ODA Committee Update
dated Nov. 27, 2004
posted Nov. 29, 2004
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE UPDATE
Text Of Third Day Of Second Reading Debate On Bill 118 Now Available
November 27, 2004
Below please find the text of the third and final day of Second Reading debate on Bill 118, the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. (about 40 pages) This debate was held on the evening of Thursday November 25, 2004.
From the comments of the Conservative MPPs, it appears likely that most if
not all of them will vote in favour of this bill at Second Reading. The NDP
is already on record as planning to vote for this bill. Both opposition
parties have also indicated various concerns that they have about the bill,
and plan to put amendments forward once this bill is brought before a
Standing Committee of the Legislature for hearings.
On agreement of all political parties, the actual vote on Second Reading
(i.e. approval of the bill in principle) was deferred to Thursday, December
2, 2004. On that date, at some point between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., this bill
will be called for animmediate vote on Second Reading. That date is
significant because it comes just before Friday December 3, the
International Day of the Disabled Person. We are told that around the same
time as the Second Reading vote, there will be some short statements from
each political party in the Legislature concerning the International Day of
the Disabled Person.
As previously announced, let us know if you plan to come to the Legislature
between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 2, 2004 to watch Bill
118 reach this important stage in the legislative process. ASL, captioning
and attendant care will be provided in Room 163 at the Legislature. Notify
us at the email address below. If not, you can catch the proceedings on your
local cable company's Ontario Legislature channel.
You will find that among the speeches on this third day of Second Reading
debate, several proposals are made regarding possible amendments to Bill
118. You may wish to take these into account in developing your own ideas
for possible amendments.
Some of the comments during these debates suggest that public hearings on
Bill 118 may occur some time in January, 2005. We encourage everyone to
start turning their thoughts to presentations to make to the Legislature's
Standing Committee. We will announce any details about those hearings, and
about how to take part in them, as we acquire that information.
Send your feedback and ideas for amendments to:
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
Thursday 25 November 2004 Jeudi 25 novembre 2004
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH
DISABILITIES ACT, 2004 /
LOI DE 2004 SUR L'ACCESSIBILITÉ
POUR LES PERSONNES HANDICAPÉES
The House met at 1845.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH
DISABILITIES ACT, 2004 /
LOI DE 2004 SUR L'ACCESSIBILITÉ
POUR LES PERSONNES HANDICAPÉES
Resuming the debate adjourned on November 22, 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.
Hon David Caplan (Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal): On a point of
order, Mr Speaker: I seek unanimous consent that, should there be a recorded
division required for 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, it
be deferred until Thursday, December 2, 2004, at the time for deferred
The Acting Speaker (Mr Joseph N. Tascona): Is there unanimous consent? It's
Mr Frank Klees (Oak Ridges): I'm pleased to participate in this debate. I
would like to start out by giving a great deal of credit to our colleague
the member from Burlington, Cam Jackson, who as minister responsible in the
previous government took the initiative with regard to the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, 2001. I know that those members who were here at the time
and participated, first of all, in the development of that bill and its
subsequent passage will recall the extensive consultation that took place
around that bill, and also took a great deal of pride in the fact that the
bill was ultimately passed in this Legislature.
I would also say that we take a great deal of pride, I'm sure members of all
parties, in the fact that over the course of some eight years, while the
previous government had the responsibility to deal with issues relating to
disabilities and services available to Ontarians with disabilities, there
was an investment of some $6 billion over that period of time. That is
unmatched in terms of the kind of commitment any government in this province
has made to the disabled.
I want to say, first of all, where I have concerns about this revised
version of the act because essentially, and I think all members of the House
will admit, what this is in large part is the previous bill with some
nuances, some changes, made to it. But at the end of the day, what I am
concerned about is that essentially what this government has now done is to
entrench in this legislation the reality that members of the disabled
community within Ontario really can't count on anything substantive being
done in the near future. Essentially, what this bill is doing is potentially
disenfranchising an entire generation of disabled persons in this province.
They talk about the implementation to take place over two decades plus. What
hope does that leave for individuals in our province who have accessibility
issues to deal with today and tomorrow?
From that standpoint I am disappointed, this coming from a government that
purported to make substantial strides forward on behalf of the disabled in
this province, and once again they failed to do so, but that is something
we've come to expect from a Dalton McGuinty-led government. The Liberal way
seems to be to call a press conference, have a photo op, make the
announcements and hope that people don't read the fine print, hope that
people don't look beyond the 6 o'clock news, hope that people, at the end of
the day, will look beyond the fact that there is little substance, if any,
to the legislation they're proposing and that somehow all will be well in
Ontario. We know that's not the case. From that standpoint, I simply say I'm
disappointed in what is not in this bill.
Mr Klees: What is here? The member opposite, the Minister of Public
Infrastructure Renewal, is barking across the way, suggesting I vote against
it. No, Minister, I won't vote against this. I believe we should be doing
what we can, as a government, for the disabled in our province. So I will be
voting for it, contrary to your encouragement not to.
I don't think this is legislation that we should exercise sarcasm over. I
really don't think it's something that would call for making light of the
subject of debate. I'm trying to be very straightforward. I'm trying to be
very sincere about what I believe we as legislators should be doing, what
this government could have done and what it failed to do, quite frankly. But
with the steps this government has taken I'm prepared to, certainly, and I
will, vote in favour of this bill.
What is missing as well is the fact that there is no intervener funding
included in this legislation. Why is that important? It's important because,
as we move into setting the regulations that will actually allow the
implementation of the intent of this bill, at that stage it's incredibly
important that those individuals, who know the issues, who know what the
details of those regulations should contain, have the ability to come
forward and advocate on behalf of their community. I shouldn't say "all,"
but certainly most in our province, I think you'll agree, who already have
the handicap of a disability don't have the financial wherewithal to do the
research and prepare the presentations. So there should be financial support
for these individuals or organizations to organize and prepare the research
that needs to be done to ensure that the regulations that are implemented
will in fact achieve the intended goal.
This government chose not to include that, despite encouragement from the
disabled community, from organizations across this province, from the
official opposition and from members of the third party as well. That brings
into question the degree to which this government is committed to the cause
and intent of this bill. Surely it's organizations that represent the
disabled community who should be empowered to participate as partners in the
ultimate implementation of this legislation, but it does not exist.
What else is disappointing is what's happening in parallel to this
legislation. It's one thing for a government to bring forward legislation
and, as I said before, have the press conference, the grand announcement,
and make statements within the Legislature, but then there is the practical
demonstration of where the heart of this government really is. To that, we
have to look at what this government has done in its budgets and where the
delivery is on the part of this government with regard to the promises they
made to these communities before they were the government. Here we have a
government that made very loud promises to increase the benefits of the
Ontario disability support plan.
Hon Mr Caplan: And we did.
Mr Klees: The minister of infrastructure sits in his place to say, "And we
did." Three per cent. That is not what the community expected. It is not
what you promised. Once again, we have a government that on the one hand is
very good, very effective, at doing the photo op and making the
announcements, and when it comes to delivering in a practical way, they are
left wanting. So Premier McGuilty stands in his place once again speechless,
because he is accused of not keeping his promises and he has no defence.
With regard to this bill, again, I'm pleased to support it. I will support
it. I want to point out as well that we are hopeful, as the official
opposition, that after this bill is in fact implemented, at least when it
comes to the regulations, this government will be willing to work not only
with members of the opposition in this House but also with members from the
community to ensure that we have legislation and regulations that will truly
benefit the people of Ontario.
It's interesting to note that about 80% of Bill 125, as I was saying
earlier, is in fact retained in this legislation. That's the legislation
that the previous government brought forward. What is happening here is that
there is a dismantling taking place of the old legislation. What's
fascinating is that for the first time in my time in this building, I see a
government saying they're going to repeal a bill, but then they really don't
repeal it. Once again, it goes to the issue of what it is that this
government is really trying to do. If they wanted to repeal the bill, they
should have repealed the bill and truly come forward with their own
legislation that does what they promised to do, but that's not what we have
It will come as no surprise to members of the government benches here that
the official opposition will support this bill, because essentially it
really is our bill, except for those areas that you've watered down and
you've thrust into the future so you don't have to deal with the cost of
implementing the substantive aspects of the bill.
I just want to refer to some of the comments that were made by individuals.
Mr Speaker, you will know Patricia Copeland, who, in an article that
appeared in the Barrie Advance, made a specific comment that underscores
what I am saying here. She says, "The Liberals are using tested product
marketing techniques to sell us all on their version of Bill 125."
She goes on to say, "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."
How many hours of debate have there been on this bill? Some eight hours of
debate, I believe, if not more than that, and yet it's a great deal of
staging on the part of this government, very little substance. Isn't it
unfortunate, the hours that have been taken in this place to simply allow
this government to put their branding on a piece of legislation that the
previous government had already put in place? Rather than put resources to
the existing legislation to ensure that it's implemented and to ensure that
the people of this province can truly benefit from it, they chose to go
through this smoke-and-mirrors exercise that really does nothing but defer
into the future the benefits that should be realized in the near future.
I want to just read this to you because, again, I think it goes to the heart
of what I am saying: "The original Bill 125 ... received royal assent on
Dec. 14, 2001. It was created with a great deal of public input from
municipal officials, interest groups and citizens. It was a major step
forward to aid the physically challenged in our province.
"The resulting legislation provided a tool for local governments called,
`The Guide to a Municipal Accessibility Plan.' Bill 125 was `to improve
opportunities for persons with disabilities through identification, removal
and prevention of barriers to participation in the life of the province.'"
We have representatives here in this House who were part of municipal
governments, and they know full well what the intention of this legislation
was. The fact that now we're back here in the Legislature in the process of
passing another piece of legislation to repeal legislation that was based on
a great deal of consultation, a great deal of input, from people across this
province just leaves most of us, I'd suggest, and most of the disabled
community wondering what this government is really up to.
You had an opportunity to improve and to put some substance into practice in
this province that would truly benefit the disabled in Ontario. What you
have effectively done is simply, as Ms Copeland mentioned, tried a
rebranding exercise that leaves people in this province wondering when, if
ever, they will truly see results in terms of improving accessibility in
I say to you, shame on the government for allowing people to go through
another exercise that leaves them no further ahead than they were before
this exercise began. Why would this government not demonstrate, not through
new legislation but through their budget, by allocating funding, allocating
resources to the disabled community to truly help them in a practical way?
That is the message the disabled community wanted from you, not more
legislation that contains no regulation, that leaves everyone wondering what
your real intentions will be.
As the official opposition, our role will be to work with members of the
disabled community, to hold the government's feet to the fire and ensure
that it takes on its responsibility and fundS the necessary programs to
ensure accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities in this province.
The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?
Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): New Democrats will be participating in
this debate this evening. Andrea Horwath, the member from Hamilton East,
will be speaking to this bill. I will be speaking to this bill before the
evening's over. We have concerns about the legislation; you know that. We
have concerns about the fact that these 20-minute speaking slots -- I
suppose it's one minute for every year that folks might have to wait for the
standards to be enacted. I, for the life of me, cannot understand why far
shorter-term goals could not have been established for things which clearly
could have been achieved within that time frame.
We're also concerned, and we're going to speak to this, that giving access
to a building that is, let's say, a workplace is one thing, and it's
important; but we're concerned that the act does not make it perfectly clear
that "access" also means access to the job in that workplace, that access in
this legislation doesn't mean that there has to be an accommodation of
persons with disabilities because, surely, "access" means more than just
access to a building.
"Access" means access to the main stream of the economic activity in our
province. "Access" means access to real jobs with real wages, to the
economy, to the social life, the political life of the province. In that
regard, I'm going to speak very briefly, when I get a chance, on how
Speakers and Legislatures use privilege to immunize themselves from
legislation like this. I'm concerned that that could happen here.
Mr Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest): In my short two minutes, I
want to reply to the statements made by the member from Oak Ridges.
First of all, I want to say in general that we are, as a government,
fulfilling a number of our promises. Shortly, I'd like to stand up here
during an opportunity and just list the number of promises we have
fulfilled. I'm getting sick and tired of hearing, "Broken promises." This is
another promise fulfilled. If you want to talk about broken promises, why
don't we look at the ODA, 2001, and what was stated there?
A few nights ago Mr Jackson, the member from Burlington, spoke on this
issue. He stated that "there are very rigid, prescriptive outcomes required"
in the ODA, 2001, the previous legislation, "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."
However, these are the facts: No regulations were ever passed under the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001. The ODA, 2001, does not require that
all Ontario government programs, buildings and services must be fully
accessible within 10 years. There are no such timelines in the ODA. So it's
quite interesting to see members stand up today and speak so highly of a
previous piece of legislation which did not contain regulations.
Furthermore -- in my very limited time -- Mr Jackson spoke about the fact
that municipalities have to be consulted on this.
We received a press release on October 12, 2004, from the Association of
Municipalities of Ontario, stating the following:
"We are pleased that the government has recognized a number of
recommendations made by AMO in the proposed changes to the ODA introduced
today.... Most importantly, providing municipalities the flexibility
required in the development, implementation and certification of standards
is welcomed, as is including the private sector in the responsibility of
making our communities barrier-free." This is quite positive and speaks
quite highly of what our government is trying to do.
I had to miss dinner to be here tonight. At home, my wife and my parents are
eating. I'm here, and I'm willing to stay as long as possible to deal with
whatever legislation so that we can fulfill all our promises that we intend
Mr Ted Arnott (Waterloo-Wellington): I'm very pleased to be here tonight as
well to discuss and debate Bill 118. I want to compliment the member for Oak
Ridges for his fine presentation tonight. He gave a superb speech, as he
always does, outlining his position on this particular bill, and he gave the
House an opportunity to consider and think about the steps that were taken
by the former government to assist people with disabilities. Certainly I
think there was progress made during the years 1995 to 2003.
I think the provincial government currently has moved forward in the last
year with this bill, and I would express my interest and willingness to
support it at third reading. But it's important that the government members
recognize that the opposition has an important role to play. Our role is to
point out the drawbacks and the deficiencies in this legislation, which we
will do, but certainly it is our intention to support it in the end.
The disabled community has to look at this legislation with, I suppose, some
degree of disappointment, looking at the fact that in some cases this will
be phased in over a 20-year period, which is a very long time. I wonder
where the government found the 20-year number. Did they pick it out of the
air, or was there some thoughtful consideration given to define the 20-year
figure? Certainly there is some need for co-operation with every one of our
communities to phase this in, but it is a long, long time for the disabled
community to wait for what I think we all would agree is treatment that they
I would just compliment and once again commend the member for Oak Ridges on
his speech tonight and his contribution to this debate. I look forward to
the remaining speeches tonight.
Ms Andrea Horwath (Hamilton East): It's my pleasure to get up and make some
comments on the debate thus far tonight. I have to say that there is
certainly an obvious desire for people on all sides of this Legislature to
deal with the important issues facing persons with disabilities in Ontario.
As usual, though, there's a bit of a time lag in terms of the promises that
were made by the government. I know one of the other commentators on the
member from Oak Ridges's debate was saying that it's a matter of a promise
kept. In fact, when you look at this particular piece of legislation, it's a
promise kept, flung far into the future, and that's a bit problematic.
There's nothing like today to get something done; procrastination is the
enemy of time, as we know. For people with disabilities, this bill is the
enemy of time. It's something that's not actually going to come into full
effect for a couple of decades from now, which means we're going to lose a
generation or so of opportunities to be doing what needs to be done to truly
and sincerely deal with barriers for people with disabilities. It's
interesting, because this particular issue, having come from the municipal
sector, has been on the agenda for quite some time. It's really unfortunate
that the first stab at it by the government is going to leave people waiting
for two decades before we have a barrier-free Ontario.
Certainly the goal is laudable. The perspective, the idea, the need to get
this done is something I agree with wholeheartedly. I just wish, quite
frankly, that the time frames were collapsed, that the real efforts were
made to get a barrier-free Ontario in a much shorter time frame, as opposed
to having people with disabilities still sitting at the back of the line,
waiting for us to recognize that they should be participating fully in all
aspects of our society.
The Acting Speaker: In response, the member from Oak Ridges.
Mr Klees: I want to thank the members from Hamilton East,
Waterloo-Wellington, Niagara Centre and Scarborough Southwest. I find it
interesting: There is obviously broad consensus in terms of the need that we
all feel to move forward with this legislation.
Those of us in opposition, and I'm sure that in their heart of hearts
members from the government benches also, would agree that there should be
substantive funding in place, and that the timeline for implementation
should in fact be much more immediate than this far-flung, 20-year time
frame this legislation contains.
I find the comments from the member for Scarborough Southwest really quite
intriguing when he has, frankly, the audacity to stand in his place to say
that he doesn't want to hear about broken promises. I don't blame him. I
would, quite frankly, be ashamed to face my constituents or anyone in the
province and to be identified with this government. There isn't anyone I
speak to who doesn't see this government as the government -- and that's
what it will be known as -- that has broken every promise it has made. With
regard to this, especially in the context of discussion of this legislation,
to have the audacity to stand in your place and say that you have kept your
promise -- my friend, surely you can't believe that. Surely you yourself
must also feel embarrassed that you are a representative of the McGuilty
government, guilty of breaking more promises than any government this --
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Further debate?
Mr Kormos: I'm pleased to speak, as a member of the New Democratic Party
caucus, to Bill 118 this evening. Andrea Horwath, my colleague from Hamilton
East, is going to be speaking to the bill later this evening.
This is the third day of second reading debate on this bill. I expect that
the bill will be put to a vote on second reading at the completion of this
evening's sessional day. New Democrats are eager to see the bill put out to
committee, and we believe that a broad and thorough consultation with
Ontarians and communities of Ontarians across this province is critical
during the course of public hearings. We expect that those public hearings
will take place during the so-called Christmas/winter break during the month
I also want to note that once again in the chamber is David Lepofsky. Those
folks who didn't know him before they were elected -- many did -- got to
know him real fast once they were elected, because Mr Lepofsky, whom I have
known for a number of years -- as a matter of fact, since a period in time
when he had hair and mine had colour -- has been a major and leading member
of the vanguard of activists of persons and for persons with disabilities in
this province. His intellectual capacity is beyond dispute, and his input
into this debate over what has been far too long a period of time has been
an incredibly valuable input. His guidance has similarly been extremely
important. While New Democrats are not at all pleased about the fact that
the bill still sets a time frame which is 20 years from now, we acknowledge
that we wouldn't even have this bill were it not for the tremendous
commitment, vigour, tenacity and doggedness of Mr Lepofsky, his colleagues,
and similar leaders in communities across this province, big city and small
In the two minutes that I had to address the comments made by Mr Klees, I
spoke about the obvious concern that New Democrats have, and that is that
the time frame is one 20 years hence. People have waited long enough, and
while it's not unreasonable to understand or to expect that certain
objectives may take longer than others, part and parcel of that observation
is the fact that some objectives can be established immediately, and the
absence of immediate goals or the very short-term goals is troublesome.
Mr Lepofsky tells me -- and I'm not telling stories out of school -- that
there will be a plethora of amendments offered up from the community out
there in an effort to improve on this bill. I have no doubt that's going to
be the case. Similarly, I have no doubt that people with a wide range of
backgrounds in various disciplines are going to be addressing this bill from
their particular area of experience or expertise.
While one understands why this government, or any government, is pleased to
congratulate itself for steps forward, I caution this government to be,
let's say, careful about self-congratulatory exercises when there is still
so much to be done, even once and should this bill pass -- and quite
frankly, I expect it will.
One of the concerns I have is that the bill so far, in its language, seems
very much to focus on this whole issue of physical access. As I said
earlier, access to a job doesn't mean a ramp to the front door of that
workplace; it means access to the job. It means being accommodated in that
workplace so that whatever the man or woman is doing, they are permitted to
do it. It means real jobs with real pay. Access to education doesn't just
mean barrier-free entrances to schools: elementary schools, high schools,
colleges and universities. It means the availability of the assists that are
necessary for any given person to be able to sit meaningfully in the
classroom -- or stand or lie.
And from time to time, yes, the cost of that access is considerable; more
often than not, it's marginal. But I'm concerned about a bill like this one,
Bill 118, that doesn't signal very clearly that the province is committed to
ensuring that the investments are made in those assists, many of them of
marginal cost -- from time to time, more than a few of them of significant
cost -- which would make the bill meaningful to each and every person in
this province with a disability who desires access to that workplace, to
Let's take a look at this government's attitude toward kids with autism. On
the basis, I put to you, very much of cost, this government here in
Ontario -- and I have no doubt that it takes some comfort from the recent
Supreme Court of Canada decision, although it should be cautious about
wrapping itself with that decision -- this province declines to treat
children once they reach the age of six. And cost is the factor; end of
story. Come on, the feeble argument advanced by the government in some of
the litigation that, "Oh, we're not sure if the treatment works for
kids," -- horse feathers. It's got nothing to do with it. It's the cost.
Like so many other members of this assembly, I have found myself advocating
for constituents with special needs, some with extraordinary needs, where
the issue has been the cost. People from the Welland District Association
for Community Living, who may have the chance to be watching the legislative
channel right now, know who some of those people are. We have found
ourselves frustrated, angered and dismayed at the government's ability and
willingness to create classes of deserving and undeserving persons with
disabilities based on the cost of providing the treatments, the assists or
the access to that person and his or her family.
The message has got to be clear in this legislation. It has to be clear. It
has to be legislated. Bill 118 has to very much contain within it language
that is tantamount to a declaration, a charter of rights for persons with
disabilities that ensures that no government -- this government or any
successor government -- can deny real access -- not a ramp up to the front
door; real access -- on the basis of cost or on the basis of numbers. It's
trite to observe that those persons who have extraordinary needs tend to be
fewer in numbers, and the corollary of the cost argument as well, that there
are only one or two or three persons in the province who have that level of
need, and we can't develop a whole program just for one, two or three --
horse feathers. You either believe in access or you don't, and it's got to
be access for all and it's got to be access to every facet.
This building alone, this home of Ontarians' Parliament, governance, is one
of the most bloody inaccessible buildings you could ever find, and continues
to be, notwithstanding all the fine speeches by government after government
That takes me to this: There has been an incredibly disturbing trend on the
part of our Parliaments to utilize privilege as a defence to the demands of
this type of legislation. At the federal level, you're well aware of the
litigation surrounding a former Speaker of the House, Liberal Gib Parent,
against whom a prima facie finding of discrimination was found with respect
to one of his employees. Former Speaker Gib Parent and the federal
Parliament are arguing privilege as a defence to the human rights claim,
saying that a Speaker, because of parliamentary privilege, is immune from
claims under the federal Human Rights Code.
Just this week, the Speaker of this Legislature, in a letter to members of
the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, who were participants in and
organizers of the homeless protest and demonstration that first assembled
overnight in front of city hall and then attempted to do the same --
peacefully assemble -- on the lawns of this assembly, argued that because of
privilege, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply to the Speaker
of the provincial Legislature or to the Ontario Parliament. That is a
shameful, disgraceful, odious, cowardly exploitation of the long-held
tradition of privilege.
I find it reprehensible that either the federal Parliament and its Speaker
would use privilege to defend itself against a claim of human rights
violations or that the provincial Liberal Speaker would similarly invoke
privilege to tell Ontarians that they can't assemble on the front lawn of
the Parliament of Ontario. And I say --
Mr Klees: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I must say that while I agree
with the sentiments of the member from Niagara, I do believe that it is very
much out of order, according to the rules of this place, to call into
question the acts of the Speaker in this place. And I think, in the interest
of protecting the rules here, that you should ask the member to withdraw
Hon Joseph Cordiano (Minister of Economic Development and Trade): On a point
of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to say that the member is completely out
of order to challenge the Speaker's rulings. There is no place in this
assembly for that challenge, and he knows that. He should know better than
to challenge the Speaker of this assembly. It's a great disrespect to this
assembly and all the members of this assembly for that member to challenge
the decisions made by the Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. I would ask the member to ensure that all
remarks are viewed through the Chair and that we remain with Bill 118 at
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Chair. To the Speaker, it is unconscionable that a
Parliament would claim privilege to defend itself from a human rights claim.
There is a trend across this country, and across Parliaments, to invoke
privilege as a defence to anything from the Human Rights Code to the Charter
of Rights and Freedoms. And this legislation, without a clear declaration of
Hon Mr Cordiano: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: The Minister of Economic Development and Trade, and I'd
ask the clock to be stopped.
Hon Mr Cordiano: Once again the member from Welland is showing great
disrespect to the people who are listening to this debate, who want you to
debate the Ontario disabilities act, and yet you're completely off topic,
challenging the Speaker's decisions. I think that's totally inappropriate
and disrespectful to all those people out there who would like this debate
to be focused on the Ontario disabilities act. And I don't know why you're
not doing that.
The Acting Speaker: I certainly heard the member speak about the
accessibility within this building and how the building is under the
direction of the Speaker. I would ensure that the member continues on to
speak on Bill 118. Thank you. Continue.
Mr Kormos: Well, thank you kindly, Speaker, and I appreciate the members
opposite trying to chastise or somehow guide me in the course of my
comments. They've been trying for 16 years. They're no more successful 16
years later than they were in year one.
Look, we've got Bill 118, which is as much a public relations exercise as
anything else. Without a clear declaration of rights of persons with
disabilities to the access provided for in this legislation, we risk
Parliaments, for instance, invoking privilege to exempt themselves from the
legislation. And this Parliament has not demonstrated itself particularly
eager to make this building accessible, never mind the political activity
We have communities being called upon, municipalities in excess of
populations of 10,000 people, to strike up these committees, to set
standards, but not a mention of investment in those communities to enable
them to make the new standards meaningful by way of implementation.
It goes back to the right of access, which is a right on paper only if there
isn't the investment made to guarantee and ensure that access. The right of
access to a municipal sidewalk is irrelevant unless that municipality has
the resources to make those sidewalks accessible, never mind the schools in
that municipality, never mind the workplaces in that municipality.
The retrofitting alone -- and as you know; you're here long enough, Speaker,
other members longer -- the availability of funding for anything from
elevators onward to any number of non-profit organizations, be it churches
and church halls or various social clubs in the community, has long, long
expired. This government has shown no interest whatsoever in creating de
This government very much wants, for persons with disabilities and their
friends and advocates across this province, to debate the standards that are
going to be established without offering up any assurance whatsoever. Oh,
there's the cowardly refrain of protest when I dare discuss the reluctance
of a Parliament to abide by the law and its eagerness to invoke privilege,
like Gibby Parent, the coward, did in Ottawa, and like the Speaker of this
chamber did when he sent a letter to people from the Toronto Disaster Relief
Committee telling them that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not apply
to the Speaker of the Parliament of Ontario.
Hon Mr Caplan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to quote you to
from standing order 13(a) and (b): "The Speaker shall preserve order and
decorum, and shall decide questions of privilege and points of order. In
making a decision on a question of privilege or point of order or explaining
a practice, the Speaker may state the applicable" ruling.
Under (b), it says no debate or appeal of the decision of the Speaker. It
says specifically, "No debate shall be permitted on any such decision, and
no such decision shall be subject to an appeal to the House."
The member has just done that, and repeatedly done that. Speaker, that is
completely contrary to the standing orders of this House. I would ask that
you call the member to order.
The Acting Speaker: Certainly we have heard the member's comments. He has
made a number of comments regarding Speakers' decisions that have been made
in this House. I believe at this time that we would ensure that the member
is speaking -- although I don't really think he was challenging the
Hon Mr Cordiano: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think I heard the member
clearly refer to the Speaker as cowardly, both the previous Speaker in
Ottawa -- a Speaker of a previous House of Commons -- and this current
Speaker as cowardly. I would check the record, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: The member clearly stated that it was not regarding a
Speaker of this House when that comment was made; it was about another
Parliament. I have no jurisdiction in another Parliament. So I think we will
continue on with the member's comments. Please --
The Acting Speaker: No; we will continue on. Please remain with Bill 118.
Mr Kormos: What's cowardly are these Liberal members who try to suppress any
meaningful debate around Bill 118. What's weaselly are these Liberal members
who want to curtail real debate around the ultimate responsibility of this
chamber. What's sleazy and slimy are members who stand up on spurious points
of order, spout their garbage and indeed want to suppress debate, quash
debate, and indeed don't like debate that doesn't please them. That's
sleazy, that's slimy, and their constituents are sorely disappointed. What
an incredible bit of cowardice from Liberal backbenchers.
The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?
Hon Mr Cordiano: Now you've heard that very clearly. He referred to members
of this chamber as sleazy and slimy, and that included everyone in this
chamber, including the Speaker. Therefore, I would say that I don't think
this member ought to be given his privilege to refer to members as sleazy
and slimy ever again, unless he first looks in the mirror and looks at
himself when he's saying those things.
The Acting Speaker: Order. We are now moving to questions and comments.
Mr Bob Delaney (Mississauga West): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Perhaps we can
have some meaningful debate. While my colleague from Oak Ridges was speaking
earlier, and I thank him for his support of the bill, I made a short phone
call to a very dear friend, Mr Chris Portelli, the regional representative
for the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee for the region of
Peel-Halton-Dufferin. Chris is watching tonight. Chris, I send you my
greetings from the seat in the Ontario Legislature that and you your family
so very much wanted to see me occupy. To Vince And Maria Portelli, I send
you my warmest and dearest regards.
Chris is disabled. He speaks from his wheelchair and needs some assistance
breathing as a result of his spinal injuries years ago. Here's what Chris
said to me just a few minutes ago: "We in the disabled community look
forward to working with this Ontario government to implement this new and
groundbreaking legislation that is long overdue."
Within the ODA, Chris's region of Peel-Halton-Dufferin is second only to
Toronto in size. He speaks for the disabled community with conviction and
from a broad base of support. Much of what I learned of the issues of those
with disabilities I learned from the forums sponsored by the ODA. I heard it
from the lips of those who live the life of the disabled.
Here's what those who cope with visible and hidden barriers have to say
about Bill 118. They say that the bill has teeth. Unlike its predecessor,
this government will actually pass regulations pursuant to this bill. We'll
make it work.
ODA has asked that the outcomes arising from the bill be clear and
prescriptive. In other words, the public and private sectors must do
something, and do specific things to enable those with disabilities to
participate as fully as possible in Ontario life.
So, Chris Portelli, for me, Bill 118 is about you. Here's to you.
Mr Klees: I'm pleased to add my comments to those of the member from
Niagara, although I must say that some of the comments the member made were
in fact out of order, Speaker, and I, for one, was quite frankly embarrassed
Having said that, I don't blame the member for taking exception to how this
place doesn't work. And I've said many times that in this place, if there
were meaningful debate, then those watching us could take some heart that
meaningful work was being done here. We in the opposition are making
comments and proposals that we believe would improve this legislation. We
have not been heard. It's my hope that members of the disabled community
will be heard. If the government doesn't listen to us as members of the
Legislature, then so be it, but at least we trust that they will listen to
members of the community, who, as the member from Mississauga West so
rightfully said, know full well what needs to be done and what should be
Our only hope is that this government, in the days and months ahead, will
listen to the community, will ensure that the regulations that are put in
place are meaningful, are constructive and, above all, as I said in my
debate earlier this evening, will provide the necessary funding and
resources to give credence to the intent of this legislation.
Mr Arnott: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd just like to recognize the
presence in the chamber of a former member of this Legislature, Gary
Malkowski, the former MPP for, I believe, York East.
The Acting Speaker: We certainly welcome the member.
Further questions and comments.
Ms Horwath: I'm not going to delve into did he or didn't he breach the rules
of the House, but I do have to say that my colleague from Niagara Centre, Mr
Kormos, is quite well aware of what is in this bill and is quite well aware
of what's not in this bill. And, not dissimilar from some of the other
comments that were made, I think he made it quite clear that there are some
improvements that need to be made, there are opportunities for not only
improvements in some of the actual specifics of the legislation, but
certainly, at the very least, in the time frames. That's something that's
extremely troublesome to many of us.
I look forward myself to talking a little bit about what the principles
should be when we're looking at this kind of legislation. In fact, I believe
that there were some principles agreed to not too long ago in this very
chamber, and I think it's something we need to stick to when we're looking
at new legislation, a new Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
I think my colleague Mr Kormos from Niagara Centre did a very good job of
outlining the issues, but also of raising the fact that it's up to us to
make the difference, it's up to us to keep the pressure on, it's up to us to
make sure that, with the voices of the advocates and community, we're
keeping the government to account. That's the job of opposition. That's the
job we're doing here. We're doing it tonight. We do it every day when we
debate these bills, when we try to push the envelope and make sure the
promises the Liberal government makes during election campaigns are actually
fulfilled when they're in government and they're at a point where they have
the power to make the differences they purported they were going to make for
the province of Ontario. I look forward to seeing those promises being
fulfilled, certainly by some amendments to this legislation.
Mr Brad Duguid (Scarborough Centre): I'm pleased to support the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2004, for a number of
reasons. First off, it'll make Ontario more accessible for people with
disabilities. Secondly, for the first time, the private sector will be
covered by accessibility standards -- standards that are reasonable and
achievable -- and I think that's important. I also support it because it
recognizes that by the year 2025, when 20% of our population may well be
people with disabilities, we'll be able to ensure that with $25 billion
worth of spending power, our markets, our private sector is ready to ensure
they can gain access to that market. I find that extremely important.
But the real reason I so passionately support this legislation is the
respect and admiration I have for two people: Carolyn Fenn and Betty Ann
McKeating. Carolyn Fenn has overcome a variety of disabilities that have
affected her ability to be mobile. That has not stopped her from being a
vocal advocate for tenants, public housing residents, people with
disabilities, public transit and veterans. Betty Ann McKeating has overcome
a variety of health challenges as well, challenges that I think would have
ground most of us to a halt. For decades, Betty Ann has been a stalwart,
active member of our community. She's been a strong advocate for
Wheel-Trans, accessibility, youth and a number of other causes.
These two courageous ladies have been inspirational and effective voices in
my community for decades. When I look at the challenges they've had to
overcome and the work they've done in our community, I'm proud to have been
able to represent them for almost a decade. When I look at this act, my
appreciation and congratulations go to these two ladies. They're among many
others who have pushed many different levels of government to move forward
with these very important issues, and I thank them for their efforts.
The Acting Speaker: The member from Niagara Centre has two minutes to
Mr Kormos: I'm going to sleep better tonight, because when I hear squeals of
protest from the Liberal benches, I know I'm doing something right. And
squeals of protest indeed we heard. The porcine squealing I managed to
provoke will, I'm sure, be echoing through here until Monday at 1:30 in the
Gary Malkowski, former member of the Legislative Assembly, long-time friend
and former colleague of mine, dropped by and left a message for me, a list
of eight points that he feels are sorely lacking, and obviously lacking, in
Bill 118. I'm going to give them to Andrea Horwath, because I think it's
important that there be some consideration of at least some, if not all, of
these serious omissions. Gary Malkowski has expertise, dare I say, and
experience in this matter of accessibility, for the obvious reasons, that
others don't. That's exactly the point. You've got leaders like David
Lepofsky and Gary Malkowski, a long-time New Democrat and a person who
served this province well as a member of this Legislative Assembly, with
incredible legislative experience, who says, "Well, here's Bill 118, and we
very much want to see Bill 118 go to committee."
Mr Kormos: Mr Caplan, don't debate the Chair's ruling, please. Don't do it
sotto voce; don't do it on camera. Don't debate the Chair's ruling.
Gary Malkowski is a valued member of our provincial community whose
expertise is going to be an important asset at the committee hearings. The
consideration, of course, has to be where those hearings are going to be
held. I'm told that people want those hearings held across the province, to
ensure real, meaningful access from as many people and as many parts of
Ontario as possible. Let's see if the government is going to live up to
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Ms Laurel C. Broten (Etobicoke-Lakeshore): I'm very pleased to have a chance
this evening to stand and talk about Bill 118, the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. I want to start with where this came from,
and I want to reiterate some of the comments of my colleagues who talk about
this being a promise kept.
Before the last election, the Premier, who was then the Leader of the
Opposition, wrote to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. What did
he say? He said to them, "We believe that the Harris-Eves government's
Ontarians with Disabilities Act does not even begin to adequately address
the needs and rights of countless Ontarians. We will introduce ... a strong
and effective ... act." I say to you that that is what we are doing tonight,
what we have done and what we are debating this evening.
I want to talk a little bit about how we crafted this legislation. It goes
with our government's desire to consult with experts, to consult with those
who know about what we are talking about. In the throne speech last November
20, our government pledged to work with Ontarians with disabilities to
develop meaningful legislation that would allow them to fully participate in
building a stronger province. After that time, on December 3, the Minister
of Citizenship and Immigration, Dr Bountrogianni, marked the International
Day of Disabled Persons by announcing consultations on strengthening the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001.
In the first three months of this year, Dr Bountrogianni and Dr Kular, her
former parliamentary assistant, travelled across the province, seeking out
the advice we needed to make sure we could deliver on this strong
legislation. They held 14 round-table meetings, seven regional public
meetings and 246 stakeholder meetings, and more than a thousand people
participated. Through those organizations, through those meetings, they met
with disability organizations, individuals with disabilities, the private
sector, leaders from hospitals, universities and colleges, and students. All
the meetings were fully accessible, and we made sure we talked to those
people on the front lines who had advice to give us.
People we spoke to, people we took guidance from, were the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act Committee, and in particular the chair, David Lepofsky, who
I know was here this evening and was perhaps scared away by the lack of
meaningful debate on this legislation. I'm pleased to thank Mr Lepofsky for
all the work he has done over the years, and for participating with us as we
developed this legislation.
We also had a chance to speak to the Ontario March of Dimes, the Learning
Disabilities Association of Ontario, the Canadian Paraplegic Association --
all of those groups -- along with the private sector which came forward: the
Retail Council of Canada; the Greater Toronto Hotel Association; the Ontario
Chamber of Commerce; the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association;
the Canadian Standards Association; Dofasco; Canadian Tire, and the list
goes on. It was through those extensive consultations that this legislation
came to pass.
We took that advice and guidance, and a number of themes came forward from
the consultations. We found broad consensus that clear standards leading to
measurable outcomes were necessary. Many participants urged stakeholder
involvement in developing the standards and enforcement mechanisms. We
understood from the consultations the need to increase our understanding
about accommodating employees with disabilities in the workplace. We were
told that the private sector needed to strive for increased accessibility
and needed to participate in this. We were also told that the process needed
to be flexible and the measures reasonable to avoid a negative economic
impact on the private sector, particularly our small businesses in this
province. The guidance we took from those consultations -- those ideas are
found in Bill 118, this proposed legislation.
I want to spend the few minutes I have talking about some specific issues.
We've heard a lot of discussion about the timelines, and the timelines of
this legislation. It's all well and good to set standards for installing
ramps or getting menus into alternate formats or improving customer service.
But unless we have timelines, and timelines that are meaningful, we are
simply telling organizations that they can comply whenever they choose,
which could certainly be a long way off. So the provision of timelines is a
way that this piece of legislation has teeth.
The question then becomes, how long should those timelines be? We've heard
discussion about the timelines. Our proposed legislation is visionary and,
at the same time, I suggest that it's realistic. Mandatory standards and
real results would be achieved every five years or less, moving toward an
accessible society in 20 years. We are talking about a major social
transformation; there's certainly no doubt about that. To achieve an
accessible Ontario would mean changes to facilities, programs, services,
communications and employment.
We certainly understand that on first blush, on a misinterpretation of what
this legislation is about, 20 years sounds like a very long time to wait, a
very long time for Ontarians with disabilities to fully participate in our
province. But I want to be clear to the people watching at home, to my
colleagues across the House, to Ontarians with disabilities across this
province, that 20 years is not the beginning; 20 years in this legislation
is the end point.
Within five years, people with disabilities will begin to notice real and
fundamental change in our society and in our built environment. Ontarians
would see greater access to things such as buildings, transportation,
customer service and training. We're going to see within those first five
years a shift in this province's approach and thinking with regard to
disabilities. We understand that this significant shift, this significant
transformation, cannot happen overnight, but we are anxious to get started,
and this is what this legislation is doing in incremental, realistic steps.
What we can do rapidly is accelerate our progress so momentum will build and
accessibility will improve, and that's what we propose to do. We think and
believe that transformation will take a generation. We know that the baby
boomers are aging, we know that people are living longer, and in 20 years we
can expect that one Ontarian in five will be a person with a disability, a
potential consumer in the marketplace and the labour market. No business or
service provider can ignore those individuals.
Our approach in setting a 20-year standard is in line with other
jurisdictions. For example, with regard to transportation barriers,
Australia has set a 30-year time frame, with five-year goals for
implementing full accessibility. Again with respect to transportation, the
United States has set a 30-year standard. What I say is that our standard is
both visionary and realistic. It is 20 years, not 30 years, and it is much
broader than the other jurisdictions that we are comparing ourselves to.
As I mentioned earlier, I know that David Lepofsky supported the idea of
setting over 20 years, based on needs and resources, and I want to quote
from him. He said, "We're very practical. We want business to make money on
this, not lose money on this. We want to bring more business in their door
including customers with disabilities and their friends and families."
That's what this legislation is about. This is about bringing Ontarians
together, bringing business to the table, bringing community organizations
to the table, bringing the able-bodied and those who are disabled to the
table, for a combined Ontario, one where we can all prosper in years to
come, one that will be accessible to all of us, one where all Ontarians will
have access to services, access to jobs, access to the labour mark and the
marketplace. It is by putting in those realistic time frames that we believe
we will be able to achieve our ultimate goal.
This legislation also contains time frames that the committees would be
required to follow. Those committees will have responsibility for setting
the all-important standards and reviewing those standards every five years.
Setting deadlines as to the work of the committees will be the minister's
responsibility, and she will require regular reports of them. They will have
meaningful standards that they will put in place, real standards that would
be achieved every five years on the all-important path to an accessible
Ontario in 20 years.
I wanted to simply talk, in the last moments I have about the breadth of
this legislation, why we will see such significant changes in those
five-year intervals, and why 20 years from now Ontario will be a different
place in which to live, work, learn and raise a family.
This bill could potentially cover more than 300,000 public and private
organizations. We will need innovative enforcement and realistic time frames
to include all of those organizations in cost-effective compliance, and
that's what this bill provides.
In closing, I simply want to talk for a moment about small businesses and
about the businesses that we have asked to participate with us in the
development of these standards, the communities that we have asked to come
together, to make sure that all of us in years to come will see the
realities and will believe, as our government believes, that the key to
Ontario's success is to strengthen our greatest competitive advantage, and
that competitive advantage is our people.
The proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2004, will
help do just that. We will all benefit in the future from full
accessibility, when people with disabilities have the best chance possible
to contribute to our society, our community and our economy.
I'm pleased to support this legislation, and I look forward to what Ontario
will be like in the next five, 10, 15 and 20 years to come.
The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?
Mrs Julia Munro (York North): I think when we look at this legislation, what
we're looking at is carrying on a tradition. Over the years, we can see that
there has been the recognition, as a society, to look at how we can make our
communities more accessible, and I think what we're seeing here is the
continuation of that kind of recognition.
Obviously we support -- certainly I support -- the notion of providing
greater accessibility. I think the timelines are somewhat problematic, and I
will have the opportunity later to make further comment on this. But I think
when you look at the previous bill, Bill 125, and the fact that this
government is taking years to move on its proposed legislation, as well as
phasing out segments of this bill, it speaks to the complexity of the issue
and to the comprehensive nature that has to be evolved.
The member spoke of the need to consult, and I think that's something that
has to be appreciated. I would suggest that those consulted will also be
looking for some kind of opportunity for compensation, for understanding the
kind of financial obligations that this legislation will ultimately
Ms Horwath: It's my pleasure to make some comments on the debate provided by
the member from Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I think all of the comments that were
made reflect the obvious positioning of the government and the minister in
regard to the bill, and that's the way it should be. That's what their job
is. But I think it's a little bit of a concern that there doesn't seem to be
a willingness or a sense -- I don't get the sense that the members opposite
are prepared to really hear when there are positive suggestions coming from
the opposition benches, whether that's the official opposition or the third
party. I think it really is a bit arrogant to assume that you've touched
every single base and covered off every single issue.
Later on, when I have an opportunity to debate this bill, I actually have
some significant and quite specific recommendations. I have some general
comments regarding the bill, definitely, but I also have the honour of
having been provided with some very tangible recommendations from a former
New Democratic Party member of provincial Parliament, Gary Malkowski. I'm
quite honoured to be able to bring them into this forum and provide them,
hopefully, as some positive, productive and constructive comments and
Not all criticism is bad. In fact, people who are prepared to learn and grow
and improve on ideas are those who understand that criticism can often be
very positive and productive. That's what we're doing in relationship to
this particular bill: We're providing positive criticism, positive
opportunities for the government to make some changes so that the people in
this province, particularly persons with disabilities, are going to be able
to participate fully in every aspect of our community life.
Mr Khalil Ramal (London-Fanshawe): I'm honoured to stand up and speak in
support of this bill. I just have a few comments before I start talking
First, I want to thank my colleague from Etobicoke-Lakeshore for her
eloquent and articulate description of Bill 118. I also want to go back to
the member from Oak Ridges, who was talking about the difference between
Bill 125 and Bill 118. There's a big difference, my friend, and I'll tell
you what the difference is. We had in the galley the chair of the ODA
committee, Mr Lepofsky. In an interview, he talked about Bill 125 and he
said that bill was toothless. Also, he said it didn't apply to the private
sector in any way, shape or form, nor was it enforced by the government back
then. That's why, my honourable member from Oak Ridges, the Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration came up with Bill 118, in consultation with all
the people in this province, in order to have a strong bill that has teeth,
enforced by law. That's why we're debating it here today.
Also, I want to say to the member from Hamilton East, when she was talking
about recommendations, that's why we're debating this bill here today: to
listen to the recommendations of all sides of the House.
Also, I want to assure you and all the people of Ontario that this bill is
going to committee. We are going to conduct more information. We're going to
listen to all the people with disabilities in this province in order to
ensure a strong bill that will benefit all the people across the province,
especially people with disabilities. That's why we are here today. Again,
we're going to assure all the people in this province, especially people
with disabilities, that this bill is going to committee. We're going to
listen to more people --
Mr Kormos: Across the province?
Mr Ramal: Across the province.
Mr Kormos: Are you going to travel?
Mr Ramal: Listen, my friend, I'm going to tell you something --
Mr Kormos: Are you going to travel?
Mr Ramal: Of course. Definitely.
Mr Klees: Well, what a surprise: We hear from a member of the government
that they will listen. We hear from a member of the government that the
reason we are here is so they can get input.
What is missing in this province, truly, is accessibility -- accessibility
to democracy. That's what's missing in this place, and the government is
responsible for the barriers to democracy in this province.
I asked the table during debate about two weeks ago to do some research and
to present to me the number of amendments this government has allowed since
they took office more than a year ago on all pieces of legislation, through
all debate, in all standing committees. I want to thank the table for their
good work. In all that time, there were three amendments presented by the
official opposition and the third party that were allowed by this
government. Two of those amendments were simply the change of a date in the
So what I'm asking for is that as this government debates the accessibility
bill, we give some thought to the true challenges to accessibility and the
barriers that we have in this province. It's the barrier to true democracy.
This government now considers itself to have a monopoly on all of the ideas.
Let this bill be evidence that they truly are prepared to listen, not only
to the opposition or the third party, but to interested people in this
province who want to bring forward their ideas. I look forward to seeing how
many of them they will allow in this legislation.
The Acting Speaker: In response, the Chair recognizes the member from
Ms Broten: I want to thank my colleagues from London, York North and
Hamilton East, and I want to respond specifically to some of the comments
that my colleague from Oak Ridges made.
The perspective I would bring is that we do our homework first. We have
consulted and we have listened. Perhaps you missed that we consulted with
more than a thousand people before this legislation came through. Many round
tables were held with business, community specialists and activists.
The job for all of us here is to bring forward constructive comments to look
at the legislation. I would suggest that, coming from a member whose own
legislation has been viewed by the disabled community as not having any
teeth, as not having enough measures, as not having strong enough
standards -- bring forward what changes you may, but please debate the
We have consulted. We have brought forward legislation that will be put in
place and will make significant changes in this province. We've brought
forward all the sectors. I understand if there's not a comprehension of
building consensus and bringing factions together. That's what the minister
did in bringing this legislation forward. It's historic to have activists in
the disability community working with business to come forward with
legislation that everybody knows will change the face of this province in 20
years to come. This legislation will start making those changes immediately.
It's easy to set standards that are sometimes off into never-never land and
into the future, but those individuals who understand what it is like to
live and work in Ontario each and every day with a disability, like David
Lepofsky, have said this legislation sets goals. It sets five-, 10- and
15-year goals and it will make this province completely accessible in 20
years. That's something to be proud of and that's something that I am proud
to stand up in this Legislature and fight for.
Mr Klees: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member for
Etobicoke-Lakeshore has just confirmed for us that they have all the answers
and that we need not debate the --
The Acting Speaker: That's not a point of order.
The Chair recognizes the member for Oshawa.
Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): I very much appreciate the time to speak on
Bill 118. I know many members having the opportunity to sit here tonight are
very eager to speak on this and very interested in the details of this bill.
As opposition members all know, we share concerns, and our function is to
point out some of the concerns expressed by groups and organizations, and
that is what my intention will be.
First of all, I should state that I will be supporting the legislation, as I
believe most of our members will. I should also note that I am sharing my
time with the member for York North.
Section 9 speaks about the standards in the affected ministries. Some
further detail as to how the ministries are being affected -- for example,
as some may know, I'm the MNR critic, and in the MNR field there is a
disabled moose hunt that takes place. So how will that ministry be affected
in regard to things like that? There is; if you read the regulations, there
is something on a disabled moose hunt and how those individuals -- in the
Ministry of Natural Resources, one of the areas the previous government
worked on was that disabled individuals had to qualify every year in order
to be classified as disabled. One of the areas that has not been moved
forward was that there was going to be consistent and ongoing -- for those
individuals who wanted to have, for example, on their outdoor card a D
designation, so they wouldn't have to be qualified by a doctor every year.
That would certainly help out from that perspective within the Ministry of
A couple of other things: section 15, reports by committees and the
timelines, that a director may specify the timelines. Some concerns are,
when are those timelines going to be established? Certainly, when you look
at the legislation, the 2025 date and the 20-year timeline have brought a
lot of concern for members here.
Another area would be part VI, the timelines and the appeals process. I have
some concerns about the timelines. There's no specific date set for the
appeals process. Could it be a year long? Could it be six months? Could it
be 30 days? It doesn't specifically lay that out in the entire timelines.
The concern might be that somebody is putting up a structure or a building
and has now been shut down because of the new act that's coming forward.
Those timelines may shut down that construction or that process unless some
specific areas are clarified. Of course, I know the usual response is that
that comes in regulations; however, the difficulty with that is that
regulations are not put before the House, nor do the members have an
opportunity for input on the regulations prior to them actually coming
Some other areas: A lot of property managers and developers certainly have
concerns. When new legislation comes out, it's always a concern. It's that
unknown fear factor, the "what if" or the "analysis paralysis." What happens
to the buildings that are currently out there? What are the timelines for
retrofitting or upgrading or making sure that all those concerns are taken
care of? Some of the developers and certainly property managers, individuals
who look after this, should be looking at that aspect of it.
What about adding some form of transfer of ownership? When a transfer of
ownership takes place, should not some guidelines and implementation of the
policies be sped up or be made a part of that process? That's something the
government could look at.
As well, it speaks under part III, clause 6(6)(c), about the different
standards that might be utilized for different sized buildings or
construction, whatever the case may be. Some of the concerns may be that you
may be inspiring developers or businesses to build certain sizes, depending
on the criteria that are brought forward. Now, we want to make sure that we
as a society, as a whole, move forward with all development and that all are
brought under a standard that won't negatively or possibly negatively impact
the size of development, whether that be large or small, that developers may
come forward with.
Committee membership needs to be very well balanced from all sides. We don't
want developers to have a major say or individuals with disabilities to have
a major say in what takes place, in that we need to come with a balance, and
I would expect that the minister would certainly look at making sure that
balance is there.
Also, the target dates are good. It's good to see they are in there.
Something else that should possibly be looked at is those groups,
organizations and developers, whatever the case may be, having incentives to
far exceed those dates that may be here. I know, for example, that in the
Ministry of Transportation, when tenders are put out, if somebody exceeds
that timeline for construction of a highway, for example, they receive a
financial incentive to achieve that. There should possibly be incentives in
this manner so that developers who are willing to come forward and step up
to the plate that much faster or those who are willing to retrofit buildings
that much quicker receive some form of concession, whether that's a tax
concession or whatever the case may be. That would be a strong incentive for
these individuals to move forward.
There are some other areas in the bill -- I know that subsection 9(7) had
some concerns in there as well. When you read clause 9(7)(b), it
specifically states, "if required, revise the measures, policies, practices
and requirements to be implemented on or before January 1, 2025, and the
time frame for their implementation." Effectively, this clause could be used
to delay any further implementation beyond the 2025 date. Certainly, when it
says "the time frame for their implementation," when they're discussing
that, that is a very specific aspect of this legislation that would cause me
concern. Now, 2025 appears to be a time that the current government has
picked as being fair and equitable to all those individuals with concerns on
that. However, when you read sections such as 9(7)(b), there may be some
more concerns brought forward as to further delays on this.
Some of the other areas: in section 14, "person or organization to whom an
accessibility standard applies shall file...." Now, what we're going to see,
or what I would expect to see, is a large number of groups and organizations
such as, for example, the Metro East Anglers, a volunteer club and
organization that runs a fish hatchery at Parkview golf course. Their
concern may be, what is the impact of this legislation on their fish
hatchery and accessibility? Certainly, when things such as liability
insurance came forward, there was a large flurry of groups and organizations
moving forward to address that issue, and rightly so. They need to know how
it's going to impact them, or are they impacted? These are the sorts of
responses I'm hoping the government will be able to bring forward.
Also, through the committee process, we're certainly hopeful that the
government will hear all groups and organizations to make sure they have a
balanced perspective coming in.
When you look at subsection 14(3), the form that is going to be made
available, how is that form going to be put together, who will have to
apply, and how often is that form going to need to be utilized?
Some of the final areas, before I turn it over to my colleague, include the
inspections without warrant. It takes place -- for example, I know sometimes
certain aspects of a community will find areas that they need to get into,
and how are they going to deal with it? I know that there was a concern, for
example, that conservation officers have access to facilities without
warrant. Having a former deputy chief of police working in my office and my
father being a chief of police in Thunder Bay. The ability for police to
potentially assist in these areas, to access without warrant, may be cause
One of the other areas that I would like to more or less close on is section
19(4): "An inspector shall not enter into a place or part of a place that is
a dwelling without the consent of the occupant." Where is the proof and onus
for occupancy? Being a man of the bar, you certainly would know that there
is no form for proof of occupancy. So when someone doesn't want somebody to
come in, they can say, "I'm not the occupant." You don't have the support of
that. It's just a grey area, but our function is to point out these grey
areas in the legislation that need to be addressed.
In closing, I would like the say that I intend to support the legislation.
The time frame of 2025 is somewhat of concern. I hope that the government
members have heard my concerns regarding some aspects of the bills, such as
the appeal times, to make sure business can move forward in a timely manner,
to make sure it is not delayed beyond something that is reasonable. I
certainly hope, through the committee hearing process, that all these groups
and organizations, from all aspects, will have the opportunity to give input
on this. Once again, we will be supporting this legislation.
Mrs Munro: I'm pleased to rise this evening and offer a few comments on Bill
118. I looked back to the comments made by the minister when this bill was
being introduced. I think it's a really good starting point for us to
understand the context of this bill that we are debating here this evening.
At the time of introducing this, she said, "Through public education we can
change attitudes, one of the biggest barriers people with disabilities face.
We need to raise a generation of Ontarians who are acutely aware of
accessibility, who are determined to create a truly accessible and
I think it's a really good starting point because it offers us an
opportunity to look back and see some of the history of the development of
that kind of awareness. I'm sure there are many of you who remember when
there were no curbs at corners that were formed to allow for wheelchair
accessibility. There were no designated parking spaces. There were no
elevators in buildings beyond multi-storied buildings. I think it's
important to look at those examples, because I can recall when people talked
about the need to change the curbs at corners, for instance, and the
initiative that drove that. There were many people who looked at that and
said, "I don't think that's necessary. I don't think there are very many
people who would be able to benefit from that," and certainly the same thing
with designated car spaces.
What we see, then, is that successfully in this province we have been able
to raise that awareness and, at the same time as that awareness has been
nurtured, developed and increased, we also see the increase in
accessibility. The good news about increasing that accessibility, along with
those beginning changes, is the understanding of the goal of creating a more
accessible society. It comes when people who perhaps didn't understand the
need for those things actually see people able to conduct themselves
independently on the sidewalk and get across busy intersections by
themselves, with motorized wheelchairs and things like that.
I think that when we look at this piece of legislation and the previous Bill
125, look at how successfully we have been able to increase public
awareness. I understand there's a long way to go, and I'm not suggesting
that this is over with. But I am suggesting it is that ongoing commitment
that has allowed for a continued recognition of the need to make the
At the time when the bill was introduced, we were reminded by the member
from Burlington that the province has a proud reputation, that it was the
first jurisdiction in North America to have a Human Rights Code and a human
rights commission. We have kind of created the fertile ground; we have
created the opportunities. It's a question, then, of this government
providing that kind of resource to move things forward. It's important to
understand that it is an ongoing process. It is an education process to a
large extent, but it's also a process that means we have to listen to the
kinds of recommendations that people are able to make.
I think that we have had some extremely good examples in the kind of work
that has been done. I particularly want to draw attention to the work that
has been done by the accessibility committees, because in ensuring that
every municipality had an accessibility committee, it again brought closer
to home the variety of issues around the problems of accessibility. I know
that certainly in my community, the people involved in the accessibility
committee who came from the need for greater accessibility found an avenue
for an audience, an understanding and a recognition of their needs, which
need to be met. I think that it's really important to be seeing this piece
of legislation built on a foundation that has continued to grow over many
I think the comments we have from Patricia Copeland, a former member of the
Barrie city council, who certainly saw first-hand the kind of work that an
accessibility committee can do -- she comments on the fact that, with the
combination of the volunteers, who were, of course, men and women either
living with a physical challenge or offering support to this community
through their careers in a related field, they were able to work with city
staff, who then participated. That, in turn, has the effect of simply
creating a broader base of the community that understands the kinds of
challenges that people face and the kinds of responses that we as a society
have to make.
Having said that, however, when we look at some of the details about this
bill, there are some issues that I think we need to raise, certainly the
fact that those who have spoken on the government side have referred to the
previous bill as toothless. I find it interesting that they're using that
phrase because, at the same time, they are looking at a 21-year time frame.
It seems to me, that's a long time for people to move in a direction -- some
people lose their teeth, actually, in that length of time.
As this is obviously a generational exercise that this government is taking
on, we need to look at the importance of the role of recommendations.
Clearly, no one has a monopoly on good ideas. So if we're looking at a
21-year time frame that isn't a public relations exercise, then I think we
have to be looking at how we are going to broaden the scope and be able to
hear a greater number of voices. In my view, the fact that it's 21 years,
the fact that it does appear to be a public relations exercise, the fact
that we must have methods of broadening the scope of hearing more voices,
the fact that we're looking at the repeal of Bill 125 over a period of many
years -- and while we support, in principle, the notions that are in this
piece of legislation, we have to be very cognizant of the importance of
keeping this government's feet to the fire -- never mind its teeth -- and
make sure it continues the tradition of broadening the opportunities for
people with disabilities in this province.
The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?
Mr Kormos: I listened carefully to the well-put comments of the member for
York North and appreciate her participation in this debate, without the use
of crib sheets prepared by some minion in the backrooms or with the advice
of spin doctors, as is so often the case with government members when they
stand up and read their scripted addresses, little of which, often, reflects
their own true feelings and little of which is very comforting or assuring
to their constituents. Ms Munro spoke on the basis of experience, on the
basis of her own analysis, and fulfilled her responsibilities as a
legislator here in that regard.
In about eight minutes' time, we're going to hear from Andrea Horwath, the
member from Hamilton East. I want to encourage people to not abandon this
over the next eight minutes, because Andrea Horwath is going to be taking
the floor and making her 20-minute contribution to this very important
debate. So folks in Hamilton who want to hear from Andrea, whom they sent
here -- and we're grateful to you -- will be able to do that in about eight
After I speak, I'm confident that one of the Liberal backbenchers is going
to stand up and explain to you why we agreed that if there's a deferred
vote -- and I predict that somehow there will be a deferred vote. Nobody
opposes the bill, but there are going to be Liberal members who will vote
against the bill when it comes to a voice vote. Mark my words: There will be
Liberal members who will vote against the bill so they can force a recorded
vote. The trick is for the audience to listen carefully and find out which
Liberal members are voting against this bill.
The other concern that's been expressed is, if there's a deferred vote --
and the Liberals are going to create one -- it's going to be on December 2.
Ms Wynne is going to explain to you why. Various people want that explained
because they're nervous that others are going to be worried that the
government is stiffing them, because this government has such a bad
reputation, has proven itself so unreliable and untrustworthy, that they
want assurance as to why this vote is going to be deferred to December 2.
You'll hear it soon from Ms Wynne.
Ms Kathleen O. Wynne (Don Valley West): I just want to say that I think
anyone watching who can follow what's going on deserves an award.
I'll just follow up on what the member for Niagara Centre has said. By way
of explanation, I understand there will be a vote later tonight, and in
order to elicit a recorded vote -- a division, as we call it in this
House -- five people are going to have to stand. There will be a "no"
expressed. Five people will have to stand in order to force that division,
or that vote. Then the vote, actually, is going to be deferred. I believe it
will be deferred to December 2, which is International Day of Disabled
Persons, and that actually has been requested by the community. So that's
why later on tonight you will see that there will be a division, a vote, and
it will be deferred. I want to thank the member for Niagara Centre for his
attempt to elucidate the situation.
I just want to take issue with a couple of points that were made by the
member for York North and the member for Oshawa -- although, for the most
part, measured comments.
I look forward to the comments from the member for Hamilton East, who is
going to be speaking on behalf of Gary Malkowski, whom I had the pleasure of
working with during the adult education review. I know that comments from
people like Mr Malkowski and Mr Lepofsky are the kinds of comments we're
going to want to hear as we move forward with this legislation.
The way this legislation was written was in consultation with people from
the community, people with disabilities. So I really look forward to, in
this House and also in the committee, comments from people who are living
the reality that this bill is going to address. The fertile ground the
member for York North spoke about is the heritage of this province, and this
bill builds on that broadening of opportunity for all people.
Mr Klees: I want to commend the member for York North for her insightful
comments on this bill.
I want to now take the government at its word. They say they will be open to
suggestions. We're talking about the importance of funding projects. I'd
like to make this proposal: We have in this province a Trillium fund. There
are some $100 million-plus that come into that fund every year that are not
allocated, but it's a responsibility of boards throughout the province to
make specific allocations out of that fund to the community. Why don't we do
this? Why don't we designate 2005 as accessibility year in this province and
have every dollar out of that Trillium fund dedicated to accessibility
projects within our communities? Why don't we do that? I would like the
government of this province to take on that challenge.
Any place, any organization, whether that be the Legion within our community
that needs to put in place accessibility mechanisms, whether it's a
community centre, whether it's a church, could come forward and make their
application for accessibility purposes. The year 2005, the year of
accessibility, $100 million-plus for accessibility projects: Let's see what
the government does with that.
Ms Horwath: I just wanted to make a few comments myself on the debate
presented by the members for Oshawa and York North. I have to say that I
enjoyed very much the comments by both of these members. I think they've
certainly taken the time to look through the bill. They've taken the time to
determine what pieces they can support and what pieces they still have some
It was made quite clear, and I think we'll see, as this bill progresses
through committee and into third reading, that in fact the general sense --
as Mrs Munro actually mentioned quite articulately -- from the members of
this House on all sides is that the bill is a positive step forward.
The issue becomes, then, what happens after second reading when the bill is
into committee? Where is the commitment of the government to make sure that
real, positive, true, well-thought-out and well-put amendments are going to
be accepted by the government so that all voices are heard, all issues are
raised and all concerns are appropriately dealt with so that we do end up
with legislation that we can all be very proud of in the province of
I think if we see that happening, it'll speak well to the comments we've
heard by the government members tonight, that they are committed to
accepting well-thought-out amendments, that they are committed to accepting
the fact that members of the opposition and the third party actually have
some positive comments to make. Unfortunately --
Mr Kormos: The NDP.
Ms Horwath: The member for Niagara Centre keeps reminding me I should be
saying "NDP." It's not like those days when we weren't allowed to say it in
here, is it?
The bottom line is, I think New Democrats certainly do have a lot to say
about this kind of legislation. We've often been on the cutting edge of
progressive legislation like this, and we look forward to our comments
The Acting Speaker: In response, the chair recognizes the member for York
Mrs Munro: Thank you to all of those who have made comments. Simply because
of the nature of the comments, some of which seem to be more questions of
stage direction than actual responses to the comments made by the member for
Oshawa and myself, I would just echo some of the comments made by the member
for Hamilton East, and that is simply the fact that as members of the
opposition, we have had the opportunity, through debates such as this, to
look at this bill, to look at what is the state in terms of the challenges
of accessibility within the province.
The issue really is, what happens next? Obviously many of us believe that 20
years is too long. We have reservations about the ability to accept
recommendations from a variety of sources, including those of the
opposition, and we also have reservations with regard to the lack of
commitment to specific areas of funding for steps that would be taken
subsequent to passing this bill. So thank you very much to all of those who
The Acting Speaker: Any further debate?
Ms Horwath: It certainly is my pleasure to finally get an opportunity to
debate Bill 118, the act that's before us. It's 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. As you can well imagine, it's quite an extensive
piece of work. It's had a lot of attention paid to it, but what I would like
to talk to you about tonight is just some of the things that maybe have been
missed, some things we might need to reconsider.
I'm going to talk a little bit about the fact that we all know very well
that people living in Ontario, and particularly persons with disabilities
living in Ontario, have waited one heck of a long time for legislation that
is going to address their specific needs and concerns. Those concerns are as
diverse as every single person who sits in this room is diverse from one
another. So it's not a matter of any kind of cookie-cutter approach; it's a
matter of really making the huge effort to understand, to become aware, to
become sensitized and then to become committed to making the changes that
are necessary, not only to enable but to encourage and in fact to ensure
that persons with disabilities in Ontario are able to participate fully in
all aspects of community life, and that means political, social, working,
shopping, going to restaurants, being educated. Every single possible thing
you could imagine or think of that a person without a disability is able to
do in our province, so should a person with a disability be able to have the
same kind of opportunity.
The problem is that the bill itself keeps a lot of the details out. The bill
is absent on specifics around incentives and timelines. It actually leaves a
lot of discretion up to the minister and to the committee that will at some
time be struck to hammer out the details.
I guess the thing I'm most concerned about is that we are very careful to
put as much into the actual bill itself and not leave it all up to the
regulations; to make sure that the bill is very specific when it comes to
the kinds of activities, the kinds of real actions that the government is
going to undertake. Otherwise, they'll get foisted off to either ministerial
decisions or regulations, which are not part of what's happening here but in
fact are happening in another forum that is not necessarily going to have
the light of day for the public, and that's problematic. It's problematic
because the government, as you heard earlier tonight, was, I have to say,
bragging -- is "bragging" a parliamentary word? I think it is -- about how
much consultation they've done, how much work they've done making sure
they've spoken to every single person who might be concerned about this
particular bill. I have to say that it's a bit -- what's the right word? --
presumptuous to assume that every concern of every person with a disability
in the province of Ontario is necessarily going to be reflected in this
Certainly, a process is an important thing to do, but the bottom line is
when it comes to something that's actually written. So after consultation,
you have a first draft. That's where we are now. We're at the first-draft
stage. The issue becomes, if a lot of the specifics are left to regulations
or left to some other committee to decide, then what happens is that you
lose the opportunities that you had, in terms of indicating that in fact it
was a full consultative process all the way through, because that
consultation then stops at a certain point and the regulations are put into
effect in a way that is not a consultative process. So there's a little bit
of a disconnect there between what's being suggested is happening and what's
actually going to happen, unless we can get a lot more of the specifics
actually written into the bill as opposed to being just dealt with through
The time frame is an issue that is of concern, and not for everyone, but
certainly there has been some criticism raised in regard to how long it's
going to take for the full effect of this legislation to be felt in the
province of Ontario. In fact, one of the people who is very involved in
these issues is a woman from St Catharines. She sits on the mayor's advisory
committee on accessibility for the city of St Catharines. She said, "A lot
of us will be dead in 20 years -- most of us will be dead. We can't wait 20
years. It's better than nothing, that's for sure. But to phase it in over 20
years -- we need some real action now." That's a woman named Linda Crabtree,
again, who is the co-chair of the mayor's advisory committee on
accessibility for the city of St Catharines.
Another thing, actually, that's problematic -- I've spoken about it a little
already. I'm going to get into some specific recommendations that, as I said
before, Mr Gary Malkowski gave me to be able to have the honour of
presenting them tonight during this debate. Really, the government is
claiming that all of the standards that deal with such things as aisle
widths in buildings and staff training and serving customers -- in other
words, all of the specifics around the hows, the really detailed stuff
around how you train your staff and how you ensure that people are
fulfilling the requirements of the legislation -- all of these things are
not actually laid out in the act. These are things that some committee in
the future will establish and bring forward. Again, these standards are
something that really should be laid out in the act, because you know what?
When they're not, they're much easier to mess with in the future.
Again, those are some of the comments that I've heard. People are concerned
that when things are not laid out in legislation, when they're left to be
undertaken by these other processes --
Mr Kormos: "Trust us."
Ms Horwath: It does. It becomes an issue of, "Trust us. It'll be fine." You
know what? The bottom line is, people in this province are quite aware that
the promises that are written on paper like this are really not worth the
paper they're written on, because the promises actually don't come to pass,
nine times out of 10, in the province of Ontario. That's what we're
experiencing with this government, anyway.
It's not even that. It's not even this current government and the promises
that they are breaking blatantly, day in and day out. In fact, the other
piece of the puzzle, the other problem is, what happens when the next
government comes along? How do we make sure that the next government that
comes along doesn't erode some of those standards, doesn't change them,
doesn't fiddle with them, not in the light of day in this chamber but
through the regulations process or through ministerial orders? The bottom
line is, if it's not in the act, it's a lot easier to do that. Why? Because
the public scrutiny of this forum is not being brought to bear in that kind
of a process.
Really, to have the pieces outlined specifically right in the bill is what
we need to see to make sure that the legislation that we end up with at the
end of the day is going to be legislation that we continue to have over
time. For a bill, quite frankly, when it becomes legislation, that's going
to take a 20-odd-year time frame to be implemented completely, you can well
imagine that if you have another government in four years or so turning
around and changing parts of those standards and regulations. Then what
happens? Your 20-year timeline is now a 30-year timeline or a 40-year
timeline, or never.
That's something we certainly can't risk when it comes to persons with
disabilities in this province because we all know very well that their
concerns, their issues, their needs, their rights, have just not been met by
the province so far, and we can't see anything put into place that's going
to be at risk of being eroded over the short term -- or the long term, for
One of the other issues that isn't quite laid out in the act is the issue
around enforcement tools for compliance. Quite frankly, what we need to know
is exactly what is going to be in place when it comes to enforcement tools.
The bill talks about the minister being able to set fines and to determine
the process for the establishment of enforcement tools. Once again, it's
another situation where, what if the minister is not inclined to set up the
tools, what if the minister is not inclined to put real teeth behind a
system of fines for people who are breaching the requirements of the new
Obviously these kinds of things we would all hope would be motherhood. We
would all hope that every single citizen of this province, every single
business in this province, every single employer in this province, every
single educator, every single restaurant, every single provider of services
or goods would be inclined to do what the law says. But we also know that
there are going to be those -- not unlike the Premier Fitness people who
were going after consumers of fitness memberships in my city, the city of
Hamilton. We had a discussion about that earlier today. Quite frankly, there
are corporate bad apples. There are people who are going to try to do
whatever they can to not come up with the kinds of accommodations that are
necessary to ensure that persons living with disabilities are able to access
services and goods. So you end up in a situation where leaving that to a
ministerial whim is simply not strong enough, it's not good enough and it
needs to be put right into the bill.
Some of the other issues that have already been outlined by others come from
a list, my understanding is, more or less a wish list, if you will, of what
the real obligations should be. Apparently in 1998, the Legislature adopted
a resolution talking about what the principles should be, what any new
Ontarians with Disabilities Act should embody in terms of principles. I have
the original text with me, and I'm going to quote it and then do just a few
things to talk about what that means.
"In the opinion of this House, since persons with disabilities in Ontario
face systemic barriers in access to employment, services, goods, facilities
and accommodation; and since all Ontarians will benefit from the removal of
these barriers ... this House resolves that the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act should embody the following principles...."
It goes on to lay out 11 or so principles. I have to say, there are several
principles that are quite clearly indicated within the bill, and that's a
positive thing; there's no doubt about it. It's why many of us around here
are saying that it's likely this bill is going to pass at second reading and
probably go on to bigger and better things in committee, let's hope, with
There are some places it falls short, quite frankly. It falls short in a
number of the various principles. One of the first is the principle of doing
all of this work in as short a time as possible.
I had already quoted the woman from St Catharines who is on the
accessibility advisory committee for the mayor. Linda Crabtree quite clearly
indicated that there are many people who think the timelines are
I don't have very much time left and I have a lot more to say. What I am
going to do, if you excuse me for a minute, is just grab the piece of paper
that fell on the ground, because that's the piece of paper that I was given
by Mr Malkowski. He has a lot of personal experience, but is also very
well-respected in regard to advocacy work for persons with disabilities. I
do have to say I'm quite honoured to have the opportunity to bring these
things to your attention. So excuse me for one second. There we go.
Before I go on to that, though, I have to say that many members rose today
and talked about some specific individuals in their communities. I have to
tell you, coming from the community of Hamilton, representing the downtown
area when I was on city council at the time, that was the area that had the
largest numbers of units that were set aside for persons with disabilities.
I have had the pleasure, the opportunity, to be educated, to be brought
along in terms of my understanding of not only the kinds of disabilities
that I think we all are faced with most often, which are the obvious,
physically apparent disabilities, but also of many, many other people in the
community that I used to represent and in fact the community that I
represent right now in Hamilton East, large numbers of people with
disabilities, whether they're injured workers, whether they are people who
had disabilities from the time they were born, whether they were people who
acquired disabilities through various kinds of accidents or exposures or
different kinds of circumstances in their lives.
The variety of people and the number of people who have sincerely worked
with me -- whether it was on a municipal non-profit board when I was the
chair of that, working on how to get truly accessible units in place,
whether it was working with the city of Hamilton to put a system of urban
Braille in place, which the city won awards for, to help people who are
visually impaired to navigate our city's sidewalks in our downtown, whether
it was working with our access and equity committee to talk about how to
make our city hall physically more barrier-free, I had many, many
opportunities to deal with these issues, and I really look forward to
bringing that around to this particular discussion and debate.
Let me go through the quick list here. These are the suggestions that we
hope to be raising once again during committee debate. How many are there?
Maybe 10. We need to include the following in sections of Bill 118. Again,
Mr Gary Malkowski suggests that we actually put this stuff right into the
bill. Don't leave it to regs; don't leave it to any other process; don't
leave it to a committee. Put it right in the bill.
One: "To train, expand and hire a significant number of pool of skilled
accommodation service providers." That means people who are signers. That
means people who are real-time captioners, deaf interpreters, interveners
for people who are deaf-blind. That means personal care assistants, personal
attendants. That's one thing.
The second thing: "To establish standards for quality assurance of
accommodation service providers." So it's not good enough to just say that
we're going to have these providers of services to assist with
accessibility, but rather that these providers of services are specifically
required to have qualifications and are required to have specific levels of
training, expertise and professionalism.
Number three: "To require the House of leaders to review all private
members' bills, resolutions and government bills to ensure accessibility
issues have [been] addressed to include accommodation services for persons
with disabilities. As well, it should include" the review of "all
legislations and regulations with special attention for accessibility issues
for persons with disabilities."
So, as we continue our work here, let's use the looking glass of
accessibility to make sure that we're reviewing all of our legislation and
all of the initiatives we're undertaking to ensure that we're not then
perpetuating problems with creation of barriers. If we're not committed to
doing that, then we're just committed to going in the wrong direction.
"To require" that we include "budgets for provisions for accommodations for
persons with disabilities for MPPs, mayors, town/city councillors,
constituency offices, Queen's Park offices, city and town councillors'
constituency offices, municipal process and provincial parliamentary
procedures, public hearings and consultation meetings." In other words,
wherever we're doing the business of government, wherever we're doing the
work that needs to be done to move our community forward in whatever way it
is, that in every one of those locations, in every one of those forums, in
every one of those places, we're making sure that we are making the
commitment and building in the required budgets and the required commitments
for persons with disabilities in Ontario.
"To review and amend to include accommodation provisions for persons with
disabilities for election campaign activities, including offices and
election debates as well as for municipal and provincial candidates with
disabilities and volunteers with disabilities in Municipal Election Act and
Ontario Election Act." So make sure that even our processes for getting
people to these places of decision-making, our processes and our places that
people who have physical and other types of disabilities are able to access
not only as candidates but as volunteers.
What else? "to include stiff penalty fees, tax incentives and tax breaks for
excessive costs of accommodations for persons with disabilities for any size
businesses and level of government." Again, this is the stick and the carrot
approach. So it's not only a matter of making sure that fines are in
place -- fines are outlined for those who won't undertake the required
accommodations -- but also a matter of making sure that we find incentives,
whether they be tax breaks or other kinds of incentives, to ensure that
businesses, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, are able to
accommodate people and make the changes that are necessary.
"To provide funding for low-budget, non-profit organizations and
limited-budget municipalities to make services and programs accessible, as
well as for accommodation provisions for employees with disabilities." So,
again, it's another idea that speaks to the implementation. I know that
other members have raised that issue as well, and I know that other members
in this debate have talked about not just what it is that we need to do, but
how it is that we're going to get there.
Certainly, Mr Malkowski, in his recommendations, is also recognizing that we
need to put some serious thought to how we're going to not only encourage
but actually fund, particularly the non-profit sector, particularly smaller
types of organizations that just don't have it in their budget lines to be
able to find the money to make the accommodations that are necessary.
I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed. During my little speech here, my
friend from Niagara Centre, Mr Kormos, a great New Democrat and long-time
member of this Legislature, wasn't interested. He said to me, "People are
going to turn the channel if you're not interesting." He turned the channel
and left his seat, but you know what? I know that he listened to every word
that I had to say, because he's an excellent supporter and a great New
Those are my comments.
The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?
Mr Berardinetti: I appreciate the comments made by the member from Hamilton
East, and I want to assure her, I was paying attention to what she had to
I want to go back to the fact that this legislation in front of us today
really provides for regulations, which are mechanisms to enforce the new
act. This is something that the previous government, the Tory government,
did not undertake. I hope that the member from Oak Ridges addresses this
when he speaks in his two minutes, because I want to know the answer to why,
when they were in government and passed legislation in 2001, no regulations
were put into place. The act was put into force, but no regulations.
Today, we bring forward an act which has real teeth, which has regulations,
which allows inspectors or directors to go into businesses and other
buildings in order to inspect and, if necessary, go forward and issue an
order so that that business will comply. I tell the member from Oak Ridges,
when he was in government as a cabinet minister, that he had a choice to
make at that time, and he could have said around that cabinet table, "Let's
put in regulations. Let's give our 2001 legislation some teeth."
It reminds me a little bit of what happened in 1984, when Brian Mulroney
said to John Turner, "Sir, you have a choice; you have an option." Mr Turner
did not take that option. I wonder why the member from Oak Ridges did not
take the proper option at that time and did not do what was right.
This legislation has teeth. It's another promise fulfilled. I know he's
going to say, "Another broken promise," but this is another promise
fulfilled, such as freezing auto rates, increasing minimum wage, cancelling
the private tax credit, cancelling corporate tax breaks, more money in
health care, more money in education, introducing greenbelt legislation,
freezing MPP salaries, two cents a litre provided to municipalities, and the
list goes on and on.
I hope that in the future I get more opportunities to let the member from
Oak Ridges know, and the rest of the Tory party know, that we fulfilled more
promises in our first year than they did in eight and a half years.
Mr Klees: What an absolute joke. There isn't a person in Ontario who doesn't
know that Premier McGuinty and the entire group of Liberals sitting behind
him have broken more promises -- they have zero credibility. Not one person
in this province doesn't know that Mr Pinocchio, who presents himself as
Premier, has undermined the credibility of politicians not only in this
province but right across the country.
With regard to what we're supposed to be doing here, I want to compliment
the member from Hamilton East for a very informed debate. Obviously, the
member has taken the time to understand this legislation. She has challenged
the government. It's interesting that the Liberal member took the time to
talk about the member from Oak Ridges rather than respond to the very
reasoned debate and the challenges that the member from Hamilton East put to
him and put to the government to talk about where the implementation
mechanisms are, to talk about where the funding is, to talk about what all
of the practical recommendations are that Mr Malkowski put forward.
No. This government is afraid to deal with those issues. They're very good
at deflecting any criticism. But the people of this province know, because
they're watching and they know that the smoke and mirrors being presented by
this government in this bill is precisely that. It's one more photo op; it's
one more bumper-sticker political attempt on the part of this government.
I credit the member from Hamilton East with very reasoned debate and
recommendations. Let's see if in fact the government --
The Acting Speaker: Frank, enough.
The Chair recognizes the member from Timmins-James Bay.
Mr Kormos: The breathless member from Timmins-James Bay.
Mr Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay): There we go; not bad. I ran up the
stairs and made it within a minute and 30 seconds.
I was in my office watching this particular debate and I must say that I was
terribly impressed with the member from Hamilton East.
Ms Horwath: Did you turn the channel?
Mr Bisson: I didn't even turn the channel, can you believe. And I am
breathless. I thought I could run up those stairs and I could do it easily.
I thought a couple points needed to be made. First of all, I thought there
was a pretty good presentation in regard to saying, "Yes, we need to move
forward. Yes, this is a step in the right direction." And yes, I am
breathless -- unbelievable. Boy, do we get out of shape when we get older.
Anyway, there is a responsibility on the part of all members, not just
opposition, to try to find ways to strengthen this act. Because she's right:
There are a number of parts in this particular bill that quite frankly are
not going to do the disabled community a lot of good for a long time. Unless
the government is prepared to accelerate some of those issues and find ways
to lever those things from happening, it's not going to do the disabled
community a lot of good real quick.
The other issue is to put the real meat and potatoes to the bill. I think
that's a point that needs to be made in this debate. I just had Gary
Malkowski in my office for about the last hour talking to me about all those
Mr Kormos: So you weren't watching Andrea Horwath.
Mr Bisson: Gary was there. I was watching her for the last 20 minutes.
But the point I make is that the point Mr Malkowski and others have made is
that, yes, this is a step in the right direction -- they give the government
some credit for doing something that's right -- but where is the meat?
That's what they're basically saying. They're saying, "There's nothing wrong
with taking a good step forward, but you need to make sure that you put in
place the real mechanisms and the funding necessary to make sure that these
kinds of changes are meaningful to the disabled community."
For government members to get up and say that if the members of the
opposition get up and try to strengthen the bill, that's somehow not a good
thing, I think is a disservice to the disabled community.
Hon Mr Caplan: It's a pleasure to comment on the speech of the member from
Hamilton East. I think everybody in this chamber understands, and the people
outside who are watching understand, the nature of debate, the way it goes
on in the Legislature. The government proposes legislation. They propose
direction. The job of the opposition is to talk about the flaws, about how
things can be strengthened, what should be done, and urge actions to happen
faster. I've been on the opposition side and I've been on the government
side, as have many members.
One of the things I like to do is read some of the old Hansard debates. In
fact, I've got some interesting ones here that deal with Ontarians with
disabilities acts: a resolution brought by Marion Boyd back in 1998; a
resolution brought by Mr Duncan, the member for Windsor-St Clair, also in
1998; a resolution by Steve Peters, the member for Elgin-Middlesex-London,
brought in 1999. They're generally all around this time of year, as a matter
of fact. It has a great deal to do with the fact that this is the time we
generally mark the international day where we recognize persons with
disabilities and we want to bring in meaningful actions.
This act, the Ontarians with disabilities act, moves the yardstick further
than anything that has ever happened in this province, and that's something
to celebrate. I think we all take the comments the members have made within
I do want to reserve one last comment for the member for Oak Ridges, who
made several comments which I think, when he reflects on them, will find
that he regrets some of them because they're simply wrong. I would say to
the member, if you don't find anything supportable in this bill, why would
you support it? Have the courage of your convictions and vote against it.
But if you think there is something worthwhile in the bill, you should stand
in your place and say so.
Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: For the deputy House leader to
talk about convictions when it's the Speaker of this assembly who is
ordering people arrested --
The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Hamilton East in
Ms Horwath: It's my pleasure to respond to the comments of the members for
Scarborough Southwest, Oak Ridges, Timmins-James Bay and the Minister of
Public Infrastructure Renewal and deputy House leader.
I have to say that I really believe there are extremely important pieces to
this legislation. I look forward to seeing it pass through second reading
and going to committee. I look forward to opening the doors of this
Legislature, in whatever way possible, and welcoming in next week people who
are activists within the community of persons with disabilities, persons
with disabilities themselves and other people who are just going to be
really interested to see what we're doing here.
It's appropriate that we came to an agreement around making sure they had a
lot of advance notice about the fact that we were going to be having second
reading of this bill finish at a particular time. I think we all worked
really hard to accommodate them, to make it accessible for them to come in
and hear what it is we're doing, to come in and see what it is we're doing,
to come in and experience what it is we're doing.
I'm certainly hoping that next week the government is arranging to have a
fully accessible opportunity here in the House, that all of the various
kinds of interpreters we're going to need are going to be here, so that the
people who are coming, the advocates and the activists from the community,
are able to hear, see, learn, understand and deal with what we're going to
be bringing forward. Quite frankly, if we don't make that an accessible
forum next week, then really, we're not doing a very good service to the
people we're purporting to be affecting in positive ways with this bill.
So I look forward to seeing all of the interpreters here in the Legislature.
I'm looking forward to making sure that every single person who comes to
hear this, to see this, to understand this vote next week is going to be
welcomed in ways that fit their needs here in this Legislature. I trust
that's going to happen and I look forward to that next week.
The Acting Speaker: Are there any other members who wish to participate in
the debate? Reply to the parliamentary assistant? No.
The minister has moved second reading of Bill 118. Is it the pleasure of the
House that the motion carry? I've heard a no.
All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."
All those opposed to the motion will please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
A recorded vote being required, it is deferred to December 2 in accordance
with the agreement made earlier tonight.
Orders of the day?
Hon Mr Caplan: I move adjournment of the House.
The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed?
All those in favour, say "aye."
All those opposed, say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Adjournment of the House has been moved and carried. This House stands
adjourned until 1:30 pm Monday.
The House adjourned at 2115.
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