Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2015 Toronto: Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Government must take bold new action now, to lead the province to become fully accessible to over 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities, if Ontario is to become fully accessible by 2025, according to the detailed analysis in a ground-breaking independent report that the Wynne Government made public today. This report heard over and over that after ten years on the books, and some progress, Ontarians with disabilities haven’t seen much improved accessibility to jobs, or goods or services in the public or private sector.
In 2005, the Legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act AODA. It requires the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities within 20 years (by 2025). Barriers that block people with disabilities from jobs, public transit, schools, universities, eating in restaurants and shopping in stores must be torn down.
From 1994 to 2005, people with disabilities waged a tenacious, ten-year grassroots campaign across Ontario to get this law enacted. With 10 of the 20 years already up, the upshot of the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review, released today, is that progress has been much too slow. The inevitable conclusion from its findings and recommendations is that Ontario is not on schedule for full accessibility by 2025.
The report’s extensive recommendations call on the Wynne Government to immediately pick up the ball, starting with Premier Wynne herself, and show new strong leadership on this issue.
The Moran Report shows that even 10 years after the AODA was passed, more than 1.8 million Ontarians with physical, mental or sensory disabilities still routinely face many physical barriers, such as steps to enter a restaurant or store; technological barriers, such as websites that lack simple features to make them compatible with adapted computers for blind and dyslexic people; and bureaucratic barriers. The Moran Report recited that the Government’s regulations on accessibility that the Government has passed are too weak for people with disabilities and too confusing for businesses and municipalities.
Former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley referred to the massive unemployment rate still facing people with disabilities as a “national shame” at a November 28, 2014 event at Queen’s Park. The Moran Report shows that much more needs to be done by the Government to lead Ontario. The Moran Report concludes that removing disability barriers helps everyone. Everyone gets a disability, if they live long enough.
“We heartily endorse Mayo Moran’s findings about the slow progress on accessibility and the need for immediate, strong new Government action,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance which spearheads the grassroots campaign to make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities. “We call on the Wynne Government to immediately announce that it accepts all the Moran Report’s findings, and to make public in the next four weeks a detailed plan on how the Government will implement this report (except for any recommendations that would weaken gains we’ve made, which we opposed and which the Government promised it would not do).”
“With less than 10 of the 20 years for reaching full accessibility already gone, its time for the Wynne Government to now end its marathon of dithering,” said Lepofsky. “As a first step, Premier Wynne should immediately keep her promises to instruct all cabinet ministers and other senior Government officials to implement all their accessibility duties and pledges, and to establish a toll-free number for the public to report AODA violations to the Government.”
It is a cruel slap in the face of Ontarians with disabilities that the Government’s announcement, issued at the same time as it released the Moran Report, made the palpably inaccurate claim that Ontario is a world leader on accessibility. While making this wildly inaccurate claim, the Government, to its own embarrassment, did not even take the basic step of making the Moran Report available in an accessible format for people who cannot read print, due to blindness or dyslexia.
Today, after studying the Moran Report for three months, the Government re-re-announced several past ineffective actions. The Government did not even say it accepted the Report’s important findings.
In its only new announcement, the Government said it would next make a new accessibility standard to address barriers in health care. We have fought for this for at least four years. Yet the Government still hasn’t committed to take similar action to address barriers that so many children and youth with disabilities face in Ontario’s education system – action the Moran Report recognized as important.
On September 10, 2013, the Wynne Government announced that it appointed Mayo Moran, then University of Toronto’s Law Dean, to conduct a mandatory Independent Review of the Government’s implementation and enforcement of the AODA. The AODA requires this Independent Review to find out if Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility by 2025, and to recommend needed action if we are not.
The AODA Alliance has posted an accessible MS Word version of the Moran Report.