ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

2014 Year-End Retrospective on Our Non-Partisan Campaign for Disability Accessibility And More News from the Accessibility Front Lines

December 5, 2014

Summary

This is the AODA Alliance’s final Update for 2014. We thank one and all for reading or skimming our Updates, for passing them on to others, and for being part of our non-stop grassroots campaign to make Ontario fully accessible to over 1.8 million people with disabilities. Every contribution of effort by each one of you to our campaign helps sustain this effort. Because we are a volunteer coalition, it is the contribution of that effort that powers us ahead.

In this Update we give you a punchy retrospective of our key collective efforts over this year. In addition to the actions we list here are, of course, all the critically important things that you do in your own community or organization to help propel us forward. We give a similarly punchy summary of what we have seen the Ontario Government accomplish on accessibility over the past year.

We then provide several items for you to read and skim, and on which our Year-End Summary at times comments, below. These include:

We want to also let you know that we have posted on YouTube a captioned video of the news conference we held at the Queen’s Park Media Studio on November 28, 2014, right after our Queen’s Park celebration of the AODA movement’s 20th anniversary.

We wish one and all a happy and healthy, and hopefully accessible holiday season, and a great new year. We look forward to resuming action early in the new year. Our priority will be to build on our campaign to reach every member of the Ontario Legislature to get them to help us kick-start stalled Ontario Government action on its disability accessibility pledges and duties. We will have ideas on how you can help get involved.

Even while we are off-line, the Accessibility Clock ticks on. A disturbing 382 days have now passed since we revealed that the Ontario Government was not enforcing the AODA, and that there have been rampant AODA violations in the private sector. This revelation came from a Freedom of Information application last year. The Government still has not made public its promised detailed plan for the AODA's effective enforcement. The Government’s November 7, 2014 web posting on AODA enforcement includes little new. It does not constitute the promised detail AODA enforcement plan.

Two hundred and eighty-eight days have passed since the Toronto Star reported on February 20, 2014 that the Government would be publicly posting that new enforcement plan "in short order." Two hundred and five days have passed since Premier Wynne promised to establish a toll-free line for members of the public to alert the Government to accessibility barriers against people with disabilities in the community. None has been announced.

To read our November 18, 2013 revelation that the Government was failing to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act despite knowing of rampant private sector violations, and funds on hand for enforcement.

To read the Government's February 20, 2014 pledge to publish in "short order" its plan for enforcing the Disabilities Act.

To read the Government’s May 14, 2014 election promise to establish a toll-free line to report disability accessibility barriers.

To read our analysis of the Government’s paltry November 7, 2014 web posting on the AODA’s enforcement.

As well, 465 days have passed since the Government unveiled its plans for the legacy of the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games. Yet it has still not released details and specifics of a comprehensive disability accessibility legacy for the Games. Only 215 days remain until the 2015 Games begin. Time is running out!

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MORE DETAILS

1. Our Action this Year in Our Campaign for Accessibility – 2014 In Review

We can be proud that again this year, mobilizing at the grassroots, we accomplished a great deal, waging our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities.

For example,

* Last winter, we provided resources to enable people with disabilities and their supporters to raise disability accessibility in the by-elections held on February 13, 2014. These by-elections were especially important as they were widely seen as a test-run for a general election, possibly to take place later the same year.

* In the winter and spring, we rallied people with disabilities and their organizations to take active part in the Independent Review of the AODA which the Government appointed former University of Toronto Law Dean Mayo Moran to conduct.

* With input from the disability community, we prepared and submitted a comprehensive 368-page brief to the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review. It is likely the most thorough compilation of the Government’s action and inaction on disability accessibility since the AODA was enacted in 2005. It shows that the Government got off to a good start after it enacted the AODA in 2005. However, since the 2011 summer, the Government has ground down to a snail’s pace, making far too little progress, and taking too long to get anything done.

Our brief offers constructive, detailed recommendations on how the Government can fulfil its duties and promises under the AODA. If the Government uses it, it can get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025.

* With the possibility of a spring 2014 election looming, we prepared and submitted to the major Ontario political parties a good list of election commitments on disability accessibility that we asked each to make.

* When the Government called the June 12, 2014 election, we quickly sprang into action. We spearheaded a non-partisan campaign on disability accessibility issues throughout the election campaign. We got letters from the Liberals, NDP and Conservatives on disability accessibility. We held a novel “virtual news conference” to unveil these election pledges on accessibility. We secured media coverage during the election campaign, not an easy thing to do.

* During and after this election, we again campaigned for the removal and prevention of barriers that again impeded voters and candidates with disabilities in Ontario and municipal elections. We made public inexcusable accessibility barriers that impeded voters during the 2014 Ontario election.

* After the Ontario Liberal Party won re-election, we wrote each key cabinet minister, as well as Premier Wynne, to list the Government’s disability accessibility promises and duties for which each is responsible. This let each know what they need to do, to do their part.

* We continued to campaign to get the Government to keep its broken promise to effectively enforce the AODA. We have gotten the Government to go from ignoring enforcement entirely vis a vis the private sector, to taking enforcement action, but to our dismay, only for a very small percentage of private sector organizations which the Government knows to be violating the AODA. When the Government quietly posted a statement on AODA enforcement on the web near year’s end, we quickly showed that it said little new.

* We continued to press the Government to start developing new accessibility standards, it has been dithering over which new accessibility standards to make next for over three years.

* This summer we revealed that the Government was planning a design for several subway stations on Toronto’s new Eglinton Crosstown subway line that included accessibility/safety concerns for certain people with disabilities, such as those with vision loss. AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky had to resort to a Freedom of Information application to get to the bottom of this. The Government initially threatened to charge him some $250 to answer this request. Once we revealed this fee to the public, the Government backed down, and agreed to waive this fee.

* We rallied people with disabilities and their supporters around Ontario to take part in the consultation which the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) held this spring on its proposals for revisions to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard. The Government is required to have every accessibility standard it enacts reviewed after it has been on the books for five years.

We prepared our own detailed brief to ASAC. We circulated a draft of this brief publicly for input before we finalized it and sent it to ASAC. It showed why the current Customer Service Accessibility Standard is far too weak to ensure accessible Customer Service for people with disabilities. We offered constructive recommendations on how that accessibility standard could and should be revised to strengthen it.

This fall, the Government made public ASAC’s final proposals for revisions to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard. We made public our criticisms of it as seriously deficient. ASAC ignored most if not all of the ideas and recommendations that we presented in a brief that we spent a great deal of time preparing for ASAC earlier this year. We have called on the Government to implement the reforms to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard that we proposed to ASAC in that brief. We have also called on the Government to substantially fix its now-broken process for developing new accessibility standards and for reviewing existing ones.

* During the 2014 general election, Premier Wynne promised us in writing that she would direct her ministers and senior officials to keep the Government’s disability accessibility promises and duties. On October 4, 2014 we revealed to the public that she had broken this promise. We showed that in her 100 pages of “Mandate Letters” to each minister, in which she set out each minister’s priorities, she systematically left out many if not most of the Government’s promises and duties on accessibility.

* This spring, we made public a new, comprehensive series of captioned video lectures on the history and accomplishments of the AODA movement. These lectures are now available to people interested in accessibility in Ontario and indeed, around the world. You can check out our comprehensive captioned lecture series on disability accessibility.

* We continued to press the Government to make public a comprehensive plan for a strong disability accessibility legacy for the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games. To this day, we have seen no such plan announced.

* Over the year, we again got great media coverage on our accessibility campaign. On several occasions, the media from around Ontario came to us with stories about barriers that people with disabilities still unfairly face around Ontario. We were given a chance to publicly comment on these, and to show how the Government is not keeping its promise to ensure that we are on schedule for full accessibility by 2025, the deadline which the AODA requires.

* On November 28, 2014, we organized a highly successful event at Queen’s Park to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the birth of Ontario’s grassroots, non-partisan disability accessibility legislation movement. Our movement began in that same building on November 29, 1994. It has accomplished so much in the two decades since then. At this event, we announced our new strategy to rebuild more meaningful support in the Ontario Legislature for reaching accessibility by 2025, by getting our supporters around Ontario to reach out to every MPP, one at a time.

2. What Has the Ontario Government Accomplished on Accessibility This Year?

The Government has made a number of speeches congratulating itself on its efforts on accessibility, and claiming to be a world leader on accessibility. Its statements in the Legislature, set out below, in connection with December 3, the International Day for People with Disabilities, are good examples.

These statements are wildly disconnected from the reality facing people with disabilities around Ontario, and the actions on accessibility which the Government actually took this year.

To its credit, near the end of the year, the Government launched an advertising campaign on the duty of organizations to file accessibility reports by year’s end. This commendable action should have been undertaken years ago. The 2010 Independent Review of the AODA conducted by Charles Beer, recommended such action over three years ago.

Yet this year, the Government did not get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. It did not make meaningful progress on keeping its many unkept promises on disability accessibility. For example:

* The Government has still not announced the promised detailed plan for the AODA’s effective enforcement.

* The Government has not announced the new toll-free line for the public to report accessibility barriers, which it promised in the 2014 election half a year ago.

* As noted above, the Government has still not decided which accessibility standards it will next develop. This has been on the Government’s plate for well over three years.

* The Government did not enact a single accessibility standards this year.

* In the February 2013 Throne Speech, coming just after Kathleen Wynne became Ontario’s new premier, the Government set as a priority promoting opportunities for employment for people with disabilities, particularly in the private sector. For the next year, the Government announced no action to act on this priority. In February, 2014 we made public the fact that rather than taking action, the Government merely planned to appoint an advisory council to give it ideas on what to do on this issue. The Government gave that council until the end of 2014 to come back with ideas.

This meant that the Government would do nothing concrete to help expand employment for people with disabilities in the meantime, as far as we can tell from any Government announcements. The information on unemployment facing people with disabilities, set out in the Statistics Canada report below, shows why speedy and decisive Government action on jobs for people with disabilities is long overdue.

At the November 28, 2014 Queen’s Park celebration of our accessibility movement’s 20th Anniversary, David Onley, former Ontario lieutenant Governor, and now Special Advisor on Accessibility to the Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, said that the unemployment rate facing people with disabilities in Canada is not only a national crisis – It’s a national shame. The Government needs to listen to the Special Advisor whom it is so proud to have appointed. 

* The Government has not announced a major strategy to ensure that the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games leave behind a strong legacy of improved accessibility for people with disabilities in areas like tourism and hospitality services. All the Government announced in the Legislature in Question Period on December 3, 2014, (set out below) are plans to ensure that the sites where the Games take place will be accessible. This is of little use if tourists with disabilities and athletes with disabilities cannot find accessible transit to the Games sites, and cannot find accessible places to eat in the community, when not at the Games. Toronto is headed for a global embarrassment next year if this is not addressed now.

* The Government has not yet substantively answered any of the important letters we have sent to it over the past six months, in which we offer ideas, and seek information and concrete action.

On May 2, 2014, we wrote the previous minister responsible for the AODA, Eric Hoskins, for specific updates on actions on accessibility taken to date. Neither he nor his successor have yet sent a substantive answer.

Over the summer, we wrote the Premier and all key ministers listing detailed actions that they need to take to fulfil the Government’s promises and duties on accessibility. None have answered us.

As noted earlier, the Premier’s September 25, 2014 Mandate Letters to each cabinet minister, setting out their priorities, systematically leave out many if not most of the Government’s disability accessibility pledges and obligations.

What does this all lead to? Even when the Government makes speeches in the Legislature on accessibility, as it did on December 3, 2014, it often speaks of the extremely modest goal of “improving accessibility.” This is far more trivial than the mandatory requirement of ensuring that Ontario becomes fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025 – a requirement that the Government proudly enshrined in the law in 2005.

You can see two sharp contrasts. First, there is a huge gap between the Government’s self-congratulatory claims about its work on accessibility and its actual record. Second, you can see a similarly large gap between the practical ideas we offer the Government on disability accessibility, and the Government’s consequential inaction.

This does not deter us one bit. We are ready to work with the Government, and to commend it when it takes positive action. When it does not, we are ready to hold it accountable.

In the new year we will continue to unfold our new campaign to get people with disabilities and their supporters around Ontario to reach out to your local MPP. We will also turn attention to the leadership campaign now underway in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. We will do the same as we did two years ago when the Ontario Liberals held a leadership race.

We will ask each candidate for PC leadership to make strong commitments on disability accessibility. As a non-partisan coalition, we will not support or oppose any candidate.

According to a Government statement in the Legislature on December 3, 2014, the Government has already received the final report of Mayo Moran, who conducted an Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We urge the Government to make that report public now. On December 3, 2014, Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid (who has lead responsibility for implementing and enforcing the AODA) said:

“Provost Moran has just completed her review, and I now have her report. I’d like to thank Provost Moran for her hard work. I look forward to reviewing her recommendations and tabling them in this Legislature at the earliest opportunity.”

We also urge the Government to announce a comprehensive plan to get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. The Government has the Moran Report, and can also benefit from our June 30, 2014 brief to the Moran Independent Review.

3. Statement from MPP Cindy Forster on the 20th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA)

Posted at http://www.cindyforster.ca/statement-from-mpp-cindy-forster-on-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-accessibility-for-ontarians-with-disabilities-act-alliance-aoda-2/

November 27, 2014

Statement from Cindy Forster, MPP for Welland, on the anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA):

“Today marks 20 long years since accessibility activist David Lepofsky and former NDP MPP Gary Malkowski sparked a struggle to ensure that Ontario becomes a fully accessible province.

While many landmarks events have taken place over these two decades, shamefully, since 2011, this government has virtually slowed progress down to crawl! This morning, AODA Chair David Lepofsky called their delays ‘unacceptable and inexcusable dithering.’

We now only have 10 years to achieve the goal of full accessibility by 2025. Premier Wynne has already broken her promise on timelines and enforcement. The AODA knows the Liberal government has the money because they discovered that $24-million went unspent by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.

This government is failing at making standards, and failing further at enforcing them.

The AODA has more people lobbying today than 20 years ago. Technology makes this even easier. They plan to lobby MPPs one at a time because most of them weren’t even here 20 years ago.

I want to be leader at Queen’s Park in this fight for a fully accessible province.”

For information contact: Laurie Orrett 416-325-7106

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Posted on December 1, 2014.

4. Toronto Star November 30, 2014

Posted at http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/11/30/luke_andersons_quest_for_a_barrierfree_city.html?app=noRedirect

Luke Anderson's quest for a barrier-free city

Luke Anderson had a mountain bike injury that left him with significant paralysis. He sees it as a gift — a chance to share his story and make Toronto more accessible.

Luke Anderson uses a temporary wheelchair ramp he designed outside Signs restaurant at Yonge and Wellesley Sts. The City ordered the removal of the ramp because it doesn't meet code. The establishment is hearing impaired friendly and wants to provide better access for the disabled.
PHOTO: Katie Daubs / Toronto Star

By: Katie Daubs GTA,

Luke Anderson is sitting in Signs Restaurant with a plastic cube of irony on his lap.

“Is that your snazzy award?” a passing employee asks.

On Wednesday, the 36-year-old received an accessibility award at city hall for his work with the Stopgap Foundation, creating ramps for “single-step storefronts,” that “increase accessibility and create conversations about the importance of designing spaces that everyone can enjoy.”

On Thursday, the city ordered another of Anderson’s ramps — covering three steps outside of this Yonge Street restaurant, removed because it “poses a hazard to pedestrians and people with visual disabilities.”

“The city is looking kind of dumb, there they are praising our work, meanwhile they’ve got this bull--- law in place,” he said earlier in the day.

There was a time in Anderson’s life when accessibility issues were completely foreign to him. Growing up in Stouffville, he was a gifted athlete and fell in love with mountain biking. After earning an civil engineering degree at Waterloo he moved to Rossland, B.C., where he spent his free time in the mountains.

“I’m an adrenalin junkie, so the faster, the higher, the more intense a ride, that would totally fuel my fire,” he says.

In the fall of 2002, he and a friend were biking — his friend cleared a 25-foot gap, which Anderson attempted but fell short, landing face down on the forest floor, breaking two vertebrae in his upper spine.

“There was this human instinct that kicked in, and said, ‘OK, you are in a totally different situation now than you were five seconds ago, but you’re not going to give up and we’re going to move on with things here.’ ”

He has full paralysis of his lower extremities and partial paralysis of his arms. He uses a wheelchair and relies on others for many tasks, like meal preparation. At the restaurant, a diner wants to give Anderson his business card, and Anderson tells him where to find his wallet, quipping, “Half the city knows my PIN.”

“I struggle with it still everyday . . . It’s not nearly as bad as it was those first four years. I miss being able to hop on my bike, I miss being able to throw on my hiking boots and go climbing,” he explained in earlier conversation. “But I really feel like I’ve been given a gift and opportunity to share with audiences, with the city, with the world, about a different way of life that I think is an important task, and I’m up for it.”

When he began working at his engineering firm in Toronto, a heavy aluminum ramp was installed, deployed every time he came and left the building. It was frustrating because he had to rely on his friend to help. (There is now an easier, permanent solution.)

The two men realized most small businesses were in a financial bind when it came to accessibility, so they created the Stopgap Foundation three years ago. Using donated materials and volunteers, they make temporary wooden ramps for storefronts. They paint them with a non-slip finish in bright colours to draw attention. The ramps are lightweight and temporary — not designed to the same standards as permanent ramps, they are slightly steeper. But because they are used when needed, they avoid a lot of bureaucratic red tape, he explains.

“It allows a lot more people in to the store, we have a lot of strollers in the neighbourhood,” says Zac Elik, the manager of Sanction Skate and Snow in the Junction, noting that it’s also helpful for seniors and people who use wheelchairs. “It’s a piece of wood, it’s very easy to move.”

Anderson estimates there are 500 Stopgap ramps around town, the majority single-step. Stopgap also has a for-profit business for ramps on request.

The Signs ramp falls into the latter category, and is much larger and intricate, with four pieces that each weigh around 50 pounds. It is a two-person job to move the ramp, and the restaurant leaves it up.

“It’s a design flaw in that sense. It was a bit of an experiment. The portability isn’t great, but it is deployable,” he says.

Earlier this week, the city told the Star that there needs to be 2.1 metre width for pedestrian traffic on a sidewalk, and busy pedestrian streets can require more. The current width left by the ramp falls two centimetres short.

“There are exceptions to everything — look at all the construction sites where you have to walk on the road,” says Karen Poole, dining at the counter at Signs.

Anderson doesn’t know where this is headed with the city.

But just as his injury has forced him to change, he sees a parallel opportunity for the city to change by amending bylaws and looking for creative solutions.

“We really need to push through these difficult, uncomfortable situations that we’re coming up against,” he says.

5. Statistics Canada’s Daily Announcement on December 3, 2014

December 3, 2014 from website www.statcan.gc.ca
URL:
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/141203/dq141203a-eng.htm

Study: Persons with disabilities and employment

The employment rate of Canadians aged 25 to 64 with disabilities was 49% in 2011, compared with 79% for Canadians without a disability. Among those with a 'very severe' disability, the employment rate was 26%.

Canadians with disabilities include those with a physical or mental disability related to seeing, hearing, mobility, flexibility, dexterity, pain, learning, development, psychological/mental disorders or memory.

More than two million Canadians aged 25 to 64, or 11% of the population in this age group, reported being limited in their activities because of at least one of these conditions. Of this group, approximately one million were employed in 2011.

To account for the fact that some disabilities can be more limiting than others, each person with disabilities was assigned a 'severity score' based on the number of disability types, the intensity of difficulties and the frequency of activity limitations. Using this score, persons with disabilities were classified across four categories of severity: 'mild,' 'moderate,' 'severe' and 'very severe.'

Among those who had a mild disability, the employment rate was 68%, compared with 54% of those who had a moderate disability. The rate drops to 42% for persons who had a severe disability and 26% among those who had a very severe disability.

University graduates with a mild or moderate disability have employment rates similar to their counterparts without a disability

The difference in age-adjusted employment rates between persons with disabilities and those without a disability was lower among university graduates.

University graduates with a mild or moderate disability had employment rates that did not significantly differ from those of their counterparts without a disability. The employment rates for the three groups, the mild or moderately disabled, as well as the non-disabled, ranged from 77% to 83%.

The employment rate of university graduates with a severe or very severe disability was lower at 59%.

However, a lower level of educational attainment may represent one employment barrier among those with disabilities, particularly among those who had a severe disability.

In 2011, the age-adjusted employment rate of individuals who had less than a high school education and had a severe or very severe disability was 20%, compared with an employment rate of 65% among those who did not have a disability.

Both severity of condition and level of education were important determining factors of employment among Canadians with disabilities, along with the type of condition (that is, mental or psychological versus physical).

Perceptions of discrimination higher among young individuals with disabilities

The survey also asked persons with disabilities whether they had perceived employment discrimination in the five previous years.

Among Canadians with disabilities who were employed at some point in the five previous years, 12% reported having been refused a job as a result of their condition.

Perceptions of discrimination, however, were higher among younger disabled individuals, especially if they had a severe or very severe disability and were without a job at the time of data collection.

Among individuals aged 25 to 34, 33% of those with a severe or very severe disability said that they had been refused a job in the past five years because of their condition.

Among men aged 25 to 34 with a severe or very severe disability who were without a job, 62% reported they had been refused a job because of their condition.
Employed persons with disabilities more concentrated in personal services and sales occupations

In part because persons with disabilities are less likely to be university-educated, they were more likely to be employed in specific occupations, such as personal service and customer information service occupations, or sales occupations.

For instance, employed men with a severe or very severe disability were at least twice more likely than their counterparts without a disability to be in personal service and customer information service occupations.

University graduates with or without a disability were more alike in their employment profile. About 18% of those with a mild or moderate disability and 9% of those with a severe or very severe disability had a university degree, compared with 27% among those without a disability.

In particular, university graduates with disabilities were just as likely as those without a disability to be employed in occupations typically requiring a university degree (or professional occupations).

Among university graduates with disabilities, 49% of men and 54% of women were employed in professional occupations. These percentages were the same among university graduates without a disability.

However, university graduates with disabilities were less likely to work in management occupations. This was especially the case among men, since 12% of those with disabilities held a management occupation (compared with 20% among those without a disability).

As well, male university graduates with disabilities earned less than their non-disabled counterparts. Among men working on a full-year full-time basis, the average employment income was $69,200, compared with $92,700 among their non-disabled counterparts.

Among women working full-year full time who had a university degree, employment income averaged $64,500 among those with disabilities, compared with $68,000 among those without a disability.

Note to readers

In this study, data from the Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) are used to examine the employment dynamics of Canadian adults whose daily activities are limited because of a long-term condition or health-related problem.

The CSD was conducted in 2012 on the basis of a sample of persons who reported an activity limitation in the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS). The results of this study are therefore a combination of disability information collected as per the CSD itself in 2012, with employment information from the 2011 NHS. Employment statistics refer to the employment situation at the time of the NHS collection, that is, on May 10, 2011.

To identify whether a person had a disability, screening questions were asked to survey respondents on the basis of 10 possible types of disabilities. A severity score was also calculated for each person with a disability, depending on the scores obtained for each disability type. At the time of the CSD survey collection (in 2012), 31% of persons with disabilities had a 'mild' disability, 19% had a 'moderate' disability, 23% had a 'severe' disability and 27% had a 'very severe' disability.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3251 and survey number 5178.

The article "Persons with disabilities and employment" is now available online in Insights on Canadian Society (Catalogue number75-006-X) from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Tim Leonard (613-889-5376; tim.leonard@statcan.gc.ca), Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.

For more information on Insights on Canadian Society, contact Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté (613-951-0803; sebastien.larochelle-cote@statcan.gc.ca), Labour Statistics Division.

6. Ontario Hansard December 3, 2014

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
Question Period
Accessibility for the disabled

Ms. Soo Wong: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.

As you’re well aware, today is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Today, the world is promoting a deeper understanding of disability issues and mobilizing support to foster a more inclusive society.

Here in Ontario, I’m proud of our government for passing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, which helped to create a more inclusive Ontario, regardless of ability.

Ontario is recognized as a world leader in accessibility. We are the first in the world to move to a more modern regulatory regime that mandates accessibility. We’re the first in the world that requires staff to be trained on accessibility. We are the first in Canada with legislation that clearly outlines the goals and timelines.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister: Can the minister responsible for the AODA please inform the House about the progress our government has made to make Ontario more accessible?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I want to thank the member for joining myself and a number of our colleagues this morning here in the Legislature in getting together with Community Living and March of Dimes to celebrate the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It is a great time to thank accessibility champions across the province for the important work they’ve done and the great progress we’ve made.

Together, we’ve made Ontario not just accessible but one of the most accessible, if not the most accessible, leaders in the entire world. What a great competitive advantage. It’s something to be very, very proud of, not just for us but for accessibility champions across the province.

The 2010 Martin Prosperity Institute outlined that having an inclusive Ontario would see a $7.9-billion investment in gross domestic product. This isn’t only good for our society, it’s not only good for people with disabilities, this is something that’s crucial to our competitiveness as an economy.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Soo Wong: I want to thank the minister for giving us an update about the steps that the Ontario government is making to make Ontario accessible.

I know the Pan and Parapan Am Games are putting a strong focus on accessibility in our province next summer. The games will showcase Ontario’s para-athletes to the world. We are hosting 2,400 para-athletes and team officials, and broadcasting for the first time ever Parapan sports on live TV. The games are helping to grow the para-sports world.

In conjunction with the games, the first-ever Canadian wheelchair basketball academy was created by Wheelchair Basketball Canada. Today, high-performance wheelchair basketball athletes are training at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. These athletes have al-ready begun using the world’s first full-time, year-round daily training centre.

Speaker, through you to the minister: Can he please explain the various strategies our government is taking to make the Pan and Parapan Am Games more accessible?

Hon. Brad Duguid: Minister responsible for the Pan and Parapan Am Games.

Hon. Michael Coteau: I’d like to thank the member from Scarborough–Agincourt for her important question. We’re committed to making sure that the Parapan Am and the Pan Am Games in 2015 are the most accessible games ever. In every planning stage of the games, we’ve thought about how to make this experience available to all people of all abilities.

All existing sporting venues are completely accessible and every new build was designed with accessibility in mind. If you go out to the Scarborough aquatics centre, you will see it is perhaps the most accessible facility in North America. When you go inside, you can see a custom-built accessible ergometer that gives athletes in wheelchairs the ability to alter their force and power while training. In the centre, there’s a heat treatment recovery system that rehabilitates athletes called the HydroWorx 2000. It has an underwater treadmill, resistant jet technology and many other state-of-the-art features.

We are working to make sure these games are the most accessible ever. We are so proud, and that’s why 23,000 Ontarians will be trained in accessibility training to accommodate everyone.

6. More Ontario Hansard December 3, 2014

Statements
International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Jack MacLaren: Mr. Speaker, today is the day when we observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Today is the day when we recognize over one billion people: 15% of the world’s population live with a disability.

Today I’m proud to stand and tell you about the work being done in the constituency of Carleton–Mississippi Mills. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of touring Ottawa-Carleton Lifeskills, an agency that has been caring for people with disabilities for 30 years. Ottawa-Carleton Lifeskills offers residential and day programs, as well as independent living and home-share programs, to those living with autism, Down’s syndrome and various other disabilities.

I was thrilled to meet the staff and participants alike and was amazed at the work being done. I heard from the staff that it is time that we bring those living with disabilities out from the shadows and into the sunshine, and today I would like to acknowledge all of those Ontarians who are living with a disability.

7. Still More Ontario Hanssard December 3, 2014

Ministry Statements
Statements by ministries.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Hon. Brad Duguid: I’m pleased to rise today in the House to recognize the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Today, we have an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments we’ve made together in making Ontario more accessible.

Mr. Speaker, I’m proud to say that Ontario is a leader in accessibility. In 2005, our government introduced the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This landmark legislation, which received unanimous support from all parties in this Legislature, made Ontario the first jurisdiction to mandate accessibility. Together, we’ve made great strides towards this goal over the past nine years. This has been accomplished by working with our partners in the private, public and non-profit sectors.

Mr. Speaker, Ontario is privileged to have a new special adviser on accessibility. A few weeks ago, our government appointed former Lieutenant Governor David Onley to this role. Working together, with David Onley’s leadership, our government will continue to break down barriers for people with disabilities, promote the economic benefit of inclusion and champion accessibility across the province.

David Onley is right when he says that moving a person dependent on government benefits to the role of a taxpayer just makes good business and economic sense. The fact is, according to the Martin Prosperity Institute, making Ontario an accessible province will add $7.9 billion to our GDP.

Last year, Ontario appointed Mayo Moran, provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, to lead an in-depth review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Provost Moran has just completed her review, and I now have her report. I’d like to thank Provost Moran for her hard work. I look forward to reviewing her recommendations and tabling them in this Legislature at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve recently received recommendations following the first review of our province’s accessibility standard on customer service. I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude, on behalf of the people of Ontario, to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standards Development Committee, led by Chair Jim Sanders, for their thorough review. I know my honourable colleagues will all want to join me in welcoming members of the council and committee to the Legislature today: Michelle Saunders, Dean Walker, John Hendry and Gary Rygus, who are in the House—I think three out of the four at least are in the House today. Thank you so much for your service to this province and for being champions of accessibility.

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Today and every day, we must recognize that while we’ve come a long way, there’s still a lot of work ahead of us. Removing barriers and building an accessible Ontario is a goal we all share. We don’t want anything to stand in the way of Ontarians participating in their communities or their workplaces. That’s why, Mr. Speaker, we’ve been working to make sure the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors know about Ontario’s accessibility law.

This fall, we launched a marketing campaign to educate businesses on what they need to do to comply with the law. We have tools and resources available at no cost to help them meet their requirements. That being said, I truly believe there’s more work to do to make Ontarians and businesses aware of the business case of becoming more accessible, as well as the obligations of businesses and organizations under the act.

Next year we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It’s a chance for us to celebrate just how far we’ve come. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on our vision for the next 10 years as we work towards our goal of an accessible province by 2025. By that, I mean the 10th anniversary is an ideal time to identify not only where we’re succeeding, but also where we’re falling short. We have ambitious goals. Now is an opportunity to recalibrate and create even more momentum towards making Ontario more accessible.

This coming year will be marked by celebrations in communities across Ontario. I encourage all Ontarians to find a way to acknowledge this momentous occasion.

Next year, Ontario will host the 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games. The games will give us a chance to show people around the world Ontario’s leadership in accessibility. I’m proud to say that over 20,000 volunteers are being trained to provide an accessible games experience.

You know, we really ought to be excited about the opportunities that lie ahead of us to build a more inclusive society and maintain our position as a global leader in accessibility. The fact is that one in seven people currently has a disability. This number is expected to rise to one in five over the next 20 years as our population ages. Our generation has the capability to ensure that all Ontarians will have an opportunity to participate fully in everyday life. At the same time, our efforts will make Ontario more competitive, boost productivity and strengthen our economy.

Together, let us seize this opportunity. Together, let us make Ontario more accessible, more competitive, and more prosperous for us all.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Hon. Helena Jaczek: I rise today to join my colleagues in marking the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day is an opportunity to promote awareness, build understanding, and mobilize support for the inclusion of all persons with disabilities. It is an opportunity for all of us to recognize on a global scale the benefits of a future where persons with disabilities are included in every aspect of society and how we can make our communities better places to live for everyone.

The United Nations estimates that people with disabilities make up nearly 15% of the world’s population. That’s more than one billion people. Many live in poverty, face discrimination, and have limited opportunities for growth.

In Ontario, it is estimated that one in seven people has some type of disability. This includes 62,000 adults and 28,000 children living with a developmental disability. If our province is to realize its full potential, we must be sure that all Ontarians can reach their potential.

Realising our collective potential starts with inclusion. That is what has inspired our developmental services investment plan. We are investing $810 million over three years, the largest-ever funding increase to the developmental services system in Ontario.

It will provide direct funding to thousands of people so they can participate more fully in the community, offering more choice and flexibility of supports than ever before.

It will promote inclusive work environments and opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to find competitive employment, develop successful job skills and contribute to the growth of the province.

The plan will also provide residential supports for an additional 1,400 people with urgent needs.

In addition, we are investing up to $15 million over the next three years in an employment and modernization fund which will offer financial support to projects for individuals with developmental disabilities through employment, and for projects that increase the efficiency, collaboration and innovation in our service delivery network.

Through the work of our housing task force, this investment will broaden the range of inclusive housing options for people with developmental disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to building Ontario up by investing in people and providing the most vulnerable in our society with the supports they need to succeed. This will be achieved through our continued investments and through the long-term transformation of the social assistance system.

Since 2003, our government has increased rates for people with disabilities receiving Ontario Disability Support Program benefits by 17.2%. Last year, we changed the rules for income earnings while receiving social assistance. Now everyone who works can earn more without having their assistance benefits reduced. Next spring, we will create a new flexible employment benefit to better support the employment goals of social assistance clients.

Today, we posted the 2014 report on the Canada-Ontario Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities on my ministry’s website. This agreement reflects our shared commitment to support employment programs for Ontarians with disabilities, including social assistance clients and post-secondary students with disabilities. As well, it gives Ontario the ability to continue successful programs that are helping remove barriers for people with disabilities so they can seek training, find jobs and build careers. For clients with disabilities, this approach is allowing us to invest more in everyone who wants to work, no matter what stage they’re at in their employment journey.

Mr. Speaker, it is motivating to see the roots of inclusion already planted in this province. They’re evident at the Scugog library in Port Perry, where Community Living Durham North teaches people successful workplace skills so they can move forward to gain employment in community. In my own riding of Oak Ridges–Markham, Community Living York South is working with local businesses to hire people with developmental disabilities and to promote the participation of young people with developmental disabilities in the workforce. In Ottawa, LiveWorkPlay is working with local car dealerships who are hiring young adults with developmental disabilities because of their skills and abilities.

Partnerships between government, families and communities are crucial to building a truly inclusive, supportive society, and these are a few examples of the inspiring work that is being done. I want to thank our community partners for the amazing work they do to empower people with disabilities to live as independently as possible in their communities.

This idea of a truly inclusive and supportive society is embedded in our multi-year transformation plan for developmental services and our long-term transformation agenda for the social assistance system.

Ontario has come a long way in promoting inclusion, integration and true citizenship for people with disabilities, but there is much more to be done. As Minister of Community and Social Services, I am looking forward to advancing our government’s priorities and ensuring Ontarians with disabilities are best supported. My mandate is to drive forward the transformation of supports for those living with disabilities. Our government is committed to reforming the delivery of services and supports available to those through Developmental Services Ontario and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

I call upon every member of this House and every community in this province to join us in building an Ontario which embraces diversity in all its forms and values the contributions of all our citizens.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Percy Hatfield: It is a privilege to rise on behalf of New Democrats to recognize the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day has helped to promote understanding and awareness of disability issues and the importance of ensuring that the rights of all persons with disabilities are respected.

On behalf of the NDP caucus, we also wish to thank David Lepofsky and the AODA Alliance for all of their hard work on disability issues over these many years.

I also want to applaud the strong, dedicated advocates for disability rights in my riding of Windsor–Tecumseh, people such as Dean LaBute and others right across this province who work each day to protect and expand disability rights.

Speaker, I’m sure, like you, we have many friends and acquaintances who are disabled. I have many friends, some who were born disabled and some who became disabled after unfortunate car accidents or a slip and fall.

One man I know sat back after a good meal. He pushed his chair back from the table. The chair was one of the old kind with four wheels, four legs. The chair fell over and he fell out and broke his back. He broke vertebrae and was left a paraplegic.

Another friend, Greg, was a high school teacher. He had a nice Corvette; unfortunately, he had a terrible car accident and was damaged for life.

Donny, another really good friend, on the night he graduated from high school dove into a swimming pool and ended up as a paraplegic.

My wife used to manage a group home for the disabled in Forest Glade in Windsor. It was an innovative initiative, a home with staff, apartments and 24-hour care. Actually, now the government is doing away with the home, closing it down and moving the clients into high-rise apartments. The staff will make individual visits. They’ll have to go to the high-rises to feed, bathe and tend to the needs of those who used to be just down the hall. I’m told some people think this is progress; I don’t. I don’t see how they’re going to save money.

We used to spend a lot of time at the ALPHA Apartments. Actually, at this time of the year, believe it or not, I’d dress up as Santa Claus and have a lot of fun. We’d have summer barbecues. The staff were absolutely fabulous. We sponsored a T-ball team, and I coached it. The first time we played, we actually won the championship in our first season.

My friends who lived in the ALPHA Apartments used to call us, those of us without a disability, TABs. That’s right, TABs, temporarily able-bodied, because we’re only one slip and fall away, one terrible car accident, one mistake in going swimming or diving into a pool.

The United Nations does a good job. This is the one day of the year that they bring this to our attention. We bring it to the public’s attention. Thank you to the United Nations for proclaiming this day the day to recognize those with disabilities and to honour disability rights.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Ted Arnott: I consider this a real honour to have the chance to speak on behalf of the Ontario PC caucus in recognition of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I want to thank the Ministers of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure and Community and Social Services for their gracious remarks this afternoon as well.

All of us know someone who has a disability. We know them as everyday heroes for the way they approach life and overcome every challenge that comes their way. Each year on December 3, we reflect on the issues that affect people with disabilities around the world. This day is meant to raise awareness of the outstanding contribution that people with disabilities make and have the potential to make if we support them to overcome the challenges they face and to mobilize support for their dignity, rights and well-being. According to the United Nations, there are over one billion people around the world with some form of disability.

This year’s theme is “Sustainable Development: the Promise of Technology.” It will focus on how we can use the power of technology to promote inclusion and accessibility. Advances in modern technology have the potential to help people with disabilities integrate more fully and provide them with the tools they need to help them become full participants in our society, including in the economy. Technology also allows people with disabilities to become strong and meaningful contributors in every way. We must all strive to work together to encourage the creation of workplaces that are open and accessible to allow everyone the opportunity to fully participate in our workforce.

I want to take this opportunity to recognize our colleague the member for Whitby–Oshawa for the great work that she has done and the leadership she has shown in advocating for people with disabilities here in this House. It’s because of her hard work and persistence that this Legislature established the Select Committee on Developmental Services. The committee presented its final report this past summer, making 46 recommendations.

The committee recommended that services for people with disabilities be brought together under one ministry to streamline the process and provide easier access to services. It also recommended ending waiting lists for services and supports within the next 12 months and ensuring that children who receive funding for personal support workers, respite and community programs are able to transition seamlessly into adult programs when they turn 18. These are all common-sense suggestions that I think we all can support. Indeed, we have a duty to do everything we can to help support people living with disabilities in this province, and I urge the government to implement these recommendations as soon as possible.

Let us not think of people with disabilities in terms of what they’re unable to do. Let us instead see them for what they can do.

8. Ontario Government News Release

December 4 2014 from website sootoday.com
URL:
http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/details.asp?c=82452

Enabling all employees to reach their full potential
by: SooToday.com Staff

NEWS RELEASE

DAVID ORAZIETTI, MPP

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Ontario Government Making Progress to Address Needs of Disabled Ontarians

In recognition of the United Nation’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities the Ontario government wants to highlight the progress made towards a more accessible Ontario, said David Orazietti, Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

“Our government is incorporating accessibility as a day-to-day operating principle in our workplaces and at the same time we hope to set an example for employers across the province,” said Orazietti. “We have remained committed to creating a more accessible Ontario and are developing internal policies, programs and services that remove barriers in government workplaces for people with disabilities at the most basic level.”

Earlier in the week Orazietti was invited to address the Job Opportunity Information Network (JOIN) conference in Toronto.

The JOIN conference shares best practices and helps attendees with addressing accessibility concerns in their business.

At the conference Orazietti was introduced by CBC’s Suhana Meharchand and spoke about the provinces Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), new programs and initiatives the government has undertaken, and how being an accessible employer makes business sense.

There are over 300,000 employers in Ontario and the Ontario Public Service is one of the larger employers, accounting for 65,000 jobs.

“Our government’s work in this area has earned us recognition as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for seven years in a row and have demonstrated our leadership on employee accessibility,” said Orazietti. “As a large employer in this province our government has a responsibility to create a positive work environment that enables all employees to reach and maximize their potential allowing employees with disabilities to participate even more fully and meaningfully in the workforce.”

Ontario has made several steps toward making government facilities more accessible:

 In 2013, the Ministry of Natural Resources upgraded infrastructure to enable barrier-free access for persons with disabilities in 12 of its Ontario Parks facilities.
 Over the last year the Ministry of the Attorney General opened two new courthouses in the regions of Waterloo and Quinte which embrace accessibility as an essential component of design.

Since 2008 approximately fifty accessibility projects have been completed or commenced by our government.

Another accessibility initiative is Service Ontario’s “Active Offer Protocol,” which ensures that every customer with a disability, visible or otherwise, is asked how they can be helped.

Taking the time to really listen and understand their requirements, which may be met by accessible formats and communications supports, is providing quality customer service and provides the customer with a positive experience.