ACCESSIBILITY FOR THE DISABLED
Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): My question is for the Minister
of Citizenship. It has been three years since the Premier promised in writing
that your government would pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act in your
first term. Since then, we have seen nothing but delay, lip-service and
evasions. Your Premier has refused to even meet with the ODA committee,
the very group he promised to work with to develop this law. For 18 months,
you and your predecessor have promised a consultation process to precede
the drafting of the law. The budget paid lip-service to an ODA but allocated
no money to it. Will you at least make a public announcement of the long-promised
public consultation today?
Hon Isabel Bassett (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): First of all, I thank you for your question, because this government is committed to the ODA. If you read the finance minister's budget, he committed to an ODA, and this is one of my prime concerns. It's one of my major priorities, as it is the Premier's. What we are doing - when you say "as for the delay" - there have been, as I'm sure you're aware, 18 studies done on the disabled if you put those done by the provincial government and the federal government, and members of the disabled community have told me and have made it public that they do not want endless travelling studies, so I have had to take my time to consider what is the best way to achieve a balance for this province between -
Interjections. The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Answer, please.
Hon Ms Bassett: I'm trying to answer, Madam Speaker, if they would calm down a little bit. We are trying to achieve a balance so that we can move in a manner that takes forward the needs of the disabled and our community as a whole, and I am committed to doing that, as is my government.
Mr Morin: "Commitment" and "action" are two different words. In an article in the Globe and Mail, the Conservative member for Peterborough is quoted as saying that he expects the government will launch a consultation on an ODA with the disabled community this summer, led by a well-known disabled person. Minister, you know that the disabled community has asked that the consultation be conducted by members of the Legislature, not some outside consultant, and we know the reasons why. MPPs must pass this legislation. MPPs must learn what various disabled people face. Will you agree today to have the consultation conducted by a non-partisan committee of members of this House?
Hon Ms Bassett: I am certainly committing to start our consultations sometime in the summer. We are still in the process of working out the final details, and you will be the first to know when they are in the final stage, very soon now.