Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES MARK HARRIS ANNIVERSARY OF INACTION BY REVEALING POLL SUPPORTING A NEW DISABILITY LAW, HARRIS STILL REFUSES TO FACE THE DISABILITY COMMUNITY
TORONTO - THURSDAY, MAY 15, 1997
A broad disability coalition will converge at the Ontario Legislature at noon today to observe the one year anniversary since the passage on May 16, 1996 of an all-party resolution demanding a new Ontario disability rights law. From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., disability leaders will conduct a one-hour "Face the Disability Community" session in the Queen's Park media studio, with live audio-video media feed. Representatives of the three parties are invited to answer the questions of the panel of people with disabilities. Dramatic new Lou Harris public opinion poll results will be revealed, proving the extent of the strong public support for new legislation.
During the 1995 election, Mike Harris promised in writing that he would work with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee to develop and pass a law in his first term which would achieve a barrier-free society for persons with disabilities. But two years later he is still unwilling even to meet with ODA Committee representatives.
The all-party resolution of one year ago was a dramatic move to put the issue of disability rights before all members of the legislature. Both Opposition Parties have agreed to face the disability community today. This event will occur at a time when the public gallery of the Legislature still remains almost entirely inaccessible to people using wheelchairs.
Premier Harris has once again refused to speak with this group and has offered no explanation for why his promised new disability legislation is still nowhere in sight. After the panel discussion, ODA Committee members will monitor Question Period at Queen's Park where the opposition parties have been asked to make the Harris Government publicly account for its lack of progress on this important issue.
The ODA Committee, a broad based disability coalition, has planned concurrent events in Windsor and Ottawa to mark this anniversary of Harris Government inaction. In Windsor, an information march will highlight barriers to people with disabilities, weather permitting. In Ottawa, committee members will attempt to visit an MPP's local riding office which is inaccessible to people with physical disabilities.
"People with disabilities total fully 17% of all Ontarians. We want the new law we were promised, not more empty rhetoric. We deserve better, and our polling results will prove that the public agrees,"says ODA Committee Co-chair David Lepofsky. "We want to know why Mike Harris is afraid to even meet with us, much less keep his election promises to us."