Disability Coalition Unveils Major Political Parties' Election Pledges to over 1.5 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, at Queen's Park News Conference

TORONTO, Sept. 2, 2011 /CNW/ - At a Queen's Park news conference this morning, a major disability community coalition unveiled election promises by the Liberals, NDP, PC and Green parties to make Ontario accessible for over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities.

"This is the fifth election where parties made written election pledges to us on tearing down barriers that block over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities from fully participating in jobs, goods and services," said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance, a coalition widely recognized for spearheading the campaign to make Ontario fully accessible. "Over a million voters with disabilities is a huge population politicians can't ignore. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires Ontario to be fully accessible by 2025. We sought election pledges to ensure that the next Government makes substantial progress, and doesn't slash gains we've won."

The Liberals, NDP and Greens promised progress, no cutbacks on legislation or regulations protecting them, and to varying degrees, some specific actions the AODA Alliance requested. The PCS made no commitments, beyond agreeing to work with this coalition to address its issues. The parties' commitments are at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp The AODA Alliance letter listing commitments it sought is at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07192011.asp

At Queen's Park the AODA Alliance launched its non-partisan grassroots election strategy. "We don't tell people who to vote for. We urge people to consider our issues, and the parties' accessibility platforms," said Lepofsky. "We urge voters with disabilities, their friends and families to raise these issues, and to ask candidates where they stand. If a party's commitments are weak or non-existent, we encourage people to press those candidates to do better."

The AODA Alliance's predecessor coalition, chaired by Lepofsky, tenaciously campaigned for a decade from 1994 to 2005 to get the AODA unanimously passed in 2005. In 2005, the AODA Alliance replaced its predecessor coalition, now leading the campaign to get this law effectively implemented. Showing its leadership role on disability accessibility, election commitments were made to this coalition or its predecessor by at least two of the parties in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, and now in 2011. The parties have commended the work of the AODA Alliance and have raised its concerns in the Legislature in Question Period and via legislative proposals.

"Last year, we had a partial victory in getting amendments to remove some barriers impeding voters with disabilities, numbering over one million, from accessing their voting station and independently marking their ballot," said Lepofsky. "With public opinion polls so close and unpredictable, every vote counts. Some pundits over-simplify elections by only discussing two or three issues. We've learned in election after election that voters in fact have far more concerns, including our issues."

Ontario made progress over the past four years, but there's still much to do. A 2010 Government-appointed Independent Review found that the Government must strengthen and revitalize implementation of the AODA to reach a fully accessible Ontario by 2025, under 13 years away. See http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05312010.asp The AODA Alliance offers affordable ideas to get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility.

Learn all about this issue at www.aodaalliance.org

SOURCE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

For further information:

David Lepofsky (416) 706-5075 aodafeedback@gmail.com

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ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

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Ontario Election 2011

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