Letter from Jeff Adams
dated January 30, 2003
The ODA Committee
wrote to the new Government-appointed Accessibility Advisory Council three
times last year, on June
13, October 2
and November 25, 2002.
Below is the text of the January 30, 2003 response
to those letters, which we received from the Council's chair, Jeff Adams.
In our letters to the Council, we offered our help to the Council, and made two specific recommendations to the Council. Mr. Adams' letter below responds to each of our recommendations:
(a) We urged the Council to hold public consultations on the ODA's implementation, so that the Council could benefit from the input and expertise from the broader disability community. In Mr. Adams' January 30, 2003 letter set out below, he states that it is not within the mandate of the Council to hold public consultations on regulations to be developed to put flesh on the bones of the ODA 2001, although he acknowledges the need for the Council to get input from the disability community.
(b) In two of our letters to the Council, we urge the Council to call on the Ontario Government to proclaim in force immediately the one section of the ODA 2001 which has not yet been proclaimed in force, namely section 21. That unproclaimed provision would impose a fine if public sector organizations do not make an annual accessibility plan, or if municipalities with a population over 10,000 do not establish a local disability accessibility advisory committee. In his January 30, 2003 letter, Mr. Adams appears to reject our request at this time.
January 30, 2003
David Lepofsky CM,
On behalf of the Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario I want to share with you the council's regret for the delay in responding to your letters of last year. In the future, I will work to ensure that all correspondence to the council is addressed as soon as possible.
As you are aware, I began my role as chair of the council in November 2002 at the same time Minister Carl DeFaria appointed eight new members to the council to bring it up to its full capacity of twelve members. The council as formed is eager to take on its important role.
I want to express that the council and I recognize the valuable work done over the years by ODAC to ensure province-wide consultation on the issues relating to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, (ODA). Your organization has impressive resources of talent and expertise. The council anticipates on-going partnership with many provincial stakeholders including ODAC.
With that in mind I want to clarify a number of points concerning the council's mandate.
The council serves as advisors to the Minister of Citizenship on various aspects of implementing the ODA, and other related activities.
As advisors to the minister, council members cannot act as advocates for individual stakeholder groups or issues. This makes the role of advocacy groups, and their input, paramount to the process of implementing the ODA in a meaningful way.
It is not within our mandate to conduct public consultations on proposed regulations under the Act. The appropriate manner for us to ensure that we are fully knowledgeable, and that our advice is representative and relevant is for the council to attend events that ensure we understand the needs and views of persons with disabilities. We are also given the opportunity to observe how various sectors are approaching ODA obligations.
With regard to proactive
initiatives the council, in co-ordination with the Accessibility Directorate
of Ontario and the Ministry of Citizenship, is currently creating a mechanism
for the council to receive information from the community in general,
stakeholder groups, advocacy groups and others.
According to the Act, the council will comment on, and provide advice to the Minister on any proposed regulations and will be consulted at various draft stages.
Regarding Section 21, the spirit and intent of the Act is to allow compliance. The council wants to ensure that there is an educational process in place to make certain the obligations outlined in the Act are met. When there is clear evidence or data to indicate that compliance with ODA obligations are not met, the council will then be supportive of the government proclaiming Section 21.
With regard to the ODA brief of 1998 - Making Ontario Open for People with Disabilities - we have reviewed this very thorough document and will ensure that it is duly referenced in our meetings with the Minister.
Thank you for your letters and feedback, the council greatly appreciates ODAC's commitment to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001.