March 24, 1998
The Hon. Mike Harris, Premier of Ontario
Dear Premier Harris,
RE: Ontarians with Disabilities Act
I am writing on behalf of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, a broad coalition of individuals and community organizations from across this province which has united to secure the enactment of a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is now almost three years since you promised that, if elected, you would pass this legislation within your first mandate, after working together with us to develop it. To date, there has been no action in fulfilment of these solemn election pledges.
We are writing with an urgent request to meet with you to discuss how this stalled and long-overdue initiative can be kick-started. You have so far refused all of our requests to meet with you over your entire term in office. You have suggested instead that we meet with the Minister of Citizenship. We have devoted our best efforts to working with your successive Citizenship ministers. However, despite our best efforts we have seen no meaningful progress. It appears from Citizenship Minister Bassett's unwillingness to answer our most basic inquiries, and from the lack of any announcement of the promised public consultation on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, that Ms. Bassett has no intention either of fulfilling her mandate to proceed with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act's development and enactment, or of working with us. Since assuming her post five months ago, Ms Bassett has failed to answer our written inquiries, including our most recent one of over a month ago, with only one exception. Even then, her response was uninformative and was provided only because you asked her to do so.
We believe a meeting with you is important both to signal your strong commitment and to allay the increasing concerns of our members, and across the disability community, that your government does not intend to pass a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Over the past three years, we have seen an unprecedented number of new pieces of legislation introduced and passed in the Ontario Legislature. Yet no action has been taken on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Now you are travelling the province and writing to all Ontario civil servants asking for new directions for your government, to be reflected in the upcoming Throne Speech. This, combined with your continued refusal to meet with us or to get the promised Ontarians with Disabilities Act public consultation started, makes many wonder whether you have decided to turn your back on people with disabilities. Instead of casting about to look for new things for your government to do, we urge you to turn your attention back to the unfulfilled election promises that you made to us, and that you take them from the bottom of your priority list to the top.
Our membership remains committed to our goal and is fully prepared to work with you to reach our goals. We hope that you will agree to meet with us as soon as possible so that we can see real progress, not just election promises.
M. David Lepofsky, C.M., Co-Chair
cc: Dominic Agostino, MPP
Hon. Isabel Bassett
Marion Boyd, MPP
Howard Hampton, MPP
Frances Lankin, MPP
Dalton McGuinty, MPP
Gilles Morin, MPP