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UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO
December 3, 2012
On December 3, 2012, Ms. Kathleen Wynne became the second candidate to replace Dalton McGuinty as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party (and to become Ontario’s next premier), who has made written commitments to us on disability accessibility. In her December 3, 2012 letter to the AODA Alliance, set out below, Ms. Wynne makes all of the five commitments that we sought from the candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. In her letter she commits to:
* fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives.
* stand by and fully honour the past commitments that the Ontario Liberal Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility.
* ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities no later than 2025, the deadline that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act AODA requires.
* continue the practice of making specific election commitments on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to the AODA Alliance.
* personally meet with AODA Alliance representatives to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to meetings with appropriate cabinet ministers.
Beyond this she committed to:
* move forward with the next poverty reduction strategy, due by the end of 2013, including a priority focus on Ontarians with disabilities, and to work with persons with disabilities among others to develop this strategy.
On November 1, 2012, we made public an open letter to all candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. It requests five specific commitments on disability accessibility. We had also subsequently emailed and tweeted this request to each Ontario Liberal leadership candidate. The person whom the Ontario Liberal Party selects as its next leader will become Ontario’s next premier. The AODA Alliance’s open letter to all candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party is available at http://www.www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2012/aoda-alliance-makes-public-an-open-letter-to-all-candidates-for-leadership-of-ontarios-liberal-party-seeking-commitments-on-accessibility-for-ontarians-with-disabilities/
Sandra Pupatello was the first candidate for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party to make a commitment on making Ontario fully accessible to over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities. Sandra Pupatello’s commitments on disability accessibility, which the AODA Alliance received on November 29, 2012.
We appreciate Ms. Wynne making these commitments and commend her for doing so. With Ms. Wynne stepping forward as the second candidate to make disability accessibility commitments, we again encourage all the remaining candidates to do so as well. Today, December 3, is the International Day for People with Disabilities. This would be a great day for all the remaining Liberal leadership candidates to answer our Open Letter to them.
We will make public all the responses that we receive from any other candidates for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership. As a non-partisan community coalition, the AODA Alliance does not endorse, support or oppose any candidate for leadership of any political party. We wrote our Open Letter to Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidates as part of our non-partisan campaign to make Ontario fully accessible to all persons with disabilities.
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TEXT OF THE DECEMBER 3 2012 LETTER FROM KATHLEEN WYNNE TO THE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
December 3, 2012
Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Dear Mr. Lepofsky,
Thank you very much for your letter and for providing me with an opportunity to speak to my commitment to ensuring accessibility in Ontario.
With your help, our government crafted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and we’ve taken significant steps toward our goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025. If elected Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier, I commit to building on that progress and working with our accessibility partners across our province.
Ontario is facing unprecedented demographic shifts that will have a significant impact on issues like accessibility and mobility. In the next 20 years, the number of Ontarians with a disability will grow from one in seven to one in five. Over the next 10 years, Ontario’s seniors population will grow by 40 per cent. Improving accessibility for people with disabilities is not just a moral imperative, but also an economic one.
If elected leader, I will move forward with the next poverty reduction strategy, due by the end of 2013. But this strategy will go further and will build on our success to identify additional areas for priority focus. One such area is on Ontarians with disabilities, and will include a measurable target and indicators for the subsequent 5 years.
We know that Ontarians with disabilities are over represented amongst Ontario’s poor. We also know that many people with disabilities want to work but often have barriers place in front of them to achieve their dreams. We will work with our partners in the community – non-profits, private sector, education sector, health sector and others – and most importantly, people with lived experience, to develop the strategy.
The task of building a more prosperous and equitable province is far from finished. I look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our goals.
Mr. Lepofsky, thank you for your important work and your tremendous contribution to helping make Ontario more accessible.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1. Under your leadership, will the Liberal Party fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives?
Yes. I’m committed to building a more accessible Ontario as it is not only the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. I will maintain the implementation of the AODA, 2005 and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and not weaken or reduce the progress we’ve made.
Yes. I will honour the specific commitments made by my party and the government, and look forward to working with you to continue making progress.
Yes. If elected Premier, I will ensure Ontario remains on schedule to become more accessible by 2025. Ontario Liberals have taken significant steps toward our shared goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025. I recognize that the task of building a more prosperous and equitable province is far from finished. I look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our goals.
4. In Ontario elections, will you continue the practice of the last two Ontario Liberal Party leaders, of making specific election commitments to us on the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to us?
Yes. I will make specific, written election commitments to the AODA Alliance regarding the issue of achieving a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities.
5. Among other commitments, Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed to meetings with us to address accessibility issues (in addition to meetings we have had with several cabinet ministers). Will you agree to maintain this practice, of being agreeable to personally meet with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate cabinet ministers?
Yes. I look forward to continuing to build and strengthen our relationship with the AODA Alliance. I welcome the opportunity to maintain an open dialogue and meet with you to continue to move accessibility issues forward.