ODA Action Kit
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE
ACTION KIT - July 13, 2002
"IMPLEMENT THE ODA NOW" ACTION KIT
July 13, 2002
OUR TASK AHEAD
The Legislature passed the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 seven months ago, back on December 13, 2001. Although it fell far short of our expectations, and left so many disappointed, we need to get the ODA 2001 promptly and effectively implemented. We want to get as much progress as possible under it. We want to reach our goal, which the Ontario Government promised to us, a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities.
This Action Kit provides you with practical tools to help over the next weeks and months in your community. In this kit we:.- summarize the commitments that the Ontario Government made to people
with disabilities in fall 2002;
- update you on what's happened in the first 7 months since the ODA was passed;
- offer goals for our activities over the next months;
- suggest practical, specific action tips that you can choose from;
- offer a message you might wish to bring forward in your community, and
- give you a sample letter you might wish to send to members of the Ontario Legislature.
This kit seeks to help both newcomers to our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario and those who have been helping the ODA movement for months or years. If you have a good background in this area already, you might wish to skip right to the suggested action tips which come later in this Kit.
CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT'S COMMITMENTS TO ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES
The Conservative Government made a series of important commitments to Ontarians with disabilities in fall 2001:
Ontario will become barrier-free for persons with disabilities as soon as reasonably possible, far ahead of the U.S., at a point in time which the disability community will determine. This will make Ontario Canada's most inclusive province, with the ODA 2001 a key measure to achieve this.
No new barriers will be created against persons with disabilities.
Created under the ODA 2001 will be regulations imposing mandatory
requirements, covering all sectors including the private sector.
Ontario's disability community will be in the driver's seat, and the
forefront of change, playing a pivotal role in setting standards under the
The Government will enforce compliance with the ODA 2001, will take on a
leadership role and will set high standards. Specific accessibility results
will be achieved in the Government, the broader public sector (e.g.
schools, universities, colleges and hospitals), municipalities and the
private sector. These will include e.g. improved and more accessible
services and opportunities in all sectors, significant improvement in
community accessibility, enhanced access to schools, hospitals, colleges
and universities, greater ease in moving around communities safely,
significantly enhanced ability to participate in community life, greater
accessibility in the private sector, and increased retail job opportunities
for persons with disabilities.
ACTION IN THE FIRST SEVEN MONTHS SINCE THE ODA WAS PASSED
What has the Government done in the first half of 2002 to implement the
ODA? In the first half of 2002, progress was very slow. In February 2002,
the Government proclaimed in force less than half of the ODA. Until a
provision of the ODA is proclaimed in force, no one must obey it. In July
2002, the Government at last announced a timetable for proclaiming in force
the rest of the ODA's provisions except for one important section by the
end of 2002. It has not said when it will proclaim in force section 21.
That provision makes it an offence for certain organizations to fail to
develop annual accessibility plans under the ODA.
In the spring, the Government set up its new Accessibility Directorate.
This is a government office at the Citizenship Ministry that has the job of
advising others on what to do to remove and prevent barriers, and helping
develop guidelines, standards, regulations and other tools to help
implement the ODA 2001.
In April 2002, the Government appointed five members to the provincial
Accessibility Advisory Council. The Government said it intends the Council
to have twelve members. It has not said when it will fill the remaining
seven spots on the Council. This Council has the job of consulting with the
public and advising the Government on barriers we need removed, and on
standards, time lines and regulations that should be enacted to remove and
The provincial Accessibility Advisory Council is a Government-appointed
body. It should not be confused with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Committee. We are a non-partisan, voluntary coalition of individuals and
disability organizations. For seven and a half years, we have led and
continue to lead the grassroots campaign for a barrier-free Ontario through
the enactment and effective implementation of the Ontarians with
In July 2002, the Government also announced that in the summer and fall it
will publish guides to help organizations comply with the ODA.
What has the ODA Committee done in the first half of 2002?
We called on the Government to proclaim all ODA provisions and to promptly
and effectively implement the ODA.
We offered our help to new Ontario Premier Eves, the new Citizenship
Minister Carl DeFaria, and the Accessibility Council. Premier Eves says his
Government will be more open and consultative. We took him up on this and
offered to meet with him. He has not answered this offer.
We prepared two important documents to help the Government:
(2) Our proposed Ontario Government One-Year ODA Implementation workplan
("the ODA Implementation Workplan"). It lists the tasks we suggest that the
Government should complete over the next year to implement the ODA, and the
timelines for doing these. The Workplan identifies four priority areas that
are especially important to persons with disabilities. These are removing
and preventing barriers in education, public transportation, health care,
and retail chain stores. We recommend that the Government consult widely
and enact regulations within the next year to establish standards for
removal and prevention of barriers in these priority areas. As of now, the
Government has not indicated whether it will treat these as priority areas
under the ODA.
We sent the list of the Government's commitments and our ODA implementation
workplan to the chair of the Disability Accessibility Advisory Council, Mr.
David Shannon. We hope that the Council will endorse our ODA Implementation
Workplan or something like it. Later in this Action Kit is a summary of our
proposed ODA Implementation Workplan.
If you want a complete copy of these documents, visit our website at the
addresses below, or contact us at the mailing address above:
The Government's Commitments:
The ODA Implementation Workplan
OUR GOALS AHEAD
A provincial election is expected some time in 2003. It is also possible
that the Government could call an election in the fall of 2002. The months
leading up to an election is when a Government is most eager to show that
it is making progress. Let's take advantage of this.
The message we bring to the public during the next election will depend on
what progress towards a barrier-free Ontario for persons with disabilities
that we see over the next months leading up to the election.
Our goals over the next year should include:
Pressing the Government to set a date for proclaiming section 21 of the
ODA, the only provision they have not scheduled for proclamation.
Pressing for the prompt appointment of the rest of the Ontario
Accessibility Advisory council and making sure that this body and the
municipal accessibility advisory committees all have strong memberships who
support mandatory removal and prevention of barriers against persons with
Urging that the provincial Accessibility Advisory Council and all municipal
Accessibility Advisory Committees consult widely, deliberate in the open,
make their recommendations public, and press for strong action to remove
and prevent barriers against persons with disabilities.
Pressing the Ontario Government to adopt our ODA Implementation Workplan or something similar to it, and to keep the Government's commitments to
persons with disabilities.
Pointing out to the Ontario Government, municipalities, school boards,
hospitals, universities, public transit providers and others the barriers
they now have, and calling on them to include specific strategies and
commitments in their forthcoming accessibility plans for removing these
Closely Monitoring the Government's implementation of the ODA to see if it
makes a real difference in the lives of Ontarians with disabilities, and if
it leads to the actual removal and prevention of barriers in the public and
private sectors across Ontario. This includes watching out to see if any
new barriers are created since the ODA 2001 was passed. The Government
promised us no new barriers would be created in Ontario.
Ensuring that the public and the media understand and support the need for
a barrier-free Ontario in all sectors, and letting the public and media
know what progress is being made.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION
We encourage you to choose actions from this list. Also, develop your own
action ideas. Let us know how you are progressing. We want to share with
other ODA supporters your ideas and experiences:
Prepare a list of barriers that are especially significant in your life,
and that you need the ODA to remove. Keep track of what changes you see
happening with these barriers. For tips on how to prepare a barrier diary,
Call, visit or write your nearest members of the provincial legislature.
Talk to them and/or their staff. Give them a copy of the Ontario
Government's commitments and the ODA Implementation Workplan. Ask for their support. We offer below points you might wish to make, under the heading
"Our Message." We also include in this Action Kit a sample letter that you
might wish to use either to write your MPP or when speaking to him or her.
You can get a list of MPPs with their contact information from us at the
address above, or by emailing:
or by visiting the Ontario Legislature's website at:
Urge your municipal government, local school board, hospitals as well as
public transit providers, colleges and universities to get to work now
planning to remove and prevent barriers, since the ODA is coming their way.
On September 30, 2002, the Government will proclaim in force the ODA
provisions that require each of these organizations as well as provincial
Government ministries to make annual plans listing the barriers in their
organizations, and their specific plans for removing and preventing such
barriers. Write these organizations in your community to let them know
about barriers they have. Tell them you want those barriers listed in their
forthcoming accessibility plan under the ODA 2001. Ask for input into their
development of their accessibility plan. Let the ODA Committee know what
you bring to their attention and response you get.
Let your local municipal government know that you would like to be a member
of the disability accessibility advisory committee. The ODA's provision
will be proclaimed in force on September 30, 2002 that requires each
municipality to establish such a committee if it has a population over
10,000. If a municipality has under 10,000, the ODA gives the municipality
the option of setting up such a committee. If you live in one of these
smaller communities, let them know that you want them to establish such a
committee and to serve on it. Urge the municipality to get to work with
that advisory committee now, even before all the ODA's provisions are
proclaimed in force.
Do a media blitz on the theme: "What has changed since the Government
passed the ODA?" Ask your local media to do reports and editorials on the
need for the ODA to be promptly and effectively implemented. Let them know
about barriers you have faced, and about whether the Government has made
real and significant progress towards removing or preventing them, that has
made a difference in your life.
Write a letter to the editor or a guest column for your local newspaper on
the issues and message in this Action Kit. Call into phone-in radio
programs to raise these issues. Ask your radio station to do a call-in
program on the issue of what has changed since the Government's ODA was
passed in December 2001.
Watch to see if any new barriers are being created since December 13, 2001,
the day the Conservative Government passed its ODA. Remember that former
Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson promised that no new barriers will be
created in Ontario. Let the ODA Committee, your local media and your MPP
know if any new barriers are created.
Circulate this Action Kit to friends, family and co-workers. Let them know
about the ODA issue and ask them to help you with action.
If you are a client of or staff of a disability organization, urge that
organization to circulate this Action Kit widely, and to write the
Government to present our message, set out above.
Community organizations can help by launching their own publicity strategies. We encourage them to publish a special ODA newsletter to alert their local offices, their staff, volunteers and consumers, as well as the broader community, about what they can do to help get the Government to promptly and effectively implement the ODA.
Reach out to members of the business community now in your part of Ontario
to show that removing and preventing barriers against persons with
disabilities is good for business. Contact people you know in business in
your community. Meet with your local chamber of commerce and service clubs.
For ideas on what to say to them, visit:
Encourage local businesses to get the standards on customer service for
persons with disabilities from the Canadian Standards Association. Urge
them to contact CSA Standard Sales at firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling toll-free
1-800-463-6727 or by visiting the CSA online standards store at www.csa.ca.
Let the ODA Committee know what is happening on these fronts in your
community. We in turn will try through email, our website and newsletters
to let everyone across Ontario know what is happening.
LET US KNOW
Let us know if you change your address. If you want regular email updates
on ODA news, write: email@example.com
Present your own message to MPPs, the media, friends and others in the way
that best suits you. We here outline our core message. You are welcome to
use it or modify it as you wish.
The ODA issue and the ODA movement did not go away when the Government
passed its ODA in December, 2001. There's still much to be done. We want to
We want the Ontario Government to effectively fulfil all of its commitments
made to people with disabilities in fall 2001 and to promptly and
effectively implement the ODA 2001. We summarize those commitments earlier
in this action kit.
We want the Ontario Government to adopt our proposed Government Workplan
for implementing the ODA, or to adopt and publish a similar workplan. We
summarize that workplan below. We want the Government to announce the date
on which it will proclaim in force section 21 of the ODA 2001, the only
provision which the Government has not scheduled for proclamation. Section
21 imposes a fine on an organization which fails to make an accessibility
plan or policy, if the organization is required to do so under the ODA
2001. That provision also makes it an offence for a municipality with a
population over 10,000 to fail to establish a disability accessibility
We want the Ontario Government to consult widely and then to develop and
enact regulations over the next year which set mandatory standards and time
lines for removing and preventing barriers in the important areas of
education, public transit, health care and in retail chain store
In these months leading up to the forthcoming provincial election expected
within the next year, Ontarians with disabilities as well as their
families, friends and supporters will be closely monitoring the ODA's
implementation. We will be watching to see whether existing barriers are
being removed and whether new barriers are being created.
Ontarians with disabilities will measure real progress. We will ask whether
we experience existing barriers coming down, and new barriers being
prevented. We will look to see meaningful action that makes a real
difference in our lives.
Ontarians with disabilities, as well as their families, friends and other
supporters will raise the ODA issue in the next provincial election
expected within the next year. The citizenship Ministry says that 1.9
million Ontarians have a disability. So many voters can have a real and
substantial impact on an election.
OUR ODA IMPLEMENTATION WORKPLAN - SUMMARY
The ODA Committee's proposed Government ODA Implementation Workplan lists important actions that we recommend the Ontario Government take over the next year to implement the ODA and to fulfil the Government's fall 2001 commitments to Ontarians with disabilities. It suggests timelines for doing these. Among these tasks, not yet announced by the Ontario government, are:
Widely publicizing that the ODA's provisions are now the law, once
Consulting over the next year with the public, including the broad
disability community, on specific, major steps to be taken to implement the
Promptly appointing all members to the provincial Accessibility council and
all municipal Accessibility committees, with diverse membership that is
committed to mandatory removal and prevention of barriers against persons
Start consulting in fall 2001 to enact regulations within one year which
will set mandatory standards for removing and preventing barriers in
education, public transportation, health care, and retail chain store
After public consultations, publishing proposed draft regulations by
February 2003 to set up effective enforcement mechanisms under the ODA;
Taking specific, prompt steps to bring the Ontario Government into
compliance with the ODA e.g. announcing a new service for making Government
documents available in alternative formats by February 2003;
By August 2002, establishing the Government's promised incentive program
for public and private sector organizations to remove and prevent barriers;
By September 2002, Ontario Government to set up and publicly announce a
public advice service to give interested organizations free advice on how
to become barrier-free;
SAMPLE LETTER TO YOUR MEMBER OF THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE
I am an Ontario voter. I am very interested in the way the Government and
our society treats Ontarians who now have a disability or who will get a
disability in the future. According to the Citizenship Ministry, almost two
million Ontarians now have a disability. The Ministry uses the number 1.9
In December 2001, the Ontario Legislature passed the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act. The Ontario Government had promised this law almost seven
years before, back in 1995. The Government had committed to pass it back in
its first term.
There was widespread disappointment with the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act that the Legislature finally passed. It fell far short of the public's
expectations. Despite this, it is very important that the Ontario
Government act promptly and effectively to implement the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act 2001. We want to see real and substantial progress now
towards a barrier-free Ontario.
I am writing to urge you to pressure Premier Eves to make sure that the
Government keeps all its important commitments that the Government made to
Ontarians with disabilities in the fall of 2001. The Government promised
that Ontario will become barrier-free for persons with disabilities as soon
as reasonably possible, far ahead of the U.S., at a point in time which the
disability community will determine. It said it will make Ontario Canada's
most inclusive province, with the ODA 2001 a key measure to achieve this.
It promised that no new barriers will be created against persons with
It said that created under the ODA 2001 will be regulations imposing
mandatory requirements, covering all sectors including the private sector.
It pledged that Ontario's disability community will be in the driver's
seat, and the forefront of change, playing a pivotal role in setting
standards under the ODA 2001. It said that the Government will enforce
compliance with the ODA 2001, will take on a leadership role and will set
high standards. It also promised that specific accessibility results will
be achieved in the Government, the broader public sector (e.g. schools,
universities, colleges and hospitals), municipalities and the private
We want to see real action, and we want to see it now. To help the
Government with this, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee has
presented to the Government a proposed workplan listing the tasks that the
Government should over the next year. You can find this workplan on the
I ask you to commit to personally support this workplan. Please call on
Premier Eves and Citizenship Minister Carl DeFaria to adopt this workplan
or something very similar to it. I also ask that the Government's workplan
be made public and that the Government regularly report to the public on
the progress it is making.
A provincial election is coming up soon. What happens under the Ontarians
with Disabilities Act 2001 will be an issue in that Candidates in that
election will be accountable for their personal record and the record of
their political party on this issue, and on the steps taken to make Ontario
a barrier-free Ontario. I want to know where you stand on this, and what
you and your Party is prepared to do.
Please do not send me a form letter in reply, or just send my letter to
someone else to respond. I would like to hear from you in your own words.
I believe that it is important for Ontario to become a barrier-free
province for all persons with disabilities as soon as possible.
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Last updated July 24, 2002