Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

May 27, 1997

The Hon. Marilyn Mushinski
Minister of Citizenship Culture & Recreation
77 Bloor Street West, 6th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2R9

Dear Ms Mushinski:

Re: Ontarians with Disabilities Act

I am writing as a follow-up to the attendance of many representatives of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee at the Ontario Legislature on Thursday, May 15, 1997, and to confirm the content of my telephone conversations with your assistant, Mr. Ronald Richards on Wednesday, May 14, 1997. We very much regret that neither the Premier nor yourself nor any representative of your party, nor any staff representing the government were made available to meet with representatives of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee who had come to Queen's Park on May 15, 1997.

As you know, members of our coalition across this province have a strong sense of frustration at your and the Premier's inaccessibility, and at the lack of any meaningful progress toward the promise of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It was sincerely hoped that on May 15, there would be some sort of breakthrough to counteract this sense of frustration.

We have addressed Premier Harris directly by separate correspondence, copied to you, regarding the statements which Premier Harris made in the Ontario Legislature during the proceedings on May 15, about the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

In the meantime, we wish to reiterate our request to meet with you as soon as possible to kickstart the stalled process leading to the development of this legislation. We have yet to receive your response to our letter to you dated April 10, 1997 in which we specifically requested your commitment to provide us with a copy of the report provided to you by the Roeher Institute from the project now under way. A staff member in your Ministry provided us with the terms of reference for this project, which we very much appreciate. That document reveals that an interim report was due at the end of March. We supplement our previous request for the final consultant's report regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act with a request that we now be provided with a copy of the interim report.

We also continue to await your response to our proposals for guiding principles to govern a public consultation, leading to the development and enactment of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which we tabled with you some eleven months ago, on June 14, 1996. It is urgent that this consultation process get underway. It ought not be further delayed e.g. by the delay in the consultant's report on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I also wish to confirm that on May 14, 1997, on the eve of our commemoration of the first anniversary since the unanimous passage of the Ontario Legislature resolution calling on the government to keep its promises regarding the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, your assistant Mr. Ronald Richards, contacted me by telephone. He indicated that you wished to meet with us to discuss the consultation process sometime within the next six weeks. I confirmed to him our willingness to meet, but asked that that meeting be undertaken before June 8, 1997, as I will be out of the country after that date for some four weeks. I also indicated to Mr. Richards that in advance of that discussion, we would ask to be provided the proposal that your ministry is said to be working on for the public consultation process regarding the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. I indicated we did not wish to receive this proposal at the meeting itself. We need to be able to look over your proposal in advance, so that we can provide you with meaningful input to facilitate your work. Mr. Richards indicated that this appeared to him to be a sensible approach.

We therefore look forward to hearing from your office as quickly as possible for dates upon which we could meet with you. Since this will be a working meeting, you can assume that our representatives will come fully prepared and fully briefed on past events. We can therefore be ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Yours sincerely,

David Lepofsky,

cc: Hon. Mike Harris
Dalton McGuinty
Dominic Agostino
Gilles Morin
Howard Hampton
Frances Lankin
Marion Boyd

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