The Ford Government Claims to Be Leading Ontario By Its Example on Achieving Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, But a Closer Look Shows That It Is Leading By a Poor Example


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

March 2, 2020

SUMMARY

Last Friday, February 28, 2020, at a media event to which the AODA Alliance was not invited, the Ford Government made an announcement, set out below, unveiling how it says it is leading Ontario by example to achieve accessibility for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities-
people who face far too many barriers on a daily basis when they try to get a job, ride public transit, shop, or use public services. Yet a closer look shows that the example by which the Ford Government says it is leading is a very poor one. It lacks key ingredients that Ontarians with disabilities need.

“There is nothing new in The Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 announcement,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, Ontario’s voluntary grassroots watchdog on disability accessibility. “The Government once again staged an event to re-announce measures that are already in place or that have previously been announced, dressing them up as if this were some bold new initiative. Such pre-existing measures, while potentially helpful to a point, do not get Ontario on schedule for becoming accessible by 2025, or ever.”

A month ago, on January 28, 2020, the Ford Government held an earlier media event where it made another announcement on accessibility. It was thin gruel, mostly if not entirely made up of actions that were previously announced. That even included a program that has been in effect for over a quarter century, when Bob Rae was Ontario’s premier.

This is not the leadership on accessibility that Ontarians with disabilities deserve. Below we provide six amply documented examples that illustrate this. The AODA Alliance continues to offer the Government constructive ideas, and remains eager to work with the Government on this. To date, Premier Doug Ford continues to refuse to meet with us.

A troubling 396 days have now gone by since the Ford Government received the final report on the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still waiting for the Ford Government to come up with a comprehensive and effective plan of new measures to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations, needed to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. To date, all the Government has offered Ontarians with disabilities is thin gruel.

MORE DETAILS

Six Illustrations of the Poor Example that the Ford Government has Set on Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

The Ontario Government has for over a decade, under Conservative and Liberal leaders alike, and under Minister after Minister, repeatedly congratulated itself with the same incorrect claim that Ontario is leading by example on accessibility. The Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 announcement is the most recent repetition of that claim. Yet the AODA Alliance has researched and documented in great detail how the Ontario Government has for years been leading by a poor example on accessibility an example which others should not follow. We documented this in Chapter 10 of the AODA Alliance’s June 30, 2014 brief to the Mayo Moran 2nd AODA Independent Review, and in Chapter 10 of the AODA Alliance’s January 15, 2019 brief to David Onley’s 3rd AODA Independent Review. Neither the current Ontario Government nor the previous Government disputed the accuracy of the facts in those briefs.

Both the Mayo Moran and David Onley AODA Independent Reviews concluded that the Ontario Government needed to show revitalized new leadership on accessibility. They found that the disability community recognizes that the Ontario Government’s leadership on this issue has been wanting. Their findings directly echo the submissions we made to those AODA Independent Reviews.

The 2014 final report of the 2nd Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation, conducted by former University of Toronto Law Dean Mayo Moran, made this pivotal finding:

“One of the prominent themes that emerged from the consultations was the belief of the disability community that the Government of Ontario has not succeeded in embedding accessibility into its internal operations.”

Five years later, the 3rd AODA Independent Review by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley made the same findings in its report:

“Government Leadership Missing

Many stakeholders called on the Ontario government to revitalize and breathe new life into the AODA, echoing both the Beer and Moran Reviews. As far as government leadership goes, little has changed. The government largely has been missing in action.”

The Onley Report also found:

“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. I am hopeful the current one will.”

Yet Premier Ford has not done so. He has to date refused to even meet with the AODA Alliance’s leadership.

The Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 re-announcement of pre-existing measures does not show the revitalized new leadership on accessibility for which the Moran and Onley AODA Independent Reviews called.

Here are six examples arising from the Ford Government’s announcement on February 28, 2020 that illustrate that it is not leading by the good example that it claims:

1. This announcement includes measures that sound far better on paper than they have proven to be in practice. For example, the Ford Government said on February 28, 2020 that it is leading by example by “(e)nsuring ministries are taking accessibility into account as a key consideration when developing policies.” The Ford Government did just the opposite late last fall. Despite our pleas, it palpably ignored serious disability accessibility and safety concerns when it enacted a regulation allowing municipalities to permit electric scooters (e-scooters) on roads, sidewalks and other public places. An unlicensed, untrained and uninsured e-person as young as 16 silently racing towards people with disabilities endangers them, as an open letter from 13 disability organization attests.

The ford Government chose to listen only to corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies. It side-lined the safety of people with disabilities. Check out the AODA Alliance’s web page on the e-scooter issue.

The Ford Government’s e-scooter regulation threatens to create new and serious barriers against people with disabilities. That is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

2. To lead by example in this area, the Ford Government needs to put in place a detailed plan that will ensure that Ontario will become accessible by 2025, the AODA’s deadline. Yet it still has no such plan. No plan was announced on Friday, February 28,2020, nor has the Government announced any plan to create a plan. That is not the leadership example that , Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

3. To support its claim that it is leading by example on accessibility, the Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 announcement points to the fact that there are Standards Development Committees now developing recommendations on what the Government should enact in new AODA accessibility standards to address barriers in Ontario’s education system and health care system. We campaigned for years for those Standards Development Committees to be established.

However, this is hardly an illustration of the Ford Government leading by a good example. It was the previous Liberal Government under Premier Wynne that appointed those Standards Development Committees. In a very harmful move, the Ford Government kept those Standards Development Committees frozen for over a year after it took power. That freeze unjustifiably set back progress on accessibility. The AODA Alliance had to lead a tenacious campaign for many months just to get the Ford Government to lift that freeze. That is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

4. The Onley Report found that the recurring barriers that people with disabilities face in the built environment must become a major Government priority. It called for new accessibility regulations to fix this. Doug Ford recognized the importance of this need in his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance where he set out his party’s 2018 election promises on disability accessibility.

Yet last Friday’s announcement did not commit to develop new regulations, under the AODA or in the Ontario Building Code or both, to ensure that the built environment becomes accessible. Existing legal requirements are inadequate. Last May, during National Accessibility Week, Doug Ford’s Government hurtfully derided such an idea as “red tape,” as if the rights to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities were red tape.

Making this worse, The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint an AODA Standards Development Committee over two years ago to review a weak accessibility standard that deals with barriers in public spaces, mainly outside buildings. The Ford Government continues to be in open, flagrant breach of that obligation. That is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

5. The Ford Government’s announcement last Friday spoke of accessibility as being one of the criteria for assessing applications for some infrastructure spending. However, it did not commit to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. Yet the Government has emphasized its commitment to be responsible in the use of public money. Spending public money in a way that creates new barriers against people with disabilities, as the Ontario Government has been doing for years, is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

6. In last Friday’s announcement, the Ford Government pointed to measures to improve accessibility in public transit. However, it has made no commitment and announced no plan to ensure that its new public transit infrastructure will be fully accessible to passengers with disabilities. Metrolinx, the Ontario Government’s key agency in that area, has a troubling track record in this regard. Moreover, after over one and a half years in power, the Ford Government has announced no plans to strengthen the weak 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard. The Ontario Government received recommendations from the Transportation Standards Development Committee in the 2018 spring, around two years ago. This inaction is also not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 News Release
Ontario Leading by Example in Improving Accessibility
Government Continues Progress Through Cross-Government Actions NEWS
February 28, 2020
WHITBY Ontario is continuing to work towards an inclusive and barrier-free province through its comprehensive accessibility framework.
Today, Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, announced the second area of focus under the Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework government leading by example at the Abilities Centre in Whitby. This area demonstrates the government’s commitment and leadership in improving accessibility in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer.
“Our government is committed to protecting what matters most, and this means removing barriers in Ontario so we can empower people with disabilities,” said Minister Cho. “We are continuing to develop and enforce accessibility laws to help deliver critical services to Ontarians. It’s crucial that we set a strong example of moving accessibility forward to make a positive difference in the daily lives of people with disabilities.”
The government is taking leadership on this issue by applying an accessibility lens when evaluating capital project applications and spending public tax dollars. For example, while developing the provincial criteria for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility worked closely with the Ministry of Infrastructure to establish accessibility as one of the four main objectives that applications will be evaluated on under the program’sCommunity, Culture and Recreation stream. Projects will additionally be evaluated based on exceeding minimum standards; use of Universal Design Principles, accessible guidelines and innovative solutions to increasing accessibility.
“We are extremely pleased with the direction the Government of Ontario is taking with its Advancing Accessibly in Ontario framework,” said Stuart McReynolds, President and Chief Executive Officer of Abilities Centre. “We must all work together as partners to advance inclusion and accessibility throughout the province.”

As part of Ontario’s work towards creating a more accessible and inclusive province today and for future generations, the government formed a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility in June 2018. QUICK FACTS
* There are 2.6 million people in Ontario that have a disability.
* The Ontario Public Service Accessibility Office serves as an accessibility centre of excellence, elevating accessibility as a top priority within and beyond government. It supports ministries to meet their legislated obligations and embed accessibility into government policies, programs, services and internal activities.
* The Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework was informed by the recommendations made by the Honourable David C. Onley in the third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as well as input from key partners, organizations and people with disabilities.
* Further information on the other key areas in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario will be announced in the coming weeks. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Government to lead by example ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Breaking down barriers in the built environment Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Accessibility in Ontario: Information for Businesses web page MEDIA CONTACTS
Pooja Parekh
Minister’s Office
[email protected]
Matt Gloyd
Communications Branch
647-268-7233
[email protected]
Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 Backgrounder
Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Government to lead by example BACKGROUNDER
February 28, 2020
Enhancing accessibility is a priority for the government. The province has elevated accessibility as a commitment by creating a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility to work towards a more accessible and inclusive Ontario today and for future generations.
Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a cross-government framework that will help focus the government’s work in four key areas: * breaking down barriers in the built environment
* government leading by example in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer * increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and * improving understanding and awareness about accessibility
The government leading by example demonstrates Ontario’s leadership in improving accessibility in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer.
In its role as a policy maker, the government is making significant progress in implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and as an organization is leading the way by:
* Ensuring ministries are taking accessibility into account as a key consideration when developing policies.
* Addressing barriers in the health care sector, such as a greater need for sensitivity when communicating with people with disabilities, by resuming the Health Care Standards Development Committee to develop recommendations for proposed accessibility standards for hospitals in regulation under the AODA. This committee is comprised of people with disabilities, disability organizations and sector experts.
* Making sure students with disabilities have the supports they need to transition from one school system to another by resuming the K-12 and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees to provide recommendations on how to make the education sector more inclusive. These committees will develop recommendations for proposed accessibility standards in regulation under the AODA.
* Considering recommendations from the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee to assess how to make information and digital communications more accessible.
* Creating more inclusive learning environments by providing educators with accessibility training, lesson plans and resources through the TeachAble Project website. The site was created with funding from the government’s EnAbling Change Program and gives people who work with students ways to create awareness about accessibility in the classroom.
* Providing clearer and more transparent processes for families requesting service animals accompany their children to school, no matter where they live in Ontario. As of January 1, 2020, Ontario school boards are required to implement their service animal policies. This support will help all students be successful.
* Providing organizations and the public with practical tips on how to be more accessible by delivering regular free webinars on various topics, such as accessible transit and creating accessible tourism experiences and customer service in Ontario.
* Improving accessibility as part of broader efforts being made with the federal government and other provinces.
In its role as a service provider, the government is working to provide barrier-free services through initiatives including:
* Better serving transit users and commuters by investing in improvements to the GO transit experience as part of the GO Expansion program. Progress continues at the five remaining GO stations in the Greater Toronto Area that are not yet accessible, including installing ramps and platform elevators as needed.
* Continuing to improve accessibility on trails, beaches and provincial parks in Ontario by adding features like mobility mats to make it easier for everyone to use public spaces.
* Streamlining the Accessible Parking Permit process to reduce misuse while ensuring access by making it easier for people 80 years of age and older, Canadian veterans of any age and certain people with disabilities to apply for an accessible parking permit.
* Investing $1.07 million in 2019-20 to support Abilities Centre in Whitby to advance inclusion and accessibility for people of all ages and abilities. Initiatives include: o researching social inclusion and social enterprise
o developing a pre-employment skills program
o piloting a 12-week pan-disability program for adults with disabilities
o supporting local private and non-profit sector organizations to develop inclusion and accessibility plans
* Improving community agencies across Ontario through the annual Partner Facility Renewal program, which includes an investment totalling $11.5 million that goes towards more than 350 upgrade and repair projects. This program includes an investment of more than $1.6 million for building repairs and upgrades at community agencies across northern Ontario so they can continue providing services to children and families. For example, a new elevator will be installed at Ontario Native Women’s Association, helping to make the building more accessible.
* Continuing to help Ontario residents with long-term mobility disabilities remain in their homes and participate in their communities by funding theHome & Vehicle Modification Program, which is administered by March of Dimes Canada. With an annual investment of $10.6 million, this program reduces safety risks by approving grants up to $15,000 to make basic home and vehicle modifications.
* Addressing barriers in the digital environment to move towards a modern digital approach so that our accessibility resources, reports and publicly available data are easier to access. For example:
o We’re making it easier for people who are blind to use Ontario GeoHub, a website that provides descriptive information about the characteristics, quality and context of Ontario’s geospatial data. For this project, the Ministry of National Resources and Forestry collaborated with the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, which led to helpful adjustments to the site that make it more user friendly for people with disabilities. The ministry will use these learnings to inform how it delivers digital services moving forward.
In its role as an employer and as an organization, the government is working to establish a more inclusive employment culture in the OPS by:
* Supporting OPS employees roughly 12 per cent of which self-identify as having a disability and ministries to meet the requirements of the AODA and embed accessibility into internal activities through the Ontario Public Service Accessibility Office, which serves as an accessibility centre of excellence.
* Addressing systemic barriers and gaps through Deputy Ministers’ committees within the OPS. These groups work on accessibility planning and implementation across government, as well as ensure accessibility is meaningfully reflected in government policies, programs and initiatives. This helps to improve access to government services for the public, which enhances health, employment and social inclusion.
* Using the OPS’ annual Multi-Year Accessibility Plan Report to summarize the OPS’ work to prevent and remove barriers to accessibility. The OPS also works to help foster a culture of inclusion both within the organization and across the province.
* Increasing opportunities for hands-on work experience and training in the OPS for youth with disabilities by expanding eligibility for the Ontario Internship Program. The criteria have recently changed so that students with disabilities that have graduated within the last five years rather than two years can now apply to the year-long program.
* Expanding the professional networks of youth with disabilities by connecting them with mentors across the OPS and broader public sector through Connexions, an annual session that helps post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities prepare for the job market by practicing job-seeking skills.

MEDIA CONTACTS
Matt Gloyd
Communications Branch
647-268-7233
[email protected]




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The Ford Government Claims to Be Leading Ontario By Its Example on Achieving Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, But a Closer Look Shows That It Is Leading By a Poor Example


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

The Ford Government Claims to Be Leading Ontario By Its Example on Achieving Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, But a Closer Look Shows That It Is Leading By a Poor Example

March 2, 2020

          SUMMARY

Last Friday, February 28, 2020, at a media event to which the AODA Alliance was not invited, the Ford Government made an announcement, set out below, unveiling how it says it is leading Ontario by example to achieve accessibility for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities- people who face far too many barriers on a daily basis when they try to get a job, ride public transit, shop, or use public services. Yet a closer look shows that the example by which the Ford Government says it is leading is a very poor one. It lacks key ingredients that Ontarians with disabilities need.

“There is nothing new in The Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 announcement,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, Ontario’s voluntary grassroots watchdog on disability accessibility. “The Government once again staged an event to re-announce measures that are already in place or that have previously been announced, dressing them up as if this were some bold new initiative. Such pre-existing measures, while potentially helpful to a point, do not get Ontario on schedule for becoming accessible by 2025, or ever.”

A month ago, on January 28, 2020, the Ford Government held an earlier media event where it made another announcement on accessibility. It was thin gruel, mostly if not entirely made up of actions that were previously announced. That even included a program that has been in effect for over a quarter century, when Bob Rae was Ontario’s premier.

This is not the leadership on accessibility that Ontarians with disabilities deserve. Below we provide six amply documented examples that illustrate this. The AODA Alliance continues to offer the Government constructive ideas, and remains eager to work with the Government on this. To date, Premier Doug Ford continues to refuse to meet with us.

A troubling 396 days have now gone by since the Ford Government received the final report on the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still waiting for the Ford Government to come up with a comprehensive and effective plan of new measures to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations, needed to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. To date, all the Government has offered Ontarians with disabilities is thin gruel.

          MORE DETAILS

Six Illustrations of the Poor Example that the Ford Government has Set on Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

The Ontario Government has for over a decade, under Conservative and Liberal leaders alike, and under Minister after Minister, repeatedly congratulated itself with the same incorrect claim that Ontario is leading by example on accessibility. The Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 announcement is the most recent repetition of that claim. Yet the AODA Alliance has researched and documented in great detail how the Ontario Government has for years been leading by a poor example on accessibility – an example which others should not follow. We documented this in Chapter 10 of the AODA Alliance’s June 30, 2014 brief to the Mayo Moran 2nd AODA Independent Review, and in Chapter 10 of the AODA Alliance’s January 15, 2019 brief to David Onley’s 3rd AODA Independent Review. Neither the current Ontario Government nor the previous Government disputed the accuracy of the facts in those briefs.

Both the Mayo Moran and David Onley AODA Independent Reviews concluded that the Ontario Government needed to show revitalized new leadership on accessibility. They found that the disability community recognizes that the Ontario Government’s leadership on this issue has been wanting. Their findings directly echo the submissions we made to those AODA Independent Reviews.

The 2014 final report of the 2nd Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation, conducted by former University of Toronto Law Dean Mayo Moran, made this pivotal finding:

“One of the prominent themes that emerged from the consultations was the belief of the disability community that the Government of Ontario has not succeeded in embedding accessibility into its internal operations.”

Five years later, the 3rd AODA Independent Review by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley made the same findings in its report:

“Government Leadership Missing

Many stakeholders called on the Ontario government to revitalize and breathe new life into the AODA, echoing both the Beer and Moran Reviews. As far as government leadership goes, little has changed. The government largely has been missing in action.”

The Onley Report also found:

“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. I am hopeful the current one will.”

Yet Premier Ford has not done so. He has to date refused to even meet with the AODA Alliance’s leadership.

The Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 re-announcement of pre-existing measures does not show the revitalized new leadership on accessibility for which the Moran and Onley AODA Independent Reviews called.

Here are six examples arising from the Ford Government’s announcement on February 28, 2020 that illustrate that it is not leading by the good example that it claims:

  1. This announcement includes measures that sound far better on paper than they have proven to be in practice. For example, the Ford Government said on February 28, 2020 that it is leading by example by “(e)nsuring ministries are taking accessibility into account as a key consideration when developing policies.” The Ford Government did just the opposite late last fall. Despite our pleas, it palpably ignored serious disability accessibility and safety concerns when it enacted a regulation allowing municipalities to permit electric scooters (e-scooters) on roads, sidewalks and other public places. An unlicensed, untrained and uninsured e-person as young as 16 silently racing towards people with disabilities endangers them, as an open letter from 13 disability organization attests.

The ford Government chose to listen only to corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies. It side-lined the safety of people with disabilities. Check out the AODA Alliance’s web page on the e-scooter issue.

The Ford Government’s e-scooter regulation threatens to create new and serious barriers against people with disabilities. That is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

  1. To lead by example in this area, the Ford Government needs to put in place a detailed plan that will ensure that Ontario will become accessible by 2025, the AODA’s deadline. Yet it still has no such plan. No plan was announced on Friday, February 28,2020, nor has the Government announced any plan to create a plan. That is not the leadership example that , Ontarians with disabilities deserve.
  1. To support its claim that it is leading by example on accessibility, the Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 announcement points to the fact that there are Standards Development Committees now developing recommendations on what the Government should enact in new AODA accessibility standards to address barriers in Ontario’s education system and health care system. We campaigned for years for those Standards Development Committees to be established.

However, this is hardly an illustration of the Ford Government leading by a good example. It was the previous Liberal Government under Premier Wynne that appointed those Standards Development Committees. In a very harmful move, the Ford Government kept those Standards Development Committees frozen for over a year after it took power. That freeze unjustifiably set back progress on accessibility. The AODA Alliance had to lead a tenacious campaign for many months just to get the Ford Government to lift that freeze. That is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

  1. The Onley Report found that the recurring barriers that people with disabilities face in the built environment must become a major Government priority. It called for new accessibility regulations to fix this. Doug Ford recognized the importance of this need in his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance where he set out his party’s 2018 election promises on disability accessibility.

Yet last Friday’s announcement did not commit to develop new regulations, under the AODA or in the Ontario Building Code or both, to ensure that the built environment becomes accessible. Existing legal requirements are inadequate. Last May, during National Accessibility Week, Doug Ford’s Government hurtfully derided such an idea as “red tape,” as if the rights to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities were red tape.

Making this worse, The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint an AODA Standards Development Committee over two years ago to review a weak accessibility standard that deals with barriers in public spaces, mainly outside buildings. The Ford Government continues to be in open, flagrant breach of that obligation. That is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

  1. The Ford Government’s announcement last Friday spoke of accessibility as being one of the criteria for assessing applications for some infrastructure spending. However, it did not commit to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. Yet the Government has emphasized its commitment to be responsible in the use of public money. Spending public money in a way that creates new barriers against people with disabilities, as the Ontario Government has been doing for years, is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.
  1. In last Friday’s announcement, the Ford Government pointed to measures to improve accessibility in public transit. However, it has made no commitment and announced no plan to ensure that its new public transit infrastructure will be fully accessible to passengers with disabilities. Metrolinx, the Ontario Government’s key agency in that area, has a troubling track record in this regard. Moreover, after over one and a half years in power, the Ford Government has announced no plans to strengthen the weak 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard. The Ontario Government received recommendations from the Transportation Standards Development Committee in the 2018 spring, around two years ago. This inaction is also not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 News Release

Ontario Leading by Example in Improving Accessibility

Government Continues Progress Through Cross-Government Actions

NEWS
February 28, 2020

WHITBY — Ontario is continuing to work towards an inclusive and barrier-free province through its comprehensive accessibility framework.

Today, Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, announced the second area of focus under the Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework – government leading by example – at the Abilities Centre in Whitby. This area demonstrates the government’s commitment and leadership in improving accessibility in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer.

“Our government is committed to protecting what matters most, and this means removing barriers in Ontario so we can empower people with disabilities,” said Minister Cho. “We are continuing to develop and enforce accessibility laws to help deliver critical services to Ontarians. It’s crucial that we set a strong example of moving accessibility forward to make a positive difference in the daily lives of people with disabilities.”

The government is taking leadership on this issue by applying an accessibility lens when evaluating capital project applications and spending public tax dollars. For example, while developing the provincial criteria for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility worked closely with the Ministry of Infrastructure to establish accessibility as one of the four main objectives that applications will be evaluated on under the program’s Community, Culture and Recreation stream. Projects will additionally be evaluated based on exceeding minimum standards; use of Universal Design Principles, accessible guidelines and innovative solutions to increasing accessibility.

“We are extremely pleased with the direction the Government of Ontario is taking with its Advancing Accessibly in Ontario framework,” said Stuart McReynolds, President and Chief Executive Officer of Abilities Centre. “We must all work together as partners to advance inclusion and accessibility throughout the province.”

As part of Ontario’s work towards creating a more accessible and inclusive province today and for future generations, the government formed a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility in June 2018.

QUICK FACTS

  • There are 2.6 million people in Ontario that have a disability.
  • The Ontario Public Service Accessibility Office serves as an accessibility centre of excellence, elevating accessibility as a top priority within and beyond government. It supports ministries to meet their legislated obligations and embed accessibility into government policies, programs, services and internal activities.
  • The Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework was informed by the recommendations made by the Honourable David C. Onley in the third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as well as input from key partners, organizations and people with disabilities.
  • Further information on the other key areas in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario will be announced in the coming weeks.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Government to lead by example

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Breaking down barriers in the built environment

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Accessibility in Ontario: Information for Businesses web page

MEDIA CONTACTS          

Pooja Parekh
Minister’s Office
[email protected]

Matt Gloyd
Communications Branch
647-268-7233
[email protected]

Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 Backgrounder

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Government to lead by example

BACKGROUNDER

February 28, 2020

Enhancing accessibility is a priority for the government. The province has elevated accessibility as a commitment by creating a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility to work towards a more accessible and inclusive Ontario today and for future generations.

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a cross-government framework that will help focus the government’s work in four key areas:

  • breaking down barriers in the built environment
  • government leading by example in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer
  • increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and
  • improving understanding and awareness about accessibility

The government leading by example demonstrates Ontario’s leadership in improving accessibility in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer.

In its role as a policy maker, the government is making significant progress in implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and as an organization is leading the way by:

  • Ensuring ministries are taking accessibility into account as a key consideration when developing policies.
  • Addressing barriers in the health care sector, such as a greater need for sensitivity when communicating with people with disabilities, by resuming the Health Care Standards Development Committee to develop recommendations for proposed accessibility standards for hospitals in regulation under the AODA. This committee is comprised of people with disabilities, disability organizations and sector experts.
  • Making sure students with disabilities have the supports they need to transition from one school system to another by resuming the K-12 and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees to provide recommendations on how to make the education sector more inclusive. These committees will develop recommendations for proposed accessibility standards in regulation under the AODA.
  • Considering recommendations from the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee to assess how to make information and digital communications more accessible.
  • Creating more inclusive learning environments by providing educators with accessibility training, lesson plans and resources through the TeachAble Project website. The site was created with funding from the government’s EnAbling Change Program and gives people who work with students ways to create awareness about accessibility in the classroom.
  • Providing clearer and more transparent processes for families requesting service animals accompany their children to school, no matter where they live in Ontario. As of January 1, 2020, Ontario school boards are required to implement their service animal policies. This support will help all students be successful.
  • Providing organizations and the public with practical tips on how to be more accessible by delivering regular free webinars on various topics, such as accessible transit and creating accessible tourism experiences and customer service in Ontario.
  • Improving accessibility as part of broader efforts being made with the federal government and other provinces.

In its role as a service provider, the government is working to provide barrier-free services through initiatives including:

  • Better serving transit users and commuters by investing in improvements to the GO transit experience as part of the GO Expansion program. Progress continues at the five remaining GO stations in the Greater Toronto Area that are not yet accessible, including installing ramps and platform elevators as needed.
  • Continuing to improve accessibility on trails, beaches and provincial parks in Ontario by adding features like mobility mats to make it easier for everyone to use public spaces.
  • Streamlining the Accessible Parking Permit process to reduce misuse while ensuring access by making it easier for people 80 years of age and older, Canadian veterans of any age and certain people with disabilities to apply for an accessible parking permit.
  • Investing $1.07 million in 2019-20 to support Abilities Centre in Whitby to advance inclusion and accessibility for people of all ages and abilities. Initiatives include:
    • researching social inclusion and social enterprise
    • developing a pre-employment skills program
    • piloting a 12-week pan-disability program for adults with disabilities
    • supporting local private and non-profit sector organizations to develop inclusion and accessibility plans
  • Improving community agencies across Ontario through the annual Partner Facility Renewal program, which includes an investment totalling $11.5 million that goes towards more than 350 upgrade and repair projects. This program includes an investment of more than $1.6 million for building repairs and upgrades at community agencies across northern Ontario so they can continue providing services to children and families. For example, a new elevator will be installed at Ontario Native Women’s Association, helping to make the building more accessible.
  • Continuing to help Ontario residents with long-term mobility disabilities remain in their homes and participate in their communities by funding the Home & Vehicle Modification Program, which is administered by March of Dimes Canada. With an annual investment of $10.6 million, this program reduces safety risks by approving grants up to $15,000 to make basic home and vehicle modifications.
  • Addressing barriers in the digital environment to move towards a modern digital approach so that our accessibility resources, reports and publicly available data are easier to access. For example:
    • We’re making it easier for people who are blind to use Ontario GeoHub, a website that provides descriptive information about the characteristics, quality and context of Ontario’s geospatial data. For this project, the Ministry of National Resources and Forestry collaborated with the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, which led to helpful adjustments to the site that make it more user friendly for people with disabilities. The ministry will use these learnings to inform how it delivers digital services moving forward.

In its role as an employer and as an organization, the government is working to establish a more inclusive employment culture in the OPS by:

  • Supporting OPS employees – roughly 12 per cent of which self-identify as having a disability – and ministries to meet the requirements of the AODA and embed accessibility into internal activities through the Ontario Public Service Accessibility Office, which serves as an accessibility centre of excellence.
  • Addressing systemic barriers and gaps through Deputy Ministers’ committees within the OPS. These groups work on accessibility planning and implementation across government, as well as ensure accessibility is meaningfully reflected in government policies, programs and initiatives. This helps to improve access to government services for the public, which enhances health, employment and social inclusion.
  • Using the OPS’ annual Multi-Year Accessibility Plan Report to summarize the OPS’ work to prevent and remove barriers to accessibility. The OPS also works to help foster a culture of inclusion both within the organization and across the province.
  • Increasing opportunities for hands-on work experience and training in the OPS for youth with disabilities by expanding eligibility for the Ontario Internship Program. The criteria have recently changed so that students with disabilities that have graduated within the last five years – rather than two years – can now apply to the year-long program.
  • Expanding the professional networks of youth with disabilities by connecting them with mentors across the OPS and broader public sector through Connexions, an annual session that helps post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities prepare for the job market by practicing job-seeking skills.

 

 

MEDIA CONTACTS

Matt Gloyd

Communications Branch

647-268-7233

[email protected]



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Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Positions of the 6 Major Federal Political Parties on Achieving Accessibility for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities in Canada


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

October 17, 2019

SUMMARY

With the federal election only four days away, the AODA Alliance now makes public a non-partisan issue-by-issue comparison of the position of the 6 major federal political parties on what they would do, if elected, to ensure that Canada becomes accessible to over 6 million people with disabilities.

Just four months ago, all parties in Canada’s Parliament united to unanimously pass the Accessible Canada Act. It has the purpose of achieving a barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities by 2040. This election gives the parties an excellent first chance to say what they would do to fulfil that important goal. The AODA Alliance has extensive experience in this area, having done this in the past federal election and the past seven Ontario elections.

What’s the bottom line? The votes of millions of voters with disabilities are on the line. It is therefore very regrettable if not deeply troubling that only two of the major parties, the NDP and Liberals, even answered the AODA Alliances July 18, 2019 letter to the party leaders. That letter sought 11 concrete commitments on this topic. Of those two parties, the NDP clearly gave stronger specific commitments. The Liberals did not give specific commitments to take most of the actions we were seeking. It is especially troubling that only one of the six parties, the NDP, explicitly committed in responses to our July 18, 2019 letter, not to allow public money to be used to create new accessibility barriers against people with disabilities in Canada.

The Conservatives and Greens were strong critics of Bill C-81 because it was so weak, and commendably pressed to have it strengthened. Whether or not they respond to the AODA Alliances July 18, 2019 letter before the October 21, 2019, we will hold them to those positions, and to the Tories’ commitments to strengthen this law if elected. The Liberals proclaimed that the Accessible Canada Act is historic legislation. It is therefore hard to see why they would give such non-specific responses to our requests for clear, specific commitments.

In this comparison, we refer to the responses to our July 18, 2019 letter to the party leaders, and to positions that parties expressed in Parliament during debates over Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. The 11 commitments which the AODA Alliance sought from the parties are based on key issues which the AODA Alliance and many other disability organizations raised regarding Bill C-81 during extensive public hearings before the House of Commons’ Standing Committee last fall, and before the Senate’s Standing Committee last spring. The entire history of these efforts is available at www.aodaalliance.org/canada

It is during an election campaign when politicians put their best political foot forward and are most eager to show their interest in and support of causes that affect millions of Canadians. The federal parties have had ample opportunity to let us know their position on our issues. We wrote them fully three months ago, and have tweeted many of their candidates across Canada over a good number of weeks to try to get them to answer us.

For over 6 million people in Canada who now have a disability, and for all others who will later acquire a disability there is a powerful message here. It emanates from the comparison that is set out below. During public hearings on Bill C-81, one disability organization after the next emphasized that this legislation is deficient because it gives the Federal Government a series of helpful powers, but it does not require the Government to use those powers or set time lines for their exercise. The opposition NDP, Conservatives and Green Parties repeatedly echoed this serious concern.

However despite this, the bill was not substantially amended to eliminate this problem. Here we now are, just four months after this law was passed, and yet most of the parties are not prepared to say what, if anything, they would do to use those powers. This proves, beyond any doubt, why the Accessible Canada Act must be strengthened to make it strong and effective, and to require its effective implementation and enforcement.

We in the disability community were correct to push for amendments last year to achieve this goal. We will be wise to do it again when parliament resumes. The AODA Alliance will be ready to work with all parties, and with whomever forms Canada’s next government, to achieve that goal.

In providing this comparison, we yet again repeat that the non-partisan, AODA Alliance does not seek to support or oppose any party or candidate. We try to get the strongest commitments from all the parties and candidates.

If we receive any further responses from any of the parties before voting day, we will make them public as fast as we can. We will continue up to the last minute, trying to get all parties to make commitments on this issue.

The AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter to the major party leaders is available at: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliances available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

The Liberal Party’s October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance’s letter is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/liberal-party-of-canada-answers-request-for-election-commitments-on-achieving-an-accessible-canada-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-liberals-promise-less-than-the-ndp-tories-greens-peop/ The AODA Alliance’s federal election action kit that gives the public ideas on how to raise these issues during the election campaign is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/federal-election-action-kit-raise-disability-accessibility-issues-in-canadas-2019-federal-election/

Follow @aodaalliance to see our relentless stream of tweets to federal candidates, seeking their commitments on this issue, and to follow our analysis of election returns, as they bear on this issue.

MORE DETAILS
Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Major Federal Parties’ Positions on Ensuring that Canada Becomes Barrier-Free for Over Six Million People with Disabilities

General

All parties that were in Parliament before the current federal election voted for the Accessible Canada Act. As such, they have all agreed with the goal of Canada becoming barrier-free for people with disabilities by 2040.

Here is a summary of the 11 commitments that the AODA Alliance asked each party to make in its July 18, 2019 letter to the leaders of the six major federal parties:

1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this about this issue:

“We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make accessibility standards in a timely manner.

The NDP made multiple attempts to include implementation of timelines. During Committee meetings of Persons Living with Disabilities, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us aligned with the leading experts’ proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties. A New Democrat government will work hard to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in a timely fashion.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders. 2. The ACA should be effectively enforced.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

Yes, it’s critical to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced. Once again, the NDP made multiple attempts to ensure the ACA is effectively enforced. During Committee, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us were taken from their proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

3. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“The Liberal government missed a sizable opportunity in C-81. Federal money should never used by any recipient to create or perpetuate disability barriers. We proposed such an amendment during committee hearing.

Our ultimate goal is to help foster a society in which all of our citizens are able to participate fully and equally. We believe that this cannot happen until all of our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. The NDP would require that federal public money would never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers, including federal money received for procurement; infrastructure; transfer payments; research grants; business development loans or grants, or for any other kind of payment, including purpose under a contract.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance gave this response:

“Disability rights are human rights and we will always stand up to see these rights brought to life across government. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act. This builds on the work we have done over the past four years, putting into place measures that harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre, as well as the update to procurement policies across government.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

4. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“Yes, if a provision of the Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

5. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“We will review section 172(3) of the ACA a take the appropriate corrective measures to make sure airlines and railways pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to pay up.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

6. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in one federal agency, not splintered among several of them.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“Yes. The Liberal government’s Bill C-81 wrongly gave several public agencies or officials far too much sweeping power to grant partial or blanket exemptions to specific organizations from important parts of this bill. C-81 separated enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies. Rather it should be providing people with disabilities with what they need: the single service location or, one-stop shop..
We will assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the ACA to the Federal Cabinet.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders. 7. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.

New Democratic Party:

The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue, which can be read as directly or indirectly committing to what we seek:

“The NDP has long been committed to the rights of persons with disabilities. It has been our longstanding position that all of government-every budget,
every policy and regulation-should be viewed through a disability lens. The NDP has supported the establishment of a Canadians with Disabilities Act for many years.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“As stated above, we are fully committed to continuing to work with stakeholders and the disability community as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented to ensure it is fulfilling its objectives.

We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes.

We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders. 8. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

New Democrats have always fought to remove the barriers keeping persons with disabilities from living with dignity and independence, because when barriers are removed all Canadians are empowered to participate fully in society and we all benefit.

We brought forward amendments to C-81 that require the Accessibility Commissioner to appoint, within 12 months of the bill being enacted, an independent person (with no current or prior involvement in administering elections) to conduct an Independent Review of disability barriers in the election process, with a requirement to consult the public, including persons with disabilities, and to report within 12 months to the Federal Government. Their report should immediately be made public. Additionally, we would require the Federal Government to designate a minister with responsibility to bring forward a bill to reform elections legislation within 12 months of the completion of that Independent Review.”

Liberal Party:

The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote. As we do after every election, we will review lessons learned from these changes and work with stakeholders and the disability community on further steps we can take to address barriers that may exist.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.
9. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance included the following on this issue:

“Nine years ago, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Though the Liberal government has tabled a new Accessibility Act, its’ exemptions mean C-81 falls short of meeting Canada’s goal of creating an inclusive and barrier-free country. An NDP government will reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment to amend the Accessible Canada Act on this issue, but a commitment that would in practice narrow the use of this power. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response said the following on this issue:

“Should any exemptions be implemented in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act these will be limited and due to very exceptional circumstances. The rationale for the exemptions will also be made public.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

10. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“The amendment we brought forward during the C-81 proceedings would have required the Minister of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Government, to develop and implement a multi- year plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts) as well as federally-created administrative tribunals become fully accessible to court participants with disabilities, by the bill’s accessibility deadline. This should adopt and build upon the work of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee, which oversees efforts on accessibility for provincially-regulated courts in Ontario.”

Liberal Party:

A commitment to “examine this issue”. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“We will examine this issue as part of promised comprehensive review of federal policies and programs. In doing so we will work closely with provinces, territories, stakeholders and the disability community to effectively identify and reduce barriers.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

11. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“Absolutely! The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal Party rhetoric.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment on this issue. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. We will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.




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Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Positions of the 6 Major Federal Political Parties on Achieving Accessibility for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities in Canada


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

Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Positions of the 6 Major Federal Political Parties on Achieving Accessibility for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities in Canada

October 17, 2019

               SUMMARY

With the federal election only four days away, the AODA Alliance now makes public a non-partisan issue-by-issue comparison of the position of the 6 major federal political parties on what they would do, if elected, to ensure that Canada becomes accessible to over 6 million people with disabilities.

Just four months ago, all parties in Canada’s Parliament united to unanimously pass the Accessible Canada Act. It has the purpose of achieving a barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities by 2040. This election gives the parties an excellent first chance to say what they would do to fulfil that important goal. The AODA Alliance has extensive experience in this area, having done this in the past federal election and the past seven Ontario elections.

What’s the bottom line? The votes of millions of voters with disabilities are on the line. It is therefore very regrettable if not deeply troubling that only two of the major parties, the NDP and Liberals, even answered the AODA Alliances July 18, 2019 letter to the party leaders. That letter sought 11 concrete commitments on this topic. Of those two parties, the NDP clearly gave stronger specific commitments. The Liberals did not give specific commitments to take most of the actions we were seeking. It is especially troubling that only one of the six parties, the NDP, explicitly committed in responses to our July 18, 2019 letter, not to allow public money to be used to create new accessibility barriers against people with disabilities in Canada.

The Conservatives and Greens were strong critics of Bill C-81 because it was so weak, and commendably pressed to have it strengthened. Whether or not they respond to the AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter before the October 21, 2019, we will hold them to those positions, and to the Tories’ commitments to strengthen this law if elected. The Liberals proclaimed that the Accessible Canada Act is historic legislation. It is therefore hard to see why they would give such non-specific responses to our requests for clear, specific commitments.

In this comparison, we refer to the responses to our July 18, 2019 letter to the party leaders, and to positions that parties expressed in Parliament during debates over Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. The 11 commitments which the AODA Alliance sought from the parties are based on key issues which the AODA Alliance and many other disability organizations raised regarding Bill C-81 during extensive public hearings before the House of Commons’ Standing Committee last fall, and before the Senate’s Standing Committee last spring. The entire history of these efforts is available at www.aodaalliance.org/canada

It is during an election campaign when politicians put their best political foot forward and are most eager to show their interest in and support of causes that affect millions of Canadians. The federal parties have had ample opportunity to let us know their position on our issues. We wrote them fully three months ago, and have tweeted many of their candidates across Canada over a good number of weeks to try to get them to answer us.

For over 6 million people in Canada who now have a disability, and for all others who will later acquire a disability there is a powerful message here. It emanates from the comparison that is set out below. During public hearings on Bill C-81, one disability organization after the next emphasized that this legislation is deficient because it gives the Federal Government a series of helpful powers, but it does not require the Government to use those powers or set time lines for their exercise. The opposition NDP, Conservatives and Green Parties repeatedly echoed this serious concern.

However despite this, the bill was not substantially amended to eliminate this problem. Here we now are, just four months after this law was passed, and yet most of the parties are not prepared to say what, if anything, they would do to use those powers. This proves, beyond any doubt, why the Accessible Canada Act must be strengthened to make it strong and effective, and to require its effective implementation and enforcement.

We in the disability community were correct to push for amendments last year to achieve this goal. We will be wise to do it again when parliament resumes. The AODA Alliance will be ready to work with all parties, and with whomever forms Canada’s next government, to achieve that goal.

In providing this comparison, we yet again repeat that the non-partisan, AODA Alliance does not seek to support or oppose any party or candidate. We try to get the strongest commitments from all the parties and candidates.

If we receive any further responses from any of the parties before voting day, we will make them public as fast as we can. We will continue up to the last minute, trying to get all parties to make commitments on this issue.

The AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter to the major party leaders is available at: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliances available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

The Liberal Party’s October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance’s letter is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/liberal-party-of-canada-answers-request-for-election-commitments-on-achieving-an-accessible-canada-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-liberals-promise-less-than-the-ndp-tories-greens-peop/

The AODA Alliance’s federal election action kit that gives the public ideas on how to raise these issues during the election campaign is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/federal-election-action-kit-raise-disability-accessibility-issues-in-canadas-2019-federal-election/

Follow @aodaalliance to see our relentless stream of tweets to federal candidates, seeking their commitments on this issue, and to follow our analysis of election returns, as they bear on this issue.

            MORE DETAILS

 Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Major Federal Parties’ Positions on Ensuring that Canada Becomes Barrier-Free for Over Six Million People with Disabilities

 General

All parties that were in Parliament before the current federal election voted for the Accessible Canada Act. As such, they have all agreed with the goal of Canada becoming barrier-free for people with disabilities by 2040.

Here is a summary of the 11 commitments that the AODA Alliance asked each party to make in its July 18, 2019 letter to the leaders of the six major federal parties:

 1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this about this issue:

“We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make accessibility standards in a timely manner.

The NDP made multiple attempts to include implementation of timelines. During Committee meetings of Persons Living with Disabilities, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us aligned with the leading experts’ proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties. A New Democrat government will work hard to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in a timely fashion.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 2. The ACA should be effectively enforced.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“Yes, it’s critical to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced. Once again, the NDP made multiple attempts to ensure the ACA is effectively enforced. During Committee, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us were taken from their proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 3. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“The Liberal government missed a sizable opportunity in C-81. Federal money should never used by any recipient to create or perpetuate disability barriers. We proposed such an amendment during committee hearing.

Our ultimate goal is to help foster a society in which all of our citizens are able to participate fully and equally. We believe that this cannot happen until all of our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. The NDP would require that federal public money would never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers, including federal money received for procurement; infrastructure; transfer payments; research grants; business development loans or grants, or for any other kind of payment, including purpose under a contract.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance gave this response:

“Disability rights are human rights and we will always stand up to see these rights brought to life across government. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act. This builds on the work we have done over the past four years, putting into place measures that harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre, as well as the update to procurement policies across government.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 4. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“Yes, if a provision of the Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any  other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 5. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“We will review section 172(3) of the ACA a take the appropriate corrective measures to make sure airlines and railways pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to pay up.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 6. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in one federal agency, not splintered among several of them.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“Yes. The Liberal government’s Bill C-81 wrongly gave several public agencies or officials far too much sweeping power to grant partial or blanket exemptions to specific organizations from important parts of this bill. C-81 separated enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies. Rather it should be providing people with disabilities with what they need: the single service location or, one-stop shop..

We will assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the ACA to the Federal Cabinet.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

7. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.

New Democratic Party:

The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue, which can be read as directly or indirectly committing to what we seek:

“The NDP has long been committed to the rights of persons with disabilities. It has been our longstanding position that all of government-every budget,

every policy and regulation-should be viewed through a disability lens. The NDP has supported the establishment of a Canadians with Disabilities Act for many years.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“As stated above, we are fully committed to continuing to work with stakeholders and the disability community as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented to ensure it is fulfilling its objectives.

We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes.

We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 8. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“New Democrats have always fought to remove the barriers keeping persons with disabilities from living with dignity and independence, because when barriers are removed all Canadians are empowered to participate fully in society and we all benefit.

We brought forward amendments to C-81 that require the Accessibility Commissioner to appoint, within 12 months of the bill being enacted, an independent person (with no current or prior involvement in administering elections) to conduct an Independent Review of disability barriers in the election process, with a requirement to consult the public, including persons with disabilities, and to report within 12 months to the Federal Government. Their report should immediately be made public. Additionally, we would require the Federal Government to designate a minister with responsibility to bring forward a bill to reform elections legislation within 12 months of the completion of that Independent Review.”

Liberal Party:

The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote. As we do after every election, we will review lessons learned from these changes and work with stakeholders and the disability community on further steps we can take to address barriers that may exist.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 9. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance included the following on this issue:

“Nine years ago, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Though the Liberal government has tabled a new Accessibility Act, its’ exemptions mean C-81 falls short of meeting Canada’s goal of creating an inclusive and barrier-free country. An NDP government will reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment to amend the Accessible Canada Act on this issue, but a commitment that would in practice narrow the use of this power. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response said the following on this issue:

“Should any exemptions be implemented in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act these will be limited and due to very exceptional circumstances. The rationale for the exemptions will also be made public.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 10. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“The amendment we brought forward during the C-81 proceedings would have required the Minister of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Government, to develop and implement a multi- year plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts) as well as federally-created administrative tribunals become fully accessible to court participants with disabilities, by the bill’s accessibility deadline. This should adopt and build upon the work of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee, which oversees efforts on accessibility for provincially-regulated courts in Ontario.”

Liberal Party:

A commitment to “examine this issue”. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“We will examine this issue as part of promised comprehensive review of federal policies and programs. In doing so we will work closely with provinces, territories, stakeholders and the disability community to effectively identify and reduce barriers.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 11. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“Absolutely! The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal Party rhetoric.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment on this issue. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. We will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.



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Liberal Party of Canada Answers Request for Election Commitments on Achieving an Accessible Canada for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities


Liberals Promise Less Than the NDP Tories Greens, People’s Party and the Bloc Haven’t Answered the AODA Alliance’s Request for 11 Commitments

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

October 16, 2019

SUMMARY

With the October 21 federal election so near, so close in the polls, and with every vote so important, what are the federal parties committing to do for over six million people with disabilities in Canada? The grassroots AODA Alliance has sought 11 specific commitments to strengthen the recently-enacted Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and to ensure that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced. So far, only two federal parties have even answered.

Polls are suggesting that Canadians are about to elect a minority government. If there is a minority government, no matter who is our next Prime Minister, there is a real potential that Canada’s next Parliament could be persuaded to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. While in opposition last year, the Greens, NDP and Conservatives all advocated for this law to be strengthened.

On October 15, 2019, the Liberal Party of Canada announced which election pledges it would make to people with disabilities, in response to the July 18, 2019 request for 11 major commitments which the AODA Alliance directed to the leaders of the six major federal parties. The Liberals’ response and its accompanying online statement on disability equality which it posted on its website on October 15, 2019, both set out below, give fewer promises than the only other federal party to respond to date.

On September 16, 2019, the federal New Democratic Party became the first federal party to answer the AODA Alliance’s request for these 11 commitments. The NDP response is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

With only five days left before voting day, the AODA Alliance is continuing its blitz. The federal Conservatives, Greens, People’s Party and Bloc Quebecois have not yet answered. Last year, the Greens and Tories teamed up with the NDP in an unsuccessful to press for amendments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act, at the request of a number of disability organizations including the AODA Alliance. During debates on the bill in the House of Commons last fall, the Tories promised to make it a priority to strengthen this law if they form the next Government. On November 22, 2018, Tory MPP John Barlow pledged: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.” Tory MP Alex Nuttall promised Parliament “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Below we also set out the excellent October 15, 2019 Canadian Press article by reporter Michelle McQuigge, posted online by Global News. It is the only news article we have seen in this election campaign covering the parties positions on this issue, and disability community efforts to secure such commitments. We urge the media to give this issue more coverage in the election campaign’s final days.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any party or candidate. It seeks to secure the strongest commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities from all the parties. As part of this campaign, it is tweeting to as many federal candidates across Canada as possible to press for the commitments it seeks. This evening, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to speak on a panel that will give action tips for the election campaign’s final days at a federal election disability issues public forum in Toronto, organized by a number of disability organizations. It takes place from 7 to 9 pm at Ryerson University’s Tecumseh Auditorium, Ryerson Student Centre, 55 Gould Street, Toronto.

Here is a summary of the 11 commitments that the AODA Alliance asked each party to make in its July 18, 2019 letter to the leaders of the six major federal parties:

1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.

2. The ACA should be effectively enforced.

3. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.

4. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.

5. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.

6. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in One federal agency, not splintered among several of them.

7. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.

8. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.

9. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.

10. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.

11. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.

The AODA Alliance is deeply concerned that the voting process in federal elections has not been assured to be barrier-free for voters with disabilities. We will be monitoring for these barriers, and are urging voters with disabilities to alert us of any problems they encounter. To follow all the action on Twitter over the last days leading to the election, follow @aodaalliance Email reports of voting barriers to us at [email protected]

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance
For background on the AODA Alliance’s participation in the grassroots non-partisan campaign since 2015 for the Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

MORE DETAILS

October 15, 2019 Response from the Liberal Party of Canada to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Disability equality benefits everyone. When Canadians with disabilities have equal opportunities to contribute to their communities, to have the same quality of service from their government, to have equal opportunities to work, and to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else, we build a stronger economy and a stronger country.

Since 2015, weve worked to make this the reality for more Canadians. We started with a human rights-based approach to disability equality fundamentally changing the way we, as a country, treat inclusion and accessibility. Part of that meant moving beyond individual accommodation and instead addressing discrimination as a whole.

Now, were making another choice. Were choosing forward taking the progress weve achieved and going even further to make Canada a more fair, equal and affordable place to live.

Over the past four years, we have made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. For a full list of these actions please refer to Appendix A.

There is more work to be done. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers and experience discrimination.

Canada requires strong leadership to ensure that a human rights-based approach to disability is reflected in all Government of Canada policies, programmes, practices and results. To ensure systemic disability inclusion and to lead by example as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented, a re-elected Liberal government will put these policies and practices into place, in consultation with the disability community. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act.

We heard from Canadians with disabilities that the most significant economic and social barrier they face to full economic and social participation is in the area of employment. This is particularly so for youth with disabilities. From the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know that approximately 59% of working-age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities.

Thats why a re-elected Liberal government will improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities through various measures that target these barriers, address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses in a coordinated way. One component of this will be the creation of a workplace accessibility fund to help increase the availability of accommodations that help close gaps in access to good paying jobs and education. We know that improving workplace accessibility and employment outcomes for Canadians with disabilities will have an overwhelmingly positive impact, leading to increased productivity and greater profits for businesses, as well as financial independence and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

We will also focus on the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Canada needs continued leadership to make sure people with disabilities can not only find good jobs, but can succeed for years and decades to come.

We wont get that leadership from the Conservatives, whove proved that they only want to give a break to the very wealthiest Canadians and cut programs and services for everyone else. Of the $53 billion they promise to cut, $14 billion is in hidden, mystery cuts could hurt Canadians with disabilities the most.

Only a re-elected Liberal government will continue on the progress weve made together. To help more Canadians with disabilities find and keep good jobs, well address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses.

These and other measures will ensure that disability inclusion is a priority for a re-elected Liberal government. We know that this is the best way to ensure that all Canadians have an equal and fair chance to succeed.

To read our full statement on disability equality and inclusion, as well as consult our 2019 platform, please visit: https://www.liberal.ca/disability-equality-statement/

Specific Additional Information in Response to Your Questions

Questions 1 and 2:
We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 3 (application to public policy):
Disability rights are human rights and we will always stand up to see these rights brought to life across government. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act. This builds on the work we have done over the past four years, putting into place measures that harness the Government of Canadas purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre, as well as the update to procurement policies across government.

Questions 4 to 6 (implementation and enforcement issues):
We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 7
As stated above, we are fully committed to continuing to work with stakeholders and the disability community as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented to ensure it is fulfilling its objectives.

We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes.

We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 8:
We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote. As we do after every election, we will review lessons learned from these changes and work with stakeholders and the disability community on further steps we can take to address barriers that may exist.

Question 9:
Should any exemptions be implemented in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act these will be limited and due to very exceptional circumstances. The rationale for the exemptions will also be made public.

Question 10:
We will examine this issue as part of promised comprehensive review of federal policies and programs. In doing so we will work closely with provinces, territories, stakeholders and the disability community to effectively identify and reduce barriers.

Question 11:
We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. We will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

Appendix A: Our shared progress

After a decade of neglect from Harpers Conservatives, over the past four years weve made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. This started with the appointment of Canadas first-ever Cabinet Minister responsible for Canadians with Disabilities. We also held a national discourse on disability issues through what would become the most inclusive consultation any government has ever had in the history of our country on any topic. We held the first ever national summit for youth with disabilities, attended by the Prime Minister. The result: the Accessible Canada Act.

Canada is a proud signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Since 2015, we taken a human rights-based approach to disability equality, making fundamental changes to the way we put the principles of inclusion and accessibility into practice. We recognized the need for systems, policies and practices to be designed inclusively from the start. We recognized the need to move beyond relying on individual accommodation to address discrimination. We recognized the economic benefit of disability inclusion. And we moved beyond Nothing About Us, Without Us, to Nothing Without Us, because every decision the federal government makes impacts its citizens with disabilities. Our efforts culminated in the Accessible Canada Act, which is considered the most significant advancement in disability rights since the Charter in 1982.

At the same time, we worked across government to make federal laws, policies, procedures and programs more equitable and inclusive of Canadians with disabilities:

? We applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy, and the National Infrastructure Program.

? We improved tax policies through measures such as permitting registered nurse practitioners to complete Disability Tax Credit (DTC) medical forms, and the enhanced caregiver credit.

? We addressed the financial security of Canadians with disabilities through important changes to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

? We improved our immigration system by amending the outdated provisions on medical inadmissibility. And we removed the processing fee to hire foreign caregivers, making these services more affordable.

? We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote.

? We increased access to alternate format material, including the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016.

? We created the Accessible Technology Fund.

? We included persons with disabilities in decision-making. Examples include the Disability Advisory Group to Elections Canada, the Canada Post Accessibility Advisory Panel, and the reconstituted Disability Advisory Group to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which was disbanded by Harpers Conservatives.

? We focused on data collection to inform government decision-making. This included enhancements the Canadian Survey on Disability, and funding a study on intersectionality as it relates to gender and disability called More than a Footnote.

? We appointed the first-ever Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility, and committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years into the federal public service. This will be complemented by a new internship program that will provide placements across the federal government for persons with disabilities.

? We invested in making government workspaces more accessible, and began working towards ensuring our buildings and properties meet the highest standards of accessibility. We put into places measures that will harness the Government of Canadas purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre.

? We adhered to our international human rights obligations: we signed the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD, and appointed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor the UNCRPD.

October 15, 2019 Online Statement on Disability Equality by the Liberal Party of Canada

DISABILITY EQUALITY STATEMENT

Originally posted at https://www.liberal.ca/disability-equality-statement/

Disability equality benefits everyone. When Canadians with disabilities have equal opportunities to contribute to their communities, to have the same quality of service from their government, to have equal opportunities to work, and to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else, we build a stronger economy and a stronger country.

Since 2015, weve worked to make this the reality for more Canadians. We started with a human rights-based approach to disability equality fundamentally changing the way we, as a country, treat inclusion and accessibility. Part of that meant moving beyond individual accommodation and instead addressing discrimination as a whole.

Now, were making another choice. Were choosing forward taking the progress weve achieved and going even further to make Canada a more fair, equal and affordable place to live.

OUR SHARED PROGRESS
After a decade of neglect from Harpers Conservatives, over the past four years weve made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. This started with the appointment of Canadas first-ever Cabinet Minister responsible for Canadians with Disabilities. We also held a national discourse on disability issues through what would become the most inclusive consultation any government has ever had in the history of our country on any topic. We held the first ever national summit for youth with disabilities, attended by the Prime Minister. The result: the Accessible Canada Act.

Canada is a proud signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Since 2015, we taken a human rights-based approach to disability equality, making fundamental changes to the way we put the principles of inclusion and accessibility into practice. We recognized the need for systems, policies and practices to be designed inclusively from the start. We recognized the need to move beyond relying on individual accommodation to address discrimination. We recognized the economic benefit of disability inclusion. And we moved beyond Nothing About Us, Without Us, to Nothing Without Us, because every decision the federal government makes impacts its citizens with disabilities. Our efforts culminated in the Accessible Canada Act, which is considered the most significant advancement in disability rights since the Charter in 1982.

At the same time, we worked across government to make federal laws, policies, procedures and programs more equitable and inclusive of Canadians with disabilities:

We applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy, and the National Infrastructure Program.

We improved tax policies through measures such as permitting registered nurse practitioners to complete Disability Tax Credit (DTC) medical forms, and the enhanced caregiver credit.

We addressed the financial security of Canadians with disabilities through important changes to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

We improved our immigration system by amending the outdated provisions on medical inadmissibility. And we removed the processing fee to hire foreign caregivers, making these services more affordable.

We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote.

We increased access to alternate format material, including the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016.

We created the Accessible Technology Fund.

We included persons with disabilities in decision-making. Examples include the Disability Advisory Group to Elections Canada, the Canada Post Accessibility Advisory Panel, and the reconstituted Disability Advisory Group to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which was disbanded by Harpers Conservatives.

We focused on data collection to inform government decision-making. This included enhancements the Canadian Survey on Disability, and funding a study on intersectionality as it relates to gender and disability called More than a Footnote.

We appointed the first-ever Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility, and committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years into the federal public service. This will be complemented by a new internship program that will provide placements across the federal government for persons with disabilities.

We invested in making government workspaces more accessible, and began working towards ensuring our buildings and properties meet the highest standards of accessibility. We put into places measures that will harness the Government of Canadas purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre.

We adhered to our international human rights obligations: we signed the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD, and appointed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor the UNCRPD.

THE PATH TO EQUALITY THROUGH DISABILITY INCLUSION

Moving forward, there is more work to be done. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers and experience discrimination.

Canada requires strong leadership to ensure that a human rights-based approach to disability is reflected in all Government of Canada policies, programmes, practices and results. To ensure systemic disability inclusion and to lead by example as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented, a re-elected Liberal government will put these policies and practices into place, in consultation with the disability community. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act.

We heard from Canadians with disabilities that the most significant economic and social barrier they face to full economic and social participation is in the area of employment. This is particularly so for youth with disabilities. From the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know that approximately 59% of working-age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities.

Thats why a re-elected Liberal government will improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities through various measures that target these barriers, address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses in a coordinated way. One component of this will be the creation of a workplace accessibility fund to help increase the availability of accommodations that help close gaps in access to good paying jobs and education. We know that improving workplace accessibility and employment outcomes for Canadians with disabilities will have an overwhelmingly positive impact, leading to increased productivity and greater profits for businesses, as well as financial independence and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

We will also focus on the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Canada needs continued leadership to make sure people with disabilities can not only find good jobs, but can succeed for years and decades to come.

We wont get that leadership from the Conservatives, whove proved that they only want to give a break to the very wealthiest Canadians and cut programs and services for everyone else. Of the $53 billion they promise to cut, $14 billion is in hidden, mystery cuts could hurt Canadians with disabilities the most.

Only a re-elected Liberal government will continue on the progress weve made together. To help more Canadians with disabilities find and keep good jobs, well address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses.

These and other measures will ensure that disability inclusion is a priority for a re-elected Liberal government. We know that this is the best way to ensure that all Canadians have an equal and fair chance to succeed.

Global News October 15, 2019

Originally posted at https://globalnews.ca/news/6034294/canadians-disabilities-election-campaign/

Canadians with disabilities cast doubt next federal government will address needs BY MICHELLE MCQUIGGE -THE CANADIAN PRESS

Amy Amantea, who lost her eyesight due to complications while undergoing surgery more than a decade ago, poses for a photograph at her home in North Vancouver, on Oct. 11, 2019.

Amy Amantea tuned in to the English-language federal leaders debate with modest hope there would be at least some discussion of issues relevant to disabled Canadians.

The first half of the campaign had passed with barely a reference, even from the party that had delivered a historic achievement in national disability policy. Earlier this year, the Liberals made good on a 2015 campaign promise when the Accessible Canada Act received royal assent, marking the first time any government had enacted accessibility legislation at the federal level.

The government estimates one in five Canadians over the age of 15 is disabled, and Amantea, who is legally blind, hoped leaders would use the Oct. 7 debate to address some of the many issues they face. But those hopes faded as the debate progressed, giving way instead to doubts about how Canadas disabled residents would fare after the Oct. 21 election.

We have a lot of very unique needs and circumstances in our community that dont get addressed, Amantea said in a telephone interview from Vancouver. Just a nod, just a mention would have been kind of nice, but it was not to be.

Amantea said that relative silence has persisted into the final week of the campaign, giving rise to concerns throughout Canadas disabled community. Many fear that parties who fail to make mention of key issues facing disabled Canadians while courting votes may prove even more dismissive once those votes have been cast.

They point to party platforms and public pledges, most of which make scant mention of either the Accessible Canada Act or disability-specific measures on issues such as infrastructure, health and affordable housing.

The Liberals response to questions on disability policy largely focused on past achievements. Spokesman Joe Pickerill did offer some future plans, including doubling the disability child benefit, establishing a $40-million-per-year national fund meant to help disabled Canadians find work, and simplifying the process veterans use to access disability benefits.

The Green party did not respond to request for comment, and the Peoples Party of Canada said its platform contained no policy related to disabled persons.

The NDP did not provide comment to The Canadian Press, but made several commitments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act in a letter sent to an Ontario-based disability advocacy group.

The act, while widely acknowledged as a significant milestone, was also broadly criticized by nearly a hundred grass-roots organizations across the country as too weak to be truly effective. Such critiques continued even after the government agreed to adopt some Senate amendments sought by the disability groups, who hoped future governments would continue to build on the new law.

Only the NDP agreed to do so when approached by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, which contacted all major parties in July.

The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures, reads the NDPs response. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal party rhetoric.

The Conservatives, too, pledged to work closely with the disability community to ensure that our laws reflect their lived realities. Spokesman Simon Jefferies also noted party members pushed to strengthen the act but saw their amendments voted down by the government.

The vagueness of these commitments troubles Gabrielle Peters, a wheelchair-user and writer.

Canadas approach to accessibility has been to grant it as a gift they give us rather than a right we deserve, Peters said. Now that we have the ACA, the concern is that the broader public and the government think the issue is resolved when this law is, at best, a beginning.

Other disabled voters expressed concerns about the handful of relevant promises that have been put forward on the campaign trail. In addition to pledging expanded eligibility for the disability tax credit, the Conservatives have said they would implement a $50-million national autism strategy focusing on research and services for children. The NDP and Greens have followed suit with similar proposals and larger pots of cash.

While widely lauded among parent-led advocacy groups, some autistic adults view the proposals with skepticism.

Alex Haagaard, who is autistic and uses a wheelchair, said that while much modern disability policy including the ACA tends to apply a social lens, discussion of autism is still framed through the outmoded medical model that positions the disability as an ailment to be cured rather than a part of a persons identity.

Haagaard said action is clearly needed to help parents seeking supports for their children and teachers working to integrate autistic students into their classrooms, but said current attitudes at the heart of the campaign rhetoric are troubling.

A national strategy, Haagaard said, also risks undermining the goal of broader inclusion for other disabled populations.

That is counter to the goals of disability justice to silo autism as this individual condition that warrants this level of attention compared to other disabilities, Haagaard said.

Like Amantea, Peters felt let down by the leaders debates, citing the prevalence of discussion around medical assistance in dying over other issues that affect disabled people. The subject is polarizing, with many advocacy groups and individuals asserting such legislation devalues the lives of disabled people and places them at greater risk.

Such a narrow focus, Peters said, shows all parties failure to reckon with or address the diverse, complex needs of an overlooked demographic.

What strikes me as missing in policy and in this election is us, she said. Disabled people. The not inspirational, not motivational, not middle class, not white, disabled people of this country. In other words most of us.




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Liberal Party of Canada Answers Request for Election Commitments on Achieving an Accessible Canada for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities- Liberals Promise Less Than the NDP – Tories Greens, People’s Party and the Bloc Haven’t Answered the AODA Alliance’s Request for 11 Commitments


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

 

Liberal Party of Canada Answers Request for Election Commitments on Achieving an Accessible Canada for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities– Liberals Promise Less Than the NDP – Tories Greens, People’s Party and the Bloc Haven’t Answered the AODA Alliance’s Request for 11 Commitments

 

October 16, 2019

 

            SUMMARY

 

With the October 21 federal election so near, so close in the polls, and with every vote so important, what are the federal parties committing to do for over six million people with disabilities in Canada? The grassroots AODA Alliance has sought 11 specific commitments to strengthen the recently-enacted Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and to ensure that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced. So far, only two federal parties have even answered.

Polls are suggesting that Canadians are about to elect a minority government. If there is a minority government, no matter who is our next Prime Minister, there is a real potential that Canada’s next Parliament could be persuaded to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. While in opposition last year, the Greens, NDP and Conservatives all advocated for this law to be strengthened.

On October 15, 2019, the Liberal Party of Canada announced which election pledges it would make to people with disabilities, in response to the July 18, 2019 request for 11 major commitments which the AODA Alliance directed to the leaders of the six major federal parties. The Liberals’ response and its accompanying online statement on disability equality which it posted on its website on October 15, 2019, both set out below, give fewer promises than the only other federal party to respond to date.

On September 16, 2019, the federal New Democratic Party became the first federal party to answer the AODA Alliance’s request for these 11 commitments. The NDP response is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

With only five days left before voting day, the AODA Alliance is continuing its blitz. The federal Conservatives, Greens, People’s Party and Bloc Quebecois have not yet answered. Last year, the Greens and Tories teamed up with the NDP in an unsuccessful to press for amendments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act, at the request of a number of disability organizations including the AODA Alliance. During debates on the bill in the House of Commons last fall, the Tories promised to make it a priority to strengthen this law if they form the next Government. On November 22, 2018, Tory MPP John Barlow pledged: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.” Tory MP Alex Nuttall promised Parliament “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Below we also set out the excellent October 15, 2019 Canadian Press article by reporter Michelle McQuigge, posted online by Global News. It is the only news article we have seen in this election campaign covering the parties’ positions on this issue, and disability community efforts to secure such commitments. We urge the media to give this issue more coverage in the election campaign’s final days.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any party or candidate. It seeks to secure the strongest commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities from all the parties. As part of this campaign, it is tweeting to as many federal candidates across Canada as possible to press for the commitments it seeks. This evening, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to speak on a panel that will give action tips for the election campaign’s final days at a federal election disability issues public forum in Toronto, organized by a number of disability organizations. It takes place from 7 to 9 pm at Ryerson University’s Tecumseh Auditorium, Ryerson Student Centre, 55 Gould Street, Toronto.

Here is a summary of the 11 commitments that the AODA Alliance asked each party to make in its July 18, 2019 letter to the leaders of the six major federal parties:

  1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.
  1. The ACA should be effectively enforced.
  1. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.
  1. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.
  1. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.
  1. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in One federal agency, not splintered among several of them.
  1. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.
  1. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.
  1. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.
  1. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.
  1. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.

The AODA Alliance is deeply concerned that the voting process in federal elections has not been assured to be barrier-free for voters with disabilities. We will be monitoring for these barriers, and are urging voters with disabilities to alert us of any problems they encounter. To follow all the action on Twitter over the last days leading to the election, follow @aodaalliance Email reports of voting barriers to us at [email protected]

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

For background on the AODA Alliance’s participation in the grassroots non-partisan campaign since 2015 for the Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

          MORE DETAILS

October 15, 2019 Response from the Liberal Party of Canada to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Disability equality benefits everyone. When Canadians with disabilities have equal opportunities to contribute to their communities, to have the same quality of service from their government, to have equal opportunities to work, and to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else, we build a stronger economy – and a stronger country.

Since 2015, we’ve worked to make this the reality for more Canadians. We started with a human rights-based approach to disability equality — fundamentally changing the way we, as a country, treat inclusion and accessibility. Part of that meant moving beyond individual accommodation and instead addressing discrimination as a whole.

Now, we’re making another choice. We’re choosing forward — taking the progress we’ve achieved and going even further to make Canada a more fair, equal and affordable place to live.

Over the past four years, we have made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. For a full list of these actions please refer to Appendix A.

There is more work to be done. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers and experience discrimination.

Canada requires strong leadership to ensure that a human rights-based approach to disability is reflected in all Government of Canada policies, programmes, practices and results. To ensure systemic disability inclusion and to lead by example as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented, a re-elected Liberal government will put these policies and practices into place, in consultation with the disability community. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act.

We heard from Canadians with disabilities that the most significant economic and social barrier they face to full economic and social participation is in the area of employment. This is particularly so for youth with disabilities. From the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know that approximately 59% of working-age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities.

That’s why a re-elected Liberal government will improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities through various measures that target these barriers, address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses in a coordinated way. One component of this will be the creation of a workplace accessibility fund to help increase the availability of accommodations that help close gaps in access to good paying jobs and education. We know that improving workplace accessibility and employment outcomes for Canadians with disabilities will have an overwhelmingly positive impact, leading to increased productivity and greater profits for businesses, as well as financial independence and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

We will also focus on the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Canada needs continued leadership to make sure people with disabilities can not only find good jobs, but can succeed for years and decades to come.

We won’t get that leadership from the Conservatives, who’ve proved that they only want to give a break to the very wealthiest Canadians — and cut programs and services for everyone else. Of the $53 billion they promise to cut, $14 billion is in hidden, mystery cuts could hurt Canadians with disabilities the most.

Only a re-elected Liberal government will continue on the progress we’ve made together. To help more Canadians with disabilities find and keep good jobs, we’ll address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses.

These and other measures will ensure that disability inclusion is a priority for a re-elected Liberal government. We know that this is the best way to ensure that all Canadians have an equal and fair chance to succeed.

To read our full statement on disability equality and inclusion, as well as consult our 2019 platform, please visit: https://www.liberal.ca/disability-equality-statement/

Specific Additional Information in Response to Your Questions

Questions 1 and 2:

We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 3 (application to public policy):

Disability rights are human rights and we will always stand up to see these rights brought to life across government. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act. This builds on the work we have done over the past four years, putting into place measures that harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre, as well as the update to procurement policies across government.

Questions 4 to 6 (implementation and enforcement issues):

We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 7

As stated above, we are fully committed to continuing to work with stakeholders and the disability community as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented to ensure it is fulfilling its objectives.

We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes.

We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 8:

We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote. As we do after every election, we will review lessons learned from these changes and work with stakeholders and the disability community on further steps we can take to address barriers that may exist.

Question 9:

Should any exemptions be implemented in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act these will be limited and due to very exceptional circumstances. The rationale for the exemptions will also be made public.

Question 10:

We will examine this issue as part of promised comprehensive review of federal policies and programs. In doing so we will work closely with provinces, territories, stakeholders and the disability community to effectively identify and reduce barriers.

Question 11:

We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. We will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

Appendix A: Our shared progress

After a decade of neglect from Harper’s Conservatives, over the past four years we’ve made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. This started with the appointment of Canada’s first-ever Cabinet Minister responsible for Canadians with Disabilities. We also held a national discourse on disability issues through what would become the most inclusive consultation any government has ever had in the history of our country – on any topic. We held the first ever national summit for youth with disabilities, attended by the Prime Minister. The result: the Accessible Canada Act.

Canada is a proud signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Since 2015, we taken a human rights-based approach to disability equality, making fundamental changes to the way we put the principles of inclusion and accessibility into practice. We recognized the need for systems, policies and practices to be designed inclusively from the start. We recognized the need to move beyond relying on individual accommodation to address discrimination. We recognized the economic benefit of disability inclusion. And we moved beyond “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, to “Nothing Without Us”, because every decision the federal government makes impacts its citizens with disabilities. Our efforts culminated in the Accessible Canada Act, which is considered the most significant advancement in disability rights since the Charter in 1982.

At the same time, we worked across government to make federal laws, policies, procedures and programs more equitable and inclusive of Canadians with disabilities:

        We applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy, and the National Infrastructure Program.

         We improved tax policies through measures such as permitting registered nurse practitioners to complete Disability Tax Credit (DTC) medical forms, and the enhanced caregiver credit.

         We addressed the financial security of Canadians with disabilities through important changes to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

         We improved our immigration system by amending the outdated provisions on medical inadmissibility.  And we removed the processing fee to hire foreign caregivers, making these services more affordable.

         We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote.

         We increased access to alternate format material, including the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016.

         We created the Accessible Technology Fund.

         We included persons with disabilities in decision-making. Examples include the Disability Advisory Group to Elections Canada, the Canada Post Accessibility Advisory Panel, and the reconstituted Disability Advisory Group to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) — which was disbanded by Harper’s Conservatives.

         We focused on data collection to inform government decision-making.  This included enhancements the Canadian Survey on Disability, and funding a study on intersectionality as it relates to gender and disability called “More than a Footnote”.

         We appointed the first-ever Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility, and committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years into the federal public service. This will be complemented by a new internship program that will provide placements across the federal government for persons with disabilities.

         We invested in making government workspaces more accessible, and began working towards ensuring our buildings and properties meet the highest standards of accessibility.  We put into places measures that will harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre.

         We adhered to our international human rights obligations: we signed the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD, and appointed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor the UNCRPD.

October 15, 2019 Online Statement on Disability Equality by the Liberal Party of Canada

DISABILITY EQUALITY STATEMENT

Originally posted at https://www.liberal.ca/disability-equality-statement/

Disability equality benefits everyone. When Canadians with disabilities have equal opportunities to contribute to their communities, to have the same quality of service from their government, to have equal opportunities to work, and to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else, we build a stronger economy – and a stronger country.

Since 2015, we’ve worked to make this the reality for more Canadians. We started with a human rights-based approach to disability equality — fundamentally changing the way we, as a country, treat inclusion and accessibility. Part of that meant moving beyond individual accommodation and instead addressing discrimination as a whole.

Now, we’re making another choice. We’re choosing forward — taking the progress we’ve achieved and going even further to make Canada a more fair, equal and affordable place to live.

OUR SHARED PROGRESS

After a decade of neglect from Harper’s Conservatives, over the past four years we’ve made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. This started with the appointment of Canada’s first-ever Cabinet Minister responsible for Canadians with Disabilities. We also held a national discourse on disability issues through what would become the most inclusive consultation any government has ever had in the history of our country – on any topic. We held the first ever national summit for youth with disabilities, attended by the Prime Minister. The result: the Accessible Canada Act.

Canada is a proud signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Since 2015, we taken a human rights-based approach to disability equality, making fundamental changes to the way we put the principles of inclusion and accessibility into practice. We recognized the need for systems, policies and practices to be designed inclusively from the start. We recognized the need to move beyond relying on individual accommodation to address discrimination. We recognized the economic benefit of disability inclusion. And we moved beyond “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, to “Nothing Without Us”, because every decision the federal government makes impacts its citizens with disabilities. Our efforts culminated in the Accessible Canada Act, which is considered the most significant advancement in disability rights since the Charter in 1982.

At the same time, we worked across government to make federal laws, policies, procedures and programs more equitable and inclusive of Canadians with disabilities:

We applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy, and the National Infrastructure Program.

We improved tax policies through measures such as permitting registered nurse practitioners to complete Disability Tax Credit (DTC) medical forms, and the enhanced caregiver credit.

We addressed the financial security of Canadians with disabilities through important changes to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

We improved our immigration system by amending the outdated provisions on medical inadmissibility. And we removed the processing fee to hire foreign caregivers, making these services more affordable.

We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote.

We increased access to alternate format material, including the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016.

We created the Accessible Technology Fund.

We included persons with disabilities in decision-making. Examples include the Disability Advisory Group to Elections Canada, the Canada Post Accessibility Advisory Panel, and the reconstituted Disability Advisory Group to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) — which was disbanded by Harper’s Conservatives.

We focused on data collection to inform government decision-making. This included enhancements the Canadian Survey on Disability, and funding a study on intersectionality as it relates to gender and disability called “More than a Footnote”.

We appointed the first-ever Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility, and committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years into the federal public service. This will be complemented by a new internship program that will provide placements across the federal government for persons with disabilities.

We invested in making government workspaces more accessible, and began working towards ensuring our buildings and properties meet the highest standards of accessibility. We put into places measures that will harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre.

We adhered to our international human rights obligations: we signed the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD, and appointed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor the UNCRPD.

THE PATH TO EQUALITY THROUGH DISABILITY INCLUSION

Moving forward, there is more work to be done. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers and experience discrimination.

Canada requires strong leadership to ensure that a human rights-based approach to disability is reflected in all Government of Canada policies, programmes, practices and results. To ensure systemic disability inclusion and to lead by example as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented, a re-elected Liberal government will put these policies and practices into place, in consultation with the disability community. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act.

We heard from Canadians with disabilities that the most significant economic and social barrier they face to full economic and social participation is in the area of employment. This is particularly so for youth with disabilities. From the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know that approximately 59% of working-age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities.

That’s why a re-elected Liberal government will improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities through various measures that target these barriers, address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses in a coordinated way. One component of this will be the creation of a workplace accessibility fund to help increase the availability of accommodations that help close gaps in access to good paying jobs and education. We know that improving workplace accessibility and employment outcomes for Canadians with disabilities will have an overwhelmingly positive impact, leading to increased productivity and greater profits for businesses, as well as financial independence and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

We will also focus on the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Canada needs continued leadership to make sure people with disabilities can not only find good jobs, but can succeed for years and decades to come.

We won’t get that leadership from the Conservatives, who’ve proved that they only want to give a break to the very wealthiest Canadians — and cut programs and services for everyone else. Of the $53 billion they promise to cut, $14 billion is in hidden, mystery cuts could hurt Canadians with disabilities the most.

Only a re-elected Liberal government will continue on the progress we’ve made together. To help more Canadians with disabilities find and keep good jobs, we’ll address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses.

These and other measures will ensure that disability inclusion is a priority for a re-elected Liberal government. We know that this is the best way to ensure that all Canadians have an equal and fair chance to succeed.

 Global News October 15, 2019

Originally posted at https://globalnews.ca/news/6034294/canadians-disabilities-election-campaign/

Canadians with disabilities cast doubt next federal government will address needs

BY MICHELLE MCQUIGGE -THE CANADIAN PRESS

Amy Amantea, who lost her eyesight due to complications while undergoing surgery more than a decade ago, poses for a photograph at her home in North Vancouver, on Oct. 11, 2019.

Amy Amantea tuned in to the English-language federal leaders’ debate with modest hope there would be at least some discussion of issues relevant to disabled Canadians.

The first half of the campaign had passed with barely a reference, even from the party that had delivered a historic achievement in national disability policy. Earlier this year, the Liberals made good on a 2015 campaign promise when the Accessible Canada Act received royal assent, marking the first time any government had enacted accessibility legislation at the federal level.

The government estimates one in five Canadians over the age of 15 is disabled, and Amantea, who is legally blind, hoped leaders would use the Oct. 7 debate to address some of the many issues they face. But those hopes faded as the debate progressed, giving way instead to doubts about how Canada’s disabled residents would fare after the Oct. 21 election.

“We have a lot of very unique needs and circumstances in our community that don’t get addressed,” Amantea said in a telephone interview from Vancouver. “Just a nod, just a mention would have been kind of nice, but it was not to be.”

Amantea said that relative silence has persisted into the final week of the campaign, giving rise to concerns throughout Canada’s disabled community. Many fear that parties who fail to make mention of key issues facing disabled Canadians while courting votes may prove even more dismissive once those votes have been cast.

They point to party platforms and public pledges, most of which make scant mention of either the Accessible Canada Act or disability-specific measures on issues such as infrastructure, health and affordable housing.

The Liberals response to questions on disability policy largely focused on past achievements. Spokesman Joe Pickerill did offer some future plans, including doubling the disability child benefit, establishing a $40-million-per-year national fund meant to help disabled Canadians find work, and simplifying the process veterans use to access disability benefits.

The Green party did not respond to request for comment, and the People’s Party of Canada said its platform contained “no policy related to disabled persons.”

The NDP did not provide comment to The Canadian Press, but made several commitments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act in a letter sent to an Ontario-based disability advocacy group.

The act, while widely acknowledged as a significant milestone, was also broadly criticized by nearly a hundred grass-roots organizations across the country as too weak to be truly effective. Such critiques continued even after the government agreed to adopt some Senate amendments sought by the disability groups, who hoped future governments would continue to build on the new law.

Only the NDP agreed to do so when approached by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, which contacted all major parties in July.

“The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures,” reads the NDP’s response. “New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal party rhetoric.”

The Conservatives, too, pledged to “work closely with the disability community to ensure that our laws reflect their lived realities.” Spokesman Simon Jefferies also noted party members pushed to strengthen the act but saw their amendments voted down by the government.

The vagueness of these commitments troubles Gabrielle Peters, a wheelchair-user and writer.

“Canada’s approach to accessibility has been to grant it as a gift they give us rather than a right we deserve,” Peters said. “Now that we have the ACA, the concern is that the broader public and the government think the issue is resolved when this law is, at best, a beginning.”

Other disabled voters expressed concerns about the handful of relevant promises that have been put forward on the campaign trail. In addition to pledging expanded eligibility for the disability tax credit, the Conservatives have said they would implement a $50-million national autism strategy focusing on research and services for children. The NDP and Greens have followed suit with similar proposals and larger pots of cash.

While widely lauded among parent-led advocacy groups, some autistic adults view the proposals with skepticism.

Alex Haagaard, who is autistic and uses a wheelchair, said that while much modern disability policy including the ACA tends to apply a social lens, discussion of autism is still framed through the outmoded medical model that positions the disability as an ailment to be cured rather than a part of a person’s identity.

Haagaard said action is clearly needed to help parents seeking supports for their children and teachers working to integrate autistic students into their classrooms, but said current attitudes at the heart of the campaign rhetoric are troubling.

A national strategy, Haagaard said, also risks undermining the goal of broader inclusion for other disabled populations.

“That is counter to the goals of disability justice to silo autism as this individual condition that warrants this level of attention compared to other disabilities,” Haagaard said.

Like Amantea, Peters felt let down by the leaders debates, citing the prevalence of discussion around medical assistance in dying over other issues that affect disabled people. The subject is polarizing, with many advocacy groups and individuals asserting such legislation devalues the lives of disabled people and places them at greater risk.

Such a narrow focus, Peters said, shows all parties’ failure to reckon with or address the diverse, complex needs of an overlooked demographic.

“What strikes me as missing in policy and in this election is us,” she said. “Disabled people. The not inspirational, not motivational, not middle class, not white, disabled people of this country. In other  words — most of us.”



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