People share frustrations with Ontario’s slow progress on accessibility targets
QUEEN’S PARK — People with disabilities are travelling from across the province to the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday to attend a town hall on accessibility hosted by the NDP’s Accessibility critic, Joel Harden. From noon until 6 p.m., about 70 people are sharing their first-hand experiences of Ontario’s failure to get on track to meet the targets laid out by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance and Sarah Jama, co-founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, have joined Harden and other NDP MPPs in hearing participants’ ideas and perspectives.
“People with disabilities are fed up with Ontario’s agonizingly slow progress towards full accessibility, and frustrated by the barriers that prevent them from living their lives to the fullest,” Harden said this morning in question period, during which he asked the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility to accept and implement the 15 recommendations put forth in David C. Onley’s independent, third review of the AODA.
“Onley’s review echoes the frustrations of many in the disability community, asserting that, ‘for many disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity, but one of countless dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers',” Harden said. He noted that Onley’s recommendations include bringing about stronger enforcement of accessibility measures, improved accessibility standards in buildings and the guarantee that public money will not go towards the creation of new barriers.
“Onley warns that we are nowhere near reaching AODA’s target of full accessibility by 2025,” Harden said. “Under the Liberals and Conservatives, Ontario has neglected to ensure that the roughly 1.9 million Ontarians living with a disability have access to the education, health care and employment opportunities they deserve, plus the infrastructure to support their use of public spaces.
“The Ford government must release a clear plan of action towards implementation of Onley’s recommendations, and a timeline indicating when implementation will occur — this is a human rights issue, and stalling on these recommendations cannot be an option. The NDP won’t drop this issue until the recommendations are implemented. People with disabilities deserve a government that protects their full inclusion in society.”