Text of the May 1, 2022 Election Promises on Disability Accessibility by the Ontario Liberal Party Sent to the AODA Alliance
Dear Mr. Lepofsky,
Thank you for your decades of advocacy and leadership in making Ontario accessible for people with disabilities.
Over the years, you have worked constructively with Premiers, Ministers, and staff in Liberal governments to make significant strides toward the goal of an accessible Ontario by 2025. Unfortunately, four years of Progressive Conservative government under Premier Doug Ford have all but assured that this goal will not be reached, thanks to dithering, delays, and an obvious lack of interest in accessibility issues. This was brought into stark relief during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when this government turned its backs on people with disabilities by freezing ODSP rates and allowing thousands in residential care to languish without visits from family.
An Ontario Liberal government will work hard to correct the mistakes and slow progress of the past and reorient our efforts toward a fully accessible province. We look forward to working with you and the AODA Alliance to ensure that our work is guided by the needs and desires of the disability community, in the spirit of “nothing about us without us”.
If elected, an Ontario Liberal government would:
” Schedule regular meetings with you and other disability leaders, including an initial meeting with you within two months of taking office
” Appoint a stand-alone Minister and Deputy Minister Responsible for Disability Issues and include accessibility commitments in ministerial mandate letters
” Develop and implement a multi-year disability action plan that goes beyond 2025 and include AODA implementation as well as substantial social assistance improvements
” Not re-open the AODA and commit to not reducing or eliminating any accessibility provisions in legislation or regulation
” Move quickly to enact accessibility standards for education and health care based on the recommendations prepared the relevant Standards Development Committees
” Undertake a comprehensive reform of special education, IEPs and the needs of students with disabilities, supported by hiring 5,000 additional special education and student success professionals – more than one for every school – to work with students, to reduce wait times for assessment, service and help close learning gaps, in partnership with community agencies
” Strengthen existing AODA standards after fulsome consultation with the AODA Alliance and other disability stakeholders
” Review the Design of Public Spaces standard and accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code to address urgent disability barriers in the built environment and incorporate requirements for accessible elevators and elevator maintenance
” Work with the AODA Alliance and housing stakeholders to develop an appropriate and effective approach to accessibility standards in housing. This may include developing an AODA standard for housing.
” Consult broadly to determine other disability barriers that may require stand-alone AODA standards
” Streamline and speed-up development of AODA standards and standard reviews through expedited appointments and structured mandates
” Promote and advance training in disability accessibility in relevant professions, including architecture and design
” Strengthen AODA enforcement by mandating government inspectors under other statutes to perform AODA inspections, increasing the number and frequency of on-site inspections, and regularly reporting on compliance activities
” Develop a comprehensive strategy to make sure public funds are never used to create new accessibility barriers and ensure that all government-funded infrastructure projects incorporate accessibility from the very beginning
” Review relevant legislation and regulations to ensure accessible elections in consultation with voters with disabilities
” Review remaining legislation for accessibility barriers, starting with statutes passed from 2018-2022
” Review regulations governing electric scooters and how they impact disability accessibility.
” Make public and rescind any ableist and disenfranchising critical triage protocols
If elected, we look forward to working with you and the disability community to help our province reach our full potential. The magic of Ontario is that progress has always been possible. Today, that’s not always true. It used to be if you worked hard and played by the rules, Ontario would have your back. But supports haven’t kept up with the times.
That’s because the Ford Conservatives have the wrong priorities. Ontario can be a place to grow if we make the right choices. The Ontario Liberal record on accessibility issues speaks to what is possible when we work together. We are the party of the AODA, accessibility standards, and respect for people with disabilities. Only the Ontario Liberal Party can move us forward to a more accessible future.
Steven Del Duca
Ontario Liberal Party