April 13, 1999
Tuesday, April 13, 1999: For Immediate Release
Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO KICK OFF ONTARIO ELECTION STRATEGY AT QUEEN'S PARK NEWS CONFERENCE
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 13, 1999: On Wednesday, April 14, 1999 at 11 a.m., the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee will hold a news conference at the Queen's Park Media Studio to unveil its barrier-free election drive. "For the first time in Ontario you will see voters with disabilities from one end of the province to the other actively organizing as active players in the next provincial election," says David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan ODA Committee.
"Our first goal is to ensure that one and a half million Ontarians with disabilities have a barrier-free election for the first time, so that every person with a disability can fully participate in every aspect of the election, during the campaign and at the polling stations. In the past, voters with disabilities have faced far too many barriers when trying to participate in election campaign events or trying to exercise the democratic right to vote. These include barriers in transportation to the polls, all-candidates' debates in inaccessible locations, ballots that are not designed to be easy to mark, or campaign literature that is not available in Braille, just to name a few."
The ODA Committee has written the three party leaders and the Chief Elections Officer, calling on them to commit to a barrier- free election, and listing concrete steps to achieve this.
"Our second goal is to make sure that the issues of importance to people with disabilities are high on the election agenda," said Lepofsky. In 1995 Premier Harris promised in writing that he would work together with the ODA Committee and pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first term to achieve a barrier-free Ontario for people with disabilities. "The Premier has boycotted meeting with us since he took office, and all the Government has proposed was a toothless three-page bill that did not require a single barrier to be removed ever," said Lepofsky. That widely-denounced Bill died on the order paper last December. "We have called on the Premier not to call an election until he passes a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act as he promised," says Lepofsky.
Both the Liberal and NDP leaders have made detailed written election pledges to introduce a strong Ontarians with Disabilities Act within specified time lines.
The ODA Committee is launching a province-wide grassroots campaign to inform voters about the parties' disability agendas, since disability eventually affects the lives of everyone. The ODA now has organized regional groups in 17 centres across Ontario and has a rapidly growing membership of both individuals and organizations.
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