ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
The Ontario Conservatives Ask the Wynne Government When It Will Appoint the Education Standards Development Committee, But the Wynne Government Doesn't Give a Direct Answer
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Come to the April 22, 2017 AODA Public Forum in Georgina Ontario
April 21, 2017
1. There Have Been 137 Days Since Premier Wynne Promised An Education Accessibility Standard, But Still No Answer On When the Wynne Government Will Post an Ad Inviting the Public To Apply To Serve on the Education Standards Development Committee
Over a third of a million Ontario students with disabilities are still waiting for new Government action to tear down the accessibility barriers they face in Ontario's education system.
On April 13, 2017, Opposition Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff: the MPP for Niagara-West Glanbrook, asked Minister of Accessibility Tracy MacCharles when the Government would appoint the Education Standards Development Committee. That Committee is needed to develop recommendations for the Wynne Government on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include. Appointing that Standards Development Committee is the first step under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act necessary to get the process going toward creating that promised accessibility standard.
Accessibility Minister MacCharles did not give a direct answer to this question. The exchange in Question Period in the Ontario Legislature is set out below. We thank MPP Sam Oosterhoff for raising our concerns in the Legislature.
We encourage one and all to contact your MPP. Urge them to press Premier Wynne to now post an ad that will invite members of the public to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Also, urge your MPP to press Premier Wynne to agree not to try to restrict the kinds of accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system that the Education Accessibility Standard can consider. That Committee should not be hog-tied when it finally gets appointed and gets to work.
2. Come to the AODA Public Forum Tomorrow, April 22, 2017 in Georgina Ontario
Here is one last reminder to come to the AODA public forum taking place tomorrow, April 22, 2017, in Georgina, Ontario, from 10 a.m. to noon. It is being held at The Link, 20849 Dalton Road, Sutton, ON L0E 1R0.
Speakers will include AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky as well as Ontario's Housing Minister Chris Ballard, Margaret Quirk, the mayor of Georgina, and the chair of Georgina's Accessibility Advisory Committee. RSVP is not necessary.
This will be the most recent in a string of AODA public forums in which the AODA Alliance has taken part around Ontario over the past 16 months. Come, and get involved in our grassroots non-partisan accessibility campaign.
You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you taken part in our "Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our "Picture Our Barriers" campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016
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We encourage you to use the Government's toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.
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Ontario Hansard April 13, 2017
Accessibility for the Disabled
Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: My question is to the minister responsible for accessibility. I recently met with the joint accessibility advisory committee of Niagara, as well as hosting my own round table in Grimsby, to learn more about the obstacles faced by 1.85 million Ontarians with a disability.
This allowed me to hear from Aleksandra Stanojevic, a student with hearing challenges who faced great obstacles in high school after being assigned a poorly educated interpreter who failed to interpret the course properly.
The Premier agreed to establish an education accessibility standard last December. However, four months have gone by and an education standards committee still does not exist. How much longer will persons with disabilities like Aleksandra have to wait for this government to take action?
Hon. Tracy MacCharles: First, I want to thank the member so much for hosting that round table. I think it's fantastic when any members of the Legislature can engage with their communities. We know also that every municipality in Ontario has an accessibility advisory committee. I think it is so important that we listen to what the issues are, listen to what barriers still exist, and bring those forward.
But, Speaker, I'm also very proud of our legislation. In fact, this year, 2017, is the first year where all organizations have to start reporting on their accessibility plans and their progress. We know that the legislation is important, but it's also about changing attitudes and removing barriers.
I'll be very happy to speak in the supplementary about the new education standard that we'll be developing to complement the other standards that already exist.
Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: That answer let down over a third of a million students in elementary, secondary and post-secondary study. These students have been waiting for equal opportunities for 11 years, since the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was passed in this Legislature. It is letting down students, such as Aleksandra, who have faced unnecessary obstacles in education because of this government's failure to act. Students are losing hope that educational barriers will be removed through the establishment of standards.
Did you forget about the Premier's promise, or is this just another one of your government's stretch goals?
Hon. Tracy MacCharles: It's an important question, but it's also important that the member knows that we already do remove barriers in schools, whether it's elementary or post-secondary education.
We have obligations in place for the education sector, under our standards, that policies be in place, that educators are trained on programs, and that libraries and other services are provided in accessible formats. These all help our students.
But we know that there is more to be done. That's why the Premier announced the education standard in December of last year. She made that a public commitment.
I am working with my colleague ministers in education, and advanced education and skills development, to get that standard going, to strike an SDC—a standards development committee—as we have done recently with health care.
We know that improving and enhancing inclusion and accessibility for students is an important thing, and we'll continue to work hard on it.