October 20, 2000
LETTER TO PREMIER HARRIS
The Honourable Michael D. Harris
Premier of Ontario
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Harris:
The Canadian Hearing
Society urges you to bring in a strong and
effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act and abandon the weak
version that your government plans to bring forward in the near
For 60 years, The
Canadian Hearing Society has been providing
direct services to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people and
their families across Ontario. We are deeply concerned that your
government is planning to adopt a policy built on polling that
claims Ontarians don't care about people with disabilities, that
Ontarians have little awareness or interest in an ODA.
Our daily experience
in 25 offices across the province tells a
different story: Ontarians do care.
Ontarians care about
people living full and equal lives. Ontarians
care about eliminating systemic barriers that curtail independence
and self-reliance. Ontarians care about honouring their legal
responsibilities as set out by the Supreme Court of Canada
(Eldridge v. British Columbia), the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms and the Human Rights Code.
Experience has proven
that vague, voluntary measures just don't do
the job. If they did, there would be no need for legislation or
human rights commissions or even some of the services we provide at
The Canadian Hearing Society. To do the job effectively, an ODA
must embody the 11 principles that were unanimously endorsed by all
three political parties on October 29, 1998. Anything less will
fail the 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities and their
families, friends, caregivers and supporters.
November 23, 1998,
was a sorry day for Ontarians with disabilities.
We sincerely hope that November 2000 will rectify the ill-conceived
and ill-received Bill 83. There is still time to do the right
thing. The Canadian Hearing Society is eager to support your
government in implementing a strong and effective ODA.