MAY 24, 2000 ACTION TIP
THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF PREMIER HARRIS'
1995 ELECTION PROMISE TO ENACT THE
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
The ODA Committee has declared Wednesday, May 24, 2000 an official "ODA Action Day". That date is the fifth anniversary of Premier Mike Harris' unkept 1995 election promise to enact the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The ODA Committee encourages one and all to take sometime on that date to contact one or more of their nearest Conservative members of the Ontario Legislature or their staff at their constituancy office. Let them know that half a decade is more than enough time to keep this important election promise. Indeed, "Half a Decade is Long Enough" is our theme for this day.
We encourage you to focus your efforts on MMPs from the governing Conservative Party, because they are most in need of hearing our message. Both the Liberal and NDP parties have been very supportive of our efforts. If you have the time, visit the Conservative MPP's constituancy office, and meet with the MPP or his or her staff. If you cannot get there in person, then phone them. If you prefer, you might send them a fax, Email or posted letter. You can get a list of MPPs and their addresses and phone numbers from the ODA Committee's web site at www.odacommittee.net/Tory- MPPs.html
We will also Email a list of their contact information shortly to our ODA Committee Email list, or you can request a copy by phone from Marg Thomas at (416) 480-7686 or by Email from email@example.com
MPPs will be in their constituancy offices on May 24, and should be available throughout that week, because the Legislature is not sitting that week.
Below is a sample letter, and a chronology of the major events over the past five years. You could use these as the basis of your personal visit, phone call, or letter. Add to this a description of actual barriers which are experienced by you or people close to you which the Ontarians with Disabilities Act should remove and prevent, so all Ontarians with disabilities can live in a barrier- free Ontario. It's best to use your own words and ideas, but feel free to use this sample if it helps. You also may want to bring with you or send your MPP a picture of a barrier you or others face in your community.
In addition to this MPP blitz, you are encouraged to contact your local media to report on the impact on your community of Premier Harris' five years of inaction. Emphasize the importance of the May 24 anniversary to you. Letters to the editor might also be sent to your local newspaper in advance requesting that they be published on May 24. You might also let the media know what kind of response you got from your nearest Conservative MPP's office.
Encourage others to take action in support of this important ODA Action Day. Let us know what steps are being taken.
TO A CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF
THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE
I am an Ontario voter. I want to know what you plan to do to make sure that your Government keeps its broken 1995 election promise to pass the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. May 24, 2000 marks the fifth anniversary of this election promise. I believe that half a decade is long enough.
In his May 24, 1995 letter to the ODA Committee, Mike Harris made the solemn election pledge that "a Harris government would be willing to enact an Ontario with Disabilities Act in the first term of office ..." Premier Harris' letter also pledged to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee: "I would be pleased to work together with your Committee in the development of such legislation." In the half decade that has followed, Premier Harris has not enacted this promised legislation. He has refused to take a single hour out of his schedule to meet even once with representatives of the ODA Committee. Premier Harris claims that
he keeps all his promises. This one is clearly broken. It is high time to keep it.
One and a half million or more Ontarians have a disability. All who live long enough eventually acquire a disability. A strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act is needed to benefit all Ontarians. Ontarians with disabilities deserve to live in a barrier-free province.
The media has reported that after the Harris Government passed record numbers of pieces of legislation in its first term in office, it is now struggling to find things to do in its second term. Why not pass a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act?
I want to know what you will do to help with this. I do not want to receive a form letter, and do not want to get some list of all the things that your Government says it has done for people with disabilities. I want to hear directly and specifically what you will do to help get Premier Harris to keep this promise, and also to finally agree to meet with representatives of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT -
* May 24, 1995 Mike Harris makes written election promise to enact the ODA in his first term and to personally work with the ODA Committee to develop it.
* May 16, 1996 Ontario Legislature unanimously passes first resolution calling on Harris Government to keep its ODA election promise.
* April 22, 1998 ODA Committee delivers comprehensive brief to the Legislature including a blueprint for strong and effective legislation.
* July 13 to September 1998 Ontario Government conducts closed, invitation-only consultations in 8 cities on what to include in the ODA.
* October 29, 1998 Ontario Legislature unanimously passes second ODA resolution, one which calls for ODA to be passed which embodies 11 principles to make it strong and effective.
* November 23, 1998 Citizenship Minister Basset introduces Bill 83, a 3-page bill which was completely voluntary, limited to government and did not require any barriers to ever be removed.
* December 17, 1998 Bill 83 allowed to die on the order paper after only one reading.
* April 22, 1999 Pre-election Throne Speech announces Bill 83 will not be re-introduced due to criticisms of it. New consultation promised to be held before new bill to be introduced.
* May - June 3, 1999 Ontario election Campaign - Harris Government promises strengthened ODA after more consultations. Liberals and NDP promise to enact strong and effective ODA which complies with the Legislature's October 29, 1998 resolution.
* September 10, 1999 ODA Committee presents three parties with proposal that new ODA public consultation take the form of an all- party Select Committee of the Legislature to hold public hearings before a bill is drafted.
* September 11, 1999 London Free Press quotes new Citizenship Minister Helen Johns as stating that a new strong disabilities act is a "huge priority for me".
* September 20, 1999 NDP accepts ODA Committee proposal for Select Committee on the ODA to hold province-wide public hearings.
* September 21, 1999 Liberal Party accepts ODA Committee proposal for Select Committee on the ODA.
* September 28, 1999 ODA Committee Delegation meets with new Citizenship Minister Helen Johns to discuss ideas for ODA public consultation process. Minister makes no commitments on format, content or timing of public consultations. She is still consulting on how to consult.
* October 21, 1999 Throne Speech says Government's "goal" is to introduce a "new action plan" this session and that consultations "continue."
* October 27, 1999 ODA Committee writes Minister Johns asking what is meant by an "action plan". No answer received.
* October 27, 1999 In Question Period, Citizenship Minister Johns contended that the Government kept its promise to enact the ODA because it had introduced Bill 83, which was later withdrawn.
* November 23, 1999 On one-year anniversary of Bill 83's introduction, Liberal Disability Critic MPP Steve Peters proposes third resolution on the ODA during Liberal Opposition Day. Legislature unanimously passes this resolution, which calls for a. strong and effective ODA to be passed within two years ie.. no later than November 23, 2001.
* Late January, 2000 Minister Johns reveals during meeting with Liberal Disability Critic Steve Peters that she is already conducting consultations.
* January 31, 2000 ODA Committee writes Minister Johns expressing serious concerns about Minister's holding closed, invitation-only consultations. ODA Committee asks for details of who is invited, and urges that the process be opened up. Minister Johns never answers these inquiries.
* January 31, 2000 Liberal Disability Critic Steve Peters announces that Liberal Party will hold a province-wide public consultation tour to get input from the public on what a strong and effective ODA should contain.
* March 2000 Steve Peters' Public ODA Consultation Tour holds public forums open to all in 15 cities across Ontario.
* March 31, 2000 Premier Harris does not personally respond to the most recent ODA Committee letter requesting a meeting with him. Instead, the Premier's Director of Tour and Public Events turns away the request to meet the Premier, and suggests that the ODA Committee deal with Citizenship Minister Helen Johns, who had for months refused to answer the ODA Committee's inquiries.
ASK US IF YOU NEED THIS MATERIAL IN AN ALTERNATIVE FORMAT.
Email Premier Harris directly
List of MPPs by Riding
Regional Contacts of the ODA Committee
Spring 2000 Action Kit
November 1999 Action Tip
Action Act re: ONTARIO ELECTION ACTION KIT dated August 12, 1999
Action Act re: ONTARIO ELECTION ACTION KIT dated April 15, 1999
Action Act re: GETTING READY FOR NEW BILL ACTION KIT dated March 1, 1999
Action Act re: NEW YEAR'S ACTION KIT
Action Act re: BILL 83 ACTION KIT
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Last updated May 14, 2000 10:48 pm