A LEGAL RESOURCE CENTRE FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
40 Orchard View Boulevard, Suite 255
Toronto, Ontario M4R 1B9
(416) 482-1254 (TTY)
(416) 482-2981 (FAX)
December 15, 1995
BY FACSIMILE, ORIGINAL BY MAIL
The Honourable Mike Harris
Dear Mr. Harris:
Re: Ontarians with Disabilities Act
I am writing as Counsel to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. As you know, it is a broad-based coalition of individuals with disabilities and organizations concerned with the rights of person with disabilities, which is advocating the enactment of a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act which will have the aim of achieving a barrier-free society for all persons with disabilities in Ontario. We are writing to urgently request a meeting with you, as the Committee failed to secure any attention whatsoever for its concerns in pursuit of your written election promise regarding an Ontarians with Disabilities Act to date through the Minister of Citizenship.
As you will recall, during the election last spring the Committee requested your party's commitment to pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act if elected. You wrote back, giving a written promise to pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act if elected. We then wrote to you after the election to request that this promise be kept. You wrote back, confirming that you would be keeping your election promise, and directing that we deal directly with the Minister of Citizenship, the Honourable Marilyn Mushinski.
We have repeatedly sought to meet with Marilyn Mushinski pursuant to your direction. However, she has failed to meet with us to date, and has deferred any possible meeting to some indefinite time in the future, after her staff has done some work on the yet undetailed Workplace equal opportunity plans. Moreover, to our understanding, no specific policy work has been undertaken within the Ministry of Citizenship toward the aim of developing and passing an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Of greatest concern, your Government has announced, through the Ministry of Citizenship, that the workplace equal opportunity plan, to replace the Employment Equity Act, will be non-legislated and non-mandatory in nature. As described, it forecloses the possibility of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
It is the Committee's view that this constitutes a breach of your election promise to it. Moreover, it occurs without any opportunity to consult.
The Committee has now gone full circle and is now coming back to you. It urgently requests an opportunity to meet with you to discuss what steps can be taken to have your Government live up to its promise that it will develop and enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is insufficient to simply continue the frustrating process of trying to meet with Marilyn Mushinski. As the Minister of Citizenship and the Minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities, having had six months in office, she has not even done us the courtesy of even being prepared to meet with us. The ODA Committee requests your intervention as Premier, so that the process can begin, leading to the development of a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience as to the scheduling of a meeting. Your staff should feel free to contact me at my office at the address and telephone number listed above.
cc: The Honourable Marilyn Mushinski, Minister of Citizenship
Bob Rae, Leader, NDP Party
Rosario Marchese, MPP, NDP Party
Lyn McLeod, Leader, Liberal Party
Tony Ruprecht, MPP, Liberal Party
Tony Clement, Parliamentary Assistant