ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Premier Doug Ford Says He’ll Meet the Timelines Imposed by Ontario’s Disabilities Act
June 28, 2022
Premier Ford has finally said something publicly about his government’s duty to lead Ontario to become accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.
The very influential Queen’s Park-based news publication QP Briefing published an excellent, detailed report yesterday on the AODA alliance’s most recent effort to get the Ford government to fulfil its important duties under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. (article set out below) We spelled those duties out most recently in the AODA alliance’s June 22, 2022 letter to Premier Ford and the AODA alliance’s June 27, 2022 letter to re-appointed accessibility minister Raymond Cho.
The report included a rare instance when Premier Ford actually spoke about this issue. It includes:
“under the accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the province must be fully accessible by Jan. 1, 2025.
With less than three years to go — and after expert reports decrying sluggish progress under the Ford government — the goal seems more unlikely than ever.
But premier Doug Ford renewed his commitment to the deadline on Monday.
“We’ll make sure we meet those timelines, and we’ll move as quickly as we possibly can,” he said, adding that re-elected accessibility minister Raymond Cho has “done a fine job so far.”
Media reports, set out below, also address Premier Ford’s commitment to raise ODSP rates by 5%. The AODA alliance is quoted in a global news report that this raise, while long overdue, is not enough to lift vulnerable people with disabilities out of poverty.
There have now been 1,244 days since the Ford government received the final report of the third independent review of the accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, undertaken by former lieutenant governor David Onley. There are now only 918 days before the start of 2025, Ford’s deadline to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities. Ontario needs premier Ford to establish an effective an action plan now to get it done.
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QP Briefing June 27, 2022
Originally posted at https://www.qpbriefing.com/2022/06/27/
Ford Government Missed Accessibility Deadlines in First Term
Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the province must be fully accessible by Jan. 1, 2025.
But Premier Doug Ford renewed his commitment to the deadline on Monday.
“We’ll make sure we meet those timelines, and we’ll move as quickly as we possibly can,” he said, adding that re-elected Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho has “done a fine job” so far.
Cho, who often struggles to give coherent answers, did not respond to an interview request and emailed list of questions, including what he was most proud of from his first term and how he plans to meet the 2025 AODA deadline.
The Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility touted grants and programs like the Rick Hansen Accessibility Certification for public buildings, “and numerous Employment and Skills Training Supports,” which it said demonstrates “the unwavering commitment towards this goal.”
One prominent disability advocate said it’s not enough.
“Because you held this ministerial post for the past four years, you can now get right to work. You won’t need extensive briefings by Ministry staff to introduce your duties to you,” David Lepofsky, a blind lawyer, professor and head of the AODA Alliance, wrote in a letter to Cho on Monday.
Lepofsky has criticized the Tories for allegedly disregarding the AODA before.
He reminded Cho that the government was required to appoint a Customer Service Standards Development Committee by June 6, 2021; and a committee to review the 2012 Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard in December 2017 — before the pcs were elected.
The last meeting minutes for the former committee are from 2014.
Cho has appointed a chair for the latter group, and said it would be up and running by early 2022. Though it’s not on the official list of agencies, the ministry said the committee has met.
“I should add that I myself wish to apply to serve as a member of that Standards Development Committee, but have found nowhere to apply,” Lepofsky wrote.
He also noted that some Ontarians living with disabilities are barely surviving. The Ford government has pledged to increase Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates by five per cent, which advocates say is nowhere near enough.
“Other disability advocates are effectively and commendably leading the disability advocacy efforts on that vital issue,” Lepofsky wrote. “You need to listen to them and act on their urgent recommendations.”
Ford didn’t speak to the MAID issue but said the rate bump is “one of our number 1 priorities” when the legislature reconvenes this summer.
Ford said he’ll “never waver” from supporting people with disabilities. “I know that rate of inflation’s gone up — we’re increasing (ODSP rates) by five per cent,” he said.
As he usually does when talking about ODSP, Ford encouraged people to find work if they can.
“There’s plenty of employment out there in every single sector, skilled and unskilled. We need you to go out there and fill those positions,” he said.
The government didn’t enact any new AODA accessibility standards in its first term, or strengthen any existing ones, Lepofsky noted.
He called on Cho to enact accessibility standards in education and health care — and strengthen the ones for transportation, employment, and information and communication — as recommended by the committees responsible for those standards.
Enforcement of the AODA “has been paltry and grossly inadequate,” Lepofsky added.
And he said the government — which has promised billions for new and expanded housing, transit, schools and hospitals — needs to be explicit about their plans to make sure all of it is accessible.
Lepofsky ended his letter by asking for a meeting with Cho or his staff, saying the last one was over a year ago.
“You have told us in the past that you found our input to be helpful,” he said. “Let’s work together.”
With files from Andy Takagi
Global News June 27, 2022
Originally posted at https://fm96.com/news/8950761/Ontario-budget-doug-ford-accessibility-odsp-increase/
Doug Ford says election promise to increase disability support will be in 2022 budget
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says fulfilling an election promise to increase payments for people with disabilities is “one of” his number one priorities.
Ford has not provided a date to fulfil the pledge.
“When we go back into the house, we will make sure that moves as quickly as possible,” Ford told reports Monday. “When that happens, they’ll get their five per cent increase.”
The recently re-elected Ontario Premier was speaking at a joint press conference with Toronto Mayor John Tory, where the pair discussed topics including affordable housing.
Ford and his PC Party dissolved the Ontario legislature and called the 2022 election before passing their most recent budget. The document went on to serve as the party’s campaign platform.
Mpps will “keep the same budget” apart from a five per cent increase to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Ford said. The increase was promised during the election campaign.
Ford said his government would spend $425 million on a five per cent increase, and introduce legislation to increase ODSP rates annually.
The Ontario Liberals, NDP and Greens all promised more generous increases to ODSP than the pcs.
“We’re going to increase it, I know the rate of inflation has gone up, we’re increasing it by five per cent. That’s one of our number one priorities when we pass the budget,” Ford said Monday.
ODSP rates have been frozen since 2018, with a single person on ODSP able to receive up to $1,169 a month for basic needs and shelter. Advocates say that is far too low, and the level of support would remain well below what’s needed.
“Impoverished people with disabilities — languishing below the poverty line and coping with the disproportionate burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic — needed a substantial ODSP increase long ago,” David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, told Global News.
Ford said his re-appointed Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, Raymond Cho, would make sure the government funds accessibility improvements in Ontario.
“We’re going to continue funding it and we’re going to move forward as quickly as we possibly can,” Ford said.