December 5, 2017
One full year ago today, Premier Wynne announced in the Ontario Legislature that her Government would create an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA. We have led the campaigned for this, to tear down the many disability barriers that impede students with disabilities in Ontario’s education system.
Yesterday, the AODA Alliance issued a news release, that presses the Wynne Government to at last appoint the Education Standards Development Committee – a committee which it is required to set up. That Committee will recommend to the Government what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include.
We were delighted that a short time after we issued our December 4, 2017 news release, both Ontario’s opposition parties drew on it, in the Ontario Legislature, to press the Wynne Government to now appoint the Education Standards Development Committee. It should not take a year to set up a committee.
Below we set out:
* The question on this subject which NDP MPP Monique Taylor asked of the Government during Question Period in the Legislature yesterday, and the news release on this subject which the NDP issued later on December 4, 2017.
* the statement in the Legislature that Progressive Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek made yesterday to mark December 3, 2017, the International Day for People with Disabilities. Here again, it drew directly from our December 4, 2017 news release.
In our ongoing spirit of non-partisanship, we very much appreciate the efforts by any party to support our cause.
We want to alert you that there will be more AODA Alliance Updates this week than is the usual case. We have lots to report. The AODA Alliance Updates will go on a holiday break after this week, and will resume early next year.
Ontario Legislature Hansard December 4, 2017
Miss Monique Taylor: My question is for Acting Premier.
Yesterday was International Day of Persons with Disabilities. One year ago when we celebrated this day, you promised an education accessibility standard. Today, we are still waiting for the committee to be appointed that would propose those standards. Meanwhile, children and youth with disabilities—those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, mental conditions, autism, mobility issues, blindness or deafness—are floundering in our schools.
Why does it take a full year just to appoint an advisory committee? Will this Liberal government appoint that committee today?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the minister for accessibility.
Hon. Tracy MacCharles: Thank you, Speaker, for the question. I’m actually very pleased to have a question on this topic, as we move forward with our standards development committee process. These are not advisory committees. These are very technical expert committees that are involved in creating new standards. We’re moving forward with the one on health care, as well as the education one.
We have consulted in recent months on what these standards should look like, particularly the education standard that the member opposite talks about. We will be actually creating two standards, one for kindergarten to grade 12 and one for post-secondary.
Ontario Legislature Hansard December 4, 2017
Mr. Jeff Yurek: I’m pleased to rise on behalf of the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus and our leader Patrick Brown to recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and reflect on our progress to date. Since being proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the observance of the day has ushered in a new era, with the passing of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act in Ontario and a commitment to make our province accessible by 2025.
As we continue to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness about the need for equal access and mobility, we need to take stock of the fact that, in Ontario, there continues to be many barriers facing people with disabilities. There remains the pressing issue of providing timely access to treatment and support services to children, youth and adults with physical, developmental and communication challenges, as Ontario continues to have unacceptably long wait times to supports and services, from autism to residential living.
Tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of Premier Wynne promising but not delivering on a new regulation under Ontario’s disabilities act to tear down the many disability barriers that impede one third of a million Ontarian students with disabilities from fully benefiting from schools, colleges and universities. On December 5, 2016, Premier Wynne pledged right here in this chamber that her government would enact an education accessibility standard. She did so when my colleague and MPP for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, Bill Walker, questioned her during question period.
The AODA Alliance has pressed the government for over half a decade to agree to develop an education accessibility standard, and 22 major disability organizations have called on her to deliver this promise. Yet, a year later, she still has not fulfilled this promise. The victims of her delay are children and youth with mobility disabilities, autism, learning disabilities, mental health conditions, intellectual disabilities, blindness, deafness and a host of other disabilities.
It’s these and other delays that tell us, when it comes to this government, adults and children with disabilities are a low priority. For example, we still continue to hear about delays with the Assistive Devices Program that impact some of our most vulnerable, severely disabled citizens. Imagine the incredible talents and opportunities that are going to waste as a result of this government’s cut to these social programs and services. All of these gaps are a reminder that this government could be and should be doing more to address the many gaps that remain for people living with disabilities.
We believe individuals with disabilities strengthen our workforce, our communities and our province, so we must always uphold the basic belief of equal access and equal opportunity and equal respect for all Ontarians. Our caucus has been raising these concerns in question period and challenging the government on the continued lack of accessibility standards. Without these standards, students with disabilities will continue to face barriers.
For example, the education accessibility standard could set provincial standards regarding situations where students with disabilities need to bring a service animal to school. Some students with disabilities, including those with autism spectrum disorder, may benefit from a service dog that assists them in self-regulating. Yet, in Ontario, these students and their families have to fight to be allowed to bring their service animal to school because some school boards refuse to recognize this need. This is also why my party has pledged to expand their rights and explicitly allow people with disabilities or autism to have service animals in public places.
Finally, there’s the issue of mental health. While this is an issue that all of us are passionate about, we are still reminded almost every day how this critical area continues to be chronically underfunded. As a result, people with mental illness continue to go without access to the resources they need so desperately.
My colleague and MPP for Nepean–Carleton last week pointed out how, in the city of Ottawa, there had been three suicide with 10 months at the Ottawa detention centre. One man took his own life and another was kept in the detention centre only because there were no beds available at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre where he was supposed to be undergoing an assessment.
This is not the Ontario that those struggling with mental illness should expect to live in. Yet, we don’t think this government realizes just how hard life is getting for Ontarians with disabilities.
This is why our party pledged last week to build a comprehensive mental health system, which will be the largest mental health commitment in Canadian provincial history, and to boost the Assistive Devices Program by increasing funding supports and eligibility criteria, as well as to roll out a new Ontario child care refund of $11,000 for parents with disabled children. We want to end the huge gaps in service, and we are going to do that by providing the needed resources.
We want to restore Ontarians’ trust in government and confidence that they will have access to the services they desperately need from special education funding to autism and mental health. So naturally, I was a little perplexed, having heard the minister repeat what her government has always promised to do, to build a fairer Ontario for all people. I respectfully suggest to her that you don’t build a fairer Ontario by continually neglecting to improve accessibility, evidenced by her government’s lack of action on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
In closing, as we observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let us reflect on the true progress to date and commit ourselves to doing better, which is building a better Ontario, one that truly strives every day to identify and remove any limitations and any barriers facing our friends and neighbours, and any person who lives with a disability in Ontario.
December 4, 2017 News Release by the Ontario New Democratic Party
NDP’s Taylor demands action for children with disabilities
Education Accessibility Standard promised one year ago, families still being let down
QUEEN’S PARK – On Monday, Hamilton Mountain MPP and NDP Persons with Disabilities critic, Monique Taylor, called on the Wynne government to act immediately so that all children with disabilities get the treatment and support they need and are entitled to.
“Today, the Ontario Disability Coalition is at Queen’s Park to report on the serious lack of hands-on therapy for all children and youth with disabilities. In their fight, on behalf of their children, they are frustrated by endless waitlists, skeletal front-line staff as well as inadequate and inequitable funding” said Taylor.
“Will the government commit today to adequate funding to ensure all children and youth with disabilities get the treatment and support they need and are entitled to?” Taylor asked.
Taylor said that families throughout Ontario are also disappointed that the Wynne Liberals have once again failed to enact an Education Accessibility Standard, leaving students to struggle to access the school resources they need to thrive.
“Yesterday was the International Day for Persons with Disabilities and one year ago, when we celebrated this day, the premier promised an Education Accessibility Standard. Today we are still waiting for the committee that would propose those standards to be appointed,” said Taylor.
“Meanwhile, children and youth with disabilities – with developmental and intellectual disabilities, mental health conditions, autism, mobility issues, blindness or deafness – are floundering in our schools.”
“Why does it take a full year just to appoint an advisory committee? Will this Liberal government appoint the committee today?” she asked.
Key Background Resources and Links
You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn about the AODA Alliance’s multi-year campaign for an Education Accessibility Standard in Ontario.
Have you taken part in our “Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign.
To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: email@example.com
We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.
Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.
Check out our new and expanded collection of online videos about the history, strategies and accomplishments of Ontario’s non-partisan grassroots accessibility campaign.
Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign.
Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates.
Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance