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Ontario Government's
New ODA Bill 125

Proceedings of Standing Committee on
Finance on Bill 125

Friday 30 November 2001

















Friday 30 November 2001 Vendredi 30 novembre 2001

The committee met at 0901 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa.


Consideration 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 / Projet de loi 125, Loi visant " am1liorer le
rep1rage, l'1limination et la pr1vention des obstacles auxquels font face les
personnes handicap1es et apportant des modifications connexes " d'autres lois.

The Chair (Mr Marcel Beaubien): I would like to bring the standing committee on
finance and economic affairs to order. The standing committee is meeting this
morning to consider 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.

I would also point out that this committee will meet in Windsor on December 4,
in Toronto on December 4 and 5, in Thunder Bay on December 6 and in Sudbury on
December 7.


The Chair: I would like to invite the first presenter this morning, the
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Ottawa chapter. I would ask the
presenters to come forward and state their names for the record. You have 20
minutes for your presentation this morning. On behalf of the committee,

Mr Bill Morris: Thank you. My name is Bill Morris. I'm the chair of the board
of the MS Society, Ottawa chapter. With me are Chris Pomroy, who has been a
member of our board of directors and is now a member of our social action
committee; and Alf Gunter, who has also spent a long time on our board and the
social action committee. They both have long experience with the issues we're
dealing with today, having family members affected by the disease.

We have fairly brief remarks today and would welcome your questions following
that time.

We represent the Ottawa chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. MS
is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults in Canada, which
has among the highest rates of the disease in the world. It is estimated that
20,000 people have MS in Ontario, including 800 in the Ottawa chapter. Among
the symptoms of MS are loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue,
impaired vision and paralysis. On a more personal note, I probably know a
couple of hundred people within our chapter and I've never met one who has
basically the same grab bag of symptoms that I have. So while it is a disease
that is by its nature progressive, individuals are diagnosed relatively young
in life, so they're dealing with the effects of the disease for a very long
time. The bottom line is that for the vast majority the disease has a
significant impact on their lives, in fact generally on all aspects of their
lives, ranging from education to work, family, housing, you name it. So with
that context in mind, we'd just like to impress upon the committee that many of
our members could benefit from a strong and effective Ontarians with
Disabilities Act.

We thank the minister for all the hard work he has done on behalf of persons
with disabilities. Unlike the previous bill that was later withdrawn, we now
have proposed legislation that is worthy of constructive criticism.

We are pleased that the definition of "disabilities" is sufficiently broad to
encompass all groups which need to be included. We would suggest changes, such
as using generic terms, rather than naming specific diseases, but this is only
a minor shortcoming of the bill.

We are pleased with the broad definition of "public sector," by including
educational institutions, hospitals and municipalities. We do not like,
however, that these requirements are being referred to as guidelines or that
they will not be subject to the provisions of the Regulations Act. As such,
directives of the ministry are not subject to public consultation. If details
are to be spelled out in the regulations, such as in clause 22(1)(h),
"specifying a time period," we would expect that the draft regulations would be
subject to public consultation.

We are pleased that you will establish an Accessibility Advisory Council of
Ontario and that a majority of its members will be persons with disabilities.
We would like to see the size of this council established, within limits. It
must be sufficiently large that all major forms of disabilities would be
represented, perhaps from 15 to 24 persons. As an example, the city of Ottawa
has established two advisory committees that deal with issues affecting persons
with disabilities: an accessibility committee and a mobility committee. Each
has 15 members, and in the case of the accessibility committee, at least, this
is no larger than necessary. We are also pleased that you will establish an
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to support the accessibility committee and
the ministry.

It is a positive for the broad public sector that accessibility plans are
required initially, made available to the public, and that there is a
requirement to consult with the accessibility directorate for Ontario
ministries and advisory committees for municipalities. As it is not possible to
levy fines or other penalties in the public sector, it is especially important
that timelines be established for removal of barriers, such that progress can
be measured against these plans. Failure to develop schedules is likely to
result in good intentions that are never met. It would seem reasonable to
suggest that all barriers identified initially be eliminated in stages over a
five-year period and that new barriers identified in subsequent annual reviews
also be eliminated within five years of being identified. We are extremely
disappointed that there are no timelines for removal of barriers in the public
sector and, unless amendments are made to provide them, we cannot offer our
support for this legislation.

If we have reservations about some aspects of the proposed legislation as
regards the public sector, these become insignificant in comparison to those in
the private sector, which is specifically excluded from its provisions. Indeed,
it is the private sector that presents the most barriers to persons with
disabilities, such as this hotel, for example, both in terms of employment and
access to goods and services. In countries where the elimination of these
barriers has been made mandatory, the costs have not been found to be
prohibitive and considerable economic advantages have accrued. Tourists with
disabilities from these countries, including the United States, consider Canada
a backwater and often do not return. As more persons with disabilities are able
to enter the workforce, they are removed from the welfare rolls, pay taxes and
purchase more goods and services. Modifications that are put in place to assist
persons with disabilities, such as automatic door openers, for example, have
been found to be useful to many others: mothers with baby carriages and
strollers, persons carrying parcels, and the frail elderly, for example. The
economic advantages to society in mandating the private sector to avoid and
eliminate barriers are so compelling that it is difficult to understand the
position the government has taken.

We regret that we must voice our opposition to the bill at this time, unless
you are prepared to make mayor amendments, these to include mandatory
requirements, timetables for both the public and private sectors and an
enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance by the private sector.

That concludes our remarks. We welcome any questions.


The Chair: Thank you very much. We have approximately two minutes per caucus
and I'll start with the official opposition.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): First of all, I welcome the committee here
to Ottawa Centre today in this blustery weather. Nevertheless, we hope that the
members have the warmth of compassion to listen very carefully.

Thank you very much, gentlemen, for appearing this morning and sharing with us.
You will observe a pattern, I expect, throughout the day, a similar response
that, "Look, the intentions are there but there's no substance -- even if there
were incentives, but something on the table that would provide, especially the
private sector, some opportunities to move ahead." You referred to the city and
its initiatives to try to do something. I think those are two areas.

But I would ask you this: could you be specific? Do you have in your mind
something, an example, of what we're talking about? Because the big fear in the
government, you know, is this is going to cost the private sector a heck of a
lot money and would make us less competitive etc. Of course, that doesn't
really bear out when you scrutinize other examples in other jurisdictions and
other countries. Could you give us a specific example of what might occur?

Mr Morris: Sure. Alf Gunter has spent a great deal of time on this area and
I'll ask him to respond to your question.

Mr Alfred Gunter: One thing that happened, in this very room about nine months
ago we were at a meeting and the gentleman -- I can't remember his name right
now -- who was instrumental in the Reagan cabinet in bringing in the Americans
with Disabilities Act spoke to us. He said there was not one business that had
gone bankrupt in the United States because of the Americans with Disabilities
Act. There are a lot of little things you can do and a lot of it is
attitudinal. Bill has mentioned putting push buttons on doors. That doesn't
cost a great deal of money. Single-step ramps don't cost a great deal of money.

My wife is in a full-size electric wheelchair. We were in Niagara-on-the-Lake
this summer to see a couple of plays. We had a little vacation tied in with an
extended-family wedding. One of the three theatres is accessible, and that's
the one we wanted to go to, fortunately. But when we started looking for
accommodation, we found that even though some of them are listed as being
accessible, a phone call tells you, "Oh, yes, our restaurant is accessible, but
you can't stay here." We found one bed and breakfast place in the whole area of
Niagara-on-the-Lake, that whole area down there. We could have stayed in St
Catharines at the Comfort Inn, as we've done before, but we were looking for
something a little special, and really it wasn't available.

This lady had gone to a great deal of trouble to make hers accessible, to make
us feel comfortable, but it still wasn't very good. We couldn't go into any of
the shops. Of course, they're very concerned about the heritage aspect of the
community, but there was no sign on the door saying, "Please ring and we'll put
a ramp out for you," nothing like that. Looking at this proposed legislation,
nothing is going to change at all. The same situation will exist.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Thank you for coming this morning. We
appreciate you taking the time to look at the bill and to prepare and present
such a concise and, I think, very good critique.

You say, at the bottom of the first page, "As it is not possible to levy fines
or other penalties," and then you talk about some timelines. Do you think that
the timelines, without penalties, will actually work?

Mr Morris: I think it would be a step in the right direction that might be
palatable. It's not really what we'd want to see, but at least organizations,
in putting forward a plan, would get more specific about how exactly they would
intend to make it happen. As I say, it is not what we would really like to see.

Mr Martin: What would you really like to see?

Mr Gunter: I really don't know in the public sector if there is a great deal
more. Of course, we need to be sure that the people who are reviewing these
things are sympathetic to people with disabilities. I know these plans are
going to be reviewed, that's the way the legislation reads, but I really feel
that if you included all municipalities instead of having those under 10,000
being exempt from it, and if you had timelines and you were careful in the
selection of the people who were reviewing this, really I feel this is about
all you can do. Perhaps I'm saying the same thing as Bill here, but you put a
lot of pressure on people to do things and you make them accountable for things
they said they were going to do. That's about the only thing you can do in the
public sector.

Mr Morris: In my experience as a federal bureaucrat, making additional funding
contingent on being program-sensitive is often a way to make things happen, but
that is an implementation issue that means that the legislation has to be taken
to heart. Timelines sometimes help make that a realistic environment that the
centre of government, which is providing money to ministries, can look and see,
"Is this done? Does this meet the needs of this program that we're pushing at
the moment?"

Mr John O'Toole (Durham): Thank you very much for your presentation this
morning. It's important to hear over the next few days from all sectors the
response to this discussion on this bill.

I just want to be clear on your concluding remark. You said that you "regret"
that you "must voice opposition to the bill," basically for three reasons.
You've sort of spoken to them but I'll give you a chance to respond if you

In specific terms, the mandatory requirements, timetables and the enforcement
mechanisms seem to be the three areas that aren't specific enough for you. If
you have any advice going forward, either in the legislation or with respect to
the consultation process and advisory committees, I'd be happy to have those on
the record.

Mr Morris: I'll ask Chris Pomroy to respond.

Mr Chris Pomroy: Particularly in reference to the regulations, which it appears
may be the way in which this will be implemented, it does make reference to
timelines etc in the regulations but there is nothing in the act that says when
the regulations will be put into place. It would seem that some amendment or
some reference to "the regulations shall be enacted within six months," or
something like that would help.

Mr O'Toole: That would be more of the timeline part of it, but in enforcement:
do you have any ideas with respect to enforcement? I think I heard you say time
initiatives to funding or joint funding or other support mechanisms. Is there
any other enforcement? I think the disability parking is probably the best
example of something all of us have to consider and there are mechanisms in
here to make that a no-no; but it's part of the education that we could improve
by educating the public first and then having appropriate responses to that.


Mr Gunter: Actually, it's unfortunate that the big dollar figure went in for
disability parking, because we haven't found that, at least in this area, the
major issue recently. People are now educated and sympathetic enough that it
doesn't happen very often, and when it does, the $70 fine or whatever it is is
sufficient that they're not likely to try it again.

In any field -- if you, say, have pollution -- there's a fine, and this is the
type of thing you need. If you've said you're going to do something, if the law
says something has to be done by a certain period of time, be that five years,
10 years, and you fail to comply, there's a mechanism, there are laws, there
are penalties, and you just have to decide what they are and go through the
normal course to ensure that they're enforced.

I can't be more specific than that. I don't think there's anything special that
you would put into any other type of legislation that you would have.

The Chair: With that, we've run out of time. On behalf of the committee thank
you very much for your presentation this morning.


The Chair: Our next presentation is from Alan Shain. I would ask Mr Shain to
please come forward; if you could please state your name for the record. On
behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 20 minutes for your presentation
this morning.

Mr Alan Shain: Forgive the technical difficulties. My parallel parking ability
is not that good at 9 am.

My name, for the record, is Alan Shain and I'm presenting as an individual
citizen. I believe in the intent of Bill 125, which is to remove all barriers
that prevent Ontarians with disabilities from leading full and productive
lives, but I do not see how, in its current format, Bill 125 would remove any

For example, a new bagel shop opened only one block away from where I live. It
has one step to get in -- a brand new shop. I don't see how Bill 125 would
remove that one step, which would cost no more than maybe $100. If Bill 125
cannot remove that simple, straightforward barrier, then how effective is it?

On a more serious matter, people with disabilities do not have adequate access
to medical care and treatment here in Ontario. I'm not talking about
specialized treatment. I'm talking about access to basic medical care, things
like regular physical checkups and access to walk-in clinics. Most clinics have
stairs. Most medical offices are too small to get a wheelchair into. There's
only one office in Ottawa which has a lift to transfer patients from their
wheelchairs on to the examination table. There are 60,000 people here with
mobility impairments.

I don't see how Bill 125 legislates improved access to medical care. The bill
allows the government to create a wide range of regulations. However, it
doesn't require that any regulations are actually enacted and followed.

I have two main recommendations. The first is that there be specific timelines
set down in the bill, as to when these barriers will be removed. Bill 125
currently only provides for plans to identify barriers, not their removal.
Specifically, the bill should be amended to provide that the government of
Ontario shall become barrier-free within five years of this act coming into

My second recommendation is that there be strict enforcement procedures set
down within the bill regarding barrier removal, with penalties for
non-compliance. Currently, the only specified penalty is for illegally parking
in a spot reserved for disabled people.

For example, the section under "government employees" covers accommodation,
with respect to interviewing, hiring and promoting of people with disabilities,
but this is already covered under human rights legislation. The problem is
enforcing these standards within government practices, something which Bill 125
is currently silent on. What body is going to enforce these standards? What
will their relationship be to the government of Ontario? How will this body of
enforcement be funded?


The requirement of each ministry to draw up accessibility plans, I believe, is
new and I like that. But Bill 125 again needs to specify strict deadlines as to
when these plans would be completed and implemented; who will review these
plans and their implementation; that the disability community directs these
plans, not merely advises; that there will be a complaints procedure; and that
there will be strict penalties for non-compliance.
These same problems exist with the municipalities' accessibility plans, except
that the bill does specify an advisory committee for people with disabilities,
which again is good. But it still does not put people with disabilities in the
driver's seat. Advice from an advisory committee can be discarded.

Under the section "Other organizations, agencies and persons," the bill
provides that a list of actions these agencies intend to take shall be made
available to the public, which again is a good thing. But Bill 125 says nothing
about what happens if these actions are not taken.

Under "Restrictions on agencies," Bill 125 specifically exempts private
companies. This is a major concern to me. In this era of downloading public
services to private companies via contracting out, Bill 125 would actually
impact on fewer and fewer services which I rely on to live. For example, in
Ottawa, Para Transpo is contracted out to Laidlaw, a private company with its
own rules and regulations on how it operates.

In closing, Bill 125's purpose should be the achievement of a barrier-free
Ontario for all people with disabilities. It should cover all disabilities,
whether physical, mental or sensory. It should not only remove physical
barriers, but also barriers to service and attitudinal barriers. This can only
be done through the provision of strict time limits that are enforced with
heavy penalties for non-compliance.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We have approximately three minutes per caucus.
I'll start with Mr Martin.

Mr Martin: Thanks for coming this morning and thanks for what obviously is a
very full critique of the bill and a very concise presentation of that
critique. I think you hit all the key areas that we've been pointing to since
the bill has been tabled. You talk about timelines, you talk about the ability
to enforce, you present to us a very obvious example of where this bill also
needs to cover the private sector, you talk about the fact that advice from an
advisory committee need not be considered -- it can be discarded -- and you ask
the question, what happens if these actions are not taken.

You add an interesting new element here that I hadn't considered and I want you
to talk about it a little bit further, and that's the issue of, if it doesn't
cover the private sector and we're moving to more privatization of public
services, this is a neat loophole to exempt a whole lot of things that we
thought might be captured. So this is even worse than first thought in that
way. Could you expand a little bit on that issue for me?

Mr Shain: Only to say that, for example, home care attendant services, which
many of us require to get up in the morning to go to work or whatever, are
progressively more run by private companies. In my experience with Para
Transpo, for example, because it's run by a private company, it's that much
further removed from public input as to how it's actually run, what's actually
going on in its running. So I see that Bill 125's standing back from so-called
interference with the running of private companies actually does harm to my
needs as a public citizen.

The Chair: We'll go to the government side.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre): Thank you, Mr Shain. I agree with our
colleague here that you had a very good critique and it was very concise. You
hit many of the important points surrounding this bill. I think your simple
example of the bagel shop is very pivotal, because it illustrates perhaps some
of the simpler things that could be done very quickly.

You talked about the time frame for implementation. My question is, do you have
a suggestion? Could it be done on a phase-in, like government first,
institutions second, and large, medium and small businesses sort of falling in
line? And would it make sense that a small business like your bagel shop, if it
is a simple removal that doesn't cost $10,000 but closer to what you suggested,
perhaps that is something that could be included in the first or second phase?
Would that work, do you think, Alan?

Mr Shain: I'm a bit unclear what you mean by phases. I think the public and
private sectors could easily work concurrently in the removal of barriers. I
don't think the private sector has to wait until after the public sector to
begin barrier removal. I think they can go on at the same time. I would urge
the government of Ontario to provide a leading example to the private sector
and I would hope that the public sector would be ahead in the removal of
barriers to provide a good example to the private sector.

I would also say something that I did mean to include in my presentation about
enforcement and the method of enforcement. I think a legal entity needs to be
created by the bill. This legal entity should be able to operate at arm's
length from the government of the day and have adequate funding and resources
to ensure that the public and private sectors are following the recommendations
of this bill and that this legal entity has the power to penalize those
agencies that don't comply. That's something that's not in the bill and I think
it's very important that the bill does create this legal entity that has the
power and means to enforce the bill itself.

Failure of sound system.

Mr Spina: Thank you, Alan, and good parallel parking.


Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings): I found this very informative and
you've obviously put a lot of time into it. I would like to follow up on the
question about phasing in. You're very clearly, I suspect, not saying that
you're prepared to wait five to 10 to 15 years to phase in access to a doctor
or to a hospital, or to a grocery store. Am I correct that what you're saying
is that the phase-in may apply to a coffee shop but not certain fundamental

Mr Shain: Yes, I would agree with that statement. I think what was said before,
some kind of phase-in according to the costs of the accommodation, I would find
reasonable, but I would not find it reasonable that an accommodation procedure
that would cost $100 to do would take five years to do it. I wouldn't find that
acceptable. So, yes, certain types of accommodations do require more time and
planning and cost.

The Chair: You have one minute left, if you want to ask another question.

Mr Parsons: In your day, can you give me a rough breakdown about how much time
you're looking to access services from the public sector versus how much of
your day is spent interacting with the private sector?

Mr Shain: In my day, I currently am pursuing my master's degree in university,
so that's the public sector. I go to school on campus and need that to be
accessible. There are certain accommodations like automatic doors. Other
accommodations like access to washrooms I have to really search for. What do I
do when I need to go and the nearest bathroom is down a flight of stairs? I've
developed really good aim. That's not a problem any more. But it could be.

Services within university: I need support for note taking. That's much more of
a challenge. It takes me time and energy to find these adequate supports to
meet my needs. Within the private sector I rely on Para Transpo, which I guess
is kind of in between public and private in that it is a public service but run
by a private company. Again shopping and restaurants are -- the market here in
Ottawa is notorious for its infamous one-steps to get into 80% of stores,
restaurants and coffee shops, so I really have to spend a lot of my time
looking around to see where I can get in. If you think about that, there are
1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities. Multiply that by four family members
who wouldn't go into any restaurant that I couldn't go into. Multiply that
again by maybe 10 close friends who wouldn't go into any restaurant that I
can't get into. That's upwards of about 10 million people that the government
of Ontario is barring from restaurants, stores or whatever. Does that answer
your question?

Mr Parsons: That's very good. Thank you.

The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation, and don't lose your sense of humour.

Mr Shain: I'll try. Thank you.


The Chair: Our next presentation this morning is from Michael Brady. I would
ask Mr Brady to please come forward and state your name for the record. On
behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 20 minutes for your presentation
this morning.

Mr Michael Brady: Good morning and welcome to Ottawa. My name is Michael Brady.
I'm a private citizen. For two and a half years I was a member of the
disabilities issues advisory committee of the city of Ottawa. That committee
has now been replaced by another one called the accessibility committee. I
thought it might be useful to spend some time just relating some of the
experiences of our committee, to give you an idea of how effective the
municipal advisory committees can be but what roadblocks they currently face
that hopefully would be eliminated by Bill 125.

DIAC, the Disabilities Issues Advisory Committee, I think can be looked at as a
model for municipal advisory committees. I say this because a lot of the
activities that we were engaged in touched many aspects of life in Ottawa, from
examination of the accessibility of hotels and restaurants, as Alan has alluded
to, to housing, transportation, accessible cabs, providing awareness to
councillors and city staff and presenting annual awards for some of the many
things we engaged in.


Among the other things we undertook a couple of years back was to do something
on a proactive basis rather than reactive. We thought what we should be doing
was to try to remove barriers before they were being created. We thought that
if we started reviewing site plans and looking at them in some detail -- I
suspect that all of you who are familiar with municipal government have seen
site plans. As you know, a site plan has to be approved before the building
construction actually starts, so our committee undertook to start reviewing
site plans to determine how many handicapped parking spaces were provided,
whether there were depressed curb cuts, what the elevation was, whether ramps
were provided, whether elevators were provided etc. This proved rather
instructive for all of us.

One of the first things we found when we encountered a site plan for the St
Laurent Shopping Centre, one of the largest shopping centres in Ottawa, which
was proposed to be expanded to include an office tower and more shopping space,
was that the existing Ottawa city bylaw governing the number of disabled
parking spaces was woefully outdated. We found, for instance, that if you had
from zero to 99 parking spaces, you needed one handicapped spot, and if you had
400 to 499, you needed four. The bill stopped at that point and said that if
you had 500 spots or more, then you needed five spaces. The St Laurent Shopping
Centre has 4,100 parking spaces.

So the developer could easily have been in compliance with the bylaw by
providing five parking spaces. Instead, the parking requirements were far
exceeded. There were 120 spots. They were gathered around the different stores.
The developer was quite prepared to add more spots, because we suggested that
maybe 4% of the total number of spots would be a good benchmark that he could
use. But the developer said, "Listen, if I'm going to provide extra spaces, I
need some concessions as well. Since a handicapped parking spot is 50% bigger
than a regular spot, give me credit for that extra 50% in terms of my
requirement to meet the law. For X amount of retail floor space and office
space, you need X number of parking spaces. If I'm going to provide handicapped
parking spots, give me the 50% more." We said, "OK. That sounds reasonable." We
were prepared to do that, but amalgamation and other matters got in the way of
our making recommendations to the legal staff at city hall to prepare new
bylaws. They were in the process of harmonizing all the different municipal
entities' bylaws across Ottawa and were going to tackle it on a going-forward

The other question that comes to mind is, when looking at the question of
parking spaces, what is reasonable? What should be the criteria that govern how
many parking spaces? Ottawa at least has a bylaw. There are other
municipalities that don't have a bylaw that requires any handicapped parking
spots, we found. So what guideline do you use? We discovered that there were
something like 18,000 disabled parking permits, the blue parking permits that
folks have, in the former city of Ottawa. Is that a good benchmark?

These are some of the practical problems we ran up against. Hopefully, when
resolving these, we'll have a council that would be receptive and would take
this into consideration and enact new laws. Under Bill 125, if that power is
given to the advisory committee, certainly that would happen.

Among the other things we found when we were doing the audit of the site plan
at the St Laurent Shopping Centre was that on the east side we had The Bay
anchoring it and on the west side we had Sears. The Bay had all accessible
doors. They had washrooms that were user-friendly for all, disabled and
non-disabled. They had signage that showed where the elevators were, where the
escalators were etc. The Sears store did not have accessible doors. There were
45 parking spaces gathered around the west end of the mall. Disabled persons
getting out of their cars, going over to the door, would have to rely on an
able-bodied person to open the door for them. They couldn't get in the store.
So we talked to the developer and he said, "Sure, we'll do something about
that." They made a commitment when the site plan was approved that they would
install automatic doors. Well, six months later I went by St Laurent and the
door still hadn't been installed. I called and asked what the status was and
they said, "It's coming." It did come a couple of months later.

In the meantime I wrote a letter to Mr Walters, the chairman of Sears, and
asked them what their policy was with regard to accessible doors, pointing out
that their other store in Ottawa, Carlingwood, didn't have accessible doors
either. I asked him if he would make a commitment that his company would
install automatic doors in a reasonable time frame across the nation, actually.
Two months later I still hadn't had a reply, so I sent another letter. On
November 9 I had a letter from the vice-president of retail, indicating that
they found my letter interesting and they'd like to meet with us to talk about
disability issues, because this individual was a member of the Retail Council
of Canada. I guess the Eatons store opening and other matters prevailed on the
individual's time and she never did meet with us or call us.

I did get another letter in December, however, from the general manager, store
planning and visual merchandising, who indicated that the Sears Carlingwood
store, which required updating, would be addressed in the summer of 2001. I
went by Carlingwood the other day and the store hasn't been upgraded, but Sears
has at least installed two out of the five doors with automatic doors.

So the private sector is not incented at the moment to do anything unless
they're led to water, like a horse. They won't drink of it unless there's some
penalty. For a retail store of this size -- and they're not the only one; I
used the Bay example at St Laurent as one that's a model, but their Bayshore
store is awful. They have no accessible doors at the second level of their
Bayshore store. It's hit and miss, and the businesses will get around to it in
time, as they update their stores and modernize them. So there is a need for
some enforcement to be in the legislation and some timetable to be enacted.
It's not a big deal. An automatic door costs $10,000, so they told us at Sears,
but the architect was flabbergasted that it would cost that much and he said we
should all get into that business, because there's a lot of money to be made if
it costs $10,000 for a door.

Looking at it from a business standpoint as well, the Retail Council of Canada
could get together and say, "Listen, we're going to not have any advertising on
one weekend of the year, and the money we are going to save from that
advertising we're going to put toward accessibility." If they did that every
year, I'm sure we'd have accessible stores right across the nation in jig time.

We had another example that's illustrative too. Here's Cognos, a big company,
international, that makes terrific software. It's expanding in Ottawa and put
up a 10-storey building with a parking garage beside it in the south end of the
city. The site plan showed that all the parking spaces were outside, none
inside the garage. On a day like today you can imagine parking outside rather
than inside -- not that somebody couldn't park inside, but there's no way of
getting access to that garage. Because the developer had to satisfy the
concerns about the height of that parking garage, they recessed it and half of
the first level is below ground and half is above, so the second level is above
grade level as well. We asked the city council, when they were approving the
site plan for Cognos, to require that there be handicapped spots in the garage
and they agreed. That was a condition for the approval of the site plan.

A year and a half later we went by and did an audit and there were no
handicapped spots in the indoor garage. After asking the planning staff why
this was, I got no answer, but when I went by recently there were two spots.
The spots are between two pillars and they're wide enough, but they're pretty
awkward to get in. If someone in a wheelchair, like Alan, wanted to use that
parking spot, he'd get out of his van and he'd then have to proceed up the
entrance ramp against incoming traffic in order to get to ground level because
they didn't put in an elevator. The developers said they were going to put an
elevator in that garage; they didn't. So what are we going to do?


Those are some examples from our history and they're illustrative of the fact
that private industry is not going to comply unless there are some regulations
and some penalties. Cognos is an international company. They're competing
against American companies that make the same software. American companies are
governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Our friends at Cognos are at a
competitive advantage over their friends because they're not installing
accessible facilities.

In summary, I think the ODA is a terrific framework for progress. The municipal
and provincial advisory committees can be mechanisms for change. As long as
they have the authority to make the change and make it happen, I think we're
going to see progress, and we can see it quickly. I think you can assume good
judgment on the part of the advisory committees if you give them the authority.
These are individuals who are taxpayers, they're employers, they're employees,
they realize the economic consequences of their actions, and I think you can
expect that they'll be prudent in their judgments.

That's all I have to say. I welcome any questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I'd like to correct an error I made. I told you
that you had 20 minutes, but apparently it's only 15. But I will still give you
the 20 minutes. That will give us a minute per caucus for questions. I'll start
with the government side.

Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much for a very active presentation. The examples
you gave of ways to engage the private sector, as you have -- I think working
with chambers, retail councils, is extremely important and there are ways,
certainly, for all the reasons that Alan and others have said. It's about
customers, it's about customer service, and there should not be barriers. I
think we all grow up as we are educated. I appreciate your thoughtful
suggestions and observations and I applaud that effort.

Mr Patten: Thank you, Mr Brady, for being here. I found your comments very
useful. My question, though, is in terms of this legislation. I don't really
see anything that strengthens the municipality's ability to enforce things. For
example, you said the approval for the Cognos tower was contingent upon
providing some handicapped parking spots, yet it wasn't done. What, then, are
the actions of the municipality? In other words, what can they enforce?

Mr Brady: I guess if they were given the power to levy fines for non-compliance
and if the fines were stiff enough based on the size of the construction etc,
the level of non-compliance, that would be one measure. You could say that all
retailers have to have automatic doors or whatever within two years, and if
they don't they're going to have a fine of $5,000 levied on them every year on
their municipal taxes.

Mr Martin: Thank you for coming this morning and for your input. You mentioned
a couple of things that I just want you to comment on. The advisory committees
will be effective, you say, if they have the authority, but you also mentioned
if they have a council that is receptive. If they don't have a council that's
receptive, then --

Mr Brady: In that instance, the recommendations will fall on deaf ears and
nothing will happen. The ODA committee in Toronto, headed by David Lepofsky --
I don't know if he has appeared before your committee as yet but he has
prepared quite a list of amendments that I wholeheartedly endorse. They provide
the authority of the advisory councils to not only make recommendations but to
have their recommendations become I guess the force of law, with the power, of
course, of the council to modify them, since they're the elected officials. But
let's assume we don't have any bylaw, for instance, that governs the number of
handicapped parking spots. A council shouldn't be allowed, for instance, to not
have a bylaw that requires handicapped parking spots to be provided. They can't
deny that, in my opinion. They could modify it and they could have different
scales based upon the size of their municipality, but they couldn't deny the
fact that there is a requirement for such. That is what I mean by saying that
the advisory council should have the authority, if they make a recommendation
that it could be modified, as long as it's such a reasonable recommendation
that it can't be denied.

The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.

The Chair: Our next presentation this morning is from the city of Ottawa
Accessibility Advisory Committee. I would ask the presenter to please come
forward and state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee,

Mr Barry McMahon: My name is Barry McMahon. I'm the chair of the newly formed
Accessibility Advisory Committee of the city of Ottawa. I'm here today to
present comments gathered from the Accessibility Advisory Committee of the city
of Ottawa.

Who are we? The accessibility advisory committee is a group of 14 volunteers
appointed by city council for terms up to three years. We advise council and
city staff on issues related to persons with disabilities. The committee
officially meets two hours a month. In reality, the volunteers are called upon
to participate much more often, advising on a myriad of topics.

The advisory committee reports through a standing committee, which in turn acts
on our behalf to bring forth issues and motions to the attention of full
council. This mechanism is facilitated by having a councillor as a committee
non-voting member. This councillor acts as a guide and advocate through the
sometimes complex municipal political process.

Our mandate is straightforward yet vast. We represent the complete spectrum of
disabilities in every aspect of city life. Transportation, housing, tourism,
employment, recreation, health and safety are all of concern to the committee.
Every age group -- youth, seniors and all in between -- is considered.

Although the amalgamated city of Ottawa is new, there have been effective
disability advisory committees for the past 20 years. It has been over these
many years that the province has not given the municipalities much-needed
direction. We have been inundated with issues that are outside municipal and
fall under provincial jurisdiction.

Ottawa has no wheelchair-accessible taxis. Our buses have only just started to
be barrier-free in the last two years. Not a single housing development has
been constructed with barrier-free access. Many schools are off limits to
students, parents, teachers and employees with certain disabilities, and the
number of issues raised relating to the grossly inadequate Ontario building
code is staggering. Each and every time, we hit the proverbial provincial

We are guardedly optimistic with the intent of the proposed legislation. 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 that 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 involves the
people it is supposed to assist. It raises the requirement to include people
with disabilities in every aspect of city and provincial life.

Once enacted, this legislation will cause the creation of literally hundreds of
accessibility plans in every part of this province. By officially making these
issues part of a municipal public document, a whole new level of access
awareness will be created.


The economic cost associated with keeping people with disabilities segregated
is enormous and will continue to grow. We're faced with high demand for special
care now; imagine the future needs if we don't act immediately.

On the other hand, providing a society that includes people with disabilities
directly benefits everyone. We can see the increased number of customers who
shop at barrier-free businesses. We see people with disabilities accompanied by
their spouses, children, friends, and often just out by themselves, shopping,
travelling -- 1.5 million potential consumers and taxpayers who have been
welcomed in some doors and yet turned away from many others. This legislation
is all about good business, so we encourage you to go the extra distance and
reap the financial benefits.

We ask you to make this ODA as strong as possible so that we here on the ground
can start working quickly to make every aspect of our city and our province
barrier-free. We ask you and, through you, we ask the Legislature to consider
amending certain sections of Bill 125 that will make our task easier.

Subsection 4(2), level of accessibility, should not be there. It permits the
guidelines to be as low as the standards of the Ontario building code. It's the
weakest link, the minimum that could be used. Even if the code is amended to
plug the holes, it has never been very helpful in preventing barriers in the
built environment. The building code has many limitations and addresses only a
narrow range of barriers. To accept it as a minimum standard beyond which the
guidelines need not go would effectively exclude the removal and prevention of
many significant barriers.

Section 11, duties of municipalities: section 11 should be amended to allow
that every municipality in Ontario be included in this act. Our tourism and
recreation Industry spreads out of Ottawa to small towns and villages. Many
beautiful towns like Perth are already doing their part in eliminating barriers
but will not benefit from the process established through this legislation.
Carleton Place is now in the process of establishing an accessibility advisory
committee, as I'm sure many other small areas are doing. Shouldn't they be part
of this vision? The goal is to create a barrier-free Ontario; therefore, the
act must apply to all parts of the province.

Subsection 11(2), the contents: there needs to be a clearer definition of what
constitutes a barrier-free plan, such as:

"(2) The barrier-free plan shall include the comprehensive identification of
barriers, together with a proposed schedule for their removal, and a
description of steps to be taken for the prevention of barriers to persons with
disabilities. The municipality's bylaws and its policies, programs, practices
and services, as well as the municipal government's workplaces, will be subject
to the plan. The plan will be brought to council for approval, together with
the annual budget. Council will also receive an annual report following each
barrier-free plan approved."

Our committee wonders what will be the consequences for municipalities that
refuse to comply. Who takes the heat? What will be the impact on the
committee's volunteer members? Are municipalities free to decide who within the
corporation will have the responsibility to produce the plan?

Subsection 12(1), accessibility advisory committees: We support the
establishment of advisory committees in communities of over 10,000 people. This
is a fundamental component of this act. It puts disability issues on the agenda
all over the province. It allows each municipality the freedom to focus on
their needs, to prioritize and to put a face to the issues. If anything is
brilliant about Bill 125, it is this: hundreds of barrier-free plans across the
province, each with hundreds of items to work on. If each annual plan is even
partially successful, the overall results will be considerable.

On the other hand, the success or failure of advisory committees lies solely in
the attributes and talents of its members. An effort to facilitate the work of
the committees needs to be made. We recommend training be developed for
appointees and councillors so that a level of consistency is maintained
throughout Ontario.

Municipalities of fewer than 10,000 people must either establish a barrier-free
advisory committee or hold public consultations which include people with
disabilities in these plans.

Subsection 12(2), duty of council: There are many instances where programs or
services are approved by council. Section 12(2) only addresses the built
facilities occupied by the municipality. This section needs amending to
encourage council to seek advice on any subject that would have impact on
people with disabilities. For example, Ottawa hosted the Games of the
Francophonie last year. Very little attention was paid to visitors or athletes
with disabilities. Council would have benefited by seeking and following the
advice of its advisory committee.

Section 12 should also be amended to include that all motions to council have
an impact statement as per established guidelines, in much the same way it now
has for the LACAC and environmental issues. This will ensure that city staff
and council are well advised on potential barriers to people with disabilities
and appropriate decisions can follow.

Council shall allow for the fact that the accessibility advisory committee is
volunteer-driven and cannot be used as free labour. An amendment should be
incorporated to define the relationship between the committee, staff and
council. The effectiveness of this legislation could otherwise be compromised.

When the advisory committee makes a recommendation to the municipal council,
the council shall respond to it within 14 days. If the council decides to
decline the advisory committee's advice in whole or in part, it shall provide
written reasons for its decision. Recommendations and reports from the advisory
committee and responses to these from the municipal council shall promptly be
made public. The municipal council shall fulfill all reasonable requests for
information by the advisory council within the mandate of the advisory
committee's work. Reasonable compensation, including reasonable expenses, shall
be provided by the municipal council for the members of the advisory committee.

Section 12 should also be amended to define the link between the municipal
advisory committee, the provincial council and the ministerial directorate.
Furthermore, the committee should benefit from the establishing of information
and communication links to other accessibility advisory committees throughout

Section 19, Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario: An amendment to section
19 should be added to require the council to have an annual general meeting in
which a delegation from the municipal committees is to attend. The agenda shall
include the tabling of annual reports from the council and the committees.
Training and networking will also be included. The AGM would report to the

Section 20, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario: An amendment is required to
establish a linkage between the municipal advisory committees and the
directorate. The directorate should be established as primary contact and
facilitator for the resolution of problems that require cross-ministerial

We sincerely thank the hearing committee for this opportunity to be involved in
this historic legislation. If you see fit to pass this legislation,
incorporating the suggested amendments, we will be well on our way to an
inclusive Ontario. I thank you very much for your attention.

The Chair: We have approximately two minutes per caucus, and I'll start with
the official opposition.
Mr Parsons: I appreciate your presentation. You've obviously put a great deal
of time into it. I don't know if you've been here from the very beginning, at 9
o'clock, but I have a question for you under "Duties of Municipalities." You're
referring to the tourism and recreation industry and how it's important that
this apply to all municipalities, regardless of size. In an earlier
presentation, the presenter used the example that they had gone to a
municipality that was under 10,000 and could not get into a hotel and could not
get into shops. So I'm wondering, to say it applies to every municipality, I'm
sensing you're saying that it should apply to the municipal components of each
municipality, but the earlier presenter said that for their quality of life
they needed access to private establishments, they needed a hotel room.

Mr McMahon: I'm here speaking only on behalf of the advisory committee of the
city of Ottawa and everything that falls under municipal jurisdiction. The
promotion of tourism and recreation, and that sort of thing, falls within
municipal jurisdiction. However, it really has no authority at this point in
time over the private sector.

The access to the support plan that is available for tourism is crucially
important for Ottawa, since we make our living in tourism. Also, all you have
to do is walk around the Byward Market, which is within the shadow of the
American embassy, and on the one hand you have the American embassy, which
falls within the Americans with Disabilities Act, and you've got the Byward
Market, which has no legislation whatsoever and can operate at its own free
will. What happens is that it reflects badly on Ottawa, reflects badly on our
economy, reflects badly on people who want to meet in Ottawa, on Americans who
want to come to Ottawa, because we don't have the same regulations they do.

Basically, to get back to your question, the act has to have either a
straightforward impact on the private sector or an implied impact on the
private sector. I think right now it is implied. It should be reinforced, I
think, for stronger rules and regulations for the private sector.


Mr Martin: Thanks for coming today and for the work you've done, obviously, in
preparing. On the last page you speak about the need for links between
municipal advisory committees, the provincial councils and the ministerial
directorate. It seems to me that if we're going to have a plan that is
uniformly effective across the province, we need something a bit more
consistent. Mr Parsons mentioned the reality that communities with under 10,000
people -- there are a lot of them, particularly in northern Ontario, that don't
fall in the category that's covered by this legislation. If we're going to put
a provincial plan in place, it's obvious to me -- and this is the question --
that resources are going to be needed. If we're going to make places and things
accessible to people, where do you think those resources should come from?

Mr McMahon: In the smaller communities?

Mr Martin: Anywhere.

Mr McMahon: It could come from a number of sources. It could come from the tax
base. It could come from the private sector. If you have a building and you
want to rent it out to the municipal council, to the municipality, before you
get to the municipality you know already that there are limitations to the
physical aspect of the building that you can rent. In other words, you would
have to make sure it doesn't have a negative impact on people with disabilities
before you present that property to council.

It's going to be a multifaceted, multilayered approach. Right now we don't have
any provincial vision; we don't have any provincial statement of inclusion.
With this legislation I believe it will start, it will be there. So even though
there isn't right now a mechanism for funding this sort of renovation and
retrofitting of services and places, it will come eventually through public

If the small municipality calls its citizens into a room and says, "We want to
build a new community centre," and if they consult with their constituents,
their citizens, and they say, "We've got to make it accessible for my Aunt
Martha, who's in a wheelchair," then it's going to happen. But it's not going
to happen unless you put it on the agenda. There's the old story: I've been in
many restaurants where I've had to go through the kitchen in order to get to
it. There's even a community centre here in Nepean where I have to go through
the kitchen to go to a wedding ceremony. If people with disabilities are
consulted at every level throughout the province, whether it be the small train
stop in northern Ontario or downtown Toronto, eventually changes will be made.
I think this legislation will force consultation with people with disabilities.

The Chair: I'll go to the government side.

Mr Spina: Thank you, Mr McMahon. You had some very concrete proposed amendments
either to the bill or that would be empowered in the regulations that could be
included there. We appreciate that input.

I had a question regarding enforcement. Alan Shain suggested that there be a
body that would have the power to enforce the laws or the bylaws that would be
created for accessibility. I guess this would apply more to the urban
communities. Do you think that a bylaw enforcement office could do that job?

Mr McMahon: Yes, I think a bylaw enforcement office would be -- there are a lot
of cross-jurisdiction problems with enforcement. But as Mr Brady was
mentioning, it really is up to local authorities, in many cases, to enforce
their bylaws. I'm not sure about an overall enforcement agency. I haven't
really thought it through, but I don't know whether it's that necessary. We've
got police, we've got fire chiefs, we've got local people who write traffic
tickets. There are lots of enforcement agencies. I'm not sure if a separate
body would need to be created as an overseer.

Once the mechanism is established at the ground level, at the city level, and
once the dialogue starts between the people with disabilities and the
decision-makers, then a lot of things fall into place. I'm not too sure about
the need for a strong enforcement agency. I think enforcement will come

The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.



The Vice-Chair (Mr Doug Galt): Our next presentation is the Ottawa chapter of
the Ontario Brain Injury Association, Teresa Van Dongen. Thank you very much
for coming forward. On behalf of the committee, we look forward to your
presentation. To begin, please state your name for the sake of Hansard.

Ms Teresa Van Dongen: My name is Teresa Van Dongen. I am the president of the
board of directors of the Head Injury Association of Ottawa Valley. I'm here in
the capacity of representing both the Ontario Brain Injury Association and our
association here in Ottawa.

Mr Chair, members of the Legislature, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to
speak before the committee today on a subject that is very important to our
entire community. I am here representing over 18,000 Canadians, one third of
those in Ontario alone, who receive an acquired brain injury every year. I am a
member of the Ontario Brain Injury Association and the Head Injury Association
of Ottawa Valley, here in our community.

Here are a few facts about brain injury.

Acquired brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in Ontario
for those under the age of 45.

A brain injury doesn't heal like a broken arm or leg; the results may last a
lifetime. If you consider the thousands injured each year, and you consider
even the last 20 years, you begin to get an idea of just how many people live
with these effects every day in Ontario.
Brain injury may be the result of a motor vehicle collision, the cause of
approximately half of all brain injuries; falls, particularly among the elderly
and toddlers; assaults; and diseases such as meningitis, brain tumours and
other illness-related injuries.

Brain injury does not distinguish itself by age, gender or socio-economic
status. It could happen to any of us here in this room, at work, on the playing
field and even as we drive home from this meeting.

Chances are that there is at least one person whom you work with, know or love
who has experienced the effects of this injury, and the effects are
devastating. No two brain injuries are exactly alike and may range from mild to
severe. Brain injury cuts across all disability groups. Because our brain
controls all of our functioning, people with brain injuries may have visual
impairments, hearing impairments, speech impairments or mobility difficulties
requiring the use of a wheelchair or walker.

The most difficult impairments for family members, friends and even employers
to understand, however, are the personality changes and the effects that make
it difficult to organize thoughts and remember things that once came easily.
These invisible changes present the most difficult challenges to the survivor
of acquired brain injury.

What is the Ontario Brain Injury Association? We were formed in 1986. Currently
we are linked, with 24 community groups across the province with memberships
totalling in the thousands, the Ottawa Valley chapter being one of those 24
community groups. Our 20-member board of directors is made up of survivors of
acquired brain injuries, family members, professionals, service providers and
business people from every part of the province.

Why are we here today? We're here because we are deeply concerned that all
Ontarians have the opportunity to participate as fully as possible in all
aspects of life in Ontario, and that's easily identified and understood. The
current ODA bill makes an attempt to address these types of participation in
the community. The same can be said of some barriers for those with sensory
impairment, such as vision and hearing, where it offers to address the issue of
government communications in alternative formats.

However, the barriers that are faced by people living with cognitive and
emotional impairments are much more difficult to identify and address. I speak
of attitudinal barriers that often exclude those living with these difficulties
and leave them isolated and open to ridicule and even abuse. We recognize that
it is impossible to legislate attitudes and values, but it is possible to have
an Ontario disability act that encompasses a comprehensive program of public
awareness and education that will move Ontario society toward understanding,
acceptance and accommodation of people with cognitive and emotional

Let me illustrate some instances of these attitudinal barriers. After a recent
presentation about acquired brain injury to a Rotary Club in a small Ontario
town, one of the audience, a man about 50, approached the speaker and related
that the presentation had left him feeling very uncomfortable. He said that he
was one of four brothers, and one of his brothers had sustained a brain injury
about eight years earlier as a result of a motor vehicle collision. Prior to
the crash, these four brothers had worked and played together regularly.
Following the crash, the brother who had been injured was very withdrawn,
claiming he was just too tired. The other three brothers had seen this as a
lame excuse to avoid them and had in turn cut the injured brother out of all
aspects of their family life. He ended his story saying to the speaker that his
comments about fatigue being a common symptom of acquired brain injury made him
realize that they had unfairly isolated their injured brother. This kind of
misunderstanding of the effects of acquired brain injury are not uncommon, even
among family members and close friends, resulting in isolation and often
devastating the person with brain injury.

There are dozens of other instances of misunderstanding that impact daily on
the lives of people living with these effects. These misunderstandings
effectively limit the disabled person's participation in family life, community
activities and employment opportunities.

We recognize that there are no simple or quick solutions to removing these
attitudinal barriers. However, since they are barriers for thousands of
Ontarians, not only those living with the effects of acquired brain injuries,
but also those with developmental impairments and those who experience mental
illness, it is imperative that the government, through the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, provide the will and the resources necessary to develop
effective public awareness and education.

In summary, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act does attempt to address
physical barriers faced by those with disabilities but it does fall short on
its goal to support the right of every person with a disability to live as
independently as possible, to enjoy equal opportunity and to participate fully
in every aspect of life in our province through the removal of existing

We have not had enough time to fully analyze this bill and consider its
implicates, but after careful consideration we do recommend the following:

We feel strongly that the definition of "disability" include brain injury in
its descriptions; that explicit timelines be prescribed for the removal of
specific barriers; that the bill have an effective mechanism for enforcement;
that the role and authority of the advisory councils be defined and its reports
be made public and the disability community be heard; that the bill make
provisions for the allocation of resources to raise public awareness and
education of the issues faced by those with disabilities in order to further
foster a greater understanding and influence attitudes working toward the
reduction of attitudinal barriers.

A barrier-free community is a minimum goal to full participation of the
disabled in society. Through effective regulation and mandated co-operation
with private and pubic sectors, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act can help
deliver broad public awareness and understanding of cognitive and mental
disabilities and eliminate all other barriers for disabled persons in every
part of Canada's richest province.

The Ontario Brain Injury Association, along with many other similar disability
organizations, stands prepared to assist the government through the advisory
councils outlined in the ODA to develop the means necessary to remove
attitudinal barriers. We look forward to this challenge. The disabled of
Ontario are looking for leadership on this issue. Don't let them down.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation and the thoughtful
recommendations. We have approximately three minutes left per caucus for
questions. We'll start with the NDP.

Mr Martin: Thank you very much for coming today and sharing those thoughts with
us and making the recommendations that you have there. They're fairly
consistent with what we've heard so far and certainly what we've heard this
morning: the need for timelines, the need for enforceability, and the need for
resources to support the enforceability.

Who at this point in time resources the Ontario Brain Injury Association in
terms of some of the education campaigns that you carry out?

Ms Van Dongen: One of the primary mandates of the Ontario Brain Injury
Association is to provide education to professionals working in the field.
Also, they have a rather extensive resource library of written information --
articles and so on -- and they provide a lot of education through presentations
in the community. It's the responsibility of each of the community associations
to provide education within their own community as well as what is provided
through the Ontario Brain Injury Association, and some of the funding for that
comes through the Trillium Foundation and initiatives that the different
associations have had from the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, as well. There
have been some initiatives, particularly in the school system, to provide
education. Pediatric brain injury is another issue and prevention is probably
the best medicine with regard to brain injury.

Mr Martin: You speak this morning of attitudinal barriers that people with
brain injuries run into on a consistent basis, and you talk about a
comprehensive education campaign. Your organization is providing, where there
is a structure in place, some of that. Could you elaborate more on what it is
that you think, with this piece of legislation, we should be doing to make sure
that attitudinal barriers are being dealt with and what we would do to provide
this comprehensive education campaign?

Ms Van Dongen: Including "brain injury" in the definition within the act would
be helpful because certainly it crosses over a lot of different other
disability groups, and I think that sometimes it's missed. Oftentimes brain
injury is described as the invisible disability because even though the person
may, after an injury, be physically doing quite well and able to return to a
lot of their previous activities, cognitively they're not able to participate
in the community as they did before. In terms of making sure there's a good
understanding of the fact that that needs to be reflected in this act, I think
that's really important.

We've looked to municipal government -- we've applied ourselves here in the
community to the city of Ottawa to try and get some funding as well, because I
think through the public health pot we hope to be able to provide some more
community awareness and probably look at prevention initiatives there. But
certainly I think including brain injury in the definition is something that
we've been working with the school boards, for example, to include in their
SEAC committees to make sure that brain injury is properly represented within
the definitions of special-needs students within the school system.


Mr O'Toole: Thank you, Ms Van Dongen, for your presentation this morning. It
certainly did clarify very accurately the attitudinal barriers in this
particular area. As you've said, all of us know someone either directly or
indirectly. It does really come down to a couple of the points you raised about
education and awareness, and I commend the association for doing that
relentlessly. I participate in my riding in activities that are for that
purpose, to raise awareness and improve the understanding.

I'm just looking at the definitions in the bill. It isn't precisely stated in
there specifically, but is there something in that particular section 2 in the
definitions that -- it does talk about an injury or disability for which
benefits were claimed or received under a workplace injury, etc, so it's
implied, if not directly in the words "brain injury." Is there something in
strengthening that? I have no disagreement with you at all.

Ms Van Dongen: I think probably "implied" is one thing, because certainly if
you look at workplace injuries and that type of thing you could be dealing with
mostly physical injury and not necessarily cognitive impairment. I think it's
really important to include cognitive, neurological impairment that may result
from those types of injuries because that really speaks to the invisible
portion of the injury. A lot of times the physical aspect of the injury is more
obvious and the brain injury is missed. A person thinks, "There's a person who
uses a wheelchair," but that person is also somebody who has short-term memory
deficits, who has difficulty organizing their thoughts, who isn't able to
return to work because they don't have the organizational skills to be able to
do so and that sort of thing.

Mr O'Toole: I'd be happy to bring it forward if there's a clearer definition.
You said that no two outcomes are the same for victims of these situations and,
as you say, the treatment and/or consequences are different for each individual
case, so maybe that's -- in the definition of preciseness, you could be
exclusive. I'd be happy to receive anything that's more clear, given that it's
in itself difficult to define each degree of severity, etc. There are tests and
all those kinds of things --

Ms Van Dongen: Right.

Mr O'Toole: -- and we try to say, "This is disabled, this isn't," by some test.
But I'd be happy to hear that.

Ms Van Dongen: That's great. I will certainly speak with individuals at the
Ontario Brain Injury Association and we can come to consensus as a group on
those thoughts. Thank you.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): Thank you very much for your presentation
and for being here today.

I'm particularly interested in your reference to the attitudinal element and I
would urge all of us here to consider what we might do in government to help
address that.

One of the elements of the bill, of course, that is very troubling is that it
imposes no positive obligations on the private sector.

Ms Van Dongen: Right.

Mr McGuinty: I'm wondering if you have any views with respect to that and what
role the private sector might be playing in terms of helping us ensure that
those suffering from the effects of brain injuries can, as you put it so
eloquently, participate as fully as possible in society.

Ms Van Dongen: I think probably a willingness, again, to have the information
and the education that's available. A lot of times, certainly for people
re-entering the workforce, somebody with a brain injury runs into a lot of
different barriers both publicly and privately in terms of wanting to make that
extra effort to understand and accommodate individuals. The public awareness
and the community awareness piece -- the willingness, I think, to let
individuals from different organizations who want to educate the community as a
whole about brain injury, and any disability group, for that matter -- I think
that's an important piece.

Mr McGuinty: I gather that the lack of a visible, kind of evident problem makes
this a real issue in terms of the challenge you've got to contend with.

Ms Van Dongen: Yes, because when you look at the percentage of people who have
a brain injury -- you can have permanent disability, but the implication isn't
necessarily that it's physical, or that if it's physical, it's obvious. People
have a tendency to respond, unfortunately, differently to visible, as opposed
to invisible, issues that a person may have. They may attribute the disability
to a person having a problem with anger management when in actual fact it's a
communication difficulty. Cognitively they can't understand you, and that's why
they're becoming frustrated with what you're trying to communicate to them.
Definitely, that invisible piece is something that a lot of our members are
challenged by.

The Vice-Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for coming
forward. We appreciate your recommendations.


The Vice-Chair: The next delegation is the Ottawa-Carleton Independent Living
Centre. Richard Th1berge, come forward.

On behalf of the committee, welcome. Please, for the sake of Hansard, state
your name as you begin.

Mr Richard Th1berge: It is quite fitting that the next speaker after the one we
just had is a victim of brain injury. Indeed, 30 years ago on October 29, when
I was just a nine-year-old lawyer, the youngest lawyer ever, I had a brain
injury as a result of an accident. I would ask for your tolerance. If you noted
the one thing that she said about brain injury victims, they have some
difficulty with their thoughts and all that. Also, I would like to add that the
best way to deal with brain injury victims, of which I'm one -- they're very
temperamental -- is that you have to do whatever they recommend; otherwise they
go into a fit.


The Vice-Chair: Thanks for the warning.

Mr Th1berge: I first wish to express to this committee my deep appreciation for
this opportunity to indicate, in a constructive spirit both my criticisms and
hopes regarding the long-awaited legislation.

Second, I need to make it absolutely clear to the committee that the views I
will be presenting here today are mine exclusively and are not endorsed by the

When the chairman of Ottawa's accessibility committee, whom you heard this
morning, asked us at our last meeting, on November 21, whether any one of us
would be making a presentation today, I indicated that I would. For the sake of
expediency, the chairman indicated that I would be representing the
Ottawa-Carleton Independent Living Centre, OCILC, because he knows that I am
involved, both as a member of the board and as a frequent volunteer with this
organization. It must be made clear, however, that while the OCILC is engaged
from time to time in an individual advocacy role on behalf of individual
clients, it is not an organization engaged in collective advocacy, as such.
Therefore -- I believe I have cut myself of five minutes -- I do not represent
an organization.

Having said that, as a jurist who has pursued post-graduate studies in law, I
have always had a keen interest in administrative law, which deals with the
legal limitations on the actions of government officials.


As I was going through the Hansard records of the first days of debate
regarding the ODA, I observed several instances where, in response to
criticisms that as initially drafted the ODA is unenforceable against either
private or public sector organizations, there was a tendency on the
government's part to rely on the regulations to provide, in due course,
appropriate enforcement mechanisms. I thought it important and appropriate
therefore to examine whether the validity of such eventual regulations could be
easily challenged by some smart-ass lawyer on the grounds that they exceeded
the jurisdiction of the Legislative Assembly. I needed to analyze as a jurist
from the precepts of administrative law whether in some respects the delegation
of authority by the Legislature amounted in any way to an abdication by the
Legislative Assembly of its prerogative to provide substantive rights.

In general, a legislation provides the substance of rights while the
regulations provide the procedural aspects of such rights, including the form,
the timing and the manner of their exercise.

In recent days therefore I spent some time analyzing objectively how section 22
of the proposed legislation satisfied the principles of administrative law
recognized in common law jurisdictions. To test the validity of the regulation,
administrative law has three criteria, or three tests: (1) whether the
delegation exceeded the jurisdiction of the delegating Legislative Assembly;
(2) whether it had the ability to delegate; and (3) whether the delegation
amounted to an abdication.
It's dull, I know, but we have to go through it.

One, the jurisdiction of the Ontario Legislature: even if it may seem obvious,
the first step in determining the validity of any eventual regulation under the
ODA is whether the parent legislation under whose authority any eventual
regulation would be prescribed is constitutional.

We can affirm unequivocally that the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act
relating to the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to
accessibility is a subject matter relating to property and civil rights which
falls within the ambit of what the Constitution Act of 1867, as modified in
1982, considers a matter of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.

Ability to delegate, the second point: In Canadian constitutional law, it is
generally accepted that, subject to constitutional constraints, both the
federal Parliament and the provincial Legislature are supreme or sovereign
within their respective legislative sphere of competence. This means, among
other things, that the legal maxim "Delegatus non potest delegare" does not
apply to limit the ability of a provincial Legislature to delegate its
legislative powers to members of the executive government or, for that matter,
to anyone else if it so chooses. The right of a provincial Legislature to
validly delegate matters falling within the sphere of its legislative
competence was upheld by the privy council long ago when very few of us were
born, in the case of Hodge v Regina in 1883.

Third, delegation, not abdication: It is extremely difficult to draw the line
between proper delegation and improper abdication of legislative powers, and
courts lean heavily in favour of the former. Instances of delegation being held
by the courts to constitute impermissible abdication are extremely rare; in
fact, I could not find any. However, the general lack of success in applying
the abdication principle to strike down does not detract from the importance of
having some idea as to what matters must be dealt with by the legislators
themselves and what matters must be delegated to others. Indeed, there is
considerable concern currently in Canada and elsewhere about the volume and the
breadth of delegated powers which have been authorized by all legislative

In short, in Canada it is generally accepted as a principle -- and this is
again derived from the Hodge case over a century ago -- that, short of a
permanent or near-permanent divestment of the legislative body's power to make
laws and to supervise the exercise of delegated functions, even very broad
delegations are lawful. In other words, the Legislature may delegate, but as
long as it retains some power to take back the powers, the delegation of
authority will be found lawful.

Now we get to the crux of the matter, proposed section 22 of the ODA. Applying
these three criteria to proposed section 22 of the ODA, one could easily
conclude that the validity of any eventual regulation made by the Ontario
cabinet or Lieutenant Governor in Council would be undisputable. As such, we
find it highly unlikely that any delegated legislation, as regulations are
sometimes referred to in the world of academia, would be found ultra vires, or
invalid, on the grounds that (1) the ODA clearly falls under provincial
jurisdiction; (2) the Legislative Assembly of Ontario has the ability to
delegate; and (3) despite this delegation being very broad, it does not
constitute an abdication by the Legislative Assembly of its prerogative.
Rather, section 22 is to be regarded as translating the government's intention
to have the accessibility rules designed largely by the disability community,
as opposed to having them largely determined by the Legislative Assembly.

One of the corollaries to be derived from the government's commitment according
to the literature of its program Independence and Opportunity, unveiled on
November 1 by Minister Cam Jackson, is to put the disability community in the
"driver's seat." In this connection, I would also like to remind the committee
that the Legislature unanimously approved a couple of years ago that the ODA
would include 11 principles, including principle 7 requiring that, "As part of
its enforcement process, the ODA should provide for a process of
regulation-making that ... include a requirement that input be obtained from
affected groups such as persons with disabilities before such regulations are

As presently drafted, section 22 of the ODA doesn't cut it. There is no
requirement to involve the disability community in the drafting of the
regulations or simply in receiving its input.

I have brought with me other suggestions for amending section 22 and explaining
the rationale of each proposed amendment. With the committee's permission, I
respectfully submit these proposed amendments to their attention.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Jackson when he came to meet the city's new
advisory committee on October 22. Following this meeting, I met with Mr Jackson
privately and discussed, for perhaps 15 minutes while I was waiting for Para
Transpo, the impending ODA. I told Mr Jackson how excited I was about the
future legislation and that I truly sensed and appreciated a genuine commitment
on his part to do what is just and to really contribute to improving the life
of disabled persons in Ontario.

On November 7, after I had read the proposed ODA but before I had had a chance
to examine it in detail or discuss with anyone its contents, I wrote to Mr
Jackson a letter congratulating him for what had the potential of turning into
exciting, trail-blazing legislation.

Gentlemen and ladies, this proposed legislation places the disability community
in a difficult conundrum. In the absence of any current legislation designed to
remove barriers to accessibility, many members of our community worry that by
asking for too many changes to Bill 125, we run the risk of seeing it withdrawn
and, in so doing, with the impending campaign to replace the retiring Premier
and the elections to come in due course after that, we risk seeing an
opportunity like the present one put off again for several years. On the other
hand, there are those in the community who want to seize this unique
opportunity to really improve life in Ontario for the disabled and who argue
that, having gone this far, the government would not dare withdraw this

Ladies and gentlemen, the stakes for the disability community have never been
this high. With the time allocation which has been approved by the Legislature
to dispose of Bill 125, it is obvious that a lot has to be done between now and
December 12. But I am confident that you will find the courage to do whatever
is necessary to bring this to fruition because it is just, because it is right
and because it is imperative.


The Chair: Merci, monsieur Th1berge. We have approximately two minutes per
caucus. I'll start with the government side.

Mr O'Toole: Thank you, Mr Th1berge. I appreciate your presentation and your
thoughtful review from the perspective of a trained lawyer, which I'm not.

Mr Th1berge: It sounded scientific, eh? We don't get many chances, as lawyers,
to sound scientific.

Mr O'Toole: Just looking at some of the background paper, I'd put on the record
that the independent living approach recognizes the rights of citizens with
disabilities to take control of their lives by examining choices, making
decisions and even taking risks. I think that's an extremely progressive
attitude toward getting on with life and just needing accessibility addressed.

I want to ask a specific question. You questioned the regulations section,
which is section 22, and there are a number of subsections in it. I'm not, as I
said, a lawyer, but in my reading it's very broad. It gives the LG the power to
make regulations in a specific, broad range of inclusions and exclusions. But
in subsection 22(6), "Adoption of codes," it does say, "If the Lieutenant
Governor in Council is satisfied that, at the request of the minister, the
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has consulted with the persons and
organizations that the minister directs" -- so in other words, it implies to me
that there is consultation in the making of regulations, which is something you
said maybe wasn't strong enough in that regulations section.

Mr Th1berge: I would hope so. My understanding of the concept behind the
accessibility council which would advise the minister would be to assist him,
initially at least, at first, to advise him as to what regulations need to be
made in order to make this legislation enforceable. But the point is that the
regulations -- one would assume that, but I was thinking of, more than simply
arriving at that by deduction, having it written, especially in section 22,
which is the perfect place to indicate that before any regulations can be made,
the disability community has to provide input and has to be consulted.

I worked for the federal government for over 25 years, and there's a procedure
whereby, at least in the field of commercial lobby, before any regulation comes
into force, it is published for 60 days or so and comments are invited and all
that. So the amendments we propose would not only require active consultation
and input from the disability community, but would also require the ministry to
publish such eventual regulations for a period of 90 days so that people can
think about it, and if there's a request after 45 days by any disability group,
the ministry would have to hold hearings on the proposed regulations. So this
is a mechanism which has to be expressly provided to our satisfaction.


The Chair: No, sorry. I have to bring it to an end and I have to go to the
official opposition.

Mr Parsons: Thank you for your presentation. I took one law course, which is
just enough to make me dangerous, but not necessarily constructive.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa West-Nepean): But did you pass it?

Mr Parsons: I did very well, and that's why I realized that wasn't my calling.

Mr Guzzo: That may put you ahead of some of us.

Mr Parsons: I'm interested in the lawyer's perspective. As I read the act, I
read about the Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario, the Accessibility
Directorate of Ontario and the accessibility advisory committees. My first
grasp from the law course was that the law says, "Thou shalt," and, "Thou
wilt," and that there is some substance to it. Out of all this framework that's
been constructed, I'm asking you, as a lawyer, is there anything in there that
can force barriers to be removed? "Advisory" appears and reappears. We say that
by law you can't exceed --
Mr Th1berge: To be candid and frank, to me, the way it is written, no. But
there is immense potential in the provisions that are there. I don't know if
anybody -- the pervious speaker mentioned it, but I was particularly struck by
the innovative way this proposed legislation has some carrots. It has strong
potential. We talk about enforcement in the private and public sectors and all
that. There are two ways: you can force it or use moral suasion -- the easy
way, the Ontario way. I thought that, to induce and promote the moral suasion,
the legislation held out the hope that perhaps -- section 11 or 12 -- the
procurement policies of the government could be geared toward that. It would
naturally induce and force accessibility and make them stronger every time.

The capital funding projects: I was listening to the questions regarding
enforcement of the regulations put to the very able, and now my teacher, Mr
McMahon. I hope he gives me a break. With the enforcement mechanism, as such,
the government, which helps municipalities financially, has a very strong tool
there. All it needs is some fine-tuning and gearing to promote it.

In other words, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, which gives grants to
municipalities and all that, could say, "You had better come up with this
accessibility plan, which you have to do." We don't give money just like that.
Use some muscle. It has wonderful carrots. Government procurement is one of the
biggest consumers in the province and in the country. With this tool that the
government has, it can enforce it.

It doesn't have to say -- in law, when you start in year one, the first thing
you learn is that one feature is that to become obligatory, a requirement is
that there be a sanction. Now, a sanction does not necessarily have to be
imprisonment or being thrown in jail for not making a thing accessible, but all
kinds of very intelligent -- I'm looking for the word -- you must not
contradict me.

Interjection: Incentives.

Mr Th1berge: Subtle ways of bringing about accessibility. Do you understand
what I mean? Have I answered your question?

The Chair: With that, I have to go to Mr Martin, because we've run out of time.

Mr Martin: Thank you very much for your presentation this morning. Certainly I
can identify -- and with the group in Sault Ste Marie, where I come from, as
they struggle with this -- with the issue of, do you deep-six this in hope of
something better or do you try and build on at least some little piece that
might be redeemable in this bill? That's what we struggle with at this point in
time. We've so far decided to participate in the process and see if we can get
the government to listen and maybe make some amendments.

You'll have to help me here. About your treatise on the responsibility and how
that goes back to some of the charters we have struck as a country and as a
province, are you saying that the government in this instance is downloading
responsibility for something for which it has ultimate responsibility, to pass
this on now to an advisory committee and municipalities that are over 10,000,
as opposed to the provincial government itself taking the bull by the horns and
putting in place the laws that are necessary to require everybody out there
doing business or offering services in Ontario to make them accessible? Is that
what you're saying?


Mr Th1berge: No, not at all, Mr Martin. That's very good anger management. I
don't know how you could arrive at that deduction from what I said. No, I did
not accuse the government of downloading. To be frank, I believe that the ODA,
as presented, initially at least, before I get down to it, represents a
remarkable effort. For the first time in the history of the disability
community in Ontario the government has a chance, and I think it should seize
that chance, to really do something big: model legislation that will be copied
by other Legislative Assemblies.

I understood the accessibility committee to be a consultative entity, somewhat
similar to the municipal accessibility advisory committee, except that the
minister is not a municipality, so it would be a ministerial accessibility
council. It's not a committee; it's a council. It sounds bigger, more

I don't think it is downloading and I'm sorry I put you through all this
painful, long legal analysis. I wanted to ensure that section 22, that this
legislation, which was not in and of itself that enforceable -- that any
regulation that would come as a result of it would not be challenged by someone
who would be forced to do something they would not like and would contest the
validity of this provision. So if ensuring that the delegation of authority in
section 22, although very broad, is lawful and valid, then it follows that the
regulations that eventually will be made could not be contested or their
validity could not be challenged.

The Chair: With this, we've run out of time. Au nom du comit1, monsieur
Th1berge, merci pour votre pr1sentation ce matin.


The Chair: We have an agreement for a switch in the agenda by the two parties.
Our next presenter will be a representative from the city of Ottawa council. I
would ask the presenter to come forward. Please state your name for the record.
On behalf of the committee, welcome.

Mme Madeleine Meilleur : Mon nom est Madeleine Meilleur. Je suis pr1sidente du
Comit1 des transports et services de transport en commun pour la ville
d'Ottawa, et aussi membre du comit1 sur l'accessibilit1 dont vous venez
d'entendre un des repr1sentants.

Thank you very much for allowing me to speak today on the accessibility in
Ottawa for persons with disabilities.

Il me fait grandement plaisir d'Stre ici, et je vais vous pr1senter quelque
chose qui est un peu diff1rent de ce que vous avez entendu. Je ne vous parlerai
pas n1cessairement de la loi, mais je vais vous parler de ce que la ville
d'Ottawa fait au point de vue accessibilit1.

Alors, Ja me fait aussi plaisir de participer " l'1laboration de ce projet de
loi, qui nous touche tous et toutes de trMs prMs.

The minister asked the city of Ottawa to do a presentation today on what the
city does for accessibility in Ottawa. Much like the minister, the city
recognizes that people with disabilities need greater independence through
improved individual mobility and better community accessibility.

We are delighted to be asked to outline some of the activities the city of
Ottawa is undertaking to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

There are two key areas I would like to discuss with you today. First, I would
like to say a few words about the city of Ottawa and accessibility, about
efforts being made to provide access for everyone to home, offices, schools and
shops. The other area I would like to address is public transportation in
Ottawa for persons with disabilities.

After my presentation I will be pleased to address the questions and concerns
you may have.

The city of Ottawa's objective is to offer universal access for everybody. An
able-bodied person, a person using a wheelchair, someone with a guide dog or a
cane, a parent with a stroller, a senior, or someone with a broken leg, each
has the right to access homes, offices, businesses, schools and recreational
facilities. It is estimated that more than one in five people in Ottawa will
experience either permanent or temporary disability during their lives. The
steps we take together locally, provincially and nationally will ensure they
can continue to access opportunities enjoyed by the rest of the population,
including access to facilities, programs and services.

The city of Ottawa is currently conducting accessibility audits in selected
municipal buildings, such as Lansdowne Park and Ottawa city hall, that will
generate a remediation plan that will provide barrier-free access for patrons.
These accessibility issues fall within areas such as door entry improvements,
elevator lift device requirements, and improvements to washroom facilities,
parking facilities and routes to travel to main entrances. In many of its
buildings, the city is meeting or exceeding the standards for accessibility of
the Ontario building code and of the Canadian Standards Association. City hall,
for example, has automatic door openers, elevators that feature buttons in
Braille, and ramps at entrances.

The city recognizes and endorses the need to pursue barrier-free access as part
of its long-term capital development plan. City council, in taking a strong
position in this area and in pursuing consultation with groups, organizations
and individuals who are familiar with the issues -- this will lead to
strengthening Ottawa as a caring community, making the city a leader in this
area and ensuring it is accountable.

As a recently amalgamated city, the result of merging 12 municipalities into
one new nation's capital, we are committed to building on best practices,
covering everything from having physical access to a building to having access
to participation in all aspects of our public life. To help us accomplish this
objective, we have created two committees involving the private sector, similar
to an action the province of Ontario has taken. The role of the city's
accessibility advisory committee and its mobility issues advisory committee is
to develop an awareness and understanding of the issues and concerns of persons
with disabilities, with a goal to improving the quality of life and enhancing
the independence of these citizens.

There exist many ways in which the mobility of persons with a disability can be
enhanced through changes to existing services and facilities. To ensure equal
access to electronic and information technologies, the city of Ottawa has
developed a set of Web page design standards in recognition of persons with

Transportation is another. There are, for example, over 80 intersections in the
city of Ottawa equipped with audible pedestrian signals. These signals indicate
in which direction pedestrians may cross safely. The signals provide improved
security for visually impaired people, while at the same time providing them
with greater mobility. Ottawa is a Canadian leader with respect to the
installation of these important devices. The city has recently adopted a policy
to install these signals at virtually all new traffic signals.


City staff have been actively listening to citizens' concerns and taking steps
to eliminate and prevent barriers, to provide greater accessibility in Ottawa
for persons with disabilities. Sidewalks, for instance, have depressed accesses
at signalized and pedestrian crossings to accommodate persons with
disabilities. In partnership with the Canadian National Institute for the
Blind, access ramps are being added at crosswalk locations.

As well, in its commitment to preparing a comprehensive winter maintenance plan
for the new city of Ottawa, staff are working with the advisory committee in
strategically identifying ways to improve winter maintenance of roads and
sidewalks to enhance access for persons with disabilities while improving their
safety. These are examples of initiatives being integrated in everyday life so
that residents and visitors to Ottawa who have special needs have greater
accessibility to live independent and fulfilling lives.

Let me now turn to public transportation in Ottawa. OC Transpo provides transit
across the urban part of the city of Ottawa. With 900 buses and a new light
rail system, we serve a population of 720,000 and carry 85 million passengers a
year. In addition, OC Transpo also provides a parallel service for people with
disabilities, Para Transpo, that carries 750,000 trips annually.

In 1994, city council approved an accessibility plan for transit in
Ottawa-Carleton that showed how a policy of full accessibility for regular
transit services would be implemented. This called for all future bus purchases
to be low-floor buses and the improvement of transitway stations and bus stop
facilities to make them more easily accessible for use by people with
disabilities, among other things. It also recommended the development of
accessibility standards for future transit facilities. It highlighted the need
for high-quality sidewalk maintenance, particularly snow removal and curb cuts,
to ensure that customers could get to the bus stop to access the service.

The development of the plan was a partnership effort with representatives from
the municipalities making up the former region, the Canadian National Institute
for the Blind, the Canadian Council of the Blind, the Council on Aging, the
Senior Citizens Council, city council, Para Transpo customers, OC Transpo
customers, union representatives from operators and supervisors, and transit
staff members from most departments. We welcome and value this continuing

There has been solid progress since the plan was approved in 1994. I will
mention a few of these items. Since low-floor buses became available in 1997,
all new buses have low floors, which means easier access to bus service for
seniors and persons with mobility difficulties or in wheelchairs. By the end of
this year, the low-floor bus fleet will make up almost 30% of the total bus
fleet. By 2011, 85% of the fleet will consist of low-floor buses.

All buses are now equipped with easier access features, which make transit more
accessible for everyone. These include buses with the capability to lower or
kneel close to the curb for easier boarding; priority seating near the front
for persons who cannot stand in a moving vehicle; extra grab rails;
easier-to-reach stop-request buttons and yellow pull-cords; a public address
system to announce transit stations and major stops; and additional lighting of
doorways and front seat area.

All new bus shelters are fully accessible. In fact, Ottawa led the way in
working with a major bus shelter supplier to design shelters that can
comfortably accommodate wheelchair users and these are now found right across
Canada. As low-floor bus service is provided, existing bus shelters are being
modified to be fully accessible and all bus stops on accessible routes are
being audited to ensure that people with mobility aids can get to and from them
as easily as possible.

In consultation with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, OC Transpo
has developed a bus-hailing kit that allows people with vision impairments to
communicate to the bus driver which route they need. OC Transpo has also
developed Braille bus stop flags, which are available in the conventional
transit network to help visually impaired customers. Accessibility guidelines
were developed to assist access for persons with mobility, visual, hearing,
speech and cognitive disabilities and all new transitway stations and light
rail are being built to these standards.

The O-Train was introduced in October 2001 as the first step toward city-wide
light rail transit. It operates between Greenboro transitway station in the
south and Lebreton Flats in the north, where a new station is being
constructed. The stations are fully accessible and the low-floor trains offer
easy access for everyone. City staff are working to ensure that all new
arterial roads on which transit will operate will have sidewalks on both sides.
All new collector roads will have, as a minimum, a sidewalk with curbs on one
side and accessible raised bus pads on the other side.

I will now turn to Para Transpo. Para Transpo is a door-to-door transportation
service for persons with disabilities who are unable to board conventional
transit services. Passengers must be registered to use the service, and
reservations are required. We are proud that Ottawa is currently providing more
Para Transpo service per capita than any other city in Canada. However, that
service is expensive. In 1999 for instance, the net cost per capita was $21, in
comparison with $15 in Toronto, $11 in Calgary, and $13 in Edmonton.

The objective for OC Transpo in the coming years is to accommodate the growing
demand for public transit services by people with disabilities in a fiscally
responsible manner. As Ottawa's population ages and people with disabilities
participate more in the community, the delivery of specialized public transport
creates unprecedented strategic planning challenges and financial pressures.
The crux of the issue before the city of Ottawa is to develop a plan to deliver
public transit services to elderly and disabled people that satisfy community
requirements and expectations in a cost-effective manner. The city has been
working hard to meet these demands and continues to work with representatives
of the disabled community and the city's accessibility advisory committee.

In conclusion, this vision statement summarizes our objective. The city of
Ottawa values the contributions made by all its people and believes that the
diversity among its people has strengthened Ottawa. The city recognizes the
dignity and worth of all people. It does so by treating individuals,
communities and employees equitably; by fairly providing services; by
consulting with communities; and by making certain everyone has input to

I look forward to working with my colleagues, city staff and our partners
toward doing what we can to ensure that our citizens are enjoying the best
quality of life our community can offer. Working together as partners, we can
enhance accessibility for all our citizens.


The Chair: We have time for a brief question from each caucus.

Mr Patten: Merci pour votre pr1sence ici aujourd'hui. By the way, I must
congratulate you. I know the city is taking a leadership role in comparison to
municipalities in Ontario. You and the council and the mayor are to be
congratulated for that.

However, I have a question for you, very briefly: what in this act enables you
to either provide incentives, some pressure, or accountability on the part of
the private sector? Many of the people who are affected are saying, "There's so
much in day-to-day life that I'm affected by in terms of the private sector,
but there's nothing in this legislation that does that." Is there anything in
there that you see here or that should be here that enables you as a
municipality, through bylaws or building codes or whatever, to say, "Listen,
before you get approval for this, you have to be more accessible," or "You have
to modify your building," or "You have to go back over a period of time to look
at the barriers to the entrance of your stores," or whatever it may be?

Ms Meilleur: No. The way we see it, it is applicable to the public sector. I
would like, if I have a recommendation, that we do all we can to render this
applicable to the private sector too.

Mr Martin: Just to follow up on that, this morning in some of the presentations
we've had the issue seems to be one of, "The city is certainly providing
exemplary service. But you get to, say, the Byward Market and then you can't
get into most of the stores or restaurants or coffee shops. That is what
they're saying. That's a problem. The question that was asked is, will this act
improve that circumstance or that situation?

The other question I would have for you is -- you've obviously done really well
in the area of mobility and making your facilities physically accessible --
have you looked at other disability groups and what they might need: the blind,
the deaf and those with cognitive disabilities?

Ms Meilleur: Oh, yes, they are all part of our consultative group. We have two
committees, accessibility and mobility, of which the membership is
representative of the disabled community. I think we have most, if not all, the
categories of disability present there. They are consulted as we improve our
sidewalks, bus stops or traffic light crossings to help them to cross the
street. They are involved and we value their input.

Mr Guzzo: Thank you very much for your enlightened presentation. I too would
like first of all to state that we in the city of Ottawa are very proud of the
progress and the leadership the city has shown. The former region and some of
the constituent municipalities have been leaders in our community.

Of course, I hearken and mention that it goes back to the early 1970s and some
of the enlightened councils that were there then under Mayor Fogarty and Beno,t
and Greenberg, but that would be self-serving; the last person to ever do that
would be me, and I don't want to be negative. I also want to commend the light
rail project. For the people flying in last night, and I was one of them and
came in on a later flight, if that light rail went to the airport, you have no
idea how popular it would have been in that freezing rain around midnight last
night, as opposed to the taxi service. I'll leave that.

I want to mention that yesterday I had the opportunity to introduce the
amendments to the new City of Ottawa Act. Dealing with Ms Dronshek of your
legal department has been a pleasure again. We did not have, though, at that
time when I introduced it, the taxi changes. I'm looking forward to them coming
very shortly. I mention that simply because I'm led to believe that we are not
going to have in those taxi changes, the second phase of that act, sections
dealing with what we are trying to accomplish in this act. I just mention that.
I don't wish to be negative. I know it is a matter that is under consideration,
but I would ask you to remember that it is a facet of transportation that has
to be addressed. We should hopefully be moving forward in the same manner you
are with the bus transportation. We do commend you for what you have

Ms Meilleur: You're raising a good point. That was my criticism during the
debate on taxis. We have not obliged the taxi industry to provide accessible
taxis. I would say it is almost a disgrace. But the council will be working
with the taxi industry to help them. Apparently, according to the legislation
that regulates the taxi industry for the disabled, it is very costly. There are
two points there. The taxi industry is asking the government to change the
requirements to the way it is in other provinces. We want to development
incentives for the taxi industry to provide accessible taxis.

The Chair: With this, we've run out of time. Au nom du comit1, merci pour votre
pr1sentation ce matin.


The Chair: Our next presentation this morning is from the Canadian National
Institute for the Blind. I would ask the presenters to come forward, please.
Please state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.

Mr Bill Clelland: My name is Bill Clelland. I'm a volunteer with the Canadian
National Institute for the Blind, Ottawa branch, and I'm the chair of the
client services committee here locally. I'm here to support a presentation by
my colleague Colleen Hendrick.

Ms Colleen Hendrick: What Bill and I would like to do today is to make a
presentation to the standing committee on behalf if the Ottawa branch of the
CNIB. The purpose of this submission is to provide comments and recommendations
related to the provincial Ontarians with Disabilities Act. First of all we'd
like to introduce, in terms of context and background, what the local CNIB
does. The CNIB Ottawa District provides a comprehensive range of programs and
services to 4,000 blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind children, youth and
adults across our community. Programs and services include early assessment and
referral, children's early intervention programs, adaptive daily living skills,
orientation and mobility support, employment services, vision assessments,
volunteer support, self-help support, intervention services for deaf-blind
persons, specialized library resources and parent support services.

The CNIB is committed to ensuring that all blind and visually impaired persons
achieve the greatest degree of independence and participation in our community.
The CNIB provides a range of programs and services that build concrete skills,
confidence and self-esteem in individuals and their families to allow them to
participate and contribute as valued members of our community. The Ottawa
district CNIB has actively advocated for the creation of progressive
legislation, programs and policies that will result in a barrier-free community
for all persons with disabilities. We believe that creating a barrier-free
community requires adequate community consultation and engagement involving all
sectors of the community, development of effective legislation and
implementation of adequate programs, services and funding mechanisms.

While the CNIB Ottawa District supports the general direction presented in the
draft legislation, we believe there are significant areas that require
reconsideration in order to achieve the key objective of a fully inclusive,
barrier-free community for all persons with disabilities. The Ottawa district
CNIB supports the principles, recommendations and amendments that have been
identified by the ODA committee. You will be familiar with the ODA committee.
It is a voluntary group of 100-plus members who advocate for a barrier-free
Ontario. Members of the CNIB Ottawa branch have contributed input and feedback
to the ODA committee. We recommend that the standing committee incorporate
these concrete suggestions and amendments to the proposed legislation.

We understand that the ODA committee will be submitting a report to the
standing committee as part of the public hearings process. The CNIB Ottawa
District wishes to acknowledge and support the incredible work of the
volunteers in developing the ODA committee submission. We'd like to take a few
moments to [Image]highlight some of the components of the ODA submission that
we particularly support.

(1) Legislation should cover all disabilities, physical, cognitive or sensory.
It should cover all barriers, not just physical barriers. All public and
private sector providers of goods, facilities and services should be required
to remove and prevent barriers.

(2) Timelines and standards should be decided through stakeholder
consultations. The legislation should set out clear timelines for developing
the guidelines as well as a process for consultation. The same requirements
should apply to all employers, and there should be an effective way to enforce
the law.


At this point in the presentation, we'd like to provide some additional
recommendations from the Ottawa district CNIB. Members of our district have
discussed the issues and concerns raised by the proposed legislation, and
prepared a letter in the past outlining these concerns. That letter has been
submitted. The ODA committee has identified the previously mentioned issues as

The following issues are marginally addressed in the proposed legislation. We
would like these additional issues to be considered within a broader context.

First of all, a comprehensive approach: The proposed legislation does not
require all sectors of the community to participate. We believe the legislation
should apply to all sectors, and that specific implementation timelines and
compliance requirements are needed. We believe that standards are required, not
just guidelines.

We also believe that blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind persons have
different needs as well as shared needs. We believe a range of solutions need
to be developed and implemented; for example, access to information in a range
of formats, including Internet sites.

We believe the proposed advisory committees must ensure adequate representation
of all disability sectors and ensure adequate representation by persons with
disabilities. Representatives must also have effective links to their local
community. The role of the proposed advisory committees needs to be integrated
with other local advisory committees that have accessibility mandates, such as
we have in Ottawa. I think previous speakers have noted that as well.

Secondly, funding: The background documentation included with the provincial
legislation refers to a variety of funding sources and initiatives that have
been introduced by the government during the past few years. We believe it's
important to note that often funding initiatives are not necessarily
integrated. One initiative may create unintended impacts in other areas for
persons with disabilities.

In Ottawa, there are thousands of children with disabilities who require early
intervention services and additional support programs to respond to their very
specific needs. Across our community, there are programs such as children's
mental health programs, speech and language programs, and various early years
intervention programs. Those are all important programs in our community
infrastructure. But programs typically have specific age targets or
length-of-service targets which do not necessarily reflect the ongoing and
changing needs of children with disabilities. Some programs provide services
only to a specific age, such as the local Success by Six program and the First
Words program. These are incredibly important programs in our community, but
they are limited to a specific age group, and those limits are often defined by
the funding sources. Children with disabilities need ongoing intervention and
support, but the funding for these types of programs is often age-specific.
Success by Six, as an example, should not mean Nothing by Nine. Children with
disabilities become adults with disabilities. The nature of the disabilities
may change over time, but generally they do not disappear. Programs and funding
mechanisms need to reflect the changing needs of users, particularly the needs
of children and adults with disabilities.

We'd like to focus on another example, and that's the education system. Current
provincial education funding formulas do not provide sufficient funding for
local school boards to deliver appropriate special education programs and
services needed by all children with disabilities. In order to achieve a
barrier-free community, we need to ensure adequate funding is available to
support children, youth and adults in reaching their potential. This means
funding is required not only for physical modifications to buildings and
facilities etc, but also to ensure that adequate programs and services are
available across the community to meet the changing needs of people with
disabilities. Additional funding must be available to employers, organizations,
community groups, and to individuals and families to modify existing buildings,
remove barriers and create a barrier-free environment. Additional funding needs
to be made available through the taxation system, grant funding programs and
other financial incentives.

Further funding needs to be made available for local school boards to provide
adequate and appropriate special education programs that respond to the choices
and needs of all students with a disability. Furthermore, additional funding
needs to be made available to ensure that all students with a disability have
access to accommodation resources and supports, adaptive devices etc, to ensure
full participation in the educational system.

Additional funding needs to be made available across the community to ensure
adequate community-based programs and services exist to respond to the changing
needs of people with disabilities. This is a particular concern with services
that have been downloaded from senior levels of government to local

Additional funding needs to be made available for all employers to integrate
and accommodate the needs of disabled persons in the workplace.

Additional funding is required for low-income persons receiving Ontario Works
and Ontario disability support program funding. Low-income persons with a
disability have added expenses and barriers such as access to affordable
transportation, housing, adaptive and special devices, special diets, etc.

There are successful examples of the public and private sectors working
together to achieve barrier-free environments, and we need to build on these
best practices. An example is the United States.

Community design: the Ottawa district CNIB believes that creating a
barrier-free community requires the integration of land use planning approaches
within an overall strategy, one that is committed to improving the quality of
life for all residents. Land use planning, bylaw development, regulatory
development etc all should include barrier-free criteria. Other policy and
regulation development should also include a similar assessment.

We need to create, build and support local groups that will design barrier-free
communities. We believe it can be achieved when we develop appropriate local
official plans, bylaws and regulatory frameworks. For example, the planning of
a new housing subdivision and all of its amenities -- whether that's schools,
playgrounds, parks, recreational facilities, transportation systems -- needs to
be assessed within "barrier-free" criteria. At the same time, we also need a
commitment for support and funding for the redesign of infrastructure,
community facilities, buildings, parks etc in those communities that are
already established in order to ensure they become barrier-free environments.

We need to be aware of the impacts of design on all residents. Removing
barriers must not result in other negative, unintended impacts. Changes must
make sense for all residents and improve quality of life across the entire
community that we live in.

At this point I would like to provide a personal context in terms of imbedding
those concepts and visions in the kind of community we hope to build. As Bill
indicated, I'm a member of the board. I'm a parent of a visually impaired
youth; he was born with visual impairment. He has congenital glaucoma, a
degenerative eye disease. He has 10% vision in one eye only. He wears a
prosthetic appliance in the other eye. He is 15 years old. He is absolutely
curious about the entire world. He loves to debate and discuss ideas. He races
on a local downhill ski team. He won a silver medal in the disabled Canadian
championships out west this spring. He volunteers and he's a student council
representative. He's totally engaged. I talk about him from the point of view
of his self-esteem, because our son doesn't see himself as being disabled. He
sees himself as being able. He always has. "I might do some things differently,
I might experience the world differently, but I can do and I can take on
anything that I desire." I think that's the kind of community we want to build
locally, provincially and nationally.

As parents of a visually impaired child, we've learned some lessons. We
absolutely think that individuals with disabilities have to have a strong voice
in defining and implementing the change in their communities.

Over the years we have also learned that children with disabilities need a lot
of support. They need access to early intervention programs and services.
Families need to be supported. Children and families need to learn new skills
of daily living, need to be supported in the major transitions from home to
school, from school to work environments, participating and contributing in
local communities. We have to develop, nurture and support positive

Children with disabilities become adults with disabilities. We believe a
successful barrier-free environment will be one that adapts, that accommodates,
recognizes and values all members of the community.


The Chair: We have approximately two minutes per caucus.

Mr Martin: Thank you for so adequately explaining the diverse face of people
with disabilities in community and the need to address their needs.

The criticism of this bill by some has been that it focuses solely on issues of
mobility and accessibility in terms of buildings and this kind of thing. You
mentioned, for example, the need for children in education to have the support
and necessary resources to maximize their capacity to learn and to participate.
That obviously takes a lot of money, and there is no money attached to this
bill. There's no reference to the spending of any money. The government will
make the case, I'm sure, that we're going to be running $5 billion short in the
next fiscal year. What would you say to the government in terms of the kinds of
resources that are needed -- money -- and where they might get that money?

Ms Hendrick: That's an easy question. In terms of funding, the message we would
like to leave with the members of the committee is that individuals with
disabilities are members of our community, and that we need to invest in
people, that we need to invest in programs and services, that we need to invest
in facilities, and that we need to create policies that remove barriers, that
create very inclusive communities and societies. If the question is, do we have
all the money tomorrow in this province? the answer is probably no. But if
there is a vision of what we want to achieve, there can be a way to achieve
that vision. As parents of a disabled child, I think we would be looking for
the government to demonstrate leadership, to make some of those financial
commitments, to have a clear plan and to have accountability for how we are
moving toward the achievement of that plan.

Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much for your presentation this morning. I would
also like to directly thank you for sharing the personal story and the real
story of being given the opportunity to be all they can be. I pick up on that
because, as a trustee, for a number of years I served on the special-ed
advisory committee and I am very familiar with where we've been and where your
15-year-old son has been and where we are. I would make the argument that for
years much of the identified funding in special education was developing
programs and other things. But now it is with ISA and other types. There's
never enough, but it is now being clearly more directly related to the delivery
of support services. I'm very proud of what the government, the Ministry of
Education, is doing and must continue to do to improve opportunities for people
who need support systems.

I was also impressed with the need for supports. In some respects there are
supports in this legislation. If you look at the preamble and at some of the
beginning framework, it provides for that -- in my view and I'll let you
respond. There was an opportunity between 1990 and 1995 for a vision to evolve
and a commitment to evolve. As you said, I think this is a vision, a framework,
an opportunity and a model that has the mechanisms for, first of all, access,
input and accommodation for people.

I'd like you to respond to that because that's what this is. This is the
visioning process. It isn't all the answers. A prescriptive solution is far too
early. It pre-empts most of the discussion we are here to hear about.
Ms Hendrick: I would agree the proposed legislation is setting out a vision of
where we want to go as a community and as a province. On behalf of CNIB, Ottawa
branch, we really commend that direction. But it also needs to be more than a
vision. A vision needs to be adequately resourced, supported and funded, and I
think, in principle, in terms of moving beyond a voluntary approach and looking
for stakeholders to be all stakeholders across the community. That requires
more than just a vision statement. That requires taking the vision statement
and operationalizing it in terms of what that means financially, fiscally, and
how initiatives would actually be developed and implemented and rolled out
across the community.

Mr McGuinty: Thank you very much for your presentation, and particularly, thank
you for sharing with us your experience connected with your son. I agree. I
think one of the most important things we can hold before us is an ideal that
inspires our efforts and informs our thinking, but at the same time we have to
nail that down to bedrock and give expression to our commitment through
concrete measures. We need standards. We need timelines. We need both carrots
and sticks, acknowledging that we are dealing with people, and acknowledging
human nature. I think a very important ideal in all this is, what do we want to
achieve here in Ontario? What kind of society do we want to lend shape to? I
don't believe we should be running the race that makes us the lowest-taxed
jurisdiction. What we should be looking for, shooting for, is a place where
people are at their best.

Frankly, if your son does well, I do well. It's not just a moral imperative to
ensure he can achieve his potential, but in a knowledge-based economy we need
everybody at their best, so it becomes an economic imperative at the same time.

I don't have so much a question for you, but just to express my appreciation
for your comments and for championing the cause you're championing. I'm sure
your son gets his commitment and drive, at least in part, from his mother. The
apple never falls far from the tree. We look forward to hearing more about him
and others just like him right across the province.

The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.

I would point out to the members that checkout time is prior to 1 o'clock

Mr O'Toole: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I wouldn't mind hearing from
participants today on the suitability of the accommodations here for these
hearings and any suggestions they may have. I put that to the public for all
support systems. It's important for us, as we go through this, to recognize not
what we think essentially, but the people who can easily identify shortcomings.

I want, through you, Mr Chair, to be affirmed that all the accommodations
during these hearings will meet with every requirement in supporting special
needs. I am concerned with Windsor. I want to be assured that there will be no
lack of system supports for the very group of the population we are trying to
hear from. Without being critical, if I can be satisfied, then my point is

The Chair: I would consider that a point of order. If anyone has some input to
submit to the committee, I strongly suggest that you address the correspondence
to myself as Chair of the committee. I can certainly make sure the three
parties receive copies of the correspondence.

Furthermore, on the point you raised with regard to Windsor, we have changed
the venue in Windsor. I think it is the Sheraton Casino Windsor Hotel.
Apparently it's more appropriate. I don't want to say the other facility was
not accessible, but apparently this one is more appropriate. Mr O'Toole, with
regard to the subcommittee report -- I don't have them with me -- there are
some lists that are provided -- I do have them; I'm sorry -- with regard to
some guidelines provided by human rights and disability access, the Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship, that deal with signage, that deal with transit
services. Basically it deals with accessible facilities in the province of

I commend the clerks and their staff because they've done an excellent job in
trying to provide the facilities and the support people to make sure that
everyone who addresses the committee is accommodated. From what I've observed
this morning, I would say kudos to the clerks for doing this.

Mr Martin: To bring to people's attention and to give kudos -- as we are giving
them out now -- to research, we asked for a document that would indicate to us
what's happening in other jurisdictions, both in Canada and abroad. Research
has put on the table, this morning, helpful documentation on that which we
should all take a look at. If there are people out there who want to have a
look at that information, it is now available through the clerk's office,
legislative research. We should be able to facilitate or help you, if
necessary, to get your hands on that so we can see how we stack up where other
jurisdictions are concerned in this very important area of legislation and
regulation where accessibility and disabilities are concerned.

The Chair: To clarify your point, apparently there are copies available
immediately if people so desire.

Mr Martin: It's a very good document.

The Chair: With that, this committee is recessed until 1:30 this afternoon.

The committee recessed from 1201 to 1331.

The Chair: Good afternoon, everyone. Since we have to vacate the premises by 4
o'clock, we'll start right away and make sure we're on time. We don't have as
much time to play with as we had this morning.

Our first presentation this afternoon is Mr Chris Stark. On behalf of the
committee, welcome, and you have 15 minutes for your presentation this

Mr Chris Stark: Thank you and good afternoon. I appreciate the opportunity of
being with you. I come as a citizen, although I'm a member of many
organizations, including Guide Dog Users of Canada, the National Federation of
the Blind: Advocates for Equality and on and on.

My point this afternoon is to raise one issue, namely, the effect of the
proposed bill on the private sector. There are many other things I could say,
but they've probably been better said by others. While I'm not an active member
of the Ontarians with Disabilities Committee, I've read their material and
support their 11 principles, and what will be will be.

We try to live independently in the community and be the best we can be as
contributing citizens. We look to our government and society for the supports
and inclusive strategies that allow us to do that. For me, will this bill do
that? I invite you, the next time you go to the grocery store, to close your
eyes and figure out how you'd do it by yourself. Can you read the prices? Can
you read the product labels? Can you in fact even find out what's in what
aisle? Those are the kinds of barriers we face every day because organizations
doing business in this province, good corporate citizens, do not serve or feel
the need to serve all citizens. They are looking on us as an unnecessary and
unjustifiable business expense. My disability is their attitudes, not my visual
impairment. However, their attitudes handicap me in living in the community:
not being able to read a prescription direction from the pharmacist; not being
able to read the receipt to know if I've paid the right price for something.

I do have a job, although I'm here as a private citizen today representing
nothing other than my one vote in this province. But I do pay taxes. I'm
fortunate in being able to work and don't have a problem paying taxes. I do
have a problem, though, with spending my money unnecessarily and being, for
want of a better term, fleeced by an economy that thinks it's fine to give
sighted people information about sales and product reductions and not blind
people, and with a Human Rights Commission that is totally useless when it
comes to providing opportunities for people who are blind to get access to the
same information you take for granted.

When I look at the fourth principle that ODA has advanced in this bill, I don't
see anything in the bill that's going to require this hotel next week to have
tactile markings on their washroom doors so that I know with confidence I'm
going into the men's washroom. Look at the washroom outside the bar; you'll
find no tactile markings. When I go to the Delta Hotel in Toronto, I don't have
an accessible thermostat in my room. I can't tell whether I'm putting it up or
down when I adjust the heat. Those things aren't high-cost, high-tech things
putting ma and pa businesses out of business; they are simple basics of
everyday life. Where your bill needs to be amended, and I urge you to amend it,
is in the area of saying to businesses, "If you want to do business in Ontario,
serve all Ontarians or do your business elsewhere." Stand up and be counted.
Give people the chance to benefit from the economy, from what commercial
activities are out there. The next time you go to a restaurant, can you get a
menu in Braille?

We don't have to look any further than your committee, and I do compliment the
organizers for their orientation and making us feel at home here today. The
only agenda I can get is a written one in print. I'm sure somebody else has
mentioned that to you. I don't have a super memory. I can't remember more than
three or four things with any degree of accuracy, and what I remember now is
not the way I'll remember it two hours from now. By saying to somebody, "Oh,
well, you can remember nine choices or 20 choices on a menu," is not really the
same as giving me a menu I can read. The only restaurants I know of that have
Braille menus in Ontario are American restaurants that have it because of the
Americans with Disabilities Act and find it cheaper to simply do the same thing
in Canada.

What we need in Ontario is some statement by the government of Ontario that
businesses have some responsibility to provide services to everyone, including
people who are blind. I don't think your bill does it. In fact, I think the
crafters of the bill are ducking the issue of making the private sector
accommodate people with disabilities. You say, "Oh, well, the barrier-free
design standard and the barrier-free design requirements basically focus on
physical access needs, particularly for people who use wheelchairs," and while
they're important and needed in society, there is more to disability than
wheelchairs. I think your act has to step outside of that stereotype of
disability and do some things for us other people with disabilities.

You have a service animal and you go into a store, and you have people trying
to get you to leave because they feel that service animal is not allowed to be
there. There is the need for training and there is the need for a requirement
that anybody who does business in Ontario certify that they're qualified to
serve all, including persons with disabilities. Mandatory awareness training is
an equally important part of the whole equation of making Ontario an inclusive
place where people with disabilities will be proud to live.
I know most of this is crafted in stone and you've already decided what you're
going to do and probably coming here is a waste of time, but we keep trying to
be included and keep making the effort. The question is, are you going to give
us a helping hand, not in 20 years but tomorrow, today, so that the next time I
go take a taxi in Toronto, as happened last summer, I'm not going to be refused
to be carried, and when the door person of the hotel reports it to the taxi
commission, the commission is almost powerless to deal with it.


My point is, either I have dignity and the right to know how much I'm being
charged, have the right to know that I'm not putting rat poison in my soup when
I make soup because I can't read the product label, either I have the right to
know that I am being charged the right amount when I pay for a bill, or I
don't. That's really the question you will answer when you give your amendments
to your bills. Most of what I'd like to see is low-cost or no-cost, and they're
going to affect such good corporate citizens as Canadian Tire, which refuses to
make their sales flyers available in a format blind people can read; Sears
Canada, which doesn't make their accounts available in a format I can read;
Loblaws, which doesn't make their promotional material available. I give you
specific names because I'm not talking about undue hardship and I'm not talking
about putting a company into bankruptcy by letting me save a couple of dollars
too. I'm talking about big business and big exclusion, and I don't see where
your bill is going to deal with that.

I have a few minutes left in my 15 minutes. If anybody wants to debate that
with me, I'd be happy to do so. Otherwise, I'll go on my way and do the best I
can, and if you can give us a helping hand by making the private sector more
accommodating, then I will, down the road, say thank you.

The Chair: We have approximately a minute and a half per caucus, and I'll start
with the government side.

Mr Spina: Mr Stark, thank you very much, along with your friend, for joining us
today. What's his name?

Mr Stark: His name is Richie Guide Dog, and Richie has worked with me for
nearly two years. I had another one for 10 years before him and had equal
challenges of acceptance. They're lovable creatures, but some people think
they're not welcome.

Mr Spina: I'm interested in the comments you made about some of the private
sector's potential for making it better and easier for blind people to access
their services and goods. I have two short questions. I'm going to ask you both
questions and then I'll let you decide how you want to answer them, OK?

You work for a federal agency. As part of the work that you do, are there any
elements of that job that you think we should be looking at that would assist
people like yourself?

The second question has to do specifically with the private sector, which you
mentioned. I wondered if you could suggest some thresholds, perhaps. You talked
about big business, you talked about sale products, communication, marketing
pieces and that sort of thing. Have you got any ideas on the threshold of where
businesses ought to be told to get into accessibility? Should it be the size of
the business, by employees? Should it be by their gross sales? Should it be by
the size of the store?

The Chair: You're going to have to wrap it up, Mr Spina.

Mr Spina: Those are my questions.

Mr Stark: Firstly, since I'd like to be employed tomorrow, I'm not representing
my employer. I'm here as a private citizen with time off. That employment has
given me an opportunity to briefly give you a bit of an answer, because I've
been lucky to have the experiences I've had and the inclusions I've had.

I think the issue is if a company can make an accommodation without unduly
affecting its ability to function, then it should. Twenty years ago you had the
same arguments about the costs of ramps and automatic door openers. What I need
costs far less than an automatic door opener. A thermostat that I can read is a
thermostat that doesn't cost much to make if you do it en masse. So I think my
answer to you is, you can't draw the threshold in any way, shape or form except
to say it's a cost that all society will bear and you can put that cost in the
price of your goods, which we all pay. For example, Bell Canada charges us all
13 cents a month for the Bell relay service for people with disabilities.


Mr Stark: Well, 15. But we all pay it. There are lots of things I pay for that
I can't use. So the issue is it's a cost of doing business. I'll leave it
there. I'm certainly available to the committee at another time to answer it in
greater depth, but my 15 minutes is up.

The Chair: No, we still have a couple of questions. For the official
opposition, Mr Parsons.

Mr Parsons: Mr Stark, an interesting presentation. How did you find out about
the opportunity to present today?

Mr Stark: I found out through the Ottawa advisory committee on the ODA that
sent out an e-mail and then I simply phoned the number.

Mr Parsons: It wasn't any advertising or radio?
Mr Stark: No, sir.

Mr Parsons: How do you find out about public hearings on other issues when they
come to Ottawa?

Mr Stark: Mostly through word of mouth from blind people and other interested
people, a network of people with disabilities. The mainstream media are
particularly uninterested in disability issues. Just to throw one out that's
not within your jurisdiction, new technology that comes on the scene, like
on-screen programming for televisions and cable -- there's no reason why that
can't be made accessible to blind people. You've already got the speakers and
the television. So no, I don't find out very much information through
mainstream media.

Mr Parsons: Do you have trouble accessing provincial government information in
a form that you can use?

Mr Stark: Some things yes, although I will have to give the provincial
government some compliments for their Web sites. In general, it is not too bad
to use for a person who has a computer with a screen reader. It could be
better, but when you come to things like Queen's Printer documents, when you
come to things like department publications, no. Most staff don't know how to
get that information to me. So from that perspective your bill may do a lot to
help, but from the perspective of getting that information now, it is
difficult. The Web has made it easier.

Mr Martin: Thank you very much for coming here today. Certainly, your concern
is consistent with the voice that we've heard in a confident way since people
have had a chance to look at this legislation, particularly in the area of it
not doing anything to force the private sector to change its ways or invest in
new ways of accommodating folks with disabilities, and the question of
enforcement across the board.

This morning we've heard from a couple of people, on one hand, that the city of
Ottawa is doing some pretty marvellous things to get people around. Then we
hear from other folks who say that's fine, except that when you get to where
you're going you can't get in. They talked about the Byward Market. One
gentleman talked about a coffee shop, I guess, that just went up close to his
home that, because of one step, he can't access either. What's your experience
there, and do you think this bill will in any way improve that circumstance for
you and your colleagues who are blind?

Mr Stark: To the extent that it encourages the review through an inclusion lens
of any application for new or renovated construction, it has the potential. I'm
surprised and continue to be appalled that I can't go to places like a Harvey's
restaurant without walking on the "in" and "out" ramp that cars use, because
there isn't a sidewalk connecting the front door to the city sidewalk. In the
Signature mall out in Kanata that has just opened three weeks ago, it is very
difficult to find the entrances to the stores because they've blended them all
into the windows, you know, trying to make it look like it's all blended
together. We need contrast and distinctiveness to do that.

My answer to you is, I don't see anything there that says, "If you want a new
permit in Ontario to do anything, prove to the people giving you the permit
that it is accessible. If it ain't accessible, then come back with the proof
that it will be." That doesn't cost anybody anything about the things that are
already there. It means if you want to do something new, make sure that blind
people are going to be able to find the front door.

The Chair: We've run out of time. On behalf of the committee, thank you very
much for your presentation this afternoon.

Mr Stark: Thank you for listening. I'll look forward to hearing what you decide
about my modest request.



The Chair: Our next presentation is from Evelyn Millward. I would ask the
presenter to please come forward and state your name for the record. On behalf
to the committee, welcome.

Ms Evelyn Millward: My name is Evelyn Millward. This is my reader for my
presentation, George Hendry. With this lighting it makes it even more
difficult, but I came prepared with a reader because I wouldn't be able to see
my presentation. George is going to read for me the presentation I forwarded to
the committee and the words I have been able to add since I got the notice last
Friday. I had until Tuesday to submit my name for today. George will read the
introduction I was prepared to make on my own, but I'm unable to see it.

The Chair: Thank you very much. You can go ahead.

Ms Millward: The first item is the letter dated November 30 of this year,
Ottawa public hearing on Bill 125, addressed to Susan Sourial.

"Madam Clerk:

"I wish to thank the government for this opportunity to present in person my
November 18, 2001, submission on Bill 125, which you have in front of you

"In the preparation time allowed for this hearing, I have been able to add a
few words and still stay within the 20 minutes I am allowed for my

"I wish to thank you for permitting George Hendry to read my prepared

A letter dated November 17, 2001:

"Dear Clerk:

"Submission to public hearings on Bill 125."

This is my submission to make Bill 125 strong and effective. Bill 125 will need
to be amended in key areas to fulfill the goals set by the people with
disabilities and by the government's own vision statement.

Here are five key amendments: (1) requiring barriers to be removed and
prevented within specific time frames fixed in the bill; (2) ensuring that the
bill extends requirements for barrier removal and prevention to the private
sector, as well as the public sector; (3) establishing a truly effective
consultative and inclusive process for regulation-making and setting standards,
which ensures the disability community a voice in these key areas; (4) creating
effective ways to enforce the legislation; (5) strengthening the advisory
councils at both the provincial levels so that they have teeth, are accountable
to the disability community and cannot be ignored.

If the government can give the disability community a central role now by
accepting amendments that are put forward by people with disabilities -- my
vision loss is caused by age-related macular degeneration, and my hearing loss
is caused by hereditary otosclerosis -- then the government has an opportunity
to show that they support their words with real action in the upcoming public
hearings on Bill 125. The government will show by their actions that the
amended bill will ensure that it will do what the government now claims it will
do for Ontarians of all ages, from birth to old age, with disabilities. This
legislation will require organizations to remove and prevent barriers, not just
make plans.

"I have made my `application of request for public hearings' to the clerk of
the standing committee on justice and social policy. I am requesting that my
submission" to the standing committee on justice and social policy "be heard in
.. the city of Brockville in eastern Ontario." Evelyn Millward of Brockville.

This next portion is in extremely fine print and time did not permit its being

This shows that in significant part this bill repeats matters that are already
law in Ontario and offers up measures that the Ontario government could have
undertaken throughout its two terms without needing new legislation. The
government says that under this bill the Ontario government will lead by
example. Yet the government has said it has been leading by example on this
issue throughout its mandate.
The government has made a number of important statements about what persons
with disabilities need and seek in this legislation. We agree with many of
those statements. This bill does not live up to those statements. It does not
achieve the great benefits for Ontarians with disabilities, for Ontario's
business community and for all Ontarians that a strong and effective ODA could
bring us all.

The above five key amendments are designed to achieve four goals: to make the
bill include all the things that the government says it includes; to bring the
bill into full compliance with all 11 principles for the ODA, which the
Legislature unanimously adopted by resolution on October 29, 1998; to ensure
that the bill is strong and effective, in accordance with this Legislature's
unanimous November 23, 1999, resolution; and to clarify the bill's often vague
and confusing wording. Due to the Legislature's rushed timetable for debating
the bill and for public hearings, we have not had enough time for research and
for as full a consultation on our proposed amendments as we feel persons with
disabilities deserve.

The five above amendments would make the bill's purpose the achievement of a
barrier-free Ontario; require barriers to be removed and prevented within
specific time frames; require that important regulations under the bill be made
within time frames set in the bill; ensure that the bill extends requirements
for barrier removal and prevention to the private sector, as well as the public
sector; strengthen provisions seeking to prevent new barriers from being
created with taxpayers' money; establish a truly effective consultative and
inclusive process for regulation-making and setting standards which ensure the
disability community a voice in these important decisions; establish effective
ways to enforce the legislation; and strengthen the provincial advisory council
and the municipal advisory committees so that they have teeth, are accountable
to the disability community and cannot be ignored.


Conclusion: The issue before the Legislature in Ontario is not whether Bill 125
is a "good first step." That expression dramatically lowers the bar. After six
and a half years, Ontarians with disabilities deserve more than a first step.
We seek an ODA which is strong and effective, as this Legislature unanimously
promised us on November 23, 1999. We call for amendments that will fulfill that
promise. We urge the standing committee and the Legislature to give these
proposed amendments -- and amendments which others will propose -- the time,
consideration and debate they deserve. We are eager to do what we can to help
achieve our dream of a barrier-free Ontario.

The Chair: We have approximately two and a half minutes per caucus.

Ms Millward: Excuse me. I'm not able to hear the voice. Can you indicate where
it is coming from?

The Chair: Yes, it is the Chair. I'm directing as to who is going to be posing

Ms Millward: Is your hand up? Are you there or there?

The Chair: I'm in front of you.

Ms Millward: You are the person speaking?

Mr Patten: Yes. My name is Richard Patten. I'm the MPP for Ottawa Centre, the
riding in which you are here today.

Ms Millward: I won't be able to hear you. I'm sorry. The sound system is not
working with my earphones. So you can go ahead but I won't be able to hear your

Mr Patten: I'm sorry about that. Let me thank you for being here. It was a very
thoughtful presentation indeed. I agree with the idea that after six years, we
should not be a in a position, once the legislation is through, for anyone to
say, "Well, it is a good start." That would be a tremendous disappointment, and
I'm sure the members on the committee, most of them, feel the same way. I hope
when we get to amendments they will support the amendments that we hear from
people like yourselves in terms of what is there.

You did identify an area -- most people and certainly the non-government
members feel that way -- where there is little challenge to the private sector,
especially for this government, which has such a good relationship with the big
corporations, to come and pull up at the table and participate in that. Do you
have specific recommendations related to involving the private sector in this
particular piece of legislation?

Ms Millward: I believe that my presentation is very self-explanatory. I don't
think I need to explain that to you. A businessman is somebody who wants to
sell something, whether it is to a disabled person or not. Disabled people --


Ms Millward: What is this? No, I don't think that is going to work. Anyway, it
is not for me to hear; it is for Richard to hear what I'm saying.

I believe that my presentation is very simple and self-explanatory. The
question you're asking is so simple that it really doesn't need an answer. By
the private sector, we mean business people. They would be happy to have the
disabled community in their shops, in their businesses, using their services
and their products if some barriers were now removed and future barriers did
not exist.

The Chair: Mrs Millward, it's Marcel Beaubien, the Chair of the committee
speaking to you. I will direct the next question to Mr Martin who's on your

Mr Martin: Over here. I don't really have a direct question to you because I
think you're absolutely right. The points you make in your submission are clear
and to the point. If the government is at all interested in taking these
hearings seriously, they will indicate so by tabling amendments next week that
will fix this bill and make it work for everybody out there who is disabled.

What I want to put on the record, because you, I think, highlight it so
clearly, is the fact that the government in its haste to push this bill through
before Christmas, after keeping us all waiting for six years before tabling it
and the fact that it affects 1.6 million Ontario citizens, if we had --
Ms Millward: That's more than a year ago. It was 1.5 million.

Mr Martin: If we had waited until after Christmas and used that January,
February and March period, we could have gone to Brockville, which is a
suggestion that you made. We could have gone to a number of other communities
across the province, in eastern Ontario, western Ontario and particularly
northern Ontario, from my own perspective, and heard from people re the unique
circumstances that are presented in those areas where disabilities are

The other thing that needs to be recognized here -- and this is not casting any
aspersions on the staff of the committee -- is that when you are trying to
accommodate, listen to and include people with disabilities, you've got to be
aware of some of the unique circumstances for people like yourself in terms of
your ability to hear and work very hard to make sure that the facility we use
is acoustically friendly. I believe you also mentioned that the lighting wasn't
good in terms your ability to read here. That's something else we probably
could have dealt with more effectively had we taken the time that I think is
there for us in January, February and March to actually have these meetings and
have dealt with those things.

The Chair: Question, please.

Mr Martin: I don't have a question. I'm putting those issues on the table.

Ms Millward: Are your comments that you're making to me going on the record?
Are they going to be written down and given to somebody who does have authority
to take some action?

Mr Martin: They'll be written down. I don't think we are going to get much
action except, on the question of the amendments, I hope that we will see
amendments that will reflect that they've listened to the consistent message we
are hearing here today and I suggest we will hear over the next week in terms
of the speed at which these hearings are being held and the limited number of
communities. I'm not sure.

The Chair: Mr Martin, I've asked you to pose a question. I have to go to the
government side.

Mrs Millward, it's Marcel Beaubien, again. I will address the question to the
government member Mr O'Toole, who's on your left.

Ms Millward: All right. There. I'll try to hear you.

Mr O'Toole: Thank you for your presentation, Ms Millward. I appreciate it. We
have received it and it will be given every consideration.

Ms Millward: May I ask a question? Of the people who are sitting here, how many
are elected representatives of the government of Ontario and how many are not?
Can someone tell me?

Mr Spina: There are eight elected members.

Mr Patten: Five government members and three opposition members.

The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.

Ms Millward: Thank you very much for having me.



The Chair: Our next presentation this afternoon is from Disabled and Proud. I
would ask the presenters to please come forward and state your name for the
record. On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 20 minutes for your
presentation this afternoon.

Mr Charles Matthews: Good afternoon, everybody. Sorry for my voice. It is a
little raspy. I lost it on Labour Day weekend during our muscular dystrophy
telethon and I still haven't got it back yet.

You should have before you a copy of what we're going to be speaking to today.
One thing we'll be taking out is the 11 principles, because I'm sure you're all
aware of the 11 principles by now and you've seen them many times over. The 11
principles, though, will be addressed.

I wish to start by introducing ourselves. My name is Charles Matthews. I'm
president of Disabled and Proud. Behind me is Jean Wyatt, vice-president.

We are Disabled and Proud, a group that represents over 200 individuals and
groups in the Ottawa area. Those numbers are approximately 1,000 if you count
the members of the groups as individual members. I was told yesterday that
we've also been known as DAP, so we must be going someplace.

Disabled and Proud is a group of disabled persons run by the disabled and
worked on by the disabled, and is a collection of voices that are of the
disabled. Our group has grown to include the province, this great country of
Canada, and also the globe through our club on the World Wide Web, in which we
have currently over 60 members and groups.

Disabled and Proud was formed as a group of the disabled community who were
frustrated with the problems our community was facing during a labour dispute
our para system was having. Our stakeholders were being held hostage by this
dispute, and we sought a way to take the proverbial bull by the horns and try
to get our rights back. We were part of a group back then called Access Ottawa
and only numbered four. But Access Ottawa attracted over 60 during this time
and thus we had a larger voice. Access Ottawa held a rally or march, whatever
you wish to call it, that literally shut down the rush hour public
transportation drive home in May of this year. We really were surprised to see
the support we got from the great citizens of this city. We had our service
back within the week.

Disabled and Proud was formed right then and there, as many individuals liked
what they saw and felt. They soon came to realize that Disabled and Proud
represented only the truth and that what we stand for is equality and truth. We
went on to represent our own group starting at the Ottawa 20/20 summit which
was held here in Ottawa in the spring, and the rest is history.

Some of the accomplishments we have had so far are that we reshaped Parliament
Hill with great co-operation of the federal government. I'll ad lib here and
tell you that you might want to read the current issue of Abilities Magazine,
page 53, which you should all have a copy of. We have voluntarily conducted
many accessibility studies, one of which was on city hall here in Ottawa. Of
course the city didn't mention that it was Disabled and Proud that started
this. We were responsible for the representation at the Ottawa 20/20 summit,
and even Mayor Bob Chiarelli said that we, the disabled, were heard and the
city will include the disabled in all aspects of work that the city will do
from here on. As a result of this, they have now formed the accessibility
advisory committee and other groups and subgroups. In our short time, we have
accomplished so much, which I can relate at another time, as we have some
important words to share with you today that are of more urgency than our

The ODA, Bill 125: the opening prayer at Queen's Park that we share each and
every session has a sentence that we feel has not really been heard, but
noticed ever so casually. These words are, "Guide us to understand the needs of
the people we serve." The ODA committee has spoken for many years. Queen's Park
has said they heard ODAC on November 23, 1999, but as evident in the tabling of
this bill, it is quite clear that the government should revisit their prayer
and truly open their hearts to what was asked for on that wonderful day. We
felt special for a change, as we thought the government really started to stand
up and take notice of what the disabled community was trying to do. I guess we
expected a little too much. The 11 principles that we refer to constantly were
expected to be heard loud and clear. I guess they were not.

Today we stand here to ask that the government really take note of the 69 pages
of amendments that we, the disabled community -- and I'll ad lib here that
Disabled and Proud was part of this -- through the collaborative efforts of the
ODA committee, have come up with. David Lepofsky and the ODA committee have
filed these separately, and these we stand by wholeheartedly.

I was in a phone conversation with Cam Jackson's office last week -- and I
cleared this with the secretary with whom I had the conversation. "Why does
your group not acknowledge that this is the best thing that's on the books
right now for the disabled community?" We replied, "The most important word we
want to make sure is heard is the word `but' and everything that is said behind
the word `but.'" We at Disabled and Proud say yes, this is the best that's been
committed to by any government as legislation, but -- and I repeat "but" -- it
is a far cry from what we expected and what we feel was a golden opportunity
for the government of Ontario to show some true leadership by tabling what the
disabled community needs and wants.

I have a couple of fillers here.

You know the 11 principles that we the disabled community and everyone else
expected to be in the ODA. We were planning to go over them at this point, but
there are other items that we'd like to discuss. If you're following this on
paper, you might want to go to the end of page 4. These are the 11 principles
-- and you all know them pretty well by now -- that must be put back in an ODA
or it will not be what the disabled people of Ontario need or want.

The government has stated that they are backed by some organizations, but with
our contacts we find that their "buts" were not picked up either. As a matter
of fact, we have a whole lot of organizations -- and you know that a lot of
them made a contribution at Queen's Park a couple of weeks ago with a letter,
those being, for instance, the Alzheimer Society, the paraplegic society, the
Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and so on and
so forth. There were a lot of them, and they're saying, "But it has to be
stronger, more effective. There have to be time guidelines. There has to be
something more there." As a matter of fact, a whole lot of organizations feel
the same way we do.

As the bill stands now, we get the feeling that as the federal government has
passed this on to the provinces, the Ontario government is passing the buck on
to the municipalities. This will not affect small places like Rockland.
Rockland is a small town with a population of less than 10,000 people. A couple
of our members are from there. They will not be covered. There will be nothing
mandatory, not even the plans that populations of 10,000 people or more have to
do. There will be nothing to really say that they have to do anything. As we
see it, this bill will pass the responsibility on to 160 geographical areas in
Ontario but not the whole province.

For many decades, all kinds of governments, as well as the private sector, have
taken a guess about what we need and want. All we are saying is, listen to the
disabled community and hear us. As it states in your opening prayer in Queen's
Park, "Guide us to understand the needs of the people we serve."


In closing, I have a couple of more comments. For instance, inaccessibility: a
lot of times, it's treated as if, "Well, it's only a small thing we
overlooked." As a good example here in the city of Ottawa, it was brought out
before that we have this fantastic O-Train. Yes, we were on that O-Train all
day yesterday during all that snow, because we wanted to do an update on it
before we came here today. The O-Train will be a fantastic mode of
transportation here in the city of Ottawa once it's fully accessible, but the
ads have read from day one, during the opening speech of the opening ceremonies
of the O-Train, that it's fully accessible. Even up to last week, the ads went
out "fully accessible." If you get off at Carling station, you can't get out of
the station if you're in a wheelchair or scooter. The elevator has never been
in operation; there are only stairs. It's things like this. They're little
oversights by the able-bodied community, not the disabled.

We find that there have been two barriers created so far with Bill 125. One was
the fact of the second reading. Many of our members, including David Lepofsky
with the ODA committee, were more or less mentioned. It wasn't promised, but it
was more implied that we would be notified so we could be there, for instance,
in regard to a second reading. We weren't going to know until the morning of
the second reading.

One thing that's in Bill 125 actually hurts us. A lot of police here in the
city of Ottawa have stated they will not enforce a $300 fine for people parking
in what we now call a disabled parking space. What are they going to do with a
$5,000 fine? This is the only thing that had any monetary value attached to it.
We find it very strong and, if anything, it creates more of a barrier than it

I'm open now for any response or questions, and I thank you for your time.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We have approximately two and a half minutes
per caucus. I'll start with Mr Martin.

Mr Martin: Thank you very much. I appreciate the comments you've made here,
particularly around the very important issue of notice and accessibility to the
actual process at Queen's Park and these hearings. We've raised that
consistently over the last couple of weeks, that there's no need to rush this,
that it's taken over six years to get to the table, so why don't we take the
time necessary to make sure everybody can participate, particularly those who
are affected most directly? Then everybody could have their input so at the end
of the day the government is completely clear as to what is required if they're
going to live up to the 11 principles of the resolution that was unanimously
passed in the Legislature.

Having said that, and knowing of your involvement and some of the work you've
done to be prepared to come here today, what would be the priorities for you in
terms of government amendment to this act?

Mr Matthews: First of all, I'll give you a little background. I have my
business administration and finance from McGill. I'm an accountant and worked
with the federal government for a long time in corporate tax. Unfortunately, I
don't do it in Ottawa any more. I've also taken a lot of courses in a lot of
things, so I do know a lot about, for instance, the way Queen's Park works, the
way different legislation is passed through in the three readings and so on.

One of the rules that I presented before our membership, and they came back and
said it sounded fantastic, was the rule on continuance. What we would probably
have liked to see here is that continuance maybe be put on this, preferably
before the 15th, before you pack it in, so therefore it can be carried on later
or, as you presented before, maybe it could be dragged out into the new year to
give us more time. But it seems that on the 11th it's going back to Queen's
Park, with maybe one or two days of clause-by-clause, and then will be enacted
into law. We feel it's open and shut, but we would have liked to see something
along the lines of continuance, where even if there is a leadership convention
and you do bring in a new sitting at Queen's Park, the 38th sitting, then it
would have been able to be brought up and continued at that point. Does that
answer your question?

Mr Martin: Yes. Thank you very much.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much, Charles and Jean, for your presentation. In
looking at the background of Disabled and Proud, I commend you for your ongoing
role to get the message out. One of the barriers is the understanding barrier,
and I think you play a very important role.

Ottawa sets a good model of engaging people who during their real lives have to
deal with things that many people who don't need those kinds of supports don't
understand, as you've described with some of the current situation.

I know the province of Ontario has a very important part economically and in
terms of population for Canada, but if you look at some of the references made
to perhaps a higher order of respect for removing barriers, they often refer to
the Americans with Disabilities Act as being a better framework. There again,
that's a national theme. But regardless of where you choose to live or
participate, you want to participate. That's what I've heard people saying. It
shouldn't matter if you're in Newfoundland or Nova Scotia or Toronto. It's
easier to pick on Toronto.

I think Quebec is the only jurisdiction, and maybe a bit in BC, that I've been
able to discover -- but what advice could you give to the federal government to
raise that bar from your perspective, not me as a provincial member? We're in
the city; we're in the capital of this country. You've just explained one
example where a municipality can't do it on its own. I think some of the
provinces certainly can't do it, and yet you want to have accessibility across
this great country. What should the federal government do?

Mr Matthews: First of all, every province is going to have to have their own
disability act. There's no getting around it with the Constitution. That means
13 different acts, of course. There's 10 different provinces and three
different territories.

Yes, there is going to have to be something done at the federal level. We've
already jumped you on that one. We've already been in contact with them back in
March. We've been working with them because there's no province that's going to
be able to tell Air Canada or VIA Rail or Parliament Hill what they have to do.
But Parliament Hill, as I mentioned, has been very co-operative with us. They
have reshaped all of the grounds at Parliament Hill. Unfortunately, buildings
are not done yet, because that was going to be done the week of September 10,
and we all know what happened on September 11. But this is still in the works
and we're still contracted to go in there, free of charge, of course -- when I
talk about contracting, I don't want you to think I want to make money here.
But once things settle down a little bit more on the Hill, we're going to --

Mr O'Toole: Have they set up timelines and deliverables, or is it "working in
co-operation" kind of language?
Mr Matthews: Right now it's been "working in co-operation," with no red tape.

Mr O'Toole: That's what we're trying to do too, I think.

Mr Matthews: Well, the thing is, not really, from what we understand. We voiced
our opinions of what we need, and if Bill 125 is the outcome of the no-red-tape
acceptance of what we're saying, I'm sorry, but Bill 125, as far as Disabled
and Proud goes, does not step up to the expectations that we had. It is the
best thing that's on the books in Canada; we're the first ones to say it. But
remember that word "but." It's not anything compared to what we expected. If we
expected a dollar to buy a loaf of bread, we've been given 10 cents. If we take
that 10 cents and go to the supermarket and ask for two slices of bread, I'm
sorry; they only sell it by the loaf. So what we're saying --
The Chair: I have to go to the official opposition. Mr Parsons.

Mr Parsons: Mr Matthews, this question may be unfair, and if it is, just tell
me, but the government has forced through a time allocation motion, which means
there will be one more hour of public debate in the House before we vote on it.
If the government allows no amendments -- and if you look at the numbers,
that's possible -- if they allow not one single amendment, which is preferable
to you and your group: no ODA or this ODA?

Mr Matthews: It's very tough. We need something on the books, but not this. I'm
really divided. It's going to have to be a decision the Ontario government's
got to make. It's not our decision.


Mr Parsons: So you're saying this bill is tied with no bill.

Mr Matthews: No, I'm really in between the two. It's very confusing because,
yes, we would like to see something there. But for instance, there's a
five-year clause in there, that you have to visit it in five years, but is
there anything where you're willing to say, "OK, we will visit it again next
year." Maybe we can look at that, or maybe it should be every six months for
the first three years until we get it right and the disabled communities say,
"This is what we need and want; that's fine." If we agree and say, "The bill as
is," it is possible it could be seven years from now until we'll even be able
to talk about this again and the government will be forced to talk about it

So it's very tough to answer that question. We've got people in our
organization who are looking at both sides. As is, it's not right.

The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.

Is Mr David Green in the audience?


The Chair: If not, I ask Mr Giles Warren to please come forward. On behalf of
the committee, welcome.

Mr Giles Warren: Good afternoon. My name is Giles Warren. Although I am a
member of the Ottawa accessibility advisory committee, I am presenting here as
an individual, as our chair will speak on behalf of the committee; in fact,
he's already spoken.

First, I would like to thank the standing committee for allowing me to make
this presentation regarding Bill 125. I would also like to thank Minister Cam
Jackson for pushing this bill, which I suspect was not high on the list of
priorities for some of his cabinet colleagues.

Because of my own disability, I have been active with accessibility issues for
many years. I am sure other presenters will delve into the detail of this bill.
Thus my presentation will mostly be general in nature.

I have always been of the opinion that a weak Ontarians with Disabilities Act
would be worse than none at all, because the general non-disabled public would
then assume the disabled were protected when in fact they were not. I have not
changed that opinion. Thus I have real trouble with this bill.

I appreciate that Minister Jackson has spent considerable time and effort, and
perhaps cajoling, to bring this bill this far, and I would really like to say
nice things about it. Unfortunately, keeping to my principles, I must be
honest. This bill is far too weak, with no enforceable areas and no involvement
of the private sector at all, as far I can see. It also has no accountability.
It calls for plans of all sorts, but plans are just that -- plans -- unless
there is regular accountability relative to those plans to ensure that what was
to be done in the plans was in fact done, or else reasons for their not being

Probably 95% of a disabled person's interactions are with the private sector,
yet there is no mention of it except very peripherally. In fact, in a couple of
areas, it goes out of its way to ensure it's not construed to cover the private
sector. Changes to other acts and codes required by Bill 125 might have a small
trickle-down effect on some accessibility aspects in the private sector, but
there is no guarantee of that.

I would like to give the committee one example of an accessibility problem in
the private sector that, in my opinion, could be helped considerably by
inclusion in Bill 125. With the gradual demise of the full-service gasoline
stations, I have been trying for about a year now to obtain information from
the major oil companies about how they serve, or plan to serve, gasoline to
their physically disabled customers who cannot pump their own gasoline.

Self-serve stations have, on a number of occasions, refused to serve me. Once
at night on Highway 417, when I was low on gasoline, I could have been left
stranded. The reply was, "We are not allowed to serve customers at a self-serve
pump." That was notwithstanding the display of a provincial handicap sticker.
At dual self-serve/full-serve stations, where three or four more cents per
litre is charged at the full-serve pumps, the disabled person must pay the
higher price, once again because attendants are not allowed to serve gasoline
at the lower priced self-serve pumps. This constitutes price discrimination
because the disabled cannot avail themselves of the cheaper offering. An offer
that simply cannot be accepted is not a true offer. There are many easy,
relatively inexpensive ways to avoid this price discrimination, but because
there is no legal requirement to do so, the oil companies have simply ignored

Canadian Tire Corp, for example, which now has only self-serve stations,
totally refused to outline their policy as to how they serve the disabled. Just
as an aside here, I wrote a fairly lengthy letter, very polite, asking them how
they intended to serve customers. Their answer was a one-liner that said, "We
continue to build industry-standard stations." That was the answer to a request
for information. That was all it said.

Other oil companies, to date, also have not provided any information on the
subject. During this quest it has been suggested, to my astonishment, that as
long as the disabled still had somewhere to buy gasoline at competitive prices,
that is, roughly self-serve prices, then they should have no complaint. That
would mean that in my own living area I could obtain gasoline at only three out
of 16 gasoline outlets, and these three could soon be gone. Imagine telling a
black person that only three of 16 stores in his area would serve him because
he was black, but as long as he still had somewhere to buy his product, he had
no complaint. Those stores refusing service or charging him more for the same
product would find themselves in court with the speed of light. Yet that is
what is happening to the physically disabled in this area.

This is true discrimination in its ugliest sense. In my opinion, not including
the private sector in Bill 125 to prohibit discrimination such as this is
omitting 95% of the job.

No one, least of all the disabled, wishes to put businesses into bankruptcy by
catering to the disabled's needs. But to totally ignore the private sector
makes the bill's value questionable. The bill must be amended in such a way
that, in the long run, most private businesses would be accessible and any
costs incurred would be considered simply part of the cost of doing business,
as it is now for such things as automatic door openers, curb cuts at malls,
special toilets etc -- driven, I might add, by firm requirements in the
building code and other codes.

Another area, in the public domain, that I would like to see specifically
addressed in Bill 125 is that of school portables. Because of an exemption in
the building code, almost every school portable in Ontario is not accessible to
a person in a wheelchair. I, personally, could not visit my own children's
classrooms because they were in portables. And new non-accessible portables are
added every year, thus creating new barriers. These non-accessible portables
restrict not only access to students, but to disabled parents and disabled
teachers. School boards must be prohibited from creating these new barriers and
must progressively make all portables accessible. The building code must be
amended to delete this exemption, and Bill 125 must be amended to address
discrimination such as this.

Because the bill only covers municipalities of 10,000 people or more, one must
assume disabled persons in smaller communities are not worthy of equal
treatment. In fact, smaller communities often, because of very limited
finances, offer the least accessibility to services and buildings for the
disabled. Their needs must be addressed in Bill 125.

In discussions, some people have stated that the act will be an overriding
authority and that the details will be included in the regulations. However, as
people who have a knowledge of such things will know, the regulations cannot
stray from the content or intent of the act. They cannot cover other areas. The
bottom line is, if it's not in the act, then do not expect it to be covered in
the regulations. That cannot happen. For action in a specific area, it must be
in the act.

Some people have also stated that once the act is proclaimed and it receives
public attention, moral suasion will bring in changes. That is not an argument
that appears realistic to me. The disabled have been around, and visible, for
decades and yet here in the year 2001 we are begging the government and the
private sector to consider our needs as citizens. When it comes to incurring
costs, moral suasion does not work.


In the private sector, businesses watch the bottom line very closely. On a
number of occasions when I have asked a business operator why they did not do
one thing or another to assist the disabled, the answer was always the same:
"The market is tight and I cannot incur costs that my competitors do not." The
oil companies have used that same argument. Also the car companies for years
used that argument to avoid adding many safety features to the automobile. In
the case of the car companies, only government legislation brought in the
needed safety features. The answer seems simple to me. When all are compelled
to act, then there is no unfair competition. Piecemeal and voluntary action in
general does not work.

If the private sector realized the financial gains to be made by accommodating
the disabled, they would be amazed. For example, we are a family of four and we
do not shop, dine or purchase products where it is not accessible or where we
feel we are not wanted because of my disability, and there are thousands just
like us. In the scheme of things that probably means millions of dollars lost
to non-accommodating establishments, not to mention the loss of convention
dollars to any city where accessibility is not of paramount importance. As an
aside, I believe that has happened a few times in some areas, where conventions
have not come here from the States, not particularly to Ottawa but to cities
without accessibility.

Specific areas in the Bill that I feel must be addressed are the lack of
timelines for any action required and the lack of penalties. If one chooses,
one can simply ignore anything required by the Bill, and the only recourse for
an individual is to lay a complaint before the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
My last complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Commission took seven years
to resolve. That was one of my own and I lost.

My area of knowledge is generally with the problems for the physically
disabled. However, I note there is a dearth of content in the Bill relative to
other disabilities, such as those for hearing, sight, intellectual etc. These
omissions should also be addressed in the Bill.

I have also read the presentation made, or to be made, to this standing
committee by the ODA committee with its many recommended changes. I fully
support those changes and hope the government will see its way clear to
incorporating them.

To conclude, I am very pleased to finally see a proposed ODA. However, to make
it strong and effective, major changes must be made. I think with the goodwill
of both the government and the disabled community we can make this bill, and
eventually the act, one of which Minister Jackson, the government and the
public will be proud. Thank you for your attention.

The Chair: We have two minutes per caucus. I'll start with the government side.

Mr O'Toole: Mr Warren, it was a pleasure speaking with you over lunch. I can
assure you I wasn't attempting to influence your presentation, nor does it
appear I did.

Mr Warren: No, you didn't.

Mr O'Toole: That's good.

Mr Warren: I have very strong opinions.
Mr O'Toole: I appreciate that you make some very strong observations, some of
which have been reported before. I'll ask you a simple question: if there was
one particular change, amendment or enhancement, whether it's on the
enforcement side or the regulations side, what would you suggest without
needing any -- for instance, as I see the bill, there's a requirement, as you
know, to review at five years. By the time they get the new directorate set up
and rolling and find the model of relationship with the minister, the ministry
and the directorate, we'll probably be in a review phase coming toward the five
years. So the input I think would be continuous. But I want to hear today: if
we were to go back to the House before Christmas and try to get this into law
and get this moving, what would that change be?

Mr Warren: One change? I'd be torn because I think you need two things: you
need some enforcement and you need to have the private sector covered. I
wouldn't want to choose because I think they're both equally important, but if
I had to choose, I would say you have to cover the private sector.

Mr Patten: Thank you very much for your succinct presentation. If I can just
follow up on the last point, because that's what I got as your loudest message:
the legislation identifies various sectors, municipalities and what have you,
organizations, agencies, its own ministries etc, but it leaves out the private
sector. I don't know why, quite frankly, because as you say -- and you're the
first one to say -- "Listen, 95% of disabled people's experience with barriers
is with the private sector. How could you leave that out at this particular
stage?" If, as you reviewed the bill, you said, OK, there's going to be in one
of the lead-ins the private sector, what would that look like? How would you
describe that?

Mr Warren: I guess one would have to simply say that in the areas where various
things are required to be done by the public sector -- without going through
line by line, which I am not going to do -- one would have to include making
sure that you're not only talking about public sector buildings, public sector
services etc, you're talking about the private sector as well, recognizing that
the private sector can't do it all at once, as I said earlier in my
presentation. No one wants to put a company out of business, that's the last
thing anyone wants, but there must be some kind of force exhibited, to some
extent, anyway, to make it happen in the private sector.

The Chair: We've run out of time. I have to go to Mr Martin.

Mr Martin: I appreciate some of your comments today. They reflect very clearly
things I've heard both at home in my own community of Sault Ste Marie and
certainly as I've talked to people with disabilities living in communities and
what we've heard so far today, the fact that it's difficult in ways that we who
aren't disabled can hardly imagine. I mean not being able to visit your
children at school. I talked to a couple of people in Sault Ste Marie who can't
visit their parents at home because they can't get into the house any more. It
used to be that they were able to, but as their disability progresses, the
bigger chair and all that kind of thing, they can no longer visit at home
unless the parents are willing to put out the $10,000 or $15,000 to get the
lifts, ramps and stuff like that in place. It's quite a challenge, but that's
not what I wanted to ask you about today.

Given your answer to the government side on the question of the private sector,
I can share with you my hunches of why we're not going to the private sector
and saying, "Here are the parameters" -- like you say, not driving them out of
business because it might be considered to be politically tainted -- but why do
you think the government's not covering the private sector with this bill?

Mr Warren: Actually, I intended to answer the other gentleman earlier in that
area. I think the government feels that with the various other acts, as I've
mentioned here, and codes that are required to be changed in the bill, there
will be a trickle-down effect because many of the codes will affect building
which would often be private, stores which would be private -- they'd have to
get permits to do this, permits to do that, to build, to make sidewalks,
whatever -- and that somehow there would be a trickle-down effect from the
changes required through the public sector that would eventually include the
private sector sort of coincidentally but, in the last analysis, actually.

I personally don't think that's a good way to go. I think we need to be upfront
and clear. We want the private sector included. That's an approach that's like
a slow-motion train. Maybe someday eventually we'll get there, but I don't
think it's very fast.

The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you for your presentation this
afternoon, Mr Warren.



The Vice-Chair: Our next presenter is Danielle Vincent, community development
worker with Disabled Persons Community Resources, if she'd come forward now. On
behalf of the committee, welcome. You have a total of 20 minutes for your
presentation and what's left over will be divided among the three caucuses for
questions. As you begin, please state your name for the sake of Hansard.

Ms Danielle Vincent: Good afternoon, Mr Chairperson and members of the standing
committee. My name is Danielle Vincent. I am the community development worker
with Disabled Persons Community Resources. I am also here to relay the regrets
of the chairperson of community resource development committee, Esther Roberts.
She is sidetracked at home. She lives outside Ottawa and, because of the
wonderful weather we're having, could not be here today. I'm speaking on her
behalf and also on behalf of Disabled Persons Community Resources.

Disabled Persons Community Resources is a community-based organization which
promotes the integration and independence of persons with physical
disabilities. We also provide community services and support to these
individuals, their families and service providers in our community.

We are an integral part of an extensive community network which advocates for
the promotion of social change and the prevention of social problems. As you
can well imagine, we are taking an avid interest in the government's proposed
Ontarians with Disabilities Act and how it will impact lives of Ontario's 1.5
million citizens who live with a disability.

We would like, first of all, to express our disappointment in learning that
this important social issue would be reviewed by a committee dealing with
financial affairs rather than social policy. We recognize that the proposed
legislation will have financial repercussions, but we consider that the ODA
needs to be an integral part of the social fabric of this province, not just
its financial makeup.

We are also concerned about the short time frame the government is taking to
push through this bill. Legislative debate to propose amendments to this bill
in only one day will only dilute already toothless legislation. Solid
amendments to a bill which the government claims to be the "vision for
independence and opportunity for persons with disabilities" need to take time
and not be resolved before the Christmas break. Ontarians with disabilities
have been waiting far too long for this important legislation to see it passed
quickly because it is a nice thing to do. Citizens with disabilities in Ontario
have been waiting for over six years to have their rightful place at the table.
We agree with our many community counterparts that sufficient time and
opportunity must be allowed within the legislative process to prepare, present
and fully consider the necessary amendments to Bill 125. The proposed
legislative timetable should not become a barrier in itself.

We would hope that the process of implementing an effective and meaningful ODA
would involve more than providing dollars to much-needed services and programs.
Ontarians with disabilities need to know and be assured that they are
considered equal and fully contributing citizens in all aspects of life of this
province, private as well as public. This proposed Bill 125 leaves many
unanswered questions which we would like to address today.

Although Disabled Persons Community Resources supports the initial principles
presented in Bill 125, as an organization working with persons with physical
disabilities, we are very concerned and disappointed about its lack of
substance, enforceability and accountability, especially on the part of the
private sector in the province. I'm sure you've heard about that a lot today.
As a Liberal Party critic said, "The act has a wonderful title but in fact
removes very few barriers."

From our viewpoint, removing barriers means more than drafting an accessibility
plan that will gather dust for years to come. In order to be effective, this
ODA needs to have specific and mandatory requirements to remove barriers in
employment, transportation, accessible housing, accessibility to private, as
well as public, buildings and access to systems of communication.

The proposed bill lacks the opportunity for real enforcement on the removal of
these barriers and prevention requirements other than for parking violations
under the Highway Traffic Act. Although the bill mentions the development of
several standards, guidelines and protocols, it does not define what they are
exactly and if they are mandatory or not. For example, on the issue of
government acquiring new property and goods, the only obligation the bill
imposes on provincial or municipal governments is to "have regard" to the issue
of accessibility. "Having regard" and "implementing" have different meanings
and repercussions for the disability community in this province.

Bill 125 does permit regulations to be passed for removal of barriers, but
there is no requirement to make any such regulations or no time limit set. We
also feel it gives considerable authority to the government to unilaterally
exempt government ministries, the broader public sector, agencies and the
private sector from obligations under this bill. Bill 125 also imposes no
accountability for the government when it is exercised. The government is not
even required to give any reasons or rationale for its decision on this issue.

This brings us to the issue of the proposed provincial advisory council. While
its membership is made up of members with disabilities, appointed by the
cabinet, it is not required to consult with, nor receive any feedback from, the
community representing persons with disabilities. Its role is to consult solely
with the Minister of Citizenship, not the general population. Meanwhile, the
provincial accessibility advisory committee, made up mostly of persons with
disabilities, is again not required to consult with persons with disabilities
in carrying out its mandate. The municipal accessibility advisory committees
will have that task, therefore proving once again the lack of leadership at the
provincial level when it comes to disability issues.

Another very strong concern we have is that the private sector has not been
included in any of the accessibility planning and provision of services and
goods. This bill is lacking in true leadership and direction in how the private
sector could be involved. It is unfortunate that the private sector, provided
with specific rules and guidelines to follow, could have removed so many
barriers to employment and services, is now relegated to the voluntary
approach. We know from experience that does not work.

In closing, we would like to take the opportunity to thank the committee for
your time. We would also like to request that you take a very strong message
back to the government: please take more time to look at this very important
legislation. Also, please ensure that a strong mechanism is established for
ongoing community consultation, as you are doing today, on the future Ontarians
with Disabilities Act. Take out the words "guidelines" and "recommendations" to
the private sector and replace them with "requires" and "time frames" for the
meeting of new standards that will allow all citizens of Ontario to take part
in all aspects of life in this beautiful province. Thank you.

The Vice-Chair: We have roughly three and a half minutes per caucus, beginning
with the official opposition.

Mr Parsons: Some groups have expressed a fear to me that if the bill is passed
as it stands now, the nine million Ontarians who don't have disabilities will
say, "Great, the problem is solved. It's looked after. We don't need to worry
about it any more." I'm going to ask you the same question I asked an earlier
group. Which is preferable: this bill with no amendments or no bill?

Ms Vincent: I would prefer a bill with more determined regulations. The bill as
it is right now is very good in principle, but in action is a whole different
story. It's a process that has started. They have put a foot in the door for
Ontarians with disabilities, but it needs to be fleshed out greater than it is

Mr Patten: I have one question to ask, and that is on the cut-off of
municipalities at 10,000 or more. What's your reaction to that?

Ms Vincent: I find that unfair, because the size of a municipality does not
predetermine if that municipality has citizens with disabilities. You could
have a smaller area. Many towns in this particular area don't have 10,000
people but have people with disabilities who would have liked to have had a say
in how their municipality is providing services and programs. I have a problem
with the 10,000. I think it should be all municipalities who express an


Mrs Claudette Boyer (Ottawa-Vanier): You've mentioned the lack of substance in
the bill. Mr Parsons asked you if you want the bill as it is. Does that mean
you would wish at this point to have more community consultation -- is that
what you're aiming at -- having something to do with Bill 125 to be amended? Is
that what you're saying?
Ms Vincent: As you have probably seen today, there's a lot of willingness for
the community to be part of this process, not just at the outset as today --
and I really appreciate that we have this opportunity today -- but on an
ongoing basis. I think there are a lot of things that we can do to help, as
partners with the province of Ontario, to make this bill as valuable as it can
be for all those individuals who have disabilities.

Mr Martin: You've made a very important presentation here today, one that I
hope the government members -- particularly Mr Spina, who has sat very
attentively listening to you and will have some influence with his government
-- will take note of and make sure that those things you saw as important are
at least considered and discussed, and hopefully we will see them by way of
amendment next week when we go back to the Legislature and do clause-by-clause.

You mentioned a number of things -- some referred to by my colleagues in the
Liberal caucus -- that we need to take time. I hear you saying that we
shouldn't just simply out of hand discard this bill, because it's a start; it's
at least the topic on the table. We're talking about it here in Ottawa today.
It's been six years and then some in coming. We don't want, if there's any
possibility at all, to miss this opportunity and what I hear you saying very
clearly is that we should really be willing to take the time necessary.

We'll hear the argument, "It's been six years. We can't wait any longer. We've
got to get it done. We've got to get in before Christmas and because of that,
in order to get it through cabinet and all of those kinds of processes, we
can't change it too much, because we've already gotten approval for this. If we
change it too much, we may be into another whole round of debate and discussion
in those very important circles." But what you're saying, and perhaps you can
tell us again, is that in fact you, representing at least your organization and
the community, feel it is worth waiting the extra three or four months to get
it right.

Ms Vincent: I definitely think it's worth the wait. We've waited six years, but
we want to have an effective ODA. From our viewpoint, if it is presented the
way it is today, it's not going to have any guts to it. It's not going to have
any value. It will not have impact on Ontarians with disabilities in this

Mr Martin: And that will require some significant and serious discussion and
negotiation by the government with its partners, municipalities, the private
sector etc, if they're going to do what you've called for, which is to take out
the voluntary and bring in some mandatory enforcement.

Ms Vincent: I'll give you an example of one issue that is predominant in the
bill, and I think it's wonderful in a sense. There's the intent there of
providing accessibility plans for several buildings. As an organization that
represents persons with physical disabilities, a big part of our mandate is to
make sure that barrier-free access is provided to private buildings. The way it
is presented now, they will draft an accessibility plan for a particular
school, for example, and say, "OK, we need to get this done and this done." But
there's no timetable set. There's no accountability. Who's going to be
responsible for what? How much is it going to cost? How much time

Ms Penny Leclair F-484


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