May 26, 2014
Here are quick news items in our non-partisan blitz for accessibility during the lead-up to the June 12, 2014 Ontario general election:
* Our advocacy efforts paid off! The May 27, 2014 Parkdale-High Park All Candidates’ Debate has been moved outside of an inaccessible Toronto school, rather than inside it.
* Email in a question on disability accessibility to the media, for the June 3, 2014 TELEVISED Ontario Leaders Debate. Below we give you the email addresses to use.
* Plan to vote at an advance poll.
* Use our handy resources for raising disability accessibility issues during this election campaign, which we again provide, below.
The accessibility clock keeps counting down to 2025, when Ontario must become fully accessible to people with disabilities. A troubling 189 days have now passed since we revealed that the Ontario Government was not enforcing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and that there have been rampant AODA violations in the private sector. The Government still has not made public its promised plan for the AODA’s effective enforcement. Ninety-five days have passed since the Toronto Star reported on February 20, 2014 that the Government would be publicly posting that new enforcement plan “in short order.”
To read our November 18, 2013 revelation that the Government was failing to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act despite knowing of rampant private sector violations, and funds on hand for enforcement.
A similarly unacceptable 490 days have passed since the Ontario Government reaffirmed that it will make new accessibility standards under the AODA. We are still waiting for a clear decision on which ones it will next make. As well, 271 days have passed since the Government unveiled its plans for the legacy of the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games. Yet it has still not released details and specifics of a comprehensive disability accessibility legacy for the Games.
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1. After Our Advocacy Efforts, the Parkdale-High Park May 27 7 pm All Candidates Debate is Moved Outside Inaccessible Schoolhouse
We are relieved to report that after our ongoing pressure on Twitter, and our Friday May 23, 2014 news release, the All Candidates’ Debate to be held on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in the hotly-contested Parkdale-High Park riding in Toronto has been moved outside the inaccessible Fern Avenue Public School. We urge one and all to attend this All Candidates’ Debate, whether or not you live in that riding. Find us there! The address is 128 Fern Avenue, Toronto.
Plan to raise accessibility issues with the candidates. Show why it is important for this event to have been moved so that it is not held inside an inaccessible school.
We have tweeted the candidates to ask if accessible washrooms will be provided. We have not yet received a response.
Earlier this month, we learned that this All Candidates’ Debate was to be held inside the inaccessible Fern Avenue Public School. We have tweeted all candidates across Ontario on Twitter to ask for a commitment that they would not attend any inaccessible All Candidates Debate. In the Parkdale-High Park riding, NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo committed not to attend if it is held in an inaccessible location. Liberal candidate Nancy Leblanc tweeted that she would attend, despite the inaccessible location. Conservative candidate Jamie Ellerton did not answer our tweets on this.
It remains breathtaking that we still have to fight such battles. We will look to see what the Parkdale-High Park candidates have to say about this, and what they will commit on accessibility more generally. What will they offer us, to make our school system fully accessible to people with disabilities? It is hard to believe that we still have inaccessible school buildings in Ontario, just eleven years before Ontario must become fully accessible to all people with disabilities.
2. Send the Media Questions on Disability Accessibility to be Asked at the June 3, 2014 Televised Ontario Leaders’ Debate
We encourage you to email questions to the media for the June 3, 2014 Televised Ontario Leaders’ Debate. Send in questions on disability accessibility. Give your own experience of barriers that you need fixed.
Remind the media that they have never asked a question on disability accessibility in any televised Ontario Leaders’ Debate, even though this has been a live issue in each of the past six Ontario elections dating back to 1995. This Leaders’ Debate falls during National Access Awareness Week. That is a great time for our shut-out to end!
For example, you might point out that Ontario is now behind schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025, even though all parties voted for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, which promises that the Ontario Government will lead Ontario to that goal for over 1.8 million people with disabilities. Ask if the leaders will commit to develop accessibility standards to tear down barriers facing people with disabilities in education, health care, and residential housing.
Here are different email addresses you can use. We recommend that you not CC the question to us. Send your question separately to each!
3. Vote at the Advance Polls
To avoid the risk of facing disability barriers on voting day, June 12, 2014, we strongly encourage you to vote at an advance poll. Check out the availability of advance polls by contacting Elections Ontario. To learn what Elections Ontario is doing to try to remove barriers impeding voters with disabilities.
As a non-partisan coalition, we don’t try to elect or defeat any candidate or party, but we do urge everyone to vote!
4. Helpful Links to Learn about the Ontario Election’s Disability Accessibility Issues
To get easy-to-use non-partisan tips on how to raise disability accessibility issues with the candidates during this Ontario election, check out our 2014 Ontario Election Action Kit.
To watch the AODA Alliance’s virtual news conference, unveiling the parties’ 2014 election disability accessibility pledges, all made in letters to the AODA Alliance.
To read the AODA Alliance’s summary of the three parties’ 2014 election commitments on disability accessibility.