June 11, 2001
Only 165 days until the November 23, 2001 deadline for the enactment of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as fixed by the Ontario Legislature.
Despite all the major news going on at the provincial level, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act issue continues to get lots of media coverage. Here are recent examples:* CBC Radio 1's program "This Morning" on Friday, June 1, 2001 had an 18 minute interview with ODA Committee Chair David Lepofsky and former U.S. Congressman and author of the Americans with Disabilities Act Tony Coelho. Later that night,the Canadian Public Affairs Channel (CPAC) broadcast segments from the afternoon panel on the ODA at the Ottawa conference of the Ontario Association for Community Living. If you want to borrow a cassette recording of both of these events, which includes the OACL panel in full and not merely the portion aired on CPAC, send a request to Marg Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (416) 480-7686. We have only a few copies and so we ask that you send the tape back within 10 days so others can borrow them. Feel free to copy the audio tape and share this with others.
* A Toronto Star editorial on Monday June 11, 2001 about the need for more Ontario Government consultations on the proposed tax credit for tuition for private schools brought up the Ontario Government's record on consultations on the ODA. (See full text below) It stated about the current hearings on the proposed tax credit: "This is a charade. It's been compared to the 58 days of summer-long hearings in the mid-80s, when Grade 11 and 12 Catholic schools were given full funding. But that was a serious consultation.
A truer comparison lies in another charade, the endless consultations on Ontarians with Disabilities legislation after the Mike Harris government wiped out existing legislation in 1995.
Six years later, there's still no Ontarians with Disabilities legislation. But since the government obviously never planned to do anything, the Tories were quite prepared to consult until the cows, still munching away, come home."
* The Sault Star for May 23, 2001 reported on activities in support of the ODA in Sault Ste. Marie during our Anniversary of Inaction. (See below)
* The London Free Press ran a column on May 31, 2001 on accessible transit issues, which referred to the ODA issue. ODA Committee London Regional Contact, Cathy Vincent Linderoos had a letter to the editor published in the same newspaper on June 7, 2001 responding from the ODA perspective. See both articles below).
* Among all the recent media attention surrounding the United States Supreme Court decision in the Martin Case under the Americans with Disabilities Act, regarding golfers with disabilities was an article in the Toronto Star on May 30, 2001. It included a response from the ODA perspective from ODA Committee chair David Lepofsky. (See below) That article includes a minor misquote. It suggests in error that Premier Harris promised the ODA when he was running for the position of Conservative Party leader. The Toronto Star had been told that Mike Harris promised the ODA when he was running for the position of Premier.
Toronto Star, Monday June 11, Page A18
Tax credit hearings a half-hearted charade
A gaggle of MPPs spent several hours in a Holiday Inn in St.
Catharines last week. They heard 16 people - eight pro and eight
con - express views on the government's $3,500 private school tax
Then they were gone.
Thus unfolded the first day of the two-week farce the Ontario
government is staging on the most fundamental change in Ontario's
school system since the 1840s.
Today, it's Toronto's turn. Next Tuesday, it will be Ottawa's.
Then it will all be done.
Staged this truly is.
The government ruled out night sittings. Instead of the usual,
equal division of witnesses among all three parties, the
government took half. Opposition witnesses learned the night
before who would speak, when and where.
In St. Catharines, 60 people tried to testify. Only 16 made it.
Province-wide, nearly 1,000 have asked to testify so far. Maybe
100 or so will make it. Those who work days - such as most
parents - are out of luck.
This is a charade. It's been compared to the 58 days of summer-
long hearings in the mid-'80s, when Grade 11 and 12 Catholic
schools were given full funding. But that was a serious
A truer comparison lies in another charade, the endless
consultations on Ontarians with Disabilities legislation after
the Mike Harris government wiped out existing legislation in
Six years later, there's still no Ontarians with Disabilities
legislation. But since the government obviously never planned to
do anything, the Tories were quite prepared to consult until the
cows, still munching away, come home.
The school bill represents a huge change, rewarding with cash
parents who take their kids out of public school. The government
can only suffer if the public realizes how destructive the credit
can be, taking $2 from public schools for every $1 paid in tax
Would it matter to hear more people? Of course it would.
Ontarians deserve their say. More important, the government is
caught in so many contradictions it clearly needs the public's
It's imposed a process, however, that actually prevents the
public from helping. It should call off the guillotine, extend
the hearings and listen for a change. There's no hurry.
Ontarians won't even be able to claim the credit for nearly two
Wednesday May 23
Disabilities organization builds brick wall to represent barriers
SUPPOSE you were blind but gifted in other ways. Or deaf but more
proficient with a computer than most people.
Still you can't find work because of your disability. Or maybe
you can find an employer that would hire you if he had the means
to buy the specially-adapted software.
These are just some of the employment barriers people with
disabilities face, says Dorothy Macnaughton of the Sault-Algoma
Ontarians With Disabilities Committee, which will be erecting a
barrier wall in the Station Mall Friday and Saturday.
Each brick on the wall will represent a barrier that disabled
people encounter when they look for work. They are only
kindergarten class bricks but the barriers are real.
The public is invited to contribute to the wall-building and
share experiences with the disabled. They want to hear from
people who may have disabilities, or people they know with
disabilities, who are being held back from getting a job.
The exercise is all about awareness. There are a wide variety of
disabilities and barriers that the organization would like to add
to the wall, brick by brick, says Macnaughton.
White canes and wheelchairs are for the disabled but what is
being overlooked are the abilities and capabilities of these
Sylvia Mosher writes a column in the Sault Star. She was born
with cerebral palsy and has a difficult time communicating
orally. But her well thought out and well written columns speak
Given the opportunity, disabled persons can and do make valuable
contributions to society in whatever fields of employment they
choose, says Macnaughton.
But the word has to get out. The powers-that-be have to be made
aware of the contributions these people can make.
She says city council carried a resolution earlier this year
recognizing the Sault-Algoma Ontarians efforts. The committee is
pressuring the provincial government for legislation which would
include tax breaks and funding for employers to purchase the
special equipment to make work available for the disabled. The
cost of accessibility technology to the employer can be
prohibitive. Special software could cost $2,000 or more.
The unemployment rate for disabled people is high. But they have
proven they can do the job. All they need is the opportunity, she
The new minister of culture, citizenship and recreation has shown
a genuine interest in the awareness program. They are now
visiting school classes with the message.
Dorothy, a former teacher who is trying set up a home-based
business, is visually impaired. She says her disability is a
challenge but it's not holding her back from achieving her goals.
Dorothy says the display will be in a central location and will
be staffed by disabled people during mall hours.
Retired columnist Oliver Lehto writes three times per week and
can receive messages at 759-3030, ext. 381.
London Free Press May 31, 2001
Use of paratransit on the rise
By Bob Loveless
I currently serve on the London Transit Commission but I write
this from the perspective of a person with a disability,
advocate, taxpayer and customer.
A multitude of barriers facing persons with disabilities continue
as the sixth anniversary of the Harris government's yet to be
acted upon promise to enact a meaningful Ontarians with
Disabilities Act (ODA) comes and goes. Nonetheless, some good
things have been happening in London.
Sensitivity and planning at city hall after the new Covent Garden
market needed accessibility retrofits have improved immeasurably.
In addition to remedial steps at the market, the new downtown
arena has gone through an intensive consultation process to
ensure optimum accessibility for all disabilities.
City hall itself has upgraded accessibility features on its
elevators, thanks to the initiative of an able-bodied, concerned
These are just two examples of recent improvements. The point is
city hall has adopted a policy to include accessibility in new or
renovated municipal facilities.
Cam Jackson, newly-appointed citizenship minister, in consulting
on ODA issues at the municipal level, chose London as one of his
first cities to visit because of its progressive reputation on
And then there's London Transit, which acquired accountability
for Paratransit in 1997 and implemented an innovative operation
on its premises responsible for day-to-day operation of the
Let's be clear. Paratransit has limited resources - 88% of its
operating funds come from the taxpayer. Last year, Paratransit
made 139,000 trips, the most ever by a wide margin thanks
primarily to productivity improvements. It's often almost
possible to set your watch by pickup punctuality.
Service standards and policy impacts are tracked and improvements
pursued. Rider accountability measures have been introduced to
control frequent cancellations and no-shows that waste available
rides and money. Some saw this as punitive and one more detriment
to a spontaneous life-style able-bodied citizens take for
The reality is London Transit, like all Paratransit providers in
Ontario, has a difficult balancing act in providing the most
service while remaining sensitive to customer needs.
Then there are accessible conventional buses -- a dream I didn't
expect to come true in my lifetime.
London Transit is committed to operating all routes with low-
floor, accessible buses. It's now at 25% and you can get to many
parts of the city already.
Maintaining service has forced London Transit to buy some rebuilt
buses. But the aim is for new buses to have accessible low
floors. Eleven are due early next year when routes will be
expanded from the current seven, plus two community buses.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission, in a recent discussion
paper, while acknowledging shortcomings, including London, cited
London Transit for its progressive approach to improving service
for persons with disabilities.
Like all citizens, persons with disabilities live in an imperfect
world, but strides have been made in improving accessibility and
services in London.
It seems a simple, but sincere, thank you is due city hall,
paratransit drivers and brokerage staff, and London Transit
drivers and administration for having made life better in London
for persons with disabilities.
(Bob Loveless is a London resident.)
London Free Press June 7, 2001 Page A-13
Paratransit comments encouraged
By Cathy Vincent-Linderoos
I am writing about an issue that has attracted countless letters
to the editor and most recently a Vox Pop by LTC Commissioner Bob
Loveless, who serves on the London Transit Commission. My
opinions are influenced by the fact that, regrettably, I have
found Paratransit does not meet my own needs. They are also
influenced by the fact of my membership in the non-partisan,
provincewide Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.
The ODA Committee's analysis of the Ontario Human Rights
Commission's discussion paper on paratransit is available at
www.odacommittee.net . In brief, the ODA Committee concludes we
have yet more proof that a strong ODA is needed.
When people like Loveless have worked and volunteered to make a
publicly-funded system better, and improvements have come about
over time, they should be proud indeed. When others feel
marginalized or discriminated against by the same system, their
experiences should neither be ignored nor whitewashed by those
with the means to work towards accommodation.
I want disgruntled riders, who may fear reprisal for speaking
out, to know that their are ways to deal with their concerns. In
some cases, the LTC or its Paratransit Advisory Committee may be
able to find solutions. As well, people have been invited to
submit their concerns about the system to Tim Manley at
email@example.com . Manley is the regional director of the
southwest regional office of the Ontario March of Dimes. He is
collecting and summarizing comments about paratransit in the
London area and will submit his report to the Ontario Human
Rights Commission for their June 30, 2001 deadline. If you
prefer, you can write directly to the OHRC. It has a Web site and
has posted the discussion paper to which Loveless and I both
If there are ways to improve the system, let's get those comments
in as well. Perhaps the LTC can be helped to see that people with
disabilities still encounter unnecessary obstacles because of the
way that paratransit is run and evaluated. Change is still
needed. Personally I fear that in its attempt to do the best they
can with the resources available, the needs of subscription
riders have been pitted against those of on-demand riders. If
true, that is a sad thing for all, and we should try to
understand and overcome this barrier as soon as possible.
Open consultation by the provincial government with everyone
about the standards that should be set down in law in a strong,
effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) is what the ODA
Committee has been advocating for six long years. Differences of
opinion are not only tolerable, they are desirable and should be
heard. An ODA which is consistent with the resources available
would help to make equality of access to municipal services
(including paratransit) the norm.
Cathy Vincent-Linderoos is a regional contact with the Ontarians
with Disabilities Act Committee for the London area.
The Toronto Star
Wednesday, May 30, 2001
The Golf Page
Disabled golfer can use cart: Court
U.S. ruling will apply in Canada, golf association says
WASHINGTON (AP) - Disabled golfer Casey Martin may use a cart to
ride in tournaments, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday,
saying federal law requires a levelling of the playing field for
the handicapped, even in pro sports.
The decision means the PGA Tour must make allowances for Martin,
whose degenerative leg ailment makes it almost impossible to walk
an 18-hole course.
Royal Canadian Golf Association officials said the U.S. ruling
will apply in Canada, where the Bell Canadian Open will be held
Aug. 6 to 9 at the Royal Montreal Golf Club and at the Samsung
Canadian PGA Championship next week at the DiamondBack Golf Club
in Richmond Hill.
The Samsung event is on the Buy.com Tour, the PGA Tour's
developmental tour. A CPGA official said yesterday that Martin
probably will not play in the Samsung tournament.
The Canadian Professional Golfers Association allows seniors to
use carts in some tournaments where caddies are not available.
The Canadian Tour does not have a policy on the use of carts, but
that could change because of the court ruling, according to tour
commissioner Jacques Burelle.
"Basically, we have been observing the rules of the PGA Tour, but
in this case, we decided to let the issue play itself completely
out," Burelle said.
Canadian Tour officials, who have never received a request for
the use of a cart, will have a conference call in the next day or
two to decide what to do about the carts.
The senior PGA Tour, which is open to players 50 and older, has
allowed players to use carts for some time. The senior tour makes
a stop in Mississauga Aug. 23-26 at Mississauga Golf and Country
The PGA Tour fought Martin for years, saying all pro golfers must
walk because uniform rules are essential for the integrity of the
Accommodating Martin with a golf cart will not fundamentally
change the game, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for a 7-2
"What it can be said to do, on the other hand, is to allow Martin
the chance to qualify for and compete in the athletic events (the
PGA Tour) offers to those members of the public who have the
skill and desire to enter," Stevens wrote.
"That is exactly what the ADA requires," he said, referring to
the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"I think in the future this opens some doors for people," Martin
told reporters. While the ruling may not affect other golfers
right away, he said he hopes it will benefit disabled athletes in
"An institution like the PGA Tour ... before they just
automatically knock down someone's desire for accommodation, they
might have to think twice," he said.
Hal Sutton, a golfer who also is a member of the tour's policy
board, said many pros have bad backs and might now apply to use a
cart. Sutton himself has had back problems.
"In Casey's particular case, there's no doubt about his
disability," Sutton said before a practice round for this week's
Memorial Tournament. "This is not about Casey Martin. It's about
the possibilities it opens up. The next person's disabilities -it
might not be as clear."
The Supreme Court's ruling will not produce any immediate changes
for the elite-level PGA Tour because Martin is not playing well
enough to qualify for those events. He currently plays on the
Buy.com Tour where PGA Tour rules also apply.
Stevens, an avid golfer, said the walking requirement is "at best
peripheral" to PGA Tour events. And in any case, Stevens wrote,
if the purpose of walking is to tax golfers' stamina, Martin's
disability does that for him.
Jack Nicklaus took issue with the justices' opinion that walking
was not a fundamental part of the sport.
"I think we ought to take them all out and play golf," Nicklaus
said. "I think they'd change their minds. I promise you, it's
Dozens of disability advocacy groups and some of the ADA's
congressional backers, including former senator Bob Dole, wrote
friend-of-the-court briefs on Martin's behalf. The justice
department also supported Martin.
The ruling shows the need for similar legislation in Ontario to
get rid of barriers facing people with disabilities in sports and
all aspects of life, said disabled activist David Lepofsky.
"We were actually promised that type of legislation by Premier
Mike Harris six years ago" when he was running for Ontario
Conservative leader, said Lepofsky, adding that nothing has been
enacted and Harris is in his second term.
Lepofsky, chairperson of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Committee, a voluntary non-partisan coalition advocating for such
legislation, said: "The problem is that in Ontario you have to
fight these barriers one at a time. We shouldn't have to do
WITH FILES FROM MICHAEL CLARKSON AND ALAN BARNES
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Last updated June 21, 2001