QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP Joel Harden, the Official Opposition critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities, released the following statement in response to the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility heeding Harden’s call to table David C. Onley’s independent review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA):
“This week, I publicly called on the minister to release David C. Onley’s review of the AODA, and to lift the ministry’s callous, 258-day freeze on the committees appointed under the AODA to advise on dismantling barriers to people with disabilities. The minister responded to these requests by tabling the report and asking the committees to resume their work – which is a step forward for Ontarians with disabilities.
Under the Liberals and Conservatives, Ontario has fallen profoundly short of ensuring all people with disabilities have access to the education, health care and employment opportunities they deserve, as well as the infrastructure to support their access to, and use of, public spaces.
As Onley starkly articulates, in the introduction of his review: ‘Every day, in every community in Ontario, people with disabilities encounter formidable barriers to participation in the vast opportunities this province affords its residents – its able-bodied residents…For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.’
In delaying the tabling of this report and halting the crucial activities of the AODA-appointed advisory committees, the Ford government has dragged its heels on removing barriers to people with disabilities.
It is imperative that the Conservatives thoroughly review Onley’s independent review and commit to implementing its recommendations in a timely manner. Ontarians with disabilities deserve a government that listens to them, and views their inclusion in all areas of society — and their perspectives on how best to ensure that inclusion — as a priority. Ontario’s New Democrats will keep fighting to build a province that is completely accessible.”