The Accessibility Standards Advisory Council


The Accessibility Standards Advisory Council assists the Minister who is in charge of the AODA by offering advice. More than half of Council members must be people with disabilities.

The Accessibility Standards Advisory Council

The Accessibility Standards Advisory Council advises the Minister about the process for creating new AODA standards. Likewise, the Council also confers with the Minister regarding the progress of standards development committees. Moreover, the Council advises organizations about submitting their accessibility reports. Furthermore, the Council works with the Minister on programs that spread public awareness of the AODA and its purpose. Finally, the Council must assist the Minister with any other elements of the Act that the Minister oversees. The Minister may require the Council to consult members of the public about any of these matters, and to submit reports.

The Minister can pay the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council for its time and expenses. The Lieutenant Governor determines the amount that the Minister pays Council members. In addition, the Minister can appoint members of the Council to be part of an accessibility standards development committee. However, the AODA does not explain how this appointment impacts the Council’s ability to advise on a committee’s progress. For instance, the AODA does not state whether a Council member sitting on a committee can also advise about that committee. This arrangement could be a conflict of interest. In contrast, the Act does not mention whether the Council offers advice without the presence of members who are also on standards development committees. This solution would maintain the Council’s neutrality, but would mean that the Council sometimes has fewer members.

The Accessibility Standards Advisory Council supports the Minister in charge of the AODA. The Council also helps to monitor the government’s progress in implementing the Act. With the AODA standards development committees, the Council ensures that people with disabilities have some impact on how the Act develops.




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AODA Alliance Sends an Open Letter to the Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Seeking Specific Commitments on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

January 12, 2020

SUMMARY

Happy new year to one and all. Although the new year has scarcely begun, were already back at it, sleeves rolled up, plowing ahead with advocacy to tear down the barriers that people with disabilities too often still face. Here is the first news for you in 2020.

At its party convention starting on March 7, 2020, the Ontario Liberal Party will choose its next leader. Today, we wrote an open letter to all the candidates for Ontario Liberal leadership, which we set out below. In it, we ask each candidate to make commitments on making our society accessible for people with disabilities. We will make public any responses that we receive.

We will not endorse, support or oppose any candidate. As always, our non-partisan goal is to get strong commitments from all the leadership candidates, whatever be their party.

This is certainly not the first such leadership race in which we have used this strategy. When the Ontario Liberals last had a leadership race, in 2012-13, we did the same thing. In that leadership race, all six candidates made written commitments to us. During the two leadership races held by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party since then, we deployed the same strategy. In both of those leadership races, none of the candidates answered our request for commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities.

Stay tuned for lots more news on accessibility issues over the next days, weeks and months. There have now been 345 days, or over eleven months, since the Doug Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODAs implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still failed to announce a plan to implement that report. The AODAs mandatory 2025 deadline for Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities is now less than 5 years away.

In this new year, we welcome your feedback as much as ever! Write us at [email protected] Tweet us at @aodaalliance. Check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

MORE DETAILS

Text of the January 11, 2020 Open Letter from the AODA Alliance to All Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email: [email protected]
Visit: www.aodalliance.org

January 11, 2020

To: Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party

Michael Coteau
Email: [email protected] and [email protected] Twitter: @coteau

Steven Del Duca
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @StevenDelDuca

Kate Graham
Email:[email protected]
Twitter: @KateMarieGraham

Brenda Hollingsworth
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @OttawaLawyers

Mitzie Hunter
Email: [email protected] and [email protected] Twitter: @MitzieHunter

Alvin Tedjo
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @AlvinTedjo

Dear Candidates,

This open letter to all candidates for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal party seeks each candidates commitments on disability accessibility. These commitments would aim at ensuring that Ontario achieves the goal of full accessibility for some 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities on or before 2025, the end date that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) requires by law. We will make public all responses we receive to this open letter.

In the last race for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, back in 2012-2013, all six leadership candidates made written commitments to us on accessibility for people with disabilities. We hope that each candidate in this leadership race will do the same.

The Issue

Some 2.6 million people with disabilities in Ontario still face too many barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get around in our community, or enjoy the goods, services and facilities that are available to the public. This hurts all Ontarians. Everyone either has a disability now or is bound to get one later as they age. That is why we often say that people with disabilities are the minority of everyone.

The Ontario Liberal Party can be proud that when it formed Government in 2003, it had committed to pass strong new Ontario accessibility legislation, working in consultation with Ontarios disability community to design it. Ontarios Liberals can also be proud that in 2005, the Legislature unanimously passed the AODA, and shortly afterwards, got a good start on implementing it.

However, after that, progress slowed. It got mired in the bureaucracy. Since then, Ontario has made some progress on accessibility for people with disabilities. However there is still a great deal to be done to achieve the goal of full accessibility by 2025 that the AODA requires of us all.

Ontario is far behind reaching full accessibility by 2025. One year ago, the final report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODAs implementation and enforcement, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, made strong findings about this. Based on public feedback, Mr. Onley found that the pace of change since 2005 for people with disabilities has been “glacial.” The Onley report found that “the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.” Progress on accessibility under this law has been “highly selective and barely detectable.”

Mr. Onley found “this province is mostly inaccessible.” The Onley report correctly concluded:

“For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

The Onley report in substance found that there has been a protracted, troubling lack of Government leadership on this issue, even though two prior Government-appointed AODA Independent Reviews called for renewed, strengthened leadership:

“The Premier of Ontario could establish accessibility as a government-wide priority with the stroke of a pen. Our previous two Premiers did not listen to repeated pleas to do this.”

As of this letters date, the current Ontario Government under Premier Doug Ford has not strengthened or accelerated the AODAs implementation or enforcement. It has not shown the new revitalized leadership on this issue that Ontarians with disabilities need. If anything, progress has slowed even more.

What We Ask of You

We are eager to ensure that the next Ontario Liberal Party leader will fully maintain the Liberal Partys past commitments on disability accessibility, and will build on those commitments. We would be delighted if you could simply give a yes answer to the following questions. We realize that in a busy leadership campaign, you may not be in a position to write more extensively than that on these questions:

1. We have welcomed face-to-face meetings with the past two Premiers, Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, to discuss accessibility issues (in addition to face-to-face meetings with different cabinet ministers, successive Secretaries of Cabinet, and other senior government officials).

If you become your Partys leader, will you maintain the practice of personally meeting with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate caucus members? As part of this, will you meet with us within 60 days of becoming your partys leader, so that we can brief you on these issues? If your Party is elected to form the Government, will you as Premier agree to periodically meet with us, in addition to our meeting with appropriate cabinet ministers?

2. Under your leadership, will your Party make it a priority to press the current Government to keep its commitments and fulfil its duties on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities?

3. In Ontario elections, will you continue the practice of the last three Ontario Liberal Party leaders, of making specific election commitments to us on the issue of achieving an accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to us?

4. Under your leadership, will the Liberal Party fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any Government policies, practices, strategies or initiatives that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives?

5. Will you keep the past commitments that your Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility, including e.g. its previous commitments to effectively enforce the AODA? We set out links to those commitments below.

6. Under the AODA, three Government-appointed mandatory Independent Reviews have examined the Governments implementation of the AODA. These were conducted in 2009-2010 by Charles Beer, in 2013-2014 by Prof. Mayo Moran and in 2018-2019 by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. All three reports called on the Government to revitalize and breathe new life into the implementation of the AODA, and for the Government to show strong new leadership on this issue. The Moran report and the Onley Report specifically recommended that Ontarios Premier should show strong new leadership on disability accessibility. (See a quotation later in this letter)

If you become Ontarios Premier, will you show new, strong leadership on accessibility and breathe new life into and revitalize the Governments implementation of the AODA?

7. Each premier sends Mandate Letters to each of his or her cabinet ministers, setting out their priorities. In your Mandate Letters, will you direct your cabinet ministers, the Secretary of Cabinet and other senior public officials to implement your Governments duties and commitments on disability accessibility?

8. If you become Premier, will you ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities by 2025, the deadline that the AODA requires? Should your party form the Government at a time when it is too late to achieve that deadline, will you commit to get Ontario as close to being accessible as reasonably possible by 2025? In that event, will you also commit to work with us and to take any needed action, including passing new legislation, to set a new achievable deadline and to institute measures that will ensure that it is achieved (and that will not weaken or reduce any provisions or policies then in place)?

9. The Moran and Onley reports expressed concerns that public money has been used to create new accessibility barriers against people with disabilities. Will you commit that under your leadership, public money will not be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities?

10. Ontario voters and candidates with disabilities still face too many barriers in provincial and municipal elections. Under your leadership as premier, will the Government bring forward new measures, including new legislation, to ensure that provincial and municipal elections in Ontario are fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities?

Who Are We?

As a volunteer grassroots non-partisan community coalition, the AODA Alliance does not seek to get any party or candidate elected. We do not endorse or oppose any candidate for leadership of any party.

Founded in 2005, we united to achieve a fully accessible Ontario for over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities, through the prompt and effective implementation of the AODA. Our supporters include persons with disabilities, people who have not yet gotten a disability, and community organizations concerned with the rights of persons with disabilities in Ontario.

Our predecessor coalition was the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee (ODA Committee). From 1994 to 2005, the ODA Committee spearheaded a province-wide accessibility campaign. It led to the enactment of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 (passed by the Mike Harris Government), and later, the AODA (passed by the Dalton McGuinty Government).

Our leadership on the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as that of our predecessor coalition, has been repeatedly recognized by all parties in the Ontario Legislature, as well as by the media. We have been recognized as a leading non-partisan grassroots voice in Ontario, that advocates to make Ontario a fully disability-accessible province.

We have also given our input on these issues to the Federal Government, and to those addressing these issues in Manitoba, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. Our input has also been sought from others outside Canada, including in Israel, New Zealand and the European Union.

The Ontario Liberal Party’s Past Commitments on Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities

Starting in 1995, the Ontario Liberal Party has made written election commitments on accessibility legislation for persons with disabilities, in each of the past seven Ontario general elections. These commitments were set out in letters from the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party to the ODA Committee in the 1995, 1999, and 2003 elections. After the ODA Committee wound up in 2005 with the passage of the AODA that year, the Ontario Liberal leader made these commitments in letters to its successor coalition, the AODA Alliance, in the 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2018 Ontario general elections.

On October 29, 1998, the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed a landmark and historic resolution setting out eleven important principles that a strong and effective Disabilities Act should fulfil. That resolution was introduced into the Legislature by Liberal MPP Dwight Duncan, at the request of our predecessor coalition, the ODA Committee. Right after that resolution was passed, Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty took part in a joint Queen’s Park news conference with ODA Committee Chair David Lepofsky. At that news conference, Mr. McGuinty, then Ontario’s Opposition leader, committed that a Liberal Government would implement a Disabilities Act that fulfilled that resolution.

To see the Ontario Liberal Partys election commitments on disability accessibility in the 1999 Ontario election, visit http://www.odacommittee.net/letters/march26-99.html

To see the Ontario Liberal Partys election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2003 Ontario election, visit http://www.odacommittee.net/news80.html#letter

To see the Ontario Liberal Partys election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2007 Ontario election, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/newsub2011/liberal-party-writes-aoda-alliance-with-election-commitments-regarding-disability-accessibility/

To see the Ontario Liberal Partys election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2011 Ontario election, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2011/read-the-ontario-liberal-partys-august-19-2011-letter-to-the-aoda-alliance-setting-out-its-2011-election-commitments-on-disability-accessibility/

To see the Ontario Liberal Partys election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2014 election, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015-whats-new/may-14-2014-letter-from-liberal-party-leader-premier-kathleen-wynne-on-her-partys-2014-disability-accessibility-election-pledges/

To see the Ontario Liberal Partys election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2018 election, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/read-the-may-14-2018-letter-from-the-liberal-party-to-the-aoda-alliance-setting-out-its-2018-election-commitments-on-accessibility/

In Conclusion

The Ontario Liberal Party’s leadership race concludes on March 7, 2020. We would very much appreciate a response to these questions by February 15, 2020. Please send your response by email to [email protected] and please attach it as an accessible MS Word file. Do not send it as a PDF as that format presents accessibility problems. We would be delighted to give you and your team any background information on this issue that you request.

We look forward to working with the leaders and members of all Ontarios political parties now and in the future on the shared goal that all the major parties have endorsed, of achieving a fully accessible Ontario on or before 2025.

Sincerely,

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




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AODA Alliance Sends an Open Letter to the Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Seeking Specific Commitments on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

AODA Alliance Sends an Open Letter to the Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Seeking Specific Commitments on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities

January 11, 2020

          SUMMARY

Happy new year to one and all. Although the new year has scarcely begun, we’re already back at it, sleeves rolled up, plowing ahead with advocacy to tear down the barriers that people with disabilities too often still face. Here is the first news for you in 2020.

At its party convention starting on March 7, 2020, the Ontario Liberal Party will choose its next leader. Today, we wrote an open letter to all the candidates for Ontario Liberal leadership, which we set out below. In it, we ask each candidate to make commitments on making our society accessible for people with disabilities. We will make public any responses that we receive.

We will not endorse, support or oppose any candidate. As always, our non-partisan goal is to get strong commitments from all the leadership candidates, whatever be their party.

This is certainly not the first such leadership race in which we have used this strategy. When the Ontario Liberals last had a leadership race, in 2012-13, we did the same thing. In that leadership race, all six candidates made written commitments to us. During the two leadership races held by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party since then, we deployed the same strategy. In both of those leadership races, none of the candidates answered our request for commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities.

Stay tuned for lots more news on accessibility issues over the next days, weeks and months. There have now been 345 days, or over eleven months, since the Doug Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still failed to announce a plan to implement that report. The AODA’s mandatory 2025 deadline for Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities is now less than 5 years away.

In this new year, we welcome your feedback as much as ever! Write us at [email protected] Tweet us at @aodaalliance. Check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

          MORE DETAILS

Text of the January 11, 2020 Open Letter from the AODA Alliance to All Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

1929 Bayview Avenue

Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8

Email: [email protected]

Visit: www.aodalliance.org

January 11, 2020

To: Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party

Michael Coteau

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

Twitter: @coteau

 

Steven Del Duca

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @StevenDelDuca

Kate Graham

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @KateMarieGraham

Brenda Hollingsworth

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @OttawaLawyers

Mitzie Hunter

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

Twitter: @MitzieHunter

Alvin Tedjo

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AlvinTedjo

Dear Candidates,

This open letter to all candidates for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal party seeks each candidate’s commitments on disability accessibility. These commitments would aim at ensuring that Ontario achieves the goal of full accessibility for some 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities on or before 2025, the end date that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) requires by law. We will make public all responses we receive to this open letter.

In the last race for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, back in 2012-2013, all six leadership candidates made written commitments to us on accessibility for people with disabilities. We hope that each candidate in this leadership race will do the same.

The Issue

Some 2.6 million people with disabilities in Ontario still face too many barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get around in our community, or enjoy the goods, services and facilities that are available to the public. This hurts all Ontarians. Everyone either has a disability now or is bound to get one later as they age. That is why we often say that people with disabilities are the minority of everyone.

The Ontario Liberal Party can be proud that when it formed Government in 2003, it had committed to pass strong new Ontario accessibility legislation, working in consultation with Ontario’s disability community to design it. Ontario’s Liberals can also be proud that in 2005, the Legislature unanimously passed the AODA, and shortly afterwards, got a good start on implementing it.

However, after that, progress slowed. It got mired in the bureaucracy. Since then, Ontario has made some progress on accessibility for people with disabilities. However there is still a great deal to be done to achieve the goal of full accessibility by 2025 that the AODA requires of us all.

Ontario is far behind reaching full accessibility by 2025. One year ago, the final report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, made strong findings about this. Based on public feedback, Mr. Onley found that the pace of change since 2005 for people with disabilities has been “glacial.” The Onley report found that “…the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.” Progress on accessibility under this law has been “highly selective and barely detectable.”

Mr. Onley found “…this province is mostly inaccessible.” The Onley report correctly concluded:

“For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

The Onley report in substance found that there has been a protracted, troubling lack of Government leadership on this issue, even though two prior Government-appointed AODA Independent Reviews called for renewed, strengthened leadership:

“The Premier of Ontario could establish accessibility as a government-wide priority with the stroke of a pen. Our previous two Premiers did not listen to repeated pleas to do this.”

As of this letter’s date, the current Ontario Government under Premier Doug Ford has not strengthened or accelerated the AODA’s implementation or enforcement. It has not shown the new revitalized leadership on this issue that Ontarians with disabilities need. If anything, progress has slowed even more.

What We Ask of You

We are eager to ensure that the next Ontario Liberal Party leader will fully maintain the Liberal Party’s past commitments on disability accessibility, and will build on those commitments. We would be delighted if you could simply give a “yes” answer to the following questions. We realize that in a busy leadership campaign, you may not be in a position to write more extensively than that on these questions:

  1. We have welcomed face-to-face meetings with the past two Premiers, Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, to discuss accessibility issues (in addition to face-to-face meetings with different cabinet ministers, successive Secretaries of Cabinet, and other senior government officials).

If you become your Party’s leader, will you maintain the practice of personally meeting with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate caucus members? As part of this, will you meet with us within 60 days of becoming your party’s leader, so that we can brief you on these issues? If your Party is elected to form the Government, will you as Premier agree to periodically meet with us, in addition to our meeting with appropriate cabinet ministers?

  1. Under your leadership, will your Party make it a priority to press the current Government to keep its commitments and fulfil its duties on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities?
  1. In Ontario elections, will you continue the practice of the last three Ontario Liberal Party leaders, of making specific election commitments to us on the issue of achieving an accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to us?
  1. Under your leadership, will the Liberal Party fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any Government policies, practices, strategies or initiatives that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives?
  1. Will you keep the past commitments that your Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility, including e.g. its previous commitments to effectively enforce the AODA? We set out links to those commitments below.
  1. Under the AODA, three Government-appointed mandatory Independent Reviews have examined the Government’s implementation of the AODA. These were conducted in 2009-2010 by Charles Beer, in 2013-2014 by Prof. Mayo Moran and in 2018-2019 by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. All three reports called on the Government to revitalize and breathe new life into the implementation of the AODA, and for the Government to show strong new leadership on this issue. The Moran report and the Onley Report specifically recommended that Ontario’s Premier should show strong new leadership on disability accessibility. (See a quotation later in this letter)

If you become Ontario’s Premier, will you show new, strong leadership on accessibility and breathe new life into and revitalize the Government’s implementation of the AODA?

  1. Each premier sends Mandate Letters to each of his or her cabinet ministers, setting out their priorities. In your Mandate Letters, will you direct your cabinet ministers, the Secretary of Cabinet and other senior public officials to implement your Government’s duties and commitments on disability accessibility?
  1. If you become Premier, will you ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities by 2025, the deadline that the AODA requires? Should your party form the Government at a time when it is too late to achieve that deadline, will you commit to get Ontario as close to being accessible as reasonably possible by 2025? In that event, will you also commit to work with us and to take any needed action, including passing new legislation, to set a new achievable deadline and to institute measures that will ensure that it is achieved (and that will not weaken or reduce any provisions or policies then in place)?
  1. The Moran and Onley reports expressed concerns that public money has been used to create new accessibility barriers against people with disabilities. Will you commit that under your leadership, public money will not be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities?
  1. Ontario voters and candidates with disabilities still face too many barriers in provincial and municipal elections. Under your leadership as premier, will the Government bring forward new measures, including new legislation, to ensure that provincial and municipal elections in Ontario are fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities?

Who Are We?

As a volunteer grassroots non-partisan community coalition, the AODA Alliance does not seek to get any party or candidate elected. We do not endorse or oppose any candidate for leadership of any party.

Founded in 2005, we united to achieve a fully accessible Ontario for over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities, through the prompt and effective implementation of the AODA. Our supporters include persons with disabilities, people who have not yet gotten a disability, and community organizations concerned with the rights of persons with disabilities in Ontario.

Our predecessor coalition was the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee (ODA Committee). From 1994 to 2005, the ODA Committee spearheaded a province-wide accessibility campaign. It led to the enactment of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 (passed by the Mike Harris Government), and later, the AODA (passed by the Dalton McGuinty Government).

Our leadership on the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as that of our predecessor coalition, has been repeatedly recognized by all parties in the Ontario Legislature, as well as by the media. We have been recognized as a leading non-partisan grassroots voice in Ontario, that advocates to make Ontario a fully disability-accessible province.

We have also given our input on these issues to the Federal Government, and to those addressing these issues in Manitoba, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. Our input has also been sought from others outside Canada, including in Israel, New Zealand and the European Union.

The Ontario Liberal Party’s Past Commitments on Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities

Starting in 1995, the Ontario Liberal Party has made written election commitments on accessibility legislation for persons with disabilities, in each of the past seven Ontario general elections. These commitments were set out in letters from the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party to the ODA Committee in the 1995, 1999, and 2003 elections. After the ODA Committee wound up in 2005 with the passage of the AODA that year, the Ontario Liberal leader made these commitments in letters to its successor coalition, the AODA Alliance, in the 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2018 Ontario general elections.

On October 29, 1998, the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed a landmark and historic resolution setting out eleven important principles that a strong and effective Disabilities Act should fulfil. That resolution was introduced into the Legislature by Liberal MPP Dwight Duncan, at the request of our predecessor coalition, the ODA Committee. Right after that resolution was passed, Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty took part in a joint Queen’s Park news conference with ODA Committee Chair David Lepofsky. At that news conference, Mr. McGuinty, then Ontario’s Opposition leader, committed that a Liberal Government would implement a Disabilities Act that fulfilled that resolution.

To see the Ontario Liberal Party’s election commitments on disability accessibility in the 1999 Ontario election, visit http://www.odacommittee.net/letters/march26-99.html

To see the Ontario Liberal Party’s election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2003 Ontario election, visit http://www.odacommittee.net/news80.html#letter

To see the Ontario Liberal Party’s election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2007 Ontario election, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/newsub2011/liberal-party-writes-aoda-alliance-with-election-commitments-regarding-disability-accessibility/

To see the Ontario Liberal Party’s election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2011 Ontario election, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2011/read-the-ontario-liberal-partys-august-19-2011-letter-to-the-aoda-alliance-setting-out-its-2011-election-commitments-on-disability-accessibility/

To see the Ontario Liberal Party’s election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2014 election, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015-whats-new/may-14-2014-letter-from-liberal-party-leader-premier-kathleen-wynne-on-her-partys-2014-disability-accessibility-election-pledges/

To see the Ontario Liberal Party’s election commitments on disability accessibility in the 2018 election, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/read-the-may-14-2018-letter-from-the-liberal-party-to-the-aoda-alliance-setting-out-its-2018-election-commitments-on-accessibility/

In Conclusion

The Ontario Liberal Party’s leadership race concludes on March 7, 2020. We would very much appreciate a response to these questions by February 15, 2020. Please send your response by email to [email protected] and please attach it as an accessible MS Word file. Do not send it as a PDF as that format presents accessibility problems. We would be delighted to give you and your team any background information on this issue that you request.

We look forward to working with the leaders and members of all Ontario’s political parties now and in the future on the shared goal that all the major parties have endorsed, of achieving a fully accessible Ontario on or before 2025.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O. Ont,

Chair AODA Alliance





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Accessibility Key Issue in Debate Over Sidewalk Snow Plowing


Megan Stacey
Updated: January 8, 2020

Winter weather is striking London as budget tensions hit city council, a combination that’s left some Londoners demanding better snow clearing, especially on sidewalks.

Residents and politicians are grappling with what it takes to clear the way ” and how fast it should happen ” after snow wallops the city.

Accessibility advocates charge that city hall must improve its sidewalk plowing drastically if it wants London to be safe, in particular for older folks, young children, bus riders and those who use walkers, wheelchairs and other equipment such as strollers that must be pushed through the snow.

But it’s not cheap.

The proposal: Getting plows, salters and sanders out to do their job earlier, before as much snow has fallen. Specifically, council will mull lowering the threshold that triggers snow clearing on sidewalks from eight to five centimetres, and from 10 to eight cm for residential streets.

The case for better snow clearing: Gerry LaHay is a vocal accessibility advocate who’s also a double amputee. He said using a wheelchair helped open his eyes to the perils of snowy, icy sidewalks. Last weekend’s snowfall nearly kept him housebound, he said, unable to get down the street to the pharmacy or across the street to a bus stop.

“I’m a pretty stubborn and self-sufficient guy, and pretty damn strong, too. To get stuck in the snow was humiliating,” LaHay said.

He’s long tweeted about impassable sidewalks and other parts of the city left inaccessible by weather or design. He stresses he’s not fighting with city hall ” he’s trying to find a solution. And he knows the financial pressures in this multi-year budget can complicate the decision.

But for LaHay, it’s pretty clear: “You keep the roads clear, and emergency vehicles can get by, and you keep the buses moving ” but if I can’t get to the bus, what’s the point?”

And he takes issue with the idea that better snow clearing is “enhanced service.” It’s about giving Londoners basic access to their city, he argues.

“Accessibility is an afterthought. We have a long way to go to get to where we need to be. I guess I just don’t matter. It doesn’t matter how much I’m doing for the community or how I’m trying to run my business, (when it snows), ” you’re at home for the next week, buddy.”

The alternative: Some communities have bylaws that require homeowners to clear the sidewalks themselves. London could go that route, too, though it raises questions about how the rule would be enforced.

The decision: A public meeting on the budget will be held Jan. 23 at city hall at 4 p.m. After that, city politicians will debate the case for new investment Jan. 30 and 31 and into February. The 2020-2023 budget is expected to be approved March 2.

Original at https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/accessibility-key-issue-in-debate-over-sidewalk-snow-plowing




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Incentive Agreements For Accessibility Services


Under the AODA, the minister in charge of the act can make incentive agreements with organizations. Incentive agreements encourage organizations to provide more accessible services than the AODA requires them to. These agreements may help businesses find new and creative ways to serve citizens with disabilities.

Incentive Agreements

Incentive agreements provide support to businesses that choose to become more accessible than the law requires. For instance, customer service providers can offer more extensive AODA training for workers. Similarly, small businesses, not required to document their customer service policies, can do so. Furthermore, businesses can enhance their hiring practices and actively recruit qualified workers with disabilities. Likewise, small private businesses, not required to create processes for writing accommodation plans, can do so.

In addition, businesses can prepare accessible formats and communication supports in advance, instead of waiting until a customer makes a request. Similarly, businesses with older websites can make that web content accessible. Moreover, transportation providers can offer more in-depth AODA training for transportation workers. Likewise, providers with older vehicles can retrofit them for accessibility or buy new vehicles. Finally, businesses can retrofit their spaces to include accessible features, such as parking. Similarly, small businesses, not required to have accessible outdoor eating areas, can install them.

When businesses make agreements with the minister, the two parties decide which requirements the business will exceed. In addition, they will agree on a timeframe, so that the business has a deadline for its goal. Finally, the minister may exempt some businesses from filling in part of their accessibility reports. This exemption may help businesses focus on meeting their new requirements.

Businesses may begin making incentive agreements because they value the incentives they receive. However, they may come to value how their efforts allow new customers, clients, and workers to access their spaces and services.




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Accessibility Audits for Public Sector Organizations


Under the AODA, public sector organizations must complete accessibility reports every two years. The next accessibility reports for public sector organizations are due on December 31st, 2019. The Ontario government will not give any extensions after December 31st, 2019. In addition, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division (AODT) audits organizations to verify compliance. Accessibility audits for public sector organizations help everyone obey the law.

Accessibility Audits for Public Sector Organizations

Every year, the AODT inspects organizations to find out whether they are compliant. Moreover, some organizations choose “no” when answering some questions in the accessibility report. When the AODT finds organizations non-compliant, it offers tools and resources to help them learn and obey the law. Moreover, the AODT helps organizations develop new deadlines for full compliance. A new deadline gives workers time to educate themselves and to implement full compliance.

However, some organizations may still not make the effort to change their policies or practices. For instance, an organization might refuse to comply with various AODA standards, including:

When organizations refuse to learn about and obey the law, the AODT will order them to comply. If they do not obey this order, they may be fined or taken to court.

In contrast, organizations can educate themselves about the AODA and how to comply. This knowledge will help organizations serve every client, patient, student, or traveller, not just those without disabilities. People with disabilities are part of the public, and their numbers are increasing. Therefore, only by obeying the AODA can organizations truly serve the whole public. Accessibility audits for public sector organizations help ensure that laws for the public good are upheld.




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Accessibility Report Questions for Public Sector Organzations


Under the AODA, public sector organizations must complete accessibility reports every two years. The next accessibility reports for public sector organizations are due on December 31st, 2019. The Ontario government will not give any extensions after December 31st, 2019. Here, we answer some accessibility report questions that workers should know how to answer.

Accessibility Report Questions: Public Sector 

To begin with, the yes-or-no questions in accessibility reports for public sector organizations ask whether an organization complies with mandates in the AODA. Furthermore, each question should include a link to the mandate or rule it asks about. Likewise, other links lead workers to resources that help them learn what they should do to follow the rules. Workers can use these links to remind themselves what the mandates are and think about whether their organization complies. Then, workers complete the form by responding to each question with yes or no. Moreover, they can also write comments under each question.

Accessibility Report Questions about Customer Service

Organizations providing customer service will need to answer questions about whether they comply with AODA customer service requirements. For instance, whether they:

Accessibility Report Questions about Employment

Additionally, organizations also need to respond to questions about how accessible their employment practices are. For instance, they may be asked whether they:

Accessibility Report Questions Questions about Information and Communications

Similarly, organizations will need to confirm that they provide information in ways that people with disabilities can access. For instance, they may need to state whether they have:

Accessibility Report Questions Questions about Transportation

Likewise, organizations that provide transportation will need to answer questions about the accessibility of their vehicles and services. For example, they may be asked whether they have:

Accessibility Report Questions about Public Spaces

Finally, organizations that have built or renovated public spaces will need to verify that these spaces are accessible. For instance, they may need to confirm that people with disabilities can access:

In other words, these questions in accessibility reports for public sector organizations help workers learn how well their business obeys the law. Our next article will cover how the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division (AODT) audits organizations to verify compliance.




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Accessibility Reports for Public Sector Organizations


Under the AODA, public sector organizations must complete accessibility reports every two years. The next accessibility reports for public sector organizations are due on December 31st, 2019. Moreover, the Ontario government will not give any extensions after December 31st, 2019. Therefore, public sector organizations should try to complete their reports early. In addition, if organizations have technical difficulties, they should let the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility know. The Ministry can help resolve technical problems.

Accessibility Reports for Public Sector Organizations

Public sector organizations that must complete accessibility reports include:

  • Public hospitals
  • School boards
  • Universities
  • Colleges of applied arts and technology
  • Public transportation organizations

How to Complete Accessibility Reports for Public Sector Organizations

Organizations complete the report by filling in a form on the Ontario government’s website. They must download the form and open it with Adobe Reader, not in their browsers. The first two pages of the form are instructions. Then, workers must click to open the rest of the form. However, once the whole form is opened, the instructions will no longer appear on the workers’ screens. Therefore, workers filling in the form should print off these two pages to look at as they complete the form. Furthermore, one or more workers in an organization can complete a form. Workers can save the form and send it to coworkers so that they can complete it together.

Workers start completing the form by selecting their organization category (public sector organization). Selection ensures that all questions on the form will apply. Workers must then input their organization’s legal name and business number (BN9), from federal or provincial tax returns. Organizations without a BN9 should contact the government to receive an AODA identifier. Next, the form asks for organizations’ number of workers. Finally, one senior member of the organization must give their name and contact information. This senior member, called the certifier, will later confirm that the report is complete and accurate. The certifier must have legal authority to make this claim.

Workers must then answer the yes-or-no questions on the form. Once they have answered all questions, organizations submit the form by clicking a button at the bottom.

Our next article will discuss some of the questions in accessibility reports for public sector organizations.




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Send Us Feedback on the Draft AODA Alliance Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard


And–Results of The December 3 Celebration of the 25th Birthday of the Grassroots AODA Movement

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

December 5, 2019

SUMMARY

After a very busy year, this may be our last AODA Alliance Update until the New Year. It is full of important news for you.

We thank one and all for your ongoing support for and help with our campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities. We wish one and all a safe and happy holiday season and a barrier-free new year!

1. Send Us Feedback on Our Draft of an AODA Alliance Proposed Framework for the Promised Health Care Accessibility Standard

We have made public a draft of an important brief. We want your feedback on it before we finalize it. This time, we are focusing on disability accessibility barriers in the health care system.

The Ontario Government is working on developing a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It would address barriers in the health care system that patients with disabilities and their support people with disabilities face in the health care system. The Health Care Standards Development Committee is developing recommendations for the Ontario Government on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include.

To help the Health Care Standards Development Committee with this work, we plan to send it an AODA Alliance Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard. We have written a 24-page draft of this Framework. We are eager for your feedback. This draft is the result of a great deal of work. It builds on feedback that our supporters have shared with us. We’ve gotten tremendous help from the ARCH Disability Law Centre and from a wonderful team of volunteers who are law students at the Osgoode Hall Law School.

Please download and read our draft of this Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard. You can download it in an accessible MS Word format by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Dec-2-2019-AODA-Alliance-Draft-of-Proposed-Framework-for-Health-Care-Accessibility-Standard.docx

Send us your feedback by December 20, 2019 by emailing us at [email protected]

Also, please encourage your friends and family members to share their feedback with us. We aim to use that feedback to finalize this Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard and submit it to the Ontario Government and the Health Care Standards Development Committee in early January 2020.

Here are the headings in this draft Framework:

1. What Should the Long-term Objectives of the Health Care Accessibility Standard Be?

2. A Vision of An Accessible Health Care System

3. General provisions that the Health Care Accessibility Standard Should Include

4. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and Their Support People with Disabilities to Know about The Health Care Services Available to Them, about Available Disability-Related Supports and Accommodations, about Important Information Regarding Their Diagnosis and Treatment, and How to Access Them

5. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Get to Health Care Services

6. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Get into and Around Facilities Where Health Care Services are Provided

7. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Furniture and Floor Plans in Health Care Facilities

8. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Identify their Disability-Related Accessibility Needs in Advance and Request Accessibility/Accommodation from a Health Care Provider or Facility

9. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Accessible Diagnostic and Treatment Equipment

10. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Privacy of Their Health Care Information

11. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Information and Communication in Connection with Health Care

12. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Support Services They Need to Access Health Care Services

13. The Right of Patients and their Support People with Disabilities to Health Care Providers Free from Knowledge and Attitude Barriers Regarding Disabilities

14. The Right of Patients and Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Complaint Processes at Health Care Providers’ Self-Governing Colleges and To Have Those Colleges Ensure that the Profession They Regulate Are Trained to Meet the Needs of Patients with Disabilities

15. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Systemic Action and Safeguards to Remove and Prevent Barriers in Ontario’s Health Care System

16. The Need to Harness the Experience and Expertise of People with Disabilities Working in the Health Care System, To Expedite the Removal and Prevention of Barriers Facing Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities

2. A Very Successful Day to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Grassroots AODA Movement at the Ontario Legislature on December 3, 2019

On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, the International Day of People with Disabilities, we had a very successful day at Queen’s Park to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots movement for the enactment and implementation of strong accessibility legislation in Ontario.

Our 10 a.m. news conference went very well. We are working on getting it posted online. It yielded a detailed article in the December 3, 2019 edition of QP Briefing, an influential news publication about issues at Queen’s Park. We set that article out below.

From 4 to 6 pm, the big birthday party for the grassroots AODA movement was a huge success. Some 200 people signed up to attend. There was also a great turnout of MPPs from all the political parties.

Both the 25th anniversary of the AODA movement and the International Day of People with Disabilities were mentioned several times in the Legislature. Below we set out four key excerpts from the Legislature’s official transcript, called “Hansard.”

Meanwhile, the partying is over and the work must continue. As of today, there have now been 308 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government did not take the opportunity on December 3 to finally announce a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report. This is so even though a spokesperson for Premier Ford’s Accessibility Minister is quoted in the QP Briefing article below as stating that accessibility for people with disabilities is a “top priority.” We are still waiting.

MORE DETAILS

QP Briefing December 3, 2019

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, advocate says Ontario “nowhere near close” to accessibility goal

Sneh Duggal

Disability advocateDavid Lepofskywarned Ontario is “not on schedule” to meet its goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025 as people across the globe marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3.

“That was ambitious, but doable,” Lepofsky said of the goal that is outlined in theAccessibility for Ontarians with DisabilitiesAct, legislation that was passed in 2005.”With just over five years left, we’re not on schedule, we’re nowhere near close.”
The legislation called on the province to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards “in order to achieveaccessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025.”
The province’s former lieutenant governorDavid Onleywas tasked with reviewing the implementation of the AODA and said in a report tabled earlier this year that the “promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.”

“There’s no question we’ve made progress, but nowhere near the progress we need and nowhere near the progress the law guaranteed to us,” said Lepofsky, who is chair of an advocacy group called the AODA Alliance.

Lepofsky was at Queen’s Park on Tuesday to discuss accessibility issues in the province, although his media availability took on a slightly different format. He was joined byLaura Kirby-McIntosh, president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, who fired numerous questions at Lepofsky about his years of work advocating for people with disabilities. The AODA Alliance also marked the 25th anniversary of the movement its chair helped spearhead on the “enactment and effective implementation of accessibility legislation in Ontario” with a celebration at Queen’s Park.

During his fireside chat with Kirby-McIntosh, Lepofsky noted that barriers remain in many areas for people with disabilities.

“This is a province where many of our buildings are ones that are hard to get into and hard to get around, our public transit systems are full of accessibility barriers,” he said. Lepofsky said the education system meant to serve all students “treats students with disabilities as second-class citizens,” and that the health-care system is “full of barriers” such as getting accessible information about a diagnosis, treatment or medication.

Lepofsky said while the provincial government had a good start at trying to implement the legislation after it was passed in 2005 until about 2011, progress started to slow down “to a virtual snail’s pace.”

“And the new government ofDoug Ford, rather than speed things up, slowed things down,” Lepofsky said. He said while he appreciates statements of support from the government, “this province right now has no plan and this current government has no plan to get us to full accessibility by 2025.”

As part of the implementation of the AODA, various committees were struck and tasked with proposing standards that could be turned into regulation in areas like transportation and customer service.

Lepofsky criticized the Progressive Conservative government for “months of delay” in getting some of the committee work underway. He’s involved in one of the committees and said work is being done.

RaymondCho,the minister responsible for seniors and accessibility, said earlier this year that the government had resumed the Employment Standards Development Committee and the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee last fall.

“I am proud to say that these committees have already met and completed their work,” the minister said at the time.

He said the government also resumed the education and health standard development committees in March, and that the chairs “have been engaged with the ministry and are working to develop new work-plans.”

In response to a query during question period from NDP MPPLisa Gretzkyabout when the government would put forward a “comprehensive plan to improve the lives of people living with disabilities,” Cho thanked Onley for his report and pinned some blame on the previous Liberal government.

“The previous government had 14 years to improve the AODA. Mr. Onley said in his report that they did so little,” Cho said on Tuesday.

“The government knows that a lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone. Making Ontario accessible is a journey. This government will continue to take an all-of-government approach to tearing down barriers,” he said.

Pooja Parekh,Cho’s spokesperson, said the government sees accessibility as a “top priority.” A lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone, and it cannot be completed overnight,” Parekh said. “A key part of this journey includes recognizing that there are 2.6 million people in the province that have a disability.”

She pointed to provincial initiatives focused on accessibility such as the EnAbling Change Program, which funds not-for-profit disability and industry associations “to develop practical tools and guides to help communities and businesses understand the benefits of accessibility.”

“As well, families will experience clearer and more transparent processes when requesting service animals accompany their children to school, no matter where they live in Ontario,” Parekh noted. “The updated elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum reflects the diversity of Ontario students of all abilities.”

In May, NDP MPPJoel Hardenproposed a motion in the House calling on the government to “release a plan of action on accessibility in response toDavid Onley’s review of theAccessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act(AODA) that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.” The motion was struck down by the government.

Speaking just before question period on Tuesday, Lepofsky said he wants to see the provincial government develop a roadmap “on how to get us to full accessibility” and ensure that the government “doesn’t make things worse.”

“We want them to adopt a strategy now to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers,” he said.

Lepofsky also raised concerns about policies that he feels could post a threat to the safety of those with disabilities. He pointed to the government’s recent announcement to launch a pilot project that would let municipalities allow the use of electric scooters.

He said a priority for him going forward will be on “making sure that the current provincial government doesn’t create a new series of barriers to our accessibility and our personal safety.”

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday, the NDP and disability advocates called on the government to boost funding for adults with disabilities, with Gretzky saying the province is facing a “crisis in developmental services.”

Christine Wood, press secretary for Minister of Children, Community and Social ServicesTodd Smith, said the province is providing $2.57 billion in annual funding for developmental services. Wood previously noted that”adults with developmental disabilities may be eligible for funding from the Ontario Disability Support Program and the Passport program.

The Passport program provides funding to adults with a development disability for community classes, hiring a support worker, respite for caregivers or developing skills. Wood noted that “the maximum annual funding an individual can receive through the Passport program is up to $40,250.”

But Gretzky said many young adults face a wait-list for the program and that not every individual receives the maximum amount of support. She said that individuals “fall through the gap” in terms of services when they turn 18.

“The biggest gap that families are facing now and individuals is the fact that they lose all supports and services once an individual celebrates an 18thbirthday,” said Gretzky, who introduced a private member’s bill about a year ago that aimed to address this issue. The bill passed second reading and was referred to committee in February.

“As soon as a person is deemed eligible for adult developmental services, they are automatically approved for $5000 in direct funding through the Passport program,” Wood said. “This allows people to purchase services and support. Following the completion of the developmental services application package, additional funding may be provided as it becomes available.”
She said Smith’s ministry works with the education ministry to provide “transition planning” for youth with disabilities who are transitioning to adulthood.

She also noted that since he took over this file, Smith has been “talking to families, adults with developmental disabilities and service providers about how our government can better serve those who depend on us.”

Excerpts from Ontario Hansard for December 3, 2019

Excerpt 1

Mr. Joel Harden: Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and we are very privileged in this House to be joined by some of our country’s leaders on that front. I want to mention the great David Lepofsky, who I just got back from a press conference with, Odelia Bay, and Sarah Jama. Thank you for all the work you do for our country, for our province, and for people with disabilities.

Excerpt 2

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I would like to invite members to the reception hosted by the All Disability Network later this afternoon in room 228. More than 160 representatives from the disability community will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ontario’s provincial accessibility legislation. I encourage all members to join me there.

Excerpt 3

Question Period

Assistance to persons with disabilities
Mr. Joel Harden: My question is to the Premier. Today is the international day for people with disabilities. Living with disabilities in Ontario is getting harder for them. This is a crisis, but the actions of this government so far have been to include a cutin halfto planned increases to the Ontario Disability Support Program, and take $1 billion out of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. That has made life worse.

We know that there are 16,000 people waiting for supportive housing in Ontario. We know that people with disabilities experience higher rates of homelessness, violence, food insecurity and poverty. We know that from the time children with disabilities are born to the time they grow old, we’re failing them. We’re failing them right now, and we are failing their caregivers, who suffer from ritual burnout right across this province.

On this day, for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, will this Premier keep making things worse, or will he finally turn this around and start making life better for people with disabilities?

Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the member opposite for the question. It’s very important, particularly on this day. But every day, my ministry is working to ensure that we’re improving supports for those living with disabilities, including all of the types of disabilities that the member opposite mentioned. When it comes to developmental disabilities, we are looking into how we are delivering services to those in the DS sectorthe developmental services sectorto ensure that we get them what they need.

The previous government, for many, many years, didn’t improve supports for these individuals. That’s why we’re taking an approach where we’re looking across all of the different programs that are available. I’ve met with OASISand I know the members opposite were with OASIS when they were here last weekand Community Living and all those different organizations. As a matter of fact, I had a great meeting on Friday with Terri Korkush in my own riding. She is the executive director of Community Visions and Networking in the Quinte region.

There are many different models out there. We’re going to find the ones that work

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.

Supplementary, the member for Windsor West.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Back to the Premier: The fact of the matter is, there have been numerous studies and reports done. You have the Nowhere to Turn report done by the Ombudsman. You have the housing task force report that was put forward. You have the Deputy Premier, who sat on a select committee and made recommendations about the crisis for people with disabilities.

It’s time for you to actually act to help those people. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is important to take stock of how we as a society support those living with a disability to lead full and happy lives. The reality is that living with a disability in Ontario is hard, and the government is not doing nearly enough to make life better for people living with disabilities. Wait times under the Assistive Devices Program, which helps people access things like hearing aids and wheelchairs, have ballooned to as much as six months under this Conservative government, and there is still no response to the Onley report, or any plan for Ontario to achieve full accessibility by 2025. In fact, this government is going backwards when it comes to accessibility.

When will this government put forward a real, comprehensive plan to improve the lives of people living with disabilities?

Hon. Todd Smith: Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I would like to thank the member for raising that question. But first of all, I would like to thank the Honourable David Onley once again for his work with the AODA review. The previous government had 14 years to improve the AODA. Mr. Onley said in his report that they did so little. When I tabled Mr. Onley’s report, I was very pleased to announce the return of the health and education SDCs, which was one of his recommendations.

The government knows that a lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone. Making Ontario accessible is a journey. This government will continue to take an all-of-government approach to tearing down barriers.

Excerpt 4

Statements by the Ministry and Responses
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I’m honoured to rise today to mark the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Since 1992, countries around the world have observed December 3 as a time to raise awareness about accessibility.

In Ontario, 2.6 million people have a disability.

Mr. Speaker, in Ontario we continue on our journey to make our province accessible. Our government is committed to protecting what matters most to people with disabilities and their families. By helping to remove accessibility barriers, we are empowering everyone to drive their own futures on their own terms.

We are taking a cross-government approach towards accessibility. This includes working with partners in the disability community, business, not-for-profit and broader public sectors. Collaboration is key in making this happen. By working together, we’ll make a positive difference that will impact the daily lives of people with disabilities.

We are helping improve understanding and awareness about accessibility. For example, our EnAbling Change program provides funding to not-for-profit disability and industry associations to develop practical tools and guides to help communities and businesses understand the benefits of accessibility. Many of these free resources are available on a convenient web page at ontario.ca/accessiblebusiness.

One of the resources is a handbook called The Business of Accessibility: How to Make Your Main Street Business Accessibility Smart. It includes helpful tips to help businesses be welcoming to all customers.

When communities and businesses are accessible, everyone benefits. People with disabilities can take part in everyday life, and businesses gain potential talent, customers and higher profits.

As part of our government’s commitment to break down barriers in the built environment, we are providing $1.3 million to the Rick Hansen Foundation to help make buildings more accessible. This accessibility certification program will provide free accessibility ratings of 250 building over two years.

Just two months ago, we announced ways that Ontario is making its education system more accessible. For example, the updated elementary health and physical education curriculum reflects the diversity of Ontario students.

The K-12 and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees resumed their work this fall to provide advice to government on addressing education barriers.

Also, the processes for families requesting service animals to accompany their child to school are clearer.

We’re providing $1.4 billion in funding for the 2019-20 school year to help school boards install accessibility features in learning environments.

Ontario is advancing accessibility. However, we know that a lot of work still needs to be done. It requires changing attitudes about disability.

As we recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I invite my MPP colleagues to join me as we work to bring positive change to the daily lives of people with disabilities.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Responses?

Mr. Joel Harden: This is an important day. This is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. This is also the 25th anniversary, last Friday, of the accessibility movement in Ontario embodied in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

I want to acknowledge at this moment, as the critic for people with disabilities in this province, that that act was created by sympathetic people in this chamber, pushed by disability rights activists in this province and around this country.

I want to salute in particular David Lepofsky, who is here, who is the current chair of the AODA Alliance. I also want to salute my friend Sarah Jama, who is here with the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, and who is one of this country’s tireless campaigners for disability rights.

I also want to salute the legacy of Gary Malkowski, who was part of the NDP government from 1990 to 1995, who was the first deaf parliamentarian in this space, and who championed the case brought in 1994 to have an act that was finally realized in 2005 with the AODA.

I want to salute people like Laura Kirby-McIntosh, her daughter, Clara McIntosh, and her partner, Bruce McIntosh. I want to salute Sherry Caldwell, with the Ontario Disability Coalition. I want to salute Sally Thomas and I want to salute Kenzie McCurdy, folks back in Ottawa Centre who have fought tirelessly to get people in our profession to pay attention to them so that it might get embodied in an act like the AODA.

But let me be perfectly clear: While we celebrate the AODA, we have to acknowledge, as Mr. Onley acknowledged in his latest report, that we are nowhere near meeting our AODA obligations. Let me be very clear: A $1.3-million investment to look into the building infrastructure of 250 buildings in this province is vastly short of what we need.

Speaker, I want us to ask ourselves how we would feel if we showed up for work in this place and there was a sign, real or imagined, that said, “You don’t get to come into this place today”because what Mr. Onley said in his report is that those signs, real or imagined, exist across this province. They exist for the dyslexic child right now who is sitting in a school somewhere in Ontario and who is being asked or compelled to write or learn in a way that is not accessible to her or to him. They exist right now for people who, as Sarah has mentioned so eloquently, cannot get life-essential devices for them for monthsfor monthswith the absolute gong show that is the Assistive Devices Program. Can you imagine, Speaker, what would happen to any one of us if crucial services essential for our lives spun around in circleswhich happens sometimes when power chairs malfunctionor if crucial devices that allow diabetics to live safely and monitor their insulin level weren’t available to us? What would people who are neurotypical or who are the so-called able-bodied have to say? We wouldn’t put up with it.

Let us be honest on this day for the elimination of all barriers: We do not have sufficient urgency. Who are we looking after? Let’s talk about that for a second.

We returned to this sitting of Parliament to find out that there were five new associate ministers created in this government, each of whom got a $22,000 pay increase. We found out that this government set in place an incentive structure for deputy ministers so that if they met their targets, they got a 14% pay increase. We found out that this government is constantly maintaining tax expenditures created under previous Liberal governments that allow people who are affluent to deduct things like Raptors tickets and Maple Leafs tickets as legitimate business expenses.

We are hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars every year lavishing things upon the already affluent. That’s who Ontario currently serves. What can we spare for people with disabilities? Just $1.3 million; platitudes around education while people who are hurting, who are suffering, are not getting the essential things they need in life.

I want to name something as I close my remarks. This government, as were previous governments before it, is stuck in a charity model when they regard people with disabilities. They want to think that they’re compassionate if they do awareness days or if they do boutique announcements. People with disabilities don’t want our charity. They want solidarity. They want an equal opportunity to be themselves. “Free to be,” as the DJNO folks say: That’s what they want, what any of us would want. What it requires is for us to use the resources of this province fairly and make sure that when we talk about people with disabilities, we empower them to be their fullest selves and we do not create a disabling society.

Mr. John Fraser: It’s a pleasure to speak on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We’re encouraged to reflect on how persons with disabilities participate in society and how we evaluate the barriers that lay in front of them. It’s an opportunity to examine what we can do better to help integrate everybody to fully participate in our society in this province. We have a responsibility as legislators to better include all people in this province.

I want to stop now and tell a little story about a woman named Linda Smith. Linda Smith died about four years ago. She was an exceptional person. She lived in Ottawa and she touched the lives of many as a volunteer for politicians of every stripeand as you can imagine, in Ottawa, that’s a lot of politicians.

Linda had a developmental disability or, as I like to refer to it, an exceptionality. That exceptionality filled her with love and acceptance in abundance. She would often call our office several times a day just to check in, and more than one person has said to me, “You could be having an awful day, and Linda would call and you’d forget all your troubles.” She had that effect.

Linda was a regular at city council meetings, often sitting in the front row until the mayor recognized her. There’s a plaque at city hall now in honour of her. She loved to have her picture taken with everybody; it didn’t matter who. There are hundreds of pictures of her with all sorts of politicians from all over Canada, actually.

Linda would help out with any mundane task. I was thinking about it this year, because she loved to do Christmas cards, especially because it came with lunch: two slices of pizza, with one to take home, and a Pepsi.

She was great company. She loved strawberry milkshakes and ice cream.

Her exceptionality left her vulnerable, and she struggled with how people could be cruel, mean and thoughtless, although she was resilient and was always quick to forgive.

Linda was our friend, and we are the better for it. She had this ability to bring everybody together. It was really quite incredible, and we all miss her.

When I think of Linda, I try to understand what the world looked like through her eyes. I’ve never quite gotten to that point; I’ve seen some of that. As legislators, it’s not just for the Lindas of the world who have a developmental exceptionalitywhich also gives them a great gift, in another waybut there are people who have disabilities and exceptionalities that are different than that. We need to try to see the world through their eyes and understand the barriers that are in front of themwhether that’s a device they need to be healthy, as the member from Ottawa Centre said, or whether that’s access to a public building, access to a restaurant.

My eyes were opened when my father-in-law became wheelchair-bound and we tried to find a restaurant where we could get him in and out, with an accessible washroom. The definition of “accessible” is definitely different in many different places.

So our job is to see the world through their eyes and then make laws and investments with that in mind.

I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to this today, and all the members’ words in this House.

Let’s remember to try to see the world through their eyes.




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Send Us Feedback on the Draft AODA Alliance Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard – and – Results of The December 3 Celebration of the 25th Birthday of the Grassroots AODA Movement


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Send Us Feedback on the Draft AODA Alliance Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard – and – Results of The December 3 Celebration of the 25th Birthday of the Grassroots AODA Movement

December 5, 2019

          SUMMARY

After a very busy year, this may be our last AODA Alliance Update until the New Year. It is full of important news for you.

We thank one and all for your ongoing support for and help with our campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities. We wish one and all a safe and happy holiday season and a barrier-free new year!

1. Send Us Feedback on Our Draft of an AODA Alliance Proposed Framework for the Promised Health Care Accessibility Standard

We have made public a draft of an important brief. We want your feedback on it before we finalize it. This time, we are focusing on disability accessibility barriers in the health care system.

The Ontario Government is working on developing a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It would address barriers in the health care system that patients with disabilities and their support people with disabilities face in the health care system. The Health Care Standards Development Committee is developing recommendations for the Ontario Government on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include.

To help the Health Care Standards Development Committee with this work, we plan to send it an AODA Alliance Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard. We have written a 24-page draft of this Framework. We are eager for your feedback. This draft is the result of a great deal of work. It builds on feedback that our supporters have shared with us. We’ve gotten tremendous help from the ARCH Disability Law Centre and from a wonderful team of volunteers who are law students at the Osgoode Hall Law School.

Please download and read our draft of this Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard. You can download it in an accessible MS Word format by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Dec-2-2019-AODA-Alliance-Draft-of-Proposed-Framework-for-Health-Care-Accessibility-Standard.docx

Send us your feedback by December 20, 2019 by emailing us at [email protected]

Also, please encourage your friends and family members to share their feedback with us. We aim to use that feedback to finalize this Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard and submit it to the Ontario Government and the Health Care Standards Development Committee in early January 2020.

Here are the headings in this draft Framework:

  1. What Should the Long-term Objectives of the Health Care Accessibility Standard Be?
  1. A Vision of An Accessible Health Care System
  1. General provisions that the Health Care Accessibility Standard Should Include
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and Their Support People with Disabilities to Know about The Health Care Services Available to Them, about Available Disability-Related Supports and Accommodations, about Important Information Regarding Their Diagnosis and Treatment, and How to Access Them
  1. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Get to Health Care Services
  1. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Get into and Around Facilities Where Health Care Services are Provided
  1. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Furniture and Floor Plans in Health Care Facilities
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Identify their Disability-Related Accessibility Needs in Advance and Request Accessibility/Accommodation from a Health Care Provider or Facility
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Accessible Diagnostic and Treatment Equipment
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Privacy of Their Health Care Information
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Information and Communication in Connection with Health Care
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Support Services They Need to Access Health Care Services
  1. The Right of Patients and their Support People with Disabilities to Health Care Providers Free from Knowledge and Attitude Barriers Regarding Disabilities
  1. The Right of Patients and Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Complaint Processes at Health Care Providers’ Self-Governing Colleges and To Have Those Colleges Ensure that the Profession They Regulate Are Trained to Meet the Needs of Patients with Disabilities
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Systemic Action and Safeguards to Remove and Prevent Barriers in Ontario’s Health Care System
  1. The Need to Harness the Experience and Expertise of People with Disabilities Working in the Health Care System, To Expedite the Removal and Prevention of Barriers Facing Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities

2. A Very Successful Day to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Grassroots AODA Movement at the Ontario Legislature on December 3, 2019

On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, the International Day of People with Disabilities, we had a very successful day at Queen’s Park to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots movement for the enactment and implementation of strong accessibility legislation in Ontario.

Our 10 a.m. news conference went very well. We are working on getting it posted online. It yielded a detailed article in the December 3, 2019 edition of QP Briefing, an influential news publication about issues at Queen’s Park. We set that article out below.

From 4 to 6 pm, the big birthday party for the grassroots AODA movement was a huge success. Some 200 people signed up to attend. There was also a great turnout of MPPs from all the political parties.

Both the 25th anniversary of the AODA movement and the International Day of People with Disabilities were mentioned several times in the Legislature. Below we set out four key excerpts from the Legislature’s official transcript, called “Hansard.”

Meanwhile, the partying is over and the work must continue. As of today, there have now been 308 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government did not take the opportunity on December 3 to finally announce a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report. This is so even though a spokesperson for Premier Ford’s Accessibility Minister is quoted in the QP Briefing article below as stating that accessibility for people with disabilities is a “top priority.”  We are still waiting.

          MORE DETAILS

QP Briefing December 3, 2019

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, advocate says Ontario “nowhere near close” to accessibility goal

Sneh Duggal

Disability advocate David Lepofsky warned Ontario is “not on schedule” to meet its goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025 as people across the globe marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3.

“That was ambitious, but doable,” Lepofsky said of the goal that is outlined in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, legislation that was passed in 2005.”With just over five years left, we’re not on schedule, we’re nowhere near close.”

The legislation called on the province to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards “in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025.”

The province’s former lieutenant governor David Onley was tasked with reviewing the implementation of the AODA and said in a report tabled earlier this year that the “promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.”

“There’s no question we’ve made progress, but nowhere near the progress we need and nowhere near the progress the law guaranteed to us,” said Lepofsky, who is chair of an advocacy group called the AODA Alliance.

Lepofsky was at Queen’s Park on Tuesday to discuss accessibility issues in the province, although his media availability took on a slightly different format. He was joined by Laura Kirby-McIntosh, president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, who fired numerous questions at Lepofsky about his years of work advocating for people with disabilities. The AODA Alliance also marked the 25th anniversary of the movement its chair helped spearhead on the “enactment and effective implementation of accessibility legislation in Ontario” with a celebration at Queen’s Park.

During his fireside chat with Kirby-McIntosh, Lepofsky noted that barriers remain in many areas for people with disabilities.

“This is a province where many of our buildings are ones that are hard to get into and hard to get around, our public transit systems are full of accessibility barriers,” he said. Lepofsky said the education system meant to serve all students “treats students with disabilities as second-class citizens,” and that the health-care system is “full of barriers” such as getting accessible information about a diagnosis, treatment or medication.

Lepofsky said while the provincial government had a good start at trying to implement the legislation after it was passed in 2005 until about 2011, progress started to slow down “to a virtual snail’s pace.”

“And the new government of Doug Ford, rather than speed things up, slowed things down,” Lepofsky said. He said while he appreciates statements of support from the government, “this province right now has no plan and this current government has no plan to get us to full accessibility by 2025.”

As part of the implementation of the AODA, various committees were struck and tasked with proposing standards that could be turned into regulation in areas like transportation and customer service.

Lepofsky criticized the Progressive Conservative government for “months of delay” in getting some of the committee work underway. He’s involved in one of the committees and said work is being done.

Raymond Cho, the minister responsible for seniors and accessibility, said earlier this year that the government had resumed the Employment Standards Development Committee and the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee last fall.

“I am proud to say that these committees have already met and completed their work,” the minister said at the time.

He said the government also resumed the education and health standard development committees in March, and that the chairs “have been engaged with the ministry and are working to develop new work-plans.”

In response to a query during question period from NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky about when the government would put forward a “comprehensive plan to improve the lives of people living with disabilities,” Cho thanked Onley for his report and pinned some blame on the previous Liberal government.

“The previous government had 14 years to improve the AODA. Mr. Onley said in his report that they did so little,” Cho said on Tuesday.

“The government knows that a lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone. Making Ontario accessible is a journey. This government will continue to take an all-of-government approach to tearing down barriers,” he said.

Pooja Parekh, Cho’s spokesperson, said the government sees accessibility as a “top priority.” A lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone, and it cannot be completed overnight,” Parekh said. “A key part of this journey includes recognizing that there are 2.6 million people in the province that have a disability.”

She pointed to provincial initiatives focused on accessibility such as the EnAbling Change Program, which funds not-for-profit disability and industry associations “to develop practical tools and guides to help communities and businesses understand the benefits of accessibility.”

“As well, families will experience clearer and more transparent processes when requesting service animals accompany their children to school, no matter where they live in Ontario,” Parekh noted. “The updated elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum reflects the diversity of Ontario students of all abilities.”

In May, NDP MPP Joel Harden proposed a motion in the House calling on the government to “release a plan of action on accessibility in response to David Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.” The motion was struck down by the government.

Speaking just before question period on Tuesday, Lepofsky said he wants to see the provincial government develop a roadmap “on how to get us to full accessibility” and ensure that the government “doesn’t make things worse.”

“We want them to adopt a strategy now to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers,” he said.

Lepofsky also raised concerns about policies that he feels could post a threat to the safety of those with disabilities. He pointed to the government’s recent announcement to launch a pilot project that would let municipalities allow the use of electric scooters.

He said a priority for him going forward will be on “making sure that the current provincial government doesn’t create a new series of barriers to our accessibility and our personal safety.”

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday, the NDP and disability advocates called on the government to boost funding for adults with disabilities, with Gretzky saying the province is facing a “crisis in developmental services.”

Christine Wood, press secretary for Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Todd Smith, said the province is providing $2.57 billion in annual funding for developmental services. Wood previously noted that “adults with developmental disabilities may be eligible for funding from the Ontario Disability Support Program and the Passport program.

The Passport program provides funding to adults with a development disability for community classes, hiring a support worker, respite for caregivers or developing skills. Wood noted that “the maximum annual funding an individual can receive through the Passport program is up to $40,250.”

But Gretzky said many young adults face a wait-list for the program and that not every individual receives the maximum amount of support. She said that individuals “fall through the gap” in terms of services when they turn 18.

“The biggest gap that families are facing now and individuals is the fact that they lose all supports and services once an individual celebrates an 18th birthday,” said Gretzky, who introduced a private member’s bill about a year ago that aimed to address this issue. The bill passed second reading and was referred to committee in February.

“As soon as a person is deemed eligible for adult developmental services, they are automatically approved for $5000 in direct funding through the Passport program,” Wood said. “This allows people to purchase services and support. Following the completion of the developmental services application package, additional funding may be provided as it becomes available.”

She said Smith’s ministry works with the education ministry to provide “transition planning” for youth with disabilities who are transitioning to adulthood.

She also noted that since he took over this file, Smith has been “talking to families, adults with developmental disabilities and service providers about how our government can better serve those who depend on us.”

Excerpts from Ontario Hansard for December 3, 2019

Excerpt 1

Mr. Joel Harden: Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and we are very privileged in this House to be joined by some of our country’s leaders on that front. I want to mention the great David Lepofsky, who I just got back from a press conference with, Odelia Bay, and Sarah Jama. Thank you for all the work you do for our country, for our province, and for people with disabilities.

Excerpt 2

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I would like to invite members to the reception hosted by the All Disability Network later this afternoon in room 228. More than 160 representatives from the disability community will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ontario’s provincial accessibility legislation. I encourage all members to join me there.

Excerpt 3

Question Period

Assistance to persons with disabilities

Mr. Joel Harden: My question is to the Premier. Today is the international day for people with disabilities. Living with disabilities in Ontario is getting harder for them. This is a crisis, but the actions of this government so far have been to include a cut—in half—to planned increases to the Ontario Disability Support Program, and take $1 billion out of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. That has made life worse.

We know that there are 16,000 people waiting for supportive housing in Ontario. We know that people with disabilities experience higher rates of homelessness, violence, food insecurity and poverty. We know that from the time children with disabilities are born to the time they grow old, we’re failing them. We’re failing them right now, and we are failing their caregivers, who suffer from ritual burnout right across this province.

On this day, for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, will this Premier keep making things worse, or will he finally turn this around and start making life better for people with disabilities?

Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the member opposite for the question. It’s very important, particularly on this day. But every day, my ministry is working to ensure that we’re improving supports for those living with disabilities, including all of the types of disabilities that the member opposite mentioned. When it comes to developmental disabilities, we are looking into how we are delivering services to those in the DS sector—the developmental services sector—to ensure that we get them what they need.

The previous government, for many, many years, didn’t improve supports for these individuals. That’s why we’re taking an approach where we’re looking across all of the different programs that are available. I’ve met with OASIS—and I know the members opposite were with OASIS when they were here last week—and Community Living and all those different organizations. As a matter of fact, I had a great meeting on Friday with Terri Korkush in my own riding. She is the executive director of Community Visions and Networking in the Quinte region.

There are many different models out there. We’re going to find the ones that work—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.

Supplementary, the member for Windsor West.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Back to the Premier: The fact of the matter is, there have been numerous studies and reports done. You have the Nowhere to Turn report done by the Ombudsman. You have the housing task force report that was put forward. You have the Deputy Premier, who sat on a select committee and made recommendations about the crisis for people with disabilities.

It’s time for you to actually act to help those people. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is important to take stock of how we as a society support those living with a disability to lead full and happy lives. The reality is that living with a disability in Ontario is hard, and the government is not doing nearly enough to make life better for people living with disabilities. Wait times under the Assistive Devices Program, which helps people access things like hearing aids and wheelchairs, have ballooned to as much as six months under this Conservative government, and there is still no response to the Onley report, or any plan for Ontario to achieve full accessibility by 2025. In fact, this government is going backwards when it comes to accessibility.

When will this government put forward a real, comprehensive plan to improve the lives of people living with disabilities?

Hon. Todd Smith: Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I would like to thank the member for raising that question. But first of all, I would like to thank the Honourable David Onley once again for his work with the AODA review. The previous government had 14 years to improve the AODA. Mr. Onley said in his report that they did so little. When I tabled Mr. Onley’s report, I was very pleased to announce the return of the health and education SDCs, which was one of his recommendations.

The government knows that a lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone. Making Ontario accessible is a journey. This government will continue to take an all-of-government approach to tearing down barriers.

Excerpt 4

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I’m honoured to rise today to mark the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Since 1992, countries around the world have observed December 3 as a time to raise awareness about accessibility.

In Ontario, 2.6 million people have a disability.

Mr. Speaker, in Ontario we continue on our journey to make our province accessible. Our government is committed to protecting what matters most to people with disabilities and their families. By helping to remove accessibility barriers, we are empowering everyone to drive their own futures on their own terms.

We are taking a cross-government approach towards accessibility. This includes working with partners in the disability community, business, not-for-profit and broader public sectors. Collaboration is key in making this happen. By working together, we’ll make a positive difference that will impact the daily lives of people with disabilities.

We are helping improve understanding and awareness about accessibility. For example, our EnAbling Change program provides funding to not-for-profit disability and industry associations to develop practical tools and guides to help communities and businesses understand the benefits of accessibility. Many of these free resources are available on a convenient web page at ontario.ca/accessiblebusiness.

One of the resources is a handbook called The Business of Accessibility: How to Make Your Main Street Business Accessibility Smart. It includes helpful tips to help businesses be welcoming to all customers.

When communities and businesses are accessible, everyone benefits. People with disabilities can take part in everyday life, and businesses gain potential talent, customers and higher profits.

As part of our government’s commitment to break down barriers in the built environment, we are providing $1.3 million to the Rick Hansen Foundation to help make buildings more accessible. This accessibility certification program will provide free accessibility ratings of 250 building over two years.

Just two months ago, we announced ways that Ontario is making its education system more accessible. For example, the updated elementary health and physical education curriculum reflects the diversity of Ontario students.

The K-12 and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees resumed their work this fall to provide advice to government on addressing education barriers.

Also, the processes for families requesting service animals to accompany their child to school are clearer.

We’re providing $1.4 billion in funding for the 2019-20 school year to help school boards install accessibility features in learning environments.

Ontario is advancing accessibility. However, we know that a lot of work still needs to be done. It requires changing attitudes about disability.

As we recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I invite my MPP colleagues to join me as we work to bring positive change to the daily lives of people with disabilities.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Responses?

Mr. Joel Harden: This is an important day. This is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. This is also the 25th anniversary, last Friday, of the accessibility movement in Ontario embodied in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

I want to acknowledge at this moment, as the critic for people with disabilities in this province, that that act was created by sympathetic people in this chamber, pushed by disability rights activists in this province and around this country.

I want to salute in particular David Lepofsky, who is here, who is the current chair of the AODA Alliance. I also want to salute my friend Sarah Jama, who is here with the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, and who is one of this country’s tireless campaigners for disability rights.

I also want to salute the legacy of Gary Malkowski, who was part of the NDP government from 1990 to 1995, who was the first deaf parliamentarian in this space, and who championed the case brought in 1994 to have an act that was finally realized in 2005 with the AODA.

I want to salute people like Laura Kirby-McIntosh, her daughter, Clara McIntosh, and her partner, Bruce McIntosh. I want to salute Sherry Caldwell, with the Ontario Disability Coalition. I want to salute Sally Thomas and I want to salute Kenzie McCurdy, folks back in Ottawa Centre who have fought tirelessly to get people in our profession to pay attention to them so that it might get embodied in an act like the AODA.

But let me be perfectly clear: While we celebrate the AODA, we have to acknowledge, as Mr. Onley acknowledged in his latest report, that we are nowhere near meeting our AODA obligations. Let me be very clear: A $1.3-million investment to look into the building infrastructure of 250 buildings in this province is vastly short of what we need.

Speaker, I want us to ask ourselves how we would feel if we showed up for work in this place and there was a sign, real or imagined, that said, “You don’t get to come into this place today”—because what Mr. Onley said in his report is that those signs, real or imagined, exist across this province. They exist for the dyslexic child right now who is sitting in a school somewhere in Ontario and who is being asked or compelled to write or learn in a way that is not accessible to her or to him. They exist right now for people who, as Sarah has mentioned so eloquently, cannot get life-essential devices for them for months—for months—with the absolute gong show that is the Assistive Devices Program. Can you imagine, Speaker, what would happen to any one of us if crucial services essential for our lives spun around in circles—which happens sometimes when power chairs malfunction—or if crucial devices that allow diabetics to live safely and monitor their insulin level weren’t available to us? What would people who are neurotypical or who are the so-called able-bodied have to say? We wouldn’t put up with it.

Let us be honest on this day for the elimination of all barriers: We do not have sufficient urgency. Who are we looking after? Let’s talk about that for a second.

We returned to this sitting of Parliament to find out that there were five new associate ministers created in this government, each of whom got a $22,000 pay increase. We found out that this government set in place an incentive structure for deputy ministers so that if they met their targets, they got a 14% pay increase. We found out that this government is constantly maintaining tax expenditures created under previous Liberal governments that allow people who are affluent to deduct things like Raptors tickets and Maple Leafs tickets as legitimate business expenses.

We are hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars every year lavishing things upon the already affluent. That’s who Ontario currently serves. What can we spare for people with disabilities? Just $1.3 million; platitudes around education while people who are hurting, who are suffering, are not getting the essential things they need in life.

I want to name something as I close my remarks. This government, as were previous governments before it, is stuck in a charity model when they regard people with disabilities. They want to think that they’re compassionate if they do awareness days or if they do boutique announcements. People with disabilities don’t want our charity. They want solidarity. They want an equal opportunity to be themselves. “Free to be,” as the DJNO folks say: That’s what they want, what any of us would want. What it requires is for us to use the resources of this province fairly and make sure that when we talk about people with disabilities, we empower them to be their fullest selves and we do not create a disabling society.

Mr. John Fraser: It’s a pleasure to speak on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We’re encouraged to reflect on how persons with disabilities participate in society and how we evaluate the barriers that lay in front of them. It’s an opportunity to examine what we can do better to help integrate everybody to fully participate in our society in this province. We have a responsibility as legislators to better include all people in this province.

I want to stop now and tell a little story about a woman named Linda Smith. Linda Smith died about four years ago. She was an exceptional person. She lived in Ottawa and she touched the lives of many as a volunteer for politicians of every stripe—and as you can imagine, in Ottawa, that’s a lot of politicians.

Linda had a developmental disability or, as I like to refer to it, an exceptionality. That exceptionality filled her with love and acceptance in abundance. She would often call our office several times a day just to check in, and more than one person has said to me, “You could be having an awful day, and Linda would call and you’d forget all your troubles.” She had that effect.

Linda was a regular at city council meetings, often sitting in the front row until the mayor recognized her. There’s a plaque at city hall now in honour of her. She loved to have her picture taken with everybody; it didn’t matter who. There are hundreds of pictures of her with all sorts of politicians from all over Canada, actually.

Linda would help out with any mundane task. I was thinking about it this year, because she loved to do Christmas cards, especially because it came with lunch: two slices of pizza, with one to take home, and a Pepsi.

She was great company. She loved strawberry milkshakes and ice cream.

Her exceptionality left her vulnerable, and she struggled with how people could be cruel, mean and thoughtless, although she was resilient and was always quick to forgive.

Linda was our friend, and we are the better for it. She had this ability to bring everybody together. It was really quite incredible, and we all miss her.

When I think of Linda, I try to understand what the world looked like through her eyes. I’ve never quite gotten to that point; I’ve seen some of that. As legislators, it’s not just for the Lindas of the world who have a developmental exceptionality—which also gives them a great gift, in another way—but there are people who have disabilities and exceptionalities that are different than that. We need to try to see the world through their eyes and understand the barriers that are in front of them—whether that’s a device they need to be healthy, as the member from Ottawa Centre said, or whether that’s access to a public building, access to a restaurant.

My eyes were opened when my father-in-law became wheelchair-bound and we tried to find a restaurant where we could get him in and out, with an accessible washroom. The definition of “accessible” is definitely different in many different places.

So our job is to see the world through their eyes and then make laws and investments with that in mind.

I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to this today, and all the members’ words in this House.

Let’s remember to try to see the world through their eyes.



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