DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

Call for Letters/Emails to Premier McGuinty
Re: Proposed Reforms to Ontario Human Rights Code

March 23, 2006

 

 

Please find below, the most recent letter to Premier McGuinty from the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODO) Alliance. Please pass this on to others.

Write the Premier to support this letter's call for prior notice of all proceedings in the Legislature on any bill to amend the Human Rights Code, and generally to ensure that all proceedings on a bill are fully open, accessible and barrier-free.

In your letter or email you might say:

"I urge you to fulfill the request of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance's request that all proceedings on any bill to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code be fully open, accessible and barrier-free. For example, your Government should give sufficient prior notice of all proceedings in the Legislature on any bill to amend the Code. There should be province-wide public hearings on any bill."

Premier's email address: Dalton.McGuinty@premier.gov.on.ca

Best regards

Barbara Anello
Acting Chair
DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario
dawnontario@sympatico.ca

 


c/o The Canadian Hearing Society
271 Spadina Road
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2V3

March 23, 2006

Via facsimile (416) 325-3745

Premier Dalton McGuinty
Room 281, Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

Dear Premier McGuinty,

Re: Proposed Reforms to the Ontario Human Rights Code

We write to follow up on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities
Act Alliance's February 27, 2006 letter to you regarding your Government's
proposals for weakening the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Since we last
wrote, a mounting list of organizations and individuals have written to you,
urging you not to bring forward your planned legislation to weaken the
Ontario Human Rights Commission. From the disability community, this has
included well-known organizations such as the Canadian Hearing Society, the
Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Ontario Association of the
Deaf, the Alliance for Equality for Blind Canadians, the Disabled Women's
Network - Ontario, Community Living Ontario and the Bob Rumball Centre for
the Deaf. Other equality-seeking groups have also presented similar views.
Increasing the media's focus on the opposition to your Government's plans.

There is a rising tide calling for your Government to hold an open,
accessible public consultation before introducing any bill, and that that
consultation not be based on any pre-condition that your February 20, 2006
announcement of plans to weaken the Ontario Human Rights Commission is a
"done deal." We hope and trust that anyone in the public who supports your
Government's plans would nevertheless agree that it is important for all
sides of this issue to be fairly heard, before your Government makes any
major policy decisions. Discussions held some 15 years ago, and three
provincial governments ago, leading to the last provincial report on this
topic, are no substitute for a contemporary consultation that can receive
up-to-date views based on current circumstances.

It is important for your Government to clarify its intentions, as soon as
possible, re your plans announced on February 20, 2006. As we understand,
your Government has not announced any further specifics about your plans
since the Government's February 20, 2006 news conference. There is concern
in the community that your Government will shortly introduce its bill to
amend the Human Rights Code and might try to rush it through the Legislature
this spring.

We are also concerned that your Government's February 20, 2006 announcement
of plans to weaken the Human Rights Commission leave victims of
discrimination such was persons with disabilities in an unfair state of
limbo. For those who already have complaints of discrimination with the
Human Rights Commission, and who have been waiting for them to be
investigated and prosecuted, or whose cases are now being investigated, does
your Government intend to change the rules in the middle of the game? Must
these individuals now go out and hire lawyers and investigators? For those
discrimination victims who haven't yet filed a human rights complaint, is it
now a waste of time to do so? No doubt this unacceptable state of
uncertainty will leave Ontario Human Rights Commission staff in an untenable
position. This all serves to weaken the campaign for a barrier-free
province, to which your Government is committed.

The Ontario Human Rights Code is very important to all Ontarians. It is also
central to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Therefore,
whatever you ultimately do with the Human Rights Code, we ask your
Government to ensure that if any bill to amend the Code is to be brought
forward, any and all proceedings at the Legislature on that bill be fully
open, accessible and barrier-free. People with disabilities will, for
example, need fair notice, sufficiently in advance of the date when any
legislation will be introduced, or when a bill will be debated, so that they
can arrange to attend the Legislature.

Your Government has commendably recognized that Ontarians with disabilities
now face pervasive barriers to access to public transit. Your Party properly
criticized the previous Government when it failed to ensure that all the
Legislature's proceedings on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 were
similarly barrier-free. That Government unfairly gave the public, including
the disability community, insufficient prior notice of some of the important
proceedings in the Legislature on their 2001 disability bill. That prevented
some persons with disabilities from being able to arrange accessible
transit.

It will also be important for the Legislature to hold full public
province-wide hearings on any bill to amend the Human Rights Code, and that
these hearings be open, accessible, and barrier-free. Your Government did an
excellent job of ensuring this for all the Legislature's proceedings on Bill
118, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Your Government
has set an excellent precedent for our requests.

To give ample public notice of the date for the introduction of a bill, and
for any debates on the bill; is not only important to carry forward the
goals of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, but is a
crucial component of democratic renewal, a plank in your 2003 election
platform. We are copying this letter to the leaders of both opposition
parties. We ask all parties to cooperate as much as possible in the
scheduling of any proceedings on any bill to amend the Human Rights Code to
ensure their full accessibility.

We look forward to receiving your response to our February 27, 2006 letter
to you, as well as a response to the matters we address in this letter. We
welcome the opportunity to work together with your Government to improve the
enforcement of the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Sincerely,

Catherine Dunphy, Chair, AODA Alliance

cc: via facsimile
Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario (416) 326-4016
Sandra Pupatello, Minister Responsible for the AODA (416) 325-1498
Dwight Duncan, House Leader (416) 325-7755
Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission (416) 314-7752
John Tory, Leader of the Official Opposition (416) 325-0491
Howard Hampton, Leader of the New Democratic Party (416) 325-8222



LINKS

Proposed Reforms to the Ontario Human Rights Code

Call for Responses to Helen Henderson's article: Rights debate marred by Chicken Littles, Toronto Star April 1, 2006

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update - March 31, 2006
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update - March 29, 2006
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
- March 28, 2006
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update - March 24, 2006

Call for Letters/Emails to Premier McGuinty - Re: Proposed Reforms to the Ontario Human Rights Code - March 23, 2006

DAWN Ontario's Open Letter to Premier McGuinty re: OHRC

Human rights body needs fixing, not dismantling
by Avvy Yao-Yao Go, Margaret Parsons & Uzma Shakir, Toronto Star Op/Ed - Mar. 13, 2006

Human Rights Reform Action Kit
Stop the Gov't from Weakening Enforcement of the Ontario Human Rights Code

Changes to Human Rights complaints system threaten the rights of those who need it most: OPSEU - Feb. 20, 2006

Ontario Human Rights Commission - Protecting the right of all Ontarians

Report: "Making Ontario's Human Rights Commission Work"
Download Report as a PDF file (88 kb) PDF file
Download Report as a Word doc.

TAKE ACTION
Sample Letter to a Member of the Ontario Legislature

 

 


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