Provincial update: Road safety, climate emergency, National Accessibility Week

Submitted by Joel Harden, MPP Ottawa Centre –

Time to prioritize cyclists’ safety

I was heartbroken and angered by news of a cyclist who was killed by a hit-and-run driver on May 16. Just steps away from city hall on Laurier Avenue, the collision is a tragic reminder of how we’re not doing nearly enough to keep cyclists safe. 

This is an issue that the province also has a role in addressing. Jessica Bell, MPP for University-Rosedale, has put forward a Vulnerable Road Users Bill that would apply penalties under the Highway Traffic Act to any driving offences that result in the death or injury of a vulnerable road user (including cyclists). 

Proper cycling infrastructure and laws protecting vulnerable road users are not luxuries, they’re necessities. I’m committed to working with advocates both locally and at the legislature, for cyclists’ safety. 

Climate emergency motion

On May 13, the Ontario legislature debated a motion moved by Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition, to declare a province-wide climate emergency. Recent events, including historic flooding in our own city, offer us a glimpse of what failing to take action looks like. 

I was proud to speak in support of the motion, and of the passionate speeches delivered by my NDP caucus colleagues. 

While PC MPPs voted down the motion, we will not be deterred. I’m committed, and our caucus is committed, to fighting for climate justice. 

National Accessibility Week 

The last week of May is National Accessibility Week, a time to promote access and inclusion for people with disabilities. Former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a stark reminder of how much work needs to be done in order to ensure that Ontarians with disabilities can live their fullest lives. 

That’s why I introduced a motion calling on the government to adopt a plan of action on accessibility in response to the Onley Report. The plan of action should include, but not be limited to, key recommendations from the Onley Report including stronger enforcement of the AODA, new standards for the built environment, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new barriers. 

Accessibility is a non-partisan issue, and I hope MPPs from all parties will recognize that these are common sense first steps towards respecting the civil rights of people with disabilities.

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