Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
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
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
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The January 27, 2020 Letter from Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Michael Coteau to the AODA Alliance
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.