News Release - For Immediate Release.
Tuesday, October 29, 1996.
FEDERAL DISABILITY TASK FORCE URGES NEW FEDERAL RIGHTS FOR DISABLED WHILE HARRIS IGNORES 18 MONTH OLD PROMISE TO DO THE SAME.
A Federal Task Force on Disability Issues has just released a cutting-edge report, calling on the Federal Government to pass a new law, to be called a "Canadians with Disabilities Act" to deal with major barriers in the federal sphere which impede full participation in society by persons with disabilities. A breakthrough to be welcomed, this bold recommendation brings into sharp focus a major election promise which the Ontario Harris Government has effectively ignored since winning the 1995 provincial election. When courting provincial voters last year, Harris made a written election promise to a broad disability coalition that if elected, he would pass an "Ontarians with Disabilities Act", and would work together with this coalition (called the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee) to develop the new law. Once victorious on election day, Harris proclaimed his intention to keep all his campaign promises.
Yet Harris has entirely ignored his major election disability commitment. He has repeatedly refused to meet with the very disability coalition to whom he made the election promise to work together. His Minister for Disability Issues, Marilyn Mushinski, first refused to meet with this group. Only after hundreds of people with disabilities came to the Ontario Legislature on May 16, 1996, and a unanimous resolution was passed by the Legislature commanding the Government to keep this election promise, did Mushinski even agree to an introductory meeting in June of this year. This meeting yielded no demonstrable results.
"Its great that the Federal Task Force has confirmed the need for new disability rights laws" said David Lepofsky, Co-chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, "But we need real action on a written election promise from the Ontario Government. Premier Harris has to stop hiding from Ontarians with disabilities, and must get to work to keep his election promise to us. How can he keep boasting about keeping all his election promises when he won't even give his promise to us the time of day."