March 8, 2010
Today, the Ontario Government commenced a new session of the Ontario Legislature with a Speech from the Throne. This is where the Government sets out its priorities for action over the next session of the Legislature.
In today’s Throne Speech, the Government committed:
“Your government will continue to open up new economic opportunities for all Ontarians through the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which will make Ontario accessible by 2025.”
This was situated amidst a description of a range of different economic strategies that the Government intends to follow.
It is good that the Government has committed to treat accessibility for persons with disabilities as a priority in this session of the Legislature. It is positive that the Government associates implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act with the goal of opening up economic opportunities for all Ontarians, linked to a broader economic strategy for Ontario.
We offer the Government constructive ideas on how this general language in the Throne Speech can be put into action that will be meaningful for over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities. For example, the Government should:
- promptly establish the promised system for enforcing the AODA, so that persons with disabilities can take steps to effectively enforce the Customer Service Accessibility Standard enacted under that law.
- promptly release the Report of the Charles Beer Independent Review on the Implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and announce the action that the Government will take to implement that Report within 45 days of its public release;
- ensure ample, full public hearings on Bill 231, the proposed reform to Ontario’s elections laws now before the Legislature, and implement substantial amendments to that bill to ensure that municipal and provincial elections are fully accessible for voters and candidates with disabilities.
- ensure the enactment this year of strong accessibility standards in the areas of information and communication, transportation, employment and the built environment, that will ensure full accommodation on or before 2025 in these areas;
- establish new Standards Development Committees to develop accessibility standards in other areas, not yet addressed.
- implement and effective, monitored and enforced system to ensure that when the Government spends public money on infrastructure projects and on procuring goods and services for the Ontario Government, no public funds are used to create, exacerbate or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities.
- this year complete its review of all Ontario legislation to address accommodation barriers in them, as promised in the 2007 election.
For our detailed proposals in all of these areas and others, see generally:
“We urge all Ontarians with disabilities to call on the Ontario Government to use measures like these to implement this Throne Speech commitment”, said David Lepofsky, Chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance.
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