POSTED BY Aleksandar Poposki | Aug, 27, 2021 |
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act with Company Logo

August 18, 2021

SUMMARY

1. Summary of All Deadlines for Sending Feedback to the Ford Government on What is Needed in New Education and Health Care Accessibility Standards

Last week, after the Ford Government’s deadline had already expired for submitting feedback on the barriers that people with disabilities face in the health care system, the Government extended that deadline. The Government never told us about that extension. After we heard a rumour about it, we asked the Government if there was an extension. The Government then put us on a list of people being notified about this extension. We do not know who else has been alerted to it.

You may understandably be very confused about when you can give the Ford Government this feedback, as well as your input on two other proposals that are out for public feedback, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We here try to clarify things for you.

The bottom line is this: The Ford Government now has the initial reports of three different AODA Standards Development Committees publicly posted for your feedback and input. The Government has now extended two of the three deadlines it earlier announced for giving your feedback.

The AODA Alliance is taking part in all three consultations. We urge you to do so as well. We have submitted our detailed August 3, 2021 brief to the Health Care Standards Development Committee on its initial report. Please email that Committee to endorse the AODA Alliance brief. We know that the March of dimes of Canada and the Ontario Autism Coalition have already done so. Send them your endorsement of our brief by writing healthSDC@ontario.ca

The deadlines for sending the Government your feedback are now as follows:

1. You have up to September 13, 2021 to give feedback on the initial report of the Health Care Standards Development Committee. It recommends what should be included in the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard to tear down the disability barriers facing people with disabilities in Ontario’s health care system.

2. You have up to September 29, 2021 to give the Government feedback on the initial report of the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee. It recommends what should be included in the Education Accessibility Standard to tear down the disability barriers impeding students with disabilities in Ontario’s colleges and universities.

3. You have up to September 30, 2021 to give feedback on the initial report of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. It recommends what should be included in the promised Education Accessibility Standard to tear down the disability barriers facing students with disabilities in Ontario’s education system.

Where do you send your feedback? Here are the email addresses to use:

* Send your feedback on disability barriers in the health care system to healthSDC@ontario.ca
* Send your feedback on disability barriers in the K-12 school system to: educationSDC@ontario.ca
* Send your feedback on disability barriers in Ontario’s colleges and universities to: postsecondarySDC@ontario.ca

2. What Comes Next

What happens after all this feedback is gathered? After these feedback periods expire, three Government-appointed Standards Development Committees are to go back to work. They are supposed to review all the public feedback they received, and make any changes to their recommendations to the Government. They then submit their finalized report to the Ford Government on what they think the Government should include in the AODA accessibility standard on which they are working.

Section 10(2) of the AODA requires the Government to publicly post each final report from a Standards Development Committee upon receiving it. After the Government receives a Standards Development Committees final report, it can enact the accessibility standard that the Committee recommended as is, or with any changes it wishes. The Government can also do nothing at all.

At the very lethargic and sluggish rate that the Ford Government has been acting on implementing the AODA, it is extremely unlikely that it will enact a Health Care Accessibility Standard or Education Accessibility Standard before next June’s provincial election. It has enacted no accessibility standards and made no revisions to any accessibility standards since it took office over three years ago.

Making this worse, the Ford Government has not made any changes to strengthen the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, even though the Government received a final report from the Transportation Accessibility Standard in the spring of 2018. It has not made any revisions to strengthen the Employment Accessibility Standard, even though it received the final report of the Employment Standards Development Committee over two years ago. It has not enacted any revisions to strengthen the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, even though it received the Information and Communication Standards Development Committees final report almost one and a half years ago.

The AODA Alliance campaigned for over half a decade to get the Ontario Government to agree to develop and enact accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in health care and education. The door is open for your input. These opportunities don’t often come along.

In next June’s provincial election, we plan to ask the major parties to commit to action to make Ontario’s education system and health care system fully accessible to people with disabilities. The current public consultations can help with that effort.

3. Helpful Resources

a) On Disability Barriers in the K-12 Ontario School system

1. The entire 185-page K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and initial recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include to make education in Ontario schools barrier-free for all students with disabilities.

2. The AODA Alliance’s 55-page condensed and annotated version of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and recommendations.

3. The AODA Alliance’s 15-page summary of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and recommendations.

4. The AODA Alliance’s action kit on how to give public feedback on the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and recommendations.

5. A captioned video by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky explaining what is in the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report.

6. A captioned video of tips for parents of students with disabilities on how to advocate at school for their child’s needs.

7. For general background, the AODA Alliance website Education page.

b) On Disability Barriers in Ontario Colleges and Universities

1. The initial report of the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/PSE-SDC-Initial-Recommendations-Report_June-25-2021.docx

2. The draft framework for the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard that the AODA Alliance sent to the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee in March, 2020.

3. You can learn more about our years of advocacy to make all parts of Ontario’s education system accessible for students with disabilities by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s education page.

c) On Disability Barriers in Ontario’s Health Care System

1. The initial report of the Health Care Standards Development Committee is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Health-Care-SDC-Initial-Report-As-Submitted.doc

2. The AODA Alliance’s August 3, 2021 brief to the Health Care Standards Development Committee giving feedback on its initial report is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/August-3-2021-finalized-AODA-Alliance-Brief-to-Health-Care-Standards-Development-Committee.docx

3. The AODA Alliance’s February 25, 2020 Framework that it submitted to the Health Care Standards Development Committee on what the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard should include.

4. A comprehensive captioned video by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the barriers facing people with disabilities in the health care system.

5. A detailed captioned video by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the dangers of disability discrimination in Ontario’s controversial critical care triage protocol during the COVID-19 pandemic.

6. Background on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for barrier-free health care services for people with disabilities is available on the AODA Alliance website’s health care page.

4. The Ford Government’s Confused and Confusing Handling of the current Public Consultations on AODA Accessibility Standards

So far, the Ford Government has shown poor leadership in how it has handled the current public consultations. For example:

* It withheld publicly posting these three initial reports for a long time, even though the AODA s. 10(1) requires the Government to post each upon receiving the report. It delayed publicly posting the health Care Standards Development Committee initial report for over 5 months after receiving it. It delayed publicly posting the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee’s initial report for 3.5 months after receiving it. It delayed publicly posting the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report for 2.5 months after receiving it. In the case of the Health Care Standards Development Committee, that Committee voted to approve its initial report back in September 2020, almost a full year ago.
* The Government’s delay in publicly posting the Health Care Standards Development Committee’s typifies how this governmental lethargy hurts people with disabilities. That initial report includes recommendations for action needed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, it raises concerns about the Government’s critical care triage protocol that endangers some patients with disabilities in Ontario hospitals. The Government kept that report secret from the public over critical months when the danger to people with disabilities was especially high. During that same time, the Minister of Health refused to answer any of the AODA Alliance’s detailed letters raising serious human rights concerns about the Government’s critical care triage protocol and plans.
* The Government did not announce the extension of the original August 11, 2021 deadline for submitting public feedback on the ‘Health Care Standards Development Committees initial report until August 13, 2021, after that feedback period had already expired. Organizations like the AODA Alliance therefore unnecessarily were forced to rush in the midst of the summer vacation period to submit their feedback before the August 11, 2021 period.
* Rather than properly informing the entire public, the Ford Government appears to have only let some people know about the extension of the deadline for feedback on the Health Care Standards Development Committees initial report. As noted above, when we heard a rumour about this late last week, we wrote the Government to ask about it. It was only after that that the Government sent out an email to us announcing its extension.
* The Government initially scheduled the public feedback period on the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial report to end on September 2, 2021, before the school year begins. This created hardships for giving feedback in connection with the school system. The Government only belatedly agreed to lengthen that feedback period.

5. Will the Ford Government’s Delays on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Ever End?

For over three years, we have pressed the Ford Government to develop a detailed plan on accessibility, to lay out how it will get Ontario to the AODA’s mandatory goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. It has never done so.

On January 31, 2019, the Government received the blistering final report of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation. Minister for Accessibility Raymond Cho publicly said on April 10, 2019, that David Onley did a “marvelous job.”

The Onley report found that Ontario is full of “soul-crushing” barriers impeding people with disabilities. It concluded that progress on accessibility has taken place at a “glacial pace.” It determined that that the goal of accessibility by 2025 is nowhere in sight, and that specific new Government actions, spelled out in the report, are needed.

In the 931 days since receiving the Onley Report, the Ford Government has not made public a comprehensive plan to implement that report’s findings and recommendations. The Government has staged some media events with the Accessibility Minister to make announcements, but little if anything new was ever announced.

MORE DETAILS

August 13, 2021 Broadcast Email from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

Dear all,

We are pleased to share that the public feedback period for the Health Care SDC Initial Recommendations has been extended for an additional month, to September 13, 2021. The additional time is intended to recognize that organizations across the health sector and the disability community may require more time to review and respond given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As a reminder, the Initial Recommendations Report of the Health Care Standards Development Committee is available online here for public comment:
https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-initial-recommendations-development-health-care-accessibility-standards

As these recommendations may impact you or your community, we would encourage you to participate in this process. We would also encourage you to share this information broadly with your networks.

A survey has been developed to seek public feedback and is linked from the consultation page together with the report itself.

Written submissions can also be sent by email to healthSDC@ontario.ca. Members of the public or interested organizations can also reach out to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division by email at healthSDC@ontario.ca for any questions.

All feedback received will be considered by the Committee before finalizing their recommendations to the Minister. Identifying information will remain confidential as per the Government of Ontario’sPrivacy Policy, and all survey responses will remain anonymous.

Sincerely,

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division
Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility

 

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Source: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

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