August 21, 2001
ODA Committee Calls On Ontario Government
To Ensure A Barrier- Free Legislative Process
When Legislature Considers the ODA this Fall
Today the ODA Committee wrote to Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson to call for a barrier-free legislative process in which persons with disabilities can fully participate, when the Harris government introduces its forthcoming ODA bill this fall.
In this letter, set out below, the ODA Committee makes specific requests to ensure that this legislative process is barrier-free, including adequate prior notice of all dates when the bill will be debated and open, accessible province-wide public hearings on the bill.
August 21, 2001
The Honourable Cam Jackson
Minister of Citizenship
400 University Avenue, 6th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2R9
Re: Ontarians with Disabilities Act
We understand from your recent statements that you plan to
introduce an Ontarians with Disabilities Act bill this fall and
to have it passed into law before year's end. The Legislature's
deadline of November 23, 2001 for the enactment of a strong and
effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act is fast approaching,
and is only 94 days away.
We are writing to ask that the Legislature's process for
considering your Ontarians with Disabilities Act bill be fully
open, accessible and barrier-free for persons with disabilities.
For example, we wish to ask that the public be given at least two
weeks' notice of each of the dates the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act bill will be before the Legislature for each of
the three readings, debates and/or votes. As you are aware,
people with disabilities in particular require significant lead
time for appointments, because of limited transportation and
other assistive services necessary for their attendance and full
participation at such functions.
Further, we also wish to request that you hold public Legislative
Committee hearings on your proposed legislation, providing at
least four weeks' notice for preparation. We ask that these
hearings be open, publicly accessible and province-wide.
When we met your predecessor, Isabel Bassett, on October 22,
1998, she expressed the view that she was not opposed to public
hearings. Later, it was reported in a Sarnia area newspaper,
published March 15, 1999, that Minister Bassett supported the
call for public hearings on Bill 83, your government's previous
bill. Further, we can only conclude that the Premier also
supported such a call when Bill 83 was before the House, when he
wrote to us on November 25, 1998: "As the bill proceeds through
the legislative process, there will be opportunities for input
To date, your government has made no public announcements
detailing intended contents of your forthcoming bill. Your recent
ad hoc meetings with various individuals and groups do not
preclude the need for accessible public hearings on your
forthcoming bill, open to all.
In the spring of 1999, many individuals wrote to the Clerk of the
Legislature requesting a chance to appear at public hearings on
Bill 83. We would request that all applications received at that
time now be applied to hearings on your forthcoming legislation.
Also, new applications should be encouraged and accommodated so
that all who wish to appear at these hearings are able to do so.
We ask that your government provide for full debate on any
amendments consistent with the 11 principles regarding the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act adopted by the Legislature by
unanimous resolution on October 29, 1998.
We understand that you also plan to introduce some amendments to
the Ontario Human Rights Code. We similarly encourage a public,
accessible, barrier-free legislative process for any bill
regarding the Human Rights Code, at least to the extent that it
relates to an Ontarians with Disabilities Act and disability
We would be pleased to discuss these requests with you, and to do
whatever we can to help ensure a positive and successful
David Lepofsky, C.M.
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee
cc: Mike Harris 325-7578
Norman Sterling 326-2913
Dalton McGuinty 325-9895
Dwight Duncan 325-2201
Steve Peters 325-7262
Ernie Parsons 325-4757
Howard Hampton 325-8222
David Christopherson 325-3189
Marilyn Churley 325-3252
Tony Martin 325-3720
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Last updated August 23, 2001