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Ontario Government's
New ODA Bill 125
hansard December 13, 2001


Ontario Hansard Thursday, December 13, 2001



Third Reading Debate and Vote on Bill 125


The following is the text (about 22 pages) of the Third Reading debate and vote on Bill 125, the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which occurred on the evening of Thursday, December 13, 2001. These are the final speeches each party made before the last vote on this bill. The bill passed Third Reading on that date. These speeches are important not only for what they say about this bill, but also as a collection of commitments that the MPPs make to Ontarians with disabilities on behalf of the three different parties.

Ontario Hansard Thursday, December 13, 2001


Mr Jackson moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 125, An Act to improve the identification, removal and prevention of
barriers faced by persons with disabilities and to make related amendments to
other Acts / Projet de loi 125, Loi visant à améliorer le repérage,
l'élimination et la prévention des obstacles auxquels font face les personnes
handicapées et apportant des modifications connexes à d'autres lois.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr David Christopherson): Pursuant to the order of the
House of November 21, we now have a 60-minute debate, with the time split
equally among the parties. To lead off, the minister has the floor.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister of Citizenship, minister responsible for
seniors): It's an honour for me this evening to participate in this historic
debate on not only Ontario's but Canada's first comprehensive disabilities
legislation. It has been my privilege, as Minister of Citizenship, to work with
this caucus and with this government to fulfill a promise that we made to the
people of Ontario, in particular, to Ontario's 1.6 million persons with
disabilities, that Ontario would again continue to be a leader in providing
services, support and understanding to fill the needs and meet the daily
challenges faced by persons with disabilities.

Ontario has been recognized as a leader. It was a Conservative government that
brought the Human Rights Commission to this continent. It brought in the first
Human Rights Commission and human rights legislation on this continent. It has
made significant additional amendments to legislation over the course of the
last few years. So I am pleased to be part of a Conservative government that
today stands before the people of Ontario to present the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act.

It has been a very interesting 10 months and two days for me as Minister of
Citizenship as I have benefited from the advice of my caucus colleagues who
have pointed me to every corner of this province to meet with persons with
disabilities, to consult with them, to listen to their concerns, to learn, to
try to understand just exactly how people with disabilities have difficulty
navigating through daily life activities that we, who are fortunate enough not
be challenged, take for granted every day.

I would like at the outset to acknowledge the work that has been undertaken by
my predecessor ministers, the Honourable Marilyn Mushinski, the Honourable
Isabel Bassett and the Honourable Helen Johns, who were ably supported by their
parliamentary assistants, Derwyn Shea and the Honourable Brenda Elliott.


Hon Mr Jackson: Yes, I think they should be acknowledged for their efforts.

We learned that governments all across Canada have lacked the courage to make
this kind of commitment. In fact, there wasn't even this level of commitment
made by all the political parties six years ago when they presented themselves
to the people of Ontario to become the government. This is a rather unique step
for Ontario, being the first province in Canada to undertake such a
comprehensive first step in providing these services.

We also had an opportunity to acknowledge the incredibly wonderful work that
has been going on in Ontario, a compliment to communities and organizations.
Whether they were within government, within municipalities, whether they were
service providers, whether they were the private sector, there were abundant
examples of leading-edge, sensitive understanding of the needs of the disabled
community. We've had many opportunities in the course of the last year to pay
tribute to that work.

But now is the time when all Ontarians, regardless of where they live in
Ontario, should be able to come to expect that that level of understanding,
that those standards will be put in place for this province. Although there are
many good things that have been going on to make Ontario more accessible, we
have failed, as previous governments, to do the work to put in place the
standards and the guidelines which could be consistently approved as the law in
this province. In the absence of this foundation on which to build an Ontarians
with Disabilities Act, we've set about in this legislation to make the
necessary changes to move Ontario toward being a more accessible province for
all of its citizens.

There were several principles that guided us. There were the 13 principles that
this House unanimously approved. That was extremely helpful. It was a basis on
which we could all come to an agreement as to which elements we felt must be
contained in an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The government has responded,
first and foremost, by saying that before we ask anyone in this province to
comply with the mandatory guidelines, the first mandatory guidelines would fall
upon the shoulders of the government of Ontario, each and every ministry, each
and every agency of the government of Ontario; and secondly, that those who
rely on the support of taxpayers in this province, their agencies and their
organizations, whether they are hospitals, community colleges, universities,
whether they are municipal institutions, they too must be compliant with these
new higher standards of compliance that will be required in Ontario.

These organizations will all be required, for the first time in Canada, to
develop and file annual accessibility plans, and those plans will be made
public. Those plans will have input from the disability community, another
feature which doesn't exist anywhere in North America. Those plans will be the
basis on which we begin to do two things and two of the most important promises
we can make to persons with disability, and that is, we as legislators can this
evening say that in Ontario we will not create new barriers for persons with
disabilities any longer in our province and that we will have a managed plan
that has acceptance and buy-in from all stakeholders in this province, a plan
that will manage how we remove existing barriers so that there will be a day in
Ontario when all these barriers are removed.

The most significant reforms we can remember ever occurring in this province
were when we asked the stakeholder communities themselves to become part of the
legislation and drive the reforms. This was not done very often in any
legislation that I can remember. I know it formed part of the impetus behind
the Victims' Bill of Rights and the desire to develop an Office for Victims of
Crime where we actually empower victims in this province to drive reforms and
guide the government in legislation.

This is now the second opportunity whereby the disability community, by
legislation, has the authority to serve and participate on access advisory
committees municipally all across this province, in every corner of this
province. We will now have an opportunity for the disability community to have
input into the regulations before they are proclaimed and become law in this
province, and they will have an opportunity to help the government draft those
regulations, for the first time entrenched in legislation, through the
Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario. We've had past councils, but their
role was never defined, never entrenched in law. They were never given a
meaningful mandate, and the ministers of the day could choose to meet with them
once a year, which was the habit, as I understand it, or not.

This is going to be a very dynamic, powerful organization of disabled persons,
the majority of whom will be disabled persons, on the Accessibility Advisory
Council of Ontario. They will be driving the reforms and working on the
regulations, supervising and examining the accessibility plans for all of the
broad public sector in the first phase of this legislation and ultimately
examining and developing the mandatory plans for the private sector in the
future when we have those regulations ready.

Those are the commitments and the principles, two very unique approaches that
we cannot find anywhere in North America.

I want to publicly thank the first group of individuals I had the privilege of
meeting with as minister. I asked very simply, "Where is the very best work
occurring in Ontario as it relates to understanding the needs of the disabled
and doing something about it?" I was taken to the city of Windsor, and there I
met with the Windsor Advisory Committee on Disability Issues. I met three very
incredible people: Dean LaBute, Councillor Joyce Zuk and its chair, Carolyn
Williamson. They showed me a community that had an understanding municipality,
with Mayor Mike Hurst and members of council. This committee has been in
operation for 20 years. They are so far ahead of any other community in our
province, it was refreshing to see.

What we took from that was that when you allow the disability community to help
direct the outcomes of how your community is planned and how you can have a
plan to remove barriers, it will in fact work. From our experience in Windsor,
we took that model, and I want to pay tribute to those individuals for the work
they've done, to the March of Dimes and Easter Seals, who sat down with me as
minister very early and advised me of all the exciting opportunities we had in
this legislation to build a foundation on which to make the most progressive
legislation in Canada. They have stayed with the process. They have said they
want to participate and shape and mould this legislation, and they have seen
the results of their work through the course of the last six years, but
culminating in very intense work over the last few months to see a whole series
of new amendments that were tabled. I think it's almost an unprecedented number
of amendments, almost 30 amendments, to this legislation that came from the
public hearings. I've read each of the briefs that were presented. I had the
opportunity to read them, to receive the reports back from the members of the
committee in our caucus, chaired by Marcel Beaubien, with John O'Toole, Ernie
Hardeman, my parliamentary assistant Carl DeFaria, and Joe Spina; these people
did a tremendous amount of work --

Interjection: Frank Klees.

Hon Mr Jackson: And Frank Klees. Thank you. They did a tremendous amount of
work, keeping me abreast and informed. They came forward with the
recommendations we received from the disabilities community, and these are some
of the amendments that have been added to this landmark legislation. For
example, we brought in a series of penalties that now will apply to the
legislation -- a $50,000 fine for non-compliance. That fine in the act covers
ministries, hospitals, universities and municipalities. That's what the
disability community wanted to have. We didn't get a lot of advice as to what
the penalty should be, but we did put this into the legislation based on the
recommendations of groups like the March of Dimes.

We further refined the definition of "barriers." I want to publicly thank my
colleague Norm Miller from Parry Sound-Muskoka who, representing a series of
smaller communities in his riding, suggested that all of Ontario should be
covered by the responsibility of completing accessibility plans but not
necessarily having to put together an access committee. As you know, the
threshold was for 10,000. Communities below 10,000 didn't have to publish a
plan, nor did they have to have an access committee. Norm, consulting with the
mayors and reeves in his riding, recommended that we should do this amendment.
More disabled groups came forward and said that this bill should cover all
Ontarians. We're pleased to report to the House that Bill 125 now covers all of

We have entrenched in legislation the fact that these municipal advisory
councils can review site plans, in accordance with the Planning Act, for
approval so that no buildings of any significance are proceeding -- that they
can choose the ones for review to provide input before mistakes are made by not
building them to the highest accessible standards that that community chooses
should be in place.

There are more amendments, over 30 amendments. My colleague Dianne Cunningham
has done tremendous work. I've worked with her for the last 15 years in her
work with the Ontario Brain Injury Association, and we've included for the
first time in Canada in the definition of "disabilities," for example,
brain-injured persons. Again, we thank her and the association for those
amendments. And Tina Molinari, like Dianne Cunningham, knows first-hand the
struggles families go through when they are raising a child with a disability,
not only the emotional difficulty but the aspirations they have for their
children as they grow up into adult life. I want to thank them in particular
for their personal experience and their advice in helping to shape this

There are several very important people within my ministry. Our team was able
to get a lot of work done in less than 10 months: first and foremost my
executive assistant, Carolyn Chaplin, who has been tireless in her efforts to
make sure this legislation was delivered on time in accordance with the
principles we promised the people of Ontario; my deputy minister, Bill Allen;
Katherine Hewson; David Lillico; and one of the researchers, himself disabled,
whom I asked if he would help work on this legislation; and I want to publicly
thank David Haag for the work he did as a researcher.

We have heard from many organizations in Ontario who have expressed their
support for Bill 125. In conclusion, I'd like to read into the record three of
those comments from individuals who helped shape this legislation.

The Canadian Paraplegic Association shared their thoughts with the standing
committee and said the following:

"The CPA is pleased to lend its support to this historic legislation. It is new
legislation, untried by the people it affects and untested in practice or in
the courts of law. Because it is so new and unprecedented, it would be
unrealistic to expert it to be perfect or to address every single need and
desire of every person or group of persons with disabilities.

"Suggestions for improvement, however, do not need to be and should not be
construed as criticism of" this important "act."

The Ontario March of Dimes said it "supports the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act as a good first step in the removal and prevention of barriers to persons
with disabilities in this province.

"The legislation succeeds by placing a disability lens over all aspects of
public policy and implementation at the provincial and municipal levels. This
lens can be brought into focus through the proposed Accessibility Advisory
Council of Ontario and the local municipal accessibility advisory committees.

"The Ontario March of Dimes is committed to involved in all aspects of the
passage and implementation of this legislation."

Dave Shannon, a Thunder Bay lawyer himself disabled, in his presentation to the
standing committee in Thunder Bay said, "The government of Ontario should be
congratulated or being the first jurisdiction in Canada to attempt to further
remove the barriers faced by persons with a disability through the new ODA

"It is extremely difficult to legislate the removal of prejudicial attitudes,
but legislation can create a context for a more socially inclusive environment.
These attitudes can be reshaped through greater working relationships and the
development of mutually beneficial strategic plans.

"I indicate my support for the legislation and belief that with the appropriate
ministry commitment it will be an important tool in the eventual removal of
barriers faced by Ontarians with a disability, and furthermore change attitudes
for all Ontarians to decrease the all too pervasive prejudice against persons
with disabilities."

Finally, Barry McMahon, the chair of the access advisory committee of the city
of Ottawa, said at the standing committee, "We are encouraged that there will
be form, structure and content. We have never seen a coordinated effort to make
all people with disabilities feel they are full participants in this great
province. In many ways, the process will provoke change. We see it being
powerful because for once it directly involved the people it is supposed to

I want to thank our Premier, Mike Harris, for his commitment to the citizens of
Ontario with disabilities and for bringing in this landmark legislation.

On a personal note, I would like to thank my late uncle Ted, who was deaf. Our
family grew up understanding the difficulties he had feeling a part of the
world we live in. I would like to dedicate this bill in his memory.

I particularly want to applaud the work of persons with disabilities, many of
whom assisted me in this journey with this legislation. Their journey has been
a very long one. Their courage has been extraordinary, their dedication
unsurpassed and their tenacity unbeatable. It has been my privilege to be their
voice in cabinet and my distinct honour to be their Minister of Citizenship.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Ted McMeekin (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot): I'm sharing my time
with the members from St Paul's, Prince Edward-Hastings and Thunder
Bay-Superior North.

It's been a long and winding road that has led us to this place but, like so
many other roads this government has asked us to sojourn, we've actually not
travelled very far at all. In fact, when all is said and done, this government
will once again see to it that there's far more said than there is done. The
stakeholder groups tell us that this legislation is neither historic nor
comprehensive. Based on the hearings I've attended and in conversations with
disabled stakeholders, I can only conclude that there is a broad-based and very
profound sense of disappointment with this legislation. The stakeholders wanted
to believe that this minister and his government were serious about the
legislation. Today, sadly, they are embarrassed by and for the minister
opposite. They see the 11 broad-based principles unanimously agreed upon in
this House largely ignored or abused. They see a bill that is silent in far too
many areas and far too limited in its perspective. There was also concern that
there are no real enforcement teeth within the legislation.

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): It was amended, Ted.

Mr McMeekin: Not amended far enough.

Most importantly and critically, the stakeholder groups have expressed a broad
consensus that the time taken to prepare this bill was largely wasted and that
in order to get it right, the minister should both broaden the scope of the
bill and present the regulations which will be part of this bill to this
Legislature for debate. Given our journey, stakeholders are predictably
skeptical and fearful that this government will do behind closed doors what
they're too embarrassed to do out in the open.

On a personal note, I'm very disappointed. Not that many weeks ago, the
minister and I attended a meeting together in Burlington at the Burlington
Association for the Intellectually Handicapped. An advocacy group asso-ciated
with the association described the crisis in housing. I was somewhat familiar
with it, having had some personal and professional experience with another
group that delivers housing for the disabled. It was pointed out that for the
first time in history, intellectually handicapped children are outliving their
parents. It was also noted that there are many on the waiting list for housing
assistance, and their parents are absolutely frantic with worry.

The cost of providing housing and some of the municipal zoning restrictions
were noted by the minister. I noted that I would stand on this side of the
House with the minister, should he and his government display the courage to
move to restrict municipalities from arbitrary zoning provisions that have the
effect of excluding the housing of intellectually handicapped persons and any
bold step to make housing for those in our community with an intellectual
handicap a matter of entitlement. Sadly, nothing happened in either respect.

There you have it: a sincere 1995 promise by a departed Premier to enact a good
piece of legislation, unanimous agreement in this House, a false start in 1998
and now a pathetic and poor shell of a bill. So much more was possible than
this profound and very disappointing failure from a government that has clearly
run out of gas and had the time to do so much better.

Mr Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North): I want to stand here and
express disappointment in this legislation on behalf of the groups in Thunder
Bay that appeared before the all-party committee last Thursday, December 6. The
minister made reference to one gentleman in Thunder Bay who supported it, but
unfortunately the minister wasn't there. If he had, he would have been
listening to groups, such as PUSH Northwest, Persons United for Self-Help in
Northwestern Ontario, the Handicapped Action Group Inc, Brain Injury Services
of Northern Ontario and the Canadian Hearing Society, organizations that came
to the hearings to express their deep disappointment in the bill and their
belief that the bill could only have merit if significant amendments were put
forward that would indeed make this bill a significant piece of legislation,
amendments that would deal with mandatory enforcement, amendments that would
deal with precise timelines, amendments that would provide at least an
obligation on the private sector to remove barriers. These were amendments that
they made clear needed to be passed. Our caucus critic, Mr Parsons, brought
those amendments forward and they were turned down by the government.
Regardless of what the minister says, there's a great disappointment.

The long and the short of it is, the public hearing process was nothing less
than a sham, because the minister did not listen and the government members did
not listen. The fact is, there is great disappointment that this legislation,
which should be far more meaningful, simply is not.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I stand here tonight with my colleague from
Prince Edward-Hastings and my colleagues from the NDP caucus very disappointed
that we're here, at 8:30 on the last night of these sittings before Christmas,
not knowing when we're going to come back -- who knows, we might even have had
an election by the time we're in this place again -- debating a bill that has
been long awaited by a million and a half disabled citizens across this
province, a bill they've been promised for six and a half years, a bill that
this government waited to introduce until about three weeks ago, brought it in,
introduced it for second reading in a matter of days, a couple of days after
introducing it for second reading, brought in time allocation, which indicated
we were going to visit four communities across this province when there were so
many other communities we could have visited. Now here we are tonight, the last
part of that time allocation motion, an hour -- 20 minutes for each caucus --
to put on the record all we heard from the almost 75 groups and individuals who
came forward to tell us they had some real and serious concern about this bill.

This government should have been willing to go into the New Year with this
bill. This government should have been willing to take this legislation, this
important initiative, across the province to community after community in
northern Ontario, southern Ontario, eastern Ontario and western Ontario, to big
communities and small communities, so that we could hear from the disabled what
they have to say, to share with us the barriers they encounter every day and
what we as a government need to do to actually remove those barriers. But alas,
that's not going to happen, because this government is more interested in
getting into their leadership campaign, putting their energy and effort into
trying to come up with another formula to give them power for another four or
five years in this province, something we will fight with every inch and every
ounce of our being.

This government has bills lined up here tonight, which they want to get through
this House, that should have been organized more effectively, introduced
earlier and had real debate. This government should have been ready to honour
the process of this Legislature that has worked so well for so many years and
given those pieces of legislation that people out there across this province
feel very strongly about and know they need and deserve the kind of public
input and dialogue and argument back and forth between the various parties so
that at the end of the day we could be satisfied that we had something here we
could all be proud of, that would actually deliver on the promise.

We should be coming back to this House on January 14 to continue the work of
this government, to continue the work of this place, to continue the work of
this Legislature. We should be willing to do that kind of work. We owe it to
the people of this province to do that. There is important business before us.
There's important business that this government has lined up, which we're
probably not going to get to tonight and which we should have been able to get
to, that this government should be willing to commit to coming back on January
14 to deal with.

This government had a myriad of opportunities to indicate to the disabled in
this province that they understood and that they cared.

One of the very first things they did when they got to be government was get
rid of the Employment Equity Act. You'll remember how they went across the
province and called it the quota act. We know what that was. That was spin --

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): Bull feathers.

Mr Martin: That was bull feathers, as the member for Niagara Centre said.

The second thing they did was get rid of the commission that was put in place
to make sure the Employment Equity Act actually worked for disabled people.
They threw that out. Now with this bill they want to bring that back in again.
What a novel idea.

They got rid of the only initiative in the country at the time providing social
housing, fixed so that people with disabilities could actually live in some of
those units. They cut that out as well. They went around the province calling
it a boondoggle. Do you remember that? We were wasting money building homes for
the disabled. Do you remember the government saying that? Absolutely.

Then they laid off literally thousands of civil servants across this province,
and never once did they ask the question, "Among that group we're laying off,
how many disabled people are getting laid off? How many?" Never once; not once.


On two occasions, they brought forward bills to introduce an Ontarians with
Disabilities Act to this Legislature, and on each occasion, including the one
we speak on here tonight, it was just so much fluff and spin, more fluff and
spin than substance.

Tonight, I'm here to give honour and thanks to all those disabled activists
across this province who have been hoping and working for six and a half years
now, some of them actually from the early 1970s, talking to subsequent
governments about their needs and what it is that we needed to do. So I give
honour to them, to all of those who worked with David Lepofsky and the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee across this province, community after
community, and Gary Malkowski, our colleague when we were government here from
1990 to 1995.

I give honour particularly to those who were able to pull it together on such
short notice and get to those limited hearings that we had across this province
to tell this government what they thought, what they felt and what they
suggested needed to be done to actually make this bill effective.

I would like to say here tonight and to promise to the people of Ontario,
particularly to the one and a half million Ontarians, that I've heard what you
had to say and the New Democratic caucus at Queen's Park and the New Democratic
Party across this province has heard what you had to say. I want you to know
that if we are elected government in the next election, we will introduce a
real, strong, effective ODA that truly breaks down barriers and sets out real
timelines to a barrier-free Ontario.

We promise to enact this legislation within our first year in office and,
unlike this government, we will keep our promise. We promise to truly work with
the disability community to ensure effective legislation, and we will make sure
there are no barriers to anyone's participation. Unlike the current government,
we will bring together persons with disabilities with other stakeholders, like
the business sector, to make sure our legislation will work best for all those

Our party would ensure that the legislative process for considering our new
bill would be open and barrier-free for persons with disabilities. Unlike this
government, we will give adequate notice of public hearings and legislative
debates, to enable persons with disabilities to attend and to ensure that
needed accommodations are provided. This is our pledge. This is my pledge and
the pledge of the New Democratic Party. It's a promise we won't break.

The Conservative government of Ontario has broken promise after promise. With
this law, Bill 125, the Conservative government has broken its promise and it
has broken many hearts across this province. As the Windsor Essex Bilingual
Legal Clinic stated in their deputation to the public hearings, "By calling
Bill 125 the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, expectations are raised that the
legislation is analogous to the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, Bill
125 is not rights legislation similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
It does not create new rights for persons with disabilities in Ontario with
respect to accessibility, nor does it create new legal procedures or
enforcement mechanisms. Its focus is the development of accessibility plans by
various public sector entities in Ontario and provides some opportunity for
persons with disabilities to be involved in the creation of accessibility
plans. A more appropriate title" -- they suggest -- "would be the accessibility
planning act."

Today was supposed to be a time for celebration for the disabled community. It
was supposed to be the culmination of more than half a decade's worth of
lobbying by the disability community, a community that envisioned a strong and
effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act and dearly hoped this government
would deliver. As the Sault-Algoma Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee
said in their deputation, after driving four hours to Sudbury to present,
"Persons with disabilities are significantly unemployed and underemployed
regardless of qualifications or education. This act does not address this
problem or provide additional incentives for employers to hire qualified people
with disabilities."

For years the disability community has been held hostage by a series of broken
promises by a Conservative government that kept claiming its intention to bring
in a strong law to make Ontario barrier-free. Year in and year out, the
Conservative government broke its promise, yet public support for an Ontarians
with Disabilities Act grew. Finally, when the government was forced to actually
act, look what we got: legislation that even the government's own supporters
can only call better than nothing.

Actions speak louder than words, and today, as the Conservative government rams
through a lily-livered facsimile of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act, I say
shame on you.

The chair of the Peterborough council for persons with disabilities expressed
her frustration with the high speed and very limited public hearings. She said,
"We are very displeased that the process of hearings is on a fast track and
thus will not accommodate the numbers of groups which have requested standing."
To her and all those others who feel the same frustration, sadly all I can say
is, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter that they didn't get to speak.
This government had no intention of listening anyway, and for that I say shame.
Shame on you for building up the hopes of the disability community, then
betraying them in the most fundamental of ways.

Shame on you for plowing ahead with a public hearing process that was not
accessible to hundreds of persons with disabilities who would have appreciated
an opportunity to have their voices heard. It is, to say the least,
hypocritical of a government to claim it wants accessibility legislation when
its very own process is inaccessible to those most directly affected by it. You
set up barriers to people with disabilities who wanted to comment on this bill,
who wanted to improve this bill and make it the legislation it should be. For
that, I say shame on you.

And shame on you for rejecting strong, viable amendments from the opposition
parties that would have made an Ontarians with Disabilities Act we could all be
proud of here. Instead, we are faced today with a piece of legislation that is
not much stronger than the flimsy Bill 83 this government tabled in 1998 and
then quickly withdrew, like a dog running away with its tail between its legs.

In the weeks leading up to Bill 125, the minister released the government's
vision statement and then proceeded to table a bill that didn't come close to
fulfilling that vision. Within minutes of seeing the bill before us, our
leader, Howard Hampton, recognized Bill 125 would require substantial
amendments to achieve the government's visions and goals; that it fell
desperately short of its promised potential.

From the outset, Minister Jackson claimed to have the broad support of the
disability community behind him, but the evidence from local newspapers and the
limited public hearings on this bill prove otherwise. People criticized you for
ramming through public hearings without giving persons with disabilities enough
time to attend. Ian Greaves, from the Niagara area, sums it up nicely in a
letter to his local newspaper, saying:

"After a delay of more than six and one-half years, the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, Bill 125, was finally tabled on November 5. The legislative
process is now moving at a breakneck pace with the government in a panic to
have an act passed in six weeks. Second reading of the bill has occurred and
public hearings will be finished on December 7. Imposing this tight deadline
proves the government's lack of sincerity in consulting with the 1.6 million
people with disabilities in Ontario."


People criticized you for letting the private sector off the hook. People
criticized you for failing to introduce specific barrier-free guidelines that
could have been written years ago. People criticized you for failing to produce
clear, tangible timelines so that persons with disabilities in Ontario can know
exactly when to expect barriers to come crashing down. People criticized you
for a bill that, in short, is nothing more than window dressing. It's a window
dressing bill, as the Toronto Star writes, that you should withdraw.

The Toronto Star wrote in a December 10 editorial:

"After waiting so long, lobbying so tenaciously and putting forward so many
practical suggestions, citizens with disabilities have a right to expect better
legislation than this.

"If Jackson is wise, he will withdraw the bill. It needs major repair work.
Racing to meet an artificial deadline, after dawdling and procrastinating for
six years, looks a bit silly. There is still time to get it right. It's a
question of political will."

The NDP had the political will to make this legislation sing. We worked with
the disability community to table a wealth of amendments; to virtually rewrite
the bill to make the Ontarians with Disabilities Act the piece of legislation
it needs to be. Yesterday, during clause-by-clause consideration of this bill,
the government rejected virtually all of those amendments. Today, we rise for
the last time to hash over a done deal, a bad deal, a raw deal for persons with
disabilities in this province.

Most troubling, however, is Mr Jackson's disingenuous attempt to paint this
bill as something it is not. Minister Jackson stood in this House and claimed
that the private sector would be covered under this law. "That is a promise
made by the Mike Harris government and we'll keep that promise," he said. He
didn't keep that promise. Nothing in this bill requires the government ever to
make any regulations covering the private sector.

Minister Jackson said during second reading debate that there was a time frame
laid out in the law for the private sector to act. In fact, there is no such

Minister Jackson said that, at least as far as transit providers are concerned,
they will be required to make accessibility plans and to comply with them. The
bill in fact imposes no duty on any organization to comply with their
accessibility plans.

The Minister told CBC Radio that the government was "going to force compliance
based on the guidelines and the accessibility plans that will be made public
for each and every sector in Ontario" -- Metro Morning, November 6. In fact,
the government has no power under this bill to force this compliance.
Accessibility plans aren't even required for every sector.

The minister said municipalities would have to consider accessibility when
issuing business licenses. In fact, the bill does not require municipalities to
consider accessibility when issuing licenses. It only permits them to do so if
they wish.

On November 7, Minister Jackson stood in this House and said, "I want to
reassure the House that the 11 principles were followed very carefully in
drafting this legislation." In fact, Bill 125 is not consistent with 10 of the
11 principles enunciated by the ODA committee, which has been visionary in its
push for strong legislation.

Bill 125 does not achieve the barrier-free society for Ontario's 1.6 million
people with disabilities as proclaimed in the government's vision statement
dated November 1, 2001.

Bill 125 is not a "strong and effective" law, as required by the Ontario
Legislature's unanimous resolution adopted on November 23, 1999.

And for that, I say shame on them, shame on them.

Mr Michael Bryant (St Paul's): Time is short. I am unable to speak to this bill
for very long for the simple reason that a guillotine motion has been dropped,
and therefore one of the most important bills imaginable to any society is
being subjected to minimalist debate, minimalist consultation and of course
minimalist results. I say that it is a bill with enormous importance because I
truly believe that the way in which governments representing their people,
representing their electorate, treat people with disabilities is a reflection
on the society itself. It is a litmus test, truly, for all of us here.

I was introduced to this political issue during the last provincial election,
in no small part because the minister responsible for this portfolio had her
own lame version of disabilities legislation that was rejected by the people of
St Paul's. I can tell you that disabled Ontarians came out during that election
with a moral and civic purpose and force and, I dare say, vengeance.

I remember well the all-candidates meetings, David Lepofsky and many citizens
stepping forth to the mike and saying that rights without remedies are
worthless, that commitments or objectives are not going to move this along in
any meaningful way for people with disabilities. I thought to myself, as the
political result was unfolding before me and the minister was paying a serious
price for this grave injustice visited upon all Ontarians with their previous
effort, that there was no possible way this government would repeat that
mistake. And yet it has. Yet again we have a bill which is voluntary. We have
no real rights, and whatever rights are put forth have no remedy, which makes
them worthless.

It's not just the lack of physical access. Removing barriers for Ontarians with
disabilities is not just about the physical obstacles. I recently met with a
constituent who came to see me to tell me about her story, her life. Lack of
access to education meant lack of opportunities for employment. Lack of
opportunities for employment meant barriers to the same lifestyle, the same
opportunities that I have as a person without disabilities. As somebody, in
this case this constituent, who was finding herself in the twilight of her
vocational life, she was saying she didn't want another generation of Ontarians
to face what she had, and yet this bill offers no such change and no such hope.

The only hope we have is that what happened to the last minister who attempted
to fool Ontarians with a foolish bill befalls this one and that the government
is held to account in the same way, on a broader scale, as this minister was in
St Paul's.

I'm grateful to all those people who have told me their stories. I'm obviously
very grateful to the member for Prince Edward-Hastings for all the work that he
has done, and I want the people of St Paul's to know and all those people who
came out to let the minister for disabilities know in 1999 that we'll be
fighting that fight and we'll not give up on this one until we have a
barrier-free Ontario for all Ontarians with disabilities.

Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings): When I was in university, I had a
professor who said, "The best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship."
I disagreed with him then and I disagree with him now. I believe the best form
of government is benevolent democracy, but "benevolent democracy" means a
government that would do what is best for its citizens, not best for political

This is a political bill. It gives the appearance of having done something,
while actually having done nothing. This a government that knows the cost of
everything and the value of nothing.

Let's think about how this bill, that was much touted, has gone through this
chamber. The minister invited and paid for large numbers of Ontarians with
disabilities to come for a press conference and support the bill before they
had even seen it. Following its introduction, they were not told when second
reading was going to take place. They were given almost no time to make
arrangements to appear at public hearings. These are people who have to book
Wheel-Trans two days ahead. These are people who have to arrange interpreters,
and they were given no warning at all on it.


The minister is so proud of the groups that support it. Where are they tonight?
Where are the Ontarians with disabilities tonight? They're not here because
they do not want to be at the funeral of their dreams, their hopes, their

I do want to thank the people who came forward, though, to speak. I regret the
minister himself was not able to attend for one minute at any of the public
hearings and hear the citizens who live their lives with a disability and are
struggling to overcome it and to overcome the barriers we have put in place,
what we are doing to block them. They came with genuine, real aspirations that
they would be heard. The disappointment they have is reflected in their absence
this evening.

They came with some very similar requests, which we heard over and over. They
wanted to apply to private industry, where they spend 95% of their time. The
government that is so supportive of private industry does not want these people
included in accommodation, medical services, shopping, recreation, sports -- in
anything. They wanted it to be mandatory. Everything else this government does
in individuals' lives, they control right down to the second, but for this
particular group nothing will be mandatory to give them any rights.

They wanted enforcement of it, with the mandatory concept. There had to be an
agency delegated to do that enforcement. It does not exist. They wanted a
timeline. They have waited six and a half years to get this far, and now the
only timeline is that five years from now the government will review it again
-- more and another bitter pill for them to swallow.

I would like to read a letter that one of the presenters read at the session
here in Toronto. She says, "At 16, Scott dreams of dating, going to the mall"
-- this bill doesn't help; "participating in sports and recreational activities
and events" -- nothing in this bill will make that happen; "plans for
post-secondary education" -- nothing in this bill makes that happen; and
"subsequent employment" -- employment that this government touts should be in
private industry. This does nothing. Ontarians with disabilities don't want the
barriers down for the sake of barriers; they want the barriers down so they can
get what is rightfully theirs on the other side of that barrier. They're
looking for basic human justice so they can be part of a society they have
every right to be part of.

I say to every member on the government side, you have been in contact with and
you have had people in your office who have a disability. I want you to think
of these people on an individual basis and ask, "Does this bill remove the
barrier that they came and talked to me about?" It doesn't, because this bill
doesn't remove one barrier. Oh, it will make city hall accessible when city
hall is rebuilt or when a new city hall is built. But the question the disabled
asked over and over is, "Where do you think I spend my time? At city hall or at
the mall?" In the mall, bless them, some of them are voluntary, but if it is
worth doing, it is worth making compulsory.

You've come out with a title that is a rip-off of the Americans with
Disabilities Act. The 10-year assessment said that the Americans with
Disabilities Act works, that industry supported it, that it very clearly
incorporates Americans with disabilities. This bill would be better entitled a
vague planning act for Ontarians with disabilities who reside in municipalities
over 10,000 population. For the vast majority of Ontarians, this bill does
absolutely nothing for the municipality. Isn't it great that you get the
municipalities to be involved in this so you can dump-load more costs on them?
A person with a disability needs to have some assurance that when they leave
one part of Ontario and go to another, they will have access to washrooms, they
will have access to hotel rooms, they will have access to jobs, they will have
access to full citizens' rights no matter where they are in Ontario.

This bill doesn't do it. I don't believe the government initially thought about
the range of disabilities we heard about. This bill focuses very heavily on
mobility issues -- good for it -- and yet there is no recognition that those
with mobility problems who wish to travel somewhere have to book Wheel-Trans 48
hours ahead. None of you could run your lives having to plan 48 hours ahead,
let alone learning of a public hearing you've got to get to the following day,
but having to book two days ahead. You should have known that and shame on you.

For the deaf and the hearing-impaired: nothing in this bill. For the blind:
nothing in this bill. In fact, this is a government that refuses to fund a cure
for macular degeneration, which would stop people from going blind. If you
don't care enough to keep them from going blind, I guess it's consistent that
you don't do anything for them when they are blind. Try to imagine living your
life deaf and blind in this province. We had a presenter in Ottawa who almost
brought us to tears as she shared her life and how there was no attempt by this
government to make her a part of her Ontario.
Acquired brain injury had to be added as an afterthought, and thank goodness
that got through in amendment. Developmentally handicapped: not really
recognized by this government as a person with a disability, but I assure you
it is.

The mentally ill: we don't like to talk about mentally ill people. If you've
got a broken arm, we can fix that. If you're mentally ill, just please stay out
sight and in the background. They are every bit entitled to have services and
to be part of this population as every other disabled person. I learned about
the environmentally sensitive.

I look at all of these and I go through the act. What barrier does this remove
for all of these groups? Absolutely nothing. The minister talks about putting
persons with disabilities in the driver's seat; well, it's hard to drive from
the back seat. They have no control whatsoever. Everything is advisory: the
minister "may consider" and the government "may." We're very, very heavy on
"mays" but very light on "shalls," because "shall" would be the word, if we
said "shall" or "they must," that would force us to recognize that we have not
given the rights to Ontarians with disabilities that they deserve.

I really urge you again to stop thinking about the politics of this bill and
think about the person in your riding who has that disability, about the
16-year-old who has dreams and aspirations, and you're saying wait five more
years. To a 16-year-old, five more years is a lifetime. We have a unique
opportunity and the door is open now.

The minister says that the Liberals have not committed to doing anything. We
have made firm commitments to follow the 11 principles -- not one of the 11,
but the 11. We have committed to involving private industry, to bringing them
to the table with the disabled, not in two different rooms, but at one table.
We have committed to consulting without requiring the people to sign an oath of
confidentiality before they consult. That is an offensive form of consultation,
when they consult with the minister but are not permitted to share in any way
what they say.

We have committed to passing an Ontarians with Disabilities Act that is
meaningful, with full public hearings. Our leader, as Premier, will meet with
the community, not like this Premier, who refused to. This bill is a sham and,
Speaker, I would like to move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion

All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 2109 to 2139.

The Speaker: Mr Parsons has moved adjournment of the House.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing.

Thank you. Please take your seats.

All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 34; the nays are 47.


The Speaker: Third Reading debate and vote on Bill 125,

They figured it out for themselves. I declare the motion lost.

Pursuant to the order of the House of November 21, I'm now required to put the

Mr Jackson has moved third reading of Bill 125, An Act to improve the
identification, removal and prevention of barriers faced by persons with
disabilities and to make related amendments to other Acts.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 2141 to 2146.

The Speaker: All those in favour will please rise one at a time and be
recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Beaubien, Marcel

Chudleigh, Ted

Clark, Brad

Coburn, Brian

Cunningham, Dianne

DeFaria, Carl

Dunlop, Garfield

Ecker, Janet

Elliott, Brenda

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Gill, Raminder

Hardeman, Ernie Hodgson, Chris

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Kells, Morley

Klees, Frank

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

Mazzilli, Frank

Miller, Norm

Molinari, Tina R.

Munro, Julia

Murdoch, Bill

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Runciman, Robert W.

Sampson, Rob

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Wood, Bob

Young, David

The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time and be recognized
by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Bartolucci, Rick

Bisson, Gilles

Boyer, Claudette

Bradley, James J.

Bryant, Michael

Caplan, David

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Colle, Mike

Crozier, Bruce

Di Cocco, Caroline

Dombrowsky, Leona

Duncan, Dwight

Gravelle, Michael

Hampton, Howard

Hoy, Pat

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Levac, David

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

McLeod, Lyn

McMeekin, Ted

Parsons, Ernie

Peters, Steve

Phillips, Gerry

Prue, Michael

Pupatello, Sandra

Ruprecht, Tony

Sergio, Mario

Smitherman, George

Clerk of the House: The ayes are 47; the nays are 34.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


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