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November 4, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011 is the tenth anniversary of an important date in our
campaign that started in 1994 for a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities.
On November 5, 2001, Ontario’s Conservative Government under
Premier Mike Harris introduced Bill 125, the proposed Ontarians with
Disabilities Act 2001 (ODA), into the Ontario Legislature. That day the bill
received First Reading. Responsible for the bill’s development was then Citizenship Minister, Cam Jackson.
Ontario‘s disability community’s campaign for strong, effective accessibility legislation had been spearheaded since 1994 by the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, the predecessor to our current coalition, the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. Back in the 1995 election, the Harris
Government promised a Disabilities Act in its first term. It was not until the
middle of its second term, in late 2001, that it passed the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act 2001.
Three years before the Harris Government brought forward Bill 125, back on November 23, 1998, the Harris Government had introduced a 3-page bill, that it had called the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. That bill was so devoid of any content that our community convinced the Harris Government to let it die on the order paper within three weeks, with the hope that a better bill would be brought forward. Bill 125 was the Harris Government’s next public proposal for a Disabilities Act.
While a step forward, Bill 125 that was brought forward on November 5, 2001 was nevertheless quite weak and inadequate. Over the next six weeks after it was introduced into the Legislature, the ODA Committee spearheaded a blitz to get amendments passed to substantially strengthen it. Ontario’s Liberal Party and
New Democratic Party each proposed a series of amendments to strengthen the
bill, at our community’s request. The Harris Government used its majority to
defeat most if not all of those amendments. The bill was passed on December 13,
2001. It was the final piece of legislation passed while Mike Harris was Premier
In 2005, four years after the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 was enacted, the new Liberal Government, under Premier Dalton McGuinty, passed the more comprehensive and stronger Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. We have worked tirelessly since then to get these accessibility laws effectively implemented.
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 remains on the books to this day. The
McGuinty Government is aiming to eventually repeal it. We have voiced the view
that while it was weak and inadequate as a solution to our problems, together
with the later Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, the 2001
Act has contributed to our cause. We don’t want it repealed until and unless all
its components are effectively enshrined in the later AODA.
For example, earlier this year, we learned that the Government had recently
abolished the Ontario Public Service Employment Accommodation Fund. That Fund finances workplace accommodations for Ontario Public Servants with disabilities. We managed to get this Fund restored, in no small part because the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 requires this Fund to be maintained. For more on this incident, visit
If you are interested in knowing more about the days leading up to November 5, 2001, and the events of that day, we set out below a 10 page excerpt from the detailed history of the first eight years of our movement, with footnotes omitted. This article was written by David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance and previously chair of its predecessor coalition, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Committee. This excerpt first appeared in a 200-page published article on the
first years of our movement entitled “The Long Arduous Road to a Barrier-free Ontario for People with Disabilities: The History of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act – The First Chapter,” found in volume 15 of the National Journal of Constitutional Law. Even though it is published in a law journal, it is written to be easily read by everyone, whether or not you have legal training.
If you would like a copy of the full 200 page article in MS Word format, send a request to us at: email@example.com
That day ten years ago was frustrating. Yet it serves as a landmark on the long, arduous road to a fully accessible Ontario. Since then, we have accomplished a great deal. The inadequacies of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 helped propel us to the stronger Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005.
To see the unfolding events over the several years leading up to that day ten years ago, you can also visit the legacy website of the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act Committee. That coalition wound up in 2005, making room for the new AODA
Alliance to stand in its place. However, its website remains as a permanent
e-monument to all the efforts of people across Ontario who helped our cause over those years. Visit http://www.odacommittee.net
EXCERPT FROM “THE LONG ARDUOUS ROAD TO A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: THE HISTORY OF THE ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT – THE FIRST CHAPTER” PUBLISHED IN THE NATIONAL
JOURNAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW VOLUME 15
By David Lepofsky
12) SUMMER AND FALL 2001: THE ROAD TO THE INTRODUCTION OF THE NEXT ODA BILL
a) Preparing For The Government’s New ODA Bill
Over the Summer of 2001, it was time for the ODA movement to focus all
efforts on getting ready for the Fall legislative session. Minister Jackson’s
recent statements suggested that he planned to introduce his new ODA bill that
Fall, for passage into law before year’s end. From its 1998 experience, the ODA
movement knew that the Government could well bring in its new ODA bill without any prior notice to us, again hoping it might catch us off guard.
We were keenly aware that before the ODA movement could take on the
challenge of addressing a new piece of ODA legislation, lots of people had lots
to learn, and very little time in which to learn it. Many in the ODA movement
were not experienced with the technical formalities of the legislative process.
Because this movement had grown so big so quickly, many were still scrambling to learn the details about the ODA that the ODA Committee sought, and the battles it had fought. Many had climbed aboard this movement’s high-speed train after the events of late 1998. Some did not know much about the Conservatives’ 1998 three-page ODA bill.
To tackle this challenge, the ODA Committee took several steps. In August
2001, we wrote to Citizenship Minister Jackson, to again formally call for a
barrier-free legislative process. We detailed that this should include
province-wide public hearings, with sufficient advance notice of legislative
debates and hearings to enable people with disabilities to arrange accessible
transit to the Legislature. We asked the Government to commit that it would
provide for full debate on any amendments proposed to their bill that are
consistent with the 11 principles for the ODA, which the Legislature had
unanimously adopted by its October 29, 1998 resolution.
The ODA Committee alerted Minister Jackson that in the Spring of 1999,
many individuals had written to the Clerk of the Legislature, requesting a
chance to appear at public hearings on Bill 83. We asked that all applications
received at that time be applied to hearings on the forthcoming ODA bill. We
urged that new applications should be encouraged and accommodated, so that all who wish to appear at these hearings would be able to do so.
We encouraged ODA supporters to write again to the Clerk of the
Legislature, to apply to make a presentation at hearings on the ODA. Of course,
no hearings had been announced or even agreed to, but the ODA Committee wanted to get a head start on this once more. We also wanted to fully engage ODA supporters in the process early on. By getting people to ask to appear at
hearings, they were staking their claim in this legislative process.
We widely circulated a new “action kit” to help ODA supporters get ready
for the bill, and recirculated our Spring 1998 blueprint for the ODA as a
refresher. We distributed a handy pamphlet setting out a checklist of six
questions that people could ask when looking at any new ODA bill.55
We prepared and widely circulated a summary of the steps that a bill must
go through to get passed into law. It was entitled: “HOW A BILL MAKES ITS WAY
THROUGH THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE: AN OVERVIEW FOR ODA SUPPORTERS.” This was designed to explain the legislative process and the terminology often used in it. We projected that we would not have enough time to explain this process all to ODA supporters on the fly, once the Government tabled its new ODA bill.
Meanwhile in the early Fall of 2001, the ODA issue kept heating up even
more in the Ontario Legislature and in the media. Amid coverage of the Fall
session’s opening were the Premier’s public statements that an ODA bill would be
introduced in the Fall. MPPs played verbal tennis in the Legislature, exchanging
volleys about the ODA. News articles addressed individual barriers or commented on the Government’s record of broken ODA promises.
In the Fall of 2001, there was a palpable feeling among ODA supporters of
excitement and momentum. ODA supporters had accomplished so very much. They had built a large, active coalition. They had developed a detailed, positive
blueprint for a strong and effective ODA.
Grassroots ODA supporters in 23 regions all around Ontario
had gotten many municipal councils to adopt the ODA movement’s goals and its 11 principles for the ODA, by passing local resolutions. It had won the active,
ongoing support of both the opposition Liberals and NDP. It had successfully
rejected the Government’s first ODA bill in 1998, as well as the Government’s
leaked 2000 plans for another weak bill. It had opted to hold out for something
better. It had kept the issue alive in the public eye for years, despite so many
other headline issues that seemed to monopolize the media’s attention. Over
seven years, ODA supporters spent so much time listing the barriers they face,
organizing public forums, recruiting new people to the ODA cause, writing,
phoning and visiting MPPs, giving interviews to the media, writing letters to
the editor, etc.
It was clear that an unprecedented grassroots battle lay just ahead, and
that the odds for the ODA movement were not great. However, the ODA movement had done all it could at the grassroots around Ontario to be in the best position for the events that were about to unfold.
b) Conflicting Rumours And A Healthy Scepticism
In October 2001, rumours abounded that Citizenship Minister Jackson was
holding a second round of meetings with a diversity of disability groups around
Ontario. These followed on his Spring 2001 meetings. These reportedly included
briefings on what his bill would include. We heard that at many of these
briefings, the Minister required those present to sign undertakings of
confidentiality. At other meetings, no confidentiality undertakings were sought.
At the end of this process, the Minister gave a confidential briefing to a small
ODA Committee provincial delegation, though he agreed to their request for
permission to speak to anyone else who had previously had a confidential
It appeared from all the conflicting information floating around that the
Minister had at different times been discussing not one, but two different
versions of an ODA bill. We consistently heard descriptions from some people of
a new ODA bill that sounded utterly toothless, being barely more than the
Government’s 1998 three-page ODA bill. From others we heard about a different
ODA bill, one that included substantial and potentially helpful components.
While the latter bill did not appear to meet all the ODA Committee’s
requirements, it sounded like a sign of real and significant progress.
We didn’t know which of these two bills Minister Jackson actually
intended to introduce. We didn’t know why he would tell some about one version
and others about a different version of the bill. We never figured out whether
the difference in these versions was due to a deliberate strategy by the
Minister, or whether it was just due to a simple lack of effective communication
at the Minister’s end, or whether it was due to confusion on the part of those
who received the briefings. We may never know.
When the Government finally introduced its 2001 ODA bill, it turned out
to be in reality neither of the two rumoured versions. Instead, it was somewhere
c) The Lead-Up To The 2001 ODA Bill’s Introduction
As October 2001 came to a close, the Government chose to let the
disability community know in advance when it would introduce its new ODA bill.
This suggested that the Government didn’t plan to hide from its new ODA bill as
bad news. Instead, this suggested to us that the Government decided to stand
proudly behind its new ODA bill this time, as good news. This stood in contrast
with the Government’s leaked plans the year before to minimize or avoid
publicity of the weak ODA bill it had planned to introduce in the Fall of 2000.
As discussed earlier, those plans were set aside in the Fall of 2000 after the
Government’s plans were leaked, made public and widely condemned.
On November 1, 2001, four days before introducing the bill, Citizenship
Minister Jackson hosted a public event at which he unveiled the Government’s
brand new “Vision Statement” on disability. That day the Government also bought space in newspapers around Ontario to publish this new “Vision Statement.”
This vision statement committed the Ontario Government to achieve the
goal of a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities, where existing
barriers are removed and new ones are prevented. This amounted to a wholesale
adoption of our core objective and our language. It gave the ODA movement
another yardstick against which to measure the forthcoming ODA bill.
We knew that the Government might not match its lofty new words with its
upcoming legislative actions. However, we viewed this vision statement as
helpful to us. We had collectively won the battle over what we were entitled to
expect as the ultimate goal. It was not a vision from which the Government could
easily back down.
The Government made it known that it would introduce its new ODA bill in
the Legislature on Monday, November 5, 2001. It invited dozens of people from
disability organizations around Ontario and others to come to Toronto at public
expense for the bill’s formal introduction, and to attend a lunch earlier that
day at the Legislature. This was to be hosted by Minister Jackson, just before
he introduced the bill. It appeared to us that the Government was taking quite a
gamble. If the bill turned out to be a let-down, the Government would have
organized their own potential corps of critics. After all, the Government itself
was bringing together the very people who would be most motivated to criticize
the bill if it was a let-down right at the Queen’s Park media corps doorstep.
The Government built up these individuals’ expectations about the bill by virtue
of the Government’s invitation to this major November 5, 2001 event, and by
virtue of its November 1, 2001 vision statement.
As November 5, 2001 approached, we encouraged ODA supporters to hold off
passing judgement on the bill until they saw it and got a chance to read its
“fine print.” In this Government’s past handling of other issues, it would often
make a big splash with some new announcement, which at first generated a flurry of positive media coverage. This would not infrequently be followed days later by media stories in which those issuing initial compliments changed their tune, after they had gotten a chance to explore the devil in the details of the
We also had figured out that if the bill was introduced on November 5,
2001, and was to pass before year’s end, the Government must be planning to rush the bill through. Either there would be no hearings on the bill at all, or there
would be very rushed hearings. This pointed to serious concerns that the bill
was not going to measure up to the expectations that the Government had created at some of its Fall 2001 confidential briefings.
Over the weekend before the bill’s introduction, the Government “leaked”
an advance story about the bill to one news outlet. A good number of other news
outlets picked up the story. Governments plant these advance leaks when they
want to try to effectively control the story’s initial “spin.” It is usually
leaked to a news outlet friendly to the Government. Such leaks are usually done
at a point when the journalist receiving the leak will not have time to check
the story with other sources in the community, before the story goes to print.
In the leak, the Government told the media their bill would raise parking
fines for people who illegally park in handicap parking spots to $5,000.00, and
would address accessibility to Government buildings. The leak led the Toronto
Sun to report on November 4, 2001, the day before the bill’s introduction that:
“Unlike an earlier attempt at legislation, this law will have teeth, and is expected to be one of the most comprehensive pieces of disabled-rights legislation in the
country. … There will be mandatory components on accessibility for Government
and for the broader public sector.
As well, private business will be encouraged to become more inclusive in providing services for people with disabilities.
… It is expected the new legislation will establish consistent standards for
accessibility and barrier-free access to buildings. At present, no such
“It will have a mechanism to engage the private sector,” the source said.”
The Government’s “leak” strategy worked, to the extent that a good
proportion of the news coverage of the bill then and afterwards mentioned the
evidently large hike in parking fines. It was ironic that this high-profile part
of this bill was actually the very same prominent item in the Government’s
planned ODA bill of the year before. As discussed earlier, that bill never
reached the Legislature because the Government’s plans about it were leaked to
the Liberals who made these leaked plans public.
It is also ironic for two additional reasons that the hike in parking
fines got so much profile. First, although the Government raised the maximum
parking fine to $5,000.00, it was unrealistic to expect that anyone except some
horrific serial offender would ever be sentenced to a $5,000.00 fine.
Second, this hike in parking fines actually threatened to harm persons
with disabilities. During hearings on the new ODA bill, ODA supporter Carole
Riback pointed out that she too often erroneously gets parking tickets for
parking in a handicap spot, even though she herself uses a wheelchair and has a
clearly marked disability parking permit on her vehicle. She has to fight each
of the many improper parking tickets which are wrongfully put on her vehicle.
She also has to pay the fines before fighting them, or else she may not be
permitted to renew her driver’s licence. To renew the licence, one must pay the
outstanding fines up front, and then fight the fine later, in hopes of getting
the fine back. If the Government’s raised parking fine were in effect, she might
accrue such high erroneous fines that she could not afford to renew her licence.
Yet this leak strategy also backfired on the Government. It alerted ODA
supporters that this bill was not likely going to be the promising version of
the legislation that the Citizenship Minister had described to some groups in
his confidential Fall 2001 briefings. Also, the Government’s leak dramatically
piqued media interest in the ODA story on the day before the bill was to be
introduced, a Sunday, when ODA news would otherwise rarely get much news
attention. This in turn amplified the media attention we were able to secure the
next day, when the bill was introduced.
d) November 5, 2001, The New ODA Bill Is Introduced For First Reading
The morning media coverage on November 5 heralded the forthcoming bill.
It reported that we claimed that the very fact of the introduction of a bill is
a victory for us, but only an interim victory. We were reported as cautioning
that we will need to read the bill’s fine print to see how good it is.
On the morning of November 5, 2001, the Legislature was swarming with
individuals with disabilities and employees of major disability organizations.
This was the first such ODA-related event at Queen’s Park in seven years that we
ourselves did not have to organize. The Government had delivered it to us on a
silver platter. It was replete with a real sense of suspense, as we awaited the
chance to see the bill. The level of interest and suspense signified the
interest that had grown since 20 people had first met in this same building
almost seven years earlier, starting the organized grassroots ODA movement.
Citizenship Minister Jackson’s luncheon before the bill’s introduction
brought together many from across Ontario who had been involved in the ODA
cause. Yet the invitation list also left out many others. The Minister’s office
had planned its invitation list, and certainly had not consulted the ODA
Committee on it. The Minister’s speech at the luncheon was strikingly
non-partisan. It gave significant credit to the ODA Committee. His tone was to
change minutes later, the moment he entered the Legislature.
After the lunch, and before the Minister entered the Legislature to
introduce his bill for First Reading, he held a news conference about his bill
in the Queen’s Park media studio. At that news conference the Minister declined
to answer reporters’ questions on the content of his bill. He said he could not
comment on these until the bill was introduced. It was quickly evident to all
that the Government had scheduled this news conference for a time before the
bill was introduced, to help the Minister duck probing media questions on the
After this news conference, Minister Jackson proceeded to the Legislature
to formally introduce Bill 125, the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act
2001, for First Reading. Each party made short speeches. In his speech, the
Minister congratulated and acknowledged everyone present, except for ODA
Committee provincial leadership, who were noticeably omitted from his remarks. When the bill was being introduced, many again watched the Legislature’s proceedings on a TV monitor from a legislative committee room, since nothing had been done in advance of this event to provide for better accessibility in the public gallery.
At the same time the bill was being introduced, the Government released
backgrounders on the bill, and a 35-page policy document, entitled “Independence and Opportunity – A Framework for Change.” That document detailed the bill’s contents, enumerated the results for persons with disabilities that the Government said the bill would achieve, and listed companion commitments that the Government said it would undertake in conjunction with the bill.
After the Minister introduced the bill, copies were made available to us.
We scrambled to read through and analyze its 30 pages. This was a more
challenging task than was the case for the Government’s 1998 three-page bill.
This task was more challenging this time because the bill was written in a
convoluted and confusing manner. It was unclear whether it had been written in
that way because the legislative drafters had been asked to write it in a hurry,
or as a deliberate tactic to confound ODA supporters, or to make the bill appear
to do more than it did to an uninformed reader. The media clamoured for our
instant reaction. We had to fend them off long enough to try to digest the bill.
We hurriedly compared the bill’s contents to the initial blast of public
statements about the bill that the Government had released. As we combed through the bill, many who initially had been enthusiastic based on the Citizenship Minister’s confidential briefings (conducted before anyone saw the bill’s text) rapidly lost their enthusiasm. The closer we looked, the worse things appeared. The Minister had led many to expect a bill that was very different from the product he introduced in the Legislature that day.
The bill stated that its purpose was to “improve opportunities for
persons with disabilities and to provide for their involvement in the
identification, removal and prevention of barriers to their full participation
in the life of the province.” It did not state, as had the Government’s November
1, 2001 “Vision Statement,” that the government’s purpose here was to achieve a
barrier-free Ontario for persons with disabilities. To “improve opportunities”
appeared to be a far more minimal aim for this bill.
The bill did not create a general legal duty to remove or prevent
barriers, beyond what the Ontario Human Rights Code provided. It only addressed the broader public sector, and not the private sector. It required provincial Government ministries and broader public sector organizations like
municipalities, school boards, hospitals, public transit providers, colleges and
universities to develop and make public annual “accessibility plans.” These
plans would include only those barriers that the organization chose to remove or
prevent. Each organization could decide voluntarily which barriers, if any, to
include in their annual accessibility plans, and which actions, if any, to take
to deal with them.
Moreover, no organization need ever implement their annual accessibility
plan. They need only make the plan and then make it public. The bill did not
create any means for enforcement, for example if an organization failed to make
a plan, or made a plan that was palpably weak and ineffective, or if an
organization failed to implement its plan. Under this bill, barrier removal and
prevention was left entirely voluntary.
The bill imposed a series of “obligations” on the Ontario Government,
e.g. to make its websites accessible, and to provide certain government
information to the public in a format accessible to persons with disabilities
such as Braille, where requested. However, the bill created no means for
enforcing these seeming obligations. As well, many of these obligations were
worded in very equivocal language, lacking teeth. For example, the bill required
the Ontario Government to “have regard” to disability accessibility needs when
it purchased certain things such as goods and services. To “have regard” to
something only required the Government to think about it, and not necessarily to
do anything about it.
The bill created a limited and confusing power for the Government to set
provincial standards. However, it did not oblige the Government to ever exercise
this power. The bill itself neither set time lines for barrier-removal and
prevention, nor required that any such time lines ever be established.
Central among the bill’s features was the bill’s establishment of two new
bodies. First, it established a provincially-appointed Ontario Accessibility
Advisory Council, to advise the Citizenship Minister on the ODA’s
implementation. Before the Conservatives took power in 1995, a similar
provincially-appointed disability advisory council had existed in Ontario since
the 1970s. The Conservatives abolished it within weeks of taking office in 1995.
Second, the bill proposed to require that all municipalities with a
population over ten thousand create a municipal accessibility advisory
committee, to advise the municipal Government on taking certain actions under
the ODA. Several Ontario municipalities had had such a committee for years. None of these advisory bodies could do anything more than give advice. No one had to listen to them, or to give reasons if their advice was rejected. The disability
community had no say in who the Government or local municipalities appointed to these bodies.
For a more detailed summary of the bill’s contents, here is the
Government’s explanatory note, which was written by the Government and tabled with the bill. It summarized Bill 125’s contents as follows:
“The Bill imposes a number of obligations, with respect to improving access for
persons with disabilities, on the Government of Ontario and other organizations.
The obligations include the following:
1. In consultation with persons with disabilities and others, the Government
is required to develop barrier-free design guidelines for buildings, structures
and premises and to ensure that any buildings, structures or premises that it
purchases, constructs or significantly renovates after the Bill comes into force
comply with those guidelines. When entering into a lease for a building,
structure or premises, or part of a building, structure or premises, for the
occupation or regular use by its employees after the Bill comes into force, the
Government is also required to have regard to the extent to which the design of
the leased premises complies with the guidelines.
2. In deciding to purchase goods or services through the procurement process
for the use of itself, its employees or the public, the Government is required
to have regard to their accessibility for persons with disabilities.
3. Where technically feasible, the Government is required to provide its
internet sites in a format that is accessible to persons with disabilities.
4. Upon receiving a request by a person with disabilities, and where
technically feasible, the Government is required to make an Ontario Government
publication available in a format that is accessible to the person.
5. The Government is required to accommodate the accessibility needs of its
employees and applicants for positions as Government employees who are invited to participate in the selection process. The Government is required to ensure that its employees with managerial or supervisory functions receive training with respect to its obligations and also to inform its employees of the rights and obligations that they and the Government have in the area.
6. The Government may include requirements with respect to accessibility to
persons with disabilities as part of the eligibility criteria for certain
projects or classes of projects to receive funding under a Government-funded
7. Each ministry is required to prepare an annual accessibility plan that
addresses the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to persons with
disabilities in the Acts and regulations administered by the ministry and in the
ministry’s policies, programmes, practices and services. Ministries must make
their accessibility plans available to the public. The Lieutenant Governor in
Council may, by regulation, include other organizations in the definition of
8. Municipalities having a population of not less than 10,000 are required
to have an accessibility plan that addresses the identification, removal and
prevention of barriers to persons with disabilities in their by-laws, policies,
programmes, practices and services. They must make their accessibility plans
available to the public. They must also have an accessibility advisory committee
to advise on the implementation and effectiveness of the plans. The Lieutenant
Governor in Council may, by regulation, extend any of the requirements described in this paragraph to other organizations specified by the regulation.
9. In deciding to purchase goods or services through the procurement process
for the use of itself, its employees or the public, the council of every
municipality is required to have regard to their accessibility for persons with
10. Organizations that provide public transportation are required to have an
accessibility plan that addresses the identification, removal and prevention of
barriers to persons with disabilities in their by-laws, policies, programmes,
practices and services. They must make their accessibility plans available to
11. The Schedule to the Bill lists organizations such as district school
boards, hospitals, colleges of applied arts and technology and universities. The
Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by regulation, name other organizations or
classes of organizations to the Schedule or delete them from the Schedule. Every
organization listed in the Schedule is required to prepare an annual
accessibility plan that addresses the identification, removal and prevention of
barriers to persons with disabilities in the organization’s by-laws, policies,
programmes, practices and services. The organizations must make their
accessibility plans available to the public.
12. Every agency listed in the regulations is required to have an
accessibility policy that addresses the provision of services to persons with
disabilities in its policies, programmes and practices.
13. The Minister responsible for the administration of the Bill is required
to establish the Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario to advise on issues
related to the subject-matter of the Bill and the Accessibility Directorate of
Ontario under the Minister’s direction.
The Bill amends other Acts as follows:
1. The Bill amends the Election Act to require every returning officer for
an electoral district to report to the Chief Electoral Officer on the measures
taken to provide accessibility for electors with disabilities in the district.
The Chief Election Officer must make the report available to the public.
2. The definition of “campaign expense” in the Election Finances Act is
amended to exclude expenses that a candidate with disabilities incurs and that
are directly related to the disabilities.
3. The Bill amends the Highway Traffic Act to increase the penalty for
various offences related to the use of disabled person parking permits. The
penalty in the current Act is not less than $60 and not more than $500. Under
the amendment, the penalty is not less than $300 and not more than $5,000.
4. References to “handicap” in the Human Rights Code are replaced with
5. The Bill amends the Legislative Assembly Act to require the Speaker to
prepare an annual accessibility plan that addresses the identification, removal
and prevention of barriers to persons with disabilities in the Legislative
Chamber and the other parts of the Legislative Building that are under the
Speaker’s control and in the policies, programmes, practices and services of the
Assembly. The Speaker must make the accessibility plan available to the public.
6. The Bill amends the Municipal Act to allow municipalities to require, as
a condition for licensing a business, that the business premises be accessible
to persons with disabilities. By-laws made with respect to the use of disabled
person parking permits and the provision of parking spaces for vehicles
displaying disabled person parking permits must provide that contravention of
the by-laws is an offence punishable by a minimum fine of $300. The owner of a
vehicle left parked, standing or stopped in violation of the by-laws is also
guilty of the offence, whether or not the owner was the driver of the vehicle at
7. The references to electors with impaired mobility under Section 45 of the
Municipal Elections Act are expanded to cover electors with disabilities.
8. The Bill amends the Planning Act to add accessibility for persons with
disabilities to the matters of provincial interest that the council of a
municipality, a local board, a planning board and the Ontario Municipal Board
must have regard to in carrying out their responsibilities under the Act. The
Bill also adds accessibility for persons with disabilities to the matters that
approval authorities must have regard to in considering a draft plan of
9. Service managers that construct or alter housing projects under
Subsection 5 (1) of the Social Housing Reform Act, 2000 or that deal with
programmes under Subsection 5 (2) of the Act shall ensure that the housing
project or programme contains the number or percentage specified by the
regulations of modified units and units that comply with the criteria and
requirements specified by the regulations for accessibility for persons with
We were deluged that day with more media attention and coverage than in
any single day in the previous seven years. This came without our having time to
assemble a press release. Public affairs programmes that had taken years to show any interest in the ODA issue came to us that day asking for interviews on the spot.
We learned that day that we had finally won our multi-year battle for
public hearings on the bill. As of that day, we didn’t yet know when they would
be taking place. We knew that there would be little time available and lots of