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
DISABILITIES ACT, 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
other Acts / Projet de loi 125, Loi visant à améliorer
l'élimination et la prévention des obstacles auxquels
font face les personnes
handicapées et apportant des modifications connexes à
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
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
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
disabilities, that Ontario would again continue to be a leader in
services, support and understanding to fill the needs and meet the
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.
made significant additional amendments to legislation over the course
last few years. So I am pleased to be part of a Conservative government
today stands before the people of Ontario to present the Ontarians
It has been a very interesting 10 months and two days for me as Minister
Citizenship as I have benefited from the advice of my caucus colleagues
have pointed me to every corner of this province to meet with persons
disabilities, to consult with them, to listen to their concerns, to
try to understand just exactly how people with disabilities have difficulty
navigating through daily life activities that we, who are fortunate
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
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
made by all the political parties six years ago when they presented
to the people of Ontario to become the government. This is a rather
for Ontario, being the first province in Canada to undertake such
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
service providers, whether they were the private sector, there were
examples of leading-edge, sensitive understanding of the needs of
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
many good things that have been going on to make Ontario more accessible,
have failed, as previous governments, to do the work to put in place
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
with Disabilities Act, we've set about in this legislation to make
necessary changes to move Ontario toward being a more accessible province
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
contained in an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The government has
first and foremost, by saying that before we ask anyone in this province
comply with the mandatory guidelines, the first mandatory guidelines
upon the shoulders of the government of Ontario, each and every ministry,
and every agency of the government of Ontario; and secondly, that
rely on the support of taxpayers in this province, their agencies
organizations, whether they are hospitals, community colleges, universities,
whether they are municipal institutions, they too must be compliant
new higher standards of compliance that will be required in Ontario.
will all be required, for the first time in Canada, to
develop and file annual accessibility plans, and those plans will
public. Those plans will have input from the disability community,
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
we can make to persons with disability, and that is, we as legislators
evening say that in Ontario we will not create new barriers for persons
disabilities any longer in our province and that we will have a managed
that has acceptance and buy-in from all stakeholders in this province,
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
legislation that I can remember. I know it formed part of the impetus
the Victims' Bill of Rights and the desire to develop an Office for
Crime where we actually empower victims in this province to drive
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
committees municipally all across this province, in every corner of
province. We will now have an opportunity for the disability community
input into the regulations before they are proclaimed and become law
province, and they will have an opportunity to help the government
regulations, for the first time entrenched in legislation, through
Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario. We've had past councils,
role was never defined, never entrenched in law. They were never given
meaningful mandate, and the ministers of the day could choose to meet
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
Council of Ontario. They will be driving the reforms and working on
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
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
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
incredible people: Dean LaBute, Councillor Joyce Zuk and its chair,
Williamson. They showed me a community that had an understanding municipality,
with Mayor Mike Hurst and members of council. This committee has been
operation for 20 years. They are so far ahead of any other community
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
plan to remove barriers, it will in fact work. From our experience
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
want to participate and shape and mould this legislation, and they
the results of their work through the course of the last six years,
culminating in very intense work over the last few months to see a
of new amendments that were tabled. I think it's almost an unprecedented
of amendments, almost 30 amendments, to this legislation that came
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
committee in our caucus, chaired by Marcel Beaubien, with John O'Toole,
Hardeman, my parliamentary assistant Carl DeFaria, and Joe Spina;
did a tremendous amount of work --
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
of the amendments that have been added to this landmark legislation.
example, we brought in a series of penalties that now will apply to
legislation -- a $50,000 fine for non-compliance. That fine in the
ministries, hospitals, universities and municipalities. That's what
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
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
smaller communities in his riding, suggested that all of Ontario should
covered by the responsibility of completing accessibility plans but
necessarily having to put together an access committee. As you know,
threshold was for 10,000. Communities below 10,000 didn't have to
plan, nor did they have to have an access committee. Norm, consulting
mayors and reeves in his riding, recommended that we should do this
More disabled groups came forward and said that this bill should cover
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,
approval so that no buildings of any significance are proceeding --
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
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
work with the Ontario Brain Injury Association, and we've included
first time in Canada in the definition of "disabilities,"
brain-injured persons. Again, we thank her and the association for
amendments. And Tina Molinari, like Dianne Cunningham, knows first-hand
struggles families go through when they are raising a child with a
not only the emotional difficulty but the aspirations they have for
children as they grow up into adult life. I want to thank them in
for their personal experience and their advice in helping to shape
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
executive assistant, Carolyn Chaplin, who has been tireless in her
make sure this legislation was delivered on time in accordance with
principles we promised the people of Ontario; my deputy minister,
Katherine Hewson; David Lillico; and one of the researchers, himself
whom I asked if he would help work on this legislation; and I want
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
those comments from individuals who helped shape this legislation.
The Canadian Paraplegic
Association shared their thoughts with the standing
committee and said the following:
is pleased to lend its support to this historic legislation. It is
legislation, untried by the people it affects and untested in practice
the courts of law. Because it is so new and unprecedented, it would
unrealistic to expert it to be perfect or to address every single
desire of every person or group of persons with disabilities.
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
with disabilities in this province.
succeeds by placing a disability lens over all aspects of
public policy and implementation at the provincial and municipal levels.
lens can be brought into focus through the proposed Accessibility
Council of Ontario and the local municipal accessibility advisory
March of Dimes is committed to involved in all aspects of the
passage and implementation of this legislation."
a Thunder Bay lawyer himself disabled, in his presentation to the
standing committee in Thunder Bay said, "The government of Ontario
congratulated or being the first jurisdiction in Canada to attempt
remove the barriers faced by persons with a disability through the
"It is extremely
difficult to legislate the removal of prejudicial attitudes,
but legislation can create a context for a more socially inclusive
These attitudes can be reshaped through greater working relationships
development of mutually beneficial strategic plans.
my support for the legislation and belief that with the appropriate
ministry commitment it will be an important tool in the eventual removal
barriers faced by Ontarians with a disability, and furthermore change
for all Ontarians to decrease the all too pervasive prejudice against
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
all people with disabilities feel they are full participants in this
province. In many ways, the process will provoke change. We see it
powerful because for once it directly involved the people it is supposed
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
world we live in. I would like to dedicate this bill in his memory.
want to applaud the work of persons with disabilities, many of
whom assisted me in this journey with this legislation. Their journey
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.
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
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
travelled very far at all. In fact, when all is said and done, this
will once again see to it that there's far more said than there is
stakeholder groups tell us that this legislation is neither historic
comprehensive. Based on the hearings I've attended and in conversations
disabled stakeholders, I can only conclude that there is a broad-based
profound sense of disappointment with this legislation. The stakeholders
to believe that this minister and his government were serious about
legislation. Today, sadly, they are embarrassed by and for the minister
opposite. They see the 11 broad-based principles unanimously agreed
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
there are no real enforcement teeth within the legislation.
Mr Ernie Hardeman
(Oxford): It was amended, Ted.
Not amended far enough.
and critically, the stakeholder groups have expressed a broad
consensus that the time taken to prepare this bill was largely wasted
in order to get it right, the minister should both broaden the scope
bill and present the regulations which will be part of this bill to
Legislature for debate. Given our journey, stakeholders are predictably
skeptical and fearful that this government will do behind closed doors
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
with the association described the crisis in housing. I was somewhat
with it, having had some personal and professional experience with
group that delivers housing for the disabled. It was pointed out that
first time in history, intellectually handicapped children are outliving
parents. It was also noted that there are many on the waiting list
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
House with the minister, should he and his government display the
move to restrict municipalities from arbitrary zoning provisions that
effect of excluding the housing of intellectually handicapped persons
bold step to make housing for those in our community with an intellectual
handicap a matter of entitlement. Sadly, nothing happened in either
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
and now a pathetic and poor shell of a bill. So much more was possible
this profound and very disappointing failure from a government that
run out of gas and had the time to do so much better.
Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North): I want to stand here and
express disappointment in this legislation on behalf of the groups
Bay that appeared before the all-party committee last Thursday, December
minister made reference to one gentleman in Thunder Bay who supported
unfortunately the minister wasn't there. If he had, he would have
listening to groups, such as PUSH Northwest, Persons United for Self-Help
Northwestern Ontario, the Handicapped Action Group Inc, Brain Injury
of Northern Ontario and the Canadian Hearing Society, organizations
to the hearings to express their deep disappointment in the bill and
belief that the bill could only have merit if significant amendments
forward that would indeed make this bill a significant piece of legislation,
amendments that would deal with mandatory enforcement, amendments
deal with precise timelines, amendments that would provide at least
obligation on the private sector to remove barriers. These were amendments
they made clear needed to be passed. Our caucus critic, Mr Parsons,
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
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
that we're here, at 8:30 on the last night of these sittings before
not knowing when we're going to come back -- who knows, we might even
an election by the time we're in this place again -- debating a bill
been long awaited by a million and a half disabled citizens across
province, a bill they've been promised for six and a half years, a
this government waited to introduce until about three weeks ago, brought
introduced it for second reading in a matter of days, a couple of
introducing it for second reading, brought in time allocation, which
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,
part of that time allocation motion, an hour -- 20 minutes for each
to put on the record all we heard from the almost 75 groups and individuals
came forward to tell us they had some real and serious concern about
should have been willing to go into the New Year with this
bill. This government should have been willing to take this legislation,
important initiative, across the province to community after community
northern Ontario, southern Ontario, eastern Ontario and western Ontario,
communities and small communities, so that we could hear from the
they have to say, to share with us the barriers they encounter every
what we as a government need to do to actually remove those barriers.
that's not going to happen, because this government is more interested
getting into their leadership campaign, putting their energy and effort
trying to come up with another formula to give them power for another
five years in this province, something we will fight with every inch
ounce of our being.
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
the process of this Legislature that has worked so well for so many
given those pieces of legislation that people out there across this
feel very strongly about and know they need and deserve the kind of
input and dialogue and argument back and forth between the various
that at the end of the day we could be satisfied that we had something
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
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
There's important business that this government has lined up, which
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
14 to deal with.
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
province and called it the quota act. We know what that was. That
was spin --
Mr Peter Kormos
(Niagara Centre): Bull feathers.
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
They threw that out. Now with this bill they want to bring that back
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
it a boondoggle. Do you remember that? We were wasting money building
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
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
we speak on here tonight, it was just so much fluff and spin, more
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
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee across this province, community
community, and Gary Malkowski, our colleague when we were government
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
to tell this government what they thought, what they felt and what
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
had to say and the New Democratic caucus at Queen's Park and the New
Party across this province has heard what you had to say. I want you
that if we are elected government in the next election, we will introduce
real, strong, effective ODA that truly breaks down barriers and sets
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
the disability community to ensure effective legislation, and we will
there are no barriers to anyone's participation. Unlike the current
we will bring together persons with disabilities with other stakeholders,
the business sector, to make sure our legislation will work best for
Our party would
ensure that the legislative process for considering our new
bill would be open and barrier-free for persons with disabilities.
government, we will give adequate notice of public hearings and legislative
debates, to enable persons with disabilities to attend and to ensure
needed accommodations are provided. This is our pledge. This is my
the pledge of the New Democratic Party. It's a promise we won't break.
government of Ontario has broken promise after promise. With
this law, Bill 125, the Conservative government has broken its promise
has broken many hearts across this province. As the Windsor Essex
Legal Clinic stated in their deputation to the public hearings, "By
Bill 125 the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, expectations are raised
legislation is analogous to the Americans with Disabilities Act. However,
125 is not rights legislation similar to the Americans with Disabilities
It does not create new rights for persons with disabilities in Ontario
respect to accessibility, nor does it create new legal procedures
enforcement mechanisms. Its focus is the development of accessibility
various public sector entities in Ontario and provides some opportunity
persons with disabilities to be involved in the creation of accessibility
plans. A more appropriate title" -- they suggest -- "would
be the accessibility
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
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
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
problem or provide additional incentives for employers to hire qualified
For years the
disability community has been held hostage by a series of broken
promises by a Conservative government that kept claiming its intention
in a strong law to make Ontario barrier-free. Year in and year out,
Conservative government broke its promise, yet public support for
with Disabilities Act grew. Finally, when the government was forced
act, look what we got: legislation that even the government's own
can only call better than nothing.
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.
"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
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
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,
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
an opportunity to have their voices heard. It is, to say the least,
hypocritical of a government to claim it wants accessibility legislation
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
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
not much stronger than the flimsy Bill 83 this government tabled in
then quickly withdrew, like a dog running away with its tail between
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
fulfilling that vision. Within minutes of seeing the bill before us,
leader, Howard Hampton, recognized Bill 125 would require substantial
amendments to achieve the government's visions and goals; that it
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
limited public hearings on this bill prove otherwise. People criticized
ramming through public hearings without giving persons with disabilities
time to attend. Ian Greaves, from the Niagara area, sums it up nicely
letter to his local newspaper, saying:
delay of more than six and one-half years, the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, Bill 125, was finally tabled on November 5. The
process is now moving at a breakneck pace with the government in a
have an act passed in six weeks. Second reading of the bill has occurred
public hearings will be finished on December 7. Imposing this tight
proves the government's lack of sincerity in consulting with the 1.6
people with disabilities in Ontario."
you for letting the private sector off the hook. People
criticized you for failing to introduce specific barrier-free guidelines
could have been written years ago. People criticized you for failing
clear, tangible timelines so that persons with disabilities in Ontario
exactly when to expect barriers to come crashing down. People criticized
for a bill that, in short, is nothing more than window dressing. It's
dressing bill, as the Toronto Star writes, that you should withdraw.
The Toronto Star
wrote in a December 10 editorial:
so long, lobbying so tenaciously and putting forward so many
practical suggestions, citizens with disabilities have a right to
legislation than this.
is wise, he will withdraw the bill. It needs major repair work.
Racing to meet an artificial deadline, after dawdling and procrastinating
six years, looks a bit silly. There is still time to get it right.
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
the bill to make the Ontarians with Disabilities Act the piece of
it needs to be. Yesterday, during clause-by-clause consideration of
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
disabilities in this province.
however, is Mr Jackson's disingenuous attempt to paint this
bill as something it is not. Minister Jackson stood in this House
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
make any regulations covering the private sector.
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
said that, at least as far as transit providers are concerned,
they will be required to make accessibility plans and to comply with
bill in fact imposes no duty on any organization to comply with their
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
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
consider accessibility when issuing licenses. It only permits them
to do so if
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
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
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
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.
Bryant (St Paul's): Time is short. I am unable to speak to this
for very long for the simple reason that a guillotine motion has been
and therefore one of the most important bills imaginable to any society
being subjected to minimalist debate, minimalist consultation and
minimalist results. I say that it is a bill with enormous importance
truly believe that the way in which governments representing their
representing their electorate, treat people with disabilities is a
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
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
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
worthless, that commitments or objectives are not going to move this
any meaningful way for people with disabilities. I thought to myself,
political result was unfolding before me and the minister was paying
price for this grave injustice visited upon all Ontarians with their
effort, that there was no possible way this government would repeat
mistake. And yet it has. Yet again we have a bill which is voluntary.
no real rights, and whatever rights are put forth have no remedy,
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.
access to education meant lack of opportunities for employment. Lack
opportunities for employment meant barriers to the same lifestyle,
opportunities that I have as a person without disabilities. As somebody,
this case this constituent, who was finding herself in the twilight
vocational life, she was saying she didn't want another generation
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
is held to account in the same way, on a broader scale, as this minister
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
came out to let the minister for disabilities know in 1999 that we'll
fighting that fight and we'll not give up on this one until we have
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
I disagreed with him then and I disagree with him now. I believe the
of government is benevolent democracy, but "benevolent democracy"
government that would do what is best for its citizens, not best for
This is a political
bill. It gives the appearance of having done something,
while actually having done nothing. This a government that knows the
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
disabilities to come for a press conference and support the bill before
had even seen it. Following its introduction, they were not told when
reading was going to take place. They were given almost no time to
arrangements to appear at public hearings. These are people who have
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
they do not want to be at the funeral of their dreams, their hopes,
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
hearings and hear the citizens who live their lives with a disability
struggling to overcome it and to overcome the barriers we have put
what we are doing to block them. They came with genuine, real aspirations
they would be heard. The disappointment they have is reflected in
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
government that is so supportive of private industry does not want
included in accommodation, medical services, shopping, recreation,
sports -- in
anything. They wanted it to be mandatory. Everything else this government
in individuals' lives, they control right down to the second, but
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
timeline. They have waited six and a half years to get this far, and
only timeline is that five years from now the government will review
-- 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
and events" -- nothing in this bill will make that happen; "plans
post-secondary education" -- nothing in this bill makes that
"subsequent employment" -- employment that this government
touts should be in
private industry. This does nothing. Ontarians with disabilities don't
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
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
of these people on an individual basis and ask, "Does this bill
barrier that they came and talked to me about?" It doesn't, because
doesn't remove one barrier. Oh, it will make city hall accessible
hall is rebuilt or when a new city hall is built. But the question
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
vague planning act for Ontarians with disabilities who reside in municipalities
over 10,000 population. For the vast majority of Ontarians, this bill
absolutely nothing for the municipality. Isn't it great that you get
municipalities to be involved in this so you can dump-load more costs
A person with a disability needs to have some assurance that when
one part of Ontario and go to another, they will have access to washrooms,
will have access to hotel rooms, they will have access to jobs, they
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
mobility issues -- good for it -- and yet there is no recognition
with mobility problems who wish to travel somewhere have to book Wheel-Trans
hours ahead. None of you could run your lives having to plan 48 hours
let alone learning of a public hearing you've got to get to the following
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.
don't care enough to keep them from going blind, I guess it's consistent
you don't do anything for them when they are blind. Try to imagine
life deaf and blind in this province. We had a presenter in Ottawa
brought us to tears as she shared her life and how there was no attempt
government to make her a part of her Ontario.
Acquired brain injury had to be added as an afterthought, and thank
that got through in amendment. Developmentally handicapped: not really
recognized by this government as a person with a disability, but I
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
sight and in the background. They are every bit entitled to have services
to be part of this population as every other disabled person. I learned
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
persons with disabilities in the driver's seat; well, it's hard to
the back seat. They have no control whatsoever. Everything is advisory:
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
16-year-old who has dreams and aspirations, and you're saying wait
years. To a 16-year-old, five more years is a lifetime. We have a
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
to the table with the disabled, not in two different rooms, but at
We have committed to consulting without requiring the people to sign
an oath of
confidentiality before they consult. That is an offensive form of
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
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.
(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.
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.
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
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.
All those in favour will please rise one at a time and
recognized by the Clerk.
Baird, John R.
Stewart, R. Gary
All those opposed will please rise one at a time and be recognized
by the Clerk.
Di Cocco, Caroline
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.
to ODA Bill 125 Index page