Bonnie Crombie Wins Ontario Liberal Party Leadership – Here’s What She Promised She’d do to Make Ontario Become Accessible to 2.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities
https://www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

December 2, 2023

SUMMARY

On December 2 2023, the Ontario Liberal Party elected Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie as its next leader after three ballots. On November 16, 2023, she wrote the non-partisan AODA Alliance to set out her commitments to lead Ontario to become accessible to 2.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. We set out that letter below.

Earlier this fall, the non-partisan AODA Alliance wrote all candidates for this year’s Ontario Liberal Party leadership race to seek commitments. Each candidate or their campaign answered us.

In the 2018 Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race, we wrote all candidates for that party’s leadership to seek commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities. None of the PC candidates answered.

The AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any candidate or party. We try to get the strongest commitment and boldest actions from all candidates and all parties.

We congratulate Bonnie Crombie and look forward to working with her, as we offer to do with the leaders of all parties.

Text of the November 16, 2023 Letter from Bonnie Crombie to the AODA Alliance

November 16, 2023

David Lepofsky
AODA Alliance
Toronto, Ontario

Dear David,

Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. Your effort helps us make Ontario a better place for everyone. I applaud your and your team’s dedication, and am committed to working with you in future as the Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and hopefully as the Premier of this great province.

People with disabilities hold immense potential. By delaying thorough implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), we are failing to help people with disabilities leverage their potential.

An Ontario Liberal Government under my leadership, will show strong leadership on accessibility issues, and breathe new life into and revitalize the AODA’s implementation. I will maintain the consistent proud practice of each Liberal Party leader over the past two decades of periodically meeting with the AODA Alliance to discuss accessibility issues, and of making election commitments in each Ontario provincial election on achieving an accessible province for persons with disabilities, in partnership with organizations like yours.

Under my leadership, the Ontario Liberal Party will not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in the AODA, in its regulations, or any Government policies or programs that help achieve the AODA’s objectives. We will not re-open or amend the AODA. We will rather develop and implement a comprehensive plan for full and effective implementation of the AODA. Our plan will be developed in collaboration with the experts, stakeholders, and most importantly the people who live with visible and invisible disabilities.

We will also develop and implement a comprehensive set of regulations under the AODA that will set specific and measurable standards for all sectors, such as, the education and health care systems. AODA is a model piece of legislation that is an Ontario Liberal legacy, and through the comprehensive implementation plan and regulations, we will be able to demonstrate our commitment to proudly preserving it.

Enforcement of the AODA standards are equally important. Under my leadership, an Ontario Liberal government will work collaboratively with businesses, public sector, and non-profit organizations to ensure strong enforcement of the AODA principles and standards. Our effort will also involve imposing penalties for the failure to comply, and ensuring that resources and tools that are necessary for obligated organizations to implement accessibility features are available to facilitate compliance.

An Ontario Liberal government that I lead will operate on prioritizing implementation of universal design principles across the board. Public money must never be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.

All these principles and a focus on their full implementation, and our other commitments to Ontarians with disabilities, will be clearly laid out as a priority in the mandate letters of all ministers in my cabinet.

While I have these goals that I would like to work on upon being elected as your Premier, I don’t want to stay silent on this issue between now and 2026. As soon as I get elected as the Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, I will start fighting for them. As part of this, I will emphasize the need to create better opportunities for students with disabilities.

We have a labor shortage in this province, and we need to make sure that people with disabilities have a fair shot at participating in the labor market. A person needs a good education to get a good job. I am running in this leadership race because I want to build an Ontario where everyone has access to equal opportunities to succeed in life. To do so, I believe we need major reform in our education system that willensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in and benefit from it. In Ontario, one out of every six students has a form of disability. We cannot build an equitable and prosperous province leaving a large chunk of our population at the sideline. Therefore, I am committed to starting my fight for improving support for students with disabilities, immediately from the moment I get elected as the Leader of the OLP.

Once again, thank you for your passionate advocacy. I look forward to meeting and engaging with AODA Alliance and other stakeholders both as the Leader of the OLP and eventually, the Premier of the province so that collectively we can build a better Ontario.

Regards

(Note: Signature of Bonnie Crombie)