Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA


April 25, 2000


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ACTION TIPS for Individuals & Organizations

Additional ACTION TIPS for Organizations

ODA Background - Where We Are Now and Where We are Going

To win the passage of a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act, our core aim now is to get our message to as many Ontarians as possible about the need for this law. This Action Kit provides you with a wide variety of different things that you can do to help get the word out to as many members of the public as possible. Along with these tips is a backgrounder. It updates you on recent developments in this effort, and gives ideas of what to include in our message.

Please do what you can to help. Have a look at the list of ideas on the next few pages. Choose activities that you would enjoy. Get other people to do some too. Let us know what you've tried. Tell us about your own new ideas.

If you change your address or your organization's ODA Committee contact person, let us know. If you have Email and want ODA Committee information via Email, please contact us at oda@odacommittee.net to be added to our Email list.

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* Keep a diary of barriers you or people you know face in a day or a week. Share YOUR DIARY with others.

* Tell friends and family about this issue and how it affects you and them. Get them to learn about the ODA Committee's work by giving them this kit, getting them to visit our web site, or contacting us for more information at the address above. Try to reach a certain number of new people each week.

* Get people you know to sign petitions to the Legislature calling for a strong ODA. This gives you a chance to explain this issue to people who know nothing about it. Collect signatures at meetings, public events, or even at shopping malls.

Once you have signatures on a petition, send it to your local MPP and formally request that they read it out and table it in the Legislature. This gets more public attention for our issue. It also requires the Government to formally respond to the petition in the Legislature in writing within 24 sitting days of the petition being introduced. Included with this Action kit is a sample peitition with details on how to go about this.

* Contact your local media with specific stories about barriers faced by you or others you know, to focus on the need for the ODA at a personal level. Encourage your local media to establish a "Barrier of the Month" column. If they won't do a story on this, tied to the need for the ODA, then write a letter to the editor, or
offer to do a guest column. Call to your local "phone-in" radio program to raise this issue. This is especially good when provincial politicians are guests on those programs. If a local TV, radio station or newspaper has disregarded this story in the past, make an appointment to go see the editor to urge them to cover this issue from now on.

* Contact your nearest journalism school, to arrange to speak to journalism students on the ODA. Encourage them to do stories on this issue and to offer them to the local media.

* Get a "barrier wall" built in your community. Display it in a public place to show the barriers we face. Several are already in place in various parts of Ontario. For example, approach major community organizations in your area to allow a Barrier Wall to be displayed there along with ODA Committee pamphlets and information.

A barrier wall is a portable standing surface, made up to look like a brick wall. On each "brick" or section of bricks, of this wall can be attached pictures, stories, or other things to represent barriers that people with disabilities face. As more barriers are identified, they can be added. Host a party to build or expand a
barrier wall. This is an especially great activity for children and youth during the school year and the summer months. For tips on how to build and display a barrier wall, contact Ms. Andy Snider at asnider@pathcom.com or (416) 424-3855 ex. 3472#

* Contact the ODA Committee Regional Contact in your community to offer to become active with them. Get the list of these contacts from our web site at www.odacommittee.net/contacts.html. If there is no regional contact for your community, contact us to offer to take on this role and help us organize a new ODA Committee Region in your community.

* Ask any church, synagogue or other religious or community organization to which you belong to officially endorse the ODA, and to write Premier Harris about their support. Let us know about the support from these groups. Ask us for a sample resolution they might consider passing. Offer to speak to their membership or their board to give background on this issue and explain how it effects you. Bring others along with you
to share in this.

* Obtain a copy of our 1 page ODA pamphlet and 1 page ODA poster from our web site. Make copies. Give them out and post them in public places.

* Include a short message about the ODA on your E-mail signature line, or on any hard copy letters you mail to anyone.

* Approach your local school board, or your nearest school, to encourage them to include a teaching unit for their students on barriers facing people with disabilities and on the ODA. The Toronto District School Board has developed a wonderful teaching kit for this. Urge your local schools to use it or write their own. To access this teaching kit, follow this link.

* Approach your municipal or regional council and your school board to get them to pass a resolution supporting the need for a strong and effective ODA. Several have done so already, e.g. London,
Toronto, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Durham Region. For a sample resolution visit follow this link. Organize others to work with you to get this resolution through. Let the media know about your efforts.

* Get a local organization to give an award to politicians who have fought hard for a strong ODA, and to journalists who have given important coverage to this issue.

* Start planning activities to bring public attention to the May 24, 2000 fifth anniversary of Premier Harris' 1995 election promise to enact the ODA.

* If an MPP and especially if a Government MPP is speaking at a public event, attend and raise questions about the ODA. Ask why the Government has been stalling for so long. Bring copies of our ODA
pamphlet to give out to the people at the event, as well as Premier Harris' 1995 letter promising the ODA. Urge the media to cover this.

* Contact your local cable television community station. Encourage them to do a call-in show on the ODA.

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* Include the ODA pamphlet, posted on our web site, and poster in all packages of brochures your organization gives out to the public.

* Arrange to build your own barrier wall and have it displayed in your lobby along with pamphlets and information about the ODA.

* Establish a regular ODA Update Column in your organization's newsletter. Let your consumers, volunteers, board members and staff know about actions they can take, like those listed in this action kit.

* Print up and widely distribute this action kit to your staff, board members, consumers and volunteers.

* Develop an "Email Network" for the ODA, to spread ODA Committee news and action Email messages as far and wide as possible.

* Link the ODA issue to public information and public education campaigns that your organization is planning over the next months.

* Include a presentation on the ODA at your next annual general meeting. Plan to report to your membership on what your organization has done and plans to do to support the ODA efffort.

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April 25, 2000

The fifth anniversary of Premier Harris's unkept promise to enact the Ontarians with Disabilities Act is fast approaching. Half a decade ago, on May 24, 1995, Premier Harris promised in writing that he would enact the Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first term.

Everything since then shows that the Ontario government does not want to keep its promise. It does not want to pass an ODA. If it has to pass an ODA, it wants to pass a weak one. Since 1996, the Ontario Government has voted in support of three Opposition resolutions in the Ontario Legislature calling for this promise to
be kept. But then the Government did nothing meaningful to act on its commitment.

In late 1998, the Government introduced Bill 83 into the Legislature. That 3 page bill was useless. It did not require a single barrier to be removed anywhere ever. In the face of our widespread criticism of that bill, the Government let it die in the Legislature three weeks after it was introduced.

In the 1999 election, Premier Harris promised more consultations with the public on the ODA. This would be followed by introduction of a new bill which would be better than Bill 83.

Since then, we again have seen more delays and inaction. Citizenship Minister Helen Johns claims she is now holding a consultation on the ODA. However she has publicly invited no public input. She is apparently holding secret, closed, invitation-only meetings. She will not say who is on her secret invitation list. She says we do not need public hearings. When Liberal Disability Critic Steve Peters, MPP held 15 successful public hearings across Ontario on the ODA in March 2000, ODA Committee Regional Contacts, members and supporters rallied across the province to spread the word about these events, leading to excellent turnouts and responses. Unfortunately, Citizenship Minister Johns and Premier Harris refused to attend any of these public consultation forums, and thus refused to listen to the real life experience of people with disabilities in this province.

Minister Johns has promised an "action plan" by this June. However she has refused to date to tell us what this "action plan" is going to be all about.

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What can we do? We need to have the Ontario Government feel more and more pressure to get moving on this issue. We need them to see that there is strong public support for the law we seek. Our goal
is to get our message to as many members of the public as possible. Many people still do not know about the efforts at getting a strong ODA passed. We have found that people who learn from us about our message agree with and support us.

Who WOULD deny that 1.5 MILLION Ontarians with disabilities face too many barriers? Who believes those barriers are just naturally going away, and that we don't need a strong new law to get rid of them? Who thinks these barriers are good for Ontario? Who would think a barrier-free Ontario would be a bad thing?

We need everyone, both individuals and organizations, to do what they can in their own community TO GET OUR MESSAGE OUT TO THE PUBLIC. This action kit gives you ideas on how you can help DO THIS. We need to get more support one person at a time.

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Keep our message in mind when you're getting the word out to the public. One and a half million Ontarians with Disabilities now face far too many barriers when they try to participate fully in Ontario life. This happens when they try to get a job, use a public service, enjoy a public facility or use products. Too many barriers remain. Too many new barriers are being created. These barriers can be physical (e.g. steps instead of ramps), informational (e.g. no Braille on elevators), communicational (e.g. no sign language interpreters in
hospital emergency rooms), etc. They can be visible or invisible. They can hurt people whether their disability is physical, mental and/or sensory.

Current laws and programs will not achieve our goal of a barrier-free Ontario. Voluntary measures and programs have not and won't create a barrier-free Ontario for people with disabilities. We need a new, strong, and effective law, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to do this. It would require existing barriers to be removed and would prevent new barriers. It would be effectively enforced.

In the 1995 election, Premier Harris promised in writing to enact this law in his first term. He has still not passed that law. We want everyone to support our call for this new law.

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Any member of the public can prepare a petition on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, have it signed by others, and ask an MPP to read it out in the Legislature and file it with that body. A sample petition is set out here.

Each person who signs the petition must print their name and address, and then sign it. They must be an Ontario resident, and can be any age. There is no minimum number of signatures you must have on the petition. The petition must be addressed to the Legislature.

You must have people sign the actual page that has the petition's text on it. You cannot simply add additional blank pages and have them sign these added pages.

If you send a petition to an MPP, they are not required to introduce it into the Legislature. Cabinet ministers and the Speaker of the House usually do not themselves introduce petitions, so don't bother sending one to them.

Liberal and NDP MPPs will probably be willing to introduce ODA petitions. A Conservative MPP representing your riding may not agree to do so. If you are in a Conservative riding, you can choose to send your petition to your own MPP or to an Opposition MPP to be introduced. If you send it to a Conservative MPP, you may wish to remind them that they represent your riding, that their party supported three resolutions calling for the ODA, and remind them of their own voting record on these resolutions. If you send your petition to a Conservative MPP, and they do not agree to introduce the petition in the Legislature, ask for the petition back. Then let the media know, and send the petition to a Liberal or NDP MPP to ask them to introduce it. Let them know the Conservative refused. They will need the original of the petition, and cannot use a copy. Instead of preparing one huge petition and having a great number of people sign it, it is far better to print up many separate 1-page petitions, and to get them filled up with signatures, and then to send them all to MPPs to file them separately with the Legislature. This is much better because each individual petition is separately read out in the Legislature, possibly on different days, and each requires a separate written response from the government. In contrast, one huge, single peitition with thousands of signatures can only be read out and filed once.

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Whereas 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities face many barriers when they seek to participate in all aspects of Ontario life such as getting a job, using public goods, services and facilities such as health care and education

And whereas, Premier Harris promised in writing during the 1995 election to work together with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee to develop this new law, to be called the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and to pass it in his first term,

And whereas the Ontario Legislature has unanimously passed three resolutions calling on the Government to keep its promise,

And whereas the most recent resolution calls for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act to be enacted no later than November 23, 2001;

And whereas there is an urgent and pressing need for a new, strong and effective law to achieve a barrier free Ontario for people with disabilities;

And whereas any further delay in passing the Ontarians with Disabilities Act to achieve a barrier-free Ontario for all people with disabilities will hurt all Ontarians;

Therefore, we the undersigned

1. Call on the Ontario Legislature to make sure that the Ontario Government keeps its 1995 election promise, and to comply with the three resolutions of the Legislature and to pass a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act as soon as possible to achievve a barrier-free Ontario for people with disabilities;

2. call on the Ontario Legislature to ensure that there will be open, accessible public hearings on any new bill that is introduced, which will be held across Ontario, in which all who wish can participate, so that Ontarians with disabilities can have a meaningful voice in this legislation.

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ODA Committee Contact Info

If you change your address or your organization's ODA Committe contact person, please contact Marg Thomas at thomasm@east.cnib.ca

If you have Email and want ODA Committee information via Email, please contact David Lepofsky at oda@odacommittee.net to be added to our Email list.

If you have any feedback on our website, please direct them to Barbara Anello at anello@thot.net


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Email Premier Harris directly

List of MPPs by Riding

Regional Contacts of the ODA Committee

November 1999 Action Tip

Action Act re: ONTARIO ELECTION ACTION KIT dated August 12, 1999

Action Act re: ONTARIO ELECTION ACTION KIT dated April 15, 1999

Action Act re: GETTING READY FOR NEW BILL ACTION KIT dated March 1, 1999


Action Act re: BILL 83 ACTION KIT

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Last updated April 25, 2000