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ODA Committee Update
dated Sept. 29, 2004
posted Oct. 12, 2004


ODA Committee Releases New Four-Page Chronology Of The Ten Year History Of The Oda Movement

September 29, 2004


To help you get ready for the Liberal Government's anticipated introduction into the Legislature of its new ODA bill later this fall, the ODA Committee is today releasing a new 4-page summary of the decade-long history of the ODA movement. Many who are interested in the ODA issue joined this movement recently. They may not know the whole story. To help you get acquainted with it in a quick and easy way, review this new chronology of the ODA movement, set out below.

We encourage you to circulate this brief chronology to others who might enjoy learning about the events leading up to the forthcoming new ODA bill. You may also want to provide this chronology to your local news media as background information, when the new ODA bill comes out. Send us your
feedback at:


If you are really keen on learning tons more about the history of the ODA movement, you may also want to read the comprehensive 200-page article on this topic by ODA Committee chair David Lepofsky. You can have this emailed to you in MS Word format at no charge by contacting us at the above address.

If you want to purchase a hard copy of this article, entitled: "The Long, Arduous Road to a Barrier-free Ontario for People with Disabilities: the History of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act -- The First Chapter," which appears as Issue 15.2 of the National Journal of Constitutional Law, you can order it by mail by writing:

Dan Oliveira,
Carswell Publications Customer Service Orders,
Corporate Plaza,
2075 Kennedy Road,
Toronto Ontario M1T 3V4

You can also order by phone by contacting Dan Oliveira at Carswell Customer Service, 416-609-8000, extension 2358.

We are advised that the price is $40. Neither the ODA Committee nor David Lepofsky receives any royalties.

For blind and vision impaired persons, we have asked the CNIB to produce an audio recording of this publication. We are delighted that it is now available both on line and in DAISY format on CD. The recording includes this article, and two added features: the late Michael Lewis's ODA anthem
"Still Waiting," and the ODA Committee's presentation to the Ontario Legislature's Standing Committee, holding hearings in December 2001 into the Conservative Government's ODA bill.

We don't know if access to this audio recording is available only to CNIB registered clients. For more information, contact the CNIB Library, or visit the CNIB digital library web site by following the links from:





* Spring 1994 - During NDP Ontario Government, NDP backbench MPP Gary
Malkowski introduces private member's ODA Bill into Legislature. This first
ODA bill Focuses attention on need for new disability legislation.

* November 29, 1994 - ODA Committee is spontaneously founded by 20
disability rights supporters, gathered at Queens Park for public hearings on
MPP Malkowski's proposed ODA bill.

* May 24, 1995 - Conservative leader Mike Harris makes written election
promise to ODA Committee to enact the ODA in his first term and to work
personally with the ODA Committee to develop it.

* June 1995 - Conservatives elected to first term.

* May 16, 1996 - Ontario Legislature unanimously passes first ODA
resolution. Sponsored by NDP MPP Marion Boyd, resolution calls on
Conservative government to keep its ODA election promise.

* April 22, 1998 - At formal ceremony at Queens Park, ODA Committee unveils
its detailed blueprint for the ODA, developed after holding three year
consultation with disability community.

* July to September 1998 - Conservative Government holds consultation on
what to include in ODA, including holding closed, invitation-only meetings.

* October 29, 1998 - Ontario Legislature unanimously passes second ODA
resolution. Sponsored by Liberal MPP Dwight Duncan, resolution calls for ODA
to be passed which embodies 11 principles, proposed by ODA Committee, to
make ODA mandatory, strong and effective. Liberal Opposition leader Dalton
McGuinty publicly pledges that a Liberal Government would pass ODA
legislation that fulfils this resolution.

* November 23, 1998 - Conservative Citizenship Minister Bassett introduces
Bill 83, a proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act, . This three-page bill
the second ODA bill to be introduced into the Legislature, was completely
voluntary, applicable only to the Ontario government, not the broader public
sector or the private sector. This bill did not require any barriers ever
to be removed, no matter how easy they are to remove. It only required
Ontario Government ministries to make annual accessibility plans. Each
ministry could choose how strong or weak their accessibility plans would be.
No requirement to implement those plans.

* December 17, 1998 - 17 days after it was introduced into the Legislature,
Conservative Government lets Bill 83 die on the order paper after first
reading, after this bill was widely condemned across Ontario.

* April 22, 1999 - Pre-election Throne Speech makes Conservative Government
commitment that Bill 83 won't be re-introduced due to criticisms of it. New
consultation promised before new ODA bill to be introduced.

* May - June 3, 1999 - Ontario general election Campaign - Conservative
government promises to bring forward strengthened ODA after more
consultations. Liberals and NDP promise strong and effective ODA that would
comply with 11 principles for the ODA ratified in Legislature's October 29,
1998 resolution.

* June 1999 - Conservatives elected to second term with majority.

* November 23, 1999 - On first anniversary of Bill 83's introduction,
Legislature unanimously passes third resolution. Sponsored by Liberal MPP
Steve Peters, resolution calls for a "strong and effective" ODA to be passed
by November 23, 2001.

* January 31, 2000 - Liberal Disability Critic Steve Peters announces that
because the government will not hold open hearings on what to include in the
ODA, the Liberal Party will hold a province-wide ODA public consultation
tour. Liberals hold public, accessible hearings in 15 cities in March 2000.

* October 4, 2000 - Liberal leader McGuinty reveals in Legislature a leaked
draft Conservative Cabinet document detailing government plans to introduce
weak, toothless ODA this fall, and government strategy to avoid adverse
media coverage.

* December 31, 2000 - Year ends with no ODA bill introduced. ODA Committee
got Ontario government to back off its leaked timetable to introduce another
weak, toothless bill by December 2000.

* January 5, 2001 - Toronto Star reveals Conservative Ontario government's
June 2000 public opinion poll, showing strong public support for mandatory
ODA covering public and private sectors.

* April 19, 2001 - Conservatives' Throne Speech commits to introducing
disability legislation in this session to address barriers facing persons
with disabilities.

* Spring 2001 - Conservative Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson holds
consultations on ODA.

* November 5, 2001 - Conservative Government introduces Bill 125, its
proposed ODA, the third ODA bill to be brought before the Legislature. Bill
only applies to public sector organizations. Requires these to make annual
accessibility plans. Establishes municipal and provincial accessibility
advisory committees. Doesn't require barriers to be removed and prevented.
Doesn't include effective enforcement mechanism.

* November 30 to December 6, 2001 - Legislature Standing Committee holds
public hearings on Bill 125 in 5 cities. Many individuals and groups
criticise Bill 125 because it only applies to the public sector, not the
private sector, because it doesn't require barriers to be removed and
prevented, because it doesn't require establishment of accessibility
standards and because it includes no effective enforcement. Many persons
with disabilities given as little as 24 hours notice of chance to present at
hearings, impeding some from arranging accessible transportation.

* December 11, 2001 - Legislature's Standing Committee debates amendments to
Bill 125. Conservative Government uses its majority to pass limited
amendments to modestly improve Bill 125. Conservatives defeat most
amendments proposed by opposition Liberals and NDP. Liberals and NDP had
proposed amendments to make barrier removal and prevention mandatory, to
extend the bill to the private sector, to require creation of accessibility
standards, and to provide effective enforcement.

* December 13, 2001 - Conservative Government passes Bill 125. Liberals and
NDP vote against it because it is too weak andineffective.

* December 14, 2001 - Bill 125 receives Royal Assent, as the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act 2001.

* February, September and December 2002 - Conservative Government gradually
proclaims in force all provisions of ODA 2001 except s. 22, its one limited
enforcement provision, that provision, if proclaimed, would impose a fine on
public sector organizations that don't make annual accessibility plans, and
on municipalities over 10,000 population that don't establish municipal
accessibility advisory committees.

* April 7, 2003 - Liberal Opposition leader Dalton McGuinty writes ODA
Committee, promising to make ODA strong and effective, if elected, to extend
it to the private sector, to make barrier removal and prevention mandatory,
to require creation of accessibility standards, and to provide effective

* September to October 2003 - Ontario general election. Liberals and NDP
each promise new, strengthened ODA within 1 year, which will fulfill the 11
principles for the ODA that the Legislature had approved on October 29,
1998. Conservatives make no commitments to strengthen the ODA.

* September 30, 2002 - First deadline under ODA 2001 for public sector
organizations to make public their first annual accessibility plans.
Conservative Government announces it won't bring forward any accessibility
plans for provincial ministries because Ontario election underway. Because
section 22 of the ODA 2001 isn't proclaimed in force, no fine is impose for
this violation of the ODA 2001.

* October 2, 2002 - Liberals win provincial election with majority.

October 10, 2003 - Premier-designate McGuinty speaks by phone with ODA
Committee chair David Lepofsky re-affirming commitment to strengthen the
ODA, working together with disability community. Conservative premiers
Harris and Eves had refused all of numerous requests to meet with ODA

* November 20, 2003 - Liberal Government's first Throne Speech commits to
work together with persons with disabilities to develop strengthened ODA.

* Winter/Spring 2004 - Liberals hold open public consultations on how to
strengthen the ODA, including open public forums and roundtables with
representatives of business, the public sector and the disability community.
Significant common ground found on several issues. Government releases
summaries of consultation input received.

* September 11, 2004 - Liberal citizenship Minister Bountrogianni again
announces she will introduce new bill into Legislature this fall to
strengthen the ODA.




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