Join in Our New “Dial Doug” Campaign! — A Grassroots Blitz, Unveiled Today, to Get the Doug Ford Government to Make Ontario Open for Over 1.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

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

Join in Our New “Dial Doug” Campaign! — A Grassroots Blitz, Unveiled Today, to Get the Doug Ford Government to Make Ontario Open for Over 1.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

Twitter: #DialDoug

July 24, 2019

Please help our new grassroots blitz, unveiled today! We want the Doug Ford Government to come up with a plan to make Ontario accessible to over 1.9 million Ontarians who have any kind of disability. It just takes you a few minutes to help, from home, or anywhere.

Grab a smart phone! DIAL DOUG! Phone or email him! Ask him where is his plan to get Ontario to be accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025? Tell him our rights are not red tape!

The phone number for the Office of the Premier of Ontario is (416) 325-1941. Premier Ford’s email address is premier@ontario.ca. He had made his cell number public and was open to getting calls and text messages from voters on it. He portrays himself as being a very accessible premier who wants to hear directly from the people. He recently cancelled that cell number. But we the public can still try to reach him on his office phone or his email address.

Doug Ford says he is the premier “for the People”. His Government says it’s focusing on what matters most to Ontarians. Let’s take him at his word. Call or email him. Have your say. Read on for action tips and helpful background at a glance, below. We’ll have even more tips for you in future AODA Alliance Updates.

Here’s What to Do

Please phone or email Premier Doug Ford, whichever makes you most comfortable. If you phone him at his office, you will likely get connected with one of his staff. You can tell them what you have to say to the premier. You can even ask him to call you back, if you like. You might get directed to a voice mail box to leave a message. If you send him an email, you can take the time to write out what you want. You can do both, phone him and email him.

What might you say? Here are some ideas. It’s best if you share your thoughts in your own words.

Tell Doug Ford how many people around you have disabilities. We’re voters! Describe disability barriers that hurt you or your friends or family members with disabilities. These might be barriers you or others face when trying to shop, use public transit or health care services, go to school or university, or get a job.

Most important, ask him what is his plan to lead Ontario to become accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025? That is the deadline that the Disabilities Act (AODA) sets.

You might tell him that our rights are not “red tape”. In the Legislature on May 30, 2019, several Conservative MPPs said it would just create red tape for the Ontario Government to make new regulations on accessibility or to do a better job at enforcing Ontario’s Disabilities Act (AODA).

Ontario won’t be open for business if it is not open to all Ontarians with disabilities as customers and employees. We need Doug Ford to use the Disabilities Act to tear down the barriers that close Ontario to so many of us.

Tell him that this past January, former Lieutenant Governor David Onley gave the Government a report that said that for people with disabilities, Ontario is full of “countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers”.

Be open about your concerns but also remember that it is important to be respectful, no matter how frustrated you may feel. That is far more effective and appropriate than sounding angry.

We are non-partisan. We work with all parties, commend them when they do good things, and hold them publicly accountable when they fall short on our issues.

Let us know what you tried and what you were told. If you are on Twitter or Facebook, tweet or post about your text message or call to Doug Ford. Use our new #DialDoug hashtag in your tweet or post. You can email us about it, at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Encourage family and friends to also take part in our Dial Doug campaign. If you have more time, please also contact your nearest members of the Ontario Legislature with the same message. Their contact information is at https://www.ola.org/en/members

Background at a Glance

Over 1.9 million Ontarians have a physical, mental, sensory, intellectual, learning, communication or other disability. This number is increasing as the population grows and ages.

In the 2018 Ontario election, Doug Ford said:

“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.”

In 2005, the Legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). It requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025 (less than 5 and a half years away). The Ontario Government must enact regulations, called accessibility standards. These tell organizations what they need to do to become accessible, and set time lines. the Government is supposed to enforce these standards.

Progress on accessibility since 2005 has been far too slow. Ontarians with disabilities know this from their experience. It was also the strong finding of a Government-appointed Independent Review by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Onley Report concluded this province is mostly inaccessible.”

The Onley report found that there has been a protracted, troubling lack of Government leadership for years on this issue. The Onley Report recommended:

“The Premier of Ontario could establish accessibility as a government-wide priority with the stroke of a pen.”

The Onley report made practical recommendations. Among other things, it called for the Government to substantially strengthen AODA enforcement, create new accessibility standards including for the built environment, strengthen existing AODA accessibility standards, and ensure that public money is never again used to create disability barriers.

The Ford Government has been studying the Onley Report for almost six months. It has announced no plan to implement the Onley Report.

Doug Ford’s Government voted against creating a plan to implement the Onley Report. Yet the Ford Government’s Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said that David Onley did a “marvelous job”. On May 30, 2019, during National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government voted to defeat a motion in the Legislature proposed by NDP MPP Joel Harden. That motion had called on the Ford Government to come up with a plan to implement the Onley Report.

In statements in the Legislature on May 30, 2019 that are hurtful to people with disabilities, several of Doug Ford’s members of the Legislature inaccurately rejected the Onley Report’s recommendations as leading to “more duplication, red tape and high costs for business.” Our rights to accessibility under the AODA are not red tape!

The AODA Alliance recently gave the Ford Government a failing “F” grade for its work on accessibility in its first year in office.

On July 10, 2019, 21 disability organizations sent an open letter to Premier Ford, calling on his Government to come up with a plan to implement the Onley Report. More organizations have signed on since then.

In one year, Doug Ford’s Government announced only one new measure to fix disability barriers. Doug Ford plans to give the Rick Hansen Foundation 1.3 million dollars of the public’s money to conduct a private accessibility certification of 250 public or private buildings over two years. This plan is riddled with problems. It’s an inappropriate use of public money. The Government should instead use that money to beef up AODA implementation and enforcement.