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


October 6, 2000


What's the price tag for citizenship?


News that the government has decided to reduce the scope of a proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act because it is afraid of the price tag is an insult to all citizens of Ontario, not just those with disabilities, says the Ontario Association for Community Living.

"The issue of costs is just a red herring," says OACL President David Barber. "First of all, we're not talking about the massive overhaul of existing buildings. We're in a boom economy with lots of new construction. It's far more efficient to incorporate accessibility into the design of new buildings that to try to fix these buildings later. It makes business sense, and that's something we know this government prides itself on."

Besides, says Mr. Barber, the ODA is not just about physical barriers like ramps and washrooms. "People with intellectual disabilities also face social barriers throughout their lives, whether it's at school, in playgrounds and recreation centres, in the job market, everywhere. It's an issue of citizenship - people's right to have the same opportunities and challenges as everyone else.

"An effective ODA could start Ontario on an exciting road to changes in attitudes by helping to dissolve social barriers now," says Mr. Barber, "so that future citizens can truly feel a part of the community they live in."

Mr. Barber says it is sad to hear people say citizenship is a right for some people but a matter of dollar value for others.
"I wonder where the world would be if Americans had demanded that Martin Luther King, Jr. come up with a price tag on civil rights legislation."


More than 12,000 people belong to the Ontario Association for Community Living through their membership in 100 local associations throughout the province. Local associations provide direct services and support to people with intellectual disabilities, and help their communities build the capacity to support people within the community. The provincial association advocates for public policy and social change with the goal that "all persons live in a state of dignity, share in all elements of living in the community, and have the opportunity to participate effectively."

Visit OACL's website at or contact us by e-mail at


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