Yasir Naqvi’s Campaign Writes AODA Alliance to Make Commitments on Making Ontario Accessible to 2.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities – All Liberal Leadership Candidates or Their Campaigns Have Now Responded

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 24, 2023 Toronto: With members of the Ontario Liberal Party poised to cast ballots for the next leader of their party tomorrow and Sunday, the campaign for Yasir Naqvi has just written the AODA Alliance with commitments on leading Ontario to become accessible to 2.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. The letter from Naqvi’s campaign policy co-director James Janeiro is set out below.

In its September 28, 2023 letter to all the Ontario Liberal leadership candidates, the AODA Alliance sought strong commitments on leading Ontario to become disability accessible. The AODA Alliance aimed to get all of the leadership candidates to make strong commitments. We have now received responses from each candidate, or their campaigns, as follows (listed in the order they were received):

* Nate Erskine-Smith’s November 15, 2023 letter to the AODA Alliance. * Bonnie Crombie’s November 16, 2023 letter to the AODA Alliance.
* The November 24, 2023 letter to the AODA Alliance from Jill Atkinson, Office Manager Volunteer Coordinator of the Ted Hsu Leadership Campaign.
* The November 24, 2023 letter to the AODA Alliance from James Janeiro, Policy Co-Director of the Yasir Naqvi campaign, set out below.

The AODA Alliance does not support, oppose or endorse any party or candidate. It works with all parties to make as much progress as possible on accessibility to jobs, education, health care, public transit and all that Ontario affords the public.

There are only 404 days until 2025, the deadline that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets for the Ontario Government to have led this province to become accessible to people with disabilities. The January 2019 final report of the 3rd Government-Appointed Independent Review of the AODA conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, and the March 2023 interim report of the 4th AODA Independent Review conducted by Rich Donovan, each concluded that progress on accessibility has been far too slow to meet that deadline. Last week, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky had to resort to a Freedom of Information application in an effort to force Premier Doug Ford to make public the June 6, 2023 final report of Rich Donovan’s 4th AODA Independent Review. The Ford Government is required by law to make that report public.

As but one illustration of unfair new barriers that people with disabilities continue to face in Ontario, this past Monday, the AODA Alliance made public a captioned video depicting a new Toronto bike path design that is seriously dangerous for people with disabilities, including blind pedestrians. This new barrier was created by the City of Toronto using public money. This widely-viewed video has received coverage on TV, radio, and in the print media.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, aodafeedback@gmail.com

Twitter: @aodaalliance

For background, read:
* The AODA Alliance’s September 28, 2023 letter to Ontario Liberal leadership candidates, listing the commitments on disability accessibility that this coalition seeks.
* The AODA Alliance website, which documents its efforts since 2005 to get the Ontario Government to effectively implement and enforce the AODA.
* 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.

November 24, 2023 Letter to the AODA Alliance from the Yasir Naqvi Campaign

November 24, 2023

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter seeking accessibility commitments from Yasir Naqvi. From the beginning, Yasir’s Liberal leadership campaign has been about changing the status quo and restoring the promise of Ontario. Accessibility and disability inclusion are key parts of that vision.

Yasir has already announced a comprehensive series of policy proposals that will shape his time as leader and Premier of Ontario. He is committed to vigorous policy engagement with people with lived experience, subject matter experts, and Ontario Liberal Party members. A Yasir-led government would rebuild healthcare, guarantee mental health coverage, and introduce hard classroom caps in schools that include a new deal for students with special needs in public education. In addition to these commitments, Yasir will:

* Build on the tradition set by previous Liberal governments of regular meetings with the AODA Alliance, including an initial briefing within 60 days of assuming the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party
* Convene a Disability Advisory Group of representatives from across the disability community to share advice and perspectives directly with Yasir and his team
* Press the failing Ford government to live-up to its commitments to people with disabilities
* Make appropriate platform commitments that will create a properly accessible Ontario, as envisaged by the Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)
* Invigorate, strengthen, and enforce the AODA, including rigorous standards for health care and education
* Work with you and the disability community to develop a comprehensive and ambitious plan to catch-up after years of Ford inaction, including a new deadline
* Work with you and the disability community to ensure accessible provincial and municipal elections

Yasir Naqvi is a smart, strategic, and pragmatic leader. I am proud to have known and worked with Yasir for many years, including during his time as a Cabinet Minister. I have seen his commitment to accessibility and fairness first-hand in the rooms where decisions are made. I cannot wait to see Yasir bring the same passion and dedication when he is Premier of Ontario.

Millions of Ontarians live with disabilities. A Liberal government led by Yasir Naqvi will ensure that all Ontarians are included in the prosperous, peaceful, and successful future ahead.

Yours,

James Janeiro Policy Co-Director
Yasir Naqvi for Ontario Leader Campaign