ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

Sign Up for AODA Alliance Updates by writing: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Learn more at: www.aodaalliance.org
United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

Summary of the 2014 Election Disability Accessibility Pledges of the Three Political Parties in the Ontario Legislature

The Commitments We Sought

In our March 3, 2014 letter to the leaders of the three parties in the Ontario legislature, we sought 19 commitments. These were broken down under these eight headings:

  1. Generally strengthen implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
  2. Ensure that all enforceable requirements under the AODA are effectively enforced
  3. Develop the new Accessibility Standards under the AODA needed to achieve full accessibility by 2025
  4. Ensure taxpayers' money is never used to create or buttress disability barriers
  5. Ensure accessibility of provincial and municipal elections
  6. Substantially improve how the Ontario Public Service ensures the accessibility of its services, facilities and workplaces
  7. Complete the overdue promised review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers
  8. Foster our ongoing relationship with your party

To read our March 3, 2014 letter to the party leaders.

To read the New Democratic Party's May 11, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out its disability accessibility 2014 election  commitments.

To read the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party's May 12, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out its disability accessibility 2014 election  commitments.

To read the Ontario Liberal Party's May 14, 2014 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out its disability accessibility 2014 election  commitments.

Here we provide a summary of what each party promised.

The Ontario New Democratic Party's 2014 Commitments

* "New Democrats have pushed for amendments to strengthen the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act since it was tabled in 2005. We have also pushed for the creation of new accessibility standards in the areas of health, education and residential housing. We remain committed to this and will strengthen the implementation of the AODA and related initiatives."

* "New Democrats are committed to the full enforcement of the AODA and will ensure that all agreements are enforced. A NDP government will make it a priority to issue an enforcement plan that ensures action."

* "The next government will need to determine all accessibility standards to achieve full accessibility in Ontario. New Democrats are committed to doing this as quickly as possible and making Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025." 

* "Our plan also includes ensuring the Pan Am Games are fully accessible to all Ontarians. We believe that hosting the Pan Am Games is an ideal opportunity to leave an accessibility legacy."

* "New Democrats do not support any measure that would weaken accessibility protections in Ontario. Further, we believe it's the role of government to reduce barriers, not create more. Public dollars should be spent in ways that promote and ensure accessibility for all Ontarians and always in accordance with provincial legislation and standards."

* "We are committed to meeting with the AODA Alliance and working together to ensure disability barriers are never created."

* "The Ontario NDP brought forward numerous amendments to Bill 231, the Liberal amendment to the Election Act, which would have strengthened its accessibility provisions. We remain committed to the issues raised and to ensuring full accessibility in elections for both voters and candidates. The NDP would introduce legislation that implements the substantive issues addressed in our amendments to Bill 231."

* "Designating a Minister responsible for accessibility issues in Ontario is a necessary first step in developing a coordinated strategy to improve accessibility issues in the Ontario Public Service and in program and service delivery. The Ontario NDP supports the recommendations of the Beer report and understands the importance of a coordinated approach to fulfilling the requirements of the AODA."

* "Andrea and the Ontario NDP believe that a comprehensive review of all Ontario law for accessibility barriers is long overdue. In September 2013, the Liberals made appointments to lead a review of the province's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It was made clear when the review will be complete. The Ontario NDP remains committed to this important undertaking and will accelerate the review process."

* "Andrea and the Ontario NDP hope to continue working with the AODA Alliance and other stakeholders to ensure Ontarians can access services and businesses in their communities.  We would be pleased to meet with your group post-election, regardless of the outcome, to continue working on accessibility issues."

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party's 2014 Commitments

* "The PCs commit to place a particular focus on leveraging the enormous untapped potential of Ontarians living with disabilities – who are significantly underrepresented in our province’s workforce."

* The PC Party does not explicitly commit to develop accessibility standards in the areas of education, health care, and residential housing. Its letter states: "Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities. For the Ontario PCs, this remains our goal."

* "Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government I lead."

* "Under our plan, we will move quickly to connect employers to people with disabilities to develop more opportunities and to reduce barriers that exist in the workplace."

* "Moreover under our Million Jobs Plan, we will take action on a number of important fronts to help people with disabilities succeed. For starters, we will work with employers to develop greater opportunities for individuals with disabilities and to reduce barriers that exist in the workplace.  We also believe that the full range of government employment services should be made available to Ontario’s disabled community." 

* "We will expand post-secondary education for people with disabilities, so they can develop job-ready skills."   

* "We must also do more to help kids with special needs. All kids benefit when those with special needs have the attention they deserve because it allows teachers to meet the needs of those individual students and the needs of the entire class.  We will invest some of the savings we achieve elsewhere in the budget in extra support for schools that are struggling and children with special needs who are having a hard time keeping up."

* "There’s no good reason why a person with a disability should not be able to cast a vote in an election. It’s also completely unacceptable that someone should be passed over for a job because of the myth that people with disabilities can’t do the work. We have a moral and social responsibility to change this."

* "An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards."
 
* "The Ontario PC Party believes our education system must minimize barriers for students with disabilities, providing the skills, opportunities and connections with the business community that are necessary to enter the workforce.  For example, we need to increase spaces for programs, such as the Community Integration through Co-operative Education (CICE), which are tailored for people with disabilities in the province’s post-secondary institutions."

* "Through our Million Jobs Plan, we will be focused on making government affordable and taking steps that will create jobs and better our day-to-day lives.  For this reason, we support the AODA Alliance’s request to spend tax dollars wisely and ensure public funds are not used to create new disability barriers."

* "Building a strong, open dialogue with your organization is most certainly a priority for our party.  We encourage you to continue this dialogue and share your ideas and solutions for Ontarians with disabilities."

The Ontario Liberal Party's 2014 Commitments

* "We continue to fully support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and its goals."

* The Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) will review Ontario's existing accessibility standards and develop new accessibility standards. (Note the Government earlier made this commitment in the fall of 2012.)

* "The Ontario Liberal Party is dedicated to pursuing compliance and enforcement action to bring more private sector organizations into compliance with AODA."

* The Liberals will see to it that public sector organizations' compliance with AODA obligations rises from 99% to 100%.
 
* "We will ensure that organizations that fail to comply with AODA requirements are met with monetary penalties and be subjected to prosecution, where necessary."

* "I am committed to using all enforcement provisions under the AODA to ensure that organizations that do not comply with the law are penalized and to encourage compliance."

* The Liberals would monthly send out compliance notices under the AODA.

* The Liberals commit "to investigating the possibility of having government inspectors and investigators enforce the AODA within the context of existing resources and as training capacity exists."

* Promptly after the election the Liberals would "make a detailed plan on all enforcement activities available, along with establishing and publicizing an accessible toll-free phone number to report violations of AODA requirements." 

* The Liberals would "make an annual report publicly available on levels of compliance including the effectiveness of our enforcement measures."

* "The next accessibility standard we will develop will focus on education and/or health."

* "We will continue to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to create or perpetuate barriers against Ontarians with disabilities."

* "We will ensure that the Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Elections Ontario are committed to providing the best possible services to ensure accessible elections."

* The Liberals pledge to "continue to implement our accessibility obligations and commitments.  This includes directing Cabinet Ministers and senior public officials to implement accessibility obligations and commitments."

* A new position has already been created at the Economic Development, Trade and Employment Ministry "to ensure that accessibility is integrated into all business practices."

* On the review of all legislation and regulations for accessibility which the Liberals promised in the 2007 election, the Liberals promise to complete a review of 51 high-impact statutes by the end of 2014.  "We commit to addressing the findings of the review and continuing to review additional Ontario statutes to remove any potential barriers. We commit to making amendments to regulations to remove accessibility barriers as required based on the findings of the current review and the review of additional Ontario statutes going forward."

* The Liberals commit to "achieve our goal of full accessibility by the year 2025."

* The Liberals commit that the Premier's office is always happy to meet with the AODA Alliance's representatives.