Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA



To: All Supporters of a Strong Ontarians with Disabilities Act

From: David Lepofsky, Chair, ODA Committee

Date: November 1, 2000

All signs suggest that the Harris Government fully intends to
follow its plans, set out in its leaked Cabinet document, to
introduce a voluntary, do-nothing Ontarians with Disabilities Act
any day now, and to rush it through the Legislature as quickly as
possible. They want to avoid debate and criticism.

Here is the latest action by the Government following on those
plans. On Friday, October 26, 2000 a news release was issued,
set out below, announcing that Citizenship Minister Helen Johns
had consulted with an organization which supports voluntary
strategies in this area. The Minister has consisently refused
our requests for a list of the persons she says she has been
consulting on the ODA over the past year. This single
announcement reveals only one group she has consulted. This
announcement happens to coincide with the Government's plans for
a do-nothing ODA.

This consultation, referred to in the news release, was held
well after the leaked, secret Cabinet document revealed that the
Government's apparent strategy had already been carefully shaped.

You will also find below a letter from me to the organization
referred to in the news release. We ask for information referred
to in the news release. We also ask for a meeting to discuss the
issue of the ODA with the organization quoted in the news
release. We are eager to exchange ideas with anyone interested
in this issue, and so we requested a meeting to do so.


c/o Marg Thomas
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto ON M4G 3E8
Tel: (Voice direct) 416-480-7686 Fax: 416-480-7014
Voice mail: 416-480-7012
email: thomasm@cnib.ca
TTY: c/o Susan Main 416 964-0023 ex. 343

October 31, 2000

Mr. Ian Howcroft, Vice President
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Ontario Division
5995 Avebury Rd., Suite 900
Mississauga, ON L5R 3P9

Dear Sir:

Re: Ontarians With Disabilities Act

I am writing on behalf of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Committee. We are a broad, voluntary and non-partisan
coalition of individuals and organizations concerned with the
rights of persons with disabilities. Our aim is to advocate for
the enactment of a strong Ontarians with Disabilities Act to
achieve a barrier-free province for the 1.5 million people with
disabilities who live here.

We read with interest an October 26, 2000 news release quoting
you on this issue. In the news release, you indicate that your
Association has worked in partnership with the Government of
Ontario on several highly successful equal opportunity
partnership projects. We are very interested to learn from you
what these programs or projects are, how they have operated, how
long they have been in effect, and what they have specifically
accomplished towards the aim of removing and preventing barriers
that impede persons with disabilities in this province. We are
eager to receive any information from you concerning these

In the news release, you are quoted as stating that Government
"micro-management through legislation just won't get the job
done". We are certainly not seeking government micro-management.

We would welcome a chance to meet with you and others from your
organization to exchange views and ideas on this important
topic. Please let me know if you would be agreeable to meet,
and when might be convenient. We look forward to hearing from
you both about the specific projects to which you referred and
their results, as well as about the possibility of meeting with
you and your Association. You can contact me via the above


David Lepofsky, CM
Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee



Attention News Editors:

Private sector partner says voluntary approach the best way to
improve opportunities for people with disabilities

TORONTO, Oct. 26 /CNW/ - Minister Helen Johns met today with
Ian Howcroft to discuss the government's approach to an action
plan for people with disabilities and to view the Government of
Ontario's upgraded Gateway To Diversity website, an important
tool for expanding job opportunities for people with

Howcroft is the Vice President of Canadian Manufacturers &
Exporters, Ontario Division (CME) whose members produce
approximately 75% of Ontario's and Canada's manufactured output
and 90% of merchandise exports. More than one million workers
are directly employed in this sector.

"CME has worked in partnership with the Government of
Ontario on several highly successful equal opportunity
partnership projects," commented Howcroft. "The government has
worked hard to build bridges between employers and people with
disabilities, and I encourage them to keep going down the
voluntary path. Government micro-management through legislation
just won't get the job done." "It's important to listen to
everybody who's ready to expand opportunities for people with
disabilities in Ontario," said Helen Johns, Minister of
Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. "Our government is committed
to leading the way and working in partnership with all employers.
Our enhanced bilingual and fully accessible Gateway to Diversity
website is proof of that commitment."

This award winning website receives more than 200,000 hits
per month. It provides employers, businesses and others working
to improve access for people with disabilities, with a wealth of
up-to-date, practical information tools. The website includes a
dynamic searchable database and employer best practice examples
from Ontario, Canada and around the world. This website can be
reached at www.equalopportunity.on.ca.

The website is part of the Ontario government's annual
investment of nearly $6 billion in services and programs for
people with disabilities - an increase of $800 million since

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