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ODA Committee Update
October 25, 2002


ODA Issues Raised in the Ontario Legislature in past three weeks
October 25, 2002


Here are the exchanges that have occurred over the past three weeks in the
Ontario Legislature concerning the ODA, set out in full below:

* On September 25, 2002, during Question Period, Conservative MPP Marilyn
Mushinski asked Citizenship Minister De Faria a friendly question about the
forthcoming proclamation in force of most provisions of the ODA 2001. The
Minister said that this legislation "puts persons with disabilities at the
forefront of change". He described some of the ODA's contents, and said
that the Ministry has developed guidelines for municipalities, in
partnership with municipalities which provide assistance to municipalities.
This question came from a fellow member of the Government, Ms. Mushinski.
She was the Conservative Government's first Citizenship Minister back
between 1995 and 1997. Over that period she had been responsible for the
ODA issue. Mr. De Faria is the fifth Citizenship Minister under this
Government with this responsibility.

* On September 30, 2002, the date when the Ontario Government proclaimed in
force many ODA provisions, Liberal MPPs George Smitherman and Ernie Parsons
each questioned Citizenship Minister De Faria about the ODA in Question
Period. Smitherman talked about a new pizza chain store that had just
opened in Toronto, and that was inaccessible despite substantial funds
being spent on renovations. He noted that the pizza store said they did not
make their premises accessible because they were not required to do so.
Both Smitherman and Parsons asked the Minister to bring forward amendments
to the ODA to cover the private sector. The Minister answered that the ODA
was mostly being proclaimed in force that day and "the act has
regulation-making authority that gives the government the power to mandate

The ODA Committee notes that we have asked the Minister to establish
regulations to set accessibility standards in retail chain establishments.
He has not answered in the four months since we first raised this with him.

* On Monday, October 21, 2002, Liberal Disability Critic Ernie Parsons made
a statement in the Legislature about the ODA. He noted that the government
has still only appointed 5 members of its 12 member provincial
Accessibility Advisory Council. He also noted that the government still has
not proclaimed the ODA provision that provides for enforcement against
organizations which do not make accessibility plans e.g. municipalities. he
said: "When they (i.e. the Government) say "no new barriers," that means
nothing. When you get rid of 50 special education teachers from the Ottawa
school board, those are barriers to thousands and thousands of young people
who are now denied access to education."

The Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 was passed into law more than 10
months ago.


Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Hansard - Wednesday, September 25, 2002


Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre): I have a question for the
Minister of Citizenship. I noticed with interest the
announcement to proclaim in the Ontario Gazette additional sections of the
landmark Ontarians with Disabilities Act. I just wanted you to know,
Minister, that there are many individuals in my riding of Scarborough
Centre who are --


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. Take your seat. The member for Windsor
West and the minister, please. Sorry for the interruption. We've got
another conversation going back and forth. I apologize to the member for
Scarborough Centre. You may continue.

Ms Mushinski: To repeat, I know there are many disabled individuals in my
riding of Scarborough Centre who will be affected by this new legislation,
Minister. I wonder if you could inform this House what this particular
proclamation means for those individuals, as well as for the additional 1.9
million Ontarians who are living with disabilities.

Hon Carl DeFaria (Minister of Citizenship, minister responsible for
seniors): I appreciate the member's question as it gives me an opportunity
to address a very important piece of legislation, the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act.

Last December, our government led the way by passing the ODA. This is the
first and most comprehensive piece of legislation in Canada that puts
persons with disabilities at the forefront of change.

We worked with AMO and other stakeholders on this issue during the summer
to prepare the municipalities for the proclamation of the sections. In just
about a week, on September 30, most of the sections of the ODA will be
proclaimed, and our own government's ministry Internet sites will have
accessibility requirements by December 31, 2002.

Ms Mushinski: Thank you, Minister, for that response. As you mentioned,
this proclamation will indeed bring into law obligations on the part of
municipalities and other affected organizations. I wonder if you could
further clarify those steps that the government will be taking to ensure
that municipalities and the broader public organizations have information
and support in implementing these particular changes.

Hon Mr DeFaria: I would like to inform the member and the House that
municipalities with a population of 10,000 or more will be required to have
a municipal accessibility advisory committee in place on September 30 this
year, just a week from today.

Additionally, all municipalities and other organizations that are affected
will be required to develop an accessibility plan on an annual basis. That
also takes place in a week's time. They will have to have those plans in
place within a year.

The guidelines the municipalities are required to follow have been
developed by our ministry in partnership with the municipalities. I was at
the AMO conference and I was very pleased with AMO's reception of our
guidelines that they received from us during that conference. Those
guidelines will provide all the assistance they need to advise the


Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Hansard - Monday, September 30, 2002


Mr George Smitherman (Toronto Centre-Rosedale): My question is to the
Minister of Citizenship, and I ask it on behalf of at least three of my
constituents who are in the gallery today. Marie, Ken and Doreen joined me
and about 40 other folks earlier today at a Pizza Pizza store on Parliament
Street, of which I provided you with a picture.

My question is, how is it that after the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
has been passed, Pizza Pizza can spend over half a million dollars to open
a new store which is basically at grade with three entrances, each of them
allowing a six-inch lip to remain? When we approached Pizza Pizza and asked
them why they didn't make it accessible, their answer was clear: it's
because the law didn't make them do it.

This highlights the extent to which your bill is a scam, Mr Minister. In
front of my constituents and all Ontarians, 1.9 million of whom have some
disability, will you tell me and this House how in good faith you can
continue to defend that bill, and will you bring in a bill that deals
meaningfully with the challenges people are facing?

Hon Carl DeFaria (Minister of Citizenship, minister responsible for
seniors): Our government is committed to ensuring that there is greater
accessibility in Ontario and more independence for persons with

The Ontarians with Disabilities Act has been proclaimed. Most of the
sections were proclaimed, effective today, and the act has
regulation-making authority that gives the government the power to mandate

Since the act was passed last year, we put in place a directorate in

We also put in place the Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario, and we
have leading people in the disability community, such as Dave Shannon and
Jeff Adams, as chair and co-chair of that council.

We are working with the private sector to ensure they understand their
responsibilities and will continue to do so.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Supplementary?

Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings): My question is also to the
minister. Please don't read back the standard answer; I want to hear what
you really believe. You have the power to improve the quality of life of so
many people in Ontario who have a disability. Please use that power

Your government pledged during the ODA debate that there would be no new
barriers, yet you condoned the firing of over 50 special education teachers
in Ottawa. You pledged it would apply to private industry. These people
don't get the $2.1 million a year that the Premier's fundraiser gets. They
can't do something as simple as go in and purchase a pizza. They don't even
have the ability to do that, Minister.

You put in place an advisory committee. Good for you. Quoted in the paper
Friday, one of them said, "I'm on this to try to make the government pass a
meaningful Ontarians with Disabilities Act."

I urge you to follow the 13 principles. Minister, please listen to your
heart, listen to your sense. There are no second-class citizens in Dalton
McGuinty's Ontario; evidently there are in yours. You have the chance to
change it now. Will you bring forth amendments that make a meaningful OD
act that will improve the lives of these and thousands of others of our --

The Speaker: I'm afraid the member's time is up.

Hon Mr DeFaria: Making Ontario more accessible is everyone's
responsibility. It's the responsibility of the municipal sector, the
responsibility of provincial government and the responsibility of the
private sector.

Our government has invested $209,000 toward the development of customer
service standards with the Canadian Standards Association. For the first
time, the business community has a resource for providing voluntary quality
customer service for the disabled community.

Our government is the government that passed the ODA. When the other
government was in power, they did not pass any legislation to protect
Ontarians with disabilities. The federal government has not done anything
in this area. We have acted and you have not.


Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Hansard - Monday, October 21, 2002


Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings): My statement today is to the
thousands of Ontarians with disabilities who are having trouble reconciling
what this government says and what it does. I'd like to provide a little
bit of interpretation for them.

When the minister said on September 30, "We've also put in place the
Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario," what that means is that he put
in place five out of 12. When he says they will be gender-balanced, they
have five men, zero women. Only to this government would that be
gender-balanced. When the minister says they will consult, it's not with
you. We're not sure whom it's with, but it's not with the disability
community by any means.

When the minister says they have put in place legislation that applies in
municipalities with over 10,000 people, that means they want it to sound
like they are doing it. They have in fact proclaimed the portion that says
municipalities must have a plan. The only section they didn't proclaim was
section 21, which makes it an offence to not comply. It is absolutely
without teeth for the public sector and the private sector.

When they say "no new barriers," that means nothing. When you get rid of 50
special education teachers from the Ottawa school board, those are barriers
to thousands and thousands of young people who are now denied access to

When they say, as the minister did, "We know the private sector is ready
and willing to participate with us," that doesn't apply to pizza
organizations either. What a sham.


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