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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA


ODA Action KIT

dd November 26, 2003


Fall / Winter 2003-2004 Action Kit

November 26, 2003


A new, exciting chapter in our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario now begins. This Action Kit gives you ideas on what you can do in your community to help this cause. You, our grassroots ODA supporters are what powers the ODA movement! Use this Kit's ideas. Think of your own additional strategies, use them, and let us know how they are working.

In this Action Kit you will find:

* Priorities for action by ODA supporters over the end of 2003 and early 2004 in our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario.

* Tips on educating your member of provincial Parliament (MPP) on the ODA issue.

* Tips for preparing for the new public consultation on the ODA which the Ontario Government is expected to launch.

* Tips for getting what we can out of the existing ODA 2001, despite its limitations.

* Tips for expanding public support for our call for the current weak ODA 2001 to be strengthened to make it strong and effective.

* Some final tips to help spread the word on the ODA issue.

* A backgrounder on recent developments in our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario.


As we open this new chapter in our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario, we have new hope. Yet we must remain tenacious, active and vigilant. We must make sure that the new Ontario Government keeps its word on the ODA issue. As our backgrounder near the end of this Kit shows, there have been early indications from the new Ontario Government that signal hope that it will approach this issue with more good faith than did the previous Conservative Government. Yet we still have much to do.

The new Liberal Citizenship Minister, Dr. Marie Bountrogianni (new to her cabinet post) is expected to launch a new consultation process on how to strengthen the ODA. We need to present realistic proposals for strengthening the ODA. We need to make sure the entire Liberal caucus and the public support our agenda. Therefore our priorities over the next weeks and months include:

(1) To individually lobby each member of the Ontario Legislature from all political parties to make sure that they support the strengthening of the ODA.

(2) To get as many people as possible ready to fully participate in any Ontario Government's expected consultations on strengthening the ODA.

(3) To keep doing what we can in the meantime to implement the existing ODA, despite its limitations.

(4) To expand the public support for a strong, effective ODA to ensure that the public supports tour agenda of strengthening the ODA.

The following practical action tips address each of these priorities.


Over the next weeks, please visit or phone your local MPP, to educate and update them on the ODA issue. If you would like a list of all MPPs and their contact information, either email us at:


or check our website, where it should be posted by some time in December 2003. If you need a hard copy, contact us at the mailing address above.

Making personal contact with MPPs individually either in person or by phone, is far more effective at this stage than writing them. However any contact with them in any form is always helpful.

If Your MPP is a Liberal, we encourage you to thank them for their Party's election commitments on the ODA. Give them examples of barriers you face. Remember that of the 72 Liberal MPPs in the Legislature, fully 36 were just elected for the first time. They were not in the Legislature over the past years, pressing the previous Government for the ODA. They need you to explain the history of this issue.

Educate the newcomers on why we need a strong ODA. If your MPP is a re-elected Liberal, remind them of their party platform and of the steps their party took in the last Legislature to support the ODA cause. Below we give you references to materials you might wish to print up to give them.

If your MPP is an NDP member, we encourage you to thank their party for continuing to support the ODA cause, and for their election commitments on the ODA. Their ODA platform and the Liberals' were the same. Ask them to keep supporting the ODA cause in the Legislature.

If your MPP is Conservative, unfortunately they did not support strengthening the ODA in the 2003 election campaign. However, we encourage you to urge them to now support efforts by the Liberals to strengthen the ODA, and not to oppose these.

To help you, you might print up and bring with you some of the following important materials to give to any MPP you meet:

1. The October 29 1998 ODA resolution unanimously passed, put forward on the ODA Committee's behalf by Liberal Dwight Duncan (now the Minister) by the Ontario Legislature adopting the ODA Committee's 11 principles for the ODA to make it strong and effective:


2. The Liberals' November 23, 2000 consultation tour report, describing what the Liberal Party said the ODA needs to include. It was prepared by Liberal MPP Steve Peters (now Minister of Agriculture) after he toured the province in March 2000, holding public forums on the ODA issue:


3. Dalton McGuinty's April 7, 2003 letter to the ODA Committee, which sets out their election promises on the ODA:


4. Our detailed blueprint for the ODA, set out in the ODA Committee's 1998 Brief to the Ontario Legislature:


5. The package of amendments to the Conservatives' weak ODA 2001 that the Liberal Party put forward on December 10, 2001, at the request of the ODA movement, and that the Liberals have, at a minimum, promised to implement to strengthen the ODA:



Start thinking of practical improvements that can be made to the ODA 2001 to make it strong and effective. The strong consensus from the ODA movement is that it needs to be improved so that it will make barrier removal and prevention mandatory, not voluntary, so that it will extend its requirements to the private sector not just the public sector, so that it will include means for effective enforcement, and so that it will require the setting of good accessibility standards.

To build on our 1998 Blueprint for the ODA and the detailed amendments that the ODA Committee proposed in 2001, we need your ideas. Send your feedback to us at the above address or at:



For detailed tips on how to take action to help get what we can out of the ODA 2001, review our November 2002 Municipal Barrier busters Action Kit. You can find it at:


That Kit mainly addresses barriers at the municipal government level. However, its ideas can also be used when dealing with other public sector organizations now covered by the ODA 2001, such as Ontario Government ministries, colleges, universities, school boards, hospitals and public transit providers.

Contact any of these public sector organizations in your community. Ask them to send you a copy of their accessibility plan which they were supposed to make public by September 30, 2003.

Let the public sector organization and the media know what you think of their plan. Monitor to see if they are implementing it. Make suggestions for its improvement, if needed.


We need to keep up grassroots efforts across Ontario at educating the public on the need to strengthen the existing weak ODA to tear down the barriers that block over 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities from fully participating in Ontario life. Seek out opportunities to make presentations to community groups, religious congregations, business organizations, schools and other groups. You can find lots of background material on the ODA on the ODA committee's website. If you are really eager for more detailed background, contact us to send you via email ODA Committee chair David Lepofsky's 180-page publication giving the detailed 9-year history of the ODA movement. Email us for it at:


Sorry, but we don't have the resources to send out hard copies of that long document.

Even if you cannot arrange to do a formal public presentation on the ODA issue, talk about it with family and friends.

If you would like something that is much, much shorter (around 1 page) that you can read, hand out, and use to help educate the public, consider using the item recently included in an Ontario high school textbook on the ODA. While the text book is aimed at high school students taking a course in law, this piece may be useful for audiences that are older, or who are not specifically interested in law. You can download it from:




Send us feedback on your activities, and any other ideas you may have for grassroots strategies.

If you are not now on the ODA Committee email list, and want regular email updates on ODA news and activities, send an email to us to ask to be added to our email list, at:


Encourage others to get on our email list as well. We only add people to that list when an individual personally asks to be added. We don't want to add people to our ODA email list without their consent.

If your email or snail mail address changes, let us know.


In the fall of 2003, a new chapter has begun in our 9-year campaign for a barrier-free Ontario for persons with disabilities, now that Ontario's new Liberal Government has taken office. Two years ago, after ODA supporters pressed for a strong ODA to achieve a barrier-free Ontario to be passed, The previous Conservative Government only passed a weak, limited ODA. That 2001 law neither effectively required barriers to be removed nor had any effective enforcement.

While in opposition, the Liberal Party repeatedly pressed the Conservative Government to pass a strong and effective ODA. In the recent provincial election, the Liberals pledged in their April 7, 2003 letter to the ODA Committee that they would pass a strong, effective and mandatory ODA within one year of taking office. They promised that their ODA would fulfil the ODA Committee's 11 principles to make it strong and effective. At a minimum, they would pass the amendments to the ODA that we had proposed back in 2001, that the Liberals put forward, and that the previous Conservative Government defeated. They also committed to work together with the ODA Committee to develop this new legislation.

Since recently taking office, the Liberal Government has taken some positive initial steps on the ODA issue. Just one week after the October 2, 2003 election, Premier Dalton McGuinty spoke by phone with ODA Committee chair David Lepofsky to initiate the dialogue on strengthening the ODA. In contrast, the two previous Conservative Premiers, Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, refused during their 8 years in power to ever meet or even speak with the ODA Committee. In its November 20, 2003 Throne Speech, mapping out its priorities in its first year in office, the Liberal Government committed to work together with Ontarians with Disabilities on meaningful new disability legislation.



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