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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA


Here are two items that recently appeared in the London Free Press
about the ODA. Congratulations and thanks to the ODA supporters
who wrote and submitted them.


London Free Press Friday, January 12, 2001

Act is about more than wheelchairs --- Rebuttal (rebut v.t. force
back; refute,disprove. rebuttal n.)

By David Dimitrie

Christina Blizzard, in her column, "Tories look to improve
accessibility law" (Jan. 3), is sadly misinformed.

The Ontarians [with] Disabilities Act has been promised by
Premier Mike Harris since the 1995 election.

What is holding up the legislation is not fear the act would
cost Ontario's businesses and governments billions of dollars, as
Blizzard claims the Americans with Disabilities Act did in the
United States.

Harris made a promise during the 1995 election he had not
fully considered. When he realized it would take some courage,
conviction and money to pass such an act, he copped out.

To pass it, he would have had to bite the hand that feeds his
election machine.

The spurious argument that legislation for the disabled would
bankrupt private business and government is the bogeyman
politicians and businesses have been using for decades to hold back
disabled people from joining the mainstream of society.

Let's not forget Clint Eastwood and his resort -- Blizzard
already has him in the running for ADA victim of the year.

It seems the impoverished, fully able innkeeper found it too
much of a burden to provide ramps and adequate toilets for disabled

He is a wealthy man who made a choice. He chose to keep his

It is clear Harris regrets making the promise. His first
citizenship minister, Isabel Bassett, stalled the legislation as
long as she could. Then she tabled a toothless law in 1998 that was
three pages long and died on the order table.

The current minister, Helen Johns, has done even less. She has
kept the process secret and refused to give essential information
to the opposition parties.

The last point I wish to make is that the ODA is about more
than people with physical disabilities.

It is about guaranteeing services to autistic children. It is
about providing a real complaint mechanism for workers who are
discriminated against because of their mental illnesses or
developmental disabilities.

The current human rights process can take from one to seven
years to complete.

In this time, employees could be fired for making a complaint.
The human rights legislation is adequate; the dispute resolution
process is not.

The world of disabilities does not stop at the wheelchair.

Hidden disabilities, such as mental illness, learning
disabilities and developmental disabilities deserve to be
recognized and provided for.

Unfortunately, journalists, politicians and advocates have
relegated these disabilities to second-class status.

Blizzard does not even mention them in her column. She was
most concerned with the needs of baby boomers as they age.

Since she belongs to that population cohort, we know where her
sympathies lie. I am concerned with the needs of all disabled

Journalists like Blizzard do great harm to disabled people
with poorly researched columns.

She fails to quote anyone from Ontario's ODA Committee, yet
she makes a big deal about the Cato Institute in the United States
-- an extreme right-wing think-tank.

She and others like her are in a position that enables them to
influence people.

In this article, she informed them poorly.

David Dimitrie (dimitrie@sympatico.ca) is a London resident.


London Free Press Sunday, January 14, 2001
Letters to the Editor

Public should be consulted on future Disabilities Act

Christina Blizzard's column, "Tories look to improve
accessibility law" (Jan. 3) has again addressed the matter of the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA).

To be clear, there is no ODA yet. We are told by Blizzard, who
checked with Citizenship and Culture Minister Helen Johns that
legislation will be "brought in" by next November.

Although Blizzard's column leaves me with more questions than
answers, I'm always glad to see coverage of this important issue.

She should read letters at http://www.icdri.org for other
views about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

My own (Tory) MPP told me recently she has been meeting and
will continue to meet with people and organizations informally
about the ODA. However, I was given little encouragement about the
following questions:

What about consulting the public? What about asking in an
advertised, barrier-free, public meeting how to set standards and
what mandatory standards to set in a sensible, made-in-Canada ODA?

What about encouraging the premier to follow through on his
promise to meet with us to work out a strong and effective ODA?

Blizzard and others will be interested to read and comment on
a recent government poll that shows strong public support for a
mandatory law. If you are interested in grassroots advocacy for
more than 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities, refer to
www.odacommittee.net for the latest news.

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ODA Committee London



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