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Appendix 2 to the ODA Committee Brief
on Bill 125

Goverment Statements which Prove The Need For A
Mandatory, Independently Enforceable & Comprehensive




The Ontario Government has made a number of public statements
about the circumstances confronting Ontarians with disabilities.
Their statements serve to demonstrate that Ontario needs a strong
and effective ODA containing the key ingredients which the OdA
Committee has proposed. As our analysis in Appendix 1 shows, Bill
125 does not meet this need. The amendments proposed in this
brief would bring the legislation in line with the Government's
statements. This appendix sets out these recent Government

The Government has made statements which agree with our message
that Ontarians with disabilities now face many barriers in their
daily lives. The government's "Framework for Change" document
states: "There are still many obstacles to true independence and
opportunity in Ontario for persons with disabilities ...".
Regarding the Ontario public service, that document states: "The
OPS is the province's largest employer with more than 60,000
employees. ... From access to information, to obtaining a birth
certificate or driver's licence, to simply having access to the
province's seat of government, persons with disabilities still
face many barriers."

Speaking for the Government during Second Reading Debate,
Conservative MPP Toby Barrett stated: "However, there are 1.6
million people in our province for whom barriers are a fact of
life. It's a constant frustration, preventing these people from
experiencing the same fullness of opportunity, of experience, of
participation that we take for granted. Something as simple as
going into a store, as I mentioned, or something as simple as
crossing the street for someone who is visually impaired, or
reading a newspaper, obviously is an arduous task for more than
15% of the people in our province.

Who are these 1.6 million people? They are teachers, lawyers,
someone's employer, a secretary, an athlete, a coach, children
and parents. They're no different than anybody else in this
province. They're no different than the 85% of us who may be more
able. They're hard-working, contributing members of our society
and they deserve better than to have doors closed to them because
no one has had the forethought or the wherewithal to make
buildings and services more accessible." (Hansard November 8,

We have pointed out that the problem is not merely the historic
fact that barriers were created in the past. We also face the
cruel reality that barriers against persons with disabilities
continue to be created now. On this point, Citizenship Minister
Cam Jackson said during Second Reading debate on Bill 125:
"Unfortunately we as a society continue to construct these
barriers in the way of disabled persons." (Hansard November 8,

The Government's statements agree with us that Ontario's goal
should be a barrier-free province, and that this is an achievable
goal. The Governments Framework for Change document states:
"...by working together we can achieve our vision of an Ontario
where no new barriers are created and existing ones are removed."
The government's November 1, 2001 "Vision Statement" states: "We
will move steadily towards a province in which no new barriers to
persons with disabilities are created and existing ones are
removed." The Government's Framework for Change states: "We
envision an Ontario where persons with disabilities can
experience the same fullness of opportunity as all Ontarians. We
envision an Ontario where persons with disabilities can get into
and around their community safely; attend and participate in a
town council meeting; get to a job that nurtures their skills;
and live as independently as possible." For the ODA Committee's
part, we would speak of living independently, not merely living
"as independently as possible."

Along the same lines, Citizenship Minister Jackson stated during
the Second Reading debate: "When I talked to these individuals
and listened to what they wanted to see happen in our province,
it occurred to me that we really share the same vision and the
same goals, and we know we can get to the same outcomes. Simply
put, they wanted legislation that would do two things: create no
new barriers in our province and have a plan whereby we would be
able to systematically go back and remove all the existing
barriers in our province. Those very simply were the two things
they said we needed to have in this legislation." (Hansard
November 8, 2001) Similarly, on the third day of Second Reading
Debate, Conservative MPP Julia Munro stated: "No one can quarrel
with the goal: an Ontario in which no new barriers to persons
with disabilities are created, and where existing ones are
removed. That's where we're headed." (Hansard November 20, 2001)

The Government's statements recognize that in Ontario, persons
with disabilities are not truly treated as full citizens due to
the barriers they face. Citizenship Minister Jackson stated
during Second Reading Debate on Bill 125: "It was from these
individuals that I understood for the first time the concept of
citizenship, something the disability community has only aspired
to but been unable to achieve in our province because of the
existence of barriers." (Hansard November 8, 2001)

As well, the Government's statements have echoed our message that
a barrier-free Ontario in which we can fully participate is not a
privilege, but a right. During debate on his time allocation
motion, the Citizenship Minister stated: "What individuals in
Ontario are looking for is not some privilege, but the simple
right to enjoy the same kind of life that others in our society
enjoy in terms of access to housing and transportation,
particularly in terms of access to good jobs that might be
available within our society, certainly within our province, and
in terms of access to education and physical access to buildings
and to our society as a whole."

Government statements have adopted our position that persons with
disabilities are a substantial and growing part of the province's
population, and that the barriers that hurt persons with
disabilities end up hurting all Ontarians. The Government's
Framework for Change document states: "Persons with disabilities
represent a significant and growing part of our population.
Today, according to Statistics Canada, more than 1.6 million
Ontarians have disabilities. As our population ages, the
proportion of persons with disabilities increases. Two decades
from now, it's estimated that nearly 20 percent of the population
will have a disability. That's one in every five people. But
that's just persons with disabilities. Accessibility challenges
also affect the millions of parents, grandparents, families,
friends, neighbours, co-workers and professionals who are
involved with disabled persons on a daily basis. When you look at
these figures, it becomes clear that enhancing the ability of
persons with disabilities to have equal access to opportunity, to
live an independent life and to make a contribution to their
community would have a significant, positive impact on the
province's future prosperity. It has been estimated, for example,
that the potential spending power of Canadians with disabilities
is as much as $20-$25 billion. Measures that improve
accessibility and opportunity are consequently bound to generate
significant economic benefits for all Ontarians."

Speaking for the Government during Second Reading Debate,
Conservative MPP Toby Barrett stated: "Persons with disabilities
represent a significant and also a growing part of our
population. As I mentioned, 1.6 million people in Ontario have
disabilities. Of course as people in Ontario age, the proportion
with disabilities will increase. Two decades from now it's
estimated that nearly 20% of the population will have a
disability. That would be one in five persons.

That's just the people with disabilities. Accessibility
challenges also affect millions of parents, grandparents,
children, friends, neighbours and co-workers who are involved
with disabled people on a daily basis. I think we all realize
that disabilities affect all of us and affect all aspects of our

I think we are cognizant of the challenge before us, but no more
difficult a challenge than is being faced by our disabled
population as they strive to make their way in a limited access
world." (Hansard November 8, 2001)

The Government's statements have acknowledged, as we have urged,
that responsibility to take action to achieve our shared goal of
a barrier-free province rests with everyone. No organization or
sector can claim that this is not their responsibility.

The government's November 1, 2001 "Vision Statement" states: "We
have a responsibility to ensure that persons with disabilities
share the same rights, freedoms and obligations as every
Ontarian. This is a responsibility which rests with every
government, every region, every institution, every association,
every sector and every person in Ontario." Its Framework for
Change states:
ODA Discussion Paper states: "Everyone has a role in preventing
and removing barriers."

We have said that a barrier free Ontario benefits all. The
Ontario Government's statements have agreed.

The Government states in its "Vision Statement: "Achieving this
vision makes good sense for us all. Persons with disabilities
make significant contributions to the well-being of their
neighbours, communities and province. And we all benefit when we
maximize the potential that lies within every person." The
framework for Change document also states: "We are building a
legacy for our children and grandchildren as a fair and inclusive
society. To do this requires tapping the talents, experience and
expertise of every person who calls Ontario home; encouraging
every person to contribute to their community; and making sure we
remove the many and varied barriers that prevent people from
experiencing full citizenship." It also states: "Sharing
opportunity and prosperity is good for us all."

Similarly, during Second Reading Debate, Citizenship Minister
Jackson stated: "Ontarians want to do what is right.
Municipalities want to do what is right for the disabilities
community in this province, but they need to be directed on their
journey." (Hansard November 8, 2001)

We have reiterated that a strong, mandatory ODA is good for
Ontario's business community. In the Framework for Change the
Ontario Government makes a statement which recognizes that
removing and preventing barriers is good for business. It says:
"In the future, the most sustainable companies will be those that
create environments in which all individuals are able to
contribute their skills, energies and experience towards success.
They will be companies with the capacity to employ persons with
disabilities, serve customers with disabilities and compete in an
increasingly diverse market. The government believes there is a
strong moral, legal and financial motivation for the private
sector to improve the accessibility of persons with disabilities
to its goods, services, workplaces and business establishments.
Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, Ontario businesses are
already required by law not to discriminate against persons with
disabilities. A number of private sector organizations already
have accessibility programs because they recognize that
accessibility is good for business. Many others have partnered
with government in ground-breaking and award-winning
accessibility projects. The corporate will to change things for
the better is growing. The Ministry of Citizenship, through its
Enabling Change Partnership Program has facilitated the creation
of leading edge information and resources such as those resulting
from "Mental Health Works." This project is a
private/government/community sector partnership which will help
employers to respond to workplace mental health issues, currently
costing Ontarians huge losses in productivity."

It also states: "Ontario's business and tourist operators compete
in a North American market which is already extremely sensitive
and responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities.
Increasing accessibility is critical if Ontario's urban centres
and tourist attractions are to keep their competitive edge." The
Framework for Change document quotes one business leader as
follows: "We all recognize that providing quality customer
service to persons with disabilities is the right thing to do. It
also makes good business sense." (Rod Seiling, President, Greater
Toronto Hotel Association)

Similarly, the Government's 1998 ODA Discussion Paper stated:
"More businesses today recognize it makes good sense to have
their products and services accessible to the widest range of
consumers and clients. More employers realize their workplaces
benefit from the skills and talents of a diverse workforce. More
understand the barriers faced by people with disabilities.

Attitudes are changing. Action is beginning to reflect these new
attitudes. But many believe change is slow and that creative
approaches are needed.

The government agrees. It believes that every person in Ontario
should have equal opportunity to participate in the life of the

The Citizenship Minister stated during Second Reading debate on
Bill 125 that our disability community has been seeking new tools
to require change, the emphasis being on the mandatory element.
He stated: "What they (i.e. the disability community) were
adamant about was that they did not have the tools to force the
kinds of changes that were needed in our province." (Hansard
November 8, 2001)

Government statements have now agreed with our view that a strong
ODA must be the centrepiece of our efforts to achieve our shared
goal of a barrier-free Ontario. In releasing its "Vision
Statement", Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson stated in an
accompanying open letter on November 1, 2001: "The centrepiece of
our Framework for Change for Ontarians with disabilities will be
the Introduction, in the Fall session of the Legislature, of the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act." In its Framework for Change,
the Government stated: "Our plan to make Ontario the most
inclusive province in Canada calls for strong legislation with
the support of all sectors and levels of government, non-
legislative initiatives and a multi-year plan to realize our

Government statements have said that the clear message from the
disability community is that there is a real need to enact and
implement strong new legislation. The governments Framework for
Change states: "Throughout the consultation process, the
disability community said that strong legislation with mandatory
measures is necessary, but that it is not the complete solution."

It has been the view of the ODA Committee from its interaction
with the business community and other sectors that those who now
have barriers would be prepared to take an open-minded look at
the benefits of a strong, mandatory ODA. Government statements
acknowledge that those who have barriers, and who will have to
remove them, can be expected to be receptive in this regard. The
Government's framework for Change document states that the
Government has "... a host of supportive stakeholders in
municipal government, the disability community, the broader
public sector and private sectors ready and willing to make it
(i.e. a barrier-free Ontario) happen." It also states: "The
private sector wants to do the right thing but says it needs more
access to information and advice on how to do it."

Similarly, during second reading debate, speaking for the
Government, Conservative MPP Carl DeFaria said "We know that the
private sector is ready and willing to partner with us to make
Ontario accessible..." (Hansard November 8, 2001)

The ODA Committee has emphasized that no matter how dedicated is
the Ontario Human Rights Commission at removing and preventing
barriers facing persons with disabilities, we need much more. The
Commission and the Code are not enough. In its Framework for
Change, the Ontario Government made statements to this effect.
There it states: "The Ontario Human Rights Code and the Ontario
Human Rights Commission have an impressive record in protecting
the rights of all of Ontario's residents, including persons with
disabilities. Yet more can be done."

Government statements acknowledge that this was the view held by
many. It stated in its 1998 ODA Discussion Paper: "The
protections of the Code are generally achieved by individuals
filing complaints after discrimination has occurred. While
individual complaints can remove barriers, many feel this is not
the best way of achieving broad, lasting change."

Along the same lines, the ODA Committee has not suggested that
the Human Rights Code or the Canadian Charter of rights contain
weak rights. Rather, no matter how strong they are, 15 to 20
years of their operations have not gotten persons with
disabilities where they need to go.

A government statement appears to echo this. On the third day of
Second Reading, Debate, Conservative MPP Tina Molinari said: "Our
foundation of legislation and services for persons with
disabilities, including the federal Charter of Rights and
Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code, is considered the
strongest in North America. But barriers do remain. We must
finish the
job."(Hansard, November 20, 2001)

Government statements recognize that mandatory measures are
required in the ODA. The ODA Committee has always insisted that
we cannot rely on voluntary measures to achieve our shared goal.
The Government's Framework for Change document states: "Mandatory
measures will ensure the government and its partners improve
accessibility over time." As well, the Framework for Change
states at least that mandatory requirements must also be imposed
on municipal governments, and not only the provincial government.
It states: "Perhaps no government has a more direct impact on our
daily lives than the municipal level... That's why the mandatory
participation of municipalities is key to realizing fully the
government's vision for persons with disabilities."

Government's statements appear to echo the ODA Committee's
emphasis that both the public sector and the business sector will
benefit if standards for accessibility are set. Regarding the
provincial government, the Government's Framework for Change
document states: "The provincial government has a responsibility
to set a high standard and to demonstrate leadership." Regarding
the private sector, the Framework for Change states "The
experience of working with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association;
the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association; and Tourism
Toronto, among others, has shown the government that private
sector organizations recognize the sound business reasons for
improved accessibility and can contribute significantly to the
independence of persons with disabilities. These sectors and the
Canadian Standards Association recognize that standards for
customer service are key components to improving accessibility
and are working with the government to ensure excellence in
client service for persons with disabilities."

We have said that many of the barriers in the private sector are
easy to fix. Ontario Government has now made statements that
recognize an important, compelling example of this - an example
which we ourselves have often used to point out the need for a
strong ODA. The Framework for Change document states: "More than
20,000 retail businesses in Ontario can, for a modest cost,
remove a front step - a barrier that persons with disabilities,
mothers with strollers and seniors encounter every day. This
small measure, along with other simple changes, could have an
immense impact on the ease and independence of persons with
mobility disabilities."

During Second Reading Debate, Conservative MPP Toby Barrett,
speaking for the Government, stated "Minister Jackson this
afternoon used the expression "barrier-free Ontario." At first
blush I would think, is this possible or is this truly an
insurmountable task? I think we all agree that a gap exists
between where we are now and where we should be. I don't see this
as one gigantic challenge, something we can bite off in one
chunk. It will take time. I see it as a series of very small

I think of the example of the step in front of so many stores and
commercial establishments. In the first place, usually, through
design, a step like that need not be built. By and large, it's
fairly simple to take out a concrete step and redesign the
doorway. You have an accessible commercial establishment and the
proprietors of that store have access to a new cadre of
customers." (Hansard November 8, 2001)

The ODA Committee's message has included the need for standards
to be set for the removal and prevention of barriers, and the
need for these standards to be enshrined in regulations.
Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson has made statements which adopt
this message, both regarding the public and private sector,
although he also refers to "guidelines" as well as regulations.
On the third day of Second Reading Debate, he stated: "What we
need in this province are regulations and guidelines that will
guide the rules of conduct for public and private businesses
across this province, something that's been sadly lacking in this
province, something that the federal government refuses to
provide. As I've said on many occasions, you can win a case with
the human rights tribunal only to lose it because there are no
guidelines in this province or this country that can be upheld in
a court of law." (Hansard November 20, 2001)

The ODA Committee has urged that under effective legislation,
time lines must be imposed which vary with the time needed to
remove the barriers in issue. A Government statement effectively
echoed the essence of this when it stated in its 1998 ODA
Discussion Paper: "Time frames for implementing approaches should
be realistic. Approaches should recognize that time frames for
implementation will vary depending on the sector and available

We have encouraged the Government to listen to us and to the
broad disability community, as we are the best resource available
from whom the Government can learn how to address our issues most
effectively. Government statements now acknowledge that this is
true. During Second Reading Debate on Bill 125, he stated: "The
most valuable lesson I learned was how powerful change could
occur if the disabilities community was front and centre, was
listened to, was asked for their input and it was acknowledged
and acted upon. It sounds simple, but you'd be amazed how many
communities don't even consider doing it." (Hansard November 8,

Along the same lines, Conservative MPP Frank Mazzilli said this
on the second day of Second Reading Debate: "There are always
issues when there's new construction, something that's
overlooked, and I've got to tell you when something is overlooked
embarrassing. It's embarrassing for the designers and it's
embarrassing for the municipal and provincial governments that
may have provided the funding to build those structures that
something in the design stage was overlooked. Why was it
overlooked? It was overlooked exactly because the disability
community was not at the table overseeing the original design;
something that they would have noticed right away and said, "This
doesn't work." This second-floor issue, this elevator, the height
of these buttons, all of those issues that became embarrassing to
people were things that, had the input been there right from the
start, would not have occurred.

The other thing is that having the disability community at the
table overlooking everything at first will actually be cost-
effective, because, as I've said, on some embarrassing issues
it's not an issue of money; they've obviously been overlooked.
You end up going back and redoing things. We all know that in
construction when you have to go back and redo something that was
done two weeks ago, that is brand new, you're effectively being
inefficient and wasting taxpayers' money. The disabled community
being at the table making those recommendations right from the
start will in fact save taxpayers' money." (Hansard November 19,

Similarly, the Citizenship Minister said during the debate over
his time allocation motion: "It is my firm belief that any policy
or law will work much better when the very people it affects are
directly involved and are working with it on a daily basis.
Persons with disabilities understand the barriers that they are
struggling with and confront on a daily basis. Their knowledge
and their experience is the single most important contribution to
our understanding of these necessary reforms." (Hansard November
21, 2001) During that same debate, Conservative MPP Diane
Cunningham stated: "Disabled people want to be involved in
decisions regarding themselves. ...Giving persons with
disabilities a role to play in decision-making that affects them
is extremely important. It's a powerful tool, it's a tool for
change and it's long overdue. ... People should be at the table
with regard to actions that regard them." (Hansard, November 21,

We have also put emphasis on the extraordinary amount of public
money which is spent on purchases and infra-structure. This
spending power could dramatically influence the acquisition of
accessible goods, services and facilities. The Government
acknowledges how much it spends. During Second Reading Debate,
Citizenship Minister Jackson stated: "This government, with
taxpayers' dollars, has committed about $1.8 billion in
infrastructure, transit, new hospital construction and new
university and college construction." (Hansard November 8, 2001)
Conservative MPP Carl DeFaria stated in the Second Reading
Debate: "The province alone spends billions of dollars on
procurement each year." (November 8, 2001)

The Government acknowledges that it had promised Ontarians with
disabilities that it would not create any new barriers with tax
money. During Second Reading Debate on Bill 125, Citizenship
Minister Jackson stated: "We believe it fulfils our promise that
we will not create new barriers with taxpayers' money, something
that the disability community has said makes no sense -- using
their own tax dollars to create environments that create barriers
for them. We clearly can do a better job, and it should be the
law that we cannot create those barriers in public spaces."

In affording the disability community input into standards to be
set, the ODA Committee believes that there must be a real and
meaningful avenue for all to have their say, not just a chosen
few. On this theme, Citizenship Minister Jackson made a statement
echoing this during Second reading debate: "The disabilities
community has many members who deserve a voice. There are many
people in the disabilities community who deserve a voice on these
issues. One person alone cannot represent the entire disabilities
community. There are many voices, many needs and many unique
challenges facing a broad range of citizens of all ages who are
challenged by their disabilities." (Hansard November 8, 2001)

We have said that persons with disabilities must be afforded the
opportunity to participate in identifying the barriers they face
and the standards that must be enforced. For that reason, we have
held many public forums across Ontario over these years, at which
persons with disabilities did just that. Regrettably, in the vast
majority of these cases, the Government's MPPs declined our
numerous invitations to attend. We also regret that the Premier
declined every invitation to attend.

Citizenship Minister Jackson has made statements which
acknowledge the validity of our message. He stated during Second
Reading Debate: "We need the disabilities community to come to
the table and say, "These are the standards. These are the
barriers we face every day." I don't face them. Why would I, as
minister, sit there and say, "That sounds reasonable to me. A 36-
inch-wide door? I guess that sounds fine." What's the difference
between that and a 32-inch door? Don't say four inches. The
difference is that you won't be able to manoeuvre a wheelchair or
a mobile scooter or whatever." (November 8, 2001)

Finally, Government statements appear to agree with our view that
to achieve a barrier-free Province, among other barriers, it will
be necessary for existing government buildings to be retrofitted.
During the second day of Second Reading Debate, Conservative MPP
Frank Mazzilli stated: "We have to have a starting point. It's
pretty hard for governments of all sorts to go out and say, "We
want a community to do something that we're not doing," if
government buildings, say, are not accessible and yet we expect
someone else to do that. So we have to have a starting point. If
it's the provincial government that needs to lead by example,
then we have to retrofit our buildings, the ones that are not
currently retrofitted." (Hansard November 19, 2001)

In referring to this, we must emphasize that we do not believe
that we need to wait for Ontario Government to tackle the
retrofit of their own buildings before others address similar

In summary, these Government statements echo much of what the ODA
Committee has been saying over the past 7 years about the need
for strong, comprehensive mandatory legislation akin to that
proposed in the ODA Committee's 1998 ODA Blueprint. We urge
adoption of our proposed amendments in this brief to make Bill
125 live up to these Government statements.



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