ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

TODAY WE BEGIN OUR DIAL DALTON CAMPAIGN! PLEASE CALL THE PREMIER'S OFFICE TO ASK HOW PREMIER MCGUINTY PLANS TO KEEP HIS 14-YEAR-OLD PROMISE TO EFFECTIVELY ENFORCE THE DISABILITIES ACT

October 29, 2012

SUMMARY

Starting right now, and for the following days, please join our Dial Dalton blitz. Fourteen years ago today, Dalton McGuinty first publicly promised to enact a strong Disabilities Act with effective enforcement. In 2005, the McGuinty Government passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) with helpful enforcement provisions, but these are useless if the Government doesn't fully and effectively use them.

As far as we can learn, the McGuinty Government has not made public an Ontario Government phone number that you can call to report a barrier that violates the AODA, and to ask the Government to enforce this law.  If they won't give us a number to call, then let's call the office of the person who promised us effective enforcement of the Disabilities Act.

Starting now, please take five minutes to call the Office of the Premier of Ontario. You won't reach Premier McGuinty personally, but you will reach one of his staff.
The main number is: (416) 325-1941
TTY: 1-800-387-5559

You can also email the Premier's office, but a phone call is far, far better. To fill out an on-line form to send Premier McGuinty an email, visit https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx  
     
Here's what you might wish to say to whomever answers at the Premier's Office:

* Premier McGuinty promised that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act would be effectively enforced. What Ontario Government phone number can I call to report a barrier that violates the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act?

* What does the Government plan to do to effectively enforce the AODA?

* If you know of a specific barrier in Ontario that violates the AODA and you want the Government to enforce this law, tell the Premier's Office about that specific barrier. Ask them to take action about that barrier. Let you know what they do about this barrier.

Today is an important anniversary in the history of our Disabilities Act for which we campaigned so long and so hard. To see the Ontario Legislature's unanimous resolution on the Disabilities Act, passed back on October 29, 1998, (introduced by Liberal MPP Dwight Duncan and supported by Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty).

Right after the Legislature passed that resolution, which called for an effectively-enforced Disabilities Act, then Opposition Leader Dalton McGuinty took part in a joint Queen's Park news conference with David Lepofsky. Lepofsky was then the chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, and now is chair of its successor, the AODA Alliance. At that news conference, Dalton McGuinty promised that if elected, he would fulfil that resolution. 

Premier McGuinty most recently repeated his pledge to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act in his August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance. Premier McGuinty's August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance, listing his party's disability accessibility 2011 election promises.

Premier McGuinty has three months left on the job before his party chooses a new leader. We want to urge him to use that time to ensure he keeps all his promises to Ontarians with disabilities regarding the Disabilities Act.

We encourage callers to be frank but polite. Tell us what responses you get. Encourage others to take part! Contact us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

We are delighted that our Dial Dalton campaign has received media coverage even before it begins! Below we set out an article about this effort by tireless accessibility advocate Linda Crabtree published in the Niagara Falls Review.

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Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario

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The Niagara Falls Review
This article is originally posted at http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/2012/10/26/announcing-the-dial-dalton-campaign 
Announcing the Dial Dalton Campaign
by     Linda Crabtree Access Niagara
Friday, October 26, 2012
       
When I heard that David Lepofsky, the Toronto lawyer and champion for the rights of people with disabilities, was to speak at Perspectives on Accessibility, an all-day conference recently presented by the Niagara Region, I couldn’t stay away.

Lepofsky is truly a mover and shaker and now he has something else up his sleeve: The Dial Dalton Campaign. Yes, I know McGuinty has resigned but he has said he is staying in the position until a new leader is chosen. The Ontario Liberal Party will hold its leadership convention in late January.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) wants all of Ontario accessible by 2025 but there will be grandfathering. Anything out there now that isn’t accessible can likely stay that way unless the people who own it see the value in making it accessible. And renters (especially retailers and professionals like doctors) have got to refuse to rent unless the building is made accessible. We also need to call to the attention of the AODA people that no barrier is acceptable.

A reader writes:

“Recently, I visited an orthopedic surgeon for a consult regarding a possible knee replacement. I am a 63-year-old woman and for the first time in my life I felt quite helpless.

His office is on Ontario St. and the building is very old. My first dilemma was that I had to park on Yates St. When I got there I had to walk down seven steps. Not an easy feat using my cane and carrying my purse and copies of my X-rays. A lovely woman came to my rescue and held my purse while I maneuvered the stairs.

Upon entering the office the receptionist was behind a chest level desk partition about eight inches deep. There was nowhere to put X-rays or purse but the floor.

While I waited to see the doctor I had to use the washroom three times due to a diuretic I am taking. The washrooms of course are the same age as the building. The stalls were very small. There was about 10 inches from my knees and the door. There were no grab bars and it was extremely difficult to get up. At present, I have only the use of one knee. I had to turn to my left on the toilet seat, hold the seat lid and the lock on the door, to thrust myself up.

This is an orthopedic floor. There were people with crutches and many canes! I can’t imagine that this building could pass the handicap accessibility laws.

Can you please advise me who to contact regarding this matter? This orthopedic surgeon, I know, is a good doctor, but the health system in Niagara is again sending us out of the area. I’ll be going to Sunnybrook for my treatment or surgery because it is totally accessible.”

Lepofsky addresses this in his campaign. Why, when the provincial government is rolling out regulations on everything from customer service to building standards to websites, isn’t there a public Ontario government phone number to report a barrier that violates the AODA, and to ask the government to enforce this law or at least let it be known that there are places that pose extreme difficulties for people with disabilities? What’s the sense of having standards, fines, inspectors and appeal opportunities if we, the people who are affected by these standards, can’t report those who ignore them? And, exactly what is the law on old inaccessible buildings?

“We all have to be watchdogs,” Lepofsky said, and he is asking everyone concerned to Dial Dalton on Monday, Oct. 29 at 416-325-3777, TTY 1-800-387-5559 (for people who are deaf or hard of hearing) — or e-mail dmcguinty@premier.gov.on.ca.

We all need to pull together and this is one way you can do your part. And, I’m always here to listen as well.

linda@lindacrabtree.com
           

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