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ODA Committee Update
dated Oct. 21, 2004
posted Nov. 22, 2004


Still More Media Coverage Of Bill 118

October 21, 2004


The media coverage of Bill 118 the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with
Disabilities Act keeps on coming! Below please find Helen Henderson's column
on this bill in the Saturday, October 16, 2004 edition of the Toronto Star.
We encourage you to send your feedback to the Toronto Star by sending in a
letter to the editor. You can email your letters to:


Also, TV Ontario's Studio 2 program had a segment that addressed Bill 118,
among other provincial political topics, on Tuesday, October 12, 2004. For
the next six days or so, you can view this segment on line. You will likely
need a high speed internet connection e.g. over cable or DSL line. Go to:


Look for "Video Pick - New Session at the Ontario Legislature".

We have no information on whether that video clip is captioned.

Send us your feedback at:



Toronto Star Saturday, October 16, 2004 Life Section

New accessibility bill gets positive reviews


Dolly Menna-Dack is a third year student in biomedical ethics at the

University of Toronto. All her life she has had to adapt to a society

littered with

barriers that shut out anyone who moves or communicates or processes

information differently from the majority.

Growing up with juvenile arthritis, she has done whatever it takes to

overcome the built-in hurdles that go hand-in-hand with life in Ontario for


with disabilities. She does not complain about these hurdles, simply gets on

with life, going to school, teaching swimming, making it all sound easy.

But Menna-Dack, who is also chair of the youth advisory council at the

Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre, cannot keep the excitement out of her


when she talks about the possibility that future generations of kids like

her will not have to face the same barriers.

"It will make a huge difference for the next generation," she says of the

new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act introduced Tuesday as


Legislature reconvened after a three-month break. "They can have the whole

world instead of just a slice."

Unlike the Ontarians With Disabilities Act introduced by the former

Conservative government, the Liberal's Bill 118 is, for the most part,

playing to good


There are still many details to be fleshed out, but the consensus is it's

definitely a constructive beginning.

For starters, unlike its predecessor, Bill 118 applies to private businesses

as well as government and other public sector operations. That's something

disability groups have stressed as being integral to any worthy

barrier-busting proposal.

If there is anything that sticks in the craw it is the time envisioned for

phasing in changes. The target date for making Ontario a fully accessible


is 20 years down the road, to be reached in five-year increments.

Under the proposed legislation, representatives of people with disabilities,

businesses and government groups would meet to develop standards for


from the width of aisles and staff training to adaptive technology.

The results would be measured every five years, moving to a target of a

totally accessible Ontario by the year 2025.

Businesses and government organizations would have to demonstrate their

compliance by filing accessibility reports and making them public. The


would review the accessibility reports, conduct inspections and spot audits.

Citizenship Minister Marie Bountrogianni, who introduced the legislation,

said those who do not meet targets would face fines of up to $50,000 for an


and $100,000 for a corporation.

"If 20 years were the only time frame, I would be concerned," says David

Lepofsky, head of the Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee. "But it


Different parts will be phased in in five-year increments."

One of the first areas to be tackled will be transportation, Bountrogianni

said in a telephone interview.

"Transportation was the number one concern raised in consultation groups,"

she says. "People told us: `If you want us to work, get us there.'"

After tabling Bill 118, she told reporters the government hopes to make 25

per cent of public and private transportation fleets wheelchair-accessible


five years.

The minister also notes that the time frame for Ontario's legislation is

comparable to the U.S., which envisioned a 25-year roll-out when it


the Americans With Disabilities Act more than a decade ago.

She emphasizes that she wants businesses to have time to get on side and to

be major contributors to the consultation process, adding that there is


evidence that investing in accessibity pays off.

In the U.S., studies show companies in the tourism and recreation

businesses, for example, saw revenues increase 12 per cent directly as a

result of becoming

accessible, she says.

Public education will be a big part of Ontario's accessibility plans,

Bountrogianni says. Attitudes are "one of the biggest barriers people with


face," she says. By changing them, she hopes Ontario's law will not become

the subject of constant litigation, as so often happens in the U.S.

Bountrogianni says she remembers as a budding engineer being limited in

where she did her training placements because some companies did not have


for women.

"Today, that is unimaginable," she told the Legislature on Tuesday. "I want

that same inclusive thinking when it comes to disabilities."

Fine words. Let's hope Queen's Park follows through.


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