June 20, 2000
MS SOCIETY GROWS IMPATIENT
WITH LACK OF ACTION TO ADDRESS
BARRIERS FACED BY DISABLED
TORONTO - The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is growing increasingly impatient with the lack of government action on a commitment made in 1995 to pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act to prevent and remove barriers to people with disabilities.
Yesterday, representatives of the Ontario Division of the MS Society of Canada met with senior government officials within the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation hoping to hear when Ontario can expect the new legislation.
"While we were delighted to meet with them, we were underwhelmed by the lack of an action plan and timetable," said John (Jake) Doherty, president of the Ontario Division. "We came away feeling that the government is more concerned about the business sector's reaction to legislation than the need to empower the lives of people disabled by MS."
MS Society officials stressed that disabled people are not looking for special consideration. They are simply asking for the same things the rest of the population would not dream of doing without. People with disabilities want legislation that will make equal opportunity a reality for them.
"We appreciate the opportunity to be heard. However, it appears the decision may be political," said Lise Nolet, chair of the Ontario Social Action Committee, who also attended the meeting. "We came away wondering if the government is even looking at an Ontarians with Disabilities Act."
During the meeting, MS Society representatives emphasized they want an all party legislative hearing on what is to be included in the Act. This legislation should be considered a priority for all political representatives, regardless of party affiliation, and all stakeholders
should be heard.
"If the business sector has concerns about the cost of the legislation, then it should engage in a full and open discussion with those who propose such legislation. We can all learn from each other," said Mr. Doherty.
Multiple sclerosis is an often disabling disease of the central nervous system. It is the most common disease of the central nervous system affecting young adults in Canada, which has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. MS can cause a variety of symptoms including vision and speech problems, loss of balance, extreme fatigue, and even paralysis. The cause and cure are currently unknown although treatments are now becoming available that appear to slow down or alter the course of MS in people with active disease.
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For more information, please contact:
Helen Wagle, Manager, Social Action
Jen Smith, Manager, Communications
John (Jake) Doherty, President, Ontario Division
Lise Nolet, Chair, Ontario Division Social Action Committee
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