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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA





March 27, 2000

Monday, March 27, 2000:   For Immediate Release



Monday, March 20, 2000:   Queen's Park:   On Monday, March 27, 2000, On Monday, March 27, 2000, people with disabilities will converge on Queen's Park to bring home the message that they need a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act now, to remove barriers that prevent them from fully participating in Ontario life. From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Amethyst Room at the Main Legislative building will be held open
consultation hearings by Liberal Disability Critic MPP Steve Peters. People with disabilities will be in attendance to tell what they want in the promised new law, to tear down the barriers that they face every day of their lives. This will be the fifteenth event in Mr. Peters' series of well-attended public forums held in cities across Ontario in March.

Earlier that day, at 11:00 a.m. on March 27, 2000, a news conference will be held by the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.

In the 1995 election, Premier Harris promised in writing that he would work together with the ODA Committee and pass an Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first term, to achieve a barrier-free Ontario for 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities. He has not passed the promised legislation. He has consistently refused to meet with the ODA Committee. The ODA Committee has again written to the Premier to ask him to end his unexplained ongoing refusal to meet.

"Politicians really benefit when they hear first-hand from real people with disabilities about the barriers they face every day of their lives when they try to get a job, use our health care system, get an education, or just ride a bus," said David Lepofsky, chair of the province-wide non-partisan ODA Committee. "We can't understand why Citizenship Minister Helen Johns refuses to do this. Instead, she has been holding secret, closed, invitation-only
meetings. She calls that a 'consultation' but won't even reveal the list of who is invited to meet with her."

Contact: David Lepofsky at oda@odacommittee.net


  1. May 24, 1995 Mike Harris makes written election promise to enact
    the ODA in his first term and to personally work with the ODA
    Committee to develop it.

  2. May 16, 1996 Ontario Legislature unanimously passes first
    resolution calling on Harris Government to keep its ODA election

  3. April 22, 1998 ODA Committee delivers comprehensive brief to the
    Legislature including a blueprint for strong and effective

  4. July 13 to September 1998 Ontario Government conducts closed,
    invitation-only consultations in 8 cities on what to include in the

  5. October 29, 1998 Ontario Legislature unanimously passes second
    ODA resolution, one which calls for ODA to be passed which embodies
    11 principles to make it strong and effective.

  6. 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 ever be removed.

  7. December 17, 1998 Bill 83 allowed to die on the order paper after
    only one reading.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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".

  12. September 20, 1999 NDP accepts ODA Committee proposal for Select
    Committee on the ODA to hold province-wide public hearings.

  13. September 21, 1999 Liberal Party accepts ODA Committee proposal
    for Select Committee on the ODA.

  14. 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. She is still consulting
    on how to consult.

  15. October 21, 1999 Throne Speech says Government's "goal" is to
    introduce a "new action plan" this session and that consultations

  16. October 27, 1999 ODA Committee writes Minister Johns asking what
    is meant by an "action plan". No answer received.

  17. October 27, 1999 In Question Period, Citizenship Minister Johns
    contended that the Government kept its promise to enact the ODA
    because it had introduced Bill 83, which was later withdrawn.

  18. November 23, 1999 On one-year anniversary of Bill 83's
    introduction, Liberal Disability Critic MPP Steve Peters proposes
    third resolution on the ODA during Liberal Opposition Day.
    Legislature unanimously passes this resolution, which calls for a
    strong and effective ODA to be passed within two years ie.. no
    later than November 23, 2001.

  19. Late January, 2000 Minister Johns reveals during meeting with
    Liberal Disability Critic Steve Peters that she is already
    conducting consultations.

  20. January 31, 2000 ODA Committee writes Minister Johns expressing
    serious concerns about Minister's holding closed, invitation-only
    consultations. ODA Committee asks for details of who is invited,
    and urges that the process be opened up.

  21. January 31, 2000 Liberal Disability Critic Steve Peters announces
    that Liberal Party will hold a province-wide public consultation
    tour to get input from the public on what a strong and effective
    ODA should contain.

  22. March 2000 Steve Peters' Public ODA Consultation Tour holds
    public forums open to all in 15 cities across Ontario.

Contact: David Lepofsky at oda@odacommittee.net


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