Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

ODA Committee HomepageFactsheet; the Ontarians with Disabilities Act CommitteeWhat's New on the ODA Committee websiteCorrespondence between the ODA Committee and the Ontario GovernmentODA Committee Press ReleasesHansard from the Ontario Legislature re: ODAODA Committee Action Kits and TipsContact the ODA CommitteeOrganizational Members of the ODA
Who are we?Major ODA DocumentsODA News BriefsODA HandoutODA PamphletODA PostersRegional ODA EventsFree Membership form to Join the ODA Committee

Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA


ODA Update
June 18, 2001

Only 158 days remain until the November 23, 2001 deadline which
the Ontario Legislature set for a strong and effective Ontarians
with Disabilities Act to be enacted. Here is important news along
our journey down the road to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario AMO is an important
organization. It is made up of many of the local municipal
governments across this province. It often advises the Ontario
Government on issues that are relevant to local governments.

The new Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson approached AMO some time
ago about the ODA. He asked for AMO's input on what the ODA
should contain vis a vis barriers at the municipal level.

AMO developed some ideas on this topic, and sent them to Minister
Jackson in a letter dated May 1, 2001. We recently asked for and
obtained from AMO a copy of that letter. It is set out below. It
includes some encouraging statements about this topic.

We have written the President of AMO to follow up on this. See
our letter below. AMO's letter accepts a good part of the message
we have been bringing to the public.We want to show AMO why the
core ingredients we want in the ODA, as reflected in our 11
principles, would be good for municipal and regional governments
and the people living in them. We also want to urge AMO to take a
position on the ODA which corresponds to the position that so
many municipal councils have adopted by their many resolutions on
the ODA. In our letter below, we ask the AMO President to arrange
a way that the ODA Committee and AMO can work together now to
find as much common ground on this issue as possible.

We encourage you to take these steps:

* If your city, regional or town council has already passed a
resolution in support of the ODA, contact them. Let them know
about this exchange of letters involving AMO. Ask them to
encourage AMO to take a position on the ODA which fully
corresponds with the local resolution that your city or town or
regional council has passed. You can see most of these
resolutions on our web site at:


* If your city, town or regional council has not yet passed a
resolution in support of the ODA, encourage them to do so now.
Urge them to let AMO know when they do. If you need a sample
resolution, contact us for this at:


Let's keep building more and more public support for the ODA!


Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)
393 University Avenue, Suite 1701
Toronto, ON M5G 1E6

tel: 416-971-9856
fax: 416-971-6191


May 1, 2001

The Honourable Cam Jackson
Minister of Citizenship
6th Floor, 400 University Avenue
Toronto, ON M7A 2R9

Dear Minister:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide municipal input into the
development of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA). AMO
understands the Province's commitment to this Act and its desire
to move forward. In the interest of timely comments to you, this
letter conveys the Association's position. A formal AMO report
will be published at a later date. First and foremost, AMO agrees
that working toward and making reasonable efforts to remove and
prevent barriers for all people is good public policy. AMO also
believes that in order to implement this statement of principle,
the following considerations are needed:

Both the provincial and federal governments must take leadership
roles in preventing and removing barriers. This includes better
training of staff to address the needs of persons with
disabilities and educating the public with the goal of changing
perceptions (social marketing) and an examination of the tools
and programs to support the objective.

All orders of government should co-ordinate their efforts. The
ODA should have reasonable province-wide standards, which apply
to all governments, institutes, and the private sector. This
creates a one-tiered barrier-free Ontario as opposed to a multi-
tiered Ontario.

The ODA could promote full inclusion and take a universal
business/access approach, where all segments of the population,
aging population, women with children, persons with disabilities,
etc., are included in designs.

The capacity to finance is a key component to effective policy
implementation. In the absence of municipal financial capacity,
the federal and provincial governments should fund the costs of
implementing an ODA at the municipal levels.

The ODA should encourage governments to do business with parties
that have similar priorities in regard to the disabled.

Persons who are affected by barriers need to be closer to the
decision makers throughout the process of implementing and
administering the ODA, at the municipal level.

Successes and best practices should be tracked and evaluated as
they occur and this information should be disseminated to all
appropriate parties.

Municipalities should have the opportunity to review the ODA Act
and any regulations associated with the Act before they are
introduced into the legislature,

AMO considered a number of approaches but when evaluated against
the above considerations, the preferred approach is for local
action plans. This approach or any other approach must give
municipalities local determination in setting local targets,
local priority setting, realistic time frames and flexibility
according to local financial capacity. This will be needed for
successful implementation. The Province could consider directing
within this preferred approach that any new building construction
be subject to barrier free design, but an even playing field is
needed for both the private and public sector if accelerated
accessibility is the government's objective.

I encourage your staff to follow up with AMO once you have
received the input of the various stakeholders. Further
government to government discussions maybe appropriate as you
consider how to proceed.

Yours very sincerely,
Ann Mulvale

cc: The Honourable Chris Hodgson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
The Honourable Brian Coburn, Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs
The Honourable Dan Newman, Minister of Northern Development and Mines


c/o Marg Thomas
1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto ON M4G 3E8
Tel: (Voice direct) 416-480-7686
Fax: 416-480-7014

Voice mail: 416-480-7012
email: oda@odacommittee.net
TTY: c/o Susan Main 416 964-0023 ex. 343
Web site: www.odacommittee.net

June 15, 2001

Ms. Ann Mulvale, President
Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)
393 University Avenue, Suite 1701
Toronto, ON M5G 1E6

tel: 416-971-9856
fax: 416-971-6191

Dear Ms. Mulvale,

Re: Ontarians with Disabilities Act

I am writing on behalf of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Committee. We are a province-wide grass roots non-partisan
coalition of individuals and over a hundred community
organizations. Our membership is diverse with respect to race,
socioeconomic status, age, and demography. We have come together
to achieve a barrier-free province for Ontarians with
disabilities, enabling all people with and without a disability
to participate equally in all aspects of provincial life. We are
advocating for legislation requiring the removal of barriers in
all provincial sectors and the prevention of new barriers before
they are created.

The Ontario government committed over six years ago to enact the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It also committed in its April,
19, 2001 Throne Speech to introduce this legislation during the
current legislative session. A resolution of the Ontario
legislature unanimously passed eighteen months ago, set November
23, 2001 as the final deadline for passage of a strong and
effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

We understand that the new Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson has
communicated with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario
(AMO) to seek its input in the development of the forthcoming
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. I recently spoke with staff at
AMO's policy department about this. AMO has given the ODA
Committee your May 1, 2001 letter to Minister Jackson, for which
we are most appreciative.

We are pleased with AMO's support indicated in your May 1 letter
to Minister Jackson for important activities aimed at removing
and preventing barriers against people with disabilities in
Ontario. We view it as an indication that both AMO and the ODA
Committee would very much benefit from further collaboration
between us on this issue. At this time, it would seem opportune
for all interested parties to meet and discuss legislative
possibilities for the Ontarians with Disabilities Act which would
benefit all who will be affected by this legislation. Municipal
participation is critical to successful and effective legislation
in this domain. Because this legislation is expected soon, the
time is ripe for this collaboration.

We are very encouraged to find that there is widespread strong
support for the kind of legislation we seek among municipal
councils of cities and towns throughout the province. This is
clearly indicated by resolutions passed by over twenty municipal
and regional councils across Ontario, calling for the enactment
of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Many of these councils
have endorsed the eleven principles for this legislation which we
formulated and which the Ontario legislature unanimously adopted
by resolution on October 29, 1998 (see copy enclosed). Those
principles identify such elements as: the legislation's goal of a
barrier-free province, the need for prompt and effective
enforcement that goes beyond the barrier-by-barrier litigation-
driven approach under the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the
provision of a process for input from those affected by the
legislation,such as persons with disabilities and municipal
governments, in the setting of standards under the legislation.

The municipalities and regional governments that have adopted
supportive resolutions on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
reflect a clear majority of the population of Ontario, as well as
the full diversity of communities from the largest cities to the
smallest towns. Furthermore, a poll conducted in June, 1999 by
the government and our own poll conducted in 1997 show strong
support throughout the province for the kind of legislation we
seek. In this context, we believe that discussions between the
ODA Committee and AMO leadership would critically facilitate
overall success in province-wide barrier removal and prevention
via the forthcoming Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

We were delighted to see that your May 1, 2001 letter to Minister
Jackson recognized the need for important core ingredients for
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We also know from
discussions I had recently with your policy staff that such
discussions would provide us with an opportunity to identify
concerns specific to the municipal sector, to which the ODA
Committee has given considerable thought. For example, we are
keenly aware of and sensitive to the fact that the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act must take into account the practical reality
that we cannot have the same expectations of smaller towns as
would be the case for larger cities. For example, it is a core
principle of the ODA Committee that the expectations and time
lines for removing and preventing barriers must be sensitive to
the available resources and capacity of specific organizations
such as diverse municipalities in order to achieve success at
this kind of activity.

A good start now along an important and fruitful path for a
successful Ontarians with Disabilities Act would be for AMO and
the ODA Committee to work together to discuss the immediate
development of this legislation. To this end, on behalf of our
province-wide membership, I would like to propose as a first step
that a meeting be arranged as soon as your schedule permits with
you to initiate such discussions. Thereafter, we would welcome an
opportunity to meet with AMO's Executive Committee and/or its
Board of Directors.

To assist your members to prepare for such a meeting, our policy
positions and full information about our province-wide activities
(including resolutions passed by the Ontario Legislature and
municipal and regional councils) are available on our website
www.odacommittee.net. We will do our utmost to accommodate your

We look forward to hearing from you and to working together with
AMO so that the Ontarians with Disabilities Act can benefit all
who will be affected by this important legislation.


David Lepofsky, CM,
Chair ODA Committee

CC: Pat Vanini, Director of Policy and Government Relations


ODA Resolution Unanimously Passed by the Ontario Legislature
OCTOBER 29, 1998

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, thereby enabling
these persons to enjoy equal opportunity and full participation
in the life of the province; and since Premier Harris promised in
writing during the last election in the letter from Michael D.
Harris to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee dated May
24, 1995 to:

a) enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act within its current
term of office; and

b) work together with members of the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act Committee, amongst others, in the development of such

and since this House unanimously passed a resolution on May 16,
1996 calling on the Ontario Government to keep this promise,

Therefore this House resolves that the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act should embody the following principles:

1. The purpose of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act should be
to effectively ensure to persons with disabilities in Ontario the
equal opportunity to fully and meaningfully participate in all
aspects of life in Ontario based on their individual merit, by
removing existing barriers confronting them and by preventing the
creation of new barriers. It should seek to achieve a barrier-
free Ontario for persons with disabilities within as short a time
as is reasonably possible, with implementation to begin
immediately upon proclamation.

2. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act's requirements should
supersede all other legislation, regulations or policies which
either conflict with it, or which provide lesser protections and
entitlements to persons with disabilities;

3. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should require government
entities, public premises, companies and organizations to be made
fully accessible to all persons with disabilities through the
removal of existing barriers and the prevention of the creation
of new barriers, within strict time frames to be prescribed in
the legislation or regulations;

4. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should require the
providers of goods, services and facilities to the public to
ensure that their goods, services and facilities are fully usable
by persons with disabilities, and that they are designed to
reasonably accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities.
Included among services, goods and facilities, among other
things, are all aspects of education including primary, secondary
and post-secondary education, as well as providers of
transportation and communication facilities (to the extent that
Ontario can regulate these) and public sector providers of
information to the public e.g. governments. Providers of these
goods, services and facilities should be required to devise and
implement detailed plans to remove existing barriers within
legislated timetables;

5. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should require public and
private sector employers to take proactive steps to achieve
barrier-free workplaces within prescribed time limits. Among
other things, employers should be required to identify existing
barriers which impede persons with disabilities, and then to
devise and implement plans for the removal of these barriers, and
for the prevention of new barriers in the workplace;

6. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should provide for a
prompt and effective process for enforcement. It should not
simply incorporate the existing procedures for filing
discrimination complaints with the Ontario Human Rights
Commission, as these are too slow and cumbersome, and yield
inadequate remedies;

7. As part of its enforcement process, the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act should provide for a process of regulation-
making to define with clarity the steps required for compliance
with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It should be open for
such regulations to be made on an industry-by-industry basis, or
sector-by-sector basis. This should include a requirement that
input be obtained from affected groups such as persons with
disabilities before such regulations are enacted. It should also
provide persons with disabilities with the opportunity to apply
to have regulations made in specific sectors of the economy;

8. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should also mandate the
Government of Ontario to provide education and other information
resources to companies, individuals and groups who seek to comply
with the requirements of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act;

9. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should also require the
Government of Ontario to take affirmative steps to promote the
development and distribution in Ontario of new adaptive
technologies and services for persons with disabilities;

10. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should require the
provincial and municipal governments to make it a strict
condition of funding any program, or of purchasing any services,
goods or facilities, that they be designed to be fully accessible
to and usable by persons with disabilities. Any grant or contract
which does not so provide is void and unenforceable by the grant-
recipient or contractor with the government in question;

The Ontarians with Disabilities Act must be more than mere window
dressing. It should contribute meaningfully to the improvement of
the position of persons with disabilities in Ontario. It must
have real force and effect.



Go to Top of Page Top of Page


Index Page   |  Action Kits & Tips  | 

Website maintained by Barbara Anello

Please email your feedback on the website.

Last updated June 21, 2001

Web Design Courtesy of Barbara Anello 
of AWS: Anello Web Services 
URL: http://welcome.to/aws