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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA




January 21, 2001


Page Table of Contents:

Action Tips
The Message
What to Bring With You
For Our Organizational Members
Questions Some Might Ask You
Keep Us Posted



304 days to go..... The Government must enact a strong and
effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act by November 23, 2001 to
meet the deadline unanimously set by the Legislature on November
23, 1999. Our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario has generated
widespread support for an effective, enforceable ODA. The
Government's own polling results released last December show
Ontarians overwhelmingly support mandatory legislation that
applies to both the public and the private sectors.

Let's sustain our momentum. We now must reach every one of the
103 Ontario MPPs who can enact a strong ODA. Because the
Conservatives are the party in power, it is particularly
important that we get the 58 Conservative MPPs to understand what
the NDP and Liberals have already understood - this legislation
will make Ontario open for all people, including people with

Every step you take to convince an MPP is important! Until late
March, the Ontario Legislature is in recess. You can find the
MPPs, including the 58 Conservative MPPs, in their own
constituencies, in their constituency offices or attending public
events. For this reason our efforts during this period should
focus on contacting them locally, not at Queen's Park.

Whether you live in a region with MPPs from the Conservatives,
the Liberals or the NDP, you can really help by making sure they
know that you feel strongly about this issue, and that you are
spreading the word to others about the positions of all parties
on this important issue. If they don't seem to be aware of this
issue, ask them to obtain their party's position on the ODA and
convey it to you. Ask them to take your message directly to their
colleagues on the floor of the Legislature and in the back rooms
of Queen's Park.

This Kit draws upon suggestions from ODA Committee members to
provide you with ideas for discussions with MPPs. It also draws
on past successful strategies that we have learned about from our
supporters right across Ontario. If you want any of the
information that is referred to below, but do not have access to
the internet,
email us

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The most effective step you can take is to arrange a personal
meeting with your MPP. You can get their contact information from
the Ontario Legislature's website at:

We have found that direct personal contact has much more impact
than writing a letter to the MPP. If you have time, arrange a
series of meetings with more than one MPP.

Try to bring others with you to your meeting to show more
support. If possible, include people with various disabilities
and people without disabilities who support enactment of the ODA.
Don't let your MPP think that only a small group of people, or
that only people with particular disabilities, are concerned
about this issue.

If you cannot get to the MPP's office, then ask the MPP to come
to visit you. If neither attempt works, make an appointment to
talk with them on the phone. If you cannot get them to talk to
you at all, talk about the ODA to one of their staff members.

Additionally, if your local MPP doesn't support the ODA, contact
members of the MPP's local riding association. You might ask for
their support on this issue and try to arrange to attend a
meeting of their riding association's executive to speak about
the ODA. If you are friends with people who are close to your
nearest MPP who would benefit from learning about this issue,
then you might feel comfortable talking to them about the ODA

Contact your local media about your efforts. If you got through
to an MPP, let the media know what you were told. If the MPP
refused to meet or talk with you, urge the media to report on the
MPPs unwillingness to even talk to you. If the media do not
report on your story, do a letter to the editor about your

If you have already spoken to your MPP and others in your area,
and have their support, contact people in the business community,
especially those who you know personally. Explain why a strong
ODA is good for business, and why it's bad for everyone when the
Ontario Government keeps creating new barriers with our tax
money. Encourage business-people to tell the Government that they
support a strong ODA. Ask them to contact their MPPs or riding
associations with this message.


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Present your own message in the way that best suits you. We here
outline our core message. You are welcome to use it or modify it
as you wish. Our message is simple: 1.5 million Ontarians face
many existing barriers. Making things even worse, new barriers
are being created right now. We need a strong, mandatory
Ontarians with Disabilities Act to be passed into law and to
apply to the public and private sectors, to achieve a barrier-
free Ontario.

There is every good reason why the Ontario government should pass
a strong, mandatory ODA. The Premier promised to pass the ODA in
his first term. There is broad public support for this legislation.

This is shown in a June 2000 public opinion poll conducted for the
Government, a 1997 public opinion poll conducted for the ODA Committee,
and over 20 city councils which have passed resolutions calling for the ODA
to be passed.

You might wish to present your message in the form of very
specific questions to the MPP or their staff:

  1. Do you support the passage into law of a strong, effective
    Ontarians with Disabilities Act to achieve a barrier-free Ontario
    for 1.5 million people with disabilities?

  2. Will you support an ODA which is mandatory, not voluntary and
    which applies to the barriers in the private sector and the
    public sector?

  3. Will you now pledge to oppose and vote against any Ontario
    Government measure that creates any new barriers against people
    with disabilities, or which allows those barriers to be created?
    Will you pledge that not one more dime of the public's tax
    dollars will be used to help create any new barriers from now on?

  4. Are you aware of the broad membership of the ODA Committee and
    its goals? (If not, can we help you learn about this? Will you
    call on the Premier to meet with the Ontarians with Disabilities
    Act Committee and to work with the ODA Committee to develop the
    Ontarians with Disabilities Act? If permitted, we could serve as
    a tremendous resource to the government as it pursues this

Question 3 adds something new. It seeks a pledge that the MPP
will vote against any new measures that would allow new barriers
to be created. This is NOT a substitute for a strong ODA which
requires both old barriers to be removed and new ones to be

This question just helps point out that while the Government
delays passing the ODA, it is itself allowing new barriers to be
created, often with taxpayer's money. The Government recently ran
taxpayer-financed advertisements listing their expenditures on
new infrastructure. Yet they have made no commitment to make sure
that this new infrastructure is barrier-free.

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When talking about the ODA to an MPP, their staff, a journalist,
a business person, or a friend, you might wish to point their
attention to a range of different materials, which are all
available on our website or from Marg Thomas. Choose items you
would find helpful, such as:

Mike Harris' May 24, 1995 letter promising the ODA,
at www.odacommittee.net/promise.html

The Legislature's October 29, 1998 resolution calling for an ODA
to comply with 11 principles to make it strong and effective at

The Government's June 2000 public opinion poll showing strong
public support for a mandatory ODA covering the private and public
sectors at www.odacommittee.net/news14.html

The ODA Committee's 1997 public opinion poll which also shows
strong public support for the ODA, at www.odacommittee.net/survey.html

The list of city councils which have passed resolutions urging
the Ontario Government to pass the ODA at

The leaked August 2000 draft Cabinet document which proposed a
weak ineffective ODA at www.odacommittee.net/secret.html

A list of the ODA Committee's Organizational Members and
Regional Contacts across Ontario, which, along with our many
individual members, shows how broad we are.

You also might want to bring with you a "barrier diary" that you
can prepare, listing barriers faced by you or other people with
disabilities you know. For tips on how to prepare a barrier diary,
visit www.odacommittee.net/action-tip10.html

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Please print up and widely distribute this newsletter. Encourage
interested people, connected to your organization, to take
action. Offer your help and support for their efforts. Print up
packages of materials that people can take with them to an MPP,
journalist, or business person.




Here are some questions you might be asked by some who are not
initially supportive of a strong, effective ODA. We also let you
know the responses which the ODA Committee has given in the past
to such questions. We hope this is also helpful for you as a

* Question: The Government has spent lots of money on programs
for people with disabilities. Does that mean we don't really need
an ODA?

ODA Committee: Those spending programs are no substitute for the
ODA. We need funding for support programs, but we also need
effective legislation to achieve a society where everyone can
fully participate. This is not about money. It is about opening
Ontario up for all people, including people with disabilities. No
one should be distracted by a numbers game concerning Government

* Question: Premier Harris has said in the media that the
Americans with Disabilities Act is a disaster for Americans With
Disabilities. Do we want an ADA in Ontario?

ODA Committee: The Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee has
never advocated that Ontario pass a replica of the ADA. We want
to develop a made-in-Canada ODA. We want to borrow from those
parts of other countries' legislation that have worked, and to
improve on the parts of their legislation that have not worked.
It is not helpful to be side-tracked into a debate over the ADA.

* Question: What about concerns over the cost of an ODA?

ODA Committee: A strong ODA will save Ontario money. It costs
money to construct barriers and then remove them. It costs money
to prevent people with disabilities from being employed. It costs
money to make people ill because they can't gain access to
appropriate health care or other services. It costs Ontario when
persons with disabilities face so many barriers when trying to
get an education, or to buy products, or to use public services.
Ontario will be a more competitive province when it becomes

We want the Ontario Government to sit down with us and business
to work out a reasonable regime for dealing with the cost issue
under the ODA. We propose that where a barrier can be removed at
little or no cost, this should happen promptly. Where it may cost
more, the ODA should allow for more time to do the work, so that
the cost can be reasonably spread out. What is important is that
there is a workable legal obligation to remove these barriers and
prevent new ones from being created. Piecemeal programs and laws,
addressing one barrier at a time, have not worked to achieve

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Let us know what actions you take, and any new ideas you come up
with. Notify us of any change of address for you. If you want
regular Email updates on the ODA, send a request for them to


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Last updated January 23, 2001, 11:00 am