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ODA Committee Update
dated December 15, 2002
posted Dec. 24, 2002



December 15, 2002


Although the Ontario Legislature was pre-occupied with many high-profile issues this fall, and the ODA was not the subject of any formal debate time in the Legislature, the ongoing issues surrounding the ODA kept coming up during the fall 2002 sittings of the Legislature. It is widely discussed that this may be the last full sitting of the Legislature before an anticipated election is called, rumoured to be possible in the spring of 2003.

Below are the last two exchanges in the Legislature in the fall 2002 sittings:

* On November 28, 2002, Conservative MPP Burt Johnson asked a friendly question of Citizenship Minister De Faria about the activities of the province's Accessibility Advisory Council which the Government finally finished appointing. The Minister's answer indicated that the Government-selected Council was holding its first full meetings on November 28 and 29, 2002, over 11 months after this legislation was passed. The Minister said that the Council's advice will be important to moving forward on the Government's commitment to achieve a barrier-free Ontario. The Minister has not indicated what issues he has referred to this Council for advice.

* On December 3, 2002, Liberal Disability Critic Ernie Parsons and Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlap made statements in the Legislature honouring that day as the International Day for Disabled Persons. The ODA was mentioned. As important, speakers from both parties spoke in the very language which the ODA Committee has used i.e. the need to remove and prevent barriers facing 1.9 million Ontarians, to achieve a barrier-free province. Getting our very language used on both sides of the Legislature is an important step towards getting meaningful action.

Send us your feedback on these exchanges at:



Ontario Legislative Assembly
Thursday, November 28, 2002


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth-Middlesex): I direct my question to the Minister of
Citizenship, the Honourable Carl DeFaria, the dynamo from Mississauga East.
I want to take the opportunity to ask you about some of the most recent
outstanding appointments you've made to the Accessibility Advisory Council
of Ontario, created as part of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001.

The appointment of Brampton Paralympian Jeff Adams as the new chair of the
council, Barry McMahon as the vice-chair, as well as the eight additional
members will make a significant contribution to our government's commitment
to create a barrier-free Ontario.

There are many people with disabilities in my riding who are watching the
development of the ODA with great interest. Minister, could you tell me
about the council and how it will help improve the lives of Ontario's 1.9
million people with disabilities?

Hon Carl DeFaria (Minister of Citizenship, minister responsible for
seniors): I welcome the opportunity to tell the Legislature about the
Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario.

The council's role is to provide me with advice related to the
implementation of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The council advises
and reports to me on issues such as the accessibility of government
services, as well as those services funded by government, the accessibility
for people with disabilities to employment opportunities and other
accessibility-related issues as they arise.

Because accessibility is a shared responsibility, the council will assist
the government in engaging the private sector in partnership to develop
initiatives and inclusive programs and services for people with

Mr Johnson: I thank the minister for the response. One of the reasons I'm
interested is that earlier this week a member of the opposition talked
about a form that he said would make it very difficult for ODSP recipients.
I just wanted to make sure this council will debunk that kind of

Minister, as you mentioned, this council will provide advice on issues that
affect people with disabilities. In fact, I was pleased to hear that
Kathryn Bremner, who's been a long-time community leader and advocate for
people with disabilities in both my riding and our colleague's riding of
Whitby-Ajax, has been appointed as one of the eight new members of the
council. Further, Duncan Read, an existing council member, is also active
in disability issues in the Ajax area as a judge and former president of
the Ontario March of Dimes.

Can you please tell us more about other accessibility advisory council
members and of course any upcoming meetings?

Hon Mr DeFaria: With respect to our government's commitment to achieving an
accessible Ontario, I have appointed a group of exceptional individuals to
supplement our existing high-calibre members of the council, bringing the
full complement to 12 members.

Along with our existing members, Jeff Adams, our newly appointed chair, and
Barry McMahon, our newly appointed vice-chair, we have Duncan Read and Dean
La Bute. Last month's appointments also include Kathryn Bremner of Whitby,
Valerie Baker of Waterloo, Barbara Fowke of Kitchener, Uzma Khan of
Mississauga, Tracy MacCharles of Pickering and Kristin Snoddon, Karen
Liberman and André Bélanger of Toronto.

I'm also pleased to report that we are having our first full meeting today
and tomorrow. I know their advice will be important to moving forward our
government's commitment to achieving an accessible Ontario.


Ontario Legislative Assembly
Tuesday 3 December 2002


Mr Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings): It is my pleasure to rise on
this, the International Day of Disabled Persons. It is appropriate that
this day is set aside, although it would be nice if we didn't have to,
because every day should be the day for these individuals.

I have yet to meet a person with a disability who is disabled. I have been
inspired, motivated and enriched by my contact with them. But this is a day
for those of us who do not yet have a disability to stand up and speak for
our fellow citizens. We need to make changes in this province. We need to
listen to individuals with disabilities to meet their needs so we can level
the playing field. We need to allow them to work without clawing back all
of the money they make. We need to immediately stop building new barriers.
Certainly, the goal is to remove existing barriers, but at this present
time in Ontario we continue to erect new barriers to those with

We need to ensure that those who are unable to work can have a life that is
not at or below poverty level. These are our fellow citizens. Everyone in
this chamber will ultimately be judged on how they treat Ontarians with
disabilities. We need to do more and we can do more. I urge everyone in
this House to act immediately, to remove barriers and ensure a life of

These individuals want to have the same access to services and the same
opportunity as everyone else. Those doors have yet to be fully opened.

Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): It is my pleasure to announce that today
is the International Day of Disabled Persons. This day, designated by the
United Nations in 1992, is a day to promote increased awareness and
understanding of disabled issues.

By observing this day, we take the time to recognize the contributions and
achievements of people with disabilities. Barriers must be removed to tap
into the full potential offered by those with disabilities. In Ontario,
there are more than 1.9 million people with disabilities. Our government is
committed to breaking down the barriers faced by these individuals and to
ensuring a drive toward full accessibility.

As you know, at this time last year our government passed the Ontarians
with Disabilities Act. This legislation is key to our vision of creating a
barrier-free society. Additionally, the 12-member Accessibility Advisory
Council of Ontario is fully active and helping to assist in moving the
Ontarians with Disabilities Act ahead. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act
is designed to increase independence for people with disabilities so they
have more opportunities to participate fully in our society to the benefit
of us all.

The ODA is Canada's first and most comprehensive legislation for people
with disabilities. It builds on our government's multi-billion dollar
commitment to programs and services.

Mr Speaker, honourable members, please take this special day and every day
as an opportunity to increase awareness about accessibility for people with
disabilities in your communities.


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