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Ontario Government's
New ODA Bill 125
hansard December 10, 2001


Ontario Hansard Monday, December 10, 2001



Question Period
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.

Minister, will 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.


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