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October 31, 2001


Ontario Hansard Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Question Period

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for
the Minister of Citizenship. You will recognize that the Premier
made a very specific promise to enact an Ontarians with
Disabilities Act. You will also know how long ago he made that
promise. You will also know how long it has been that the one and
a half million Ontarians with disabilities have waited for him to
deliver on that promise. It's been nearly seven years. Minister,
we understand now that you could be introducing a bill on this
subject as soon as tomorrow. Three years ago, on a resolution
proposed by our party, this House unanimously adopted 11
principles to be incorporated in this new piece of legislation.
Will you commit today that your bill will abide by the 11
principles unanimously supported by this House?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister of Citizenship, minister
responsible for seniors): I'm sure the honourable member is aware
that I have responded to this and several other questions about
the ODA in the last few weeks. He would also be aware that we
have consulted quite widely with disabled groups and individuals
and stakeholders across the province. The principles that he
suggests have been widely discussed. It would appear, perhaps,
that the member opposite has not had much of a consultation with
municipalities. I cite one example which I have cited in the
House before, that if the Liberal Party fully supports complete,
overriding provisions in the Municipal Act, as one example, that
is not an issue which municipalities are encouraged about. But
when the honourable member sees the legislation, when it's
tabled, he will see very clearly that these principles have been
strongly considered and that there are opportunities in this
legislation to move forward for persons with disabilities, unlike
any other government has done in Canada.

Mr McGuinty: Minister, I distinguish between something that is
strongly considered and something that is unequivocally endorsed,
and I'm sure that the Ontarians with disabilities will listen
with great interest to your response. Our party has been fighting
for nearly seven years to get a strong and effective Ontarians
with Disabilities Act, but that's not nearly as long as David
Lepofsky and his committee have been fighting for this. Minister,
it's one thing to keep the one and a half million Ontarians with
disabilities waiting this long and it's quite another to shut
them out of the process to lend shape to the actual legislation.
That would be to add insult to injury. I'm asking on their behalf
that the committee to which will be assigned the responsibility
to deal with this new piece of legislation will travel
immediately after first reading and that it won't just stay here
in Toronto but it will go to Thunder Bay and Windsor and Ottawa
and points in between. Minister, do I have your commitment that
this legislation will go to committee after first reading and
that the committee will travel?

Hon Mr Jackson: This question has already been raised and it has
already been responded to. But I want to go back to what the
member has asked about the 11 principles. If there is anything
that the disability community has waited for over the last seven
years, it has also been a commitment from the Liberal Party and
the Liberal opposition. Just in your own report of your
assessment of the situation confronting disabled persons in this
province, you indicate that after you publish a reiteration of
the principles-are you prepared to fund them, are you prepared to
cost them, are you prepared to commit to them? No, you are not.
What the Liberals will do is that they feel-and I quote directly
from their report-that this is a good starting point for any
discussions regarding any future legislation. That's the problem.
You would sit and discuss it for six years, like you did when you
were the government. This government is going to table disability
legislation that all disabled persons can be proud of in this


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