October 31, 2001
ODA HEATS UP IN THE LEGISLATURE AS THE DAY
APPROACHES FOR THE BILL'S INTRODUCTION
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE UPDATE
The ODA was raised twice during Question Period thisweek. This is a sure sign that the bill's introduction is getting closer. Both events are set out below.
* On Tuesday, October 30, 2001, a Government MPP asked Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson about the forthcoming ODA. Government MPPs have such questions scripted for them by the Government when they want to showcase the Government's strategy and approach.
As in recent days, the Government's approach includes some effort at blaming the federal government for inaction in this area. In fact the Federal Government is not responsible for and has no authority over most of the barriers in Ontario. This is one big red herring, and we should not be distracted from it. The six and a half year delay on the ODA is the Ontario Government's sole responsibility. Let's hope the new bill will have been worth the wait.
* On Wednesday, October 31, 2001, Opposition Leader Dalton McGuinty asked Citizenship Minister Jackson if the ODA would comply with the 11 principles which we proposed and the Legislature approved three years ago. See the answer below. As well, Mr. McGuinty proposed that the ODA be subject to public hearings after the bill receives first reading. See the Minister's answer on this score below.
There are now only 24 days to go until the Legislature's November 23, 2001 deadline for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act to be enacted. Time is running out!
Ontario Hansard Tuesday, October 30, 2001
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES LEGISLATION
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is directed to the
Minister of Citizenship. Minister, as you've informed the House,
you've been meeting with community leaders across the province in
preparation for the introduction of the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, the legislation that you've stated will be
tabled within a few weeks.
As part of those consultations, I understand you met recently
with stakeholders in Ottawa. Minister, you've said repeatedly
that everyone in the public and private sectors -- as a matter of
fact, all levels of government -- will need to work together to
prevent the creation of new barriers and eliminate existing
barriers if persons with disabilities are to achieve full
As the seat of the federal government and Canada's capital,
Ottawa, one would hope, is at the forefront in improving
accessibility for persons with disabilities. Can you report on
what you've found during your visit to Ottawa?
Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister of Citizenship, minister
responsible for seniors): First of all, I was in Ottawa last week
for my third visit with disabled persons. Ottawa has a very
progressive committee. It's been in operation for over 10 years.
They are doing extensive work in terms of transit conversion and
curb-cutting, some of the best work in the province, I might add.
Under their leadership they're engaging the disabled community
directly in planning decisions, in reviewing buildings. They're
currently doing audits of municipal buildings.
They have a concern though, quite frankly, that if we're going to
find solutions in sharing the responsibility to make sure Ontario
becomes more accessible, we are going to need to work with the
federal government and we're --
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Fed-bashing.
Hon Mr Jackson: We're not bashing them, member from St
Catharines. I'd think he'd be the first one to suggest that the
federal government should do its fair share. We haven't seen much
evidence of it, but I believe that the federal government,
especially in a city like Ottawa, is willing to do it for its own
employees because any legislation we do in Ontario will not cover
federal government buildings in this province.
Mr Galt: Thank you, Minister. Also compliments to you for the
extensive consultation that you've been carrying out on this
particular bill. Extensive consultations are, of course, a
hallmark of our government.
Minister, as you have previously stated in the House, involving
persons with disabilities in the public policy development is
indeed a stated goal of the government. In your meetings with
members of the Ottawa accessibility committee for the disabled,
did you get an indication as to how they would like the
government to proceed with an Ontarians with Disabilities Act and
the type of approach the legislation should pursue?
Hon Mr Jackson: Very clearly, the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory
Committee feels very strongly, as does this government, that any
legislative initiative and any efforts put forward to make
Ontario more accessible should involve the disability communities
I've stated in this House before that from what I've seen in
Ottawa and how it works, it is working very well, and we're
encouraged by that. In fact, since amalgamation in Ottawa, they
have actually even strengthened their rules of participation. The
committee is made up of 13 members of the disability community
appointed by council and includes one councillor. It happens to
be Councillor Madeleine Meilleur from Ottawa. The committee is
chaired by Barry McMahon, who is a member of the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act Committee. He has indicated his full support for
the government's approach of ensuring active and ongoing
participation of disabled persons. Clearly we need to achieve
full accessibility as everyone's business and to everyone's
benefit in Ontario.
Ministry of Community and Social Services
Office of the Minister
Toronto ON M7A 1E9
October 23, 2001
Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair, ODA Committee
c/o Marg Thomas
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Dear Mr. Lepofsky:
Thank you for your letter of September 18, 2001 advising me of
your organization's position on the proposed Ontarians with
I appreciate the time you have taken to bring your concerns to my
attention and will keep them in mind in my ongoing discussions
with my Cabinet and caucus colleagues.
Once again, thank you for writing.
John Baird, MPP
Ontario Hansard Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for
the Minister of Citizenship. You will recognize that the Premier
made a very specific promise to enact an Ontarians with
Disabilities Act. You will also know how long ago he made that
promise. You will also know how long it has been that the one and
a half million Ontarians with disabilities have waited for him to
deliver on that promise. It's been nearly seven years. Minister,
we understand now that you could be introducing a bill on this
subject as soon as tomorrow. Three years ago, on a resolution
proposed by our party, this House unanimously adopted 11
principles to be incorporated in this new piece of legislation.
Will you commit today that your bill will abide by the 11
principles unanimously supported by this House?
Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister of Citizenship, minister
responsible for seniors): I'm sure the honourable member is aware
that I have responded to this and several other questions about
the ODA in the last few weeks. He would also be aware that we
have consulted quite widely with disabled groups and individuals
and stakeholders across the province. The principles that he
suggests have been widely discussed. It would appear, perhaps,
that the member opposite has not had much of a consultation with
municipalities. I cite one example which I have cited in the
House before, that if the Liberal Party fully supports complete,
overriding provisions in the Municipal Act, as one example, that
is not an issue which municipalities are encouraged about. But
when the honourable member sees the legislation, when it's
tabled, he will see very clearly that these principles have been
strongly considered and that there are opportunities in this
legislation to move forward for persons with disabilities, unlike
any other government has done in Canada.
Mr McGuinty: Minister, I distinguish between something that is
strongly considered and something that is unequivocally endorsed,
and I'm sure that the Ontarians with disabilities will listen
with great interest to your response. Our party has been fighting
for nearly seven years to get a strong and effective Ontarians
with Disabilities Act, but that's not nearly as long as David
Lepofsky and his committee have been fighting for this. Minister,
it's one thing to keep the one and a half million Ontarians with
disabilities waiting this long and it's quite another to shut
them out of the process to lend shape to the actual legislation.
That would be to add insult to injury. I'm asking on their behalf
that the committee to which will be assigned the responsibility
to deal with this new piece of legislation will travel
immediately after first reading and that it won't just stay here
in Toronto but it will go to Thunder Bay and Windsor and Ottawa
and points in between. Minister, do I have your commitment that
this legislation will go to committee after first reading and
that the committee will travel?
Hon Mr Jackson: This question has already been raised and it has
already been responded to. But I want to go back to what the
member has asked about the 11 principles. If there is anything
that the disability community has waited for over the last seven
years, it has also been a commitment from the Liberal Party and
the Liberal opposition. Just in your own report of your
assessment of the situation confronting disabled persons in this
province, you indicate that after you publish a reiteration of
the principles-are you prepared to fund them, are you prepared to
cost them, are you prepared to commit to them? No, you are not.
What the Liberals will do is that they feel-and I quote directly
from their report-that this is a good starting point for any
discussions regarding any future legislation. That's the problem.
You would sit and discuss it for six years, like you did when you
were the government. This government is going to table disability
legislation that all disabled persons can be proud of in this
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Last updated October 31, 2001