November 19, 1998
New Disabilities Law To Be Introduced At Queen'S Park Any Day - Will The Three Year Wait Be Worth It For People With Disabilities?
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1998: The Harris Government has committed that before Christmas, it will introduce the long-overdue new law to achieve a barrier-free province for the one and a half million Ontarians who have a disability. People with disabilities are anxiously watching the beginning of the legislative session starting next Monday to see when the Bill will be tabled and whether it will be strong and mandatory, as is demanded by an all-party resolution that the Legislature unanimously passed on October 29, 1998. Requests to the Minister of Citizenship for information about when the legislation will be tabled have been ignored to date.
In the last election Premier Harris promised the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, a broad non-partisan provincial coalition, that he would work with them to introduce and pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first term. Ontarians with disabilities have been frustrated by 3-1/2 years of Government delay, only to be followed by a rushed, closed, invitation-only consultation process this summer.
"Voters with disabilities and those who care about their needs are now flooding Tory MPPs' offices with letters, faxes and phone calls demanding that the new law be strong and effective, and that it fully comply with the Legislature's unanimous resolution," said David Lepofsky, ODA Committee Co-Chair. "We need much more than the toothless voluntary measures that the Harris Government has offered to date. We want a law that has teeth. Or else the Premier will have broken his solemn election pledge."
Speaking for the Harris Government, Citizenship Minister Isabel Bassett has sloughed off the unanimous resolution, and has announced no plans to comply with it. In contrast, both Opposition parties have committed to enact a Disabilities Act which complies with the resolution.
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