Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

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November 2000
click here to read this report in French
click here to read the Liberal Press Release
Anchored links within Report:

Message from Dalton McGuinty
Message from Steve Peters
Message from Ernie Parsons

Accountability: Promises Made, Promises Broken
Review of Current Relevant Disabilities Legislation and Programming
Ontario Human Rights Code / Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Ontario Disability Support Program
Ontario Building Code
Education Act
Existing Barriers
Physical Barriers
Education, Employment and Training

The Impact These Barriers Have Upon All of Us
The Impact If Barriers Are Allowed To Remain and New Ones Emerge
What Must An Ontarians With Disabilities Act Include To Create A Barrier-Free Society?
11 Principles
Appendix A, Some Barriers Cited During the Consultative Process
Message from Dalton McGuinty,
Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party

In May 1995, Mike Harris made a solemn commitment to implement an
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, drafted in consultation with
Ontario's citizens with disabilities. More than five years later,
it remains a broken promise. During those five years, thousands of
Ontario children have been born with a disability while thousands
of other people acquired a disability through either illness or
injury. These people have joined the ranks of the more than 1.5
million Ontarians with disabilities who continue to face barriers
that the Premier's unfulfilled promise was meant to remove. In
order to create opportunity for all of our citizens, Ontario
Liberals believe that the barriers that prevent people with
disabilities from leading active and fulfilling lives must be
removed and that new ones must be prevented from emerging.

In order to understand those barriers, and the ways that these
barriers can be overcome, we need to listen to those with
disabilities themselves. It is for this reason that Ontario
Liberals embarked on a province-wide consultation tour in order to
meet with those who each and every day, face an array of obstacles.
What we heard was discouraging: instead of continued progress, the
community of people with disabilities reported that many of their
hard-won gains were being eroded.

I would like to thank Steve Peters, MPP, for demonstrating
outstanding leadership in organizing this extensive consultation
tour. As the official opposition critic for disabled issues, Steve
Peters has done a fantastic job in improving our own understanding
of the issues Ontarians with disabilities face and what needs to be
done to advance their cause.

We've heard from you loudly and clearly: Ontario needs effective
and comprehensive legislation. And we need it now. My Liberal
colleagues and I stand together in calling for a strong Ontarians
with Disabilities Act.


Dalton McGuinty
Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party

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Message from Steve Peters, MPP

A truly effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act must be a
priority, yet the Harris government has failed to deliver on its
promise to enact such a law. Ontarians don't believe that our
disabled citizens should be forced to wait any longer. That is why
on November 23, 1999, I sponsored a resolution for the Ontario
Legislative Assembly to pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act
within two years of that date.

In spite of the unanimous passage of my resolution, the government
made no further effort to move the agenda forward. In believing
that the time for action is now, and that legislation should
address the needs and concerns expressed by those directly
affected, I chose to jump-start that process by launching my own
province-wide consultation tour with persons with disabilities.

The consultation process began on March 6, 2000 and involved an
intensive 15-site, month-long tour of various communities
throughout the province. Unlike the government's own consultations
with persons with disabilities, ours were open to the public and
held in venues that were fully accessible. As well, to ensure the
full participation of all those who wished to be involved, American
Sign Language interpreters were on hand for the hard of hearing.
The response to the tour was overwhelming and positive. The
participants represented a broad cross-section of those who would
be most directly affected by the passage of meaningful legislation.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of those who
attended these consultations and to those who provided constructive
submissions. I also thank my leader, Dalton McGuinty, and my
caucus colleagues for attending and adding their voices and support
to this important issue.


Steve Peters, MPP


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Message from Ernie Parsons, MPP

I am pleased to participate in the presentation of this progressive
and forceful Consultation Tour Report. My friend and colleague
Steve Peters, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, must be congratulated
on the tremendous effort and commitment he has made to help persons
with disabilities across this province.

This report is an illustration of that commitment.

In the few short weeks since my appointment as Liberal Critic for
Persons with Disabilities, I have become familiar with many of the
barriers facing Ontarians today. Meaningful and comprehensive
legislation is needed now. We cannot permit the Premier to
introduce mere "window-dressing" disabilities legislation.
Anything short of implementing the eleven principles unanimously
endorsed by the legislature in 1998, will reveal Mike Harris'
"Promises made, Promises broken" approach to governing. I stand
behind my leader and my party's commitment to a meaningful
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is my commitment to continue
to work as hard as I can with all Ontarians to ensure this
government keeps its promise to the many talented and resourceful
persons with disabilities across this province.

Yours Sincerely,

Ernie Parsons, MPP
Prince Edward-Hastings

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More than 1.5 million people in Ontario live with a disability.
Some describe them as the "cant's". Can't see. Can't hear. Can't
walk. Those who "can" are described as the "don'ts". Don't see.
Don't hear. Don't understand.

These are strong words. They need to be because the biggest
barrier facing persons with disabilities is "invisibility".

Ontarians care. We care about the difficulties others must endure.
Yet many of us don't understand how pervasive a disability can be
and how simple ignorance can make someone else's life even more
difficult. How many realize that, for those of us in wheelchairs,
the phones in many phone booths are unreachable?

How many have stopped to think that lives could be lost in a fire
because of an unheard alarm?

It is not that Ontarians don't care, it is just that many of us may
not consider the effects of some decisions on persons with
disabilities. Over the last number of years, there has been a real
push by those with disabilities as well as by service providers for
a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. They argue
that the current chaotic regime by which a hodgepodge of
legislation and programs is administered does not adequately
address their needs. Websites and voluntary measures have not
resulted in a barrier-free society.

The current government's attempts at "fixing the problem" have been
disgraceful. The process itself has become a barrier.

We were told that a forum was needed in which everyone, with or
without a disability, could meet publicly and discuss their
concerns and propose what needs to be done.

Steve Peters, M.P.P., then the Ontario Liberal Party Critic for
Persons with Disabilities, decided to take the lead. He conducted
a 15-site, month-long consultation tour across the province
inviting business leaders, community groups, and elected
representatives to make submissions. Sadly, only one member of the
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party caucus attended the

Despite the Tory snub, the tour was an unmitigated success. Over
600 people attended the hearings with more than 60 oral, written
and sign presentations from persons with and without disabilities.
This report summarizes what we heard and learned.

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Accountability: Promises Made, Promises Broken

1995: Mike Harris, MPP, and Leader of the Progressive Conservative
Party of Ontario commits in writing to "enact an Ontario
Disabilities Act in the first term of office"

1996: Marion Boyd, MPP, New Democratic Party introduces a
resolution in the Legislature calling for Harris government to keep
its promise to pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Meanwhile
more than two hundred persons with disabilities converge upon
Queen's Park to encourage the government to make the right
decision. The resolution passes unanimously.

1998 (October 27): Dwight Duncan, MPP, Ontario Liberal Party
introduces an eleven-principle resolution to form the basis of expected
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Resolution receives unanimous support
of Legislature.

1998 (November 23): Isabel Basset, Minister of Citizenship, Culture
and Recreation subsequently introduces Bill 83. Proposed legislation
requires each provincial ministry to inventory and develop a plan to
remove barriers, but does not require the ministries to actually implement
the plan and the law would not apply to the private sector. The bill is
abandoned after disability groups denounce the government's plan.

1999 (November 23): Steve Peters, MPP, Ontario Liberal Party Critic
for Persons with Disabilities, introduces a resolution requiring
the provincial government to enact a strong and effective ODA by
November 23, 2001. The Resolution receives unanimous approval of
the Legislature.

2000 (March): Steve Peters, MPP Liberal Critic for persons with
disabilities begins a 15-site, month-long ODA consultation tour
across Ontario.

2000 (October): Dalton McGuinty, MPP, Leader of the
Ontario Liberal Party, obtains secret cabinet document revealing
Harris government's intention to break all previous promises to
enact a meaningful and comprehensive ODA.

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Review of Current Relevant Disabilities Legislation and Programming

"I know we have legislation in this province - including
the Human Rights Code and the Building Code - that are supposed to
make buildings and services more accessible and prevent
discrimination of people with disabilities, but the fact is they
don't do enough."
~Robin - Ajax, Ontario

The present patchwork system does not offer a cohesive and
comprehensive strategy to remove existing barriers or prevent new
ones from emerging. The need for one law is apparent after
reviewing current laws, regulations and programs designed to assist
persons with disabilities.

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Ontario Human Rights Code / Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, enacted in 1982
constitutionally protects individual human and civil rights against
discrimination by governments - federal, provincial, and municipal.
The Ontario Human Rights Code was enacted in 1962. It applies to
conduct between citizens and corporations in regards to their
employment, housing, services and education. In 1981, "handicap"
was included in the code as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

At the time of their respective introductions, both the Code and
Charter were hailed as great advancements in eradicating
discrimination. Nevertheless, the adversarial and re-active nature
of each prevents their use as effective vehicles to reduce all
barriers to persons with disabilities.

Specifically, in order for the Code or Charter to apply there must
first be a violation. Neither provide for pro-active measures to
reduce or prevent the creation of barriers. Consequently, they do
not offer landlords or employers incentives to reduce existing
barriers that deter initial applications for housing or employment.
In addition, each imposes legal and evidentiary burdens within an
adversarial atmosphere that carries with it an emotional and
financial cost greater than most persons with or without
disabilities can afford. Simply put, it can be too expensive and
too painful to lay a complaint.

Finally, funding cuts and unacceptable delays have reduced the
Ontario Human Rights Commission to a mere warehouse of complaints.
Many must wait years for their cases to be heard by a tribunal.
Without proper funding and an effective hearing process, the
Ontario Human Rights Code offers little comfort to persons with

However, despite their shortcomings, the Charter and Code provide
a fundamental legal basis upon which further advancements can be
made. Any future legislative initiative should not in any way
weaken existing protections.

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Ontario Disability Support Program

"The ODSP was supposed to speed up the processing of
disability claims, but instead, a huge number of legitimate claims
continue to be rejected and have to go to appeal."
~RAINET -- Uxbridge, Ontario

Two key objectives of ODSP set out by the Ministry of Community of
Social Services are to move persons with disabilities out of the
welfare system and to replace welfare with a separate income
support program that meets the unique and specific needs of persons
with disabilities.

ODSP does not meet these objectives. To qualify for ODSP, one must
first be deemed financially eligible. Although the asset threshold
for ODSP is somewhat higher than Ontario Works, ODSP is considered
by the government to be a program of "last resort". In other words
you first must be financially destitute to apply for ODSP.

A majority of financial eligibility intakes are conducted by
Ontario Works caseworkers. This does not give applicants the
perception that ODSP has been "taken out of the welfare system".

As of November 15th, 2000, the intake process is conducted over the
phone by The Intake Screening Unit (ISU). The ISU does not
currently have the financial threshold for ODSP, so callers
applying for ODSP are be told they are "potentially ineligible" by
the ISU. Also the ISU does not have TTY available for the hearing-
impaired ODSP recipients currently on the system will be provided
a 1-800 number by which they can access information about their
file. The Interactive Voice Response system does not have TTY and
offers no specific details as to one's file, just general
information. To access detailed information, an ODSP recipient
must still call the local office, where to this day there are still
no case managers. ODSP recipients indicate that this is a great
frustration, as they must go through "their story" over and over
again with whoever answers the phone.

Once the applicant is found to be "financially eligible", the
Disability Determination Package (DPP) is given to them. This
package has four parts to be completed and submitted to the
Disability Adjudication Unit. Two of these forms are completed by
the doctors or specialists, one being "Activities of Daily Living"
and the other being a "Health Report". Under serviced areas of
Ontario with a shortage of doctors pose an incredible barrier
towards applicants having access to a family doctor. The
definitions of "disabled" are vague and, on surface, simplistic.
Health practitioners are not aware that the Disability Adjudication
Unit is adjudicating on moderate to severe symptoms that have
substantial "impact on daily life". To merely document medical
assessments of the physically or mentally disabling condition is
not enough to qualify for ODSP. Substantial impact on daily life,
community involvement, or employability must also be documented by
the doctor completing the DDP.

The adjudication process takes too long. These delays leave
applicants who are medically unable to work, on the welfare system.
Many areas of Ontario, especially rural areas, do not have access
to community legal clinics or other informed advocates who can
assist in explaining or representing applicants through the
process. Often applicants cannot read, understand, or respond in
the time frame required.

Ontario Works policies vary from municipality to municipality as to
the application of liens against property of ODSP applicants
receiving Ontario Works benefits, as well as to Participation
Agreements with ODSP applicants. The directives of Ontario Works
offer areas of discretion with regards to administration of policy.
The intent of the legislation is not carried through in the actual
administration. While the directives of Ontario Works allows
discretion in regards to the administration of policy, it rarely is
applied. How does this "take the disabled out of the welfare
system"? The Social Benefits Tribunal can grant interim assistance.
It presents great stress on applicants who worry about repaying
this assistance should the Tribunal decide against them.

Individual benefits have been changed to "household benefits".
While this can be viewed as a good thing in that the ODSP benefits
take into account dependents and family members, it also conversely
punishes some ODSP recipients. For example, a woman with
disabilities who has three small children, who moves in with a
partner, may be deemed no longer eligible for ODSP. This in itself
is unfair. Further, this woman upon leaving this partner will have
to be re-adjudicated to re-qualify for ODSP. This takes a long
time and forces her and her children needlessly onto welfare.
Files should not be closed. Regular reviews and case management
will identify changes in a recipient's situation and prevent long
waits and unnecessary adjudication.

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Ontario Building Code

The Ontario Building Code sets minimum universal safety standards
for the construction and substantial renovation of all buildings in
the province. It also requires that all new public buildings and
substantial renovations to existing ones provide for
"accessibility". Exemptions can be obtained to circumvent this

Despite the "opting out" provision, many new buildings and
renovations to existing structures do include accessibility
features. Unfortunately, this beneficial effect has been sporadic
and inconsistent.

The cost of incorporating accessibility design standards into the
construction of new buildings is negligible compared to the cost of
"retro-fitting" an existing structure. It is therefore baffling
why a government attempting to portray an image of fiscal
responsibility would allow this wasteful practice to continue when
it knows that a small investment in accessibility today can result
in major savings tomorrow.

Education Act

"There are two kinds of barriers in education: one is the
barrier many face in not being included in regular classes in our
neighborhood schools; the other is not receiving the kind of
education that enables us to become literate and otherwise capable
of making our contribution to society."
~Ontario Association of Community Living

Since its introduction, the Education Act has been amended
repeatedly to keep pace with the constant evolution of education in
Ontario. It now requires school boards to provide special
education programs for students in need. Unfortunately, the act
does not explicitly state how much and what types of programs are
required. Severe under-funding and lack of adequate support
continually undermine the abilities of school boards to meet
increasing expectations.

Nevertheless, the truly missed opportunity lies in the absence of
disabilities issues in then "new curriculum". Our youth is our
future. Changing our children's behavior towards disabilities would
begin to change everyone's.

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Existing Barriers

"One of our biggest barriers is fear."
~Beverly, London, Ontario

What is a "barrier"? Without providing a restrictive and confusing
legal definition, suffice to say that a barrier blocks opportunity.

Barriers take many forms and present themselves in many ways. Here
are some of the most common and most troublesome barriers facing
persons with disabilities today: Appendix A includes a list of some
of the many barriers brought to our attention during the forums and
in written submissions.

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Physical Barriers

"Barrier-free is different than access - just because you
can get in the door, doesn't mean it's accessible."
~Betty - Woodstock, Ontario

Physical Barriers are the most common and least obvious. People
see a ramp and think that access problems have been solved. This
is not always the case. A ramp to a door with round handles can
render all preceding work meaningless and frustrating.

More importantly, a physical barrier can affect every aspect of a
person's life.

If not properly addressed, opportunities to find housing, access
transportation, employment, education, health care and basic
services can be restricted if not entirely eliminated by the
existence of even one physical barrier.

While voluntary measures and market forces have attempted to
address the situation, the results have been piecemeal and
inconsistent. Goodwill is not enough to remedy a syndrome of
epidemic proportion.

The government has acknowledged the problem. In a token attempt to
eliminate some of these barriers, it created an $800,000 incentive
fund in 1999 to encourage the development of barrier-removal
projects in the community. However, conditions on community
partnerships restricted the number of participants in the program.

As discussed earlier, the Building Code remains ineffective to
uniformly remove and prevent physical barriers. Nevertheless, it is
worthy to note that at one point during its first term, the present
government discussed the possibility of removing some key sections
to barrier prevention from the existing Code, but it did not
proceed further.

Despite attempts to "fix" the code, it is apparent that this single
piece of legislation is not capable of providing a satisfactory
remedy to the physical barriers facing persons with disabilities in
this province. Transportation

Notwithstanding existing physical barriers, systemic failure to
address transportation needs continues to wreak havoc upon the
lives of persons with disabilities.

Abandoned by the province, municipalities now have sole
responsibility for public transit within their boundaries. Like
most downloading of responsibility by the province, confusion and
cuts prevail. The present government provided a one-time lump sum
grant to municipalities through the Community Transportation Action
Program to "co-ordinate local transportation services, including
transportation for persons with disabilities".

Since transportation costs cannot be frozen, municipalities have been
unable to provide transportation services for disabled persons
comparable to those provided to the general public. Some
municipalities may even opt to cut paratransit service altogether
when faced with decreasing revenue and increasing budgetary

Private transportation needs for persons with disabilities require
greater attention. As our population ages, the need for accessible
parking increases. There is a greater need for more spaces close
to the entrances to buildings and facilities. Many complain that
fraud within the permit system hinders those with real disabilities
when they try to access services within the community.

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Education, Employment and Training

Persons with disabilities cannot achieve their educational and
employment goals in the present learning environment. Physical and
program barriers undermine a student's ability and drive for higher education.

For example, Scott Bremner a fifteen year old student in Whitby,
Ontario was told this past summer that he could not attend the same
secondary school in which all his elementary schools friends had
registered because that particular school was not wheelchair-
accessible. Many of us remember our first day at high school. We
were nervous and afraid that we wouldn't fit in. Scott was told he
wouldn't fit in even before he could enter the front door. That is

Ontario is slipping behind other jurisdictions as a supporter of
those in the disabled community. There are no post-secondary
programs in Ontario for the deaf or hard of hearing, forcing them
to travel to the U.S. and Europe to obtain a university degree.
Full accessibility to a range of educational opportunities, through
interpretation services for the deaf, fully accessible educational
facilities, and on-site support services would reduce this loss of
talented people.

In short, there are many barriers that prevent merit and talent
from being expressed, utilized, rewarded and recognized.
The "Equal Opportunity Plan" offered by the present government
focuses primarily on moral encouragement and the voluntary removal
of barriers by employers.

The "Job Connect" program is an initiative to help people find and
maintain employment, and although it includes some measures to
assist the disabled, it is intended to primarily help youth.
As discussed, voluntary efforts have been appreciated and certainly
progressive. Nevertheless, they also have been inconsistent and
sporadic. It would appear that employers will require greater
government direction and support to achieve barrier-free workplaces.

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The lack of accessible, affordable housing was also cited as a
major issue during the forums. The search for adequate housing
frequently amounts to an exercise in frustration, particularly for
those with mobility exceptionalities. Demand has exceeded supply.
The province has abandoned its responsibility for social housing,
to the detriment of many, particularly those with disabilities.

A number of Ontario Disability Support claimants consistently cited
the housing allowance portion of their benefit as preventing them
from accessing appropriate housing. The allowance fails to
recognize the increased costs of accessible housing especially in
larger urban centres. Add to this the lack of rent controls and
one can see this as an ever-increasing problem that must be

This is also an important issue for seniors. As they move from
their traditional homes that they can no longer maintain, many have
found it increasingly difficult to find appropriate, affordable
rental housing. Health Services

Accessibility to health services is an issue that will be of
increasing concern in the years to come. As our population ages,
the demands on services become greater.

The lack of accessible home care services and supportive housing
are a growing concern. At present, the system's ability to meet
the needs of the community needs is woefully inadequate.

Appropriate levels of attendant care and attendant care services
are frequently not provided. We must begin to address these
barriers immediately if we are to prevent further erosion of these
important services.

Further, there is a lack of available American Sign Language
interpreters for the deaf when they attempt to access quality
health care. This issue was addressed in the landmark case of
Eldridge v. British Columbia. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled
that the failure to provide sign language interpretation in the
delivery of health care services where it is necessary for the
effective communication of doctor and patient violates the Charter
of Rights and Freedoms.

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The Impact These Barriers Have Upon All of Us

Barriers disenfranchise people. It is simply wrong to allow a
situation to continue in which a talented and important segment of
our society is prohibited from full and meaningful participation.

This must change now. A large number of the submissions expressed
how barriers continue to make them feel like second-class citizens.
Those who rely on the Ontario Disability Support Program feel the
stigma of "welfare" despite its stated purpose.

The Royal Bank of Canada has estimated that, as a group, persons
with disabilities have a combined disposable annual income of
between $20-$25 billion. Business and industry are missing out on
lucrative revenue-generating markets as long as barriers are
allowed to remain. At a time of growing prosperity and unsurpassed
wealth, now is the time to introduce comprehensive and meaningful
disabilities legislation.

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The Impact If Barriers Are Allowed To Remain and New Ones Emerge

Toronto's future barrier-free site is a strong selling point in its
bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics. One can only speculate what the
strength of Toronto's proposal would have been, if it could boast
an existing barrier-free city.

Inclusion and participation within the greater community is a
fundamental principle of today's modern society. Many of the
submissions received expressed concern that, if these barriers are
allowed to remain, there would be a continued lack of access and
opportunities for persons with disabilities. Ontario would fail to
take advantage of an important and valuable resource.

Many countries around the world including the United States,
England, Australia, India, and Israel already have some form of
disabilities legislation. Ontario would be seen as a world player
in productivity and inclusiveness if it enacted an Ontarians with
Disabilities Act.

What Must An Ontarians With Disabilities Act Include
To Create A Barrier-Free Society?

All participants called for an end to the existing chaos. Any
effective disabilities legislation must be coherent, comprehensive,
and meaningful. Full public consultation with all stakeholders
before any legislation is drafted will ensure a fully integrated
approach to removing and preventing barriers in all aspects of
provincial jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, such consultation has yet to occur despite the
feeling the present government is about to introduce yet another
meaningless ODA. What is troubling is the prevailing attitude in
the government, which tends to view voluntary market initiatives as
a means to avoid comprehensive and mandatory legislation instead of
seizing the opportunity to work with business and industry to make
even greater advancements.

An effective and meaningful act would allow employers to take
advantage of the market talents persons with disabilities offer by
ensuring "reasonable" accommodations to qualified applicants.
Removing physical workplace barriers to increase mobility enhances
the quality of the work environment for all. Assistive devices,
flexible work schedules, workplace interpreters and attendant care
all are becoming part of the necessities of the work place.

Employers must be allowed to offer these incentives to attract the
best and the brightest.

Much of whatever success there has been in removing barriers has
been accomplished without government assistance. The government
must take the lead in providing financial incentives and
opportunity for those who remove and
prevent barriers.

Many respondents pointed to the inaccessibility of public services.
Persons with disabilities have a right to equal access to those
services available to all other Ontarians.

An Ontarians with Disabilities Act must be uniform, progressive,
comprehensive and mandatory. All of Ontario must participate in
the removal and prevention of barriers in our province.

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This report represents a summary of the views and opinions of the
hundreds of people who provided submissions during the 15-stop
tour. The time has come to enact strong and effective legislation
that will remove all barriers that hinder persons with disabilities
from effectively participating in our society.

The Harris government promised years ago to pass an Ontarians with
Disabilities Act. It continues to try to evade that responsibility.
The recent leak of a secret cabinet document reveals the government's
intention to "bamboozle" the public by smokescreen announcements
and window dressing legislation. Ineffective statutes and regulations
only add to the "red tape" that this government promised to eliminate.

Ignoring a portion of society has never been in the best interest
of a democracy. It is simply wrong. The time has come to press
forward with strong and effective legislation. An Ontarians with
Disabilities Act is needed now.

The government must enact comprehensive legislation by November 23,
2001 as stated in Steve Peters' resolution, which was unanimously
passed by the Ontario Legislature on November 23, 1999.

The Ontario Legislature, on October 29, 1999, endorsed the 11
principles established by the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Committee, as set out below. The Ontario Liberal Party renews its
commitment to those principles as the basis of a strong an
effective piece of legislation. The party also views the Ontarians
with Disabilities Act Committee "
Blueprint" proposal for
disabilities legislation as a good starting point for any
discussions regarding the components of any new disabilities

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11 Principles

1. The purpose of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act should be to
effectively ensure to persons with disabilities in Ontario the
equal opportunity to fully and meaningfully participate in all aspects of life in Ontario based on
their individual merit, by removing existing barriers confronting them and by
preventing the creation of new barriers. It should seek to achieve
a barrier-free Ontario for persons with disabilities within as short a time as is reasonably
possible, with implementation to begin immediately upon proclamation.

2. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act's requirements should
supersede all other legislation, regulations or policies which either conflict with it,
or which provide lesser protections and entitlements to persons with disabilities.

3. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should require government
entities, public premises, companies and organizations to be made fully accessible
to all persons with disabilities through the removal of existing barriers and the
prevention of the creation of new barriers, within strict time frames to be
prescribed in the legislation or regulations.

4. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should require the providers
of goods, services and facilities to the public to ensure that their goods,
services and facilities are fully usable by persons with
disabilities, and that they are designed to reasonably accommodate
the needs of persons with disabilities. Included among services,
goods and facilities, among other things, are all aspects of
education including primary, secondary and post-secondary
education, as well as providers of transportation and communication
facilities (to the extent that Ontario can regulate these) and
public sector providers of information to the public, e.g.,
governments. Providers of these goods, services and facilities
should be required to devise and implement detailed plans to remove
existing barriers within legislated timetables.

5. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should require public and
private sector employers to take proactive steps to achieve barrier-free
workplaces within prescribed time limits. Among other things,
employers should be required to identify existing barriers which impede
persons with disabilities, and then to devise and implement plans for the
removal of these barriers, and for the prevention of new barriers in the workplace.

6. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should provide for a prompt
and effective process for enforcement. It should not simply incorporate the
existing procedures for filing discrimination complaints with the
Ontario Human Rights Commission, as these are too slow and
cumbersome, and yield inadequate remedies.

7. As part of its enforcement process, the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act should provide for a process of regulation-making to define
with clarity the steps required for compliance with the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act. It should be open for such regulations to be made
on an industry-by-industry basis, or sector-by-sector basis. This
should include a requirement that input be obtained from affected
groups such as persons with disabilities before such regulations
are enacted. It should also provide persons with disabilities
with the opportunity to apply to have regulations made in specific
sectors of the economy.

8. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should also mandate the
government of Ontario to provide education and other information
resources to companies, individuals and groups who seek to comply
with the requirements of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

9. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should also require the government of
Ontario to take affirmative steps to promote the development and
distribution in Ontario of new adaptive technologies and services for persons
with disabilities.

10. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act should require the
provincial and municipal governments to make it a strict condition
of funding any program, or of purchasing any services, goods or
facilities, that they be designed to be fully accessible to and usable
by persons with disabilities. Any grant or contract which
does not so provide is void and unenforceable by the grant
recipient or contractor with the government in question.

11. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act must be more than mere
window dressing. It should contribute meaningfully to the
improvement of the position of persons with disabilities in
Ontario. It must have real force and effect.

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Appendix A
Some Barriers Cited During the Consultative Process

* There is a severe limit of affordable accessible rental
accommodations throughout the province

* The lack of automatic doors is a problem

* Units that have doorknobs instead of levers are difficult to
use for those with poor motor skills

* Security systems are rarely suited for those with
disabilities. Alarms are not equipped with flashing lights for the deaf

* The interior design of accommodations are insufficient for
the needs of many in the community

* During the search for rental accommodation many with
disabilities are faced with attitudinal barriers

* Those with psychiatric disabilities face severe problems
with accessible housing

* Snow removal at bus stops is a real problem during winter

* The cost of transportation is a concern. Cutbacks have
meant that transit subsidies for doctors' appointments or
physiotherapy sessions are often missed

* Para-Trans requires rides to be booked in advance.
Spontaneous trips are never an option for many

* Disabled persons requiring regular trips often face users
fees to register.

* There is a severe lack of assistive devices and adaptive
equipment to make learning easier for the disabled

* Evaluating the progress of students with disabilities is an
ongoing problem

* There are currently long waits for retraining programs

* Printed materials are difficult to obtain in alternate
formats such as Braille

* Schedules need to be adapted for student with disabilities.
The lack of transportation and problems with fatigue are cited as
reasons for this

* The absence of Educational Assistants poses a severe barrier
for many students

* There are not enough assistive programs or devices. TTY and
others are not readily available on a consistent basis

* Current voice mail systems are barriers to the hard of
hearing and the deaf

* Television programs often times do not have closed

* Public documents and notices are at times not available in
alternate formats

* Pay phones are rarely accessible for those in wheelchairs
and are difficult to use for those with poor motor skills

* There are a limited number of elevators that are accessible
for wheelchairs and scooters nor do many of them have Braille buttons or
internal audio systems that would announce which floor they are on.

* A lack of visual text greatly limits accessibility for the
deaf or the hard of hearing

* The costs associated with modifying homes are important and
there is little if any incentive for builders to retrofit of build
accessible living accommodations

* Many are faced with attitudinal barriers and outright
discrimination while attempting to find housing

* There are a limited number of community supports that can
provide help for those in need of affordable housing

* There is little protection for the rights of persons using
assistive animals.

* Travel barriers such as the lack of accessible hotel rooms
in Ontario prompt many to travel to the US for vacations.

* The barriers in the technology sector must be removed.

* Part 11 of the building code allows the continued
proliferation of barriers in buildings old and new.

* American Sign Language services for the deaf are often
unavailable among law enforcement, health care and ambulatory services.

* Regulations for government services change to often leading
to confusion and misinformation.

* There is very little inter-ministerial co-operation.

* There is very limited access to the most appropriate
assistive devices.

* There is no one-stop location for the disabled accessing
government information.

* Workplace barriers such as the lack of assistive devices and
physical barriers are a disincentive to employment.

* Assistive devices such as TTY and raised toilets are not
available in public places such as airports, restaurants and shopping malls.

* Inappropriate treatment or the misdiagnosis of mental

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Raised barriers.

* Deaf students face financial barriers when faced with having
to attend U.S. post-secondary educational institutions.

* In places that have accessible washrooms, these washrooms
are sometimes located at a distance from the actual workstation.

* Office designs and hallways that do not have enough room for
a person using a wheelchair or a scooter.

* Buildings with stairs at the front entrance

* Ramps that are too steep, or that have small landings with
very sharp turns that are difficult for larger wheelchairs and scooters to

* Buildings that do not have automatic door openers

* Many outside doors are too narrow for large wheelchairs or

* There are too often stairs but no elevators or ramps inside

* Some elevators are not large enough to accommodate large

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Wheelchairs or scooters

* There is a need for hand railings. Stairways are often not
safe enough

* Windows are not always easy to open

* Steps leading to balconies or elsewhere in an apartment unit

* It can be difficult to obtain modified equipment and devices
for the home

* Inaccessible laundry rooms

* Garbage facilities and recycling bins can be hard to reach

* Reading and understanding a lease can be very difficult for
people with learning disabilities

* There is not enough incentive to ensure adequate design and
the availability of public housing.

* Renovations and modifications to make homes accessible are

* Housing near bus routes is needed

* Attendant care not being provided on the job, and there is
a lack of funding for attendants

* Failure to provide adapted equipment and technology

* Employers may be unwilling to pay for accommodations even
when the Law requires them to do so

* Employment information on web sites may not be accessible,
leaving many people unable to access important job-related
information and job listings.

* Where specialized computer equipment or software is
provided, technical support is too often not available.

* People focus on a disability rather than abilities.

* Supervisors and co-workers have harassed workers because of

* Employees are not always taught the most effective ways to
advocate for their disability-related needs.

* Traffic lights do not allow sufficient time for people who
walk slowly, or who use crutches or wheelchairs to cross the street.

* More audible traffic signals for visually impaired
pedestrians are needed.

* There are few parking spaces designated for persons with

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Parking spaces are not always wide enough

* Snowpows do not always keep designated parking spaces clear.

* Mailboxes are often placed too high.

* Police and other emergency services can pose difficulties
for many persons with disabilities.

* Emergency services such as poison control should provide
sign language interpretation and TTY.

* There is a need for skilled sign language interpreters in

* Judges and court officials need training on the needs of
people with disabilities in courtrooms.

* The Ontario Legislature's public gallery remains largely
inaccessible to people using wheelchairs

* Family Benefits have been cut.

* Cuts in government funding for hearing aids and other
assistive devices.

* Shelters for persons with disabilities who have suffered
abuse are not always accessible.

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