Image of black text with drop shadow that reads: Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee


May 31st, 1999

Monday, May 31st, 1999:   For Immediate Release

Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee

Ontarians with Disabilities
Demand Strong Access Legislation from Candidates
during Ontario Election which falls during
National Access Awareness Week

Monday, May 31, 1999:   It is one of the many ironies of this Ontario election that Mike Harris, who as premier broke his 1995 promise to 1.5 million Ontarians with Disabilities, chose an election date that falls smack in the middle of National Access Awareness Week, which begins today. Four years ago, Harris promised that if elected he would pass the Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first term, a law to tear down the barriers that block access for people with disabilities to all aspects of Ontario life. He did not pass the promised law.

It is appropriate timing for this election date, however, because this campaign marks the first time Ontarians with disabilities are making the goal of a barrier-free Ontario a core election issue. Around this province, members of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, the coalition to whom Harris made the promise four years ago, are making sure that the public knows the sharp contrast between the positions and records of the three parties on this important issue. From street corners in Toronto to all candidates debates in Kingston and Peterborough, to a march last week through Windsor, to phone in radio shows in London, people with disabilities are handing out leaflets and asking candidates tough questions about their positions.

The Liberals and NDP have each remained strong in support of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act and have pledged to pass this legislation within strict time limits if elected. The Harris Government, however, tries to pretend their broken promise never existed as they say how Mike Harris is a strong leader who keeps all his promises.

"With the prospect of a minority government appearing more likely from the recent polls, this Access Awareness Week may bring us a legislature that will be willing to do what the Harris Government promised but failed to deliver the last time," said David Lepofsky, chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, a broad coalition organized in 17 regions across Ontario.

"While the pundits wrangle over which party's TV ads are more negative than whose, we are going right to the people on their doorstep, to tell them about the unfair and unnecessary barriers we face and our need for real access. This issue cuts right to the core of the health and education issues in this election, because Ontarians with disabilities face barriers everywhere, including in trying to get access to education and health care in Ontario."


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