Our Campaign for Strong, Effective Implementation of the AODA

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

UPDATE: ONE DAY LEFT TO SEND THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT YOUR FEEDBACK ON PROPOSED TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY STANDARD - AND OTHER NEWS

September 27, 2007

SUMMARY

Here are a few recent and important items:

* We urge you to send the Ontario Government an email by the deadline tomorrow, Friday September 28, 2007, on the weak proposed transportation accessibility standard. If you don’t have much time, it would be great if you just send in a one-line email saying whether you support the AODA Alliance brief on the proposed transportation accessibility standard. Please email the Government at:

Accessibility.css@ontario.ca

You can see our brief at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/ 08132007-Support-BriefOnProposedTransportationAccessibilityStandard.asp

* Listen to AODA Alliance member David Lepofsky’s recent five-minute interview on CBC Radio, discussing the Ontario election’s disability accessibility issues. You can find it at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/ default.asp

* Arrange to vote at one of the advance polls. This is a good way to ensure that you don’t encounter any barriers in the voting process. If you wait until October 10, Election Day, to vote, you may not be able to overcome them in time to vote. If you vote at an advance poll, and run into barriers, there’s still time to get around them and make sure you actually get to vote. If you encounter any barriers in the voting process, let Elections Ontario know. To find out more about voting, including advance polls, call toll free to:

1-888-668-8683
TTY 1-866-273-4612

If you encounter any barriers during the voting process, please contact those numbers to let Elections Ontario know. You can also email Elections Ontario at: info@elections.on.ca . You can also visit: http://www.elections.on.ca .

* Please encourage your friends and family to sign up for our AODA Alliance email list. It is the best way to keep informed on our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario for all persons with disabilities. Our community’s strength grows as more people learn about these issues. Tell them to send a request to be added to: aodafeedback@rogers.com .

* Here is a recent Ottawa Citizen news report on the recent disability-accessible All Candidates Debate in Ottawa.


Ottawa Citizen , Sept. 26, 2007

Premier 'sorry' about missing accessible debate; Organizers chose to meet in Ottawa South in hopes McGuinty would show up
Kate Jaimet
Ottawa Citizen , Sept. 26, 2007

Last evening's all-candidates meeting in Ottawa South had full access for disabled people, including French and English sign-language interpreters, interveners for the deaf-blind and assistants for the mobility impaired.

What it didn't have was an appearance by the riding's front-running candidate, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Mr. McGuinty's political rivals are trying to make his seeming unwillingness to engage in local debates into an election issue. Libertarian candidate Jean-Serge Brisson called Mr. McGuinty a "chicken" for not attending the debate.

Mr. McGuinty, who has not committed to any all-candidates debates in the riding, said yesterday he regretted being unable to attend the debate. However, he announced yesterday afternoon that he will make a series of appearances in Ottawa today, including a visit to The Ottawa Hospital's Riverside campus; a meet-and-greet at the South-East Ottawa Centre for a Healthy Community, and an evening campaign event.

The event at the community centre will be an all-candidates event, at which each candidate will be invited to give a statement, and then to meet and greet the public. It will not be a debate.

"I try to attend as many events as I can. It isn't always easy with 107 ridings to visit in Ontario and I'm sorry I can't make this one," Mr. McGuinty said of yesterday's all-candidates debate.

Yesterday, Mr. McGuinty also said he is proud of what he has done to make the province more accessible -- including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. "We need to do more and we will do more," he added.

Conservative leader John Tory and NDP leader Howard Hampton are scheduled to attend debates in their ridings this weekend.

Mr. McGuinty's no-show at yesterday's meeting had a ripple effect. When his closest rival, Progressive Conservative candidate Richard Raymond, learned that Mr. McGuinty would not attend the debate, he pulled out.

Mr. Raymond said he's very concerned about disability issues, but he's not willing to attend a debate if Mr. McGuinty isn't present.

"There's no sense my going there and sitting with the other people. He's the candidate to beat, for all of us," Mr. Raymond said.

That left the NDP's Edelweiss D'Andrea, the Green party's John Ford, and the Libertarian party's Mr. Brisson as the only three Ottawa South candidates attending. The Liberals sent Ottawa-Vanier candidate Madeleine Meilleur, the minister of community and social services, whose department deals with disability issues. The Conservatives responded by sending their Ottawa-Vanier candidate, Bruce Poulin.

Mr. Ford, the Green candidate, said yesterday's debate dealt with issues not specific to Ottawa South. Still, he believes Mr. McGuinty should show up to at least one debate in the riding.

The NDP's Ms. D'Andrea said the non-attendance by the premier and Mr. Raymond was "a shame ... but not surprising."

Adrienne Clarke, manager of public relations with the Canadian Hearing Society, which organized the debate with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario, and the Ontario March of Dimes, said she was disappointed the premier did not attend this debate -- the only fully-accessible one in Ottawa -- as the organizers specifically held it in his riding in the hopes he would appear.

"This is one of the very few opportunities for people who have a disability to have any kind of political involvement at all," she said, "Dalton McGuinty would have been the best representative for the party. We would have loved to have had him there. We would have loved to have seen his commitment to disability issues."

However, some of the people attending the debate were more sympathetic to Mr. McGuinty than to his Conservative rival, Mr. Raymond.

"I can sympathize (with Mr. McGuinty). He's busy. He sent the best person he could," said John Knight, arriving at the debate in a wheelchair. "Now Raymond, how much campaigning has he got to do outside of Ottawa South? He's behaving like a little kid."

The no-show by the premier and his Conservative rival comes at a time when one of the province's most prominent citizens -- its lieutenant governor -- is living with a disability. Lt.-Gov. David Onley, who was sworn in on Sept. 5, uses a wheelchair due to childhood polio. He has vowed to make accessibility the "over-arching theme" of his mandate.

Ms. Clarke said she understands that the premier has many obligations.

Indeed, yesterday Mr. McGuinty was in Mississauga, where he announced Ontario will undertake "the biggest transit project in Canadian history" and spend $100 million on trains, buses and track in and around Toronto.

Ms. Clarke said yesterday's debate was still a rare and valuable opportunity for people with disabilities to engage in the political process, ask politicians questions and receive answers.

None of the provincial parties' platforms broadly addresses disability issues.