Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation
77 Bloor Street West
Toronto ON M7A 2R9
Tel.: (416) 325-6200
Fax: (416) 325-6195
November 27, 1996
Mr. David Lepofsky, CM
Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee
c/o Canadian Paraplegic Association of Ontario
520 Sutherland Drive
Dear Mr. Lepofsky:
I am writing in response to the letter you sent me as a follow-up to the meeting we had on June 14, 1996, and your subsequent letter dated October 3, 1996. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.
At the June 14 meeting, we discussed the government's commitment to barrier removal to ensure equal participation by persons with disabilities in the economic and social mainstream of the province. I was pleased to see you again at ARCH Priorities Day, September 28, 1996.
You acknowledged in your correspondence with me that to achieve a barrier-free society, it is necessary to identify and to plan for the removal of existing barriers, and to take active steps to prevent new barriers from being created. You also indicated that the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee is very open to new and creative ideas which will effectively achieve the goal of a barrier-free society. At the ARCH meeting, you also asked me to outline concrete steps we have taken towards this goal.
I believe that strategic planning is necessary to create a barrier-free society, and that we have to be creative in exploring as many options as possible to achieve this goal. We want to ensure that any policy or program initiatives we implement to support the achievement of our objectives are realistic and effective.
As I indicated at the ARCH meeting, a project co-ordinator, supported by a team of staff from across the Ministry, has been appointed to lead the development of plans for ongoing discussions with the disability community, and to move related policy work forward. The team has been directed to consider options for legislative, as well as non-legislative, measures for possible
inclusion in the overall strategy. A research and consultation plan for completing the project is being developed by the team. The Disability Issues Unit, under the management of Sandra Carpenter, in the Citizenship Policy Branch, has responsibility for the initiative. The Project Co-ordinator is Calvin Bernard.
I indicated to you in our meeting on June 14, and again on September 28, that this government remains firm in its commitment to removing barriers faced by persons with disabilities, to ensure equal access to society's goods, services and opportunities. I also reiterated my commitment that an appropriate plan of action will be developed and implemented after further research and discussions with the disability community, other ministries, labour and the private sector have taken place. I expect that the project team will be contacting the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee and other disability organizations in the near future to begin discussions.
You indicated in your communications with me that you wanted a meeting with the Premier because his direct involvement is needed to address the project's cross-ministry aspects, and to ensure that it goes ahead with real commitment. You have my assurance that whether or not the Premier is able to meet with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee directly, development of a disability access strategy will proceed with real commitment by government, and that other ministries will be involved in evaluating policy and program options for inclusion in the overall strategy.
Again, thank you for your valuable input. The project team is looking forward to working with your Committee on this very important initiative.
cc: The Honourable Michael D. Harris