Media Reports Show Yet More Problems Facing People with Disabilities During the COVID-19 crisis – The Need for Urgent Government Action Is Swiftly Ballooning
April 20, 2020 - Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance
The COVID-19 crisis remains our top priority this week in our campaign for accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.
The fact that people with disabilities are facing additional hardships during the COVID-19 crisis leaps from the pages of media reports in this area. Here is a recent sampling of some of the coverage. This selection of news reports includes:
* An April 6, 2020 report by CTV London entitled “Some LTC drivers refuse passengers in wheelchairs” shows troubling barriers that can face public transit passengers with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.
* The April 11, 2020 Globe and Mail included an extensive article entitled: “Educators worry gap may grow for disadvantaged students stuck at home”. While it focused on the unmet needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged students during the move from classroom teaching to online learning, it barely mentioned the enormous disadvantage facing students with disabilities, numbering in the hundreds of thousands across Ontario.
* The April 13, 2020 Toronto Star included an article entitled: “Activists fear for safety of people with disabilities after funding for mobility and medical devices deemed non-essential”. It documented the serious harm that the Ford Government has done to people with disabilities by declaring the Assistive Devices Program for people with disabilities non-essential during the COVID-19 crisis.
* The April 15, 2020 Toronto Star included an excellent letter to the editor by accessibility advocate Ed Rice entitled: “Ford may be doing better, but he’s not helping the disabled”.
* The April 15, 2020 Windsor Star included an article entitled: “Parents worried disabled children would get low priority during COVID-19 surge”. It showed serious concerns within the disability community about the Ford Government’s secret protocol for rationing medical care during the COVID-19 crisis from the perspective of people with disabilities.
* The April 18, 2020 Toronto Star included an extensive report entitled: “People with severe disabilities feel especially vulnerable in COVID-19 shutdown”. It detailed yet more reasons why people with disabilities feel especially precarious during the COVID crisis.
* The April 19, 2020 CBC website posted a very thoughtful guest column by two professors with expertise in the disability field, entitled “Assessing the value of a life: COVID-19 triage orders mustn’t work against those with disabilities Governments need to affirm ethical and human rights obligations to persons with disabilities”. It raises serious concerns with the Ford Government’s secret protocol for rationing critical medical care during the COVID crisis.
* The April 19, 2020 Toronto Star included a detailed article entitled “‘Window is closing’ to protect disabled community from a COVID-19 outbreak”. It explores the vulnerability of people with disabilities living in nursing homes and disability living facilities due to the COVID out pandemic.You can also check out the captioned video of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s appearance on CTV’s national morning program “Your Morning” on April 10, 2020. He had a mere 3 minutes on the air to summarize all these issues!
With all these problems and many more facing people with disabilities, where is the Ford Government’s plan of action to address the urgent needs of over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities? We’ve been calling for this for weeks.
It is especially important for the media to give more attention to the added hardships imposed on people with disabilities during the COVID crisis. Because we are all shut in at home, we have no access to places like the Legislature to come together en masse to raise these concerns.There have been 445 days since the Ford Government received the groundbreaking and blistering final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no good comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. This is so even though the Government staged a media event on February 28, 2020 to promise that it would “lead by example” on accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.
There have now been 26 days since we wrote Ontario Premier Doug Ford on March 25, 2020 to urge specific action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. He has not answered. His office has not contacted us. The plight facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis is made even worse by that delay. The news reports in this Update give just some illustrations of this.
For more background, check out and share with others:
* The widely viewed April 7, 2020 online Virtual Public Forum on what Government Must Do to Meet the Urgent Needs of People with Disabilities During the COVID crisis. It has American Sign Language interpretation and captioning. This event was jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition.
* The AODA Alliance’s April 14, 2020 Discussion Paper on Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities.
* Action tips on how to help ensure that patients with disabilities don’t face discrimination in access to critical health care.
* The April 8, 2020 open letter to Premier Ford, organized by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, voicing concerns about the Ontario Government’s protocol for rationing medical care during the COVID crisis.
* The AODA Alliance’s March 25, 2020 letter to Premier Ford, which has gone unanswered.
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Source - AODA Alliance: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/media-reports-show-yet-more-problems-facing-people-with-disabilities-during-the-covid-19-crisis-the-need-for-urgent-government-action-is-swiftly-ballooning/?fbclid=IwAR3WRq0mJzC1SSjk6OsHwgcQOFvlRurjxNpPhLebzelE_93zb4A0XxvaSI8