ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
On this International Day for People with Disabilities, We Look Back at Kathleen Wynne's Written Promises to 1.8 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Made Four years Ago Today, on What She'd Do on Disability Accessibility if She Became Ontario's Premier
December 3, 2016
Let's look back at a very important letter that Kathleen Wynne wrote to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance four years ago today, on December 3, 2012. December 3 is the day which the United Nations declares as the International Day for People with Disabilities.
To set the stage, back in the 2012 fall, Premier Dalton McGuinty had announced his plans to step down as premier. The Ontario Liberal party was holding a hotly-contested leadership race. Whoever won would automatically become Ontario's next premier.
The non-partisan Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance wrote each Liberal leadership candidate to seek commitments on what they would do on disability accessibility if they became Ontario's premier. Ms. Wynne chose the International Day for People with Disabilities to respond. We set out her entire letter below.
In her letter Kathleen Wynne committed to:
* fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives.
* stand by and fully honour the past commitments that the Ontario Liberal Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility.
* ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities no later than 2025, the deadline that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act AODA requires.
* continue the practice of making specific election commitments on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to the AODA Alliance.
* personally meet with AODA Alliance representatives to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to meetings with appropriate cabinet ministers.
Beyond this she committed to:
* move forward with the next poverty reduction strategy, due by the end of 2013, including a priority focus on Ontarians with disabilities, and to work with persons with disabilities among others to develop this strategy.
To see what Kathleen Wynne and her Government have done to keep these commitments since she became Ontario's Premier in February 2013.
In the ground-breaking Independent Review of the AODA's implementation that the Wynne Government made public on February 13, 2015, Mayo Moran showed in effect that Ontario is not on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. The Moran Report called for substantial new action by the Ontario Government. It called on Premier Wynne to show new leadership on the accessibility issue. Learn more about the 2015 report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review.
The AODA Alliance has always been and now remains eager to offer the Wynne Government constructive proposals on how to make progress on accessibility and keep its commitments. One action we've urged Premier Wynne to take, to help fulfil her commitments made four years ago today, is to agree to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA, to tear down the many accessibility barriers that obstruct over a third of a million students with special education needs in Ontario.
* To see the AODA Alliance's Discussion Paper on what an Education Accessibility Standard could include.
* For more background on the AODA Alliance's call for the Ontario Government to agree to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA.
You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at firstname.lastname@example.org
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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.
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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
Text of the December 3 2012 Letter from Kathleen Wynne to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
December 3, 2012
Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Dear Mr. Lepofsky,
Thank you very much for your letter and for providing me with an opportunity to speak to my commitment to ensuring accessibility in Ontario.
With your help, our government crafted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and we've taken significant steps toward our goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025. If elected Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier, I commit to building on that progress and working with our accessibility partners across our province.
Ontario is facing unprecedented demographic shifts that will have a significant impact on issues like accessibility and mobility. In the next 20 years, the number of Ontarians with a disability will grow from one in seven to one in five. Over the next 10 years, Ontario's seniors population will grow by 40 per cent. Improving accessibility for people with disabilities is not just a moral imperative, but also an economic one.
If elected leader, I will move forward with the next poverty reduction strategy, due by the end of 2013. But this strategy will go further and will build on our success to identify additional areas for priority focus. One such area is on Ontarians with disabilities, and will include a measurable target and indicators for the subsequent 5 years.
We know that Ontarians with disabilities are over represented amongst Ontario's poor. We also know that many people with disabilities want to work but often have barriers place in front of them to achieve their dreams. We will work with our partners in the community – non-profits, private sector, education sector, health sector and others – and most importantly, people with lived experience, to develop the strategy.
The task of building a more prosperous and equitable province is far from finished. I look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our goals.
Mr. Lepofsky, thank you for your important work and your tremendous contribution to helping make Ontario more accessible.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1. Under your leadership, will the Liberal Party fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives?
Yes. I'm committed to building a more accessible Ontario as it is not only the smart thing to do, it's the right thing to do. I will maintain the implementation of the AODA, 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce the progress we've made.
2. Will you stand by and fully honour the past commitments that your Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility?
Yes. I will honour the specific commitments made by my party and the government, and look forward to working with you to continue making progress.
3. Will you ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities no later than 2025, the deadline that your Government's AODA requires?
Yes. If elected Premier, I will ensure Ontario remains on schedule to become more accessible by 2025. Ontario Liberals have taken significant steps toward our shared goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025. I recognize that the task of building a more prosperous and equitable province is far from finished. I look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our goals.
4. In Ontario elections, will you continue the practice of the last two Ontario Liberal Party leaders, of making specific election commitments to us on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to us?
Yes. I will make specific, written election commitments to the AODA Alliance regarding the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities.
5. Among other commitments, Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed to meetings with us to address accessibility issues (in addition to meetings we have had with several cabinet ministers). Will you agree to maintain this practice, of being agreeable to personally meet with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate cabinet ministers?
Yes. I look forward to continuing to build and strengthen our relationship with the AODA Alliance. I welcome the opportunity to maintain an open dialogue and meet with you to continue to move accessibility issues forward.