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Editorial - St. Catharines Weekly
November 27, 1998
Section A

Disability Act Cruel Farce

The provincial government's proposed new Ontarians with Disabilities Act amounts to little more than a slap in the face to Ontario's 1.5 million disabled citizens. The Act, a three- page document released in the Legislature earlier this week, makes no changes to existing accessibility requirements for businesses, schools or other public places.

Disabled Ontarians are, understandably, furious. The Province's 1.5 million disabled individuals have been counting on this government to provide them with an enforceable law that will serve to remove the barriers they face in their everyday lives. During the last provincial election, all three major parties pledged to provide this legislation if elected. The Tories' three-page fulfillment of this promise is a mockery of the people they pledged to help.

Last month, parliament unanimously passed a resolution outlining 11 principles to be embodied in a new ODA. Liberal M.P.P. Dwight Duncan, who drafted the resolutiion, said it described an enforceable law that would provide a barrier-free Ontario for people with disabilities. The proposed ODA put forth by the provincial government encompasses none of these principles. In fact, the new law flat-out states that it changes nothing: "no new cause of action, right of appeal, claim or other remedy exists in law because of this act or because of anything done or omitted to be done under this act," states the last paragraph of the Bill.

In preparation for drafting this Bill, the province conducted closed-door consultation sessions in nine areas of the province. They met with representatives from the disabled community, the business community and other sectors of society. But apparently, no one was taking notes. The results of the consultation have not yet been made available.

But judging from the Bill that came forward this week, all that consultation was merely an elaborate farce.

If disabled residents want to see a piece of legislation that will allow them to lead fully integrated lives in Ontario communities, they're going to push and push hard.

And for all those Ontarians who aren't disabled, there are two choices. They can either contact their M.P.P. and demand that this ludicrous piece of legislation be withdrawn and an effective, enforceable ODA be implemented right away. Or they can simply hope that accident or injury doesn't strike, and make them or a member of their family, a part of the disabled community.

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Last updated Saturday, December 12, 1998 1:42 PM