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In 1995 Mike Harris
promised to enact the Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first
term. On November 5, 2001, in its second term, the Conservative Government
introduced Bill 125, the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act,
into the Ontario Legislature. That bill was debated in the Legislature
in fall 2001. The Legislature passed it on December 13, 2001. It received
Royal Assent on December 14, 2001. It is now called the Ontarians
with Disabilities Act 2001 (ODA 2001).
During the Legislature's
debates and public discussions around this bill, the Conservative
Government made a series of 13 commitments. These are listed here.
A summary is provided at the end of this document. The Government's
public statements which make each commitment are set out under corresponding
headings in a separate document entitled "Conservative Government
Statements Setting Out Its 13 Commitments to Ontarians with Disabilities."
THE 13 COMMITMENTS
TO BECOME BARRIER-FREE
Ontario will become
a barrier-free province for persons with disabilities, in
which existing barriers are removed and new barriers are prevented
2. ODA 2001
WILL MAKE ONTARIO BARRIER-FREE AS SOON AS REASONABLY POSSIBLE
A key component
of the Government's strategy to achieve this goal, the ODA 2001
will achieve a barrier-free Ontario as soon as reasonably possible,
and can do
so far sooner than the U.S. will.
TO BECOME CANADA'S MOST INCLUSIVE PROVINCE
Ontario will become
the most inclusive province in Canada.
4. NO NEW BARRIERS
In Ontario, no new barriers will be created against persons with disabilities.
This includes a commitment that tax dollars will not be used to create
barriers against persons with disabilities, and Government-funded
expenditures including new infrastructure will meet accessibility
REGULATIONS WILL COVER ALL SECTORS
Under the ODA
2001, standards will be set. Regulations will be enacted which
impose mandatory requirements. Regulations will cover every sector
including the private sector. There is a time frame for the private
act. Regulations will be made over barriers in the private sector
is not happening fast enough. The Government is developing regulations
could contain enforcement features if necessary.
COMMUNITY IN DRIVER'S SEAT AND SETTING STANDARDS
community will be put in the driver's seat, in the
forefront of change, and driving change in the province. The regulations
enacted under the ODA 2001 will be developed by the disability community.
Ontario's disability community will be pivotal in setting the standards
the ODA 2001. Ontario's disability community will help to set the
the mandatory terms of reference, and the time frames for completion
accessibility plans to be implemented under the ODA 2001. Ontario's
community will decide when Ontario's cities will become fully accessible.
ACCESSIBILITY ADVISORY COUNCIL'S ROLE
The new Ontario
Accessibility Advisory Council will decide the point in time
when it will be "reasonably possible" for Ontario to become
province. The Ontario Advisory Council will drive the reforms in Ontario
including working on regulations, examining and developing mandatory
the private sector and driving the work on developing enforcement
under the ODA 2001 necessary to ensure compliance. The Ontario Advisory
and local municipal Advisory Committees will be accessible to the
community. The Government will be open to their advice. The ODA 2001
mechanism for persons with disabilities to tell the Government what
they face, and when and how they should be removed.
ACTIONS BY ONTARIO GOVERNMENT
The ODA 2001 includes
mandatory requirements which will be monitored and
enforced. The Government will force compliance with the ODA 2001,
guidelines and accessibility plans that will be made public for every
and based on time frames. Transit providers will be required not only
accessibility plans, but also to comply with them. The Government
will take on
a leadership role and set a high standard. Its new Accessibility Directorate
will undertake several specific actions to promote accessibility,
launching a new public education campaign and new barrier-removal
program. The Government will select specific private sector companies
compliance. The Government's November 1, 2001 "Vision Statement,"
Ontario to become a barrier-free province for persons with disabilities,
be widely posted in public buildings. The Government has key players
to swing into action to implement change. The Government will not
rest until it
achieves its vision for persons with disabilities.
GOVERNMENT'S SPECIFIC RESULTS
will achieve specific accessibility results. The business of
Ontario ministries will be made more accessible to employees and customers
disabilities. Services will be reviewed and improved. New guidelines
accessibility of government buildings will be developed in conjunction
persons with disabilities and others. New construction will be accessible.
Access to public buildings will be considerably improved. Goods and
will be more accessible. Access to government information will be
enhanced. Public awareness of disability issues will be heightened
significantly. Thousands of suppliers throughout Ontario will have
aware of, and consider the accessibility of the goods and services
provide, if they wish to sell to the government. The Government itself
be in full compliance within five years.
GOVERNMENTS' SPECIFIC RESULTS
results will occur at the municipal level. These include
significant improvements in community accessibility, higher visibility
public awareness of disability issues throughout the community, more
and other sites (such as parks and recreational facilities) being
greater public accountability, and an ongoing and participatory role
decision-making for persons with disabilities. No new subdivisions
construction will occur without consideration of accessibility features.
cuts and audible traffic signals and inclusive design will become
features in communities across Ontario. Municipalities will be required
accessibility into account when issuing licenses. More than 160 municipalities
will plan for accessibility as a regular part of doing business. All
municipalities covered by the ODA 2001 will be required to meet or
standards now achieved in Windsor and Thunder Bay.
PUBLIC SECTOR SPECIFIC RESULTS
results will be achieved in the broader public sector
e.g. schools, hospitals, public transit, and universities. Some 159
25 colleges, 17 universities, and 78 school boards will be developing
implementing accessibility plans. These will significantly enhance
persons with disabilities to education, training and services. This
in increased access to schools, colleges, universities and hospitals,
better services for persons with disabilities at these institutions.
result of increased accessibility in public transportation, persons
disabilities will find it easier to move around their communities
will significantly enhance their ability to participate fully in community
life. There will be greater public accountability and heightened public
SECTOR SPECIFIC RESULTS
Specific accessibility results will be achieved in the private sector,
including development of flexible, industry-appropriate standards
eventually become law, private sector commitment, and partnerships
industry and persons with disabilities. Every sector of the community
economy will be engaged in improving accessibility to meet or exceed
sector standards. Opportunities for persons with disabilities will
significantly improve throughout the province as sectors move towards
accessibility. The accessibility bar will move higher as each sector
benefits from each other. There will be improved access to business
for those people in Ontario who use motorized scooters, wheelchairs,
and other assistive devices. Independence of persons with disabilities
enhanced. There will be increased retail job opportunities for persons
disabilities and considerable potential for retail businesses to attract
customers with disabilities.
DIFFERENCE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The ODA 2001 will
make a meaningful difference in the lives of Ontarians with
can be summarized in these general themes: