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ODA Committee Update
dated Sept. 30, 2003
Posted Oct. 29, 2003


Conservative Government Openly Refuses To Make Public Its Ministries' Accessibility Plans On This, Its Self-Imposed September 30, 2003 Deadline - ODA Committee Issues News Release Highlighting Government's Disregard Of Its Own Legislation

September 30, 2003


Below is a news release which the ODA Committee has just issued, on the Conservative Government's refusal today to make public its provincial ministries' accessibility plans. The Government had said that the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 requires these plans to be made public today.

Please circulate this news release widely. Send it to your local media as fast as possible. Encourage them to cover this late-breaking story.





September 30, 2003: On the very eve of this election, the Conservative Government has today refused to make public the plans which the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 requires each Ontario Government ministry to have in place and to make public by today. One year ago today, the Conservatives proclaimed in force provisions of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) which required these plans to be developed, and to be made public within one year. For months, the Government has announced that September 30, 2003 was the deadline for these to be made public.

The province-wide, non-partisan ODA Committee, organized in 23 regions across Ontario, which led the charge for a strong, effective ODA, wrote to Citizenship Minister DeFaria asking that he provide these plans by 5:00 p.m. today. (See letter attached.) He did not do so.

An email from his deputy minister to various public sector organizations, e.g municipalities, school boards, and public transit providers (which one recipient forwarded to the ODA Committee) evidently stated: "Under the ODA, government ministries, school boards, colleges, universities, hospitals, municipalities and public transportation organizations are required to prepare accessibility plans and make the plans public each year. We had hoped that plans would be available to the public by September 30, 2003. However, as you know, a provincial election will be held on October 2, 2003. As a result, the release of ministry accessibility plans has been postponed."

A letter from the Citizenship Ministry's Deputy Minister, set out below, confirms that the Conservative Government is not going to make these accessibility plans public before voters, including voters with disabilities, go to the polls on Thursday.

"This slap in the face of Ontarians with disabilities is simply unbelievable," said David Lepofsky, ODA Committee chair. "The Conservatives promised for years that the Ontario Government would lead by example on the road to a barrier-free Ontario for 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. Here they are openly disregarding their own self-imposed deadline, just before a provincial election where voters with disabilities have been actively raising disability issues. Does the government believe that just because it called an election, it doesn't have to obey its own law?"

The Conservatives promised to pass a strong, effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The law they passed in 2001 was weak and unenforceable. Its only provision to provide any semblance of enforcement, section 21, would make it an offence for a public sector body like an Ontario Government ministry to fail to make its accessibility plan public on the deadline. But the Conservatives refused to proclaim in force that one enforcement provision.

"We've been trying to get the Conservatives to commit to strengthen this toothless law in this election but they've refused," said Lepofsky. "If we need proof that this law needs strengthening, the Conservatives are themselves the shocking example."

The Liberals and NDP have each promised to strengthen the ODA within one year of this election. To see their detailed commitments, visit:


Contact: David Lepofsky oda@odacommittee.net


c/o Marg Thomas
1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto ON M4G 3E8
Tel: (Voice direct) 416-480-7686
Fax: 416-480-704
Voice mail: 416-480-7012
email: oda@odacommittee.net
TTY: c/o Susan Main 416 964-0023 ex. 343
Web site: www.odacommittee.net

September 30, 2003

The Honourable Carl DeFaria
Minister of Citizenship
400 University Avenue
6th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2R9

Dear Minister,

Re: Ontarians with Disabilities Act

As you know, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 requires every Ministry of the Ontario Government to make public today its first annual accessibility plan. Your Government proclaimed in force the relevant provisions of that legislation one year ago today, stating that September 30, 2003 would be the effective deadline for the first annual plans to be made public.

Could I ask you to provide me with a copy of the accessibility plan for your Ministry, and for each other Ministry in the Ontario Government by 5:00 p.m. today. To ensure that this can be done in a fast and economical way, could I ask that these each be emailed to me at the following email


If your Ministry does not now have a copy of the accessibility plans prepared by each Ontario Government ministry, could I ask that you immediately forward this request to all the other Ontario Government ministries, and that you ensure that they comply with this request. I am copying this letter to Premier Eves, so that if needed, the Premier's Office can facilitate this.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation. We look forward to being able as quickly as possible to review the accessibility plans that the Ontario Government has developed under this legislation. Ontarians with disabilities have waited a long time to have the opportunity to see them.


David Lepofsky, C.M.
Chair, Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

cc: The Hon. Ernie Eves 325-7578
Dalton McGuinty 325-9895
Dwight Duncan 325-2201
Steve Peters 325-7262
Ernie Parsons 325-4757
Howard Hampton 325-8222
Peter Kormos 325-7067
Marilyn Churley 325-3252
Tony Martin 325-3720
Barbara Fisher 325-6195
Jeff Adams, Chair, Ontario Accessibility Advisory Council Nadia Temple, Director, Ontario Accessibility Directorate


Ministry of Citizenship
Deputy Minister
6th Floor
400 University Avenue
Toronto ON M7A 2R9
Tel.: (416) 325-6210
Fax: (416) 325-6196

September 30, 2003

Mr. David Lepofsky, C.M.
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee
c/o Marg Thomas
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto ON M4G 3E8

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

I am responding to your letter to the Honourable Carl DeFaria dated earlier today in which you requested a copy of each Ontario government ministry accessibility plan. The Ministry will be unable to fulfil your request.
We had hoped the ministry plans would be available to the public by September 30, 2003. However, it is a well-established tradition that an election period is a caretaker period for government. Accordingly, government publications are curtailed until after the election. As a result, the release of ministry accessibility plans has been postponed.

The government remains committed to working in partnership with all sectors, including the private sector, to improve accessibility and opportunities for people with disabilities. We encourage all public sector organizations to make their plans available to the public, and applaud all sectors for their commitment to greater accessibility.

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.


Original signed by Deputy Minister

Carol Layton
Deputy Minister


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