ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

AODA ALLIANCE WRITES NEW MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR THE AODA TO LIST KEY ACCESSIBILITY PRIORITIES

November 1, 2011

SUMMARY

The Honourable John Milloy has been appointed to serve as the new Ontario Ministry for Community and Social Services, with responsibility for implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The AODA Alliance has just written Minister Milloy to congratulate him on his appointment, and to identify some key priorities for his Ministry. We set out that letter below.

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ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

1929 Bayview Avenue,

Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8

Email aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance www.aodaalliance.org

November 1, 2011

Via email:  john.milloy@ontario.ca

Hon. John Milloy Minister of Community and Social Services

6th Floor, Hepburn Block

80 Grosvenor Street

Toronto, Ontario

M7A 1E9

Dear Minister Milloy,

Re:  Achieving a Fully Accessible Ontario by 2025

On behalf of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, I would like to congratulate you on your new appointment as Ontario's Minister of Community and Social Services, with lead responsibility for implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. In this position, you can make a huge difference in the lives of over 1.5 million Ontarians who now have a disability, and the millions more Ontarians who will get a disability later on in their lives.

We look forward to working together with you on ensuring the prompt and effective implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Your Government's election pledges in connection with this legislation are set out in Premier McGuinty's August 19, 2011 letter to us. It is publicly available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

In addition to those commitments, we welcome the opportunity to work with you on the entire positive agenda for accessibility that we set out in our July 15, 2011 letter to Premier McGuinty and to the two Opposition Party leaders. That letter is available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07192011.asp

Among the top priorities that we encourage you and your Ministry to consider first are these:

1.  Promptly enacting the Built Environment Accessibility Standard. After many months of study, the Built Environment Standards Development Committee delivered its final proposal for this standard to the Government over one year ago. Premier McGuinty promised in his August 19, 2011 letter to us that it will be enacted "promptly." We understand that it has been under study by officials at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for a very long time. You and the new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing will need to press for that work to be brought to a very prompt conclusion.

2. Implementing measures for the effective enforcement of accessibility standards enacted under the AODA. There are already two standards on the books, but the full range of enforcement has not yet been fully implemented. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, Premier McGuinty promised effective enforcement of the AODA. This echoes his 2003 election promise that the AODA would have effective enforcement. In addition to having appropriate staff in your Ministry tasked with enforcement, we urge you to consider designating Ontario Government inspectors under other legislation to include enforcement of the AODA in their activities, where feasible.

3. Selecting and undertaking the development of the next accessibility standards that need to be developed under the AODA. We have asked the Government to next develop accessibility standards in the areas of access to education at all levels, to health care, and to residential housing. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, Premier McGuinty promised: "…we look forward to working with Ontario’s accessibility communities and partners to identify the next standards that will move accessibility forward in our province." Because it takes years to develop an accessibility standard, it is important to get to work on developing the next round of standards right away.

4.  Implementing the recommendations of the 2009 report of the Charles Beer Independent Review into the AODA. The AODA required the Government to appoint an Independent Review after four years, to report on how effectively the law is being implemented. The Charles Beer Independent Review made practical recommendations which we support, with one modest exception.

To date, most of the Beer Report's recommendations have not been implemented. We are eager to see them implemented to the extent possible without amending the AODA itself. For example, Mr. Beer's excellent recommendations on improving the process for developing accessibility standards can be largely if not totally achieved within the framework of the AODA as it is now constituted.

5.  Making publicly available as soon as possible tools and guides to help public and private sector organizations comply with the two existing accessibility standards. Particularly in the area of the new Integrated Accessibility Regulation, enacted last June, we understand that various useful tools and guides are under development in your Ministry. We are eager to have input into these, and to get the finished product out to the public as fast as possible. Organizations have to comply with these regulations, and need assistance and guidance now.

6.  Promptly implementing stronger measures to ensure that municipal and provincial elections are fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities. Premier McGuinty committed in his August 19, 2011 letter to us: "we will continue to build on our progress when it comes to making municipal and provincial elections more accessible."

For example, we would like to see accelerated progress towards telephone and internet voting, to ensure that it is in place as an option for all voters by the next general election. Since we now have a minority government that next election could well occur before 2015. We have just written the Chief Electoral Officer to seek a prompt update on progress towards telephone and internet voting. See: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/10312011.asp 

7.  Launching an effective public education campaign, including supporting speeches by members of the Legislature, to the public, on the benefits and importance of removing and preventing barriers against persons with disabilities. The Charles Beer Independent Review of the AODA found a pressing need for substantially more public education on the AODA and on removing and preventing barriers against persons with disabilities. You and your caucus colleagues are especially well-positioned to spearhead this.

Other important areas on the accessibility agenda also need the Government's prompt attention, beyond those listed here. Those will involve several other ministries, as well as the Premier's office. It is important that the Government designate a minister with lead responsibility for ensuring that all the Premier's election commitments to us are kept. In the last term, this was not done. We had a great deal of difficulty following up on several of the Premier's 2007 election promises. Some were never completed as a result of this.

We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working with you and your Cabinet colleagues on getting Ontario on schedule for full accessibility by 2025, as the AODA requires.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O. Ont. Chair AODA Alliance

cc:  Premier Dalton McGuinty, fax (416) 325-3745, email dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

  Marguerite Rappolt, Deputy Minister, Community & Social Services, fax (416) 325-5240, email marg.rappolt@ontario.ca

  Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, Ministry of Community and Social Services, fax (416) 325-9620, email ellen.waxman@ontario.ca