First Reflections After the 2018 Ontario Election from the Perspective of Our Non-Partisan Campaign for Accessibility 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

First Reflections on the 2018 Ontario Election from the Perspective of Our Non-Partisan Campaign for Accessibility for 1.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

June 8, 2018

          SUMMARY

We congratulate Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party on its success in the June 7, 2018 Ontario election. With the election of a new majority Progressive Conservative Government for Ontario yesterday under Doug Ford, a new chapter begins in our non-partisan campaign to make Ontario fully accessible to 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. We’re ready to work with Ontario’s new Government! Our sleeves are rolled up!

In this Update, we offer a few preliminary reflections on the election campaign that has just finished, and on our mission in the days ahead. We thank everyone who swung into action to help us raise disability issues in the 2018 Ontario election campaign.

          MORE DETAILS

First Reflections on the June 8, 2018 Ontario Election

As always, the non-partisan AODA Alliance is ready to work with the new Government that is poised to take office at Queens Park. Over the years that it was in opposition, we worked with PC MPPs, urged them to raise disability issues in the Legislature, and offered our help. We are always ready to work with any party in the same way.

As the Tories now take office, they do so with their party on record as having unanimously voted for and applauded the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in the Legislature when it was passed 13 years ago, back on May 10, 2005. PC leader Doug Ford wrote the AODA Alliance on May 15, 2018, voicing support for this legislation. He recognized a number of the barriers that Ontarians with disabilities still face, and committed to work with us to address these. We will take him and his Government up on this.

We will show how a strong and effective implementation and enforcement of the AODA fits within Doug Ford’s promise to govern for the people. That includes the 1.9 million Ontarians who now have a disability and all other Ontarians who are bound to get a disability as they age. Doug Ford has promised to make Ontario “open for business”. To do so, that needs to include ensuring it is open for people with disabilities, as employees, business owners and customers. We look forward to offering to help the Ontario Government achieve this.

We set out below Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance. To read the AODA Alliance’s April 2, 2018 letter to the party leaders, listing the disability accessibility commitments we seek, visit:

https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-ontarios-major-political-parties-seeking-their-election-pledges-on-accessibility-for-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

We have known that whatever the outcome to the election was to be, a very large majority of the MPPs in the next Ontario Legislature had not been not members of that Legislature back in May 2005 when the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was passed. The vast majority of the MPPs who voted to pass the AODA have left provincial politics. So has every cabinet minister who had responsibility for the AODA, or for its creation, or for the predecessor law that the PCs passed under Premier Mike Harris, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001.

In fact, a total of only 9 MPPs who voted to pass the AODA in May 2005 will be in the next Ontario Legislature. We list them below. Of them, a majority of them, totaling 5, are Conservatives, namely Ted Arnott, Ernie Hardeman, Norm Miller, Jim Wilson and John Yakabuski. Two are Liberals. Two are NDP.

The nine MPPs who were re-elected yesterday and who were in the Legislature 15 years ago to vote to pass the AODA, along with their party affiliation, are:

Ted Arnott PC

Gilles Bisson NDP

Michael Gravelle Liberal

Ernie Hardeman PC

Andrea Horwath NDP

Norm Miller PC

Jim Wilson PC

Kathleen Wynne Liberal

John Yakabuski PC

We can and should all be proud of our non-partisan efforts in the 2018 Ontario election to raise disability accessibility issues. We secured a greater profile in the media and elsewhere than in several of the past Ontario elections. As part of our efforts, we:

* Offered all party leaders a constructive list of election commitments that we sought, and that the next Government will need to act on, to ensure that Ontario reaches full accessibility by 2025, as the AODA requires.

* Secured commitments in response from all four party leaders.

* Brought to the public’s attention the election commitments we sought, and the commitments we received, broken down on an issue-by-issue basis.

* Spearheaded a grassroots campaign to get voters with disabilities and their supporters to raise accessibility issues with the candidates, including at all-candidates debates. We made available an online list of all the candidates’ debates we could find.

* Undertook a Twitter blitz to every candidate who was on Twitter. We sent hundreds if not thousands of tweets. We are delighted whenever AODA Alliance supporters took the time to retweet these and to add their own messages. A number of candidates tweeted back to us from the campaign trail, voicing their support for accessibility. Our new #DisabilityVoteCounts hashtag was a real success on Twitter.

* Released a very successful new online video that became a centerpiece of our campaign. It reveals serious accessibility problems at new and recently renovated Toronto area public transit stations. In its first 12 days online, it secured over 2,000 views. Its viewership has kept growing since then. It will remain highly relevant to our efforts long after the end of this election campaign. Links to that video are set out below.

* We and our issues got great coverage in the mainstream media during this election campaign, including on TV, on the radio, in newspapers, and online. It is extremely hard to get the conventional media to cover disability issues during an election. We did better than we had in the most recent prior elections.

* We exposed serious accessibility problems facing voters with disabilities, and secured media attention on this. We have pressed Elections Ontario for major improvements, and will be following up on this issue.

We thank one and all for receiving our Updates over this election, and appreciate that we have been sending more than we usually do. Things will slow down a bit now. However we will have lots to offer in the next days and weeks on such topics as:

* How we can effectively raise accessibility issues with Ontario’s new Government.

* Taking part in the 3rd Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, which must complete its work and submit its final report by early February 2019.

* How we can raise disability accessibility issues in this fall’s upcoming local municipal and school board elections.

* How we can press the Federal Government to introduce and pass a strong national accessibility law, as it has promised to do.

We welcome your feedback on our efforts during this election, and your suggestions for working together with you on those priority areas that we have just listed.

At this Update’s end you will find links to helpful information about our ongoing efforts on disability accessibility, and a button for unsubscribing from these Updates.

May 15, 2018 Letter to the AODA Alliance from Progressive Conservative Party Leader Doug Ford

May 15, 2018

David Lepofsky, Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA Alliance)

Dear David,

The Ontario PC Party is pleased to respond to the AODA Alliance’s survey for the 2018 Ontario election. Our team is focused on providing a clear alternative to voters. After 15 years of high taxes and government mismanagement under the Wynne Liberals, the people of Ontario are ready for change.

Your issues are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus and Candidates, which is why they will play an outstanding role in shaping policy for the Ontario PC Party to assist Ontarians in need.

Too many Ontarians with disabilities still face barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education, use our healthcare system, buy goods or services, or eat in restaurants.

Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA in 2005 was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities.

For the Ontario PCs, this remains our goal. Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.

Christine Elliott, our former Health Critic and Deputy Leader, has been a tireless advocate for Ontarians with disabilities. Ms. Elliott called to establish the Select Committee on Developmental Services, with a mandate to develop a comprehensive developmental services strategy for children, youth and adults in Ontario with an intellectual disability or who are dually diagnosed with an intellectual disability and a mental illness.

When it comes to people with disabilities, we have a moral and an economic responsibility to focus on their abilities and not just on what holds them back. Our family members, friends and neighbours who have a disability of some kind are a wellspring of talent and determination.

There’s no good reason why a person with a disability should not be able to cast a vote in an election. It’s also completely unacceptable that someone should be passed over for a job because of the myth that people with disabilities can’t do the work. We have a moral and social responsibility to change this.

This is why we’re disappointed the current government has not kept its promise with respect to accessibility standards. An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards.

Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions. We need Ontario’s design professionals, such as architects, to receive substantially improved professional training on disability and accessibility.

The Ontario PC Party believes our education system must minimize barriers for students with disabilities, providing the skills, opportunities and connections with the business community that are necessary to enter the workforce.

Building a strong, open dialogue with your organization is most certainly a priority for our party. We encourage you to continue this dialogue and share your ideas and solutions for Ontarians with disabilities.

When I am elected Premier on June 7th, I promise I will focus on investing in the priorities that matter most to the people of Ontario. Jobs and economic development will be a key focus, and Ontario will be open for business again.

In the coming weeks, our team will be releasing our platform of policies and priorities and a clear vision for a prosperous Ontario.

If you have any further questions please feel free to reach out at any time.

Sincerely,

Doug Ford

Leader, Ontario PC Party

 More Information About the AODA Alliance and Accessibility Issues in the 2018 Ontario Election

Please take steps to ensure you can receive our AODA Alliance Updates. Put updates@aodaalliance.org in your contact list. Check your spam filter so it does not treat our emails from that new email address as spam.

To unsubscribe from Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Updates, click on the “unsubscribe” button at the end of all our Updates that we email to you.

To watch the new AODA Alliance video on serious accessibility problems at new and recently renovated Toronto area public transit stations, visit:

2 minute teaser/promo:

https://youtu.be/y7111_apq48

16-minute version:

https://youtu.be/za1UptZq82o

30-minute version:

https://youtu.be/2VZLGGfFg1g

To read the AODA Alliance’s May 16, 2018 news release that unveiled the commitments on disability accessibility from the major Ontario parties, visit: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/news-release-major-disability-coalition-unveils-the-parties-2018-election-pledges-on-accessibility-for-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

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

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.

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Check out our new and expanded collection of online videos about the history, strategies and accomplishments of Ontario’s non-partisan grassroots accessibility campaign, available at:

https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-aoda-alliance-launches-part-2-of-its-series-of-online-videos-on-the-campaign-for-accessibility-to-mark-the-23rd-anniversary-of-ontarios-grassroots-campaign-for-disability-accessibility/

Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign. https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates: https://www.facebook.com/Accessibility-for-Ontarians-with-Disabilities-Act-Alliance-106232039438820/
Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting

https://www.aodaalliance.org