October 20, 1999
Wednesday, October 20, 1999: For Immediate Release
Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES
CLOSELY WATCHING THRONE SPEECH
TO SEE IF NEW DISABILITY ACT
TO BE GOVERNMENT PRIORITY
Wednesday, October 20, 1999: Ontarians with disabilities will closely watch Thursday's Queen's Park Throne Speech for a concrete announcement about the Government's plans for the promised Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Last spring's pre-election Throne Speech promised new consultations, saying that the Government had listened to the widespread criticism of the Government's previous Bill 83, which died on the order paper last December. The Government promised better legislation during the 1999 election campaign.
Immediately after the election, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee called on the Premier to work together with the Committee in the spirit of new openness that the Premier promised in his election night speech. "In the spirit of bi-partisanship, the ODA Committee has recommended to the Government that before a new Bill is drafted they move quickly to create an all-Party Select Committee of the Legislature to travel the province and hear from people with disabilities, their families, friends and other stakeholders at open, accessible public hearings." said David Lepofsky, chair of the ODA Committee. Both the Liberals and NDP have maintained their support for a strong and effective ODA as promised in the election and support the ODA Committee's proposal for a Select Committee.
"The new Minister of Citizenship, Helen Johns, made a positive start by meeting with us last month. However, we received no commitments about how and when the Government will proceed. We hope that in this Throne Speech the government will unveil its plans," said Lepofsky.
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act is the Harris Government's one unkept promised piece of legislation from its first term. This legislation is needed to tear down the many barriers which impede the one and a half million Ontarians with disabilities from fully participating in education, health care, jobs, transit and other opportunities which all should enjoy.
- May 24, 1995 Mike Harris makes written election promise to enact the ODA in his first term and to work with the ODA Committee to develop it.
- May 16, 1996 Ontario Legislature unanimously passes resolution calling on Harris Government to keep its ODA election promise.
- April 22, 1998 ODA Committee delivers comprehensive brief to the Legislature including a blueprint for strong and effective legislation.
- July 13 to September 1998 Ontario Government conducts closed, invitation-only consultations in 8 cities on what to include in the ODA.
- October 29, 1998 Ontario Legislature unanimously passes resolution calling for ODA to be passed which embodies 11 principles to make it strong and effective.
- November 23, 1998 Citizenship Minister Basset introduces Bill 83, a 3-page bill which was completely voluntary, limited to government and did not require any barriers to be removed.
- December 17, 1998 Bill 83 allowed to die on the order paper after only one reading.
- April 22, 1999 Pre-election Throne Speech announces Bill 83 will not be re-introduced due to criticisms of it. New consultation promised to be held before new bill to be introduced.
- May - June 3, 1999 Ontario election Campaign - Harris Government promises strengthened ODA after more consultations. Liberals and NDP promise to enact strong and effective ODA which complies with the Legislature's October 29, 1998 resolution.
- September 10, 1999 ODA Committee presents three parties with proposal that new ODA public consultation take the form of an all-party Select Committee of the Legislature to hold public hearings before a bill is drafted.
- September 11, 1999 London Free Press quotes new Citizenship Minister Helen Johns as stating that a new strong disabilities act is a "huge priority for me".
- September 20, 1999 NDP accepts ODA Committee proposal for Select Committee on the ODA.
- September 21, 1999 Liberal Party accepts ODA Committee proposal for Select Committee on the ODA.
- September 28, 1999 ODA Committee Delegation meets with new Citizenship Minister Helen Johns to discuss ideas for ODA public consultation process. Minister makes no commitments on format, content or timing of public consultations.
- October 14, 1999 ODA Committee writes Premier Harris asking him to include in the Throne Speech an announcement that the Government will agree to a Select Committee to consult on the ODA
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