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ODA Committee Update
dated Oct. 12, 2004
posted Oct. 13, 2004


Major Stride Forward In Our Decade-Long Campaign - Ontario's Liberal Government Today Introduced A New Bill Into The Ontario Legislature For First Reading To Achieve A Barrier-Free Province

October 12, 2004


Today, the Ontario Liberal Government kept its 2003 election promise by introducing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2004. The Bill will make Ontario a better province by creating a society that is open to all, including people with disabilities. We will circulate the bill as soon as we get an electronic copy of it. Information will also be available on the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Web site at www.gov.on.ca/citizenship/accessibility.

Below we set out the text of the Government's news release and backgrounder on the bill. In short, this is a very good bill. It is a dramatic improvement on the weak, limited ODA 2001 which the previous Conservative Government passed. While we have not had a chance to closely study the
bill, we can confirm the following important highlights:

* The bill sets long-term goals for a barrier-free Ontario by 2025, but it
also requires that work begin immediately. Short and medium-term time goals
required by the legislation will ensure that steady progress is made.

* The bill uses a broad, inclusive definition of disability and the barriers
that will be covered by the Act. It isn't limited to only physical
disabilities or physical barriers.

* The bill applies to the private as well as public sector

* Mandatory accessibility standards, developed through consultation with
persons with disabilities as well as businesses or organizations in the
affected sectors, will be developed.

* There is a fair and effective enforcement mechanism to ensure that progress is made.

With this development, the Government has kept its 2003 election commitments to introduce new legislation within one year of taking office, to clearly extend the bill to the private sector, to provide for effective enforcement, and to provide for time lines and mandatory standards on accessibility. To
see the Government's election commitments, visit:


This is a major step forward. We have worked long and hard over the past decade to achieve this milestone. But we still have lots more work ahead. The bill will be going for second reading and it is expected that there will be committee hearings which will give persons with disabilities an oopportunity to give input.


As soon as we get the bill itself, the proceedings in the Legislature from today, and any media coverage, we will get these materials out to you via email. We will also develop a more detailed analysis of the bill. We will welcome your feedback.

From that feedback we will develop suggestions for possible amendments to improve the bill. While its certainly a very good bill, there is opportunity through the legislative process to make it even better.

Beyond this, however, we all have an important task ahead of us, starting as soon as the bill and supporting materials reach you. We need to launch a province-wide grassroots campaign to support this bill. We need to get the word to the public, the media, and all political parties that this bill
should be supported and passed into law, not opposed. We will send out action tips on how you can help. In the meantime, send us your ideas, and your feedback, at:



[The Ontario Coat of Arms]

News Release/

Office of the Premier/
Cabinet du Premier ministre

For Immediate Release
October 12, 2004


Every Ontarian Benefits When We Tap Into The Potential Of Each Ontarian

TORONTO - New legislation to be introduced today is designed to strengthen
Ontario's economy and society by making Ontario fully accessible for people
with disabilities, says Premier Dalton McGuinty.

"Every Ontarian deserves the opportunity to learn, work and play to their
fullest potential," said Premier McGuinty. "And every Ontarian benefits when
we tap into the potential of each Ontarian."

The bill is strong, effective, comprehensive legislation that would, if
passed, help remove barriers faced by people with disabilities. The
proposed new legislation would replace the Ontarians with Disabilities Act,
2001, which was dismissed by advocates for people with disabilities as

It would improve accessibility in workplaces and public spaces and improve
access to employment, customer service, communications and transportation.
It would allow for the setting of accessibility standards for both the
public and private sectors and enforce timelines for compliance. These
standards would be developed in consultation with persons with disabilities
and the organizations that would have obligations under the act.

"This is about doing the right thing," said Dr. Marie Bountrogianni,
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. "It is also about shaping our
future - because to compete in the world economy we need to benefit from the
talents of all Ontarians."

Premier McGuinty said the legislation is a testament to the tireless efforts
of those working on behalf of people with disabilities, from advocates to
members of the Liberal caucus, who have worked on this issue for years.

"During the election campaign, I said Ontario works best when we all work,
and dream, and build together. Today, we're taking a step towards that

- 30 -
Disponible en français

For more information:
Premier's Media Office


[The Ontario Coat of Arms]

Document d'information

Office of the Premier/
Cabinet du Premier ministre

October 12, 2004

New Legislation Helps Improve Accessibility, Quality Of Life For Ontarians With Disabilities

If passed, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2004 would
remove barriers and expand opportunities for Ontarians to learn, work and
play to their fullest potential. It would replace the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, 2001 and would make Ontario one of the world leaders in
improving accessibility.

Its focus is on improving accessibility in areas such as buildings and
spaces, employment, customer service, communications and transportation.

The Economics of Accessibility

According to Statistics Canada, there are approximately 1.5 million
Ontarians with a disability - or about 13 per cent of the population. By
2025, it's expected this number will increase to 20 per cent of the
population - or three million people.

Improving accessibility is essential to Ontario's economic growth.

A study published by the Conference Board of Canada in 2001 indicated that
people with a disability in Canada have an estimated annual consumer
spending power of $25 billion. Many Ontario businesses and organizations
have recognized the economic benefits of becoming accessible and have
developed their own plans to improve accessibility.

Beyond spending power, people with disabilities have skills and potential
that can be developed to help build a stronger economy.

Improving access for people with disabilities will also generate significant
new spending in important sectors like hospitality, retail and tourism.

Highlights of the Act

The scope of the proposed legislation would be much broader than the
previous legislation. It would include the private sector for the first
time, as well as government and the broader public sector. It would require
demonstrated action,


not just planning. It would also provide a clear vision with tangible
standards to measure results.

The proposed act would include:

Mandatory standards - Under the proposed act, people with disabilities,
stakeholders and the provincial government would develop standards that
could deal with the width of aisles in buildings, staff training in serving
customers with disabilities, large print menus or adaptive technology in the
workplace. These standards would also address the full range of
disabilities and barriers including physical, mental, sensory, developmental
and learning disabilities.

Timelines - To ensure progress, mandatory standards and real results would
be achieved every five years or less, moving towards an accessible Ontario
in 20 years. The timelines would incorporate business and capital planning
cycles to help manage the cost impacts.

Enforcement - Efficient enforcement tools would ensure compliance among the
estimated 350,000 public and private organizations affected by the proposed
legislation. All organizations covered by the proposed act would be
required to demonstrate their compliance by filing accessibility reports and
making them public. The government would review the accessibility reports,
conduct inspections and spot audits.

Incentives - To encourage compliance, the minister could provide benefits
like an exemption from filing and reporting to an organization that exceeded
the minimum standards.




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