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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA


April 15, 1999

|   Goals in the 1999 Ontario Election   |   Activities to Date   |

|   What You Can Do   |  Links  |



With an Ontario election expected any time, Ontarians with disabilities will have a unique opportunity to move forward on the sometimes bumpy and winding road to a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We can now capitlize on four busy years of working together to forge a strong, credible voice for 1.5 million people with disabilities in this province, by making the best use we can of our power as voters to choose who will govern us.

The ODA Committee has two important goals in the upcoming election campaign:

  1. First, we want this to be a barrier-free election. All people with disabilities should be able to fully participate in every aspect of this campaign including, of course, the vote itself.

  2. Disability issues, including the need for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act, must play a real and important part in this campaign. We want the positions that the parties and their candidates take on disability issues to be a major factor when they decide how to vote.

By working together towards these two goals, we can make an enormous difference for those who have a disability today and for those who will acquire one in the future. We need to remember that together we do have the power to make a difference.

Just imagine - if every voter with a disability or who is the parent, relative or friend of a person with a disability, voted and also convinced two other people to vote that adds up to real power. Then imagine that each of these people informed their friends and neighbours about the importance of an ODA and why the positions taken by the candidates on this and other disability- related issues should influence how they vote. That will bring our issues to the front and centre of this election campaign. This will not only make a difference during the election. It also sends a message to the politicians in all parties that we have a strong voice and that we can and will use it.

This kit provides suggestions to get you started. We encourage you to be creative and come up with your own ideas as well.

Activities To Date

Although the election has not yet been called, we have taken steps already to try and make sure that this is a barrier-free election. We are also working to make sure that people who are concerned about these issues know where the parties stand and know about the choices that they have. We have already received detailed election promises from Dalton McGuinty and Howard Hampton. Both promise us a strong and effective ODA, complying with the 11 principles we stand for, and promise to work together with the ODA Committee to develop it. The NDP promises to enact this law within two years of taking office. The Liberals promise to enact this law within three years of taking office.

As far as our other activities are concerned, so far we have:

  • sent a letter to the Chief Elections Officer and the three party leaders asking them to start immediately to do what they can to make sure this election is barrier free. If you would like to see copies of these letters they are available on our web-site or by calling the number above.

  • held a news conference at Queens Park announcing our barrier-free election campaign on April 14, 1999.

  • prepared a Guide for Voters with Disabilities and an Ontarians with Disabilities Act Factsheet (enclosed).

  • Started to establish election action teams around Ontario to help make sure that people with disabilities vote and that disability issues get a real profile in this election.

Please note that as a non-partisan organization, the ODA Committee is not endorsing any party or candidate. Our aim is to get information about these issues spread as widely as possible, so that voters can make an informed choice on election day.

What You Can Do

We are encouraging everyone in Ontario who wants to see a barrier-free Ontario help us by getting involved. The list of activities that follows is just the beginning. Please feel free to come up with your own ideas and make sure you let us know so that others can benefit from your suggestions.

Suggested activities include:

  • Make sure that you are on the voter's list so that you can vote in the next election. See the voter's guide for more information on how to find out whether you are on the voter's list and what to do if you are not. Talk to your friends and suggest that they also make sure that they are on the voter's list.

  • Vote in the election. The Voters Guide tells you how you can vote if you cannot get to the polls or if you cannot get out on election day.

  • Find out where your candidates stand on issues of importance to people with disabilities, including the need for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Make sure that they know you consider this an important factor in deciding who you will vote for.

  • Read and circulate as widely as possible the enclosed Guide for Voters with Disabilities and ODA Factsheet. Use them to help educate your community, both people with disabilities and people without disabilities.

  • Talk to your friends, family, neighbours and co-workers. Explain the barriers that you or your friends face. Tell them why the ODA is important and what the three parties have said and done about this issue. Explain why it is important that they vote in this election, and why the parties' positions on the ODA should play an important role in who they choose to vote for.

  • Contact your nearest ODA Committee Regional Contact to help with group activities during the election campaign. Offer your own ideas of what we can do together.

  • Go to campaign events and all-candidates debates in your community. Ask questions about how the candidates stand on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Ask questions of the candidates during the formal events about the ODA issue e.g. Will you personally commit to ensure that in the next Legislature, a strong, effective and mandatory Ontarians with Disabilities Act will be passed to get us a barrier-free Ontario, not something like the current Government's three-page, toothless Bill 83.

  • Phone or personally meet the candidates running in your riding to discuss the ODA issue, and to tell them about the barriers you face. Urge them to give you a strong personal commitment on this issue, and to make this a high-profile issue during the campaign.

  • Offer to work on the campaign of a candidate who is prepared to make a strong commitment for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Help educate other campaign workers about this issue.

  • Call in to phone-in radio programs, and write letters to the editor on the importance of the ODA issue to you during this campaign.

  • Notify the local media of any barriers you encounter during the election campaign such as election events held in inaccessible locations, the absence of needed accommodations at campaign events, inaccessible campaign offices or polling stations, or lack of campaign literature in an accessible format.

  • Notify your riding's returning officer if you are encountering barriers in voting.

  • Don't wait for others to plan ODA-related election activities. Get things started yourself.

  • Monitor the ODA Committee web site at www.odacommittee.net for late-breaking developments during the campaign, if you have access to the Internet. Help spread this information to others who do not have access to the Internet.

  • If you have E-mail and are not yet on our ODA E mail distribution list, send a request to join that list to: oda@odacommittee.net

If you are an organizational member of the ODA Committee, we encourage you to take the following additional steps:

  • Make it a priority during this election to help us advocate for a truly barrier-free election, in which all voters with disabilities can and do vote.

  • Designate members of your staff to be responsible for your organization's work on this project.

  • Print and circulate this kit, Voter's Guide and ODA Factsheet to your members, consumers, board, staff and volunteers as widely as possible across Ontario. Distribute these materials as part of the information packages that your organization routinely gives out to the public regarding your organization.

  • Hold public events during the election to inform voters with disabilities about the ways to participate in the campaign, about the importance of the ODA issue and about the positions of the major parties on this issue.

  • Set up booths in malls and other public places to give out information to the public, such as the enclosed voter's guide and factsheet, on the need to ensure that voters with disabilities can fully participate in this election, and how this can be achieved.

  • Approach the local media and explain why they should be writing stories about this issue.

  • Write to the Chief Elections Officer and the three party leaders, local candidates and local returning officers, pointing out the specific barriers that your organization wishes removed or prevented to ensure that this is a barrier-free election.

This kit is full of useful ideas. Pick and choose whichever you wish to try, but please do try some of them. Also let us know about any other ideas you have for effective actions that could meet our goal of making disability count in this election. Although we do not have an the Ontarians with Disabilities Act as promised by Premier Harris four years ago, we have been a tremendously successful organization. We have organized and mobilized people with disabilities in Ontario like never before. We have now gotten strong, clear written election commitments from two of the three major parties, the Liberals and NDP. Both of those parties have become strong voices in the Legislature by asking tough questions of the Government and proposing important resolutions.

The fact that both of these parties have already given us detailed promises shows that they know that voters with disabilities count. Unlike any previous election commitment to us, these pledges specifically identify the 11 principles which we formulated and which the Ontarians with Disabilities Act will embody if enacted by either of these parties. As of the time of writing, we cannot give you any information on what if anything will be the position of the Conservative Party on the ODA issue in the upcoming campaign.

Let's each commit to make disability really count in this election!




Email Premier Harris directly

Addresses of Conservative MPPs

Regional Contacts of the ODA Committee

previous Action Act re: Getting Ready for New Bill Action Kit.

previous Action Act re: Bill 83


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Last updated Monday, April 26, 1999