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Doing More For People with Disabilities

Article from The Huffington Post

Most of us take for granted the ability to easily perform daily activities or engage in social interactions. We do not wake up each morning with debilitating pain, or require the assistance of a guide dog to leave our homes. For the over 3.8 million Canadians living with a chronic health condition or health-related problem, however, performing what some might consider routine tasks can be a serious challenge.

Statistics Canada reports that as of 2012, 14 per cent of the country’s population is living with a disability. Take a moment to put a face to this number. These are our parents, our sons and daughters, our friends. As a country that takes great pride in being inclusive and kind, it is time we do more for people with disabilities.

During my time as Ontario cabinet minister, I had the distinct pleasure of consulting with both disability groups and business owners to author the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In June of 2005, Ontario became a world leader in accessibility when the legislation came into law. Business owners were informed that they had 20 years to take the appropriate measures to make their businesses accessible. More importantly, people with disabilities were shown that they are valued members of society. Twelve years later and more than halfway towards the 2025 deadline of making Ontario accessible, how are we doing?