ONTARIO BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION, CITY OF THUNDER BAY
CANADIAN HEARING SOCIETY, THUNDER BAY REGIONAL OFFICE
DISABLED WORKERS' COMPLEX CASE NETWORK
THUNDER BAY AND DISTRICT INJURED WORKERS' SUPPORT GROUP
HANDICAPPED ACTION GROUP INC
OPSEU DISABILITY RIGHTS CAUCUS
PERSONS UNITED FOR SELF-HELP IN NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO INC
THUNDER BAY AND DISTRICT INJURED WORKERS' SUPPORT GROUP
CANADIAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND
Thursday 6 December 2001 Jeudi 6 decembre 2001
The committee met at 1140 in the Victoria Inn, Thunder Bay.
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2001
LOI DE 2001 SUR LES PERSONNES HANDICAP6ES DE L'ONTARIO
Consideration of Bill 125, An Act to improve the identification,
prevention of barriers faced by persons with disabilities and to make
amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 125, Loi visant " am1liorer
rep1rage, l'1limination et la pr1vention des obstacles auxquels font
personnes handicap1es et apportant des modifications connexes "
The Chair (Mr Marcel Beaubien): Good morning, everyone. I'd like
to bring this
committee to order. We're here this morning to consider Bill 125,
An Act to
improve the identification, removal and prevention of barriers faced
with disabilities and to make related amendments to other Acts.
On behalf of the committee, I would like to apologize for being late.
the weather conditions, there was nothing we could about it, but I
your understanding and we apologize for the delay this morning. We'll
catch up over the lunch hour so the people making presentations this
are not jeopardized with regard to their timelines.
ONTARIO BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION
The Chair: Our first presentation this morning is from the Ontario
Association. I would ask the presenter to please come forward, and
your name for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome. You
minutes for your presentation this morning.
Ms Alice Bellavance: Good morning. My name is Alice Bellavance. It
is an honour
to speak before the committee today on a subject that is very important
I am representing 18,000 Canadians, one third of those in Ontario
are living with the effects of an acquired brain injury each year,
cumulative over time in terms of the numbers we are adding to our
ranks. I am a
member of the Ontario Brain Injury Association and represent northwestern
Ontario on their board of directors. I am also a member of the local
I would like to provide a few facts on brain injury. Acquired brain
the leading cause of death and disability in Ontario for those under
the age of
45. A brain injury doesn't heal quite like a broken arm or a broken
the results may last a lifetime. So if you consider the thousands
injured each year and you consider even the last 20 years, you begin
to get an
idea of just how many people live with these effects every day in
Brain injury can occur as a result of a motor vehicle collision,
represents approximately half of the acquired brain injury individuals
province according to the Ontario trauma registry; falls, particularly
the elderly and toddlers; assaults; diseases such as meningitis and
encephalitis; and brain tumours. There are other sudden-onset medical
which leave individuals with similar effects.
Brain injury doesn't distinguish itself by age, gender or socio-economic
status. It can happen to any of us in this room. It can happen at
work, it can
happen at play, or it can even happen on our way home from the meeting
Chances are that at least one person you work with, know or love
experienced the effects of this type of injury, and the effects are
devastating. No two brain injuries are exactly alike and the range
may be from
mild to severe.
Brain injury cuts across all disability groups. Because the brain
of our functioning, people with brain injury may have visual impairments,
hearing impairments, speech impairments, or mobility difficulties
requiring the use of a wheelchair or walker or other mobility device.
The most difficult impairments for family members, friends and especially
employers to understand are the personality changes and cognitive
can occur to the ability to organize their thoughts and the ability
things that used to happen quite easily.
One thing I need to remind committee members of, because I know you've
hearing from members of our association at the various sites where
having these hearings, is that a number of the individuals we work
visibly not appear to have any impairments at all, and their long-term
is intact so they remember that they used to be able to accomplish
tasks around their jobs or in school. However, now, subsequent to
they may not be able to complete those tasks.
The Ontario Brain Injury Association was formed in 1986. We currently
linked with 24 community groups across the province, with total membership
the thousands. We have a 20-member board of directors made up of survivors,
family members, professionals, service providers and business people
part of the province.
We are here today because we are deeply concerned that Ontarians
opportunity to participate as fully as possible in all aspects of
Ontario. Like many other individuals and advocacy groups, we would
like to be
very much more comfortable with an ODA that laid out explicit timelines
removal of specific barriers. It would also be comforting to have
assurance that these timelines would be effectively enforced.
It is also imperative that the terms of reference for the advisory
address the following: representation from a full range of disabilities,
of term of service, a requirement that all reports be made public
advisory councils be given the authority to identify any and all barriers.
However, our principal reason for being here today is to focus the
attention on barriers that are faced by the thousands of Ontarians
living with the effects of an acquired brain injury.
Brain injury is a unique disability group and is not limited to any
kind of impairment. People with brain injury can live with a combination
physical, sensory, cognitive or emotional impairments, and sometimes
all of the domains affected. Accordingly, we urge the committee to
that acquired brain injury be included in the definition of "disability"
People with physical impairments must contend with limited access
buildings, businesses, transportation and recreational facilities
on a daily
basis. These barriers are readily identifiable. The proposed ODA attempts
address this issue of physical barriers. Similarly, barriers for those
sensory impairments such as vision and hearing are addressed in the
the use of alternative formats.
However, the barriers that are faced by people living with cognitive
emotional impairments are much more difficult to identify and address.
of attitudinal barriers that often exclude those living with these
leaving them isolated and open to ridicule and abuse. We recognize
that it is
impossible to legislate attitudes and values, but it is possible to
have an ODA
that encompasses a comprehensive program of public awareness and education
could move society toward understanding, acceptance and accommodation
with cognitive and emotional impairments.
Let me illustrate some instances of attitudinal barriers. After a
presentation about acquired brain injury to a Rotary Club in a small
town, a man of about 50 from the audience approached the speaker and
that the presentation had left him feeling very uncomfortable. He
said that he
was one of four brothers, one of whom had sustained a brain injury
earlier as the result of a motor vehicle crash. Prior to the crash,
brothers had regularly worked and played together. Following the crash,
injured brother was withdrawn, often complaining of fatigue. The others
that claim as a lame excuse to just avoid them. In turn, they cut
brother out of aspects of their family life. He ended his story by
the speaker's statement that fatigue was a common symptom of ABI made
recognize that his brother was unfairly isolated. Even among family
close friends, this kind of misunderstanding of the effects of an
brain injury results in isolation, often devastating the person with
injury, and this is not uncommon.
Many of the individuals I work with daily in my gainful employment
Injury Services of Northern Ontario have that isolation and disconnectedness
from their family, because their family does not understand the impact
brain injury because it's quite invisible in many cases. What we find
individuals are estranged from their families. Brain injury doesn't
to the person; it happens to the whole family. When we start talking
funding our acts, we need to make sure that it's inclusive, not specifically
just to the individual but to all the individuals involved in that
We recognize that there are no simple and quick solutions to removing
attitudinal barriers. However, since they are barriers for thousands
Ontarians, not only those living with the effects of an acquired brain
but also those with developmental impairments and those who experience
illness, it is imperative that the government, through the ODA, provide
will and the resources necessary to develop effective public awareness
In summary, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act attempts to address
barriers faced by those with disabilities but falls short on its goal
supporting the right of every person with a disability to live as
as possible, to enjoy equal opportunity and to participate fully in
aspect of life in our province through the removal of existing barriers.
We have not had enough time to fully analyze this bill and consider
all of its
implications, but from our preliminary consideration we recommend
following: that the definition of "disability" include brain
injury in its
description; that explicit timelines be prescribed for the removal
barriers; that the bill have an effecttive mechanism for enforcement;
role and authority of the advisory council be defined, its reports
public and that the disability community have meaningful input; and
bill make provisions for the allocation of resources to raise public
and education of issues faced by those with disabilities, in order
foster a greater understanding and influence attitudes, working toward
reduction of attitudinal barriers.
A barrier-free community is a minimum goal to full participation
disabled in society. Through effective regulation and mandated co-operation
with the private and public sectors, the Ontarians with Disabilities
help deliver broad public awareness and understanding of cognitive
disabilities and eliminate other barriers for disabled persons in
every part of
Canada's richest province.
The Ontario Brain Injury Association, along with many other similar
organizations, stands prepared to assist the government through its
councils outlined in the ODA to develop ways and means necessary to
attitudinal barriers. We look forward to this challenge.
The disabled of Ontario are looking for leadership on this issue.
The Chair: We have approximately two minutes per caucus, and I'll
the official opposition.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Thunder Bay-Atikokan): Alice, you've very quickly
a few words some of the concerns we have with the bill around the
timelines, the lack of enforcement, the lack of resources to support
it and the
fact that even when it comes to the requirements for ensuring that
is accessible, there's no clarity that those are actually going to
regulatory requirements as opposed to guidelines. It's something you
mention specifically but we have a concern about. So I guess my question
be to take you back to the issue of the definition. I suspect people
as though someone with an acquired brain injury is caught with the
that's in the bill. Could you tell us how somebody with an acquired
injury could be missed?
Ms Bellavance: If they don't have any visible signs of impairment
or don't have
any support requirements for the sensory impairments that they may
as a visual impairment or hearing impairment, then you wouldn't know
had a disability.
Mrs McLeod: So they wouldn't necessarily be caught by a medical model
Ms Bellavance: That's right.
Mrs McLeod: One of the areas I don't think you touched on was the
fact that the
bill does not extend to private sector establishments, businesses.
Ms Bellavance: That's correct.
Mrs McLeod: I would think that would be pretty limiting for people
acquired brain injury in terms of the sites that they would particularly
Ms Bellavance: I think that would apply to all groups of disabilities
involves the private sector, and that's why we made a comment that
point there needs to be some collaboration between both the private
sector in terms of how they're going to address the requirements.
Mr Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North): Maybe I'll use
my time to say
to the members of the government that I hope when we have the clause-by-clause
process on Tuesday, December 11, I believe, where amendments will
forward, that at the very least they would accept an amendment whereby
definition of "disability" includes acquired brain injury
people as well.
Obviously we want to see more amendments than that, but that's one
that I think
is very signifycant, and I would hope that the members of the government
Ms Bellavance: Thank you.
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Thank you for coming this morning.
to be here in Thunder Bay, the great northwestern Ontario. You have
your submission some of the things that we've heard over and over
the last week as we've heard from people: the fact that the definition
everybody who is disabled, the issue of timelines, the issue of enforcement,
the role of the advisory committees and that they be made public,
and of course
the big question of resources to make all this happen.
In northern Ontario -- and we flew over a big chunk of country this
Ms Bellavance: That's right.
Mr Martin: There are a lot of small communities, most of them under
population. This legislation doesn't cover them. How many of the people
deal with or are connected with in any way in terms of brain injured
in smaller communities in northern Ontario?
Ms Bellavance: Northern Ontario, and this is my little soapbox that
get on, represents 90% of the land mass, but we only have 10% of the
and it's pretty sparsely scattered about. We also, unfortunately,
Ontario have the highest incidence and prevalence of acquired brain
the province. We have an incidence, just in the district of Thunder
Bay, of 397
per 100,000; the average is about 200.
Ms Bellavance: It's 397 per 100,000 versus 200 per 100,000 in most
That's primarily because of the geography, the climate, the distances
to drive, the conditions of the roads that we have to drive on, the
the work that we do in northern Ontario -- mining and forestry. There's
higher incidence and prevalence. So there's a large number of people
all the communities, including the small northern, remote reserves
only accessible by air.
Mr Martin: So it's not possible for them to, on a regular basis,
get into a
place like Thunder Bay to get --
Ms Bellavance: If they need really specialized services, they actually
relocate to a city like Thunder Bay to get the services, because we
deliver it in those smaller communities.
Mr Martin: So this legislation won't in any effective way help them?
Ms Bellavance: No.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham): Thank you, Ms Bellavance, for your presentation.
You're right. A number of things are having a recurring theme to them
attitudinal barrier is probably the most obvious one. I think all
of us have to
be educated. The biggest barrier is just knowledge or experience.
Ms Bellavance: That's right.
Mr O'Toole: I'd like to acknowledge there are two things you've mentioned
specifically. I read the definition as far more inclusive, perhaps,
think of it. If you look at section 2, you'll see that it says "a
mental impairment or a developmental disability." It also goes
on to say "an
injury or disability" which will benefit from other -- like an
that's recorded. But I do hear that. I'm not sure if you have something
But the one I'm quite supportive of, I want to put on the record,
is in the
reports. The ODA's mandate: it says sort of at the will of the minister,
it would report. But I kind of support the idea that the report of
annually be made public or tabled in the Legislature. Then it becomes
reference point so that issues could be brought forward, discussed,
government or whoever it is would have to respond in some way. I hope
my saying that -- I'm a member of the government. I'd like to see
mandatorily tabled in the Legislature and, as such, to be responded
Do you have any remarks? Is that strong enough? Right now, it is
examine accessibility issues and the elimination of barriers. There
are a lot
of mandates within the definition: the council shall advise the minister
number of things and make an annual report directly to the minister.
missing is the report being mandated into the Legislature. Any responses?
Ms Bellavance: I think it needs to be public, it needs to be tabled,
also needs to be a mechanism to respond so that if any further amendments
to be made, there's a mechanism to do that.
The Chair: We've run out of time. On behalf of the committee, thank
much for your presentation this morning.
I forgot, and it must be because of my age, but I want to let the
that the bill is available in Braille. We also have audiotapes, disks,
large-print copies, and the bill is also available in French. It's
on the table
to my left.
CITY OF THUNDER BAY
The Chair: With that I'll ask the next presenter, from the city of
to please come forward, and if you could state your name for the record.
behalf of the committee, welcome.
Mr Ken Boshcoff: My name is Ken Boshcoff. I'm the mayor of the city
Bay. Don't worry, it will not take 20 minutes.
I would like to thank you and the representatives here today, particularly
provincial government, for holding a hearing here in Thunder Bay in
the people of northwestern Ontario could have a say before Bill 125
law. The Honourable Cam Jackson, the minister responsible for the
done an admirable job in forging this legislation and working to ensure
the people of Ontario have input prior to third reading.
In May 2000, two meetings of the mayor's round table on disabled
at a conclusion that for disabled issues to gain momentum, the most
need was to have a disability act in our province, one that will have
partisanship set aside in order that we may achieve the best legislation
Shortly thereafter, a resolution was passed unanimously at Thunder
council which was further endorsed by both the Northwestern Ontario
Association and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
The minister did indeed hear the concerns of many constituencies
of Ontario's municipally elected representatives. Our local members,
and Michael Gravelle, have assisted greatly in raising the level of
and helping us through the process.
Thunder Bay, as a community, is very proud of a myriad of initiatives
accessibility and inclusion. Our new community development plan, Fast
>>, is quite specific with goals that we will become known for
in municipal disabled programming. Our parks and recreation divisions,
engineering, planning, building departments, and our transit and police
weigh accessibility as priorities in their budgeting and planning.
our municipal government we strive to be understanding and helpful
facilities and programs.
This has shown itself in many ways over the years, and our record
co-operation with disabled organizations is lengthy, with many, many
I was hoping to compile a list of these accomplishments to document
that we all may know how much as been done. There is still much to
do. The act,
I believe, will help. I will leave the analysis and dissection of
act to those groups who more fully comprehend the implications of
At a more recently convened meeting of representatives of many local
advocacy groups, the overall consensus was to ensure that a hearing
was held in
Thunder Bay, so again I thank you for taking the time and making sure
hearing will go on. It may be somewhat compact but at least we're
attentive, and that's important.
A second summary of issues was formed by a coalition of several advocacy
organizations and has already been forwarded to you under separate
believe that has been received?
The Chair: It's not here right yet.
Mr Boshcoff: OK. As a board member of the Association of Municipalities
Ontario we are also working on a common position paper for municipalities
throughout the province. That should be available to you in the next
My personal goal is to have our city become known as Canada's most
community. However, we would be willing to share such recognition
Ontario municipalities, and I believe that a new disabilities act
this province forward.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have three and a half minutes
per caucus and
I'll start with Mr Martin. Oh, I'll go to the government side and
back to Mr Martin.
Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): Thank you very much, Mr Mayor, for your
presentation. Just quickly, it seems that with your Fast Forward >>
you've come a long way, or at least in the process you've come a long
the bill, of course, there's a reference to mandatory implementation
advisory committees. I guess the first question would be, do you feel
already where the city of Thunder Bay is going and doing, bringing
together and forming an advisory committee on where you need to go?
Do you feel
that is the way to go, and are you getting there?
Mr Boshcoff: Let me say that there is a recognition that we have
and many achievements in our community and we also do recognize our
shortcomings and the distance we have to go. I believe that any process
consultation that involves the consumer, or the people who are affected
directly, is a good step. If that communication is open and if those
are having input are representative and have some measure of certainty
recommendations will be taken seriously and implemented, then I would
that's the track you want to stay on.
Mr Hardeman: Do you have the disabled community involved in that
Mr Boshcoff: A year ago in the springtime, I convened two meetings
-- we called
them round tables -- just to essentially educate the mayor as to what
shortcomings were and what we had to do. Previous to that, though,
been considerable input into our community development plan as several
organizations were party to that and representatives were working
on it hand in
hand with the rest of the community. The meeting that I convened recently,
after the introduction of the bill, was primarily for me to pass on
Association of Municipalities of Ontario the feelings of our group
I have done.
There was some discussion, of course, as to whether the bill should
understand that there's a timeline and those types of things. That
my decision. I forward all that on to the Association of Municipalities
Ontario and I believe we'll be having a conference call in the next
day or so
to try and get you something conclusive from the municipal perspective.
Mr Hardeman: Lastly, I just wondered, you were here for the previous
presentation on brain injuries?
Mr Boshcoff: Yes.
Mr Hardeman: Because it's an invisible barrier in a lot of cases,
one recommendation that's coming from the association is public awareness.
Obviously that needs to be done where the community is; that can't
be done from
somewhere in the distance. Have you got any suggestions on how we
could do more
of that? Obviously the problem, the disability, has been there for
but as a society we haven't done a very good job of public awareness
situation. Have you got any suggestions on that?
Mr Boshcoff: I do, actually. I think that representatives from our
offices were also at an event last week for a respite care facility
houses -- Alice, you can correct me if I'm wrong -- a brain injury
Andras Court, as it's known. With that type of involvement, where
you had at
that time the municipal housing authority, the provincial housing
various organizations combine to say, "This is the kind of facility
need; this is the kind of co-operation that we need to get there,"
actually say, "These are the kinds of things that are happening
communities." I believe those types of projects are one of the
Minister Jackson mentioned us in the House at that time.
Mrs McLeod: Ken, thank you for being here and making a presentation.
of course, that Thunder Bay was cited by the minister, when he presented
bill, for its leadership in creating greater access for the disabled
community. I'm glad that you also noted today that there is still
a long way to
go, because I think the people who are here in the audience would
that, even in a community that has shown some leadership. I guess
leads me to my question. I know you've said you would leave the analysis
bill to others. Because we do want to recognize the leadership that's
provided, I want you to wear your hat as a member of the municipal
rather than as the mayor of Thunder Bay, if I can ask you to do that?
Mr Boshcoff: I hope they'll let me; I'm sure they will.
Mrs McLeod: I'm not asking you for any confidential secrets, I don't
The concern that we have had with the bill, as a caucus and party,
voluntary nature of it; the fact that it requires plans to be presented
there's no enforcement. We obviously have a concern about the lack
timelines, as well as the enforcement -- it's very difficult to enforce
something when there's no requirement that you actually proceed with
there were timelines, if there were requirements to proceed, we would
real concern about the resources that might be made available, particularly
the municipal level because there would be some significant financial
implications for the municipalities. My question is, in the feedback
municipalities to the minister, would the municipalities not in fact
recommending what's here: "Don't put in the timelines. Don't
mandatory. We just can't afford it and without the resources it's
just going to
be another download"? I guess my concern is, where's the incentive
in this bill
for municipalities that have not been providing leadership, have not
it out of their own resources, to do anything at all?
Mr Boshcoff: Let me try and work backwards. In terms of the downloading
issue, there's no doubt that all of the municipalities of Ontario
kind of a cautious approach to any kind of legislation that involves
we are not really sure how deep the water may become as we jump in.
I would think, though, that there's a willingness to co-operate with
province to a great extent on this. AMO, I am certain, in its position
that the concerns with timelines may not be so onerous on those that
the path already but may be for those, as you mentioned, that have
not begun in
earnest or -- for whatever reasons -- not gone down that path. That's
The financing is always the concern in any of our conference calls.
municipalities be charged with this responsibility? I don't think
we would mind
being part of the implementation process, be it building services
that things are corrected that haven't been. I would say that the
government, in terms of forging this legislation, has got to understand
we are going to be wheels to help implement it, we are going to need
To a large extent, it comes down to the municipalities always perhaps
"Make sure we are adequately funded." In this case, there
seem to be some grey
areas here. That's from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
like that part of the legislation cleared up so we know what we'd
Mr Martin: Which actually is my question as well. We've heard continually
the last week or so that there are no timelines, there's no enforcement
there are no resources. Underpinning all that, it seems to me -- and
government did consult with AMO and others -- is this question of
money. Is the
money going to be available? If you set timelines and I have to hit
timelines, it is going to cost me to do that. If you don't have the
the resources, you really can't do any of this.
Mr Boshcoff: Our own experience here in our community is that we
have tried to
be a little bit ahead of the game in terms of barrier-free municipal
facilities. Our building department tries to be, one might say, more
in enforcing building codes to ensure these things. We know for certain
things happen during the course of events that might not meet the
we are trying to achieve here. So, in answering your question, municipalities
-- we'll all use our own case -- want to go forward quickly with this.
believe here that it is not even just a matter of it being some kind
philosophical thing. Something we believe here intrinsically through
community is that these are the things we should be doing. You will
reason that there's a large number of advocacy groups here is, I believe,
there is a response and that their messages are being received.
I am hoping this act, over all those things of timelines, enforcement
funding, will at least grease the wheels so that we can start going
path. I would think that over the next two weeks really those things
of enforcement, timelines and resources are the kinds of things that
people identify them all, be part of the act. It comes up very obviously
almost every discussion paper.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
Mr Boshcoff: Thank you. Please enjoy your stay in our community.
I hope it is
The Chair: Too bad this will be a short stay, though.
Mrs McLeod: You never know. The storm is coming. You may be able
to enjoy the
city longer than you thought.
The Chair: Our next presentation is from Tracy Hurlbert. I would
presenter to please come forward and state your name for the record.
of the committee, welcome. You have 15 minutes for your presentation
Ms Tracy Hurlbert: Thank you. I am Tracy Lynn Hurlbert. I'm an ODSP
For those who don't know what ODSP stands for -- I don't think there's
in the room who doesn't -- it is the Ontario disability support program.
also a home care recipient. What's really been affecting me lately
is that I've
been cut down from five hours a week to one hour a week. This also
I've been cut back from three baths a week to one bath a week. I'm
I have colitis, so I have accidents. Plus, being a young woman, I
periods. One bath weekly will cause me health problems as well as
a bit of a
The other thing is that my grandparents are also home care recipients.
currently allotted three hours weekly. I'm worried that they too will
back. My grandmother has had two strokes and, as a result, has great
performing daily living tasks. She also is a very heavy woman. My
grandfather is her primary caregiver, but he is getting frail and
himself. All members of my family, except myself, work. In my grandfather's
mind, asking us for help, or accepting it from us, would make them
a burden on
us. That's not so, but that's what he thinks. My grandparents would
willing to accept home care rather than care from our family. They
My grandfather has heart problems and has had a mini-stroke himself.
that if their home care is cut back, my grandfather will take on too
put himself at risk.
They don't want to move into a seniors home and they shouldn't have
to if they
don't want to. It is cruel to make people move and to do things like
That's just not right. I think that the ODA should help us with allowing
to stay in their home and giving a decent amount of home care. We
the right to live in our own homes just like everybody else.
My problem is also with limited medications coverage. My antihistamines
covered. That's $20 to $30 a month. That's not a big deal. But if
I don't take
them, I need my puffers, which cause mouth ulcers, which cause my
act up. Then I need three or four medications for that. One of these
fibromyalgia and arthritis to act up. I then need more medications.
medications that are covered come to over $200 to $300. Why should
I have to
suffer and be overmedicated? The cost is a big factor. Why should
government spend $300 on me if they could get away with spending $20
first place? If this extra money was spent on prevention, like antihistamines,
a lot of money would be saved.
Speaking of money, the cost of special equipment is astounding. On
top of that,
the manufacturers need to be made responsible for the quality of their
products. My wheelchair was $24,000, OK? It broke the first week I
That's right, one week. Someone bumped into me and part of my foot
right off; it shattered. When I phone the manufacturer, they said,
you can't take that out in the cold." It's white metal. That's
live in the north. If they sell something in the north, it should
be made for
the north and the manufacturer should be responsible for that. They're
selling it. This chair will be two years old in February and it has
been in the
shop 23 times for repairs. It has been in the shop almost more than
Service and sales stores must also be made more responsible for their
store sold me used batteries as new. They broke parts of my chair
right with me there, and tried to convince me that they were broken
replaced perfectly good parts with inferior ones. When I complained,
given excuses. When I called ADP, they said that's between myself
vendor. Hey, ADP pays for these devices; the taxpayers pay for it.
be able to ensure that they get what they pay for. This is a lot of
the money was spent on actually preventing this kind of stuff from
we'd have more money for home care. That's a lot of cash. More and
aren't covered also. My battery charger needs to be replaced. It is
not covered as it is not part of my chair. What good is a power wheelchair
without power? Where am I supposed to get this $800 from?
As with most people on ODSP, I haven't received a raise since 1987.
else here live on what they made in 1987? Oh, I've got a small raise
of not having enough money to buy healthy food have helped me become
diabetic. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just prevent diabetes in the first
giving people enough money to buy good food rather than have to try
to keep us
healthy once we develop diet-related illnesses?
Another problem I have is the medical clinics. When I go there for
illnesses, not all clinics and hospitals are wheelchair-accessible
equipment that is accessible or usable by persons with disabilities.
shouldn't have to go to the hospital for a simple Pap smear but I
none of the doctors' offices in town have an exam table that I can
get on to.
I'm sure that's a problem for a lot of other people. Seniors, women
pregnant, they need these things as well. It's not just me.
Communication: when you're at the doctor's office, a lot of doctors
time to communicate with you if you have a communication disability,
honorary sister does. She uses a special computer to talk. She's got
palsy and it takes her forever to type anything. So if something's
noticeable, her doctor just doesn't treat her for it, because he doesn't
time to listen to her. If I can't take time off from what I'm doing
to go with
her, he won't even bother. Unless it's something that's noticeable,
get treated. So something else that could have been prevented may
I'd like to see that when hospitals, medical clinics etc are built,
to be wheelchair-accessible. All buildings should be wheelchair-accessible,
regardless of their size. That's not the way it is now, though. A
shop opened in my neighbourhood, but there's no power door there.
It's just a
stupid doughnut shop, I know, but maybe I'd like to go and get a doughnut
coffee but I can't get in there.
When I complained to the Human Rights Commission, I was told that
under a certain size don't have to have power doors. Why is this so?
have the same rights as other people. I think a strong ODA would help
have those rights, if we include those things in there. I should be
able to go
out and do things on my own. I shouldn't have to call my mom and dad
The final thing -- also speaking of calling people -- my honorary
an attendant on the bus. But on the city buses, she has to pay two
fares if she
brings an attendant with her, despite the fact that all the bus drivers
her to have someone with her because she can't hang on and she can't
bell when she wants to get off. Why should she have to pay twice when
else only pays once? I think we should have some legislation that
organizations to allow people who actually need an attendant with
them to have
that attendant and not force them to pay two fares. Thank you.
The Chair: We have two minutes per caucus. I'll start with the government
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much, Tracy, for being here and for a
presentation of things you have to live with on a regular basis, some
are directly under the prevalence of this debate on this bill.
There has certainly been lots of debate, as I'm sure Ms McLeod will
say, on the
home care and home supports programs. I can't respond any more than
to say that
there have been increased supports, I believe, certainly in my area,
not in Toronto; it's kind of a rural area. Are they enough? No. Will
it ever be
In fact, it is a problem for all governments. I'm not trying to make
political, I just think it's a national issue as well. It does me
no good to
play politics, but I believe the federal government has a role in
money in, because the population is aging, more diseases and ailments
diagnosed earlier, treatment is more readily known and should be delivered,
drugs and other things are very expensive and growing more expensive,
because of anything you've said or done. Governments at all levels
have to make
sure that they're working -- not just on the equipment side, as you
-- to make sure there are standards in those areas that aren't particularly
attached to this.
I think if I were to relate this to this bill, the ODA would be able
to put a
framework and a voice to the issues you've raised, and they could
of the mainstream debate on people and access issues and attitude
the bill does nothing more than that, I think it is definitely a step
I see it as a person trying to represent roughly the same number of
constituents as Ms McLeod or Michael. I would just like you to respond:
think this bill will help not just your voice today but the people
and disability issues across Ontario?
Ms Hurlbert: As long as it's a very clear bill and certain things
very clearly, such as the fact that we have a right to live in our
and have home care and stuff like that. It can't be a very vague bill.
to be very clear, so that people don't have grey areas where they
can say, "We
can get around this and get around that." It's got to be clear
and it's got to
actually be enforced. That's the other thing. Having a bill that's
it's not going to be enforced, then it's no good.
The Chair: We'll turn to the official opposition.
Mr Gravelle: Tracy, it's great to see you. We had a public forum
related to the Ontario disability support program and Tracy was an
participant in that. It was interesting at the time when you brought
the issues related to the fact that the wheelchair you have is not
for the conditions of the north and that the frequency with which
down is extraordinary. Tell us a little bit more about that. I just
needs to be full support for you to be able to have access to this,
really such a significant part of your life, obviously. I know how
it's been for you over the years. There are so many other issues you
and I can
get into which we've discussed, but I think it's important for members
more about that.
Ms Hurlbert: There have been days when I have had to stay in bed
chair is just not working. Those days when I'm in bed may be days
physiotherapy, they may be days that I have volunteer jobs, things
that make my
quality of life better and also the quality of life for other people
community. If I'm in bed I can't do any of that stuff, but if I sit
up in my
chair all day I just can't breathe. If this chair breaks down too
times, it's not going to be covered any more. Some of the repairs,
told now, won't be covered any more because they have been done to
I think this is the fourth set of foot pedals I've had. They just
breaking. And the wheelchair shops know about this. My mom has talked
another lady who has had five wheelchairs in the last 15 or 20 years
has had a problem with every single one of them. I don't know anybody
power chair who hasn't had a problem. I met one lady today who said
had very many, but it's across the board, it's not just me. My friend,
honorary sister, who is 105 pounds soaking wet with a weight around
also has problems with her chair. So it's not my weight, it's the
lady has to spend a lot of time in bed too when her chair doesn't
Mr Martin: Thank you for coming today and talking with us. Certainly,
in a very
personal way, you've touched on a lot of the things we've heard over
week: attitudinal challenges, the ODA covering the private sector,
shop, the lack of resources.
It seems to me that the problem with this bill is underpinned by
of resources. If the government had the resources and was willing
them, we wouldn't be worried about timelines and enforcement. I think
be a question of just making sure that people hit those targets. The
has indicated it has chosen its priorities, and one of their priorities
give tax breaks to corporations and other individuals in the province.
of that, we don't have the money in the public kitty to spend on these
things you speak of as necessary if you're going to have a good quality
and be able to participate in the way that you have the potential
I would be interested in any comment you might make in terms of priorities.
What should the priority of government be? Should it be tax breaks
corporations or should it be taking publicly collected taxes and spending
on services such as the ones we're so directly talking about here
Ms Hurlbert: I think if you spent the money on the services, but
on the ones
that are preventive. First of all, I take $200 to $300 worth of medications
instead of spending $20 in antihistamines, and all the costs of the
repairs that I've had. If you would make the companies responsible
sure they actually work, you would be spending a lot less on repairs,
wheelchairs, on things that could have been prevented. Then you could
money and help cut back the taxes on the big businesses. So it could
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
CANADIAN HEARING SOCIETY,
THUNDER BAY REGIONAL OFFICE
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Canadian Hearing Society,
Bay regional office. I would ask the presenter or presenters to please
forward and state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee,
welcome. You have 20 minutes for your presentation this afternoon.
Ms Karen Higginson: My name is Karen Higginson and I work at the
Hearing Society. I am also an advocate for the deaf community and
I am myself
deaf. First, I would just like to express my appreciation for being
present to the committee today, and I will take less than 20 minutes.
To begin with, I'm sure you are already familiar with this document
that I have
before me from the Canadian Hearing Society. It goes into a little
detail about discussions that deaf, hard of hearing and deafened individuals
have experienced. Have people had the opportunity to see this? OK.
I'm going to talk about some of the concerns that we as a deaf community
in regard to the ODA. The hard of hearing, deafened and deaf community
Thunder Bay is not in support of Bill 125 the way it is laid out right
reason being that there have already been three laws established:
Rights Code, the Supreme Court of Canada ruling of 1997 and also the
rights and freedoms. None of these three bills has been successful
for the deaf
community. We have experienced many barriers since, and during, the
these other laws.
People who work within the government, the medical professions in
hospitals, and the court systems, do not make services accessible.
people go to see their family doctor, for example, it is said that
will not be provided. In fact, the attitude is, "If you want
bring one yourself." This is very frustrating for deaf people.
It is not our
responsibility to always provide our own interpreter. The law is clear
should have accessibility in all services but it is not actually taking
We have to bring our own interpreter, which is very difficult, and
difficult to convince people. If a person were to bring their own
ramp to a
building, that would be ludicrous. It's just as ludicrous for deaf
people to be
expected to pay for their own interpreter.
As well, when deaf people go in to use hospital services and we ask
interpreter support, we are often told that we have to bring our own
interpreter or arrange it ourselves. Sometimes they request or expect
us to use
our own children to interpret for us, which is very inappropriate.
they will bring in people who know a little bit of finger spelling
or a little
bit of sign language to interpret for us, and that's inadequate for
community's need. We need professional, certified interpreters.
A professional interpreter means that they will have qualifications
will have been tested and certified in both languages: ASL and English.
Professional interpreters are also trained in deaf culture and are
aware of the
differences between deaf and hearing cultures.
The Ontario disability support program has been very frustrating
people to access. Oftentimes the worker will say that we can write
instead of getting an interpreter, which is very limiting for deaf
English is not our first language. When we go in to sign papers for
those are legal proceedings, those are legal documents, and if we
sign them, we
may be signing something we don't understand because we haven't accessed
our first language.
We have these particular frustrations and struggles on a daily basis
people's attitudes, thinking that we are the bad guy, and we've had
it. That is why we as a community would like Bill 125 to become stronger
language: if people are not following the guidelines and the requirements
up in the ODA, that there be stronger consequences. That's all I have
The Chair: We have approximately three minutes per caucus for questions
I'll start with the official opposition.
Mrs McLeod: I'll lead off for us. Karen, thank you very much for
presentation. You have made the point so clearly about the importance
interpretation and the barrier that represents if it's not available.
I guess I
would like to use the opportunity of your presentation to make a plea
people who are around the table who will be hearing, I'm sure, a similar
emphasis on the importance of interpretation as you go around the
I think, because you'll be sensitized to this, it's important that
you know the
frustration of people here in northwestern Ontario and in Thunder
Bay. We have
only one interpreter, if you can imagine the limitations on those
who are deaf
and hard of hearing and deafened in our community when they're told,
says, that they have to bring their own interpreter, but in fact there's
one person. The limitations on access for people in this community
unimaginable. In fact, you'll know that this committee almost couldn't
Thunder Bay because we didn't have an interpreter available. Our only
interpreter was busy. She's been coming in and out, doing other things.
So I would ask, if we're serious about removing barriers, that you
help us take
this message back that we have to move some kind of mountain. We've
letters. The deaf community has written. Somehow we have to move mountains
try to address this really serious barrier in our community.
The Chair: Ms Higginson, did you want to comment?
Ms Higginson: Just to say that what we are requesting and requiring
qualified interpreters. We need interpreters who have the qualifications
and in English, including an understanding of deaf culture. The Ontario
Interpreter Services require their interpreters to be tested every
two years to
make sure they're current. That's the type of interpreter we're asking
Mr Gravelle: Karen, thank you very much, and thank you also for attending
public meeting we held a couple of weeks ago related to the Ontario
support program. It was very good to hear you.
In terms of the legislation itself, what do you think specifically
needs to be
in there? Does there need to be some specific reference to the need
interpreters and the funding for them in the legislation that's before
today? What else would you specifically ask for?
Ms Higginson: In Bill 125?
Mr Gravelle: Yes.
Ms Higginson: To be honest with you, I have not been able to access
efficiently because of English being my second language. I recognize
morning that you mentioned that it was available in Braille format
print, but it is not yet available in ASL format. So we as a deaf
have really been struggling to understand it in its full meaning.
Mr Gravelle: That's very unfortunate.
Ms Higginson: As far as I'm concerned, it is null and void to me.
Mr Gravelle: That's very sad.
Mr Martin: I just again want to thank you for personalizing some
of the issues
we've seen presented over the last few days as we've travelled the
know in my own community we have the same problem. We have one interpreter
80,000 people. If you consider the region -- there are 125,000, and
come to the Soo for services -- there is no interpretation.
I know of deaf people who have ended up in jail because something
downtown and somebody misinterpreted what the situation was. The police
called. The deaf person got really frustrated and became a bit aggressive
got thrown in jail and had to wait in jail for days until they could
interpreter in to actually hear from the person what they were trying
and do and sort the circumstance out. Those are the kinds of things
on a fairly regular basis for that community of people.
Can you imagine, as Karen has said, that you're in the hospital and
asked to bring your own interpreter in? So the doctor comes in to
tell you that
you have a brain tumour or cancer and your child has to be used to
message on. That's the kind of thing that I hear in my office as a
Again I go back to the issue of, if we're going to provide the kinds
services the deaf community needs, it's going to cost money; there's
about it. It's expensive. But it's a question, as I said yesterday
hearing, of how many of people's human rights can you afford not to
this community in particular.
The government has chosen, obviously, priorities. They're giving
tax breaks to
corporations. We're spending public money to the tune of some $2 billion
billion that we then don't have to spend on the kinds of services
you need. Is
that fair, in your mind?
Ms Higginson: No.
Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre): Thank you, Ms Higginson. It was
for you to be here today to be able to present your personal perspective
the need for more signers and, really, assistance to people of the
I want to draw to your attention, and also to the other members'
been with us on the committee, with due respect, that in the spring
finance minister has committed $55 million this year, which is $20
than the normal amount, for these services. It's intended to grow
$200 million by 2006-07. It was specifically designed to enhance services
people with developmental disabilities and attract more quality caregivers.
it was important that you gave your input here today. We want to ensure
down the road, after this bill is implemented, the lobbying is important
that some of those dollars can be allocated in the way that you have
Ms Higginson: I hope this is not off topic, but if services are provided
general public, we're happy about that. But when we try to access
services, we feel, when we're not provided with access, that we're
second-class citizen and that we're living below the standard of living
everybody else. So what we're asking for is just to be on par with
community. We have felt very neglected to date.
Mr O'Toole: I would just like to thank you, Karen, for being here
giving voice to your concerns. I should, for the record, mention that
have been very proud yesterday of the deaf and deafened community.
students from the Milton Deaf Action Group made a very excellent presentation.
Their names were Vance Youngs, Tanya Sturk and Jessamyn Roach. They
animated, and not angry, but frustrated. I think they made many of
demands of increasing the number and quality of signing interpreters.
certainly got this forum to get your message out, and I appreciate
Ms Higginson: Thank you.
Ms Nancy Frost: Hi. I'm Nancy Frost. I'm regional director of the
Hearing Society. Although Karen, because of personal reasons, is really
focusing on the lack of sign language interpreters, the lack of access
deaf community, we also must not lose sight that there are issues
of lack of
access for the hard of hearing and deafened; for example, real-time
captionists, note-takers. The entry levels into a lot of provincial
municipal services are through voice messages which are not acceptable
deafened and the hard of hearing. So I appreciate Karen's focus on
the lack of
sign language interpreters, but we must also not forget that there
other access issues that are not being made available.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
COMPLEX CASE NETWORK
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Disabled Workers' Complex
Network. I would ask the presenter to please come forward, and if
state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Mr Darrell Sanderson: My name is Darrell Sanderson. I would like
to take this
opportunity to thank the standing committee on finance and economic
this opportunity to speak here today on this proposed legislation,
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
I am a disabled consumer with a wide range of experience and interests
to our disabled communities. My disability is as a result of a workplace
accident in October 1977. I was 21 years of age at the time. Since
that time, I
have acquired a vast amount of experience, history and knowledge relating
disability issues and their impact on persons with a disability.
My volunteer background and work experience in the disabled community
extensive. I have served as a volunteer in executive capacity on the
the Handicapped Action Group, Wilderness Discovery, HAGI Transit,
transit service for persons with disabilities, and also Persons United
Self-Help in Northwestern Ontario. Both the HAGI and PUSH Northwest
consumer-controlled organizations. Their boards comprise at least
consumers who have a direct say in the day-to-day operations of the
I have also served as business manager for the local Ontario March
of Dimes as
well as for the aforementioned HAGI Transit. Presently, I am the president
the Disabled Workers' Complex Case Network, or DWCCN for short. Our
organization is a consumer-driven organization providing peer support,
information services and assistance to severely disabled workers who
suffered a serious workplace accident.
The complexity of modern society and the severely disabled workers
dependent on workers' compensation require an increased level of education
order that severely disabled workers are able to cope and manage in
society. The battle with acceptance and adjustment to disabling conditions
be viewed as less devastating than having to deal with getting through
bureaucratic systems in order to live as independently as possible.
concept can be extrapolated to all disabled people who experience
much of the
same complexity and bureaucracy in meeting their everyday needs for
access and effect for such things as education, housing, transportation,
employment and recreation.
There is a great amount of controversy about Bill 125. Some simply
say that the
proposed legislation is inadequate. Others say that the legislation
or supersede other legislation such as the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Others say there are no teeth to the bill. They say it is voluntary
there are no enforcement mechanisms or provisions. The legislation
about the public sector and really does not involve the private sector.
stands, one only has to show intent to meet the code, as outlined
legislation. Intent to provide access does not constitute attempt
obligation under the legislation. As an example, the building codes
uniform standards, best practices and enforcement mechanisms. Where
you have no
standards, how do you remediate the problems that arise?
PUSH Northwest and DWCCN were involved in a previous provincial review
building code recommendations. The government of the day introduced
legislation that is today less effective than it was before the review.
municipality of Thunder Bay at one time had better standards and building
than the provincial legislation itself contained. The revisions to
code were a step backward for our community, with most adopting undesirable
legislation which the government introduced. If the government does
proper provisions into the Bill 125 legislation, then persons with
will look for other alternatives, such as filing complaints with other
such as the Ontario Human Rights Commission. That is not a preferred
the Ontario Human Rights Commission process can literally take years.
what of systemic issues? How will the proposed legislation deal with
DWCCN has followed closely the activities of the ODA Committee. DWCCN
the ODA's submission of the 11 principles outlined by the committee
their submission of the blueprint and amendments for the ODA legislation.
of concern that this government does not. The government is quick
to cite that
their legislation and initiatives have the support of many well-known
organizations. However, we point out that it is erroneous to draw
on such a
conclusion in that many of those organizations are service providers
vested interests in the form of government funding and agency obligations.
examples of organizations that are not consumer controlled are the
March of Dimes, Easter Seals, Canadian National Institute for the
Canadian Paraplegic Association. These organizations do good work
contribute positively to the quality of life for disabled people,
but they have
a conflict in making representation to this government, which funds
addition, these organizations representing the disabled have become
touch with the disabled issues of those at the grassroots. It is important
this government take the time and energy to consult all constituents
125 in a qualitative and quantitative manner.
Disabled individuals in our community are asking why Bill 125 is
through the process, especially given that many view this legislation
present form as undesirable. The present bill is voluntary, not mandatory,
has no enforcement mechanisms or provisions and only talks about the
sector versus the private. Why do you want to put through something
that is not
good? Furthermore, there are no provisions in the legislation that
with the systemic issues. People are misinformed if they think the
Human Rights Commission deals with systemic issues. If that agency
people would not have to file individual human rights complaints repeatedly
the same issues. How will Bill 125 deal with these systemic issues?
If you're following the paper, it's not in here but I have added
some of the presentations that have been made. It was probably a miscue
part in not including it. This particular legislation is about rights
legislation and it should ensure for people with disabilities that
portable. It should be mandated so that people with disabilities,
where they go, what community they come from, whether it's 5,000,
100,000, should be able to travel to those communities and expect
Why is this present government so set on ramming this legislation
House? What is the rush? Is Cam Jackson being forced to keep Mike
promise to bring the legislation in this year? It would be better
to renege on
Mr Harris's promise than to bring the legislation in at this time.
Conservative government has had approximately six years of government
to act in
an enlightened and proactive way. Instead, we have lack of funding
designed to assist people with a disability. People cannot get service
of a lack of funding and co-opting of payments under the assistive
program. People are going to charity for assistance in funding mobility
equipment. There is a lack of income supports, transportation, sidewalks
curb cuts. Grocery stores set up pop and vending machines in access
fill their aisles with stock. The more severely disabled suffer more
their needs and the higher costs associated with their disabilities.
goes on. The government should have been leading the way. Instead,
receiving rhetoric that is meaningless and consultation that is less
As an example, the government recently proposed $5,000 fines for abusing
handicapped parking spots. The disabled community does not value expensive
fines for disabled parking infractions. More value would be obtained
existing and any future laws were policed or enforced.
Disabled individuals at the grassroots level have a lot of life experience
knowledge to impart. This knowledge is not always captured by the
organizations that represent the disabled. It is our belief that the
government's consultations should be more extensive and not on short
presently is the case. The government should make use of that knowledge
accepting the proposed amendments that are coming forward and defer
introduction of the legislation until it can more thoroughly consult
manner and matter that is meaningful to all.
The Chair: We have two minutes per caucus.
Mr Martin: Thank you very much for coming today. One of the points
highlight in your presentation, all of your points actually, indicates
you're paying attention to this whole process. You're obviously either
or listening to the hearings and what's going on at Queen's Park,
you're presenting here today is certainly relevant and on the mark.
The question of more extensive public hearings: I guess it's in northern
Ontario that you notice it probably more than anyplace else. For example,
I would guess that all the people coming to present are from Thunder
about Fort Frances, Kenora, Marathon, Manitouwadge, and on and on,
communities? Mind you, most of them are under 10,000, so they won't
by this legislation anyway. The question then is, what do those people
terms of access and their human rights?
I think you make an excellent point. It's unfortunate, actually,
government isn't willing to take the time, if they're really and sincerely
interested in finding a bill that will do the trick, to hear from
people as possible in as many circumstances as possible. Do you have
why they might not be willing to do that or aren't willing to do that?
Mr Sanderson: I'm not really sure why that is. I would suggest the
for people to respond is not helpful at all. If you look at one of
communities farthest from us, Kenora, it's a considerable distance
Relative to people who have presented here today, Tracy herself had
ahead to get a ride on the parallel transit system. Those are some
difficulties people with disabilities have: just getting out in the
Like I say, the way we're starting to view this is that it's being
through, that it's not a direct consultation. My own personal opinion
this government believes they are doing the right thing. However I'm
say I don't think you are if you're putting all your eggs in the basket
looking at the disabled organizations that have been around. There
out there who do not have the opportunity to participate and you have
to do it
in a proper, well-time-framed manner in order to collect those particular
inputs from those individuals.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much, Darrell. Clearly you've been a very
hard-working advocate, since 1977 you said in your report. I see in
background here you've been involved with the WSIB in an advisory
capacity as well. Has anything happened since 1977, or what could
be, as I see,
the position paper from the north in 1993 that was presented to the
of the day? I have a copy of that with me.
I'm not trying to be harsh. This is quite critical of the government,
it through." When I was on council, this very issue was discussed
in the early
90s in excruciating detail and there was absolutely no response by
government of the day. This, to me, is a very complex rights issue,
said, and as such -- now, I'm not lecturing you, I just want to balance
discussion of "we've done nothing," to make the point that
you said, should be portable and as such should be national, but airline,
and other regulatory agencies are federal in nature. There is no federal
national standard. This is the first province that's done anything
legislative framework. I'm convinced this framework allows you at
and the ODA table to make statements on the record and require governments
To this date, not one government, including the others, have done
have not been as involved as you by any stretch, but I have listened
to it for
over a decade, personally, at a legislative framework, at council
and as a
school councillor. I can say without exception -- I was the chair
of a special
ed advisory committee from 1982 to 1987. In that time special education
zero attention. This government required integration as opposed to
and specifically funded special ed.
What I'm saying is, without being argumentative with you, I must
put on the
record that this is, in my view, a first step. The consultation has
on with you since 1977. I believe this is a piece of legislation that's
needed. I would ask you a question: if I put to you that the next
option is to
do nothing, would you prefer to defeat this bill and have nothing
or -- it's a
not a fair question perhaps. I hope I haven't been too animated. But
understand? It's fine to be beat up in public, but my record is --
The Chair: Question, please.
Mr O'Toole: Is it this or nothing?
Mr Sanderson: I think I know what the question is and truthfully
nothing is not
acceptable to anybody. The point is, do not ram the legislation through
laying out the plans to the disabled community as to where it's going
It's like we're being asked to sign a contract without knowing the
Credit to the government for taking some initiative. I sure hope they'll
with each and every iota that is being brought forth as it relates
I'm going to give you a little tale aside. I talked about the building
here. This is very quick: it's a washroom. Not to get hung up on just
barriers, but we had a bowling alley here that redid and put in a
washroom. It was accessible. About a year and a half after that, they
around and did a major renovation. The stall is quite accessible.
and wonderful. But let me tell you, I challenge any one of you who
sit on that toilet and then make a reach for the toilet paper. I guarantee
will be standing. The person in the wheelchair, the paraplegic or
myself would not be able to reach a darn piece of toilet paper. What
with that picture? It goes back to intent, and for intent, there has
teeth to this legislation.
Mr Gravelle: Darrell, I think the point that needs to be made, and
it, is that there's absolutely no reason for the government to rush
legislation through, except that they want to. They want to get it
out of the
way before Christmas. The truth is, and no matter what Mr O'Toole
all the years and everything else, you bring forward legislation and
the public a real opportunity, which we could have done over the wintertime.
I guess I'd like you to respond to this. I think the proof of the
commitment will be whether or not they accept meaningful amendments,
going to take place next week, again part of the rushed process. I
guess we can
say that if indeed they're willing to accept significant amendments
this a piece of legislation that you would find acceptable, then we
"OK, thank you very much," but I'm not full of hope that's
going to happen.
The truth is there's no reason to rush this through, after six and
a half years
to finally put something forward and then say, "We're going to
make you get
through this in three weeks so we can get if off our plate."
I don't mean to be
harsh or rude, but I think that's something that can be said. I take
Mr Sanderson: I certainly do. The reintroduction shouldn't be a problem.
Personally, I would welcome it.
Mr Gravelle: There's legislation that will be carried over regardless
prorogued anyway, so even that isn't a good reason to say it has to
through. It would have been great to get to so many more communities,
frankly if people from the outlying regions were invited here today,
not have been able to get in anyway because of the weather. You need
to go to
the communities. We need to get to more communities, and that's the
I think we should be doing.
Mr Sanderson: When Tracy presented, people really need to look at
the story she
presented, because that's the story for many people, including seniors.
doctors lifting senior people up on to the tables. It's true. You
health care, you can't get transportation, and so on and so forth.
Where are we
going to go with this?
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
THUNDER BAY AND DISTRICT
INJURED WORKERS' SUPPORT GROUP
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Thunder Bay and District
Workers' Support Group. I would ask the presenter to please come forward
state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Mr Francis Bell: My name is Francis Bell. I am the executive director
Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers' Support Group. Like many
presenters before you this morning, I'm one of the disabled people
community. I'm also probably one of the loudest ones speaking a lot
Some of you have seen me before and know that I have been known to
give you my
opinion in a quite direct manner. Today I intend to do the same thing:
a direct opinion and offer you some alternatives to make this bill
We are here not to lambaste the government but to provide constructive
criticism. I can tell you we started working on this thing just the
It was serious enough for our committee that we finished this brief
morning at 6:30. We worked through the night to make sure we had a
were proud to present to you. This is important to us. It's important
injured workers. It's important to people in the disability community.
Part of this brief you're going to see in other briefs, and that's
of it from the ODA Committee. We support those portions and we've
laid them out
for you. We hope you would do some very basic things, and that is,
haven't had an opportunity to go, we've provided you with the Web
page. As I
understand it, all MPPs have access to the Web. You can go directly
actually see the documents.
Remember, that's a pretty broad-ranging committee that has been working
years. We have been involved with it in Thunder Bay. Our sister organization,
an umbrella organization, the Ontario Network of Injured Workers'
been involved and support the proposals from the ODA Committee. As
secretary-treasurer I can say that quite emphatically, as I have spoken
morning with the president of the network after he has had a chance
to look at
this brief, which is endorsed by the Ontario network.
This bill needs to address the issue of systemic problems. This bill
beginning. It is not good enough to pass at this stage, folks. There
things you need to look at.
What I want to say to you is that there has been talk about using
Rights Commission. There has been talk about enforcement mechanisms.
Rights Commission is not an appropriate enforcement mechanism. It
will not do
the job. A unilateral, independent enforcement mechanism must be set
up to run
parallel with the ODA. This government, the opposition parties, everybody
work in educating people about disability issues. Too often, as injured
workers, we've seen that it does not work.
You may ask, who is the Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers'
Group? We represent injured workers over a quarter million square
to give you an example, right now, recuperating at my personal home
is a friend
of mine from Marathon who came in for treatment, but the hospital
him after two hours of having cortisone shots. Those epidurals were
morning at 6:30. He arrived by taxi at my house at 8:30 this morning.
person is going to ride a bus back to Marathon because he can't get
it wasn't for our providing him with a place, his alternative was
to hop back
on the bus and go back this morning -- not something I would think
would be a
wise move to make, as somebody who has been down that road before,
what's out there.
As I've already said, we're here to provide constructive criticism.
We want to
help you get the legislation right. We want to give you advice on
how to take
the potential weaknesses in Bill 125 and make them strengths. We ask
understand that many of the presenters who will be before this committee
the problems because they have personally encountered them. They are
experts. The experts are not those who draft the legislation, but
we are. We
can tell you what will work and what will not work.
This bill is about concepts. The question for you is, what are the
that this bill should espouse versus what are the concepts that this
espouses to the disability community, the citizens of Ontario? We've
for you in the brief the 11 principles. We would ask that you use
them and use
In fact, we have developed a report card for you. If you go to page
12 of the
brief, the report card runs in a landscape mode. It's important you
this report card. We would ask that as you're going through your deliberations,
especially at the committee level where you're going to hopefully
amendments, you look at the report card and say, "Is this going
to fail? Does
it need remedial help? Does it need improvement? Is it satisfactory,
or is it
excellent?" We've given you comments on each of the principles.
We did that so
it would give you some creative thought processes on what we're talking
It's important that each of the amendments be looked at very carefully,
concisely. This morning you've heard from some local people who have
about the problems they've encountered due to disabilities. This government
this committee can roll up their sleeves. They can work constructively
with the opposition and make the necessary amendments to improve this
first step: it must sell those changes to its fellow legislators and
minister. If this is done in a positive manner, it will ensure that
as amended, will meet the needs of the Ontario disability community.
It must be
positive. We don't need the sniping. We've all seen it. We don't want
it. We want you all to work constructively together.
The amendments cover a wide range of sections in the bill. The amendments
proposed cover issues such as language, barrier-free, accountability,
inclusiveness, enforcement, limited enforcement, reviews etc.
The government has a unique opportunity to have a second chance to
review, amend and proclaim an Ontarians with Disabilities Act that
worthwhile. The Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers' Support
that this opportunity not be squandered. We ask that you take a bold
Stick to the principles of the ODA and show leadership. In the end,
we can only
offer guidance. This committee can propose amendments that the Legislature
vote up or down. You can do the right thing. You can bring disabled
in from the outside. You can improve all communities in Ontario. Now
question is, are you going to do it? We've offered constructive criticism
we implore you to act now.
In appendix A, you will see the 11 principles. We've actually headlined
make it a little bit easier for you. Those are the 11 principles.
What we would
propose is that in your committee room you put each one of these principles
on the wall, and as you go down through each section, you see if the
you're going to make will meet one of those 11 principles. It's like
reporting card. It's a way to remind you of what is needed. You can
do it. You
can show the initiative. We believe it is imperative that it be done.
I want to talk about just one more item and that deals with the issue
municipalities. The individual I spoke about from this morning comes
small municipality. That small municipality would not have to meet
any of the
ODA requirements as suggested now because it is under 10,000. You
need to fix
that. You need to make this an inclusive piece of legislation. It
cover every community in Ontario. The time frames may be different,
but if you
do not do that, it will be a weasel way out of making the necessary
I'm not going to go through each of the amendments, because I'm sure
already heard them.
Again, on behalf of our group, I want to thank you for the opportunity
present to you today. I want to implore you to work co-operatively
propose the amendments you have seen in front of you and pass them.
If there is
a problem and you need further consultation because you're not sure
amendments, take the time. Don't put through something that is inappropriate,
that will not meet our needs. We've waited long enough. You've waited
enough. Do the right thing.
The Chair: We have approximately three minutes per caucus.
Mr Hardeman: Thank you very much for your presentation. There are
a couple of
items that I just wanted to go to.
In principle 2 -- obviously, I've seen the principle many times before,
this is the first time I realize -- it runs into a problem or a concern
been expressed by a number of people, particularly the legal people
spoken to the committee, about the ability of the ODA to supersede
legislation. There's some concern that -- in fact, some people presented
said that in their opinion some of the benefits that the disabled
have in the
Human Rights Code would actually be reduced by this act. That, I can
you, was not the intent and is not the intent. If that is what it
would do, I'd
want to make sure that we did put amendments in place to prevent that
happening. Yet in principle 2 we're suggesting that the act should
all other legislation. Is that dealing with the same problem? Is that
community, particularly the legal community, feels that we are superseding
in your opinion? Could you give me your opinion on that?
Mr Bell: A very quick response is that if you make the act better
other legislation, of course it should supersede it. If you make it
obviously we don't want it to supersede it. It's a matter of where
to put the floor. Remember, legislation is about floor levels. It's
beginning, the basis. You can make this act better than the Ontario
rights act. If there's a provision that's better somewhere else, what
is that provision to be enforced, obviously. What we don't want is
a piece of
legislation that allows people to lower the standards. We want the
brought up. That's what we're talking about.
Mr Hardeman: We'll make sure we check this out more with the legal
but in my opinion the act is quite clear that this in no way infringes
of the standards set in the Human Rights Code. So it's covered, but
wanted to make sure we had that right.
The other issue I just wanted to quickly ask about is the uniformity
province, and the fact that the advisory committees, in preparing
are restricted to municipalities over 10,000. Your position is that
take out the 10,000 floor, so we would have the same service across
Mr Bell: Yes. The reason is very simple. Do you just say to somebody
who's in a
community of 9,000 that they don't have the same rights as somebody
community of 20,000, or 100,000, or a million? The answer is no. We're
Ontarians. We should all be treated with the same, equal level of
it mean that this government may have to find some dollars to assist
communities? Yes, it does, to be blunt. But we've waited long enough.
to move in a positive way.
The Chair: I have to go to the official opposition.
Mrs McLeod: In support of principle 2, I think it was never conceived
bill that's specifically to provide greater access for those with
would ever be less than the Human Rights Code. Therefore, the principle
should apply, and the bill that's intended for the disabled should
My question is around the report card, Francis. I'm trying to relate
principles in the report to the grades that you've given out. I guess
the things that I was struck by was the -- I understand some of the
grades. On principles 4 and 5, it says they need improvement. It seemed
that principle 5, in particular, was about the extension. As I read
the extension to the private sector which is noticeably missing from
Mr Bell: We've put that in the comments section: "Missed private
need to get this broadened across the entire province. The government
legislation that's about health and safety and doesn't say it's only
public sector workers; it's for all workers. This is no different
folks. It's the same thing. It's for all workers, all sectors.
Mr Gravelle: Francis, it's a great job that you've done. It's terrific.
have appealed to us, all parties, to work together to try to create
a piece of
legislation that really makes a difference in its value, but I think
you and I
both know that there's a certain amount that will be accepted in terms
amendments, perhaps -- we hope -- and a certain amount that won't.
not a fair question, but could you focus for a moment on, if there
things that just have to be there that aren't there now, what would
What aspects would you want to see if you couldn't get it all?
Mr Bell: Michael, remember I said work co-operatively and you'll
get it all. I
have positive energy. I wore my Santa Claus tie.
Mr Gravelle: You're always positive, Francis.
Mr Bell: Yes, I know. Sometimes too positive.
I think you need to make sure there are some enforcement provisions.
what legislation you put forward, if it's not enforceable, it doesn't
anything. We've had -- and I want to say it this way -- voluntary
since the day this province started talking about these issues. Anybody
time under voluntary compliance can do something. The problem, and
we're here again, is because it hasn't been done. You need to enforce
you need to make it mandatory. Voluntary has not worked.
Mr Martin: I heard your clarion call this morning to work co-operatively
commit to you that we will do that. If this government is willing
to work with
us to make sure we get a bill here that responds to the 11 principles
we think is going to work for people who have been waiting a long
time -- and I
agree with Mr O'Toole when he says that previous governments haven't
to their responsibility. We didn't. We let you down. You've been waiting
long. Now is your moment. You have a chance here now to get a bill
will actually do the trick for you.
When we were government, we tried. We obviously didn't get it right
Employment Equity Act. It was thrown out as soon as this government
power in 1995 because we didn't root it properly in the community
such that it
couldn't be thrown out. In this instance, I think we need to do that.
to make sure we have an act that everybody agrees is going to work
and is going
to do the trick.
However, at the end of the day on Tuesday, if we discover there are
amendments, or the amendments we bring forward, which we will, are
accepted to raise this floor to a point where it actually means something,
is your recommendation to us at that point?
Mr Bell: I'm not a politician; at least I'm accused of not being
I would say that somebody should be moving a motion to table the action.
being very blunt with you.
Mr Martin: To table the what?
Mr Bell: Table any amendments. By tabling, I mean that you table
to a further
date, you sit down and start working co-operatively. And if you need
to have a
bunch of consumers sitting around the room to assist you in that process,
telling you, they will be there. We believe that you can do the job.
understand the government has the majority, so I'm sending this message
clearly to the government members that we're watching, we're interested.
opposition gets out of hand, we'll know about it, and if the government
out of hand, we'll know about it. We'll come back and we'll be at
You may find us there day and night, but you will find us there, because
want something done this time.
It didn't work out last time. We said, "Let bygones be bygones."
This is your
chance to do something positive. If you're finding you're getting
take a break and then come back to it, but, folks, you've got to do
that's positive. Right now, the legislation as it now stands is not
disability community is looking for. It does not meet our needs, but
amendments before you that can meet our needs. I implore you to take
action and approve those amendments.
The Chair: With that, we've run out of time. On behalf of the committee,
you very much for your presentation this afternoon. We'll recess until
The committee recessed from 1324 to 1439.
HANDICAPPED ACTION GROUP INC
The Chair: Our first presentation this afternoon is from the Handicapped
Group Inc. I would ask the presenters to come forward, please, and
names for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have
for your presentation this afternoon.
Mr Allan Buchan: Chairman, members of the committee, we'd like to
very much for this opportunity to comment on the proposed Bill 125,
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The disabled community has been waiting
legislation like this for the past six years.
A little history before we begin: our organization was formed in
1974 as a
result of a disability report which was compiled in 1972 by the Lakehead
Planning Council. At the inception of the organization, the purpose
of HAGI was
"to improve the living conditions of persons with physical disabilities
fostering independence, self-determination and the acceptance of responsibility
among disabled consumers."
The major areas of emphasis in those early days were transportation,
attendant care and recreation. The generally recognized philosophy
founders of HAGI was that "in order to assume control over one's
individual needs to make their own choices regarding his or her own
As early as 1975, our organization began providing services to meet
organization's early objectives. HAGI Transit began operation through
grant provided by the government of Canada. In its initial year, HAGI
accommodated approximately 2,500 trips with only two high-rooftop
The housing project, which provided barrier-free apartments and 24-hour
attendant care services, became a reality in the spring of 1979. The
organization further developed their second building in the mid-1990s,
up 1201 Jasper Drive. By 1982, the attendant care project began expanding
the Thunder Bay non-profit housing buildings, providing attendant
to all their barrier-free apartments. We now provide service to four
buildings in the community.
In 1986, we started an outreach attendant care program in Kenora,
and later to
persons living in their own homes in Thunder Bay. Both services encouraged
consumers to manage their own care. Our Kenora group has since broken
us and formed Northwestern Independent Living Services, a sister organization
to HAGI. In the early 1990s, we continued to develop community-based
and started our third outreach program along the north shore, with
set up in Geraldton, or Greenstone, as it has now become. In the mid-1990s,
officially changed the name of our attendant care program to personal
Formal and informal recreation has always been a part of the services
been offering. The most successful and recognized of these recreational
projects was the wilderness discovery program, which originally began
overnight camping excursions and has grown into the construction of
accessible recreational camping facility on Lake Shebandowan. This
available to all persons with a disability on a pre-booked basis.
Our organization sees the presentation of this act as a much-needed
but only a first step. It begins to open doors and addresses the fact
people with disabilities need to be consulted on issues, services
that directly affect their ability to live independently in the community.
of our members want to be, and are, taxpayers and feel proud of that
Given the power to choose whatever lifestyle they decide has helped
motto, Independence by Choice.
Our organization, in its 26-year history, has seen standards come
and go in our
community as they apply to consumers with disabilities. An example
is the fact
that we had one of the most forward-thinking municipal building codes
late 1970s. That was eventually lost to the enactment of a provincial
code that failed to address the standards we had developed locally
constituents. We need a code that will prevent this from happening
the first step is to incorporate a consultative process to all acts
regulations as they affect citizens with a disability.
Over the past few years we have participated in a number of consultations.
believe the one conducted by the ODA Committee resulted in a position
that reflected the position of the province's consumers with a disability.
organization identified 11 principles that needed to be addressed
in order to
have an effective and reflective act for this province. According
to these 11
principles, the ODA's purpose should be the achievement of a barrier-free
Ontario for all people with disabilities. It should cover all disabilities,
whether physical, mental or sensory. It should cover all barriers,
All public and private sector providers of goods, facilities and
should be required to remove and prevent barriers. Timelines and standards
should be decided upon through a consultation with all stakeholders.
legislation should set out timelines for developing these standards
process for consultation.
The same requirements should apply to all employers. There should
effective and speedy way to enforce the law besides filing human rights
complaints for each barrier in individual circumstances. People with
disabilities should be able to propose regulations which the government
consider adopting in order to set the standards for barrier removal
prevention, sector by sector and industry by industry.
The bill needs amending in key areas to be strong and effective and
the goals set by the ODA Committee and the government's November 1,
vision statement. Keeping in mind the very short timeline we had to
of the recommended changes, our comments are based on input from the
ODA Committee, which has a good provincial representation of consumers
disability, and our local consumers with a disability.
The following are some of the amendments that we're proposing by
Recommendation 1 is that the purpose clause should be amended to
"The purpose of this act is to achieve a barrier-free Ontario
for persons with
disabilities through the identification and removal of existing barriers
the prevention of new barriers which prevent persons with disabilities
fully participating in all aspects of life in Ontario," not "to
Under "Definitions," our second recommendation is to amend
the definition of
barrier to read, "`barrier' means anything that prevents a person
participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability.
Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, a barrier can be
barrier, including architectural barriers, an information or communication
barrier, such as a method of communication, an attitudinal barrier;
technological barrier, and barriers can include a policy or practice."
Part of the definitions is to amend the definition of "disability"
environmental and chemical sensitivity and brain injury.
Finally, under recommendation 2, amend the definition of "Government
Ontario" to include "the Legislature and Legislative Assembly
of Ontario and
Under recommendation 3, "Duties of the government of Ontario,"
should be amended as follows:
"In consultation with persons with disabilities and others,
the government of
Ontario shall develop and adopt barrier-free design standards to promote
accessibility for persons with disabilities to buildings, structures
premises, or parts of buildings, structures and premises, that the
owns, purchases, leases or constructs whether or not the building
significantly renovated after this section comes into force. These
must address all types of barriers, not only barriers to physical
Our recommendation 4 is under "Government goods and services."
Section 5 should
be amended as follows:
"The government shall not purchase goods or services for the
use of itself, its
employees or the public that create or maintain barriers for persons
The term that's in the legislation, "have regard," doesn't
Under recommendation 5, section 7 should be amended as follows:
"Government publications must be barrier-free in terms of both
content. Regulations must be developed and enacted, setting out the
formats in which material must be available."
Under "Government employees," our recommendation would
be to amend that section
"The government of Ontario shall create and maintain a barrier-free
environment in which persons with all disabilities can obtain employment,
maintain employment, fully participate in all aspects of work life,
in their career goals, including the provision of necessary accommodations."
Further to that, "The obligation to create a barrier-free work
includes all aspects of employment including applications for employment,
hiring, training, and promotion."
Under "Government-funded capital programs," our seventh
recommendation would be
that capital funding for projects shall be made available only where
there is a
barrier-free plan incorporated into the project that meets the
Under "Ministry accessibility plans," "Each ministry
has the duty to ensure
that the funding, services, programs, practices, legislation and regulations
administers are free of barriers through the development and implementation
"The barrier-free plan that each ministry shall make and implement
include the comprehensive identification, removal and prevention of
persons with disabilities in the acts and regulations that are administered
the ministry and in the ministry's policies, programs, practices and
In other words, this section should look at all legislation through
Recommendation 8.2: section 10 should be further amended to say:
"In developing and implementing its barrier-free plan, a ministry
with the barrier-free council, the disability directorate, and the
disabilities who may be affected by the plan."
Under municipalities, section 11 should be amended so that "Each
council of every municipality shall prepare and implement a barrier-free
Section 11 should further be amended in a fashion that is fully consistent
the previous amendments we propose in section 10 to include, for example,
"The barrier-free plan shall include the comprehensive identification,
and prevention of barriers to persons with disabilities in the municipality's
bylaws and in its policies, programs, practices and services, as well
municipal government's workplaces."
Again, this section should also incorporate looking at the bylaws
disability lens concept.
Barrier-free committees: under recommendation 10, section 12 should
"Each year, the council of every municipality of more than 10,000
establish or continue a barrier-free advisory committee. A majority
appointed to this committee must be persons with a disability. The
this council is to review drafts of the municipality's barrier-free
advise the council about their implementation, monitor the effectiveness
plan, and to advise the municipality on barriers facing persons with
disabilities within the territory of the municipality.
"Municipalities of fewer than 10,000 people must either establish
barrier-free advisory committee, or hold public consultations which
people with disabilities on these plans."
This recommendation will embrace over 80% of our region, as most
our region are below the 10,000 population base.
Further, recommendation 10 should be amended under the "Duty
"Council will" -- not "shall" -- seek advice
from the committee on the
accessibility for persons with disabilities to a building, structure
premises, or part of a building, structure or premises,
"(a) that the council owns, purchases, constructs or leases
"(b) that the council currently occupies as owner or lessee."
Under "Municipal goods and services," section 13 should
be amended to parallel
the amendments proposed above in section 5 with the conduct of the
Number 12: under "Duties of other organizations ... " "Public
organizations" should be amended to read:
"Each year, every public transportation organization shall prepare
implement a barrier-free plan."
The provision regarding transit providers should be similarly amended
it reflects community [Image]standards as established by local consumers
provincial barrier-free council.
Under section 15, organizations:
"The barrier-free plan shall require the comprehensive identification,
and prevention of barriers to persons with disabilities in the organization's
bylaws, if any, and in its policies, programs, practices and services
as its workplaces."
Under "Agencies," section 16 should be amended to read:
"Each year, every agency shall prepare and implement a barrier-free
Section 16 should also be amended to say:
"The barrier-free plan shall require the comprehensive identification,
and prevention of barriers with respect to the provision of services
facilities, as well as with respect to the policies, programs and
the agency, and the agency's workplaces."
For joint barrier-free plans, under section 17, we would add:
"Where one or more ministries, municipalities, public transportation
organization or organizations prepare a joint barrier-free plan, each
required to comply with the obligations under this act and the plan
as if they
had individual plans."
Did I say that right?
Section 18 should also be amended for exemptions:
"Where an organization or agency cannot comply with the regulation
undue hardship within the meaning of the Ontario Human Rights Code,
apply to the minister for an exemption from the regulation. The exemption
cannot exceed a period of one year."
"Barrier-free council": this is recommended instead of
council." So it's a name change. In this section:
"The council is authorized to undertake the following activities:
"(a) consult with persons with disabilities and others, including
relevant expertise, on the implementation of this act;
"(b) recommend to the minister or the Ontario Human Rights Commission
where there are problems in the implementation of this act or regulations,
standards or guidelines made pursuant to it, steps to enforce the
be taken, and request a report on the actions taken;
"(c) undertake research about the barriers facing persons with
Ontario, and on strategies in Ontario and elsewhere to address these;
"(d) provide programs of public information related to this
"(e) recommend the development or enactment of new standards
or regulations to
improve the effectiveness of the legislation."
I think my time's running fairly short here, so I'm going to jump
The Chair: You can go ahead and finish. You've still got a couple
Mr Buchan: I'll just continue. In order to ensure an inclusive council,
minister must ensure that there is representation, as much as is practicable,
of the full range of disabilities and of the different regions of
-- especially from this area -- of gender, ethnicity and of First
have a large First Nations constituency in this area. It would be
good to see
their representation on the council.
There should be a public nomination process whereby any individual
may apply or
be nominated to become a member of the council. The names of nominees
made public to afford an opportunity for public input, including input
persons with disabilities.
Instead of an "Accessibility Directorate of Ontario," we
would recommend a
"Barrier-Free Directorate of Ontario."
"The mandate of the ... directorate is to remove barriers and
people with disabilities in Ontario are able to participate fully
aspects of life in Ontario by:
"(a) improving people's understanding and knowledge of disability
"(b) providing expert counsel and consultation to government
ministries in the
development of integrated, coordinated public policies, programs and
for persons with disabilities, their families/support structures;
"(c) work with government ministries and offices and the disability
to provide expertise, and identify and resolve issues of concern;
"(d) acting as a vehicle for collaboration and partnership with
"(e) providing leadership, coordination, research, policy development,
education, communication, and consultation."
Our 19th recommendation would be under section 21: "The executive
undertake a public review of this legislation after three years. The
of Ontario shall consult with persons with disabilities and all other
Section 22, under regulations, should be amended to add as follows:
to ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities in the
development of regulations, any regulations to be created under this
legislation must be published in draft form. There must be an opportunity
public input and comment, in writing or in the form of public forums
hearings, before the regulation is enacted."
Also under section 22, "No regulation may be adopted which has
the effect of
creating a barrier to persons with disabilities, preventing or delaying
identification and removal of a barrier in any sector or which conflicts
the purpose of the legislation."
Under the enforcement of this act, the act should be further amended
so that it
includes the following: "The Ontario Human Rights Commission
and the Ontario
Human Rights board of inquiry have jurisdiction with respect to compliance
and enforcement under this legislation, and have with all necessary
modifications all the authority and jurisdiction as is provided to
Under municipal and provincial election act amendments, our recommendation
the bill's revisions to the board of inquiry and the provincial Elections
should be expanded to say that "no polling station shall be located
location which is not barrier-free;... that ballots be adapted to
with disabilities, wherever possible, to mark the ballots themselves
private;... the government holding the election to provide American
Language interpretation or other like accommodation where needed for
are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, to enable them to participate
the voting process."
Under section 28, the municipal act licensing authority, our 23rd
recommendation would be: "section 28 of the bill now extends
licensing authority to impose conditions regarding the licensed business
physically accessible. This should be amended to include a requirement
business to become barrier-free, and not merely to address physical
Our 24th recommendation, ODA to bind the crown and override other
barriers: "This bill should be amended to provide explicitly
that it supersedes
any legislation, regulations, bylaws or policies which provide lesser
protection for persons with disabilities."
We must again express the fact that this is a new bill. It is just
a first step
and will only get the support of constituents if the province amends
the act to
include the recommendations enclosed. The theme of the bill must reflect
"will do" attitude instead of "shall." As we all
know, "shall" may never get
We again thank you for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts
recommendations on a very important piece of legislation. This act
on many citizens with a disability now and in the future.
The Chair: Thank you very much. There won't be any time for questions
we've run over the allocated time. However, before you go, I'd like
to get your
colleague's name for the record.
Mr Buchan: It's Doug Meredith.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
OPSEU DISABILITY RIGHTS CAUCUS
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the OPSEU Disability Rights
would ask the presenter or presenters to please come forward and state
name for the record.
Mr Greg Snider: Hello, ladies and gentlemen. I am here on behalf
of the OPSEU
Disability Rights Caucus. My name is Greg Snider. I'm the chair of
disability rights caucus and work as a client service representative
Ontario disability support program. With me is Laurie Barbeau, who
Sault College as a special-needs counsellor and is also a member of
disability rights caucus. Laurie is also responsible for drafting
submission on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Ontario Public Service Employees disability rights caucus is made
up of OPSEU
members with disabilities representing all regions of Ontario and
together to impact directly on the issues of disability in our workplaces.
have an obligation to assist more than 4,500 OPSEU members in a manner
permits them to continue their employment opportunities. We need to
we eliminate the barriers that limit the involvement of our members
who have a
disability. We also have an obligation to assist all citizens with
in their efforts to gain equal opportunities in all aspects of living.
The disability rights caucus's stated roles are as follows: (1) to
behalf of members who live with a variety of disabilities; (2) to
current union policy and develop new policy initiatives with respect
disability rights and accommodation issues; (3) to evaluate collective
bargaining content and develop new bargaining objectives and propose
disability-friendly practices with respect to how bargaining is structured
means to increase the participation of members with disabilities;
and (4) to
educate the membership on disability-related issues.
Before we begin our examination of the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities
Act, I feel obliged to take a moment to review the process under which
hearing has proceeded. It was only a short few weeks ago that I found
Bill 125 had passed second reading and only two days ago that I found
and when I would be speaking or, for that matter, that I would be
all. Understand my situation for a moment. I live at the other end
of the city,
I don't drive because of my eyesight, my wife is out of town and I
have a young
child whom I need to get to school. I have little time to spend making
arrangements. After all, I still have to adjust my speech, having
out how much time I have. Luckily for me, I have a friend with a disability
who, like so many others in her situation, is still looking for employment.
was willing to give me a drive. Many others were not able to make
-- hardly what was promised to persons with disabilities when this
first promised by the government. But enough on the process.
The realities of societal inequality have prompted the need for yet
legislation that is designed to eliminate the many barriers faced
with disabilities. Legislation that guarantees full accessibility
with disabilities is essential. Discrimination and inequality in our
have long been apparent to those with disabilities. The Human Rights
has reported this year that 40% of the complaints filed have been
Employees injured in the workplace not only face a new physical and/or
challenge but also face further problems with both their peers and
their efforts to obtain accommodations and to return to work. That
persons have to go to extra lengths to be employed is an appalling
Ontario and in Canada. A strong Ontarians with Disabilities Act can
face of Ontario by ensuring equal participation of all citizens.
The government claims that the Ontarians with Disabilities Act will
barrier-free Ontario for all people with disabilities. However, many
essential elements to achieve this are lacking or are of minimal impact.
impossible to visualize the intent expressed as a "barrier-free
this act. A clear definition is imperative to gain full comprehension
people. All citizens should be able to participate fully in all of
activities. This includes all government programs and services, all
businesses and profit or non-profit ventures. Equality for persons
disabilities must be more then a way of doing business. It must be
a way of
If done properly, an Ontarians with Disabilities Act could truly
be a win-win
situation. The benefits to persons with disabilities is clear. Businesses
profit from their new customers as a result of the elimination of
their settings. Persons with disabilities will stay in hotels, dine
restaurants, go to theatres and sporting events, become tourists,
and employees. Imagine for a moment the kind of leadership that exists
person who has been able to defeat physical or mental challenges many
cannot even fully understand, or the inspiration they could be to
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act only concerns itself with future
and facilities of the government and ignores the barriers that already
This needs to be addressed, as many individuals cannot mobilize in
communities to fulfill their life activities because they cannot enter
places where the activity is to be carried out.
Although physical barriers are most obvious and understandable, the
with Disabilities Act does not address the multitude of barriers faced
with non-evident disabilities such as learning disabilities and mental
disorders. The nature of barriers is similar in that certain things
the way of an individual or group of individuals to fully participate.
Where a stairway impedes access for a mobility-impaired individual,
available in print format is equally impeding for a person with low
vision or a
visual processing learning disability. Similarly, job workload may
successful employment and the return-to-work goals of persons with
The government needs to make complete revisions to the Ontarians
Disabilities Act to incorporate the variety of barriers experienced
disabilities. According to published statistics, persons with disabilities
significantly unemployed and/or underemployed. They will need assured
education and training activities to achieve employment. Also, those
injured in the workplace need assurance of return-to-work access by
all barriers and making accommodations in the workplace common practice.
problem becomes even more serious when you consider the negative stigma
attached to people who are without employment.
There are other aspects of employment to be further addressed in
recruitment, training and work function accommodations are necessary
considerations that employers and employees alike will require assistance
Accommodations should be required with clear definition and implementation
timelines. Management and employee education in all aspects of a barrier-free
environment will be equally essential. Although this bill speaks to
training for government managers, it is important to note at this
point that 10
years ago, when I came to work with the Ontario disability support
then the family benefits office, I received a great deal of assistance
EASED. I don't recall any more what the initials stood for, but staff
were trained in assisting employees and managers in removing barriers
staff with disabilities. They and others like them in every ministry
laid off and their unique talents lost, their departments closed.
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act's weakest element is that it
exemptions. Further, these exemptions can occur without qualification
process. How can Ontario be barrier-free in some areas and not in
There are no penalties for non-compliance. In fact, the Ontarians
Disabilities Act is non-mandatory and voluntary. This absolutely fails
create a barrier-free society, reinforcing the lack of commitment
legislation or to the development of regulations in a timely manner.
In general, Bill 125 falls short of the mechanisms to advance Ontario
barrier-free. Barriers need to be identified and removed within specific
non-negotiable time frames. It should apply to all organizations,
services and private businesses. Advisory committees need to be representative
of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society. This legislation
to establish means of enforcement and requires an expenditure of financial
expert resources to be fully implemented.
We hope that the government will re-evaluate the present Ontarians
Disabilities Act and set a base of barrier-free living and enhance
the lives of
The Chair: We have two minutes per caucus and I'll start with the
Mr Gravelle: Thank you, Greg and Laurie, for being here. Greg, you
discussed the fact that this was happening so quickly. We had a discussion
about trying to get more time so people obviously would have a better
opportunity to be represented. What kind of factor do you think that
in terms of giving people access to these hearings? Because it was
Tuesday that we even knew the location. I would be interested to have
Laurie's thoughts on that.
Mr Snider: I don't think you're going to get a lot of people, especially
the north, where the distance is great. People in Kenora -- are you
pay for a plane flight to fly down here to make a presentation with
notice? You don't even know if you're going to be heard. I think there
whole bunch of people who simply vote off even coming here, who had
to say and probably could really add to the conversation, just because
timetable wasn't presented for it. I think, more than that, there's
enforcement in the legislation, and when you see the way they're going
doing the committees, it doesn't seem to imply that we really believe
we're doing. Like I mentioned in my speech, it's got to be real life,
got to think about equity for persons with disabilities, and that
when you set up these committee meetings, you've got to allow for
the fact that
Handi-Transit and things like that need to be ordered in advance.
So you need
to give people more time to prepare and to get things ready.
Mr Gravelle: So it wasn't a particularly good sign that things were
way they were.
Mr Martin: You asked a question here in your presentation that I
think is quite
telling and important, and that is, how can Ontario be barrier-free
areas and not in others? The people before you, Handicapped Action
of the need to include the smaller communities, for example, and I'm
have members who live in some of the smaller communities, even some
communities under 10,000. There's a suggestion, and I brought it to
yesterday, that, "We can't afford to give everybody their human
rights." I was
wondering if you had any comment on that. Which ones should we not
their human rights to? People in communities under 10,000? People
government decides need an exemption?
Ms Laurie Barbeau: I think that's an interesting point. Even now,
act, the Ontario Human Rights Commission faces lengthy times in responding
people with disabilities' filing complaints of discrimination etc.
So, to date
we have not provided enough in the way of supporting those with disabilities
generally in life. The fact that we have to have legislation to enforce
shows that our society is not totally accepting. But you can't decide
groups are accommodated and some groups are not, or that one individual's
rights are protected and another individual's human rights are not.
trying to get to a society or the province of Ontario being barrier-free,
equal opportunity for all, definitely you can't do that.
Mr Martin: I just wanted to recognize the effort that Laurie has
She has come from Sault Ste Marie, which is about eight hours away
Mr Spina: Nine.
Mr Martin: Is it nine, Joe? I got it wrong. Well, it depends if you're
or not, right?
Ms Barbeau: And it's about 20 by air.
Mr Martin: That's right, on a good day. We know all about that.
If you come from Sault Ste Marie to here, you'll come through a whole
really important and viable and vital communities that won't be covered
act. Do you have any suggestion as to how we might include those people
piece of legislation?
Mr Snider: The only thing I could suggest is that we get rid of the
All municipalities should have to carry it out. I don't see how you
can put a
price tag on a person's human rights. You're entitled to them or you're
entitled to them. Everybody gets them. All Ontarians get them, and
I think that
was said before. I don't think there's any other way of saying it
than if it's
a right of an Ontario citizen, a person with a disability, to have
things, then it's a right for all persons with disabilities in Ontario
Mr Spina: Thank you, Greg and Laurie. We're both from Sault Ste Marie.
born and raised there, so I know the road, yes. Mother still lives
They've taken the boy out of northern Ontario but not northern Ontario
I had two small, quick points with the time frame given. One, you
some timelines, Greg, and that once they're set, they should be adhered
wondered if you could share with us what kind of timelines you're
in terms of implementing what. And the other is, you mentioned an
Ms Barbeau: Anxiety disorders, yes.
Mr Spina: Yes, thank you, an anxiety disorder. If you could just
elaborate on that a little bit, I'd appreciate it.
Ms Barbeau: One of the things, as we said, we found with the act
wording is that there's a focus on physical disabilities that for
are easily understood. They're evident; you can see them. But in the
mental health illness, there are many needs for accommodation. Anxiety
is only one diagnosed mental illness that we refer to here. But our
is that those disabilities that are not evident to the visual eye,
disabilities and they still require accommodation and they still require
So an anxiety disorder would -- in this context, the individual may
not be able
to reassume or assume a full workload, all the tasks that come within
position, because to do that, their stress level may go beyond the
they're able to handle. So a reasonable accommodation might be to
tasks of that job position with other employees, thereby accommodating
impact of the anxiety disorder in the job position, but also availing
person the opportunity to be fully employed.
So where you can see an individual with a mobility problem in a wheelchair,
it's not that much different for a person with a non-evident disability.
accommodations still need to be considered because the impacts of
are still there. They do exist.
The Chair: We've run out of time, but on behalf of the committee,
very much for your presentation this afternoon.
PERSONS UNITED FOR SELF-HELP
IN NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO INC
The Chair: Our next presentation is from Persons United for Self-Help
Northwestern Ontario Inc. I would ask the presenters to please come
and if you could state your names for the record, please. On behalf
committee, welcome. You have 20 minutes for your presentation this
Ms Marilyn Warf: Thank you for the opportunity to present the voice
with disabilities in northwestern Ontario on Bill 125. I'm Marilyn
regional director of PUSH Northwest, and our co-presenter is Ron Ross,
president of PUSH Northwest.
We will begin by providing an overview of our organization and its
PUSH Northwest is a consumer-driven organization of individuals with
of disabilities -- mobility, hearing, vision, developmental, psychiatric,
neuromuscular and non-visible -- consumer groups, agency representatives
family members. PUSH Northwest is the umbrella organization in Thunder
northwestern Ontario that brings people together to co-operatively
collectively discuss disability issues.
The mandate of PUSH Northwest, its regional chapters and representatives
communities in northwestern Ontario and First Nations communities
is to promote
independent living for and by individuals with disabilities; to empower
with disabilities to live productive and personally meaningful lives
self-determined manner; to assist individuals and families to obtain
equipment, supports and services as required; to ensure the availability
high-quality consumer-directed services; and to work toward positive
change to enhance opportunities for people with disabilities.
The guiding values and principles of PUSH Northwest are the belief
dignity and worth of all persons with disabilities must be respected;
persons with disabilities have the right to life, to self-determination
participate in a society free from barriers to their inclusion and
that persons with disabilities are in the best position to determine
priorities; that all people in society share the responsibility to
communities which are accommodating.
PUSH Northwest has been a member of the provincial Ontarians with
Act Committee for six years. We had direct input into the creation
original guidelines and principles for an Ontarians with Disabilities
we have been in regular communication with the consumers in northwestern
Ontario throughout the various stages of planning and consultations
an Ontarians with Disabilities Act that would legislate full citizenship
persons with disabilities in all communities in Ontario.
Persons with disabilities had hoped for an Ontarians with Disabilities
would have legislated rights based on the set of principles developed
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee members and which were unanimously
adopted by the Ontario Legislature. We had also hoped that any bill
would reflect the best practices of the Americans with Disabilities
on what has been learned after 10 years of experience with their comprehensive
disabilities act. We had hoped for an act that would have reached
private and public sector, that would have mandatory regulations,
have been prepared and implemented with the leadership role given
persons with disabilities and that would have established direct access
courts for any issues of non-compliance.
We had hoped for legislation that specified that society as a whole
be collectively responsible for creating inclusion, not piece by piece,
only from tax dollars, and specifically not to be examined as a cost
society, but a citizenship right for all Ontarians to be part of all
law and to
be part of everything we do as a province.
Bill 125 does not include these principles, does not create new rights
persons with disabilities, does not create new legal procedures or
or any enforcement mechanisms. Although there is mention of potential
regulations to follow Bill 125, there is no mandate for the Ontario
to comply with creating these regulations and no stated time frame
action in this regard.
There is no gentle way to tell the Ontario government that Bill 125
as it is
presented is inadequate to achieve its stated purpose, "to improve
opportunities for persons with disabilities and to provide for their
involvement in the identification, removal and prevention of barriers
full participation in the life of the province." However, with
the inclusion of
recommendations for expanding and strengthening Bill 125, this legislation
framework could lead to achieving the stated purpose.
We understand that the Ontario government wants to keep their pre-election
promise of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act, but persons with disabilities
request that Bill 125 not be pushed through in its present form. The
result would be keeping a promise, but it would be an empty promise.
Ontario government is sincere in wanting to achieve the stated purpose
125, they must take the time to review and include the recommendations
presented during these consultations. Bill 125, if passed in its present
is a disservice to persons with disabilities.
While many see Bill 125 as an important first step, critics fear
that it will
actually reduce current rights of persons with disabilities under
rights legislation rather than result in any removal of barriers.
human rights legislation imposes legal obligations on all private
retailers, landlords and employers, while Bill 125 excludes the private
from obligations. The focus of the bill is not legislating rights,
obligations. The bill relies on voluntary measures which will result
or no proactive change. If you want examples of why voluntary compliance
not work, look at the government's codes of practice, which have resulted
in maintaining the status quo.
Bill 125 fails to address barrier removal in the private sector,
commit the Ontario government to barrier removal in its own program
services delivery, places much of the obligation on the municipalities
any financial support to enable them to take action steps and lacks
mechanism for compliance in any area of barrier removal. There is
in Bill 125 that will improve access or provide steps toward equal
In its present form, the bill only makes provision for planning, not
regulations nor timelines for implementation of any barrier removal.
A legal assessment of the content of Bill 125, by ARCH, the advocacy
legal resources for persons with disabilities, stated:
"In the absence of any enforcement or adjudication mechanism
in Bill 125, there
will be no independent review of actions taken pursuant to its provisions
no independent interpretations of what the various provisions of the
legislation mean. This is highly unusual in a statute that establishes
proactive responsibilities. In its current form, in order to have
determination about what any of the bill's provisions mean, it will
necessary to mount creative legal challenges through the courts, which
easily done and is certainly not a fast or affordable option. The
that those bodies charged with responsibilities under the bill are
determine what their obligations are, which is a highly subjective
potentially arbitrary process."
Bill 125 is not a disabilities rights act, as it does not establish
mandatory regulations, implementation strategies or timelines to make
for persons with disabilities a deliverable. Bill 125 is a planning
act. We are
in full support of planning for accessibility and barrier removal,
has taught us that planning without action steps, legislation and
compliance within specific time frames is not effective. Planning
removal and action steps to remove those barriers should have been
work of the Ontario government over the last two terms. Barriers have
identified for years. What is lacking and will remain lacking if Bill
passed in its present form is measurable and positive change, mandatory
commitment to achieve barrier removal and a will to act. Those components
not present in Bill 125.
For an Ontarians with Disabilities Act to be effective, there needs
to be a
specific commitment to, first and foremost, acknowledge and respect
that persons with disabilities face many barriers in their activities
living, barriers that are as varied and complex as people are themselves.
definition of "barrier" in the bill states that it is an
obstacle to access for
persons with disabilities that is not an obstacle to access for other
and, in addition to a physical barrier, includes an attitudinal barrier,
of communication, policy or practice. The Ontario government is to
for acknowledging and respecting the impact of all barriers for persons
disabilities beyond just physical access to buildings.
We are concerned, however, that the bill states that a barrier for
disabilities is not an obstacle for other persons. These words must
from the definition, as it will mean that the interpretation will
allow for the
exclusion of many significant barriers faced by persons with disabilities
others also may face. What is not considered in this reference is
impact of any barrier on a person with a disability is greater due
disability: for example, access to transportation, the need for accommodations
in the workplace, housing requirements or adapted telephone access.
and stronger definition is needed that is specific to the impact on
with a disability. The definition of "barrier" must be disability-related,
exclusive of whether or not it impacts on others in society.
The consideration of what constitutes a barrier in Bill 125 is also
as it looks at obstacles for persons -- but in the plural word. This
may be interpreted in a way that demands that more than one person
experience this situation before it is determined to be a barrier
bill. Current human rights allow for individuals to file a complaint
exclude systemic complaints. It was hoped that comprehensive Ontario
legislation would ensure rights under both categories. If Bill 125
is passed as
it exists and the interpretation of "barrier" is determined
to be for more than
one situation, will Bill 125 supersede consumer rights under the Ontario
Rights Code? Which legislation will take precedence? Will persons
disabilities lose individual rights that currently exist?
Persons with disabilities do not want the human rights system to
be a part of
any proposed legislation. It is not a responsive or effective way
consumer rights in the province; it is a lengthy and complex process
not solve issues and, by its nature, discourages many from even beginning
process. As an example, in Thunder Bay, a case for access to a medical
has been ongoing for more than four years, and the Ontario Human Rights
complaint is still not even to the investigation stage. What is in
that will give persons with disabilities equal access and equal effect
health care services that are provided by the Ministry of Health,
be delivered equally to all Ontarians as a citizenship right?
Parents of children with disabilities must file human rights complaints
ensure their children can go to school. What is in Bill 125 that will
equal access to an education for these children? These same children
been cut off any augmentative communication or physiotherapy services
of cutbacks by the Ministry of Health. What is there in Bill 125 that
these children "improve their opportunities" or ensure "their
participation in the life of the province?"
The main concern for persons with disabilities is that they are being
agree to the content of Bill 125 and then wait to see what will happen
future with regard to regulations. That is like asking people to sign
contract that has no details. We are very willing to work co-operatively
the Ontario government toward meaningful legislation that makes equal
and opportunities for persons with disabilities in Ontario a deliverable.
we are reluctant to sign a contract that has no guarantee of becoming
strong, effective and mandatory Ontarians with Disabilities Act that
desperately needed in Ontario.
Persons with disabilities are asking that Bill 125 not be pushed
through as it
currently exists. We are asking that the government immediately start
on a plan
to make proactive changes in the programs, supports and services that
exist in the province by:
-- Mandating accessibility -- equal access and equal effect with
strategies and timelines -- in all health care facilities and practices
condition for Ministry of Health funding, which includes all OHIP
-- Disallowing educational support persons to be assigned to other
jobs in the
school by teachers or principals and away from the child as a condition
schools to receive Ministry of Education funding;
-- Revising the Ontario Building Code to remove the provision for
the intent of the code, not really providing barrier-free access,
provision in the code also for opting out of the code. Bill 125 will
positive change by stating that the Ontario Building Code must be
while these provisions allow for less than barrier-free accessibility;
-- Ensuring that communication services, materials in alternate format
accommodation for persons with disabilities is provided by ministry
the Ontario disability support program offices. Consumers are currently
asked to sign documents they cannot see or read, without any accommodation
provided by staff in these meetings;
-- Making the entire system of providing income support for persons
disabilities through the Ontario disability support program more responsive
accessible. Currently, the application for income support cannot be
by most due to the complex nature of the documents. Most applicants
wait two years before they receive benefits because approximately
refused initially and the appeal process is so lengthy; and
-- Ensuring people have Ministry of Health funding that pays for
the full cost
of wheelchairs and other devices before we look at anything like increasing
The Ontario government can start to "improve opportunities for
disabilities," "remove and prevent barriers" to enable
disabilities to have "full participation in the life of the province"
addressing the barriers in existing programs and services. The Ontario
government can start this process now.
The Ontario government can, at the same time, start to work with
community to write the regulations and content of a new bill that
can truly be
called an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
We know from past ODA consultations that the private sector are not
disability legislation, not for access or for employment. What they
do want are
clear guidelines and clearly stated compliance regulations. What they
want is a paper nightmare of reports to file back to the government.
We also know from community surveys conducted in Ontario that the
population supports the creation of effective legislation for persons
It's a popular misconception that creating equal citizenship for
disabilities will cost a lot of money. Actually, having these consultations
under the standing committee on finance and economic development rather
citizenship supports this misconception. There are many ways to start
the playing field towards equal citizenship for all Ontarians that
do not have
large price tags. The way to make that happen does not need immediate
of disability legislation as a first step. The Ontario government
ability to start that process under existing legislation and then
positive example of what can be done into the wider community.
In closing, we make two requests:
(1) The existing government must make an immediate commitment to
existing legislation to improve access and opportunity for persons
(2) The Ontario government must make an immediate commitment to persons
disabilities by working with them to include consumer-approved principles
guidelines in an Ontarians with Disabilities Act that would be mandatory
provide for access and opportunities that are deliverable, with implementation
strategies and specific timelines.
PUSH Northwest would be pleased to work with Minister Cam Jackson
Thank you very much for your attention to our comments. Ron will
be pleased to
answer any questions that you may have.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have time for one minute per caucus
start with Mr Martin.
Mr Martin: It's an excellent presentation. I think this is the first
group has come forward to suggest that there may be other approaches
simply pushing ahead with an ODA that, in fact, doesn't do it in the
anyway. That's important to point out, because at the end of the day
some of us
may not be able to support this act if it doesn't have the amendments
been called for consistently over the last while.
I also appreciate your reference to changes that are necessary to
accessible for people with disabilities as not being as expensive
as some would
portray, and that may in fact be the case. My sense is that we don't
act in front of us today with any teeth in it because the government
will be too expensive and they don't want to put that kind of cost
institutions, municipalities and the private sector. As I raised earlier,
is the price of a person's human rights? It's in the paper today,
passed a bill last week, that we've bumped up delivering on a promise
corporations between $2 billion and $3 billion in tax breaks, but
we can't come
up with a little bit of money that's required to make sure that people
disabilities can participate in their communities. Perhaps some comment
The Chair: With that, Mr Martin, I have to bring it to an end. We
only have a
minute so I have to go to Mr O'Toole.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much for your presentation. It clearly
how very, very far we have to go.
Ms Warf: You can start now with the current legislation.
Mr O'Toole: I think that's exactly my point. We have a long, long
way to go,
and we can posture for the next 15 years about finding the right balance,
participation etc. I'm not in disagreement with you. I want to state
said back to you in a positive way. This is a starting point.
I want to completely refute one point. You said that assigning it
economic and finance committee is another distortion or something.
absolutely an incorrect assumption. Critics from each party have been
DeFaria is the critic for Jackson. The name of the committee is immaterial,
for you to put that on the record disappoints me. It's trying to conjure
some sort of -- that has to be corrected. You're adding to the misunderstanding
of this consultation.
In terms of definition -- again, as strong as your argument is, I
passionate in the same direction. In subsection 2(1) --
The Chair: You have 20 seconds.
Mr O'Toole: -- just clearly, in the definition of "barrier,"
I could as easily
make the point that not specifically in detail regulating those things
barriers, this says anything that is not an obstacle to other persons.
doesn't assume things like anxiety disorders, things that haven't
coined or termed. So we're getting caught in minutiae of language,
and I just
really feel that the definition today is very inclusive.
Mr Ron Ross: If I can answer that quickly, the one thing on cost
-- and I guess
the standing committee on finance indicates that there --
Mr O'Toole: The only committee that had time.
Mr Ross: Granted, and we'll take that report at your word.
We're in favour of this legislation if this committee goes back and
those amendments that are being recommended across the province by
with disabilities who live with disability and those amendments are
the legislation. But if the legislation goes forward as it is at this
time, people with disabilities -- it's like Marilyn said -- are signing
contract in support of this and they don't know the goods in it. I'll
The Chair: The official opposition, Mrs McLeod.
Mrs McLeod: Just for a comment first and then my colleague has a
did want to thank Ron and Marilyn for a superb brief. I know that
feels that very often. We aren't sitting as regular members of the
but I've heard expressed here similar briefs in different parts of
province. But I think you would have to say this was a unique one
obviously reflected a lot of work on the part of PUSH.
One of the unique things I was struck by was the fact that this bill
referred to the finance committee, which I think does reflect a concern
the cost, and that's inherent in the nature of the bill. Anybody who
that the government is not going to be concerned about the cost of
disabilities act -- any government has to be. But the aspect of the
justice is perhaps a little bit missing when you refer it to the finance
committee, and I say that as opposition whip for the social and justice
committee that is spending its days before Christmas dealing with
and nutrient management, which potentially could have gone to another
while this bill came to a committee that was supposed to be dealing
of social and justice policy.
Mr Gravelle: If I can ask a quick question, and say to Mr O'Toole
that to take
a shot at them for making that point --
Mr O'Toole: I didn't.
Mr Gravelle: You did. You more or less accused them of doing it deliberately.
They were responding honestly to what appeared to be a sort of deliberate
by the government to make a point. I just don't think you should get
Just quickly about the private sector: you made the point about the
the private sector is not opposed. You did your own consultation,
it seems to
me. You had a gathering last summer. Can you tell us a bit about that
of bringing in some of the private sector people?
Mr Ross: There have been a number of consultations in this area and
sector has been there.
Mr Gravelle: Exactly.
Mr Ross: The private sector has supported the principles behind the
I'm a little familiar with the ADA, and we were hoping this would
after the ADA. It's mandatory. It applies to the private sector, it
the public sector, it applies to government, and it's working.
People with disabilities don't expect all this to happen today or
whatever. They realize it's going to take time. They're looking at
that is going to supersede all other pieces of legislation and there
conflict here already.
We did put right in your packages -- and we wish that ARCH had presented
paper, but I think the newsletter is there, the ARCH Alert, which
is a legal
opinion that also looks at some conflict between this piece of legislation
that's being proposed and existing legislation that could reduce some
benefits that we do have now as people with disabilities. In fairness,
to present an overall picture.
Mr Gravelle: A great job.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
Mr Hardeman: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Not to take away from
presenters, but in the last presentation there seemed to be some concern
committees. I would just point out for all present that there is no
as a standing committee on citizenship, and so the recommendation
The Chair: I don't think we'll have the debate here today. I am sure
people can look at the background of committees and I'll leave it
THUNDER BAY AND DISTRICT
INJURED WORKERS' SUPPORT GROUP
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Thunder Bay and District
Workers' Support Group. I would ask the presenter to please come forward
state your name for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Mr Steve Mantis: My name is Steve Mantis. I want to thank you for
Thunder Bay to hear what folks here in the great northwest have to
say. I want
to thank you as well for bringing the bill and some of the supporting
information in alternate format. I think that is a step forward, and
be nice to see that type of behaviour in all aspects of government
not just on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, because, as citizens,
with disabilities are interested in all kinds of legislation, not
that are specifically focused on us. In a way, that's reflective of
some of my
I'm going to talk a little bit about injured workers. I'm an injured
got hurt 23 years ago. There are over 300,000 workers with a permanent
disability in Ontario today. The minister talks about 1.6 million
total, so about 20% of that total is workers who have been hurt at
year there are about -- it depends on the year -- 350,000 workers
temporary disability, both of which are included in the definition
legislation would apply to. So in an average year you can be looking
at half a
million people, whether it's temporary or permanent disability. Here
talking about a group of people who have established work histories.
group of workers with a permanent disability, in Ontario the vast
chronically unemployed. The stats themselves from the WCB show that
after the wage loss system was brought in, 78% were unemployed three
post-injury. Research that was done by our national organization,
Injured Workers Alliance, found similar numbers across the country
-- 74%. Of
those, two thirds are living in poverty.
Here we have workers who are out there working day in and day out.
If they get
hurt and they end up with a disability, what happens to them? Here
are the ones
among the folks with disabilities who in a way have a head start.
We got to
establish a bit of economic security. You get disabled and now you
in poverty. I can see that this would create an interest from the
any concerned citizen that this has to be addressed. So when I reflect
"Jeez, this purpose looks really good. You know, "We're
going to work with
people with disabilities. They're going to be in charge" -- not
in charge, but
they're going to be a player in making this better. I don't think
talked to any injured workers, or certainly not to any of the groups
represent injured workers, when he brought this bill forward. So I
scratching my head.
Then I read through the bill and I try to understand how it's going
life better for workers with a disability and I can't figure it out.
figure out how it's going to help us. It makes me kind of feel good
are thinking that we should have more opportunities and that we should
fuller participants, but that doesn't last that long. It's the results
think we want to see.
What we've seen among our membership is that 90% of injured workers
want to go
back to work. They want to be there, they want to be full participants
society. We know that if you don't have a job, and a decent job, chances
you're not really going to be a full participant in our society. We
equate work with full participation in a very big way.
When we look at this proposed legislation there's no real mention
employment. There's a little bit. Government departments are supposed
training to their supervisors so that they know a little bit about
That's positive, but will it really make an impact? Hard to say. We
can look at
the private sector. The Royal Bank has tremendous programs, awareness
They have people designated around disability issues and they do education,
the percentage of workers with a disability working for the Royal
falling. So I guess that's not enough. There's got to be more.
When we look at some of the research, and I talk in my paper about
it -- I
happen to represent the Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups
research advisory council at the WCB and so I've been reading more
You see that research that's been done right across Canada shows that
with disabilities are to be full participants, the one factor that's
is education. Now, I'm not sure what it's like in your communities,
but in this
community we're hearing stories that those special-needs teachers
who work with
kids with disabilities are disappearing, for whatever reason. Whether
budget cuts, reorganization or priorities, I'm not sure.
Then we're at Confederation College and, Jeez, 10 or 15 years ago
they had this
great access centre where people with disabilities could go and get
funding is disappearing and now people with disabilities are having
a hard time
accessing the accommodations they need to be successful in school.
Here we know
that education is a key, but what's happening? In the present environment,
people with disabilities aren't getting the assistance and the accommodation
they need to participate fully.
I've heard a number of speakers this morning, and I'm sure you've
more, saying, "Look, this legislation needs to be strengthened
for it to really
have an impact." I agree with that, so I won't go over all those
But once again I reflect back. OK, this legislation's passed and now
dealing with WCB. That's the organization I deal with. That's who
300,000 workers with a permanent disability deal with. So how's this
help? Here's the organization whose goal is, from what I understand,
people, once they get hurt at work, to recover and lead full lives
I mentioned that research council I sit on. I can leave a copy of
you, if you want. This is one of the first research studies that was
through the WSIB. It's very unusual because it actually involved workers
disability on the research team to set what the issues are that these
face in returning to work. Let me read you a couple of little things
Here's a quote from an injured worker, talking about going to the
feel that you go in there to get money, free money. You don't want
to work. But
I can tell you one thing from my heart. Honestly, I don't want free
Everything in my house here I worked for. My religion teaches me that."
So here's an agency of the government that's supposed to help you
You're hurt, you're off work, and rather than trying to help, they
feel like you're somehow a thief, that you're somehow doing something
It's interesting. Another piece of research done in Ontario, about
four years ago at the University of Toronto, found that by being involved
the WCB system, your chance of disability increases. You become more
by having to deal with the system.
This also lays this out. Some 1,500 injured workers, taken at random
the WCB and WSIB, were sent surveys in the mail and responses came
They were asked this question: "My benefits are adequate for
me and my family
to meet our needs." The people who responded positively either
strongly agreed. So 32% said, "Yes, my benefits are adequate
for me and my
family." I guess we're looking at 68% who were saying, "Benefits
adequate. I'm starting to fall behind."
Some 21% said, "While I was on benefits, I was afraid to do
activities in case I might lose my benefits." You want people
to get better.
You want them to go out and do as much as they can. People are afraid,
the system is so adversarial.
Some 34% agreed, "My health and well-being were negatively affected
claims process." So one third felt their health was deteriorating
had to deal with an adversarial organization.
And 45% said, "I felt stressed out by the claims process."
We know that stress
can have a negative impact on your health. You want to get better.
want support? Don't you want an agency that's going to help you get
It's interesting. When they talked about dealing with WSIB staff,
were questioned, 39% said they thought the WSIB staff understood their
situation. Less than half. So 41% said they "thought WSIB staff
with me." Only 36% said they thought, "WSIB staff were committed
to deal with
Here we've got an organization that is an agency of every government
Ontario. It's supposed to help, yet people are saying, "I can't
them. I don't feel like they're being honest with me. I don't feel
there to help me." So I'm saying, "OK, we need help to deal
with this issue." I
look at the ODA and I'm saying, "Where is the help?" Really,
I'm coming to this
committee and saying, "Can't we do better? Can't we hold accountable
agencies we already have, which are supposed to actually provide this
now? Can't we do better?"
The Chair: For clarification, are the stats you just quoted in the
you're going to provide?
Mr Mantis: Yes, I'd be pleased to do that. I only have one copy.
The Chair: No, that's fine. We'll make sure we have reproductions
We have approximately a minute and a half per caucus.
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): Thank you, Mr Mantis. I really
presentation, what you have reflected. I have practised law in a community
where most of my clientele were workers, and a lot of them were people
to deal with workers' compensation. I completely understand how you
it. But the problem we have is a systemic problem that we have had
government delivery programs. I can tell you that those people working
ministries are members of OPSEU. They are supposed to be there delivering
programs in a most respectful way to the people who are entitled to
programs. When the Liberals and the NDP were in government, workers
same frustration. It's devastating. Our government has been having
problems and we are trying to deal with them.
With respect to this bill, what it takes is a commitment. What our
has indicated is a commitment to deal with Ontarians with disabilities
a way to deliver the services that are required and remove the barriers
are there. From all the presentations we have had, we have gotten
more than 50
or 60 revisions of this act. So most people have different interpretations
what should be in the act.
The act is a living type of document that will have different committees
submitting suggestions for regulations, and what may happen is that
regulations may not cost the government any money and those will be
implemented, obviously, as fast as the government can. But it's very
in the act to provide all the measures, because different disabled
have different concerns and problems. We are trying to deal with it.
understand your frustration, and as a government we are committed
to try to
respond to it.
Mr Gravelle: Thanks, Steve, very much. It was very strong and clear,
when you make presentations. You're so right about rehabilitation,
needs to be a renewed focus on it. It's a question of many things,
in terms of treating people properly, but it's also a benefit to society
that as well. So I think there needs to be a refocus.
I was fascinated, as I was glancing through your presentation, about
Federal Republic of Germany and I would love you to tell the committee
bit about that. I know it's here, but it would be great to have it
record. Tell us how they treat people with disabilities and the history.
pretty fascinating and pretty impresssive.
Mr Mantis: I'm not an expert on this, but I was given the opportunity
two weeks in Germany on a study tour in 1990 to look at the system
rehabilitation and employment for people with disabilities, specifically
workers with disabilities, but we covered a broad range. They have
of programs and services to ensure that people with disabilities have
opportunity to work. If you want to work in Germany and you've got
disability, there are programs and services there to ensure you will
get a job.
I think one of the key ones we have seen, and I have seen analysis
that, is a system they have that would be called a grant-levy system.
simple: employers are required to employ 6% of their workforce as
disabilities. The government is 10%. If you don't have that number
you pay a
fine every month, I think it's DM200 every month, and that goes into
fund that is allocated just to help workers with disabilities to either
rehabilitation or to modify a workplace or for special programs to
cope and become productive in the workforce. It's very simple, simple
administer, and it seems to work very well.
Mr Martin: Just to clarify something maybe for Mr DeFaria and perhaps
I've been sitting on the committee since the beginning and I don't
there's a myriad of suggestions coming forward for amendments to this
think everybody, almost to a person, has said, "We support the
put forward by the ODA Committee," because this has been a very
collaborative effort for quite some time. Are you supporting that
amendments as well today? Are you suggesting here today, because you've
obviously been in the loop, that if we move to adopt those amendments,
have a bill here that might actually do something?
Mr Mantis: Yes. Honestly, I haven't read through all their amendments.
this other job and everything else to do. I can definitely say I support
principles they brought forward and the initial brief they put together
and a half ago. I've read through that and I support that. I think
it would be
safe to say I support their amendments as well.
Mr Martin: So there really isn't a whole lot of confusion about what
it is that
the people living in the community who are disabled are asking for
Mr Mantis: Right.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation. I'll try to give you your book back if we can get it
Mr Mantis: That's OK. I have another copy at home, but I only had
The Chair: Thank you very much.
CANADIAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE
FOR THE BLIND
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Canadian National Institute
the Blind. I would ask the presenter to please come forward and state
for the record. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Ms Pat Seed: May name is Pat Seed and I am a person who has been
blind all my
life. I am registered with the CNIB. I thank you for calling for comments
this bill and for giving us a chance to give you some input and cover
things we feel might be improved in the bill, and also to congratulate
the things you are currently doing.
First of all, when I say "blind," I am covering people
who are visually
impaired or, if you will, have limited vision, people who are totally
also people who are deaf-blind. I don't know if you know this or not,
people who are blind can also have other disabilities. They may use
wheelchairs. They may also have dyslexia and all kinds of things.
So it really
covers a great deal of people. There are about 30,000 people who are
visually impaired in Ontario. As I say, we're talking about the blind,
who are visually impaired and the deaf-blind, and the barriers people
have and face every day in their work.
One of the things they would face is access to information. What
happen is that items need to be presented in alternative formats,
where the government is concerned. Not all people who are blind read
There is about 5% of the population who read Braille; however, a lot
use computers, a lot of people use audio tapes. All these things need
taken into consideration when you're looking at alternative formats
and also in
the areas of how a person learns, be it education or employment. Employment
really one of the largest barriers that we see.
Another thing I can tell you is that the format that one person may
if they are totally blind, may be different from the format of another
In other words, a person who has MS, for instance, or diabetes may
not be able
to read Braille if their fingers are not as sensitive because of the
they now have, as a difference from people who are blind from birth
have any of those disabilities. What you're looking at, then, is a
in the needs of people, and you can't blanket-statement one group
something and another group needing that same thing.
The amount of vision that a person has varies from person to person,
we're talking about access to information, we're talking about computer
screens, we're talking about barriers even as far as buildings go,
contrast strips, for instance, are needed for people to know where
begin. All this needs to be put into the building code. While I'm
subject of wording, it really is difficult when you say "feasible
time" or something such as that. It needs to be more exact. It
needs to be that
this "must" happen, that these changes "must"
happen. The bill needs to be
stronger in its statement of how these requirements need to be changed.
I mentioned the contrasting strips. Also, with obstacles that are
in the way,
we are talking about not only people who are in wheelchairs, and you
things about ramps and things like that, but many people don't think
fact that people who are blind or visually impaired may not see, say,
Christmas tree in the middle of the lobby or they may not see a staircase
is overhead for the trains that are travelling above. They may not
moose in Toronto in the middle of the sidewalk. So it really, really
difficult. Those kinds of barriers can really get in the way.
As far as places you would go, restaurants and everything like that,
is so important. I know in so many situations, people think the lighting
be romantic in a building or it has to be low so that people are not
excited or it has to be a certain lighting, a certain colour of lighting
certain aspect to happen in a room. Really, some people need light
their position. If you have a conference where you're taking notes,
much preferable if you're setting up a situation where you have a
and people have the ability to take notes. As you can see, this is
light. It would be pretty difficult to write on my lap with that kind
People who have some vision would have difficulty writing on their
because sometimes they have to get down close and really look at the
look at what they're writing. So the lighting you provide is very,
It's always important to orient a person to their surroundings. As
you saw when
I began to sit down, I was shown where the microphone was, I was shown
the glass of water was and so on and so forth.
Computers are a real big plus for people with vision limitations.
so much being produced on computers, there is absolutely no reason
the "feasibility" of a document being in alternative formats.
It's feasible, it
can happen, so therefore should happen. I have helped others become
with the computer and get the information that they need.
Textbooks and things for employment and so on and so forth are very
The assistive devices program is very, very important. We would not
like to see
cutbacks in any of the programs that really assist people with vision
limitations: the employment supports program and so on and so forth.
means that these programs need to be highlighted. People in the community
to be made aware of them, people on the governmental level. When people
the offices of their constituency, they need to be able to find the
As far as the Internet is concerned, there is really a big problem
Internet access. If you notice, on many access sites or Web sites,
buttons going down, you'll have buttons going across and so on and
so forth. If
a person is using a screen reader to read the screen, which basically
information through, then they may be able to use a certain command
those links in order, but they may not be able to. You follow one
going in a certain direction. Whoops, all of a sudden on the next
got the same links repeated all over again, but you have to hunt for
that you were originally looking for. Sometimes, when you go on that
puts you right back where you started from. So really a lot of thought
be given to government Web sites and such so that they really are
and that can happen.
The word "handicapped" is not one that we basically use.
We use the term
"disability," because within the term "disability"
is the word "ability." I
think that's very important. The word "handicap" actually
came from England,
where they used to talk about "cap in hand," thus the word
stuck. The whole
point of this is that terms like "reasonable accommodation"
and so on and so forth really need to be much stronger and much more
what is expected. You as government officials getting all of this
today, it's wonderful that you're doing this. Now what we need to
do is ask you
to take all this feedback back to your offices and work at this bill
change some of the wording so that the timelines aren't so long, so
not just a general feasibility, but we expect items in alternative
so on and so forth.
Training is also needed for people with disabilities to be able to
different devices and the different things that they have to use as
equipment goes, and some of that is very, very important. As I say,
stress alternative format enough. Sometimes that may even be a phone.
may be a hotline or a phone type of situation, where a person doesn't
computer in their home and they need that same aspect.
Municipalities: as far as elections go, the forms -- any forms that
the government -- need to be in Braille, on tape and in large print
so that the
person can get the item that is best for them to receive. Not only
though; they need to be able to get possibly even two or three forms
same thing. In other words, if they get a large-print form and if
to be reading it on their closed circuit television, which enlarges
letters, or if they happen to be reading it on a Kurzweil scanner,
which is a
reading machine, and it makes mistakes, then they need to have a taped
that they can go through that taped copy and figure out, "What
words am I
missing? Where am I going? What does the information say?" and
so on and so
So I think it really has to be stronger. I not only say that, but
I really hope
that those who are presenting today in this area -- and I do think
northwestern Ontario needs to be addressed as a separate area because
fact that we are not as close to a lot of access and a lot of places
and so on.
So I think that the information you gather today needs to come back
agencies that have presented it, which can then present to consumers
for the final time and say, "OK, we've heard what you've had
to say. We have
taken that into consideration." We then present it to the groups
community groups can look at it and say, "Yes, this is what we
want. This is
what needs to be done, and thank you for it."
Believe me, the more you go through with that and the faster you
going, it's going to be to everyone's benefit. I'm sure that on a
level you would like this out of your hands as quickly as possible
so that it
can get started. This is the first step in doing that.
Does anybody have any questions?
The Chair: We have a minute per caucus, but before that, I don't
think you were
here, but we do have copies of the bill available in Braille, we have
audiotape and also a disk. So if you want a copy, we can provide you
Ms Seed: OK.
The Chair: I'll start with the official opposition.
Mrs McLeod: It's Lyn McLeod here, Pat. First of all, thank you very
your presentation. I wondered whether or not you did have a copy of
the bill in
Braille prior to being invited to speak to the committee today.
Ms Seed: I have a copy of the ARCH Alert, but I don't think I have
a copy of
the bill. That's another thing, and I'm glad you brought that up,
Information needs to be known, not only through the organizations,
but when you
do your media announcements, make sure that in those media announcements
forms are there, make sure the names of the forms are there, not only
screen but audibly. So many times we see commercials, and the number
a particular office of government is on the screen and we don't know
Mr Martin: Thank you for coming today and for taking the time to
well and to make such reasonable requests of the committee and of
government. I agree with you that the wording needs to be more exact
need to take out things like "where feasible" and "reasonable
and those kinds of things. We refer to those sometimes in the business
weasel words, and we've all done it. When we were in government, we
accused of using weasel words too, and they come back to bite you
You talk about training. I guess that's where I wanted to just dig
a little bit
Ms Seed: OK, sure.
Mr Martin: We used to have the VRS.
Ms Seed: Right.
Mr Martin: To be honest with you, I'm not quite sure what we have
Could you describe or are you aware of what --
Ms Seed: There is the employment supports office right now and as
far as the
CNIB is concerned, there really needs to be more money put in their
hands to be
able to assist with training, because we actually have someone from
coming up to assess people only twice a year and that's all that can
afforded. There is no one for assessing in this whole area, for actually
knowing the equipment and really being able to travel throughout northwestern
Ontario. It's only by knowing the equipment and by using the equipment,
regardless of whether the equipment is used at home or for employment
education -- I know that, for instance, with one of the school boards
of equipment like this was gotten, a Braille light was gotten for
a student and
the student was not able to take it to his home, even though he was
all year. It did him some good in the school, but then when he wanted
and he wanted to read his notes at home, he couldn't. So I think that
really needs to be a look at giving the information to employers and
to assist employers and have programs in place for employers to get
information. The one thing, if the person themselves has the equipment,
through the assistive devices program or the employment supports program,
equipment should be able to travel, to go with that person so that
if they do
move to another job, they have it.
Mr Hardeman: Thank you very much for the presentation. I was really
with your description of the problems you run into on the computer.
I want to
tell you that I run into those problems, and I don't have the challenges
you have to face. You lost me halfway through your description. So
I was really
impressed, not with wanting to learn the computer but when you were
about the word "handicapped" and the word "disability"
and describing that the
word "ability" was in "disability." You've definitely
proved that in your
comments about working with the computer.
I was also impressed with your comments about an ad on television
and the most
important part that is required, if you want to comment on it, is
and the place where you can make a contact. You are right, and I think
majority of the time that is just printed on the screen.
Ms Seed: Yes, it is.
Mr Hardeman: These are the types of things that I feel are so important
having these type of hearings, to make sure that you hear it directly
what we call it out in the country, the horse's mouth as to what's
on out there. I've watched these commercials a lot of times and agreed
some and disagreed with some, but I never gave any thought that some
would not be able to read what wasn't audible. So we very much appreciate
bringing that forward and taking the time to make that presentation
Ms Seed: I would like to add only one more thing and that is in the
computers. Sometimes it is difficult for people who can see to teach
because they are working with a mouse and so on and so forth. But
when you are
blind or have a great deal of vision loss, you have great difficulty
with a mouse with a computer. Just any of you who have computers,
tonight and try and work it with your eyes closed and see if you can
keyboard combinations that will give you the results that your mouse
The Chair: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
The Chair: Our last presenter, and sorry that we're running a bit
late, is Mr
David Shannon. On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 20 minutes
your presentation this afternoon.
Mr David Shannon: My name is David Shannon. I'm a lawyer in the city
Bay. I'm a person with a disability. I'm also a part-time member of
Human Rights Commission board of inquiry. More than half of my practice
the area of disability law and mental health law. Also, my graduate
studies were a concentration in the area of the international protection
As a result, what I'll share with you today is a personal view. I
here representing a client. I don't come here representing an organization.
I've had the opportunity to read and review the legislation and perhaps
I can speak. I also want to add that it's a great honour to be in
the riding of
Thunder Bay-Atikokan and to present before Lyn McLeod today and to
In an article to be published soon that was written by Terry Blackwell
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, which was entitled,
Impact of the Americans With Disabilities Act on Independent Living,
"Although the government can legislate laws, it cannot legislate
stereotypical or sometimes prejudicial attitudes. They result from
misunderstanding and discrimination, and result in low expectations
people with disabilities as `patients,' `wheelchair-bound,' `suffering,'
objects of pity and charity, or conversely as individualistic `superheroes.'
Despite the external barriers that persist, with the growth of the
living movement and since the passage of the" Americans with
"and other disability civil rights legislation, more people with
have been able to fulfill a variety of roles in their communities
lives of independence."
The government of Ontario should be congratulated for being the first
jurisdiction in Canada to attempt to further remove the barriers faced
persons with a disability through the new ODA bill. I might be one
of the few
persons to make that statement in Ontario, but as Professor Blackwell
is extremely difficult to legislate the removal of prejudicial attitudes,
legislation can create a context for a more socially inclusive environment.
These attitudes can be reshaped through greater working relationships
development of mutually beneficial strategic plans.
The new ODA is a key first step in achieving this goal of the social
integration of persons with a disability because it brings this community,
community of persons with a disability, to the table in an equal and
way. It is very important to note that ministries, government agencies
municipalities will be held accountable for perpetuating barriers
and will be
expected to produce plans for the removal of those barriers through
report. This initiative will be very important for the long-term removal
barriers that have failed to be removed, although the problems they
persons with a disability have been a matter of much public awareness
I understand that this bill has been criticized for an apparent lack
enforcement options or enforcement mechanisms against wrongdoers.
should be aware that enforcement mechanisms for persons with a disability
under the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the legal standard under
compels the respondent to provide accommodations up to the point of
financial hardship. I also appreciate a key point made by these very
when they complain that the Ontario Human Rights Commission is a slow
frustrating process. I submit then that the concerns should not be
to the potential of the law in removing barriers, but focus should
be on a
review and improvement of the service delivery at the Ontario Human
It is often said that the proof is in the pudding, and the new ODA
a great opportunity to test this saying by considering the development
accessibility directorate, the Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario
the regulations that arise from the new ODA. A strong and committed
can provide a brilliant opportunity for the development of progressive
and guidelines. A panel of experts working diligently to receive and
upon annual reports will be a great asset to the Minister of Citizenship
creating the vision and the implementation process for a barrier-free
There will therefore be a difficult task before those who will be
find persons with the knowledge, diplomacy skills and the disability
perspective that will be required to bring credibility to the accessibility
advisory panel and to drive the potential of this legislation. Without
piece of recruitment, I fear that then the legislation may be left
Finally, I note that there is not a mechanism for alternative dispute
resolution and/or mediation within the ODA bill. The absence of mediation
lead to an adversarial process pitting the access advisory committee
all those who come before it or allow for a shame-based media circus
ministry or municipality is publicly flogged in the media. This is
Complaints under the Americans With Disabilities Act are usually
through mediation without the need of a hearing. Also, in Ontario,
80% of the cases brought before the Ontario Human Rights board of
successfully resolved through mediation. From this process, both the
complainant and the respondent leave with a deal they both can live
dignity intact and with greater knowledge respecting how to function
discrimination-free Ontario. I urge the committee to consider the
mediation services either by way of amendment or regulation.
I thank you, Mr Chair and all committee members, for the opportunity
today and indicate my support for the legislation and my belief that
appropriate ministry commitment, the ODA will be an important tool
eventual removal of barriers faced by Ontarians with a disability
furthermore, my belief that the ODA can change attitudes in order
the all-too-pervasive prejudice against persons with a disability
The Chair: We have approximately three minutes per caucus.
Mr Martin: Thanks for coming today and for taking the time to look
piece of work that we're about and to make the, I think, very concise
meaningful suggestions that you've made this afternoon. You may be
and the only one who came to say what you -- I'm not sure now. Members
Mr Hardeman: There have been a couple.
Mr Martin: There have been a couple, yes, and I'm sure you'll highlight
Mr Martin: It's qualified. But I will say this: you're not the first
full of hope that in fact this act is a beginning, is a first step,
is a light
at the end of a tunnel that some people have been in for quite some
I just wanted to ask you about the Human Rights Code and if you have
of the critique, particularly by some of the legal clinics and ARCH,
fact this bill sets a floor that's below some of the requirements
Ontario Human Rights Code and may in fact, by doing that, reduce the
that some of the disability community have.
Mr Shannon: I would disagree with that because nothing in this bill
a person's right to bring forward a human rights complaint. So that
exists, and not to forget that then there is both the Supreme Court
recent decision in Meiorin and also the Famous Players decision of
the board of
inquiry where in fact Famous Players is going to have to either renovate,
their cinemas accessible, or close down within the next year or two.
levers still exist.
There is a problem, though. There is a problem of slowness at the
level. You can file a complaint and wait at least two years before
to be heard before the board of inquiry. That is not justice. That's
I would disagree with those at ARCH, because what I see in the ODA
essentially a Canadian approach to dealing with hard issues, and that
getting to the table in an equal way and finding a conciliatory approach
resolving problems. We Canadians, you know, have committees, we have
commissions, we have meetings and we resolve problems through a dignified
process. I think that's the Canadian way rather than a hard-nosed
model of the United States.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much. I just wanted to first thank you,
for bringing some academic insight into an issue that I'm sure you've
great deal of experience with, serving with the Human Rights Commission.
respect that --
Mr Shannon: Board of inquiry.
Mr O'Toole: Board of inquiry. Pardon me. But it's important to be
on the record
that you are in the process, you see it as a process, that it's separate
I also respect the fact that you say that there should perhaps be
a review. If
that's the enforcement provisions with complement to this, it's probably
appropriate note to make.
Also, I more or less espouse -- you're right -- that it is a Canadian
the respect that the mediation aspect for us would be the most appropriate
model if there is a disputes mechanism at all. I prefer that to the
less confrontational is the point you made -- I think in the areas
I would just ask one question. You referred, and a few presenters
referred, to the American model. It is a national model which levels
playing field, so to speak, for all jurisdictional areas whether it's
provincial, municipal or unorganized territories. Is there a role
here for the
federal government, besides the Supreme Court, to engage in this process?
do regulate some of the transportation areas and some of their financial
institution areas, you know, because of cross-jurisdictional -- could
comment on the role of the federal government, or the lack of it,
Mr Shannon: I would love to see a Canadians with Disabilities Act.
create the framework perhaps in the same way the charter has created
brilliant framework for all of us to aspire to, and of course the
modelled after the United Nations covenant on civil and political
That's where, first, the federal government could create a framework
system for all jurisdictions to aspire toward. Indeed, funding is
important, but I'd look at the Canadian Human Rights Act and where
government could certainly, in the area of transportation, trains,
transportation -- I understand you had some trouble with your air
yourselves to get here. They could make such great progress and there
to not be the kind of progress that we, as disabled persons, would
While we're on the topic of the Americans with Disabilities Act and
about that federal legislation: right now, according to Professor
only 8% of the complainants who bring forward complaints based on
discrimination in the employment sector succeed. In Ontario we want
better than that, and I hope the ODA is better than an 8% success
rate. If ARCH
feels that this goes below the present Human Rights Code, I don't
think you can
get much worse than 8% success.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Ms McLeod.
Mrs McLeod: Thank you very much, David. You and I have talked about
you know we have agreed to disagree about whether this should be supported
first step --
Mr Shannon: Happily too, yes.
Mrs McLeod: -- recognizing that it doesn't go far enough along. As
you know, my
position and the position of the Liberal caucus in the Ontario Legislature
in support of the position taken by disability groups that have presented
today, which is to say that without amendment, the bill should not
supported. I guess, given the time frames, I'm extremely concerned
kinds of amendments that need to be put in this bill to make it a
meaningful piece of legislation are just not going to happen. We can
hopeful. We have exactly two legislative days to make the changes
time allocation motion, as I understand it.
I'm concerned about a couple of things in the presentation you made.
that an Ontario-made model, any Canadian-made model, while I too would
government the credit for having brought forward a piece of legislation,
not be falling so far short of the Americans with Disabilities Act
can do better than that, as Steve Mantis just said. But specifically
more concerned that the bill does fall short of the standards set
in the Human
Rights Code. I agree that going to the Human Rights Commission as
mechanism, as a resolver of issues, is a problem because of slowness.
But I think we've got another problem when this bill becomes law,
and I ask you
this as a lawyer -- at least two areas in which there is a conflict
this law and the Human Rights Code. One is in the fact that this does
to the private sector at all, and I think there will be some really
contentions from the private sector about whether under this bill
exempt from any requirements that under the Human Rights Code potentially
would be held to.
The second one -- it was mentioned in PUSH Northwest's brief -- which
realized, came up in Pat Seed's presentation when she talked about
that individual needs can be very different and that a sort of
one-size-fits-all even to a given disability isn't going to work,
and yet in
the ODA-proposed bill it appears as though it will be only if something
a group of persons as opposed to an individual that the ODA takes
That's different from the Human Rights Code, as you know, where you're
with individual applications.
On both those fronts my concern, my question, to you as a lawyer
is, are we not
compromising what we already have under the Human Rights Code when
it comes to
giving fairness and equity to those with disabilities?
Mr Shannon: As I had already stated, I believe that this doesn't
framework created. Whatever legislation is created is still subject
decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court was very
in Meiorin in saying that there must be accommodation. It says a lot
things, but they set the bar very high with respect to the duty to
Mrs McLeod: Do people have to go that far, though, David, to get
the Supreme Court? Do we have to go that far? Should we not build
it into our
Mr Shannon: Well, no, I hope that now it has trickled down to the
level to create at least the legal test.
Also, I respect what the Liberal caucus's perspective is, because
perspective is to try to improve this bill. One part of me was thinking
lawyer, another part was indeed as a pragmatist, thinking, "Why
don't we take
this window of opportunity and get through?" As I had said, I
think it will
depend largely on the experts' panel, the access advisory committee,
receive the reports, how they take those definitions and how they
report also to apply to the private sector. Indeed, where any government
funding is to be distributed, there will be accessibility requirements,
has some impact on the private sector. However, I would think with
credible experts' panel they are going to have to create the framework
private sector, who are also still compellable under the code. But
I see the
ODA as a first step, and step number two will be the private sector.
In answering that, step two is still required, we still have the
code, and the
experts' panel is going to have to do a lot of report writing. If
what I see is
going to evolve into a quasi-judicial body writing lengthy reports
articulate what accessibility means, I think it's going to move quickly
just physical barriers to equating social inclusion, if I were to
crystal-ball-gaze. If you have some sharp people there, hopefully
to be some exciting report writing from the accessibility advisory
The Chair: With that, we've run out of time. On behalf of the committee,
you very much for your presentation this afternoon.
Before we recess or adjourn, I need some clarification. There are
a couple of
items I would like to clarify also for the members. The taxi and the
be leaving for the airport tonight at 6:20. I would also like to notify
members that tomorrow morning at 9:20, taxis will be leaving the hotel
Sudbury to go to Cambrian College. It's about a 20- to 25-minute ride,
from the hotel.
The other thing is that I need the committee's input with regard
number 46. It reads as follows:
"That the committee meet on Tuesday, December 11, 2001, for
consideration of the bill.
"That, when meeting in Toronto, the standing committee on finance
affairs not meet during routine proceedings;
"That the committee be authorized to meet on December 11, 2001,
completion of clause-by-clause consideration....
"That at 4:00 pm on the day of clause-by-clause consideration
of the bill,
those amendments which have not been moved shall be deemed to have
and the Chair of the committee shall interrupt the proceedings and
without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary
to dispose of
all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto."
What I need clarification on from the committee is, when are we going
Mr Martin: I'm not sure how much power we have here in that that
passed by the whole Legislature. Perhaps with unanimous agreement
decide, given that we hear the government is going to table substantial
amendments, perhaps to take that block from time from 1 to 4 that
take to be in the House, to participate in that part of our day and
whatever time we need that day, even if it goes until midnight, to
amendments and debate them and have them passed. Perhaps, if you wanted
a timeline, I would say midnight, because the House will be sitting
The Chair: But this is the problem. Under the orders of the House,
meet between 1 and 4.
Mr Martin: But at 4 you've got to put the questions.
The Chair: That's right, at 4 o'clock. But we can meet in the morning.
Mr Martin: Yes.
Mr O'Toole: Tuesday's caucus. It's a very important caucus because
potentially the last week, we hope.
Mr Martin: You should have said that to your House leader when she
Mr O'Toole: I'll find out if we can meet at 8 Tuesday morning.
Mr Martin: It could be more than an hour.
The Chair: I don't need an answer, but at least we can think about
it. I'd need
some clarification --
Mr Martin: What parameters do we have?
The Chair: We don't have an awful lot of parameters because under
orders we cannot meet between 1 and 4 -- until orders of the day are
Mr O'Toole: Chair, I would just like to advise you, the critic, and
Ernie is the critic on your side, that with the House leaders -- I
encourage you to get together with your House leader to find out if
worked out something that would allow us to meet.
Mr Martin: Certainly I can talk to our House leader.
The Chair: Can we leave it at that, to contact the House leaders?
Mrs McLeod: I'm not as familiar with the details of the time allocation
and I'm a visual learner, so when you read it as quickly as you did
-- do I
understand that right now the committee is to meet only on Tuesday
the 11th in
order to do clause-by-clause, but at 4 o'clock --
The Chair: I have to put -- yes.
Mrs McLeod: Which could be five minutes of consideration of amendments,
The Chair: No, they could meet in the morning.
Mrs McLeod: But if you met after routine proceedings, which would
be the normal
sitting time of the committee --
The Chair: You'd have roughly half an hour.
Mrs McLeod: We have to place the questions at 4 o'clock, which means
really no time to consider amendments.
The Chair: There would be very little time. Yes.
Mrs McLeod: I put this on the record, Mr Chair. It makes a mockery
entire hearing procedure. We've had presenter after presenter today
significant recommendations for amendment, and I gather you've been
that all across the province. There has been no time left. I think
to go back to the House leaders and say, "You've got to have
The Chair: I think that's the suggestion.
Mrs McLeod: "You've got to withdraw the time allocation motion."
The Chair: So we have agreement that we go back to our respective
to get some direction.
Mr O'Toole: Ernie is our appointment on this.
Mr Martin: Ernie, you and I can talk a bit.
The Chair: OK. And we'll touch --
Mrs McLeod: Before you all leave --
The Chair: You're inviting us for supper, right?
Mrs McLeod: I won't invite you for supper because I was told at lunch
had much too tight a timeline. But I did want to express thanks on
and my behalf, not only to all the committee members but to all the
members. We always appreciate the fact that the committee makes an
to come to northwestern Ontario and to Thunder Bay. I know in December
it's an added challenge and sometimes even a little bit of a risk
to commit the
committee to coming to the northwest, and that adds to our appreciation
effort people have made. So thank you very much. I hope you have a
timely trip back home or to Sudbury.
The Chair: Thank you very much. This committee is adjourned until
The committee adjourned at 1700.
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 Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North / -Nord L)
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie ND)
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Thunder Bay-Atikokan L)
Clerk / GreffiMre
Ms Susan Sourial
Staff / Personnel
Ms Elaine Campbell, research officer, Research and Information Services
Thursday 6 December 2001
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, Bill 125, Mr Jackson / Loi
sur les personnes handicap1es de l'Ontario, projet de loi 125, M.
Ontario Brain Injury Association F-607 Ms Alice Bellavance
City of Thunder Bay F-610
Mr Ken Boshcoff
Ms Tracy Hurlbert F-612
Canadian Hearing Society, Thunder Bay regional office F-614
Ms Karen Higginson
Ms Nancy Frost
Disabled Workers' Complex Case Network F-616 Mr Darrell Sanderson
Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers' Support Group F-619
Mr Francis Bell
Handicapped Action Group Inc F-622 Mr Allan Buchan
OPSEU Disability Rights Caucus F-626 Mr Greg Snider
Ms Laurie Barbeau
Persons United for Self-Help in Northwestern Ontario Inc F-628
Ms Marilyn Warf
Mr Ron Ross
Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers' Support Group F-632
Mr Steve Mantis
Canadian National Institute for the Blind F-635 Ms Pat Seed
Mr David Shannon F-637