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

Letter to the Hon. Helen Johns
Minister of Citizenship, Culture And Recreation
January 31, 2000


January 31, 2000

The Honourable Helen Johns
Minister of Citizenship,
Culture and Recreation
400 University Avenue, 6th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2R9

Dear Minister,

Re: Ontarians with Disabilities Act

We are deeply troubled to learn that you now appear to claim that your promised new public consultation on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act is already underway, even though you have never publicly invited broad public participation. Based on M.P.P. Steve Peter's letter to you dated, January 25, 2000, reflecting the content of your recent meeting with him, the process you are using is even less open and inclusive than the widely-condemned one followed by Minister Bassett, your predecessor.

What makes this especially troubling is that the process you are apparently using flies in the face of your Government's election promise in the spring of 1999 for public consultation. We have been trying to work with you and your Government to ensure that this time the process is open and inclusive, avoiding the problems of the August 1998 consultation. However, to date, you have not responded to any of our inquiries over the past several months concerning when this consultation would begin or how it would be conducted. In view of the province-wide outcry at the closed invitation-only consultation meetings held in the summer of 1998 by your predecessor, Minister Bassett, and the completely inadequate three-page Bill 83 that resulted from that flawed consultation, we hoped that this round of new consultations would provide a new opportunity to work openly and cooperatively.

Last summer, you asked for our input on how to hold this new round of public consultations. In September of 1999, we provided your Government and indeed all three parties with a detailed proposal for open, public and accessible province-wide hearings by a Select Committee of the Legislature on what the new bill should contain. Both the Liberal and New Democratic Parties agreed with this proposal, and appear ready to participate in such a Select Committee. You have never responded to this request, or engaged in any meaningful discussion with us about it.

We ask you to now open up your closed invitation-only consultation process by holding accessible public hearings across Ontario prior to deciding on the contents of the legislation. We have always taken the position that the consultation process be open to all people with disabilities, their friends, families, co-workers and neighbours who want to participate.

Regarding the private meetings you have held to date on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, we would very much appreciate it if you would let us know whom you have met with so far, whom you are planning to meet with, and what feedback you have received to date. We would also appreciate receiving copies of any written submissions made or notes made from those meetings.

We hope that we can hear from you on these matters, and on the matters set out in my letter to you dated January 14, 2000, as soon as possible. We urge that all barriers to full and meaningful public consultations be removed now, and remain eager to do what we can to help this happen.


David Lepofsky, CM,
Chair, Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

cc: Name:                  Fax No:
Hon. Mike Harris     325-7578
Norman Sterling     326-2913
Dalton McGuinty      325-9895
Dwight Duncan      325-2201
Steve Peters          325-7262
Howard Hampton     325-8222
David Christopherson     325-7111
Marilyn Churley     325-7111


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