March 19, 2018
Today's Wynne Government pre-election Throne Speech at Queen's Park offers nothing new on accessibility for 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. Its key new disability-related commitment is for more mental health and addiction services in Ontario. This would be a welcome improvement if it is substantial in size and content.
Most troubling, the Throne Speech emphasizes the Government's commitment to new infrastructure, without offering anything new to actually ensure that that infrastructure is accessible for people with disabilities. The AODA Alliance has been in the lead in pointing out serious accessibility problems in several new infrastructure projects in Ontario, such as the Ryerson University Student Learning Centre and the Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre.
We do not know if the opposition parties' responses to the Throne Speech focused on any disability issues.
Below we set out the key passages in the Throne Speech that relate in some way to people with disabilities. We then set out the text of the entire Throne Speech. We hope that the forthcoming Ontario pre-election budget will have more for people with disabilities than the Throne Speech.
Throne Speech Excerpts that Relate in Some Way to Ontarians with Disabilities
* A mother who lives in Thunder Bay, where she works as a teacher, spoke about her eldest daughter, who has complex special needs. Their family is calling on government to improve access to children's services, so their daughter can continue to live close to home.
* A man in Toronto explained how his family is relying on his wife's income as a personal support worker, because he is also acting as a full-time caregiver to his mother at home -- she has late-stage Alzheimer's. And they need support.
* When government uses its resources to support caregivers and make it easier for people to care for themselves and each other, it provides for everyone what individuals would struggle to do alone: provide the best care for our children, the best care for our seniors, and the best care for the people we know who are struggling with mental and physical illness.
We all know someone who is in need of better care.
We know the stress and anxiety it causes that person, and their family.
* Finally, seniors built this province into what it is today. They deserve the best care possible so they can live at home or in their community for as long as possible.
Your government has committed to building 5,000 new beds over the next four years as part of a 10-year plan to create more than 30,000 new beds in the long-term care sector.
A portion of these new beds will serve specific cultural needs, including Indigenous populations.
By 2022, residents in long-term care homes will also have access to 15 million more hours of care from nurses, personal support workers, and therapeutic care workers every year.
This will help to ensure seniors have the care they need, and their loved ones have peace of mind.
* In the 2018 Budget, you will see major investments in the services you need: health care, home care, mental health and addictions, and child care.
* There will be major investments in home care, to provide more services for people aging at home and provide financial relief for families caring for aging loved ones.
The next Budget will also prioritize the growing need for mental health and addictions care in Ontario.
Expanding access to mental health care and helping to ensure people can get the support they need in our schools and our communities.
* When more people have access to the prescription drugs and mental health supports they need to be well, they can fully participate in the community.
* When more sons and daughters who are caring for aging parents at home have professional support and financial relief, they can go to work every day, with more energy and confidence -- and save for their own future.
* With new investments in health care, home care, mental health and child care....in our young people's learning from preschool to postsecondary...more of that potential will be unlocked.
* Across Ontario, the government's record-breaking investments in our infrastructure will continue.
When we build new roads and bridges, new transit systems, new hospitals and schools, those projects generate benefits and opportunity for workers and the entire economy