for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
March 28, 2006
Late in the day on
March 28, 2006, the Attorney General of Ontario wrote us, responding to
our letters regarding proposed changes to the Human Rights Commission.
The AODA Alliance
Chair Catherine Dunphy immediately responded. See the text of each
of these letters below.
Dear Ms. Dunphy;
Thank you for your
letter of February 27, 2006, regarding proposed changes to Ontario's human
rights system. I have been asked to respond on behalf of the government.
c/o The Canadian Hearing
March 28, 2006
Re: Effective Human
Rights Enforcement Through a Strong, Effective Human rights Commission
In your letter to me, you said: "I have reached out to affected groups and organizations to solicit their views, and I have approached these issues with good will and a commitment to justice." With respect, many important organizations in the disability community, like the AODA Alliance, as well as others concerned with human rights have written your Government to express their serious concern that you have not consulted with us or them, prior to announcing your plans to weaken the Human Rights Commission. It is critical that you hold such consultations before, and not merely after, you introduce a bill into the Legislature.
When we wrote Premier McGuinty a month ago, we asked a series of important questions about your Government's plans regarding the Human Rights Commission on February 20, 2006. We have received no answer to any of those questions in the intervening month. We regret that your letter to me today also provides no further information beyond the Government's vague February 20, 2006 news release and backgrounder. Before our coalition and others interested in this important topic can meaningfully participate in a consultation process, we need to know the answers to those questions, and need time to afford our membership an opportunity to give us their feedback.
We also wish to repeat and reinforce our request that we get sufficient notice of any proceedings in the Legislature on any bill so that persons with disabilities and others interested can arrange accessible transportation to attend. We also ask that when a bill is introduced into the Legislature for First Reading, it be immediately made available in Braille and other accessible alternative formats to enable those who cannot read print to promptly read it. We also ask that American Sign Language interpretation be provided during First, Second and third Reading proceedings on any bill concerning the Human Rights code, and throughout public hearings on the bill. We hope and trust that such accommodations will be readily available. We appreciated that these basic accommodations under the Human Rights Code were provided in connection with Bill 118, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. They also follow from Premier McGuinty's 2003 election commitment to achieve a barrier-free society.
We look forward to arranging for a delegation to meet with you.
cc: Via facsimile
The Hon. Premier Dalton McGuinty (416) 325-3745
for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update - March 31, 2006
rights body needs fixing, not dismantling
Rights Reform Action Kit