May 5th, 1999
Wednesday, May 5th, 1999: For Immediate Release
Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee
HARRIS ELECTION CALL BREAKS HIS 1995 ELECTION PROMISE TO 1.5 MILLION ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES
Wednesday, May 5, 1999: When he called an election today, Premier Harris slammed the door on 1.5 million people with disabilities by breaking his 1995 election promise to pass the Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first term. In his May 24, 1995 letter to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, a non-partisan disability coalition, Premier Harris promised that he would work together with them to achieve a barrier-free Ontario by passing an Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first term. With one year left in his mandate, the Premier still had time to keep this important promise. Instead, he has chosen to dismiss voters with disabilities by calling an early election without passing this much-needed law and without meeting even once with the ODA Committee, the group he promised to work with.
In his May 24, 1995 letter to the ODA Committee, Harris wrote: "As I indicated to you in my response of May 11th, 1995 to the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped questionnaire, a Harris government would be willing to enact an Ontario with Disabilities Act in the first term of office within the economic goalposts of The Common Sense Revolution." He also committed: "I would be pleased to work together with your Committee in the development of such legislation."
One year later, on May 16, 1996, the Harris Government unanimously supported a resolution passed by the Legislature, calling on him to keep this promise: "the government of Ontario should keep its promise as set out in the letter from Michael D. Harris to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee dated May 24, 1995 to: a) enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act within its current term of office; and b) work together with members of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, amongst others, in the development of such legislation."
"One and a half million Ontarians with disabilities continue to face horrendous barriers when they try to ride public transit, use the health care system, get an education or get a job," said David Lepofsky, ODA Committee chair. "And they are poised right across this province to have their voices heard in this election campaign like never before in Ontario history. They can compare the record of the three parties. There is the Premier with a broken promise whose own Blueprint for Ontario doesn't seem to include Ontarians with disabilities. Both the NDP and Liberals have agreed to pass strong disability access legislation within specific time frames."
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