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December 3, 2004
posted March 2, 2005


Bill 118 Unanimously Passess Second Reading In Ontario Legislature On Eve Of International Day Of Persons With Disabilities

December 3, 2004


On Thursday, December 2, 2004, the Ontario Legislature unanimously gave
Second Reading approval to Bill 118, the proposed Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In this dramatic vote, all three parties
approved this proposed legislation "in principle". The governing Liberals
applauded as opposition Conservative and NDP MPPs each rose to vote in
favour of this bill. It passed on a total vote of 72 to none.

Below we set out:

* the text of the actual Ontario Legislature proceedings of the Second
Reading vote.

* Statements made in the Legislature right after this Second Reading vote,
by all 3 parties honouring December 3, 2004, the UN's International Day for
Persons with Disabilities. Note that during one of these statements, it was
incorrectly suggested that Bill 125, the current Ontarians with Disabilities
Act 2001 passed by the previous Conservative Government, requires all
provincial courthouse buildings to be made fully accessible within 10 years.
In fact that legislation imposed no such time lines.

* The text of a question which a Liberal back-bench MPP asked the
Citizenship Minister during Question Period about Bill 118, the proposed
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

* A news release which the Ontario Government issued after Bill 118 passed
Second Reading.

We express our appreciation to all three political parties for voting in favour of this bill on Second Reading. Send us your feedback on this event.

Contact us at: oda@odacommittee.net

Bill 118 has now been referred to the Legislature's Standing Committee on
Social Policy for public hearings. We hope to be able to announce the
details of that Committee's plans for hearings soon. All efforts should now
focus on ensuring that as many people and organizations supporting strong,
effective disability accessibility legislation make their views known to the
Standing Committee on Social Policy, on developing and presenting proposals
for workable amendments to make Bill 118 even stronger, and on securing as
much public support for this bill. We will provide information over the
next weeks to help you with these activities.


ONTARIO HANSARD Thursday, December 2, 2004



Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 118, An Act
respecting the development, implementation and enforcement of standards
relating to accessibility with respect to goods, services, facilities,
employment, accommodation, buildings and all other things specified in the
Act for persons with disabilities / Projet de loi 118, Loi traitant de
l'élaboration, de la mise en oeuvre et de l'application de normes concernant
l'accessibilité pour les personnes handicapées en ce qui concerne les biens,
les services, les installations, l'emploi, le logement, les bâtiments et
toutes les autres choses qu'elle précise.

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Call in the members. There will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1432 to 1437.

The Speaker: All those in favour, please rise one at a time to be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Arthurs, Wayne

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Bentley, Christopher

Berardinetti, Lorenzo

Bisson, Gilles

Bountrogianni, Marie

Bradley, James J.

Broten, Laurel C.

Bryant, Michael

Cansfield, Donna H.

Caplan, David

Chambers, Mary Anne V.

Churley, Marilyn

Cordiano, Joseph

Delaney, Bob

Dhillon, Vic

Dombrowsky, Leona

Duguid, Brad

Duncan, Dwight

Flaherty, Jim

Flynn, Kevin Daniel

Fonseca, Peter
Gerretsen, John

Gravelle, Michael

Hampton, Howard

Hardeman, Ernie

Hoy, Pat

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Jeffrey, Linda

Kennedy, Gerard

Kormos, Peter

Kular, Kuldip

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Leal, Jeff

Marchese, Rosario

Marsales, Judy

McMeekin, Ted

McNeely, Phil

Meilleur, Madeleine

Miller, Norm

Mossop, Jennifer F.

Munro, Julia

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Peters, Steve
Peterson, Tim

Phillips, Gerry

Prue, Michael

Pupatello, Sandra

Qaadri, Shafiq

Racco, Mario G.

Ramal, Khalil

Ramsay, David

Runciman, Robert W.

Sandals, Liz

Scott, Laurie

Sergio, Mario

Smith, Monique

Smitherman, George

Sterling, Norman W.

Takhar, Harinder S.

Tascona, Joseph N.

Van Bommel, Maria

Wilkinson, John

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wong, Tony C.

Wynne, Kathleen O.

Zimmer, David

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 72; the
nays are 0.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon Marie Bountrogianni (Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration): Mr Speaker, I ask that the bill be referred to the standing committee on social policy.

The Speaker: So ordered.



Hon Dwight Duncan (Minister of Energy, Government House Leader): On a point
of order, Mr Speaker: We have two unanimous consents. I just want to signal
to the opposition that the government will agree to the full hour for
question period today, and I'd ask the table to give me the proper wording
for the motion.

In any event, I believe we have unanimous consent for each party to speak
for up to five minutes on the International Day of Disabled Persons.

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): The government House leader has requested
unanimous consent for each party to speak for up to five minutes on the
International Day of Disabled Persons. Agreed? Agreed.

Hon Marie Bountrogianni (Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister
of Citizenship and Immigration): Tomorrow marks the United Nations
International Day of Disabled Persons. More than half a billion human beings
have disabilities. No matter where they live in our world, they face
physical barriers, social barriers, cultural barriers, technological
barriers and that most daunting barrier of attitude. Hundreds of millions of
people with disabilities around the globe face ignorance, neglect,
superstition, fear and isolation.

The UN has called for all societies, all communities, to ensure that girls
and boys and women and men with disabilities may exercise the same rights,
responsibilities and obligations as others. These are fundamental principles
of human dignity and freedom, matters of human rights and social justice,
matters of empowerment and opportunity. The challenges before us in Ontario
are the challenges before us in the world. The issues are clear. The needs
are real. The potential is extraordinary.

In the past few weeks, members have debated the proposed new Accessibility
for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2004. The debate has brought home how
very personal the issue of accessibility is for each of us -- for all of us.
I have listened as members on both sides of the chamber have spoken with
deep passion and emotion about the challenges faced by their constituents,
their families, their neighbours, their friends, their campaign workers,
their loved ones. Everyone here knows the importance of full participation
and equality for Ontarians with disabilities. We all know the issues:
raising awareness; accessibility; knocking down barriers, both visible and
invisible; support services; employment; safety; independence. And we all
know the incredible benefits to be gained by all of us with the integration
of persons with disabilities in every aspect of our political, social,
economic and cultural life.

The theme of the 2004 UN observance is, "Nothing About Us Without Us."
People with disabilities want us to listen to their wishes, their
aspirations, their ideas, their dreams. People with disabilities want
legislators to craft laws based on what they tell us is good for them, not
what we tell them is good for them. That is what we have tried to do in
bringing forward the new accessibility legislation. We have paid close
attention to the desires of the disability community. Two of these advocates
are here today. I'm pleased to welcome, on behalf of the Legislature, David
Lepofsky and Patti Bregman.

We have incorporated the aims, objectives and concrete suggestions of the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. We have built upon the extremely
solid foundation of work undertaken by Ontarians with disabilities over the
past 10 years. More than 250 community groups have provided input to the
proposed legislation. More than 1,000 individuals took part in regional
meetings across the province. We had 14 round tables with persons with
disabilities, and thousands of people have spoken with me to express their
individual hopes, their practical suggestions and their unwavering
determination to build a truly inclusive Ontario.

Ontarians with disabilities have brought home the need to address the full
range of disabilities: physical, mental, sensory, developmental and learning
disabilities. They have brought home the need to fully include the private
sector, as well as the public sector, in the legislation. They have brought
home the need for strong enforcement measures.

Most importantly, they have brought home the absolute imperative of enabling
people with disabilities to be ongoing partners in shaping the laws that
touch their lives -- "Nothing About Us Without Us."

The real key to the proposed legislation is that it would make people with
disabilities full partners in drafting and crafting the standards that would
apply to the public sector and the private sector in the years to come.
Ontarians with disabilities would be at the table when the t's are crossed
and the i's are dotted on the rules respecting access to goods, services,
buildings, accommodation and employment.

I want to re-emphasize my appreciation to all members of this House for
their heartfelt and constructive comments on accessibility. I'm also
gratified that the Legislature has approved this bill in principle, through
the vote this afternoon, and that we may now move ahead to the committee
stage. What a wonderful achievement on the eve of the United Nations
International Day of Disabled Persons.

We all want Ontario to be a leader in building a world of true inclusion. We
all want to leave our children a society where everyone is free to make the
most of their own potential. In the words of UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, "In these and other efforts, let us listen to disabled persons, not
just on this day, but every day."

The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Responses?

Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington): I, too, would like to join all members of
this House in acknowledging International Day of Disabled Persons and to
lend my voice and that of my leader, John Tory, and our caucus in terms of
our support for persons who are differently abled to cope with the daily
rigors of life in our province.

At the outset, I want to put on the record again, as I do on most occasions,
that the people of Ontario are fortunate to live in a jurisdiction that has
provided some of the most outstanding leadership on this continent as it
relates to the rights of individuals. Not only were we the very first to
sign on to the declarations inherent with the national Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, but we were also the first jurisdiction to bring in a human rights
commission and to strengthen that commission office with real power and real
authority in our province.

I was pleased to be part of a government that participated in enhancing that
mandate and the budget for our chief commissioner, who I'd like to publicly
acknowledge today, the honourable Keith Norton and his associates and
hard-working staff at the human rights commission. They have done much to
focus attention, when the courts have sometimes failed and politicians have
fallen short, in terms of understanding the needs of disabled persons.

It was just this week that commissioner Norton tabled a very significant
piece of work that he'd been working on for over a year, in the opportunity
to succeed in achieving barrier-free education for students with
disabilities in Ontario. This is an incredibly important and powerful
document, because this document is a guide to setting the very standards the
minister has just spoken to, which she feels we need to negotiate over the
next 20 years to achieve.

What I find interesting is that we clearly have now in place, from our chief
commissioner in this province, an accountability, accessibility and
accommodation plan for students to receive the benefits they are entitled to
under the law in this province today. I know I have spoken with the Minister
of Education on several occasions about those families who continue to have
to go to the courts in our province to seek the benefits and the rights they
currently enjoy in legislation that was supported by all members of this

Just recently I had a case of a family that, for the last two years, have
been in court. They've been to two provincial tribunals. They've spent
$15,000 of their own money. They got a ruling from the Ontario special
education tribunal ordering their school board to accommodate their disabled
autistic son, the school board approved it, and now, next week, the board is
considering a motion to rescind all of this -- here in Ontario.

I know the Minister of Education is vitally concerned about the conduct of
the Halton board of education in these matters, and I've spoken to him, and
I encourage him to look into this case in more detail.


It strikes me that one of the comments I have made to the minister about her
new legislation -- I commend her for providing a time frame, but I
fundamentally don't believe that it should take the Ministry of Education of
this province 20 years to become fully accessible. But it might take the
private sector 15 or 20 years to do that.

I want to encourage the minister to consider amendments that will allow for
various government agencies, as called for in the previous legislation, Bill
125 -- it talks about the fact that our provincial courts, for example,
should be fully accessible within 10 years, and those budget monies were
budgeted by the previous government. I want the minister to be aware that
when I scanned the Web site for the accessibility plans that are called for
in Bill 125, it's clearly indicated right here that the 15% increase was to
be allocated to each and every reconstruction or modification to a
courthouse in Ontario; 15% was added to ensure that those courthouses and
those changes to the physical environment would be to the code regulations
and to the higher standard as set by the government. And right in the
document it indicates that those plans have been rescinded.

I say to the minister, we need to work together on behalf of disabled people
in this province, but the government can make this province more accessible
a lot sooner than anyone else, and it's a challenge we should all work
together on and achieve.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): The annual observance of the
International Day of Disabled Persons is a very important day. On behalf of
New Democrats, I'm very pleased to speak to it. I have observed over the
years that unless you have a disability or you're affected by a particular
disability, you do not spend too much time thinking about the problem or
imagining what it must be like to live with a physical or mental disability.
But as legislators it's our obligation to acknowledge, understand and
imagine what those problems are and to deal with them.

The fact of the matter is, persons with disabilities number over 15% of our
population. That's a huge number of people. We often don't believe that
there could be so many facing these disabilities, but it's huge. They face
numerous barriers, many of which we take for granted -- barriers in getting
access to and fully participating in important activities such as jobs,
access to information, communication, education at all levels, public
transit, access to a café, to a restaurant, to a movie theatre, the use of
goods, services and facilities that the public usually enjoys.

Even though both the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human
Rights Code ban discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disability
in so many aspects of life, they have not been successful in effectively
rooting out the old barriers or preventing the erection of new barriers.
Lawsuits under these laws are costly, often very slow, and not always
successful. Efforts to secure voluntary compliance over the years have not
solved the problem.

The International Day of Disabled Persons helps us all to remember that we
have a duty as legislators to break down those barriers. Such a day helps us
to mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with
disabilities. Such a day helps us to mobilize support for full and equal
enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with
disabilities. It's a day to remember that people with disabilities survive
on $930 a month for food, clothing and housing, and that this government has
increased support to ODSP claimants by a mere 3% -- better than a kick in
the teeth, some people might say, but I think it's insufficient and

If we believe that this is not sufficient, do we then not have a moral and
political obligation to increase ODSP support, and do it now? If we believe
in a new disability act, do you not think, as I do, that people with
disabilities need it today rather than having to wait for 20 years?






Mr Kuldip Kular (Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale): My question is directed
to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Minister, today we heard you
speak so eloquently about the barriers faced by people living with
disabilities in Ontario. Tomorrow marks the United Nations International Day
of Disabled Persons, and I hope that everyone will take a minute to reflect
on the challenges that face those living with disabilities within our

In the past few weeks, members have debated the proposed new Accessibility
for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2004, and today the act has passed
second reading and has been referred to the standing committee on social
policy. This act would make Ontario one of the world leaders in improving
accessibility and deliver real, positive change for people with

I was privileged to hear some of the debate that took place during second
reading and heard many members from both sides of the House speak very
passionately about this bill. I heard members tell personal stories of
people within their own lives who had to deal with challenges of an Ontario
that is not fully accessible. These stories were incredibly touching and
showed the commitment of all the parties to see change brought forward on a
very important issue. Yet there is one question that the opposition
repeatedly raised, and that is on the 20-year timeline. My friends in both
the PC and the NDP caucus asked, "Why is the government waiting 20 years?"
Minister, could you please explain the time frame laid out in the proposed
act and the approach with which standards and change would be implemented?


Hon Marie Bountrogianni (Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister
of Citizenship and Immigration): I thank the honourable member for the
question. Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thank you, Mr O'Toole, for waiting.

We believe the proposed legislation sets a realistic time frame to achieve
accessibility, with milestones every five years and real concrete results in
five years or less. Achieving an accessible Ontario would mean changes to
facilities, programs, services, how we work and how we communicate. Our time
frame would ensure a smooth transition to an accessible Ontario.

I'm not alone in thinking that our approach of benchmarks every five years
and an accessible Ontario in 20 years is realistic. Here's what others have
to say:

David Lepofsky: "We know that you can't make Ontario barrier-free

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce: "We welcome the phased-in approach," and,
"Businesses need time to absorb the costs."

It's a reasonable, logical approach. We've received a lot of positive
feedback on it and I'm very proud of our government.


Mr Kular: Minister, I agree that the phased-in approach of benchmarks every
five years is a realistic vision and would see real change finally realized
in Ontario. I think this approach is especially significant for business,
and the endorsement of the timeline by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is
noteworthy. I know that in my own riding, many businesses, small businesses,
are going to be affected by this proposed legislation. If the legislation is
passed, I ask you, Minister, what would be the impact on businesses in

Interjection: Good question.

Hon Mrs Bountrogianni: Yes, indeed, it is a good question.

Businesses play an important role in implementation of this proposed act,
and so I appreciate the question very much. Improved accessibility means
eliminating barriers, and a part of that equation would see persons with
disabilities provided access to stores, jobs and services previously
unavailable to them. This would include persons with disabilities who live
and work in Ontario, as well as persons with disabilities all over the world
who travel or do business here.

We would be asking business and the broader public sector to help shape
accessibility outcomes and accessibility standards that apply to those
outcomes. Economic factors would be considered as part of the timelines for
complying with standards in up to five-year increments. This would allow
business time to comply with standards as part of their normal business
planning and capital renewal cycles. Furthermore, this approach we are
proposing will keep costs to business at a minimum. In fact, it will be less
than 1% of capital costs in the next 20 years, and less than 0.01% of retail



Canada NewsWire Portfolio E-Mail
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Transmitted by Canada NewsWire on : December 2, 2004 15:14

McGuinty government's accessibility bill moving forward
Legislature Sends Bill To Committee On Eve Of International Day Of Disabled Persons

QUEEN'S PARK, ON, Dec. 2 /CNW/ - Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Dr. Marie Bountrogianni welcomed today's vote in the legislature giving secondreading to the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act,2004 and sending the bill to the Standing Committee on Social Policy for further review.

"Removing and preventing barriers for the 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities is vitally important to the strength of our communities and our economy," said Bountrogianni. "The legislature's vote approving this bill in principle is a wonderful way to mark the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons being celebrated tomorrow."

The bill would provide for the setting of mandatory accessibility standards in both the public and private sectors and would address the full range of disabilities - including physical, sensory, hearing, mental health, developmental and learning disabilities. Standards could deal with such matters as pedestrian routes into buildings, lower counter heights at cash registers, large print menus, staff training in serving customers with learning disabilities, and adaptive technology in the workplace.

Under the bill, the provincial government, representatives of industries or sectors, and people with disabilities would jointly develop standards and timelines in each sector. Standards and real results would be achieved in stages of five years or less, on the way to an accessible society within 20 years.

The United Nations proclaimed the International Day of Disabled Persons in 1992 to promote understanding about disability issues and to increase awareness of the value of integrating disabled persons in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

"The story of our proposed legislation mirrors the theme for this year's international observance - Nothing About Us Without Us," Bountrogianni said.

"People with disabilities have pressed for accessibility legislation for 10 years and have been involved every step of the way in developing this bill.

If it is passed, they would have a direct role in developing accessibility standards that would make a real difference in daily life. Our government is committed to fairness, inclusion, opportunity and empowerment for all Ontarians."

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