in the Ontario Legislature
re: ODA Legislation
October 3, 2000
Ontarians with Disabilities Legislation
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister
of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, with responsibility for
seniors and women: Minister, why won't you table, this session, an
Ontarians with Disability Act?
There are telephones, there are pay phones in this building that
the disabled cannot access. There are heavy doors that slam in
their face almost every time they turn around and now we find that
the Ontario Human Rights Commission has slammed Famous Players
Theatre and told them to remove the barriers that deny people with
disabilities the simple right to watch a movie.
But your government's no better, so why don't you introduce the
Ontarians with Disability Act and let people with disabilities have
it guaranteed in law that they will have access to services and
opportunities that they deserve in this province?
Hon Helen Johns (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation,
minister responsible for seniors and women): This government is
working to make Ontario the best place to work, live and raise
families, and that's no exception when we talk about people with
disabilities also. The government promised that they would bring
forward an action plan within the first session of the Legislature.
We intend to do that. We've promised in an opposition day that we
would have legislation forward by November of 2001. That
legislation will be fair, it will be reasonable, not only for
people with disabilities but it will be also fair and reasonable
for people who need to accommodate those people, who want to
accommodate those people, so that we can make sure that people with
disabilities are able to be accommodated in the province of
As everyone in the House will know, we have moved forward with
people with disabilities but there's a lot of work that needs to be
done and we intend to move the benchmark forward to make sure that
people with disabilities have opportunities.
The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): The minister's time is up.
Mr Martin: Minister, if you're really serious about
what you just said, if you really meant what you just said, you
just simply table that legislation this session and give some
comfort to the people with disabilities out there that you actually
are going to do something. If you brought that bill in before the
House now, people living with disabilities will be able to attend
a movie at a Famous Players theatre by Christmas, just like
everyone else; people will be able to use payphones, just like
everyone else. One single piece of legislation could literally open
doors to thousands of people living with disabilities. Will you
stop making excuses and commit to table an Ontarians with
Disabilities Act this session?
Hon Mrs Johns: There's a number of things I'm doing to move the
legislation and the action plan forward. All of this of course
takes time because this is a complex area. Of course, everyone in
the House would know that the legislation in America is a federal
statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act. Certainly the federal
government in Canada hasn't looked yet to say that they'd be moving
forward with that. We've looked at the legislation in many of the
states across America because, as everyone in this House knows,
there's no legislation at all across any of the provinces. Ontario
will be the leader when it comes forward with its first piece of
legislation and its action plan.
Let me remind you that in Ontario we spend $6 billion annually on
services for people with disabilities. That's an increase of over
$800 million since this government was elected in 1995-$6 billion-
The Speaker: The minister's time is up.