Still Time to RSVP to Attend Our Friday, November 28, 2014 Queen’s Park Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Disabilities Act Movement – and – David Onley Appointed the Ontario Government’s New Special Advisor on Accessibility

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

November 10, 2014


1. Still Time to RSVP, to Attend Our November 28, 2014 Queen’s Park Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Birth of the Tenacious Grassroots Movement to Make Ontario Become Fully Accessible to all People with Disabilities

Although time is running out, it’s not too late to RSVP! We have arranged added space at our celebration of the 20th anniversary of the birth of Ontario’s grassroots non-partisan Disabilities Act movement on Friday November 28, 2014 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

This is a great chance for you to meet both people with disabilities and people who don’t yet have a disability, who have advocated in the trenches for disability accessibility across Ontario. You will also meet some of the key people who have been in public office in the past from all three Ontario political parties in the Legislature, and who contributed to our successes to date.

This event gives us a great chance to get ready to roll up our sleeves for the next round of campaigning that will lie ahead for us. It all takes place in the very building where it all started twenty years ago, on November 29, 1994.

If you want to attend, it is essential that you RSVP by email no later than November 20, 2014. Send your RSVP to us at

The deadline to RSVP is extended from November 14 to November 20. We must give names of attendees to Queen’s Park security several days before this event. If your name is not on that list, you will not be admitted to the building by Queen’s Park security. Those are not our rules. They are the terms which Queen’s Park gave us.

Remember we have ASL, Captioning, and Attendant Care available at this event. That morning, before the event begins, AODA Alliance volunteers will be positioned at the major entrances to Queen’s Park to help guide people to this event, if they need assistance. Arrive well in advance of 10 a.m., to be sure you don’t miss any of the festivities.

Because of the great numbers of RSVPs so far, we have managed to book two adjacent rooms at the Legislature building for this event from 10 to 11 a.m., the time when the formal part of the event is going on. Each room holds 100 people maximum. We will use the second room as our “overflow” room, based on first-come, first-served. However, if anyone needs to be in the main room during speeches (which is Room 228) e.g. due to needing to see the ASL or captioning, or to read lips, they will of course get priority access to that room. The second room is planned to have loudspeakers so everyone can hear what is said in the main room during the festivities.

From 11 to 11:30 a.m., all activity will be in room 228 or out in the hall. That will just be time for people to mingle and chat with each other.

To see our original announcement of this event, including an account of the historic events twenty years ago at the Legislature on November 29, 1994.

2. The Ontario Government Appoints Former Lieutenant Governor David Onley as Special advisor on Accessibility

On October 24, 2014, the Government announced that it has appointed former Lieutenant Governor David Onley to serve as the Economic Development Minister’s Special Advisor on Accessibility. Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid has lead responsibility to implement and enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

From 2007 to this past summer, Mr. Onley served as Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, the Queen’s official representative in Ontario. To the great benefit of Ontarians with disabilities, Mr. Onley dedicated disability accessibility as a core theme of his term in office. He spoke publicly on accessibility many times, and in many diverse venues.

We congratulate Mr. Onley on this new appointment. We are indebted that we can benefit from his ongoing dedication to public service and to disability accessibility.

We are eager to lend a hand, to help ensure that Mr. Onley is successful in this new role. We want this appointment to be meaningful and effective.

Some fear that despite Mr. Onley’s wonderful dedication to the accessibility cause, the Government’s making this appointment is just a cosmetic public relations gesture as the Government continues to fail to fulfil so many of its promises and duties on the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Government has lots of sources for advice on accessibility. It has the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. It has the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council. It has also appointed a council to recommend action to improve employment for people with disabilities, which is supposed to report by this year’s end. And of course, it has the disability community, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. We are always available to recommend constructive action on accessibility.

For this new Special Advisor to be truly effective, he should be widely and frequently deployed in public to strongly advocate for the AODA’s effective implementation and enforcement. This must include advocating for new actions that the Government must take to get Ontario on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. The Government must let him be free to candidly speak his mind in public and in private on the measures that need to be taken in the public and private sectors on accessibility, including within the Government itself. If the Government restricts his freedom to candidly express himself in this role, it will undermine his effectiveness.

Below we set out the text of the Government’s October 24, 2014 public announcement of the appointment of David Onley.

3. What Chimes the Accessibility Clock Today?

Let’s visit the accessibility clock. A disturbing 357 days have now passed since we revealed that the Ontario Government was not enforcing the AODA, and that there have been rampant AODA violations in the private sector. This revelation came from a Freedom of Information application last year. The Government still has not made public its promised plan for the AODA’s effective enforcement. Two hundred and sixty-three days have passed since the Toronto Star reported on February 20, 2014 that the Government would be publicly posting that new enforcement plan “in short order.” One hundred and eighty days have passed since Premier Wynne promised to establish a toll-free line for members of the public to alert the Government to accessibility barriers against people with disabilities in the community. None has been announced.

To read our November 18, 2013 revelation that the Government was failing to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act despite knowing of rampant private sector violations, and funds on hand for enforcement.

To read the Government’s February 20, 2014 pledge to publish in “short order” its plan for enforcing the Disabilities Act.

To read the Government’s May 14, 2014 election promise to establish a toll-free line to report disability accessibility barriers.

As well, 440 days have passed since the Government unveiled its plans for the legacy of the 2015 Toronto Pan/ParaPan American Games. Yet it has still not released details and specifics of a comprehensive disability accessibility legacy for the Games. Only 240 days remain until the 2015 Games begin. Time is running out!

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Text of the Ontario Government’s October 24, 2014 News Release

News Release
Former Lieutenant Governor to Champion Accessibility in Ontario
October 24, 2014
Hon. David C. Onley Appointed as Special Advisor

Ontario has appointed The Honourable David C. Onley as a special advisor on accessibility to champion opportunities for people of all abilities in the public and private sectors.

As former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Onley worked tirelessly to increase awareness of the challenges people with disabilities face. As special advisor, he will work closely with Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, to continue breaking down barriers and promote the economic benefits of inclusion and employment of people with disabilities, and championing accessibility across the province.

Giving people of all abilities opportunities to participate fully in everyday life is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.


  • Ontario is a world-leader in accessibility with a goal to make the province accessible by 2025.
  • Accessibility is good for the economy, with the potential of generating up to $1.6 billion in new spending for Ontario’s tourism sector, up to $9.6 billion in additional retail revenue and an increase of up to $600 per year to the province’s GDP per capita.
  • David C. Onley most recently served as Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor and has also served on accessibility councils at the Rogers and Air Canada centres.
  • Mr. Onley is a recipient of the Rick Hansen Award of Excellence and the Courage to Come Back Award and holds 11 honorary degrees.


  • Discover why accessibility is important for our economy.
  • Find out what businesses have to do to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.


“Ontario is fortunate to have the expertise, insight and leadership of The Honourable David C. Onley. I look forward to working with him to promote an inclusive, accessible Ontario that will help strengthen our province’s economy.”

— Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure