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Ontario Government's
New ODA Bill 125
Action Tip

November 12, 2001



The Ontarians with Disabilities Act (Bill 125) was introduced on November 5, 2001. Second reading debate started on very short notice on Nov. 9, 2001, and is tentatively scheduled to continue and finish on November 19 and 20. Hearings could start any day after that, likely the week of November 26. The Conservative Government is committed to pass the bill before year's end. Time for your action is short.

The ODA Committee's initial analysis of the Bill, distributed last week, found that the Bill will need to be amended in key areas to fulfil the goals set by the ODA Committee and the government's own "Vision Statement."

Nothing in the bill requires barriers to be removed or prevented within any specific time frame. There is no requirement that people with disabilities be directly consulted on the development of regulations and guidelines(except for the narrow area of unenforceable guidelines regarding newly acquired or renovated government buildings).

There is no guarantee that regulations dealing with the private sector would ever be enacted or put into effect. The bill even permits the Minister to exempt all or part of the public sector from the Act. The Minister need give no reasons nor justify the exemption.

The bill allows the Government to create a wide range of regulations. However it does not require that any regulations ever be made, or fix a time frame for them to be made, or require that they be effective, or that the disability community have a voice in what the regulations say.

If you feel that an organization is not removing or preventing barriers when it could or should, there is nowhere to go to get the bill effectively enforced or to get a remedy. You can only do what you already can do now, file an individual human rights complaint, one barrier at a time.


Our next step is to come up with amendments to submit to the Government, and to show the Government and the public why these amendments are good for Ontario. Our goal is to end up with legislation which requires organizations to remove and prevent barriers, not just make plans. We want to show that this bill can be made into an effective bill, with the right amendments.

The ODA Committee will be proposing amendments and we want your input now. These amendments could include, for example:

  • requiring barriers to be removed and prevented within specific time frames fixed in the bill

  • ensuring that the bill extends requirements for barrier removal and prevention to the private sector as well as the public sector

  • establishing a truly effective consultative and inclusive process for regulation-making and setting standards which ensure the disability community a voice in these

  • creating effective ways to enforce the legislation, and

  • strengthening the advisory councils at both the provincial and municipal levels so that they have teeth, are accountable to the disability community and cannot be ignored.

The Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson has repeatedly said that central to this Bill is the fact that it puts the disability community in the driver's seat, giving them a central role in driving change with input into the regulations etc. In fact, the Bill, as now drafted, falls far short on this score.

However, the Government can give the disability community a central role now, by accepting amendments that are put forward by people with disabilities. Indeed, the Government has an opportunity to show that they support their words with real action in the upcoming hearings on the bill. Our core message can include a call that this bill be amended to ensure that will do what the Government now claims it will do.

It is even more important now to talk to your MPPs, friends and neighbours about the importance of this legislation and why amendments are needed.

We encourage you to:

  • Think about what improvements this bill would need to make it strong and effective. Let us know about these ideas as fast as you can. Send them via Email to: oda@odacommittee.net

  • Send your name in immediately to request to appear at the upcoming public hearings. If you need information on how to do this, and a sample application, send a request to oda@odacommittee.net

  • Whether or not you are invited to appear at the hearings, you can and should make a written submission. Start writing yours now. Remember, time is very short. It need not be fancy, long or technical. It can be as short as one page! You might wish to use the themes in this action tip and in the ODA Committee's initial analysis of Bill 125. In your submission, you might wish to say what you think of Bill 125 and why, and suggest any improvements that you need and want. You can send your written submission to:

    Clerk of the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy
    Room 1405
    Whitney Block
    Queen's Park
    Toronto Ontario M7A 1A2
    Phone (416) 325-3509
    Email: tom_prins@ontla.ola.org

  • If you belong to or work for a community organization, urge them to do a submission on the bill as well, and to take the other steps set out in this action tip. Tell them they must move very fast. Encourage them to circulate their submission widely.

  • Send your written submission on Bill 125 as well to your nearest Conservative MPP, and to Liberal disability critic Ernie Parsons and NDP disability critic Tony Martin. If you need any contact information for them, send an email to the above address and we will try to help.

  • Circulate your written submission to your local media, to organizations that you belong to, and to anyone else you can think of. Send a copy to the ODA Committee at the above address.

Please circulate this action tip widely.


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