Letter to Accessibility Advisory Council
The ODA Committee's letter to the Accessibility Advisory Council replies to Council chair Jeff Adams' January 30, 2003 letter to the ODA Committee. In that letter, Mr. Adams said that the Council has no mandate to hold public consultations on regulations. He did not recommend that the Government immediately proclaim in force section 21 of the Act.
In our letter to Mr. Adams, we ask the Council to reconsider the position in Mr. Adams' January 30, 2003 letter to us. We ask the Council to endorse our recommendations to the Minister, which we set out in our letter to the Minister of today's date.
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES
March 18, 2003
Dear Mr. Adams and Members of the Ontario Accessibility Advisory Council,
Re: Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Thank you for your January 30, 2003 letter. We very much appreciate your Council's recognition of the role which the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee has made in leading the charge for the enactment of a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act in this province. We also appreciate your Council's recognizing the paramount role that advocacy coalitions such as ours shall continue to play in this area.
We also commend you for recognizing in your January 30, 2003 letter that your Council should receive input from affected stake-holders, including the disability community, so that your advice to the Ontario Government is representative and relevant. You mention that the Citizenship Ministry is developing a mechanism for the Council to receive information from stakeholder groups, advocacy groups and others, and that Council members will attend events to help you ensure that you understand the needs and views of persons with disabilities.
The Ontarians with
Disabilities Act Committee has strongly encouraged your Council to conduct
broad public consultations on the implementation of the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act 2001, including on
We regret that you consider it outside your mandate to conduct public consultations on regulations under the Act, especially since your letter recognizes the importance of your Council receiving input from the disability community. In our letter to the Citizenship Minister which we are sending this day, a copy of which is being sent to you, we give several reasons why we believe that your Council can and should undertake such public consultations, not only on the terms of possible regulations, but on the whole topic of the effective implementation of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001.
We ask that you reconsider your position, and that you launch public consultations as soon as possible. These appear to be clearly within your mandate, and indeed central to it.
In our October 2, 2002 and our November 25, 2002 letters to your Council, we asked the Council to recommend to the Ontario Government that it immediately proclaim in force section 21 of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001. In your January 30, 2003 letter to us, you responded as follows:
"Regarding Section 21, the spirit and intent of the Act is to allow compliance. The council wants to ensure that there is an educational process in place to make certain the obligations outlined in the Act are met. When there is clear evidence or data to indicate that compliance with ODA obligations are not met, the council will then be supportive of the government proclaiming Section 21."
In our letter to the Citizenship Minister of today's date, we offer several reasons why it is very important that section 21 be proclaimed in force immediately. We ask your Council to consider our reasons, and to endorse our recommendation.
We would appreciate knowing if the position set out in your January 30, 2003 letter on section 21's proclamation is a statement of the Council's position, and if so, whether it was unanimous. We would also appreciate knowing what steps your Council has taken to solicit input from the disability community before providing advice to the Minister on this.
We also would welcome any information on what steps your Council is now taking to monitor compliance with the Act, and what information you have on the extent to which organizations are now complying with the Act's provisions. For example, it would be helpful to know what information the Council has on whether every municipality with a population over 10,000 had already established a municipal accessibility advisory committee as of September 30, 2002 or as of the present time.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Again we would welcome any chance to help you fulfil your mandate.
David Lepofsky, C.M.
cc: The Hon. Ernie