 2007 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09142007.asp

Four years later, in his August 19, 2011 letter to us, setting out your Government's 2011 election promises on accessibility, Premier McGuinty pledged:

"We are committed to completing our review of all legislation for accessibility barriers and, through the work of a central team, we will ask ministries to report on their progress as part of their annual performance plans. We will also pursue strategies to address defined barriers in an efficient and suitable manner."

Premier McGuinty's August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

After another three years, in her May 14, 2014 letter to us, setting out your Government's 2014 election pledges on accessibility, Premier Wynne wrote:

"In addition to the review of the AODA, the government is currently conducting a legislative review with the goal of identifying and considering steps to remove any potential barriers in Ontario statutes. In the current phase of the review, 13 ministries are reviewing 51 high impact statutes. The list of high impact statutes includes statutes that affect persons with disabilities directly, provide for the delivery of services to a large group, provide benefits or protections or affect democratic or civil rights. This phase of the review will be complete by the end of 2014. We commit to addressing the findings of the review and continuing to review additional Ontario statutes to remove any potential barriers.

18. We commit to making amendments to regulations to remove accessibility barriers as required based on the findings of the current review and the review of additional Ontario statutes going forward."

Premier Wynne's May 14, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out your Government's 2014 accessibility election pledges, is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06132014.asp

It has been over seven years since Premier McGuinty first promised this review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers. We are not aware of a single legislative barrier having been removed from any Ontario law as a result of this review in the past seven years. The Government needs to substantially speed up its efforts on this. At the present rate of progress, the Government will not have even reviewed all its statues and regulations for accessibility by 2025, much less will it have fixed accessibility problems in them.

We need the Government to bring forward an omnibus bill in early 2015, to address any barriers that have been identified to date, that need legislative fixes. We need all other statues and regulation to be reviewed promptly.

2. Accelerate Efforts at Making Ontario's Courts Fully Accessible to Court Participants with Disabilities

An excellent roadmap for achieving fully accessible courts is set out in the 2006 final report of the Weiler Committee, entitled "MAKING ONTARIO’S COURTS FULLY ACCESSIBLE TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES." Ontario's court system is not fully accessible to court participants with disabilities. Your Ministry has taken part in a commendable effort since 2007 to make Ontario's courts fully accessible to court participants with disabilities, in conjunction with the judiciary and the legal profession. This is now undertaken under the ongoing oversight of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee.

We recommend that you reinforce and accelerate your Ministry's and Government's efforts at implementing the Weiler Report. Despite progress to date, it is not clear that at the present rate, Ontario's courts will all become fully disability-accessible by 2025.

3. Ensuring Ontario Elections are Fully Accessible to Voters and Candidates with Disabilities

Your ministry now has lead responsibility for taking provincial action to ensure the accessibility of provincial elections to voters and candidates with disabilities. We need prompt action, including provincial election reform, to ensure that future Ontario by-elections, and general elections, are at last barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.

In Premier McGuinty's September 14, 2007 letter to us, setting out your Government's 2007 election pledges on disability accessibility, he wrote:

"Develop an action plan to make provincial and municipal elections fully accessible to voters.
 
We have just released guides on how to make election communications materials accessible and how to make all candidates meetings accessible. A third guide will be released in October on how to make constituency offices and campaign offices accessible. In addition, we will commit to developing an action plan to make elections fully accessible to voters with disabilities."
 
This promise remains alive. When she was running for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Kathleen Wynne pledged to us in writing on December 3, 2012 that she would keep all of your Party's prior commitments on disability accessibility. Kathleen Wynne's December 3, 2012 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12032012.asp

In 2010 your Government enacted modest accessibility reforms to Ontario's provincial elections legislation in Bill 231. Later, your Government made further commitments to us in the lead-up to the 2011 Ontario election.

In Premier McGuinty's August 19, 2011 letter to us, setting out your Government's 2011 election commitments on disability accessibility, he promised that your government would continue to make progress on accessible municipal and provincial elections. In that letter, he also re-affirmed all your Government's previous commitments to us. Premier McGuinty's August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

In your Government's third term in office, it took no action, to our knowledge, to ensure the full accessibility of future municipal elections to voters and candidates with disabilities.

In her May 14, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out your Government's election promises on disability accessibility during the 2014 election, Premier Kathleen Wynne wrote:

"E. Ensure accessibility of provincial and municipal elections

13. Ensuring the proper accessibility of the provincial and municipal elections falls in line is a top priority for us to safeguard the interests of Ontarians with disabilities through ease of access to the provincial and municipal elections as does every citizen of Ontario. We will ensure that the Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Elections Ontario are committed to providing the best possible services to ensure accessible elections."

Premier Wynne's May 14, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out your Government's 2014 accessibility election pledges, is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06132014.asp

We have now had two Ontario general elections and several by-elections under Bill 231. We know from that experience that Bill 231 has not succeeded in ensuring fully accessible provincial elections for voters and candidates with disabilities. They continue to face unacceptable barriers. This is thoroughly documented in Part IX of our June 30, 2014 brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review.

As a result of extensive dealings with Elections Ontario, we regrettably have no confidence that Elections Ontario has the authority or the capacity to address this. Elections Ontario has no plans that it has shared with us or the public to overcome these barriers in the future. That is why we need your help and your leadership.

To fulfil these unmet commitments, we are eager to work with you and your ministry on developing new legislation and other strategies to make Ontario elections fully accessible for voters and candidates with disabilities. We would prefer that these be harmonised in an omnibus bill that would also address the same barriers recurring in municipal elections. Premier Wynne's May 14, 2014 letter to us, referred to above, assigns the accessibility of municipal elections to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

4. And finally

We would be delighted to work with you and your ministry in any way we can, to assist you in promoting this agenda. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

We have often written Ontario cabinet ministers, to make constructive proposals for specific actions on accessibility. To often our letters have simply been routed to a communications branch official for a "public relations" response. We too often end up receiving a letter, authored by communications officials, that thanks us for writing, praises our advocacy on accessibility, and voices support for making Ontario accessible Such letters then simply repeat lists of things the Government has already done or promised. Too often these responses do not actually answer our inquiries or proposals.

Please don't let that happen here. We are eager to know what you are open to doing from among the proposals we here set out. We would be happy to discuss our ideas with you. Your Ministry officials have been brief over and over on these issues, so they should be able to bring you and your office up to speed in very short order.

You have a strong record of enthusiastic support for achieving accessibility for persons with disabilities, and for moving mountains within the Government. We would welcome the chance to work together with you on taking bold new action on accessibility.

Sincerely,

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

c:          Premier Kathleen Wynne
Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure email brad.duguid@ontario.ca
Patrick Monahan, Deputy Attorney General email Patrick.monahan@ontario.ca
Giles Gherson, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure email giles.gerson@ontario.ca
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario email ann.hoy@ontario.ca