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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA


ODA Action KIT
dd September 2, 2003

Posted Sept. 2, 2003



September 2, 2003


An Ontario election has been called for October 2, 2003. This gives us a unique opportunity during this campaign to move forward on the long, challenging road to a barrier-free Ontario for 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. Let's make the votes of voters with disabilities count.

The ODA Committee has two important goals in this election campaign:

    1. We want this to be Ontario's first barrier-free election. All people with disabilities should be able to fully participate in every aspect of this campaign including the vote itself.

    2. We want disability issues to play a real and important part in this campaign. We want the positions that the parties and their candidates take on disability issues to be a major factor when voters decide how to vote.This includes, among other issues, the need to strengthen the weak, disappointing Ontarians with Disabilities Act the Conservatives passed in 2001.

During the 1995 and 1999 provincial elections, and during several by-elections since then, ODA supporters have done a great job at the grassroots right across Ontario raising disability issues, including the ODA. Working together and building on that success, let's make an enormous difference for those who have a disability today and for those who will acquire one in the future. That adds up to virtually everyone!

During an election campaign, the media usually only focus on a few big issues, like health, education, and the electricity crisis. We cannot afford to buy millions of dollars worth of TV ads. Instead, with your help, we can wage an effective grassroots campaign at the local level, reaching voters one at a time. This kit gives you practical tips on what you can do.

Imagine - if every voter with a disability and every voter who is the parent, relative or friend of a person with a disability, voted and also convinced two other people to vote. That adds up to real power. Imagine if each of these people informed their friends and neighbours about the importance of disability issues and why the positions taken by the candidates on disability issues like the need to strengthen the ODA should influence how they vote. That will bring our issues to the front and centre of this election campaign. It will send a message to politicians in all parties that we have a strong voice and that we will use it.

This kit tells you the positions of the parties on the ODA issue, gives suggestions to get you started and points you to other resources that will help you. Be creative. Come up with your own ideas too. Share them with us. We'll pass them on to others. Contact us at:


As a non-partisan organization, the ODA Committee doesn't endorse any party or candidate. Our goal is to get information about these issues spread as widely as possible. This lets voters make an informed choice on election day. Even if a party does not have a platform supporting a strengthened ODA we can try to get their individual candidates to commit to our goal.


Both the Liberals and NDP promise in writing to pass a strong and effective ODA that would comply with the 11 principles that the ODA Committee stands for. They have given specifics on what their ODA would include. Both the NDP and Liberals promise to work together with the ODA Committee to develop this legislation and to pass it within one year of taking office. They both pressed the Conservative Government for eight years to keep the Conservatives' 1995 pledge to enact the ODA. When the Conservatives only brought forward weak legislation in 2001, both the Liberals and NDP put forward amendments that we requested. Those amendments would have made the Conservatives' weak law strong and effective.

The Conservatives have made no commitment in this election to strengthen the weak ODA they passed in 2001. Their record includes breaking their commitment to pass the ODA in their first term (They delayed passing anything until 2001, halfway through their second term), breaking their commitment to pass a strong, effective ODA (they passed a weak, disappointing ODA). They voted against and defeated amendments, which the NDP and Liberals proposed, that would have turned their weak law into a strong, effective one with teeth.

The Conservatives' ODA does not require barriers to be removed and prevented. It has no effective enforcement and is very limited. It lets organizations remove, retain, prevent, or even create barriers whenever they wish.

The Conservatives promised that Ontario would become a barrier-free province for persons with disabilities. After eight years in power, they cannot point to significant progress towards this goal.

For full details and documentation on the
parties' platforms on this issue, visit:


For the parties' voting records on proposals to strengthen the ODA
, visit:


For a chronology of the major events in the effort for a strong ODA
, visit:


To learn more about why the ODA issue is important in this election, visit:



* To help you educate the public on this issue, the ODA Committee has prepared an excellent ODA election leaflet. It fits on both sides of one page. It explains the ODA issue to the public, describes the parties' platforms, and urges voters to consider this issue when voting.

Download, print up, and hand out copies of this leaflet. It's available at:


Give it to as many people as you can. Also, email it to friends. Get them to hand it out to others too.

* Go to campaign events and all-candidates debates in your community. Contact any candidate's campaign office in your area to find out when and where these events will be happening.

Give out copies of our ODA election leaflet to people at those events. Ask the candidates questions about where they stand on the need to strengthen the ODA. See ideas for this at the end of this Kit. Contact us to let us know what happened at these events.

* Call in to phone-in radio programs, and write letters to the editor on the importance of the ODA issue to you during this campaign. For email addresses for Ontario newspapers, and tips on how to write letters to the editor, visit: www.odacommittee.net/action-tip36.html

* Phone or personally meet the candidates running in your riding to discuss the need to strengthen the ODA to make it strong and effective. Tell them about the barriers you have faced. Let them know if these barriers were removed during the Conservatives' eight years in office. Urge them to give you a strong personal commitment on this issue, and to make this a high-profile issue during the campaign.

* Talk to your friends, family, neighbours and co-workers. Explain the barriers that you or your friends face. Tell them why its important to strengthen the ODA to make it strong and effective. Let them know what the three parties have said and done about this issue. Explain why it is important that they vote in this election, and why the parties' positions on the need to strengthen the ODA to make it strong and effective should play an important role in who they choose to vote for.

* Offer to work on the campaign of a candidate who is prepared to make a strong commitment to strengthen the ODA. Educate other campaign workers about this issue.

* Notify the local media of any barriers you encounter during the election campaign such as election events held in inaccessible locations, the absence of needed accommodations at campaign events, inaccessible campaign offices or polling stations, or lack of campaign literature in an accessible format. Also, notify your riding's returning officer and Ontario's Chief Elections Officer if you are encountering barriers in voting. Of course, also let us know at:


* Make sure that you are on the voter's list so you can vote in the election. Get your friends to make sure that they are on the voter's list.

* Vote in the election. Learn how you can vote if you cannot get to the polls or if you cannot get out on election day.

* Contact your nearest ODA Committee Regional Contact to help with group activities during the election campaign. Offer your own ideas of what we can do together.Don't wait for others to plan ODA-related election activities. Get things started yourself.

* Monitor the ODA Committee website for ongoing developments at:

Help spread this information to others who do not have access to the Internet.

* If you have E-mail and are not yet on our ODA E mail distribution list, send a request to join that list to:



If you are part of an organization that wants a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities, we encourage you to also take the following additional steps:

* Make it a priority during this election for your organization to help us advocate for a truly barrier-free election, in which all voters with disabilities can and do vote.

* Designate members of your staff to be responsible for your organization's work on this project.

* Print and circulate this kit and our ODA election leaflet to your members, consumers, board, staff and volunteers as widely as possible across Ontario. Distribute these materials as part of the information packages that your organization routinely gives out to the public.

* Hold public events during the election to inform voters with disabilities about the ways to participate in the campaign, about the importance of the ODA issue and about the positions of the major parties on this issue.

* Set up booths in malls and other public places to give out information to the public, such as this Action Kit and our ODA election leaflet.

* Approach the local media and explain why they should be writing stories about this issue.

* Write to the Chief Elections Officer and the three party leaders, local candidates and local returning officers, pointing out the specific barriers that your organization wishes removed or prevented to ensure that this is a barrier-free election.


If you attend an all-candidates' debate in your area, you may wish to:

* Download, print up and hand out copies of our ODA 2003 election leaflet to people attending the event.

* Prepare a short question to ask the candidates before you get there, and try to get a seat near the microphone so you will have a better chance to get to ask it.

* In your question, assume that the audience knows nothing about the ODA issue, and knows little about the barriers facing persons with disabilities. Be brief so that the audience does not get impatient. Tell them about some major barriers you face. Let them know what progress was made to get rid of those barriers during the Conservatives' 8 years in office. Ask the candidates if their party will commit to strengthen the ODA in the first year of the next Legislature to make it strong and effective so that you will know when the barriers you face will be removed. As an example you might say:

1.9 million Ontarians have disabilities and face barriers every day when they try to get a job, use our health or education system, or just shop in stores. In the past eight years, the Conservatives promised us a barrier-free Ontario. But they haven't made any real progress towards this. They stalled enacting the Ontarians with Disabilities Act they promised till 2001 and then passed a weak, toothless law. It doesn't require the removal of the barriers we face. Is your party prepared to promise to strengthen the Ontarians with Disabilities Act?


Download the 1 page ODA Committee Election 2003 Brochure - 1 page

Download the 1.5 pages ODA Committee Election 2003 Brochure




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