AODA Alliance Writes Premier Doug Ford to Offer Nine Recommendations for the Premier to Help Get Ontario Back on Schedule to Reach Full Accessibility by 2025 for 1.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

AODA Alliance Writes Premier Doug Ford to Offer Nine Recommendations for the Premier to Help Get Ontario Back on Schedule to Reach Full Accessibility by 2025 for 1.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

July 19, 2018

          SUMMARY

On July 19, 2018, the AODA Alliance wrote Premier Doug Ford. Our letter recommends nine priorities for action by Ontario’s new Premier. These are aimed at revitalizing Government leadership that is needed to get Ontario back on schedule to become fully accessible to 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. We set out our letter below. To summarize, we recommend that Premier Ford:

  1. issue written directions to the Secretary of the Cabinet, and to all cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and associate deputy ministers, to take effective action to ensure that the Ontario Government leads Ontario to full accessibility by 2025. Please include specific directions on this in Mandate Letters to each cabinet minister.
  1. direct the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho to act on the priorities which the AODA Alliance identified for him in our July 17, 2018 Briefing Note.
  1. have the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors now lift the freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees which the Ontario Public Service recently imposed, pending briefing ministers, as this has stalled progress on developing recommendations for the Government, including in the urgent area education for students with disabilities (an area where the PC Party had commendably helped us press the previous Ontario Government for action, in the face of many Government delays).
  1. Direct cabinet ministers to develop, implement, enforce and publicize effective across-the-board policies and practices to ensure that the public’s money is never used to finance barriers against persons with disabilities, especially in spending on infrastructure, procurement, research, innovation or other business grants or loans. This effort should be led by the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Infrastructure, the Minister of Government Services, the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors and the Treasury Board President. The secretary of the Cabinet should be directed to devise an action plan to ensure that this is embedded across the Ontario Public Service.
  1. Direct the Secretary of the Cabinet to implement effective new strategies to ensure the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible employer and service provider, and to ensure that disability accessibility is embedded in all vital Government decisions.
  1. Direct that a full-time deputy minister or associate deputy minister position be immediately created, as a Chief Accessibility Officer, with lead responsibility and authority for ensuring that the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible workplace and service provider.
  1. Direct the Secretary of the Cabinet to require each Ministry’s Accessibility Lead be made a full-time position, reporting to the deputy minister of that Ministry, with needed accessibility expertise.
  1. direct the Attorney General and Municipal Affairs Minister to prepare and introduce an omnibus bill to address barriers impeding voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections, after designating one of those ministers with responsibility to lead this project.
  1. Direct the Attorney General to lead a comprehensive review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers, and to complete it in the next two and a half years, in consultation with the disability community, with a view to bringing an omnibus bill before the Legislature to fix any disability accessibility barriers found.

This letter builds upon our June 14, 2018 letter to Premier Ford, where we introduce ourselves to him, and our July 17, 2018 Briefing Note to Raymond Cho, Ontario’s new Minister for Accessibility and Seniors.

We encourage you to share this Update with your own member of the Ontario Legislature. Urge them to help us get the new Ford Government to act on these priorities. Let us know what you do. Email us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

          MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance’s July 19, 2018 Letter to Premier Doug Ford

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

1929 Bayview Avenue

Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8

Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com

Visit: www.aodalliance.org <http://www.aodalliance.org

July 19, 2018

Via Email: doug.ford@ontariopc.com

To: Hon. Doug Ford, Premier

Room 281, Legislative Building

Queen’s Park

Toronto, Ontario

M7A 1A1

Dear Premier Ford,

RE: Ensuring Ontario Becomes Fully Accessible to All People with Disabilities by 2025

We again congratulate you on your election as Ontario’s Premier. We look forward to working with your Government on ensuring that Ontario gets on schedule for becoming fully-accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 (AODA), whose enactment your party proudly and unanimously supported, requires your Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible for persons with disabilities by 2025. As we explained in our June 14, 2018 letter to you, Ontario now clearly lags behind schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025. We need strong, new Government leadership to substantially speed up overdue action. Taking effective action on this front fits well within your Party’s commitments and agenda, as our June 14, 2018 letter to you explained.

You have been elected on a commitment to bring major change to Ontario. It would be a major and positive change to kick-start real and substantial progress on accessibility in Ontario for people with disabilities. On June   29, 2018, we made public our retrospective on the efforts of the previous Ontario Government on this issue. It showed that Ontario made far too little progress, especially over the past six years.

In this letter we offer you nine constructive and practical recommendations, to help with this important issue. You are in the key position to re-energize the Ontario Government’s work on this. Ontario’s budget situation doesn’t necessitate any delay. No major new funding is needed. You have a firm majority government. Moreover, these actions can be expected to secure cross-party support.

  1. The Need to Mandate the Secretary of the Cabinet and All cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Associate Deputy Ministers to Fulfil All of Your Government’s Accessibility Duties and Commitments

From years of dealing with the Government at all levels, it is evident that in the past, the previous Premier’s Office had not directed its senior officials to fulfil all of the previous Government’s accessibility duties and pledges. This was so, even though former Premier Wynne had promised in the 2014 election to direct her ministers to fulfill their accessibility commitments.

We ask you to take a more effective approach. Please:

  1. Issue written directions to the Secretary of the Cabinet, and to all cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and associate deputy ministers, to take effective action to ensure that the Ontario Government leads Ontario to full accessibility by 2025. Please include specific directions on this in Mandate Letters to each cabinet minister.
  1. The Need to Direct Your New Minister for Accessibility and Seniors to Act on the Priorities that the AODA Alliance Has Identified for Him

We congratulate you on creating an historic cabinet position of Minister for Accessibility and Seniors. This week, we sent a detailed briefing note to Minister Cho. It lists eleven key priorities that we identified based on our many years of experience in this area. We recommend that you:

  1. Direct the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho to act on the priorities which the AODA Alliance identified for him in our July 17, 2018 Briefing Note.
  1. Have the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors now lift the freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees which the Ontario Public Service recently imposed, pending briefing ministers, as this has stalled progress on developing recommendations for the Government, including in the urgent area of education for students with disabilities (an area where the PC Party had commendably helped us press the previous Ontario Government for action, in the face of many Government delays).

III. Ensure Public Money is Never Used to Create or Perpetuate Barriers Against people with Disabilities

It is essential that public money never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. It is very good that on August 29, 2016, when Ontario’s new Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho, was running in the September 1, 2016 by-election, he made this important commitment on behalf of the PC party:

“The Ontario PC Party believes that no new public money should be used to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers.”

The previous Ontario Government did a poor job in this area. You are in a position to bring about real and positive change for Ontarians. For example, the new Commission that you appointed earlier this week to review Ontario Government spending, could make recommendations on how to ensure public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.

We recommend that you:

  1. Direct cabinet ministers to develop, implement, enforce and publicize effective across-the-board policies and practices to ensure that the public’s money is never used to finance barriers against persons with disabilities, especially in spending on infrastructure, procurement, research, innovation or other business grants or loans. This effort should be led by the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Infrastructure, the Minister of Government Services, the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors and the Treasury Board President. The secretary of the Cabinet should be directed to devise an action plan to ensure that this is embedded across the Ontario Public Service.
  1. Re-Engineer How the Ontario Public Service Acts to Ensure Accessibility of Its Services and Workplaces

For decades, disability accessibility has been weakly and disjointedly addressed across the huge Ontario Public Service, in isolated, disconnected silos. We have suffered frustrating year after year, having to separately advocate to several different ministries and ministers, endlessly chasing our tails. After each cabinet shuffle, we must start all over again.

We recommend that your Government substantially re-engineer how the Ontario Public Service ensures that its services, facilities and workplaces are fully accessible. We need the Secretary of the Cabinet to institute effective new Government-wide initiatives, to far more effectively ensure that accessibility for persons with disabilities is imbedded and integrated in all the Ontario Public Service’s work. Despite its claiming to do this, it too often has been difficult to get accessibility integrated into its activities across the board. This is so, despite constructive laws and policies on point.

We recommend that you:

  1. Direct the Secretary of the Cabinet to implement effective new strategies to ensure the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible employer and service provider, and to ensure that disability accessibility is embedded in all vital Government decisions.

Leading major corporations like IBM and Microsoft have a Chief Accessibility Officer. Ontario does not. The Ontario Public Service needs a fulltime deputy minister or associate deputy minister responsible for, and armed with the authority for ensuring that the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible workplace and service provider. No such full-time position now exists. Leading the Ontario Public Service to full accessibility is not just a part time job.

We recommend that you:

  1. Direct that a full-time deputy minister or associate deputy minister position be immediately created, as a Chief Accessibility Officer, with lead responsibility and authority for ensuring that the Ontario Public Service becomes a fully accessible workplace and service provider.

Right now, each ministry is supposed to have a part time or full time official designated as an Accessibility Lead for that ministry. However, too often, these Accessibility Leads are buried too far down in the hierarchy of their organizations to have a full and effective impact. Moreover, these individuals have varying disability accessibility expertise, some more than others. We have tried for years without success to get this weak system strengthened.

We recommend that you

  1. Direct the Secretary of the Cabinet to require each Ministry’s Accessibility Lead be made a full-time position, reporting to the deputy minister of that Ministry, with needed accessibility expertise.
  1. Introduce an Omnibus Bill to Reform Provincial and Municipal Election Legislation to Remove the Accessibility Barriers Facing Voters and Candidates with Disabilities

Voters with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections in Ontario continue to face too many barriers. In your May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out your party’s election promises on accessibility, it was great that you said:

“There’s no good reason why a person with a disability should not be able to cast a vote in an election.”

We agree. Yet even in 2018, the same disability barriers persist in both provincial and municipal elections. The solutions are the same. It is far more efficient to introduce an omnibus bill to tackle all these barriers at the same time.

We recommend that you:

  1. direct the Attorney General and Municipal Affairs Minister to prepare and introduce an omnibus bill to address barriers impeding voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections, after designating one of those ministers with responsibility to lead this project.
  1. Accelerate the Sluggish and Long-Overdue Review of All Ontario Laws for Accessibility Barriers

In the 2007 election, all parties promised that the Ontario Government would review all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers. Yet fully eleven years later, only a tiny fraction of Ontario statutes are under review. Most have not yet been examined at all. No Ontario regulations have been reviewed. Of the disability barriers in the few statutes that the previous Government reviews, many were never fixed by legislative amendments. When the previous Government left office, it had no plans for reviewing the rest of Ontario’s laws for accessibility problems.

Your Government can bring a new, faster and better approach to this issue.

We recommend that you:

  1. Direct the Attorney General to lead a comprehensive review of all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers, and to complete it in the next two and a half years, in consultation with the disability community, with a view to bringing an omnibus bill before the Legislature to fix any disability accessibility barriers found.

In conclusion, we hope you find our recommendations helpful. Ontario is now at a turning point. The measures we have recommended to you in this letter, and to the Accessibility Minister in our July 17, 2018 Briefing Note to him, are all vital to get Ontario on schedule to reach full accessibility by 2025.

We are eager to help your Government ensure that Ontario gets back on schedule and on track. Please let us know who within the Premier’s office has lead responsibility for this issue.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O.Ont.

Chair

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc:

The Hon. Raymond Cho Minister for Accessibility and Seniors raymond.cho@pc.ola.org Raymond.cho@ontario.ca

Marie-Lison Fougère, Deputy Minister of Accessibility, marie-lison.fougere@ontario.ca

Steve Orsini, Secretary to the Cabinet email steve.orsini@ontario.ca

Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario email ann.hoy@ontario.ca