WINDSOR ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON DISABILITY ISSUES
WINDSOR-ESSEX BILINGUAL LEGAL CLINIC
ONTARIO BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION, WINDSOR CHAPTER
CANADIAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND, ONTARIO DIVISION
CANADIAN HEARING SOCIETY, WINDSOR REGION
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY OF CANADA, ONTARIO DIVISION
WINDSOR-ESSEX COMMUNITY ADVOCACY NETWORK FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
WINDSOR ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF
Monday 3 December 2001 Lundi 3 d1cembre 2001
The committee met at 0900 in the Promenade C Ballroom, Casino
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2001
LOI DE 2001 SUR LES PERSONNES HANDICAP6ES DE L'ONTARIO
Consideration of Bill 125, An Act to improve the identification,
prevention of barriers faced by persons with disabilities and to make
amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 125, Loi visant " am1liorer
rep1rage, l'1limination et la pr1vention des obstacles auxquels font
personnes handicap1es et apportant des modifications connexes "
The Chair (Mr Marcel Beaubien): Good morning, everyone. I would like
the standing committee on finance and economic affairs to order. I
to point out that today is the International Day of Disabled Persons.
the information of the audience, we have copies of the bill available
back of the room in Braille, we have audiotapes, we have disks, we
the bill in the French version, plus we have copies in large print.
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES
WINDSOR/ESSEX COUNTY CHAPTER
The Chair: Our first presentation this morning is from the Ontarians
Disabilities Act Committee, the Windsor-Essex chapter. I would ask
individual to state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee,
welcome. You have 20 minutes for your presentation this morning.
Mr Dean La Bute: Good morning. My name is Dean La Bute. I'm the chairman
Windsor-Essex chapter of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.
behalf of the committee, I'd like to welcome you to Windsor today.
I have had a standing quid pro quo with government standing committees
years, and that is the following: that I would not make submissions
to the standing committees until they provided to me the alternative
that I required to access your information. I'm happy to say that
committee and the government of the day have provided your bill, Bill
alternative formats to the disabled community. Therefore, in recognition
that, you have before you printed copies in your format of our submission
In addition to that, I have for Susan to pass on to you an audiotape
our submission, a CD disk of our submission, a printed copy in 15-point
-- which is the standard print by the Canadian National Institute
for the Blind
-- and for any panellists who may be visually impaired, large 20-point
In addition to this, I also happen to have for the record a copy in
our submission today.
Once again, on behalf of the Windsor-Essex chapter of the Ontarians
Disabilities Act Committee, I welcome this committee to Windsor. This
important day for this chapter, for we have worked long and hard for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Our chapter was formed in November
ever since the formation of this chapter, we have been most active
community and have had community support in our work toward a strong
effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We have worked in conjunction
our provincial chapter, headed up by David Lepofsky, in making a submission
the government party and the opposition parties going back to April
where we presented to the government and the opposition parties a
that we fondly refer to as the Blueprint for a Strong and Effective
with Disabilities Act. It was within that document that we brought
issue of inclusion of persons with all disabilities, including physical,
mental, sensory, visible and invisible disabilities. Those categories
represented in the membership of our chapter in Windsor and Essex
As articulated in the brief before you, over the course of these
six years we
have had many events staged in this community to bring forward to
the need for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
outlined in the document, we've had parades, we've had marches and
educational seminars. We've had an extensive, close working relationship
the media in this community where we have held town hall meetings
on the issue
of the need for an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We've been on
programs where we have literally had call-in shows for hours on multiple
occasions addressing the need for an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
You will find that there is a continued commitment in this community
legislation that is not met by any other community. To quote David
the best ideas, time and time again, have come out of the Windsor-Essex
chapter. Time and time again we have led the way in this province
to bring this
issue to the forefront.
Our submission today, I would like to say, is on behalf of our members,
friends and families and our community and, I would like to add, in
of three members of our committee, who were integral to the success
committee, in that we've lost these members over the course of this
That is the nature of disabilities. People with disabilities deal
things in their lives. Over the course of this past year, I must regretfully
inform you that we have lost Dr Sam Friio, who was our expert on the
with Disabilities Act; Mr Graham Davies, a gentleman who worked very
our committee, who represented well the HIV/AIDS community and who
our newsletter and our Web page; and Mr Mike Lawson, who recently
died, and was
chairman of our membership committee and, as the chair of the Windsor-Essex
injured workers group, had a deep devotion to the need for a strong
effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Each of these gentlemen
missed by our chapter and by our community and each of these gentlemen
under the age of 50.
Our submission today covers six areas, followed by eight recommendations.
areas we have identified in this brief we maintain will enhance Bill
readily acknowledge that this government and this minister have brought
in this country the very first disability act in Canada, and they
are to be
commended for that. But we also maintain that this bill requires substantial
amendments to make it a strong and effective bill to meet the needs
than 1.6 million Ontarians.
As for the areas of our brief that are covered off today, they include
demographics of Windsor and Essex county. They also include the issue
mandatory versus voluntary barrier removal; the issue of resources;
function and authority of the access advisory council; the private
last, but not least important, the role of the federal government.
clearly identified these areas because these are the areas that will
this bill and impact upon the lives of persons with disabilities on
The first component of that: the demographics of Windsor and Essex
county are a
microcosm of the province of Ontario. You'll find in our submission
population of Windsor and Essex county is approximately 350,000. Of
350,000, approximately 22% of the population are identified by the
Windsor-Essex United Way as seniors, those who are 55 years of age
It is worth noting that 18.3% of the population in Windsor and Essex
people with disabilities. To reflect the ethnic diversity of Windsor
county, we rank third in Ontario, with more than 10% of our population
identifying themselves as visible minorities.
What is critical about these figures is the changing demographics
community, the province and this country. It is projected by both
county United Way and by Stats Canada that by the year 2015, one in
citizens of Windsor and Essex county will have a disability. Another
interesting figure that will impact upon the need for a strong and
Ontarians with Disabilities Act is the fact that, according to Stats
Canada is unique in the world, where 34% of our population are baby
Baby boomers are those born from 1946 on through to the early 1960s.
wave of baby boomers has turned 55 this year, and if you think that
pressured now on the goods, services and facilities in this community
to meet the needs of persons with disabilities in the area of health
example, in the area of transportation, in the area of employment
in the area of social housing, you haven't seen anything yet, because
baby boomers move along that continuum, it will only increase the
strong and effective legislation. That is why we have brought to your
the demographics on Windsor and Essex county.
As for the issue of mandatory versus voluntary barrier removal and
the issue of
resources, our first recommendation of eight addresses this issue.
recommendation is that the Ontario government must set forth in regulations
time limits for the development and implementation of plans for the
prevention of barriers.
Recommendation number 2 calls upon the Ontario government to provide
funding for those organizations identified in the act to implement
for barrier removal and prevention. In our opinion, this is absolutely
critical. The fact of the matter is that those organizations identified
legislation require funding to assist them to implement those barrier
to implement the plans for barrier removal and prevention of barriers.
why we are absolutely clear in our opinion that these recommendations
reflected in the amendments brought forward to Bill 125. As articulated
document, we clearly state the rationale behind this, and you may
read that for
yourself in the document.
Our third recommendation addresses the access advisory council. It's
recommendation that the government of Ontario give the access advisory
the authority and mandate to (a) determine benchmarks and provincial
for barrier-free communities, (b) advise the Ontario government and
ministries on disability issues and the development of regulations,
the government and the general public on disability issues, (d) monitor
implementation of guidelines and plans for the removal and prevention
barriers and (e) advocate for a barrier-free community.
We feel that these changes must be implemented to strengthen the
goal of the
access advisory council. Without these changes being brought forward
part of the act, it will be but an advisory council. Advice is good,
have credibility in the eyes of the government, to have credibility
in the eyes
of the ministries, to have credibility in the eyes of the public and
credibility in the eyes of the disability community, this access advisory
council must have these authorities and mandates to be effective and
the needs of 1.6 million Ontarians who demand that they be recognized
Over and above this, recommendations 3, 4 and 5 apply to the access
council. The next recommendation is that the access advisory council
adequate resources to monitor the stages of implementation in communities
across Ontario with the full authority to issue a public annual report
alternative formats on the progress of barrier removal and prevention.
last, as it applies to the council, the membership on the council
representative of consumers and major disability advocacy groups in
feel that these recommendations 3, 4 and 5 will strengthen and enhance
of the access advisory council and in fact give it the ability to
do its job
As for recommendations 6 and 7, they apply to the public sector,
for in the
life of a person with disabilities our daily encounters in the community
place principally within the private sector. It is not that often
that we deal
with the government of Ontario or municipal governments, but rather
day-to-day basis we deal with the private sector. Therefore, recommendations
and 7 address the issue of the public sector. Currently, based upon
briefings with the minister -- and I had the privilege of meeting
Jackson on a consultation on the bill -- it is my understanding and
that of our
chapter that this bill will extend over a period of time to all sectors,
would include the private sector, over the course of the next 10 years.
acknowledge that. In our Blueprint for a Strong and Effective Ontarians
Disabilities Act, we recommended that we did not want this to be brought
within one week or one month or one year, but we acknowledged the
need to phase
this in through the means of education over the course of time so
will be on board at the end of the day, and for us, the end of the
day is no
longer than a maximum of 10 years for phasing in.
Therefore, the government of Ontario, by regulation, must develop
and timelines for the private sector for barrier removal and prevention.
Recommendation number 7 is that the government of Ontario must provide
private sector with incentives, that is, financial incentives, to
barriers and for the prevention of barriers. This is absolutely critical.
may be in the form of grants, tax credits. You are bright, articulate,
intelligent people. You can apply your own rationale as to how to
about, but it must be done.
Recommendation number 8 does not apply to Bill 125, but rather we
call upon the
Ontario government to demand a meeting with the government of Canada
commence work on the creation of a Canadians with Disabilities Act.
that this is critical to complete the circle so that it is totally
the process of meeting the needs of persons with disabilities in the
of Ontario. There is a term of "collateral benefits." By
having the federal
government brought on board, it will act as a catalyst for the other
in our fine country to follow the lead set by Ontario in bringing
strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
We truly believe that with the incorporation of these recommendations
125, we will have an act that will meet the needs, now and for the
future, of people with disabilities. We will settle for no less. It
imperative that the federal government, as I've stated, be brought
on board to
complete the circle. We are a growing legion of people in this community
this province. Our rights are guaranteed to us under the federal Charter
Rights and Freedoms and also under the Human Rights Code. These are
privileges we are requesting but rights we are demanding.
Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to say the ball is now in
your court. We
have spoken. We now ask our government to state that you have listened,
have heard what we have said and you have taken it with an open mind
open heart and will act on our recommendations to strengthen this
open for questions.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have approximately a minute per
I'll start with the government side for a brief question.
Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): Thank you very much for the presentation.
just wondering, with your recommendation number 8, to bring the federal
government forward to implement a disabilities act for all of Canada,
the answer for all of Canada? Do we need first one in each province
one nationally, or should we be working with the national one?
Mr La Bute: I'd like to answer that. As you may recall, in the United
they have the Americans with Disabilities Act, but their structure
is such that
what impacts on the day-to-day life of a person with disabilities
in the United
States falls under federal jurisdiction. But, frankly, under the Canadian
structure what impacts on the day-to-day lives of persons with disabilities
falls principally under provincial jurisdiction. There are areas,
transportation and employment, that fall under the federal jurisdiction
therefore it's imperative for the areas that fall under federal jurisdiction
be addressed under a Canadians with Disabilities Act, to work in concert
strong and effective provincial law.
Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings): An excellent presentation.
quick question. As you said, the federal government needs to have
role. This bill provides for municipalities to have a role, but only
municipalities with a population of 10,000 or over. I'm interested
comment on whether the municipalities should be separate in their
whether there needs to be strong provincial control for everyone in
Mr La Bute: I look at it this way, Mr Parsons. The fact of the matter
each level of government has a role to play. It's like a fine symphony
orchestra. To have great music, you have to be working in coordination
another to bring forward the sound that the audience will enjoy. We
three levels of government to work in concert with each other to meet
of the population of Canada.
Keep in mind that this law, Bill 125, addresses the needs of persons
disabilities, but there's a residual benefit to this. Everyone in
of Ontario, everyone in this country, will benefit through the enactment
such a law. It is not just the disabled who make use of ramps, but
with a child in a stroller and one in tow certainly benefits from
the ramp as
opposed to having to go up stairs. There are many other areas that
we look upon
as having a revolutionary concept. It's called common sense, and I
government members would recognize that. The fact of the matter is
we've put forward in our recommendations for enactment as amendments
125 are revolutionary in that it is common sense. Each one of them
and enhances the quality of the bill to meet the needs of the population
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Thank you very much for your presentation
this morning and the obvious effort that has gone into this set of
recommendations. You have been working on this for the past six years,
indicate, and obviously see the bill that has been tabled as having
shortcomings. You've made, I think, six excellent recommendations
Mr La Bute: Actually, Mr Martin, there are eight recommendations.
Mr Martin: I'm sorry. Yes, you're right, eight excellent recommendations.
question I have for you is, if the government doesn't agree to these
recommendations, is the bill worth passing?
Mr La Bute: We have given this considerable thought and discussion
and we are
of the opinion that the government of the day is open to recommendations,
open to amendments. We call upon the government members and the opposition
members to work in unison to bring about these necessary amendments
bill. With these amendments, this bill must be enacted, and the sooner
better. It is not to be withdrawn. If there are absolutely no amendments,
still look forward to this bill being passed. But in all frankness,
we have been working at this for six years. We will continue to work
be it with this government or the following government. We will not
are here for the long haul for a strong, effective Ontarians with
Act. Whether this party, the government party, forms the next government
of the opposition parties, we will be knocking at your door to enhance,
strengthen whatever legislation becomes law in Ontario.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
Before I call on the next presenter I would remind members that checkout
is 11 o'clock this morning. Also, instead of having a break, at 11:40
could put on your agenda that the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada,
division, will be making a presentation.
WINDSOR ADVISORY COMMITTEE
ON DISABILITY ISSUES
The Chair: With that I'll go to our next presenter, which is the
Advisory Committee on Disability Issues. I would ask the presenter
come forward and state your name for the record. On behalf of the
Ms Carolyn Williams: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am Carolyn
I am Chair of the Windsor Advisory Committee on Disability Issues.
I just want
to start out by saying that our advisory committee fully supports
recommendations that the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee,
Windsor-Essex Chapter, just put forward to you. We also are fully
in support of
the complete package of amendments that David Lepofsky has, I believe,
presented to you. Today I just wanted to talk a little bit about some
issues and some municipal issues.
I was on the Internet this week and I was looking at certain areas
ministry. I see that we have core business, with women's issues listed
we have core business, seniors' issues listed there; core business,
issues, during the 2000-01 budget. I see a lot of money allocated
to all sorts
of issues: citizenship, $78 million; women's issues, $16 million;
$35 million; seniors' issues, $2 million; regional services, $7 million;
the administration of the ministry, $18 million. However, I don't
see any money
allocated for disability issues. I'm sure it has come out of some
someplace, but I don't really see where.
I'm not disappointed with the act as it stands. I think there is
room for a lot
of improvement. I'm especially concerned about financing some of these
Our small committee has been operating for 20 years. Our budget last
$29,000. Actually, we had $7,000 surplus, so it came in at $36,300.
a very large amount of money but we've done quite a bit with it over
20 years. That money primarily pays for a part-time coordinator.
I was fortunate to be able to go down and hear the reading of Bill
125 in the
Legislature. I was a little -- what's the word? -- offended, I guess,
partisanship that occurred during the reading. I have to tell you
honesty that disability issues are issues with respect to humanity
cross all partisan levels, all genders. It's a portion of humanity
our world history, is at the bottom rung of the ladder. Even in Nazi
the first people they killed, before they killed the Jews, were disabled
I feel I have a pretty good handle on the disability community just
personal experience. I have a mobility impairment. I have a brother
currently living in community living. I have a niece and a nephew
living on the
streets in Toronto, addicted to crack.
Our funding is really severely lacking in a lot of areas. Maryvale
is a teen youth centre, and beds have been cut. When I was living
we tried to get help for my niece and nephew, from the ages of 12
on. My nephew
did go into Youthdale. I'm sure you're aware of what Youthdale is.
crisis centre in Toronto. It has 11 beds. He was in there twice after
to kill his mother, but it took that much to get him into that facility.
We're talking here about access, we're talking here about education.
came back from Toronto on the plane, when I was de-planing, I was
treated like a refrigerator. I was put on a dolly, flung backwards,
strapped down. I became so frightened that I ordered the man off the
am going to be making a Canadian human rights report and I will take
it to the
top. I'm just one person. I can think of half a dozen instances where
go to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Last year, I was fortunate to be presenting a brief to Minister Stockwell
he was here for the Employment Standards Act. Within two or three
moments of my
starting my report, he reminded me that I was talking to the wrong
Since when are disabled people who are seeking employment and go to
Ministry of Labour not talking to the right ministry? I was so dejected
result of that comment that I never did submit the brief through the
did tell Minister Jackson about it. The time limit has passed to take
the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and I wouldn't do that, but I
am going to
make the statement public today.
Our government, the people we elect, truly do need education, and
there has to
be money in order to educate people. It's difficult to look a disabled
in the eye and say, "I'm sorry, I haven't got money for you."
Assistive devices programs have been cut by your government. If you're
mobility device, you live in that device 24/7, except when you're
in bed. Try
to sit in the same chair for five years and expect it to operate properly.
sorry, it won't. The one I'm sitting in right now is held together
tape. I can afford to put new tires on it every two years. Fortunately,
for a new vehicle and I'm hoping the repair costs won't be too high.
just personal issues.
I think with respect to the act that the municipal aspect of the
extremely important but it's going to need some money. Unfortunately,
kind of pushed the Trillium Foundation over to tourism, but that might
area through which financial help can come to the municipalities in
set up these advisory committees. We already have 19 advisory committees
Ontario. Some money should possibly go to those committees that are
action to help disseminate the information to the other communities.
reinvent the wheel? We've already done a lot of work. We can share
I can't remember which minister or MPP mentioned smaller municipalities
involved. I think that would have to be on an elective basis, but
I do know
there has been a complaint from Parry Sound that they were left out.
So I think
if there is any funding that comes out of this, municipalities that
than 10,000 people, if they choose to have an advisory committee,
be funding available for them.
I guess that's pretty well what I wanted to say. I just think it's
important that members of the disability community educate one another
needs and that the government educate itself. It's very difficult
to walk in
another person's shoes until you've lived there for a while. I appreciate
but I really believe we have to start our education process at the
levels and at the lowest levels of government.
The Chair: We have approximately two minutes per caucus and I'll
start with the
Mr Parsons: I'm intrigued a little bit about your comment about smaller
municipalities. My sense was that the purpose of the ODA was to level
playing field, that there be no barriers, regardless of whether a
person has a
disability or not.
Following that line, just to clarify, I'm wondering if you meant
that people in
smaller municipalities who have a disability -- should they not have
rights as persons in larger municipalities?
Ms Williams: Oh, definitely.
Mr Parsons: Because this act provides for exemptions for 10,000 and
Ms Williams: I viewed that specifically as being that that municipality
be able to afford it. That municipality may be in a demographic where
the volunteer staff to work on that might be difficult for them. Frankly,
think there should be one in every municipality or there should be
involved in that municipality, responsible for disability issues expressly
part of their job. Yes, it should level the playing field everywhere.
Mr Parsons: There should be the same access regardless of where a
Ms Williams: Regardless. All over Ontario and Canada, yes.
Mr Martin: Thank you for coming this morning. You list a whole lot
challenges that are faced by people out there across the province,
certainly your own experience.
In your review of this act -- you've obviously taken some interest
in it in
that you came to Toronto when it was tabled -- will it deal with,
answer, give you any sense of relief that those issues you have listed
this morning will be dealt with because this act becomes the law in
Ms Williams: I can't give that an unequivocal yes, of course, because
clearly is deficient in a number of areas. I would have to say the
building code is revamped every three or four years, I believe, so
I see no
reason why, if we don't get everything we're asking for right now,
cannot come up in the future and be amended. We're all on a learning
here. If you go back in history, you'll find that community living
brother was in an institution for the first 35 years of his life,
and he's now
in the community participating in life skills classes. I'm sure that
fairly large savings for the government, because now the people are
less in a
hospital environment and it's better for the community living persons.
All in all, I think there's a lot of room for improvement and, as
Mr La Bute
mentioned, we won't stop until we get a level playing field.
Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre): Thank you, Ms Williams, for joining
speaking with a personal friend of mine, Councillor Valentinis, he
told me you
were a terrific person doing the work that you're doing, so I pass
compliment along to you.
Ms Williams: Thank you.
Mr Spina: I quickly wanted to address two elements that you mentioned.
the funding issue and also the building code issue, and then I have
question, so I'll try to get through this quickly in the time allocated.
The May 2000 budget does give a breakdown of some new funding for
facilities for adults with developmental disabilities: $55 million
year and growing to nearly $200 million in the next six years; also
over three years to upgrade, renovate, build or purchase new facilities
some community mental health organizations, for those disabled in
The Web sites don't often give a breakdown of the funding budget
ministry, so your criticism is well taken. Out of the budget that
for citizenship, I think it's $35 million that is for disabilities
ways, for children's treatment, respite, research and development,
transportation, special education, tax incentives, some income and
supports and so on.
Ms Williams: I'd like to see that on the Web site. I think that's
Mr Spina: Yes, it should be. I agree with you that it should be on
site. Thank you.
Section 9 of the bill relates to the building code and it says, "If
relates to an existing or proposed building, structure or premises
the Building Code Act, 1992 and the regulations made under it establish
of accessibility for persons with disabilities, the project shall
exceed that level in order to be eligible to receive funding under
government-funded capital program." That is a specific clause
in the bill, and
if you think that we could improve on that, we certainly would appreciate
input on it.
Ms Williams: I'll look over that. I think the deficiency in the Ontario
building code to a great degree is that technology is surpassing the
implement things. It's important to keep up with technology as quickly
can. There are things like voice chips in elevators. They are very
and they really should be in every building, especially ones that
access. So it's not a big cost. As you go through certain markets,
you have to
pass through a theft device. You have to make sure that that is an
actually gotten my wheelchair stuck in between two of them because
treat that as an exit. So technology really goes too fast for our
Perhaps I could just mention two quick things, because I forgot to
them. I don't know what kind of programs we have in our schools that
architects in barrier-free design, but that's something you may want
consider, supporting a program like that. Also, we're very deficient
number of sign language interpreters that we have and that businesses
access. Perhaps some sort of tuition rebate might be in order to try
people into that field. There are a number of areas where we need
The Chair: With that, we've run out of time. On behalf of the committee,
you very much for your presentation this morning.
Ms Williams: Thank you. I'm just going to leave this with you. I
did not have
as many copies as I would have liked. It's a copy of our 2000 annual
It's my personal copy, so there are a few highlighted things in there,
might be interesting to look at.
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Windsor-Essex Bilingual
Clinic. I would ask the presenter to please come forward and state
for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 20 minutes
your presentation this morning.
Ms Stephanie Spiers: Good morning. My name is Stephanie Spiers and
I'm one of
three lawyers who work with the Windsor-Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic.
part of Legal Aid Ontario, one of 70-odd clinics across the province
provide free legal services to low-income individuals. As such, we
have a lot
of interaction with members of the disability community. We're also
a member of
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, Windsor-Essex chapter,
also have that connection to this issue.
We witness daily barriers faced by persons with disabilities in obtaining
employment or accessing education and other services. Today we want
about some of the shortcomings that we see and problems posed by the
we're going to be quite specific about the interaction between Bill
125 and the
human rights legislation that's currently in existence, the Ontario
Rights Code, and where there may be some potential that the act could
detract from the code. That's one of our concerns, and we'll be talking
specifically some definitions in some key sections.
Basically, we'd like to start by saying that Bill 125, in our view,
the creation of accessibility plans by various public sector entities.
really rights legislation, and we would like it to become more of
piece of legislation. There are no new rights for persons with disabilities
with respect to accessibility. There are no legal procedures or enforcement
mechanisms under the act. There's no mechanism for independent review
activities taken pursuant to this legislation, nor is there independent
interpretation of provisions. That means that any interpretation will
come through court challenges, which I believe we all understand can
and time-consuming, and it's very difficult to access the courts for
people and for many organizations.
It appears from the reading of the legislation that the bill is not
interfere with the present human rights regime in Ontario. It explicitly
recognizes and affirms the legal obligations of the government which
already with respect to the provision of access for persons with disabilities.
That's subsection 3(1). You'll note that the definition of "disability"
lifted right from the code, minus some changes of terminology.
However, one of the problems we see with this is that the definition
and the notions of access have evolved with time. As recently as last
Human Rights Commission reissued its Policy and Guidelines on Disability
the Duty to Accommodate, which in some cases provided for higher levels
planning and accessibility than we currently see in the bill. The
this is that a failure to incorporate that particular policy guideline
allow for its interplay may cause interpretations of both the Human
and this bill that would provide for a lesser level of accessibility
currently have in the province.
We do see that the bill provides that nothing in the act limits the
of the Human Rights Code, and it would be hoped that this would be
broadly. However "limiting the operation of" could be interpreted
narrowly and it could be used, as I stated earlier, because we don't
interpretative body that's connected to the bill, to actually take
existing legal rights of persons with disabilities and also to interpret
Human Rights Code less broadly than it has been currently interpreted.
example, right now there's a notable difference in language between
and the code in that the planning initiatives are to, in the language
bill, "have regard to" accessibility, which is not very
specific. The code
requires accommodation up to the point of undue hardship. This has
out through the courts; it's been fleshed out through the commission
have a very specific understanding of what that means. So we're looking
possibility of having a lesser standard.
I would like to talk specifically about some of the actual sections
and how we
feel they could be somewhat improved, some of the problems.
The definition of "barrier" does appear to be quite inclusive,
pleased that it provides for many kinds of barriers, including attitudinal
barriers, communication etc. There are three problems that we see
with the definition that we'd like the drafters to address when looking
providing for a final draft of this legislation.
First of all, the definition says -- let me just read from the act
"`barrier' means an obstacle to access for persons with disabilities
not an obstacle to access for other persons." In a sense, this
disability-exclusive or the potential for a disability-exclusive interpretation
and definition. The fear here, or the potential problem here, is that
it may be
that when non-disabled persons encounter the same barrier, it will
not meet the
definition or the test of this definition; it will not meet the definition
"barrier." An example may be persons who require flex time.
A person with a
disability may require that to deal with transportation problems or
with fatigue or whatever; flex time may be needed for many reasons.
constitute a barrier. However, other persons who are not disabled
require flex time to deal with child care arrangements, to deal with
an aged parent, whatever the reason. This could be used to determine
is not a barrier. So this is just a possible problem from a legal
Also, it refers to "persons," in the plural. We would ask
that it would refer
to "person" so that it could take an approach that would
not allow a barrier to
exist even if it was only affecting one person. This is the approach
the Human Rights Code.
We'd also like to note that the interpretation of the Human Rights
developed so that we do have acknowledgement of barriers that may
obvious on their face; they're adverse-effect barriers. Adverse effect
been taken into consideration in this particular definition, and we
that it be considered.
Another important term that has been defined is "disability."
As I mentioned
earlier, it's lifted from the Human Rights Code. Of course, the word
has been replaced with "disability" in the code, which is
a positive step
forward. One of the shortcomings of this definition is that persons
perceived disabilities, who are included under the Human Rights Code,
been specifically addressed or included under Bill 125. It's not clear
has been done, because we see that attitudinal barriers are specifically
recognized, and these two, of course, go together. So this may have
oversight, but we would ask that this be taken into consideration.
I would like to go on and talk about a few of the provisions.
The duties of the government of Ontario as set out in sections 4
to 10 provide
for planning etc. However, it is unclear what impact these particular
obligations that are set out there will have on the much stronger
are set out, as I mentioned earlier, in Policy and Guidelines on Disability
the Duty to Accommodate, which was published in 2000 by the Ontario
Rights Commission. So we see this as a major potential drawback in
might actually limit what is currently being required under the human
One of the examples is with regard to standards under the building
Section 4 does deal with this, and one thing that is problematic is
is no requirement that there be guidelines for retrofitting structures.
not a step up, as far as we can see, from what's currently in the
code. This is, however, an obligation that is generally imposed on
and others who provide services to the public under the Human Rights
we don't understand why this has been exempted from this particular
legislation, which should deal with exactly this issue. The duty under
code, of course, would be the standard of undue hardship, so we certainly
that Bill 125 should deal with, or at least consult with, the existing
with regard to retrofit guidelines.
I'd also like to address section 8 for a moment, responsibility toward
government employees. This provides that government employees will
accessibility needs accommodated "in accordance with the Human
then it goes on to say, "to the extent that needs relate to their
This qualification is new language that's not in the code. It may
very narrowly so as to exclude the government's obligation to provide
things that are now required under the code with a standard of undue
for example, providing attendant care or accessible parking. It may
not be the
intent of the legislation, but we query why the legislation would
such broad language when we do already have existing measures that
provide for greater standards. So one of the major changes we're asking
that these definitions be carefully looked at and the wording tightened
at least meet the standard of the Human Rights Code.
Of course, one of the major problems, which we're not going to deal
with in the
oral presentation today, is the lack of enforcement mechanisms. Our
paper will address further that one of the things that we're asking,
as the ODA
committee has already requested, is that there be greater enforcement
in the act so that the statement of policy set out in the preamble,
Ontarians with disabilities can enjoy and fully participate in life
could actually be realized. That's not going to happen, we submit,
stronger enforcement measures.
That's all we have to submit to you orally today.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have a minute and a half per caucus,
I'll start with Mr Martin.
Mr Martin: Good morning. This is indeed an interesting presentation.
Up to this
point, we've heard very clearly from several groups that unless there
changes made to this act, it really isn't going to be helpful; it's
to make much difference in the life of the disabled citizen in this
But what you're saying to us this morning is that it's not just a
factor of it
not making a difference; you're saying that it could in fact take
that are already there, particularly under the Ontario Human Rights
What you're saying to us is that if the bill is passed as it presently
presents, this is a net loss to the disabled community. Is that correct?
Ms Spiers: That's the potential through the interpretation of these
sections, yes. That's right. That's what we're saying.
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): Thank you, Ms Spiers, for your
presentation. I have just a clarification. You mentioned an adverse-effect
barrier. Can you give an example to explain what you mean by that?
Ms Spiers: The courts have dealt with the concept -- I'm going to
example in discrimination, and I'll try and make the parallel to barrier
where there may not be a perceived discrimination, but the effect
of a piece of
legislation may discriminate. There have been countless examples,
but I'm just
going to think of one in which a piece of -- I can't remember the
but it had to do with pregnant women. The idea is that the effect
may create a
barrier, or in this example may create discrimination, although on
its face it
is not discriminatory. It is not saying, "We exclude pregnant
women," but the
effect is that, because pregnant women must take time off and the
didn't allow for time off, it therefore had an adverse effect --
The same parallel works with a barrier. On its face it may not appear
to be a
barrier, but because of a certain limitation of a group of persons
-- I wish I
could come up with a good example for you right now. Let me see if
I have one
in my material. Does that provide any clarification? I can provide
example for you in written form.
The Chair: I'll have to ask you to do that because we are running
out of time
and I have to go to the official opposition.
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex): I want to see if in the time we have, which
limited, you could elaborate on this statement you made that there
could be a
lesser level of accessibility -- I think those were the words you
used -- by
this act. Could you give us some examples of where that might be a
Ms Spiers: One example I talked about was that right now there's
been a policy
guideline put out by the Human Rights Commission requiring that certain
government bodies implement plans to accommodate. We're concerned
legislation will not even meet that level. Another example is that
Rights Code touches on the private sector and requires that accommodations
made to the point of undue hardship in the private sector. As you
legislation does not touch on that sector really at all. There again,
have a lesser standard. Does that somewhat answer your question?
Mr Crozier: Thank you.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
The Chair: Our next presentation is from David Dimitrie. On behalf
committee, welcome. You have 15 minutes for your presentation this
Mr David Dimitrie: My name is David Dimitrie. I have a mental health
disability. I was diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder 15 years
Several years later, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder
severe sleep disorders due to a head injury sustained during a bicycle
as a teenager.
I have been working for the passage of the Ontarians with Disabilities
the past three years. I'm very disappointed with Bill 125, the proposed
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Bill 125 makes scant mention of the
people with mental health disabilities face in trying to live as active
participants in our society. The only mention of mental health disabilities
in the definition of "disability" that comes directly from
the Human Rights
Bill 125 makes no mention of the social, educational, employment,
human rights barriers that persons with mental health disabilities
The bill focuses narrowly on the barriers of one segment of the disabled
population in Ontario. It was always my understanding that the ODA
Harris promised in 1995 would provide legislation that tears down
that confront all persons with disabilities in Ontario.
It is unacceptable to me that the government has disregarded the
persons with mental health disabilities. In a letter sent to me by
Honourable Cam Jackson, MPP, he states that he believes employers
want to do
the right thing. If this is the case, why are 52% of employable mentally
people in Ontario unemployed, languishing on tiny disability pensions?
is that employers have always been and remain reluctant to hire a
disabled person because of unwarranted fears or prejudice. Let's not
Let's have a look at the types of barriers persons with mental health
disabilities face on a daily basis in Ontario. Access to employment
mentally ill persons is probably the greatest barrier facing persons
mental health disabilities. Statistics Canada states that 52% of employable
persons with mental illnesses are unemployed in Ontario. Even persons
myself with post-secondary degrees and diplomas face a high rate of
stigmatization in the search for gainful employment.
I'm a qualified elementary French teacher in Ontario. In addition,
graduate of George Brown college in the field of graphic arts. I'm
English, French and German. I also depend on a very small disability
make ends meet.
The main reason I have not been able to obtain and retain employment
in any of
the fields in which I am qualified is that employers either refuse
mentally ill persons for employment during job interviews, or they
provide workplace accommodation once they hire a person who discloses
her disability after being hired. I know this because I have been
file human rights complaints against employers in the last three years.
were related to discrimination during job interviews. The third occurred
the failure of my previous employer to provide workplace accommodation
after I had been hired and been told my work was excellent. Two of
were settled during mediation and one is still pending after nearly
I was fired from this job two days after filing the human rights complaint
against my previous employer.
The net result of this discrimination is a 52% unemployment rate
ill persons who are capable of working either full- or part-time.
are stuck living at or below poverty levels on inadequate disability
It's my contention that most people with mental illnesses would like
part or all of their income. I believe they would like some freedom
shackles of dependency on disability pensions.
Is there an answer to this dilemma? I believe there is. The human
legislation already enshrined in the Human Rights Code is adequate
legislative protection for mentally ill persons. It fails in its application.
human rights complaint can take anywhere from one to seven years to
by using the current process. The current process is quasi-judicial
and in many respects mirrors the adversarial nature of civil litigation.
I am proposing an amendment to Bill 125 that would transfer human
complaints based on the grounds of employment due to disability to
Employment Standards Act. The entire process could be satisfied by
the right to workplace accommodation in the Employment Standards Act.
Complaints could be investigated and decisions rendered by the Ministry
Labour officials in weeks or months instead of years. Both sides would
forced to submit to binding mediation where all complaints are aired
mediator would make a binding decision. If either side disagreed with
decision, they would have to appeal the decision through a judicial
through civil law actions. The decision of the mediator would be enforced
The major benefit of transferring disability complaints related to
to the Employment Standards Act is that of fairness. The complainant
have to twist in the wind for years while the complaint is adjudicated
current process. The respondent would not have to spend large sums
of money on
legal fees, which the current process necessitates. In Mr Jackson's
stated that one third of the complaints to the OHRC are currently
disability on the grounds of employment. These cases need to be adjudicated
a swift, fair fashion. The current process is unfair to both sides
issue. My proposed amendment would benefit both the complainant and
respondent in cases related to employment discrimination due to disability.
Next I would like to comment on the social and human rights barriers
mentally ill persons face. I'd like to focus on the common slurs and
language related to mental health that are routinely found in newspapers,
television, on radio and in popular culture. I have included an appendix
package provided to you, labelled appendix 1, that lists common slurs
to mental illness that I compiled while watching television, listening
radio, observing public conversation and reading newspapers over a
period. These slurs hurt. They marginalize mentally ill persons and
worth in the eyes of society. In order for a person to make a complaint
these slurs, they must run a gauntlet of press councils, editors,
officials and news directors.
I have made complaints regarding these types of slurs. I have included
of an article, labelled appendix 2, that I felt was defamatory and
hatred and mistrust of mentally ill persons. The author is a published
a librarian and is more than capable of using the English language
appropriately. I tried to settle the dispute with my local newspaper,
avail. I then submitted the complaint to the Ontario Press Council,
refused to adjudicate the complaint. I am currently in the process
a formal complaint to the Human Rights Commission.
The complaint process causes my mental health to suffer. The stress
and many mentally ill people simply choose not to fight back against
discrimination. This creates a learned helplessness among mentally
As is the case with educational barriers, part of the solution here
education and a stronger enforcement mechanism within the OHRC against
type of hate language that is so common in everyday speech and in
It's counterproductive to the health of mentally ill persons to get
such long and drawn-out conflicts with people who have much more influence
power than they do. Bill 125 must include better enforcement mechanisms
protect mentally ill persons against hate speech and hate literature.
speech, hate literature and slurs that denigrate mentally ill people
self-esteem of mentally ill people and lower their worth in the eyes
Ontarians. This increases their chance of being physically or emotionally
victimized. These barriers are more subtle and less visible than the
barriers I have spoken of, but they are equally pernicious and damaging.
The last barrier I will speak of relates to the difficulty that mentally
persons have in obtaining health services. Much is made in the media
popular culture of the refusal of mentally ill persons to take their
and manage their health. The first barrier mentally ill people face
a psychiatrist. There is a shortage of psychiatrists in Ontario and
it's not a
high priority when our health system is debated. Bill 125 must ensure
right, for every mentally ill person in Ontario, to the services of
psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is the lynchpin in managing the health
mentally ill persons. Other forms of treatment are also effective,
availability of psychiatrists to mentally ill persons is absolutely
for mentally ill persons to maintain their health. Bill 125 should
amendment that guarantees every mentally ill person in Ontario the
a psychiatrist on a timely, regular basis. The current state of affairs
many mentally ill persons relying on general practitioners, walk-in
emergency rooms to maintain their mental health. This situation virtually
guarantees that mentally ill persons will not be able to maintain
The fact I have focused my presentation on mental health does not
mean I am not
sympathetic to the needs of Ontarians with other disabilities. I have
in order to raise awareness of the barriers facing persons with mental
Traditionally they have received little attention when disabilities
discussed. Many people would look at me and listen to me and say I
don't have a
disability. Hidden disabilities need to be brought out into the open.
I'll close my presentation with accounts of two incidents that occurred
Ontario in the last few years that scream out for an ODA that has
enforcement mechanisms, and not just advisory committees and future
accessibility in unspecified time frames.
Recently, M. D. Horton of St Thomas, Ontario, wrote a letter to the
the London Free Press. She discussed the experience she had while
funeral in London. She mentioned she had attended funerals at this
three times in as many years. Her husband is confined to a wheelchair.
time, her husband was forced to use the coffin elevator as the only
entrance into this building.
Bill 125 makes no requirement that private businesses must retrofit
buildings within a reasonable period of time in order to make them
Is this the Ontario we want to live in? Is it fair this disabled man
a funeral home via the coffin elevator? How would you feel if you
had to do
this? Bill 125 needs more teeth and fewer advisory councils that have
The next incident occurred in Kinmount, Ontario, on January 4, 2001.
paraplegic man got stuck in the snow in his wheelchair and froze to
death was reported on CityTV's CablePulse 24. I witnessed similar
last winter in London where persons in scooters and wheelchairs got
the snow on sidewalks and needed a push to get moving.
Bill 125 must include an amendment that sidewalks on major thoroughfares
sufficiently plowed within a reasonable amount of time. In addition,
should be plowed within 48 hours of a major snowfall so that disabled
can get on to buses. It took the city of London two weeks to clear
snowbanks at bus stops last year. I realize these are municipal matters.
However, because of the subordinate relationship municipalities have
province, laws can be written to force municipalities to serve the
their most vulnerable citizens.
Thank you for allowing me the time to address you. I travelled from
my own expense to make this presentation. It was worth every dime.
consider my proposals for amendments. I've spent a great deal of time
considering these issues to find solutions that are fair to everyone
and I believe I have succeeded. I'll now be pleased to answer any
The Chair: We have one minute per caucus and I'll start with the
Mr Hardeman: Thank you very much for your presentation. I'm somewhat
or at a loss by your presentation defining the relationship between
disabilities act and the Human Rights Code. My understanding in the
always been that discrimination is what the Human Rights Commission
after, and that the disabilities act, in general terms, is to remove
barriers to the disabled. Could you help me out with defining how
you would not
remove mental disabilities from the Human Rights Code, but also put
them in the
disabilities act and make them both work?
Mr Dimitrie: This is my point and this is my frustration. Mental
disabilities and hidden disabilities such as autism, epilepsy, brain
any of these disabilities are equally as valid to be included in the
with Disabilities Act as any physical disability. The ODA, as it is
not limited to physical barriers. The ODA includes mentally ill persons
their definition. It's their fault that they drafted legislation that
dealt with physical barriers. That's my point. The Human Rights Code
both physical and hidden disabilities. The ODA should do the same
thing. To me,
it's a crock to say that you're going to create some kind of act and
include developmental disabilities, mental health disabilities, epilepsy,
autism, all these disabilities that don't have physical barriers.
Mr Parsons: Many people in Ontario think there already is an act.
didn't realize that are now saying, "Thank goodness they finally
one." I found your presentation extremely informative. I guess
question to you is, given your presentation, is your preference that
not pass if there are no amendments, or that the act pass and you
view it as a
Mr Dimitrie: The act should pass, period.
Mr Parsons: As it stands.
Mr Dimitrie: The act should pass as it stands and I will keep on
got maybe another 40 years or so on this earth and I'll keep fighting
rights and those of other disabled persons to improve that act.
Mr Parsons: I have to ask then, what does this act do for you in
Mr Dimitrie: Nothing. Absolutely, positively nada, nothing. That's
Mr Martin: Thank you for coming today and making the effort and for
years of work on this piece of public policy. You suggest an amendment
Employment Standards Act that would deal with some of your concerns.
Mr Dimitrie: Yes.
Mr Martin: Are there other amendments you think we could be entertaining
would be helpful? Do you have them documented anywhere so that we
Mr Dimitrie: Other amendments relating to other barriers?
Mr Martin: Yes, some of the things you mention in your --
Mr Dimitrie: The other amendment, and I maintain this and I have
it in the
paper that the clerk passed around to you, is the right to have a
My psychiatrist is currently in his seventies. He's a wonderful man
for me greatly, but he'll be retiring soon and I don't know who I'm
going to go
to next. I may end up in a walk-in clinic myself managing my mental
disability. I don't think it's a lot to ask the ODA to say that mentally
persons have a right to see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. If
going to demand we take our medication, then they better provide psychiatrists
to monitor us.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
ONTARIO BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION, WINDSOR CHAPTER
The Acting Chair (Mr Carl DeFaria): We now have the Ontario Brain
Association, Windsor chapter, Janice Kominek. I welcome you to the
If you could state your names for Hansard, then you can proceed with
presentation. You have 20 minutes.
Ms Janice Kominek: My name is Janice Kominek and it's an honour to
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 each year. I'm
the Ontario Brain Injury Association and executive director of the
Association of Chatham-Kent.
I also have with me here today Nancy Nicholson, who is a survivor
brain injury and a member of the board of directors of the Brain Injury
Association of Windsor-Essex County.
I'd like to first of all just give you a few facts about brain injury.
brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in Ontario
under the age of 45. A brain injury doesn't heal like a broken arm
or leg; the
results may last a lifetime. So if you consider the thousands injured
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 occur as a result of motor vehicle collisions --
in fact, over
half of brain injuries are as a result of motor vehicle collisions;
particularly among the elderly and toddlers; assaults; near drownings;
such as meningitis or brain tumours. Brain injury does not distinguish
by age, gender or socio-economic status. It could happen to any of
us here in
this room, at work, on the playing field or even as we drive home
meeting today. Chances are that at least one person that you work
with, know or
love has experienced the effects of this injury, and the effects are
No two brain injuries are exactly alike and they range from mild
Brain injury cuts across all disability groups because our brain controls
of our functioning. People with brain injury may have visual impairments,
hearing impairments, speech impairments or mobility difficulties often
requiring the use of wheelchair or walker. The most difficult impairments
family members, friends and employers to understand, however, are
personality and behaviour changes and the effects that make it difficult
organize thoughts and remember things that once came easily. These
changes present the most difficult challenges to the survivor of acquired
Who is the Ontario Brain Injury Association? We were formed in 1986.
we are linked to 24 community groups across the province with memberships
totalling in the thousands. Our 20-member board of directors is made
survivors of acquired brain injury, family members, professionals,
providers and business people from every part of the province.
Why are we here today? We are here today because we are deeply concerned
all Ontarians have the opportunity to participate as fully as possible
aspects of life in Ontario. Like many other individuals and advocacy
organizations, we would have been much more comfortable with an ODA
out explicit timelines for the removal of specific barriers. It would
been comforting to have assurance that these timelines would be effectively
enforced. It is also imperative that the terms of reference for the
councils address the following: representation from a full range of
disabilities, length of term of service, a requirement that all reports
public and that the advisory councils be given authority to identify
all barriers. However, our principal reason for being here today is
the committee's attention on barriers that are faced by the thousands
Ontarians who are living with the effects of acquired brain injury.
Brain injury is a unique disability category. It is not limited to
kind of impairment. People with acquired brain injury can live with
sensory, cognitive and emotional impairments and in some cases may
all of them. Accordingly, we urge the committee to recommend that
brain injury be included in the definition of "disability"
in the act.
People with physical impairments must contend with limited access
buildings, businesses, transportation and recreational facilities
on a daily
basis. These barriers are readily identifiable. The proposed Ontarians
Disabilities Act attempts to address these issues of physical barriers.
Similarly, barriers for those with sensory impairments such as vision
hearing are addressed in the act through the use of alternative formats.
However, the barriers that are faced by people living with cognitive
emotional impairments are much more difficult to identify and to address.
speak of attitudinal barriers that often exclude those living with
challenges, leaving them isolated and open to ridicule and abuse.
that it's impossible to legislate attitudes and values, but it is
have an ODA that encompasses a comprehensive program of public awareness
education that could move society toward understanding, acceptance
accommodation of people with cognitive and emotional impairments.
Just to illustrate some of the attitudinal barriers, in my own family
father-in-law sustained an injury some seven years ago after falling
ladder. He was in a coma for three days. If you were to meet him now,
normal in every way. However, as a family member, we see some subtle
his personality. He has difficulty with memory. You try to leave a
him and he maybe forgets to pass it on. I know one time, getting into
vehicle, we were on our way to a restaurant and he took a wrong turn.
mother-in-law of course starts saying, "No, that's not the way
to go," and he
kind of tried to hide it by saying, "Well, I'm just taking a
These kinds of things drive my mother-in-law crazy: "Why is he
doing this to
me? Why is he acting this way?" He is often fatigued and she
So even among family members and close friends, this kind of misunderstanding
with the effects of acquired brain injury, resulting in isolation
devastating the person with brain injury, is not uncommon. There are
other instances of misunderstanding that impact daily on the lives
living with these effects. These misunderstandings effectively limit
disabled person's participation in family life, community activities
At this time, I'd like to introduce you to Nancy Nicholson, who is
of acquired brain injury. She'd like to just tell you a little bit
story and some examples that she's faced in terms of barrier.
Ms Nancy Nicholson: I'm a brain injury survivor. Until a little over
five and a
half years ago, I led a very different life. I had a good business
practice. I was a partner at a prominent Windsor law firm. I was a
leader. I was a well-known fundraiser. I was politically active. Three
before my accident, I attended a legal conference in Cambridge, England,
which notables such as the chief justices of the Supreme Court of
the Supreme Court of the United States, and the late Pierre Trudeau
Three weeks later, my life changed radically. I no longer practise
law. I can
no longer drive a car. I can no longer participate in all those activities
I formerly did. My life was very much like yours.
I would like to provide you with three of what I think are pretty
illustrations of what my life is like. My difficulties relate to the
which I process information and my ability to handle external stimuli.
require an assisted ticket to ride the train. I boarded the train
heading for Toronto. I had to make a change; I was going on to Brockville.
train pulled into Toronto, the conductor came up to me and said, "You
fine. You have an assisted ticket. What's wrong?" I said, "I
have a brain
injury and I have difficulty coping with stimuli."
As you recall, when you get off the train you get on to that level,
lot of noise from the steam from the engine, people coming and going,
a different type of light environment. I got off the train on to that
platform. The conductor went over to the porter, he pointed to me
and he did
this. [Gestures.] I'm not mentally ill, and because I'm not mentally
not covered by your current version of the act. He assumed that I
had some sort
of mental illness. I'd had the inability to get through the station
trains. The porter took my bag, put it on the next train and they
standing there. Because of my inability to process quickly, I could
not get his
attention nor communicate to him that I needed assistance. Fortunately
not a minute later a blind man got off the train and the porter escorted
through the station. I followed him; not with the assistance that
to provide and which I've attempted to utilize in subsequent visits
been unable to do so because it's just not really there. They say
it is, but it
A second occasion: boarding the city bus. It was very crowded. I
get on the
bus. I don't know how to put the ticket into the machine. The bus
fortunately, gave me some time and said, "You put the ticket
in the machine.
You put the ticket in the machine." I have five university degrees.
It's a very
humbling experience, I can assure you.
A third and perhaps more important area to deal with is that there
are a great
many of us out there. We have volatile tempers, many of us, because
nature of our injury. When you go into a store and people expect rapid
responses, the situation can quite quickly deteriorate into a very
situation. The public is unaware of the nature of a brain injury,
legislation doesn't help them become any more aware, because it doesn't
acknowledge its existence. We don't have a mental health problem in
I don't speak for the man who spoke before us. What we have is a change
wiring in our brains.
Brain injury survivors have enough to deal with -- cooking, getting
riding a bus -- without having to educate the public as well. This
overwhelming task to impose upon us. We ask that you take that on
as part of
your role and help us to ensure that the public doesn't treat us with
resentment but, rather, understands why we're a little quick to anger
grocery store when the environment is loud or when we're dealing with
Just one concluding remark: I notice that you have a screen here
and a signer
for people who have other disabilities. You're in a wheelchair-access
But I had to walk through a casino, with an abundance of noise and
lights, and past a very loud waterfall. For me, that is a very hard
were very knowledgeable and conscious of other disabilities. You were
completely unaware of mine. I would encourage you to support the Ontario
Injury Association's recommendations.
Ms Kominek: We recognize that there are no simple or quick solutions
removing these attitudinal barriers. However, since they are barriers
thousands of Ontarians, not only those living with an acquired brain
also those with developmental impairments and those who experience
illness, it is imperative that the government, through the ODA, provide
will and the resources necessary to develop effective public awareness
In summary, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act attempts to address
barriers faced by those with disabilities but falls short on its goal
supporting the right of every person with a disability to live as
as possible, to enjoy equal opportunity and to participate fully in
aspect of life in our province through the removal of existing barriers
prevention of further barriers.
We have not had enough time to fully analyze this bill and consider
all of its
implications, but after our preliminary consideration, we can recommend
following: that the definition of "disability" must include
brain injury in its
description; that explicit timelines be prescribed for the removal
barriers; that the bill have an effective mechanism for enforcement;
role and authority of advisory councils be defined, the reports made
that the disability community have meaningful input; that the bill
provisions for the allocation of resources to raise public awareness
education about the issues faced by those with disabilities in order
foster a greater understanding and influence attitudes, working toward
reduction of attitudinal barriers.
A barrier-free community is a minimum goal to the full participation
disabled in society. Through effective regulation and mandating co-operation
with the private and public sectors, the Ontarians with Disabilities
help deliver broad public awareness and understanding of cognitive
disabilities and eliminate all other barriers for disabled persons
part of Canada's richest province. The Ontario Brain Injury Association,
with many similar disability organizations, stands prepared to assist
government, through the advisory councils outlined in the ODA, to
ways and means necessary to remove attitudinal barriers. We look forward
this challenge. The disabled of Ontario are looking for leadership
issue. Please don't let them down.
The Acting Chair: Thank you for your presentation. We have a minute
caucus. The Liberal caucus will go first.
Mr Crozier: Good morning, and welcome to the committee, Ms Nicholson
Kominek. Someone I love dearly and live with every day has an acquired
injury, through an aneurysm. Thanks to tender loving care and good
facilities -- it would be considered mild compared to yours, Ms Nicholson,
I can understand the concern you have from the standpoint of the family
I understand the short-term-memory issue, as well as that sometimes
conversation the wrong word comes out.
But my point is this: I understand, too, the attitudinal problems
you have. The
Ontario Brain Injury Association, I could say, is not very well known
scale of disability. How is it that you treat these attitudinal problems
vis-"-vis the public and how could we do even more to help you
Ms Kominek: Through both the local community associations as well
provincial association, there is a need for more education. Locally,
associations such as the Head Injury Association of Windsor and Essex
and the Brain Injury Association of Chatham-Kent, which we represent,
attempt to do as much as we can in public education. We provide community
activities that deal with the prevention of injury as well as public
and so on who would come in and try to address those public issues.
we're all very much volunteer-run organizations, many of which don't
staff. They don't have the resources to spread the word across the
Nancy mentioned in her talk, people with brain injuries have enough
with, without also having that burden of doing the public education
What we do need are the financial and human resources to be able to
word, to be able to educate not just family members but also employers
when people return to work they have an understanding of what this
consists of and how it may affect their work. We need both human and
resources to be able to do that.
Mr Martin: Thank you very much for coming today and for your presentation.
certainly has been enlightening. We've asked the government to slow
and to take the time that is necessary to understand the very complicated
involved piece of public business that this is. As you know, it was
a week ago. We're into public hearings now, and it will be done by
Tuesday. We're not sure they're going to capture some of the stuff
putting on the table here this morning. That worries us, because if
capture it now, my concern is, when will the next time be and who
You raised the issue of resources so we can do public education.
You raised the
issue of including all disabilities in the community advisory councils.
not sure that's going to happen, because ultimately, on the advisory
our understanding is that they will be appointed by order in council
it may not in fact include everybody.
Given the speed at which we're moving and the very obvious need for
in here to reflect that we understand the issues of the people in
that you speak about, what would be the biggest priority?
Ms Kominek: I think the biggest priority we had identified is the
education and awareness. In terms of timelines, yes, you're right,
is going very quickly, and we'd certainly like to be involved in recommending
amendments to that. In terms of people with acquired brain injury,
there is a
real need to educate the public and employers as to what this disability
about and how they may be able to be accommodated within society.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham): Thank you for your presentation this morning.
Ottawa last week we heard the same concern about the attitudinal barriers,
which are kind of like the invisible barriers, as you've appropriately
I am completely sympathetic to what you say. Minister Jackson released
working paper on October 23 entitled Reclaiming Our Roots. I'm sure
aware of it. It was about developing strategies for public education
awareness, specifically in the area of mental health. There is a pilot
and evaluation process going on as we speak. I'm not sure, but I think
like this bill. I think you've made a very good point here in your
advocacy role. Educating the public is part of that advocacy role,
and I think
it would be appropriate for all governments, of whatever stripe, to
Mr Dimitrie earlier made the same point, that the invisible barriers
important. I hear your message clearly about public awareness and
and I'm sure there is more that can be done. But there is a strategy
area -- I met with the mental health strategy people -- which is community
resources in mental health. I think that probably is a result of a
lot of the
advocacy that has gone on. Do you wish to respond?
Ms Kominek: I know Nancy wants to respond to this as well. First
of all, brain
injury is not a mental health issue; it is a cognitive impairment.
It may have
mental illness associated with it, but not always.
Mr O'Toole: I apologize; I'm not familiar with the jargon. But I
emotional barrier as you described. Yours was more the transformation
person who was, like you said --
The Chair: Mr O'Toole, I would request the response from the presenters,
because we are running out of time.
Ms Nicholson: The wiring in my brain has changed. I cannot react
quickly. It is
not just emotional. If something like this were to happen in the middle
street, a car could strike me. You're not going to have that problem
with a lot
of other disabilities. It has to do with your brain wiring. It can
to emotional issues, but it is not a mental health problem. The nature
attention that you're describing does not begin to address it, because
not in that category at all.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND,
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Canadian National Institute
the Blind, the Essex-Kent chapter. I would ask the presenter to please
your name for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome. You
minutes for your presentation this morning.
Ms Arlene Bailey: Arlene Bailey, district manager, CNIB.
Good morning, Mr Chairman and members of caucus and the committee.
I first want
to offer a few words of congratulations to our local ODA committee
for all the
hard work they've done over many years to get the voice of people
disabilities out to be represented as part of the ODA committee and
legislation. I want to congratulate and commend the leadership of
Dean La Bute
and also consumers, of various disabilities, who have come out to
represented and have a voice. I want to recognize also the community
my colleagues, which have represented the needs at the ODA. Especially
to take a minute to thank my peers, those who are visually impaired,
deaf-blind throughout all of Ontario who have taken the time to show
up and to
be a part of the ODA, to have a voice in shaping the legislation.
I'm here today to present the official position of the CNIB, Ontario
on the ODA. I do want to take a few minutes to basically let you know
Essex-Kent district of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind
Chatham, Kent, Windsor and Essex. We serve approximately 2,100 individuals
have varying degrees of vision loss. I'll get into reading this document.
You'll have to bear with me. There is no correction for my eyesight.
At the outset, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind would
congratulate and thank Minister Cam Jackson, the Minister of Citizenship,
the government of Ontario for the initiatives that they have taken
to begin to
remove the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in the province
Ontario. The introduction of the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities
125, is an important first step in the identification and removal
and in preventing new barriers. We believe that an effective Ontarians
Disabilities Act, together with excellent programs such as the assistive
devices program which are already in place, will position Ontario
progressive leader in addressing access issues faced by persons with
disabilities in this country.
While the CNIB acknowledges that a number of helpful measures are
the proposed legislation, which have the potential to address many
future issues in the identification, removal and prevention of barriers,
agency does have some significant concerns which we believe need to
addressed as amendments to the legislation in order to ensure that
will address the needs of our consumers. Some of our concerns relate
to how the
legislation will identify, remove and prevent barriers for our blind,
impaired and deaf-blind consumers. We will deal with these first in
submission. We will then bring forward some general concerns about
legislation in terms of its mandate, coverage, implementation and
effectiveness. In both cases, we will, wherever possible, offer suggestions
changes or amendments that we believe would strengthen the bill's
Clearly we understand that it is neither possible nor practical to
legislation that purports to remove all barriers in all sectors immediately
even in the short term. There are many factors that dictate that a
approach to implementation would be more effective. It is, however,
to ensure that those changes and amendments that are necessary to
current issues with the bill are incorporated into the legislation.
Proposed amendments that would improve removal of barriers for persons
blind, deaf-blind or visually impaired: it is important to recognize
accommodations that remove barriers for persons who are blind, visually
impaired or deaf-blind can vary depending on the nature and degree
impairment or deaf-blindness. As a consequence, it is important to
different, as well as the common, needs of each of these groups when
implementing solutions. For example, signage needs to be both highly
terms of the size and the contrast and it also needs to be tactile,
Braille, so that it may be accessed both by persons who are blind
impaired. Furthermore, the removal of barriers for persons with vision
impairments is only partially addressed by the removal of physical
Access to information in the delivery of goods and services is of
importance to persons with vision impairments. Such access to information
be manifested in a variety of ways, including intervention services
who are deaf-blind or the provision of alternate materials in accessible
formats for people who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind.
format required will depend on the extent of vision loss.
We believe it is very important that there is an understanding of
and the factors which must be considered in accommodating the unique
persons who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind. We believe
critical because these factors will need to be considered when plans
developed and implemented to remove barriers in buildings or in accessing
and services. It is the position of the CNIB, and the consumers we
the removal of barriers must include the removal of physical barriers
impede access for blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind persons,
as well as
the removal of barriers to access goods and services.
The following are specific concerns and/or suggestions for changes.
2, under "Definitions," with reference to Ontario government
are concerned about the restrictions implied within this definition,
publications of a "scientific, technical, reference, research,
nature" would not be included in publications that would be available
alternative formats if requested. It is our view that government publications
that would be made available to members of the public should also
available to persons with vision impairments if requested.
In subsections 4(1) and (2), "Government buildings, structures
we believe that "standards" would be stronger than "guidelines"
in terms of
their enforceability. Given that the Ontario building code, dated
seriously lacking in its provisions for accessing the built environment
persons who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind, we recommend
new CSA standard B651, which is to be released in June, be used as
standard, as it addresses much more effectively the access issues
with vision impairments.
In subsection 4(5), "New leases," we are concerned that
need only "have regard to" the building's accessibility
when making a decision
to occupy this building. We believe that compliance with the guidelines,
a minimum a plan for renovation so that the building is in compliance,
critical if new barriers are not to be created.
In section 6, "Government Internet sites," the act requires
"technically feasible" government Internet sites be made
accessible. In fact,
guidelines for the design of Internet sites now exist that make it
feasible to make all Internet sites accessible. Therefore, the words
"technically feasible" should be removed and it should be
required that all
government Internet sites be made accessible.
In section 7, "Government publications," we believe that
a time frame should be
set out for the provision of publications in alternate formats. The
"reasonable time" could have many interpretations. We are
also troubled by the
qualification that materials would only be made available if technically
feasible. Since most materials are now produced on the computer, production
alternate formats is now much easier than in the past. The expectation
be that exclusions would be rare indeed.
The sections dealing with duties of municipalities, other organizations,
agencies and persons: there are no provisions in these duties to require
publications be made available in accessible formats. There are also
provisions that require accessibility of Internet sites. Both of these
are important to the removal of barriers for persons with vision impairments
and should be addressed in the legislation.
In section 29, "Municipal Elections Act, 1996," the proposed
helpful in ensuring polling stations will be physically accessible
voters will receive assistance. There is no provision, however, to
the accessibility of the ballots themselves. Given that during the
municipal election, persons with vision impairments were unable to
independently due to the unavailability of accessible ballots in most
municipalities, an amendment should be included which requires that
accessible to persons with disabilities.
I have some general comments re provisions in the act and suggested
While Bill 125 has made some important strides in its recognition
that exist and in developing measures that should assist in the removal
these barriers and prevention of future barriers, we believe the bill
stronger and more effective with certain clarifications, modifications
Purpose of Bill 125: we believe the stated purpose of the bill should
removal of all barriers for persons with disabilities in Ontario to
participation. While we recognize that this aim cannot be achieved
and will require long-term commitment from all sectors, we should
maintain that ultimate plan.
Applicability of the bill: while we understand it is the government's
make the bill applicable to all sectors over time, this is not clear
proposed legislation. The bill would be strengthened by specifying
for the inclusion of the various sectors.
Accessibility plans: we believe the development of these plans is
a good step
in helping to identify barriers and action plans to address these.
concerned, however, that measures are not included to ensure that
are implemented. Amendments should be included to address enforcement
Government power to exempt organizations: while we recognize there
may be times
when it will be appropriate for the government to exempt organizations,
should be a very rare occurrence. Consequently, the legislation should
amended to include strict parameters regarding the rationale, process
time frame for the granting of those exemptions.
With regard to the participation of persons with disabilities, the
provincial and municipal advisory committees is a good step toward
input of persons with disabilities in the process. We believe it is
that the individuals selected to serve on these committees represent
or for disabled persons and that there be a requirement that they
their sectors. While the legislation states that a majority of members
disabled persons, there is no provision for representation from the
disability sectors. We believe this broad [Image]representation is
given the committees' potential involvement in advising on guidelines,
standards, plans and so forth and that the needs of persons with different
disabilities can be very diverse. We also believe the role of the
advisory committee needs to be clarified in terms of its scope, mandate
Prevention of new barriers: a fundamental objective of the Ontarians
Disabilities Act has been to ensure that no new barriers are created.
believe that provisions in the bill need to be strengthened so that
objective may be upheld. This should include new capital projects,
purchase of goods and services, exemptions to be granted only when
hardship can be demonstrated.
The foregoing comments and suggestions for amendments are intended
the government of Ontario in enacting legislation which we believe,
would have the potential to make a significant difference for disabled
Ontarians. Persons with disabilities have a wealth of skills, expertise
enthusiasm that they're very eager to share with the government and
citizens of Ontario. By enacting strong and effective legislation,
will be providing the impetus, the vision and the tools for disabled
to take their rightful place as fully participating citizens in the
life of the
province. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have one minute per caucus, and
with Mr Martin.
Mr Martin: Thank you very much for coming this morning and the obvious
thought you've put into this legislation. Your recommendations are
We had a very eloquent presenter in Ottawa on Friday named Penny
a deaf-blind individual. Her concern was that we weren't going to
take the time
necessary to do the work that was required to make sure this bill
in fact did
all of the things everybody would wish for, for example, removing
"having regard to" and "if technically feasible"
and those kinds of things.
What we refer to at Queen's Park as "weasel words" should
be taken out of
We're suggesting as a caucus that we need to wait until the intersession,
January, February and March, and travel more widely, listen more clearly
take whatever time is necessary to make sure that when we do this
important piece of work, it's done right the first time and we won't
have to be
continually returning to it to make improvements.
Given the wide range of recommendations you made this morning and
that, for all intents and purposes, this will be done by next Tuesday
government sticks to its time plan, what would be the most important
us to focus on and make sure is in this bill by way of amendment for
Tuesday, from your perspective?
Ms Bailey: I don't think your question is fair, because we need it
my opinion. In terms of life as a disabled person, I can tell you
primary issue for somebody who is blind, vision impaired or deaf-blind
access to information. Some 90% of the information that an individual
sight receives is received through sight. When you don't have the
miss that. That's a really critical piece. However, we get that information
whatever format that is feasible. That is an important piece.
Mr Spina: Thank you, Ms Bailey, for coming forward. I wanted to address
couple of issues.
The Chair: You'll have to be brief.
Mr Spina: It has to do with the time frame. One of the elements is
governments of all stripes have tried to float a disability act. It's
that we want to get this thing into place for Christmas with amendments.
brought forward, as well as others, from Mr La Bute right on, important
I'll draw two parts of the bill to your attention. Section 22 says
regulations regarding timelines, the adoption of codes, contents of
policies and criteria to identify agencies in preparing accessibility
can all be done in regulations. I've been assured by Minister Jackson
ministry staff that there will be a consultation with the stakeholders
development of those regulations over the next three or four months,
will take place in whatever form the act gets passed in before Christmas.
Lastly, section 21 in the act says, "The executive council shall
cause a review
of this act to be undertaken within five years after this section
force." That means whatever government of whatever stripe is
in place five
years from the time this bill is passed will have to review it to
improvements can be made to it. If you have a comment, I'm sure the
Ms Bailey: Are you asking me for my comment? Sorry, I can't see your
Mr Spina: Yes, please.
Ms Bailey: OK, thank you -- your facial expression. Sorry.
Mr Spina: That's all right.
Ms Bailey: In terms of time frames, I just want to say that the act
needs to be
comprehensive, that it needs to be correct and that it needs to demonstrate
high level of understanding for the needs of people with disabilities.
takes time to get it done right, then that's important. As far as
legislation is concerned, reference was made to improving and exponentially
changing technology and how that impacts on people with disabilities,
lives. Given that, I think that in five years some things, even access
information, the production of alternative format, are going to have
don't think five years is soon enough for reviewing it.
Mr Parsons: It was an interesting presentation. We've already waited
six and a
half years, from 1995, for this to be passed. There's now a mad, magical
that it has to be through by Christmas. The reality is that because
the government can put through anything they want at any time. If
goes through unamended, on a scale of one to 10, what does it do for
you represent, who are visually impaired, blind or deaf-blind?
Ms Bailey: My interpretation, and I speak as a consumer at this point,
the proposed legislation has loose terminology, loose definitions,
is open to
loose interpretation and doesn't have enough tooth. At the end of
the day, why
settle for it? That's my question.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
CANADIAN HEARING SOCIETY, WINDSOR REGION
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Canadian Hearing Society,
region. I would ask the presenter or presenters to please come forward.
behalf of the committee, welcome, and you have 20 minutes for your
Mr David Kerr: My name is David Kerr. I'm the regional director for
Canadian Hearing Society for Windsor and Chatham. Thank you for allowing
come here to present today, Mr Chair and members of the committee.
I would just like to say that the Canadian Hearing Society appreciates
government has started the process in order to introduce Bill 125,
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It's a very important piece for the
community. I also want to say that the Canadian Hearing Society has
heavily involved with the ODA, the Bill 125 committee, and as well,
past, in lobbying for improvements to accessibility for consumers
For example, we think about the Eldridge decision in 1997, the federal
decision, the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, saying that
accessibility be provided for deaf and hard of hearing people across
through the services of interpreters, and that has carried far and
the right to have the government pay for interpreting services in
for any cases because a deaf lawyer does not have accessibility: that
There is the Ontario Human Rights Commission's new Policies and Guidelines
Disability and the Duty to Accommodate in 2000.
The only piece there is that this is based on individual need, meeting
needs of individuals. I feel the piece that's missing is to clarify
it for a
group like ODA, specifically as a group, and identify that as opposed
individuals, and if I could just give an example, with stronger and
specific enforcement mechanisms.
Some of the positive points for Bill 125 are that it requires the
ministry to identify an annual accessibility plan to specifically
remove and prevent barriers for deaf, deafened and hard of hearing
legislation, policies, programs, practices and services. Accessibility
will be made public. We are quite impressed with that piece.
Also it is very helpful that the accessibility directorate of Ontario
established within the Ministry of Citizenship, and that the Accessibility
Advisory Council of Ontario be there to advise the government. These
organizations will be responsible for programming and partnerships,
develop public education so that we can overcome some of the attitudinal
barriers that exist.
It's very helpful to encourage active participation in the variety
in establishing accessibility standards.
Those are three positive points, but we have some concerns in that
some changes that need to be made before third reading of this bill.
that's missing, which does not have any teeth, is identification,
and removal of barriers. They need to be clearly defined. Within the
there's some ambiguity. The reason we have concerns is because of
experience we've had with Bill 4 and the Education Act, that ASL,
language, and la langue des signes qu1b1coise be recognized as languages
instruction in schools. It was enacted and we looked forward to the
but enforcement does not exist and we are now looking at eight years
really no action.
That was the proof to us that things may not happen. We don't want
to see the
same thing with Bill 125. We're a bit concerned about that. We feel
we need a
very strong enforcement procedure, and we need that documented within
We need stronger planning and clearer goals set.
Most business people develop a business plan, and I'm sure we're
all aware of
that, so that we understand where we're going, and then we end up
results in the end. Without a business plan in Bill 125, how can we
see where things are going? We can argue our way through it. I think
affect deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people, as well as other
people in the province. What I'm asking for is a clear business plan
bill so there will be stronger and more clearly established goals
that we can
work toward. This can only be positive for outcomes in the future
so that we're
sure everybody understands and has a similar interpretation.
Here are some of the barriers that face the deaf, deafened and hard
people who are obviously the consumers our organization is involved
For example, Ontario Works and ODSP employees still say to deaf,
hard of hearing people that they're responsible to book a sign language
interpreter or a captionist. It's not the consumer's responsibility.
belongs to agencies and organizations such as ODSP and Ontario Works.
needs to be made clear. That's a barrier to consumers, who don't know
Staff of municipal and provincial government offices are not particularly
sensitive to the needs of deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people.
example, telephone and voice mail information: access at points of
services is not available -- there's not a TTY telephone device for
available at these points of entry, to become more accessible.
Another one is that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
letter to the Canadian Hearing Society saying the ministry does not
legal authority to require private vocational schools to provide interpreting
and real-time captioning free of charge for their students. That is
concern because private schools and private colleges are being encouraged
established and deaf people will not have accessibility to these educational
Previously, deaf, deafened and hard of hearing students would go
University, the only liberal arts university for the deaf in the world,
the problem is that because of cutbacks in funding, our students are
able to access Gallaudet University because of the change from vocational
rehabilitation services to ODSP. So we have deaf, deafened and hard
students who can't afford to go to Gallaudet University in the States.
forced to go to a hearing university and there's a lack of interpreting
services available. If there's not an interpreter, they can't access
education within a college or university. Lots of deaf students become
within the system because there are not enough interpreters.
At the same time, out in the general community, there are not enough
interpreting services in the pool. Interpreters are more thinly spread
there are not enough new interpreters being trained. That has caused
upheaval because of the dwindling number of students who are able
Gallaudet University. Ontarians used to make up the third largest
students at Gallaudet University and we are now at the bottom of the
This all happened within eight years. They also can't access Rochester
Institute of Technology.
I was supported by vocational rehabilitation services to go to university.
now working and independent and have no need to live on public funds.
the taxpayers' dollars were spent wisely in allowing me to attend
Most deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people trying to access constituency
offices or Queen's Park are not able to have access because interpreters
not available at the last minute. Most offices don't have a TTY to
telephone accessible for us.
As recently as September 2001 it was determined that boards of education
not responsible for establishing standards for interpreters hired
in the school
boards across the province. We want quality, qualified interpreting
for our students in the education system, because if the services
aren't up to
par, our students are going to get a lower education. So equalizing
field is not happening for our students.
The ministry also says it's not responsible for American sign language
communication proficiency for the teachers of the deaf in the schools
deaf. Their skills are not improving as they work day to day with
We feel we need a stronger plan with clearer identification where
to go rather than the ambiguity, which we don't want to continue.
If we have a
plan, then we can work toward that goal.
Our recommendations would be that we have clear, specific goals for
ODA for the
identification, removal and prevention of barriers; that barriers
identified, removed and prevented within specific time frames; and
removal of barriers be enforced within the broader public service
private sector through legislation. We need a stronger vision and
prevent barriers in the future to avoid wasting taxpayers' money.
Let's do it
now. Let's remove those barriers and essentially we'll have less of
on the taxpayers' funds.
We need to allow for strong involvement of the deaf community and
community for active participation in order that there be no misunderstandings
and misinterpretations in the future.
We need a better way to ensure stronger legislation through a provincial
advisory committee and municipal advisory committees for legislation
more teeth. We can't ignore this.
We need the enforcement of Bill 125 to equal the Supreme Court of
decision in the Eldridge case. We need to come at least up to that
The recommendations from the ODA committee are supported by the Canadian
I need to check on how much time I have left.
The Chair: You still have about three or four minutes.
Mr Kerr: Thank you. We need the establishment and implementation
of a plan to
remove the barriers that are in existence today and the prevention
creation of new barriers in the public service and with employers
deafened and hard of hearing consumers.
We need the establishment of cultural and disability-sensitive training
service providers and employers of deaf, deafened and hard of hearing
make them understand the legal rights.
We need to hire accommodation coordinators where necessary to provide
to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people; to identify specifically
issues are; and to make it clearer to the government where things
need to go.
We need employers to establish a procedure to accommodate all employees
deaf, deafened or hard of hearing. We need to make sure that qualified
interpreters and captionists are made available.
We need to become more familiar with and make appropriate use of
terminology describing the disabled, people who are deaf and people
who have a
hearing loss, rather than using the term "hearing-impaired."
We need to involve the Ontario Association for the Deaf, the Canadian
Association of the Deaf and the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association
quality information that we've collected over years of involvement
consumers that can only be useful to the ODA.
If it remains as it is, the ODA will be considered a missed opportunity
some of these changes, so take time to ensure the identity, removal
prevention of barriers by a more specific process and a business plan,
use of such a plan. With that, I thank you.
The Chair: We have time for a quick question from each caucus. We
minute per caucus. You have to make it brief.
Mr Spina: Thank you, sir. We really appreciate the presentation.
important to get your perspective on this bill.
Mr Parsons: I have the same question I've asked the others. Without
does this bill remove any barriers for you?
Mr Kerr: It's much as I said about Bill 4, with American sign language
langue des signes qu1b1coise being recognized as languages of instruction.
bill was enacted. I'm very much afraid there were no time frames with
and all the other pieces I've mentioned. In eight years there's been
It was enacted and then pushed aside. I don't want to see history
itself. Without some of the pieces I mentioned, the time frames being
place and the business plan, all I can say is that we are basically
a missed opportunity.
Mr Martin: You've tabled this morning some very specific things that
need to be
in this bill if it's going to be helpful to the deaf community. You
about the resources necessary. What do you think needs to be done
in terms of
the resources to support some of what you think is needed?
Mr Kerr: Perhaps you would clarify the kind of resources that --
Mr Martin: Obviously the government needs to put money on the table
if the deaf
community is going to be able to participate in the way that you yourself
participating and that obviously they need to. What kind of money
Mr Kerr: Specific to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people and
resources necessary, obviously I think we need, for example, apprenticeship
programs for interpreters, sign-language interpreter training; real-time
captioners, as we're seeing here today, an apprenticeship program
that -- very specific to those two human services that we need.
We also need sensitivity training for, for example, the government
employer of deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people, so sensitivity
Also there needs to be a review of the ability for deaf, deafened
and hard of
hearing people to attend university, such as Gallaudet in the United
the Rochester Institute of Technology -- a very special group of people
need to be able to access the programs there, because they are the
programs in existence for deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people
I guess another barrier that needs to be removed is the attitudinal
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
The Chair: Our next presentation is from Kevin MacGregor. If Mr MacGregor
please step forward and state his name for the record. On behalf of
committee, welcome. You have 15 minutes for your presentation this
Mr Kevin MacGregor: Hello. I'm Kevin MacGregor. Sorry to keep you
very glad to be here today, as I'm sure all of you are. This is a
thing that's happening right now. The fact that there is a bill at
been put forward is a wonderful thing. I also think it's a wonderful
the government has decided to send a committee out to talk to the
see how the people feel about the bill and how it will affect or not
I have little to offer in terms of jargon; I heard the words being
earlier. I'm not a lawyer, and I don't represent any specific body.
I'm not an
elected official. I am just here on my own grounds. I know I have
supporters behind me, but I don't represent any particular group.
I'm sure my
mother is praying for me right now, and I know the cab driver that
here is praying for me too, because I asked him to. I probably won't
at my notes, because I probably can't read them right now.
But I did make it in here to see you, and I did have a little bit
difficult time. There's no way of everybody knowing all the barriers,
especially being a person with a brain injury, as I am.
It seems to keep popping up, and I'm glad to see people with brain
being represented here. I did make it. I missed a few of the elevators
way up, and the guy out front had to hold my hand and take me to find
elevators. We got up here and I found the right room, and everything
I think what I can offer you today is just how important it is to
to the bill that's in front of you right now. I'm sure you've heard
Lepofsky and the whole ODA committee. He's the man who all of us do
behind. You can take his presentation and the amendments that his
group has put
forward and put my name beside those recommendations, and you can
put down my
friend Kirsten's name, who couldn't come with me today because it
took too much
time to arrange for this. When I went to the Clubhouse, which is a
people with brain injuries in London, there was a friend of mine called
Kirsten. She lives in a wheelchair in a nursing home, and she has
had a brain
injury. She's in her middle age, and she knows about what's going
gone to some of these meetings with me and has expressed her opinion.
"What do I say to these people? I'm terrified." She said,
"Kevin, it's so easy.
All you have to do is sit there and ask them a question: `How much
do you value
your freedom?' and demand an answer." I'm not going to do that,
because I think
that's a personal answer and it's not something that people need to
front of everyone else. But this is what we're talking about: freedom.
This is one of the last great barriers that face us as a community.
already accepted women into our ranks, and that has done wonderful
us, even though we did have to build extra washrooms and install a
tables in some restaurants, but we have benefited greatly by the contribution
of women and the acceptance of women. Around the same time, we began
people of different colours and different races. I can't even begin
how great, because our whole country is based on that type of diversity.
the years we have gotten more and more diverse. But there are still
are left out, and that's why we're here today.
This is a great opportunity. What is most important for me and many
people who have brain injuries -- we can't change the changes that
occurred to our brains, to our cognitive abilities, which may have
eyes or our ears or our body or our ability to process or be in busy
what we really want is to see the change of attitudes. That's not
that any government can write into a bill -- "From now on, everybody
nice to each other and be compassionate to each other" -- but
when I go and
talk to different groups, they all say that's an easy thing for people
when we begin to rub shoulders with each other, and that's what we
I think my generation is pretty much a lost cause. I don't see the
people my age or older being able to change within any time frame
see. But I'm here today because one day I'm going to have grandchildren
there may be people in this room who already do have grandchildren
-- and I
don't want to see my grandchildren walk in a separate door, away from
friends, and miss the punchline of a story. I don't want to see my
grandchildren not being able to go into the dance with their friends.
want to see them suffer and be isolated, because I know they're valuable,
know the people with disabilities in this room whom you will see and
going to meet -- you already have met incredible people, and I think
incredible people to be here and to represent the people of your communities
and to listen and to make these decisions. That's the life path that
been given, and it's a wonderful thing.
I've been given a life path that has been changed by powers that
are beyond me.
I was struck by a car as I was crossing the street at a crosswalk.
someone mentioned that earlier: imagine if you were hit by a car and
got a brain injury. That was me. Before that, I was in university
master's degree. I was teaching and I was in computer science. So
I was in kind
of the perfect position. My colleagues were being hired, I have to
mostly to the States, because they could get $100,000 American and
all sorts of
wonderful prizes. I was taken away from that and I learned a whole
Instead of being a soccer player, being watched by the girls, I was
the man on
the sidelines who was being ignored and was not even able to go to
game because of the time I spent in a wheelchair or the difficulties
We need to change these attitudes and to make amendments to the bill.
one wonderful idea in the bill that can really, really help is the
the councils. Everybody has already spoken to different specific ideas
changing the council, but as you are contemplating making changes
about making more changes in the new year by having a group go out
I think it would be wise to perhaps put together your provincial council
to give them the power to listen and to recommend strong changes that
government is bound to listen to. Of course, you can't listen to 100%
everything all the time, but I think the people with disabilities
need to be
putting this together themselves, along with their friends and business.
I'm not isolated from business, of course; nobody is. I have a friend
graduated with. He works for the Bank of Montreal in Chicago. He moved
quickly from Windsor to Toronto to Chicago and he's a very successful
was talking to him about all the things that we want to do. He said,
they're probably worried about some business issues," and I said,
course they are. It's important, but" -- and I talked to him
more about the
things we wanted to do. He said, "You know, it all makes perfect
sense to me
and I don't see why it's complicated. If you want to give them a message
me, just make sure there's no MPPs on the council and then they will
things done." You probably know many bankers yourself and you
can probably hear
bankers saying that: "Just make sure there's no MPPs. Let the
disabilities sit down with the people in business and we'll work it
not a very difficult thing to do."
I know I would be worried about some of my local businesses, because
I live in
a community with lots of small business. I know that suddenly making
would be a burden to them, but I know that if we had a plan that we
to them -- this is what they asked me. They say, "Kevin, where's
Maybe the government can give us a plan that we can follow, because
can't afford to make all these changes next month, but if I have a
plan I can do it." I stand behind those words, because if they
can't afford the
labour, I know many people who have brain injuries or have different
disabilities will be more than happy to help turn the gravel and help
shovel and help do the labour ourselves. All we ask is that maybe
share a lunch with us and we can talk together, and not only will
from our labour but we have a lot of insight because we are people
lost everything and have regrown it. That's powerful thing to share
I think people like my friend Kirsten, if she were on any board or
even if she
were in any business just to help people get coffee and give them
if it were Kirsten waiting for me at the front door to show me where
elevator was -- and you wouldn't have to pay her; she'd be happy to
do it --
she'd be a wonderful presence that would contribute to everything
happen here. That's the sort of acceptance, that's the wide variety
that people can do and the attitudes that need to be changed.
We do need to make changes. I think these councils are a big opportunity
and that the provincial council putting together their own ideas,
own travel and listening, can set up the guidelines for the local
can take on their own responsibilities. I think local councils can
important mediation services for anybody who has a problem understanding
needs to be done to their business or to their community group. They
to the local council and bring forward their issue and everybody on
council would be happy to help.
As far as putting together the council, it's not too difficult to
that you can have representatives of people who have disabilities
from various groups. Just think of your senses. People who have no
ears to hear
any more can speak the most eloquent speeches, as we just heard, so
need someone like that. We would need people who don't see as well
any more --
the senses of the eyes -- and we need people who have lost some of
of their cognition that have given them insight. Just think of the
senses and the diversity that will be represented and when that diversity
will be on the council can come forward and be in the schools of our
grandchildren so that our grandchildren can go to school together
doesn't matter what type of disability they have. I know that if I
grandchildren, I want them to go to school with people with disabilities
because of all the things we can learn from each other.
I think I'll just end with that. Thank you very much for having me.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have one minute per caucus, and
with the official opposition.
Mr Parsons: I really don't know what to ask, because that was a very
In my role as critic, I have realized that while some disabilities
identified by the public, others are not, and you represent a perspective
is not well recognized. What kind of education program do we need
to do to make
employers aware of the skills and the energy that you can bring to
Mr MacGregor: I think the first step would have to be right in education
schools before it can be with the older people. Maybe we can start
bigger, important chunks and maybe it's the younger people we can
start with. I
In terms of education, I have a friend who was also at the Clubhouse
and he was
taking a university course at his own expense to try and test his
learning. He was doing really poorly; he was failing. He had maybe
a 30% or
something. He was able to get a grant from some group that was able
for him a tutor, and for that small cost for the tutor he was getting
couldn't afford to keep on having a tutor, but if there was a local
that he could go to for council grants -- and this is an idea from
where there are local council grants that can help people who have
needs, because we can't identify them all and the local councils need
that sort of power and flexibility where somebody like this man can
forward and say, "I can get a university education and I can
learn to really
take a chunk out of this world, but I just need some money for a tutor
I'm living on disability, I'm living on $700 a month, and I need that
tiny bit of help." I think it would be nice for a local council
to be able to
Mr Martin: I want to thank you for taking the time and making the
effort to be
here today, coming all the way from London and bringing with you the
of Kirsten and of your banker friend in Chicago. We need to hear from
those people and yourself. I think you're right: this is a wonderful
It's a chance for all of us to do the right thing on behalf of people
challenged across this province, to include them in the everyday life
We're hearing very clearly across the board that the bill that's
on the table,
even though it's a place to start, doesn't do the trick. Your friend
Lepofsky has tabled some significant and serious amendments. I'm hoping
government will hear you as you say to us today, "Please do the
and that we will all participate in that in the end.
The one piece of the bill that you've focused on, that I think you're
absolutely right needs to be done right, is the provincial councils
listening to the voice of the various communities of disabled people
province. In your view, who should be making those appointments? How
be making those appointments?
Mr MacGregor: Somebody always manages to find the question that I've
had a hard
time answering. That's a very good question. I think it's hard to
put up a
whole electoral system just for that sort of thing, so it definitely
has to be
something that has nothing to do with parties. That's a really important
component. As soon as we start introducing loyalties, we introduce
complications. There are plenty of heroes within the province that
government will be able to find through their MPPs, well-qualified
have been able to come forward. I'm not saying that David Lepofsky
should be on
the council, but there are other people who are David Lepofskys who
can be on
that council, and I think they need to be found through the communities.
The Chair: Thank you very much. To the government side, Mr Hardeman.
Mr Hardeman: Thank you very much for your presentation, Mr MacGregor.
From your presentation, I would take that the most important aspect
needs to be done for the brain injury folks is communications and
relations, to get the public to understand. It doesn't require the
of a building; it requires somebody in the building to help you, to
point the finger as to where we need to go.
My vision of the act is that the local committees will have the ability
to do a
lot of that, to tell the local municipalities what needs to happen
community as they develop the plan and then as they work with the
municipalities in informing them whether they're achieving the goal
more needs to be done.
The first question is, do you see that possibility too, that the
committees would be able to do that? Also, the question was asked
about the cut-off, where municipalities with less than 10,000 do not
have a local committee. Do you see that that's a problem, that we
also need to
provide that ability in smaller municipalities?
Mr MacGregor: I come from a small community originally. I'm from
is now famous because it's right beside Walkerton. It's an unfortunate
become famous. I grew up just outside of that town and I know that
if I want to
go and visit my mother, there is no way for me to get there. I don't
is responsible, which council that would be, but it would probably
I've lost myself. Sorry. What was the last part of that question?
Mr Hardeman: Do you believe that the local committees will be able
facilitate the communication we need to educate the public on the
that are there?
Mr MacGregor: Maybe one thing the provincial council can do is to
come up with
all the guidelines for the community councils. But I do know that
isn't covered under this, just because it's only 6,500. We have a
and a McDonald's, though, so that puts us on the map for travelers
on the way
to their cottages up in the Georgian Bay area. Most of the Georgian
won't be covered. Owen Sound might be covered. It might be difficult
small community like Newstead, which is near where I live, with just
hundred people, to be able to support a whole council, but maybe the
Hanover could be there for them instead. The jurisdictions might reach
of the city to help the local areas as well, to cover the smaller
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
SOCIETY OF CANADA,
The Chair: Our next presentation this morning is from the Multiple
Society of Canada, Ontario division. I would ask the presenter to
forward and state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee,
welcome. You have 20 minutes for your presentation this morning.
Ms Dora Lee Bugeja: My name is Dora Lee Bugeja. I'm a volunteer of
Society, Windsor, Ontario chapter and I'm here to speak on behalf
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Ontario division. I have to
say I do have
MS and I do slur. I apologize for that.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Ontario division, is pleased
able to provide input on Bill 125, the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities
Act. The MS Society of Canada is a national organization with regional
divisions, of which the Ontario division is the largest.
An estimated 18,000 Ontarians have multiple sclerosis. Every day
another three people are diagnosed as having this disabling disease
central nervous system.
The mission of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is to be
a leader in
finding a cure for multiple sclerosis and enabling people affected
by MS to
enhance their quality of life. We accomplish this mission by supporting
research, services and social action and advocacy programs. The comments
we are providing in this submission are the result of dialogue with
Response to Bill 125: the Multiple Sclerosis Society is very appreciative
the leadership of Minister of Citizenship Cam Jackson in bringing
first legislation of its kind in Canada. Bill 125 provides a framework
making this province truly barrier-free for Ontarians who are disabled.
However, Bill 125, as it stands, is only a first step. Minister Jackson
stated this bill puts people with disabilities in the driver's seat.
Unfortunately, the bill does not provide a vehicle for people with
to drive, and we hope this public hearing process will result in strengthened
legislation that is truly forward-thinking and -acting and will allow
with disabilities to obtain their rightful places within the full
opportunities within Ontario.
Positive aspects of Bill 125:
Definition of "disability": the MS Society is pleased to
see that the
definition of "disability" has been widened to make it more
inclusive of people
who have disabilities that are not just related to mobility impairment.
question why, in some cases, the cause of a particular disability
The committee may wish to look at this part of the wording.
Establishment of an Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario: the
believes the creation of an accessibility council, with a majority
being people with disabilities, to be a positive step forward.
Establishment of an accessibility directorate: the MS Society applauds
creation of an accessibility directorate to be very useful. Providing
of expertise on how to avoid and remove barriers should be of benefit
within and outside government.
Commitment to remove barriers within the public sector: generally
MS Society is pleased with the ideals that are voiced within the section
bill that deals directly with the public sector. However, we have
particular sections that should be changed and/or strengthened to
entire bill much more beneficial for people who are living with the
effects of multiple sclerosis.
Recommended changes to Bill 125: in an effort to assist in the work
committee to strengthen Bill 125, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of
Ontario division, respectfully submits a series of amendments.
Widen the purpose of the legislation: we suggest that the purpose
legislation, section 1, be widened to better capture the intent of
Vision for Persons with Disabilities, signed by Premier Mike Harris
Minister Cam Jackson, unveiled November 1, 2001. Currently, the purpose
improve opportunities for persons with disabilities and to provide
involvement in the identification, removal and prevention of barriers
full participation in the life of the province." We suggest more
language would be the following: "The purpose of this act is
to achieve a
barrier-free Ontario for persons with disabilities through the identification
and removal of existing barriers and the prevention of new barriers
significant involvement of persons with disabilities."
No reduction of rights: some people with MS have told us they are
one result of the proposed legislation is that it might actually reduce
existing rights of people with disabilities. To overcome this fear,
that section 3 be amended to read as follows: "Nothing in this
act or in any
regulations or guidelines made pursuant to it diminishes in any way
obligations of any person or organization, including the government
to persons with disabilities, whether guaranteed under the Ontario
Code or under any other act or regulation in Ontario."
Barriers are not just physical: section 4 of the proposed legislation
easily be interpreted as just promoting accessibility on the basis
disability. We strongly suggest that section 4(1) be amended to address
types of barriers that impede people with disabilities, not just physical
access barriers. Linking the level of access to the Building Code
section 4(2), addresses physical access issues on a very minimal level
not address other types of disability access problems.
Removal of barriers in existing buildings: while section 4 deals
guidelines to promote accessibility for persons with disabilities
structures and premises that the government leases, constructs or
renovates in the future, there is no requirement that existing buildings,
structures or premises be made barrier-free in a prescribed, timely
strongly urge that the timelines to address barrier problems in existing
buildings be addressed.
The MS Society is also concerned about the language in section 4(5)
instructs the government to "have regard to the extent to which
the design of
the building ... complies with the guidelines, in determining whether
into the lease." Language such as "to have regard to"
provides no protection
for people with disabilities. It appears the intent of this section
may be to
provide a loophole for non-compliance with section 4(4). We strongly
section 4(5) be deleted.
We have similar concerns with section 9 which, in dealing with
government-funded capital programs, states such projects "may
requirements to provide accessibility for persons with disabilities
as part of
the eligibility criteria." We strongly urge deletion of this
amendment of this section by requiring such projects to meet barrier-free
Purchase of goods and services: the above comments relate as well
to section 5,
which states that the government of Ontario "shall have regard
accessibility for persons with disabilities to the goods or services"
purchased. The government of Ontario must show leadership in the provision
goods and services and not provide itself a loophole for non-compliance.
Responsibility to government employees: the Multiple Sclerosis Society
there is a great opportunity for the government of Ontario to provide
leadership vis-"-vis its own employees by strengthening all aspects
8. By strengthening this section through amendments, the government
can go beyond the minimum standard of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
A possible amendment to replace section 8(1) is: "The government
shall create and maintain a barrier-free work environment in which
disabilities can obtain employment, fully participate in all aspects
life and advance in their career goals."
Ministry accessibility plans: as described in section 10, the requirement
ministries prepare an accessibility plan is a useful part of an annual
process. The MS Society, however, strongly recommends that this section
amended to require specific timelines for achieving these plans. It
enough to file a plan year after year without a penalty coming into
not achieving the plan. The Ontario Human Rights Commission could
be given the
responsibility to review all plans in case of non-compliance and then
order from the Ontario Human Rights board of inquiry to require compliance
Duties of municipalities: people with MS have told us they are very
disappointed that the only requirement of municipalities within the
legislation is to prepare an accessibility plan. We can see no enforcement
mechanism with Bill 125 except that of public opinion, which to date
been very effective in providing a barrier-free Ontario for people
disabilities. The MS Society strongly urges amendments be made to
to require that municipality plans have timelines, that they be implemented
within those timelines and that there be an effective enforcement
similar to our recommendations relating to the obligations of government
ministries in section 10.
Duties of broader public sector organizations: unfortunately, in
broader public sector organizations, we have to reiterate our concerns
duties of municipalities. We fear the mere preparation of an accessibility
will do little to alter the barriers that people disabled because
of MS or
other reasons face every day of their lives. The proposed legislation
provide for timelines, nor suggest that the regulations will contain
and contains no enforcement mechanism.
Earlier this month, an MS Society volunteer was not able to attend
a meeting at
Hart House on the University of Toronto campus, within view of this
Building, because there was no elevator that would have allowed him
the second floor. He felt he could not safely climb the 32 steps up
staircase. How many students, disabled because of MS or other reasons,
out of that building every day? Will this proposed legislation prevent
exclusion from happening again? We fear not.
Regulations: while the legislation allows regulations to be made
include various time periods, we urge that the legislation contain
for regulations to be enacted. This would provide an objective framework
action. For example, section 22(1) could be amended to require that
be enacted within six months after the legislation takes effect. However,
also urge that, as stated above, certain sections of the legislation
Omissions of Bill 125: the most serious omission of Bill 125 is the
requirement upon the private sector to contribute to a barrier-free
one woman with MS remarked, "I'm more interested in getting into
office or in shopping than I am in attending a city council meeting.
legislation does nothing for me."
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Ontario division, believes
sector omission is not only discriminatory, but is costing the province
Ontario money. We have heard from more than one disabled American
they find hotels, restaurants and shops in Ontario compared to the
States. We have heard from our own members in Ontario how they would
travel in the US because the Americans with Disabilities Act has required
business sector to make facilities accessible to the public -- all
public, including people who have disabilities. We are disappointed
legislation does not begin phasing in requirements for the private
urge the government of Ontario to correct that oversight as quickly
In terms of the proposed legislation, we believe that the changes
recommend will greatly strengthen Bill 125 and bring it much closer
Ontario's Vision for Persons with Disabilities.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have time for one quick question,
minute, per caucus.
Mr Martin: Thank you very much for coming this morning, and for the
effort that went into preparing your presentation. You lay out very
and clearly all the shortcomings in this bill and the requirement
for amendment. You also make a very troubling comment, particularly
in light of
the presentation we heard earlier today from the bilingual legal clinic
Windsor area, to suggest that in fact this bill may take some things
are already in place. You ask for an amendment that would protect,
say nothing in this act or in any regulation diminishes in any way.
Having said that, if the government isn't willing to move on some
and serious amendments, and as my colleague Mr Parsons has asked a
times here this morning, in your view, would it be simpler or smarter
to move ahead with this bill and start over?
Ms Bugeja: Personally, I think this bill is a first step. I have
MS too. I've
experienced many barriers in my lifetime, and I'm going to experience
more. I think it's a first step. There are a lot of changes and a
lot of things
we have to work on, definitely. But I really believe we should get
I really believe we need this. It's a start.
Mr Spina: Please don't make any apologies for -- it's up to us to
understanding. I hearken back to Mr MacGregor's comment earlier.
We appreciate your comment, and also the fact that you indicated
that it is an
important first step. Just because the bill goes through now and it
include everything, it at least will make a significant effort to
We do have the next few months ahead to put a lot of the indications
requests and recommendations that have come forward from the various
into the regulations. The minister has assured us that he will consult
stakeholders in the implementation of those regulations.
Mr Parsons: I have a very close friend who has MS, and he discussed
with me. I need to, first of all, mention that your statement about
a good first step -- we need to remember that the regulations will
the bill; regulations simply implement it. His concern to me, and
I'm going to
ask your opinion, is that it doesn't matter what's on paper; it requires
public will to make it work. It requires the public support of it.
His fear is
the public will read in the paper that the ODA is now passed, you
all the barriers have been removed, and that there will be no impetus
that second step. The first step could in fact become the final step.
contrast to your answer to Mr Martin's question.
Do you have any concern at all that this first step could be an end;
may address one person's problem, but it doesn't address the societal
Ms Bugeja: No. That's a 50-50. It might not be an end, but then it
might be an
end. That's a 50-50. That's a hard question.
Mr Parsons: It took six and a half years to take the first step.
Are you ready
for six and a half years for a second step?
Ms Bugeja: Well, you know what? I've had MS for 20 years. I was paralyzed
wheelchair, and it took me a year and a half to take my first step
again. So if
it takes six years, I'll do it.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
For the staff and the committee members, lunch will be served in
Grille. You don't have to cross the road, by the way. It's just inside
building. Also, the room will be secured, so you can leave your personal
contents in the room.
This committee is recessed until 1 o'clock this afternoon.
The committee recessed from 1200 to 1300.
WINDSOR-ESSEX COMMUNITY ADVOCACY NETWORK FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
The Chair: If I can get your attention, I'd like to bring the committee
order. Our first presentation this afternoon will be from the Windsor-Essex
County Advocacy Network for Persons with Disabilities. I would ask
presenter to come forward and state your name for the record, please.
of the committee, welcome. You have 20 minutes for your presentation
Mr Tom Bannister: My name is Tom Bannister. I am the chair of the
Community Advocacy Network for Persons with Disabilities.
I hope the Chair of this committee will not mind advising me at the
point of my remarks as I don't see well enough to see the clock. I'm
like the person in the store who gets the gift and doesn't know when
to wrap it
The Chair: I'll give you notice at 10 minutes.
Mr Bannister: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
First of all, to identify my committee, the Windsor-Essex County
Network, WECAN, was established in 1991 to represent persons with
in Windsor and Essex county. It is comprised of both consumers with
disabilities and agency members who are working in or have some interest
I first joined the committee and was elected chairman two years ago,
moving back to the area from Toronto where I had lived for 25 years.
involvement with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act in fact began
when I was a member of the CNIB advocacy committee in Toronto, where
I sat as a
member from the Toronto-East York district board of the CNIB.
I think if I were to give a topic to my reason for being here today,
would be that I am concerned. I am a concerned Ontarian who has lived
disability all my life. I was born totally blind and in those days
had to go
where I could to get help for my eye condition. That help was given
to me in
Detroit, where I received what little vision I have today.
The ODA, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, should not just be
an act that is
left on the shelf. The ODA, as it sits now, has wording which concerns
it gives me questions: "Wherever feasible," these items
will be enacted.
Question 1: Who decides what's feasible? Does the disabled person
Does the business person decide it? Does he decide it out of the benefit
heart or the goodness of his heart?
The other thing that bothers me about this act is its voluntary nature.
said, gentlemen, I have lived my life with my vision disability and
encountered different barriers as I have made my way through life.
I remember applying for a job as a social worker at a psychiatric
Brockville. I remember the gentleman who was interviewing me that
the gentleman who was supposed to interview me was away. I remember
"You're blind, you know." I said, "Yes. I've been that
way all my life." Those
are some of the barriers.
Employment is a barrier. We can become educated. I hold a bachelor
degree from Waterloo Lutheran University. You know it as Wilfrid Laurier,
knew it as Waterloo Lutheran University. I also hold a certificate
gerontology and had hoped one day to work in the field of geriatrics.
the certificate in gerontology from Ryerson University. When I began
for jobs in 1994, having completed one career and completed the education
get another career, I was confronted with people who said, "Did
you ever think
of going back for more schooling?" These are some of the barriers.
Some of the people who represent agencies on my committee face other
We have a group who work with mentally challenged people. These people
special, because although they may not see the world in the same way
you and I
do, these people still have a life and have a compassion for life
and a desire
to live life in the community. With the support services they currently
they can do this, but the act should help bring down barriers and
live an even fuller life.
I live in the town of Leamington; Mr Crozier knows it quite well.
One of the
problems that I faced when I moved from Toronto was transportation.
I think the
watchword is, "You can't get there from here." Let me briefly
explain how I
would get to Windsor if I did not have my 81-year-old mother who graciously
up this morning at 5:30. We left Leamington at 7:30 so we could come
today. If I wanted to come by bus, gentlemen, I'd have had to come
at 4 o'clock yesterday. I would have had to stay overnight and come
you today. I would then have to stay another night before I could
catch the 7
o'clock bus back to Leamington and be in Leamington by 8 the next
That's transportation in the rural setting.
As well as being part of the Essex county committee for advocacy,
I belong to
the CNIB district board. What happened then was that they called me
me if I could attend a meeting in Tilbury. I, of course, said yes,
had been used to going out the door and stepping on the bus and going
the CNIB in Toronto and holding my meeting. So I said yes and they
said, "Be at
the Blue Bonnet Restaurant in Tilbury at such-and-such a time."
I got off the
phone, turned to my wife, Lyn, and said, "How do I do that?"
Another friend of
mine was going, and his wife was driving, so he took me.
The reason I mention employment and transportation is that all of
that face disabled people are interlinked. You can't get to a job
if you can't
have transportation to get to a job. If you have a disability condition
prevents you from driving, you either have to move away to a city
that has a
transit system or you have to try and make some other arrangement,
or the like, hitching rides, to be able to get to a place. What happens
senior who has been used to doing these things and living in a small
The Chair: Ten minutes.
Mr Bannister: Thank you.
When these seniors are in a position where they can no longer go
as freely as
they can, they are stuck. They cannot move.
On to the advisory committee: I am concerned that the appointment
of people to
the advisory committee will, because of its nature, not allow sufficient
for persons with disabilities to be able to submit resum1s and to
become a part
of those committees. You have seen already in Windsor and around the
how capable we are. I choose to put the "ability" part before
the "dis." In my
life, I choose to look at my abilities rather than my disabilities.
I hope that
when you consider this act, you will give careful consideration to
The Chair: We have approximately three minutes per caucus and I'll
the government side.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much, Tom, for your presentation and for
that drives it home. I like the way you phrase it: "I like to
look at my
abilities as opposed to my disabilities." It is what I've heard
these two days
so far in the hearings. It is a matter, in many cases, of attitude
who are trying to make this step with this bill to address the accessibility
issues for a lot of different special requirements for people with
all sorts of
needs. I think this has been asked by every member, but certainly
I would be
interested. This bill, as some would define it, is a first step. It
probably been in the legislative ballpark, if you will, for many years
just five years, not just 10 years. As you said, you've had this condition
of your life. Would you like to see this bill as it is currently written,
the regulations to follow, go forward? Or would you like to see it
attempt to not achieve any first step?
Mr Bannister: Thank you very much for your question. It is one that
I tried to
give serious consideration to when I noticed what some people call
what I call just TABs -- temporarily able-bodied people -- trying
issues for disabled people. It is kind of like Tommy Douglas's speech
mice electing the cats where they had the choice of the white cats
black cats. Of course, they made legislation for cats. No human being
one-bill-fits-all. Basically, I feel it is the beginning of a process.
kind of like half a loaf instead of no loaf.
If I could be assured that there would be some form of regulation
in it, a
watchdog agency, a group of people who could be sure to get it right
that group of people should be comprised of disabled people in your
your community. My hope for WECAN, the Windsor-Essex Community Advocacy
Network, as its chair, is that it will evolve into an agency to monitor
implementation. You will not get a perfect world.
When we had employment equity we still had alligators swimming under
surface who didn't want to give disabled people jobs, but the equity
that was in worked reasonably well. Vocational rehabilitation services
very well for educating us, but as a former social worker -- I worked
social worker for a year in a psychiatric hospital -- one of the downfalls
that when we finished school and attempted to put the employment part
effect, we met resistance from some employers, which is another one
faults of the bill: that it only applies to the government.
I appreciate what the government does. I spent 17 years serving you
cigarettes and candy bars down by your members' dining lounge, so
I got to know
you all fairly well, at least the ones who were there during the Bill
and the Stephen Lewis era. I'm hoping that you will take the spirit
Davis and the spirit of Stephen Lewis and implement that. Let's not
tightwads. Let's not cut back programs so we can see how much we can
taxpayers of Ontario, because as I said, you are all TABS -- temporarily
able-bodied -- but one day you may have a stroke, one day you may
come out of
the casino and be struck by a car. One day you may be in my place
and I may be
in your place.
Mr Crozier: Mr Bannister -- or Tom, as I prefer to call you -- appreciating
fact that you have, I think, acknowledged that this is a first step
you would like to see it enacted with some amendments and some regulations,
this bill were to pass -- and we all acknowledge that if the government
it to, it will; if the government wants it amended, it will be amended;
government does not want it to be amended, it won't be. Having said
11 of the Ontarians with Disabilities resolution -- that was proposed
colleague by Dwight Duncan and was passed unanimously -- said: "The
with Disabilities Act must be more than mere window dressing. It should
contribute meaningfully to the improvement of the position of persons
disabilities in Ontario." Will this act as it's proposed, unamended,
Mr Bannister: Thank you, Bruce. I frankly do not believe that it
reason that I do not believe that it will is that I have not seen
of the present government to establish an agency to administer the
act. I have
not seen any mandatory regulations. I have seen voluntary regulations.
unfortunate to say, but with voluntary anything, it is very much up
kindness and generosity of the person to whom you are speaking whether
anything that is voluntary is passed.
Mr Martin: Thank you for coming today, Tom. Just right off the top,
happened to your little job at Queen's Park, at the store?
Mr Bannister: Oh, you all banned smoking. And as a man says, if you
McDonald's and they ban hamburgers, you can't make a living selling
relish. But as much as it was the end of an era, for me it was the
an era, because I got to participate in a dream.
I had a friend who went to university with me in the 1960s who worked
believe it was the Ministry of Labour that had the Transitions program.
the Transitions program I was able to take courses which trained me
as a life
skills coach. I now use that in my volunteer work with the CNIB where
peer support groups to help the newly blinded. Through Transitions
I was able
to pay for courses at Ryerson in their gerontology program. I was
able to do so
well when I felt I had such commitment to the money you gave me, that
it had to
be used wisely. I earned a place on the dean's honour roll and earned
certificate of merit for participating in continuing education, because
it all by continuing education.
Had my health not broken, I would have hoped to have gotten a job
nursing homes, but what I do now is friendly visiting in nursing homes.
on the board of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Essex-Kent
district, where I'm vice-chair and in charge of advocacy. I joined
Leamington Lions; I'm involved that way. My wife, who is also disabled,
secretary of WECAN. She too is very involved in the community, in
the centre for community living. Our church pastor, if I may be so
asked us to do the church services for the Sun Parlour Home when our
church comes up. I hope you won't feel that I wasted the investment
you made in
me, because I dearly love to give back to my community.
The Chair: We've run out of time. On behalf of the committee, thank
much for your presentation this afternoon.
The Chair: Our next presentation is from Surandra Bagga. I would
presenter to please come forward and state your name for the record.
of the committee, welcome. You have 15 minutes for your presentation
Mr Surandra Bagga: My name is Surandra Bagga. Ladies and gentlemen,
and sisters, I sit here as an individual, although I come here wearing
hats, but maybe no hat today. I'm one of the parents of a disabled
son. I have
a total of three sons. I'm an architect. I'm a member of various committees
related to disability issues.
About four days ago, I had four thoughts: whether I should come here
individual, with ODA, another group or not at all. However, when WACDI
me with the Sheila French Award last week and Ms Teason called me
reminder of today's meeting, I decided that I must come. I owe it
community to at least say a few words here.
I must congratulate the authorities that steps are finally being
establish the ODA. My sincere hope, however, is that whatever is written
act will lead Ontario to be the best place in the world, providing
accessibility to people requiring the same in each aspect of their
This act is as strong as the action team behind it; otherwise the
words in the
act are majestic words with no real meaning. I also trust and hope
act is not an assembly of all the existing provisions for people with
disabilities in various acts like the Human Rights Code, the building
so on, but a step to bring close to a full barrier-free place and
each member of society.
I further urge that sufficient funds with a schedule of dates of
various provisions to overcome disabilities are provided in the act.
make resources fully utilized by each member to help society in each
My notes are included and I have given them to the secretary. What
I have done
here is read the form of the disabilities act and put comments for
sentence, clause or paragraph. It apparently needs much more analysis,
involvement, thought process and action which hopefully will be available
the time moves on. From here, I will probably go over my comments.
I have tried
to bold some of the important points during my writing of the notes.
As I said,
I did it in the last couple of days. I think the second page of the
should be the first page, where the word "Act" is written
on top there.
I have referred to items in the act. I think the very first item
is where the
act indicates that it is to "improve." The word "improve"
seems OK to me as
long as the word has some clear, identifiable and goal-specific meaning.
"Improve" is a very subjective term. To some the status
quo may mean that we
are better or we have improved compared to 20 years ago or compared
countries. Then I refer to the complementary amendments.
In items 23 to 31, I think it refers to various acts. I was a little
concerned as to whether these are the only acts which need amendments
there are more. I would like somebody to look at that, from the earliest
latest, and indicate whether each one is affected or not affected.
"support" needs to be obtained by provision in all facets
of life where
disabilities have put them on an unequal footing. It needs to be ascertained
that that commitment in ODA is carried out as it says.
The next item is the preamble in the written portion of the act. In
it establishes the commitment of Ontario. I mean to say here that
it should be
a proactive role to prevent any upcoming possibilities rather than
reacting to the problems.
In the second portion of paragraph 3, it says that every person and
element of Ontario is responsible to achieve the goals. I want to
bring to your
attention that some people, although they want to be responsible,
assistance to be responsible, whether it be in financial, human or
terms, to fulfill their responsibilities.
I'm now going to the item under paragraph 7 which refers to the building
In many places it says that the building code will be complied with.
I think in
much of the building code only minimum items are referred to. For
example, in a
building the code says that as a minimum one entrance should be accessible.
Even if you have 10 entrances to the building, all they want is one
be accessible. Or if you have a three-level restaurant, all you have
to do is
go to one level and give a washroom, and it complies with the code.
a person can't go to the second or third level, has to stay close
washroom, sit in a chair and hopefully get served there.
In paragraph 9, where it refers to the Education Act, I don't know
how good or
bad it is, but I know one of my friends has a teenager who has a hearing
disability and a little bit of a speech disability. He could not get
he wanted to have because the school said he's not capable to do it,
and I know
personally that he's very intelligent, a genius person.
With the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, I personally have had
positive experiences. They sent me two candidates and they helped
them a lot so
they could be in the field where they were working with me. So I have
In paragraph 14 -- I wish I could be reading, but probably I'll be
out of time
-- the word used is that it is "desirable." That word should
be changed. Rather
than being desirable, it should be "necessary" or "mandatory."
Interpretation: It again has the word "improve." The idea
is to improve the
quality of life. I think it should say it should "provide a good
life for people with disabilities."
Going to item 2 of the duties of government, it refers that it will
the Building Code Act, 1992, if I remember correctly. I just want
to bring to
your attention that we are in the year 2001, and it is going to comply
1992. We may be behind on that. The code itself is already behind.
It does not
comply with everything and it indicates that it will put a wide level
accessibility to the Building Code Act, 1992.
In reference to the different requirements, the terminology used is
"different times" or "different buildings." I
think they have to be a little
more specific, whether you do it by act or by regulation.
"Duty to comply": The terminology used is "significantly
words should be removed and the words should be changed to "mandated
to be made
I guess my presentation is probably much more boring than Mr Tom
He was much more lively, but what I did was I went clause by clause
and gave my
comments on that. If you don't have the thing in front of you, it's
little bit too technical.
Under the term "new leases," if the government establishes
new leases, it says
they will "have regard to the extent" for the needs of the
disabled people. I
think "have regard" is a very unknown or unclear term. It
has to say that it
will "have full compliance to the needs of" rather than
"have regard to the
The term "Not regulations" is not clear to me.
In the item "Government goods and services" it says it
will be depending on
"technical feasibility." I think it has to be much more
needs to be more specific rather than saying that it will depend on
We'll go to the third page. Over here I'm saying that all of these
the act should have more teeth when you're dealing with employment
employers and the people who are supervisors. It should be made completely
clear that they have to follow these requirements and there could
if they did not follow them. It should not be too loose.
Then I'm going to this item of "Ministry accessibility plans."
It seems good
and neat, but it needs specific times, to be more specific. I remember
Ontario's Fire Marshals Act had requirements that the building had
retrofitted for fire safety, and they had some time requirements for
"Accessibility advisory committees": I think, as Tom was
indicating, it is very
important that these people be provided with some stipend and transportation,
so that they can be encouraged and have it made easy for them to participate
meetings like this, or any other items of those kinds.
Again, I refer here and there to terms like "address" and
so on. It should not
only be addressed but be made to happen.
I'm just reading the highlighted points here. I would like to go
to item 22,
where it talks about regulations. I'm saying that they should be carefully
drafted where exemption is provided to any exempted from participation
compliance with ODA. It talks about "a significant renovation."
Again, it's a
very subjective term. To my thinking, if anywhere is renovated, even
5% to 10%
of the areas, that should be considered significant and it should
the requirements. As a matter of fact, all the existing buildings
mandated to comply with the act.
In the Election Act it seems to indicate, unless I read it wrong,
will be a report prepared -- this is item 23 -- three months after
day. I would have thought that they should review the polling station
the polling date and accessibility be provided before that -- unless,
said, these legal terms may not be clear to me.
Item 25 refers to the fines, from $300 to $5,000. To be fair to people,
that's a little too high. It probably should come closer to $2,000
I have a lot of other items which I've listed but did not read. I
think I may
be on time or not on time. That's about all for now.
The Chair: Thank you very much. You've basically used all your time,
allow for a quick question from each caucus and I'll start with the
Mr Parsons: As an engineer, I think I have some of the same problem-solving
approaches as architects do. I'm sensing as I read this -- and I guess
going to ask for your comment -- that as an architect I think it's
fair to say
you strongly believe that you do the design before you actually start
construct the building. As I read all your suggested amendments, I
from you that the building is a long way from designed at this stage.
Mr Bagga: I would say I completely agree with that.
Mr Martin: I just wanted to thank you for this wonderful term here:
words with no real meaning." We'll remember that as we move forward.
obviously are concerned that we have a lot of fine language, terms
referenced by other presenters, like Mr Bannister just a few minutes
it speaks of "where feasible," "have regard to,"
"may" and those kinds of
things. You're suggesting if that continues to be the axiom, we in
probably won't get much done. Would that be correct?
Mr Bagga: As I said, they are only words, and you have to have an
behind them. The action team should have the clear goal to meet the
the disability. If the action team is good, these words are good.
If the action
team is not there, it has no meaning.
Mr Hardeman: Thank you very much for the presentation. I noticed
presentation -- and a number of other groups spoke to it today too
-- about the
relationship between other acts and the ODA and to make sure that
doesn't overtake what is already in place. I think there were some
suggested this morning that there was greater protection for the disabled
the Human Rights Code than there was in the ODA. I just wanted to
the act specifically states that the Human Rights Code is in fact
the ODA, so there's no opportunity for this one to make it less restrictive
less helpful in any of the other acts.
I just wanted to quickly ask about the duty to comply. "All
need to be mandated to be made accessible." Is it your suggestion
that the act
should make them, at a certain point in time, all comply, or is that
say that as buildings are renovated they must all be done?
Mr Bagga: If I had the chance I would like to have all of them be
become accessible whether they are renovated or not renovated, because
building doesn't get renovated for 100 years, are we going to keep
inaccessible? I think it should be mandated. The way I think the Ontario
Marshals Act did that was that they said "all apartment buildings"
and so on
"have to be retrofitted" to their requirements. I think
that kind of
requirement should be established, that in the next four years or
all the buildings have to be accessible.
In terms of the acts -- as I said, I did this in the last two days;
I read it
quickly -- I'm saying that you have listed about eight or 10 acts
saying that we should go from the beginning to the end, list all the
say that this is applicable or not applicable, that this will be changed
provide the needs of the accessibility. In addition, I do not care
the human rights act or the Ontario disability act. The Ontario disability
should not reduce any of the existing provisions of any other act.
That was my
The Chair: We've run out of time. On behalf of the committee, thank
much for your presentation this afternoon.
Mr Bagga: Thanks for having me. Goodbye.
WINDSOR ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Windsor Association
of the Deaf. I
would ask the presenter to please come forward and state your name
record. On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 20 minutes for
presentation this afternoon.
Mr Beau Cockburn: Hello. My name is Beau Cockburn and I'm the recently
president of the Windsor Association of the Deaf. So if you'll just
excuse me, I'm a bit nervous today.
I recently received a copy of Bill 125 and had a read-through. I'm
that this has started, something has started and we have something
but I don't believe it's strong enough, especially the voluntary portion
I broke it down a little bit into some categories.
I think the biggest concern in the deaf community that I represent
interpreting issue. We need legislation to break down the barriers
so that we
have the right to ask for interpreter services. But businesses out
not accepting of the fact that they need to provide interpreter services.
should be an Internet network engineer at this point in my life and
because the private school that I needed to go to would not allow
interpreter in the classroom. So here I am. I think that I need your
order that the legislation be set up to accommodate this. Hospitals
too: you go
to the hospital for service and you need an interpreter. They say,
sister's here with you. Won't that do? Won't she be able to help communicate?"
I don't want my sister. I want a professional interpreter, a qualified
interpreter; and I say "qualified," not just any interpreter.
Here in Windsor we do not have anywhere near enough interpreters.
It's a very
big concern for us. We need to have appropriate education so that
we end up
with more qualified interpreters that we can access.
Also, take a look at this room for example. How would I know while
I sit here
if there were to be a fire alarm? I don't see any flashing lights
that there's a fire alarm. On a daily basis, deaf people are going
out into the
community and to places of employment where they are at risk. They
doing their job; suddenly they look up, everybody's disappeared and
know why. We're talking about a risk factor that could cause death.
If Bill 125 is passed, will this government enforce it? I don't want
it to be
quickly passed and quickly forgotten, that it's just something on
paper -- sort
of the trophy on the shelf -- instead of something that actually comes
this so that there is action.
The ODA needs more specifics, as many of the presenters before me
mentioned, even including the building code. Each category of disability,
whether it be visually impaired, physical, mental, deaf and hard of
they need to have specifics outlined for all disability groups as
far as a
building code goes. It also needs to include the private sector. They
ones who present us with the most barriers in being successful in
If we don't have an interpreter, if a private business or school won't
an interpreter, what is our future going to look like? I'm just envisioning
job interview with no interpreter. How could I get that job?
The bill also addresses guide dogs for the blind. I want some more
information, I guess actually an expansion. When we speak to guide
dogs, I have
a hearing-ear dog. This dog is necessary for me to indicate that there's
someone at the door or that the phone is ringing, but there are buildings
won't allow me in with my hearing-ear dog because it's not a guide
probably some kind of rewording there so that any kind of a dog that
acts as a
guide for a disabled person for whatever reason should be allowed
building for the purposes of accessibility.
My hope is that the ODA bill will be successful with amendments with
specifics. That's, I think, all I have to say for today.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have approximately three minutes
and I'll start with Mr Martin.
Mr Martin: Thank you very much for coming today. You certainly raise,
some important issues. I just want to focus on the comment you made
beginning. You had a read-through of the bill, which indicates to
me that you
really haven't had the time to actually go through it in any detail
so that you
might understand how it will ultimately apply to you. Out of that
that -- do you feel that we need more time to consider this bill?
appropriate message to the government be, let's take that time, let's
not be in
a hurry, let's wait and use the months of January, February and March
the House comes back in the spring to make sure we have this right
put it in place?
Mr Cockburn: Yes, I do agree. I basically had two days' notice to
come here and
a quick read-through was definitely the way I had to go, but more
time -- more
time for me to interact with my consumers, my deaf community, to really
people about what the real issues are in order for me to have been
able to do a
better job at this, and more time for you to be able to make the amendments
that are necessary before passing the bill.
Mr Martin: How much consultation did you do with your community before
here today, being as you're the president, on this bill?
Mr Cockburn: Not very much, because the time was so limited it didn't
for much. I would have liked to have brought people together and talked
things more in depth in order that I could have brought this to the
I'm sure I've missed a lot of points and I sort of feel this overwhelming
responsibility that this will now go back and get passed without all
pieces I felt I needed to bring from my community, and then it won't
Mr DeFaria: Thank you, Mr Cockburn, for your excellent presentation.
want to mention to you the fact that from the presentations that we
have had it
seems that different disabled groups have different concerns and different
problems that have to be addressed by the legislation. Would you agree
this process of having advisory committees that will have input into
regulations is the right process to make sure that all different groups
able to have input into the regulations that will be part of this
Mr Cockburn: I believe, yes, that all disability organizations need
involved in this work together in order that we have a successful
legislation that breaks down the barriers.
Mr Spina: Welcome, Mr Cockburn. I understand and appreciate that
difficult perhaps to do some consultation within the time frame. However,
assure you that the minister will be consulting with the various groups
the winter to ensure that all of the stakeholders, the various groups
a distinct interest in making this bill work, will have the opportunity
participate and have further input to define the definitions of "disabled,"
time frames for implementation, and also to address many of the comments
have been brought forward during these hearings as well.
Just as an aside, with response to your hearing-ear dog, there is
clause in the bill which expands the context of the Human Rights Code
include all kinds of service animals so that they will be accepted
for people like yourself.
Thank you for your input today.
Mr Cockburn: No problem.
Mr Parsons: It has struck us as terribly ironic that the group that
greatest challenge to communicate has been given the least opportunity
that communication with this bill. Nevertheless, though I appreciated
presentation, what I heard you ask for was not special privileges,
something unique for you or for your community. You've asked for the
right to a
job; you've asked for the right to medical care; you've asked for
the right to
know if the building you're in is on fire -- simple as that.
The bill, as it stands -- there can be all the consultation you want,
it's passed, that is the bill. Does this bill give you what you believe
equal rights to every other citizen in Ontario?
Mr Cockburn: I feel I need to say that I don't know that I'm qualified
to respond to that, but I'd say we'd be on shaky ground. Well, let's
got a bit of Swiss cheese here and I'd really like to see some of
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
Before we adjourn, as this is our last presentation, I would like
to remind the
members that cabs will be available at 2:45 at the main door and this
will meet again tomorrow at 9 am in room 151 at Queen's Park. This
The committee adjourned at 1355.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
Chair / Pr1sident
Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Pr1sident
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland PC)
Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex PC)
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West / -Ouest ND)
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland PC)
Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford PC)
Mr Monte Kwinter (York Centre / -Centre L)
Mr John O'Toole (Durham PC)
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt L)
Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre / -Centre PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaJants
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex L)
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East / -Est PC)
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie ND)
Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings L)
Clerk / GreffiMre
Ms Susan Sourial
Staff / Personnel
Ms Elaine Campbell, research officer,
Research and Information Services
Monday 3 December 2001
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, Bill 125, Mr Jackson / Loi
sur les personnes handicap1es de l'Ontario, projet de loi 125, M.
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, Windsor/Essex county chapter
Mr Dean La Bute
Windsor Advisory Committee on Disability Issues F-492 Ms Carolyn
Windsor-Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic F-494 Ms Stephanie Spiers
Mr David Dimitrie F-496
Ontario Brain Injury Association, Windsor chapter F-499 Ms Janice
Ms Nancy Nicholson
Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Ontario division F-502
Ms Arlene Bailey
Canadian Hearing Society, Windsor region F-505 Mr David Kerr
Mr Kevin MacGregor F-508
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Ontario division F-511
Ms Dora Lee Bugeja
Windsor-Essex Community Advocacy Network for Persons with Disabilities
Mr Tom Bannister
Mr Surandra Bagga F-515
Windsor Association of the Deaf F-518 Mr Beau Cockburn