ODA Committee Update
dated Oct. 17, 2004
posted Nov. 22, 2004
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE UPDATE
Proceedings In The Ontario Legislature On Bill 118 The Day After It Was Introduced For First Reading
October 17, 2004
Bill 118 was referred to in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday, October 13, 2004, the day after it was first introduced for first reading. See below.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2004
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES LEGISLATION
Mr. Brad Duguid (Scarborough Centre): I want to take this opportunity to
express my dismay with the irresponsible comments made yesterday by a member
of the NDP regarding the government's new ODA legislation. He called the
legislation a PR exercise. He said it didn't offer optimism to the disabled.
Clearly, he wasn't listening to any actual members of the disabled
David Lepofsky, chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee,
called the new legislation very good because it "requires standards" and
"provides a time line in which it has to be done. This law requires things
to get started now."
Mr. Lepofsky said the legislation "includes the key ingredients that we have
been working for." He said the legislation "keeps the Premier's promise" to
"sit down and work with the disabilities community, with the business
community and the municipalities to develop legislation." He concluded that
the Premier "promised the legislation will be brought forward within a year
[and] that's what's happened today."
Shame on the NDP for not listening to the disabled community, but instead,
engaging in the politics of irresponsible opposition. I would like to point
out that when the NDP was in government, they failed to make any
improvements for people with disabilities in this province. Had their
government addressed this issue then, disabled people across this province
would be much closer to a barrier-free lifestyle today. Instead, their
government did nothing to improve accessibility for Ontarians. In contrast
to their party, in contrast to the party opposite, the McGuinty government
is delivering real results. We're listening to Ontarians. The NDP should do
Mr. Dave Levac (Brant): I am pleased to rise today to assist the member from
Burlington with his revisionist history. Yesterday, our government
introduced the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In
referring to the legislation he introduced as minister, he said in response,
"Not one amendment was tabled by your critic. That is a fact."
How wrong can he be? Or maybe he has just forgotten that since he has been a
member for a long time, he hasn't been a minister. So let me remind the
member of what actually happened.
In opposition, my friends Steve Peters and Ernie Parsons worked long and
hard to fix your legislation. We brought in over 100 amendments to try to
help you fix your bill, but you wouldn't listen and you voted all of them
down. You had your chance and you failed. Now the disabled community doesn't
have to wait any longer.
The member from Burlington might want to hear what the disabled community
had to say about this piece of legislation and the McGuinty government's
legislation. Yours, they say, was totally unenforceable. Ours has the
enforcement mechanisms built in. Most of them told us, "This bill is
actually a very good bill. This bill includes the key ingredients that we
have been looking for. This bill keeps the Premier's promises."
To the member from Burlington, I would like to have had you accept those
amendments in 2001 instead of voting against them. The disabled community
would have been further ahead. But today they will be, thanks to the
ASSISTANCE TO DISABLED
Mr. Michael Prue (Beaches-East York): My question is to the Minister of
Finance. Minister, it may surprise you, but there are still some people in
this province who believe you and your promises. One such foolish soul is
Mr. Jason Chenier, who lives in eastern Ontario. He went to your Ministry of
Finance Web site and learned that there is a sales tax rebate for vehicles
for the disabled. He got all the forms from your Web site. He filled them
out. He and his wife went out and redid the entire van for their disabled
son. They spent thousands of dollars. They filled out the forms, mailed them
in and awaited their cheque. Instead of a cheque, they got a letter from
your officials saying that the program was cancelled. They're now stuck with
a bill they can ill afford. What are you going to do about this program that
is on your Web site?
Hon. Greg Sorbara (Minister of Finance): I welcome a question from my friend
from Beaches-East York. I'm going to try and answer it, but over the
heckling from the former Conservative critic for finance, who is now looking
for a portfolio to speak to.
My friend from Beaches-East York knows full well that we addressed that
question in the budget last May 18. We made significant new investments to
help, in a new and more effective way, people with disabilities. Most
importantly, I say to my friend, yesterday my colleague the Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration introduced an act that will transform life for
those who are disabled in this province, and we are very proud of that. I
can give him all sorts of detail -- but I know you're concerned about
time -- about those new programs.
The Speaker (Hon Alvin Curling): Supplementary, and I hope I can hear it
The Speaker: Come to order, please.
Mr. Prue: I went to the Web site today. This is the form you get. If this
was in private enterprise, we would call this false advertising and the
Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs would have something to say about
The worst thing of all, though, is that Mr. Chenier is a police officer. He
knew that this was wrong and he went to his member of provincial Parliament,
the member from Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, who wrote you a letter on
September 27 telling you that your staff is misleading the public, and you
have done absolutely nothing about it. I went there today; it's still there.
You have let this family down. I want to know, what are you going to do to
provide him with the money he can ill afford, or is this just another broken
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I want to tell my friend directly that if there is
misinformation on our Web site, I will have that corrected as of today. I
want to assure him of that. I want to assure him that there are literally
hundreds and hundreds of programs delivered by this government, often now
through the technology of the Internet. I clearly accept the possibility
that the information about this program is in error, but I want to tell him
that the program that replaced that program will have a much more positive
impact on the lives of those in this province who are forced to live with
disabilities, and we are very proud of that.
In a debate about unrelated legislation, NDP MPP Peter Kormos said this, in a longer speech:
"I was more than a little taken aback yesterday when the minister joined
with the Premier in announcing Ontarians with disabilities legislation. This
is the same minister who is litigating -- fighting parents in court -- to
prevent their kids from getting treatment for autism once they reach the age
of six. And it's the same Premier of a government that refuses to fund
Visudyne treatment for a large chunk of those victims of macular
degeneration. Do you understand what macular degeneration is? I think you
do. Macular degeneration causes people to go blind. It is not just a
seniors' disease, and it wouldn't matter if it was. Do we somehow do cost
benefits and say, "Well, you're over 60, you're over 65, you're not worth
investing any health treatment money in because, heck, your days, your years
are numbered anyway"?
Sorry, don't buy that.
Why would we, why would this Legislature, why would this government -- in
very clear control of this Legislature -- not want victims of macular
degeneration, who, sure as God made little apples -- guaranteed -- are going
to lose their sight, are going to go blind if it's not treated -- why is
this government not funding Visudyne treatment for a big chunk of victims of
macular degeneration when a whole pile of other jurisdictions across North
America are? You see, that's what folks have been talking to me about, and
they've been talking to their friends, their families, their co-workers and
their neighbours about it too.
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