Latest Media Coverage of Ontario Election Disability Accessibility Issues – Press Your Local Media to Ask Doug Ford’s Tories why they won’t make Election Commitments on Disability Accessibility

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities Web: https://www.aodaalliance.org
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

May 25, 2022
SUMMARY

With eight days until voting day, June 2, 2022, it is more important than ever to press your local media to ask Doug Ford why he is the first Tory leader in almost two decades to refuse to make any election commitments on accessibility for over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. Remind PC candidates that Tories get disabilities too! We need people with disabilities from any party or no party at all to add their voices to our non-partisan election blitz.

Below you can find two new media articles on this issue, hot off the virtual presses:

* The May 24, 2022 guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in Ontario’s online Metroland newspapers. This was published 27 years to the day after then-Tory leader Mike Harris promised in the 1995 Ontario election to pass a Disabilities Act and to work with Ontarians with disabilities to develop it.

* The May 25, 2022 online Global News Toronto report on Ford’s refusing to make any Ontario election pledges on disability accessibility issues. We note one correction to that story. It incorrectly states that the AODA Alliance organized the May 17, 2022 candidates debate on disability issues. That event was in fact organized by Community Living Toronto, Reena, the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre, and the Canadian Centre for Care-Giving Excellence. The event’s organizers invited AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to moderate the debate.

Share these articles with as many voters as possible. Send them to your local candidates. Remember that tenacity is our middle name!

You can dig into great ideas on how to raise these issues in the current Ontario election in the May 13, 2022 AODA Alliance Update. You can find all you need to know about the non-partisan campaign to raise disability accessibility issues in this Ontario election at the AODA Alliance website’s 2022 Ontario election page.

Believe it or not, there have now been 1,210 days since the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the last Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Onley Report found that progress on accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario has been proceeding at a “glacial pace.” The Ford Tories have announced no effective and comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations, either before or during this provincial election campaign.

MORE DETAILS

Metroland Newspapers May 24, 2022

Originally posted at https://www.toronto.com/opinion/why-wont-doug-ford-make-election-commitments-to-tear-down-barriers-for-ontarians-with-disabilities/article_7da5a79e-8c77-5142-aba9-8a588890a945.html

Why won’t Doug Ford make election commitments to tear down barriers for Ontarians with disabilities? Ford’s record on disability issues is ‘abysmal,’ writes David Lepofsky

BY DAVID LEPOFSKY
SCARBOROUGH MIRROR

David Lepofsky is a lawyer and advocate for people with disabilities in Toronto. – Metroland file

Imagine going to a new school, university, hospital or public transit service, funded with your tax dollars, only to discover that the government didn’t design it to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Imagine you have been trying to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, only to find that Doug Ford’s one-size-fits-all pandemic response ignored the urgent needs of people with disabilities who don’t fit his simplistic mould.

Imagine your autistic child has been waiting for years for desperately needed therapy, and Ford doubled that wait list after promising to reduce it.

Imagine you are one of the many people with disabilities who cannot find a job in our booming economy, due to easily prevented workplace barriers. Ford is still sitting on recommendations to address workplace barriers that a government-appointed advisory committee recommended three years ago recommendations that Ford concealed for two years, in contravention of Ontario’s Disabilities Act.

In the 2018 election, Ford pledged disability issues would be “close to the hearts” of the Progressive Conservatives. Since then, his record on disability issues has been abysmal.

Has Doug Ford’s election war room decided it will never get any votes from people with disabilities or from anyone who cares about their plight? Ford is the only major Ontario party leader in almost two decades to refuse to even answer our request to make election commitments to tear down soul-crushing accessibility barriers obstructing over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities from competitive jobs, health care, education, transit, housing and other essentials.

Ford’s “new normal” has more serious barriers impeding people with disabilities, not fewer. Ontario Disability Support Program recipients, languishing in poverty, got no increase since fall 2018. We’ve ironically asked if ODSP recipients should declare themselves “small businesses” to get Ford to care?

The non-partisan coalition I chair doesn’t endorse any party. We campaign to get strong commitments from all parties.

We wrote the parties six months ago, requesting commitments. The NDP, Greens and Liberals made commitments. Ford hasn’t. It’s not too late for him to respond.

We’re tweeting Ford’s candidates, asking them to press Ford to answer us. None reply.

Too many of the press corps, trailing the leaders, give Ford a free pass by not covering this issue. Only a few media cover it, led by TVO’s Steve Paikin.

Earlier media coverage of another vital disability issue, Ontario’s cruel sub-poverty ODSP rate, drove Ford to belatedly pledge the first ODSP hike in almost four years, just days after his pre-election budget included no increase. Ford could change his tune on our accessibility issues, if more media stop giving him this free pass.

The media should spend less time with pundits speculatively telling us what issues we supposedly care about and trying to read tea leaves about the campaign horse race. They should spend more time covering under-reported disability accessibility issues that we care about and that affect us all!

Accessibility for people with disabilities benefits everyone and hurts no one. Ford’s war room staffers and candidates should realize they too are bound to get disabilities. Hey, Tory war room! How about promising that new hospitals, schools and transit you build, using our money, will be accessible?
David Lepofsky is chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and visiting professor, Osgoode Hall Law School. Twitter: @davidlepofsky.

Global News Online May 25, 2022

Originally posted at https://globalnews.ca/news/8863849/david-lepofsky-accessibility-disability-ontario-election-2022-pledges/ Ontario PCs wont commit to accessibility improvements, disability advocate says By Isaac Callan Global News

David Lepofsky has been at the forefront of advocacy for people in Ontario living with disabilities for decades.

The blind lawyer chairs the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance, a non-partisan group that campaigns for disability and accessibility reform.

Election season is a busy period for Lepofsky, as he and his organization chase candidates seeking office for promises. Every campaign period his requests have been answered, he said until this year.

Doug Ford is the first Tory leader in almost two decades, in fact the only leader of any party in almost two decades, to refuse to even answer a request for election commitments, Lepofsky told Global News.

The AODA Alliance recently hosted an all-party debate to discuss the needs of disabled Ontarians but the PC Party failed to field a candidate, the alliance said.

The latest annual AODA report published by the province reported 2.6 million people in Ontario have a disability. It said that number is expected to grow as the population ages.

It looks to us like the Tory war room has somehow decided that people with disabilities just dont matter they dont need to appeal to them, Lepofsky said. And we think people with disabilities deserve better.

Global News reached out to the Progressive Conservative campaign multiple times for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Lepofsky said he has not given up on promises from the PCs and urged voters to raise the issue with local candidates.

He said that, under Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives, Ontario became a more inaccessible place for people living with disabilities.

The three other parties have offered a variety of promises around accessibility.

The Ontario Liberals promised to increase Ontario Disability Support Program payments by 20 per cent, while the NDP promised an increase of 40 per cent. The PCs promised a five-per cent increase after the election campaign kicked off. The Greens said they would double it.

Steven Del Ducas Liberals also promised to build at least 2,500 supportive homes for people with developmental disabilities. The party said it would increase inspections relating to the AODA and appoint a standalone minister for disability issues.

The NDP pledged to implement all recommendations from Ontarios former lieutenant governor David Onley, who laid out key steps to improve accessibility.

The Green Party made several commitments in its platform, including plans to substantially strengthen enforcement of accessibility standards and creating incentives to retrofit buildings to be accessible.

The 2022 Ontario budget, acting as the PC platform, does not mention the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act once.

This matters, Lepofsky explained, because the deadline for Ontario to achieve the wide-ranging accessibility goals set out in the AOD Act will arrive in 2025. The current election is the final provincial ballot before the Acts goals were meant to have been achieved.

The legislation which includes both private and public institutions is designed to make Ontario accessible for people with disabilities.

We need the next government, whichever party it is, to come forward with a detailed plan B, to get us as close to accessibility as they can by 2025, Lepofsky said.

We now sadly know that Ontario will not be accessible by that date, because of, frankly, blunders of government after government on this issue. Weve made some progress, but we are way behind schedule.