Speaker, last month I was pleased to attend the launch of the London chapter of the AODA Alliance, and would like to offer my congratulations to the new London co-chairs Jeff Preston and Lisa Klinger. I also want to recognize David Lepovsky of the AODA Alliance, who was present for the launch and whose leadership and determination have contributed so much to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
With support across party lines and from the broader business community, the AODA held the promise of eliminating barriers facing Ontarians with disabilities. Yet despite the high hopes that accompanied its passage, the AODA has made little difference in the lives of Ontarians living with disability. Frustrated by the limited gains achieved after a decade of provincial advocacy, local chapters of the AODA Alliance are being formed across Ontario, as in my community of London, to push for change at the community level.
While the government’s recent agreement to develop a health standard in accessibility is welcome, another standard is meaningless if it is not enforced, and there has been no commitment on the development of an essential standard for education – both K to 12 and postsecondary. Multiple reports on the Liberal government’s lack of progress in meeting the 2025 AODA deadlines raise serious questions about this government’s commitment to accessibility. Without strengthened standards and rigorous enforcement, there is no hope we will be able to achieve a fully accessible Ontario by 2025.