Ontario doesn’t do accessibility. Also water is wet.

If you’ve spent time in Ontario, especially if you have any kind of disability, you become pretty aware pretty quickly we fail at disabilities. That includes, to the surprise of hopefully no one, accessibility for those who have them.

Three years after the Doug Ford government received a key report on making Ontario more accessible for people with disabilities, its author says little has been done to achieve its goals and there doesn’t appear to be a plan in place to fix that.

While he thought it would be “relatively easy” for the government to fulfil the report’s recommendations, David Onley says Ontario is still failing on issues such as employment equity, social assistance and even the physical accessibility of schools and other buildings.

Now, I’m not saying every building in Ontario needs to be made super accessible immediately. I mean, it would be nice, but let’s try being practical for a minute. That being said, where’s the plan to hire–and actually tolerate working with–people with disabilities? There doesn’t seem to be one.

I’ve had 3 jobs in my entire life. Two of them, including this one, were with US-based companies who treat their disabled employees several times better than their Canadian equivalents–not to mention, in general, just being better to work for. And Ontario’s perfectly fine with that. This isn’t a Conservative thing, or a Liberal thing, or an NDP thing–this is an Ontario thing. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone with a disability.

Mark Wafer, a business owner and disability rights advocate, didn’t need to be told to hire more people with disabilities. Wafer is deaf and understands the challenges people with disabilities have finding work.

So, he started hiring them.

For 25 years at Wafer’s Tim Horton’s locations across Toronto, he hired nearly 250 people with disabilities. The effort, he says, not only improved the lives of his employees, but it was good for business.

“I began to see a pattern and that is that people with disabilities required less supervision,” Wafer said in an interview.

“They worked more safely. They were more innovative. They were more productive. I started to see a clear business case for inclusion.”.

I mean these aren’t new facts. These aren’t even really subjective facts. But the only person who gets it, most of the time, is another person with a disability. That… is rather a problem.

Whether we’re talking government, private sector, the big chains or your local mom and pop shop, the idea that the disabled are capable of anything but receiving pity is pretty well dug in. And while that idea isn’t strictly limited to employment (if it was, we wouldn’t fail so hard as a society), employment is where it gets noticed most–try often enough to get off the system only to have employers tell you you need to stay on the system and eventually you just decide it’s less of a headache to just stay on the system. That’s a problem, and that’s not a problem we’re going to fix by voting NDP–mostly because I’m pretty sure the NDP isn’t a whole lot more interested in solving that problem than the other two shmuck parties are. That problem gets fixed when society wants it to get fixed, and right now society’s just fine with things staying status quo.

I’m not surprised we’ve made little to no actual progress on accessibility matters, and the areas we’ve made progress on have gotten there on the end of lawsuits–not entirely unlike I suspect will happen again before summer. I’m not surprised, because that’s what we want as a province. What surprises me is that, despite it being what we want as a province, this still makes the news. It’s like we enjoy talking about it, but not so much the doing anything about it.

I had a conversation with someone on the Ontario subreddit earlier today in which essentially they tried to tell me that digitization was going to be terrible for the disabled. Of course they couldn’t tell me what they’d like to see instead, just that doing your admin crap online is apparently discriminatory. As someone who is actually disabled, that’s news to me. As someone who is actually disabled and has been actually poor, that’s just downright dumb. But that’s what we’re lead to believe in Ontario. And that, not necessarily the current ass warming the premier’s chair, is why we’ll keep seeing reports that we’re not doing the accessibility things we need to be. That, and making the disabled a news story gets clicks. If you want actual results, though, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place. We don’t know what those are.

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