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ODA Committee Update
dated Nov. 13, 2004
posted Nov. 28, 2004


Media Coverage Of Upcoming Second Reading Debate On Bill 118

November 13, 2004


The Saturday, November 13,2004 Toronto Star has an excellent column by
Helen Henderson on the upcoming Second Reading debate on Bill 118, the
proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. (See below.

We now have further details about arrangements for anyone who wants to come
and watch some or all of the first day of Second Reading debate on Bill 118,
this Thursday afternoon, November 18, 2004. Our thanks to the Ontario
Citizenship Minister Marie bounrogianni for the following arrangements.

Second Reading debate will begin on Thursday afternoon, just after Question
Period finishes. That start time will be somewhere between 3 and 4 p.m. It
cannot be predicted in advance with greater precision. The debates should
end around 6 pm. Feel free to come for all or just part of the debates.
The debates won't finish on this date.

The Government has arranged for a special room to be set aside to
accommodate anyone who wants to watch Second Reading debate on Bill 118.
Room 247 in the Legislative Building at Queen's Park will be available to us
right after Question Period ends. This room is physically accessible. TV
monitors will display the debates. The sound will also be captioned.
American Sign language interpretation will be provided. This provides a good
opportunity for those interested in this issue to watch the debates

Anyone who wants instead to watch the debates in the Public Galleries should
simply come to Queen's Park and ask to be directed to the Public Galleries.
Seating is made available on a first-come, first-served basis. You should
expect the Public Galleries to be quite crowded during Question Period
starting anywhere after 2 pm, as that is the most popular proceeding of the
Legislature. Seats will likely empty out just after Question Period.

The Public Galleries have no accessible seats for persons who cannot
navigate stairs. There are a few seats that are accessible in one of the
galleries. These two are only available on a first-come, first-served basis.
However, you should call to try to reserve one of these in advance if you
require one. Call the following phone number 1-877-877-0109 /
1-877-877-0126 (TTY). Once those limited accessible seats are filled,
anyone else needing an accessible venue will be directed to Room 247,
described above.

If you are coming, and haven't yet let us know, we would appreciate hearing
from you. Though an RSVP isn't mandatory, it's appreciated. Contact us at:


Be sure your organization is represented! Show that there is real support
for this legislation.


Toronto Star

Life, Saturday, November 13, 2004, p. L09

It's time to invest in progress

Helen Henderson

Is the sky about to tumble on corporate Ontario? Will small businesses
crumble under the weight of a proposed law to make this province accessible
to anyone

who moves or communicates differently from society's antediluvian ideas of
"the norm"?

If you believe the fear mongering emanating from some sources, the fabric of
society as we know it will be shredded following enactment of the proposed

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, scheduled to go through
second reading next week.

Over the next 20 years, Bill 118 would see public and private enterprises
phase in changes covering everything from physical barriers, such as stairs,
attitudes - the kind that close minds and shut down efforts to move forward.

The result should finally give 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities
access to transportation, education, jobs and recreation. That access, in
turn, should

let many who would not otherwise be able to work start paying taxes and
spending money on goods and services they would not otherwise be able to

It also might change the minds of many families that avoid patronizing
enterprises that shut out people with disabilities. (Believe me, this is not
a rare

Businesses in the United States understand all this. They've been operating
under national accessibility legislation for 15 years. By now, there is
of research to show that the result is good for the bottom line. In the
tourism and recreation business, for example, studies show revenue has
12 per cent as a result of accessibility.

Progress always has a price, but it is always worth the money.

Thirty years ago, the world laboured with old-fashioned cash registers and
rotary dial phones. Many small businesses grumbled at the cost of high-tech
to handle everything from inventory to potential pilferers, but few would
argue today that the change hasn't paid off.

Think about that on Thursday when Ontario's Accessibility Act goes through
second reading.

For people with disabilities, the proposed law is far from perfect. At the
very least, most would like to see the timetable for change speeded up. But
118 is a constructive start.

Under it, representatives of people with disabilities, businesses and
government groups would meet to develop standards for everything from making
changes to helping staff learn the best ways to offer good service.

Businesses and government organizations would have to file reports on their
progress and Queen's Park would monitor efforts. Fines for those who don't
are expected to range from $50,000 to $100,000.

Accessibility would be phased in, with different sectors assigned targets in
five-year increments.

Citizenship Minister Marie Bountrogianni, who is responsible for disability
issues, has said transportation is first on the list because it emerged as
Number 1 concern of people with disabilities in consultation groups prior to
drafting the bill.

The minister has also emphasized that she wants businesses to be major
contributors in the process of developing regulations to accompany the bill.

It's time to stop fighting and start pulling on the same oars to arrive at a
solution that will pay off for everyone.

If you'd like to show support for the Accessibility Act, head to Queen's
Park Thursday afternoon. The debate is scheduled to start at about 3 p.m.,
question period.

The Legislature itself is by no means barrier-free but Bountrogianni's
office is making an effort to minimize obstacles.

Accessible seating is limited in the public gallery but all the proceedings
will be available on television monitors, complete with closed captioning,
a specially equipped nearby room. The session will also be covered by
American Sign Language interpreters.

For more information, call 1-877-877-0109, or 1-877-877-0126 (TTY).

You can also get more details from the website of the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act Committee at www.odacommittee.net.


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