Image of black text with drop shadow that reads: Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee

Letter to the Hon. Mike Harris
Premier of Ontario

c/o Marg Thomas
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto ON M4G 3E8
Tel: (ODA Committee Voice Mail) 416-480-7012
Tel: (Voice direct) 416-480-7686
Fax: 416-480-7014
TTY: Care of Deborah Thynn 416 964-0023 ex. 251

November 24, 1998

The Hon. Mike Harris
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Room 281
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario   M7A 1A1

Dear Premier Harris:

RE: Ontarians with Disabilities Act

I am writing on behalf of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee as a follow-up to your Government's introduction of a bill purporting to address barriers facing persons with disabilities.   We are writing to ask that that bill immediately be withdrawn, and to urgently meet with you to discuss a replacement bill.

We cannot accept your bill as in any way fulfilling your election promise to enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act to achieve a barrier-free Ontario for people with disabilities.   Your bill will do nothing to redress the barriers we face.  It does not even speak to the vast majority of barriers that we face, namely those outside the Ontario Government.   Of those that it does address, namely those within the Ontario Government, it leaves their removal and prevention to the sole discretion of each Ministry.  It is unenforceable, provides no remedies, and is, with respect, a hurtful insult to the one and a half million Ontarians who now have a disability.  It fails to comply with any of the 11 principles which the Ontario Legislature unanimously adopted for this bill on October 29, 1998.   It completely ignores the input you received from people with disabilities during your short consultation process.   It is not worthy of the name "Ontarians with Disabilities Act".

During the last election, you promised in writing to work together with our coalition to develop this law. Yet, from the day you took office until the day this bill was introduced, you have steadfastly refused every one of our requests to meet with you. That promise, too, is now clearly broken.

We urgently wish to meet with you to devise a means to get a strong, effective and workable bill developed as quickly as possible, and enacted in your first term.   We do not wish you to simply refer this letter to Citizenship Minister Bassett for a response, as has been your practice in the past, for it has been clear throughout your mandate that it is the Premier's Office that is calling all the shots on this matter.   We remain willing to do whatever we can to assist your Government to develop and pass a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act in your first mandate.

Voters with disabilities shall be watching closely as an election looms closer to see how you address your election promises to them.   We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible, and hope that you will accept this urgent request for a meeting.

Yours sincerely,

M. David Lepofsky, C.M.,
Co-Chair Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

cc:   Hon. Isabel Bassett
  Dalton McGuinty,  MPP
  Howard Hampton,  MPP
  Marion Boyd,  MPP
  Gilles Morin,  MPP
  Frances Lankin,  MPP
  Dwight Duncan,  MPP

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