Premier's Remarks During Access Awareness Week
We only have to look at these wonderful surroundings here at the Royal Ontario Museum, one of our finest institutions and a great place for families, to see why it is so important that we make every effort possible to make public places accessible to everyone.
We would not want anyone to miss out on great Ontario attractions like this one.
Even more important, we don't want our province missing out on all the important contributions that people of all abilities can make to help us continue building on the great quality of life we enjoy.
That's why we created the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
And I am pleased to be here to celebrate the sixth anniversary of its passage.
We're also recognizing Access Awareness Week which is part of Rick Hansen's vision.
He made people around the world very aware of how much can be accomplished through sheer determination.
We need to be just as determined as we work to fulfil our own vision for a fully accessible Ontario and to work as quickly and effectively as we can to reach that goal no later than 2025.
We should strive to be leaders as a province in accessibility -- to show others what's possible, so that in the end, we not only make Ontario stronger, we help to make the world a better place too.
When you look at the opportunities awaiting us in the global economy and the strength of the competition it's clear that we need everyone at their best.
The Martin Prosperity Institute has estimated that by making it easier for Ontarians with disabilities to get to work, school, shops and tourist attractions our economy stands to benefit by $1.6 billion.
That provides us with the means to invest in schools, hospitals and all the things that matter to all our families.
But more than that, an accessible province is one where there are no limits on the great things Ontarians can achieve together.
When places like the Brockville Arts Centre install a new lift, so that musicians of all abilities can get on stage or into the orchestra pit, we're not doing that just because it is the right thing to do.
We're doing it because it sends a clear message to that musician in the lift and to each and every Ontarian: We need you.
All of you.
We need your passion.
We need your creativity.
We need your ideas.
We need your idealism.
Right across Ontario, in community centres, offices, schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and our public institutions -- we need to be sending that message: we need you.
You know, the truth is, in the past, we put the onus on people with disabilities.
They had to go to the Human Rights Tribunal; such as when David Lepofsky fought for TTC buses and streetcars that announced every stop.
It's a great example of one person making a big difference for all of us.
Because then the TTC went further and they now also display every stop.
But as my father used to say, "None of us is as strong as all of us, working together."
And the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act gets all of us working together.
I want to take this opportunity to thank David for his leadership and tenacity on accessibility issues in Ontario.
You know, I'm so proud that we are the first jurisdiction in the world to shift from a complaints-based process to a more modern, proactive system for accessibility issues.
It means that instead of waiting for complaints and then taking action, we're setting standards.
So that, for example, transit providers will eventually be announcing and displaying stops right across Ontario.
This is the kind of proactive approach we want to see everywhere: in workplaces, on websites or at public libraries.
So that accessibility becomes a natural part of what we do in Ontario.
As our Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable David Onley has put it: "Accessibility is nothing more, but nothing less than that which enables people to fulfill their full potential."
And if I can be so bold as to add to his words, I would say that accessibility is also about enabling Ontario to reach its full potential -- nothing more, but nothing less.
So we will continue driving forward with accessibility.
We will come up with new ideas and better solutions.
That's what we do as Ontarians.
We are builders.
We never put tools down.
It's bred in the bone.
And I'm very grateful for that.
In the face of today's pressing need to grow stronger, it's great to be builders who work well together.
And it will take everyone's commitment.
So let's keep doing that -- let's keep building a truly accessible community, a more inclusive society and a stronger Ontario -- the greatest province in the best country in the world.