The ODA Committee hopes this summary will be helpful to people who are
what they want to recommend to MPP Steve Peters during his open ODA public
consultations. If you agree with these items, please let him know. If you
also be sure to let him know. If you disagree with any of the following
items, or if you
have suggestions on how they can be improved or expanded upon, we also urge
let Mr. Peters know.
The ODA Committee is also eager to hear about any additional ideas,
suggestions you have. We want a strong and effective ODA to incorporate
ideas gathered from as many people as possible. You can get a copy of the
full brief by
contacting the ODA Committee at (416) 480-7012 or by following this link.
1. ODA'S OBJECTIVE
The ODA's objective is to achieve a barrier free society in Ontario for
disabilities, a society whose workplaces, goods, services, and facilities
will be designed
and operated for all its citizens, including those with disabilities. It
will achieve a society
in which people with disabilities can participate fully - a society where
have been identified and removed, and where new barriers are prevented
2. HOW THE ODA WOULD ADDRESS BARRIERS
The ODA must apply to all provincial and municipal governments, as well
and public sector organizations subject to the laws of Ontario. The ODA
should apply to
the Ontario Legislature and Government, the Ontario Public Service, all
regional and local governments including all their committees and
broader public sector such as schools, school boards and hospitals, as well
businesses and other organizations operating in Ontario.
Governments have special obligations to ensure all citizens have a full
chance to participate in society. The government cannot avoid its
obligations under the
ODA by downloading its responsibilities to other levels of government, or
to the private
sector by privatization. Even though the Government may decide not to
program itself, where the government is providing the funding and setting
it is obliged to ensure that barriers are removed and no new barriers are
The ODA must cover the full range of activities, products, facilities,
services and other
opportunities used or enjoyed by the citizens of Ontario, including for
employment, public transportation, education and training at all levels
schools, high schools, post-secondary institutions and job training
programs), health and
social services including health promotion, communications and
recreational programs and facilities, information provided to the public,
consumer products, police and law enforcement, tourism and entertainment.
The ODA should cover all types of barriers keeping people with
participating fully in society. For example, it should include: physical
barriers, such as
high curbs without curb cuts; communication barriers, like those faced by
are Deaf and require sign language interpretation to communicate
faced by people who cannot read printed material and who require Braille,
tape or other alternative formats. Other barriers include discrimination in
faced by many people with disabilities, including mental illness,
disabilities and learning disabilities.
The ODA should benefit all people with disabilities of all ages. The
disability in the ODA should include a broad range of disabilities
communication disorders and speech impairments, learning disabilities,
disabilities, AIDS, kidney disease and other invisible disabilities,
Deafness and hearing loss, blindness and visual impairment, neurological
traumatic brain injury, psychiatric and mental illness and diabetes. The
disability must be clear that the list of disabilities is not exhaustive,
and that it can be
expanded by regulation or by the courts in accordance with the principles
set out in the
ODA. No disability may be explicitly excluded from the ODA's definition of
The ODA must clearly guarantee persons with disabilities the right to
in a barrier free society. This includes a right to have existing barriers
removed. It also includes a right to have new barriers prevented. It must
state that no
statute or regulation of Ontario, nor any municipal bylaw, can be passed or
implemented if it conflicts with the requirements of the ODA. The ODA will
and equally in all areas of the province, including cities, towns and rural
Organizations, including businesses, that must comply with the ODA should
be required to:
identify barriers now existing within their organizations, keeping
disabilities from participating fully in their workplace and from
participating fully in
and benefiting from the goods, services and facilities which they provide;
develop a plan for removing the barriers. The plan should set out
which barriers will be removed, and set a final date when they will be
eliminated. It should also include steps to ensure new barriers are not
created in future;
carry out their barrier free plans.
Governments should have additional responsibilities such as:
within a specified period of time, developing and carrying out a
plan for each provincial ministry or department, applying to services that
they deliver or
have responsibility for delivering, and for the sector of society for which
taking steps to ensure that wherever possible government would
rent only barrier free products, facilities and services.
reviewing existing legislation, regulations and policies, and new
ones to be
proposed in future, to ensure they are barrier free and, if necessary,
making changes to
making sure when a government program is delivered, whether by
an agency or any other organization chosen by government, it is done in a
working with people with disabilities to develop expertise in
free programs, goods and services, and using this expertise to help the
comply with the ODA.
The ODA must also give the provincial government authority and duty to
implement and enforce barrier free standards to apply across the entire
new province-wide standards would apply to areas like transportation,
parking rules for people with disabilities.
The ODA must do nothing to diminish rights that people with disabilities
under the Human Rights Code and the Building Code.
3. ENFORCEMENT OF THE ODA
The ODA should provide prompt and effective ways to enforce the rights it
guarantees. Although people should still be able to file individual
complaints when they
run into a barrier, there should be other ways of enforcing the ODA that do
on individuals filing complaints each time they face a barrier.
Self-enforcement by governments, businesses and other organizations
covered by the
ODA will be an important part of the enforcement process, by developing and
implementing barrier free plans described above.
Funding must also be made available to organizations of people with
are involved in promoting a barrier free society and providing education,
and support for people with disabilities as well as business.
The ODA should establish an accountable and effective public agency
enforcement of this law. Adequate funding must be available for this. The
report annually to the legislature on the progress made towards the
achieving a barrier free society. It should also identify areas where
additional work is
have expertise in the area of disability;
receive complaints from both individuals and groups, and have power
to bring a
claim to enforce the ODA;
have authority to look at systemic problems and come up with
have the power and obligation to make regulations to help enforce
including regulations setting standards in specific areas. The ODA should
regulations be passed by a specific date in specific areas of activity to
set out standards
and reasonable time lines;
be required to consult with people with disabilities, business and
stakeholders before regulations are finalized;
be required to consider requests from persons with disabilities that
regulations be developed to cover an area or sector. The agency would also
to consult with all stakeholders (people with disabilities, businesses,
etc.) before deciding
whether to enact proposed regulations;
receive barrier free plans governments and other organizations will
file with the agency (which should be available to the public), and take
steps to enforce
the ODA's requirements regarding these plans.
A Minister of the Ontario Government should be designated who will be
for achieving a barrier free society for persons with disabilities. The
Minister should be
responsible for monitoring Ontario Government programs and laws to ensure
are designed and operated in a barrier free manner, and reviewing proposals
cabinet to ensure that they are barrier free and that they take into
account the needs of
persons with disabilities.
Municipal councils, school boards, government committees and commissions
public agencies should adopt similar procedures for their activities.
All Ontario regulatory agencies, boards and tribunals must be required to
impact of any decision they make on barrier removal or prevention, and the
achievement of a barrier free society for persons with disabilities.
Remedies for violations of the ODA should be meaningful and effective.
ensure that existing barriers are removed and new ones prevented. Remedies
include such things as systemic remedies, injunctions and damages.
Class actions which could be brought by groups of people with
disabilities should be
The enforcement agency must have the power to enforce the ODA without
a complaint from an individual.
The ODA should require the Government of Ontario to provide education and
information resources to companies, individuals and groups to assist them
with the requirements of the ODA.
Where feasible, the ODA should provide financial resources to assist
including businesses, to achieve a barrier free society. These could
programs and/or accelerated tax credits or deductions for expenditures
to compliance with the ODA.
People with disabilities and their organizations should be provided the
technical expertise and funding so they can participate effectively in the
created by the ODA, such as the regulation-making process. This includes
travel and communications so that people living in all areas of the
province have a full
opportunity to participate.
The ODA must strengthen and complement the protections that now exist for
with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Charter of
Freedoms, and the Ontario Building Code. Nothing in the ODA should reduce
protections for persons with disabilities in those laws. As well, the fact
organization complies with another law does not mean that they do not have