ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2023 Toronto: Blind disability advocate David Lepofsky, Chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, has had to resort to a Freedom of Information application to force Premier Doug Ford to make public an official report he received over five months ago. That report tells the Government what it must do to tear down the many unfair accessibility barriers that now hurt 2.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. Ontario law requires the Ford Government to make that report public, but it has not done so. No public interest is served by continuing to keep it secret.
Last year, the Ford Government hand-picked Mr. Rich Donovan to conduct a mandatory Independent Review of the Government’s implementation of Ontario’s Disabilities Act. Donovan submitted his final report on June 6, 2023. David Lepofsky has deployed Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act in an effort to get Premier Ford to make that report public.
“We’re getting very close to 2025, the mandatory deadline for the Ontario Government to lead this province to become accessible to Ontarians with disabilities. Yet Ontario is far behind schedule and has no effective action plan to lead this province to become accessible by 2025 or by any time in the future,” said Lepofsky, whose voluntary coalition spearheads the battle to make Ontario accessible to Ontarians with disabilities. “Progress has been far too slow in removing existing disability barriers. The Ontario Government keeps creating new disability barriers, using public money.”
Donovan’s Final Report recommends what the Ford Government should do to kick-start sluggish Government action. The public, including 2.9 Ontarians with disabilities, have a right to know what he recommended.
Almost five years ago, former Lieutenant Governor David Onley told the Ford Government that progress on accessibility was “glacial” and that Ontario remains full of “soul-crushing barriers.” Echoing this last March, Rich Donovan gave the Government an Interim Report that described the implementation of the AODA over 17 years as “a series of failures and missed opportunities.”
“The Ford Government made Donovan’s March 1, 2023 Interim Report public just eight days after receiving it,” said Lepofsky. “Yet it inexplicably has kept Donovan’s Final Report secret for over five months, even though Section 41(4) of the Disabilities Act requires the Government to make it public.”
In a letter sent to Premier Ford last Friday, the AODA Alliance pleaded with the Premier to show new leadership on this issue, to agree to an urgent meeting with the AODA Alliance, and to direct his Accessibility Minister to speak to the AODA Alliance (whose Minister’s Office has not responded to the AODA Alliance in at least two years).
The non-partisan AODA Alliance advocates to all political parties on the issue of accessibility. Earlier this fall, the AODA Alliance wrote all candidates for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, asking them to say what they’d do if they become premier, to make Ontario become accessible to Ontarians with disabilities.
Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, firstname.lastname@example.org
For background, read:
* The March 1, 2023 Interim Report of the Rich Donovan 4th AODA Independent Review
* The January 31, 2019 Final Report of the David Onley 3rd AODA Independent Review
* The AODA Alliance’s May 31, 2023 brief to the Rich Donovan AODA Independent Review on the recommendations for reform that he should make
* The AODA Alliance’s February 6, 2023 brief to the Rich Donovan AODA Independent Review on the findings that he should make.
* The March 20, 2023 Toronto Star editorial echoing the March 1, 2023 Initial Report by the Rich Donovan AODA Independent Review
Text of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s November 11, 2023 Freedom of Information Application
(Note: Personal information is removed from this text)
Ontario Access or Correction Request
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Date: November 11, 2023
A. Type of Request:
Access to general records (non-personal information)
Name of institution request made to:
Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility
Attention: Freedom of Information and Privacy Coordinator
Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility
400 University Avenue,
Toronto Ontario M7A 2R9
B. Requester’s Information:
Last name: Lepofsky First name: David
C. Description of Records Requested
The final report of the 4th Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, which was conducted by Mr. Rich Donovan, and which was submitted to the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility on or about June 6, 2023. In 2022, the Ontario Government appointed Mr. Donovan to conduct this Independent Review of the AODA pursuant to Section 41 of the AODA. Pursuant to Section 41(4) of the AODA, this report must be made public.
1. Please provide the requested final report in an accessible electronic format in MS Word, so that it can be read by screen-reading software used by people with vision loss and other print disabilities.
2. There should be no fee for producing this report, as it is a single record, which most if not all senior officials at the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, including the Minister’s Office, can instantly locate. I ask in advance that any fee for complying with this request be waived. I do so because this is a public interest application. I make the request for information under the Freedom of Information Act as a matter of public interest. I am the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, a volunteer position with a volunteer coalition. Our coalition is a non-partisan, non-profit community coalition advocating for the effective implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. We have no funds of our own, as the Government admitted during my January 2017 appeal to the Information and Privacy Commission.
3. I make this request for information in good faith. The search fee should not become an unfair barrier to access to information for such a community group or for people with disabilities generally. The AODA Alliance has been recognized by all parties in the Ontario Legislature as a leading voice advocating for accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario. As one illustration of this, each of the political parties has made their election commitments on disability accessibility in the form of letters to the AODA Alliance.
4. Once any senior official has located this document, there is no need for other officials to continue to search elsewhere in the Ministry for it. The public has a right to see this document pursuant to Section 41(4) of the AODA. As such, there is no exemption in law that can bar its disclosure to me.
5. Among other things, this report had the mandate to address disability barriers that can affect health and safety of people with disabilities. As such, no fee for providing it can be charged to me.