Image of black text with drop shadow that reads: Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee

Letter to Hon. Isabel Bassett
Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation

c/o Marg Thomas
1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto ON M4G 3E8
Tel:  (Voice direct) 416-480-7686   Fax: 416-480-7014   Voice mail: 416-480-7012
TTY: Care of Deborah Thynn 416 964-0023 ex. 251

December 9, 1998

The Honourable Isabel Bassett
Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, 6th Floor, 77
Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2R9

Dear Minister:

Re: Ontarians with Disabilities Act

I am writing about an incorrect statement about the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee that you made in the Legislature on December 3, 1998 in response to a question during Question Period.   You stated:

"I have met with the ODA committee 10 times over the summer.  I will be continuing to meet with them.  I value their input.   I can't promise that I will be meeting with them next week, but in the near future, I'm sure."

The fact is that you personally only met once, not ten times, with the ODA Committee this summer and that was on August 4, 1998 after you released your discussion paper.   Now that we have seen Bill 83, it is evident that even at that one meeting you were not listening to us.   If you had heard us you would not now stand up to proudly defend Bill 83.

The Bill contains none of the fundamental ingredients that we have been asking for over the last 3-1/2 years.   It ignores everything we have told you about the barriers facing people with disabilities, the hardships these cause, and the need for strong legislative measures to rectify this to achieve the goal of a barrier-free Ontario for people with disabilities.

We do not consider this to just be a matter of counting up meetings.   What is important is whether our message is really heard.  When 25 members of your caucus, including your Parliamentary Assistant Derwyn Shea voted in favour of the resolution introduced by Dwight Duncan on Oct. 29, 1998 we hoped that it was a signal that our message had been heard.   Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case.

Now that the legislation has been introduced we hope that people with disabilities across the province will be given an opportunity to express their views in legislative hearings that are open and accessible to all.   We also hope that you and the Premier will open your minds to really listen and hear what people with disabilities have to say.   If you do, then you will undoubtedly come to the same conclusion many Ontarians have already reached - bill 83 must be replaced with a real Ontarians with Disabilities Act, one that is strong and effective.

People with disabilities deserve much better than a three page bill that does not remove a single barrier in this province.


M. David Lepofsky, C.M.
Co-Chair Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

cc:   Mike Harris  PC    325-7578
Dalton McGuinty   LIB    325-9895
Gilles Morin   LIB    325-9009
Dwight Duncan   LIB    325-1498
Howard Hampton   NDP    325-8222
Marion Boyd   NDP    325-7111
Frances Lankin   NDP    325-3336

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