Ahead of the Ontario election on June 7, CNIB wrote to all major Party Leaders asking them to publicly recognize the immediate need to modernize ADP and commit to establishing a strategy with CNIB and campaign supporters within the first 100 days of government.
CNIB is a non-partisan entity and we present the following summary of responses in the spirit of unbiased information sharing.
Ontario PC Party Response - May 14, 2018, via CBC London
Doug Ford's spokesperson, Melissa Lantsman, said that the PCs have fought cuts to funding for ADP.
"We look forward to supporting the community and looking into the options that work best for them," said Lantsman. "Our legally blind candidate, Mark DeMontis, will be a champion for the blind or visually impaired."
Ontario Liberal Party Response – May 10, 2018
Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program is one of the most generous devices program in Canada and is one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind in Canada in the context of 1) accessibility, 2) patient choice and 3) being patient-centered. The ADP provides over 8,000 pieces of equipment and supplies for 19 types of devices assisting over 350,000 Ontarians annually. We are constantly looking to expand the devices and access to the program to ensure all Ontarians are supported.
As part of the Ontario Liberal Party's commitment to modernizing government's support programs we are committing to making a full review of the Assistive Devices Program. We are acting on the recommendations received from income security working groups. The Assistive Devices Program needs to be modernized to ensure it can continue to provide the supports Ontarians need to be successful and reach their full potential. This review will prioritize developing an eligibility criteria for new technologies and innovations that support the full participation of Ontarians in their communities. We look forward to working with the CNIB and other stakeholders on this important review.
Ontario NDP Response – May 13, 2018
Thank you for your letter on behalf of Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), and by extension, Ontarians who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind that the CNIB represents. Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP believe Ontario is at its best when everyone can live good lives, and when nobody is excluded from their community. That means making sure we are accommodating the distinct needs and strengths of all Ontarians — with the lifelong supports that allow everyone to thrive.
We know that years of cuts and freezes to our healthcare system by consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments have left too many Ontarians feeling squeezed. The Assistive Devices Program (ADP) is a specific example of how the Wynne government has let people down. There are many people who are not aware that the program exists; those who do experience lengthy processing times and an impossible appeal process. Moreover, Ontarians who receive support from the program often find they are still left with incredibly large bills for devices that are essential for their well-being. We also understand that the current framework excludes access to several new technologies.
New Democrats are committed to fixing and modernizing the ADP. An NDP government will work closely with key stakeholders, like the CNIB, to address gaps within the sector and will begin work to review the program so that it adequately meets the needs of people who rely on it. We are happy to commit to meeting with the CNIB in the first 100 days of our mandate to discuss the program and how it can be improved.
Once again, we thank you for reaching out with your important questions. We look forward to getting to work.
Green Party of Ontario Response – May 28, 2018
The Green Party believes that all people should live in dignity and with the tools they need to engage with the world around them. This has not been the case for those with visual impairment that are reliant on assistive devices. The Green Party is committed to working with the CNIB to ensure that the ADP is modernized in terms of the tools that are available, the frequency that new tools can be accessed as well as with training support for using ADP tools. The program should be regularly evaluated with stakeholders, and should have feedback mechanisms for users of the program to ensure we are meeting the needs of those with visual impairment. We would be pleased to meet within 100 days of being elected.