Please read below for an opinion article written in association between CILT’s Wendy Porch and CNIB’s Keya Osborne:
At a time when every vote counts, mayoral candidates would do well to remember there are more than 400,000 people with disabilities in Toronto who all have a vote to cast in this election. While Toronto’s current mayoral by-election was an opportunity to address the frequent and unnecessary barriers they face and create an accessible and inclusive city, people with disabilities have been ignored, yet again.
Together, the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) and CNIB have been
working behind the scenes to organize an election debate on disability issues, with the support of other disability organizations. We aimed to make the debate as accessible as possible, by offering it virtually, and providing accommodations such as ASL interpretation, to ensure all viewers could be included.
Unfortunately, the debate had to be cancelled because most of the invited mayoral
candidates either declined or would not commit to our invitation. This clearly shows
many of them are not committed to showcasing how their mayoral vision for the City of Toronto includes people with disabilities.
For example, none of the candidates have spoken to the barriers and safety risks that e-scooters and micro-utility vehicles create on our sidewalks for disabled people, seniors and children. Few candidates have acknowledged the contributing factors that trap Torontonians with disabilities in poverty, resulting in disabled people constituting 44% of food bank users in the GTA.
Mayoral candidates have been almost silent on ensuring that affordable housing plans include commitments for that housing to also be accessible.
And while several contenders for Mayor floated changes to the TTC’s Wheel-Trans
program, further commitments are needed to make sure that the proposed 50% of
Wheel-Trans users slated to be moved onto the traditional system, through the ill-conceived Family of Services program, don’t lose their independence entirely as a
Toronto is a city of great diversity and promise. This by-election could have been an
opportunity to prioritize making our city accessible and inclusive for all, yet the needs for people with disabilities continued to be ignored. In the final days of the campaign, CILT and CNIB are calling on all mayoral candidates to commit to prioritizing the needs of people with disabilities.
More than 400,000 voters are still deciding where they will cast their vote, but the
candidates’ overwhelming silence on issues of importance to our community, speaks
Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT)
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