ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Premier Ford Must Immediately Make Public the Final Report and Recommendations of Government-Appointed Independent Review of Ontario’s Disabilities Act, Disability Coalition Says
October 2, 2023, Toronto: A major non-partisan disability coalition today calls on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to now fulfil his legal duty to make public the final report of the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which Ford appointed Rich Donovan to conduct. The Ford Government received the final Donovan Report on June 6, 2023, over three months ago. Yet it has failed to fulfil its duty under the AODA to make that report public and table it in the Legislature.
Last year, the Ford Government handpicked Rich Donovan to conduct a mandatory review of the Government’s implementation of the Disabilities Act in order to assess whether the Government is on schedule for leading this province to become accessible to some 2.9 million people with disabilities by 2025. On March 1, 2023, Donovan released a blistering Interim Report that found that the Ontario Government, including the Premier and his Cabinet, have utterly failed 2.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. Donovan’s final report, which Ontarians with disabilities are anxiously awaiting, makes recommendations on what the Ford Government now should do to fix this mess. But the Government is still keeping that Final Report under wraps.
Donovan’s March 1, 2023, Interim Report showed how far behind Ontario is from reaching the mandatory goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025. Mr. Donovan found it “utterly shocking” that the Ontario Premier and Cabinet have no plan to achieve an accessible Ontario for people with disabilities.
“Keeping the final Donavan Report secret hurts vulnerable Ontarians with disabilities who continue to suffer from unfair disability barriers when they try to get a job or an education, ride public transit, or use our health care system and who need strong Government leadership to make this province accessible,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, the volunteer who leads the coalition that leads the grassroots campaign for disability accessibility in Ontario. “The longer Doug Ford keeps the final Rich Donovan Report secret, the longer it will take to get the Government to implement bold new reforms needed to kick-start Ford’s stalled and sluggish implementation of the Disabilities Act for which we fought so hard.”
After consulting with the disability community, Mr. Donovan’s Interim Report last March amplified damning findings earlier delivered to the Ford Government over four years ago by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley in his 3rd Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation. The crowning achievement of David Onley’s legacy for Ontarians, the 2019 Onley Report found that Ontario is full of “soul-crushing barriers” hurting people with disabilities. The Ford Government has not publicly disputed the findings in the 2019 Onley Report or the 2023 Rich Donovan Interim Report. David Onley called on Premier Ford to take bold new action. In the four years since then, The Ford Government failed to implement the Onley Report’s core recommendations.
Donovan’s Interim Report released last March concluded that among disadvantaged groups in society, no others experience the same severity of exclusion as people with disabilities and that there has been a failure of needed leadership on accessibility and poor enforcement of the Disabilities Act. Donovan’s March 1, 2023, Interim Report concluded:
“…the Premier of Ontario and his Cabinet have yet to meet the basic needs of a group of people totaling over one fifth of its population.”
Having received Donavan’s Final Report on June 6, 2023, Premier Ford has no excuse for continuing to keep it secret. Last spring, Ford released Donovan’s Interim Report to the public a mere eight days after receiving it. In 2019, Ford released David Onley’s Report five weeks after receiving it.
For background, read:
- The March 1, 2023 Interim Report of the Rich Donovan 4th AODA Independent Review
- The January 31, 2019 Final Report of the David Onley 3rd AODA Independent Review
- The AODA Alliance’s May 31, 2023 brief to the Rich Donovan AODA on the recommendations for reform that he should make, and
- The AODA Alliance’s February 6, 2023 brief to the Rich Donovan AODA Independent Review on the findings that he should make.
- The March 20, 2023 Toronto Star editorial echoing the March 1, 2023 Initial Report by the Rich Donovan AODA Independent Review
June 28, 2023, Public Statement by Rich Donovan on the Completion of the Fourth Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
A Statement from Rich Donovan, 4th Reviewer of the AODA
(TORONTO – June 28, 2023) On June 6, 2023, with great delight, I transmitted the Final Report of the 4th Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to Ontario’s Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.
This Final Report reflects the conversations with and submissions from Ontarians with an interest in an accessible Ontario. Since February 2022, I have met with hundreds of people and dozens of organizations whose feedback helped shape the content of this Final Report.
Together with the Interim Report (released in March 2023), the Final Report lays out a practical path to get Ontario on track to ensure that all of its citizens and visitors enjoy everything our province has on offer. These are tough reports, with honest assessments of the current state of accessibility regulation and the organizational capacity of the broader public sector to adjust.
I have asked the Minister to take particular note of the five Crisis Recommendations contained in the Final Report. These recommendations demand immediate action from the Premier and the Secretary of Cabinet. I trust that this set of recommendations convey my sense of urgency, as the lives of Ontarians are at risk due to a critical vacuum of action on these specific issues.
As a final note, it was a fascinating honour to serve as a Reviewer of the AODA. It is clear that there is a path to great experiences for Ontarians with disabilities. It is also clear that our current path requires urgent adjustments. I encourage all Ontarians to demand those adjustments actively and consistently.