Image of black text with drop shadow that reads: Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee

Members Statements in the Ontario Legislature
ODA Legislation

April 27, 1999

|   Dwight Duncan   |
 |   Hon. Ms. Bassett   |
 |   Dwight Duncan   |
 |   Hon. Ms. Bassett   |
 |   Dwight Duncan   |
 |   Hon. Ms. Bassett   |


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a question today for the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. I want to ask you today about a broken promise to people in Ontario with disabilities, but moreover about a broken promise to the entire province.

When the Premier was running for election he made a clear promise. He said that he would consult people with disabilities and that he would pass a meaningful act to protect people with disabilities. We know and people with disabilities know that neither of those promises was kept. You have had four years - four years - and you failed. You failed to consult and you failed to produce. Anything that you introduce now, if in fact you're even going to bother to do that, will be seen for what it is - a sham.

Why did you break the Premier's commitment? Why did you not live up to the commitment made by this Legislature in 1996? Why did you not live up to the commitment made by this Legislature last year and why did you introduce -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister.


Hon Isabel Bassett (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I would say we're not breaking a promise. We introduced the Ontarians with Disabilities Act before Christmas and it died on the order paper. In the interim, between then and now, we have heard and been listening to people with disabilities right across the province. They have said to us that they want us to withdraw the bill, they want us to reconsider what we put forward, and that is what our plan is. We are listening.

Might I say to the member from Windsor-Walkerville, you did nothing and you had five years in which you could have moved forward with a bill. So who are you to say anything?

Mr Duncan: To remind you, the Premier made two very clear commitments, as did you when you introduced your bill, which at the time, by the way, you said was a great piece of legislation. The reason you said that was because you didn't listen in the first instance.

You obviously haven't even read the letter you or the Premier received yesterday. You said you've consulted. Here's what the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee said: "You have continued to refuse to meet with us" - that's a quote - "the very group with whom you pledged in writing to work with to develop the Ontarians with Disabilities Act when you were seeking the public votes in the last election and before you introduced your failed bill."

Minister, who should we believe? Should we believe the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee or should we believe you, in light of your track record of failed legislation and broken promises?

Hon Ms Bassett: I might say to the member opposite, whom should we believe? You are saying, as you said at the press conference the other day, that you wanted us to sit down and introduce legislation in 10 days. Your leader sent a letter to the ODA Committee asking for two years to bring in legislation. In fact, your leader said, "Our goal is to complete this work during the first three years." So it's useless to ask, "Whom can we listen to?" , I say, whom can we listen to?

Mr Duncan: It's interesting to listen to the words twisted the way they've been twisted. Here's what you did, Minister. Here's what your record is, and you're the minister. You're the minister and you're the government. You took three years to introduce a substandard piece of legislation. It took five more months, up until last week, to admit that your legislation was worthless, and this in spite of all your protestations to the contrary.

The member for Sarnia remembers what happened in Sarnia when you were there. Other members on the Tory side who are laughing about this - they're laughing now, but believe me, they're going to hear in a couple of weeks. You've lost all the trust of the disabled community. You've had every chance in the world and you've blown them all. You've missed the boat.

Why don't we stop the sham? Why don't we take this to election and see who the people think is telling the truth in this sorry state of affairs?

Hon Ms Bassett: I would say we have not missed any boat. We brought forward a very valid piece of legislation that introduced a systematic plan for people with disabilities to make sure that barriers were broken down. Every single minister was required to review all the policies, programs and legislation in his or her ministry with a view to removing barriers and to present those to the Management Board for review every single year. This is the only way that you can go forward in a systematic way.

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