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Ontario Government's
New ODA Bill 125
Media Coverage

December 19, 2001





Here are newspaper articles which include references to the passage of Bill 125, the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act. They appeared in the London Free Press on December 18, 2001 and the Toronto Star on December 13, December 14 and December 18, 2001.

Please also note that tireless ODA supporter E. Rice is now scheduled to appear for one hour on a Toronto area CFRB Radio call-in show to discuss the ODA on Thursday, December 27, 2001 from 3 to 4 p.m. CFRB sometimes changes their scheduling of guests, and we will not be able to notify you if this changes. Please call in and give your feedback on what you think of Bill 125. To phone in call: 416-872-1010 or cellular *8255 in the Toronto area. Start dialling just before the hour begins to be sure you get near the front of the line. If you are out of town, or are not near a radio, you can listen in on the Internet via:


If you want to email in a question, you may be able to find an address on the CFRB web site.

This is likely the last ODA Email announcement until mid-January 2002. Happy, barrier-free holidays to all.



The London Free Press - Page B4
Tuesday, December 18, 2001
Disability bill disappoints advocates
The new act doesn't cover the private sector, a Londoner says.

By PETER GEIGEN-MILLER, Free Press Reporter

The provincial government calls it Canada's most far-reaching legislation to
improve independence and opportunity for people with disabilities.

But a London advocate for the disabled counters the new Ontarians With
Disabilities Act won't eliminate the daily barriers faced by people with

The long-anticipated legislation passed third reading in the Ontario
legislature Thursday night.
The legislation requires municipal governments, transportation providers, the
Ontario public service and agencies in the broader public sector to develop
plans to make buildings, programs and services more accessible.

It also includes authority for the government to create regulations that would
extend disability standards to the private sector, but gives no indication what
the standards might be.

As pleased as she is to see legislation approved after a wait of more than 6
1/2 years, Londoner Cathy Vincent-Linderoos is disappointed with the result.

"This is not the strong and effective bill the government pledged," she said.
"This bill will not produce a barrier-free Ontario."

Vincent-Linderoos said the bill is a missed opportunity since it does nothing
to require the private sector to remove barriers and because it contains no
time lines for the public sector to become barrier-free.

It also gives the government too much power to make exemptions to its
provisions without providing explanations, she said.

Although the legislation requires those covered by the bill to produce
accessibility plans, Vincent-Linderoos worries these documents may end up
gathering dust.

She praised the government for including several amendments suggested by the
Ontario Disabilities Act committee and others but said a host of others were
left out.

One amendment was inclusion of brain injury in the definition of disability.
Another provides a $50,000 penalty for failure to develop an accessibility

Now the bill has passed, disabled people will be watching to see what happens,
said David Lepofsky, a blind Toronto lawyer and chairperson of the ODA

Added Vincent-Linderoos: "We're not going away."


The Toronto Star
December 13, 2001

Harris makes last stand at Queen's Park
Premier bids farewell from front bench in Ontario legislature from Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Mike Harris bid farewell to friend and foe alike Thursday after
six years presiding over one of the most turbulent periods in the province's
political history.

Moved to tears at times by speeches from Conservatives and opposition members
alike, Harris sat in the provincial legislature for the last time as premier on
the final day of a tumultuous fall sitting.

In a speech running 17 minutes, Harris said he was "humbled," "proud" and
"scared" when first voted to the legislature in 1981.

"Walking through those doors for the very first time, I did realize the people
of Nipissing had given me a sacred trust ... and so I say thanks to the voters
of Nipissing.

Harris thanked friends, voters, his caucus and the civil service that presided
over the course of his 21 years in politics - 12 as party leader.

He said he understood the "hectic life" of the two opposition leaders - Liberal
Dalton McGuinty and Howard Hampton of the NDP - and said he had never doubted
their commitment to the people of Ontario, despite political differences.

But Harris reserved special praise for his family - in particular, his two
sons, Mike Jr. and Jeffrey.

"They inspired me, they tested me, they were great training for question
period," he said of his sons, who watched from the visitors' gallery, wiping
away tears as they listened.

"As much as I have enjoyed being premier, I have loved being a father even
more, and so I look forward to spending more time with my sons," Harris said,
his voice breaking and his eyes welling with tears.

McGuinty praised Harris as an exceptionally skilled political foe in an elegant
and at times personal speech.

"Mr. Harris has been a very shrewd, very tough, and very successful adversary,"
he said. "Mike Harris got the job the old-fashioned way - he worked for it."

McGuinty went on to acknowledge the importance of family to Harris, who
announced last month that an attempted reconciliation with his estranged wife,
Janet, had failed.

"I know that as tumultuous as your time in public office has been, Premier, you
and the people you care most about have also been through a great deal," he
said. "I pay special tribute to your family and special tribute to your two
sons, Mike Jr. and Jeffrey, for the sacrifices they have made."

Harris made a point of acknowledging McGuinty's comments in his own speech.

"I know how much your kids miss their dad," he told McGuinty, his voice husky
with emotion.
NDP Leader Howard Hampton also spoke positively of his long-time adversary,
saying that Harris had created "a debate that will outlast even you - a debate
about what should be public and what should be private.

"This is a healthy debate," Hampton said.

The speeches were a touching finish to a raucous fall sitting.

While Harris's spotlight had appeared to dim in the weeks following his
resignation announcement in October, he grabbed headlines again this week with
a pledge to sell the province's Hydro One transmission grid and open the
electricity market to deregulation.

Harris clearly wanted to add to his Conservative legacy of drastic tax and
spending cuts by sealing the fate of the largest privatization deal in Canadian
history, said political analyst Graham Murray.

"There was some speculation they would retreat on the opening of the
electricity market," Murray said. "(Harris) squashed all of those notions very
strongly Wednesday and showed that he's still in charge."

Harris's typically unapologetic style served him well this fall when he
accelerated corporate and income taxes in the face of U.S. terrorist attacks
that have knocked an already teetering economy off the rails.

But after job losses began mounting, the province said last month it might have
to slash another $5 billion from government spending to keep its books

Harris and his government encountered a series of troubles this session.

Two longstanding scandals didn't appear to go away - a wrongful-death civil
lawsuit in the police slaying of a native protester at Ipperwash in 1995, and
his May appearance on the witness stand of a public inquiry into the
tainted-water tragedy in Walkerton, Ont. Harris was repeatedly peppered with
questions about his role in both scandals throughout the session.

A spate of bills passed in the legislature Thursday carried less urgency than
in other sessions after the legislature passed a motion to carry them over
instead of letting them die on the order paper.

Key legislation that Harris made a point of seeing through before his tenure
ended included the Ontario Disabilities Act, Murray said.

It was considered unlikely that Harris would recall the legislature before the
Conservative leadership vote slated for March 23.

Instead, the five leadership candidates running to replace him as premier -
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer, Health
Minister Tony Clement, Labour Minister Chris Stockwell, and former finance
minister Ernie Eves - were expected to devote their winter months to pounding
the pavement, drumming up the grassroots support needed to win in the
one-member, one-vote system.


Toronto Star
December 14, 2001
Page A4

MPPs Pass Community Care Bill into Law

The Conservative government has used its majority to ram through a sweeping
range of bills before rising for the Christmas break. Despite howls of protest
from the opposition benches yesterday, the government limited debate and
opportunities for public input in the rush to pass the bills on the final day
of the fall session.

The main pieces of legislation deal with protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine,
providing a long-awaited Ontarians With Disabilities Act, changing the
governance of community care access centres, and going after the proceeds of

"They're rushing ... bills through," Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty said. "This
is perfectly in keeping with the way that they do business. They are not
interested in hearing from the broader public."

New Democratic Party Leader Howard Hampton accused the government of "ramming
through a whole bunch of legislation without the appropriate analysis (or)

The most contentious piece of legislation passed was the bill allowing what has
been called a hostile takeover of the province's 43 community care access
centres. Opposition politicians said the bill allows the Tories to fire
community-elected boards of directors at the centres and replace them with
government appointees.

The centres co-ordinate home care for people discharged from hospital and for
seniors who want to continue living independently in their own homes.

Board members and staff at the centres have been critical of government

Associate Health Minister Helen Johns argued it's necessary to bring in better
managers and ensure "dollars are pushed down to provide quality services"
instead of wasted on administration.

Also passed yesterday was the Ontarians With Disabilities Act, despite loud
protests from groups representing the disabled.

The bill is meant to fulfil Premier Mike Harris' 1995 election promise to
dismantle barriers preventing the disabled from living and working as normally
as possible.

The new law requires some provincially funded construction projects and
existing buildings to meet accessibility standards and includes a plan to
increase fines for illegally parking in a spot reserved for the disabled to a
maximum of $5,000, up from $500.

But critics argue it falls short: It doesn't require public buildings to set a
timetable for becoming accessible; does not require private businesses to
become accessible; and does little to address impediments faced by the blind,
deaf and mentally disabled.

"We're disappointed the government missed an opportunity to pass a law that
would be as strong and effective as they had promised," said David Lepofsky of
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, an advocacy group.

The Oak Ridges Moraine law will protect from future development some 90 per
cent of the environmentally sensitive area north of Toronto. The moraine is a
160-kilometre ridge of hills, lakes and headwater running from the Trent River
in the east to the Niagara Escarpment in the west, "This is good public policy
in the war against developers," said Glenn De Baeremaeker, spokesperson for
environmental group Save the Rouge Valley System.

Proceeds-of-crime legislation received third reading.

With files from Gail Swainson


The Toronto Star Tuesday, December 18, 2001, p. 20

Improve court access for disabled: Litigant
Tough to get inside Osgoode Hall, court told
Harold Levy
Toronto Star

Osgoode Hall, the high temple of justice in Ontario, is not accessible to the
disabled, a litigant before the Ontario Court of Appeal has told Chief Justice
Roy McMurtry.
"There is a lack of handicapped access to this place," said Melvin Deutsch, 65,
who was representing himself yesterday on an appeal that had nothing to do with
access issues. "It's a real shame.

"Do you know how hard it is even to get into this place? Even into the

Pressed to take action by Deutsch, a heavy-set man who suffers from a painful
spinal disc problem and must use a cane, McMurtry replied, "We will take your
concerns under advisement," adding he would pass them on to government.

After years of delays, Queen's Park last week passed the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, requiring some provincially funded construction projects and
existing buildings to meet accessibility standards.

But critics such as David Lepofsky of the Ontarians With Disabilities Act
Committee, an advocacy group, said the bill fell short because it doesn't
require public buildings to set a timetable for becoming accessible.

Osgoode Hall was built in 1829-32 as headquarters for the Law Society of Upper
Canada and later expanded to house the courts. Situated at Queen St. W. and
University Ave., it has just one entrance directly into the courthouse - facing
Queen St. - but it does not have a ramp.

A ramp on the eastern side of the building leads into the Law Society of Upper
Canada's headquarters. Even if disabled individuals use the ramp to enter the
building, they must still negotiate a set of stairs to gain access to the
appeal court.


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