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New ODA Bill 125
hansard December 5, 2001
Ontario Hansard Wednesday, December 5, 2001
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES LEGISLATION
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Citizenship. We're on day four of public hearings on the ODA and the message is loud and clear: your ODA bill just doesn't cut it.
Yesterday Anna Germain asked, "Is this all that the government can come up with, a planning exercise that may give an illusion of doing good? What a shame. This bill is a slap in the face of all who waited for real help with dignity and equity."
The Canadian Hearing Society states, "Without amendments this bill is, at best, a missed opportunity. At worst, it will create new barriers and will be costly in time, money and human dignity."
We will be putting forward significant amendments to this legislation. Minister, will you commit right here and now to making all the changes necessary to make this a bill worth saving?
Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister of Citizenship, minister responsible for seniors): I have been reading each and every one of the briefs that have been presented. I have been encouraged by the manner in which so many organizations across Ontario have embraced this legislation and felt that it was a good first step. They want to work with the government in developing it.
I find it passing strange that the member opposite has yet to indicate to the disabled community of this province what he and his party are prepared to do for disabled persons. You've made no commitment whatsoever. You made no commitment to Gary Malkowski when he was a member of your caucus. You made no commitment when you ran up a $50-billion deficit in this province and had no legacy to show for the disabled persons in this province.
Yes, this government is proceeding with this historic legislation because they waited for five or six years of your government, and this government's going to deliver on its promise for an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Mr Martin: Well, Minister, I've been to all the hearings. Even the people you've brought in to speak favourably on the bill can only say, "Better than nothing." More people say that your legislation will make things worse for people with disabilities. The Multiple Sclerosis Society says, "We regret we must voice our opposition to this bill unless you are prepared to make major amendments." Will you listen, Minister? Will you make the amendments and fix this bill?
Hon Mr Jackson: The government has indicated clearly that through the process of public consultation we will have opportunities to strengthen this bill. We will have an opportunity to clarify that there are mandatory provisions in this legislation, unprecedented; that in this legislation, for the first time in Ontario's history, we will make a legislated, mandated directorate for disabled persons, that they will have a voice. They will be consulted in the construction of the regulations that will govern this bill and the conduct of municipalities and all government agencies.
The member must be sitting in on the wrong hearings. I have the brief from the Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario. It clearly says in their brief, "The CPA Ontario is pleased to lend its support to this historic legislation." They support it. They want to work with the government --
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. The member for Prince Edward-Hastings, please come to order.
Sorry for the interruption, Minister. His time was almost done, but I apologize for cutting him off at the end.