ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

Three of the Six Major Parties' Candidates in the November 17 2016 Ottawa and Niagara By-Elections Answered the AODA Alliance's Requests Seeking Accessibility Commitments Neither of the Conservative Candidates nor the Ottawa Liberal Candidate Has Answered Our Letter

November 14, 2016

SUMMARY

As we have done so often in the past, the non-partisan AODA Alliance has sought commitments on disability accessibility issues from the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic candidates in the November 17, 2016 Ontario by-elections in the Ottawa Vanier and Niagara West-Glanbrook ridings. We wrote the candidates on November 7, 2016, setting out six clear questions. A copy of that letter is set out below. We also forwarded our letter to the central offices of each of those parties at Queens Park. Finally, we have tweeted these questions on Twitter to these candidates at least once per day over the past week. These questions are the same as those which we asked the parties' candidates in the September 1, 2016 Scarborough Rouge-River by-election. The candidates for all the three major parties answered our inquiry in the September 1, 2016 Scarborough by-election.

We asked the Ottawa Vanier and Niagara West-Glanbrook candidates to respond to us by November 13, 2016. As of that deadline, we have heard from Vicky Ringuette, the Liberal candidate in the Niagara West-Glanbrook riding, Mike Thomas, the NDP candidate in the Niagara West-Glanbrook riding, and Claude Bisson, the NDP candidate in the Ottawa Vanier riding. We set out their letters below.

We have not received a letter in response from either of the Progressive Conservative party candidates, André Marin, the PC candidate in the Ottawa Vanier riding or Sam Oosterhoff, the PC candidate in the Niagara West-Glanbrook riding. We have also received no letter in response to our questions from Nathalie DesRosiers, the Liberal candidate in the Ottawa Vanier riding.

On Twitter, Ottawa Vanier NDP candidate Claude Bisson tweeted as follows on November 6, 2016, in response to our tweet that asked if he supported our call for the AODA to be effectively enforced:

"Claude Bisson - NPD: @DavidLepofsky Our critic @TarasNatyshak has been pushing the Liberal government to do just that: http://www.ontariondp.ca/ndp_demands_liberal_government_enforce_accessibility_law_for_ontarians_with_disabilities"

On November 10, 2016, in response to our tweet asking if she will only attend all-candidates debates that are held in accessible locations, Ottawa Vanier Liberal candidate Nathalie Des Rosiers tweeted:

"Nathalie Des Rosiers: @DavidLepofsky absolutely! Tonight's all candidate debate at the Knights of Columbus at 260 McArthur Ave is accessible. #ONpoli"

On November 9, 2016, Ottawa Vanier PC candidate Andre Marin tweeted as follows, in response to our tweet that asked if he would only attend all-candidates debates in accessible locations:

"André Marin: David, all 3 locations so far have been accessible. I'm with you 100%. quoting David Lepofsky: @Ont_AndreMarin Do you commit 2only attend AllCandidatesDebates if in disability #accessible location? #accessibility #onpoli"

At noon yesterday, we tweeted the following to all six major party candidates in these two by-elections:

"We release answers2 our accessibility questions after 9pm tonight #AODA"

Of those who wrote back, here is what the candidates have said to us, issue by issue:

1. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Do you support that law, and its goal of full accessibility by 2025, and will you personally oppose any efforts to weaken it or measures under it?

Mike Thomas (NDP Niagara and Claude Bisson (NDP Ottawa):

"Ontario's New Democrats fully support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its requirement that the Ontario become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025 and will oppose any moves to weaken it. Kathleen Wynne's Liberals have been dragging their feet when it comes to fully implementing and enforcing all aspects of the Act and even ensuring that the government itself complies with this legislation. Ontario's New Democrats understand how important enforcement and compliance are when it comes to removing barriers faced by people with disabilities."

Vicky Ringuette (Liberal Niagara):

"I am incredibly proud that the Liberal government has taken action to make Ontario a leader in accessibility. I am committed to reach Ontario's goal of accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025 and create environments and opportunities for individuals of all abilities to participate fully in everyday life. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it is also something that has the potential to add $600 million per year to Ontario's GDP. I am committed to building on the successes of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to make this goal a reality."

2. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Ontario Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to make Ontario's education system fully accessible to students, parents, and education staff with disabilities, including the 334,000 students with special education needs in Ontario-funded schools?

Mike Thomas (NDP Niagara and Claude Bisson (NDP Ottawa))

"The need for universal, equitable, public education is at the core of the values that New Democrats most strongly believe in. The education system must be truly accessible to all Ontarians and that includes doing the hard work to remove systemic barriers faced by people with disabilities. The Wynne government has failed to prioritize making education accessible and New Democrats will continue to fight for compliance with the AODA."

Vicky Ringuette (Liberal Niagara):

"I am proud of the Liberal government's commitment and tremendous progress on creating the AODA and the accompanying Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations, which include the Customer Service and Employment Standards, among others. It is a priority that we continue to break down barriers, including those in our education system. If elected MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook, I will work together with the Minister of Education, school boards and parents, to ensure that students of all abilities are empowered to reach their full potential in our publicly funded schools."

3. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to act now to keep its promise to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act, and to reveal its detailed plans for enforcing this important law?

Mike Thomas (NDP Niagara) and Claude Bisson (NDP Ottawa):

"Andrea Horwath and Ontario's New Democrats have repeatedly called on the Wynne government to implement and enforce all aspects of the AODA. The Wynne government has failed to comply with its own legislation and continues to delay on the very important goal of making Ontario truly accessible."

Vicky Ringuette (Niagara):

"Increasing public awareness about the importance of creating an inclusive and accessible province is a vital aspect of the adoption of the AODA and its standards. If elected MPP, I will work with our local businesses to share the economic benefits of removing barriers to harness the buying power of more people and find untapped talent to strengthen our province's workforce."

4. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to now implement effective action to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers?

Mike Thomas (NDP Niagara) and Claude Bisson (NDP Ottawa)

"New Democrats strongly support that principle that public money should never be spent to create additional barriers for people with disabilities. The government should immediately fully enforce and comply with the AODA and any public contracts (particularly for infrastructure) should come with a guarantee of accessibility and at the very minimum they should not perpetuate existing barriers."

Vicky Ringuette (Li Liberal Niagara):

"The creation of the AODA was a very important step, as a society and a province, to remove barriers that keep people with disabilities from participating fully. I think it's an imperative to ensure new government policies and programs are reviewed with an accessibility lens to make sure that they do not create new barriers or perpetuate existing ones."

5. Will you promise not to attend any all-candidates debates unless they are in an accessible location for voters with disabilities to attend and take part?

Mike Thomas (Niagara) and Claude Bisson (Ottawa):

"New Democrats believe that debates should be held at locations that are fully accessible for all Ontarians. We fully commit to raising concerns about any debate locations that are not accessible and will push to have them moved to other locations that meet accessibility requirements."

Vicky Ringuette (Liberal Niagara):

"I will only attend all-candidates debates where hosts take the necessary steps to ensure that people of all abilities are able to participate."

6. Have you ensured that your campaign office has full disability accessibility?

Mike Thomas (NDP Niagara):

"We strived to find a campaign office that was fully accessible since we have many volunteers that have disabilities and we wanted them to be able to fully take part in our campaign. Unfortunately, there's a small lip in front of the main door of our campaign office and our bathroom isn't fully accessible."

Vicky Ringuette (Liberal Niagara):

"My campaign office is wheelchair accessible and there is an individual in my office at all times who has completed accessibility training, including the Customer Service standard."

Claude Bisson (Ottawa):

While our office is regrettably not fully accessible due to limited availability of rentable space, in order to accommodate all volunteers and guests, we will make every effort to make our staff and candidate available to meet with an individual at an appropriate location.

Even though our deadline passed, it is not too late for the four hold-outs to answer our letter and to give the accessibility commitments we seek. In the recent September 1, 2016 Scarborough by-election, two of the three candidates did not answer us until after our deadline. As we did in that by-election, we will make any responses public that we receive between now and the November 17, 2016 by-election. We encourage you to press them to answer us, and to make the accessibility commitments we seek. Their contact information is set out on the November 7, 2016 letter to them all from the AODA Alliance, which we set out below.

Below, we set out the letters we have received in the order we received them. As always, the AODA Alliance neither supports nor opposes any party or candidate. We try to get them all to make strong commitments on disability accessibility.

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our "Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our "Picture Our Barriers" campaign.

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

We encourage you to use the Government's toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance's YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign.

Please "like" our Facebook page and share our updates.
 
Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org

Please also join the campaign for a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act, spearheaded by Barrier-Free Canada. The AODA Alliance is proud to be the Ontario affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada. Sign up for Barrier-Free Canada updates by emailing info@BarrierFreeCanada.org

MORE DETAILS

Text of the November 7, 2016 Letter from the AODA Alliance to the Major Parties' Candidates in the Ottawa Vanier and Niagara West-Glanbrook Ridings

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance www.aodaalliance.org

November 7, 2016

To: Ontario November 17, 2016 By-election Candidates

Ottawa-Vanier Riding

André Marin, PC Candidate
Via email: Through website http://www.ottawavanier.ontariopc.com/Contact
2183 Ogilvie Rd, Ottawa, ON K1J 8Y7

Nathalie DesRosiers, Liberal Candidate
Via email by website: http://nathaliedesrosiers.ca/contact/
233 Montreal Road, Ottawa, ON K1L 5P8

Claude Bisson, NDP Candidate
Via email: cbisson@on.ndp.ca
405 St Laurent Blvd, Ottawa, ON K1K 2Z8, Canada

Niagara West – Glanbrook Riding

Sam Oosterhoff, PC Candidate
Via email: samoosterhoff@gmail.com
 4520 Ontario Street, Unit 12, Beamsville, ON L0R 1B5

Vicky Ringuette, Liberal Candidate
Via email: info@votevicky.ca
280 Mud St W, Unit 5, Stoney Creek, ON, L8J 3Z6

Mike Thomas, NDP
Via email: mikethomas@ontariondp.on.ca
13 Livingston Ave, Grimsby, ON L3M 1K6

Dear Candidates in the Ottawa-Vanier and Niagara West-Glanbrook November 17, 2016 Ontario By-elections:

I am writing on behalf of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are a non-partisan Ontario-wide community grassroots coalition. We seek to achieve a fully accessible Ontario for over 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities, through the effective implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 (AODA).

In 2005, all three of Ontario's major political parties voted unanimously for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act after Ontarians with disabilities campaigned tirelessly for a decade to win its enactment. We have learned, through the experience of the eleven and a half years since it was enacted, that passing a law is one thing; getting it effectively implemented is another.

Since the historic day when the AODA was passed, many of the MPPs who voted for it, and who supported our community over the years as we campaigned in support of it, have left the Ontario Legislature. Many newer MPPs know little about this important legislation.

We are working to renew and re-invigorate support for this legislation in the Legislature, among all the parties and all MPPs. We aim to ensure that all MPPs, old and new, strongly support this legislation's effective implementation and enforcement.

We therefore write you as candidates in the November 17, 2016 Ontario by-elections in the Ottawa-Vanier and Niagara West-Glanbrook ridings. We seek your personal commitments on the following:

1. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Do you support that law, and its goal of full accessibility by 2025, and will you personally oppose any efforts to weaken it or measures under it?

2. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Ontario Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to make Ontario's education system fully accessible to students, parents, and education staff with disabilities, including the 334,000 students with special education needs in Ontario-funded schools?

3. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to act now to keep its promise to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act, and to reveal its detailed plans for enforcing this important law?

4. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to now implement effective action to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers?

5. Will you promise not to attend any all-candidates debates unless they are in an accessible location for voters with disabilities to attend and take part?

6. Have you ensured that your campaign office has full disability accessibility?

You can learn more about the November 17, 2016 Ontario by-elections' accessibility issues by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/10312016.asp
 
Even if your party is not on record on some or all of these issues, we seek your personal commitment of support on them. Please email your response to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com
The by-election date is approaching. We want to share all responses on these issues with voters. As such, we would appreciate receiving your response by November 13, 2016.

We have already tweeted accessibility questions to each of you over the past few days on Twitter. We would be happy to give you more background on Ontario's accessibility issues, if you wish to contact us. Again, it is easiest to reach us via email by writing to aodafeedback@gmail.com. You can also learn more about these issues by visiting our website at www.aodaalliance.org

Sincerely,

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

Text of the November 12, 2016 Letter to the AODA Alliance from Niagara West-Glanbrook NDP Candidate Mike Thomas

1. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Do you support that law, and its goal of full accessibility by 2025, and will you personally oppose any efforts to weaken it or measures under it?
Ontario's New Democrats fully support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its requirement that Ontario become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025 and will oppose any moves to weaken it. Kathleen Wynne's Liberals have been dragging their feet when it comes to fully implementing and enforcing all aspects of the Act and even ensuring that the government itself complies with this legislation. Ontario's New Democrats understand how important enforcement and compliance are when it comes to removing barriers faced by people with disabilities.

2. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Ontario Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to make Ontario's education system fully accessible to students, parents, and education staff with disabilities, including the 334,000 students with special education needs in Ontario-funded schools?
The need for universal, equitable, public education is at the core of the values that New Democrats most strongly believe in. The education system must be truly accessible to all Ontarians and that includes doing the hard work to remove systemic barriers faced by people with disabilities. The Wynne government has failed to prioritize making education accessible and New Democrats will continue to fight for compliance with the AODA.

3. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to act now to keep its promise to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act, and to reveal its detailed plans for enforcing this important law?
Andrea Horwath and Ontario's New Democrats have repeatedly called on the Wynne government to implement and enforce all aspects of the AODA. The Wynne government has failed to comply with its own legislation and continues to delay on the very important goal of making Ontario truly accessible.

4. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to now implement effective action to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers?
New Democrats strongly support that principle that public money should never be spent to create additional barriers for people with disabilities. The government should immediately fully enforce and comply with the AODA and any public contracts (particularly for infrastructure) should come with a guarantee of accessibility and at the very minimum they should not perpetuate existing barriers.

5. Will you promise not to attend any all-candidates debates unless they are in an accessible location for voters with disabilities to attend and take part?
New Democrats believe that debates should be held at locations that are fully accessible for all Ontarians. We fully commit to raising concerns about any debate locations that are not accessible and will push to have them moved to other locations that meet accessibility requirements.

6. Have you ensured that your campaign office has full disability accessibility?
While our office is regrettably not fully accessible due to limited availability of rentable space, in order to accommodate all volunteers and guests, we will make every effort to make our staff and candidate available to meet with an individual at an appropriate location.

Mike Thomas, NDP Candidate
Niagara West - Glanbrook

Text of the November 12, 2016 Letter to the AODA Alliance from Niagara West-Glanbrook Liberal Candidate Vicky Ringuette

 

November 12, 2016

Dear Mr. Lepofsky,

I want to thank you for your letter and for your unwavering advocacy to improve accessibility in Ontario. I am pleased to respond to your questions and share my personal commitment to improving accessibility for people of all abilities in our province.

1. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Do you support that law, and its goal of full accessibility by 2025, and will you personally oppose any efforts to weaken it or measures under it?

I am incredibly proud that the Liberal government has taken action to make Ontario a leader in accessibility. I am committed to reach Ontario's goal of accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025 and create environments and opportunities for individuals of all abilities to participate fully in everyday life. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it is also something that has the potential to add $600 million per year to Ontario's GDP. I am committed to building on the successes of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to make this goal a reality. 

2. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Ontario Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to make Ontario's education system fully accessible to students, parents, and education staff with disabilities, including the 334,000 students with special education needs in Ontario-funded schools?

I am proud of the Liberal government's commitment and tremendous progress on creating the AODA and the accompanying Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations, which include the Customer Service and Employment Standards, among others. It is a priority that we continue to break down barriers, including those in our education system. If elected MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook, I will work together with the Minister of Education, school boards and parents, to ensure that students of all abilities are empowered to reach their full potential in our publicly funded schools.

3. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to act now to keep its promise to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act, and to reveal its detailed plans for enforcing this important law?

Increasing public awareness about the importance of creating an inclusive and accessible province is a vital aspect of the adoption of the AODA and its standards. If elected MPP, I will work with our local businesses to share the economic benefits of removing barriers to harness the buying power of more people and find untapped talent to strengthen our province's workforce.

4. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to now implement effective action to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers? 


The creation of the AODA was a very important step, as a society and a province, to remove barriers that keep people with disabilities from participating fully. I think it's an imperative to ensure new government policies and programs are reviewed with an accessibility lens to make sure that they do not create new barriers or perpetuate existing ones.

5. Will you promise not to attend any all-candidates debates unless they are in an accessible location for voters with disabilities to attend and take part?

I will only attend all-candidates debates where hosts take the necessary steps to ensure that people of all abilities are able to participate.

6. Have you ensured that your campaign office has full disability accessibility?

My campaign office is wheelchair accessible and there is an individual in my office at all times who has completed accessibility training, including the Customer Service standard.

Thank you again for your letter and for your advocacy on these matters important to all Ontarians.

Sincerely,

Vicky Ringuette
Ontario Liberal Candidate for Niagara West-Glanbrook

November 13, 2016 Letter to the AODA Alliance from Ottawa Vanier NDP Candidate Claude Bisson

QUESTIONNAIRE REGARDING THE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

1. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Do you support that law, and its goal of full accessibility by 2025, and will you personally oppose any efforts to weaken it or measures under it?
Ontario's New Democrats fully support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its requirement that the Ontario become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025 and will oppose any moves to weaken it. Kathleen Wynne's Liberals have been dragging their feet when it comes to fully implementing and enforcing all aspects of the Act and even ensuring that the government itself complies with this legislation. Ontario's New Democrats understand how important enforcement and compliance are when it comes to removing barriers faced by people with disabilities.

2. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Ontario Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to make Ontario's education system fully accessible to students, parents, and education staff with disabilities, including the 334,000 students with special education needs in Ontario-funded schools?
The need for universal, equitable, public education is at the core of the values that New Democrats most strongly believe in. The education system must be truly accessible to all Ontarians and that includes doing the hard work to remove systemic barriers faced by people with disabilities. The Wynne government has failed to prioritize making education accessible and New Democrats will continue to fight for compliance with the AODA.

3. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to act now to keep its promise to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act, and to reveal its detailed plans for enforcing this important law?
Andrea Horwath and Ontario's New Democrats have repeatedly called on the Wynne government to implement and enforce all aspects of the AODA. The Wynne government has failed to comply with its own legislation and continues to delay on the very important goal of making Ontario truly accessible.

4. Will you support the call by people with disabilities for the Government to now implement effective action to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers?
New Democrats strongly support that principle that public money should never be spent to create additional barriers for people with disabilities. The government should immediately fully enforce and comply with the AODA and any public contracts (particularly for infrastructure) should come with a guarantee of accessibility and at the very minimum they should not perpetuate existing barriers.

5. Will you promise not to attend any all-candidates debates unless they are in an accessible location for voters with disabilities to attend and take part?
New Democrats believe that debates should be held at locations that are fully accessible for all Ontarians. We fully commit to raising concerns about any debate locations that are not accessible and will push to have them moved to other locations that meet accessibility requirements.


6. Have you ensured that your campaign office has full disability accessibility?
We strived to find a campaign office that was fully accessible since we have many volunteers that have disabilities and we wanted them to be able to fully take part in our campaign. Unfortunately, there's a small lip in front of the main door of our campaign office and our bathroom isn't fully accessible.