Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities
The AODA Alliance Sends the David Onley AODA Independent Review a Letter Giving Preliminary Submissions On Problems with the Disabilities Act’s Implementation and Raises Concerns with the Independent Review’s Public Consultations
September 11, 2018
On September 11, 2018, the AODA Alliance wrote David Onley, whom the previous Ontario Government appointed to conduct the mandatory Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Under the AODA, the Government must appoint an Independent Review every few years, on a schedule that the law spells out. The Independent Review must take our collective temperature, and see whether Ontario is progressing quickly enough towards the AODA’s mandatory goal of becoming fully accessible to 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. It must recommend any changes to ensure that we reach that goal on time.
In the letter to the David Onley AODA Independent Review, from the AODA Alliance, set out below, we submit a series of important preliminary materials that will be part of our submissions. We will be submitting a new brief to the Independent Review later this fall. These preliminary materials are the foundation on which that brief will be based.
As well, our letter describes four concerns with the way this Independent Review is conducting its public consultations:
- The Independent Review’s public consultation sessions have been insufficiently publicized. We ask that there be far better publicity, and offer to help, as we have so often in the past.
- The Independent Review has given the public, including people with disabilities, insufficient advance notice of its public hearings. We ask the Independent Review to arrange public consultation meetings in October and November with ample advance notice.
- The Independent Review’s October 1, 2018 deadline for written submissions is too soon. We ask that this be extended to the end of November 2018.
- We express the concern that this Independent Review has opted to exclude the AODA Alliance from earlier meetings with the community that the Independent Review organized, and to which the Independent Review issued individual invitations to attend.
We ask the Independent Review for a meeting to discuss all of these issues.
We always welcome your feedback. We especially welcome your feedback on what our forthcoming brief to this Independent Review should include. You can always write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Text of the September 11, 2018 Letter from the AODA Alliance to the David Onley AODA Independent Review
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
September 11, 2018
To: The Hon. David Onley,
Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Via Email: email@example.com
1265 Military Trail,
Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4 AA440
Re: Independent Review of the Implementation and Enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
We are writing you as the person whom the Ontario Government has appointed to conduct the third mandatory Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. As you know, the AODA Alliance is the leading non-partisan grass-roots cross-disability coalition that advocates for the AODA’s effective implementation and enforcement. This Independent Review is required to report on whether Ontario is on schedule for becoming fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, the AODA’s mandatory deadline. If, as is the case, Ontario is not on schedule for that goal, your Independent Review is required to recommend to the Ontario Government the actions that must be taken to ensure that Ontario reaches that goal on time.
- Our Preliminary Submission to the AODA Independent Review
We are now preparing our detailed written submission to this AODA Independent Review. In order to give you a head-start as we prepare our brief for you, we here submit several important documents. We encourage you to review them now, in advance of receiving our brief. These include:
- We submit to you the AODA Alliance’s June 30, 2014 brief to the 2nd AODA Independent Review, conducted by Mayo Moran. This 360 page document gives a detailed analysis of what the Ontario Government had done to implement and enforce the AODA from 2005 up to June 2014. It made detailed recommendations on what was needed to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We are re-submitting it to you. It is also available online at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015-whats-new/let-the-mayo-moran-aoda-independent-review-know-if-you-endorse-the-aoda-alliances-june-30-2014-final-brief-on-the-aodas-implementation-and-enforcement/
Our 2018 brief to you will update and build upon our 2014 brief to Mayo Moran, rather than repeating its extensive analysis. Our 2014 brief to Mayo Moran garnered good support and endorsements from within Ontario’s disability community. Its contents reflect the extensive feedback we have received from the public, including from people with disabilities over many years.
The analysis in our 2014 brief to Mayo Moran remains accurate. Most of its recommendations remain current.
The 2014 final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review adopts or incorporates key parts of our 2014 brief. Because the Ontario Government did so little to implement the Moran report, our 2014 brief remains highly relevant to your AODA Independent Review.
- After the Ontario Government made public the Mayo Moran Independent Review’s final report, we made public our analysis of that report. We submit this to you, as well.
Part One of that analysis, which identifies the Moran report’s conclusions with which we agreed, is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015/part-1-of-the-aoda-alliances-detailed-analysis-of-the-final-report-of-the-mayo-moran-independent-review-of-the-implementation-and-enforcement-of-the-accessibility-for-ontarians-with-disabilit/
Part Two of our analysis, which identifies the parts of the Moran report with which we did not agree, is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015/part-2-of-the-aoda-alliances-detailed-analysis-of-the-final-report-of-the-mayo-moran-independent-review-of-the-implementation-and-enforcement-of-the-accessibility-for-ontarians-with-disabilit/
- In addition, we submit to you the ‘AODA Alliance’s July 17, 2018 letter to Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho, and the AODA Alliance’s briefing note to the minister that accompanied it. This letter sets out key priorities that we recommend for the new minister. Our recommendations to your AODA Independent Review will include the things we recommend to the minister. This letter is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-ontarios-new-minister-for-accessibility-and-seniors-raymond-cho-to-introduce-ourselves-and-to-provide-a-detailed-briefing-note-on-priorities-needing-action-now-for-1-9-million-o/
- Beyond that, we submit to you the AODA Alliance’s July 19, 2018 letter to Premier Doug Ford. In that letter, we identify a series of priority actions that we recommend that the Premier should take on accessibility. They fall within the authority of the Premier, not the minister. Here again, our recommendations to this AODA Independent Review will include the measures we recommended to the Premier. That letter is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-premier-doug-ford-to-offer-nine-recommendations-for-the-premier-to-help-get-ontario-back-on-schedule-to-reach-full-accessibility-by-2025-for-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilitie/
- Finally, we submit to you the responses we have received from Premier Ford and Minister Cho. These are available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/premier-ford-and-accessibility-minister-raymond-cho-write-the-aoda-alliance-in-response-to-our-recent-letters-recommending-key-accessibility-priorities-for-the-premier-and-minister/
We hope and trust that this substantial body of preliminary materials gives you ample helpful reading with which to get started, as we work on our forthcoming new brief to you.
- Concerns With this AODA Independent Review’s Public Consultations
We wish to raise four concerns about the way that this AODA Independent Review is consulting with the public, including with people with disabilities. As you know, the AODA imposes a clear obligation on this Independent Review to conduct consultations with the public, including with people with disabilities. An effective public consultation that is fully accessible and inclusive lies at the heart of your mandate. The effectiveness of your consultation process will significantly affect the credibility of and public confidence in your final report and recommendations. Section 41(2) of the AODA provides:
” (2) A person undertaking a review under this section shall consult with the public and, in particular, with persons with disabilities.”
First, your public consultation sessions have been insufficiently publicized. We have seen no news release or public email blast from you or from the Ontario Government to announce them. We only learned about them through the grapevine. We understand from others that they had the same experience.
Many who would like to take part likely did not get timely notice of your consultation events. Your Independent Review did not reach out to tell us about these public consultations, or to ask us to publicize them. As is well-known, we have been happy to notify the disability community of similar public consultations, including those convened by the first AODA Independent Review in 2009 undertaken by Charles Beer, and the second AODA Independent Review undertaken by Mayo Moran. We have done so via our widely-read AODA Alliance Updates, and via our Twitter and Facebook blasts. These directly reach thousands of people. They regularly get re-re-circulated to many more people. Through us, this Independent Review could reach many people at no cost.
The only announcements of them from you or from the Ontario Government that we have seen have been those posted on your Independent Review’s website. Here again, we only heard about your website via the grapevine. People with disabilities, disability organizations like the AODA Alliance, as well as obligated organizations cannot be expected to daily search the internet to see if your Independent Review has scheduled a consultation meeting in their community.
Second, the public, and people with disabilities in particular, need ample advance notice to plan to attend and present at a consultation meeting or hearing on a topic like this. They need to ensure that they can be available. As chair of the AODA Alliance, I myself cannot attend your Toronto event, scheduled for tomorrow, as I only learned about it late last week, and have a prior commitment.
As well, people with disabilities need to arrange accessible transportation. Because of the many barriers in Ontario’s public transportation system, they need sufficient prior notice. Finally, people need adequate time to prepare their input for your AODA Independent Review. Many if not most do not have a ready-made submission on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement at their fingertips, already ready to present.
Third, we recently learned from your Independent Review’s website that you have set October 1, 2018 as the deadline for receiving written submissions. We are concerned that many will not be able to meet that deadline. It too has not, to our knowledge, been effectively publicized.
For our part, we cannot meet that deadline. We are aiming, if possible, to get our submission to you by the end of November, if not sooner. Please take into account that at the same time as you are conducting your Independent Review, the Federal Government is expected to hold public hearings this fall on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. Both the subject of your Independent Review and Bill C-81 are important to the disability community.
Fourth, we are concerned that you have chosen to exclude the AODA Alliance from consultation meetings you have held earlier this summer. We have heard through the grapevine about some of these events, to which your Independent Review invited selected individuals.
We have been told that at some of these meetings, you have shown one of the AODA Alliance’s widely-viewed online videos, that depicts serious accessibility barriers in new buildings. Your showing our video is appreciated as a recognition that our coalition has valuable ideas on accessibility to share. You yourself have, in prior roles, recognized the important contributions of the AODA Alliance on the issue of accessibility. You are aware of the non-partisan leadership role we have played on this issue for many years.
As you know, all election pledges that Ontario political parties have made since 2005 on the issue of disability accessibility have been made in letters to the AODA Alliance, in response to requests for such pledges by the AODA Alliance. Both of the two prior AODA Independent Reviews actively solicited and welcomed our participation throughout their public consultations.
We therefore ask you to take these steps:
- Please extend the deadline for written submissions to your AODA Independent Review to the end of November 2018. Please widely publicize this as soon as possible, and ask the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario at the Ontario Government to do the same.
- Please organize further public consultation forums for October and November, and have them widely publicized, well in advance.
- Please draw on the AODA Alliance to help publicize the extended deadline for submissions, and any additional public meetings or hearings.
- It would be helpful to meet to discuss the things we cover in this letter. Please contact us via email to arrange this.
David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
cc: Premier Doug Ford firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie-Lison Fougère, Deputy Minister of Accessibility, email@example.com
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, firstname.lastname@example.org