ODA Committee Update
dated Nov. 24, 2004
posted Nov. 29, 2004
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE UPDATE
Text of Second Day of Second Reading Debate on Bill 118 Now Available
November 24, 2004
Below we set out the text of the November 22, 2004 second day of Second
reading debate on Bill 118, the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with
Disabilities Act. (About 42 pages)
We encourage you to read all these debates, to send us feedback on them, and
to use them as a basis to come up with ideas for proposing amendments to
this bill when it later comes forward for public hearings. Consider what the
various MPPs say both pro and con regarding the bill. Send your feedback
We wish to point out certain highlights regarding the "bottom line":
* During the first and second days of Second Reading debate, NDP speakers
indicated that they will support this legislation, even though they have
criticized the bill for not going further, and point out areas in which it
could go further.The NDP have supported a strong, enforceable mandatory ODA
during the 8 years of the previous Conservative Government. In the 2003
provincial election, the NDP made an election commitment, comparable to the
Liberals, to strengthen the conservatives' ODA 2001.
* Conservative critic Cam Jackson indicated that he supports strengthening
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001. He had been the Conservative
Minister who brought the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 before the
Legislature, Bill 125, back in 2001. He also supported Bill 118 being made
more "proscriptive" than the bill, as currently drafted. He has indicated
that he will be proposing amendments to Bill 118. Conservative Party MPPs
have not stated whether the Conservative Party as a whole will support i.e.
vote for Bill 118. However, though expressing reservations some
Conservative MPPs who have addressed Bill 118 during Second Reading debates
so far have suggested that they will or may support this bill.
As the Conservative Party's critic for disability issues, Mr. Cam Jackson's
position in support of strengthening the ODA 2001 is an important change in
policy for the Conservative Party. . Under Mr. Jackson's direction back in
2001, the Conservative Party had rejected almost all amendments to his 2001
ODA bill that would have strengthened it and made it more proscriptive. The
previous Conservative Government also rejected ODA Committee requests to
commit to strengthen that legislation during its last 2 years in power and
during the 2003 election campaign.
* Of course, the Liberal Party, which itself is proposing Bill 118, is
strongly supporting this bill. However, Citizenship Minister Dr. Marie
Bountrogianni has clearly indicated during the first day of Second Reading
debates that she is open to suggestions for amendments.
* All parties acknowledge in these debates that this bill will go to public
hearings. The Liberal Government is on record supporting public hearings.
The ODA Committee has strongly supported the Legislature holding public
hearings on any ODA bill over the past decade, and has led the campaign for
When the previous Conservative Government was in power, it took several
years of campaigning to get them to hold public hearings. They eventually
did hold public hearings on Bill 125, Cam Jackson's Ontarians with
Disabilities Act 2001. However, contrary to our request for ample lead time,
they only gave as little as 24 hours' notice to some disability
representatives. This created a major barrier to arranging accessible
transportation to those hearings. We have asked the current Government to
ensure that persons with disabilities get more appropriate notice of public
* Many of the MPPs who speak about Bill 118 during Second Reading debates
refer to physical barriers to access e.g. inaccessible buildings. While
these are of course one kind of barrier, it is very important that we need
legislation that focuses on all kinds of barriers facing people with all
kinds of disabilities. The definition of "barrier" and of "disability" in
Bill 118 addresses the wide range of barriers and of disabilities, even
though these speeches often leave the public with the impression that the
main or only issue is physically inaccessible buildings.
In a separate email we will shortly provide a "fact Check" on certain
statements made during Second Reading debate. These will be aimed at
pointing out any factual context or inaccuracies to help you form your own
views of the debates.
We especially hope this will help those of you who are not familiar with
the entire 10 year campaign that led to this bill coming before the
Legislature. For more background, visit the ODA Committee's website at:
Remember that the third day of Second Reading debate is Thursday, November
25, 2004 from 6:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Ontario Hansard Monday November 22, 2004
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
Monday 22 November 2004
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2004 /
The House met at 1845.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2004 /
Resuming the debate adjourned on November 18, 2004, on the motion for second
reading of Bill 118, An Act respecting the development, implementation and
enforcement of standards relating to accessibility with respect to goods,
services, facilities, employment, accommodation, buildings and all other
things specified in the Act for persons with disabilities / Projet de loi
118, Loi traitant de l'élaboration, de la mise en oeuvre et de l'application
de normes concernant l'accessibilité pour les personnes handicapées en ce
qui concerne les biens, les services, les installations, l'emploi, le
logement, les bâtiments et toutes les autres choses qu'elle précise.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Joseph N. Tascona): Further debate?
Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington): I'm very pleased to begin debate this
evening on this important legislation affecting hundreds of thousands of
Ontarians who have disabilities of a very wide range.
I have a fairly strong working knowledge of the contents of this
legislation, having drafted the first piece legislation in our province,
Bill 125, back in 2001, after consulting with the disability community -- I
wouldn't say for an extended period of time, because my responsibilities
were to meet with the disability community very quickly and develop and
draft legislation within an eight-and-a-half-month window.
I'm pleased to say that that was achieved, working directly with the
disability community, although I must confess that I didn't take much time
at all to speak with the private sector, or even with municipalities for
that matter, by virtue of their adamance at the time that they could neither
afford nor cope with the costs associated with bringing full accessibility
to our province. That's an issue that I think merits being returned to,
because the cost of accessibility is something this new bill doesn't address
and we need to provide some assurances to the disability community about how
we are going to achieve the lofty goals contained in Bill 118.
The short answer, of course, is that if it wasn't going to cost anybody
anything, we'd already be doing it. The fact that we're not doing it is not
because there is a certain mean-spiritedness or closed-mindedness in this
province, but that there are very real costs associated with making this
great province of ours fully accessible.
For me, this is an important piece of legislation as well because, as I
indicated when the minister tabled the legislation, having grown up in a
family with a person with a disability, one gets to see first-hand the
challenges they face on a daily basis in all aspects of their life,
beginning with acceptance and access to basic programs as children, right
through to finding employment, dignity and respect, accommodation and all
the subsequent challenges that follow them through adulthood. For all of us
in this House to participate in advancing the cause of disabled persons and
to acknowledge, in effect, that those with disabilities are differently able
and are trying to navigate through the province -- through its buildings,
its transportation systems and its infrastructure -- that is sensitive to
the way their abilities are somewhat different from other people's
abilities, is essentially the best way to look at the rights of citizens.
I've said on many occasions in this House and elsewhere that Ontario holds
within its heart some of the finest legislation and some of the firsts with
respect to responding to the needs of those less fortunate. We were the
first jurisdiction in North America to create a Human Rights Code. We were
the first jurisdiction in North America to publicly abolish slavery. We were
the first jurisdiction to have a Human Rights Code developed for its
citizens. We have many of these firsts. So it's appropriate that in 2001 we
were the first province in Canada to bring in disability legislation. Today,
we have an opportunity to take that legislation, move it forward and make it
even more effective.
As I indicated, the challenge that was facing me at the outset, when I began
work in this area, was that the private sector simply said, "Unless the
government is going to pay for it, we're not prepared to respond." Frankly,
I have letters and other indications from the Association of Municipalities
of Ontario that, "Under no circumstances should you impose a model in this
province unless you're prepared to give the money to the municipalities to
make them compliant."
When I received that kind of warm welcome as a minister of the crown charged
with the responsibility of bringing in the province's first act, it was
extremely disappointing. However, it taught me the first principle of
working on these reforms: You must begin with the disability community. You
must begin with a model that empowers them, because if we ever attempt to
put the disabled community on the same footing as those in positions of
authority, they will never be able to move the benchmarks, and negotiated
outcomes have never worked anywhere on our continent. So I was always very
mindful of the fact that some power that empowered the disability community
would allow them to achieve more, in my opinion at the time, than putting
them in a room with a round table and saying we should hope that
collectively, with all the various special interests at the table, we would
come to a mutual agreement, all the while no one ever discussing the issue
of who would pay to make the changes that were required.
It occurred to me that the first level of government that didn't have the
moral right to say no was, in fact, the government of Ontario, which I was
representing at the table with the disability community.
One of the first dichotomies between the new government's Bill 118 and the
existing law in the province, Bill 125, is that there are very rigid,
prescriptive outcomes required for the province of Ontario, as a government,
to make all its publicly owned buildings and programs fully accessible. It
goes on, in its regulatory framework, to say they have 10 years in which to
make this fully compliant. It was built on one basic principle: The
government of Ontario was in no position to go lecturing the private sector,
the extended public sector or the municipalities on how they should become
more accessible when we as a government were not leading by example.
The previous legislation is almost as long as the current minister's bill;
about 80% of Bill 125 is contained in Bill 118, the Liberal bill. There is
concern that this notion of mandatory compliance and the fast-tracking of
compliance by the provincial government is not in the legislation. That
causes me some concern. I remember that much of the difficulty I had in
developing the legislation was that I had to have some fealty to the notion
of accountability, in terms of what it would cost. In fact, in the first
year of Bill 125, the associated costs were about $70 million. So I could at
least look into the face of the disability community and say, "That is the
commitment. It may not be enough money; clearly, it's not." But I was able,
as the minister of the day, to say, "We are spending $70 million toward a
range of things that we're doing to ensure that the province of Ontario
I'm going share with you one little example of why, in my view, this became
so important. The day I was given the assignment, the first question I asked
of my ministry -- the same ministry that my colleague from Hamilton Mountain
now has the privilege of serving -- was, "How many people in our ministry
have a disability?" In other words, I wanted to put a disability lens on the
very ministry I had inherited. I didn't want to talk about what happened in
the past. I wanted to talk about what we were going to do. There had been
some historical reference to the fact that our government had had a stutter
start, with a couple of ministers and with legislation that was deemed
unacceptable. I'm not here to dispute that; there is some truth to that. But
it was given to me to try to move it forward and do better than the past
efforts. So the first question I asked of my bureaucrats was, "I want to
know how many people who work in our ministry have disabilities."
Now, the first concern I had was that there were very, very few of them.
There are reasons for that, which I'm not going to defend. I said, "Well,
how many additional bureaucrats have been assigned to work on this file?"
They said, "Four." I said, "How many of those are disabled?" They said,
"Well, none. You have to appreciate that we have a union contract and the
So we got somebody from agriculture, who was grading eggs a few weeks
before, spirited into the accessibility secretariat -- well, it wasn't a
secretariat; it was a working unit within the ministry. I hadn't come up
with the idea of creating a stand-alone secretariat.
I remember having my first battle with my bureaucrats over this issue. I was
aware of a young man who had impeccable credentials, who was doing research
work, had done work for the provincial government on a short-term contract,
had done work at Mohawk College in Hamilton, in the minister's very own
riding. He had jettisoned his application for his own disability pension
because he believed he had the ability to find employment, and I wanted to
support him in that regard.
So the first act I did as minister was to get the attention of my
bureaucrats. I said, "If you cannot hire this individual to help us with
this project, then we have lost from the beginning." If we lack the ability,
even as a government -- and this has nothing to do with Liberal, Tory or
NDP. Just as a minister, if I can't insist that part of the working team who
will meet with the disability community isn't themselves demonstrating they
have the ability -- and there are lots throughout the government. Are there
But here I couldn't even get -- so I put my foot down, and all hell broke
loose. The Premier's office got involved, and I said, "I'm digging in my
heels. You gave me the job to do, and I'm not proceeding unless the
following five conditions are met," in terms of access to public meetings
with the disability community, access to a group who would give advice, the
ability to have these individuals come to Queen's Park and I would pay their
expenses to come here as opposed to my running all over the province with
brief meetings -- and I did a fair bit of that. I travelled to about 12
different cities and met with about 200 individual disabled persons. But I
really needed people to come to Queen's Park and speak to their government.
I remember a classic confrontation I had with my bureaucrats, when they
said, "Well, have them submit their expenses." And here's the whole point:
They just didn't get it. These people are marginalized, with very little
income, unless they're self-employed and have been very successful at it --
and to be sure, there were several of those. But the average disabled person
who needed to provide input to the government was marginalized.
I said, "Do you have any idea what it would cost to fly here from Thunder
Bay?" and they said, "Yeah, about $700." I said, "That's about what they
earn in a whole month. How are they supposed to -- "
"Well, can't they put it on their Visa?"
"No. These people don't have any credit."
I remember having a fight. On several occasions -- and this is a matter of
public record -- I had to put their hotel expenses and their travel expenses
and their airfare on my ministerial credit card. I did that because it was
the only way I could get around the bureaucrats who kept saying, "That's not
how it's done." I said, "Well, you'd better learn how to change it, because
the disabilities community can never travel." They have to line up their
transportation -- that's a challenge in itself -- they have to get
modifications when they fly or take the train, they have to have people to
receive them at the other end, and then they have to -- and the
accommodation was the least of their problems, just paying for it. I
remember having that fight. I went ahead and spent the money anyway. I
stayed within the budget. But how sad is it that we couldn't even get the
bureaucrats to understand that you can't have these people coming in to
consult and not pay their expenses in advance or cover them somehow? That
was an ongoing battle I had. Frankly, some of that has changed, but I'm
still hearing anecdotes.
I wanted to start with this concept of empowerment. "Empowerment" is a word
we throw around a whole lot. Empowerment, to me, is giving someone the upper
hand, not an equal hand. That's equity, that's fairness, that's a fair shot
at it, but it's not empowerment. What I was trying to achieve -- and the
reason I'm spending time on this is because herein lies the subtlety in the
difference of the two legislations. It isn't basically the issue of a time
frame, because a time frame was always available to every government.
Saying, "In 10 years, we'll do this; in 20 years, we'll do that," isn't the
magic of this legislation; it's the road that we take on the way to that.
That road has been altered here, with good intention, via the minister. I'm
not questioning her motive, but having worked in public policy and having
developed models of empowerment in various pieces of legislation that I've
constructed over the 20 years I've been here, this is a shift that I have
some concerns about.
Like all debates on legislation, it's important for us to put that on the
record. It may not change the direction of this legislation, it may not
allow the government to embrace the amendments that I will be presenting,
but it does put a marker on this journey over the next 20 years to determine
whether or not we're achieving those goals in the five-year review and
approval modules which are contained in the legislation and as suggested by
the minister -- five-year modules which were in the legislation that the
previous government and I presented. I personally believe we should be more
prescriptive in terms of outcomes.
However, I go back to the issue. You can't lecture the private sector to do
something that you, the government of Ontario, are not prepared to do. It's
something I wouldn't do as a parent, it's something I wouldn't do in
legislation. It's just bad public policy.
The big issue in the previous legislation, and one that isn't clear in this
new legislation, Bill 118, is the fact that the province of Ontario has to
become fully accessible first. In other words, we would develop the
standards as a government, guided by our commitment to the disability
community, that this is how we would make Ontario more accessible in a whole
range of things.
The simple things are getting a ramp into a building, making sure there are
assists to individuals who are sightless or who have hearing difficulties to
assist them with all manner of additional safety and accessibility features.
These are not specific to the building code in Ontario but can be specific
to a government that says, "We will provide our services to the citizens of
Ontario." We would then have a costing of these initiatives and the time not
only to bring in new programs but also to retrofit old buildings and old
programs. In my view, that was the way in which we should lead by example.
What is of concern to me in this legislation is that we are now putting
everybody on the same time frame, and we're putting everyone on the same
mutual goal of achieving negotiated standards for accessibility. If I were a
member of the disability community, I don't think I'd want to sit down and
negotiate it. I think I'd want to be put in an empowered position to say,
"Here's the standard which we need to apply" -- non-negotiable; this is the
standard. This has occurred in the lifetime of this Parliament. This has
occurred before in the Legislature, as a government program. Many of you
will recall Gary Malkowski, from the great riding of --
Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): I think it was Don Valley.
Hon Monte Kwinter (Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services):
I think it was East York at the time.
Mr Jackson: Yes, East York, I believe; thank you. The Solicitor General was
kind enough to share. I believe it was East York. Gary Malkowski, a
wonderful man --
Mr Marchese: Why didn't you help us? York East.
Mr Jackson: OK, do you want to hear about Mr Malkowski, or are we going to
argue about his riding?
Mr Jackson: OK. Now, Mr Malkowski brought a fresh, new perspective to this
chamber. But as a pre-eminent member of the deaf community, he had come
forward to say that he needed his services prepared and presented for him so
that he had accessibility. He had a team of signers. The costs associated
with that -- and this was a rough figure that we knew at the time -- was
about an additional $175,000 a year. He didn't take a penalty; none of his
other budgets were subtracted, but in order for him to participate
meaningfully in the House -- and this precedent occurred many times in
Canada but had just for the first time occurred here in our chamber with a
member of this House so that he could communicate with everyone.
The second challenge he presented was that he had the right to be notified
when bells were ringing, something which we live and die by. You can't come
and vote unless you know there's a bell. Because he's deaf, he had a
lighting system developed for all of the legislative chamber and for some of
the buildings where ministries were, and that lighting system still operates
to this day: If a bell is ringing, we also have these globe lights that
flash. For those people who have visited the chamber and the bells have
started ringing, now you know why that is. The cost of that was close to $1
million. One building, $1 million, for, arguably, the only disabled person
we had in our chamber. Was there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not.
But there was an example where we had a model where the member, who was
disabled, was empowered, and the Speaker of the day agreed that those were
legitimate expenses in order for him to do his job in this chamber for his
constituents who duly elected him. I never quite forgot the important and
powerful message that sent. That was that the government had to lead by
example, as did the Speaker of the day, and our budgets were adjusted in
order to accommodate that member.
So for us to engage in this discussion and this legislation without ever
addressing the issue of cost, I think, would be somewhat irresponsible,
Mr Jackson: I'll get to that in a moment -- I think an empowered model that
is prescriptive by nature is, in fact, the way to go. You may not be able to
do as much as you'd like over as short a period of time, but the government
has to put its money where its mouth is and say that the services we provide
as a government -- and there's a long list of them -- should be accessible
and we will pay the cost.
I'm going to use a reference which may be offensive to some, but it is a
valid point. That is that we should ask no less of the government to set a
standard for accessibility for disabled persons, in a model not too
dissimilar from the way in which we provided language rights in this
province for francophones. Yes, it was controversial; yes, it was expensive,
but it was right. It was right because it was improper for a unilingual
francophone to be struggling in a hospital, unable to communicate with
anyone in that hospital. This is fundamentally wrong and shouldn't occur in
this province. Yet we're not applying that same principle to the empowerment
of the disabled community, who need to communicate for their own medical
health and well-being, for emergency services and for access to government
programs. We seem, for some reason, not to apply that standard.
With a little bit of history -- I know my colleague Mr Marchese spoke at
length on this bill and talked about employment equity, and he made some
very important points and some significant insights into the mind of the
governments, past and current, about our level of commitment. But if we look
back at those days -- and I recognize a couple of ministers from the
government in the House tonight who were around when the NDP, as part of the
accord, insisted the government of the day of David Peterson, a minority
government, bring in employment equity.
Employment equity treated five identified groups equally: the disability
community was identified, aboriginals, francophones, and so on.
Mr Jackson: And women and multicultural. So we've used the policy framework
many times in this province with empowerment and prescriptive outcomes as to
what must change. In those days, for example, David Peterson didn't ask
women, "Well, look, why don't you just go out and negotiate with your
employers? We'll give you 20 years to reach a happy medium and then we'll
create some group that will ultimately arbitrate between you, the person who
wants this dignity, and the employer, who has the upper hand." That's the
model, which, in my view, may not get this government to the point it wants
to be when they say they would like Ontario to be fully accessible in 20
years. So I've made clear my concerns.
One of the other subtleties I picked up on is that, when the Liberals were
in opposition and we were struggling to develop a disabilities act, they
always held out the ADA as this shining example. Now, I'm not here tonight
to talk about the problems associated with the ADA. What I think is
interesting to note is that nowhere have I seen any Liberal or the minister
or anybody else reference the ADA. One of the reasons would be that the ADA
was very prescriptive. It said, "Within 10 years, all hotels, all
transportation has to be accessible to the standards established by the
government." That's a prescriptive model to get a regulated outcome.
This act doesn't, in any way, reflect the path or the road taken by
legislators in the United States to get to that outcome. It is more of a
negotiated outcome with a group of as many as 10 committees, I'm told by the
minister's staff. Four of these committees will be asked to come together
fairly soon. Those four are in specific areas, such as transportation,
services, buildings and employment.
One cannot argue that those aren't four important committees to get started
with. However, if you look at the current legislation, Bill 125, it already
has some very specific language that is prescriptive for transportation
systems in this province. It puts an onus on the government of the day to
fund those programs. It says you cannot fund new transportation systems that
aren't accessible. It puts those conditions on that. We don't need to
negotiate that with the municipality; we merely have to say, "If you're
going to get one cent on the dollar for gasoline, and we're going to pump
another $180 million into transit systems, they must be accessible." We
don't need to sit down with Toronto's transit. We don't need to sit down
with AMO to say, "You know, we could buy two buses that, because they're
discounted because they don't buy them in the United States anymore, we
could get a real bargain. Let's just get those kind of buses." We already
have on the statutes their inability to do that.
The same with buildings. Today, government buildings today in the province
of Ontario cannot be built, cannot be leased, cannot be renovated, cannot be
re-leased -- in other words, renew the rent -- unless they follow provincial
guidelines for accessibility. That was put in there specifically because I
had visited a location which was inaccessible and I found out that they were
about to renew the lease. I said, "Are you crazy?"
If you've got a couple of million dollars of taxpayers' money that you are
giving to a private sector landlord to provide accommodation for any number
of government programs, if you say to that landlord, "We're not renewing our
rent here unless you fix the following four items," they will fix them. Your
rent may go up slightly, but they will fix them.
That's in the legislation that currently operates in the province, and it's
why, on the day that second reading debate started, the minister was quite
proud of the fact that since -- there's no mention of it in here and I'm
somewhat disappointed, because you didn't all of a sudden create these
guidelines. These have been worked on for over two years. They have been a
part of the legislation and the law of this province, that every single
minister and every single ministry must report to the Chair of Management
Board how much it's going to cost them to modify their ministries to make
them accessible to persons with disabilities. That's in the legislation.
It's not going to be in the new legislation. We are now going to be able to
negotiate those outcomes.
Hon Marie Bountrogianni (Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister
of Citizenship and Immigration): No, you misunderstood.
Mr Jackson: No, that's not what your bureaucrats -- the minister says that's
not the way she envisages it; well, then we can have an amendment that will
clarify that. But the fact is, they indicated they were not 100% sure -- and
I met with them a week and a half ago -- that the current accessibility
plans that have to be filed by every ministry will continue to be strictly
enforced and upheld.
The proof in that pudding was, we have asked what the costs associated --
and I'll go back to my earlier point that this requires a major investment
of dollars by the government of Ontario. I've asked the ministry to provide
last year's costing and this year's costing of the year one and year two
accessibility plans filed by each of the ministries.
One of the reasons I'm dwelling on this point is that I think it's extremely
important, because it's the third principle about the disabled that I think
we sometimes forget. They are taxpayers too. They have every right to expect
from their government levels of service that may, for some citizens, be more
costly -- that's a principle we've all had to deal with -- but, because they
are taxpayers, they too deserve access to some of these services. In effect,
it means that the province can't turn to one group of disabled persons and
say, "You know what? We really can't afford that." Well, we can afford it,
within reason, but we can afford it. This is something the private sector
can't always say and that municipalities will argue, because they still
argue that point, but the government of Ontario really can't argue that
It's important that we be vigilant within the 10-year time frame to make
government services accessible not only in terms of the materials needed --
whether it's access through the Web or in Braille or any number of
interpretive services, or whether buildings will be accessible or that we
don't start putting programs into buildings that are inaccessible -- but
that we modify some of our programs to ensure that access to post-secondary
education is improved in this province, which has been a hurdle for far too
many young people for such a long period of time.
I'm told by the ministry that they do not have the terms of reference for
these new committees, and that's understandable. But we would like to know
how soon and I know the disability community would like to know how soon
these guidelines will be ready. When we do go to public hearings with this
legislation, this issue will come up, about what the guidelines and the
terms of reference for these committees will be. Again, I go back to this
notion of empowerment and whether or not you're leading with empowerment
versus negotiated outcomes.
I was reluctant to put persons with disabilities at a table where there were
more people from the private sector or from the municipal sector or even the
province, frankly. That seems to be roughly describing the way in which
these terms of reference and participation and eligibility will occur. But
we are talking a tremendous number; there could be at least 10 of these
Just to finish that point about the new barrier-free requirements for
provincial government buildings, yes, Bill 125 is working and, yes, we have
the requirements. I want to publicly thank the members of the access
advisory committee, something that was developed for the first time in
Canada in the previous legislation. Those individuals have been doing an
extraordinary job. Clearly, the ministry, faced with the legislation, which
is prescriptive -- they must make their programs and buildings accessible,
and we now have the guidelines which they must follow and apply. If that
means that the rent in some of the buildings here in Toronto goes up or if
the cost to renovate is a little more in London, Ontario, so be it, as that
is no less or no more important than, a decade and a half ago, when people
engaged in the controversy about making bilingual signage said it was going
to bankrupt the province; it didn't. We can look upon that as a program that
allowed for the rights-based access with a prescriptive model.
I want to pay tribute at this point in my comments to the accessibility
secretariat, something that is unique in Canada and exists today in this
province, to the Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario. Its first
chairman, which is a matter of historical note perhaps more than anything,
was Dave Shannon. Dave Shannon had distinguished himself as an individual,
as a lawyer, who was an extraordinary advocate for the disabled up in
Thunder Bay. As an interesting footnote for members of the House, he was Lyn
McLeod's riding president. I know some people were horrified when I said
this was the person I wanted to appoint as the number one person to
represent the disability community. I remember telling Premier Harris -- he
only asked me once, "Cam, is this the best person you could find?" I said,
"Premier, this man is the best person I could find in the province."
Frankly, he was so good, the Liberal government -- the federal Liberal
government, to be accurate -- stole him three months later and offered him a
job in Ottawa to assist the federal government with what they promised would
be some reforms in that area. But I take every occasion I can to thank him
for his guidance and his contribution.
From there, the chair became Jeff Adams, who has been in this House on many
occasions as a Paralympian and a world-class athlete and is just a
tremendous, positive spokesperson for differently abled individuals. The
current chair, the vice-chair I had appointed, is Barry McMahon out of
Ottawa. He was a real inspiration as he struggled with post-polio syndrome.
He had made some extraordinary insights in his fights with national
transportation systems, a challenge I know the minister is aware of. Whether
you travel by rail or by air, they are federally regulated, and I had a
difficult time trying to make the changes in that area. I wish the minister
well, and I'd like to help her in that regard, because clearly this is an
area that really requires some federal awareness and leadership. Barry
McMahon brought some tremendous insights to that.
I'll just put the rest of the names on the record because I think there's,
all too frequently, almost a singular interest in only referring to a
provincial civil servant by the name of David Lepofsky, who has brought
passion and opinion to this file. We don't always agree on every issue. I
know that as a lawyer he loves to negotiate and has found support and
resonance for that sort of conflict resolution struggle that can occur when
dealing with rights and entitlements. I'm not a fan of that. I think the
government is capable of far better, that it can be prescriptive, as it has
been in the United States and as it has been here in this province with
previous legislation. But these are the kinds of individuals whom you don't
see in the newspaper or read about but have tirelessly volunteered on the
accessibility advisory council in our province.
Jeff Adams, as I mentioned, who was the chair -- I'm reading the older list,
because these were the founders. These were the people who really rolled up
their sleeves and got to work in a prescriptive framework with provincial
guidelines for government of Ontario services: Valerie Baker; André
Bélanger; Barbara Fowke; Uzma Khan; and Dean La Bute from Windsor. I
remember, as if it was yesterday, my meetings in Windsor with Joyce Zuk and
Dean La Bute. What a life-altering kind of moment that becomes for those of
us in public life when we get to see and experience things somewhat
differently. It was with the outstanding mayor of the city of Windsor, who
has a huge commitment to accessibility. They were miles ahead of everyone.
When I emerged from that day-long meeting I became convinced more than ever
of the empowerment model and that municipalities can't say no to the
disabled if we empower them. Municipalities can say no when they negotiate.
In Windsor, we found a mayor, Mike -- oh Lord, I should remember. He was
just a wonderful gentleman and he was absolutely committed --
Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): Hurst.
Mr Jackson: Yes; His Worship Michael Hurst.
AMO was saying, "No, we can't afford any of it," and then I run into these
mayors who said, "You know, Cam, it's not all that complicated. Here are
ways in which we do it." Of course, if you're a disabled person, Windsor's
one of the best places in the province to be living, because it has made a
commitment. They are documenting doctor's offices and codifying those which
have to be modified. They were way ahead of all the other municipalities,
and I want to credit Dean La Bute for his extraordinary work in that area.
Karen Liberman; Tracy MacCharles; Duncan Read -- Duncan Read is well known
to most people. He's the past president of the March of Dimes. He is a
learned bencher now. Duncan was a huge asset to the drafting of the
legislation. It was almost a prerequisite that he serve on the original
access advisory committee because of his extraordinary strengths and the
perspective of the March of Dimes.
These are the individuals who are part of the history of this province in
terms of their commitment to developing an Ontarians with Disabilities Act
that was far more prescriptive and kept more of the control in the hands of
the actual access advisory committees.
Again, I want to publicly state how much I appreciate that the minister has
retained about 80% of the model and the framework and the foundation upon
which decisions were being made by the disabled community. If there's any
criticism, it's that their composition is now being somewhat watered down in
the name of the ability to come in and negotiate outcomes with the private
sector and these committees. In my view, the second level of government
which doesn't have the right to say, "We can't afford it," is a municipal
government, and they too should be prescriptive in terms of the reforms they
create. They have to, in fact, respond to the needs of the disabled
community. It's why, in the legislation, we insisted that if you're building
a brand new building or substantively retrofitting one, the access advisory
committee has to have a sign-off authority to ensure that their access
standards are met.
I remember one that got through before our legislation was in effect, and it
was our own hospital, Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, and here we had
legislation that said that all public buildings with public provincial
funding had to be compliant with accessibility guidelines. So, faithfully, a
member of our access committee went down to Joseph Brant hospital, which had
just spent millions of dollars renovating its front hall and its entrance
and part of its emergency, and it wasn't to code for an accessible washroom.
The administration came up with the brilliant idea that they would just take
the accessibility sign down and move it down the hall where they thought
they had one in the old wing. That was their solution, and I was horrified
by that, but the problem was that city hall didn't have any authority to
look at the hospital renovation. There was some weaknesses in that, but in
fact those were guidelines that should have been upheld by the Ministry of
Health to say, "You're getting $55 million or $56 million, whatever you're
getting, to renovate and construct a new wing; it has to be done to the full
accessibility standards. That's the law."
So I want to say to the minister that there's nothing preventing you from
continuing that prescriptive component of it. You don't necessarily need to
bring in a bunch of people to negotiate that with the hospital sector. I
think you can say, "That's it." We did it with bilingual signage; we
certainly can do it with Braille elevators, or whatever those features are.
I would be hopeful and, if not, be willing to bring in some recommended
amendments for the government's consideration, either soon or during the
public hearings component.
This notion of "one size fits all": I would hope we'd think outside of that
very rigid look at how we would create full accessibility within 20 years. I
think it's going to be a lot easier to make the municipal transit system --
the city of Hamilton can be fully accessible far faster than you're ever
going to get the GO Transit system fully accessible; therefore, they
shouldn't be on a 20-year framework. One should be on a 10-year and the
other on a 20, perhaps. But I think that's where the leadership needs to
come from the government in order to achieve those benchmarks.
The fact that we have accessibility committees in all of our major
communities, or we have the requirement for municipalities to consult with
persons with accessibility challenges, is an element that must stay in the
legislation, and I commend the minister for understanding the importance of
that foundation of capacity in the system to guide government at all levels
to make reforms.
I would ask the minister that she consider sharing with this House, and
during committee hearings, the levels of commitment in financial terms that
each of the ministries has committed to in their accessibility plans. As I
say, my first-year costing was around $70 million for the first year of that
legislation. They are now posting their second-year plans as of September 30
for each of the ministries -- including the Legislative Assembly, I might
add -- and the plans should specifically say what things are going to be
corrected and by what time frame. They should be costed. I did ask the
ministry staff if they had an MB20 -- which, for those who are watching, is
basically an application to Management Board for funding -- and the staff
was uncertain if there was a draft MBO being prepared at this time to look
for additional funding.
I'm hoping, as well, that the minister will comment on what she thinks the
multi-year costs are. It will be hard to convince me and many of my
colleagues who have served in the Privy Council that you were not able to
bring forward this legislation for approval by both Management Board and
cabinet without a costing of it. Any elements of that that you would be
willing to share with the disability community and the public would be
appreciated and would be somewhat insightful as to the true level of
I have some concern with legislation which continues to support the notion
that there is still the opportunity to file appeals of any decisions that
are made and file charges with the Human Rights Commission. Under no
circumstances would we ever support anything that denied that to someone in
our province. On the other hand, you can look at that as saying, "How good
can the legislation be if it still envisages a significant amount of
activity with the Human Rights Commission?"
We know your bureaucrats have indicated that entrenched in this new
legislation is the notion that there will be a defining of undue hardship
for exemption in a whole series of cases. I've put on the record that I
don't think the government can argue undue hardship if it has a 10-year plan
and a plan in which to phase in the changes and the costs associated with
its buildings. The principle of needing time is as important as having the
budget to do it. This is not, for example, like the issues being raised by
my colleague in the NDP about autism services when we know the price tag for
that is about $1 billion. We were somewhat aware of that, which is why we
didn't promise it to people.
Mr Hampton: That's where the federal surplus comes in.
Mr Jackson: There will be an opportunity to comment on that, I'm sure.
I just want to make it clear that it's important that even before this
legislation finishes second reading, we're talking about exemptions and an
undue burden on businesses to be compliant. I am reminded of my colleague Mr
Marchese's eloquent and passionate discussion about employment equity. We
still don't have employment equity. I'm not here to discuss my party's past
with it. He put on the record that the NDP was very committed to that. For
them, that is a really important measure of whether the disabled community
is going to be able to get full access to employment and not be
discriminated against. That is one mechanism. That's a prescriptive way in
which governments can address that challenge. There is none of that in this
legislation, in terms of achieving certain goals or benchmarks for persons
with disabilities in our province.
I find there's a very large element of bureaucracy. Having been a member of
the privy council for eight-plus years, if you start giving bureaucrats
bigger budgets, boy, do they know how to spend them and, boy, will they keep
you busy and, boy, will they generate paper and, boy, will they have
activity. And they'll tell you that what we gave them last year ain't nearly
enough to achieve the goals you said we'd have done a year ago. It's a real
challenge for us. Regardless of who is the government of the day, it's
always been a challenge.
I'm very nervous that we could have upwards of 10 advisory councils setting
standards. They're negotiated, and then there's an appeal mechanism. I'm
getting a little nervous that this is a tremendous amount of bureaucracy. In
any of the work I did, whether it was the victims' office or the Alzheimer's
strategy or the elderly, I always tried to limit the amount of bureaucracy.
In those circumstances you need accountability and oversight, and that's
fine. But if you just hand over the money to the bureaucrats to manage,
you're going to run into some difficulty. We have outstanding bureaucrats,
but sometimes they do such a good job and are so thorough that they tend to
consume time and money at a rate that makes some of us rather impatient for
outcomes, and I'm sure the disability community does not want to have that
I have put on the record the concern that nowhere has the government made
any indication of what costs may or may not be associated with this
legislation. It's a standard that I was held to under Bill 125, one I was
able to respond to. It was a multi-year commitment. So I would like to see
this government at least come up with a number, and if they have no money
they're investing, at least say that.
I want to be careful, for the record here, that we don't get caught in this
whole notion -- I know that some of the previous government speakers have
talked about this government already starting to invest under their new act,
and they refer to the new funds for developmentally disabled persons and
accommodation. We need to be a little clear here that this is a commitment
that's been going on in this province for 30 years, that there's been some
lagging behind in this area and that the previous government made a
significant $650-million commitment.
The new government is honouring part of the multi-year plan. Yes, the
government of the day could have cancelled the program. I don't think they
intended to, nor would they want to, but it doesn't stop them from
suggesting that this is their commitment. This is not an investment in the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Those are programs that all governments in
the past have honoured and upheld, and have worked with that group of
disabled persons. But one could reasonably argue that we're already spending
billions of dollars on the disabled in health care, education, employment
and supports to employment, and assistive devices and supports.
That's not the issue here. The issue is those things they currently do not
have as a privilege, a right or a service in the province, and moving
forward for reform. That's the issue here. I'm going to raise it today
because I'm disappointed that the government chose to approach it this way.
My colleague Mr Prue from the NDP has raised on several occasions an issue
which I raised about the government cancelling the retail sales tax rebate
for vehicles to transport persons with physical disabilities. This was a
really clever move on the part of the government. What they did was add $10
million to the home and vehicle modification program -- absolutely laudable.
There's no question; no one in this building is going to argue that that
wasn't a smart move. What we objected to was that they cancelled the rebate
program and that's where they found the $10 million.
So we have to be careful that we don't start moving the money around on the
disability community. It's important that we say to them that we understand
we're going to need to advance their agenda on all fronts. I tell you, there
are some very upset families out there. In Mr Prue's case, two months later
the family was still looking at the Minister of Finance's Web site, where
they were bragging, "You can get the tax rebate." He went out and made a
purchase, and now he's told, "Sorry, we made an announcement, and you should
He relied, as a consumer -- and frankly, I think the government broke its
own law with respect to consumer protection. If that was a private sector
company, this government would have forced them to pay every single person
in the province sales tax up until the day they removed it from the Web
site, because that would have been false advertising. It was an inducement
to purchase. The Web site misled the public because somebody in the
bureaucracy just neglected to think it was important to check on it.
So I support my colleague Mr Prue in his anxiety with this, and I support
him because he's raising this not only on my behalf and my constituents'
behalf, but on behalf of citizens across the province who went out to buy,
who are required to transport their loved ones for a whole range of
services, and can only do so, because in 80% of the communities in this
province there aren't disability transit systems that work out perfectly
with your family plans or with your doctor's appointments and a whole host
of other challenges the disabled have when it comes to accessibility and
mobility. So having a family member transport you and having their car
modified was important.
To take $10 million away from one and then say, "Look at us. Aren't we
great? We've increased it by $10 million" -- for many in the disability
community they were extremely disappointed. I just want to put on the record
that it's that kind of activity which cynically doesn't work for our
citizens, and we, in opposition, will try to be vigilant to uncover it where
I think it is important that disabled people have a strengthened Ontarians
with Disabilities Act. There's no question. I think for their own dignity,
their security, their future and their hope, they need a government that
will move forward and be a little more prescriptive in terms of outcomes and
not leave a 20-year window to negotiate certain guidelines they hope to
achieve that will be negotiated with the private sector. The fact is, if we
are prepared to make the commitment as a government, it should start with
the government of the day and it should be imposing much stricter
restrictions on itself than waiting 20 years.
The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?
Mr Marchese: I want to congratulate the member from Burlington for his
sincerity on the issue and the work he has done with people with
disabilities over the years. It is probably very true that he did a lot more
than his caucus ever did or ever wanted to. I have no doubt about that. I
wanted to say on the record that I don't doubt his sincerity or the work he
has done around this.
But I want him to comment on something. Last week when I debated this issue,
a number of Liberals stood up and said, "This is a very historic moment,"
and they wanted to celebrate the bill because it was such a historical piece
that everybody ought to be celebrating. I didn't think it was much of a
piece to celebrate, Minister. Not to offend you, but only to deal with your
I said, when we introduced employment equity, that that was bold. That was
an ambitious plan that dealt with issues of discrimination against people
with disabilities, people of colour, aboriginal people and women. We had
Liberals and Tories attacking us. We had communities out there attacking us.
We had the business community attacking us. That was historic and bold.
Interjection: That must have felt good.
Mr Marchese: It didn't feel good to be attacked by a whole lot of people,
because when you are dealing with issues of equity, it usually hurts you to
put it out there on the record and to be bold.
But to put this document out and say, "We will achieve the objectives of
this bill in 20 years," is hardly an ambitious plan. Madame Crabtree, I
believe was her name, said, "I'm going to be dead in 20 years. This is not
going to help me."
It can hardly be historical to say, "We will achieve this, and we will
achieve it in 20 years," when you may not be here. The minister may not be
here. God willing, you will be.
I ask you, member for Burlington, do you think this is historical?
Hon Mrs Bountrogianni: I'd like to respond to the member for Burlington --
Hon Mrs Bountrogianni: Thank you -- but before, to Mr Marchese, Madame
Crabtree wrote something totally different the next day in the same
To respond to the member for Burlington: First of all, I want to make it
clear to the people of Ontario that the present ODA will be in place until
the new standards are developed, in five years or less. The present ODA did
not have any timelines; we do have timelines.
We listened across the province to all groups and we acted. We then went
back to all the stakeholder groups, including the disabled community, to vet
the plan, and they endorsed it.
We are leading by example. I know the member for Burlington had an important
occasion last Thursday, but last week I did announce that we will be
implementing new barrier-free designs that exceed the present building code
at all government buildings.
As well, with respect to not being prescriptive enough, what people in the
United States told us, ADA and mental health advocates especially, was,
"Don't be too prescriptive. Consult and develop standards. Otherwise you
will become the litigious society that we are." In fact, in the United
States -- and you can check this with the American Psychological
Association -- not one law case, not one human rights tribunal was won by a
mental health situation. We did listen to people -- actually, the ADA,
Britain and Australia -- who are leaders. We learned from their example.
With respect to our timelines, Australia has 30 years for one aspect:
transportation. We have 20 years for all of it. Britain has no timelines,
and the United States had 25 years, but they started 15 years ago. If we had
started a decade ago, we would have been halfway there.
We must work with the disabled community to develop these standards and not
be prescriptive. That is what they told us. I agree with the member from
Burlington, the Accessibility Advisory Council is invaluable, and we will
not only include them but give them even more responsibilities.
With respect to the transportation timelines, the transportation
stakeholders told us that 10 years is a reasonable timeline, because they
replace their fleets every 10 years or less.
With respect to cost, over 20 years, this is less than 1% of capital costs
and less than 0.01% of retail sales to make Ontario fully accessible to
everyone, regardless of ability or disability.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham): I just want to respond to the work that has been
done by the member from Burlington, because I did sit as a member of the
committee during the hearings on Bill 125. I know the concessions and
compromises that were made by the minister, who had a far further ambition
for the bill to increase accessibility for the people of Ontario with those
If I look at the bill here, and I don't want to be cynical, but it has been
mentioned, just today, by the Minister of Finance in his update on the
budget, that they cancelled the accessibility tax credit. It is a shame that
it happened in the same week. I was surprised, actually. It was brought up
by Mr Prue, and I have to repeat it, because what signal does it send when
we are in the midst of debating Bill 118, the bill to deal with the act
respecting the development and implementation of enforcement standards? You
look at this -- and I remember the outrage during other legislation when we
were government -- it says here that the Lieutenant Governor in Council
"may" establish regulations with respect to accessibility standards, and
this "may" make regulations. That's the nature of every piece of legislation
where the order in council empowers the minister to make regulations.
I like the part about public participation, because I think of constituents
of mine who are persons with special needs but are talented persons. They
need accessibility. I've supported Sean Madsen, who is an advocate of the
first order, a very intelligent gentleman who has a visual problem. I would
encourage the minister to consider him. He's a very eloquent, very competent
individual who has a sight problem. He has been an advocate for some time.
When I look at "Participation of council members," it's rather soft here. It
says that the minister "may invite" participation.
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The Chair recognizes the leader of the third
Mr Hampton: I want to commend the member for Burlington for his insights. I
think all of us recognize that both as minister and before he became
minister he spent a great deal of time working on these issues. I think
those of us who were in opposition when he was minister and introduced the
Ontario Disabilities Act that we have now all recognized at the time that he
was probably taking on many members of his own caucus, if not members of his
own cabinet, and that what he did achieve was often in spite of some very
powerful colleagues in his own government. So we want to commend him for the
work that he has done and commend him for his insights and acknowledge his
I too have a specific question for him. My question is more of a general
nature, and that is: Does he believe that this legislation has enough, if I
may use the expression, muscle in it? It seems to me that a lot of what's
here is left up to the discretion of the minister. The minister may do this,
may do that, may some day do this, may some day do that. If I may, this
sounds like a repetition of McGuinty government promises: "We promise, we
promise, we promise." Now they're saying, "We promise that some time in the
future we'll promise. We promise that some time in the future we may do
something." I want to ask the member for Burlington if, from expertise and
his knowledge, this bill really has enough muscle to it.
The Acting Speaker: Response, the member from Burlington.
Mr Jackson: I want to thank the members for Trinity-Spadina, Hamilton
Mountain, Durham and Kenora-Rainy River.
In the brief time I have to wrap up, I just want to remind members of this
House that, in 1995, all three leaders vying for voters in this province
were asked if they would bring in an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The
NDP said they would. The Conservatives, with Mike Harris's signature
attached, said he would and he was held to that. At the time, Lyn McLeod did
not sign that. That's a matter of historical record.
Over the eight years that we were the government, yes, I think a
considerable amount of progress was made in our commitment to persons with
disabilities, whether it was expansion of mental health programs, advancing
issues related to persons with developmental disabilities or the work we did
in expanding autism support services in our province.
My colleague from Kenora-Rainy River asks if I think there are enough teeth
in this. I've put on the record what my concerns are. In an empowerment
model you have to allow the disability community to set the guidelines and
standards. They will negotiate directly with government. As soon as you put
the persons who have to pay at the table, you will not achieve those goals.
That's been the model around the world.
The minister used the mental health problems -- I'm not going to argue with
her -- that occurred in the United States. Yes, that's been litigious. We're
not getting lawsuits from doctors who now have to make their doctors'
offices accessible. I don't think we should negotiate with the doctors. I
think we should say, "In the next five years your disabled patients should
be able to get into your office or else you move, one or the other." That's
the model we were moving toward. What I took to cabinet was 10 years for the
province to become fully accessible and all municipalities had 10 years.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Hampton: I'm pleased to take part in this debate. Let me say at the
outset what will come as no shock to anyone: New Democrats intend to support
this bill, but we think it has a number of major shortcomings. I want to
deal with some of those shortcomings because, as we know, there is a process
around here. There's a process of first reading, second reading, then to
committee and the possibility of amendments, and it is actually possible to
improve on what is, at first blush, inadequate.
Let me say that one of the first problems that we see is that 20 years is a
long time to wait. Saying to someone, "Well, within 20 years this may be a
better situation; within 20 years, we may make progress on these fronts," is
an awfully long time to wait in the modern world. At a time when information
can move around the globe at the snap of a finger, at a time when countries
can go out of existence and new countries can come into existence in the
span of two, three or four years, saying to the disabled community that in
20 years they may see progress as a result of this bill is an awfully long
time to wait -- too long, in our view.
I repeat the comments of my colleague from Trinity-Spadina, who referred to
Linda Crabtree, co-chair of the mayor's advisory committee on accessibility
for the city of St Catharines, where she said, "In 20 years, I will be gone.
We need action now."
Hon Mrs Bountrogianni: The next day she said, "It warms the cockles of my
Mr Hampton: "In 20 years," she said, "I will be gone. We need action now."
A lot of the things the government claims are in the act aren't actually
there. For example, standards that deal with very practical things -- the
width of aisles in buildings, staff training in serving customers with
disabilities, large-print menus or adaptive technologies in the
workplaces -- aren't laid out in the act. The act just says that a committee
will meet to establish these standards. Well, a committee may meet several
times. It may discuss the issue several times. It may be a long, long time
before you actually see standards.
Efficient enforcement tools that ensure compliance aren't laid out in the
act. It just gives the minister the authority to set fines. That, in itself,
is not effective enforcement.
Nothing in this act compels meaningful consultation with the disabled on
developing standards. The act empowers the minister to establish committees
involving persons with disabilities or their representatives, but there is
no review to ensure the minister doesn't slack off on this or that the
minister doesn't stack these committees with partisans.
The minister also "shall fix terms of reference for each standards
development committee," meaning the minister can control the committee from
that perspective too, which is to say that what the bill does is give the
minister a lot of authority to possibly do this, possibly do that, but it
does not say the minister "shall" do this. That's what law is. Law sets down
requirements that are above whatever the whim of the day is or however the
exercise of discretion may happen. This bill doesn't do that. I think those
are real problems. I think they're serious problems.
I want to compare the bill with the 11 principles of the ODA committee. I
think we all need to look at that, because the 1998 resolution, which was
unanimously adopted by the Legislature, is what any bill should be judged
In terms of immediate action upon proclamation, it's worth noting that the
sections of the bill that repeal the old Ontarians with Disabilities Act
come into force immediately after royal assent, but the rest of the bill
that would actually establish the standards is left to be proclaimed at the
whim of cabinet. In other words, the move forward, the standards and all
those things that will put in place the standards, continues to rest with
the whim of cabinet. As I pointed out, law doesn't rest with the whim of
cabinet. Law says, "Thou shalt do this. Thou shalt do that," and then it
sets out penalties and enforcement mechanisms. This basically says that, at
some future date, the cabinet may or may not proclaim these important
measures in place.
I want to again go back to the Ontarians with disabilities resolution. It
said, "The Ontarians with Disabilities Act's requirements should supersede
all other legislation, regulations or policies which either conflict with
it, or which provide lesser protections and entitlements to persons with
disabilities." Section 3 of the bill states that this is not the case for
The resolution we dealt with in 1998 says, "The Ontarians with Disabilities
Act should require government entities, public premises, companies and
organizations to be made fully accessible to all persons with disabilities
through the removal of existing barriers and the prevention of the creation
of new barriers, within strict time frames to be prescribed in the
legislation or regulations." Well, the bill does promise time frames to be
established by regulation. We don't know what those regulations will be,
whether they will be truly strict or not, or real guarantees about what they
will be at all.
The resolution passed in 1998 said, "The Ontarians with Disabilities Act
should require the providers of goods, services and facilities to the public
to ensure that their goods, services and facilities are fully usable by
persons with disabilities and that they are designed to reasonably
accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities. Included among services,
goods and facilities, among other things, are all aspects of education,
including primary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as
providers of transportation and communication facilities, to the extent that
Ontario can regulate these, and public sector providers of information to
the public, eg, governments. Providers of these goods, services and
facilities should be required to devise and implement detailed plans to
remove existing barriers within legislated timetables."
It's true that this government has put out ministry-by-ministry
accessibility plans in anticipation of this bill, but a quick look at them
shows that they are far from being detailed plans to remove existing
barriers within legislated timetables. For example, the Ministry of
Training, Colleges and Universities says in its 2003-04 commitment to
"review its youth marketing initiative for the recruitment of young people
into the Ontario public service, to identify any barriers" has been
deferred. I know what "deferred" means: put off.
Let me give you another example. The resolution says, "The Ontarians with
Disabilities Act should require public and private sector employers to take
proactive steps to achieve barrier-free workplaces within prescribed time
limits. Among other things, employers should be required to identify
existing barriers which impede persons with disabilities, and then to devise
and implement plans for the removal of these barriers, and for the
prevention of new barriers in the workplace."
This act may do this, but it may not. It depends upon the regulations, once
again. I would think that this is one of those important places where the
government should really show its determination, where the government should
really say, "This is what we're up to. This is the position we're going to
take. Here's our bold statement." What does it say? "These will be
determined in regulations, to be determined at some future date."
The resolution that was unanimously approved in this House said, "The
Ontarians with Disabilities Act should provide for a prompt and effective
process for enforcement. It should not simply incorporate the existing
procedures for filing discrimination complaints with the Ontario Human
Rights Commission, as these are too slow and cumbersome, and yield
inadequate remedies." What does the bill do? It says that it will provide
for inspectors hired by the ministry to enforce the law, but I note that
almost every ministry of the government is facing a 12% budget cut.
So I'm left to ask, given what we see happening in the Ministry of Labour --
not enough inspectors or enforcement officers -- the Ministry of the
Environment -- not enough inspectors, not enough enforcement officers -- the
Ministry of Health having real difficulty in terms of long-term care, when
are we going to see these inspectors? Are we going to see these inspectors?
Again, that's left for some future determination.
The resolution that was passed unanimously in this House said, "The
Ontarians with Disabilities Act should require the provincial and municipal
governments to make it a strict condition of funding any program, or of
purchasing any services, goods or facilities, that they be designed to be
fully accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. Any grant or
contract which does not so provide is void and unenforceable by the grant
recipient or contractor with the government in question." Does the bill
provide for this? No, it doesn't provide for that at all.
So these are some key tests set out in the resolution that was unanimously
passed by this Legislature in 1998. On all of these examples I have cited
here, this bill, this proposed legislation, either doesn't mention or says,
"Well, this may be determined some time in the future." Where it does
profess to make a definitive statement, in many cases the definitive
statement is a half measure; it falls short.
I guess I'm left to ask the question: Why support this bill? Why support
this legislation? Why would disability activists in Ontario support this
legislation? I think the only answer that can be offered up is this: It is
better than the existing legislation. It doesn't meet the standard that was
set by the resolution that was passed unanimously in this Legislature in
1998; it doesn't come anywhere near that. Much of what is in this bill is in
fact really a promise to do something at a later date, a promise to do
something in 2010, a promise to maybe do something by 2015, a promise to
perhaps do something in 2020, a promise to perhaps have some of these half
measures in place by 2025.
This is not good enough, but I agree that it is better than the existing
legislation. It is a step further, a step more than the existing
Mr Marchese: But is it historic?
Mr Hampton: Is it historic? Is it earth-shaking? Is it a monument? No, it's
not, not by any measure. It is incrementalism. It is a baby step forward,
perhaps to be followed by other baby steps, or perhaps not to be followed;
perhaps to be followed by dithering; perhaps to be followed by delay, by
inaction. We'll see that in the next short while. But to say this is a bold
step, as the government wants to say, to say that it is historic, that it is
earth-shaking, that it is an incredible accomplishment -- it is none of
those. It is timid, it is mild, it is cautious, it is laden with promises to
take future action, but it is not earth-shattering, not earth-shaking, not
in any way historic or monumental.
Let me just say in the time remaining that I would be careful about taking
promises from this government as meaning anything concrete. If this
government already has a chronic problem -- some would say an acute
problem -- it is its incapacity to live up to its promises, its inability or
unwillingness to deliver what it promised to the people in an election and
promised again following an election. Yes, the legislation is laden with
promises of future action, promises of future process, promises of future
enforcement or future compliance, and it is laden with promises that might
lead one to believe in future results. But this is coming from a government
that already has a dismal record on all those fronts, that even when it does
do something isn't clear what it's done.
If I may use an example, the Premier promised, "I will not raise your
taxes," and then, when they bring down their budget, they say, "Well, we're
not raising taxes. This is a premium, not a tax." The Minister of Finance,
when challenged directly, said, "No, no, we thought about raising taxes, but
we decided not to raise taxes. This is a health premium." But we saw just a
few weeks ago in this Legislature that the Minister of Finance and the
Premier are now saying, "No, no, it's not a premium; it's a tax." Of course,
we know what this is all about. Several trade unions read their collective
agreements and discovered that if there is a health premium, it shall be
payable by the employer. So suddenly what was announced as a premium on
budget day has become a tax, although on budget day they said it wasn't a
tax, and before budget day they said there wouldn't be a tax.
Again, many people have worked hard at this. Many people have sat through
endless committees, hearings and processes already. I want to say to all
those people who have invested a lot of themselves, their time and energy,
be aware that this is a government that has encountered real difficulty,
real unwillingness to fulfill their promises. I hope that does not befall
this legislation. I hope that the promise to do something five years from
now doesn't fall off the table. I hope that the promises to establish
something by 10 years from now is not forgotten to some other process. I
hope that the promise to achieve certain levels or standards 15 years from
now does not fade with the passing of time. But the record of this
government so far indicates that that's exactly what happens, that is
exactly the result that we've seen so far from this government.
Let me just say in the time remaining that having been in the Legislature
for 17 years, I know that a great number of individuals have worked very,
very hard on these issues for some time. Many of them took part in the work
that the NDP government did in terms of employment equity, which was
designed to deal with a number of these issues. Many members of the
disability community worked with two Conservative ministers on ODA
legislation. People went through not just one process but went through
repeated processes in the first go-round and then in the second go-round,
and many of those people have come back to work now in terms of this
legislation. I simply want to commend those people who have worked so hard
and are so committed and passionate on this issue. I hope you are not
The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?
Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have three points to make with regard
to the member from Kenora-Rainy River. Number one, a few members referred to
Linda Crabtree and a statement she made. I just want to read two little
quotes from the article. In part, she said: "I found her introduction of the
bill life-affirming when she said, `Making Ontario truly accessible for the
1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities is a matter of vital importance.'"
She goes on to say, "She warmed the cockles of my little advocate's heart,"
when she proposed this legislation. I just want to put that on the record.
The other thing is, there was an attempt by the opposition to make light of
the term "historic." I might refer the member for Kenora-Rainy River to the
news release that was put out. It says Ontario Legislature to kick off
"historic second reading debate" of proposed new disability accessibility
law. Whose news release was it? This was a news release by David Lepofsky
who, as you know, is the spokesperson for the ODA committee. So I refer to
you that particular piece of legislation.
I believe that the member for Kenora-Rainy River spent perhaps a little bit
too much time at the AG's office, sort of becoming very litigious himself
and wanting everything to be prescriptive when in fact the very group that
he referred to said: "This means that the government should co-operatively
work with organizations toward achieving compliance where possible. It
should resort to compulsory enforcement only when this has not succeeded."
That is from the ODA Committee. I suggest to you that you should have some
faith in a process of working with the people who will be affected and
benefit from this piece of legislation.
The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member from Cambridge.
Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): When you stood up, you sort of confused me.
In any event, I was appreciative to hear the words of the leader of the
third party in regard to Bill 118. This is the second day of third reading,
as I understand it, in regard to this bill, An Act respecting the
development, implementation and enforcement of standards relating to
accessibility with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment,
accommodation, buildings and all other things specified in the Act for
persons with disabilities.
I think the leader of the third party properly pointed out the great
weakness of this bill, even though the title seems to be most encouraging.
And the great weakness is the length of time of implementation, which under
the bill is basically close to 20 years, subject of course to amendments and
further delays in the future.
Well, I believe that is not good enough. Here we are in the 21st century and
we're passing a law that, rather than bringing immediate benefits to those
with disabilities -- access that each of us in this House treats as a normal
part of our rights and our accessibility -- instead we are asking
individuals for a 20-year delay before they can have the same rights we
have. I do not think that is a good idea. I think it is fatal to the
veracity of this bill.
Mr Marchese: I congratulate the leader of our party, the member from
Kenora-Rainy River, for his comments. He did a great job of discrediting
this 20-year implementation plan, simply demystified this Liberal,
snail-like process of a 20-year development plan for what it is: certainly
not historic and certainly unambitious in terms of what they are trying to
I am looking for a comment from our leader with respect to the issue of
enforcement, because all of you know that we have had tremendous problems in
our constituency offices having to deal with the issue of birth certificates
and how long it takes to get a birth certificate. In spite of the fact that
the minister of consumer relations says that we fixed the problem, people
still have to wait six or eight months to a year to get a birth certificate.
And you know why that is happening? It's because this government has a
commitment, other than education and health which they claim they fixed or
are fixing, that in every other ministry they have to sustain cuts anywhere
from 10% to 15% to 20%. Yet the minister says, "We will find money for
enforcement to deal with violations having to do with the issues that are
contained in Bill 118."
I am skeptical, member from Kenora-Rainy River, that they are going to find
money to hire inspectors to enforce Bill 118. So I wanted you to comment on
your perceptions, with your discerning ability, to tell us whether you
think -- with all due respect to the minister -- McGuinty is going to find
the money to deal with the issues of enforcement.
Hon Mr Kwinter: I'd like to comment on Bill 118, and the member from
Kenora-Rainy River. I had -- I wouldn't say the good fortune -- I guess it's
mixed fortune of having to live as a disabled person for probably six to
seven months. I had an opportunity to have to walk with two canes; every
time I stepped up these stairs it was an effort; every time I stepped down
these stairs it was an effort. For those who are watching, I had a hip
replacement. While I was in the hospital I was confined to a wheelchair,
then to a walker and then to canes. Everywhere I went, I had to confront
what was happening as a result of a disability. The good fortune that I had
was that I hoped -- and it turned out to be true -- that I would leave that
behind me. But I really have a new appreciation for what a disabled person
I have been listening with great interest for the last couple of days when
this particular bill has been debated, and there is a lot of time being
spent on this 20 years, as if nothing is going to happen until this 20th
year, and then on the 20th year, everything is going to happen. That isn't
the way it works. It's going to take 20 years in some cases to be able to
practicably do some of these things. You don't go and rip down a building
tomorrow and then replace it the next day, and it's suddenly barrier-free.
I think it's important to understand that this Bill 118 is in many ways
historic, because it sets out these timelines and it sets out what we have
to do. Again, as someone who had a disability for some time, I could see
what buildings have been modified so they are barrier-free, and I commend
those people who did it. But what it does is allow people to understand that
there is a timetable, and that is important. I commend the minister for
bringing this bill forward.
The Acting Speaker: In response, the Chair recognizes the leader of the
Mr Hampton: I want to thank all members for their comments, and I just want
to respond on a couple.
The member for Ottawa Centre read into the record some of the comments in
some of the activist organization press releases. Let me say, they are doing
everything they can to promote this legislation. I understand that, and I
understand why they're doing that. Because it is incrementally better than
the legislation that was there beforehand, and having been, shall we say,
disappointed on so many other occasions, they will greet with cheers any
incremental improvement. I'm not surprised at some of those comments; I'm
not surprised at all. They're very hopeful that this is going to lead
somewhere. I'm hopeful it's going to lead somewhere.
My comments simply state that if you look at the legislation, there isn't a
lot there in terms of setting out dates and timelines; the legislation is
mostly process. Your government, so far, doesn't have a very good record on
any of those things. You have broken more commitments and promises in the 13
months that you've been here than you have in fact fulfilled. Many of the
so-called promises that you've fulfilled are literally the throw-away
promises. That's the reality.
My colleague mentions the issue of enforcement. This is an important
question. If you reflect upon, for example, the presidency of Ronald Reagan
in the United States, Reagan actually passed some of the strong
environmental legislation in the United States, but his government never
acted to do anything in terms of implementation or enforcement. They ignored
those issues altogether. That's an important question to dealt with here:
What will the implementation be, when will it happen, and what will be the
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Phil McNeely (Ottawa-Orléans): It seems that the leader for the third
party can't take yes for an answer.
I'm pleased to rise tonight to speak in support of Bill 118, the proposed
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. About 1.5 million
Ontarians have some form of visible or invisible disability: 13% of the
population. Our premier has often said that Ontario is stronger when we
capitalize on the unique skills and strengths of all its citizens. If 13% of
our population has a hard time accessing public and private sector
facilities, businesses, services and information, that means we're missing
out on a lot of skills and strengths. When it comes to the economy, Ontario
is also missing out by not being fully accessible. Ontarians with
disabilities have an estimated $25 billion in annual consumer spending
power. Their full participation in our economy will help Ontario grow.
When the Tories campaigned for election in 1995, they made a commitment to
enact strong disability legislation within their first term. What Ontario
got, however, was not what the Tories promised. First of all, they didn't
pass the Ontarians with Disabilities Act until well into their second term,
after relentless pressure from stakeholder groups. During the delay, the
government spent billions of dollars on new capital projects without
worrying about whether or not those projects would present barriers to
people with disabilities. When the legislation was passed, it did not touch
the private sector. It did not contain timelines for accessibility
accomplishments and lacked crucial enforcement mechanisms to ensure
As the election approached last year, Premier McGuinty, then the Leader of
the Opposition, wrote to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee as
follows: "We believe that the Harris-Eves government's Ontarians with
Disabilities Act does not even begin to adequately address the needs and the
rights of countless Ontarians. We will introduce a strong and effective
After our government was elected, in the throne speech of November 20, 2003,
we pledged to work with Ontarians with disabilities on meaningful
legislation that would allow them to participate fully in building a
This is exactly what our government has done, and we haven't wasted much
time. As promised, this legislation was delivered within a year of our
taking office. In early October, my riding of Ottawa-Orléans had the honour
of hosting Minister Bountrogianni at a luncheon to commemorate the
announcement of this groundbreaking piece of legislation. It was an
interesting opportunity for me and other local politicians to meet and speak
to some of the people who will benefit from increased accessibility.
One person I had the opportunity to speak with was Charles Matthews, a
well-known accessibility advocate and the president of the group called
Disabled and Proud in Ottawa. I know Mr Matthews from my days on Ottawa city
council, especially at transportation committee. We might have had 10 items
on the agenda at transportation committee; Charles Matthews might speak to
seven or eight of them, because he was bringing to us, the councillors
sitting around that table, the needs of the people with disabilities, and he
did a great job. His commitment to the cause increased accessibility. I
would like to take this time to publicly commend him for his service to his
city and to the disability community.
Mr Matthews says that the previous Tory legislation and the proposed
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act are like night and day in
terms of the real impact on disabled individuals in our province. Mr
Matthews cites the city of Ottawa's O-Train project as one initiative that
could be positively affected by the new bill. He says, "This act will
automatically set up the guidelines so we will never have to plead to make
anything accessible again. It will have to be done."
A former resident of my riding who has also been active in the fight for
increased accessibility is Giles Warren, who I was honoured to have present
at my swearing in as an MPP last year. While driving late one night between
Montreal and Quebec City, Mr Warren had to stop to refill his gas tank. He
stopped at a self-serve gas station that was not accessible to the disabled.
The staff at the station, citing company policy, refused to come out and
serve him. Instead, he had to risk running out of gas and find another
service station where he could get help. Mr Warren says that that incident
marked the beginning of his crusade for greater accessibility for Ontario, a
crusade that has included lobbying gas companies to ensure that disabled
drivers are not discriminated against at gas stations and participating on
accessibility committees for city school boards in Ottawa and Hamilton.
Under the AODA, the concerns of Ontarians with disabilities, like Mr
Matthews, Mr Warren and the people they represent, won't be dealt with ad
hoc and after the fact; they will be taken into consideration at every phase
of the planning process.
Now, what is it supposed to do and how did we determine that? In the first
three months of 2004, Minister Bountrogianni and her former PA, Dr Kuldip
Kular, held round table meetings and regional public meetings with 246
stakeholders and more than 1,000 participants, respectively. These meetings
were fully accessible, so that people with all kinds of disabilities could
participate. The overwhelming message from stakeholders and individuals with
disabilities is that all Ontarians must have the opportunity to do the
things most of us take for granted -- ride a bus, go shopping, access
education, obtain health care, get a job -- without being prevented from
doing so by barriers.
The ultimate goal, according to the ODA committee, should be to create a
"barrier-free society." That doesn't just mean putting ramps at building
entranceways. We have to end barriers that are technological, bureaucratic,
informational and attitudinal, as well as physical. For example, that could
mean making sure menus at restaurants and cafés are available in alternate
formats like Braille and large print, so that Ontarians with visual
impairment can read them. That could also mean putting training programs in
place so that retail and service industry staff have the information and
tools needed to properly serve individuals with disabilities.
The minister also found a broad consensus that the bill should require clear
and mandatory standards leading to measurable outcomes. These standards will
set out the measures, policies, practices and other actions that must be
taken to prevent and remove barriers.
Under the proposed legislation, the government would establish standards
development councils in each industry or sector. Committees would be
reflective of the different stakeholders in each sector. Large and small
businesses, as well as representatives from the disability community, would
participate on these committees. Each committee would determine the
long-term accessibility objectives for that sector and the time frames for
If the legislation passes, which we expect it will, we will put these
committees in place immediately, with the hope of developing the first new
standards by the fall of 2005. The goal is that real results would be
achieved every five years or less as we move toward an Ontario that will be
fully accessible in 20 years' time. It's just too bad we hadn't started 20
The minister also found that stakeholders agreed that any new accessibility
legislation would have to have teeth. Over 300,000 public and private
organizations could be potentially covered by this bill. We need ways to
ensure that these organizations are committing, really committing, to
accessibility. The bill provides for enforcement mechanisms that are going
to be cost-effective and effective in achieving results. Organizations
covered by standards would have to file accessibility reports to confirm
their compliance with standards. We would use information technology to
ensure these reports are easy to file. The reports would also be made
public, to increase accountability. These reports would be followed up with
spot inspections and audits to confirm that standards are being met. If they
aren't met, the government would have the power to order corrective action.
The new bill would establish tough penalties for failing to obey an order or
for filing false reports.
Under Bill 118, there will be an incentive program for various kinds of
organizations that exceed the mandatory standards. This bill will reward the
leaders in Ontario as we move toward full accessibility.
When we enact this legislation, it will make Ontario a leader in the country
and the world in terms of accessibility for disabled citizens. It will
improve the lives of Charles Matthews and Giles Warren and the people they
represent, levelling the playing field so that they can participate fully in
all the opportunities our province has to offer. It will make Ontario
stronger by capitalizing on everyone's strengths and contributions to our
communities. I, for one, strongly urge my colleagues on both sides of the
House to support this important bill.
The Acting Speaker: Time for questions and comments. The Chair recognizes
the member from Halton.
Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton): This is, of course, a very important bill in
Ontario's history for disabled people, but as the members on this side of
the House have pointed out, the bill is lacking in certain areas.
One of the areas in which it lacks that concerns me greatly is the lack of
financial contributions, or the need to finance some of the costs being put
forward. Whether that comes forward or not in the future, we don't know. The
devil will be in the details, I'm sure. But the fact is that those kinds of
expenditures can only be financed by the private sector at certain periods
of time, can only be financed if the Ontario economy is strong enough to
allow those expenditures to take place.
It would be my hope that the government, through regulations on this bill,
would put forward regulations that would allow for the treasury of this
province to finance the costs of access for disabled people to all public
buildings as well. That will be a cost that should not be borne on the backs
of the municipalities of this province as they struggle with their own bills
and their own finances. The strength of the province will determine what
kinds of financial contributions the province can make toward the
construction of these access areas. That will depend on how strong this
government's financial program is, and to date we have great concern about
the strength of that program.
Mr Marchese: I know the member only has two minutes to respond to all the
things we have to say, and I wish he had more time. I thought he was going
to take the whole 20 minutes, and I didn't quite know why he was rushing
through it. But, please, member from Ottawa-Orléans, comment on what I am
about to say. I'm reading from the bill, the explanatory note. It says:
"Part III of the bill provides for the establishment of accessibility
standards by regulation. The accessibility standards apply to persons and
organizations in both the public and private sectors....
"Each accessibility standard will identify the class of persons or
organizations to which it applies. The standard will require those persons
and organizations to implement measures, policies or practices or do such
things as are specified in the standard in order to identify and remove,"
blah, blah, blah, and it goes on.
"The bill requires the minister to establish a process for the development
of accessibility standards which shall include the establishment of several
standards development committees...." I hope some of you are getting the
sense of what I'm about to say.
It goes on: "Accessibility reports are required to be filed by the persons
and organizations to which an accessibility standard applies with a director
for his or her review...."
Speaker, I suspect you get my drift. What I'm reading speaks to standards,
needing to talk about standards, whatever those standards will be. My
criticism has to do with the fact that no wonder it's going to take 20
years. It's talking about developing standards, meeting with groups to talk
about standards, and on and on, for 20 years. When does the bill get to
implementation so that people who have disabilities can actually enjoy the
fruits of this bill? When?
M. Shafiq Qaadri (Etobicoke-Nord): Monsieur le Président, « La présente loi
a pour objet de favoriser l'intérêt de tous les Ontariens et Ontariennes en
« a) d'une part, l'élaboration, la mise en _uvre et l'application de normes
d'accessibilité en vue de réaliser l'accessibilité pour les personnes
handicapées de l'Ontario en ce qui concerne les biens, les services, les
installations, l'occupation d'un logement, l'emploi, les bâtiments, les
constructions et les locaux au plus tard le 1er janvier 2005. »
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2004: We often speak
in this chamber about enabling legislation, legislation which allows other
pieces of legislation to come forth. I view this piece of legislation as
enabling legislation for Ontarians, empowering Ontarians with disabilities
of a visible as well as an invisible nature, which, you'll appreciate, means
both physical and intellectual handicaps. This is an effort to move Ontario
to be a more just society. I consider this an exercise in applied humanity,
and a progressive government should be proud of such an initiative.
I commend as well the Tory MPP for Burlington, who referred to his own
government, somewhat remorsefully I must say, as having a stutter start on
this particular file. But we in the government are moving forward to help
people with learning disabilities, wheelchair access, accessible buses,
ramps, voice commands, well-located button panels, mental health service
funding and a long and proud list. That's why I'm proud to support this
particular bill, Bill 118.
The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member from Owen Sound.
Mr Bill Murdoch (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound): Thank you, Mr Speaker. We have to
correct that, though. It's Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. We must get it all in
I'm pleased, in the few minutes I have here, to talk about the disability
bill. I want to mention that I hope the minister, who is here tonight
listening, listens to Cam Jackson because Cam Jackson, the member from
Burlington, has been working on this for years. You couldn't find somebody
more dedicated to the seniors and the disabled. He works hard on this all
the time. That's what he talks about all the time at caucus meetings.
He mentioned that the government has to show by leadership, and leadership
is something that we need. Twenty years is a long time. They're talking
about that. I know there are a lot of complications and different things
that have to happen, but we have to show a lead in this and make sure we
don't download onto municipalities. That's something that happens to all
governments at Queen's Park. I'm not going to blame just the Liberals for
this, but all governments seem to download onto municipalities.
You have to make sure that the money is there. This is why I'm saying that
you've got to listen to the opposition on this bill. If you do, then I think
we can come up with a bill that we can all support, because it is a bill
that is needed. It's been needed for a long time.
As Cam mentioned, we did try. One of the other members mentioned a stutter
step. I don't know why they'd call it that, but we had one, and it just
wasn't good enough. I'm pleased that this government today has come forward
with this. There are some complications, as we've mentioned. As long as they
listen to the opposition --
Interjection: There's no money.
Mr Murdoch: Well, there's money. There are all kinds of things, John. As
long as the government listens to all parties involved and does it in a
non-partisan way, maybe we could bring to this House a non-partisan bill.
That's what we need.
The Acting Speaker: In response, the Chair recognizes the member from
Mr McNeely: I wish to thank the members from Halton, Trinity-Spadina,
Etobicoke and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound for their comments. The member for
Burlington was praised for the work he did and, considering the people he
was working with to bring the legislation forward, I think he should be
commended as well. The member for Trinity-Spadina is not here, but they
should be welcoming this legislation and they should be supporting this
We have a minister and a caucus on this side who wish to see this move
forward, and it will move forward. It will be good legislation. We will see
our accomplishments in five years, in 10 years, in 15 years and in 20 years.
We will do what we have to do. We will take Ontario to where we want for the
people with disabilities.
I worked with an engineer from R.B. Anderson, Al Peart. He's a neighbour of
mine in Orléans. Al had a daughter who was disabled, and one of the things
he did was go out and measure projects after they were completed by the
roads department, and look at the sidewalks, look at the mailboxes, look at
so many issues that were important to disabled people. Even after several
years of trying, the city of Ottawa transportation people would still come
up with construction that wasn't meeting the standards they should. They
weren't safe enough for the disabled.
So I think we all have to work at this. We all have to make a commitment.
It's a long-term commitment that will allow private enterprise to adjust. I
really look forward to getting on with the legislation, getting on with the
implementation and seeing Ontario get to where it should be, treating people
with disabilities with the respect they need so they can be full partners in
this great province of ours.
The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member from Halton.
Mr Chudleigh: I thank the member for St Catharines, who is lending his
support to my speaking this evening. I appreciate it. The member for St
Catharines is a great orator and I feel humbled that he's here to listen to
I would like to say at the outset that this is a good bill. It's one that I
look forward to supporting. I think most of the members of this House will
find some support for it. Of course, every piece of legislation that comes
to this House has -- excuse me. Were you --
Mr Chudleigh: Oh, I'm sorry, I thought the Speaker was speaking to me.
The Acting Speaker: No, I'm just adjusting the time. I want to make sure we
hear you for the full period.
Mr O'Toole: Can he split his time?
Mr Chudleigh: Yes, I may be splitting my time, Mr Speaker.
Mr Marchese: Splitting your time? Don't split your time; don't give anything
Mr Chudleigh: I'm getting all kinds of advice here. I'm glad we're in prime
time. I suspect our ratings are a little low right now on the TV, but I am
sure there is a large contingency of Ontarians who are very interested in
this bill and are listening to it.
I would say that no matter what bill is presented in this House from time to
time, there are always varying viewpoints. With 103 members in this House,
and three parties, there are certainly three different viewpoints for sure.
In most legislation that carries interest to all 103 members, there will be
103 different viewpoints. We all express those viewpoints in different ways.
The government will express their viewpoints in caucus, I'm sure, strongly
and forcefully. Even if that viewpoint isn't carried through into the House,
it is expressed in caucus.
It's been disappointing in this session of the Legislature that the
government has not taken its time in speaking out on issues in the House. By
and large, the last session, the government had 20 minutes to speak, and
they filled a little over 10 minutes of that. Throughout this session, there
have been very few points in time when the government has spoken the full
amount of time. I know as new members just completing their first year, many
of the members on the opposite side of the House look forward to standing up
and debating the issues in front of the Legislature, and yet they are not
fulfilling their time. It's a strange tactic.
I can remember as a new member it was exciting to stand in this hallowed
hall, a gorgeous hall, with the wood carvings and the tradition that takes
place in this building, something that conjures up respect just walking in
the doors. There's a tremendous amount of awe inspired, especially in that
first year. It's a wonderful thing when you stand up for your maiden speech
and talk for the first time in this House, and it's infectious. You want to
continue to do that as often as possible in the future.
If I express some concerns about this bill, I do it from that point of view,
that the act itself is a good one and I hope it will go forward. There is no
act that ever comes before the House that can't be improved, and from time
to time, as bills are reviewed, as bills are opened up, every five years,
every 10 years and additions are made, amendments are made, those bills get
improved. There is nothing that can't be improved, and this bill is no
exception to that.
It's interesting that the purpose of this act is to develop, implement and
enforce accessibility standards "in order to achieve accessibility for
Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities,
occupancy accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on
or before January 1, 2025."
The bill requires the minister to establish a process for the development of
accessibility standards, which includes the establishment of several
standards development committees. Basically, this bill is going to allow the
government to create a number of committees that are going to look at
setting standards for accessibility in Ontario. It's a promise; a promise
made, of course, is a debt unpaid. I'm sure this government will -- well,
there's a good chance this government will fulfill that promise, and they
will be setting up these committees. Of course, committees cost money. The
government will have to expend a fair amount of money setting up committees.
These committees will be set up all across Ontario; there will be a large
number of committees, I would expect. They will attract people who are going
to talk about various aspects of these committees for some time. There will
be a lot of money that is involved with the creation of these committees and
the per diems that will be involved with them, and since all of the
regulations are not going to be enacted for up to 25 years, these committees
will operate for a long period of time.
It disturbs me that there is nothing in this legislation that talks about
the financing, about who is going to pay for the accessibility to private
buildings or commercial buildings or industrial areas or public buildings
that are owned by municipalities. There is nothing in the bill that says who
is going to pay for that. In fact, there is going to be far more money spent
on committees and per diems than on the actual construction of these
facilities. And that is disappointing, because these committees are going to
go on for 20, 25 years.
Hon Mrs Bountrogianni: I wish. I wish it was that cheap.
Mr Chudleigh: The minister says, "No, no, that is not right," and I have no
doubt the minister believes that. She is an honest person, and an honourable
person, as we all are in this House, the minister being particularly
honourable. I know she believes that, but when you look at the activities
outlined in this bill, I don't see how you can avoid spending huge amounts
of money over 25 years on committees and then leave finance out of the bill
entirely, so that if you have three steps in front of your store, you are
going to have a build a ramp and make everything in your store accessible to
people with disabilities.
That's all well and good. A strong, rich province like Ontario should have
that regulation. But I am not sure that the independent retailer should be
paying for it. I think if society wants something to happen, society should
pay for it through its government. That's one of the things that disturbs me
about this bill. Municipalities, for instance, might have to pay for their
own accessibility. That is kind of like a download. As the member for
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound talked about, all governments download. Certainly our
government got a lot of criticism for downloading.
There was an announcement the other day of 1,000 new police officers for
Ontario -- I see the Solicitor General sitting on the other side of the
House -- but there was not an accompanying announcement of funds to pay for
it or to help pay for it. That would be a type of downloading on to the
municipal police forces. That, I'm sure, was disappointing to the
municipalities in Ontario.
One of the concerns that we have on this bill is the 20-year phase-in period
with standards each and every five years. As we know in Ontario, there are
probably going to be five different governments in place. They may be of the
same party, they may be of different parties, but they will all have a kick
at the cat, as is it were, as these regulations are phased in. So the
consistency of that phase-in is a weakness in this bill.
If the bill were stronger in the time frame of how that phase-in process is
going to work, it would give less flexibility to future governments to
tinker with it, and that would be a good thing. Allowing the flexibility for
future governments to tinker would also slow down the process of phasing in
these regulations. Even though it is a long way out, I don't find the
timeline as difficult to deal with as I do the lack of specifics in the bill
to ensure that timeline is not only met, but not changed or tinkered with
too much, because all that tinkering will slow it down. The fact there is no
money to go with it is also a huge concern.
The bill talks about the accessibility standards "that will identify the
class of persons or organizations to which it applies. The standard will
require those persons and organizations to implement measures, policies or
practices or do such things as are specified in the standard in order to
identify and remove, and prevent the erection of barriers for persons with
disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment,
accommodation, buildings, structures or premises."
These are the kinds of things these committees are going to look at. If you
can read that government doublespeak, as it were, all the things that the
committees are going to look at, you can imagine how a committee is going to
deal with all of those things. It's going to take a long time. It's going to
be bogged down, and all of those people on those committees are going to
have different viewpoints on how best to deal with those areas.
The bill will also require "the minister to establish a process for the
development of accessibility standards, which shall include the
establishment of several standards development committees." Well, here are
some more committees that are going to cost money -- money that isn't going
to be available for the construction of a barrier-free society, but money
nonetheless that is going to flow into the process.
"Accessibility reports are required to be filed by persons or organizations
to which an accessibility standard applies with a director for his or her
review." Again, there are going to be people in charge of doing this and
that, there's going to be a lot of paperwork shuffled around, but there's
not going to be any money for making a barrier-free Ontario for disabled
people. That's too bad.
There's also part VII of the bill, which I found interesting. It "requires
municipalities of at least 10,000 inhabitants to establish or continue an
accessibility advisory committee in accordance with section 29." I didn't
understand why that population level of 10,000 was established. I'm sure
there are disabled people in every community of every size in Ontario, and I
should think that each and every one of those communities should be
available for it. Will this bill only apply to communities of 10,000
inhabitants or more, or is it something that is going to apply to each and
every Ontarian across the province of Ontario, as it should? That's an
important question that perhaps should be answered by the government.
There are a number of people who have given quotes as to their approach to
this bill. One of them is Patricia Copeland from Barrie. She says: "The
current provincial government has not defined who will pay the cost of
retrofitting public facilities. There is no set criteria needed for private
sector incentive programs to help private property owners retrofit existing
"In fact, there is no financial plan for this 20-year, phased-in policy
proposal currently before our provincial elected representatives for debate.
Using tax money to ensure that all citizens have full access to public and
private properties is money well spent, but municipal governments are seeing
local tax increases climb every year because of provincial downloading."
I agree with Ms Copeland that there is no money in this bill to create this
barrier-free access, and that's too bad.
She goes on to say: "In fact, I find it amazing how often government tries
to play the game of `everything that is old is new again' with
policy-making. The Liberals are using tested product marketing techniques to
sell us all on their version of Bill 125. It reminds me of the original Coke
being upstaged by the new Coke. Frankly, when you cut through the
advertising hype, it was still just Coke to most of us." Perhaps that's what
this bill is too: It's just Coke.
Mr Chudleigh: Yes. I too hope there's not; I hope that there's genuine
progress on this so that the handicapped in this province can move forward.
One of the things that will make this bill successful as it moves forward,
is if the economy of this province continues to be strong. Third World
countries don't have the luxury of debating these kinds of regulations, and
if they do, they certainly don't have the luxury of enforcing them, as
Ontario does, as a strong economy. As we move forward with a strong Ontario
economy, that will allow us the luxury of affording to do some of these
things that any just society in this world should do for its citizens,
particularly its most vulnerable citizens.
Building that strong economy is so important in today's world, especially
now that our Canadian dollar is escalating. It's coming close to its more
traditional level of 85 cents. There are suggestions that the Canadian
dollar may be at par in a year and a half or two years, especially as the
Americans continue to try to devalue their dollar. There are economists who
suggest that the American dollar has to devaluate by about 20% in order to
maintain the American economy. Even though they are in tremendous deficit,
their deficit and debt, of course, are still rather modest compared to their
GDP. But if the Canadian dollar continues to escalate, it is essential that
we position our economy and our business environment to withstand that kind
of increase with our major trading partner. I think something in the order
of 30% to 35% of our gross domestic product is due to exports to the United
States, and even a small decline in those exports creates a huge problem in
As we move forward in the next year or two or three, we're going to find,
with a rising Canadian dollar, more and more pressure being put on our
export sales. That could put our economy into a very difficult situation,
perhaps even more in Ontario than in the rest of Canada, because our auto
industry is very dependent on what happens in our export markets. That can
be a very important thing.
I would suggest to you that if our economy tends to weaken, which I believe
it will, especially with some of the policies we've seen being put in place
that are not business friendly, unfortunately, bills like this, which don't
have any money attached to them, will not be able to find that money as our
budget process tightens in the years to come. That's why I would like to see
something, certainly in regulation if not in the bill itself, that commits
the government financially to ensure that these things happen.
There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star on October 13, 2004, by
Richard Brennan, who talked about how "Tougher standards will ensure Ontario
will be barrier-free for disabled persons in 20 years, Premier Dalton
McGuinty said yesterday before legislation on accessibility was introduced
at Queen's Park....
"The new standards forcing construction of such things as wheelchair ramps
will be phased in after consultations with businesses and the disabled."
That may take some time. The economic decline of Ontario may be already
happening by the time that happens.
The minister who introduced the legislation has said there will be tough
penalties and fines. I mentioned that there is no mention of finances in the
bill. Perhaps I was not correct in that, because there is mention of
finances. There are $50,000 fines for individuals and $100,000 fines for
corporations. Maybe some of that money should be redirected to help people
construct those ramps and other accessibilities -- elevators and such. It's
an important part of the act, and one that I would certainly like to see.
I think it is a very important piece of legislation. A lot of work was done
by the member from Burlington in the past, and he certainly deserves a lot
of credit for this, as does the minister for bringing forward an excellent
piece of legislation. With a few adjustments, I think this could be an even
better piece of legislation.
The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member from Trinity-Spadina.
Mr Marchese: I just want to say to the people watching that it's 9:08. I
didn't say before, "Welcome to this political channel," and I wanted to tell
you now. We're still on live. We've got another 20 minutes, so don't go
I want to say, so as not to be misunderstood, that New Democrats will
support this bill. But I do want to qualify, so people understand, that it's
not because Bill 118 is a radical or revolutionary bill but because it is an
evolutionary step in the right direction, so it's really hard to oppose it.
It really is hard. Listening to what the member for Halton said is very
revealing, because if he can support it and Conservatives support it, with
some mild criticism of it, this is really taking baby steps.
Remember, the Conservative Party is the voice of business, the instrument of
business. We haven't heard one Conservative member say, "This bill is really
a worrisome one for business. They really don't like it. They've got
problems with it." They haven't said that, which is a further indication
that the bill is harmless. In fact, the member from Halton said it doesn't
go far enough, which is what New Democrats are saying. Imagine Tories saying
the bill doesn't go far enough. If even they can say that, this bill,
indeed, is hardly revolutionary, hardly bold, hardly ambitious, but a very
modest step in that direction. So how could you oppose it, I suppose.
Mr Khalil Ramal (London-Fanshawe): I'm honoured and glad, as we go toward
closing this session, that the opposition is moving slowly toward
supporting -- fully -- our bill.
Mr Marchese: Because it's a bold bill.
Mr Ramal: It's a bold bill. But still, I'm upset about the position of the
leader of the third party and the member from Trinity-Spadina not
considering this bill an historic step toward eliminating the problems
facing people with disabilities in this province.
Mr Marchese: You're sad that we don't consider it historic.
Mr Ramal: I'm sad. Before we finish tonight, you should stand in your place,
if you get a chance, and apologize to the ODA committee for your position.
Mr Marchese: I'm going to do my best.
Mr Ramal: I hope so.
Anyway, to go back, I was listening carefully to the member from Burlington,
who was a minister of the crown at the time and introduced the ODA Act,
2001. I agree with him: It was a good step back then, and it was courageous.
Mr Marchese: Courageous?
Mr Ramal: Well, back then, because that minister worked hard on it. He
worked against the direction of his government, which didn't believe in
disabled people as they exist in this province. That's why I consider it an
historic step back then.
But that bill had no teeth. That's why our minister and her team worked hard
to bring in the AODA Act, 2004, to put teeth in it, to put in regulations
and rules to implement it and a mechanism to enforce it.
Mr Ramal: I guess the third party is not taking this issue seriously in this
place, as we are working hard to work with the disabled community, the
disabled people in this province, to implement and propose a strong bill.
Hopefully, they'll believe in it and support us.
Mr Tim Hudak (Erie-Lincoln): I'm pleased to comment on my colleague the
member for Halton's remarks on Bill 118. I enjoyed the one-hour presentation
as well by my colleague the member from Burlington, who certainly has done a
great deal of research over many years on this particular file.
I'm very pleased that the minister is here listening to debate this evening.
I wish the same could be said for the Minister of Municipal Affairs in this
afternoon's session, when I was responding to Bill 26. But unfortunately, I
did not have the same courtesy the minister is giving us tonight, which we
appreciate. The same courtesy was not given by the Minister of Municipal
Affairs this afternoon, which is regrettable. The same courtesy was not
given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs this afternoon, which is
I also remember, when I was responding to first reading of Bill 135, the
minister walked out of the House during my remarks. Maybe he's not
interested in what opposition members have to say about the legislation. But
I do know the minister representing the Hamilton area is here this evening,
which we greatly appreciate.
I always enjoy the member for Halton, who speaks with great experience both
from the business and the community involvement side. You could hear that in
his remarks. He waxed somewhat nostalgic about our time back in 1995, when
we had a chance to speak for the first time in the House.
I do find it passing strange that a lot of my colleagues who have been
elected for the first time, who seem like very nice folks, rarely, if ever,
use up the time they've been allotted, while we on this side find ourselves
constrained. We have more to add to these bills and more suggestions. It's
very rare that you find a Dalton McGuinty Liberal who's willing to take the
total time that he or she is allowed. Maybe we'll have some sort of
incentive program or maybe some sort of group approach, where we'll
encourage them. When they hit that 10-minute mark --
Mr Jim Brownell (Stormont-Dundas-Charlottenburgh): Quality over quantity.
Mr Hudak: Well, I don't know about the quality either, but I'll get to that
in another two-minute hit.
Maybe we'll have some sort of program or reward system when they fully reach
their 20 minutes.
Mr Jeff Leal (Peterborough): It's a delight for me to take the opportunity
to talk about Bill 118. We have a long history in the city of Peterborough
of supporting people with disabilities. I see my friend from Burlington is
here. I think he would remember meeting with councillor Lois Hart Maxwell
when he was doing a tour of Peterborough.
I'll give you some history. Lois and I were elected in the same election in
1985, and she became a member of Peterborough city council representing the
Northcrest ward. I know Lois likes to watch the proceedings of the
Legislature, so she may be tuned in this evening at precisely 9:15.
But to give a bit of history about Lois Hart Maxwell, she was an individual
who had suffered from polio and had a disability as a result of polio. She
became very interested in wanting to bring about changes for the disabled
community in the city of Peterborough, so much so that she stood as a
candidate in the 1985 municipal election in Peterborough, and she got
elected. One of the first things Lois Hart Maxwell set about doing at
council after 1985, along with Mayor Sylvia Sutherland, who is still the
mayor -- she showed dynamic leadership during the flood of July 15, 2004 --
and the rest of council at that time, was to set up one of the first
councils for disabled people in the city of Peterborough.
One of the reasons that was so significant was we actually allocated a
budget for the council for disabled people in Peterborough. Through that
process, they went through the community and identified public buildings
within the city that were not accessible at that time for many citizens in
our community. So through Lois's activity and setting aside dedicated money
for the disabled --
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Response?
Mr Chudleigh: I'd like to thank the members from Trinity-Spadina,
Peterborough, Erie-Lincoln, and Etobicoke North for their kind comments --
Mr Chudleigh: And the member from Kitchener, too?
Mr Martiniuk: London.
Mr Chudleigh: London. I would like to thank all the members who made kind
comments about my --
Interjection: Mazzilli's riding.
Mr Chudleigh: Yes. I don't know if the government knows this, but we always
refer to you as the Conservative member whom you defeated. That's your
nickname, in case you didn't know. But I would like to --
Hon Mrs Bountrogianni: Trevor Pettit.
Mr Chudleigh: Trevor Pettit, yes. No, we don't refer to you as Trevor. The
minister is not referred to as Trevor.
But thank you very much for your comments, and I appreciate the time this
bill has had in this Legislature. It's interesting that there's an awful lot
of support in this Legislature for this piece of legislation. It could
become a bill that is truly a bill of this House if, after second reading,
it goes into committee and it has hearings -- I'm sure we'll have hearings
around Ontario; I believe they're slated -- and then we will have the
amendments that come before the committee and the final reading. I'm sure
there's an opportunity in there to make this truly a non-partisan bill if
the government will listen to a few amendments that I think perhaps could
make this bill an even stronger piece of legislation.
With that thought, I look forward to the hearings. I look forward to the
participation of the disabled communities and the communities that will be
affected by this legislation, as we move forward with this bill.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The Chair recognize the member from --
let's see here.
Mr Brownell: Stormont-Dundas-Charlottenburgh.
The Acting Speaker: Yes, Stormont-Dundas-Charlottenburgh. Sorry about that.
Mr Brownell: Yes, eastern Ontario. It is a delight tonight to have the
opportunity to stand in the House to speak on the second reading of Bill
118. I was not here the other day when Dr Bountrogianni and the member from
London-Fanshawe, the parliamentary assistant, got up to speak. But they did
a wonderful job here in the House to set the stage for what this bill is all
about. I did have the opportunity of watching it on television. I have
constituents who watched it on television. My mother, who is disabled, has
had a hip and a knee replaced, walks with a cane and struggles to get up the
steps, struggles to get around. I know that she watched, and I know that she
appreciated the words from these two people.
I know that she would be very proud of me standing here tonight, speaking in
support of this bill, saying it is important for Ontario.
Mr Leal: She's a great lady, Mrs Brownell.
Mr Brownell: You bet you. Having raised 12 kids, of course.
Mr Brownell: Right. I also speak here tonight of a few other situations that
I have seen. I did see the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional
Services in his struggle here in the House. This is what it's all about. He
walked those steps, and understood where the disabled were in this province.
I look at the letter that I received not long ago from Nancy in my riding. I
hope Nancy is watching tonight. I know my mother is watching, so mother can
bring back word to Nancy. Nancy wrote to me not long ago about a new
doughnut shop built in my city. I think we probably have more doughnut shops
than any other city in Ontario and Canada. Anyway, Nancy wrote to me about a
brand new doughnut shop built in the city of Cornwall. She said, in her
letter to me, "This is a brand new facility. Why are there not the
capabilities built into the structure for those who are disabled in this day
and age?" She's absolutely right. In this day and age, today, we should have
all those accessibility issues built into the construction. That is in some
of the notes I prepared as I had hoped to get a chance to get up here and
speak about what Nancy wrote about. Those are the things we have to tackle
within the next few years.
I heard a comment in here tonight that it's going to take many years. This
is going to unfold in such a way that we will see Ontario totally
barrier-free for those who are disabled. I look forward to the day when
Nancy and all those others who struggle with their disabilities -- and I
want to speak for Nancy also, because I remember when I was a young fellow
trying to earn some money, I babysat at her house. I babysat Nancy and her
brother, who was disabled. I remember the struggles that Brian had in life
as his parents tried to overcome the barriers that were there. I know they
would be very proud tonight that I'm taking a few minutes of time here to
say that, in my constituency, I have listened. I have understood that it's
the same across the province. We've all received these messages. I'm sure
that in Peterborough you've received these messages; I'm sure that in
Hamilton you've received these messages --
Mr Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest): Scarborough.
Mr Brownell: -- in Scarborough you've received messages that there are these
barriers that have to be overcome for the disabled.
I do know that we have a strong tradition in Ontario of fairness for all,
and fairness for the disabled is high on our list because they have been
struggling for so long to have what the abled have here in our province, and
that is accessibility to our restaurants, accessibility to our museum sites.
I look at museum sites: I gave up a presidency of 11 years with the Lost
Villages Historical Society, where we developed a museum. I think they have
about 11 historic buildings at that site. Those dedicated volunteers are
working now to make all those historic structures barrier-free, so that
everyone can come to the Lost Villages Historical Society museum site and
travel into all the buildings and enjoy the history and heritage. I had to
bring that up because I'm totally committed to history and heritage in the
But those sites have been hidden from opportunity for those who are
disabled. It's time to unlock and open up and allow for every Ontarian to
have those rights. I think that just follows on the human rights that we
have been championing in Canada for so long. Certainly, with our Ontario
Human Rights Commission and our codes and whatnot, we really value the
disabled. I think with this legislation -- and it's wonderful to hear in the
House that, although the opposition members have said there are perhaps some
flaws, they're going to support it. But it's wonderful that they will stand
in the House and commit. Because we have to. It's time long passed for those
elected to Parliament and those who stand in this House to say, "Yes, we're
in it for all Ontarians."
We've learned a lot from other jurisdictions. We've learned from the States,
from the United Kingdom, from Australia. But do you want to know what? We
are building on what we've had here in the past. We can go to these
countries and learn, but we've already had acts in the past. We want to
build on them; we want to make them stronger. I think this is exactly what
the minister has introduced here in the House with Bill 118: giving more
opportunity, more value to what this is all about in Ontario, to all
My good friend from Ottawa-Orléans talked about Charles Matthews being a
champion for the rights of the disabled in Ottawa. Just about a month and a
half ago, I had dialogues on my BlackBerry with Charles Matthews. I had
never met him before, but I had somebody in my riding who really needed some
help, and he championed and has continued to help out this individual. It
was just a few weeks ago that I made a special trip back to Ottawa to city
hall, where I met Charles Matthews. The information I learned from Charles
Matthews -- unbelievable. He indicated at that time the barriers that were
I went back to Ottawa when the member from Ottawa-Orléans hosted Dr
Bountrogianni in his riding not long ago. It was wonderful to have the
expertise, the knowledge and the words that were expressed by Dr
Bountrogianni that day at that meeting. It was wonderful, and I know how
much it meant to people like Charles Matthews and those others who were
there in chairs and those others who continue to champion that cause. This
is going to mean a whole lot to those individuals. I just had to mention Mr
Matthews. I know that my good friend from Ottawa-Orléans has had a long
association with him through his work at city hall in Ottawa. He is doing
remarkable work, as are other members from my riding, for the disabled.
I'm delighted to have had this opportunity. I think it's just about that
time. Thank you very much.
The Acting Speaker: That's a very astute observation. It being almost 9:30
pm, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 pm tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 2130.
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