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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA

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Ontario Government's
New ODA Bill 125
Action Tip

November 30, 2001




The Legislature's Standing Committee has started its public
hearings into Bill 125. We are all indebted to the many, many
people who helped across Ontario, pressuring the Government to
agree to hold these hearings.

Having won the battle to get hearings, we now must all do what we
can to use these hearings to get Bill 125 strengthened through
amendments. Time is short. We only have until December 11,
because on December 11, the Committee will make all its decisions
on how to amend this bill. We need your help, and we need it as
quickly as possible.

How can you help? Come to the hearings in the city that is
nearest to you. Come whether or not you have been invited to
make a presentation. Bring as many others with you as you can.

The hearings are open to the public. We need a large presence in
the audience at each city.

When you are there, you can chat with the MPPs and with media
reporters informally to explain why the ODA is important to you.
and why it needs to be strengthened through amendments. You
should bring your own stories about the barriers you face.
Remember, it is not a question of whether this bill is a "good
first step." After six and a half years, Ontarians with
disabilities need much more than a "first step." They need a
strong and effective ODA to achieve a barrier-free Ontario. You
can do this whether or not you are invited to make a formal

Arrange for a group of ODA supporters to go with you. If the
hearings are in another community, see about going with a group.
Arrange a car pool.

Remember that London's Region of the ODA Committee is also
holding its own "shadow hearings" on Saturday, December 8, 2001,
because the Standing Committee is not going to London. Already
Liberal MPP Steve Peters, Conservative MPP Bob Wood, and NDP MPP
Tony Martin have agreed to sit on the panel at the London shadow
hearings. We await word on whether any Conservative MPPs will
accept the invitation to attend and participate in London. The
fact that that this event is happening shows that the Government
should have given the Standing Committee more time for hearings,
and should have let it go to more locations, like London.

If you are part of a community organization, please spread the word
within your organization and get the organization to help arrange
for a large turnout.

If you cannot go to any of these hearings, phone your nearest
Conservative MPP to voice your opinions. This is our last chance
during this round of the battle for a strong ODA to have your say.

If you need a list of hearing locations, dates and times, send a
request to:

We understand that the Toronto hearings may be televised on the
provincial Legislature cable channel. These will be on Tuesday
December 4, Wednesday December 5 and for clause-by-clause debate,
Tuesday December 11. The Toronto hearings are from 9:00 a.m. to
noon and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., according to our most recent

We know that the Government's rushed timetable has made it very
hard for people to arrange to attend and participate. Despite
this, we all need to do what we can to be there! Our presence
alone communicates an important message.

Remember that it is important to have a good turnout not only at
the hearings between now and December 8, but also at the Toronto
Standing Committee session on Tuesday, December 11 when the all-
important clause-by-clause debate and votes on amendments occurs.

We also want to report to you that we learned earlier this week
that the Standing Committee had not yet been able to line up
American Sign Language interpreters for the hearings. This was the
fault of the Ontario Government, which had not given enough
advanced warning. This threatened to make these hearings
inaccessible to persons who need ASL. We took this story to the
media. The Toronto Star reported on it yesterday. (See the article
below.) The pressure appears to have helped. We
understand that ASL has been arranged for the hearings, though we
do not have confirmation that it will be consistently available at
all hearings. We want to emphasize that any deficiency in ASL
coverage is the responsibility of the Government, not the
Standing Committee staff or anyone else. We warned the
Government months ago that lead time was needed so that persons
with disabilities could arrange to participate in these hearings,
and so that accommodations could be arranged. Despite progress
with regard to ASL, we understand that persons with disabilities
are still facing other barriers in participating because the
Government gave too little advanced warning of the hearings, and
their times and locations. For our part, we have done all we can
to get you the dates, times and locations of the hearings as soon
as we learned of them.

Please let us know if you may be attending any of these hearings,
and if so, in which community. Drop us an email at:


Toronto Star
Thursday, November 29, 2001

Disability committee in a big rush to find sign-language
Katherine Harding

The provincial government is scrambling to find sign-language
interpreters just one day before public hearings are to begin on a
long-awaited disabilities act.

"We are having some difficulties" finding interpreters, Tory MPP
Marcel Beaubien told The Star yesterday. He is arranging the six
days of public hearings, which will start in Ottawa tomorrow and
travel to four more cities, including Toronto.

"There is no doubt that the timelines are tight ... and not every
community has these (interpreter) resources," Beaubien said. But he
is confident officials will eventually find enough trained

Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson tabled the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act this month and said it was aimed at increasing
accessibility, opportunity and independence for an estimated 1.6
million Ontarians. The proposed law includes a plan to increase
fines for illegally parking in a disabled spot to a maximum of
$5,000, up from $500.

Jackson said the government wants to pass the act before

The Canadian Hearing Society was asked by the provincial
government only on Friday to help enlist sign-language
interpreters for the public hearings.

"The problem is that there are a real shortage of them in this
province," said Susan Main, the society's director of marketing
communications. She added there are about 100 interpreters in
Ontario who have passed the society's screening process, and most
work in urban centres.

"We are still trying to find them, but we needed more notice. We
won't give up, but in the end there might not be access for certain
people, which has a certain amount of irony," Main said.

MPP Ernie Parsons, the Liberal's critic for persons with
disabilities, called the rush for hearings troubling.

"They have rammed this bill through so fast that they have done
nothing but construct barriers for persons with disabilities," he

David Lepofsky, chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Committee, said he was angry the hearing locations were only
released this week.

"You don't book wheel-trans over night," he said, adding he wants
the hearings moved to January. "We'd like it done, but we'd like it
done right."

Please circulate this action tip widely.


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