Come to the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall – and – Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls on Ford Government to Swiftly Implement the Onley Report

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Come to the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall – and – Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls on Ford Government to Swiftly Implement the Onley Report

March 13, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. Come to Queen’s park on April 10, 2019!

Here is a great chance to have your say and to show your support for action to achieve n accessible Ontario. We encourage one and all to come to Queen’s Park on April 10, 2019 to attend an Accessibility Town Hall that is being hosted by Ottawa Centre NDP MPP Joel Harden. Below we set out Mr. Harden’s announcement of this event. It includes a link for you to RSVP if you are going to attend.

We are honoured that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky will be speaking at this event. This is your chance to share information about the disability barriers you face and the actions that you need the Government to take.

The AODA Alliance is strictly non-partisan. We are open to take part in similar events, organized by any of the political parties. We encourage all the parties in the legislature to organize similar events.

2. A Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls for Swift Government Action to Implement the Onley Report on the Disabilities Act’s Implementation and Enforcement

Here’s another great development in the long road to an accessible Ontario for people with disabilities. A strong editorial in the March 13, 2019 Toronto Star, set out below, endorses the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. This is the fourteenth time a newspaper editorial has backed our cause since our predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, was formed in the late fall of 1994.

That editorial, the Onley report itself, and the AODA Alliance’s March 8, 2019 news release on the Onley report, together are a great starting point for the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Town Hall on accessibility in Ontario. We encourage you to widely circulate both that editorial and the announcement of the April 10, 2019 Town Hall that are included below in this Update.

In our March 11, 2019 letter to Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho, the AODA Alliance called on the Ford Government to act now on the Onley report’s findings and recommendations. We don’t want the Government to now drag its feet with months of study and pondering before it acts. It took the Ford Government fully nine months to lift its unnecessary freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees that are developing recommendations for new accessibility standards in the important areas of education and health care. We don’t want that kind of delay repeated here.

          MORE DETAILS

Text of MPP Joel Harden’s Announcement of the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall

March 11, 2019

Friends,

I’ve had the pleasure to act as Critic for Accessibility & People with Disabilities; Seniors’ Affairs; Pensions in the Ontario Legislature, and in that time I’ve met with many folks in the disability rights community. I have had a lot to learn, and greatly benefited from conversations with passionate leaders.

Time and again, I’ve heard that we are not prepared to meet Ontario’s obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), most notably that Ontario be a fully accessible province by the year 2025. This message was powerfully reinforced recently by the Honourable David C. Onley’s Report on the Third Review of the AODA.

Ontario needs a plan of action on accessibility, and it’s time to open up the Ontario Legislature to hear from those directly impacted by failing to meet AODA targets.

And so, with that in mind, I write to invite you to an Accessibility Town Hall at the Ontario Legislature on April 10, 2019. Following Question Period, a lunch will be hosted in Room 351, followed by three hours of open presentations to listen to your perspectives.

I am pleased that David Lepofsky (Chair, AODA Alliance) and Sarah Jama (Disability Justice Network of Ontario) will be on hand to offer brief remarks prior to these open hearings. All necessary accommodations will be available to ensure you can participate.

Please join us! Ontario needs your ideas, expertise, and passion to ensure this province is accessible to all, where everyone can live their lives to the fullest.

RSVP here: http://www.joelharden.ca/accessibility_town_hall

My very best,

Joel Harden

MPP for Ottawa Centre

Official Opposition Critic for Accessibility & People with Disabilities; Seniors’ Affairs; Pensions

The Toronto Star March 13, 2019

Originally posted at: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/03/12/ford-government-must-fulfill-ontarios-promise-to-people-with-disabilities.html

Editorial

Time to clear the way

Accessibility review

Fourteen years ago, Ontarians with disabilities might have been hopeful that the barriers that prevent them from fully participating in daily activities,

from getting to work to eating in a restaurant, would be dismantled.

After all, the government of the day was ahead of its time when it passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act with the goal of making

the province fully accessible by 2025. But last week their disappointments were given heartfelt voice in a scathing review that concludes the province

is nowhere near accomplishing its goal.

Indeed, Ontario’s former lieutenant governor David Onley found that for “most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless,

dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

This is clearly unacceptable. The Ford government must quickly implement Onley’s 15 sensible recommendations, starting with his request that Premier Doug

Ford make accessibility a government-wide priority.

As it stands, 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities are receiving the message that “you don’t belong here,” says Onley, who himself uses a wheelchair.

That should be viewed as a violation of both human and civil rights.

In fact, it’s no different, Onley says, than “the signs of a bygone era in foreign countries telling people which water fountains they could or could not

use and which restaurants and buses they could or could not use.”

The bottom line, he says, is that investing in accessibility is both the right thing to do and also provides social and economic benefits for everyone,

including the province’s increasing numbers of seniors.

Among Onley’s common-sense recommendations:

Offer tax breaks and other financial incentives to improve accessibility in public and private buildings alike.

Ensure that architects are trained in inclusive design.

Redesign Ontario’s education curriculum to educate students about accessibility issues, starting in kindergarten.

Reform the way infrastructure projects are managed to ensure public money is never spent on actually creating barriers to accessibility.

Review accessibility standards in building code amendments for new construction projects and major renovations, as well as in provincial guidelines for

how public space is designed.

Onley’s review is not the first to point out the glacial pace of progress on accessibility reform in this province. It is the third. It’s time the government

listened and acted.