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ODA Committee Update
October 29, 2002


An Important Anniversary on the Road to a Barrier-Free Ontario

October 29, 2002


October 29, 2002 is an important anniversary in our ongoing campaign for a
barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities. Four years ago, on
October 29, 1998, we won an important victory along the long and winding
road to our ultimate goal.

After months of lobbying and advocacy across Ontario, we succeeded in
convincing the Ontario Legislature to pass a unanimous resolution on the
ODA on that important day back in 1998. It called on the Ontario Government
to pass an ODA which complies with the now-famous 11 principles which the
ODA Committee put forward to ensure that the ODA is strong and effective.

This critically-important resolution is set out again below as a reminder.
All ODA Committee members, by joining our coalition, subscribe to these 11

In addition to the extraordinary effort mounted by ODA supporters to get
this resolution passed four years ago, ODA supporters have done an
excellent job in convincing many municipal and regional councils across
Ontario to pass similar resolutions. We remain indebted to Liberal MPP
Dwight Duncan for sponsoring this resolution back in 1998 and for
spearheading its passage through the Legislature.

While we remember this important milestone on the road to a barrier-free
province, we are also reminded by this anniversary that we still have much
work ahead. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, passed last December,
only fulfils one of these 11 principles. We have called on the Ontario
Government to pass regulations under the ODA 2001 which will fulfil all of
our 11 principles. The Government has not yet started consulting on
regulations to be passed under the ODA 2001. The Government-appointed
Accessibility Advisory Council has not yet answered our recent letter. In
it we offer our help and ask about their plans for consulting the public on

On this long journey towards a barrier-free Ontario, we benefit from
celebrating our victories, like ours of October 29, 1998. We also look
forward with energy and commitment to make those 11 principles a reality in

As always, send us your feedback at:



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 legislation.

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

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;

11. 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.


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