The Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto Ontario
M7A 1A1

May 13, 1997

Mr David Lepofsky
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee
c/o Deborah Thynn
271 Spadina Road
Toronto, Ontario
M5R 2V3

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for inviting me to participate in a discussion of disability issues on May 15th. My schedule does not allow me to join you, however, I do welcome the opportunity to update you on the government's progress in meeting its commitments.

As you know, the removal of barriers for persons with disabilities was part of our party's platform during the election campaign. And in June 1995, Marilyn Mushinski was given responsibility for persons with disabilities.

One of the first orders of business for the ministry has been the creation and implementation of the Equal Opportunity Plan. The Plan emphasizes and encourages co-operative efforts. It recognizes that removing barriers is not only fair, but is a sound business practice. Employment requirements should be job-related and barrier free, and employment selection should be based solely on merit. The Equal Opportunity Website has become a valued resource for many businesses and organizations, including the Canadian Military, post-secondary and financial institutions.

A number of partnership projects are under way, including a new guide to equal opportunity practices. Currently in development, this guide is being produced by the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada for its member companies. It is good news that employers are getting involved in these projects. The Plan is a good beginning, but more remains to be done. Minister Mushinski has informed you - at your meeting last June and at the ARCH annual general meeting - that consultation will be important in determining what will be our next steps. As you know, we are now preparing for the consultation process. We have commissioned a study of the Americans with Disabilities Act from the Roeher Institute which we believe will be helpful in our future discussions.

I look forward to your full and valuable participation.


Michael D. Harris, MPP

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