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October 30, 2001


Ontario Hansard Tuesday, October 30, 2001
Question Period


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is directed to the
Minister of Citizenship. Minister, as you've informed the House,
you've been meeting with community leaders across the province in
preparation for the introduction of the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, the legislation that you've stated will be
tabled within a few weeks.

As part of those consultations, I understand you met recently
with stakeholders in Ottawa. Minister, you've said repeatedly
that everyone in the public and private sectors -- as a matter of
fact, all levels of government -- will need to work together to
prevent the creation of new barriers and eliminate existing
barriers if persons with disabilities are to achieve full

As the seat of the federal government and Canada's capital,
Ottawa, one would hope, is at the forefront in improving
accessibility for persons with disabilities. Can you report on
what you've found during your visit to Ottawa?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister of Citizenship, minister
responsible for seniors): First of all, I was in Ottawa last week
for my third visit with disabled persons. Ottawa has a very
progressive committee. It's been in operation for over 10 years.
They are doing extensive work in terms of transit conversion and
curb-cutting, some of the best work in the province, I might add.
Under their leadership they're engaging the disabled community
directly in planning decisions, in reviewing buildings. They're
currently doing audits of municipal buildings.

They have a concern though, quite frankly, that if we're going to
find solutions in sharing the responsibility to make sure Ontario
becomes more accessible, we are going to need to work with the
federal government and we're --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Fed-bashing.

Hon Mr Jackson: We're not bashing them, member from St
Catharines. I'd think he'd be the first one to suggest that the
federal government should do its fair share. We haven't seen much
evidence of it, but I believe that the federal government,
especially in a city like Ottawa, is willing to do it for its own
employees because any legislation we do in Ontario will not cover
federal government buildings in this province.

Mr Galt: Thank you, Minister. Also compliments to you for the
extensive consultation that you've been carrying out on this
particular bill. Extensive consultations are, of course, a
hallmark of our government.

Minister, as you have previously stated in the House, involving
persons with disabilities in the public policy development is
indeed a stated goal of the government. In your meetings with
members of the Ottawa accessibility committee for the disabled,
did you get an indication as to how they would like the
government to proceed with an Ontarians with Disabilities Act and
the type of approach the legislation should pursue?

Hon Mr Jackson: Very clearly, the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory
Committee feels very strongly, as does this government, that any
legislative initiative and any efforts put forward to make
Ontario more accessible should involve the disability communities

I've stated in this House before that from what I've seen in
Ottawa and how it works, it is working very well, and we're
encouraged by that. In fact, since amalgamation in Ottawa, they
have actually even strengthened their rules of participation. The
committee is made up of 13 members of the disability community
appointed by council and includes one councillor. It happens to
be Councillor Madeleine Meilleur from Ottawa. The committee is
chaired by Barry McMahon, who is a member of the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act Committee. He has indicated his full support for
the government's approach of ensuring active and ongoing
participation of disabled persons. Clearly we need to achieve
full accessibility as everyone's business and to everyone's
benefit in Ontario.



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