LEARNING DISABILITIES ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO
ADVOCACY CENTRE FOR THE ELDERLY
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY OF CANADA, ONTARIO DIVISION
BLOORVIEW MACMILLAN CHILDREN'S CENTRE
MILTON DEAF ACTION GROUP
ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPALITIES OF ONTARIO
ONTARIO ASSOCIATION FOR COMMUNITY LIVING
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE
MARCH OF DIMES
CANADIAN AUTO WORKERS
ONTARIO COMMUNITY TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION
CANADIAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND, ONTARIO DIVISION
Wednesday 5 December 2001 Mercredi 5 decembre 2001
The committee met at 0902 in room 151.
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 "
ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO
The Chair (Mr Marcel Beaubien): Good morning, everyone. We're here
Bill 125. Our first presentation this morning is from the Learning
Association of Ontario. I would ask the presenter to please come forward
state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
20 minutes for your presentation this morning.
Ms Carol Yaworski: My name is Carol Yaworski. I'm the executive director
Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario. I'd like to thank the
for the opportunity to present and also for scheduling me first thing
morning so that I have a better chance of your remembering what I'm
you, because I imagine that by the end of the day it's all a blur.
To briefly speak about our association, we're a provincial association
approximately 5,000 members across the province. That membership is
of families and individuals and institutional organizations such as
universities, school boards and band councils.
Our primary role is to provide advocacy on behalf of individuals
disabilities, and we do that on an individual basis across the province.
have chapters in approximately 30 communities in Ontario, and I know
Chairman is familiar with our Lambton chapter. We also, at a provincial
make it our business to comment on pretty much every piece of legislation
legislative change that takes place in the province. So as I'm sure
imagine, we've been a very busy group in the educational field in
In addressing the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act, I'm going
by giving you some history about our position on this legislation
previous two incarnations. We have advised this minister and previous
that it is our view that unless a piece of legislation that had compliance
requirements and incentives was tabled, we would advise against actually
tabling the legislation, feeling perhaps that this is one promise
not be kept, but rather that the Ontario Human Rights Code, which
is a piece of
legislation we have a great deal of faith in, be strengthened and
Ontario Human Rights Commission be provided with additional resources
the commission effective and timely in responding to complaints.
I will say that we have seen a substantial improvement in the work
commission in terms of timeliness in the last several years and I
think that is
However, given that the legislation has been tabled again and is
what I'm going to speak to are specific concerns about the form of
legislation that's currently before us.
In a previous submission -- this is all in the document I've provided
to you --
we identified some specific expectations or suggestions we had as
to what would
make such a piece of legislation effective. It's very important that
like this, which substantially raises the expectations of people with
disabilities, have teeth to it. Our concern is that if it not be substantial
nature, it creates a sense of complacency and overconfidence, especially
individuals with harder-to-identify disabilities, such as learning
or mental health problems or brain injuries. For individuals like
represent, complacency is a very dangerous thing.
Our concern, first of all, was that the definition of "disabilities"
legislation be the one that is identified in the Ontario Human Rights
That is certainly the case. We are pleased this proposed legislation
the code's definition.
Secondly, it's important that the goal of the legislation be to prevent
eliminate discrimination for persons with all disabilities. Again,
emphasize the problem associated with invisible disabilities.
It must complement and supplement the Ontario Human Rights Code,
reinforce the message that the Ontario Human Rights Code is the primary
of legislation. We feel this legislation in some places is not clear
saying that the Ontario Human Rights Code overrides anything that
is in this
act. Specifically, it's the statement, "Nothing in this act limits
operation of the Ontario Human Rights Code." I think that could
be a stronger
statement. In our meeting with the minister last week, we made a recommendation
to staff that that be strengthened.
Other aspects of legislation that we have felt would be important
would be that
it spell out in detail both government's and society's expectations
in terms of
access to goods and services and facilities for people with disabilities,
accommodation of those disabilities.
For example, one of the recommendations we've made: we have a significant
problem in Ontario with access to books on tape. It's particularly
for students in secondary schools with timely access to textbooks
We're recommending the legislation be amended to ensure that any private
business doing business with government -- in that case we would also
transfer payment agencies such as school boards -- be required to
have books on
tape that are texts immediately available, simultaneously available,
is available. With computer technology, there's certainly no reason
couldn't be done. I think it's an implied expectation, but it's one
would like you to articulate in the legislation.
There are two major concerns that we have about this legislation.
One is the
absence of expectations around compliance. I think it is predicated
assumption that businesses and organizations will do the right thing,
certainly in the public sector the expectations around doing the right
are higher, but I think there is an optimistic view that those organizations
and businesses that are not currently creating accessibility will
This legislation requires some of them to create an accessibility
plan. What it
doesn't require them to do is actually operationalize on a set plan.
a cynical person, but I'm thinking that some of them are not going
to do that.
We have great concern that in the public sector, for example, school
colleges and universities will create very elaborate, substantial
inspirational plans that never see their way off paper.
In the absence of both compliance expectations and some consequences
non-compliance, and in the absence of incentives for compliance, I
could all end up with a province-wide library of very elaborate accessibility
plans that aren't actually operationalized. To me, that would be a
waste, because I think in some instances those institutions will convince
themselves that they've done what they needed to do and that that's
Our second concern, which is related to that, is a tremendous concern
that in school boards, for example, direct service dollars not be
develop accessibility plans. We're greatly concerned that special
dollars, which are to provide direct services to students, will actually
diverted to the expenditure of developing the accessibility plan.
We know some
boards will do that. Some of them will not -- it's fair to say that
-- but we
are absolutely certain that some boards will.
Hopefully regulations will address this, but there is nothing in
legislation that would prevent a school board from taking service
special education dollars, and using those dollars to develop an accessibility
plan. We believe that situation also exists with colleges and universities.
would certainly urge the committee to look at the concern that represents,
because we can see a lot of tax dollars intended to assist students
ending up creating accessibility plans that may or may not actually
Those are my major points. I would urge you to read what we've provided.
is a lot of detail there, but certainly those are the two great concerns:
that these plans never actually come to life, and (2) that they will
developed with direct service dollars.
The Chair: We have approximately three minutes per caucus and I'll
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I'd like to explore a little further
the first point you make, which is that your organization would not
with this legislation. Instead, you would have beefed up the Human
and perhaps given them more resources. I understand that if you give
resources, the backlog of cases before them would be cut down according
amount of resources they had. We have been looking for a more comprehensive
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Given the principles that were laid
that are listed in your presentation here, if there was an act that
those areas, would your position still be the same?
Ms Yaworski: No. If all these expectations were met, particularly
around compliance, I think we would be in a very different position
in terms of
our viewpoint. The concern we've had with this legislation from the
that we understand it's the philosophical viewpoint of this government
forcing the private sector into compliance is not something they're
do. We recognize that's the position. We've also seen, in our experience
the Education Act, for example, that where you leave openings that
expectation that people do the right thing, they don't necessarily
Our concern is that in the absence of compliance expectations, those
and institutions that are currently creating accessibility will continue
so and probably will do a better job of doing so, but those who aren't
haven't, won't. So we feel we're going to be right back where we started,
although in the compliance, those organizations that do well with
probably do better. But certainly, if all of these expectations were
could support the legislation.
Mr Martin: You also mentioned the issue of something stronger than
statement, "Nothing in this act limits the operation of the Human
When we were in Windsor, the Windsor-Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic
that, left as it is, this act could reduce the amount of protection
coverage disabled people have. You're obviously saying the same thing.
Ms Yaworski: That's a concern we have as well, and ARCH, which has
document on this, an analysis of the legislation, has taken a similar
So yes, certainly that's a concern for us.
Mr Martin: Is ARCH coming before us, do you know?
Ms Yaworski: I don't know that.
Mr Martin: Do you have a copy of that document?
Ms Yaworski: I do.
Mr Martin: Can we get a copy of the document they have prepared?
Ms Yaworski: I have it here.
Mr Martin: Could you give it to the clerk? Perhaps, if we don't have
already, it might be a helpful document for each of us to have.
Ms Yaworski: I think it would be.
The Chair: I have to go to the government side.
Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): Thank you for the presentation. I want
touch on the Human Rights Code. The intent of the legislation is definitely
that the supremacy of the Human Rights Code is recognized in this
Your suggestions will be looked at, and if that's not what it does,
would need to be amended to make sure it does, because that is definitely
Along with that, I have some concerns. We've heard very little from
or very few presenters have put forward the position that nothing
than this legislation. I think that's because most of the presenters
the barriers to disabilities are generally not covered by the Human
Code. So strengthening that would not do anything for the majority
who want an Ontario Disabilities Act in order to restrict the creation
barriers and to remove the existing barriers. Is it a reasonable assumption
that your association has different requirements or different problems
average presenter who has presented to us?
Ms Yaworski: I think that's true. In a forum I participated in last
the minister, for example, a substantial amount of the time was spent
discussing municipal compliance regarding accessibility existing in
buildings. Certainly, while we think that's a very important issue
with physical disabilities, that's not a discussion that is particularly
relevant to our population.
The issues for our population with regard to accessibility relate
like adaptive technology and access to that, accommodations within
workplace that don't create undue hardship for employers but that
abstract and very difficult for the employee to explain and to get
In terms of your previous reference to the Human Rights Code and
the fact that
this creates accessibility and addresses the issue of barriers, I
recommendation that the code be strengthened to address the accessibility
would get at that absence that currently exists in the Ontario Human
Code, and you're certainly right about that. The difference would
be that the
commission that administers the code actually has some enforcement
that this legislation doesn't have. This relies tremendously on good
The Chair: I have to go to the official opposition.
Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings): Thank you for the presentation.
You're speaking on behalf of a group of people who have some unique
I taught at a community college for many years. It's my experience
student coming into college with a mobility issue was obvious, of
students who had learning disabilities, not only was it not obvious
didn't want to be identified in some cases.
Ms Yaworski: That's right.
Mr Parsons: They would deny. So homework would not be done or tests
done very poorly, which I would initially attribute to their not having
their homework. They are a group you have to pursue to find out what
issue is. It requires them usually to sign a consent to speak to their
school to get that background. So you're trying to serve a group that
doesn't want to be served but desperately needs it. Without your amendments,
does the bill, as tabled, do anything?
Ms Yaworski: Not much. As I said, we're very concerned about protecting
education dollars and direct service dollars in post-secondary with
the development of accessibility plans. That's a tremendous concern
because we believe that tens of millions of dollars will get spent
on that in
the absence of some sort of financial assistance to those institutions
develop the plans.
Mr Parsons: Money is going to come from somewhere to develop the
plans, but the
plans may not be implemented, they may simply be developed.
Ms Yaworski: Yes.
Mr Parsons: I'm trying to find the wording. That's got to be terrible,
up expectations. I'm thinking with parents or with the individuals
the expectation is, here is a plan; when does it start?
Ms Yaworski: Especially if, as the government hopes, parents and
stakeholders will be involved in the development of those plans, you're
If they're developed but they never actually take life, then I think
you're looking for are that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
think that people will hide behind that plan and say, "We've
done what we
needed to do." And in fact, they have because there is no expectation.
an expectation but there are no conesquences.
Mr Parsons: There's no requirement.
Ms Yaworski: Or no incentive.
The Chair: With that, we've run out of time. On behalf of the committee,
you very much for your presentation this morning.
ADVOCACY CENTRE FOR THE ELDERLY
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Advocacy Centre for
the Elderly. I
would ask the presenter to please come forward and state your name
record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Mr George Monticone: Good morning, Mr Chair. My name is George Monticone.
a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly. I thank you and
committee for the opportunity to speak to you this morning.
The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly was founded in 1984. We're a
that serves low-income seniors in the greater Toronto area. We have
the years worked with many seniors who have disabilities. We've seen
hand the accessibility problems encountered by these seniors.
While it's possible to use existing legal mechanisms such as the
Code to remove barriers, this process is a long and painful one. Some
faced with these difficulties don't have the strength and energy to
see a legal
action through to a successful conclusion. Some, because of serious
don't have the time to challenge the existence of barriers. Others
may not have
access to affordable legal assistance. And even if successful, the
one barrier may not be helpful if in the meantime several others have
in their place.
For these reasons, legislation is needed which grapples systemically
accessibility problems. Whatever its shortcomings, the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, 2001, acknowledges this fact by its very existence.
congratulate the government for finally putting the issue on the public
by introducing Bill 125. We hope that the debate and discussions prior
reading of the bill will strengthen that bill.
One year ago yesterday, a group of women representing the largest
organizations in Ontario held a press conference in this very building
for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This fact
in Hansard for December 4, 2000. The organizations represented at
conference include the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, Canadian
Pensioners Concerned, Care Watch Toronto, Older Women's Network, Ontario
Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organizations and the United Senior
The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly does not speak for these seniors
organizations. They certainly are very capable of doing that for themselves.
However, we wish to remind the committee and the Legislature that
organizations, representing thousands of seniors across Ontario, have
heard from and some very clear messages came through at their press
I've included for your perusal the press release and fact sheet from
conference. Three points were made there.
(1) Legislation must be introduced that ensures no new barriers are
place in the future in Ontario.
(2) Legislation must be introduced to ensure that the principles
design are followed in products, communications and the built environment.
(3) Legislation must be introduced to ensure the removal of existing
I want to take those three points as a way of looking at Bill 125
and ask the
question, does it satisfy those three demands of the seniors' organizations?
Let's take the first point: Does Bill 125 ensure no new no new barriers
put in place in Ontario?
We have to say no to this. Only the government of Ontario is placed
obligation to ensure no new barriers, by section 4. Even this requirement
problems, but if we let them pass, it has to be said that other entities
as municipal governments, agencies, organizations and private businesses
not placed under a similar duty to comply. With respect to everyone
Ontario other than the provincial government, new barriers may be
put in place
Surely the seniors who spoke at that press conference did not intend
all of the private sector and municipal governments. To do so, after
all, is to
exempt most of what each of us encounters every day. So Bill 125 must
amended to include these sectors to ensure no new barriers in the
Even if we look at the requirements placed on the provincial government,
are problems in Bill 125. I cite in my paper a number of sections
of the bill
that say that the provincial government must do particular things
to the design of environments in relation to publications, Web sites
Do these requirements, taken together, amount to assurance of no
What happens if a new barrier is put in place, or one of these requirements
not met? What can a person with a disability do under such circumstances?
think you search Bill 125 for an answer in vain.
There is an old maxim quoted in many legal texts: "There is
no right without a
remedy." This means that any law purporting to advance the rights
that does not give that person a means to redress their situation
effect, an empty law. Bill 125 is such a law. There is no list of
penalties and there is no right of appeal or complaint to an independent
or tribunal, so a person with a disability who encounters a new barrier
violation of one of the provisions of this bill has nowhere to go.
thing they can do perhaps is what they can already do, which is to
matter to the Human Rights Commission.
It should also be noted that in section 18 of the bill, the government
permitted to exempt anyone from the requirements of the act if it
There is no right to challenge such an exemption.
This total lack of remedies in Bill 125 isn't good enough. It doesn't
the rights of persons with disabilities. The bill must be amended
state that specific actions, such as establishing a new barrier, are
and it must provide those affected by such actions with the means
the illegality. There must be a right to bring the matter to a newly
tribunal, a court of general jurisdiction or an existing tribunal.
In conclusion then, Bill 125 doesn't ensure the provincial government
create new barriers for those with a disability. New barriers may
as an exemption under section 18. Moreover, no mechanism is provided
challenge a new barrier that may be in violation of the law.
Let's look at the seniors' second point. Does Bill 125 ensure that
principles of universal design or any other standards are followed
to products, communications and the built environment to ensure accessibility?
I've included for your reading in appendix 2 the seven principles
design. I'm not here to defend them today. I don't even particularly
talk about them, but I think they are very interesting and may serve
basis for standards in legislation.
The point I want to make today is that seniors' groups represented
press conference said they wanted to see some standards adopted in
It may be universal design standards, it may be some others, but Bill
doesn't do any of this.
Section 4 requires the adoption by the provincial government of "barrier-free
design guidelines," which guidelines are to be developed in consultation
persons with disabilities and others. It specifies that these guidelines
not regulations within the meaning of the Regulations Act. Bill 125
any time limits on when these guidelines must be adopted, and it doesn't
any time limits as to when they must be implemented.
It's understandable the Legislature would not want to tackle the
of specifying detailed standards; however, this doesn't justify a
open-ended approach which sets no time limits and which only insists
"guidelines" which don't have the force of law. Such details
as are required
here are typically reserved for regulations under a statute.
Therefore, we recommend Bill 125 specify that standards of design
in consultation with persons with disabilities and that they be set
out in the
form of regulations. In addition, we recommend Bill 125 set clear
as to when these regulations are to be in place and time limits as
to how long
those bound by the regulations have to comply with them.
Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, the standards set in regulations
apply to municipal governments and the private sector in addition
Finally, I'll turn to the third point made by the seniors at that
conference I referred to: does Bill 125 ensure the removal of existing
barriers? I think the answer, very simply, is no.
Bill 125 is at best a planning bill. It requires the provincial government,
municipalities over 10,000 persons, public transit organizations and
scheduled organizations to develop an annual accessibility plan which
measures to be taken to identify, remove and prevent barriers. While
there is a
requirement of a plan, no time limits are set as to when, if ever,
such a plan
is to be implemented. There are no penalties if the plan fails to
it should or if the plan is not implemented. Bill 125 does not give
with disabilities any remedy by which they may address these sorts
No sector, including the provincial government, is required by Bill
actually remove existing barriers.
Now, this is a hard issue, removing existing barriers, and that's
costly sometimes. Bill 125 fails to prevent the implementation of
so it's not surprising it wouldn't deal with this much more difficult
removing existing barriers. A real commitment to a systemic solution
problem requires the commitment of provincial funds to assist where
the cost of
barrier removal or renovation is high or prohibitive. Bill 125 provides
funding for this purpose; therefore, once again the only recourse
with disabilities faced with existing barriers is to initiate an individual
challenge under the Human Rights Code.
In conclusion, while the existence of this bill does advance the public
a step further about removal of and prevention of barriers to people
disabilities, it doesn't give us much in the way of substance to address
existing problems and prevent future problems.
Just to very quickly summarize. The scope of this act should include
businesses and organizations, municipalities as well as the provincial
government. There should be no possibility of a permanent exemption
requirements of the act as is currently found in section 18. Standards
design and related requirements to prevent barriers must be incorporated
regulations to be passed, in consultation with persons with disabilities
others, and reasonable time limits must be set in the act as to when
regulations should be passed and as to when there must be compliance.
must specify offences and provide remedial mechanisms to those who
challenge violations of the act. Finally, the act must ensure that
barriers are put into place.
Those are my comments.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have one minute per caucus, and
with the government side.
Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre): Thank you for bringing the perspective
your particular group.
You talked about compliance and I guess kind of a phase-in period.
wondering if you had any recommendations as to what kind of a phase-in
it might have for compliance and whether you felt, or your group felt,
from your perspective the private sector should be the priority versus
government leading the way. We had one advocate in here, for example,
"You know, I need to get to my doctor. I don't care about city
hall," kind of
Mr Monticone: In terms of time frames, I know other organizations
who will be
appearing before this committee have suggestions of six months and
so on. I
frankly don't have a precise suggestion. I think compliance must be
time frame. There should also be a mechanism to permit an extension
particular circumstances. That would require access to a tribunal
possibility of hearings, I suppose, to give to organizations who may,
extenuating circumstances, not be able to meet a firm deadline. So
I think that
should be considered if firm deadlines are set.
I do believe they should be set. You have the difficult task of deciding
the proper time limit should be. Six months doesn't seem out of line.
The Chair: Thank you very much. The official opposition?
Mr Parsons: What I'm going to say is pretty deep for an engineer,
so forgive me
if I phrase it wrongly, but there is the sense to me that there is
a "them" and
an "us" in this bill. "Them" are the people with
disabilities; "us" are the
people that don't have them yet.
This bill, to me, rather than saying, "them is us," says,
"OK, we're going to
identify, we're going to label. We're not going to bring you into
but at least we've labelled you under this bill." But I don't
see any effort
for a bridge to be built to bring the two groups together. Because
effect, we are one group. We are one group and should be one group.
So I see the bill as putting a label on a group but not actually
to remove the barriers. Is that a fair comment?
Mr Monticone: I think that's a fair comment. I didn't read you part
paper, but I invite you to have a look at page 2 in here. I engage
in a little
bit of philosophy there, and really I think it's supporting what you're
sir. Those of us who may be fortunate enough to not have a disability
of "them" and "us," but the reality is that we
don't know what our future
holds, any of us, and any one of us could suffer an injury or have
develop which results in a disability. Any one of us could have that,
of us who even have a disability now could have a different one in
We don't know.
I invite you as legislators to think about that fact very hard and
to design your legislation in such a way as to ensure that if you
were one of
those people in the future governed by it, who had a disability, it
would be of
assistance to you, you would see it as being of value. So I invite
you to adopt
that framework when you're thinking about this bill.
The Chair: Mr Martin?
Mr Martin: Thank you for coming this morning. I reference your comment
4, which says that in fact this is an empty law. I'd suggest, from
that have been made by others and just a brief look through the document
just received from ARCH, that it's actually not an empty law, and
if we're not
careful it could be a law that takes away from disabled people some
they already have under the Human Rights Code. Have you done any analysis
that sort with regard to the bill?
Mr Monticone: Well, no. There is that possibility inherent in the
terms of standards being set. We see in the bill that the standards
can be as
low as what the building code requires, and those standards may not
go any way
toward addressing a serious accessibility issue. So yes, you're right,
that possibility inherent here, and that should be addressed.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY
OF CANADA, ONTARIO DIVISION
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Multiple Sclerosis Society
Canada, Ontario division. I would ask the presenters to come forward,
you state your names for the record, please. On behalf of the committee,
Ms Kris McDonald: My name is Kris McDonald. I'm with the Multiple
Society of Canada, Ontario division. I'm a member of the social action
committee. I am also a person with multiple sclerosis. I work part-time
disability consultant providing consulting services to the MS Society
insurance, and to individuals with disabilities in my own community.
Ms Deanne Groetzinger: I'm Deanne Groetzinger, vice-president of
with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. I work very happily
who is one of our lead volunteers.
Ms McDonald: The MS Society of Canada is pleased to be able to provide
The MS Society is a national organization with regional divisions.
50,000 Canadians have MS, with approximately 18,500 in the province
MS is a disease of young adults. It is the most common neurological
that affects Canadians. It generally strikes between the ages of 20
and 40, so
it is hitting people at the prime time of their lives, when they are
careers and families. Its disabling effects can vary. In each of the
presented to you, we also gave you a green sheet that includes the
symptoms of multiple sclerosis. It's an excellent graphic -- the graphic
designer should be given some kind of award -- because it lets you
what the symptoms of MS are.
As previous speakers have said, we view Bill 125 basically as a beginning
point, a framework. As it stands, it's only a first step. It's a framework
us to build something truly remarkable. It could be thought of as
for a house, and the comments and suggestions that people are bringing
during these hearings will provide the details of what the house should
like when it is finished. We hope these public hearings will be digested
and utilized. Our concerns with the legislation involve, as was said
previous speaker, the possibility of a reduction of rights. We have
wording in our brief for the definition to change so that the rights
individuals under the current legislation, the current system, would
Now we would like to make some recommendations. First, as the previous
said, we would like it extended to the private sector. Going to a
meeting is a very good idea, or coming to this exalted body is exceedingly
delightful, although I'm not sure if there are mice in Queen's Park,
bread crumb trail I left to get out of here may not be available when
back. I hope the janitors of Queen's Park have controlled the mouse
so I can find my way back out of this building.
What we would like to see is a widening of the purpose of the legislation,
perhaps this wording: "The purpose of this act is to achieve
Ontario for persons with disabilities guaranteed under the Ontario
Code or under any other act or regulation in Ontario." As we
say, barriers are
not necessarily only physical. If you notice on the various symptom
vision impairments are part of the inclusions, so that the Building
1992, which seems to be the primary framework of this legislation,
is not the
only means by which the rights of the disabled can be entrenched.
Yes, it's an
interesting use of the building code, making it regulate that barriers
constructed, but that's not the only source of barriers for some people.
example, a blind person trying to figure out if an elevator is going
up or down
if there is not one bell for up and two bells for down, or hearing
elevator arrives if you have a hearing impairment, are difficult things
So in the design of buildings, the government has given itself a loophole.
would close that loophole and also extend the legislation to the private
The private sector is really the place where I live, the place where
I exist. I
need to get to the grocery store and be able to purchase groceries
family, not just come to Queen's Park and make a presentation to the
government. So for barriers in buildings, particularly for small businesses
that don't have access to large amounts of money, the government needs
provide some sort of sustenance, because they can't afford or can't
consulting to tell them the less expensive ways to make their buildings
accessible. It doesn't always take thousands of dollars to make a
accessible. Sometimes it can be done with just a cement mixer and
of a ramp in the proper place or the moving of some furniture.
The view of the world becomes entirely different from this vantage
this seat, rather than standing or walking around. That's the interesting
that most people don't recognize until they're in this thing. I know
disability is. You and most of the population of Ontario don't necessarily
In our brief we have given specific areas of the present bill that
can start it
on the way, but our strong belief is that what is needed is the inclusion
private sector and broader public sector compliance requirements.
So if an
organization doesn't make a building accessible, I don't have to go
Human Rights Code and complain. If they don't comply within an established
frame, then they have a problem with the legislation; I don't have
to the Human Rights Commission. Many people who are physically or
challenged do not have the mental capacity or the financial resources
complain through the Human Rights Code process.
The other thing is timelines. If the organization that needs to make
building accessible has plans to do it but never accomplishes it,
it's a very
lovely idea but it's not going to happen unless I go and complain.
should be definite timelines in the legislation requiring compliance
period of time and a remedy structure for people who want to make
legislation work. The concept that businesses will get in line or
spirit of the legislation without requirements is not necessarily
I hope that our presentation has been helpful. I think reading our
goes much more into specifics on the legislation, will give you some
The Chair: We have approximately three minutes per caucus. I'll start
Mr George Smitherman (Toronto Centre-Rosedale): I have one question.
stepmother has MS. Luckily for her, she's been in remission for a
but I very much appreciate your words. I'm interested in knowing,
bill was first presented, was your first opportunity to examine the
it provided by media coverage of the bill's presentation or actual
consideration of the legislation?
Ms Groetzinger: I'll take that, because I'm the technical assistant.
have an opportunity to meet with the minister, I think it was back
in May, to
sort of provide our basic requirements of what we thought would make
effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Prior to the introduction
bill, we did have a small opportunity to meet again with the minister
of the consultation groups he had set up. While not at that point
to the actual wording of the legislation, there was a feeling at that
even when we heard the wording, of some of the concerns Kris had,
were basically the seeming lack of enforcement and the timelines.
I would only reiterate some of the things Kris has said in terms
of it being
all very well and good to make plans, but if you have no mechanism
that those plans are enforced and you just go on making the same plans
after year, I think people who have disabilities are going to be very
Mr Smitherman: A very quick follow-up to that: one of the things
from some people who were here in the chamber on the day the bill
introduced and who read the media coverage of that introduction was
and in fact Ms Yaworski, who spoke earlier this morning, were concerned
some of the media stories might have created an artificial sense of
among disabled people, that the quality of the communication on the
day of the
event far surpassed the content of the bill in terms of its meaningful
on lives. Did you go through any of that emotional reaction?
Ms Groetzinger: I think our organization was disappointed, and I
would think it
would go back to the vision statement that was signed by Mr Jackson
Harris, which is wonderful. I love the vision statement that was unveiled
November 1 at the Easter Seal Society building. Unfortunately, when
saw the wording of the bill, it did not live up to that. I would urge
committee to go back to that original vision statement and try to
put into the
existing bill some wording that would actually capture the goal that
is in the
vision statement, which Mr Jackson so eloquently presented at that
Ms McDonald: Along that line, my comment to the committee that the
view is very
different from down here -- perhaps the reporters who said terrific
about it extemporaneously were standing up a little higher. The view
different from down here. Getting into a building -- for example,
there was a
restaurant where the only entrance that was accessible to my scooter
to enter through the kitchen, by the garbage cans. That was the only
entrance to the restaurant. That restaurant has since gone out of
won't necessarily tie those two items together; however, they certainly
business at that point.
The view is a lot different for people with disabilities. I'm not
make business for myself, but the advice and counsel of people with
disabilities to people like yourselves is critical: ask us to go in
to check a
washroom and see if I can get into it with my scooter.
Mr Martin: On page 3, you mention no reduction of rights, something
come up on a few occasions this morning. Just in case people are not
understanding what we mean here, in this ARCH Alert document, on page
says, "A notable difference in language between Bill 125 and
the Human Rights
Code is that the bill directs that various planning initiatives are
regard to accessibility,' a somewhat vague direction, while the code
accommodation up to the point of undue hardship."
Ms McDonald: We have suggested, in our brief, wording to add an amendment
the legislation as it presently stands, for a way to clean that up.
has provided you with the tool to correct that deficiency in this
Ms Groetzinger: Just a comment on the words "have regard to"
-- I've talked to
a number of people in various jurisdictions about this. The language
using is rather odd language to use. It might be an opportunity at
committee level to clean that up a little bit, so we don't get into
which several people have raised, that this bill might actually have
not-intended effect of reducing the existing rights of people with
Ms McDonald: "Have regard to" is magic loophole language.
Mr Martin: Yes. I think it should raise a red flag for all of us
in terms of
what other things might be in here that might give people the wrong
or lead us down a path that would.
Mr Hardeman: I too have MS very closely in my family, so we thank
you very much
for your presentation.
I want to assure you that there's definitely no intent in the legislation
any way to take away the rights the disabled community presently has
Human Rights Code. If that is what the appearance is, then I can assure
will be looking at that to make sure that's covered off. We very much
appreciate your comments and suggestions as to how that might be done.
will take it under review.
I just want to go to the purpose of the legislation. You reworded
having trouble trying to find out the differences between the purpose
written in the legislation and your suggestion as to what it should
be. To me
they seem to be quite similar. Could you just help me with what part
of it is
the significant difference? You suggest, "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. Currently it
"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." It would seem
to me that they
are almost identical, except that they're worded differently.
Ms McDonald: It's kind of the tone. I don't want you to take care
of me; I want
you to allow me to live as full a life as I can.
Mr Hardeman: I guess that's really why I asked this question. It
seems to me
that the present purpose says we will create an Ontario that allows
full participation of people, where yours says we shall create a barrier-free
Ontario. It just seems to me that relating it to the individuals is
appropriate than what you will create. We will provide the ability
disabled community, to create for themselves full participation in
I guess that's really why I question that.
Ms Groetzinger: I agree with you. Those are nuances and if we were
we could spend the rest of the day arguing, which I suspect we don't
do. I think our intent was there could be some -- if one takes the
language of the purpose and tried to create opportunity, it's sort
of doing it
in a two-stage manner. We thought that a different, more direct language
get to it faster as opposed to, "Well, we're going to create
but we're going to do it in an almost arm's-length way." Unfortunately
with some of the other things that Kris was mentioning, then it's
the fact that it really only talks about public sector involvement
in terms of municipalities and the wider public sector; it talks about
basically filing plans. Then we do actually worry about the purpose
of the act.
I think that perhaps that might be more directive too. I think it
something that we could probably live with if there were more teeth
in the rest
of the act.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Bloorview MacMillan
Centre. I would ask the presenter or presenters to please come forward.
could state your name for the record, please. On behalf of the committee,
welcome. We have 20 minutes for your presentation this morning.
Ms Sheila Jarvis: Good morning. I'm Sheila Jarvis, president and
Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre. On my immediate left is Greg
Greg is a young person who has used services at Bloorview MacMillan
is currently a volunteer in our organization and a mentor for many
of our youth
at the centre. On Greg's left is Cal Millar. Cal is the parent of
a young girl
who uses services at Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre. Cal is
member of our board of trustees. Thank you very much for allowing
us to come
this morning and share with you some of our remarks on this important
We have just circulated to you a folder of material which contains
remarks this morning as well as our position paper on this legislation.
Staff, young people and families at Bloorview MacMillan have expressed
unanimous support for an effective, comprehensive and enforceable
with Disabilities Act. This legislation is viewed as a key instrument
enabling children and youth with disabilities to achieve their personal
We wish to congratulate the government of Ontario for releasing its
Persons with Disabilities. This declaration truly confirms the right
person with a disability to live as independently as possible, to
opportunity and to participate fully in every aspect of life in our
We also wish to congratulate the government on introducing Bill 125,
see as an important first step to working with every sector of Ontario
to move toward a province in which no new barriers are created and
ones are removed.
Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre believes that, by strengthening
legislation with certain amendments, the government of Ontario, with
disability community, can begin to achieve the important principles
stated in Ontario's Vision for Persons with Disabilities.
Our comments and recommendations today focus on a few areas important
children and young people with disabilities and their families.
Definition of "barrier" and "municipal services":
children and young people
with disabilities and their families regularly experience barriers
them from participating in many parts of their lives. These obstacles
education, recreation, housing, public transportation, employment
care services, and they result in many types of discrimination. More
information on these barriers can be found in our position paper on
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, a copy of which you have in your
Because of numerous barriers, children and young people with disabilities
their families are disadvantaged in several ways: socially, vocationally,
economically and educationally. Not as obvious but equally significant
emotional and psychological toll these barriers take.
Therefore, Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre recommends that
the purpose as
stated in section 1 be consistent with the government's Vision for
Disabilities and that the definition of "barrier" in subsection
expanded to include education, recreation, housing, public transportation,
employment and health services.
In addition, Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre recommends that
12(2) require municipal councils to seek advice from accessibility
committees on the accessibility for persons with disabilities to buildings
importantly, programs associated with municipal services, including
facilities such as swimming pools, skating rinks, libraries and all
Definition of "disability": in order for an Ontarians with
Disabilities Act to
be effective, it must contain a clear, comprehensive definition of
"disability," so that all children and youth, regardless
of disability, derive
equal benefit from the law.
Among its many clients, Bloorview MacMillan serves more than 200
up-to-18-year-olds each year who have experienced a severe brain injury
trauma, tumour, stroke or other illness. While brain injuries aren't
noticeable, their impact can be complex and permanent. People of all
an acquired brain injury may experience emotional, learning, physical,
psychological and social difficulties.
At Bloorview MacMillan, we enable children and youth with severe
injuries to reintegrate into their homes, schools and communities.
people of all ages with an acquired brain injury in the Ontarians
Disabilities Act will support these people immensely. Therefore, Bloorview
MacMillan Children's Centre recommends that the definition of "disability"
subsection 2(1) be broadened to include acquired brain injury.
Now, over to Cal Millar.
Mr Cal Millar: As she alluded to, my name is Cal Millar. I have an
eight-year-old daughter named Samantha who first attended Bloorview
school in what is called the IET program, or integrated education
program. She's now in her second year at her community school, which
is grade 3
for her, and it's a publicly funded school close to our home.
Samantha uses a special computer in order to communicate with us
outside world. She requires classroom support in order to learn, in
the form of
a full-time attendant. Like other parents of children with disabilities,
constantly required to advocate on my daughter's behalf for her right
to get a
proper and full education. An Ontarians with Disabilities Act should
put an end
to our constant struggle and provide all children with disabilities
education they need and deserve.
While the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees people
disabilities equal protection and equal benefit of the law, and while
Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination because of a handicap,
several areas numerous barriers continue to exist.
An example of this is Ontario's Education Act, which was amended
in 1989 to
guarantee every child an appropriate education. The interpretation
"appropriate education," however, varies from community
to community. This,
coupled with a lack of funding and support, means that although more
with disabilities now attend their publicly funded local school than
10 years ago, many of Bloorview MacMillan's children and their parents
families say that an additional key step needs to be taken: the inclusion
students with disabilities in community schools close to their homes
I would also like to add that although brain injury is the leading
acquired disability in Ontario children, with more than 6,000 sustaining
brain injuries each year, Ontario's Ministry of Education does not
acquired brain injury designation in the categories it uses to identify
exceptional students. This is why many students with an acquired brain
or ABI, are misidentified and don't qualify for the classroom support
need. An Ontarians with Disabilities Act that includes acquired brain
a disability and education as a barrier would enable students with
injury to attend their local public school and get that education.
Bloorview MacMillan parents also believe that including students
abilities in classrooms and all school events is the key to breaking
barriers and building positive attitudes toward persons with disabilities
across every sector of our society. Students in inclusive classrooms,
my daughter Samantha is one, learn to appreciate, support and care
of all abilities. It works both ways: the children with a disability
to interact with their peers, and conversely, those we consider "normal"
some way. We welcome the government's commitment to a public education
to contribute to overcoming attitudinal barriers in this province.
Therefore, Bloorview MacMillan's Children's Centre stresses the importance
expanding the definition of "barrier" in subsection 2(1)
to include, among
other areas, education, and broadening the definition of "disability"
same section to include acquired brain injury.
I'm going to turn it over to Greg.
Mr Greg Contaxis: Good morning. As Sheila said, my name is Greg Contaxis.
going to talk about a barrier-free Ontario and what it's like to go
On a couple of occasions I had the experience of going shopping as
in the past -- last week as a matter of fact -- I went to a Radio
and I knocked over two toys, two games. I had to say, "Sorry."
unacceptable, because the aisles should be wider so I can get easier
believe that if the people who work there can listen to us, then we
Also, I was in a department store over a year and a half ago, and
over a whole display of china because the aisles were not wide enough
for me to
get around. I offered to pay for it and they said, "No, it's
OK. You don't have
to pay for it." I asked, "Are you sure?" They said,
"Yes, that's OK, sir." That
really bugs me, because they say it's accessible. But I drive with
control, and it's a bit difficult for me to drive with a head control
need to keep turning left and right, and that made me knock down the
the china store.
On transportation: I travel on Wheel-Trans quite a lot. I know there
accessible subways and buses as well. That's all fine and dandy, but
I have a
very severe eye problem as well, and for me and others too, it's not
feasible. The other reason I say this is because when there's a really
snowstorm in the city, the regular subway system won't be able or
offer to take
us to the front door, so that's a barrier in itself.
I have to plan my things one day in advance. That's not acceptable
number one, I thought we were supposed to be spontaneous. I thought
supposed to be willing to work for the disabled, for everybody. It
prove to me that this is working for the disabled. When I have to
Wheel-Trans to cancel my trip, even though I'm sick, then I get penalized.
you get more than six cancellations, you'll be suspended for two days
don't appeal it. I don't find that acceptable because, number one,
as I said,
we're allowed to be spontaneous and we are allowed to have the freedom
the spontaneity we want. I'm suggesting that with all the rules and
we have to build with, I want my young adult friends and I to have
spontaneity to do whatever we want, just like Vancouver, where you
hours in advance and that's all it takes. Do you know what you're
day to day? No, you don't.
Those are my points.
Ms Jarvis: Thanks, Greg.
Therefore, Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre recommends that
4(1) require the government of Ontario to work with persons with disabilities
to develop barrier-free design standards for all existing and new
Ontario, including shopping malls and other places attended by young
with disabilities and their families.
Last, but not least, accountability: laws are only as effective as
accountability mechanisms. Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre believes
the Ontario government must take a leadership role in ensuring compliance
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act by including accountability mechanisms
Therefore, Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre recommends that
20(2) specify a role for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario,
consultation with the Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario, in
government of Ontario accountable for the effective and timely implementation
of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
In conclusion, staff, clients and families at Bloorview MacMillan
Centre believe that, in addition to making good social sense, an Ontarians
Disabilities Act also makes good economic sense. Such legislation
instrumental in creating an Ontario where everyone belongs. This will
taxpayers money in expenses resulting from the unnecessary dependency
non-productivity of persons with disabilities. As one of our parents
way things are now will cost society so much more in the future. The
government is better off spending money now, as it will be saved tenfold
future. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you. We have approximately one minute per caucus
start with Mr Kormos.
Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): Thank you, folks, for coming. Mr
asked whether people here know what they're doing from day to day.
If he joined
me at a House leaders' meeting on Thursday mornings, the answer would
obvious to him.
The point raised about the private sector and access within the private
and the private sector especially as it holds itself out to be public,
we're talking about retail stores, we're talking about everything
theatres, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission has had to deal
with some of
them -- one of our great concerns is that there is nothing in this
puts a clear responsibility or obligation, an enforceable obligation,
private sector to ensure accessibility. That's one of our great concerns,
many. So I'm simply acknowledging your comments in this regard, the
those comments, and hoping they will prompt support for amendments
some clear obligation on the private sector. We can't wait. It's silly
suggest that we're going to wait. People have waited far too long.
Ms Jarvis: We would certainly agree with that. I think there are
ways we can do
it in terms of a phased-in approach with appropriate accountability
it. Certainly, when young people like Greg and parents like Cal raise
with the private sector about physical accessibility, attitudinal
difficulties with employment, there is quite an interest in the sensitivity
there, but a huge amount of awareness I think needs to take place
in the public
sector about simple things they can do to actually make their businesses
more publicly accessible to everybody. So we would agree.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham): Thank you very much for your presentation
you, Greg, for making us aware of how difficult it is to be spontaneous.
Kormos said, sometimes spontaneity here isn't very positive either.
There are three points. I certainly hear the definition issue and
question, because it is to some extent two parts of the bill, section
section 26, that try and define it. Perhaps it doesn't specifically
acquired brain injury, but the words it uses, "an injury or disability
which benefits were claimed" etc are certainly something I want
to make sure --
we've heard it before.
I would also say, Mr Millar, with respect to special education, I'm
really. I was a school trustee and was on special-ed advisory committees
The full model today is funded on an integration basis. It used to
segregated model. Now it's mandatory integration. From what you've
very supportive of that, and that's what I heard as a parent and also
trustee, that integration was the preferred option for first educating
general public about the barriers. My only question is, if there's
what you've said re the accountability mechanisms, the five-year review
other kinds of review with the directorate that's to be set up, I
think I would
take that advice and try to move forward with it.
Ms Jarvis: Even with the Education Act and the amendments that were
we of course fully support, there are still obviously a lot of day-to-day
barriers in terms of young people like Samantha Millar getting a good
education. It's not just in the classroom, but field trips and things
are usually not available for kids with special needs. So it has gone
way, but if there were a better definition built in here, I think
when we look
at plans for the ministry and schools to work toward greater accessibility,
could then enforce it.
Mr Smitherman: Greg, I want to say to you that the power of your
will be in my mind as I make up my mind about how I'm going to vote
on this. At
this moment I'm opposed to this legislation because the problems that
to are not addressed.
My question is to you, Ms Jarvis. You use in your presentation the
"important first step," and in an answer to a question you
used words like
"phased in" and "seeking to see some enhancements."
I'm a gay man and I have
been involved, along with my community, in the struggle toward full
will tell you that although from time to time I am somewhat happy
is being made, every day that I do not have full equality is a day
that I am a
second-class citizen. This is a difficult question to ask, but I'm
people who have the responsibility to be advocates on behalf of disabled
people, to speak on their behalf, have not become part of the problem
use language which is in my view, in response to this bill, rather
Ms Jarvis: I guess we do see, though, this bill as a very good first
used that term and I've also used the term "phasing in."
We have to begin
somewhere. If this is something that is achievable in the short term,
support that. We have had great debate internally with our clients
about that very issue: should we say no or should we suggest that
forward, make as many amendments as we can to strengthen it today
and work with
it? It does, I think, put in place mechanisms that will make it better.
still won't be perfect, but I think there are mechanisms there that
we can work
on in order to make significant improvements. We see it as a vastly
than what we have today, which is really no legislation at all.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
The Chair: The next presentation is from Ricketts, Harris. If the
could please come forward and state your name for the record. On behalf
Mr Mike Cochrane: My name is Mike Cochrane. I'm a lawyer in Toronto
with a firm
called Ricketts, Harris. The reason I am here today is that I have
clients right now who are disabled. They are deaf students who went
schools in Ontario: the Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf in Belleville,
the Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf in Milton and the Robarts
the Deaf in London, Ontario. It may shock you to hear that I've got
from those schools, but some of your colleagues will tell you that
before the standing committee on justice and social policy back on
to talk about a problem I've had and that my clients have had for
seven years in Ontario trying to get the government to listen about
that occurred in the schools for the deaf in this province.
Just before I go into the details of that, I should probably point
with me today are Bill Conley and Maggie van Vorst, who are two of
They are both students who went to schools for the deaf in Ontario
deserve a lot of the credit for me, as just a regular practising lawyer
knew nothing about the deaf community in Ontario, getting immersed
in a bit of
a nightmare that was going on in our schools for the deaf. Bill and
really, as I said, should get a lot of credit for sticking with it
sure that people heard about what happened at the schools and for
own stories about physical and sexual abuse that occurred in our schools
I've mentioned to you that I told the standing committee on justice
problems. I also want you to know that I've met twice with the Premier's
on this subject. I've met with the Ministry of Education numerous
met with the Ministry of the Attorney General numerous times to talk
It's kind of incredible that it remains a secret, that nobody talks
I've met with Mr Parsons, and his colleague Michael Bryant, the critic
justice issues in the Liberal Party, and even today it was pointed
out to me
that this newspaper that serves the deaf community, called Silent
that's what it looks like. It's a paper that gets pretty much North
distribution. This is their issue from December 2001 and inside is
that refers to Mr Parsons's comments in the House: "Canadian
over Handling of Sexual Abuse Allegations." That article refers
to Mr Parsons
following up on a meeting with me about the way deaf people were not
listened to by this government in relation to allegations of physical
sexual abuse that happened at these schools.
I would suggest to you that you call up the Hansard with my remarks
standing committee on October 30. I'll tell you exactly what I told
1994, Bill and Maggie showed up in my office in Toronto saying that
been physical and sexual abuse at a school for the deaf in Belleville.
I got in
touch with some former colleagues of mine at the Ministry of the Attorney
General for Ontario. They agreed to come down to my office and they
students. They brought interpreters with them and they were interviewed.
came to the conclusion that something pretty serious had happened
school, that it seemed there had been physical and sexual abuse. There
criminal charges laid against teachers and staff. There had been convictions.
The more we looked into it, the more students we met who made the
same kinds of
allegations. We went from having about half a dozen people in my office
having about 300 names of students who had the same or similar allegations.
I'll give you the abbreviated version of this.
As a result of non-stop pressure from myself, Bill Conley and Maggie
and others, we eventually persuaded the Ministry of Education to create
system for inquiring into these allegations at Sir James Whitney and
something about it. This usually comes as a bit of a shock to people,
but as a
result of that investigation and inquiry, a private compensation system
up where deaf people who alleged that they were physically or sexually
went to tell their story to an investigator, the investigator would
work and their case would be sent to a private arbitrator. The private
arbitrator was Sanda Rodgers, who at the time was the dean of the
Ottawa law school. She conducted the arbitrations, and 185 people
who went to
Sir James Whitney received a total of $8 million in compensation.
In December 1999 the Ministry of Education said, "We've had
enough. We're not
going to listen to any more claims," and they slammed the door
on the deaf
people who had not even heard yet that there was a compensation system
place, because the government had not publicized the fact that they
this compensation, or even this process, available for deaf people.
that 185 people who live in Ontario -- and I can tell you, probably
majority of them are on Ontario's disabilities support program --
their compensation, but the people who hadn't got their claim in by
1999 got nothing. I can tell you that in some households, the husband
claim in on a Monday and the wife got her claim in on a Tuesday; the
received an opportunity for compensation but the wife did not, because
arbitrary deadline was set, a deadline that nobody even knew about.
government simply decided they weren't going to have any more compensation
claims considered from Sir James Whitney school.
The people who missed the deadline -- we've been trying for years,
and this is
why I've had these meetings with the Premier's office and his staff
Janet Ecker's staff and with, when he was Attorney General, Mr Flaherty
staff. They know all about this. Mr Parsons raised it in the House.
knows about it and no one is reconsidering opening the door so that
of these students can come forward and tell their stories and have
opportunity of compensation the same way as everybody else.
The reason I mention all this in the context of this legislation
is that it
came as a bit of -- I got the kit like everybody else. It's pretty
even has references to deaf people on it. On the back, there's some
across the top, images that are put right on the brochure. I don't
anybody knows what that means. There's no translation for it. It says
"Ontario." Down at the bottom it has some deaf people signing.
signing is "I love you." On the inside, there's another
deaf image of somebody
saying "love" in the sign for embracing. But inside the
kit itself there's no
mention of deaf people. There's nothing in here for deaf people that
I can see
and there's certainly nothing in here that would be of any benefit
to any of my
That causes me concern because, even if you go through some of the
in the explanatory notes for the legislation, number 3 says, "Where
feasible, the government is required to provide its Internet sites
in a format
that is accessible to persons with disabilities." I would assume
deaf people. In my case, it involved hundreds and hundreds of people
in the province now and need to communicate with the government now,
Internet sites. They weren't even told that there was a multi-million
compensation plan available for them that they should apply to and
The same applies with number 4, where it talks about government publications
being available in a format that is accessible to the person. Many
can read. Lots of deaf people can read. Many of them can't read very
of the ones I've met are illiterate, in my view, because of the education
received in schools for the deaf. They don't even get the publications.
don't even know that there's a publication available for them, never
able to read the ones that are available.
I was concerned when I saw this kit and I thought it would be worthwhile
back to tell the committee about how deaf people in Ontario are actually
treated. I didn't know any deaf people before I had this case. I've
hundreds since then. I've driven all over the province, in many cases
at my own
expense, because the government was not interested in paying the legal
a lot of the people who were involved in these cases. I've driven
to many, many
small communities and learned that what has happened is that deaf
many cases got a very bad education in our schools for the deaf and
pretty much illiterate, without skills, and they kind of drifted into
the smaller communities where they can eke out a living receiving
benefits and really trying to keep to themselves pretty much. We haven't
it easy for deaf people to participate in Ontario society or to have
opportunities that are referred to on the cover of this brochure:
and Opportunity." That's a cruel joke for many deaf people in
I would urge your legislative research person, Mr Rampersad, to inquire
how many people who are receiving Ontario disabilities in this province
deaf and how many of those people went to the schools for the deaf.
I was in
shock when I saw the number of my clients that were receiving disability
The reason I appear here today -- and I want to be able to take questions
just want to tell you a little bit about these cases. Here's the really
part: the government has closed the door on the people from Sir James
There are two more schools. I now have dozens of clients from Ernest
School for the Deaf in Milton who make the same allegations, because
opened E.C. Drury, in some cases they moved staff from Whitney to
Drury. Now I
have six clients from the Robarts school in London, six girls who
assaulted by the same teacher, who went to trial and was convicted,
sentence, has served it and is back out in the community. After they
evidence at that criminal trial, those six women filtered back into
community, no one ever telling them that there was a possibility of
compensation for the harm they had suffered at this teacher's hands.
The sorry part of this whole story is that there are many allegations,
are many charges that have been laid against teachers and staff, there
convictions and there are investigations ongoing. As a matter of fact,
made my presentation to the standing committee on justice, there was
preliminary inquiry about to start the next day in Belleville related
criminal charges against another teacher from that school. So this
nowhere close to being dealt with, and I would suggest that if the
is really enthusiastic about going forward with legislation that is
increase the independence and opportunity of people with disabilities,
should take a look at cases and situations that you have right in
front of you,
where people and lawyers and others have been knocking themselves
out trying to
get these people some help. They wouldn't benefit from this legislation,
if it was passed tomorrow. But you could do a lot to help deaf people
Ontario simply by dealing with the problem that is very much in front
I just want to conclude by saying this, and this may sound strange
a lawyer dealing with these cases. Where people in the government
to talk to me, I'm just going to sue. We tried to avoid it; I'm just
sue. We'll have hundreds of lawsuits and we'll let the courts and
system and the budgets for the Attorney General swell to deal with
of cases that will go into our justice system. That's what I'm going
But one thing that's become very clear to me, just as a regular citizen
with these people, is that something very serious needs to happen
in the area
of education of deaf people in Ontario. One thing that I would put
-- if I could make any amendment to this legislation, this would be
it: I think
that Ontario has an opportunity to really lead the way in Canada by
Canada's first university for deaf people. When deaf people graduate
schools, they go to the United States to get any post-secondary education.
There's really nothing for them here. They go down to universities
heard about like Gallaudet. Mr Conley actually went there. I think
that part of
the reason that Bill Conley is such a with-it participant in Ontario
today is that he went to Gallaudet University in the States and he
knows how to
speak up for himself and how to speak up for other people in his community.
we don't have that kind of opportunity here in Ontario, in Canada,
is a mystery
to me. At a time when we want to do things for the disabled community,
would be a fabulous thing that would be of benefit to deaf people,
foremost in Ontario, but to deaf people across Canada, and it would
be good for
Ontario. If we're open for business here and we want business, let's
university that helps deaf people.
Those are my remarks. The only thing I really ask of you is to go
back to your
respective caucuses and ask them questions about the treatment of
in Ontario in particular, in these cases that are pending right now
schools for the deaf.
The Chair: Thank you. We have one minute per caucus, and I mean one
Mr Hardeman: First of all, I wanted to say that the issues of the
that you've described in the different schools I don't think are acceptable
anyone. I appreciate the fact that you mentioned that you'd talked
to a number
of people in government, and I hope that there are solutions found
fairly with those people.
But I do want to point out, in the definition of "disabilities,"
in fact it's a
degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation and disfigurement,
then near the end, impediments, deafness or hearing impediments, muteness
speech impediment or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal.
fact, the deaf are specifically mentioned in the definition of a disability.
think as the whole bill relates to disabilities, it includes, contrary
comments, the deaf.
The Chair: To the official opposition, Mr Parsons.
Mr Parsons: I write a lot of letters to ministers on issues regarding
constituents. Interestingly, this is the only topic where in the last
I've not had an answer to one single letter from the minister regarding
or any reaction out of the House. So I can understand the frustration
individuals you represent are bringing forward.
The justice system is difficult for anyone to access. It appears
to be almost
impossible for the individual who is deaf. What would have to be in
a real ODA
to level the playing field so that an individual hearing-impaired
or deaf or
deafened could have equal access to the justice system?
Mr Cochrane: I would say the one change that could be made specifically
deaf is to do something on the interpretation in the courtroom itself.
was one trial related to allegations against a teacher at Sir James
It's not an exaggeration to say the women who came forward to testify
subjected to a very tough cross-examination, and there were problems,
problems related to the difficulties around interpretation of what
were trying to say had happened to them. There were acquittals as
a result. So
if something ends up in the legislation that reaches out into the
system to improve interpretation in the courtroom, real time or actual
interpretation like we're receiving today, that would be a big help
Mr Martin: This government has obviously made some choices. One of
they made was to give tax breaks to corporations and other individuals
community. To do that, they had to find the money somewhere. The money
that's not available for deaf interpretation, it's not available to
problems that you've put on the table here this morning and it won't
available to open up a university for the deaf in Ontario and it won't
available to support any of the legislation that they're putting before
today, because there is no reference to any resources. So if I were
wouldn't be holding my breath.
Mr Cochrane: I can tell you, I'm not going away and neither are these
people. One way or the other, it's going to be dealt with, if it's
in front of
a judge or it's in front of committees like this. I've been on this
1994, and I've told everybody who will listen we're not going away.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
MILTON DEAF ACTION GROUP
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Milton Deaf Action Group.
ask the presenters to please come forward and if you could state your
the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Mr Vance Youngs: My name is Vance and I'm representing the Milton
Group. I'm from the E.C. Drury School for the deaf.
Ms Tanya Sturk: I'm Tanya Sturk and I'm also representing a group
at the Milton
school for the deaf, the Milton Deaf Action Group.
Ms Jessamyn Roach: I'm Jessamyn Roach, and I'm also a representative
Milton Deaf Action Group. I'm also a student at the Milton school
for the deaf.
Maybe I'll begin with my comments. For hearing people in the province,
students, 75% of them have employment, and I'm just looking at teenagers.
look at deaf people, only 25% of them have jobs in Ontario. We need
to look at
that and say what's wrong with that. If we go in to apply for jobs,
great resum1s with all kinds of experience and a hearing teenager
goes in and
has nothing on their resum1, they get hired over a deaf person. I
hearing employers look at us and don't feel that we can really do
I worked at Chudleigh's and when I was hired there -- I guess I was
in the fall, in September, and I worked there all the way until October
I worked there every weekend. I'd be there 9:30 to 5:30, eight hours,
my shift. I'm able to run a cash register, to be a cashier. I had
before. I'm able to use some of my speech and able to hear people
OK, but they
told me that I couldn't. They had me cutting apples. So I would cut
eight hours a day at my shift. I was really bored. There was no challenge
doing that. I'd see some of the other people and they could do a variety
different jobs, but I had to stay there and do this one job, over
and over. I
had to do this. After about two months of cutting apples, I looked
at that and
I said, "There's no challenge in this for me to do that."
I don't think it was fair, because deaf people have capabilities.
You see deaf
people working at McDonald's, where they're cleaning the floors, but
be the people who are doing the cooking. Hearing people put a lot
in place for us. To be here in a hearing world, we need to have those
removed. So I hope that would happen.
Ms Sturk: My comments have to do with communication and safety. If
we look at
going to movie theatres, there's no excuse for there not being captioning
movies in movie theatres. We realize that money is an issue, but if
you look in
the States, there's captioning there. If they can afford it, we can
do it too. They've got first-run movies that are out with captioning.
I go to a
movie and there's no captioning. Why shouldn't there be? Why shouldn't
options in place for us for that sort of thing? Why should we be limited
number of movies that are captioned at all?
Why shouldn't there be some kind of discount as well for people going
theatres who can't hear? I asked for a discount at a movie theatre
and I was
told no. I was with a group of friends of mine who are hearing and
we went to
the movie theatre. When I asked for a discount for admittance, because
can see is the visual part of the movie, they said no. I said OK to
that and I
went in, but friends of mine saw a girl there in a wheelchair and
she was given
a discount, a half-price admittance. I don't understand that, because
understand everything in the movie. She was in a wheelchair, but she
still understand the movie, and I would be there paying the full price
can't understand all of it. So that's not really fair. Those are real
in movie theatres. If you want to go to the movie, you can't. You
have to wait
until it comes out on video.
Then, when it comes out on video, a lot of the movies don't have
closed-captioning on them. They used to, but there's less and less.
If I go to
the movie and there's no captioning on it, there's no point in that.
very frustrating and anger-making. You want to go and see the movie
full-sized theatre. Then when it comes out on video, there's no captioning
it either. These are movies from 1999 that I've rented. All movies
captioning on them now. There was a law that more and more of them
did, but it
seems now there's less and less of them. That's really very frustrating.
The TTY pay phone is something I want to talk about. If you look
there are six pay phones with TTY in Ontario. In Buffalo, at the one
they have 15 TTYs in place, but if you look at Ontario, there isn't
anywhere. You have to go to the States if you want to use a TTY pay
at one airport and we have six across Ontario. That's really embarrassing
it's a real barrier for deaf people. If I need to contact my parents
if there's an emergency or something, I can't contact them. And if
I get home
late, I get in trouble because I'm not able to use a TTY pay phone
to call them
to let them know I'll be late.
The Milton mall has one TTY, but there was no help from them in that.
We had to
take that on ourselves. We had to raise over $1,000 in order for that
to be put
in place. They said, "We won't do it because there's no profit
in it for us."
That's not fair.
If I have to call my mom because I need to be picked up from work
-- I don't
have a car; I don't have my licence -- there's no phone, there's no
TTY for me
where I work -- I have to ask my boss or somebody at work to call.
I don't want
to be dependent on other people to make calls for me. I'm my own person,
independent, and I want to be able to do these things for myself.
older, as an adult, do I want to be in the same position of asking
make phone calls for me? That's humiliating. Imagine that.
We should be given these kinds of opportunities. Maybe this is something
you to consider. This is the kind of suffering we've had in place.
All of us
should have that kind of independence and opportunity to be independent
place for each of us.
Mr Youngs: I want to talk about athletics and sports and that kind
participation. If you look at deaf people across Ontario, they're
their communities with football, soccer, hockey, in each of the communities
they live in, but there are many barriers in place. It's not fully
for people across Ontario. We're sort of kept down, and one of the
kept down is where coaches talk to players on a team. There's no interpreter
In my own personal experience, I was involved with a hockey team
for about 10
years, all the way through the 1990s, and I finally quit and didn't
more. One of the reasons I quit was that the coach would give everybody
15-minute explanation of something and I would sit there and have
to ask the
coach, "What did you say?" I would have to ask him that.
He'd give me a
one-line summation of everything else. All the other players would
strategy and where we were going, but I wouldn't. I would get the
summation. So I wasn't treated fairly.
There are many deaf people who are involved in sports, and they really
to put up with a lot. They have to work harder; they have to find
interpreters for themselves. It puts the real onus on us and it's
are a lot of athletes who could be really very good athletes, but
they drop out
because of the frustrations. There is so much put on them in order
to try and
make it work for themselves that isn't there for the hearing players.
Everything is always hearing-focused, and they forget about providing
interpreter for us.
I'm really happy that my dad has been as helpful to me as he has.
there advocating with the coach to make sure that I had accessibility.
be there telling me what was being said, those sorts of things, because
wouldn't write notes. Most of the parents who are there for their
see them step forward for their kids, and then the coach will follow
parents have said. It's really important that that happen. The parents
as well and sit there. For us on the bench, where the coach is talking
there's no interpretation there on the bench as well. It's really
gestural communication with the coach, and it's not very fair. I quit
of that. There wasn't the access provided for me with my coach.
If you do ask for an interpreter for an event or a tournament or
championship game or something, or award ceremonies -- I've been to
people are making comments and talking and I stand there and I don't
what's being said. They are mentioning people's names, who won what,
they do bring in an interpreter, it's not somebody who really is certified.
It's somebody who signs a little but isn't really interpreting, and
getting is, "Um, ah, um, ah," and "Oh, it's your name
they're calling," but
nothing else. They really should be paying for people who are professionals,
who are skilled and able to provide the interpretation so we get the
access we need.
Sometimes when I've talked to friends of mine who are deaf, they
talk about the
same thing. We feel like we're sometimes taken advantage of by hearing
and part of that has to do with communication. If we're playing in
leagues or things like that, like in Milton, the ref blows a whistle
the play. I wouldn't hear it, and I'd feel like a fool, because I'd
playing and nobody else had told me that they had blown the whistle.
should have been something that was used gesturally to let us know
whistle had been blown.
Or this happened as well: we were playing another team and all of
that I was deaf and the players realized this. I would keep playing
the whistle had been blown and they'd do the sort of thing where they'd
moving so I'd think that the play had been called, and then they'd
puck from me.
I do see that for the deaf community access is really needed. We
need the use
of sign language interpreters for young people, for older people.
deserve this kind of access. Our position paper from the Milton Deaf
Group that talks very specifically about the ODA and the improvements
that could be made to it. I hope you would read it, and I appreciate
taking our comments today.
The Chair: We have approximately a minute and a half per caucus,
and I'll start
with the official opposition.
Mr Parsons: An interesting presentation. I saw a story on US TV a
about three individuals who were in the World Trade Centre at the
time it was
struck by the jet and they had no idea what was going on. There was
no way to
communicate with them at all in some sense.
This in my mind isn't really an ODA. But I want to thank you because
isn't just for you; it's for me. When a friend or a neighbour or a
mine can't go to a theatre and watch a movie, I don't go to the theatre
watch the movie either. It's not you and us; it's us. We're all together
need to address the fact that there has to be an act that brings us
My question to you is, from your viewpoint, the fact that it does
not apply to
the private sector, does that make it a meaningful act to you in any
Ms Sturk: Well, it should apply to business too; it really should.
apply to business as well. It should.
I just want to answer your question, or perhaps make a comment where
applies to as well, and with your help it can be successful. We're
the ones who
actually undergo all the stress and oppression of this. We're the
suffer, and we really do know it from the inside out. You can express
understanding for us and say, "I appreciate your experience."
If you really do,
make this a better law, give us the opportunity and provide an equal
field for us. Yes, equality and an equal playing field is very important.
Mr Martin: I want to thank you for coming today. I think it takes
a lot of
courage to come forward, particularly as young people, to make the
statements that you're making here this morning. I think it's radical
but that's what's required, for people to take radical action, particularly
where human rights are concerned and your ability to participate in
concerned, because you have a lot to offer, and that's being minimalized
moment. I think it's commendable that you would speak on behalf of
community and come forward today.
Government can deliver for you a lot of what you're asking for, if
it only had
the political will, and you have to continue to do what you're doing
sure that in fact they do, that we all do here. This government has
choices. It has decided to give tax breaks to corporations and individuals
across this province, and because of that, there isn't the money available
anymore to do the types of things that you need -- interpretation,
We all know that it costs money, but it's money well spent. It's a
investment in human potential, and we need to be able to do that.
We need to be
willing to do that and understand why it's absolutely necessary that
I don't really have a question as much as to encourage you to keep
on being a
group of action, to take radical action, to not be afraid to come
groups, like you've come this morning, and to demand the kinds of
you need. This bill isn't going to do it for you, unfortunately, but
working with you on further initiatives and efforts to make sure that
government lives up to its responsibility and understands that it
everybody in this province and that it can, if it has the political
fact do that.
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): I want to thank you for your
I want you to know that the impact of your presentation is much greater
the usual impact when we have young people coming out and being so
putting their position, as you have done this morning.
I want you to know that it's for young people such yourselves that
government has introduced this bill, and we will be working to make
this bill has the mechanism to provide a better Ontario for people
I know this is a difficult question, but what's the major concern
people such as yourselves, looking into the future? Is it education
or is it
translation? What's the single biggest worry that young people such
yourselves have, looking into the future?
Mr Youngs: Well, if I speak for myself, education. But as well, I
students who are going to schools for the deaf, we need to fight for
rights. If we look at mainstreaming of students, there isn't a sufficient
number of us in any one place to be able to have the awareness to
So it's education, and it's also -- yes, our future.
Ms Sturk: Well, interpretation as well, because we do need interpreters
skilled in order to make the education worthwhile. We also need to
look at the
schools for the deaf that may not provide what we need, so then we
another educational setting where they do provide the courses. But
no interpreter or there's a poor interpreter who's been put in place
put somebody in place who can barely sign at all. So then how am I
what's happening in the course that I'm taking? That's not fair, and
screws up the whole course. It's very important information that we're
and you can miss out on all the teaching that takes place.
So it's not that we can't do it; it's what's not being put in place
for us that
is an impediment for us, and if it's tax cuts that mean we can't have
interpreters, that's an impediment. If the resources are put in place,
education can actually be as good as it could be for anyone else.
Ms Roach: For me, I want my kids to not have to go through what we're
through. I want them to go have fun, play hockey, play soccer and
just be kids
and go see a movie, go to the mall and be able to call me if they
because a TTY will be there for them. All the things that we can't
now I want them to have.
Mr Youngs: If I could just add to her comments, all of us, as future
who will be deaf, want to have something for our kids. We look at
been through. We want all of this to be in place for them, so we're
work in partnership with you to see a better future for all of us.
Ms Sturk: It's not an us-them scenario, but a working-together one.
themselves are the future; disabled or not, they are everyone's future.
The Chair: You're a great team. On behalf of the committee, thank
you very much
for your presentation this morning. Good luck.
ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPALITIES
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Association of Municipalities
Ontario. I'm sure that's going to be a tough act to follow.
On behalf of the committee, welcome. If you could state your name
Ms Sandra Hames: Thank you. Good morning. My name is Councillor Sandra
with the city of Brampton. I'm the chair of AMO's committee on the
with Disabilities Act.
AMO is pleased to respond to Bill 125, the Ontarians with Disabilities
congratulates the Honourable Cam Jackson, Minister of Citizenship,
staff in the development and introduction of Canada's broadest disabilities
legislation. AMO is looking forward to continuing the working relationship
between the minister and the municipal sector through AMO.
As government statistics show, persons with disabilities and the
involved with them represent a significant and growing part of our
At present, more than 1.6 million Ontarians have disabilities. It
that in 20 years, one in every five people, or 20% of the population,
a disability. In the same time frame, there will be millions of other
family, friends, co-workers -- who will be associated with persons
Persons with disabilities are a significant resource. Persons with
Canada-wide have the potential spending power of $20 billion to $25
offer a relatively untapped pool of human capital. As a result, persons
disabilities play a significant role in our communities and in our
The ODA provides a framework for change, where the public and private
alike can work together with the goal of providing persons with disabilities
equal opportunities, barrier-free access, full citizenship to increase
quality of life for everyone.
A lot has been done at the municipal level of government, and we
know a lot
more can be done. It is time for all orders of government to work
private sector partners to change the public attitude towards persons
disabilities and improve the quality of life for everyone.
The ODA is a bold step in the right direction, and the minister should
municipalities to do their part in inspiring the changes to achieve
citizenship for persons with disabilities. Having said this, the challenge
any policy development is always how much to lead versus impose, and
matter is no different. AMO offers that the act provides a good balance
Working towards barrier-free communities is good public policy. The
document, Independence and Opportunity: Ontario's Framework for Change
Persons with Disabilities, states, "Perhaps no government has
a more direct
impact on our daily lives than the municipal level. Municipalities
significant role in the development of our communities -- the streets,
public transit and public buildings that we use every day." This
demonstrates the integral role municipalities have in the success
of the ODA.
When compared to other sectors, the municipal sector in Ontario is
a leader in
meeting the needs of persons with disabilities and already delivers
programs and services. AMO believes municipalities are committed to
that new barriers will not be created and that existing barriers to
disabilities will be removed based on local plans and within reasonable
frames. Municipalities welcome the challenge of reinforcing their
roles in changing attitudes toward people with disabilities so that
enjoy full citizenship in the community through better access to employment,
training, education, services and mobility. But we need the province
actively help in this attitudinal shift. Its leadership is no less
We recognize that persons with disabilities want and deserve independence
opportunity. They can and do contribute to our economy and community
Municipalities are working toward affecting real change and most already
making a difference. Some municipalities have gone forward with barrier-free
design standards for all new and renovated municipal facilities, and
have been working with the disabled community to make sure their views
reflected in local policies. Working towards local policies that create
inclusion and implementing universal design principles which accommodate
types of disabilities at all ages makes sense. The challenge is the
finance the changes.
The challenge of removing barriers for the disabled community is
one that will
require local plans and local resources, particularly in the absence
accelerated, adequate, dedicated and sustained funding source from
province. It will require ongoing local community and private sector
Having the direct participation from the disabled community to develop
solutions will greatly benefit this process. The proposed annual accessibility
plans and the municipal accessibility advisory committees will be
in working towards barrier-free communities. AMO also believes that
and considerations should be based and determined by local financial
and local needs. AMO knows all too well that a provincial mandatory
one-size-fits-all legislative or regulatory approach does not work
Ontario's municipalities. Rather, a clear framework with attendant
other supports, and a degree of creative tension, is a more effective
Municipalities implement numerous pieces of legislation such as the
Code Act and the Planning Act that affect community form and building
They oversee the building, renovations and retrofits of public buildings
enforce bylaws designed to improve accessibility and mobility for
residents. Municipalities support the strategy of giving accessibility
considerations to purchasing, constructing, renovating or leasing
buildings; purchasing goods and services through the procurement process;
evaluating accessibility requirements when approving planning applications
other community features.
Much has been said about the increase in the fine for parking in
parking spot. While this will be a deterrent, AMO would also like
to see more
focus on the issuance of disabled persons parking permits so that
go to the people who truly need them.
AMO offers three examples that demonstrate municipal leadership in
The first municipal example is Brampton and its universal design
Playspaces project. First and foremost, the city believes that every
a right to have barrier-free access to public spaces regardless of
physical and mental challenges. To meet its three goals of integration,
inclusion and accessibility, the city hired a full-time recreation
of special needs.
The project has produced a policy on universal design for play spaces.
objective was to enhance universal accessibility for all types of
mentally challenged persons within all city playgrounds. City council
list of standards regarding ramping, surfacing, landings, wheelchair-accessible
platforms, entranceways and exits, and the city was able to get corporate
sponsorship to pay for a portion of the replacement and development
of the local major special-needs groups utilizing the recreational
were consulted for input. This allowed the city to address important
issues, such as the inclusion of sensory elements -- touch, smell,
sound; a variety of accessibility levels and accessible play spaces;
ramps; panel games; resilient surfacing; and other comfort amenities,
shade structures, accessible tables and washrooms.
The second municipal example is the city of London. Among other major
accomplishments, the city adopted an accessibility policy back in
That policy committed the city to work with the community towards
barrier-free community by making reasonable efforts to have all existing
leased or operated facilities, lands and services be accessible to
disabilities, ensuring, where feasible, that all newly constructed
facilities, lands and services be made accessible.
The city is continuing to provide amenities to persons with disabilities
such as curb cuts to sidewalks, Braille in elevators, interpretive
the deaf, a golf course for persons with disabilities -- and are working
towards allocation of appropriate resources to accomplish these. The
developing an accessibility design standards document which will apply
newly constructed and/or renovated facilities and is seeking community
concerning these proposed standards
The third example is the city of Windsor. In 1981, the United Nations
the Disabled, the city of Windsor created the Windsor Advisory Committee
Disability Issues. The committee includes city councillors, members
community and representatives from the disabled community. The mandate
committee is to advise the municipal corporation, conduct needs assessments,
increase community awareness, coordinate services and advocate policies.
committee is looking at barrier-free design, infrastructure, employment,
transportation, and health services issues. Windsor's advisory committee
also instrumental in the construction of the Windsor Casino and making
outdoor and public walkways accessible.
As illustrated by these three municipal examples, municipalities
leaders in creating barrier-free communities and will continue to
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act acknowledges the importance of
flexibility, the need for autonomy and locally driven solutions. AMO
the regulations to be developed to implement the act will do the same.
Municipalities are very diverse. Their geographical location, demographic
economic base are different. They generally have different issues
with different solutions and resources. One thing they do have in
common is a
rather rigid revenue envelope -- the property tax base. Consequently,
one-size-fits-all solutions or regulations do not work well within
revenue sources for municipalities. Municipal property tax dollars
vulnerable when it comes to economic swings because the property tax
fund social services and community health programs. Increasing property
is not the solution.
The act requires that regulations be developed, that other legislation
amended and new powers be given to municipalities. The details relating
annual accessibility plans, accessibility advisory committees, and
accessibility considerations involving purchasing, renovating, leasing
buildings and planning approval of subdivisions need to be defined
in a way
that allows local flexibility. A number of acts will be amended, which
the Social Housing Reform Act, the Municipal Act, the Planning Act,
Election Act, the Highway Traffic Act and the Ontario Human Rights
province needs to involve us in discussions on any of these proposed
and changes in municipal powers before they are enacted.
AMO requests that the minister continue to consult with AMO, as he
has done in
the past, to develop the best possible regulatory framework for the
government, the municipal governments and the entire community at
looks forward to working with the ministry to identify any new tools
for use by
the municipal sector so that municipalities can make the most appropriate
decisions in their communities while meeting the goals of the ODA.
AMO supports the creation of the Accessibility Advisory Council of
the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and looks forward to participating.
These bodies will assist in facilitating the required ongoing consultation
ensure the success of the ODA. These bodies will also provide a venue
and disseminate best practices as they relate to barrier-free communities.
fact, the Centre for Municipal Best Practices that AMO and the Ministry
Municipal Affairs and Housing are developing may be another vehicle
dissemination of community access success stories.
AMO's barrier-free working group will remain in place to support
participation on the two newly created bodies and will be available
advice and input on a variety of activities to support the legislation.
also supports the coordination and collaboration between municipalities
the sectors, and agrees that this co-ordination and collaboration
in driving the continual improvement of standards for persons with
Creating a level playing field for this public policy is key for
The Ontario Human Rights Code and the Ontario Human Rights Commission
solid basis for the rights of persons with disabilities in this province,
it has commented on the role of all sectors. Municipalities support
the work of
the Human Rights Commission and look forward to their continued work
The ODA clearly and specifically defines the roles of the provincial
government, municipal government and the broader public sector. However,
ODA falls somewhat short in clearly defining the private sector requirements.
AMO agrees that governments need to be leaders, but to meet the full
of creating barrier-free communities requires greater involvement
private sector. The private sector should have similar requirements
public sector in the ODA and be triggered to move in doing its part
and sustaining barrier-free communities.
As previously discussed, persons with disabilities across Canada
power of $20 billion to $25 billion annually and offer a significant
untapped human capital. It would prove to be in the private sector's
interests to be subject to the same requirements as municipalities.
that the disabled community has a voice in business and corporate
policies and is involved in developing plans designed to eliminate
future barriers not only improves the quality of life for everyone,
improves business's bottom line because it translates into more clients
larger human resource pool. The private sector must also have the
vision of business environments that operate from the principles of
inclusion and universal design. For persons with disabilities to be
served, the playing field needs to be level, and this includes the
Removing and preventing accessibility barriers will take time and
vision of barrier-free communities is something no one can argue.
there are many competing demands for the limited municipal property
The ODA calls on municipal governments to remove and prevent barriers.
actions come with a high price tag. For example, making Toronto's
stations fully accessible for the disabled would cost millions of
does not include the millions of dollars that municipalities across
already spending to make existing facilities and infrastructure accessible,
offering accessible transportation and educating the community on
The act will amend a number of other acts and develop a number of
regulations, which could trigger costs, direct and indirect. Creating
barrier-free communities and giving persons with disabilities full
while protecting the municipal taxpayer, will prove to be very challenging
without the financial help of both the provincial and federal governments.
To accelerate municipal work to reach the province's disability objectives
sooner without jeopardizing existing mandatory and community services
require a dedicated, stable and predictable funding source from the
a new source of revenue for municipal governments. In the absence
dedicated, long-term funding program, the legislative framework as
provides a balanced approach. In its funding deliberations, the province
also consider funding for local education and support mechanisms associated
with municipalities related to diversity and persons with disabilities.
Working towards barrier-free communities and full citizenship for
disabilities is good public policy. Successfully meeting this goal
will take a
firm commitment, flexibility that facilitates locally driven solutions,
consultation, a level playing field, appropriate funding and policies
toward full inclusion and universal design. The ODA is the framework
that is focused in the right direction, a direction that will lead
us to full
citizenship for persons with disabilities.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have less than one minute per
start with Mr Martin.
Mr Martin: Thank you. You raised some really important issues. Certainly
them, and central to this whole thing, is the issue of resources:
where do you
get the finances to do the kinds of things that are required?
You also mentioned flexibility. I have some concerns that each community
be allowed, given their resource base etc, to develop their own plans.
people can't be restricted to their own community. If there's something
available to them in Toronto and they want to visit, or they want
to go to a
place like Sault Ste Marie for work, they need to know that the province
committed to a standard of accessibility that's available to able-bodied
across the whole province. Any suggestions as to how we might reach
Ms Pat Vanini: I guess the first example, now that the province has
GO Transit, is that here is an opportunity for those design elements
incorporated in a provincial activity in terms of the cross-boundary
of people. In terms of the issues of coordination, there is always
where you have boundaries and jurisdictions and defined roles and
responsibilities. But with this legislation I think there will be
greater opportunity for some of that interconnection as we start to
profile on these issues and start to do that work.
Having a one-size-fits-all approach across all services may not necessarily
us where we want either, but maybe there is a need to take a look
types of services where we might come up with a regulatory framework
work. I would want to have a much greater discussion around what that
opposed to just sort of leaping off and giving a general answer that
or no. Within certain service areas there may be some base elements,
think part of that comes out of the building code, for example. But
in terms of
the delivery of some of those municipal services, there needs to be
a look at
what's happening locally.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Mr Spina.
Mr Spina: Thank you, ladies, for the presentation. Sandra, I didn't
Brampton was the leader, and I was very proud when you indicated that.
we were good, but not that good, and that's great.
Two elements: one was the funding resources you indicated. Just to
know, in the May budget, the finance minister had $67 million allocated
five years for new facilities for adults with developmental disabilities
in addition to that, $55 million this year, growing to nearly $200
2006-07, to enhance services for people with developmental disabilities.
money has been planned on a longer-term basis. Of course, how it's
put out is
the key element, and I think it's important with and through the
The question I ask really has to do with an earlier presentation
which we had a
couple of times and it's this: The disabled people who want accessibility
said to us in a very simple way, "I need to be able to get to
office or to a restaurant more than I need to get in and out of city
Should the private sector lead the way, or should government lead
Ms Hames: As I said in the presentation, Joe, typically governments
do lead by
example, but I think the private sector needs and should be -- we
should be on
a level playing field with the private sector. There certainly should
minimum standards in place for the private sector to allow that disabled
to get to his doctor or get to somewhere else rather than city hall.
The Chair: The official opposition. Mr Parsons.
Mr Parsons: The issue, to me, is not that people with disabilities
people with disabilities are entitled to equity. I'm intrigued by
you're going to work toward. If I could roll the clock back to 1920,
suggest that if there was a bill introduced saying, "We're going
to give women
the vote, but not if they live in municipalities under 10,000 and
not if your
municipality can't afford to do a census, but we're going to work
you and I would have found that an offensive approach. We're not dealing
individuals with disabilities who have to come begging for us to gradually
the financial resources. They are entitled to go to a doctor; they're
to go to a store. So I guess I'm intrigued and even disappointed at
that we'll work toward providing equity. Equity, to me, should be
right, with the object being to do it now or as soon as possible.
There are no
timelines, there's no funding, there's nothing that will provide equity
bill. Can you comment?
Ms Hames: I agree with you. It's a right. You talk about going back
1920s. Some of the buildings in municipalities go back to the 1920s.
reality is that to retrofit them does cost a lot of money. If that
forthcoming from all levels of government, yes, it can be achieved
I couldn't say to you that it could be achieved in five years, because
think it's doable in five years unless an awful lot of money comes
federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
Mr Martin: I just have a question. There was a page put on our table
morning with three holes in it, and it says page 20 of 20. I was just
where that came from and what we're supposed to do with it.
The Chair: Apparently it's a missing page in the briefing binder
that you have.
Mr Martin: Under what section?
The Chair: I don't have the page in front of me, so I'm sorry.
The Chair: Our next presentation this morning is from Carole Riback.
ask the presenter to come forward. Please state your name for the
have 15 minutes for your presentation.
Ms Carole Riback: Good morning. I notice now many typos, for which
to you. You always find them when it's too late.
It is with a sense of honour and privilege that I come to address
committee of the Ontario Legislature. I come before you today wearing
different hats. I am, first and foremost, a resident and citizen of
have lived with a significant disability for 21 of my 46 years; I
well-educated; I have been both gainfully employed long-term and also
unemployed, as a woman with a disability; I have been a disabled graduate
post-graduate student; and I am a consumer of goods, services and
this province 365 days a year.
Throughout the 14 years I have lived in Toronto, I have sat on numerous
committees, task forces and coalitions that have addressed and continue
address a variety of disability-related issues. I have worked professionally
the disabled community as a psychotherapist, and also creating community
programs, services and agencies that have established, as their mandate,
barrier-free access and advocacy for and with people with disabilities.
notably, I served as a board member and volunteer over a 10-year period,
later as program director, of North York Community House. Also, I
founding manager of the barrier-free health program at the Anne Johnston
Station, a local community health centre that this government itself
as a best-practice model for barrier-free primary health care in its
Unfortunately, that very successful model has not been replicated
province, though heralded by both the government and consumers alike.
Reproducing the model would enable persons with disabilities of all
access barrier-free health care throughout the province instead of
barrier-fraught health care services people with disabilities continue
encounter everywhere in Ontario in both urban and rural areas.
I chaired the TTC advisory committee on accessible transportation
consecutive years, and I served for three years on Toronto's access
task force, which, at its conclusion, brought forward and had passed
over 90 recommendations governing access and equity issues for residents
employees of the amalgamated municipality of Toronto. I continue to
to lecture on multiple issues related to disabilities to diverse audiences
throughout the province and specifically throughout southern Ontario.
I often comment that I believe my life has had a Black Like Me/Howard
Griffin-like quality, if you're familiar with that reference. Howard
chose to pursue an understanding of the discrimination black Americans
experienced in the early 1960s by deliberately dying his skin colour
travelling throughout the southern United States as a white man choosing
become a black man. His entire psyche, understanding of his country
very future changed dramatically and forever because of his voluntary
experiment. Well, my entire life, psyche, understanding and future
dramatically and forever when I involuntarily became disabled because
spinal cord tumour at the age of 25.
Prior to the onset of my disability, I enjoyed the many privileges
of an upper-middle-class upbringing -- extensive travel, exposure
to the arts,
an Ivy League undergrad education at Cornell, a responsible job at
a young age
in international politics, an engaging, exciting and spontaneous social
and on and on. I was well-respected and was considered to be a thoughtful,
mature, intelligent, well-rounded, promising young woman, if I can
When I suddenly needed a walker and soon thereafter a wheelchair for
I was suddenly and abruptly treated as a dependent, unintellingent,
for some reason which to this day I can't fathom, deaf individual.
either stared at me or, alternatively, actually stopped talking to
about the most benign and superfluous of topics. Their embarrassment
paramount in my life. Suddenly I was apparently reduced to childlike
by others. I was rarely addressed directly in conversation. Talk was
about me, around me, in the third person, totally ignoring the fact
that I was
actually present, whereas just months before I was actually doing
an international lawyer working for the United Nations and was responsible
organizing an entire international conference in Geneva, Switzerland,
international Red Cross. My life had indeed changed dramatically and
That is the reality of living with a disability.
As I sat here yesterday listening to the proceedings, I heard committee
repeatedly asking presenters about the differences and varying importance
significance of physical versus attitudinal barriers faced by persons
disabilities. I should use my opportunity here to inform you that
indeed little difference, that sitting outside any retail shop, or
to be calling a "convenience" store, having to knock on
a glass window for
attention because a single step prevents a wheelchair user from accessing
store is just as demeaning, disheartening and demoralizing as having,
example, a hospital administrator look right past you and address
accompanying you instead of you yourself.
These very different barriers, one physical and the other an attitudinal
example, render equally the sense that the world is just not open
to people with disabilities. This is the world in which some 1.6 million
Ontarians live day in and day out. This is the pain and hurt with
Ontarians with disabilities and their friends, families and supporters
a regular, daily basis. It is this pain, this hurt, this demoralization
Ontarians with disabilities have waited patiently and expectantly
alleviated by legislative initiatives put forward by this provincial
government. It is this pain, this hurt, this demoralization that Bill
long, long awaited, does nothing to address or alleviate.
After three days of public hearings and a myriad of written submissions
already received and that have been delivered to this committee, I
committee members may have already heard enough times the same comments
various organizations about what is missing and lacking in Bill 125
present form. But the truth is, after yesterday I would feel remiss
if I didn't
at least mention them.
You have already heard that the bill doesn't do anything more than
put in place
the opportunity for public sector entities to produce plans for barrier
and elimination in their organizations. The bill doesn't address the
public or private sectors but instead allows for exemptions to the
initiative for many agencies, and the bill goes no further than to
recommend planning initiatives. The proposed legislation in its present
doesn't address procedures and protocols to actually implement any
remove existing barriers, nor does it address processes or procedures
necessarily eliminating future barriers of any kind throughout the
The bill does little more than mention some physical barriers pertaining
mobility disabilities but addresses no other grouping of barriers
disabilities; for example, policy barriers preventing those with mental
disabilities from accessing employment or communication barriers for
are hard of hearing, deaf or deafened from accessing normalized and
feasible post-secondary education with the requisite supports in place.
125 provides no timelines, assessment benchmarks, financial supports
resources for initiating change in the world of barriers within which
with disabilities must live.
Bill 125 doesn't impose a single mandatory action, nor does it provide
compliance incentives or, conversely, punishment or penalty for non-compliance,
except of course for the one we've heard so much about, the misuse
designated parking and disabled parking permit abuse, which frankly
is a joke,
because the real issue related to transportation in this province
is the lack
of affordable, accessible public transportation for most people with
disabilities. Further, there are no proportional penalties or incentives.
single parking spot is worth $5,000 in this government's eyes, then
what is a
step or inappropriately formatted software worth? Any and all of these
-- that is, assessment benchmarks, timelines, the creation of standards,
resources, incentives, penalties for non-compliance, implementation
enforcement mechanisms, etc; I could go on and on -- are customarily
incorporated into legislation that is typically developed and proposed
provincial governments everywhere.
The bill does, however, establish a provincial directorate, an advisory
and municipal committees, all entities that critically lack definition
composition, structure and membership selection. As described in the
bill, they all, frankly, seem to serve the minister and government
of the day
rather than the population they are intended to serve. As currently
in the bill, they offer no guarantee of expertise to the community
at large, in
my understanding the very purpose for which they were each intended.
not necessarily bring together the various community and multi-sector
stakeholders, another reason for which I understood they were presumably
established in the proposed legislation. I can tell you that just
people in a room won't necessarily produce anything worthwhile without
proper mandates, mechanisms, protocols, resources, accountability
etc in place. Every existing and every previous advisory committee
this province will vouch for this truism.
The briefs put forward by the ODA Committee -- a coalition of which
I am also a
member and whose brief I assisted in developing, which you'll hear
afternoon -- the Canadian Mental Health Association and the city of
advisory committee on disability issues all address the numerous legislative
amendments I would personally propose, support and endorse wholeheartedly
serious consideration by this committee should Bill 125 be changed
so that it
offers anything meaningful or worthwhile at all to Ontarians with
I'd rather spend my time talking a little bit differently. I listened
attentively to the legislative debates in the assembly after the introduction
of Bill 125. I heard from Minister Jackson and his various party colleagues
leading-edge, revolutionary and innovative Bill 125 is considered
to be. I have
heard all about the promise of consultation on the development of
forthcoming regs and how all-encompassing these will be. After the
past six and
a half years of examples of consultation, I question that. Also, our
clearly indicates otherwise. No new concepts are created in the legislation,
but that isn't even the important part. In fact, what Ontarians with
disabilities were hoping to see in this legislation was the amalgam
of the most
successful measures already undertaken in other jurisdictions, those
tried and true, adopted for Ontario. They exist everywhere in the
fact is that we don't need to reinvent the wheel in order to remove
eliminate barriers of all kinds. Furthermore, I have been told that
constitutes a "good first step." Shouldn't legislation intended
barrier removal at the very least eliminate a single step if it is
"good first step"? It doesn't [Image]and it isn't.
As I listened to the legislators on the leg TV network, my new favourite
channel, insist how wonderful Bill 125 is, I thought about my day
particular day, which happened to be November 19, 2001, that I had
through. I would like to tell you a bit about that. First, I had to
find a car
dealership with accessible facilities so that I could bring my vehicle
first required Drive Clean test. The best I could do was identify
dealership in Scarborough that could accommodate me, even though I
downtown Toronto. I drove there and did what I had to do, and then
I had to go
back downtown to the MTO to renew my driver's licence, where the customer
counters are still too high for wheelchair users, and where I found
out I had
to pay, very surprisingly, a $228 fee above the regular cost. The
$228 fee is a
result of inappropriately issued parking tags on my properly permitted
I have to go to court each time the police mistakenly ticket my vehicle.
particular tickets, of which there were three outstanding on this
were recorded at the ministry have yet to come up on the court docket.
eight currently outstanding. Without paying the fines, I wasn't allowed
renew my licence. Thank goodness Bill 125 hadn't yet passed the $5,000
tag fine or I'd never be able to even drive my vehicle to court to
parking tag cancellations taken care of.
I'll go back to the day of November 19. I then had to proceed to
an eye doctor
appointment. Here I encountered a host of different and interesting
The hospital, where the one eye doctor I had found some time back
take on wheelchair users as patients, is currently undergoing construction.
eye doctor's office is located in a right now totally inaccessible
part of the
hospital that is undergoing construction and renovation. Of course
no one told
me when the appointment was booked. Apparently no one thought that
using a wheelchair may need to enter the hospital other than by ambulance
through the emergency department, so no accessible construction plan
evidence. The ER was indeed the only way I could enter the hospital,
access the appropriate elevator to get to my doctor's office. I was
directed to stairwells, in my wheelchair, by well-intentioned hospital
needed to get to the sixth floor on this particular day. Finally,
one kind soul
figured out a way to bypass the construction sites using a series
and corridors, not a direct route, and a half-hour later I did indeed
successfully arrive at my doctor's office, rather exhausted.
Later, after that appointment, I had to pick up some new clothing
department store where on this particular day the only elevator in
was out of order and my merchandise was being held for me on the third
Truth be told, I gave up on this one.
By now I desperately needed a wheelchair-accessible washroom. Instead
grocery shopping, which I had planned to do, I went home tired, defeated,
demoralized. I heated up a prepared dinner in my microwave oven instead
cooking something fresh and nutritious in my completely inaccessible
and I hung over a too-high counter to wash my dishes and clean up
kitchen, while I watched my legislators on TV saying how wonderful
Bill 125 is
and how it will soon enable my life to be barrier-free.
As I mentally reviewed each of the individual physical -- and only
only mobility-related -- barriers that I had personally encountered
particular day in November 2001, I realize, after carefully studying
that Bill 125 will not eliminate a single one of these barriers --
year, not next year, not in 18 months, not in three years, in fact
not in five
years -- not one barrier. And these are the easiest, most obvious
presumably most visible barriers that we talk about.
No, Bill 125 is not a good enough first step. I continue to feel
demoralized, demeaned, isolated and frustrated, and my only solace,
ironically, the greater tragedy and travesty of it all, is that some
million Ontarians share the very same and so many more similar experiences
me, and there is no end in sight. Bill 125 does not put us in the
seat," as has been stated by the minister responsible. It simply
limited, restricted, isolated and unable to paricipate in Ontario
as we remain
in our wheelchair and other disability seats.
The Chair: Unfortunately, there is no time for questions as you've
your time. But on behalf of the committee, thank you very much for
Ms Riback: A great pleasure. Thanks for hearing me.
Mr Parsons: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I would like to introduce
Campo. She won three golds and one silver in swimming at the Sydney
Paralympics. She has raised over $1 million for muscular research
and at age 16
is the youngest recipient of the Order of Ontario. I would like to
The Chair: I don't know if that's a point of order but it's certainly
acknowledging and congratulating. Good luck in the future.
FOR COMMUNITY LIVING
The Chair: Our last presenter this morning is the Ontario Association
Community Living. I would ask the presenters to come forward please
your names for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome. You
minutes for your presentation.
Mr Keith Powell: I'm Keith Powell, the executive director of the
Association for Community Living. Accompanying me is my colleague
Endicott, in the capacity of adviser and legal counsel for the Ontario
Association for Community Living.
The Acting Chair (Mr Carl DeFaria): Is Mr Endicott a former law school
colleague of mine?
Mr Orville Endicott: Yes. I haven't seen you for years.
The Acting Chair: Welcome to the committee. Go ahead.
Mr Powell: We thank you for the opportunity to make this appearance
and to make
our presentation. We regret to advise you at the beginning of our
of the sudden and unfortunate passing of Rod Walsh in the past week.
He was the
legal counsel for the Ontario Association for Community Living. He
that capacity for 15 years and will be very missed. His funeral was
held on the
weekend. His immense contribution to the field of the needs and issues
people with intellectual disabilities and people with disabilities
recognized by the huge number of people who came to pay tribute to
Certainly our paying tribute to our valued colleague exacerbated the
had in such a short period of notice to prepare for our presentation
In the presentations being made to the committee you are hearing
this legislation, the bill as tabled, is not a good enough start.
identify in our presentation a list of grievances, a list of steps
that must be
taken for this to be a significant and useful piece of legislation,
but we have
chosen to begin our presentation by focusing on the positive. We wish
commend the ministry and the government for creating a structure and
which can at least be built on. We commit to working with the ministry
government to make this legislation meaningful for all people with
and in particular for people with intellectual disabilities. Clearly
needs substance and it still needs teeth.
People with intellectual disabilities are confronted with a broad
barriers, perhaps a broader range than many other people who suffer
disabilities. They need an act which encourages not just removal of
related to physical access or the need for technological supports
accommodations but one which in the short and long term serves to
attitudinal change and which provides redress for people with intellectual
disabilities when they have been prevented from having rightful access
The name, "Community Living," reflects the learning of
who identify themselves as self-advocates and their friends and communities,
learning that is based on the experience of attempted participation
contribution to community. "Community Living" is an indication
importance for people with intellectual disabilities of physical and
participation and presence in the community. If barriers are there
that participation, then the continued learning and the continued
people, continued attitudinal changes which will welcome them and
to participate in the community, will not occur.
I began by commenting that we have had a dilemma with an unreasonable
frame for the development of our presentation. People with intellectual
disabilities are often misunderstood in terms of their ability to
issues and to bring forward comments and constructive recommendations
problem-solving processes. It is critical that they be given the support
the time needed to come to having an informed awareness of issues
preparing their own presentations and positions. The fact that this
intended to remove barriers but nonetheless has created significant
for the participation of people with intellectual disabilities in
contributing to this bill is something that should not be missed.
time frames will serve as barriers to the involvement and contribution
people with intellectual disabilities.
We would like to bring to your attention with regard to Bill 181,
provides children the right to an inclusive education here in Ontario,
continue to hear stories of children who are being denied access to
education and inclusive classes. We are very concerned that this legislation
does not provide a mechanism to ensure that the legal right children
inclusive education is no further enhanced and is no more enforceable
was before this bill was tabled and than it will be after the act
Additionally, in relation to inclusive education, the ISAs, intensive
amounts, that are the formula used for determining funding and hence
for children with intellectual disabilities in our school systems
are rife with
demeaning terminology, and these terms and this series of descriptions
means of evaluating funding needs for children in inclusive classrooms
our educational system do in fact create further attitudinal barriers
children. Certainly, demeaning terms do not encourage a vision of
intellectual disabilities as equal and able to make a valued contribution.
We would like to talk about the advisory councils and the accessibility
directorate. Certainly the opportunity to participate in the advisory
at the municipal and the provincial levels is an opportunity. However,
absolutely essential that these councils be accessible for people
disabilities. It is essential that they be accessible not just in
physical access but that accommodations and supports be provided so
with intellectual disabilities can contribute and participate in a
It is our recommendation that the municipal councils must have cross-disability
representation and they must include people with intellectual disabilities.
Further, we would recommend that a majority of the members of these
comprise people with disabilities. As I've indicated, it is essential
accommodations be applied to ensure that informed participation provides
benefit and outcome and recommendations for systemic change in the
This, for people with intellectual disabilities, would require the
costs for their participation and time and support or the provision
supporter or an adviser at and before such meetings.
The size of the committee is not mentioned in the bill. We would
identification in the bill that the committees include one person
from each of
the classes identified in section 2(1) definitions. We believe it
that there be a person from each of the classes (a) through (d) as
Further, we would recommend that there be at least two people from
referred to as group (a) of these definitions since this includes
a very broad
range of disabilities.
The terms of reference for the municipal committees we believe should
determined by the municipal committees themselves and should not be
restricted to the provisions of the act, which means to functions
been determined by political creators. We believe that municipalities,
response and in support of these committees, have an obligation to
disability organizations in the municipalities to nominate representatives
participate in the committee and to put forward names.
We believe that municipalities in support of these committees have
obligation to report to the citizens of those committees the work
recommendations and the findings of those committees. We believe that
municipalities should report those recommendations publicly, through
media and through electronic media, and that accessibility plans,
and developed by those working committees, should be made public and
opportunity should be provided for public input and debate.
I would like to ask my colleague Orville Endicott to proceed with
of our presentation.
Mr Endicott: Thank you, Keith, and members. I'm going to speak briefly
OACL's perception and approval of the recommendations that have been
or will be
placed before you by the ODA Committee. I'm not sure whether you've
yet. They are very extensive, and I'm certainly not going to try to
any but a few of them. OACL is a member of the ODA Committee and has
some years, and we certainly have had input over the process which
us to where we are today.
I feel particularly proud of the ODA Committee for being as constructive
is about this bill. They have recognized the strength and the potential
strength in it rather than trashing it and trying to write a whole
They have persisted with the requests they have made all along for
the bill to
be strong and effective but they have, as I say, made use of the bill
in the Legislature. I commend them for that. It was a very constructive
Keith has spoken about the importance of the councils or committees,
they end up being called, both at the provincial level and municipally.
the things the ODA Committee does recommend -- by the way, in our
brief we make
reference to the recommendations of the ODA Committee. With my luck,
have revised their brief before they present this afternoon and some
numbers may not jibe with what you see, but you'll be able to find
the ones we
are particularly interested in in any case. But one of the things
believe the ODA Committee is right about is that these committees
ought to be
more than advisory. They ought to have a role that gives some control,
authority to the positions that they take.
As representatives of an organization that is committed to the rights
well-being of persons with mental disability, we are concerned that
of the bill is disproportionately on the issues of physical access
buildings. While we certainly don't argue with that or think it should
diminished in any way, we believe it is your responsibility as a legislative
committee to look at this bill carefully to see if that balance can
redressed and other types of disabilities and barriers have the prominence
One of the things that concerns us constantly is that the general
the issue of disability in terms of "them" as opposed to
"us" in so many ways.
There is a risk that bringing in legislation of this kind can in some
reinforce that perception rather than remove it, because it is in
barrier and a source of other barriers.
The definition of "barrier" in the bill as tabled makes
specific reference to
something that would not be a barrier for other people. I don't think
necessary and the ODA Committee has made a recommendation that should
part of the bill.
We are very concerned, as I'm sure other presenters have been, including
person who spoke before us, about the issue of which organizations
province will be bound by the requirements of the ODA. As a voluntary,
sector organization, OACL and its affiliated local associations would
cheated if we were not told, "you have to do this too,"
not just government and
I believe we ought to allow some time for questions.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, gentlemen. We have approximately two
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much for your presentation this morning.
acknowledge the important work the association does, I'm certain,
ridings. I know they had important input with Minister Flaherty during
budget and I'm sure you're quite aware of that. It certainly paid
for people in community living situations in my own riding. I appreciate
advocacy. I believe the government listens, and there's never an end:
demands perhaps are greater than the supply, as you understand. But
I think an
acknowledgement is very important.
There are two points I want to make, if time permits. One is to recognize
perhaps ask for your response on the definition of "barrier"
in subsection 2(1)
and whether it's an offensive expression the way it's framed. As I've
educated, even attitudinally in this process, I find that the word
like a code word for the world. It's not the step, it's the world
attitude, it's functionality, it's just not understanding, period.
I know it
tries to address both the intellectual as well as the physical and
barriers, but perhaps you could give me a response.
I have some experience, having served as chair of a special-ed advisory
committee, and I've seen the great relationship between the advocacy
well as the ongoing role of providers and consumers being engaged
Since 1980, when I was a trustee, to today, and having members of
involved both in providing the service as well as receiving the service,
think the most important change was the inclusiveness model as opposed
segregated model. It's very important for all the reasons we've said,
attitudinal probably being the biggest barrier of all.
I think the ISA funding model is a bit minutiae in the red tape part
of it. I
think the minister responded in the House yesterday: once somebody
defined as needing certain supports or services, they shouldn't have
through the rigorous ritual all the time of re-legitimizing that process.
could be simplified. I've heard you about the appointments to the
advisory council. I'm sure that will be another challenge for the
recognize the diversity of voices and presence that need to be there.
I would be interested in your response to the "barrier"
definition and perhaps,
if you wish, to how the Ministry of Education, because the demands
funding are just unbelievable, not that they're not needed but they
-- we will have to respond to it at some time. It's not just in classrooms.
It's the whole inclusiveness model. It's the activities, it's the
If you have any response that would be helpful, I'd appreciate it.
Mr Powell: I would ask Orville perhaps to comment on the definition
I respond. I'll try to be very brief, given the time.
Experience and best practice models of inclusive education show that
environment is created in the classroom where a child with an intellectual
disability is treated as an equal, and is supported not just by a
teacher's aide in the classroom but by the entire class, the educational
outcomes for that individual are higher than they would be in other
circumstances, and most importantly, the educational outcomes for
of the class are just as high as they would be if the child was not
What this tells us is that there is not a price to be paid in terms
educational outcomes for inclusive classrooms. Further, it creates
of citizenship and inclusion, which you were referring to, that our
unfortunately has been deprived of, because people with intellectual
disabilities were not present in our communities and were not given
opportunity to make valued social contributions. That's why this legislation
has huge opportunity within it to create those opportunities and remove
barriers. It will transform the collective ability of our society
people without the costs of paying direct specialized support workers
to do as
much of that in a remedial way.
In terms of the definition, Orville, would you like to comment?
Mr Endicott: On the issue of "barrier" definition, I made
the point earlier
that I think it's extremely important that the comparison factor be
from that definition. The ODA Committee, if you haven't already seen
be offering an alternative definition. I'm not going to read it all,
begins this way, "`Barrier' means anything that prevents a person
participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability."
it goes on to identify particular things that may do that, including
physical or architectural barriers, but information, communication,
attitudinal, policy and practice. Policy and practice is included
in the bill
and that's important. It would have been a terrible omission if that
been in there.
Mr Smitherman: I want to say that the Toronto Association for Community
is one of those organizations that provides me with a very strong
excitement and honour when I go to their events and have an opportunity
participate with them.
I very much found your presentation helpful. I want to focus in on
which is that the thing I liked the most about it was when you spoke
rushed nature of it, the fact that that has forced you, in terms of
forward your presentation -- I think you're sensitive to this and
that's why I
want to focus on it -- to the fact there's a real danger that we're
paternalistic in the work that you do and, frankly, in the work that
speaking on behalf of communities whose voice is too often muted.
I found it very interesting that some of the groups that have presented
these hearings on behalf of, as the voice for, disabled people, do
so and yet
when I hear disabled people speaking, they are almost always much
this bill. I'd like you maybe to give a glimpse of your organization's
consideration of this bill from that standpoint. Is this more of a
able-bodied people who don't have any disability whatsoever speaking
of those who do have disabilities but who are nevertheless, as we
especially today, more than able to speak well for themselves?
I realize it's a lengthy preface, but how does the bill get at that,
Mr Powell: I think with the recommendations we made about the, I'll
the word "mandatory," participation of people with the type
that would often mean they cannot easily, or not without accommodation
support, speak for themselves, the mandatory participation and voice
have on councils and committees is one of the ways to address that.
If our society is not accustomed to accommodating and welcoming the
people whose voices are muted, that won't change until we require
change. That's one of the reasons we're being so firm on that particular
When we experience the contribution of people with intellectual disabilities,
our attitudes change because we find it is a valuable one.
Mr Endicott: May I add to that? I think the member's question is
important one. I think both Keith and I experience some embarrassment
are here speaking for, rather than having at least one person with
us who could
speak on behalf of the community of which he or she would be a part.
we do that. Circumstances simply made it impossible for us to do that
we didn't know we were going to be here until late on Monday afternoon.
bill is complex. It's taken us all the time we could devote to it
to come to
the understanding of it that we have and to make the recommendations
that we have made.
Mr Martin: Following on that, I appreciate that the Ontario Association
Community Living makes an effort to include the people they serve.
I know that
from my own community of Sault Ste Marie you have Dave Ready down
here -- at
least he used to come down; I'm not sure if he's still on the board
or not, but
he was. He would phone me on a regular basis at home to fill me in
on what was
going on. He was a very articulate, knowledgeable and concerned individual
behalf of his friends.
Mr Endicott: David Kunkel was another one from your riding who participated.
Mr Martin: Yes, that's right. I want to follow up on the theme of
Smitherman. You've come saying the bill is a good first step. The
before you, who is living with a disability, suggests that Bill 125
is not a
good enough first step -- this is Carole Riback -- and she says she
to feel defeated, demoralized, demeaned, isolated and frustrated,
and that Bill
125 does not put her or any of her colleagues in the driver's seat.
How do you
square that circle or circle that square or whatever it is?
Mr Endicott: She's absolutely right. If we said it's a good first
step, the key
qualifier that you said she used is that it's not a good enough first
we've been convinced, in my reading at least of the ODA Committee's
recommendations, that they were wise in saying, "Let's use this
first step to
make progress." As I said earlier in my remarks, they have built
on the bill
we've got rather than saying, "Throw it out," which, as
you can remember, two
or three years ago had to be said about what was then called Bill
Mr Martin: There is a question I would have asked her, and I'll ask
don't presume for a second that you'll be able to speak on her behalf,
having listened to her -- and I know you did; you were here when she
spoke -- I
would have asked her should we in fact throw this bill out because
it is no
good, from her perspective, and start over. What do you think she
Mr Endicott: I think she would have said yes, throw it out unless
you can make
the improvements it needs.
Mr Martin: A very political answer.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, gentlemen. This completes the hearings
morning and the committee will recess until 4 o'clock this afternoon.
The committee recessed from 1219 to 1604.
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE
The Chair: Our first presentation this afternoon is from the Ontarians
Disabilities Act Committee. I would ask the presenter to please come
and state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
have 20 minutes for your presentation this afternoon.
Mr David Lepofsky: My name is David Lepofsky. I am chair of the Ontarians
Disabilities Act Committee. With me to my left is Carole Riback, from
heard this morning, and further to my left -- and that's not a political
comment -- is Kathryn Bremner, whom you'll be hearing from this afternoon.
are both members of the ODA Committee, active supporters of this movement
role models to all who have been seeking to tackle the barriers facing
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee is a voluntary, non-partisan
coalition of over 100 disability community organizations and many
both those who have a disability now and those who will have one later.
come together to advocate for the enactment of a strong and effective
with Disabilities Act.
Our goal is a barrier-free province for all 1.6 million Ontarians
disabilities. We are organized in 23 regions of the province. We bear
allegiance to any political party. We've offered, and continue to
work with all and to work together to achieve our goals.
We have led the charge for this legislation since we formed in this
few days over seven years ago. In coming together, we have brought
the issue to
the three political parties and solicited the now famous promise from
Harris on May 24, 1995, that the Ontarians with Disabilities Act would
enacted in the government's first term. Through consultation with
membership, we devised the 11 principles for the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act that all your parties adopted unanimously three years ago, as
city councils. Through further consultations, we developed a detailed
for the Ontarians with Disabilities Act which we shared with the government
the opposition three and a half years ago and which we've been eager
translated into legislation.
We view that our role is to provide positive proposals and to provide
parties with a road map that will get them, and all of us, to where
we seek to
You will find from the government's 1998 consultations on the Ontarians
Disabilities Act that the disability community around the province,
own accord, rallied around our blueprint and our 11 principles. You
at these hearings voices from around the province who are rallying
substance and the core focus of the amendments that we've placed before
Before I turn to the amendments that we wish to place before you,
and the need
for them, I need to speak only briefly about these hearings themselves.
led the charge for public hearings and are delighted that there are
hearings, but in the name of those who cannot be here because of the
hearings are being conducted, it is necessary that a barrier that
created in this process be highlighted. The fact of the matter is
advised the government months ago that people with disabilities cannot
to appear at hearings on one day's notice. Given the impediments to
accessible public transit in this province, you just can't do it.
In fact, and
despite that advice, these hearings were scheduled, with people getting
days' notice that they were happening, where they were happening and,
cases, only 24 hours' notice that they were invited to present. That
barrier. That is a huge barrier. That is, forgive me, a cruel barrier.
Whatever be the outcome of these proceedings, this hearing process
an indelible stain on the face of this legislation. And I hasten to
the barrier about which I'm speaking, which relates to the core of
democratic process, is a barrier which this bill, if enacted, would
to be removed.
If I may turn to the substance of the legislation that is before
I want to begin with what I believe to be common ground. From reading
speeches within the House, it is now undoubted and undisputed between
parties who are members of this Legislature that people with disabilities
far too many barriers -- physical, technological, attitudinal and
so on -- in
their daily lives and that this is wrong; that it's bad for Ontario;
need to remove them; that we need to prevent new ones; and that doing
good for all Ontario, for people with disabilities, for business,
government, for the taxpayer, for everybody.
The only real question is, how do we do it? There is even then an
among all now, an agreement with our message as the ODA Committee,
and that is
the message that it must be done through strong and effective legislation.
turning and looking at this legislation, I ask the committee a question.
law had been tried, if we'd tried through legislation, let's say for
years, and it wasn't good enough, do you think that would be time
to fix it?
Well, the government thinks so. They've proposed a five-year review.
10 or 20 years? Surely it's long overdue.
The fact is that we've had the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and
Rights Code in this province, enforceably guaranteeing equality rights
human rights for people with disabilities, including provisions that
the kinds of barriers we suffered from, for 20 years. We don't need
to wait any
longer. We don't need to wait another five years to know that we need
with more effective enforcement than we have now. We don't need to
try a law
that doesn't have effective enforcement, and just see if we'll learn
new that we haven't learned in 20 years.
Similarly, if you've tried a policy for six and a half years and
solved your problem, it hasn't made significant progress, I ask the
isn't that long enough? We've tried a policy in Ontario. The government
strategy of voluntary measures. The government tried a policy of "leading
example" -- the government's words. The government tried a strategy
its own house first. We've tried it; it hasn't worked. We need something
For purposes of turning to the bill, it's important for me to emphasize
amendments must be made now and not, as some committee members have
questions, some time later. We need to make those amendments now because
already lost too much.
A child born on May 24, 1995, when Premier Harris wrote us with his
now school-age and has lost out on the opportunity of having accessible
care, probably in his or her own community, and having those opportunities
improved by strong and effective legislation.
A person who was a teenager on May 24, 1995, has now lost out on
opportunity of having theatres and restaurants and coffee shops in
community become more accessible so they could enjoy the social life,
dating, the socializing that their peers have. Their teenage years
are over. We
can't give them back.
A person entering senior citizenship on May 24, 1995, if they're
still with us
now, their abilities have waned. The golden years of their life could
blessed with more opportunity than we're giving them because of the
having this legislation happen.
We can't wait any longer. We need the amendments to make this law
I wish to turn to specific proposals for amendments. Given our 30
amendments -- only lawyers could write 30 pages and call it a brief
-- I'd like
to focus on amendments that derive from one very important theme.
Where we can
show you that there are things that aren't in this bill that the government
says should be there, surely you should amend it to put them there.
1F to our brief -- copies available for members of the public present
have documented a range of areas where the government, through the
mouth of the
citizenship minister or others, has stated that there are certain
this bill which on our analysis are simply not there. We ask, above
that you amend the bill to put them there. We've offered you a focus
on how to
do that. Allow me to give some examples.
First, the government has stated that the purpose of this bill, indeed
vision statement, is the achievement of a barrier-free Ontario. It
that's the purpose of the bill. Unfortunately, that's not what the
The bill merely says that the goal of the bill is to improve opportunities.
Well, if you put three ramps down in three of the venues Carole Riback
about that she encountered in one day, you've improved opportunities.
bill's goal has been met. That's far too little. Amend the bill to
make it have
the purpose that Minister Jackson says is the government's objective.
Second, the minister has said that in this bill, people with disabilities,
disabled community, will be put in the driver's seat to drive change.
personally for a moment, there is no one more eager than me to experience
it's like in that driver's seat. And I promise when I'm there, I will
in a disabled parking spot, if I can read the sign. However, the fact
matter is the bill does not, as the minister has urged it should or
would, give people with disabilities input in setting standards; give
with disabilities a right of input in the making of regulations; require
consultations with the disability community for establishing time
Indeed, it does not ensure people with disabilities, either the community
the advisory council, the opportunity or the ensured entitlement to
implementation or have input to any of the barrier-free plans required
the legislation. It doesn't say that; the minister says he wants it
agree. Amend it. Put it in there. There's nothing to debate. It is
government's policy. Let's make sure the bill conforms with that policy.
The government says, and the minister has said in the House and in
the media --
you have the quotations and the citations before you -- that in this
organizations will be required not only to develop barrier-free plans
prefer to call them that rather than accessibility plans -- but also
implement them. Compliance will be required, and the government will
Right now, the bill doesn't say that. We say it should. We say amend
it so that
the provisions for the barrier-free plans provide that not only do
organizations, ministries, municipalities and so on have to make the
they've got to make a comprehensive plan and they've got to implement
say either amend the bill to provide a mechanism for enforcement --
proposed one to the Ontario Human Rights Commission; not our first
working within the framework of the bill, that's where we say we should
or, alternatively, make it clear in the regulation-making provisions
is the power to make regulations defining enforcement procedures.
If I could go back to the disability community having input, it's
not enough to
just say we can be asked. Folks, we've been asked on any number of
point is, we may not have been asked enough, we may not have given
but we need something more than being asked; we need a requirement
somebody listen. And at the very least, we propose provisions akin
to those in
the Securities Act for the Ontario Securities Commission -- it's good
it's good for us -- which require that when we make proposals, the
has to give an answer, and they don't necessarily have to agree, but
give us an answer within certain timelines, and that if the government's
to put forward proposals, they be posted for an opportunity for us
input, in writing or in person.
Because of the limitations of time, I'm not going to take you through
different changes that are needed to bring the bill into compliance
government's statements, but there is just a bit more that I think
is worthy of
The government has said that under this bill, no new barriers will
with tax dollars. As I say those words, who could disagree with such
Unfortunately, the bill doesn't say that. It talks about the government
regard to" accessibility, "considering" accessibility;
it doesn't say it "has
to do" accessibility. We say amend the bill to comply with what
Jackson said in the House, with what undoubtedly would be beyond dispute,
whatever we might otherwise have differing views on among people in
Beyond the amendments that we have proposed that are tied to Mr Jackson's
the government's words, we propose a series of other amendments to
this bill has real force and effect. I can't list priorities, but
I can give
Number one, a lot of this bill has been delegated to the cabinet
in the form of
making regulations. A number of members of the committee from the
side have asked opponents to have faith, that even if you're not happy
bill, you'll be happy with the regulations. Let me suggest, with respect,
after the six-and-a-half-year battle we've gone through to get a law
now, or brought forward now, that was supposed to be passed in the
of the government, at the very least you can understand why people
disabilities might be a little hesitant.
What's the solution? We've offered it: put time targets or time deadlines
the bill by which regulations have to be made. If the government is
committed as we are told they are to get those regulations going,
to hear from
people with disabilities and to pass them to make this law happen
and to make
it work, put those timelines into the bill; make it the law that those
timelines have to be met.
Let me take just a minute to respond to some other themes that have
come up at
the hearings that I think we need to address. Stated briefly, people
asked at these hearings whether this bill, unamended, is better than
all. We say it is a tragedy to even ask that question. After six and
years, after such broad recognition of the barriers we face, after
20 years of
trying other strategies, surely we can do better than to debate whether
something should be passed, ie, whether it's slightly better than
Two years ago, this House unanimously resolved that an Ontarians
Disabilities Act be passed that is strong and effective. Make the
and effective. Let's not have to debate whether it's nothing or near
Similarly, we've heard it said that this bill, with its flaws, is
there is in Canada. With respect, it's just not true. What's offered
as new in
this bill, what's proposed as leading edge, either exists in other
in some cases, or existed in this province until the government abolished
namely, the provincial advisory council, which the current government
three months after taking office -- or is less than is provided in
jurisdictions such as the federal regulatory activity in the area
of removal of
barriers facing people with disabilities.
Let me conclude. Let me suggest that we have reached a critical crossroads
here. You've heard extraordinary stories from people, here and in
about the barriers they face that this bill will not address. Our
been hearing those for six and a half or seven years. They tear at
hurt. People are hurting.
Here is a chance, in a spirit of non-partisanship, to take the message
heard so unanimously from so many different voices and not debate
a good first step, but simply debate whether it's a good step; not
whether this law does something more than nothing, but to be able
among all of us that it's strong and effective.
There is a clich1 that justice is blind. It is said that justice
is supposed to
strive to experience blindness. We say that if justices had the opportunity
experience blindness, let's pass a strong and effective disabilities
that blind people and indeed all people with disabilities have the
opportunity to experience justice.
The Chair: We have a minute per caucus, and I'll start with the official
Mr Parsons: The format of the hearings has proven to be very difficult,
number of reasons, but I continue to get calls, as you had mentioned,
people unable to access within the time frame. But on the other hand,
I have a
sense that the ODA Committee has in a way been holding the public
the last six and a half years, and what you brought to us today is
opinion as much as an opinion of I don't know how many individuals,
groups. I personally find it tremendously beneficial.
I guess I don't have a question as much as an appreciation for --
am I fair to
say? -- hundreds of people who have been involved over the last six
bring this together. I don't mean it to be flippant, but the difficulty
dealing with with the bill is a hearing problem. The government is
what the persons with disabilities are saying. Well, thank you for
Mr Martin: Thank you very much, Mr Lepofsky, for not only coming
today but for
the work that you've done over such a long period of time to keep
our feet to
the fire on this issue so that we could in fact be here today, however
challenging being here today is.
I hear you loud and clear and admire your continual state of optimism
tenacity on this. You're convinced, I believe, by what you've said,
government will by Tuesday do the right thing and actually enshrine
minister has said in the House he wants to do with this bill. I don't
there's any doubt in anybody's mind around this table about what's
if the bill is going to be effective. It has to have some method of
enforcement, there have to be some timelines, it has to cover the
sector and there has to be some resources attached to it. Those are
some of the
key things that we've heard.
The question I have for you is, what if on Tuesday we find out that
this isn't a bill that we can all applaud and support and claim victory
we then abort?
Mr Lepofsky: There are different opinions in the community on that.
The most I
can say is this: it is cruel to be given that choice. If somebody's
in a car
crash and is terribly ill, and they're found at roadside and they're
"Sorry, we can't really treat you. Would you like Tylenol or
would you like
Advil?" that's not fair. It's a choice that people with disabilities
province do not deserve.
I will only say this: the message I have been hearing from all over
province and that we have been hearing from all over the province
who have been involved with this issue recently and for a long time
this issue is not going away. It's not going to stop. It's not going
People know what they need, and they're going to keep working on it
get there. All I can say is I'm one of them; so is the ODA Committee;
so are my
colleagues here; so are the people in this room; and so are people
Mr Hardeman: I want to compliment you on all the hard work you've
been doing in
the time I've been here at Queen's Park. I suppose I know you almost
as well as
I do my colleagues. I see you here almost as often.
Mr Lepofsky: You treat me better, though.
Mr Hardeman: Because you're working on behalf of the cause of the
ODA and the
people you represent.
A couple of clarifications: on the "duty to comply," and
the "have regard to,"
and the fact that the words "shall ensure that the design of
buildings" -- in
the act there is both; in fact, that the government shall ensure that
requirements are met if it's a building they own, or if a building
they own is
going to be extensively renovated. "Have regard to" is based
on if they're
going to lease space and, of course, they're talking to the landlord;
shall have regard to what is required.
I guess my concern is with making that mandatory too. I come from
Ontario. If a facility is needed, and it's going to be leased, if
the choice is
not having the government service or having it done properly, I think
government should have regard to getting the best facility they can
circumstances. I just wanted to point that out.
The other thing I'd just like to ask you, if I could, sir -- if timelines
terms of implementing were in, as you suggested in your amendments,
of timelines would you see as appropriate to work toward those goals?
Mr Lepofsky: Let me deal with the second part first. With respect
our brief proposes that two be put in the bill. Minister Jackson was
CBC Radio, three weeks ago, how long it would take, what timelines
he saw. He
said the Ontario government should be able to be in compliance in
four or five
years. Let's take him at that. We propose you put in this bill that,
anything else, the Ontario government must achieve this goal within
Put that in the act. The minister said it; we can live with it; let's
Similarly, we propose that this Legislature, which has been so full
barriers, and continues to be so, let's put in there five years for
it. For the
other timelines, we propose regulations be made to fix the timelines,
propose a time frame within which those regulations have to be made.
words, the government has said that the regulations could set timelines.
not objecting to that, as long as we don't have to wait six years
to find out
when the timelines begin. Let's have a period of time fixed in the
-- and you'll see them in our amendments -- for when certain kinds
regulations can be made, including timelines.
Let me just answer very briefly, because I know our time's up. With
the question of "have regard to," and so on, first, let's
be frank here. The
provisions regarding buildings talk about new government buildings.
new buildings is the government going to be buying or building in
little while, given our financial situation? Renovations -- maybe
but still, that's not the core piece. The core piece, in terms of
the "no new
barriers," is capital expenditures, purchasing goods and services,
Billions are spent per year, according to your colleagues who have
the House on this bill. Just require no new barriers on those. You
that maybe there may be exceptional situations where you can't do
it at all. So
you could say, "There shall be no new barriers, except where
justification" or "except where a showing can be made of
undue hardship," or
something to that effect, instead of having this open-ended requirement,
is in the bill now, which is simply "have regard" which,
frankly, guarantees us
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
MARCH OF DIMES
The Chair: Our next presentation this afternoon is from the March
of Dimes. I
would ask the presenter or presenters to please come forward and state
name for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Mr Duncan Read: Thank you, Mr Chairman. My name is Duncan Read, and
record the spelling of that is r-e-a-d. On the schedule of listed
guests I see
the spelling that is more traditional to members of this House of
been used, but it is r-e-a-d.
On my left is Mr Paul Raina, who is the manager of government and
relations for the Ontario March of Dimes.
Mr Chair, if it is permissible to you, rather than simply read the
I understand has been distributed to you, I intend to talk very briefly
of the sections that are in the brief to hopefully leave us, hopefully,
more time for questions.
The Chair: It's your call.
Mr Read: Thank you. Mr Chairman and members of the committee, I want
you for the opportunity to have the Ontario March of Dimes appear
This is the 50th year of the Ontario March of Dimes, which for that
half-century has been strongly working with persons with disabilities
the belief that, given the opportunity, all people who have disabilities
and will be active participants in society as barriers are removed
to allow them to be effective members. We believe that governments
responsibility to lead the fight to make the province barrier-free.
years we've had a track record of effective service and issue advocacy
100 communities across the province.
We believe that this legislation is a good first step. We see it
as a good
first step because it places everything that happens in Ontario under
disability lens. We believe this lens can most effectively be brought
focus through the proposed accessibility advisory councils at the
and the accessibility advisory council here at the provincial level.
Specifically, we have a number of concerns. The first of those is
to government building structures and premises. We simply believe
guidelines should "ensure" rather than "promote."
We recognize that legislative
drafters might be able to come up with better language but we want
stronger than simply "promote."
We believe that the 1992 building code standards of accessibility
are not good
enough. We believe that in the Canadian Standards Association guidelines
are better and more effective standards, and some better ways of referencing
that into the legislation we believe would be appropriate.
We believe, in terms of government leases and services -- this being
-- that the standard of "undue hardship" used in the Human
definition is the higher standard and should be the one that should
We believe it's fairly easy to amend the legislation.
We believe that, yes, there should be proposed timelines for the
prevention of barriers. We believe significantly that the accessibility
advisory committees at the municipal level should have a majority
who are people with disabilities and we believe the act should specifically
amended to say that, because it helps.
We believe that the committee structure is one of the engines that
the disabled community into the effective movement to make Ontario
barrier-free and we believe this legislation needs that in place to
guarantee that at the municipal level the disabled community will
effective voice as a part of that committee.
We believe that probably the most significant sections -- and my
Raina will correct me if I miss anything as I go through this -- relate
school boards being required to create an accessibility advisory committee.
know that in his former life Mr O'Toole was a school trustee and knows
some of these things. I can also testify from personal experience
that had such
committees been around when I was a child, my mother, in looking after
disabled child, would have been a very strong, active and effective
such a committee. My disability is as old as the Ontario March of
Dimes; I'm an
old polio, for the record.
The most important part of this piece as far as we're concerned --
two last pieces -- is section 19 of the act, which deals with the
advisory council. We believe the phrase in section 19(4) that says,
direction of the Minister, the Council shall" do such-and-such,
eliminated. We suggest language that simply says, "The council
shall advise the
minister." If the council is going to be an effective operating
shouldn't have to wait for the minister to tell it what it should
look at. It
should make some recommendations to advise the minister. We would
like to see
clause 19(4)(d) of the act amended to put in the words "in all
sectors." In other words, we would like to see this expanded
to the entire
economy over time.
We also believe quite strongly that the council should -- and this
may be a bit
new and not acceptable to the government -- advise the minister on
recommendations relating to disability in Ontario that he or she wishes
to the Lieutenant Governor in Council before it goes to the Lieutenant
in Council, again to make sure everything goes through the disability
We believe that there should be a legislated guarantee that the annual
that the council presents to the minister be tabled to the Legislature;
cannot just be a body that advises the minister and is never heard
that at least the operations of the council should be given whatever
scrutiny the Legislature will be able to give it, and through the
Finally, we also believe that under section 22 there needs to some
initial regulations, which would disappear very quickly over time,
that say the
local committees should be required within, we suggest, eight months
no magic in eight months, it could be six months, could be nine months
the date of the proclamation of the act to be up and running and functional
We also believe that, yes, the advisory committee should develop
guidelines in terms of private sector participation in the act, but
act should spell out, perhaps, an intent that they have three years
The last point is simply to refer -- if I may, briefly -- to section
27 of the
act, which talks about amendments to the Legislative Assembly Act.
We heard the
last speaker who sat here before me talk about barriers in terms of
and the governance proceedings and the difficulties of the disabled.
I can tell
you of a conversation that I had the first time I ventured in to sit
public galleries upstairs. As the attendant -- he was an attendant
days, not a security officer -- who was there helped me out of the
said, "You know, we have to fix those things soon. It's not fair
for the public
who want to come into this building who are in the shape you're in.
fair. We have to do something to fix those things soon." I note
galleries haven't been changed. That conversation took place in 1964
are a whole host of people who have not been able to access this building
way they should. Surely this building has got to be the most important
that the Ontario government operates. There need to be some fixed
We suggest in our recommendations that this building, at least, be
accessible to all of the population.
Those are our comments.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have two minutes per caucus and
with Mr Martin.
Mr Martin: Thank you very much for coming today and for such a thorough
analysis of this piece of legislation.
Just a couple of questions: I'm interested in your comment that the
should be to advise the minister as opposed to perhaps the other way
I'm not sure. Why were you focusing on that so readily and why is
important to you?
Mr Read: We believe that the council is the vehicle that is going
to help make
Ontario barrier-free. If the council works effectively, the disabled
will have a strong voice that will be able to say to the minister,
reached out and we have talked with the disabled community and these
specific recommendations we think you should make in terms of regulations
implement what the legislation is supposed to be." We see it
as the fundamental
way that progress is going to be made in terms of attitude change,
the minister saying, "I want you to go off and study X or Y or
what we can do
to make Ontario barrier-free in this industry or that industry."
Mr Paul Raina: It may be more semantics, but it's to imply that the
council has some independence: that they're not simply sitting there
for the minister to give them direction on what they should go and
that they have the initiative to examine issues, to look at specific
areas and come back to the minister, and ultimately the government,
report on recommendations.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much, Duncan. It's a pleasure to see you
know how hard you work in advocating and educating people like myself
others in the community. I commend you for that and for your presentation
I just want to pick up on a couple of points that you made. I do
commend you. I
think that the compliance factor is certainly -- the language does
throughout from "shall" to "will have regard."
I think there are some words
here in buildings and access where the word "shall" is strongly
I'll leave that for the drafters. You being, I believe, a lawyer would
know that those words have significant meaning.
With respect to accessibility, I just want to put on the record here
subsection 19(2) says, "A majority of the members of the council
persons with disabilities." Some have said, "Who's on there
and what are they
doing? What's their role?" I think that's absolutely appropriate
and I support
that. I think due diligence will see -- it may become an issue because
large the council is and the various variety of groups. In subsection
says, "At the direction of the minister" -- that's a word
too -- "the council
shall advise the minister on" -- and there are about five sections
subsection. But it does empower them to report on such things as employment
access. So it's broadly defined. But more importantly, in subsection
says, "The council shall give the minister an annual report on
and whatever other reports that the minister requests." So there
is a defined
profile at the table to report. If there's any way to strengthen that
since you've pointed it out, would you respond in that respect as
I do just take note, in concluding, that this is not a new issue.
1964. There have been lots of different governments. I appreciate
the fact that
it is a first step and a framework and we do want to get it right,
that step. So maybe you could respond to section 19 or any other response.
Mr Read: It's always a pleasure to respond to you, sir. I don't know
can do it succinctly but I'll try.
There are two fundamental concerns. One is our specific request in
terms of the
advisory committee as being people with disabilities. We were wanting
sure the legislation said that for the municipal committees as well.
That was a
specific concern. We didn't want the council of Durham region saying,
people, one of whom is disabled," that kind of thing.
The fundamental concern with the advisory committees is that, yes,
-- and Mr Raina may want to add very quickly to it -- the way it's
constituted, talks about the minister directing the council to do
things. What we're also trying to say is that we think the council
able to respond to certain things, and by removing that phrase, "at
direction of the minister," the council "shall" have
the ability to respond.
The other part of the piece, very quickly, is that we believe it's
terms of a statement of public trust that it be a statutory requirement
the annual report of the council be tabled in the Legislature so the
community can at least have access to an annual report, that it won't
something that a minister may simply decide, for whatever reason,
he or she can
sit on and bury. Everybody knows that this province will have a new
after March --
The Chair: With that, I have to bring it to an end because I have
to go to the
Mr Read: I appreciate that.
Mr Smitherman: We're trying to forget about that thing till March,
Those guys start to fight among themselves.
I want to ask you a two-part question. The first is that I'd like
to know how
your organization can reconcile its acceptance of the "a good
language set against the resolution of this House and the presentation
Lepofsky, who preceded you, and the words "strong and effective."
to know the extent to which March of Dimes involves its 10,000 clients
because I've seen something quite startling through the time that
involved in these hearings, and that is there is a very big difference
those organizations which receive government funding, and often have
administrative folks who are here to speak for them, and others who
disabled. I'm anxious to know about that from the perspective of the
March of Dimes.
The second part is with respect to the disability lens that you refer
your presentation, that it places everything that is in provincial
municipal jurisdiction under that lens. Could you speak to the extent
you were, as someone who has confronted barriers for a long time,
by the limitation that the private sector, which is a pretty significant
of everybody's daily lives, is in fact hardly addressed here at all?
Mr Read: I will try, because part of the question you're asking asks
more of a personal response than an organizational response. Let me
try and do
it this way. I believe that this legislation is a positive first step.
have experienced barriers all over the place in terms of access to
places like the chamber upstairs that I can no longer get into, airplanes
can't get on, jobs that I have not been hired for because I have sat
the table for the interview and have actually in fact been hired for
and, when we have got up from the table and moved away, have suddenly
told, "Oops, sorry, that job was filled yesterday. I don't know
where my head
was. You can't have the job," when they see the way I walk. Fundamentally,
legislation is only a positive step toward changing some attitudes
in terms of
Two very quick points and then I will let Mr Raina, if there's time,
something. For whatever it's worth, I personally, sir, would not be
here -- I'm
a volunteer with the March of Dimes. I have no vested interest in
Dimes funding or anything like that. I believe this is a piece of
that can be built upon to improve things.
I guess I'll conclude it, sir, by reminding you very quickly that
a long time
ago -- I suspect it was before you were born -- there was a wonderful
television program that I saw as a child in the time of the Cold War
between a couple of Liberals, a chap named Adlai Stevenson and a chap
Lester Pearson. It was a program called Close-Up on the CBC. As the
ending, the announcer played a very dirty trick on them, the two of
think, and said, "OK, one last question. A one-word answer: Better
red or better red than dead?" I've always admired Mr Pearson's
answer when he
said, "I would rather be red than dead, because I at least have
a chance to
make some changes." That's kind of the spirit that has me here.
For what's it's
worth, I personally would not be here if I thought we were doing it
were beholden to any kind of concern because we were getting government
funding. That's the philosophy, that's the spirit that brings me here.
The Chair: With that, I have to bring the discussion to an end, as
out of time. On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
CANADIAN AUTO WORKERS
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Canadian Auto Workers.
I would ask
the presenter or presenters to please come forward and state your
name for the
record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Ms Peggy Nash: My name is Peggy Nash. I'm assistant to the national
of the Canadian Auto Workers. Raj Dhaliwal is the director of human
CAW; Karen McCulloch and Lisa Kelly are both with the CAW legal department.
appreciate the opportunity to appear before the committee today on
The CAW is the largest union in the private sector in Canada and
representing workers in 14 sectors, mainly auto assembly, auto parts,
aerospace, electronics, rail, airlines, mining, retail and hospitality.
in many sectors across the economy, most recently organizing over
We have been negotiating human rights and equity provisions in our
agreements for a number of years and challenging discrimination in
workplace. We have been awarded awards from the Ontario and federal
for our efforts in bargaining equity programs that, around disabilities,
include language in our collective agreements concerning return-to-work
programs, training and accommodation for both work and non-work-related
injuries and disabilities, adaptations for workers who are hearing
and the ability to refuse work for harassment based on disability.
been an issue that is important to our union, so we're pleased to
In our brief, we begin by looking at a definition of "disability"
World Health Organisation that recognizes disability as an interaction
the individual and their environment. This definition recognizes that
critical to acknowledge that our environments can create a disability
as they can create access to an environment. So we believe that legislation
should have two components: the first is promoting a deeper understanding
both the limitations and abilities of individuals with various disabilities,
but secondly, that legislation needs to be proactive in order to create
This can happen by changing our physical and social environments to
We're also concerned about attitudinal barriers and the stereotyping
with disabilities, that once these become embedded in our institutions,
helps create a disadvantage of social condition for people with disabilities.
Therefore, we believe the Ontario disabilities act needs to be proactive
eradicating barriers to people with disabilities.
I guess our first concern is that while the preamble states that
and economic sector, every region, every government, every organization,
institution" should be barrier-free, the act does not incorporate
sector in any meaningful way. If we're looking for systemic change
in all our
institutions, then it should be universally accessible for people
the province. Therefore, it should include the private sector.
We don't have to spend time in our presentation looking at the status
with disabilities, in the sense that I'm sure other organizations
eloquently about the higher rates of unemployment and the higher levels
poverty for people with disabilities. Our concern is really that unless
address barriers in the private sector, we may be perpetuating a downward
for people with disabilities toward the bottom of the economic sector.
The thrust of our brief really is in three areas: as I've mentioned,
all, it should apply to all workplaces, including the private sector;
it should contain proactive measures and measures that have enforceable
standards with timelines; and thirdly, where workplaces are involved
workers are represented by unions, those unions and their members
disabilities should be central to the consultation and implementation
According to Statistics Canada, about 80% of workers in Ontario are
private sector. This means that in the year 2000 almost four million
were working in the private sector. Our main concern is that by excluding
private sector from the ODA in any meaningful way, we may be sending
to Ontarians with disabilities that the private sector is off limits
that they are not being encouraged to seek employment and that the
opportunities in the private sector will not be accommodating to their
Right now, the only recourse they have is to take a complaint to
Rights Commission. As I'm sure you know, this is a very lengthy process.
only have to recall the Famous Players case, which took seven years
to find a
resolve, to know that's not the best way, to force people to make
complaints to commissions.
We are also concerned that the ODA gives authority to the government
unilaterally exempt government ministries, the broader public sector,
or other organizations from Bill 125. This broad exemption doesn't
accountability for the government when it's exercised. So we're very
about the impact of that rather sweeping exemption.
To back up the point about the Human Rights Commission and the difficulty
people with disabilities having to take their complaints to the Human
Commission, currently over 40% of complaints before the Ontario Human
Commission are on behalf of people with disabilities, and of those
70% were in the area of employment. So again, our concern is that
be looking for complaint-driven remedies, but rather we should be
We also believe a proactive approach can actually spur innovation
that there are benefits around accommodation not only for the people
accommodation because of innovation in design, but also in the jobs
created through new industries in those measures of accommodation.
We refer to section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the US, which
is in the
information technology sector and mandates all federal information
environments to be accessible, both to employees with disabilities
public at large. It also incorporates requirements to comply with
standards. This has spurred a number of advances in technology in
comply with this legislation. Philosophies such as universal design
have created innovation such as screen reader technology, which is
sought after by both people with and without disabilities, and text-to-voice
synthesizers to enable sensory- and voice-impaired individuals to
various programmed voices. These innovations are linked to this proactive
section 508. We think that a proactive bill in Ontario linked to technological
advances could create innovation and jobs in Ontario.
We believe strongly that having laws that are proactive, rather than
complaint-based, takes us a big step forward from the existing Human
Code, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and workers' compensation
We've had those in place, as previous presenters have said, for a
years. We know what the flaws are in those bills in terms of delays
fact that it is individual complaints. We believe it is time to have
Demographics are showing that as the baby boom population is aging,
of people with disabilities is going to grow. The disabled community
equity-seeking group of which we are all potential members. Surely
we need to
rely on our governments to be looking down the road and anticipating
changes needed to accommodate this growing population of people with
We need clear and effective standards to mandate these changes. We
what is in the bill now is a potentially confusing and complicated
standards and guidelines, and that we need to be much clearer in terms
regulatory process. We need to be regulating not only how things are
be changed, but also the content requirements of accessibility.
The CAW wants to play an active role in bringing an end to discrimination
against people with disabilities. In the workplace we can do this
down with employers to review employment systems, identify barriers
and plan to
remove barriers where they exist. The act should require joint accessibility
committees comprised of the employer and the bargaining agent where
disabilities in the workplace can participate in those committees,
barriers and planning for their removal.
Employers should be required to review their employment policies
along with the bargaining agent to determine if there are barriers
with disabilities and to draft plans for eliminating those barriers.
would like to see people with disabilities from the labour movement
the Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario as put forth in the
In summary, we believe that work is central to people's lives and
with disabilities too often don't get access to fulfill their full
the workplace. When they're denied those opportunities, we pay a large
a total society. When people with disabilities face barriers to work,
a substantially higher chance of living in poverty and facing greater
in their lives.
As our social programs are increasingly becoming fragmented and inadequate
meet the needs of all Ontarians, paid work becomes even more important.
our collective responsibility to foster participation for the greatest
of individuals in every aspect of society.
The Chair: We have one minute per caucus. I'll start with the government
and I mean one minute.
Mr Hardeman: Thank you very much for your presentation. When you
presentation, you said that the CAW negotiates a lot of these issues
labour contracts. How does that reconcile with suggesting that the
require joint workplace accessibility committees? Do you already do
you negotiate the contract, do you include accessibility committees
that workplace reduce the barriers?
Ms Nash: We don't have accessibility committees. What we have right
things like placement committees for people who are disabled at work
of work and have a restriction of some kind and need to be placed
particular restriction. We also have ergonomics committees and representatives
to look at the design of the workplace and equipment. So in some senses,
we're able to bargain those structures, they do similar kinds of work.
Mr O'Toole: If I may, would you put seniority on the table --
The Chair: I have to go to the official opposition.
Mr Parsons: I had the pleasure of giving up one week of planned vacation
on a jury once. I realized as we went through the witnesses that I
get a picture I never thought I'd be able to grasp as I put each once
We are finishing our third day of hearings. If I could capture what
I've heard from the majority, but not all --
Interjection: Fourth day.
Mr Parsons: Fourth day? Time's gone fast. If I could capture the
suggestions from the presenters, they have been that this must be
that it must apply to the private sector, that there must be fixed
and that there must be funding. Does that essentially reflect what
Ms Nash: I guess that on the last piece around funding, we would
proactive in terms of not being a complaint-based structure, that
proactive in looking at potential barriers rather than waiting for
complain about an accessibility problem.
Mr Parsons: And there would be funding to remove those barriers?
Ms Nash: Yes.
Mr Martin: You bring, I think, a unique perspective to this whole
even though the private sector isn't covered, organized labour isn't
mentioned in the bill. We know from our experience of government when
the Employment Equity Act that organized labour was absolutely essential
real enforcement or proactivity or anything where this kind of very
movement is concerned. Why do you think they left the private sector
why do you think you're not even mentioned in this bill?
Ms Nash: I can't speculate as to what was in the minds of the drafters,
our experience, to make equity measures effective in a workplace that
organized, labour has to be part of the equation, because the working
conditions are negotiated working conditions. Our fear about having
sector left out is that it sends the wrong message to people with
that these workplaces aren't for them. I think that's wrong, because
vast majority of workplaces in Ontario.
Mr O'Toole: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I'd like to raise a question,
because it's a very important question. The CAW is a very important
creating jobs and job stability. I would put to you the issue of seniority
job placement. I would like a response in writing, either today or
the future, on whether that's one item they're prepared to negotiate
finding appropriate job placement and ignoring the seniority provisions
The Chair: I don't know if it's a point of order. I'll leave it to
presenters whether they want to respond later on.
Ms Nash: I'm happy to answer that question briefly, if you'd like
to give me
The Chair: OK, I'll give you a brief moment.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you for that indulgence.
Ms Nash: Certainly the easiest accommodation for the employer is
just to breach
seniority provisions and put someone wherever, because that means
looking at the design of the workplace, the jobs, the design of equipment.
not saying that in our union we'd never make changes to seniority,
why you have to have joint union-management committees to look at
preference obviously is not to disadvantage one worker by placing
worker out of line of seniority.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Ontario Community Transportation
Association. I would ask the presenters to please come forward and
names for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Mr Norman McLeod: My name is Norman McLeod and I'm the president
of the Ontario
Community Transportation Association. I have with me B1atrice Schmied,
executive director. I'm going to make a few opening remarks, and I'll
to help with the questions at the end, but I'm going to turn it over
B1atrice to speak to the details and on behalf of our membership in
My first comment is to tell you that our association is more than
just a public
transit association. Public transit is particularly interested in
legislation and in how this issue is handled because we've been working
for a long time. But our association also includes the non-profit
private sector, people who are struggling to move people around across
Ontario and building partnerships. Our vision is of a process of building
partnerships to provide service in the community so that no one will
to move from A to B for any reason -- wherever life takes you, as
puts it. That is our mission and our vision.
One of the components, of course, and the largest component of our
is the conventional transit sector. I manage a specialized transit
people with disabilities specifically targeted at servicing them.
I know what
kind of strains are on our system. We work with the conventional transit
to try to make their service more accessible. B1atrice will speak
to you of
their concerns and their interests in this and tell you how committed
we are to
Ms B1atrice Schmied: Thank you for seeing us today. It's been a long
you, so I'll keep it short. But first, a little bit about the life
of a bus,
just to bring you up to speed. In the United States, the expected
lifespan of a
bus is 12 years. Guess what? In Canada, it's 18 years, or a third
more. And in
some Ontario systems, buses are well, well into their 20s, sometimes
their 30s. So we've got lots of old buses out there.
Fully accessible low-floor buses that could adapt to wheelchairs,
all types of mobility devices came on to the market in Ontario in
dating from 1991, and even buses that were bought afterwards, since
weren't readily available for a long time, technically still had that
lifespan. So if we take into account even the very first system that
very first low-floor buses in Ontario, which happened to be Kitchener
even they will not be fully accessible until at least 2010 because
lifespan issue and being able to purchase new vehicles.
To compound things, there was a delay in a lot of low-floor bus deliveries
the mid-1990s. For example, orders place in 1996 weren't delivered
That delay is still occurring. Add to that, of course, the fact that,
but the province did pull out of funding transit in the mid-1990s
federal government never did participate in funding transit. So lots
communities were left scrambling to find money for vehicles.
Just to give you an idea of the cost of a standard 40-foot low-floor
you're talking over $400,000. I just talked to Transit Windsor this
several that they bought have just come in. They got a good deal at
apiece. That's before you get into articulated buses or even bigger
Despite all that, I want to assure you that transit systems are really
committed to accessibility and they're moving forward as quickly as
Low-floor bus purchases are now the norm. TDD phone lines,
wheelchair-accessible shelters and fully accessible routes are now
to be seen
everywhere. Just four quick examples: Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge
is now a
mass transit system called Grand River Transit and 50% of their vehicles
low-floor vehicles, approximately a third of their routes are fully
and now they're just in the process of planning to integrate their
system with their specialized system, including training, which means
people who were limited to using a specialized system only and had
advance-book will now more easily be able to use the conventional
system on the
Hamilton Street Railway: over half their routes are fully accessible.
Sundays and holidays every route is accessible. In 2001, this year,
trips were made on low-floor vehicles by persons using wheelchairs,
scooters. These trips, by the way -- and I think this is really neat
people who normally use the DARTS specialized service, are offered
voluntary fare payment. In other words, those people and an attendant
free of charge, and that's simply to encourage them to use the conventional
If we come a little closer to here, in Mississauga a third of the
fleet is now
low-floor. They just introduced five fully accessible routes on September
They've already done a survey and, interestingly enough, they found
of their passengers who were using the specialized system before and
conventional transit now are going to shopping malls and to the GO
There was always this myth that these people would be going primarily
hospitals and medical centres and so on. Well, guess what? They're
like you and
me and everyone else. They have normal lives. Mississauga Transit,
by the way,
and Peel TransHelp, the regional specialized service, have integrated
fares and their transfer points. They're really working well together.
Finally, our last example is one of our friends up north, Thunder
Bay: 86% of
their routes are fully accessible, and that's a fair-sized system
-- 50 buses.
Last year, 14,600 passengers using mobility devices were able to board
conventional service. You can imagine what their snow situation is
like in the
winter; still they managed with curb clearances and early snow removal
that well. They plan by 2006, if their bus deliveries are on time,
to be fully
accessible. They'll be one of the first larger systems in the province
As far as our association, we're trying to do our part. Currently,
working on a driver-training program to help drivers who serve customers
disabilities in the school bus, the motor coach, the public transit,
and the non-profit volunteer sectors. In fact, we're going to be meeting
the Ministry of Citizenship tomorrow morning about that.
I guess we talked a little bit about our membership, but to just
give you a
better feel of who we really are, our main mandate is to encourage
to bring conventional and specialized transit together with non-profit
private sector groups that offer transportation, either through brokerages
partnerships. Why have three vehicles from one corner of the city
one passenger down to another corner of the city when you can broker
vehicles, have one vehicle bring those three passengers and free up
two vehicles to look after other people. Joe Brant hospital, Burlington
and the Canadian Red Cross in Burlington are an example of a group
done exactly that. They broker their vehicles together; they freed
We're the first province in Canada where community transportation
has become a
reality. We've got delegations from the Maritimes, the United States
weeks ago, from as far away as Japan coming to learn about our experiences.
we're here, we're on your side. I'm going to turn it over to Norm
to close for
Mr McLeod: What I'm here to say is that our industry is looking forward
working with this legislation to move forward toward full access.
We offer our
services as an association to help make that happen, to consult with
members and to make it a realistic process. Under current fiscal realities,
where most of the cost is going to the local property base -- and
almost all of
the cost of my system, the para-transit system, is still under the
property base -- we recognize that we can't have too aggressive a
If, of course, we had more partners around the table to pay more of
we certainly could move forward faster. But this legislation allows
us to pace
it according to fiscal reality and move forward as quickly as we can
to our own
vision that nobody should be unable to move from A to B for any reason.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have approximately a minute and
a half per
caucus. I'll with the official opposition.
Mr Parsons: Very interesting. I've always struggled, in fact been
when a friend of mine had to come in through the kitchen to join me
restaurant. I've also struggled with my own son having to ride a bus
toured half of the countryside to pick up three or four children when
daughter got on a bus and was at school in 10 minutes. Ironically,
fragile are exposed to the longest and the most difficult ride.
I'm not sure buses are lasting longer now, but they're being made
longer. The economics are dictating it. When I chaired a school board,
used to leave after seven years. They now leave after 14.
I know lifts cost money, but I also know, as an engineer, that volume
profound difference. If you put a lift on every single bus, whether
it be a
city transit or whether it be a school bus, the cost would go down
dramatically. And the lifts didn't tend to wear out; they tended to
last two or
three different buses. I'm interested in the concept of making every
have a lift, so the child or the person rides the bus with everybody
that a realistic goal?
Mr McLeod: It's even more realistic to move toward a more radical
really, low-floor technology, which is what we're doing now, where
need a lift because the whole bus is structured so that it's close
the ground so you just have to fold out a little ramp and people can
get on in
wheelchairs, buggies, whatever.
Mr Parsons: I've seen buses that kneel, but this is different.
Mr McLeod: This is different. When we talk about half of Hamilton
Railway being accessible, we're talking about low-floor buses that
able to accommodate people of all disabilities. They are very expensive
now, but it's a little bit like conversion from a stick shift to standard.
They're becoming the standard globally. So right now you're seeing
a huge price
increase. If anyone in the industry is going from high-floor to low-floor,
they're almost doubling their budget for buses. That's what I'm telling
that kind of commitment is there in our industry and they're moving
Mr Martin: Thanks for coming today. Certainly the area that you specialize
is very central to any of the mobility challenges that are faced by
the end of your presentation, you hit the nail on the head: it's a
resources. Where do you get the resources?
As an aside, in Sault Ste Marie we bought some of those low-floor
course, when the winter came and it became 40 below zero, they didn't
we had a problem. We had to park them and bring out the old buses
There's lots of improvement needed, but you're right, the technology's
We need to keep working on it. We need, though, all levels of government
involved in investing in some of the newer technology and making sure
communities have access and that kind of thing. How much, realistically,
do without a significant injection of money here from the senior levels
Mr McLeod: We've seen our own membership move forward quite significantly,
though the provincial government dropped its subsidy for hardware.
difference is in the pace. When we talk about an 18-year or 24-year
for a bus and so forth, that's a forced life cycle. That's not there
it's cost-effective to do it that way; that's there because we don't
money to replace them. Obviously, if we could have a faster investment
we would replace those buses faster and we could have a more aggressive
It's really just a matter of pacing it to the fiscal reality.
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Just a couple of quick questions:
one is that we
think of transportation for the physically disabled and we've been
few times for not recognizing some of the needs of the other disableds.
curious, on transportation, about some of the things that you would
that should be there.
Second, this turnover of the fleet -- you said 18 years. I understand
average fleet is now 12 years of age in Ontario. Just listening this
I chaired the select committee on alternate fuel sources, I understand
a bus is
somewhere around $500,000. If you went to some of these alternate
up to $1.2 million. You're saying, if it goes to the low-floor, it's
we manage both, to help the disabled overcome barriers and also get
environmentally clean bus, we have a pretty expensive unit. How long
turnover take? The other is, what do we have to do to recognize the
Mr McLeod: When we first looked at this 10 years ago and started
to lay out our
plans as an industry, we were estimating it would be 18 years before
average fleet would be 100% accessible. That's actually slowed down
the delays in the delivery of buses and because of the drop in funding.
taken a while for us to recover our purchasing pace.
In answer to your first question, I'm particularly interested in
that as the
manager of a specialized transit service that is very clearly targeted
people with physical disabilities. We deal all the time with the issue
people who really need supervised transportation, the people who don't
for our service but who shouldn't be going out by themselves. That's
biggest issue is, in my view, in terms of non-physical disabilities.
needed is a program of travelling attendants and escorts to enable
cognitive disabilities or frail elderly blind people or whatever to
freely on any mode of transportation. That's what's needed in that
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
The Chair: Our next presentation is from Kathryn Bremner, if you
forward and state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee,
welcome. You have 15 minutes for your presentation this afternoon.
Mrs Kathryn Bremner: Thank you. I'm struggling with my voice a bit,
so I'll do
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. Basically, I'm
here as a
mother of a 16-year-old son who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair
I'd like to start out by telling you that in my mind there are no
with disabilities but rather families with disabilities. Mothers and
brothers and sisters of an individual with a disability are disabled
first and foremost.
As a family, my husband and I, as well as Scott's 24-year-old brother
have all been dramatically affected by Scott's disability and have
and experienced at first hand the barriers that exist in our society
exclude young people like Scott from leading the kind of life that
teenagers and other able-bodied people take for granted.
At 16, Scott has dreams of dating, going to the mall, participating
and going to concerts. He plans for post-secondary education and subsequent
employment. He has worked so hard to maintain an average of over 80%
first two years of high school despite the fact that many challenges
placed in his way. One of the greatest is his own learning disability,
the result of the trauma to the brain. In the past, he has changed
schools three times because of accessibility issues, and two years
ago, when it
was time to go to high school, an event that most teenagers celebrate,
unable to go with any of his peer group because the neighbourhood
was not accessible. The school that was recommended to us as being
in the end really was not terribly accessible because Scott would
have had to
have used a key entry in three different spots in a freight elevator.
have been travelling in a freight elevator that had no alarm system
means of communicating with anyone else, so the school decided that
carrying a walkie-talkie would be the way to go. There was no door
let him into the school or out of the school, and there were no accessible
Digging in my heels, I said, "No, this is the school Scott will
be going to."
We were able to resolve a lot of the problems. So he is thriving in
because of his own hard work and my constant monitoring of the school
thanks to Janet Ecker and the intensive support amount funding formula,
providing the best they can for him, and this despite the fact that
funding formula limits Scott to 0.5 of an educational assistant each
this means, according to their formula, is that Scott is physically
for only 50% of each day. Try explaining that to him, or to me.
When I realized that the government was now going to keep a promise,
Scott was only 10 years old, to enact strong, decisive legislation,
excited and I was hopeful. Finally, I thought, real progress will
be made. The
government finally gets it, I thought. In an e-mail to Cam Jackson
Flaherty, who is my MPP, the evening before first reading, I told
them that the
question that I would ask myself which would be my measure of how
legislation works is, what does it do to improve the life of my son?
reading the proposed bill, the only answer I could come up with is
that is does
absolutely nothing. Forget the fact that five years from now we can
go back and
revisit and reassess this bill. Scott will be almost 22 years old
by then and
will have missed out on many opportunities that he shouldn't have
Bill 125 does not require that a single barrier be removed. Imagine
moment that the chairs you are sitting in right now are wheelchairs
can't get up out of them and you have to spend a day in a wheelchair.
stuck in that chair. How are you going to get in and out of this room,
this building, into an accessible washroom, the cafeterias or even
Legislative Assembly? In order to get into this building, you will
enter through the basement like some kind of second-class citizen,
and if you
wish to be part of the public gallery and there happen to be four
wheelchairs ahead of you, you're out of luck. What if one of you develops
multiple sclerosis or has a brain injury or is in a car accident?
How will you
retain your jobs as MPPs? How will you get to work if you are unable
How will you live? Where will you live? How will you shop, do your
enjoy fine dining?
Bill 125 does not require that a single barrier be removed. Let me
about some of the barriers we face with Scott as a family so you can
accurate snapshot of the reality of our situation and his.
In Durham region, where I live, Handi-Transit basically serves an
population who rely on it to attend doctors' appointments. This means
there is little opportunity for kids to be spontaneous if they want
to plan an
outing, for instance, to the Oshawa Centre or to the theatre. He would
rely on his parents to give him a ride, because Handi-Trans shuts
down at 5
o'clock in the evening and doesn't operate on weekends. He has often
"I'm 16. What if I find a girlfriend and she wants to go to the
show. Does that
mean you're going to have to go with us? How will I get there?"
Bill 125 does not require that these barriers be removed. I cannot
describe the number of times my family has tried to go out for dinner
find that Scott's wheelchair will not fit under the table, resulting
having to sit a foot away from the table or sit on an angle so that
unable to be comfortable or avoid dropping food in his lap. It is
to him and it is embarrassing to me as his mother. And what about
restaurants you can get into, but the washrooms are down a flight
of stairs and
there is no elevator? And they call themselves accessible.
Bill 125 does not require that these barriers be removed. Let me
tell you what
it is like to try to plan a vacation in the province of Ontario when
you have a
child in a wheelchair. Do you know how many hotels believe that being
accessible means providing a room on the main floor? Others, thinking
much more advanced, will boast that they do indeed have a wheelchair-accessible
room, but nine times out of 10 there is only one bed in it. If you
can get into
the room through a wide enough doorway, you likely can't get into
and there likely will not be enough space for a wheelchair to turn
Bill 125 does not require that these barriers be removed.
About four years ago, I booked a so-called accessible hotel room
for a speaker
from Oregon who was flying in to present at a workshop I was organizing.
his first trip to Ontario and he was quite excited. Dean is a quadriplegic
he uses an electric wheelchair and travels with an attendant. I quickly
discovered how different we are from the United States, who have had
the ADA in
effect for the past 11 years. At the time in the city of Toronto,
only two accessible vans as part of a taxi service. When I booked
it to pick
him up at the airport, they didn't even show up. When we finally did
out to Scarborough to the hotel that claimed to be accessible, the
the room was, and there was an elevator, but he couldn't get his power
wheelchair into the bathroom. Needless to say, I was very frustrated
Bill 125 does not require that these barriers be removed. Families
are consumers of services from organizations which were established
programs and services for young people like Scott, such as the Easter
Society. Part of their mandate is to advocate on behalf of families
with special-needs children. I know this because I was an Easter Seals
delegate for 13 years and I spent a lot of time talking to families
They continue to disappoint families like mine, because they fail
adequately. How can you not involve the private sector in this legislation?
Families of children with disabilities have money to spend. My own
money to spend. Our lives are as closely tied to the private sector
as they are
to the public sector. Scott eats in restaurants, goes to the mall,
the doctors, the theatre, sporting events and other businesses you
Scott wants to go to university and he has the marks to do it. However,
cannot plan for his future, based on the fact that not all universities
colleges are adequately accessible to him. He has to choose the school
accessibility and support systems, rather than programming. He's smart
to know his life is going to be one challenge after another and I
think this is
unfair. He should be enjoying these years, not despairing about his
parents, we are unable to securely plan for his future, because there
many unknowns and so many barriers. Things that you take for granted
children are impossible to take for granted with Scott. Transportation
housing, physical accessibility, attendant care availability, support
at school, recreational opportunities and universal, accessible health
all major concerns for our family.
Scott is on the honour role and is a member of the student council.
He was a
youth shadow cabinet member for the 2008 Toronto Olympic bid, representing
youth with disabilities. He has spoken at Toronto city hall, Variety
and the region of Durham council and has been interviewed on television
the media many times. He is a composed and articulate public speaker
make a fabulous politician, but how would that be possible, given
that exist in the province of Ontario today?
Bill 125 does not require that barriers impeding my son's life be
must do better. You can do better. As Scott's mother, I have been
involved in advocating for his needs for the past 16 years, whether
for increased funding for our local children's treatment centre, starting
sledge hockey league in Durham region, serving as president of Parents
Action for Challenged Kids and also as a five-year SCC chair and alternative
SEAC representative for the Durham public board. I have been the region
Durham representative for the ODA Committee for the past several years.
involved, informed and educated and I know what I'm talking about.
Please help me to help my son. He and other young people with disabilities
deserve the very best that we can do. Scott should have the same opportunities
as his older brother, Jeff, who has recently completed five years
post-secondary education. Help Scott to become the contributing member
society that he wishes to be. Help him experience the kind of life
that he can
only dream about.
Please do the right thing and provide legislation that is effective
enforceable and includes both the public and private sectors. There
timelines, funding and consequences to drive it home and make it meaningful.
Incidentally, I do not believe that Rome was built in a day, nor do
that accessibility can be achieved overnight. We must have the necessary
guidelines in place to achieve success and input from the end users
understand these issues so well.
I am asking you this on behalf of Scott and thousands of other young
like him and their families. Access to all the province of Ontario
has to offer
is a basic human right. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have time for about a minute per
Martin, I'll start with you.
Mr Martin: It's always so meaningful when one can make it real. We're
at a bit
of a crossroads here. Tuesday we'll find out if the government is
making this bill work. We're heard from people like you and others
who say that
as it stands now, it doesn't; it won't make any difference whatsoever
lives of the people you care about.
Carole Riback was here this morning; she sat with you and Mr Lepofsky
afternoon. She had, I thought, a slightly different view than Mr Lepofsky
what we do on Tuesday if we don't get any amendments or the amendments
think are necessary to give this thing some teeth.
I guess the question from me to you is, what would your recommendation
to us be
if on Tuesday we don't see the amendments that we need in this bill
looks like all the government's going to do is say, "OK, we'll
work with this,"
and then wave it around -- and this is the cynical side of me -- and
come an election, say, "Well, we did introduce an ODA. What's
complaining about here?" What do we do?
Mrs Bremner: I think it's rather an unfair question to ask. I don't
the question should ever have had to be asked. We've spent so many
working toward something that we felt was going to be a good piece
legislation and now, to think that it could be so insignificant and
could have spent all of that time, thousands of people around the
have disabilities -- that's mind-boggling to me. I don't know if I
answer for you. All I can tell you is that it doesn't help my son.
something stronger. I know it probably will pass because the government
majority, and that's really too bad. Why can't the government just
do the right
thing? It shouldn't be about politics. It should just be doing it
the right thing to do, because we are all equal. That's all I can
that. I want my son to have the same opportunity as everybody else
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much, Kathryn, and thank you for your
and for your work over the last number of years advocating. I think
take some pride and solace in that, and I don't mean that in any patronizing
way. I'm quite sincere when I say it. Most importantly, when I read
to the minister stating that Scott has an A average -- your involvement
your modelling for him is probably the best sort of example to the
rest of us.
I'm quite supportive of many of the points you've made. I know it's
the unfair question has been asked several times, a "this or
nothing" sort of
question. That's not a fair question, really.
But I guess my thing is if you have some specific summary, what would
best advice for implementation, a signal beyond the legislative framework
the government to manifest that its intentions are quite true to moving
forward? There will be a discussion on the directorate, who sits on
advisory, what group are represented, the whole minutiae. It could
years to find this. Do you understand what I'm saying? What would
be the best
advice that you could give us to signal a real willingness to move
giving some legitimacy beyond the words in the bill, to the advisory
to the ministry?
Mrs Bremner: We can advise all we want and you can listen to our
advice all you
want, but until there's something in the legislation that specifically
has to be enforceable, "These things have to happen or there
consequences" -- that's what it takes, because compliance isn't
compliance was working in the private sector, I wouldn't have any
getting Scott into a restaurant or under a table or all the other
situations you can imagine. There's nothing in the legislation --
Mr O'Toole: What would be realistic --
The Chair: Mr O'Toole, I can't go for another question. I have to
presenter finish her answer. Have you done with the answer?
Mrs Bremner: Basically, yes. I think there needs to be something
legislation that is meaningful, that makes the legislation enforceable.
The Chair: Now I have to go to the official opposition.
Mr Parsons: I can't imagine how frustrating you find this, because
I find it
incredibly frustrating. Democracy is relatively fragile and I struggle
group of citizens having to fight the government to get their rights.
province, in most municipalities, people who are blind cannot vote
someone has to vote for them. That's a fundamental cornerstone of
democracy. Someone else has to vote for them. What you've asked for
every other presenter has asked for is not special treatment; you've
the same treatment as everyone else. I'm going to suggest that if
more time your answer might have been a good signal to the government
they should go with this bill: if it was mandatory, applied to the
sector, was enforceable and there was funding to make it happen. That
probably be the best signal to persons with disabilities that there's
be a meaningful act.
Mrs Bremner: That's right.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
Mr Martin: On a point of information for people's interest: yesterday,
believe it was, there was some information tabled with the committee,
that was done by the our legislative research people, on what legislation
exists in other jurisdictions in North America and in other places.
available. This morning there was tabled a summary of recommendations
so far to
the committee. I believe there are copies of it on the table over
should know that it's there and it's available to them if they want
CANADIAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND,
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Canadian Council of
Ontario division. I would ask the presenter to please come forward
and if you
could state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee,
Mr Gerald Stephenson: Thank you very much. My name is Gerald Stephenson.
the Ontario president of the Canadian Council of the Blind.
Thank you to the Chair and to the committee for this opportunity
the matter of Bill 125, the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
submitting this presentation, as citizens, we place a high value on
principles of democracy. As citizens, we are concerned with what substance
weight the government will ascribe to our input and that of our colleagues
First, may I take this opportunity to thank the standing committee
and economic affairs for contacting me and giving the Canadian Council
Blind, Ontario division, an opportunity to make a presentation to
hearing this afternoon.
A lack of sight is not a lack of vision. Founded in 1944, the Canadian
of the Blind, CCB, through its motto of "Faith, Service and Fellowship,"
undertaken the ambitious objective to encourage, build and restore
self-confidence, self-reliance and dignity to thousands whose daily
have been disrupted by blindness and both severe vision and hearing
More than half a century later, the CCB, through its numerous affiliates
local community-based clubs within nine provincial divisions, services
region of the country. As well as providing social and recreational
at the local level, the CCB is Canada's national consumer organization,
representing the needs and concerns of people who are visually challenged.
The council is recognized as Canada's voice of the organized blind.
strives to promote the quality of life in all aspects of Canada's
community, the prevention of blindness and conservation of sight.
We are active
in 23 communities in Ontario. Monthly meetings serve as a forum for
information, education and support to newly blinded or vision-impaired
individuals as they adjust to the challenges of their disability.
Clubs have a wide variety of social activities, such as bowling,
cribbage and other activities. The CCB lobbies both government and
to promote the interests of Canadians who are blind and vision-impaired.
Constantly on the move, the council strives for improvements in areas
transportation, technical devices and accessibility. Through advocating
concerns from the need for profitable employment to access to information,
CCB works to address issues which impact on the lifestyle of all blind
In the area of advocacy, we have been influential in improving tax
education policies, employment equity, social assistance programs,
redesign and improved accessibility in the transportation industry.
proud of the following accomplishments:
(1) Development of a national White Cane Week to promote awareness
of who we
(2) Advocacy for the distribution of government documents in large
Braille, audiocassette and computer disk;
(3) Contributions to the establishment of the first-ever national
reading service for blind people -- VoicePrint;
(4) Promotion of strategic placement for standardization throughout
of audible traffic signals to assist people who are blind and vision-impaired
in crossing busy intersections.
The hearings, although they are public hearings, are in areas where
persons with disabilities cannot get to to make their presentations.
limit is woefully short. For instance, I was notified Monday at 4:25
could make a presentation on Tuesday at 20 minutes to 6 if I let the
committee know by 4:30. I didn't pick the message up until it was
However, I was given another opportunity yesterday to be here this
afternoon/evening to make a presentation, and I am grateful. However,
making arrangements for transportation on short notice to be here.
I was lucky,
but there are many others who cannot be represented because they weren't
It is not unreasonable to suggest that the largest proportion of
are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted reside in Ontario. For
we are here. Today, Ontario is under the lens of our sister provinces
disabled Canadians. Unfortunately, Bill 125 in its current form falls
significantly short of effecting full inclusion of Ontarians with
Society has failed to provide all citizens with equal access or participation
to the maximum extent. To many in the disabled community, their families
their friends, there is a question of what agenda is driving government.
economic or democratic?
Access to information is vital to all of us, but to the blind, deaf-blind
vision-impaired it is woefully lacking. Yes, we have a national reading
service, but it is not accessible to everyone. Yes, we have an ADP
which provides equipment at limited cost to the individual, a great
far as it goes. With technology changing so quickly, by the time we
updates in our systems they are obsolete and we have to buy completely
systems, which costs the government even more money. It seems to me
would make more sense to allow upgrades to existing equipment before
is up. As far as the training goes, 10 hours is nowhere near enough,
when part of those 10 hours is the setting up of the equipment. These
difficulties which all disabled persons face regardless of what their
disability might be.
There is also the area of transportation. There are handicapped stickers
those persons who have a disability which permit free parking in designated
areas, but each city has different regulations. We need standard regulations
across the board so that the $5,000 fine proposed in Bill 125 for
illegally in a designated handicapped parking area will have more
need regulations on planes and trains that effectively help all people
disabilities to travel in comfort and safety.
We need to be a part of society without being forced to stick out
are noticeably different, whatever that difference might be. We need
standard for audible pedestrian signals that is the same across the
and we need to have those signals in as many places as possible to
whether using a cane or a dog, to travel freely and safely.
We need access to information in whatever format we choose, be it
print, Braille or diskette. How much Braille do we have here for handouts
The proposed Bill 125 was only available to me because I have a computer
voice and because the ODA Committee and its chairman, Dave Lepofsky,
available to those of us who have e-mail and are fortunate enough
access to this equipment. But there are many, including myself, who
preferred to have a Braille copy of the proposed bill, but it isn't
available. So we have to rely on our memory or going over it sentence
sentence and copying it so we can access it, which of course takes
we don't have enough of, to make our presentations.
Also, the cost of receiving material in Braille should be such that
be the same price as print, especially after the master copy has been
There are many periodicals, books and other information not available
Braille because of the astronomical cost to produce it, even with
Does the proposed act fulfill the commitment to the national disability
Certainly the framework is there. In our view, it is a shell of what
needs to be. Given the time and resources, we could offer historical
illustrating a proactive as opposed to a passive commitment. It has
effected positive societal change. Accepting Bill 125 as the foundation,
proposed legislation needs to be amended to strengthen the responsibilities,
role and authority of the provincial council and, to a lesser degree,
advisory committees as vehicles through which those collective obligations
The CCB, along with the NFBAE, endorse in principle the amendments
by the ODA Committee, in particular as they pertain to the development
regulations, standards, clarifications and additions as defined in
submission of the ODA Committee in all respects save two.
Timelines in section 19: in the matter of the barrier-free council
directorate, we concur that these bodies should be established within
months of enactment of the legislation. In the matter of the development
regulations, standards and timelines, they should be established no
18 months from the enactment of the legislation, or, if you will,
no later than
one year from the formation of the council and the directorate.
In the matter of provision of goods and services and how sections
5, 6, 7
and/or any other section may be interrelated or independent, and not
relevant provincial regulations with regard to procurement policies,
propose that the following be included: "In any procurement or
provision process, bids from other government departments, municipal
and any organization subsidized by any level of government or holding
of tax-exempt status should not be accepted." These public organizations
not compete with the private sector unless a specific policy to the
When the private sector is not able or willing to undertake the work,
section 19 we propose the inclusion of the following under subsection
"(d) Any person or persons directly or indirectly an employee
of the Ontario
government, as defined in amended section 8, or organization or organizations,
person or persons directly associated with the said organization that
grants, subsidies or contracts are ineligible for formal membership
council, the exemption being the Trillium Foundation. Said persons
organizations may serve, provided the council is comprised of a two-thirds
majority of members from representative consumer organizations. By
of the minister, representation from consumer organizations shall
by the organizations."
We have a recommendation for a 2(c): "A quorum of the council
when the majority present are members with disabilities."
Under purpose of the council, we concur with the amendments put forward
"Remuneration and expenses": we should delete the word
"may" and insert the
The Vice-Chair (Mr Doug Galt): If I may, Mr Stephenson, the bells
in the House. We're obliged as members to go and vote. You have four
left in your presentation. We'll come back after the vote.
Mr Stephenson: OK.
The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry. We're not being impolite. It's rather
performance that we go for the vote and we have three minutes and
12 seconds to
get up there. The committee will stand recessed and we'll be back
remaining four minutes of your presentation. My apologies.
Mr Stephenson: No problem.
The committee recessed from 1802 to 1814.
The Vice-Chair: We will now reconvene the standing committee on finance
economic affairs. Again our apologies, but for all parties it was
command performance. Mr Stephenson, there's a full four minutes left
presentation, so go ahead.
Mr Stephenson: Thank you very much. Remuneration and expenses: should
"may" and insert the word "shall" so that it now
reads, "The minister shall pay
the members of the council the remuneration and the reimbursement
that the Lieutenant Governor in Council determines."
We concur with proposed amendments of the ODA Committee number 4
and number 3.1
under this section.
Finally, we concur with the proposed amendments of the ODA Committee
heading of "Resources." Quite candidly, the process of the
fruition of this bill has been flawed. Why? Because there have been
inadequate consultations or any kind of forums with the disabled community,
its formulation, with the government. The fact that these hearings
fast-tracked and are of limited time and scope denies the disabled
opportunity to carefully assess the merits and implications of the
Bill 125. Worse, it denies the disabled community the necessary time
formulate and/or assess the implications of any amendments that may
forward from any sector.
Ontario has always prided itself in being in the forefront as leader.
before you an opportunity to once again show that leadership by bringing
a strong Ontarians with Disabilities Act that would be the benchmark
sister provinces. However, you can't do it alone and you can't do
excluding the disabled community. We plead with you to set up an assembly
disabled persons from across Ontario, including all disabilities,
to meet with
you so that a consensus can be arrived at. This should be done before
reading of the bill.
You've made a start. Let's see it grow in strength. Let's work together
an ODA that would make us all proud, not only as Ontarians but as
knowing that we worked as a team to fulfill a dream that perhaps is
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much. There is about a minute left.
caucus is very careful, we'll give them 30 seconds each for a comment
quick question. We'll start with the government side.
Mr Spina: Thank you, sir. We appreciate the time you took to come,
with the short notice you indicated. You indicated some very specific
frames for implementation that you thought should be amendments to
the bill. If
you would take just half a second to reiterate those, I think we would
Mr Stephenson: Six months and 18 months or 12 months?
Mr Spina: Yes, those were the dates. I'm just trying to remember
what they were
for. I apologize. Well, it's in the record anyway, so we'll follow
The Vice-Chair: I believe it was six months to have the committee
in place and
18 months to have the regulations in place.
Mr Stephenson: That's correct.
The Vice-Chair: I'm impressed. I was listening and I remembered.
Mr Parsons: Realizing that time is tight, you have given us a number
amendments to consider next week. Just to clarify -- I believe you
said it but
I need to ask again -- are you essentially endorsing the suggested
of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee?
Mr Stephenson: Yes.
Mr Martin: I really appreciated all of your comments, but particularly
reiterating of the concern that we're rushing this through and that
have the time to come forward. We had a wonderfully delightful presentation
a blind-deaf woman in Ottawa named Penny LeClair, who didn't have
prepare but came and told us very clearly that we needed to take more
that people like her could be heard and have an opportunity to have
The last comment: I was in my office a few years' back when we were
government and we were looking at the whole question of the rights
people in our communities. I'd had a discussion with someone, and
at the end of
the discussion, when we couldn't agree, his final comment was, "We
to give everybody their human rights." Sometimes I think that's
that exists out there. This is a chance for us to show that in fact
we can and
should and have to. I'm hoping the government will come forward on
indicate that and table some amendments that will make us all able
that we have something that will actually do what the preamble sets
The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mr Stephenson, for coming forward. We
your thoughtful presentation. In spite of the short time, it was an
The committee now stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10:30 in Thunder
The committee adjourned at 1821.
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 Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East / -Est PC)
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie ND)
Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings L)
Mr George Smitherman (Toronto Centre-Rosedale / Toronto-Centre-Rosedale
Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes
Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre / -Centre ND)
Clerk / GreffiMre
Ms Susan Sourial
Staff / Personnel
Mr David Rampersad and Ms Elaine Campbell, research officers,
Research and Information Services
Wednesday 5 December 2001
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, Bill 125, Mr Jackson / Loi
sur les personnes handicap1es de l'Ontario, projet de loi 125, M.
Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario F-563 Ms Carol Yaworski
Advocacy Centre for the Elderly F-566 Mr George Monticone
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Ontario division F-568
Ms Kris McDonald
Ms Deanne Groetzinger
Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre F-571 Ms Sheila Jarvis
Mr Cal Millar
Mr Greg Contaxis
Mr Mike Cochrane F-574
Milton Deaf Action Group F-576
Mr Vance Youngs
Ms Tanya Sturk
Ms Jessamyn Roach
Association of Municipalities of Ontario F-579 Ms Sandra Hames
Ms Pat Vanini
Ms Carole Riback F-583
Ontario Association for Community Living F-586 Mr Keith Powell
Mr Orville Endicott
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee F-589 Mr David Lepofsky
March of Dimes F-593
Mr Duncan Read
Mr Paul Raina
Canadian Auto Workers F-596
Ms Peggy Nash
Ontario Community Transportation Association F-598 Mr Norman McLeod
Ms B1atrice Schmied
Mrs Kathryn Bremner F-601
Canadian Council of the Blind, Ontario division F-603 Mr Gerald Stephenson
to ODA Bill 125 Index page