ON Budget Let Down for Disabled

If you are wondering how the Ontario Budget looks under the lens for people with disabilities and the work toward improving accessibility  – we regret to inform you it is disappointing.

Here is an article that explains it in more detail from the AODA website.

The Ontario Budget Through A Disability Accessibility Lens – Continuously Chock-Full of Missed Opportunities to Ensure Ontario Becomes Fully Accessible to People with Disabilities by 2025
ON Budget Let Down for Disabled

SUMMARY (from 2014)

The ON Budget let down the disabled, again. It includes nothing specifically targeted at or even mentioning accessibility for persons with disabilities. It refers several times to an over-arching Ten-Year Plan for Ontario’s jobs and economy to grow. Yet there is no indication in the Budget that the Government is taking this huge opportunity to ensure that removing and preventing barriers against persons with disabilities is a core part, or even a small part, of that Plan.

This flies in the face of the 2011 election pledge by then-Premier Dalton McGuinty. His August 19, 2011, letter to us stated: “We are integrating accessibility as a fundamental principle when it comes to making vital decisions that affect the daily lives of Ontarians.”

No real assurance

The Budget never says that the Governments Plan will ensure that disability accessibility will be incorporated throughout infrastructure spending. The Budget refers to focusing on spending on infrastructure with special mentions of public transit and hospital construction. It also refers to investing in technology in schools.

We get no assurance in this Budget that all new schools, hospitals and public transit facilities and stations, built as a result of the Government’s massive new infrastructure program, will be fully disability-accessible. We get no assurance in this Budget that any new information technology acquired for schools will be usable by teachers and students with disabilities.

The Budget does not commit that the new billion dollar Jobs and Prosperity Fund will only be available to companies that have accessible workplaces and that produce goods and services that are accessible for persons with disabilities.

Neither new accessibility reforms to the Ontario Building Code nor all the accessibility standards enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act will ensure that this will occur, even if the Government effectively enforced them to the letter. We have seen no concrete action to keep the Government’s 2011 commitments to us that disability accessibility will be a requirement in all infrastructure spending, including information technology infrastructure.

The Government must at long-last keep its commitments about ensuring that accessibility is part of all vital Government decisions.

Below we set out key excerpts from the Ontario Budget speech, from a disability accessibility perspective. Each is glaring for its omissions. It is not too late for the Government to fill this gap. It requires no new spending. It just requires the Government to actively plan to spend the allocations from this Budget in a smarter way.

We know from painful past experience with the Government that this will not happen unless the Government makes disability accessibility a large, highly visible, prominently profiled requirement.

Check up on the AODA – has it really gotten any further?