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ODA Committee Update
dated January 26, 2005
posted March 5, 2005


Helpful Tips For Preparing Your Written And/or Oral Presentation On Bill 118 To The Legislature's Standing Committee On Social Policy

January 26, 2005


The Legislature's Standing Committee on Social Policy commences its public hearings on Bill 118 next week. The ODA Committee here offers some helpful tips on preparing your presentation to the Standing Committee. These tips will help you whether you are scheduled to make an oral presentation, or are sending in a written submission, or are doing both.

Remember that even though its too late to book a chance to make an oral presentation if you haven't booked one already, its certainly not too late to send in a written submission. Those can be sent to the Standing Committee up until February 8, 2005. We encourage you to send in a written submission, even if its just a 1-page short note. For example, you might wish to just let the Standing Committee know in writing if you support Bill 118 as an improvement over the current Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, and if you support the contents of the ODA Committee's written brief on Bill 118.

We are just finalizing that brief, and will be sending it out via email shortly. If you have time to add any additional ideas or feedback for the Standing Committee, so much the better.

To send in a written submission to the Standing Committee, whether via email or regular mail, use this contact information.

Standing Committee on Social Policy
Care of: Anne Stokes, Clerk
Room 1405, Whitney Block
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A2
Email: anne_stokes@ontla.ola.org

Everyone's contribution matters. We understand that once the Standing Committee hears from all presenters and receives all the briefs, it will have its staff prepare a detailed chart summarizing what has been recommended. Also, we expect that all three parties will go through all submissions. This will include the staff of the citizenship Ministry. This is your last, and your most important opportunity to have your say. After the Standing Committee holds these hearings, it will decide what amendments to make to Bill 118.




Whether you are making an oral or written submission or both, you should
consider these tips.

* Remember that public hearings are the way for members of the public like
you to take part in the democratic process of making new laws. This is not
an intimidating formal process. It is the avenue for residents of this
province to go to a public meeting and share their ideas with their elected
politicians. Don't be nervous. Plan to enjoy it. You can make a real impact!

* You should decide what you ultimately want to achieve by your presentation
before you get wrapped up in the details of preparing it.

* Its helpful to divide both your written and oral presentation into these

(a) explain a bit about who you are, and if you speak for an organization,
what the organization does and what expertise it has in the area of
disability barriers.

(b) Let the Standing Committee know what overall you think of Bill 118. Do
you support its direction of strengthening the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act 2001?Also, let the Committee know if you think that holding these public
hearings is welcomed. We hope you will commend all parties for voting for
this bill on Second Reading, and will encourage them all to vote for this
bill on third reading so it passes unanimously.

(c) If you think Bill 118 should be amended, state what your objectives
are vis a vis the amendments. Say, for example, "We would like to see this
bill strengthened to achieve the following goals." Think at this point not
in terms of the bill's legal language, but what results you would like the
amendments to achieve in the real world.

(d) Feel free to let the Standing Committee know what you think of the
proposals in the ODA Committee's forthcoming brief. We are hoping that as
many people as possible will support our brief, and of course, will add
their own ideas too. You might wish to point out any of the ODA Committee's
proposals that you think are especially important.

(e) Let the Standing Committee know what specific areas for improvement of
the bill are your top priorities. Assume that the three political parties
want you to answer this question: "If only a limited number of changes were
going to be made to improve this bill, what are the most important changes
that would matter to you?"

(f) If there is specific wording in the bill you would like to see
changed, feel free to point this out. However, don't be worried if you don't
want to get into that kind of detail.

* Limit your suggestions to things which fall within the scope of this bill.
For example, this bill and the Standing Committee can't deal with issues
which are the responsibility of the Federal Government.

* Don't' be afraid to suggest amendments. This bill is not being presented
to persons with disabilities as a "take it or leave it" deal i.e. where we
must either totally endorse it "as is" or must fear that the Government will
withdraw it. All indications are that the Government is open to consider
practical suggestions for improving the bill.

* Remember that government funding for implementing this bill is certainly
not unlimited. Show how your suggestions for improving the bill are sensible
and cost-effective, especially at the present time when the government is
facing a budget deficit.

* don't assume that the MPPs on the Standing Committee have a detailed
background in disability issues. These hearing may be the first time that
some of them have been this focused on disability issues.

* If you are from a smaller community or rural area, be sure to point out
the distinctive needs persons with disabilities face in those areas as
contrasted with those who live in the big city. Remember that these hearings
are in cities, and so the Standing Committee will need to hear as much as
possible about the situation outside the cities as well.


* You only get 15 minutes to present, including time for MPPs to question
you. This is VERY SHORT. It will go by very quickly. You should identify in
your own might right away the 3 or 4 key points you want to make, because
that is all you'll be able to accomplish in the short time you have.

* You might bring along a printed up summary of what your organization does,
who all the presenters are in your delegation, and what their job titles or
background is. Bring at least 20 copies with you to hand out. By giving out
this printed information to the Standing Committee at the start of your
presentation, you can let the MPPs quickly read it over to themselves,
rather than taking up precious time of your 15 minutes giving long

* Get right to the point. Make your introduction short and to the point.
Otherwise you will find that you have spent half of your 15 minutes just
explaining who you are, what your organization does etc.

* Don't spend too much time belabouring things you know the Standing
Committee has heard over and over again. Especially if you are presenting
later in the hearings, after the MPPs have heard several days of
presentations, you might wish to quickly state that you agree with certain
points that others have repeatedly made, list them quickly, and then get on
to addressing the key points that you want to add. To this end, it is
strongly recommended that you get to the hearings as early as possible on
the day you are presenting. Watch the presentations that come before you.
See what others have said so you don't eat up your time repeating them. You
can also watch the Toronto hearings on January 31 and February 1 on your
local cable TV company's Ontario Legislature channel to get an idea of what
others are telling the Standing Committee.

* Hit the important themes in your oral presentation. You can give more
background and detail in your written submission.

* Make concrete suggestions of how the bill should be improved. Identify the
ones that matter the most to you.

* Use real life examples of barriers you know about. Use these examples to
illustrate why the amendments you seek are needed. Show how your proposals
would improve the bill, and would help vis a vis the examples of barriers
you provide.

* Decide how much of your 15 minutes you want to spend making your
presentation, and how much time you want to leave at the end for MPPs to
question you. The MPPs rotate among the 3 parties in asking questions.
Don't be surprised if an MPP's questions might be preceded by the
MPP giving some sort of re-amble or introductory remarks.

* If an MPP asks you a question that you don't know the answer to, or aren't
sure, remember that this is not a test! You should feel free to say that you
don't know. You can also offer to get back to the Standing Committee with an
answer afterwards e.g. by sending in a written note to the Standing
Committee using the address above.

* Remember your audience at these hearings are elected MPPs. Remind them of
how important this bill is to voters like you.

* Make your presentation bring to life the real world experience of persons
with disabilities who face barriers. Remember that the MPPs will be hearing
many presentations, one after the next, for long hearing days. To retain
their attention, paint a vivid, human picture for them of why we need this
bill and the improvements you support. Let them know why this issue matters
to you.

* Don't assume that before you make your oralpresentation, the MPPs will
have already read your brief if you submitted it in advance. They will be
getting many briefs and will be hearing from many groups.

* To prepare for your oral presentation in advance, try to summarize to a
family member or friend in literally 1 minute what you are asking the
Standing Committee to do to improve the bill. If you don't like how it
sounded, try again!

* Bring others to accompany you during the presentation. If you are speaking
for an organization, bring as many staff, board members and volunteers as
you can. As important as the word spoken by the presenters can be the
showing of support by others in the room. You certainly can briefly tell the
Standing Committee about the contingent that is attending with you.

* If you are doing a presentation as an individual, don't feel that your
message will have less force than presentations made by organizations.
During public hearings in 2001 on the previous Governments Bill 125, which
later became the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, some of the most
powerful and memorable presentations were made by individuals speaking for
themselves. If you are speaking as an individual, remind the MPPs that you
appear before them as symbolic of many thousands and thousands of other
voters in their ridings.

* If you have a disability that requires you to have more time than the 15
minutes allotted to you, let the Standing Committee know in advance and ask
for an extension of time.

* Let your local media know in advance of your upcoming presentation, and
about the hearings generally. Don't assume the media knows about these
hearings and plans to cover them. Urge them to attend.

ADDITIONAL Tips for Your Written Submission

* There are no formal rules on what your written submission needs to include.

* You can make your submission as short as you wish. Some suggest the
shorter submissions are more likely to get thoroughly read. (Of course, you
are getting this advice from the ODA Committee which has a track record of
submitting very long documents, and ironically calling them "briefs!")

* Be sure to include in the brief your contact information in case the
Standing Committee wants to follow up with you or ask further questions.

We hope these tips are helpful. Let us know. Send us your feedback at:



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