Latest News

Privacy a Key Concern at Canada Post Focus Group

In a previous edition of The Advocate, we told you about the transition of Canada's mail delivery from door-to-door to Community Mail Boxes, and how we at March of Dimes had met with officials from Canada Post to highlight the needs and concerns of Canadians with disabilities in the new system.

The dialogue developed in a focus group that we hosted on behalf of Canada Post on April 23 in our national offices.  The focus group included senior officials from Canada Post as well as representatives from several physical disability organizations.

While issues of accessibility naturally were foremost among the groups providing feedback on the design of the Community Mail Box, issues around privacy emerged as a central concern from virtually all participants.

According to Warren Rupnarain, Accessibility Coordinator at the City of Markham, "while I and many people with disabilities could have someone to retrieve our mail, we lose our right to privacy of what we're receiving, having others being able to clearly view who our mail is coming from."

Mr. Rupnarain continued, explaining that "this is why it is so critical to ensure that the design of the Community Mail Box fosters independence for anyone with a disability who uses the box."

The great news is that Canada post is listening and learning from the feedback from these focus groups.  Dave Penner, Director Stakeholder Relations and Public Affairs emphasized that "we need input from organizations such as yourself and others."

AODA Independent Review

On Tuesday April 29, March of Dimes' National Manager of Government Relations and Advocacy, Steven Christianson, appeared before the Independent Review of the AODA to comment on the effectiveness of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and deliver recommendations on how to improve the law that aims to create a barrier-free Ontario.

How can the AODA -- Ontario's accessibility legislation - be improved and made more effective?

From the experiences of March of Dimes Canad​a, the compliance and reporting end of the AODA really needs to be tightened up, smoothed out administratively and fine-tuned to incorporate evidence of compliance beyond a series of "yeses" and "nos".

Also, in concert with the AODA Alliance, a nine-point plan for immediate action was also recommended.

  1. Announce and implement a comprehensive ongoing plan to effectively enforce the AODA.
  2. Create three new accessibility standards under the AODA to address barriers in education, health care and residential housing.
  3. Ensure that the Government of Ontario does not let public money be used to create or perpetuate barriers.
  4. Establish and implement a comprehensive public plan to ensure that​ the Toronto 2014 Pan/ParaPan American Games leave behind a strong legacy of accessibility in the community.
  5. Implement a new comprehensive strategy to effectively remove and prevent barriers within the Ontario government and the Ontario public service, and to ensure that the Ontario public service works together on accessibility - not in isolated silos.
  6. Mandate a permanent province-wide program to ensure that students in school and people training in key professions are educated on disability accessibility.
  7. Include the Accessibility message in public speeches by as many Cabinet ministers as possible.
  8. Implement a comprehensive plan, including new legislation, to ensure that municipal and provincial elections are fully accessible to people with disabilities (including online voting, campaign offices, meeting spaces and debates).
  9. Generally strengthen the implementation of the AODA to ensure its objectives will be achieved, and to not weaken any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under it, or any Ontario government policies or practices that aim to achieve its objectives.
When on considers the intersection of aging and disability, and the aging trend we are experiencing, as well as the governing themes of "aging at home", one begins to see the true breadth of accessibility legislation and how transformative such legislation has the potential to become.

Historic Legislation Receives Unanimous Consent

On the day that marks the annual observance of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Bill 26 - the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, received unanimous consent at Third Reading in the Legislative Assembly in Winnipeg.
"This legislation will lay out a framework to guide the development and implementation of accessibility standards to improve the independence and social inclusion of Manitobans where they live, learn, work and play", explained Finance Minister Jennifer​ Howard, who is also the minister responsible for persons with disabilities.
Manitoba is Canada's second province to pass accessibility legislation.
Under the legislation, accessibility standards would be developed to help eliminate physical, system and other barriers in such areas as building design, information services and employment practices. Unlike Ontario's AODA, however, Manitoba's approach embraces accessibility in a much larger sense:  "Nearly one in six Manitobans has a disability and this number is expected to increase, due in part to an aging population", said Minister Howard.  The new law was built in part on the foundations of the province's age-friendly initiatives.
The standards will be developed through extensive input and consultation with stakeholders to ensure a clear understanding of the obligations of individuals and organizations.  The public sector will lead the way in complying with the new standards before they affect the private sector.
All MLAs in Manitoba are to be congratulated for their support for what has been years of advocacy by many disability groups throughout Manitoba, including March of Dimes Canada.  Now that the framework law is in place, regulations need to be developed, and it is in this sense that the real work is about to begin.
By Steven Christianson

Enhancing Caregiver Leave in Ontario

November 4, 2013


Andria Spindel and Steven Christianson at Queen's Park for legislative hearings on Enhancing Caregiver Leave in OntarioMarch of Dimes Canada was among a small number of agencies requested to appear before the Standing Committee on General Government at Queen's park on Monday, November 4, 2013.  The committee was considering Bill 21 - Leave for Families, a bill that would provide employees with up to 8 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to care for a family member.

This Bill is an excellent first step.  We hope that this provision will ultimately become a federally-supported paid benefit, and that the Bill will receive Royal Assent as soon as possible.

 Hansard Transcripts for Bill 21, Enhancing Caregiver Leave in Ontario November 4, 2013.pdfHansard Transcripts for Bill 21, Enhancing Caregiver Leave in Ontario November 4, 2013.pdf


New AODA Committee positions available

October 31, 2012

Changes will be taking place to wind down the current Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Committee (ASAC) and replace with a new one. Members of the new ASAC would be cross appointed to be members of a Standards Development Committees (SDC). There would then be one SDC responsible for development and review of any new standards. (New standards are likely to be Health Care, Education, and Residential Housing)

The posting for new applicants to ASAC went up yesterday on the Public Appointments Secretariat website. Click here for the  "advertised position details".  The deadline to apply is November 13, 2012.

Link to the current ASAC.

N.B. This is soley an enterprise of the Government of Ontario. March of Dimes holds no responsibility.

March of Dimes Promotes Accessibility through Tax Credit

The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit was officially passed at Queen's Park October 2, 2012. This credit helps facilitate accessibility renovations to one's home.

As reported in the Advocate earlier this year, we have been contributing toward making Ontario's new accessibility renovation tax credit as effective as possible. Our recommendations to the all-party Standing Committee on Finance, presented in April, were incorporated into the final version of the Bill in their entirety.

Important Note: If you are over 65 and still have an amount not covered by HVMP you may be eligible for this tax credit.

For official information about the Health Homes Renovation Tax Credit, visit

Senator David SmithSenator David Smith speaks out for people living with a disability – first in 1981 during Canadian Charter decisions and now in the Canadian Senate

Read the Senator’s August 13th article, published in Canada's premier political newspaper, The Hill Times, to find out how people with disabilities got included in the historic Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and then, how today’s Senate Committee has recommended that "federal, provincial and territorial governments ensure accountability measures be built into the Canada Health Transfer agreement to address the needs of disabled persons." Thank you Senator Smith!

Design of Public Spaces in the Built Environment

Proposed Amendment to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 – Design of Public Spaces (Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment)

From August 15, 2012 to October 1, 2012, the proposed amendment to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation will be available for public review and comment on the Ministry of Community and Social Services’ website, the Regulatory Registry of Ontario, and the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry.

The ministry’s website can be accessed through the following link:

All comments will be considered as part of the process of finalizing the regulation.

All the documents posted are available in alternate formats. Requests for alternate formats and all other inquiries about this posting should be directed to:

Telephone: 416-326-0207 / 1-888-520-5828
TTY: 416-326-0148 / 1-888-335-6611
Fax: 416-325-9620

Message from John Carmichael, MP

March 6,2012

Dear Mr. Steven Christianson:

Thank you for the wonderful service to Don Valley West and the GTA. Yesterday I had the opportunity in the House of Commons to rise and speak on an issue, addressing colleagues and the nation watching Question Period (both online and on TV). It was with great pride that I identified a number of organizations including March of Dimes.

I welcome you to follow the below link to view the entire speech. This I have shared with all constituents in Don Valley West via my website.

Thank you again for your service. Indeed, it is individuals such as you and the organization that you represent which makes Don Valley West such an incredible riding to represent.

John Carmichael

Launch of New Photo ID Card is Key to People with Disabilities

June 9, 2011

March of Dimes reps from Government Relations (Janet Macmaster and Steven Christianson) as well as Corporate Resources (Julie Wood) attended the launch of Ontario’s new Photo ID card with Transportation Minister, Kathleen Wynne, at CNIB. Plenty of media and many organizations and sectors were present. This new piece of government-issued ID fills the gap for those Ontarians who do not have a drivers licence – which is the most commonly accepted piece of ID. The new card will be available, at first, in 21 ServiceOntario centres throughout the Province and will be administered by the MTO. Many in our sector have been working on this initiative for the past 3 years, and we are delighted to see that we’ll start seeing the new card in July. We’ll post more details as we receive them.

March 24, 2011
March of Dimes Advocates for Affordable Housing for Ontarians with Disabilities
Queen’s Park – Toronto

Bill 140 might make the necessary administrative changes to the non-profit housing system in Ontario, but the changes really needed include a mandated coordination of service dollars with affordable and accessible housing units. Only then will the wait list for supportive housing be addressed.

This was message delivered today by March of Dimes’ Vice-President, Jerry Lucas, and Government Relations Manager, Steven Christianson, before the Standing Committee on Justice Policy at Queen’s Park.

"What is unique to our type of affordable housing," explains Vice-President Jerry Lucas, "is the need for a coordinated solution that provides affordable and accessible housing with support services. We won’t address the wait list for our Non-Profit Housing Corporation until we have guaranteed Rent-Geared-to-Income and the service funding for attendant care."

Today’s appearance before the legislative committee also represents the first time that the issues and concerns of the Ontario March of Dimes Non-Profit Housing Corporation were considered by Members of Provincial Parliament and entered into the Legislative Assembly permanent record of Committee Evidence.

Click here to view Response to Bill 140.

March 23, 2011
Tax relief rules for caregivers can be perplexing
by Tim Cestnick

Globe and Mail image 

I introduced my kids last week to Abbott and Costello’s classic "Who’s on first" comedy routine. As Costello’s confusion rose over the baseball players’ names and their positions – Who’s on first, What’s on second and I Don’t Know’s on third – my kids and I shared a good laugh.

This week, in what has turned out to be an election budget, the federal government appears to have taken their lead from Abbott and Costello’s comedy sketch, adding yet one more confusing line to a bunch of confusing lines on your tax return, specifically that relate to caregivers.

Even experienced tax preparers are scratching their heads wondering how various tax credits for caregivers differ and which ones to claim. Let me share a primer on these. There are seven tax credits to talk about.

  1. Spousal Credit (line 303 on your tax return). This credit is available if you supported a spouse or common-law partner at any time in the year and his or her net income was less than $10,382 (in 2010). If your marital status changed in the year and you made deductible support payments, you can choose to claim a deduction for those support payments or claim this spousal credit instead – choose whichever saves you more tax.
  2. Eligible Dependant Credit (line 305). You may be entitled to this credit if, at any time in the year, you supported and lived with a dependant, and you weren’t living with a spouse or common-law partner. The dependant must have been a parent or grandparent, or your child, grandchild, sister or brother. All of these can be relations by blood, marriage, or adoption. Other than parents and grandparents, the dependant must have been under 18 in the year or mentally or physically impaired.
  3. Child Tax Credit (line 367). You can claim this credit if you had one or more children under age 18 at the end of the year. A child can be yours, or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s. If you had shared custody, you’ll have to agree on who will make the claim for all the children who lived with both of you, otherwise neither of you will be allowed the credit. If the child did not reside with both of you, the parent who claims the eligible dependant credit (above) can claim this credit.
  4. Infirm Dependant Credit (line 306). You may be eligible to claim this credit if you have a child or grandchild who is dependent on you, is 18 or over in the year, and has a mental or physical infirmity. Other dependants may qualify, too: Your (or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s) parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew if they meet the criteria. With respect to this credit and the eligible dependant and caregiver tax credits, you may only be entitled to claim one of these three credits for a particular dependant.
  5. Caregiver Tax Credit (line 315). If you maintained a household (alone or with another person) where you and one or more of your adult dependants lived, you might be eligible for this credit. Each dependant must have been: Your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s child, grandchild, brother, sister, niece, nephew, parent or grandparent, resident in Canada, 18 or older when living with you, with an income under $14,422 (in 2010), and dependent owing to a mental or physical infirmity (or in the case of parents or grandparents, simply age 65 or older).
  6. Family Caregiver Tax Credit. This credit was introduced this week in the 2011 federal budget. This is not a stand-alone tax credit but is simply an enhancement to the other credits noted above ($2,000 is added to the otherwise applicable amounts for each credit above), starting in 2012.
  7. Medical Expense Tax Credit (line 331) In addition to a credit for medical expenses for you, your spouse or common-law partner or minor children, you may also be able to claim a credit for expenses paid on behalf of “other dependent relatives,” including a child over age 18, grandchild, parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew. The 2011 federal budget eliminated the $10,000 cap that used to exist on these expenses for other relatives.

The rules have been simplified here, particularly where (ex-)spouses are living apart. So get advice or research these credits carefully.

Tim Cestnick is president and CEO of WaterStreet Family Wealth Counsel and author of 101 Tax Secrets for Canadians.

March 22, 2011
Budget Includes Positive Steps, But Is It Enough?

Supporting Canada’s Seniors
The Conservative Government in the 2011 Budget announces new measures to improve the qualities of life and expand opportunities to senior Canadians with measures including:

  • Enhancing the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to those seniors who rely almost exclusively on their Old Age Security and GIS.  This will provide a top-up benefit of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples.  The investment represents more than $300 million per years.
  • Enhancing the New Horizons for Seniors Program with $10 million that ensure seniors benefit from activities in their communities.
  • Changing federal rules to eliminate mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees.
  • The government will support various programs and initiatives related to palliative and end-of-life care.  The budget will provide one-time funding of $3 million to help support the development of new community-integrated palliative care models.

Supporting Families
The government proposes providing support to families and their families by:

  • Introducing a new Family Caregiver Tax Credit, a 15% non-refundable credit on an amount of $2,000  that will provide tax relief to caregiver of all types.
  • Removing the limit on the amount of eligible expenses that caregivers can claim under Medical Expense Tax Credit for dependent relatives.
  • Increasing flexibility to access RDSP for beneficiaries with shortened life expectances.
  • Introducing a 15% Children’s  Arts Tax Credit up to $500 for programs associated with children’s artistic, cultural, recreational and developmental activities.
  • Supporting accessible housing for individuals eligible for the Disability Tax Credit through enhancements to the Home Buyers' Plan limited and the introduce of the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit.
  • Continuing the Enabling Accessibility Fund and providing $90 million over six years to support community-based projects that contribute to the capital costs of construction and renovations related to physical accessibility for persons with disabilities.

February 17, 2011
Rob Oliphant's Member’s Statement in the House of Commons

Member of Parliament, Rob Oliphant (Don Valley West), rose in the House of Commons this afternoon to deliver a Member's Statement recognizing both the 60th anniversary of March of Dimes and February 24th's Conductive Education Day.

With only 60 seconds allotted to each Member, it was remarkable how much content and substance Mr. Oliphant was able to consolidate into his Statement -- enough to elicit unanimous applause and ovation from all MPs present in the House at that time.

As the Statement was delivered just minutes prior to Question Period, nearly all MPs were present.

Mr. Oliphant's Statement was televised live coast to coast on CPAC, and carried live on the CPAC website (  We will have digital copy of his Statement posted to our website very soon.

The Statement was also entered into, Hansard, the permament record of Parliament, which may be accessed by MP and date at

A very special thanks to Rob Oliphant, our MP in Don Valley West, his dedicated staff in Toronto and on Parliament Hill, and our March of Dimes Advocacy & Communications who worked so diligently in helping raise national awarness of March of Dimes.

View the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session content of Thursday, February 17,2011.
(click on Statements by Members and look for Rob Oliphant)

December 15, 2010
Coalition wants "completely accessible" broadcasting system by 2020; funded by 1% of all M&As

TORONTO – A newly formed coalition of Canada’s largest accessibility organizations, called Access 2020, will be asking the CRTC to adopt a new approach to accessibility in its May 2011 policy hearing on vertical integration.

"While current regulatory trends mean that sight- and hearing-impaired Canadians will only obtain complete access to television in thirty years, Access 2020’s goal is to achieve fully captioned and described television content within the next decade,” said Beverley Milligan, on behalf of Media Access Canada which is leading the coalition. “We will be inviting the CRTC to empower Canada’s accessibility organizations to research, test, develop and monitor the implementation of modern, multi-platform digital accessibility standards."

The Coalition includes the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, the Canadian Council of Disabilities and the Ontario March of Dimes. The thought is that the coalition can make the fastest progress in these areas by working together. Canada can achieve the Access 2020 goal with a positive and coordinated approach to the communications sector, regulators and legislators.

Since its members appeared at the CRTC public hearing of Shaw’s purchase of Canwest in September, the Access 2020 Coalition has also appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to explain how it believes vertical integration could benefit Canada’s broadcasting system by making it fully accessible in a reasonable time frame, at no new cost to taxpayers.

The Access 2020 Coalition has proposed that 1% of all TV ownership transactions from now until 2015 be allocated to accessibility research, including standards development and systematic, third-party monitoring of progress towards full accessibility in terms of captioning and described video. "Vertical integration should be harnessed to benefit the broadcasting system by funding this research on an ongoing basis.” said CNIB’s vice-president of government relations, Bill McKeown.

November 29, 2010
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Hon. Rick Bartolucci, releases the long-awaited Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy.

The Strategy
New legislation, Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act, is proposed to address many of the recommendations and key themes in the Strategy.

Key Themes

  • Improved intergovernmental coordination for locally managed housing services
  • Simplification in the overall system
  • Greater focus on people-oriented results
  • Stronger focus on accountability
  • Simplification of Rent-Geared-to-Income calculation process
  • Tenants declare income only once per year, allowing them to use the extra money (i.e. elimination of the claw-back).
  • Elimination of 60 criteria used to calculate income.
  • Rent decreases may now be tagged to major loss of income.
  • Ministry will pilot an Asset Building Program aimed at helping tenants living in social housing to better plan and build self-sufficiency.
  • Tenants with serious health needs will be allowed to transfer to other jurisdictions without losing their place on the wait list.
  • New annual waiting list reporting requirements will be developed in 2011.
  • New requirements on Service Managers to establish a local review process that would provide tenants and hosing providers with the option to have a local/independent review of decisions pertaining to eligibility, rent determination, type of accommodation, etc.
  • Will allow municipalities to use funding in a more flexible and locally-responsive manner.
  • An integrated client-centred approach will replace the current program-focused system.  Housing supports will be determined by local needs of individuals and families, allowing greater flexibility in how targeted money is actually spent.
  • Consolidated funding will be designed in partnership with municipalities consistent with 5 priorities, which includes "maintaining accessible housing options."
  • The first phase of consolidated funding will involve 5 homelessness-related programs (prevention; emergency energy fund; emergency hostels; domiciliary hostels; and rent bank).
  • Elimination of the requirement that Service Managers seek provincial approval (ministerial consent) for areas such as financing, Board matters, and social housing priorities.
  • Introduce amendments to the Planning Act to require municipalities to establish policies allowing second units in new and existing developments.
  • Give municipalities more options to work with non-profit organizations that may need additional support or have management difficulties.
  • Require non-profit organizations providers to develop training and renewal plans as people retire.
  • New requirements for the Ministry and service providers to report on the Ontario Housing Measure (% of households with children under 18 with incomes below 40% of the median household income and paying more than 40% of their income on housing), CMHC’s annual Rental Affordability Indicator, and the Social Housing Tenant Satisfaction Survey (which solicits residents’ views about their accommodation).

For further information:

October 28, 2010
What Toronto mayor-elect Rob Ford has said about disability issues

So what does the election of Rob Ford mean for accessibility issues in Canada’s largest city? Mr. Ford made comments and recommendations on the following topics at two of the candidates’ public debates on disability issues. Here is what Mr. Ford had to say about:

There are 21,000 city staffers who get free TTC Metro Passes. This needs to be stopped. The money saved could be used to help subsidize people with disabilities who could use financial support for transportation needs.

The City of Toronto needs to increase the number of jobs awarded to people with all types of disabilities and we need to also encourage employers to hire more people with disabilities by providing incentives. In my private sector business, I employ 300 people. Thirty to forty, (approximately 10 to 12 per cent) are people with disabilities.

Renovated buildings
I am 100 per cent angry about all the renovated buildings that should be accessible and are not. This is where we should be spending the money (to help people with disabilities), not squandering our resources (as City Hall is now doing).

City Hall’s Disability Issues Committee
Membership on the Committee should be by way of a nominating committee or a civic appointments committee, not by politicians. Members should be appointed by an independent body and include people who know the issues.

Safe and Affordable Housing
There are 70,000 people on waiting lists to get into housing. Why not use the available funding and move people into private residences. There are many private rentals available. Landlords are offering free parking, one month free rent and other incentives in order to have these units occupied. We could make sure these would be accessible to the needs of the person.

Parks and Recreation
This area should be under review. People with disabilities need to have equal access to parks and recreation facilities in their own neighbourhoods. The parties involved need to meet with people with disabilities to find out what needs to be done. There needs to be public consultation.

General Statements
I run a successful company with 300 employees. I understand how to create jobs. I know the value of hard-earned tax dollars. I believe in customer service. If you make a personal call to my office I will return your call. I would do everything possible to make sure buildings are accessible. You’re the boss. If you make an e-mail request to my office, you will get a response within 2 days.

View video of the 2010 Toronto Mayoral Election candidates speaking on municipal accessibility issues.

September 15, 2010
Government Relations Briefing:
AODA Update - Built Environment Standard

The Final Proposed Built Environment Standard (FPBES) is the final product of the Accessible Built Environment Standard Development Committee.  The FPBES now resides with the Minister of Community and Social Services and Cabinet and is being considered as law... read more (PDF).

March of Dimes makes Policy Submission on Bill 65 to the Provincial Standing Committee on Social Policy

To read the Bill 65 submission, click here.


Ontario Municipal Election scene revs up

Read about some province-wide races, view You Tube live coverage of the Toronto mayoralty candidates’ debate on disability and find out how you can participate in the election process. Download available in Word and PDF formats.

Tax incentives recommended for improving accessibility in Canada

Government Relations submits paper to Federal Finance Committee. This document is available for download in PDF and Word formats.

March of Dimes responds to Manitoba’s “Opening Doors”

Read what March of Dimes offers in the way of feedback, comments and recommendations on the Discussion Paper entitled “Opening Doors: Manitoba’s Commitment to Persons with Disabilities” issued by the Manitoba Disabilities Issues Office 2009. Download available in Word and PDF formats.

Ontario Government announces public review of the proposed Built Environment Standard of the AODA.

Anyone can comment.  Click here to access the relevant documents and to learn how to provide your feedback.

March of Dimes and the AODA Employment Standard: Recommendations to the Minister


The Response to the Initial Proposed Employment Accessibility Standard is now available.

This document may be downloaded in PDF and Text formats.

Employment Standard Now Available for Review

The Initial Proposed Employment Accessibility Standard is now available for public review and input.  The Standard was issued earlier today by Hon. Madeleine Meiller, Minister of Community and Social Services.  The Employment Standard is the fourth regulation developed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and was created by a committee comprised of business representatives and people with disabilities – including March of Dimes.

Everyone has an opportunity to participate in this important public policy initiative. The Ministry is receiving feedback on the proposed standard until April 15, 2009.  Visit the Ministry website at  to learn more about the Standard and to submit your comments online.

March of Dimes is currently in the process of preparing an official response to the Standard.  That response will be posted at this website once it becomes available.

Historic Election for People with Disabilities

 On March 5th people with disabilities who live in the riding of Haliburton – Kawartha Lakes – Brock in central Ontario will have the first-ever opportunity to cast their ballot independently using new voting technology. Electronic voting with the use of “voting tabulators” will be available at all advance polling stations on multiple dates prior to the by-election date. While it would take new legislation to be able to introduce electronic voting in a regular election, this by-election will be an important testing ground to see if the voting tabulator machine makes a significant difference for people with disabilities. As well, all electors who choose to vote at advance polls will be using the new equipment.

Here are the names of the candidates running in Haliburton – Kawartha Lakes – Brock:

John Tory, Conservative

Rick Johnson, Liberal

Lyn Edwards, NDP

Mike Schreiner, Green

Bill Denby, Freedom

Jason Taylor, Independent


Read below for all the details and for a look at the electronic voting machine and its hand-held voting device. 

Government Relations & Advocacy Report 2009

We see many inspiring moments and notes of achievement as we reflect on 2008: the official launch of the first-ever RDSP; awareness-raising events for the 60th anniversary of the UN Convention on Human Rights; the launch of Moore on the Issues, March of Dimes’ newest advocacy project, including its very own Facebook group; the passage of the first legal Standard of the AODA, and the swift introduction of three others; representation on more than a dozen government committees; a new provincial policy for allowing people with disabilities to acquire simpler, fairer and more effective government-issued photo identification; a major presentation to the Ontario Minister of Finance to broaden services in HVMP, caregiving and supportive housing; a hands-on political outreach initiative connecting directly with provincial and federal representatives’ constituency offices in the GTA and beyond, promoting partnership with March of Dimes in delivering vital services to people with disabilities; three studies on the legal framework that affects our corporate structure; a major sector-wide effort to recommend improvements to federal guidelines that govern charitable fundraising; and the commencement of a new international initiative to build a framework for emergency preparedness for people with disabilities, to name a few.

March of Dimes’ zone of influence on provincial and national public policy is broad and growing, which is due to the strength and effectiveness of our programs and our mission – a point that was recently acknowledged by the Office of the Prime Minister: “March of Dimes Canada’s long-time commitment to promoting quality programs and services for Canadians with physical disabilities is truly commendable. The Government of Canada looks forward to receiving your input and counsel over the coming months as we work to develop initiatives that respond better to the needs of people with disabilities across our country.”

In many ways, we are seeing a tremendous opening of opportunity and a galvanizing of interest among government decision makers around issues that affect Canadians with disabilities. Despite some rather bleak forecasts for the economy over the next several months, it’s these inspiring moments and notes of achievement that encourage us to treat 2009 as one of our most concerted efforts to effect positive change for Canadians with disabilities, their colleagues, friends and family.

While we will continue expanding on existing programs and initiatives, appearing before government committees and parliamentary inquiries, here are a few of the following areas that we will be giving special attention to during 2009.

We’ll be expanding the national campaign for caregiving, home modifications, disability legislation and supportive housing, a campaign that we have been referring to as the National Ability Plan. Canada is among the very few countries without such a national framework, and we’re going to work to ensure that this changes.

Unique in Canada, we’ll be working to ensure government participation and funding for a new Emergency Preparedness initiative for people with disabilities. This expands on a recently established relationship with the most prominent agency of its kind in the United States, the Center for Disability and Special Needs Preparedness in Washington, D.C.

Accompanying these efforts will be our ongoing focus to expand and enhance our national relationships in every major region of Canada by building our network of supporters and professional associations in every provincial capital.

Of course, the unfolding of Ontario’s landmark legislation, the AODA, will continue keeping us busy both with policy makers at Queen’s Park and with private and public partners in the sectors affected.

As concerns over the economy increase, and uncertainty surrounds the worlds of commerce, finance and the overall economy, we want to assure you that we will be working harder than ever, and employing the most innovative and effective networking technologies available to us, in the areas that matter most to March of Dimes and the consumers we serve as we continue creating a society inclusive of people with disabilities.

Private member, Bill Murdoch, Bruce – Grey – Owen Sound, introduced Bill 109, Taxation Amendment Act (Equipment Purchased for Persons with Disabilities) 2008. Significant support was expressed by many organizations in our sector. March of Dimes Government Relations team and an associate were on hand to show our support.

Court ruling: Airlines must make room for disabled
By Jim Brown, The Canadian Press

November 20, 2008
(Excerpted from The Toronto Sun)

“Further news about free airline seats for attendants for people with disabilities, first reported in The Advocate: Issue One – Summer 2008.”

Government Relations Update
Fiscal and Services Delivery in Ontario

October 31, 2008

The Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review, in which Ontario March of Dimes participated during the stakeholder consultations in the summer of 2007, completed its mandate today. Nearly three years of consultation, stakeholder meetings, and recommendations culminated today in an announcement of long-range provincial-municipal program financing and service delivery.

Today’s announcement commenced with a background briefing, followed by a press conference (attended by Finance Minister Duncan, Municipal Affairs & Housing Minister Watson, Toronto Mayor Miller, and Mississauga Mayor, to name a few) and a Q&A.

Overall, by 2018, municipalities will see a $1.5 billion per year net benefit from this agreement.

In 2007, during the early stages of the Review, the government announced the upload of the Ontario Disability Support Payments program and the Ontario Drug Benefits program, to be completed by 2011.

The municipal costs for Ontario Drug Benefits were uploaded effective January 1, 2008, as was further outlined in the 2008 Ontario Budget.

Starting in 2009, the Province will begin the upload of municipal costs for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The ODSP portion of the upload will be completed by 2011.

Today’s announcement provides the further upload of Ontario Works benefits and court security costs. Starting in 2010, the Province will upload the municipal costs of Ontario Works benefits (income and employment assistance) over 9 years. Starting in 2012, the Province will upload the costs of court security (including offender transportation) over seven years, by providing funding to municipalities to a maximum of $125 million annually.

Other notable features of today’s agreement…

  • The Province and municipalities will work towards consolidating the many existing housing and homelessness programs into an Outcome-focused housing service managed at the municipal level.
  • Provincial pressure on the federal government will accelerate on the topic of existing federal commitments for affordable housing, poverty reduction and adequate Employment Insurance for vulnerable people
  • The Province will immediately begin developing an accountability framework for social services that focuses on results.
  • Work will begin to simplify and modernize the delivery of income assistance and employment-related supports.

A particularly noteworthy component found in today’s briefing looks to notion of accountability and program effectiveness, a topic Ontario March of Dimes’ representatives having been urging Ontario government representatives to more carefully consider. As the release states, “several accountability mechanisms are used for cost-share programs. These are linked mainly to “units of service” rather than outcomes for the people being served. The municipal and provincial governments will joint develop an accountability framework for social services that focuses strongly on the results that programs achieve.”

In other words, today’s announcement recognizes the need that we require new paradigms in service delivery, similar to what Ontario March of Dimes has been recommending, and not just changes to levels of funding.

Read the full Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review.

National Ability Plan Update
Canadian Caregiver Strategy:
October 24, 2008

Statistics Canada confirms that Canada needs a national caregiving strategy.

Family caregivers in Canada contribute over $5 billion of unpaid care. 23% of Canadians report caring for a family member or close friend with a serious health problem in the last 12 months.

The absence of public policy that responds to the needs of family caregivers is a serious omission in Canada's social framework and requires urgent attention. The Report is a strong message for our legislators: providing care for the frail elderly is a growing and demanding responsibility.

Full report:
Component of Statistics Canada
Catalogue no. 11-008-X
Canadian Social Trends
Article "Eldercare: What we know today" October 21, 2008


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