Disability rights advocate wants cancelled Thunder Bay accessibility hearing rescheduled
Hearing was cancelled due to low registration, event is part of regular review of Ontario's accessibility act
A disability rights advocate is expressing concern about the cancellation of a public hearing in Thunder Bay, saying people have lost an important chance to share their experiences during a provincial review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, led by the Honourable David C. Onley.
The act mandates that by 2025 the province be fully accessible, said David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.
The act pertains to people with physical disabilities such as being blind, deaf or needing to use a wheelchair. It also covers people with intellectual or developmental disabilities such as autism.
Approximately every four years the Ontario government must review how it's doing in terms of achieving that accessibility goal.
'Important to see how things are going'
"It's important to see how things are going," said Lepofsky, noting the review usually includes inviting people with disabilities, in communities all over the province, to share their experiences.
"Are kids with disabilities able to fully participate in their schools? Are people with disabilities able to shop in stores and eat in restaurants? Are people with disabilities able to use our public parks without facing barriers?"
A public consultation was scheduled for September 13 in Thunder Bay, but a posting on the act review website says it was cancelled due to low registration.
"There's been precious little done to publicize it," Lepofsky said, who is visually impaired. He added that he believes people didn't register for the event because they didn't know about the hearing.
'Reschedule Thunder Bay hearings'
He said as far as he's been able to determine the only advertising for the public consultation was on the review website.
"So unless you know about the website, most don't, and unless you check that website daily, most don't, you won't know first about the hearing, and then about it being cancelled."
Lepofsky wants the government "to step up and make sure this problem gets solved. The David Onley review should reschedule the Thunder Bay hearings. It should give the public proper and ample notice, well enough in advance, to enable people with disabilities, and the rest of the public, to be able to have their say."
The review committee posted online that people can email their comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. It also tells people to stay tuned for a northern virtual consultation, but does not specify a date.