ODA Committee Update
dated February 6, 2005
posted March 9, 2005
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE UPDATE
Text of ODA Committee's February 1, 2005 Oral Presentation Concerning Bill 118 to the Legislature's Standing Committee On Social Policy - And Other News
February 6, 2005
Here's the latest news concerning Bill 118, the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act:
* Below is the text (about 4 pages) of the ODA Committee's formal oral
presentation on Bill 118 to the Legislature's Standing Committee on Social
Policy at its February 1, 2005 Toronto hearings . We are delighted that so
many individuals and organizations, from within the disability community and
elsewhere, have endorsed and echoed our proposals for amendments to
strengthen Bill 118. They have been the central focus of the hearings.
Send us your feedback on this presentation, at:
* We encourage everyone to email the Standing Committee on Social Policy as
soon as possible, and definitely before its rapidly-approaching February 8,
2005 deadline to share your own views on Bill 118, and how it might be
strengthened. At the very least, we urge you to take 5 minutes to just drop
the Standing Committee a short 2 sentence email. You could indicate (a) who
you are and (b) if you support the ODA Committee's brief, and its oral
You can email the Standing Committee at this address:
If you need us to email you the text of our brief, send a request to:
* We also set out below the proceedings before the Standing Committee
immediately after our presentation. (about 2 pages) In those proceedings,
Conservative disability critic Cam Jackson (who was the Conservative
Citizenship Minister in 2001 who brought in the current Ontarians with
Disabilities Act 2001, the law that Bill 118 seeks to strengthen) brought a
motion before the Standing Committee. In his motion, Mr. Jackson calls on
the Standing Committee to invite the ODA Committee's chair to make a more
lengthy presentation to the Standing Committee on a later date concerning
the brief we submitted. The motion also asks the Standing Committee to grant
standing to the ODA Committee's chair and to the ODA Committee to appear
before the Standing Committee on Social Policy during that Committee's
clause by clause debate on Bill 118 in order to comment and provide
assistance to the Standing Committee during clause by clause debate.
The Standing Committee didn't debate this motion. At Mr. Jackson's
suggestion, the Standing Committee agreed to defer debate on his motion to a
later date. We don't know when that discussion will occur.
During clause by clause debate, MPPs who are members of the Standing
Committee debate and vote on proposed amendments to the bill which MPPs
bring forward. Clause by clause debate has not yet been scheduled.
Mr. Jackson's office has asked us to let you know about a news release he
has issued in connection with this motion. You can see it at his website at:
The idea to bring this motion was Mr. Jackson's. He tabled the motion and
issued his news release on his own initiative. We appreciate Mr. Jackson's
recognition of the contribution of the ODA Committee. We hope this signifies
that when the time comes for MPPs on the Standing Committee on Social Policy
to table amendments that they would support, Mr. Jackson will bring forward
on behalf of the Conservative Party the package of amendments to Bill 118
which the ODA Committee's brief and oral presentation call for.
In response to Mr. Jackson's motion, we want to state that in the spirit of
non-partisanship (which is a core principle of the ODA Committee), we are
always prepared to assist the Legislature, its Standing Committee, the
Government, and/or any political party which requests our assistance or
input in any way we are invited to help.
* The Clerk of the Standing Committee on social Policy has asked us to
announce that the location of the public hearings in Ottawa on Tuesday,
February 8, 2005 has been changed. The new location, chosen to be more
accessible, will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel at 100 Kent
* The public hearings on Bill 118 have been getting lots of great media
coverage. For example, there was a few minutes devoted to this bill on
Friday night's "Fourth Reading on TV Ontario's Studio 2 program. That
program re-runs on Sunday, February 6, 2005. Check your local listings for
Studio 2, if it is not listed as Fourth Reading.
We also understand that there will be an item on it on CBC Radio 1 in
Thunder Bay on Monday, February 7, 2005 sometime after 7 a.m. There also
will be an item on TFO, the French service of TV Ontario on the Panorama
program, somewhere between 7 and 8 p.m. on that same day. These are subject
to change by the applicable network without notice. Let us know of any other
media coverage you find out about. Email us at:
The Chair: The next presentation will be from the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act Committee. Again, you have 15 minutes total. We already
have your material, thank you. You can start any time you're ready.
Mr. David Lepofsky: We've provided fresh copies for the members of the
committee, if the clerk could make sure you have them available.
Good afternoon. My name is David Lepofsky. I'm chair of the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act Committee. To my extreme right, physically but not
politically, is Lorin Macdonald, a law student and an active member of the
ODA Committee from London. To my immediate right is Catherine Bremner,
mother of a child with a disability and active regional contact for the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee in Durham region. To my left is
Patricia Bregman, active Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee member
and one of the country's top legal and policy thinkers on disability issues.
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee is a voluntary, non-partisan
coalition of individuals, both people with disabilities and people without,
and many community organizations across Ontario which organized over 10
years ago for the sole purpose of winning the enactment of the legislation
that you now have before you. We have been involved in and indeed
spearheaded this campaign for over a decade and are delighted to have
reached the point that we have, of having this bill now before your
committee for consideration.
The ODA Committee wants to commend the government, Premier McGuinty and
Minister Bountrogianni for bringing forward Bill 118 after holding
effective, open consultations, after bringing to the table all the major
stakeholders: people with disabilities, people from the business community,
from the municipalities, hospitals, those you've heard from and will hear
from before this committee. For the first time ever they were brought to the
table to discuss how such legislation should look. The significant progress
in this bill is due to that consultative process. We want to commend all
three parties for having voted in favour of this bill on second reading. We
hope you will do the same on third reading. We also want to commend all
three parties for their unanimous recognition that the existing Ontarians
with Disabilities Act, 2001, must be strengthened.
Finally, we thank you for holding these hearings, for holding them across
Ontario, and for making them open, accessible and, from our understanding,
for the first time ever, televised gavel to gavel, even when hearings are
held outside of Toronto.
Let me take our time to cover the key points in our amendments package. Our
amendments package, which you have before you, reflects not only months of
our preparation now, but over a decade of consultations at the grassroots
around the province, in an effort not to ask what would be best for people
with disabilities, but would be best for us, large and small business, the
broader public sector and the government.
We are pleased to see that our amendments, or the core themes in them, have
been echoed, reflected and endorsed by many an organization that have
already come before you, not only from the disability perspective, but from
other perspectives as well.
We are also delighted to be able to table with you an amendments package
that we believe is reasonably tailored, where possible, to reflect specific
amendments that two of our parties, the Liberals and the New Democrats,
tabled three years ago, when the previous bill, Bill 125, was before the
Legislature. You'll see that fully 12 of our amendments reflect those
earlier matters, which both the Liberals and the NDP were not only prepared
to vote for in 2001, but which, in the 2003 election were promised to us as
being the minimum of what new legislation would reflect.
Let me try to focus on what we believe to be core priorities, which are
reflected not only in our brief, but in the message you've heard from so
many others. I do not put them in order of priority among themselves. In
offering them, I speak in general terms, because in each case we offer you
specific suggestions but are attempting to be as flexible as we can as to
how they are achieved.
First, it is widely recognized that while the bill sets an end date for when
accessibility is to be fully achieved, and sets one specific timeline, the
interim framework for standards development committees, it does not set time
frames for other major steps that the government must take when implementing
this bill. We propose that to the time frames that are in the bill should be
added more time frames to cover each major implementation step. We are
flexible as to what they will be because we don't want to come up with
things that are unrealistic and that will fail.
We also note that while some other presenters have focused on the fact that
the one interim time frame in the bill, five years, should be reduced to
three years, given the actual framework of the provision that that is found
in, reducing it from five years to three years doesn't actually accomplish
anything in terms of the rate of barrier removal. In fact, it may slow
Our second proposal or theme in our amendments is that we propose that each
major phase of this bill's implementation be undertaken in an open,
accessible and accountable way. There are several ways to do that. One is to
make to sure that the standards development committees actually meet in the
open so that we can see what they're doing, large and small business can see
what they're doing, media can see what they're doing, everybody can see what
they're doing. There should be no secrets here. There is nothing to be
secretive about. Openness promotes accountability and confidence. Those who
have come before you expressing worries about what this bill will achieve
will have those worries reduced, we believe, when they see how it operates
in practice. Openness only makes for better, more effective decisions, and
confidence. Openness also means that the standards development committees
and the other major bodies that will have a role in this should have a
mandate, indeed a duty, where appropriate, to consult with stakeholders,
including people with disabilities. We've learned through this process of
developing this bill that both openness and consultativeness work.
The third priority or theme in our amendments is that the process of
developing standards should be more arm's-length from the government. That's
not to say that it should be totally independent of government, and that's
not to say that government shouldn't have an important place at the table.
However, it would be more appropriate that the process of developing
recommendations to government be done outside government, with government
taking part. Of course, what government then does with those proposals is
something which would take place in government and for which government
would take the credit or the heat. In our brief, we propose one way of doing
that, but, frankly, we are open to any number of other approaches.
Fourth, as you've all identified through your questions, the core of this
bill has been the development of standards. Until standards are developed,
this bill doesn't require anyone to actually do anything. That is leading
some to have concerns about the 20-year end date. If people saw more
progress sooner, the 20-year end date would be less of a concern. Moreover,
standards cannot solve every kind of barrier. Therefore, we propose that the
bill be enhanced to provide measures that can be implemented even before
standards are set-that could take years-and which will particularly help
address both preparing people for the standards process once they're enacted
and barriers which the standards may not be able to cover. Again, our brief
has specific proposals.
Fifth, our second-last area of priority builds on something that many have
said for years about this kind of legislation but none have actually covered
the way we'd like to see it covered in the future. It is said over and over
again that we need to educate the public on disability and accessibility.
That's true. Leaflets, lectures, TV ads and so on have been tried in the
past, both by the public and the non-profit charitable sector. They're
helpful, but they're transitory. We propose something new. We propose that
the bill implement a permanent, long-term, mandatory education program
targeting two communities that can make a difference.
The first community is kids. Let's have kids grow up learning about this in
school, not for months or weeks, but maybe for just a day or two. Let's have
a mandatory curriculum. It could be set locally, or the province could offer
an option. It would help the next generation of kids know more about this
than any of us ever did, before they become employers, store owners and so
The second target group: professionals who could make a difference. We
propose that, in future, those who are going to get a licence to practice in
a profession that can make a difference in terms of accessibility should
have learning about accessibility as part of their training. The prime
example-we propose others-is architects. Put simply, in the future, no one
should be able to get an architect's licence or other permit to design the
built environment if they haven't at least learned how to design a
barrier-free built environment. That'll require some changes. The best
people to design that curriculum are the professional bodies themselves.
That's what we propose.
Finally, our last area of recommendation: Because were embarking on a
20-year enterprise, we need an independent process to monitor how we're
doing-not a large bureaucracy; it may not even have to start for several
years-something that could be the conscience of the province, to commend
those who are doing well, to egg on those who could do more, and to give us
all suggestions of what could be done. There are many ways to do that.
Generally, that's our proposal.
If I may, let me conclude, in one paragraph, by saying that this is now a
good bill. With our amendments, it could be transformed into a legacy bill.
It could be a legacy for those who brought in the bill, for all who voted
for it, for all of us who've campaigned so long for it, and for the many
people who fought for this bill but, sadly, did not live long enough to see
it passed into law.
We thank you for this opportunity to present and would be pleased to do
whatever we can to help this committee with its deliberations.
The Chair: You have used all of the 15 minutes, but you certainly made your
points very clear. We thank you for coming with your friends.
The Chair: The next presenter will be the Barrier Free Consumer Advisory
Committee. While they are being seated, Mr. Jackson, you had a question?
Mr. Jackson: Yes, with respect to the information, I would like to-
The Chair: Can I ask people, if you wish to speak, to go outside of the
room, please, so we can continue our meeting. Mr. Jackson.
Mr. Jackson: Mr. Chairman, as the next group is preparing, I would like to
move: That the standing committee on social policy invite Mr. David
Lepofsky, chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, to be
given sufficient time to provide a detailed technical briefing to the social
policy committee when the Ontario Legislature reconvenes, and further;
That during clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 118, the social policy
committee grant Mr. Lepofsky and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Committee standing before the social policy committee for purposes of
providing comment and to assist the social policy committee through the
amendment process and final votes, and further;
That sufficient time be taken by the social policy committee during
clause-by-clause consideration to ensure that all matters presented during
public hearings to strengthen Bill 118 are fully considered.
I have a copy of that which I will give to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the
The Chair: And your intention is to debate the motion or to receive it and-
Mr. Jackson: My suggestion would be not to debate it at the moment, because
we have other deputants, but make it the first item of business when the
Legislature reconvenes and we're called forward. We can debate it at that
The Chair: At the committee level?
Mr. Jackson: Yes. It's a motion for the committee.
The Chair: That's the motion. Everybody gets a copy. So it's deferred. Is
there any discussion on deferral of the motion? Anyone in favour of the
motion to defer? We're deferring the discussion for later on. That is the
Mr. Jackson: To the first item of business when we reconvene, when the House
is in session.
The Chair: OK. The only question I have is whether anybody has any comments
on the deferral motion, otherwise we'll take a vote on the deferral motion.
Anyone in favour of the deferral motion?
Mr. Jackson: No, to defer to that time.
The Chair: To defer it to the first committee meeting.
Mr. Jackson: Thank you.
The Chair: That's what you said.
Mr. Jackson: Yes.
The Chair: Everyone in favour? It carries. Thank you.
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