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ODA Committee Update
May 21, 2002



The ODA Committee today received its first letter from new Citizenship Minister
Carl DeFaria
, although the letter is actually dated May 9, 2002. (See text

The Minister addresses questions we raised in our April 16, 2002 letter
to him.


This letter provides us with some new information on the Government's approach
to the ODA 2001's implementation. We do not propose to comment here on
everything in this letter. However, we provide some information that may help
you as you read this letter.

Regarding proclamation of the ODA 2001's unproclaimed provisions, the Minister
states, among other things: "We have been working to establish implementation
priorities and timelines for proclaiming the remaining sections of the act, and
we anticipate proclaiming the balance of the act in the fall." It will be
important to see what implementation priorities the Government sets, and
whether it will consult with the disability community on these. We would
welcome the chance to have direct input into those priorities.

We had asked the Government to establish an open process for selecting members
of the new provincial Advisory Council, in which the disability community would
have a say. The Minister stated: "...we took steps to ensure an open selection
process." The Minister did not indicate what steps were taken, or what "open
selection process" was used.

Regarding criteria for selecting Council members, the Minister stated: "Members
will reflect the diversity of the disability community, and will represent a
broad range of skills and expertise, geographical location, and understanding
of disability issues." It is of interest that he did not mention gender as a
criterion. In contrast, in his February 21, 2002 letter to us, the previous
minister, Cam Jackson, had listed gender as one of the selection criteria the
Government would use. We have received feedback from ODA Committee members
expressing concern that no women have yet been appointed to this Council.

Send us your feedback on this letter to: oda@odacommittee.net


Ministry of Citizenship
6th Floor
400 University Avenue
Toronto ON M7A 2R9

May 9, 2002

David Lepofsky
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee
c/o Marg Thomas
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto ON M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter welcoming me as Minister of Citizenship, with
responsibility for seniors and for disability issues. It is an honour to have
been appointed to this ministry and one that I take seriously.

I share the government's vision of a province where people with disabilities
can live as independently as possible, to enjoy equal opportunity and to
participate in every aspect of life in Ontario. The Ontarians with Disabilities
Act, 2001, the establishment of the Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario
and the development of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario are important
achievements toward those goals. I am strongly committed to the full
implementation of the act. We have made significant progress since the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act was passed on December 14, 2001. As you know,
key portions were proclaimed in early February 2002, including the authority to
appoint the members of the Accessibility Advisory Council, and the creation of
the Accessibility Directorate on February 7.

In your letter, you have identified three specific actions as priority items. I
appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns regarding these actions.

We are committed to proclaiming the Ontarians with Disabilities Act in a
reasonable manner that permits every affected organization to meet its
obligations. Proclamation of complex legislation often is done in stages. We
need to be sure that systems and training are in place to support it. We have
been working to establish implementation priorities and timelines for
proclaiming the remaining sections of the act, and we anticipate proclaiming
the balance of the act in the fall.

We are also working to ensure that tools and supports are in place to assist
us, and our partners, in making Ontario more accessible. Two of these are the
development of general guidelines for annual accessibility planning and the
preparation of tool kits to help municipalities establish accessibility
committees and create accessibility plans.

With reference to your interest in the appointment of the Accessibility
Advisory Council, we took steps to ensure an open selection process. I was
pleased to announce this week the appointment of the five members of the
council, including its first chair, Dave Shannon, a Thunder Bay lawyer and
disability rights activist. Brampton Olympian and Paralympian Jeff Adams is
vice-chair. Three other members appointed are: Dean La Bute, Barry McMahon and
Duncan Read. I have enclosed a news release with further information on these
first appointments to the Advisory Council.

I am greatly impressed by the qualifications and dedication of the individuals
nominated for the council. Members will reflect the diversity of the disability
community, and will represent a broad range of skills and expertise,
geographical location, and understanding of disability issues. This council
will demonstrate that disabled persons are at the forefront of change.

The third area of concern that you raise is related to the development and
enactment of regulations.

The Accessibility Directorate is working on a plan and critical path for the
regulations and guidelines that will be developed once these provisions are
proclaimed. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act will require the government to
seek input into any regulations that are developed. In addition, the
Accessibility Advisory Council will have an active role in advising me on a
range of disability issues, including on the development of the regulations.

As the previous Minister stated in his most recent letter to you, this will be
an ongoing process, although one priority will be the development of a
regulation identifying organizations that will be responsible for preparing
accessibility policies.

I appreciate the offer of assistance from the ODA Committee. I am always
interested in hearing from you. I know that my predecessor has stated publicly
on many occasions that committee members have shared knowledge and experience
that has been instrumental in helping shape the legislation and in developing a
higher awareness of the issues that people with disabilities face in their
everyday lives.

Making Ontario accessible is a shared responsibility that will benefit us all.
ODAC and its member organizations remain critical to our vision and strategy
for improving independence and opportunity for people with disabilities. We
especially need your assistance and expertise at the local level to build and
guide municipal accessibility committees to assist other organizations that
must prepare accessibility plans.

I would suggest that you contact Dave Shannon, Chair of the Advisory Council,
for further discussions on how we can all work together to improve independence
and opportunities for Ontarians with disabilities. Mr. Shannon can be reached
c/o the Accessibility Directorate, 400 University Avenue, 3rd floor, Toronto,
Ontario, M7A 2R9.

Thank you again for writing. I look forward to working With ODAC members all
around the province.


Carl DeFaria

c. Dave Shannon
Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario


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