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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA


ODA Update
March 25, 2001

With only 243 more days until the Legislature's November 23 deadline for enacting the ODA, we are getting still more positive media coverage! We include the latest print items.

1. Prior to the recent Parry Sound by-election, the ODA got coverage in the local Parry Sound paper.

2. A recent edition of the London Free Press included a great column on the ODA contributed by ODA supporter Kevin MacGregor.

In this week's Toronto alternative newspaper, "Now," a somewhat different perspective appeared in the letters to the editor, followed by a response by the ODA supporter Ann Kennedy profiled last week in Now.

We encourage you to contact your local media. Urge them to run an editorial or column on our six-year battle for the ODA, and the Harris Government's ongoing avoidance of its promises in this area. Send them these news items to show that this is a big, ongoing and building story that will not go away!

March 21 Parry Sound North Star
Liberal MPP wants to see ODA schedule

PARRY SOUND -"By gosh if you're getting money from the government you've got to be poor... We sentence those on disability to poverty." Those were strong sentiments directed at the provincial government by Liberal MPP Ernie Parsons when he visited here last week.

The opposition critic for persons with disabilities spoke to a local gathering and talked mostly about the push for an Ontarians With Disabilities Act. He said the Progressive Conservative government has had seven years, made three promises, and been through four ministers without creating an ODA.

"Let's get started. Let's get a plan. Let's stop building new barriers and then start fixing old barriers," he said. When asked about PC candidate Norm Miller's response that an ODA will be in place by this coming fall, Mr. Parson said that "real" legislation couldn't be made that quickly.

"It would have to be very rushed." He's pushing for consultation that would extend the legislation's timeline, but he wants to see the process held to a predetermined schedule. A reasonable plan could then be rolled out that would account for related costs.

"I believe that balancing the budget can be done with compassion, but the burden has been shared unevenly," Mr. Parsons said.


London Free Press Thursday, March 22, 2001
Tories must involve the disabled
by Kevin MacGregor - VOX POP

In the beautiful old south of London sits my 87-year-old house.

Though my house is very strong, one of the exterior walls is
beginning to separate due to damage to the mortar. This spring, I
face two choices: have a mason repair the wall or let the wall
wait. Mike Harris faces the same sort of decision this spring. I
hope his choice will be the same as mine - repair the wall and have
a stronger house.

Of course Harris' choice is not a matter that can be repaired by a
mason, but a problem that can be solved by David Lepofsky and his
Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) Committee. The ODA Committee
is a broad community coalition representing 1.5 million Ontarians
and supported by more than 100 organizations for people with
disabilities. This committee can help build a component of the
house that is Ontario, which will contribute to the strength of the
entire structure.

Not only should this group be listened to, but they should also be
asked to report to cabinet twice in every government mandate on the
barriers faced by Ontarians with disabilities. Barriers will always
be an issue: We need a sustainable way to address them. A barrier-
free Ontario is a more productive, wealthy and compassionate

One example of a barrier faced by Ontarians is the minimal
treatment available for people with brain damage. This includes
traumatic brain injuries, damage from aneurysms, fetal alcohol
syndrome and the six different types of attention deficit
disorder. This population of people with dysfunctional brains has
the same intelligence range as the general poulation, but instead
of being contributing members of society we are an enormous deficit
to the system.

We are 70% of inmates, we are malnourished, living in poverty, with
little access to education and generally untreated for our
cognitive deficits.

Brain dysfunction is treatable. With a combination of
compensatory strategies and medication, most of us can contribute
to society in a meaningful way. In order to get this treatment we
need the willingness of the individual to embrace their deficits.
This is very difficult to do when people, including health
professionals and teachers, know little or nothing about brain
dysfunction. It is also very difficult for people to embrace their
deficits when they cannot identify their specific cognitive needs.

The province of Ontario has no education program, no diagnosis
program, no treatment program, no treatment facilities and no
supports for people with cognitive disabilities. Instead we sit in
prisons, mental institutions, or just at home, rejects of society.

Education programs alone would contribute greatly to helping people
with cognitive disabilities. These programs would teach people how
to understand their mind and the minds of others. This type of new
understanding has great benefits for our entire society.

This may look like an enormous and complex challenge, but it is
not. Solutions exist. People such as myself, who are
rehabilitating from severe traumatic brain damage, know how to
solve these problems. But we have not been asked. If we were, we
could make an incredible contribution to society, perhaps
evolving it to new heights.

Not only is no one asking, no one is listening. Harris has
refused to meet with the ODA [Committee] in six years, despite the
repeated promises to work with the committee to develop a strong
Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Harris will not meet with Ontarians with disabilities. Is this
because we are not a valid part of society? Do our contributions
fall outside the "common sense revolution"? Harris knows of the
crumbling wall and promises to fix it, but has chosen to put it off
instead. Mr. Harris, we can fix your wall, but you must at least
let us in the yard.

Vox Pop provides an opportunity for readers to comment on topical
subjects. Kevin MacGregor is a London resident.

Note: If you have related comments, why not write a short letter to
the editor of The London Free Press? Include your full name,
address, a daytime telephone number where you can be reached, and
send letters under 200 words to letters@lfpress.com . Longer
submissions to Vox Pop can also be sent to the same e-mail



Here is a letter to the editor that appeared in Now Magazine in response to the previous week's major article on disability access issues. It is followed by a response by Ann Kennedy, the ODA supporter profiled in last week's Now Magainze.

If you want to send your comments to Now Magazine, email them to: now at letters@nowtoronto.com

Now Magazine March 22 to 28, 2001 Page 16

Forgive my ignorance, but why does someone bound to a wheelchair or scooter need hiking boots from Bata Out There (NOW, March 15-21)? I mean, aside from the obvious aesthetic reasons. But really, hiking boots as an accessory have been out since, like, 91. As for other weak points in your article (or persistent whine), you pretty much summed it up in your last line.

"I'll take my money elsewhere." Well, no ____ . Of course, it's in the best interests of the business to make their store accessible. If they don't, screw 'em. Something to keep in mind, though: the world is not completely accessible to anyone.

The majority of people are too fat, too short, too tall, too ugly, too something to be able to accomplish everything in life. We all have our limitations, and some people's suck more than others. I'm sorry about that, but don't make life ____ for the rest of us. Let us keep our Uptown, damn it!


JOHN DOWNS - Toronto

Ironically, I must agree with Downs on a couple of points in his ignorant rant against disabled rights. The article itself does not address the basic, just-try-getting-milk-at-the-corner-store problems we people who use wheelchairs/scooters live with 24/7.

There's a McDonald's and a Starbucks on every other corner, 90% of them are accessible. Aside from the fact that hiking boots are the only style of shoe that will fit over the leg braces I wear (fashion is not an option), I couldn't care less about Bata Out There.

The editors' choice of establishments was based on the idea that, if these money-laden corporations won't give a damn, what hope can we hold out for doctors' offices, public transit and places to live and work?

It's not a matter of choice, John. If my fighting for equal access is making your life ____ then you need more help than most disabled people I know.

Without these obstacles, EVERYONE is free to live a full life To not remove them is discrimination.

Ann Kennedy



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