Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Steven Del Duca Only Makes Four of the Ten Full Commitments on Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities that the AODA Alliance Seeks, and Gives Weaker Commitments on the Other Six Issues


We Analyze Del Duca’s Responses Compared to Leadership Candidate Michael Coteau Who Made All Ten Commitments We Seek

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/

February 17, 2020

SUMMARY

On January 11, 2020, the AODA Alliance sent an open letter to all Ontario Liberal leadership candidates. We asked for 10 pledges to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. On February 15, 2020, Steven Del Duca became the second Ontario Liberal leadership candidate to write to the AODA Alliance in order to spell out his specific responses regarding those commitments. We set out his letter below.

The first Ontario Liberal leadership candidate to give a detailed response to us, Michael Coteau, earlier made all ten commitments on disability accessibility that we sought. In contrast, Mr. Del Duca in substance made only four of the ten commitments we sought. On the other six issues, his commitments fell short of what we seek. Below we provide an issue-by-issue comparison.

We urge Mr. Del Duca and all the Liberal leadership candidates who have not yet done so to now make all the commitments we seek. There is still time for them to do so.

We will be closely watching the televised Liberal Leadership Candidates Debate on February 19, 2020 at 8 pm and 11 pm on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin to see what the candidates have to say about disability rights, including accessibility for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities.

As always, in this leadership race or in similar races in other parties, we do not support, endorse or oppose any candidate. We seek their commitments and make public their responses. We aim to get strong commitments from all of them.

The issue of achieving accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities is important as the Ontario Liberal Party seeks to rejuvenate itself after it so resoundingly lost the 2018 Ontario election. It is our hope that their rejuvenation includes a strengthened approach to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. As always, we aim to get all parties to take as strong an approach to accessibility as we can achieve.

Turning brief attention to the current Ontario Government, as of today, 382 days have passed since the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It called for strong new action to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. The Ford Government has still not announced a plan of action to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the AODA. On January 28, 2020, the Ford Government held a media event where it mainly re-announced some measures that will not strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, measures which we describe as thin gruel for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities

Would you like to send us feedback? Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS
Analysis of Steven Del Duca’s Commitments on Disability Accessibility Compared to the Other Five Liberal Leadership Candidates

Mr. Del Duca in effect fully made four of the ten commitments we sought, and gave more general answers on the other six. Michael Coteau made all ten commitments we seek.

It is good that Mr. Del Duca committed to meet with accessibility advocates should he become party leader, and again should he become Ontario premier (our request #1). It is also good that he promised to press the Ford Government on accessibility issues (our request #2), and that in advance of the next election, he would set out policies on accessibility for people with disabilities (our request #3). When asked for commitments to ensure that elections become accessible to people with disabilities (our request #10), he committed that he would “work hard to ensure that elections in Ontario are accessible to everyone.”

However, Mr. Del Duca did not make six of the specific commitments we sought. His responses on those issues were more limited.

Mr. Del Duca did not commit to fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 nor did he commit not to weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any Government policies, practices, strategies or initiatives that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives (our request #4). Michael Coteau gave the commitment we sought. So did Kathleen Wynne when she was running in 2012 for Ontario Liberal Party leadership, though she did not later keep that promise. On this issue, Mr. Del Duca more generally pledged: “my government will fulfill the AODA standards and will strive to implement fair policies that advance accessibility for all Ontarians.”

Unlike Michael Coteau in this race and Kathleen Wynne in the last Liberal leadership race, Mr. Del Duca did not commit to honour past Liberal Party commitments on accessibility (our request #5). He only committed to enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), just one of those prior Liberal Party commitments.

When asked if he would show new leadership on accessibility and breathe new life into the AODA’s implementation (our request #6), Mr. Del Duca more generally said “my government will consult closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the AODA is implemented and enforced effectively.”

Mr. Del Duca did not specifically commit to direct cabinet ministers, the Secretary of Cabinet and other senior public officials in his mandate letters to them to implement his Government’s duties and commitments on disability accessibility (our request #7) . He gave the more limited commitment that “I will expect all members of my government to work in a coordinated fashion to advance our accessibility policies.”

Here again, Michael Coteau gave the commitment we sought. In substance, so did the Kathleen Wynne Government in the 2014 Ontario election. The Wynne Government did not keep that pledge in many cases.

Unlike Michael Coteau, Mr. Del Duca did not commit to ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities by 2025, the deadline that the AODA requires. Should the Liberals form the Government at a time when it is too late to achieve that deadline, he did not commit to get Ontario as close to being accessible as reasonably possible by 2025. In that event, he did not commit to work with us and to take any needed action, including passing new legislation, to set a new achievable deadline and to institute measures that will ensure that it is achieved (and that will not weaken or reduce any provisions or policies then in place,our request #8).

Mr. Del Duca gave this more limited commitment:

“I will consult closely with all stakeholders to determine how Ontario can achieve greater accessibility, and I will work with all stakeholders to implement accessibility policies that achieve our goals.”

We note that “greater accessibility” is a very weak goal. Merely installing one more ramp somewhere in Ontario fulfils that goal. The AODA has the far more substantial goal of making Ontario accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

Mr. Del Duca did not categorically commit that under his leadership, public money will not be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities (our request #9). He gave this more limited commitment:

“I will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that public buildings are accessible to all Ontarians.”

This is helpful, but limited. Accessibility concerns many different kinds of barriers, not only those in the built environment.

Once again, Michael Coteau gave the commitment we sought. Kathleen Wynne’s Government also gave this commitment in the 2014 Ontario election, but broke that promise during its time in office.,

As for the four other Liberal leadership candidates, Mitzie Hunter has not responded to us at all. Kate Graham thanked us for sharing our requests with her, but did not answer any of them.

Brenda Hollingsworth sent us a message on Facebook around January 14, 2020. She said she would send us a letter making all the commitments we seek. However, we have not yet gotten a letter to that effect from her.

Finally, on January 11 or 12, 2020, Alvin Tedjo sent us a tweet on Twitter. He said that

“As leader, I’ll consult with Ontarians with disabilities, advocates and service providers to make sure our party puts forward a robust and achievable accessibility platform in 2022.”

That answer does not give most of the ten commitments we sought.
February 15, 2020, Letter to the AODA Alliance from Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Steven Del Duca

Steven Del Duca Leadership Campaign

February 15, 2020

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

Dear David,

Thank-you for your letter. You and the AODA Alliance have been tireless champions for accessibility in Ontario, and I am pleased to respond to your important questions.

Achieving real accessibility for all Ontarians is vital to building an Ontario where everyone can fully enjoy our province’s social and economic prosperity. If I am honoured to be elected leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier of Ontario, I am committed to working closely with all Ontarians to make Ontario accessible.

1. We have welcomed face-to-face meetings with the past two Premiers, Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, to discuss accessibility issues (in addition to face-to-face meetings with different cabinet ministers, successive Secretaries of Cabinet, and other senior government officials). If you become your Party’s leader, will you maintain the practice of personally meeting with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate caucus members? As part of this, will you meet with us within 60 days of becoming your party’s leader, so that we can brief you on these issues? If your Party is elected to form the Government, will you as Premier agree to periodically meet with us, in addition to our meeting with appropriate cabinet ministers?

If I am honoured to be elected leader, I will meet with accessibility leaders and advocates within 60 days. If I am honoured to be elected Premier of Ontario, I will meet regularly with the accessibility leaders and advocates to hear concerns and develop policies that advance accessibility in Ontario.

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader, the Ontario Liberal Party will advocate for real action by the Ford Government to advance accessibility in Ontario and will demand that the Ford Government fulfill its obligations to all Ontarians with disabilities.

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader, I will set out policies in advance of the 2022 election that will demonstrate real leadership by the Ontario Liberal Party on accessibility, in stark contrast to the regressive policies of the Ford Government.

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will fulfill the AODA standards and will strive to implement fair policies that advance accessibility for all Ontarians.

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will work with all stakeholders to ensure that the AODA is enforced effectively and fairly.

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will consult closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the AODA is implemented and enforced effectively and fairly. It is essential that we build an Ontario where everyone can fully participate in our society and economy.

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, I will expect all members of my government to work in a coordinated fashion to advance our accessibility policies.

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, I will consult closely with all stakeholders to determine how Ontario can achieve greater accessibility, and I will work with all stakeholders to implement accessibility policies that achieve our goals.

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, I will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that public buildings are accessible to all Ontarians.

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will work hard to ensure that elections in Ontario are accessible to everyone.

Sincerely,

Steven Del Duca
Candidate for the Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party




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Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Steven Del Duca Only Makes Four of the Ten Full Commitments on Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities that the AODA Alliance Seeks, and Gives Weaker Commitments on the Other Six Issues – We Analyze Del Duca’s Responses Compared to Leadership Candidate Michael Coteau Who Made All Ten Commitments We Seek


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/

Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Steven Del Duca Only Makes Four of the Ten Full Commitments on Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities that the AODA Alliance Seeks, and Gives Weaker Commitments on the Other Six Issues – We Analyze Del Duca’s Responses Compared to Leadership Candidate Michael Coteau Who Made All Ten Commitments We Seek

February 17, 2020

          SUMMARY

On January 11, 2020, the AODA Alliance sent an open letter to all Ontario Liberal leadership candidates. We asked for 10 pledges to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. On February 15, 2020, Steven Del Duca became the second Ontario Liberal leadership candidate to write to the AODA Alliance in order to spell out his specific responses regarding those commitments. We set out his letter below.

The first Ontario Liberal leadership candidate to give a detailed response to us, Michael Coteau, earlier made all ten commitments on disability accessibility that we sought. In contrast, Mr. Del Duca in substance made only four of the ten commitments we sought. On the other six issues, his commitments fell short of what we seek. Below we provide an issue-by-issue comparison.

We urge Mr. Del Duca and all the Liberal leadership candidates who have not yet done so to now make all the commitments we seek. There is still time for them to do so.

We will be closely watching the televised Liberal Leadership Candidates Debate on February 19, 2020 at 8 pm and 11 pm on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin to see what the candidates have to say about disability rights, including accessibility for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities.

As always, in this leadership race or in similar races in other parties, we do not support, endorse or oppose any candidate. We seek their commitments and make public their responses. We aim to get strong commitments from all of them.

The issue of achieving accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities is important as the Ontario Liberal Party seeks to rejuvenate itself after it so resoundingly lost the 2018 Ontario election. It is our hope that their rejuvenation includes a strengthened approach to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. As always, we aim to get all parties to take as strong an approach to accessibility as we can achieve.

Turning brief attention to the current Ontario Government, as of today, 382 days have passed since the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It called for strong new action to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. The Ford Government has still not announced a plan of action to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the AODA. On January 28, 2020, the Ford Government held a media event where it mainly re-announced some measures that will not strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, measures which we describe as thin gruel for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities

Would you like to send us feedback? Email us at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

Analysis of Steven Del Duca’s Commitments on Disability Accessibility Compared to the Other Five Liberal Leadership Candidates

Mr. Del Duca in effect fully made four of the ten commitments we sought, and gave more general  answers on the other six. Michael Coteau made all ten commitments we seek.

It is good that Mr. Del Duca committed to meet with accessibility advocates should he become party leader, and again should he become Ontario premier (our request #1). It is also good that he promised to press the Ford Government on accessibility issues (our request #2), and that in advance of the next election, he would set out policies on accessibility for people with disabilities (our request #3). When asked for commitments to ensure that elections become accessible to people with disabilities (our request #10), he committed that he would “work hard to ensure that elections in Ontario are accessible to everyone.”

However, Mr. Del Duca did not make six of the specific commitments we sought. His responses on those issues were more limited.

Mr. Del Duca did not commit to fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 nor did he commit not to weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any Government policies, practices, strategies or initiatives that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives (our request #4). Michael Coteau gave the commitment we sought. So did Kathleen Wynne when she was running in 2012 for Ontario Liberal Party leadership, though she did not later keep that promise. On this issue, Mr. Del Duca more generally pledged: “my government will fulfill the AODA standards and will strive to implement fair policies that advance accessibility for all Ontarians.”

Unlike Michael Coteau in this race and Kathleen Wynne in the last Liberal leadership race, Mr. Del Duca did not commit to honour past Liberal Party commitments on accessibility (our request #5). He only committed to enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), just one of those prior Liberal Party commitments.

When asked if he would show new leadership on accessibility and breathe new life into the AODA’s implementation (our request #6), Mr. Del Duca more generally said “my government will consult closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the AODA is implemented and enforced effectively.”

Mr. Del Duca did not specifically commit to direct cabinet ministers, the Secretary of Cabinet and other senior public officials in his mandate letters to them to implement his Government’s duties and commitments on disability accessibility (our request #7) . He gave the more limited commitment that “I will expect all members of my government to work in a coordinated fashion to advance our accessibility policies.”

Here again, Michael Coteau gave the commitment we sought. In substance, so did the Kathleen Wynne Government in the 2014 Ontario election. The Wynne Government did not keep that pledge in many cases.

Unlike Michael Coteau, Mr. Del Duca did not commit to ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities by 2025, the deadline that the AODA requires. Should the Liberals form the Government at a time when it is too late to achieve that deadline, he did not commit to get Ontario as close to being accessible as reasonably possible by 2025. In that event, he did not commit to work with us and to take any needed action, including passing new legislation, to set a new achievable deadline and to institute measures that will ensure that it is achieved (and that will not weaken or reduce any provisions or policies then in place,our request #8).

Mr. Del Duca gave this more limited commitment:

“I will consult closely with all stakeholders to determine how Ontario can achieve greater accessibility, and I will work with all stakeholders to implement accessibility policies that achieve our goals.”

We note that “greater accessibility” is a very weak goal. Merely installing one more ramp somewhere in Ontario fulfils that goal. The AODA has the far more substantial goal of making Ontario accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

Mr. Del Duca did not categorically commit that under his leadership, public money will not be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities (our request #9). He gave this more limited commitment:

“I will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that public buildings are accessible to all Ontarians.”

This is helpful, but limited. Accessibility concerns many different kinds of barriers, not only those in the built environment.

Once again, Michael Coteau gave the commitment we sought. Kathleen Wynne’s Government also gave this commitment in the 2014 Ontario election, but broke that promise during its time in office.,

As for the four other Liberal leadership candidates, Mitzie Hunter has not responded to us at all. Kate Graham thanked us for sharing our requests with her, but did not answer any of them.

Brenda Hollingsworth sent us a message on Facebook around January 14, 2020. She said she would send us a letter making all the commitments we seek. However, we have not yet gotten a letter to that effect from her.

Finally, on January 11 or 12, 2020, Alvin Tedjo sent us a tweet on Twitter. He said that

“As leader, I’ll consult with Ontarians with disabilities, advocates and service providers to make sure our party puts forward a robust and achievable accessibility platform in 2022.”

That answer does not give most of the ten commitments we sought.

February 15, 2020, Letter to the AODA Alliance from Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Steven Del Duca

Steven Del Duca Leadership Campaign

February 15, 2020

Mr. David Lepofsky, CM, O. Ont.

Chair, AODA Alliance

Dear David,

Thank-you for your letter. You and the AODA Alliance have been tireless champions for accessibility in Ontario, and I am pleased to respond to your important questions.

Achieving real accessibility for all Ontarians is vital to building an Ontario where everyone can fully enjoy our province’s social and economic prosperity. If I am honoured to be elected leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier of Ontario, I am committed to working closely with all Ontarians to make Ontario accessible.

  1. We have welcomed face-to-face meetings with the past two Premiers, Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, to discuss accessibility issues (in addition to face-to-face meetings with different cabinet ministers, successive Secretaries of Cabinet, and other senior government officials). If you become your Party’s leader, will you maintain the practice of personally meeting with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate caucus members? As part of this, will you meet with us within 60 days of becoming your party’s leader, so that we can brief you on these issues? If your Party is elected to form the Government, will you as Premier agree to periodically meet with us, in addition to our meeting with appropriate cabinet ministers?

 

If I am honoured to be elected leader, I will meet with accessibility leaders and advocates within 60 days. If I am honoured to be elected Premier of Ontario, I will meet regularly with the accessibility leaders and advocates to hear concerns and develop policies that advance accessibility in Ontario.

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

 

If I am honoured to be elected leader, the Ontario Liberal Party will advocate for real action by the Ford Government to advance accessibility in Ontario and will demand that the Ford Government fulfill its obligations to all Ontarians with disabilities.

 

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

 

If I am honoured to be elected leader, I will set out policies in advance of the 2022 election that will demonstrate real leadership by the Ontario Liberal Party on accessibility, in stark contrast to the regressive policies of the Ford Government.

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

 

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will fulfill the AODA standards and will strive to implement fair policies that advance accessibility for all Ontarians.

 

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

 

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will work with all stakeholders to ensure that the AODA is enforced effectively and fairly.

 

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

 

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will consult closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the AODA is implemented and enforced effectively and fairly. It is essential that we build an Ontario where everyone can fully participate in our society and economy.

 

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

 

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, I will expect all members of my government to work in a coordinated fashion to advance our accessibility policies.

 

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

 

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, I will consult closely with all stakeholders to determine how Ontario can achieve greater accessibility, and I will work with all stakeholders to implement accessibility policies that achieve our goals.

 

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

 

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, I will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that public buildings are accessible to all Ontarians.

 

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

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will work hard to ensure that elections in Ontario are accessible to everyone.

Sincerely,

 

Steven Del Duca

Candidate for the Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party



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Michael Coteau is First Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate to Write Us with All the Detailed Commitments on Accessibility We Seek


Brenda Hollingsworth Said She’ll Do the Same And Still Waiting for the Other Four Candidates to Do So

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/

February 3, 2020

SUMMARY

The campaign for the Ontario Liberal Party to choose its next leader is well underway, ending at the party’s March 7, 2020 convention. As in the past, the AODA Alliance is trying to get all the leadership candidates to give strong commitments on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

On January 11, 2020, we wrote an open letter to the six declared candidates. We asked for 10 pledges.

So far, we have heard something substantive back from three of the six candidates. In sum, Mr. Coteau has made all the commitments we seek. Ms. Hollingsworth said she would be writing us to make all the commitments we seek. Mr. Tedjo said he would come forward in 2022 with a platform on accessibility but has not made any of the other commitments we seek. Ms. Graham wrote us, thanking us for our request, but has made no commitments. Candidates Steven Delduca and Mitzie Hunter have not responded at all to us. Here’s what we have heard:

* On January 11 or 12, 2020, Alvin Tedjo sent us a tweet on Twitter. He said:

“@AlvinTedjo: @DavidLepofsky Hi David. As leader, I’ll consult with Ontarians with disabilities, advocates and service providers to make sure our party puts forward a robust and achievable accessibility platform in 2022.”

His answer does not give most of the ten commitments we sought. In response, we tweeted back to him asking him to make all the commitments we sought. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky wrote Mr. Tedjo this on Twitter around January 12, 2020:

“@AlvinTedjo Thanks for your response. We’re eager to get your commitments on all 10 requests. Let’s talk! #accessibility”

To date, Mr. Tedjo has not responded.

* Around January 11, 2020 we received a message from Brenda Hollingsworth on Facebook. She said she would be sending us a letter, making all the commitments we seek. However, we have not yet received that letter from her. Her Facebook message said:

“Hi David, You will get a formal reply from me but I can tell you that I will answer yes to each of your questions. I have supported and fought for the rights of Ontarians with disabilities for my entire career.”

* On January 18, 2020, we received an email from Kate Graham. It stated:

“Thanks for sharing!”

* On January 27, 2020, Michael Coteau wrote us. In his letter, he made all the commitments we seek. That letter, set out below, lists each of our questions and gives his answers.

We are regularly tweeting to the candidates to encourage them to answer our request for commitments. Our goal is to get them all to make all the commitments we seek.

We will keep you posted on future responses, if any, that we receive. We would like to receive all the candidates’ commitments before the February 19, 2020 televised leaders’ debate that Steve Paikin will moderate on TVO. In the 2012-2013 Ontario Liberal leadership race, every candidate gave us commitments on disability accessibility. In the last two Ontario Conservative Party leadership races, none of the candidates answered our requests for commitments in this area.

As always, in this leadership race or in similar races in other parties, we do not support or oppose any candidate.

As of today, 368 days have passed since the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It called for strong new action to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. The Ford Government has still not announced a plan of action to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the AODA. On January 28, 2020, the Ford Government held a media event where it mainly re-announced some measures that will not strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, measures which we describe as thin gruel for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities

Want to send us feedback? Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

The January 27, 2020 Letter from Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Michael Coteau to the AODA Alliance

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

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

I commit to meeting within 60 days if I become Party leader, as well as meetings with appropriate caucus members. If the Ontario Liberal Party is elected to form Government, I as Premier agree to periodically meet with you, in addition to meetings with appropriate cabinet ministers.

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

Yes, we will make sure to press the Government to keep its commitments.

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

Yes, I commit to making specific election commitments to you, in letters, on the issue of achieving an accessible province for persons with disabilities.

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

Yes, under my leadership, the Liberal Party will fully maintain the implementation of the AODA, 2005 and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or any Government policies that assist in implementation.

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

Yes, I commit to keeping past commitments that the Ontario Liberal Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility.

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

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

Yes, if I become Premier, I will show strong leadership on accessibility and implementation of the AODA.

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

Yes, I will include the Government’s duties and commitments on disability accessibility.

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

If I become Premier, I will ensure to the best of my ability that Ontario is on schedule, or if not possible at the time we form government, as close as possible, for full accessibility by 2025. In the event that the 2025 deadline cannot be achieved, I will also commit to working with you to take the action necessary to create a new deadline and to institute measures to get to full accessibility.

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

Under my leadership, I will ensure to the best of my ability that provincial public money will not be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.

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

As premier, I commit to bring forward measures necessary to make provincial and municipal elections in Ontario fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities.




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Michael Coteau is First Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate to Write Us with All the Detailed Commitments on Accessibility We Seek – Brenda Hollingsworth Said She’ll Do the Same – And Still Waiting for the Other Four Candidates to Do So


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/

Michael Coteau is First Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate to Write Us with All the Detailed Commitments on Accessibility We Seek – Brenda Hollingsworth Said She’ll Do the Same – And Still Waiting for the Other Four Candidates to Do So

February 3, 2020

          SUMMARY

The campaign for the Ontario Liberal Party to choose its next leader is well underway, ending at the party’s March 7, 2020 convention. As in the past, the AODA Alliance is trying to get all the leadership candidates to give strong commitments on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

On January 11, 2020, we wrote an open letter to the six declared candidates. We asked for 10 pledges.

So far, we have heard something substantive back from three of the six candidates. In sum, Mr. Coteau has made all the commitments we seek. Ms. Hollingsworth said she would be writing us to make all the commitments we seek. Mr. Tedjo said he would come forward in 2022 with a platform on accessibility but has not made any of the other commitments we seek. Ms. Graham wrote us, thanking us for our request, but has made no commitments. Candidates Steven Delduca and Mitzie Hunter have not responded at all to us. Here’s what we have heard:

* On January 11 or 12, 2020, Alvin Tedjo sent us a tweet on Twitter. He said:

“@AlvinTedjo: @DavidLepofsky Hi David. As leader, I’ll consult with Ontarians with disabilities, advocates and service providers to make sure our party puts forward a robust and achievable accessibility platform in 2022.”

His answer does not give most of the ten commitments we sought. In response, we tweeted back to him asking him to make all the commitments we sought. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky wrote Mr. Tedjo this on Twitter around January 12, 2020:

“@AlvinTedjo Thanks for your response. We’re eager to get your commitments on all 10 requests. Let’s talk! #accessibility”

To date, Mr. Tedjo has not responded.

* Around January 11, 2020 we received a message from Brenda Hollingsworth on Facebook. She said she would be sending us a letter, making all the commitments we seek. However, we have not yet received that letter from her. Her Facebook message said:

“Hi David, You will get a formal reply from me but I can tell you that I will answer yes to each of your questions. I have supported and fought for the rights of Ontarians with disabilities for my entire career.”

* On January 18, 2020, we received an email from Kate Graham. It stated:

“Thanks for sharing!”

* On January 27, 2020, Michael Coteau wrote us. In his letter, he made all the commitments we seek. That letter, set out below, lists each of our questions and gives his answers.

We are regularly tweeting to the candidates to encourage them to answer our request for commitments. Our goal is to get them all to make all the commitments we seek.

We will keep you posted on future responses, if any, that we receive. We would like to receive all the candidates’ commitments before the February 19, 2020 televised leaders’ debate that Steve Paikin will moderate on TVO. In the 2012-2013 Ontario Liberal leadership race, every candidate gave us commitments on disability accessibility. In the last two Ontario Conservative Party leadership races, none of the candidates answered our requests for commitments in this area.

As always, in this leadership race or in similar races in other parties, we do not support or oppose any candidate.

As of today, 368 days have passed since the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It called for strong new action to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. The Ford Government has still not announced a plan of action to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the AODA. On January 28, 2020, the Ford Government held a media event where it mainly re-announced some measures that will not strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, measures which we describe as thin gruel for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities

Want to send us feedback? Email us at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

The January 27, 2020 Letter from Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Michael Coteau to the AODA Alliance

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

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

 

I commit to meeting within 60 days if I become Party leader, as well as meetings with appropriate caucus members. If the Ontario Liberal Party is elected to form Government, I as Premier agree to periodically meet with you, in addition to meetings with appropriate cabinet ministers.

 

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

Yes, we will make sure to press the Government to keep its commitments.

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

Yes, I commit to making specific election commitments to you, in letters, on the issue of achieving an accessible province for persons with disabilities.

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

Yes, under my leadership, the Liberal Party will fully maintain the implementation of the AODA, 2005 and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or any Government policies that assist in implementation.

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

Yes, I commit to keeping past commitments that the Ontario Liberal Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility.

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

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

Yes, if I become Premier, I will show strong leadership on accessibility and implementation of the AODA.

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

Yes, I will include the Government’s duties and commitments on disability accessibility.

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

If I become Premier, I will ensure to the best of my ability that Ontario is on schedule, or if not possible at the time we form government, as close as possible, for full accessibility by 2025. In the event that the 2025 deadline cannot be achieved, I will also commit to working with you to take the action necessary to create a new deadline and to institute measures to get to full accessibility.

 

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

Under my leadership, I will ensure to the best of my ability that provincial public money will not be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.

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

As premier, I commit to bring forward measures necessary to make provincial and municipal elections in Ontario fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities.



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


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

January 12, 2020

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE DETAILS

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

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

January 11, 2020

To: Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Candidates,

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

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

The Issue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What We Ask of You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Are We?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

Sincerely,

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




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


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

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

January 11, 2020

          SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

          MORE DETAILS

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

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

1929 Bayview Avenue

Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8

Email: [email protected]

Visit: www.aodalliance.org

January 11, 2020

To: Candidates for Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party

Michael Coteau

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

Twitter: @coteau

 

Steven Del Duca

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @StevenDelDuca

Kate Graham

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @KateMarieGraham

Brenda Hollingsworth

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @OttawaLawyers

Mitzie Hunter

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

Twitter: @MitzieHunter

Alvin Tedjo

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AlvinTedjo

Dear Candidates,

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

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

The Issue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What We Ask of You

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Are We?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O. Ont,

Chair AODA Alliance





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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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Canada’s House of Commons Unanimously Passes Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act , Sending It to the Senate, But the Federal Liberal Government Blocked Many Key Amendments that Would Have Made It Strong Legislation


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

November 29, 2018

SUMMARY

1. Bill C-81 Moves Forward Through the Parliamentary Process

On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Canada’s House of Commons unanimously voted on Third Reading to pass Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. A number of amendments were made to the bill while it was being debated at the House of Commons’ Standing Committee that held public hearings about the bill in October. However, the federal Liberals used their majority in the House of Commons to defeat a series of important amendments that the opposition parties had commendably sought on behalf of people with disabilities in Canada, including on behalf of the AODA Alliance among others.

Bill C-81 remains a weak bill, even though it was modestly improved by the Government’s amendments. It remains strong on intentions but weak on implementation and enforcement. The Federal Government systematically voted against important amendments that the opposition parties proposed, and that would have substantially strengthened this bill.

Over the past weeks, a strong and impressive consensus has emerged from the disability community on key amendments to Bill C-81 that are needed. Yet the Federal Government has largely rejected this consensus position. Before the Standing Committee began to debate amendments to the bill last month, a compelling October 30, 2018 Open Letter was sent to the Federal Government. It was co-signed by 34 disability organizations, including the AODA Alliance. The number of signing organizations has grown to an incredible 91. To find out how your community organization can sign on to this Open Letter, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/in-a-powerful-open-letter-sent-to-the-federal-government-an-extraordinary-lineup-of-thirty-four-disability-organizations-unite-to-press-for-key-amendments-to-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada/ Below we list the names of all the community organizations that have co-signed this October 30, 2018 Open Letter.

After the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities finished its consideration of Bill C-81, the bill went back to the House of Commons for Third Reading debates. Those debates took place on November 21 and 22, 2018. We are honoured that several MPs quoted and spoke in positive terms about the position that the AODA Alliance has advanced on Bill C-81.

During those debates, the Federal Government made a number of statements on which we need to comment. For example, the Government made it sound like the disability community is happy with the bill as it now is. This disregards the positions of so many who appeared before the Standing Committee. It also ignores the October 30, 2018 Open Letter, already signed by 91 disability organizations.

The Government statements also at points clearly overstate what the bill actually does. The minister said that among key messages that the Government received from the disability community was that this bill should be “ambitious.” We regret that without passing the amendments sought in the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government, this bill falls well short on that score. This is especially so when we venture beyond the Government’s good intentions to examine its actual implementation and enforcement. See below our comments on key statements during Third Reading debates.

We will have more to say in the coming days and weeks on the amendments to Bill C-81 that the Federal Government passed and those which it blocked. In a forthcoming article in ARCH Alert, the publication of the ARCH Disability Law Centre, ARCH lawyer Kerri Joffe offers this summary of some of the key amendments that were made to Bill C-81:

“In its amended form, the Bill now requires the CRTC, CTA and government to make at least one regulation about accessibility plans, feedback processes or progress reports within 2 years from the time the Bill becomes law. It still allows for organizations to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements, but those exemptions are now limited to 3 years and reasons for granting the exemption must be made public. The Bill now requires organizations to take into account important principles set out in the Bill when they create their accessibility plans. The definitions of barrier and disability have been expanded by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities, and by clarifying that disability includes those that may not be evident. Communication and facilities were added as areas in which barriers must be identified, removed and prevented, and barriers must now be addressed in the design and delivery of programs and services, not just the delivery of programs and services. These are just some examples of the amendments to the Bill that were adopted by HUMA.”

During Third Reading debates, the opposition Conservatives brought a motion to have Bill C-81 referred back to the Standing Committee, so it could consider further amendments to address the unmet concerns that the disability community had raised. All opposition members voted in support of that motion. The federal Liberals all voted against it, so it was defeated. The House of Commons then voted to unanimously pass the bill, on Third Reading.

Bill C-81 now goes to the Senate for debate and vote. It is open to Canada’s Senate to make amendments to Bill C-81. We will have more to say about that in the coming days.

2. Another Important Anniversary in the History of Ontario’s Grassroots Accessibility Movement

Believe it or not, it was 24 years ago today that Ontario’s grassroots movement was born. It fought for the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. We now campaign to get that law effectively implemented. It is also now very active in trying to get Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, turned into a strong law of which Canada can be proud.

We have had quite a journey, and still have so much work to do. Twenty-four years ago today, a group of about twenty individuals ended up together in a meeting room at Queen’s Park. They agreed to form a coalition to campaign for a strong Ontario accessibility law.

The rest is an amazing history. As a result of tenacious grassroots efforts by individuals and community organizations across Ontario, we have clearly made some real progress. We’ve won Ontario accessibility legislation, and several accessibility standards enacted under it. Yet we still have a long way to go. Our non-partisan campaign continues. Check out how we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the birth of our movement, four years ago, by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015-whats-new/aoda-alliance-holds-successful-celebration-at-queens-park-to-mark-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-birth-of-ontarios-non-partisan-movement-for-strong-disability-accessibility-legislation/ Meanwhile, the Ontario Government has continued its freeze on the work of the Education Standards Development Committee and the Health Care Standards Development Committee. Students with disabilities and patients with disabilities must still keep facing disability accessibility barriers, with no end in sight. We will persist in our advocacy efforts to get these committees unfrozen so they can go back to work.

MORE DETAILS

AODA Alliance Commentary on Key Quotations from Third Reading Debate in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

* Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“We know that people with disabilities are very happy with this bill, and we are very committed to making sure we follow through on this bill.”

Liberal Darrell Samson SackvillePrestonChezzetcook, NS said:

“People with disabilities are extremely proud of the bill. It will improve as we move forward.”

Our Comment: Many were happy that the Federal Government brought forward a bill to open this discussion and debate. However many are not happy with the bill as written.

This is demonstrated by the 91 disability organizations that signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on Bill C-81. It is demonstrated by the overwhelming thrust of the presentations from the disability community to the Standing Committee. It was also amply shown by the AODA Alliance’s detailed brief, showing the many problems with the bill. It sought fully 97 amendments. A good number of disability organizations supported our brief.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough said:

“Bill C-81 is, without any doubt, a game-changing piece of legislation for Canada, especially for Canadians with disabilities. It sends a strong message that our government is taking action to advance accessibility and inclusion. We are leading the way to make Canada a barrier-free country for everyone.”

Our Comment: As written now, Bill C-81 is unfortunately not a game changer for people with disabilities. Its provisions are tepid, not strong. Unless substantially strengthened, there is no assurance that it will be “leading the way to make Canada a barrier-free country for everyone”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The new Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, would be a forum for technical experts, industry and Canadians with disabilities to come together to develop accessibility standards that would work for everyone. Once accessibility standards are developed, the Government of Canada would adopt them into regulations to make them law. Having regulations based on standards rather than enacting regulations directly in the proposed act would ensure that rules could be changed more fluidly over time to reflect new advances and best practices.”

Our Comment: It is good that the bill allows for the establishment of CASDO, the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization. It can recommend accessibility standards. These are not binding and enforceable until and unless the Federal Cabinet enacts them into enforceable regulations.

However, contrary to the minister’s statement, the bill does not ensure that “Once accessibility standards are developed, the Government of Canada would adopt them into regulations to make them law.” The Government would be free to never enact any of them. It would also be free to substantially water down an accessibility standard that CASDO proposes.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“We expect that CASDO, the accessibility commissioner, and the chief accessibility officer would be up and running within 12 months of the legislation’s coming into force. We also plan that the first set of regulations under the legislation would come into force in 2020-21.”

Our Comment: The bill sets no deadline for the establishment of CASDO, or for the appointment of the Accessibility Commissioner or the Chief Accessibility Officer. It requires a first regulation to be enacted by the federal Cabinet, by the Canada Transportation Agency, and by the CRTC within two years of the bill coming into force. That first regulation could be very narrow and weak. Moreover, if the Federal Government delays the bill’s coming into force for an extended period, that two-year time line for enacting the first regulation could be years from now.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The changes made to Bill C-81 in committee advanced the vision we had for the law. The suggestions of stakeholders were incorporated into the bill in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation, the same spirit that has guided the evolution of the bill to date.”

Our Comment: It is good that some amendments were passed that were recommended at the Standing Committee, including some recommended by the AODA Alliance. However, as noted earlier, absolutely essential amendments needed to transform this from a weak bill to a good bill were defeated in Committee by the Federal Government, even though they were supported by opposition parties and by so many from the disability community who presented to that Standing Committee.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The testimony from witnesses and written submissions informed the 74 amendments accepted at committee. I am supportive of the changes not only because they came from the community, but also because I believe they have made this good legislation into great legislation.

I would like to highlight four key changes that were made at committee to strengthen Bill C-81.

First, the current purpose clause was amended to add communication as a priority area. We heard compelling testimony in committee that spoke to the impact of barriers to communication, particularly for persons with communication and language disabilities. This amendment prioritizes the barriers experienced by people with communication and language disabilities that can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities.

By making communication a priority in and of itself, we can guarantee a consistent, harmonized approach to addressing the barriers to accessibility faced by people with communication disabilities in every federally regulated sector.”

Our Comment: It is good that “communication” was added to the bill’s purpose provision. However, seriously undermining the bill’s effectiveness, the Federal Government refused to enshrine in the bill an end-date in the bill for Canada to become accessible. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets such an end-date in its purpose provision. The Federal Government did not listen to the many calls from the disability community for Bill C-81 to do so as well.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Second, while legislation applies to federally regulated entities, we know that achieving a barrier-free Canada means that accessibility needs to extend beyond federal jurisdiction. Accessibility is an area of shared federal, provincial and territorial responsibility, and realizing a truly accessible Canada would require working with our provincial and territorial partners. Stakeholders have echoed the sentiment, stressing the need for collaboration to harmonize accessibility practices across the country and the importance of making sure that the minister responsible for these are required to work with provinces and territories.”

Our Comment: We agree that “achieving a barrier-free Canada means that accessibility needs to extend beyond federal jurisdiction.” However, the Federal Government has refused to amend Bill C-81 to deploy in it the Federal Government’s most powerful means to advance accessibility across all jurisdictions.

Specifically, the Federal Government did not amend Bill C-81 to require that no federal money can be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. Under Bill C-81, as now written, a province could get a grant from the Federal Government to build a hospital or university building, without ever requiring that this new infrastructure be fully accessible.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Third, the disability community has made it very clear that accessibility is everybody’s responsibility. The community asked for increased accountability and transparency on exemptions. Like stakeholders, I agree that exemptions should never provide a loophole from accessibility. This would be counter to the spirit of Bill C-81. That is why I am pleased that Bill C-81 has now been changed in two key areas: first, by placing a three-year limit on all exemptions; and second, by requiring that the rationale for any exemptions be published. We must bolster transparency in the exemptions process, and in doing so we would ensure that the public and the disability community can hold authorities accountable on exemptions.

I believe that stricter provisions regarding accountability and transparency strengthen Bill C-81.”

Our Comment: These are only modest improvements. The bill still gives far too much sweeping power to exempt obligated organizations from some of their duties under the bill, even though no such exemptions are justified. Why should the Federal Government ever be able to give itself such an exemption? Why should the unelected and unaccountable Canada Transportation Agency ever be able to give a transportation organization like Air Canada or ViaRail such an exemption? The bill does not even delineate what reasons there must be to justify an exemption. An obligated organization could be given an exemption even if their accessibility provisions are poor and their plans to correct them are feeble.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Finally, I want to make clear that our intent with this bill has always been to hit the ground running on day one. I am pleased to see that an amendment was made to reflect this intent in the bill. It requires all bodies with authority to make regulations under this act to make their first regulations within two years of the act’s coming into force. The establishment of these regulations would also trigger the clock for the five-year review of the act by Parliament. This will ensure that the review would begin by 2025. In like manner, there is no end date for accessibility. Accessibility requires consistent, conscious and continual effort. The bill also provides mechanisms that require people with disabilities to be at the table to monitor implementation and support meaningful progress, independent of the government of the day.

We listened to people in the disability community who told us that accessibility in Canada has been long outdated, and I know that we need to take action right away. That is why I want to reiterate that we are strongly committed to ensuring that this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner. We are determined to do what it takes to accomplish that.”

Our Comment: It is good that the minister recognizes that “Accessibility requires consistent, conscious and continual effort” and that “we are strongly committed to ensuring that this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner.” However the bill does not require either to occur. It requires that the first regulations are enacted in the first two years, no matter how weak or limited they may be. After that, it sets no time lines for implementation action by the Government itself, before appointing an Independent Review, five years after the first regulation is enacted, or seven years after the bill goes into force.

The bill still does not require the Federal Government or the CRTC or the Canada Transportation Agency to ever make a proposed voluntary accessibility standard into an enforceable accessibility standard regulation. Under this bill, there may never be any federal accessibility standard regulations enacted. Without enforceable accessibility standard regulations, the Federal Government will not ensure that “this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“For too long, Canadians with disabilities have had to fight on their own when it came to advancing their rights. By bringing in new measures to improve accessibility, with a focus on accountability and transparency, we are moving toward a new culture of accessibility. The accessible Canada act would work to put an end to the practice of exclusion. With Bill C-81, we can have a system where our institutions, not individuals, are responsible for enabling change. We can move on from the principle of nothing about us without us to simply nothing without us, because everything is about us.””

Our Comment: The minister here again talks about measures to “improve accessibility.” She acknowledges that in the bill, “there is no end date for accessibility.” This is a dramatically less ambitious goal than the one people with disabilities need, namely the goal of achieving accessibility in Canada by a legislated deadline.

It is good that the Minister endorses the principle of “Nothing about us without us.” Unfortunately, her Government’s rejection of key amendments to the bill, around which such a strong consensus has developed within the disability community, fails to be true to the principle “Nothing about us without us.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Each standard will be developed in concert with the disability community and through the board of the Canadian accessibility standards development organization, or CASDO. We will decide. We will let the community decide which standards and what the priorities of the community are as we move forward with them to ensure that everyone comes along for this journey.”

Our Comment: This overstates the participation of the disability community. It is true that a majority of the CASDO board, some six of eleven board members, must have a disability. As well, it is anticipated that CASDO will engage in consulting the public, including individuals with disabilities in its work developing voluntary accessibility standards. These are all good measures, if they materialize.

However, contrary to the minister’s statement, the bill does not let the community decide which accessibility standards will be recommended by CASDO as voluntary standards, i.e. where the minister suggested: “We will let the community decide which standards and what the priorities of the community are” Six people with disabilities on the CASDO board are not “the community.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Let me give my colleagues an example of how the life of a Canadian with a disability would change because of this. Right now, as someone who is legally blind, I walk into a bank, and I cannot access an ATM. What do I do? What are my options? I have to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. I file that complaint. I say that this particular ATM is not accessible. Two years from now, someone may tell me, You are right. That wasn’t accessible. You were discriminated against, and order that this one ATM in that one bank be changed.

With this new regime we would be setting up, the accessibility commissioner would set up a standard for ATMs so that every ATM and every bank in this country would be accessible. We would not be relying on the individual to fight these fights alone. It is our system that we are acknowledging is broken, not the people.”

Our Comment: Contrary to the minister’s statement, there is no assurance that any enforceable accessibility standard regulation would ever be enacted under the bill to address accessibility of
ATM’s (automated teller machines). It is open to the Federal Government to enact one, but there is no requirement that it do so. Moreover, it is the federal Cabinet, and not the Accessibility Commissioner, who would have the power to make such a regulation.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“I can assure the member opposite that we are committed to hitting the ground running with respect to the creation of these standards and organizations. We know that there are existing standards that will be easy to adopt, but I am not going to compromise on ensuring that the voices of Canadians with disabilities continue to be heard through these processes and that they continue to have places at our tables as we move forward with the creation of standards. If it takes a year or two to get this started, it will be worth it.”

Our Comment: We don’t know which existing standards the Minister considers worthy of prompt adoption. It is important for the Federal Government to make them public now. For example, we would not recommend an adoption of most of the accessibility standards enacted to date under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as they are far too weak.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“We built the system contained in Bill C-81 on the existing system. This system was not drawn up on a whiteboard. We have existing regulators. We are trying to be efficient. We have expertise within government organizations. We have complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA. We have a Canadian Human Rights Commission that is very well respected and that does very good work. Building on those existing entities, we had to fill in the gaps. We knew that there were areas within federal jurisdiction that were not covered, so we would create the position of the accessibility commissioner.

We would enshrine in this law, and we would have agreements between these organizations, that there would be no wrong door. Wherever people went to state their concern or file a complaint, they would be pointed in the right direction. Canadians can be assured of this.”

Our Comment: The minister here is again rejecting the strong message from so many voices from the disability community, who objected to the bill’s splintering its implementation and enforcement among four federal agencies. We want a simple and easy-to-use one-stop-shopping approach, where the Accessibility Commissioner has responsibility for all enforcement under the bill.

For example, the minister rejects the strong opposition from the disability community to the bill’s giving authority, or more authority, in this area, to the Canada Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunication Commission. The 91 disability organizations that signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter have united in opposition to the minister’s view.

The minister gives four poor reasons for the Government’s intransigence on this issue. First, she says that splintering the bill’s implementation and enforcement is “efficient.” We have shown that this splintering will cost the public and the disability community more, will slow the bill’s implementation, and will risk inconsistent implementation of the bill. That is not efficient. This splintering only serves the interests of those obligated organizations that will want to exploit this splintering to delay and drag out the implementation and enforcement process.

Second, the minister said that these organizations have expertise. To the contrary, the CTA and CRTC have not shown themselves to have the required expertise in disability accessibility. They have had years if not decades to prove that they had such expertise.

Third, the minister said that there would be no “wrong door”. The Government is superficially only focusing on the door. It has disregarded the inequities that are risked after people with disabilities go through the door. The bill does not ensure fair and consistent processes or results across the four splintered federal agencies where people with disabilities must struggle for justice.

Fourth, the minister said: “We have complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA.” That shows why they are an unfair place to subject people with disabilities to their systems. Their complexities will favour well-funded obligated organizations. People with disabilities need a simple, fast process, like the one the bill commendably sets up at the new Accessibility Commissioner. Why, in the case of recurring disability accessibility barriers in transportation, broadcasting, or telecommunication services, should people with disabilities, who seek accessibility, be subjected to “complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA”?

* Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“I want to say specifically that our government wants to hit the ground running when this bill passes. New regulations will be in place very quickly, within two years after the act comes into force. That means that we are going to start moving right away and that the regulations will be enacted. Once Bill C-81 receives royal assent, the Canadian accessibility standards organization would be up and running within one year.”

Our Comment: Nothing in the bill ensures that CASDO will be up and running within one year of the bill’s proclamation.

Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“I wanted to ask her about the fact that as far as the Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, is concerned, it will establish Canada as a national and global accessibility leader by putting Canadians with disabilities in control of setting the accessibility standards that affect their lives. Does the member agree with that?

I know that our minister has always felt that people with disabilities have not had a say, but that now this bill gives them a say. They have a majority stand on this committee. Does the member not agree that this bill gives people with disabilities a stake in this bill and will have them at the table making decisions about them?”

Our Comment: This overstates the power that this bill gives the disability community. As stated earlier, at CASDO, at least some six people with disabilities whom the Federal Government will select will serve on the CASDO board of up to 11 members. That is not the same as ensuring that the bill “will establish Canada as a national and global accessibility leader by putting Canadians with disabilities in control of setting the accessibility standards that affect their lives.”

* “Rosemarie Falk BattlefordsLloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, could the member tell us what will come into effect the day the bill receives royal assent and how soon the CASDO board will be established?

Liberal
Darrell Samson SackvillePrestonChezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are confident that the standards will be in place within one years, so things will get moving as soon as the bill passes. We expect regulations to be in place no later than two years.”

Our Comment: Nothing in the bill requires a standard to be in place within one year, or ever. An earlier statement by the Government said that CASDO would be up and running within a year, something that the bill does not itself require. However, even if CASDO is up and running within one year, it is not clear how CASDO can have a voluntary standard developed by that same one year mark.

Updated List of the 91 Organizations that Signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on the Need to Strengthen Bill C-81

Council of Canadians with Disabilities – Conseil des Canadiens avec déficiences (CCD) Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)
DAWN-RAFH Canada
Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)
National Network for Mental Health (NNMH)
Independent Living Canada (ILC)
March of Dimes Canada
Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)
Barrier Free Canada Canada sans Barrières
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)
People First of Canada
Canadian Centre on Disability Studies
Canadian Epilepsy Alliance/ LAlliance canadienne de lépilepsie (CEA/ACE) National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs in Canada National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) Muscular Dystrophy Canada
Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Association (CASDA)
Canadian Association of the Deaf Association des Sourds du Canada LArche Canada
Hydrocephalus Canada
AODA Alliance
ARCH Disability Law Centre
Québec Accessible
Views for the Visually Impaired
Physicians of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Advocacy (PONDA)
Unitarian Commons Co-Housing Corporation
Citizens with Disabilities Ontario (CWDO)
Community Living Ontario (CLO)
Barrier-Free Manitoba
Regroupement des associations de personnes Handicapées de lOutaouais (RAPHO) Barrier Free Saskatchewan
DeafBlind Ontario Services
Community Living Toronto (CLT)
Ontario Autism Coalition
Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec (COPHAN) Canadian Multicultural Disability Centre, Inc. (CMDCI)
Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)
Northwest Territories Council for Disability
Voice of Albertans with Disabilities
Ontario Disability Coalition
SPH Planning and Consulting Ltd.
The Law, Disability & Social Change Project
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD)
Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO)
Nova Scotia Association for Community Living
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunity
Disability Alliance of British Columbia
Disability Positive
Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NL)
Realize / Réalise
Calgary Ability Network Human Rights
Down Syndrome Association of Ontario
Southern Alberta Individualized Planning Association
Gateway Association (Edmonton)
BALANCE for Blind Adults
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians Toronto Chapter (AEBC Toronto Chapter) The Keremeos Measuring Up Team
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
Altergo
Aphasie Québec Le réseau
Association multiethnique pour lintégration des personnes handicapées DéPhy Montréal
Ex aequo
Regroupement des organismes de personnes handicapées du Centre-du-Québec
Regroupement des Usagers du Transport Adapté et accessible de lîle de Montréal (RUTA Mtl) Réseau international sur le Processus de production du handicap (RIPPH) Société logique
North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre Inc.
Older Women’s Network
Association dinformations en logements et immeubles adaptés (AILIA) Association du syndrome de Usher du Québec (ASUQ)
Réseau québécois pour linclusion sociale des personnes sourdes et malentendantes (ReQIS) Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Québec (RAAQ)
Saskatoon Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians
Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (C.I.L.T.) Inc
The League for Human Rights of Bnai Brith Canada – Ligue des driots de la personne de B’nai Brith Canada Barrier-Free New Brunswick
Canadian Association of Professionals with Disabilities
The BC Disability Caucus
The Independent Living Centre London and Area
Ontario Association of the Deaf (OAD)
Handicapped Action Group Inc. (HAGI)
Community Services for Independence North West (CSINW)
Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NSLEO)
Alberta Disability Workers Association
reachAbility Association
Champions Career Centre
The Peterborough Council for Persons with Disabilities
Guide Dog Users of Canada
Action des femmes handicapées – Montréal

Excerpt from the Analysis of Amendments to Bill C-81 at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

Note: Thanks to Kerri Joffe, legal counsel at ARCH Disability Law Centre, for preparing an analysis, of which this is the summary.

Bill C-81 Second Reading, as amended by HUMA Committee, November 19, 2018

Summary of Amendments Made by HUMA to Bill C-81

In the Preamble, Canadians was changed to persons in Canada.

The definition of barrier was expanded by adding the words an impairment, including and by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities.

The definition of disability was expanded by adding the words any impairment, including and by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities, and by adding whether evident or not.

Throughout the Bill, the words progressive realization were changed to realization.

The areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention were expanded to include an additional area of communication, other than information and communication technologies.

Regulated entities now have requirements to include communication in their accessibility plans.

Within the areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention, the procurement of goods and services was expanded to goods, services and facilities.

Within the areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention, the delivery of programs and services was expanded to the design and delivery of programs and services.

Throughout the Bill, the use of abilities or disabilities was changed to disabilities. In particular, this change affects the principles (section 6).

An additional principle was added to the Bill, that the development and revision of accessibility standards and the making of regulations must be done with the objective of achieving the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Regulated entities now have an additional requirement that they must take into account the principles set out in section 6 when it prepares an accessibility plan or an updated version of its accessibility plan.

The requirement for the Minister to work with the provinces and territories to coordinate accessibility efforts was strengthened. The Bill now states that the Minister must make every reasonable effort to collaborate with provincial or territorial authorities with a view to coordinating efforts in relation to matters relating to accessibility.
An additional consideration was added to the appointment of CASDO directors, regarding the importance of having directors that are representative of the diversity of disabilities faced by Canadians.
The CRTC and CTA and Government now have powers to make regulations respecting the feedback process which regulated entities must create in order to receive feedback about the steps they are taking to identify, remove and prevent barriers.
The CRTC, CTA and Government are now required to make at least one regulation about accessibility plans, feedback processes or progress reports within 2 years of the ACA becoming law.
Any exemptions from complying with accessibility requirements are now limited to 3 years. Any orders granting exemptions must be published in the Canada Gazette and reasons for the granting of an exemption must be made public.
The Accessibility Commissioner may decline to investigate a complaint if the complaint is based on acts or omissions the complainant became aware of more than one year, or any longer period of time that the Accessibility Commissioner considers appropriate in the circumstances, before filing the complaint. This amendment clarifies that the one year period begins from the time the complainant became aware of the complaint, not from the time the failure to comply occurred.
When Accessibility Commissioner reviews a decision not to investigate a complaint or to discontinue an investigation, the complainant will be given opportunity to make submissions in a manner that is accessible to them.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal now has power to extend the 30 day time period for appealing an accessibility complaint. The period for appealing cannot be more than 60 days.

The Bill now clarifies that an appeal of an accessibility complaint can be made based to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal based on a question of law or fact or mixed law and fact, including a principle of natural justice. The request for an appeal must set out the evidence that supports the appeal.

The Bill now clarifies that at an appeal, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal may confirm, change or rescind the Accessibility Commissioners decision, or may give the decision that the Accessibility Commissioner should have given or refer the complaint back to the Accessibility Commissioner for reconsideration in accordance with any direction the Tribunal may give.

The Bill now permits the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing an appeal to allow arguments and new evidence not previously available when the complaint was heard by the Accessibility Commissioner.



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Canada’s House of Commons Unanimously Passes Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act , Sending It to the Senate, But the Federal Liberal Government Blocked Many Key Amendments that Would Have Made It Strong Legislation


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

Canada’s House of Commons Unanimously Passes Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act , Sending It to the Senate, But the Federal Liberal Government Blocked Many Key Amendments that Would Have Made It Strong Legislation

November 29, 2018

          SUMMARY

1. Bill C-81 Moves Forward Through the Parliamentary Process

On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Canada’s House of Commons unanimously voted on Third Reading to pass Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. A number of amendments were made to the bill while it was being debated at the House of Commons’ Standing Committee that held public hearings about the bill in October. However, the federal Liberals used their majority in the House of Commons to defeat a series of important amendments that the opposition parties had commendably sought on behalf of people with disabilities in Canada, including on behalf of the AODA Alliance among others.

Bill C-81 remains a weak bill, even though it was modestly improved by the Government’s amendments. It remains strong on intentions but weak on implementation and enforcement. The Federal Government systematically voted against important amendments that the opposition parties proposed, and that would have substantially strengthened this bill.

Over the past weeks, a strong and impressive consensus has emerged from the disability community on key amendments to Bill C-81 that are needed. Yet the Federal Government has largely rejected this consensus position. Before the Standing Committee began to debate amendments to the bill last month, a compelling October 30, 2018 Open Letter was sent to the Federal Government. It was co-signed by 34 disability organizations, including the AODA Alliance. The number of signing organizations has grown to an incredible 91. To find out how your community organization can sign on to this Open Letter, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/in-a-powerful-open-letter-sent-to-the-federal-government-an-extraordinary-lineup-of-thirty-four-disability-organizations-unite-to-press-for-key-amendments-to-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada/

Below we list the names of all the community organizations that have co-signed this October 30, 2018 Open Letter.

After the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities finished its consideration of Bill C-81, the bill went back to the House of Commons for Third Reading debates. Those debates took place on November 21 and 22, 2018. We are honoured that several MPs quoted and spoke in positive terms about the position that the AODA Alliance has advanced on Bill C-81.

During those debates, the Federal Government made a number of statements on which we need to comment. For example, the Government made it sound like the disability community is happy with the bill as it now is. This disregards the positions of so many who appeared before the Standing Committee. It also ignores the October 30, 2018 Open Letter, already signed by 91 disability organizations.

The Government statements also at points clearly overstate what the bill actually does. The minister said that among key messages that the Government received from the disability community was that this bill should be “ambitious.” We regret that without passing the amendments sought in the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government, this bill falls well short on that score. This is especially so  when we venture beyond the Government’s good intentions to examine its actual implementation and enforcement. See below our comments on key statements during Third Reading debates.

We will have more to say in the coming days and weeks on the amendments to Bill C-81 that the Federal Government passed and those which it blocked. In a forthcoming article in ARCH Alert, the publication of the ARCH Disability Law Centre, ARCH lawyer Kerri Joffe offers this summary of some of the key amendments that were made to Bill C-81:

“In its amended form, the Bill now requires the CRTC, CTA and government to make at least one regulation about accessibility plans, feedback processes or progress reports within 2 years from the time the Bill becomes law. It still allows for organizations to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements, but those exemptions are now limited to 3 years and reasons for granting the exemption must be made public. The Bill now requires organizations to take into account important principles set out in the Bill when they create their accessibility plans. The definitions of “barrier” and “disability” have been expanded by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities, and by clarifying that disability includes those that may not be evident. Communication and facilities were added as areas in which barriers must be identified, removed and prevented, and barriers must now be addressed in the design and delivery of programs and services, not just the delivery of programs and services. These are just some examples of the amendments to the Bill that were adopted by HUMA.”

During Third Reading debates, the opposition Conservatives brought a motion to have Bill C-81 referred back to the Standing Committee, so it could consider further amendments to address the unmet concerns that the disability community had raised. All opposition members voted in support of that motion. The federal Liberals all voted against it, so it was defeated. The House of Commons then voted to unanimously pass the bill, on Third Reading.

Bill C-81 now goes to the Senate for debate and vote. It is open to Canada’s Senate to make amendments to Bill C-81. We will have more to say about that in the coming days.

2. Another Important Anniversary in the History of Ontario’s Grassroots Accessibility Movement

Believe it or not, it was 24 years ago today that Ontario’s grassroots movement was born. It fought for the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. We now campaign to get that law effectively implemented. It is also now very active in trying to get Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, turned into a strong law of which Canada can be proud.

We have had quite a journey, and still have so much work to do. Twenty-four years ago today, a group of about twenty individuals ended up together in a meeting room at Queen’s Park. They agreed to form a coalition to campaign for a strong Ontario accessibility law.

The rest is an amazing history. As a result of tenacious grassroots efforts by individuals and community organizations across Ontario, we have clearly made some real progress. We’ve won Ontario accessibility legislation, and several accessibility standards enacted under it. Yet we still have a long way to go. Our non-partisan campaign continues. Check out how we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the birth of our movement, four years ago, by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015-whats-new/aoda-alliance-holds-successful-celebration-at-queens-park-to-mark-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-birth-of-ontarios-non-partisan-movement-for-strong-disability-accessibility-legislation/

Meanwhile, the Ontario Government has continued its freeze on the work of the Education Standards Development Committee and the Health Care Standards Development Committee. Students with disabilities and patients with disabilities must still keep facing disability accessibility barriers, with no end in sight. We will persist in our advocacy efforts to get these committees unfrozen so they can go back to work.

          MORE DETAILS

AODA Alliance Commentary on Key Quotations from Third Reading Debate in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

* Kate Young  Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“We know that people with disabilities are very happy with this bill, and we are very committed to making sure we follow through on this bill.”

Liberal Darrell Samson Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS said:

“People with disabilities are extremely proud of the bill. It will improve as we move forward.”

Our Comment: Many were happy that the Federal Government brought forward a bill to open this discussion and debate. However many are not happy with the bill as written.

This is demonstrated by the 91 disability organizations that signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on Bill C-81. It is demonstrated by the overwhelming thrust of the presentations from the disability community to the Standing Committee. It was also amply shown by the AODA Alliance’s detailed brief, showing the many problems with the bill. It sought fully 97 amendments. A good number of disability organizations supported our brief.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough said:

“Bill C-81 is, without any doubt, a game-changing piece of legislation for Canada, especially for Canadians with disabilities. It sends a strong message that our government is taking action to advance accessibility and inclusion. We are leading the way to make Canada a barrier-free country for everyone.”

Our Comment: As written now, Bill C-81 is unfortunately not a game changer for people with disabilities. Its provisions are tepid, not strong. Unless substantially strengthened, there is no assurance that it will be “leading the way to make Canada a barrier-free country for everyone”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The new Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, would be a forum for technical experts, industry and Canadians with disabilities to come together to develop accessibility standards that would work for everyone. Once accessibility standards are developed, the Government of Canada would adopt them into regulations to make them law. Having regulations based on standards rather than enacting regulations directly in the proposed act would ensure that rules could be changed more fluidly over time to reflect new advances and best practices.”

Our Comment: It is good that the bill allows for the establishment of CASDO, the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization. It can recommend accessibility standards. These are not binding and enforceable until and unless the Federal Cabinet enacts them into enforceable regulations.

However, contrary to the minister’s statement, the bill does not ensure that “Once accessibility standards are developed, the Government of Canada would adopt them into regulations to make them law.” The Government would be free to never enact any of them. It would also be free to substantially water down an accessibility standard that CASDO proposes.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“We expect that CASDO, the accessibility commissioner, and the chief accessibility officer would be up and running within 12 months of the legislation’s coming into force. We also plan that the first set of regulations under the legislation would come into force in 2020-21.”

Our Comment: The bill sets no deadline for the establishment of CASDO, or for the appointment of the Accessibility Commissioner or the Chief Accessibility Officer. It requires a first regulation to be enacted by the federal Cabinet, by the Canada Transportation Agency, and by the CRTC within two years of the bill coming into force. That first regulation could be very narrow and weak. Moreover, if the Federal Government delays the bill’s coming into force for an extended period, that two-year time line for enacting the first regulation could be years from now.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The changes made to Bill C-81 in committee advanced the vision we had for the law. The suggestions of stakeholders were incorporated into the bill in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation, the same spirit that has guided the evolution of the bill to date.”

Our Comment: It is good that some amendments were passed that were recommended at the Standing Committee, including some recommended by the AODA Alliance. However, as noted earlier, absolutely essential amendments needed to transform this from a weak bill to a good bill were defeated in Committee by the Federal Government, even though they were supported by opposition parties and by so many from the disability community who presented to that Standing Committee.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“The testimony from witnesses and written submissions informed the 74 amendments accepted at committee. I am supportive of the changes not only because they came from the community, but also because I believe they have made this good legislation into great legislation.

I would like to highlight four key changes that were made at committee to strengthen Bill C-81.

First, the current purpose clause was amended to add communication as a priority area. We heard compelling testimony in committee that spoke to the impact of barriers to communication, particularly for persons with communication and language disabilities. This amendment prioritizes the barriers experienced by people with communication and language disabilities that can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities.

By making communication a priority in and of itself, we can guarantee a consistent, harmonized approach to addressing the barriers to accessibility faced by people with communication disabilities in every federally regulated sector.”

Our Comment: It is good that “communication” was added to the bill’s purpose provision. However, seriously undermining the bill’s effectiveness, the Federal Government refused to enshrine in the bill an end-date in the bill for Canada to become accessible. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets such an end-date in its purpose provision. The Federal Government did not listen to the many calls from the disability community for Bill C-81 to do so as well.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Second, while legislation applies to federally regulated entities, we know that achieving a barrier-free Canada means that accessibility needs to extend beyond federal jurisdiction. Accessibility is an area of shared federal, provincial and territorial responsibility, and realizing a truly accessible Canada would require working with our provincial and territorial partners. Stakeholders have echoed the sentiment, stressing the need for collaboration to harmonize accessibility practices across the country and the importance of making sure that the minister responsible for these are required to work with provinces and territories.”

Our Comment: We agree that “…achieving a barrier-free Canada means that accessibility needs to extend beyond federal jurisdiction.” However, the Federal Government has refused to amend Bill C-81 to deploy in it the Federal Government’s most powerful means to advance accessibility across all jurisdictions.

Specifically, the Federal Government did not amend Bill C-81 to require that no federal money can be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. Under Bill C-81, as now written, a province could get a grant from the Federal Government to build a hospital or university building, without ever requiring that this new infrastructure be fully accessible.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Third, the disability community has made it very clear that accessibility is everybody’s responsibility. The community asked for increased accountability and transparency on exemptions. Like stakeholders, I agree that exemptions should never provide a loophole from accessibility. This would be counter to the spirit of Bill C-81. That is why I am pleased that Bill C-81 has now been changed in two key areas: first, by placing a three-year limit on all exemptions; and second, by requiring that the rationale for any exemptions be published. We must bolster transparency in the exemptions process, and in doing so we would ensure that the public and the disability community can hold authorities accountable on exemptions.

I believe that stricter provisions regarding accountability and transparency strengthen Bill C-81.”

Our Comment: These are only modest improvements. The bill still gives far too much sweeping power to exempt obligated organizations from some of their duties under the bill, even though no such exemptions are justified. Why should the Federal Government ever be able to give itself such an exemption? Why should the unelected and unaccountable Canada Transportation Agency ever be able to give a transportation organization like Air Canada or ViaRail such an exemption? The bill does not even delineate what reasons there must be to justify an exemption. An obligated organization could be given an exemption even if their accessibility provisions are poor and their plans to correct them are feeble.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Finally, I want to make clear that our intent with this bill has always been to hit the ground running on day one. I am pleased to see that an amendment was made to reflect this intent in the bill. It requires all bodies with authority to make regulations under this act to make their first regulations within two years of the act’s coming into force. The establishment of these regulations would also trigger the clock for the five-year review of the act by Parliament. This will ensure that the review would begin by 2025. In like manner, there is no end date for accessibility. Accessibility requires consistent, conscious and continual effort. The bill also provides mechanisms that require people with disabilities to be at the table to monitor implementation and support meaningful progress, independent of the government of the day.

We listened to people in the disability community who told us that accessibility in Canada has been long outdated, and I know that we need to take action right away. That is why I want to reiterate that we are strongly committed to ensuring that this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner. We are determined to do what it takes to accomplish that.”

Our Comment: It is good that the minister recognizes that “Accessibility requires consistent, conscious and continual effort” and that “…we are strongly committed to ensuring that this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner.” However the bill does not require either to occur. It requires that the first regulations are enacted in the first two years, no matter how weak or limited they may be. After that, it sets no time lines for implementation action by the Government itself, before appointing an Independent Review, five years after the first regulation is enacted, or seven years after the bill goes into force.

The bill still does not require the Federal Government or the CRTC or the Canada Transportation Agency to ever make a proposed voluntary accessibility standard into an enforceable accessibility standard regulation. Under this bill, there may never be any federal accessibility standard regulations enacted. Without enforceable accessibility standard regulations, the Federal Government will not ensure that “this bill translates into significant progress in terms of accessibility in a timely manner.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“For too long, Canadians with disabilities have had to fight on their own when it came to advancing their rights. By bringing in new measures to improve accessibility, with a focus on accountability and transparency, we are moving toward a new culture of accessibility. The accessible Canada act would work to put an end to the practice of exclusion. With Bill C-81, we can have a system where our institutions, not individuals, are responsible for enabling change. We can move on from the principle of “nothing about us without us” to simply “nothing without us,” because everything is about us.””

Our Comment: The minister here again talks about measures to “improve accessibility.” She acknowledges that in the bill, “…there is no end date for accessibility.” This is a dramatically less ambitious goal than the one people with disabilities need, namely the goal of achieving accessibility in Canada by a legislated deadline.

It is good that the Minister endorses the principle of “Nothing about us without us.” Unfortunately, her Government’s rejection of key amendments to the bill, around which such a strong consensus has developed within the disability community, fails to be true to the principle “Nothing about us without us.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Each standard will be developed in concert with the disability community and through the board of the Canadian accessibility standards development organization, or CASDO. We will decide. We will let the community decide which standards and what the priorities of the community are as we move forward with them to ensure that everyone comes along for this journey.”

Our Comment: This overstates the participation of the disability community. It is true that a majority of the CASDO board, some six of eleven board members, must have a disability. As well, it is anticipated that CASDO will engage in consulting the public, including individuals with disabilities in its work developing voluntary accessibility standards. These are all good measures, if they materialize.

However, contrary to the minister’s statement, the bill does not let the community decide which accessibility standards will be recommended by CASDO as voluntary standards, i.e. where the minister suggested: “…We will let the community decide which standards and what the priorities of the community are…” Six people with disabilities on the CASDO board are not “the community.”

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“Let me give my colleagues an example of how the life of a Canadian with a disability would change because of this. Right now, as someone who is legally blind, I walk into a bank, and I cannot access an ATM. What do I do? What are my options? I have to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. I file that complaint. I say that this particular ATM is not accessible. Two years from now, someone may tell me, “You are right. That wasn’t accessible. You were discriminated against”, and order that this one ATM in that one bank be changed.

With this new regime we would be setting up, the accessibility commissioner would set up a standard for ATMs so that every ATM and every bank in this country would be accessible. We would not be relying on the individual to fight these fights alone. It is our system that we are acknowledging is broken, not the people.”

Our Comment: Contrary to the minister’s statement, there is no assurance that any enforceable accessibility standard regulation would ever be enacted under the bill to address accessibility of
ATM’s (automated teller machines). It is open to the Federal Government to enact one, but there is no requirement that it do so. Moreover, it is the  federal Cabinet, and not the Accessibility Commissioner, who would have the power to make such a regulation.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“I can assure the member opposite that we are committed to hitting the ground running with respect to the creation of these standards and organizations. We know that there are existing standards that will be easy to adopt, but I am not going to compromise on ensuring that the voices of Canadians with disabilities continue to be heard through these processes and that they continue to have places at our tables as we move forward with the creation of standards. If it takes a year or two to get this started, it will be worth it.”

Our Comment: We don’t know which existing standards the Minister considers worthy of prompt adoption. It is important for the Federal Government to make them public now. For example, we would not recommend an adoption of most of the accessibility standards enacted to date under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as they are far too weak.

* Minister Carla Qualtrough stated:

“We built the system contained in Bill C-81 on the existing system. This system was not drawn up on a whiteboard. We have existing regulators. We are trying to be efficient. We have expertise within government organizations. We have complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA. We have a Canadian Human Rights Commission that is very well respected and that does very good work. Building on those existing entities, we had to fill in the gaps. We knew that there were areas within federal jurisdiction that were not covered, so we would create the position of the accessibility commissioner.

We would enshrine in this law, and we would have agreements between these organizations, that there would be no wrong door. Wherever people went to state their concern or file a complaint, they would be pointed in the right direction. Canadians can be assured of this.”

Our Comment: The minister here is again rejecting the strong message from so many voices from the disability community, who objected to the bill’s splintering its implementation and enforcement among four federal agencies. We want a simple and easy-to-use one-stop-shopping approach, where the Accessibility Commissioner has responsibility for all enforcement under the bill.

For example, the minister rejects the strong opposition from the disability community to the bill’s giving authority, or more authority, in this area, to the Canada Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunication Commission. The 91 disability organizations that signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter have united in opposition to the minister’s view.

The minister gives four poor reasons for the Government’s intransigence on this issue. First, she says that splintering the bill’s implementation and enforcement is “efficient.” We have shown that this splintering will cost the public and the disability community more, will slow the bill’s implementation, and will risk inconsistent implementation of the bill. That is not efficient. This splintering only serves the interests of those obligated organizations that will want to exploit this splintering to delay and drag out the implementation and enforcement process.

Second, the minister said that these organizations have expertise. To the contrary, the CTA and CRTC have not shown themselves to have the required expertise in disability accessibility. They have had years if not decades to prove that they had such expertise.

Third, the minister said that there would be no “wrong door”. The Government is superficially only focusing on the door. It has disregarded the inequities that are risked after people with disabilities go through the door. The bill does not ensure fair and consistent processes or results across the four splintered federal agencies where people with disabilities must struggle for justice.

Fourth, the minister said: “We have complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA.” That shows why they are an unfair place to subject people with disabilities to their systems. Their complexities will favour well-funded obligated organizations. People with disabilities need a simple, fast process, like the one the bill commendably sets up at the new Accessibility Commissioner. Why, in the case of recurring disability accessibility barriers in transportation, broadcasting, or telecommunication services, should people with disabilities, who seek accessibility, be subjected to “complicated regulatory frameworks within the CRTC and the CTA”?

* Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“I want to say specifically that our government wants to hit the ground running when this bill passes. New regulations will be in place very quickly, within two years after the act comes into force. That means that we are going to start moving right away and that the regulations will be enacted. Once Bill C-81 receives royal assent, the Canadian accessibility standards organization would be up and running within one year.”

Our Comment: Nothing in the bill ensures that CASDO will be up and running within one year of the bill’s proclamation.

Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib. Stated:

“I wanted to ask her about the fact that as far as the Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, is concerned, it will establish Canada as a national and global accessibility leader by putting Canadians with disabilities in control of setting the accessibility standards that affect their lives. Does the member agree with that?

I know that our minister has always felt that people with disabilities have not had a say, but that now this bill gives them a say. They have a majority stand on this committee. Does the member not agree that this bill gives people with disabilities a stake in this bill and will have them at the table making decisions about them?”

Our Comment: This overstates the power that this bill gives the disability community. As stated earlier, at CASDO, at least some six people with disabilities whom the Federal Government will select will serve on the CASDO board of up to 11 members. That is not the same as ensuring that the bill “…will establish Canada as a national and global accessibility leader by putting Canadians with disabilities in control of setting the accessibility standards that affect their lives.”

* “Rosemarie Falk Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, could the member tell us what will come into effect the day the bill receives royal assent and how soon the CASDO board will be established?

Liberal

Darrell Samson Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are confident that the standards will be in place within one years, so things will get moving as soon as the bill passes. We expect regulations to be in place no later than two years.”

Our Comment: Nothing in the bill requires a standard to be in place within one year, or ever. An earlier statement by the Government said that CASDO would be up and running within a year, something that the bill does not itself require. However, even if CASDO is up and running within one year, it is not clear how CASDO can have a voluntary standard developed by that same one  year mark.

Updated List of the 91 Organizations that Signed the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on the Need to Strengthen Bill C-81

Council of Canadians with Disabilities – Conseil des Canadiens avec déficiences (CCD)

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)

DAWN-RAFH Canada

Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)

National Network for Mental Health (NNMH)

Independent Living Canada (ILC)

March of Dimes Canada

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)

Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)

People First of Canada

Canadian Centre on Disability Studies

Canadian Epilepsy Alliance/ L’Alliance canadienne de l’épilepsie  (CEA/ACE)

National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs in Canada

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

Muscular Dystrophy Canada

Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Association (CASDA)

Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada

L’Arche Canada

Hydrocephalus Canada

AODA Alliance

ARCH Disability Law Centre

Québec Accessible

Views for the Visually Impaired

Physicians of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Advocacy (PONDA)

Unitarian Commons Co-Housing Corporation

Citizens with Disabilities Ontario (CWDO)

Community Living Ontario (CLO)

Barrier-Free Manitoba

Regroupement des associations de personnes Handicapées de l’Outaouais (RAPHO)

Barrier Free Saskatchewan

DeafBlind Ontario Services

Community Living Toronto (CLT)

Ontario Autism Coalition

Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec (COPHAN)

Canadian Multicultural Disability Centre, Inc. (CMDCI)

Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)

Northwest Territories Council for Disability

Voice of Albertans with Disabilities

Ontario Disability Coalition

SPH Planning and Consulting Ltd.

The Law, Disability & Social Change Project

Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD)

Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO)

Nova Scotia Association for Community Living

Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunity

Disability Alliance of British Columbia

Disability Positive

Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NL)

Realize / Réalise

Calgary Ability Network Human Rights

Down Syndrome Association of Ontario

Southern Alberta Individualized Planning Association

Gateway Association (Edmonton)

BALANCE for Blind Adults

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians Toronto Chapter (AEBC Toronto Chapter)

The Keremeos Measuring Up Team

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)

Altergo

Aphasie Québec – Le réseau

Association multiethnique pour l’intégration des personnes handicapées

DéPhy Montréal

Ex aequo

Regroupement des organismes de personnes handicapées du Centre-du-Québec

Regroupement des Usagers du Transport Adapté et accessible de l’île de Montréal (RUTA Mtl)

Réseau international sur le Processus de production du handicap (RIPPH)

Société logique

North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre Inc.

Older Women’s Network

Association d’informations en logements et immeubles adaptés (AILIA)

Association du syndrome de Usher du Québec (ASUQ)

Réseau québécois pour l’inclusion sociale des personnes sourdes et malentendantes (ReQIS)

Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Québec (RAAQ)

Saskatoon Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians

Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (C.I.L.T.) Inc

The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada – Ligue des driots de la personne de B’nai Brith Canada

Barrier-Free New Brunswick

Canadian Association of Professionals with Disabilities

The BC Disability Caucus

The Independent Living Centre London and Area

Ontario Association of the Deaf (OAD)

Handicapped Action Group Inc. (HAGI)

Community Services for Independence North West (CSINW)

Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy

Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NSLEO)

Alberta Disability Workers Association

reachAbility Association

Champions Career Centre

The Peterborough Council for Persons with Disabilities

Guide Dog Users of Canada

Action des femmes handicapées – Montréal

Excerpt from the Analysis of Amendments to Bill C-81 at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

Note: Thanks to Kerri Joffe, legal counsel at ARCH Disability Law Centre, for preparing an analysis, of which this is the summary.

Bill C-81 Second Reading, as amended by HUMA Committee, November 19, 2018

Summary of Amendments Made by HUMA to Bill C-81

 

In the Preamble, Canadians was changed to persons in Canada.

The definition of barrier was expanded by adding the words an impairment, including and by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities.

The definition of disability was expanded by adding the words any impairment, including and by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities, and by adding whether evident or not.

 

Throughout the Bill, the words progressive realization were changed to realization.

The areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention were expanded to include an additional area of communication, other than information and communication technologies.

Regulated entities now have requirements to include communication in their accessibility plans.

Within the areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention, the procurement of goods and services was expanded to goods, services and facilities.

Within the areas targeted for barrier identification, removal and prevention, the delivery of programs and services was expanded to the design and delivery of programs and services.

Throughout the Bill, the use of abilities or disabilities was changed to disabilities. In particular, this change affects the principles (section 6).

An additional principle was added to the Bill, that the development and revision of accessibility standards and the making of regulations must be done with the objective of achieving the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

 

Regulated entities now have an additional requirement that they must take into account the principles set out in section 6 when it prepares an accessibility plan or an updated version of its accessibility plan.

The requirement for the Minister to work with the provinces and territories to coordinate accessibility efforts was strengthened. The Bill now states that the Minister must make every reasonable effort to collaborate with provincial or territorial authorities with a view to coordinating efforts in relation to matters relating to accessibility.

An additional consideration was added to the appointment of CASDO directors, regarding the importance of having directors that are representative of the diversity of disabilities faced by Canadians.

The CRTC and CTA and Government now have powers to make regulations respecting the feedback process which regulated entities must create in order to receive feedback about the steps they are taking to identify, remove and prevent barriers.

The CRTC, CTA and Government are now required to make at least one regulation about accessibility plans, feedback processes or progress reports within 2 years of the ACA becoming law.

Any exemptions from complying with accessibility requirements are now limited to 3 years. Any orders granting exemptions must be published in the Canada Gazette and reasons for the granting of an exemption must be made public.

The Accessibility Commissioner may decline to investigate a complaint if the complaint is based on acts or omissions the complainant became aware of more than one year, or any longer period of time that the Accessibility Commissioner considers appropriate in the circumstances, before filing the complaint. This amendment clarifies that the one year period begins from the time the complainant became aware of the complaint, not from the time the failure to comply occurred.

When Accessibility Commissioner reviews a decision not to investigate a complaint or to discontinue an investigation, the complainant will be given opportunity to make submissions in a manner that is accessible to them.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal now has power to extend the 30 day time period for appealing an accessibility complaint. The period for appealing cannot be more than 60 days.

The Bill now clarifies that an appeal of an accessibility complaint can be made based to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal based on a question of law or fact or mixed law and fact, including a principle of natural justice. The request for an appeal must set out the evidence that supports the appeal.

The Bill now clarifies that at an appeal, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal may confirm, change or rescind the Accessibility Commissioner’s decision, or may give the decision that the Accessibility Commissioner should have given or refer the complaint back to the Accessibility Commissioner for reconsideration in accordance with any direction the Tribunal may give.

The Bill now permits the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing an appeal to allow arguments and new evidence not previously available when the complaint was heard by the Accessibility Commissioner.



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