Paths to Equal
Opportunity Web Site
Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): My question is to the Minister
for Citizenship. This year has been a truly significant one for persons
with disabilities in this province, culminating with the tabling on
November 5 of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Bill 125. This
bill, which builds on the nearly $6 billion spent annually by this
government on programs and services to assist people with disabilities,
was subject to public hearings that took place across the province,
ending last Friday.
Last week, this
government also unveiled Paths to Equal Opportunity, a new Web site
designed to help business and service providers make their buildings,
products and services accessible to customers and employees with disabilities.
I am sure persons with disabilities in my riding and those throughout
the province will be able to take advantage of this innovative Web
site. Could you provide us with more details on what this site provides?
Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister of Citizenship, minister responsible
for seniors): First of all, I'd like to state that employers across
Ontario are learning that persons with disabilities are a very valuable
source of new employment in our province, and as such, they're also
learning that these people have incredibly good records for loyalty
and ability in the services they perform for their employer. The Paths
to Equal Opportunity Web site is a practical information tool for
those employers and the disabilities community on how to remove barriers
and to open doors for employment for persons with disabilities. This
is a unique Web site in Canada, given that it has special features
that change the font size and the colour formatting for persons with
visual impairments and has keyboard shortcuts for persons who can't
manipulate a mouse. It's the most technically advanced Web site of
its kind in all of Canada.
Its call letters
are www.equalopportunity.on.ca, and I encourage all employers in Ontario
to look into this innovative site.
Mr Hardeman: Bill Wilkerson, co-founder and CEO of the Global
Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health and
the author of The Business Case for Accessibility, is a passionate
supporter of the argument that persons with disabilities represent
a huge business and economic opportunity for Ontario and Canada. Mr
Wilkerson, I understand, was with you when the Web site was launched
at the fully accessible Granite Brewery restaurant in Toronto, where
he spoke of the economic opportunities that will open up when business
removes barriers for customers and employees with disabilities.
you tell us more about the advantages to be gained by opening doors
for customers in the business sector and by the employers creating
job opportunities that nurture the skills of persons with disabilities?
Hon Mr Jackson: This government has made a significant commitment
in its funding programs with respect to enabling change, which involves
opening opportunities on a wide range of opportunities, whether it's
volunteerism or access to employment. We're very pleased that this
Paths to Equal Opportunity Web site demonstrates about 17 examples
of specific businesses like Loblaws, Laidlaw Transport, Coca-Cola,
the Granite Brewery and others that have done innovative ways in which
they've worked with the disabilities community to modify their workplace
-- the guidelines that employers have been looking for as to how they
can improve access.
The Greater Toronto
Hotel Association, in partnership with our ministry on a $63,000 enabling-change
program, developed one of Canada's leading programs to train the hospitality
industry in the city of Toronto. I'm pleased to report the successes
that we're enjoying in this city. The Marriott Hotel, for example,
has TTY machines available to their guests; visual fire alarms are
available for the deaf; the modified --
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): I'm afraid the minister's time
is up. New question.
to ODA Bill 125 Index page