ODA Committee Update
dated Oct. 28, 2003
Posted Oct. 30, 2003
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE UPDATE
Tomorrow Is Major Anniversary On The Road To A Strong Effective ODA
October 28, 2003
Tomorrow, October 29, 2003 is the fifth anniversary of one of the most important events in the long campaign by ODA supporters for a barrier-free Ontario. Five years ago, on October 29, 1998, the Ontario Legislature passed its famous resolution, unanimously declaring that the Ontarians with Disabilities Act should comply with the ODA Committee's 11 principles to make this legislation strong, effective, mandatory and enforceable.
Many ODA supporters joined our important cause at some point in time after it was first launched, nine years ago, back on November 29, 1994. Some may not have been involved five years ago, when we achieved a major break-through. It is helpful to remember some of our major achievements over the past years, as we turn our attention towards the next chapter in our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario.
Back in the fall of 1998, the ODA Committee decided to focus its efforts on getting the Legislature to adopt our 11 principles for the ODA. These are the principles which all members of the ODA Committee endorse. They are designed to make sure that the ODA is strong and effective.
According to our eleven principles, the ODA's purpose should be the achievement of a barrier-free Ontario for all people with disabilities. It should cover all disabilities, whether physical, mental or sensory. It should cover all barriers, and not just physical barriers.
All public and private sector providers of goods, facilities and services should be required to remove and prevent barriers in their organization. Time lines and standards for removing and preventing barriers should be decided upon through a consultation with all stakeholders. The legislation should set out the time lines for developing these standards and a process for consultation.
The same requirements should apply to all employers. There should be an effective and speedy way to enforce the law, besides filing human rights complaints for each barrier in individual circumstances. People with disabilities should be able to propose regulations which the Government must consider adopting in order to set standards for barrier removal and prevention, sector by sector and industry by industry. Regulations are laws which the ODA would permit the provincial cabinet to make that would set out the detailed standards for removing and preventing barriers.
On October 29, 1998, five years ago tomorrow, Liberal MPP Dwight Duncan, then in opposition (and now Ontario's new Energy Minister), brought forward a resolution before the Ontario Legislature which called for the ODA to be passed which fulfils our 11 principles. ODA supporters around Ontario worked for weeks to convince MPPs to support this resolution. In advance of October 29, the Liberal Party and the NDP committed to support this resolution.
On October 29, 1998, ODA supporters came in large numbers to the Ontario Legislature for one last round of lobbying. In the end the Legislature passed the resolution unanimously. Our 11 principles became the Legislature's yardstick against which any new ODA bill would be measured.
Right after that resolution passed, the ODA Committee held a news conference at Queen's Park. In attendance, among others, was then Opposition Leader, and now Premier, Dalton McGuinty. On that day, for the first time, Mr. McGuinty promised that if elected, he would bring forward an ODA that complies with this resolution. He and his party campaigned on a platform to do so after that date in the 1999 and 2003 elections.
Unfortunately the ODA 2001 which the previous Conservative Government passed fulfils only one of our 11 principles. The ODA movement now turns to Premier McGuinty to work with him to fulfil his pledge. In doing so, we mark tomorrow as an important half-decade old milestone in this campaign. We also again thank all the ODA supporters who helped in that blitz five years ago to achieve that success.
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Page last updated Oct. 30, 2003