ODA Committee Update
dated April 30, 2003
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE UPDATE
Eves Government Throne Speech Makes No Commitment to Strengthen the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001
April 30, 2003
We very much regret that The Eves Government's April 30, 2003 Throne Speech made no commitment to strengthen the Ontarians with Disabilities Act to make it strong and effective. People all around Ontario wrote to the Premier during the Government's pre-Throne Speech consultation, asking that the Government strengthen this legislation, to extend it to the private sector and put teeth into it.
There is increasing speculation that the Eves Government may call the election this spring, rather than waiting for the fall as had increasingly seemed to be their plan. This Throne Speech is widely seen as a pre-election announcement of the Government's election platform.
In contrast to the Government's position on the ODA, both the Liberals and NDP made election commitments over the past weeks that they would strengthen the ODA to make it strong and effective. To see their commitments, visit:
OTHER DISABILITY ISSUES IN THE THRONE SPEECH
The Throne speech made other references to persons with disabilities. Among these was the following:
"Your government recognizes that there are some Ontarians who need extra help to cope with disabilities. It understands that people with disabilities often have special needs that make it difficult for them to work. That's why it will increase Ontario Disability Support Program payments to better help people with disabilities lead happier, more productive and dignified lives."
Ontarians with disabilities have been calling on the Government for years to provide a cost of living increase to ODSP social assistance payments. The Government had not granted any such increases since 1995. The Throne Speech does not indicate when this increase to ODSP will be granted, and whether it will fully reflect cost of living increases.
The Opposition parties, both the Liberals and NDP, have raised this ODSP issue many times in the Legislature. Many petitions have been filed with the Legislature addressing this. Many of those petitions and many of the NDP and Liberal statements on this issue raise concerns both regarding ODSP and the ODA. Earlier this spring, both the opposition Liberals and NDP have made election commitments to grant a cost of living increase to ODSP.
The Government's budget, released outside the Legislature at the end of March, made no budget announcement for any increase to the ODSP payments.
In the spring of 2002, NDP Disability Critic Tony Martin introduced into the Ontario Legislature a private member's bill, which sought to address the need for ODSP recipients to receive cost of living increases. On June 13, 2002, about 10 months ago, this bill came forward for second reading. The Conservative Government used its majority to defeat that bill on a vote of 38 to 30. All the NDP and Liberal MPPs voted for it. As well, three Conservative MPPs broke ranks with their party and voted for it, namely Norm Miller, John O'Toole and Joe Tascona.
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Last updated April 30, 2003