Mr. John L. Parker (York East): My question is for the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. The Bloorview MacMillan Centre is located just on the edge of my riding of York East. I'm told that it's Ontario's largest service provider for young people with disabilities. I've visited Bloorview MacMillan several times and I've seen first hand the important work that's being done there.
The people at Bloorview MacMillan are very interested in what our government is going to do in the coming months to prepare an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The minister is well aware of my interest in this matter and my interest in being part of the consultation process, as I know the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee would also like to be involved with the consultation process.
My question to the minister is this: What involvement can the ODAC expect to have in helping to develop an ODA?
Hon Isabel Bassett (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): First of all, I want to thank the member and commend him for his concern in preventing and removing barriers for persons with disabilities and also for his interest and initiative in trying to develop partnerships between business, government and the disabled in order to achieve this.
The honourable members on both sides of the House will recall the May 1996 resolution that made it quite clear that we are to work together with members of an ODAC, among others, in the development of any legislation we bring in in this area, and that will be the case. In fact, that is the case. I would therefore say that of course the ODAC will be invited to participate in this process.
I would also like to point out that my colleagues on both sides of the House have shown an interest in participating in this area. I know, for example, the members for Hamilton Mountain and Hamilton West have had a very good working relationship with members of the ODAC and they have been feeding in their input to me.
Mr Parker: Minister, I've met with a number of my constituents on this subject, including my predecessor, Gary Malkowski, who raised questions in this House on this matter during his period in office. I've also received numerous items of correspondence and telephone calls from constituents about our government's plan to develop an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. I would like to know, has the minister had an opportunity to meet with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee to receive their advice and assistance on developing an Ontarians with Disabilities Act?
Hon Ms Bassett: I have met, of course, with the members of the ODAC and I've discussed the issue with David Lepofsky, its chair, on a couple of occasions. My parliamentary assistant has also talked with Mr Lepofsky of the ODAC. In fact, the morning of the release of the blueprint for an ODA, they tried to set up a meeting with me.
I can say that I've also received input right across the province from
the disabled community. I've talked to David Shannon in Thunder Bay, who
just received the Courage to Come Back Award, and I've met with Lois Hart
Maxwell in Peterborough, who is a driving force in the Tower Hill Village
community. Just last week, during National Access Awareness Week, I attended
the ARCH awards at Osgoode Hall. I wanted to acknowledge the terrific contributions
of individuals and businesses, such as IBM -
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.
Hon Ms Bassett: - in working to prevent and remove barriers for the
disabled. So to answer your question, member for York East, we are very
involved with -
The Speaker: Thank you very much. New question.