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ODA Update
December 21, 2000


The ODA Committee today declares an important interim success on
the long and winding road to a strong Ontarians with Disabilities

In October of this year, a leaked draft Harris Cabinet document
revealed the Ontario Government's plans for this fall. The
government planned to introduce a weak, ineffective ODA bill into
the Legislature between October and December of 2000. It also
planned during that period to announce its long-overdue "action
plan" on the ODA, which was to include little new in the effort
at achieving a barrier-free Ontario for persons with
disabilities. The leaked document detailed the Government's
intention to try to slip these measures through, while trying to
manage the media coverage to avoid the negative criticisms from
the public that they knew would be coming.

The ODA Committee responded with a campaign throughout the fall
to show that Ontarians do care about having a strong, mandatory
ODA. Our goal was to press the Government to reject its plans, as
mapped out in the leaked document, and to come forward with a
strong, mandatory ODA. We were especially concerned that the
Government might try to sneak through its planned initiatives
while the media was distracted by the fall federal election.

We can now report that on Wednesday, December 20, 2000, the
Ontario Legislature rose for the holiday break. It is not
expected to resume sitting until March 2001. The Government did
not introduce a bill in this area, nor did it unveil its
anticipated "action plan" prior to the Legislature breaking for
the new year. As a result of grassroots action by supporters of a
strong ODA across the province, you have gotten the Government to
back off on its timetable as set out in its leaked draft Cabinet
document. Of course we all find it unacceptable that the passage of
a strong, mandatory ODA is taking so long. However, we have all
shown that we all can have a real and direct impact in this area
through our responsible, persistent and tenacious advocacy across

We will have lots to do in the new year to build on our momentum,
and to press the Government to ensure that the bill we ultimately
get is strong, effective and mandatory. Stay tuned for a year-end
report from the ODA Committee in the next few days. Stay tuned in
the new year for activities on the ODA as the next round begins in
our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario. A happy, barrier-free
holiday season and new year to one and all!


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