Hon. Raymond Cho
Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility
Frost Building South
7 Queen’s Park Cres.
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y7
March 6, 2019
Dear Minister Cho,
On Jan. 31, 2019, the Honourable David C. Onley submitted to your government the final report of his independent and comprehensive third review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
I am writing today to urge you to immediately table this review in the legislature. Further, I ask that you publicize Onley’s review in a fully accessible format, so that all Ontarians can read his recommendations.
Onley’s review of the AODA is the product of extensive consultation with members of the disability community, and has been informed by the former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario’s personal experience as an advocate for disability rights.
As you know, the AODA puts Ontario on a deadline to achieve full accessibility by 2025. The Act ensures that appropriate standards are adhered to in the province, in the areas of customer service, information and communications, employment, transportation and the design of public spaces. In order to evaluate the progress that has been made thus far, and the additional steps needed for Ontario to reach its 2025 target, the Act requires that an independent review of its effectiveness and its regulations be carried out every three years.
Roughly 1.85 million people, or one in seven Ontarians, lives with a disability. As the population continues to age, that number is expected to rise to one in five people. Our office has heard from multiple individuals and organizations who are working to advance accessibility in this province and are concerned that Ontario is not on track to meet the 2025 target established by the AODA.
By tabling and making accessible Onley’s report in a timely fashion, your government would signal a willingness to act swiftly, and treat with urgency, the matter of Ontario achieving full accessibility by the established deadline. Delaying the tabling of Onley’s report sends the opposite message. It is in the public interest to immediately make this report available, and to ensure that the recommendations the review contains are understood and acted upon as quickly as possible.
Furthermore, the release of this report must be accompanied by your government lifting its freeze on the Education and Health Care Standards Development Committees — advisory committees appointed under the AODA to advise the government on how to dismantle barriers affecting people with disabilities across a number of areas. For 258 days, these committees have had their crucial work frozen. This state of inaction has had real-life negative consequences for Ontarians living with disabilities.
Minister, Ontarians living with disabilities are fed up with waiting for their rights to be respected, and fed up with having to attempt themselves to enforce accessibility standards in the spheres of education, health and the workplace. I implore you to release Onley’s report in an accessible format, and to reconvene the aforementioned Standards Development Committees without delay.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Official Opposition Critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities
MPP for Ottawa Centre