October 29, 1997
Ms Isabel Bassett
Minister of Citizenship, Culture and
77 Bloor St. West, 6th Floor
Dear Ms. Bassett
Thank you for meeting with representatives of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee on Monday October 27, 1997. We are pleased that you consider this important legislation and we hope that your appointment as minister responsible for this legislation will speed up the stalled process. We also appreciate your willingness to work together with us on this project We believe that this first introductory meeting gave us an opportunity to share with you our position and to stress the importance to our members of moving quickly on to a broad public consultation process leading up to the introduction of legislation.
We also very much appreciate your agreeing to meet with us again early in December to discuss the progress that has been made. We are particularly pleased with your commitment to speak with me by phone in two weeks as a follow-up to requests that we made at this meeting. Specifically, we hope at that time you can reaffirm your predecessor's commitment on behalf of the Ontario government to introduce the Ontarians with Disabilities Act into the Ontario Legislature for debate no later than mid to late fall of 1998. As you acknowledged, our time lines are reasonable. We strongly believe that any further delay in the process would make passage of this bill within your government's first term, as promised by the Premier, very unlikely. We also hope that when we speak in two weeks, you will be able to give us a progress report on arranging a meeting with the Premier, with your caucus, and with Brenda Elliott, who is chairing the government's caucus committee on the ODA.
In addition, we hope that in two weeks you will be able to let us know when your government will keep its election promise to increase funding to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Finally, our membership is also very eager to learn when the public consultations on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act will be announced and will get under way. As I know you understand, it is important that people be given a reasonable period of time to prepare for the consultations after they are announced and your discussion paper circulated.
We welcomed your telling us during our meeting that you are committed to achieve the enactment of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act that will both remove barriers and prevent the creation of new ones. In our discussion with you about the importance of preventing new bariers, we were heartened by your recognition that it would be unjustifiable for the Ontario government to contribute to the creation of new barriers by approvng the purchase of high-floor public transit buses in the future. This is but one real life illustration of the way in which the Ontarians with Disabilities Act could help ensure a barrier-free society for persons with disabilities in a workable, realistic way - a goal to which we are all committed.
I look forward to speaking with you in two weeks and to continue working together with you to achieve a barrier-free society for people with disabilities by the year 2000.
M. David Lepofsky, Co-Chair
cc Hon. Mike Harris