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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA


ODA Recent News Summary
November 12, 2000

There is lots of news to update you on, as the effort for a
strong Ontarians with Disabilities Act forges onward.


1. Our ODA Action Week, November 3 to 10, was a great success.
Activity has been happening in various parts of the province. As
one example, a strong ODA supporter, Betty Jones, spoke with her
Tory MPP this past week. Her report on what was said is set out

2. We continue to succeed at getting ongoing media coverage, even
though the federal election occupies much of the media. For

* There was a great column in the recent St. Catharines paper by
ODA supporter Linda Crabtree, and a great letter to the editor
responding to it. See below.

* ODA supporter Eddie Rice is scheduled to be on CFRB Radio in
Toronto on Sunday November 12, 2000 for part of the time between
1:00 and 2:00 p.m. Tune in and call in!

* ODA Committee Chair David Lepofsky is scheduled to appear on
the Rhonda London Live TV show on CTS (Crossroads Television),
Monday November 13, 2000 during part of the show which runs from
2:00 to 3:00 p.m. and re-runs Tuesday morning, November 14, from
9:30 to 10:30 a.m
. Tune in, and if you watch during the live
broadcast on Monday, phone in! This cable/satellite network is
seen in parts of southern Ontario on cable, and in the Toronto
area most commonly on Cable 9.

* David Lepofsky also appeared on CBC Radio's national program As
It Happens on Monday, October 30, 2000
to discuss the ODA issue
and similar efforts in countries around the world.

3. Efforts continue to get local city councils to pass
resolutions supporting a strong ODA.

* London recently reaffirmed its 1999 resolution on this
subject. Follow this link.

* The Regional Municipality of Waterloo also recently passed a
resolution calling for a strong ODA. Follow this link.


Here is a transcript of the questions that Betty Jones, an ODA
Committee member, Woodstock resident, and person with a
disability asked Tory MPP Ernie Hardeman during ODA Action Week:

Questions and answers regarding Mike Harris's promise to put an
ODA into effect which were put to Ernie Hardeman (Oxford MPP)
(Minister of Agriculture):

Q. Why would Mike Harris not meet with the ODA Committee?

A. I don't know, maybe he was not in, having a meeting or
elsewhere. Parties cannot answer for another party.

Q. When Helen Johns met with the committee on Sept. 8th, Ms Johns
said she wanted to keep consulting with the public, was open to
all options, and wanted the ODA committee to publicize her
openness to consult, however Ms. Johns was well aware of a do-
nothing document that would not include new rights other than
increasing fines for people who park illegally in handicapped
zones. Would you please comment on this?

A. I think it is harder to assess, but consulting is still

Q. The information I received was that Bill 83 was going to be
revived and the only thing added was the increase in fines for
handicapped parking violations.

A. No information.

Q. Is Mike Harris going to put this act into effect in the Fall
because he feels with the federal election coming on, all the
attention will be focused on it and he will be able to slip it
through thereby avoiding negative publicity?

A. No I don't think the act is going to come forward. It needs
more time than less than two weeks but it could be a possibility.

Q. What does Mike Harris feel increasing fines for parking in a
handicapped zone is going to do for us if we still cannot get
into buildings, bathrooms, elevators? How is this going to help
people get jobs and education and help the visual and hearing
impaired or people with learning disabilities?

A. One problem is that I cannot speak for Mike Harris. I am a
representative of Oxford county as MPP. Have an interview with
Mike Harris.

(My reply was that I had phoned 6 times and the closest I could
get to Mike Harris was a policy advisor in Helen Johns office.)

Q. Would you, as our MPP of Oxford county, be willing to hold a
public meeting on the ODA to give the public a chance to show
that they really care about a strong and effective ODA?

A. Cannot answer, would have to wait until something is
introduced by Helen Johns.

(After I repeated the question, he said he would think about it
but no promises.)

Q. Does Mike Harris not realize that by removing the barriers,
the disabled can move into the work field, thereby removing them
from government pensions and giving them back independence, self
esteem and dignity or is that not an issue he wishes to address?

A. I cannot answer for Mike Harris.


St. Catharines Standard November 4, 2000
Now's the time to speak up for barrier free living
by Linda Crabtree

During the last few weeks of pretty decent weather, I've ventured
to downtown St. Paul Street twice on my electric scooter. I make
sure I have my cell phone just in case I run into trouble and
then, with my trusty dog Valentino sitting tucked between my
feet, I venture through Ridley College, up Henrietta, across the
Burgoyne Bridge and down into the bowels of the Yates Street area
only to emerge at Ontario and King. We cross the road there and
away we go down to the Farmer's Market behind City Hall. I've
always found the market a delight and last week it didn't let me
down. When I left I'd bought a huge ring of low fat ham kielbasa,
a lovely bunch of red and cream alstroameria, and some Concord
grapes that smell like all of Pelham and Niagara-on-the Lake put

From there I went up James Street to St. Paul and the way down to
the Hobby Shop. On the way I tried to visit Herc's Muscle Shop
where my niece is part owner, but there was a step in front. I
also checked out other stores as I went and found that Downtown
Fine Records, several restaurants and most of the shops at the
west end of One St. Paul are totally inaccessible to someone who
cannot climb stairs. Across the street, Verity and others are not
accessible to me.

While I fully realize that most people who run shops do not own
the buildings they rent, a talk with their landlords might just
remedy the situation. It doesn't take much to have enough cement
cut away from a step to form a ramp, but it means a lot to many
potential customers. In New York City they have a One Step Law
and you have to do something about one step if it is the only
barrier between you and business. I'll gladly share the
information I have if anyone from City Hall wants to pursue it.

If you have been reading this column regularly you'll know that
the Ontario government has been fooling with the 1.5 million
people with disabilities for five years now, promising an
Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) and doing nothing. They
figure the public is not interested in people with disabilities
or their causes. What they don't realize is that just about every
one of us has someone who is disabled in our family and that most
of us who think at all about the future realize that we could be
disabled at any time. It is time that this injustice in our
system be set straight and that people who are disabled be
allowed to live as productively as anyone else. It is feared that
under the guise of giving us (people with disabilities) what we
want, the government will, very soon, again introduce a do
nothing Ontarians with Disability Act.

Yesterday marked the start of ODA Action Week. The Ontario
Legislature will not be sitting next week and its members will be
back home in their constituency offices. David Lepofsky and the
Ontarians with Disabilities Committee have come up with a few
simple things you can do that will make a difference.

Please, call your local MPP and either talk to them on the phone
about what is happening within the government regarding a good
ODA, fax them or even better, go and see them. Seeing someone in
a wheelchair trying to get through their office door might just
bring it all home to them. Take a list of all of the buildings
you can't get into in your home town and elsewhere in Ontario.
Make another list of things you have not been able to do because
you couldn't attend because there was no transportation to get
there or the transportation available was so outrageously
expensive you simply couldn't afford it.

Tell them about your training and attempts to find work that
failed, because you perhaps couldn't access the building or use
the washroom. What a heartbreaker to know you could be working
but the job didn't come your way because you couldn't use the
bathroom. What a waste of a good brain. Tell them if you wanted
to go to a seminar on something but couldn't because you are deaf
and there were no interpreters in sign language provided due to
cutbacks in funding. That there was no braille on an elevator in
your doctor 's office building and you had to wait until someone
came along that would ride with you so you could get off at the
right floor. You know your difficulties better than anyone with
the status quo and now is your chance to air your views before we
get snowed under again with another ODA intended to shut us up
for awhile.

If we don't speak up for ourselves, no one else will. Now is the
time. Here are some numbers of local MPPs to call or fax.
St. Catharines MPP - Jim Bradley 935-0018, fax: 935-0191;
St. Catharines South/Welland/Thorold - Peter Kormos 732-6884,
fax: 732-9782;
Niagara Falls - Bart Maves 357-0681, fax: 357-9456 and
Erie/Lincoln - Tim Hudak 382-0322, fax: 382-0315.


St. Catharines Standard November 8, 2000
Letter to the Editor
Ask candidates what they will do for those with disabilities

Thank you, Linda Crabtree, for bringing issues facing people with
disabilities to the readers of The St. Catharines Standard. As
you have stated in your articles, there are 1.5 million people
who live with disabilities in Ontario. Presumably you focus on
disability issues because the majority of people who read your
weekly column are not able-bodied.

But everyone should be listening to you. Baby boomers are
approaching a time in their lives when the body doesn't work like
it used to. I'm talking to you folks in your 50s. You may soon
know what it is like not to see, hear or walk as well as you used
to. Anyone could be disabled as a result of a car accident or
medical condition at any time in his or her life. We will soon be
casting our votes for municipal, regional and federal
representatives of the people. Don't we want to know what our
potential representatives plan to do for both able-bodied and
disabled people? Linda knows Braille and sign language
interpreters need to be available. Linda knows even one step
needs to be eliminated to ensure access to buildings. Linda knows
transportation for the disabled is minimal. One must book
transportation with St. Catharines Para-Transit three weeks in

And, while I am on this topic, I want to know what the present
Ontario government intends to do about the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act. No one wants the fluff that came out in 1998,
which Linda Crabtree in her Nov. 4 article classified as a "do
nothing ODA." And let's find out if municipal, regional and
federal elected representatives plan to lobby for an effective
ODA. I challenge the press to focus on this issue and to
interview the present and potential representatives of our
government, the people's government. I would like to know what
these representatives plan to do for people presently living with
disabilities and those who may end up in that situation in the
not-so-distant future. And I challenge our present politicians
and those who hope to be elected to experience life in a
wheelchair or blindfold for even one day to find out how
inaccessible the world is.

Sheila Massey
Lakeside Drive
St. Catharines


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