Members Statements in the Ontario Legislature
November 24, 1999
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES LEGISLATION
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES LEGISLATION
Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): I too, as a representative of London, would like to welcome those individuals here today.
My question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. Yesterday this House unanimously passed a resolution. It called on the government to pass a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act within two years. Members of all three parties--and I thank you--supported that resolution, including you, Minister.
You pledged to introduce an ODA, once consultations were complete. Yesterday I spoke with countless persons with disabilities and many of them asked me, "When will the consultations begin for a new ODA?"
Minister, the disabled community does not recognize your process of informal, closed-door, invitation-only chat as a true consultation process. When you met with members of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, you said you did not know when the real consultation process would begin. Will you tell the 1.5 million citizens of this province with disabilities, are your closed-door meetings the consultation process? Or are these consultations on how to undertake a consultation process?
Hon Helen Johns (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, minister responsible for seniors and women): I'd like to say that we were very happy with yesterday. I got a chance to meet with people from the disabled community and have a chat with them about our process. I think we were very clear in the throne speech when we said that within a year we would come forward with an action plan that would talk about process, timelines. We still are committed to that and we continue to work towards that action plan.
Mr Peters: Minister, I've written to you to define an action plan, and I have yet to see that definition of an action plan. Your attempt at consultation is not enough. One and a half million persons with disabilities have asked for a consultation process that is honest and open and accessible to the public. Ontarians with disabilities want a formal consultation process, and to begin that immediately. The best way that I can suggest to you to achieve that is to form an all-party select committee.
You have received countless letters from disability groups, asking that a select committee undertake the consultations. The official opposition and the third party are prepared and on the record as supporting this select committee. All we need, though, is your involvement, your commitment.
Minister, will you immediately commit to striking a select committee of the Legislature on this most important issue?
Hon Mrs Johns: Let me say a couple of things about this. In the last session of the House, the previous minister entered into a consultation process. She has talked to a number of people. I've spent a fair amount of my time in the last little while reviewing the reports that have come from disabled communities who wanted to give their input to the government, so I have first done that.
As I have looked at that and had questions about specific elements within that, I have met with different groups also, and that would include the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the hearing impaired, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee--
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): The member for Windsor-St Clair, please come to order. I cannot hear the answer.
Hon Mrs Johns: I've met with a number of different stakeholders.
Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Stop the clock.
The Speaker: No, we're stopping the clock. Order. Point of order?
Mr Duncan: The minister is not responding to the question, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: That's not a point of order. Start the clock. Minister.
Hon Mrs Johns: I'd like to suggest, just to remind the members from yesterday, that the Liberals had an opportunity to bring forward a disability bill; the NDP had an opportunity to bring forward a bill--in fact, one of their members brought forward a private member's bill. As we say, we're moving forward--
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