The AODA Alliance’s Issue-By-Issue Party Comparison of the Major Parties’ Election Commitments on Disability Accessibility

The AODA Alliance’s Issue-By-Issue Party Comparison of the Major Parties’ Election Commitments on Disability Accessibility

 

May 16, 2018

 

Introduction

 

On April 2, 2018, the AODA Alliance wrote the leaders of the major parties, seeking detailed election commitments on accessibility. Below is an issue-by-issue breakdown of the parties’ responses. The AODA Alliance bases this analysis on the May 4, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance from the Green Party of Ontario, the May 5, 2018 letter to the, AODA Alliance from the Ontario New Democratic Party, the May 14, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance from the Ontario Liberal Party, and the May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance from the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

 

Below, each topic is presented in which the AODA Alliance sought election commitments. Under each topic, we set out the commitments on that issue that the AODA Alliance requested and then a breakdown of what each party committed. This is provided by verbatim quotations from the letters from the parties to the AODA Alliance. The same quote may appear under more than one heading, if it spoke to more than one issue that the AODA Alliance had raised. If a party said nothing about an issue, there is no reference to that party under that issue heading.

 

^Foster and Strengthen Our Ongoing Relationship with Your Party

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#1. as Premier, to periodically meet with us to discuss issues concerning persons with disabilities and accessibility such as the commitments we here seek, including once within the first four months of taking office, and to have a minister responsible for disability issues, and any other minister with responsibility bearing on our issues, meet with us where needed. If your Party does not form the Government, then we seek your commitment to meet with us periodically, and for your Party to be open to raise our concerns in the Legislature, including in Question Period, where appropriate.

NDP

* We are committed to meeting with the AODA Alliance and accessibility advocates within the first 100 days of forming government.

* My team and I take your counsel and the issues raised seriously. We have a history of raising issues brought to us by the AODA Alliance in the Legislature on numerous occasions – over the past year alone we have raised questions on the issue of accessibility six times during question period.

I highly value our relationship with the AODA Alliance, and look forward to continuing to strengthen this relationship when we form government on June 7.

Liberals

* We believe that creating and maintaining constructive dialogues are essential in order to deliver meaningful change. That’s why we have worked closely with the AODA Alliance and many other passionate and knowledgeable stakeholders and individuals in the accessibility field and will continue to do so if re-elected.

* Since becoming Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, Kathleen Wynne and her Cabinet and caucus colleagues have met regularly with the AODA Alliance and other disability and accessibility advocacy groups. We commit to continuing these meetings if returned to government.

Greens

* We are committed to a transparent government and welcome open communication with your association, including meetings with Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, candidates, and shadow cabinet. The Green Party looks forward to continued consultation on disability and accessibility issues with your organization and improving access to government services for all Ontarians.

Conservatives

* An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards.

* Building a strong, open dialogue with your organization is most certainly a priority for our party. We encourage you to continue this dialogue and share your ideas and solutions for Ontarians with disabilities.

^Substantially Strengthen Implementation of the AODA 2005

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#2. To fully support the AODA and its goals.

#3. to strengthen the implementation of the AODA, and not eliminate, weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation, in regulations enacted under it, in any policies, practices, strategies or initiatives of or within the Ontario Government that exist to implement it or achieve its objectives, or any rights that persons with disabilities enjoy under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

#4. To Stand by your Party’s previous commitments on disability accessibility and the AODA.

#5. Within six months of taking office, and after consulting the public including people with disabilities, to announce a comprehensive action plan for ensuring that the Government fulfils its duty to lead Ontario to accessibility by 2025. No such plan now exists.

NDP:

* Ontario’s New Democrats are committed to the full implementation and enforcement of the AODA, and to removing all forms of barriers, particularly to the job market, and will absolutely stand by our previous commitments on disability accessibility and the AODA.

Liberals

* We remain committed to achieving an accessible Ontario by 2025.

Greens

* We have read over your list of election commitments and are supportive of all your requests. Please see our comments below.

* The Green Party of Ontario is fully committed to a government that encourages citizens to actively participate in their community and have a say in decisions that affect them. We support strong implementation of the AODA 2005 and will not weaken or repeal any legislation that has already been passed.

Conservatives

* Your issues are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus and Candidates, which is why they will play an outstanding role in shaping policy for the Ontario PC Party to assist Ontarians in need.

Too many Ontarians with disabilities still face barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education, use our healthcare system, buy goods or services, or eat in restaurants.

Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA in 2005 was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities.

For the Ontario PCs, this remains our goal. Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.

* An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards.

^Ensure that All Requirements under the AODA are Effectively Enforced

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#6. To substantially strengthen AODA enforcement, including effectively using all AODA enforcement powers, and to use them to enforce all requirements that are in force under the AODA, and in connection with all classes of organizations that are required to comply.

#7. To Transfer AODA enforcement outside the Ministry responsible for the AODA, and assign it to an arms-length public agency to be created for AODA enforcement.

#8. To significantly increase the number of inspectors and directors appointed with AODA enforcement powers. As of now, there were only three inspectors and three directors appointed under the AODA to enforce this law across all of Ontario. Among other things, we seek a commitment to immediately give Ontario Government inspectors and investigators under other legislation a mandate to enforce the AODA when they inspect or investigate an organization under other legislation. The Ontario Government has piloted this and had this under study for years.

#9. To Have the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario publicly release and promptly post detailed information on AODA enforcement actions at least every three months.  It should report on how many obligated organizations are actually providing accessibility, and not, as too often is the case at present, how many organizations simply tell the Government that they are providing accessibility. This should include prompt reports of quarterly results and year-to-date totals, broken down by sector and size of organization.  At a minimum, it should include such measures as the number of notices of proposed order issued, the total amount of proposed penalties, the number of orders issued and total amounts and number of penalties imposed, the number of appeals from orders and the outcome, the total amount of penalties including changes ordered by the appeal tribunal, and the orders categorized by subject matter. This is what the 2014 final report of Mayo Moran’s second AODA Independent Review recommended.

#10. to require obligated organizations to report to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario on accessibility complaints received via their required AODA feedback mechanisms, and on how they were resolved, while protecting individual privacy.

#11. To make as a core feature of AODA enforcement the on-site inspection of a range of obligated organizations each year on the actual accessibility of their workplace, goods, services and facilities. It is not good enough for the Government, as at present, to mainly or only aim to ensure that obligated organizations keep good records on accessibility. It is more important that organizations actually achieve accessibility.

#12. To expand and widely-publicize the toll-free line for the public to report AODA violations, and to provide and widely-publicize online avenues to report AODA violations, including Twitter, FaceBook and a web page, to publicly account on a quarterly basis on the complaints received and the specific enforcement action taken as a result (including whether the subject of the complaint was notified of it.

#13. To create new ways for crowd-sourced AODA monitoring/enforcement, such as the Government beginning to post all online AODA compliance reports from obligated organizations in a publicly-accessible searchable data base, and by requiring each obligated organization to post its AODA compliance report on its own website, if it has one.

NDP

* We understand that strong accessibility policy means nothing unless it is coupled with strong enforcement. We have repeatedly called on the government to utilize an independent review process and to expand current AODA enforcement activities beyond the assessment of voluntarily submitted accessibility reports. We have lambasted this government for failing to use the powers, authority, and penalties set forth under the act to ensure compliance.

An NDP government will explore options for increased enforcement, including increasing the number of inspectors, and certifying inspectors from other agencies to be able to enforce AODA compliance. An NDP government would commit to publicizing ways for the public and public servants to report AODA violations.

Liberals

* Ontario Liberals are fully committed to the AODA and enforcing the provisions therein. To this end, we have improved enforcement activities by requiring compliance reports and conducting audits throughout the economy. Despite our progress, we know there is more work to do. We will work with obligated organizations and stakeholders to determine what is needed to improve both reporting and compliance rates. We will also increase the number of inspectors empowered to enforce the AODA and certify other government inspectors to conduct necessary accessibility enforcement audits while on site. We will report on the results of these activities as frequently as practicable, including through aggregate numbers in the AODA Annual Report. In addition, we will also publicize new and existing reporting mechanisms, such as our phone line and social media channels.

Compliance and enforcement are only half the story and will not achieve our goal of an accessible Ontario by 2025 without proper public and obligated organisation education. That’s why, if re-elected, Ontario Liberals will mount a public education campaign later this year on obligations under the AODA.

Greens

We support fully implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by preparing an enforcement plan, allocating resources for enforcement, and supporting a public awareness campaign.

Conservatives

* An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards.

^Develop the New Accessibility Standards under the AODA Needed to Achieve Accessibility by 2025

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#14. to continue the work of the six AODA Standards Development Committees now underway, to enact accessibility standards in the new areas of education and of health care, and to strengthen existing accessibility standards in the areas of transportation, employment, information and communication, and the design of public spaces, promptly after recommendations are received from Standards Development Committees in these areas.

#15. To consult over the three months immediately following the June 7, 2018 election, with the public, including the disability community, on all the sectors that other accessibility standards need to address, to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025, with a decision to be announced on the economic sectors to be addressed in those standards within three months after that consultation.

NDP

* Public funds should never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. This means that processes for developing and reviewing accessibility standards must be reformed and sped up. They must adhere to the Ontario Human Rights Code, and each ministry should conduct regular audits of their progress toward becoming fully accessible.

We know that ensuring every government initiative is accessibly designed from the start requires the enactment of accessibility standards and the full implementation of Standards Development Committees. This underscores our commitment to continue the work of the six AODA Standards Development Committees now underway.

In December, we called on the government to immediately establish the as-of-yet undelivered Built Environment Standards. These will include recommendations for retrofits, major renovations, transit and elevators. An NDP government is committed to implementing these recommendations.

Liberals

* A re-elected Liberal government will build on this progress by:

  • completing the development of new accessibility standards in Health Care and Education
  • building on the early successes of Access Talent and maintaining our commitment to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities
  • exploring and determining next steps for preventing and removing accessibility barriers in the built environment

* The creation of new standards is a critical element of the Ontario Liberal commitment to an accessible Ontario by 2025. We intend to continue the reviews already underway and continue the work of developing standards in the areas of health care and education. We would welcome advice from these committees on built environment issues and look forward to making the process more open and transparent to ensure all voices are heard without compromising necessary privacy and accountability measures.

Greens

* We are committed to working with the public following the June 2018 election on new accessibility standards to ensure that Ontario becomes fully accessible by 2025.

Conservatives

* Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA in 2005 was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities.

For the Ontario PCs, this remains our goal. Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.

* The Ontario PC Party believes our education system must minimize barriers for students with disabilities, providing the skills, opportunities and connections with the business community that are necessary to enter the workforce.

^Take Overdue Steps to Ensure the Accessibility of the built Environment, Including Residential Housing

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#16. To publicly recognize that there is now a problem with the inaccessibility of the built environment in Ontario, and to launch a comprehensive strategy that will address both new consultation and the retrofit of existing buildings that are undergoing no major renovations.

#17. To ensure that the accessibility of the Built environment is fully and effectively addressed by requirements enacted under the AODA, e.g. by developing and enacting a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA, and to ensure that it effectively addresses accessibility retrofits in existing buildings, as well as accessibility in new construction and major renovations.

#18. To direct each Standards Development Committee now in operation to make recommendations on standards for the built environment as it relates to the area that that Standards Development Committee is studying. For example, the Transportation Standards Development Committee should be directed to make recommendations for accessibility in public transit stations and stops.

#19. to ensure that a new and comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard will include accessibility requirements for elevators.

#20. To create a Residential Housing Accessibility Standard under the AODA, and within six months of taking office, to appoint a Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on what it should include.

#21. To announce a comprehensive strategy on accessible housing (apart from an AODA accessibility standard), within six months of taking office, after consulting the public, including people with disabilities. This strategy should aim to effectively increase the supply of accessible housing in Ontario, including supportive housing.

#22. To require that before a building permit and/or site plan approval can be obtained for a project, the approving authority, municipal or provincial, must be satisfied that the project, on completion, will meet all accessibility requirements under the Ontario Building Code and in any AODA accessibility standards.

#23. To require that post-project completion inspections include inspecting for compliance with accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards.

#24. To require professional bodies that regulate or licence key professionals such as architects and other design professionals, to require adequate training on accessible  design to qualify for a license, and to require existing professionals, where needed to take continuing professional development training on accessible design.

#25. To require, as a condition of funding any college or university that trains key professions, such as design professionals (like architects), that they include sufficient training on meeting accessibility needs, in their program’s curriculum.

#26. To substantially reform the way public sector infrastructure projects are managed and overseen in Ontario, including a major reform of Infrastructure Ontario, to ensure that accessibility is addressed far earlier, and more effectively in the project. This should include a requirement that accessibility advice be obtained on all major projects starting at the very beginning, with input being required from the outset obtained from people with disabilities. Any accessibility advice from people with disabilities or accessibility consultants should be promptly made public. Any decisions by the Government or by project teams it hires to reject any accessibility advice should promptly be publicly reported, identifying who made that decision, and the reasons for it. The accessibility requirements for any infrastructure should be made public as soon as possible, and well before a bidding competition is closed.

#27. To require that when public money is used to create public housing, principles of universal design will be employed in the design of that public housing.

#28. To create a fund to increase the number of accessible public premises, which would be available to public buildings that agree to make their property available to the public, in the case of emergency.

NDP

* In December, we called on the government to immediately establish the as-of-yet undelivered Built Environment Standards. These will include recommendations for retrofits, major renovations, transit and elevators. An NDP government is committed to implementing these recommendations.

* There is an accessible housing crisis in Ontario. To begin to address this, we will earmark affordable housing units for Ontarians with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Our investment in 30,000 units of supportive housing will give adults who have developmental disabilities access to housing that ensures they can live rich lives with more independence.

We are proponents of universal design and will ensure that accessibility standards are considered and met before, during, and after any major reforms or infrastructure projects are undertaken by the government.

Liberals

* A re-elected Liberal government will build on this progress by: …

  • exploring and determining next steps for preventing and removing accessibility barriers in the built environment

*  We intend to continue the reviews already underway and continue the work of developing standards in the areas of health care and education. We would welcome advice from these committees on built environment issues and look forward to making the process more open and transparent to ensure all voices are heard without compromising necessary privacy and accountability measures.

Beyond ongoing work, we know that there are barriers in the province that need to be addressed through standards. Earlier this year, former Minister Tracy MacCharles publicly stated that the standards governing the built environment need to be strengthened to achieve our goal. That’s why she convened a summit on the subject attended by many impacted stakeholders, including the AODA Alliance. We will use the feedback gleaned from this summit and further consultation with stakeholders to determine the best path forward as we track toward the mandated review of the standard. Given the complexity of housing construction, building modification, and renovation, we will also work with builders, developers, architects, and other experts before committing to a path forward on residential housing and retrofits.

Getting to an accessible Ontario requires that we also ensure that the professionals most connected to design and construction know about accessibility. To this end, we will work with regulatory bodies, colleges, universities, and professional organisations to ensure that accessibility is included throughout the process.

Standards for AFPs differ project to project, but all Project Companies are required to comply with all legislation on AFP projects, including the AODA and accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code. This is the de facto minimum standard. Issues related to accessibility in AFP projects are therefore related to the content of the standards. On built environment issues specifically, that’s why we have committed to working with stakeholders toward the next review of the standard.

Greens

* We support accessibility as an essential component of any new building project or retrofit. Training in accessible design should be a requirement across all licensing and educational institutions in Ontario, and all new building projects should meet standard accessibility requirements before approval. A strategy must be developed both to increase the supply of accessible housing within Ontario and to undertake the retrofitting of existing buildings in order for them to meet accessibility standards.

Conservatives

* Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions. We need Ontario’s design professionals, such as architects, to receive substantially improved professional training on disability and accessibility.

^Substantially Reform How the Ministry of Education Deals with the Needs of Students with Disabilities

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#29.  To create a new associate Deputy Minister and Division at the Ministry of Education, to be called the Full Participation Inclusion of Students with Disabilities Division. This division should have lead responsibility for ensuring that all planning and programming at the Ministry is designed and operated to ensure that students with disabilities  can fully participate in and be fully included in schools and education services. To avoid this becoming an irrelevant, isolated  silo within the Ministry, this Division should have a mandate to oversee and ensure the work of all other divisions in the Ministry in this regard, so that no new initiatives in education will go forward unless this Division approves it as fully including students with disabilities without barriers.

#30. To amend Ontario’s Education Act and special education regulations, to eliminate the unfairly restrictive definition of “exceptional pupil” and “exceptionality,” and to replace it with a definition of students with disabilities that covers all disabilities covered by the Ontario Human Rights Code. The current out-dated terms “exceptional pupil” and “exceptionality” now leave out  mental health conditions that have not become a behaviour issue).

#31. To independently review the Ministry’s programming and funding formula for special education, to be renamed funding for students with disabilities, in order to ensure it is sufficient to meet their needs, and to ensure that funding is based on the actual number of students with disabilities  in a school board, not some mathematical formula of how many students with disabilities  there hypothetically should be at that school board.

NDP

* We understand that the Ministry of Education has been a major barrier to effectively meeting the needs of students with disabilities, and that the responses and supports that students and families receive have varied wildly across the province. We are committed to ensuring that students with disabilities are no longer treated as an afterthought. We will review the funding formula for special education, and will re-structure the way that the Ministry of Education approaches accessibility.

We are proud of the advocacy we have done to push the government to establish an Education Standards Committee.

Liberals

* The Ontario Liberal Party believes that every student must have access to the support they need to reach their full potential. We will ensure that we have the appropriate structures in place to continue to make progress in removing barriers and supporting full inclusion for students with disabilities. This includes working with all of the divisions of the Ministry of Education in developing a new Education Accessibility standard to remove accessibility barriers for students. The advice of the Education Standards Development Committees will be key in charting our next steps on improving accessibility in schools and post-secondary institutions, and we look forward to receiving that advice before committing to significant reforms in the sector.

The Ministry of Education recently undertook an organizational realignment that placed an increased focus on supporting student success. The Student Support and Field Services Division is responsible for supporting the achievement of students with disabilities and working across divisions and ministries to support children and youth with special needs, while the Education Equity Secretariat supports all of the ministry in building capacity for equity and human rights. This happened in 2017, and we expect improved results as a result of this realignment.

We care deeply about student mental health and well-being, because we know how many of our young people are facing mental health challenges and needs support both in their schools and broader communities. Up to 70 per cent of mental health and addictions challenges begin in childhood or adolescence. That’s why we recently announced we are supporting quicker access to better care for mental health and addiction services for people of all ages through a historic $2.1 billion investment over the next four years. This is the largest provincial investment in Canadian history in mental health and addictions care.  On top of the Mental Health Leads that we created in every school board, this investment means an additional 400 mental health workers to support every high school across the province dedicated to supporting continued and expanded mental health awareness and education, earlier identification and assessment, and improved timely referrals to community mental health services. This investment will also support enhanced mental health literacy for our educators and school staff, and social emotional learning skills embedded in the curriculum.

This is all in addition to our government’s investment of $49 million over the next three years to promote and support the well-being of Ontario’s students, which includes doubling funding to school boards for locally-determined priorities including mental health.

All students with disabilities must be supported by our public education system based on individual assessments of strengths and needs. Specific needs are addressed through students’ Individual Education Plans. The categories of exceptionalities in the Education Act were designed to address the range of conditions that may affect a student’s ability to learn, rather than by condition or diagnosis. Our government will continue to work with our partners to address barriers to helping students reach their full potential.

After inheriting an education system that was severely underfunded and in complete disrepair, Liberal governments have made historic investments in our public education system. This has enabled hiring more than 40,000 additional teachers and education workers into the system to support student success during a period of declining enrolment. It has also contributed to caps on K-3 class size, reduced average class size for grades 4 to 8 from 26 to 24 and the complete roll-out of full-day kindergarten for every four and five-year-old in Ontario.

These investments are contributing to the high school graduation rate reaching an all-time high of 86.5 per cent, up more than 18 percentage points compared to the rate when we took office. Today, Ontario’s students consistently rank at or near the top in national and international student achievement results in reading, math and science, and we are the only jurisdiction in the world to achieve this feat in a diverse context. Gaps in achievement for students with special needs are closing, and we are confident that our new investments will further this success.

We also know that there is more to do. Our 2018 Budget announced another $300 million over the next three years to support students with disabilities, bringing total funding for special education to $3 billion next year. This funding will eliminate the waitlists for professional assessments of student needs and means 600 additional staff forming multidisciplinary teams of social workers, psychologists, behavioural specialists and speech-language pathologists to build board capacity and help teachers, education assistants and other staff better understand and adapt to the unique needs of their students. Our Budget also includes an additional $30 million per year for 500 more Education Assistants who will support our highest needs students. All of these investments are critical to our plan and are at risk in this election.

We have changed about 90% of the education funding formula since 2013 and are committed to continuing to review the formula to advance student achievement, well-being and equity. We made changes several years ago to the way that special education funding is allocated to be more responsive to the needs of students. The prior model that the PCs developed was inequitable and rewarded school boards that could fill out paperwork rather than meeting students’ needs. We are committed to engaging with our education partners to continue reviewing the funding model for special education to ensure it is responsive to the needs of students, families, school boards, and educators. The formula is just one part of the story – and the Ontario Liberal Party is the only party proposing to increase investment to support students with disabilities.

Greens

* The Green Party is committed to changing outdated and restrictive terminology related to students with disabilities in the province’s Education Act so as to be inclusive of the full range of disabilities covered by the Ontario Human Rights Code. In addition, funding for students with disabilities should be determined based on the actual number of students within a particular school board.

Conservatives

* The Ontario PC Party believes our education system must minimize barriers for students with disabilities, providing the skills, opportunities and connections with the business community that are necessary to enter the workforce.

^Reform and Speed Up the Process for Developing and Reviewing Accessibility Standards.

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#32. Ensure that the Standards Development Committees, appointed under the AODA to make recommendations on what an accessibility standard should include, can operate in a more open manner and are fully independent of Government. These should not be shrouded in secrecy and non-disclosure requirements. An independent Ontario Access Board should be created to oversee this work, that is independent of and arms-length from the Ontario Government.

#33. To direct each Standards Development Committee that is now developing recommendations for a new accessibility standard or that is reviewing an existing standard, or that is appointed in the future, to make recommendations on accessibility that live up to the Ontario Human Rights Code. To assist with this, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario should give each SDC up-to-date information on relevant rulings by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and courts, and should centrally involve the Ontario Human Rights Code in each Standards Development Committee.

NDP

* This means that processes for developing and reviewing accessibility standards must be reformed and sped up. They must adhere to the Ontario Human Rights Code, and each ministry should conduct regular audits of their progress toward becoming fully accessible.

Liberals

* We intend to continue the reviews already underway and continue the work of developing standards in the areas of health care and education. We would welcome advice from these committees on built environment issues and look forward to making the process more open and transparent to ensure all voices are heard without compromising necessary privacy and accountability measures.

Greens

* We support the creation of a non-governmental body to develop and review accessibility standards in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code so as to quicken this process and render such information more easily available to the public.

Conservatives

* An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards.

^Establish Free Independent Technical Accessibility Advice for Obligated Organizations Akin to Successful US Programs

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#34. To establish a publicly-funded centre, arms-length from the Ontario Government, to provide expert detailed technical advice on accessibility to the public, including obligated organizations, modelled after successful US programs. For example, an Ontario “Job Accommodation Network”, designed to operate like the successful US service bearing that name, could help employers and employees in the public and private sectors.

Liberals

* The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario already provides significant advice and guidance to obligated organisations seeking guidance on how to properly implement requirements under the AODA. Moving this function outside government would incur further expense, and pull resources away from other key functions, such as enforcement and compliance audits. If re-elected, Ontario Liberals would strengthen this internal function to include technical expertise and work with stakeholders to develop better technical expertise networks to support implementation.

Greens

* The Green Party supports the development of publicly-funded initiatives to offer high quality knowledge related to accessibility to the public.

^Ensure Taxpayers’ Money is Never Used to Create or Perpetuate Disability Barriers

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#35. To set standards for, implement, widely publicize, monitor, enforce and publicly report on a comprehensive strategy to ensure that public money is never used by anyone to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, for example, in capital or infrastructure spending, or through procurement of goods, services or facilities, or through business development grants or loans, or research grants.

NDP

* Public funds should never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.

Liberals

* We stand by our earlier commitments to never use public money to perpetuate barriers. Though there is work to be done to ensure universal application, our success at working together with the AODA Alliance on provincially-funded transit projects and other infrastructure builds shows a path forward.

Greens

* The Green Party will not use taxpayers’ money to create, perpetuate, or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities. To this end, we will ensure that our plans meet the accessibility standards set out in the Human Rights Code and make sure that independent contractors are aware of these standards.

^Make Provincial and Municipal Elections Truly Accessible to Voters with Disabilities 

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#36. To consult with voters with disabilities by the end of 2018and then introduce in the Legislature within 9 months, with a view to passing a bill that comprehensively and effectively addresses accessibility needs of voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections.

#37. To commit that your candidates will not take part in any all-candidates’ debate during the June 7 2018 election campaign if the location is not accessible to people with disabilities.

NDP

* For the NDP, creating an accessible Ontario means ensuring accessibility at every level. This means creating more opportunities for civic engagement. We will create an Election Finances Commission to review and provide regular recommendations on updating Ontario’s election law, with a primary focus on electoral fairness. The commission will include representation from Elections Ontario, members of civil society such as academia, law and civic organizations, and nominees from major political parties.

We will ask the Commission to deliver recommendations on improving Ontario democracy and increasing citizen participation and engagement in the political process – both during and between elections. This includes the full implementation of an Accessible Elections Plan that will be supported through legislation.

We agree that these reforms should take place at the municipal level as well, and will work with municipalities to ensure this happens.

Liberals

* Ensuring accessibility of elections is essential to participation in our democracy and maintaining the universal franchise. We are committed to safeguarding the interests of Ontarians with disabilities through ease of access to their right to cast a ballot.  Since 2014, we made significant strides toward accessible elections by testing new technology in by-elections and the forthcoming increased use of voting machines in June. The Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and Elections Ontario are committed to providing the best possible experience to make sure every Ontarian is able to vote.

Similarly, the Ontario Liberal Party is committed to accessibility in the conduct of our election campaign. Every effort will be made to help hosts of All Candidates’ Meetings understand the need to choose accessible venues.

Greens

* We support enforcing strict accessibility standards at voting locations to ensure that people with physical disabilities or other mobility issues are able to vote without barriers. We also need to increase the number of mobile polls at hospitals and residences for seniors and people living with disabilities who have difficulty leaving their homes.

Conservatives

* There’s no good reason why a person with a disability should not be able to cast a vote in an election.

^Substantially Improve How the Ontario Public Service Works to Make its Services, Facilities and Workplaces Accessible to Customers and Employees with Disabilities

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#38. After promptly consulting with people with disabilities within the Ontario Public Service and in the general public for no more than 2 months, to announce and implement a plan to substantially re-engineer how the Ontario Public Service discharges its duty to ensure that its own services, facilities and workplaces are fully accessible. This should include, among other things, ensuring that the accessibility of its services, facilities and workplaces is regularly and comprehensively audited and that public servants are made accountable for ensuring their accessibility.

#39. To ensure that in Mandate Letters, the Premier promptly directs the appropriate cabinet ministers and senior public officials to implement the Government’s accessibility obligations and commitments, and to make this direction public, once given.

#40. To establish a full-time Deputy Minister or associate deputy minister, who is responsible for ensuring the accessibility of the Ontario Government’s services, facilities and workplaces, to be called the Ontario Public Service Chief Accessibility Officer. Similar positions have been successfully established in leading large businesses such as IBM, Apple and Microsoft.

#41. To ensure that in each Ontario Government Ministry, there is a position, now called “Accessibility Lead.” This position should be made in all cases a full-time position if it is not now. It should be designated to directly report to that Ministry’s deputy minister, rather than remaining buried lower down within the ministry, as is the current practice. This should also include establishing an Accessibility Lead position in Cabinet Office, which reports directly to the Secretary of Cabinet, to ensure that accessibility is considered in all work of the Cabinet Office, and to ensure that all Cabinet Submissions are vetted in advance to ensure they do not create or perpetuate any barriers against people with disabilities.

#42. To include in the annual performance reviews of each deputy minister, assistant deputy minister and director below them, where feasible, specific annual commitments relating to their mandate on accessibility for people with disabilities. In 2007, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ordered this for senior management at the Toronto Transit Commission.

NDP

* We’re committed to ensuring that every government initiative is designed from the start to allow people of all abilities to access government services and programs. This commitment will begin from the moment we take office, and will include comprehensive consultation.

* An NDP government will also create Accessibility leads within Ministries as part of an all-government approach to achieving full accessibility.

* each ministry should conduct regular audits of their progress toward becoming fully accessible.

* We’re committed to ensuring that every government initiative is designed from the start to allow people of all abilities to access government services and programs.

We will invest $67 million annually in increasing support for agencies that provide services to adults with developmental disabilities so they can participate in their communities, have options for public services, and have a great quality of life. We are committed to substantially improving how Ontario Public Services work, ensuring that customers and employees with disabilities have full access to all public services.

Liberals

* The Ontario Public Service is a world leader in accessible employment practices and was recognized this year as one of Canada’s top Diversity Employers due to part to smart accessibility practices. The Secretary of Cabinet has developed a detailed plan to improve accessibility in the OPS and we look forward to continuing to support him in this work.

Continuing with her commitment to transparency and open government, Premier Wynne will include accessibility in the mandate letters to her Ministers and make those letters public.

Greens

* We support the development of a plan to ensure the full accessibility of the Ontario Public Service’s services, facilities, and workplaces, including the creation of new governmental positions in order to properly implement such a plan.

^Speed Up and Complete the Promised Review of All Ontario Laws for Accessibility Barriers

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#43. To announce, within four months of taking office, a detailed plan for completing this review of all Ontario laws, and for ensuring that new legislation and regulations will be screen in advance to ensure that they do not authorize, create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.

#44. To complete a review of all legislation for accessibility barriers by the end of 2019, and all regulations by the end of 2020, and to introduce into the Legislature, with the intent of passing it, an omnibus bill or bills to amend any legislation as needed a result of this review, along time lines that the Government would announce by the end of March 2019.

#45. That Cabinet will amend any regulations that the government deems necessary as a result of the accessibility review, by the end of 2021.

Liberals

* Earlier this year, the government appointed the Honourable David C. Onley to lead the next review of the AODA. As part of this review, we are asking Mr. Onley to include in his advice the best way forward to both complete the review and provide solutions to accessibility barriers in legislation in a practical and responsible way.

Greens

* We support an immediate and thorough review of legislation and regulations as quickly as possible. The Green Party supports ensuring there is a specified team with clear responsibility for addressing disability and accessibility issues.

^Reform the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#46. In consultation with the AODA Alliance, to

review the operations of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and to make public the review of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario which was conducted in 2016-2017 by the Leadership Intelligence consulting firm. On February 1, 2018, the AODA Alliance asked the Government to disclose that report. To date, it has not agreed to do so.

Liberals

* The third-party review of the Directorate helped shape the recent re-organisation and restructuring of the operation. We look forwarding to continuing to improve Directorate as we work toward our goal of an accessible Ontario by 2025.

Greens

* The Green Party supports a review of the operations of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and the public disclosure of recent reviews of this body.

^Ensure Effective Independent Reviews of the AODA’s Implementation and Enforcement

Commitments the AODA Alliance Requested

#47. To ensure that any person, appointed to conduct an Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, not be a person who worked for the Government on any aspect of accessibility or of the AODA during the period material to the review.

#48. To release the report of the Third AODA Independent Review, due by the end of 2018,

within four weeks of the Government receiving it.

NDP

* We will quickly release the results of the AODA Independent Review, due at the end of 2018.

Liberals

* We are proud of the Ontario Liberal government decision to appoint Mr. Onley to lead to the review of AODA implementation and enforcement. He is a well-respected leader in the disability community with invaluable experience on the file. His review will be independent of government, and will be informed by public and stakeholder input, including from the AODA Alliance. We will release Mr. Onley’s report to the public within a month of receipt.

Greens

* To ensure effective independent reviews of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, we agree that no review of the AODA should be conducted by an individual who worked for the government on any aspect of accessibility or the AODA during the time period of the material under review.