What the New Democratic Party Promises

Doreen Winkler, Ph. D., R.S.W.
Acting Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto Ontario M4G 3E8

Dear Doreen Winkler,

Thank you for this opportunity to write to you concerning the views of Ontario’s NDP on the important issues you and the AODA Alliance Committee advocate for.

In answer to your letter, let me respond point-by-point.

  • Ontario’s NDP believes the AODA’s process for developing accessibility standards should be stronger, more effective, and fairer, so that accessibility standards live
    up to the 11 principles for disability accessibility the Legislature passed, with NDP support, on October 29, 1998, specifically:

a) Ensuring the disability community has equal representation on each Standards Development Committee, and isn’t out-numbered by other sectors’ representatives, by making sure that at least half of each committee’s members are persons self-identified with a disability and who are active in the disabilities community. Now the disability community isn’t ensured this equal representation.

b) Holding Standards Development Committee meetings in the open, not in closed sessions as in the past.

c) Requiring Standards Development Committees to directly consult with the public, including the disability community, e.g. at Standards Development Committee meetings. The Transportation Standards Development Committee refused a request to make a presentation to it on an issue on which the Standards Development Committee was divided, the announcing of all bus route stops.

d) Making Standards Development Committee voting fairer by letting the Committee vote on each proposed standard one section at a time, by having majority and minority reports if there are disagreements, and by letting each Standards Development Committee report out a series of proposed standards, not one all-or-nothing proposal.

e) Provide new financial support to encourage the effective participation of interested parties (especially from the disabilities community) in the work of Standards Development Committees, so they can participate on an equal footing with industry and Government.

I’ll note that during the debate on the AODA, Ontario’s NDP raised many of these issues and I assure you that we will continue to offer our support for this agenda.

  • The Ontario government should promptly review how the Government is implementing the AODA, to ensure that Ontario is making substantial progress towards the AODA’s requirement of full accessibility. If elected Premier I will meet with the AODA alliance delegation before the end of 2007. I believe that within 6 months of the election Ontario’s Ombudsman should review and make public a report on the effectiveness of the AODA’s implementation, including the
    Standards Development Committees’ process and work.
  • The Ontario government should conduct an internal Government review of all
    provincial legislation and regulations to screen for any existing barriers
    against persons with disabilities, and put in place a permanent internal system
    to screen all new proposed provincial legislation, regulations or programs to
    ensure that they don’t create or perpetuate barriers against persons with
    disabilities.
  • Ontario’s NDP would support a permanent program to ensure that students in the school system, and people training in key professions, such as architects, are
    educated in disability accessibility.
  • Develop an action plan to make all facets of provincial and municipal elections fully accessible to voters with disabilities.
  • Ontario’s NDP led the fight against Bill 107 and still oppose it. It should not be
    proclaimed. It should be repealed.
  • Ontario’s NDP believes that a genuinely open, accessible public consultation on how to effectively reform the Human Rights process in Ontario must take place within six months of the next government and new legislation must be introduced to improve – not privatize – human rights enforcement as soon as possible.
  • Without prejudicing the outcome of consultation Ontario’s NDP believes the Human Rights Commission should be restored to its original mandate and given the tools to ensure that human rights complaints can be properly, promptly and thoroughly investigated and remedied.
  • To do this the OHRC must be made truly independent and report directly to the
    Legislature – not the Attorney General. Furthermore, the government should
    invest resources to ensure that mediations should be completed within three
    months, complex investigations should be completed within one year, and
    Tribunal decisions should be rendered within two years of the filing of the
    complaint.

I hope this addresses your concerns.

Yours,

Howard Hampton
Leader, Ontario’s NDP