ODA Committee News Release
November 5, 2001
WHAT WILL THE ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT INCLUDE?
Sunday, November 4, 2001: The Ontario Government plans to introduce
its promised Ontarians with Disabilities Act tomorrow for first reading.
Here are the questions which the ODA Committee says all should ask:
1. Does the proposed ODA include protection for all disabilities,
physical, mental and sensory, be the disability visible or
invisible? The ODA Committee believes that the ODA's definition of
disability must be similar to the broad definition in the Ontario
Human Rights Code.
2. Does the proposed ODA cover the removal and prevention of
barriers in all aspects of life in Ontario whether in the public or
private sector, such as: in employment and the enjoyment of goods,
services and facilities e.g. transportation, health care, education
and training, communication and access to information? The ODA
Committee believes that for people with disabilities to fully
participate in all aspects of a barrier-free Ontario society, the
ODA must require that the barriers they face be removed and
prevented in each of these areas.
3. Will the proposed ODA require that detailed standards be set for
the removal and prevention of barriers through a consultative
process with key stakeholders including people with disabilities,
business, and others in the specific sectors affected? The ODA
Committee believes that everyone benefits from having clear,
specific standards that apply to everyone rather than having to
fight against each barrier, one at a time, on a case by case basis
through human rights complaints. These standards should be set
along reasonable time lines by an independent, accountable public
agency with expertise in disability barriers.
4. Does the proposed ODA provide a process for ensuring that
barriers are removed and prevented in a timely manner? The ODA
Committee believes that unless there is an enforceable requirement
that barriers be removed and prevented, we will continue to live in
a society with significant barriers. The timelines can be developed
through the ODA's consultative process for setting standards. The
standards should be sensitive to the different practical
circumstances of big businesses and other organizations as compared
to smaller businesses and other organizations. Organizations
covered by the ODA should be required to develop and implement
effective barrier-free plans which are consistent with the ODA's
standards. Barrier removal and prevention should not be optional or
5. Does the proposed ODA establish an effective mechanism beyond
individual complaints to enforce these new standards? The ODA
Committee believes that everyone benefits when the enforcement
mechanism does not depend solely on complaints, but provides for
proactive measures, prompt, effective systemic remedies and help
for those who need to remove and prevent barriers. The ODA should
make a substantial difference in the daily lives of Ontarians with
6. Does the proposed ODA reduce existing rights of people with
disabilities? The ODA Committee believes that the ODA must
guarantee that nothing in it reduces any rights which Ontarians
with disabilities now have.
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Last updated November 5, 2001