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


October 21, 1999

Thursday, October 21, 1999:   For Immediate Release

Harris Continues to Duck his 1995 Promise
Persons with Disabilities Want Action,
Not an Empty Pledge for "Action Plan"

Thursday, October 21, 1999:   For Immediate Release

Queen's Park -   After four-and-a-half years, four promises and three ministers, the PC government still refuses to introduce an effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The government said in the Throne Speech today that it is only their "goal" to introduce an "action plan" in this session. There is no call for introducing legislation or undertaking open consultations, breaking Mike Harris' 1995 promise to introduce an ODA.

"Four years ago, Mike Harris promised an ODA," says Steve Peters. "Today, it is only his 'goal' to produce an 'action plan.' This stalling is a betrayal of everything persons with disabilities have been promised in the past,"

Peters, the Liberal Critic for Persons with Disabilities, has been pressuring the Premier to live up to his 1995 campaign promise and implement an effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Since the election, the government has made no moves to implement their four- and-a-half-year-old broken promise.

In today's speech, the government's vague statement read that: "the goal is to introduce a new Action Plan in this session." It avoids the promise for legislation in April's Throne Speech: "your government will take the time necessary to gather additional input, and will consult further before reintroducing a bill for consideration by the Legislature. "

"Before the election, Mike Harris was talking about reintroducing an effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act, " Peters notes. "After the election, Harris can't even promise to consult people with disabilities."


For more information, contact Steve Peters, MPP or Suzanne Van Bommel, EA at 416-325-7250.


  • Mike Harris promised an Ontarians with Disabilities Act during the '95 Election and renewed that commitment two years later in May 1997. The government failed to present a meaningful bill. Mike Harris broke his promise to the disabled community.

  • The government issued its white paper on disabilities "Preventing and Removing Barriers for Ontarians with Disabilities" in July of 1998 and began a consultation process. However, there was no press release on the consultation process, nor a media announcement. The discussion paper was not widely available in writing or Braille, only on the Internet.

  • The consultation held was invitation only. Isabel Bassett held one in Toronto, Derwin Shea elsewhere. Each consisted of three 1.5 hour sessions; 1 for people with disabilities, 1 for business and 1 for general public. There were THIRTY groups trying to present in the single 1.5 hour session for disabled in Hamilton.

  • Liberal MPP Dwight Duncan introduced a resolution into the House that was unanimously passed on October 29, 1998 supporting the implementation of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Duncan's resolution included sections compelling public and private sector businesses to take pro-active steps to make their workplace barrier-free and called for the implementation of a new enforcement agency.

  • When the government's bill was finally drafted, it was a disaster. Introduced on November 23, 1998, the Tories wanted a "voluntary law" on access for the disabled. There was to be no new enforcement agency, and enforcement was to be handled by the over- worked and under-funded Human Rights Commission.

  • The Bill that was introduced (Bill 83) was a reaffirmation of the Charter and not much else. Ministries were asked to plan what barriers are there to be removed. There was no other requirement. No need to actually make changes, no review process, no access to the lists of barriers for the general public, no ministerial review, no mention of the private sector or of government corporations, utilities, etc.

  • Disabled community unanimously slammed the bill as an empty charade.

  • Bill 83 died on the order paper when the Legislature was prorogued last December.

  • The Throne speech last spring included a line about holding a new consultation process with the disabled community. However, this consultation has yet to be undertaken and no format, content or timing has been announced.

  • In today's speech the government stated that "the goal is to introduce a new Action Plan in this session." There was no call to introduce an Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to undertake open consultations or even to attempt these things. After all, it is only their "goal" that this flimsy half-promise is even tried at.


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