Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee.

For Immediate Release.


TORONTO MAY 16, 1996.

Because the Harris government has repeatedly refused to take any steps to live up to an important election promise to people in Ontario with disabilities, a board based disability coalition has come up with a novel approach to get the entire Legislature to publicly force Mike Harris' hand. On Thursday, May 16, 1996 former Attorney-General Marion Boyd will introduce a resolution calling for an all-party debate on an Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA). This effectively puts the issue before all parties at Queens Park, and at the same time pushes the Harris government to fulfil its election promise. The debate and vote on this resolution will take place between 11:00 a.m. and noon on Thursday.

During the 1995 election campaign, Mike Harris said he would work with the Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee to develop and pass a law which would achieve and guarantee a barrier-free society for people with disabilities. When Sheila Copps resigned her federal seat because she did not keep an election promise, Mike Harris heartily applauded, saying he too would resign if he did not keep his election promises. This Legislative resolution gives him a chance to avoid the Copps fate. If Tory members vote against the resolution, they publicly renege on their promise, if they vote in favour, they put more pressure on the Premier to fulfil his promise. Since being elected the Premier has refused to meet with disability representatives and has shunted them off to Citizenship Minister Marilyn Mushinski - in turn she has also refused to meet.

"We regret that it is necessary to resort to a full legislative resolution just to get the Premier to talk to us", says ODA Committee Co-Chair David Lepofsky. "People with disabilities deserve better." Members of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee are urging persons with disabilities and those who care about the rights of the disabled to attend the legislature in large numbers to hear the debate. A barrier-free society is the right of all people with disabilities in this province, and there is strong support for this new law. Following the debate the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee will hold a news conference at Queens Park. The news conference will take place from 12:00-12:30. One of the speakers at the news conference will be former Attorney General, Ian Scott.

For further information: Diana McCauley, Deborah Field at (416) 422-5644.

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