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Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan Makes Landmark Public Declaration That Public Money Should Never Be Used to Create or Perpetuate Barriers Against People With Disabilities

January 25, 2013

SUMMARY

On January 22, 2013, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan gave an important speech at the prestigious Canadian Club. In his update on Ontario’s economy and provincial budget, he made a landmark declaration, which all governments across Canada should follow. He declared: “Public money used for capital infrastructure or procurement of goods and services should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities.” See the key passage of his speech, set out below.

We congratulate and commend Minister Duncan for this important declaration. We thank him for including these resounding 25 words in such an important public statement about the Ontario economy. We shall build on Mr. Duncan’s declaration in the weeks, months and years ahead.

For a podcast or webcast of Dwight Duncan’s entire January 22, 2013 speech at the Canadian Club, visit http://is.gd/EyQqw7

Mr. Duncan has been a major supporter of our cause throughout his years in public life. Almost fifteen years ago, on October 29, 1998, during the Mike Harris Conservative Government, Dwight Duncan, then an opposition Liberal MPP, brought forward a resolution in the Ontario Legislature. His resolution called on the Government to pass a Disabilities Act that would honour the 11 principles that our predecessor coalition, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, had created. Those 11 principles aimed to ensure that the promised Disabilities Act would be strong and effective.

As one of the most important events along the decade-long campaign to win the enactment of the AODA, on that day in October 1998, the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed Dwight Duncan’s resolution. In the 1999 and 2003 Ontario elections, Dalton McGuinty promised a Disabilities Act that would fulfil the Duncan resolution. To this day, the 1998 resolution that Dwight Duncan championed on our behalf remains the eternal yardstick by which we measure actions taken under the AODA.

To read the Ontario Legislatures October 29, 1998 resolution on the Disabilities Act that Dwight Duncan spearheaded for our community, visit http://www.odacommittee.net/oct-resolution.html

To learn more about the events leading up to the passage of the Dwight Duncan 1998 resolution on the Disabilities Act, visit
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/10022008.asp

To see how we used the Dwight Duncan 1998 resolution to mark progress over the following ten years, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/10292008.asp

We shall strive to make Dwight Duncan’s 2013 “no new disability barriers built with public money” declaration as enduring and as influential as his October 29, 1998 legislative resolution about the promised Disabilities Act. We call on all MPPs and all Ontario political parties to endorse this declaration.

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Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org

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KEY PASSAGE FROM DWIGHT DUNCAN’S JANUARY 22, 2013 SPEECH TO THE CANADIAN CLUB ENTITLED “FACING ONTARIO’S INCONVENIENT FISCAL TRUTH”

“People often say, is there anything you wish you could have done differently or done more of? And I’d like to speak for one moment about disability issues in this province.

There are more than 1.7 million of us who have a physical or mental disability or a learning disability, and that number is going to grow remarkably as the population ages.

In 2005, with the support of all the parties in the legislature, we passed the accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which requires Ontario to become fully accessible to persons with disabilities by 2025.
It is a human and economic imperative that we tear down the physical, the technological, the information, the bureaucratic, and attitudinal barriers that block persons with disabilities. For those of you who have an Apple iPhone, iPhone 5, do you know that it is fully accessible to the blind and the deaf? I didn’t either until a very good friend of mine who is blind showed me. I’m technologically challenged in any event. I can’t figure out the basics.

And you know what? Not only does it not cost Apple, they make money from it. So this nonsense about the cost of it has got to stop. And that’s why we passed the Disabilities Act. And as a government, my view is we need to prevent new barriers from being erected. Public money used for capital infrastructure or procurement of goods and services should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities.

And we also have to address our families who have children, adult children in many instances with—I wish we could have done more. We’ve done a lot. There’s still more to do. I’m sure all of you know somebody, that one family. Friends of mine, dear friends of mine haven’t had a good night’s sleep in 23 years. Twenty-three years. A little bit of respite care here and there. We’ve been able to help more, but there’s still more to do.

And if we stick to this, not as a political party, but as a culture; remember what Canada did in the 1990s getting back to balance. And I’m a Liberal, a partisan Liberal. I’m a Finance Minister from Windsor like Paul Martin, like Ernie Eves. If we take that same attitude that Canada took in 1990s here in Ontario to our deficit and then our debt, in five or six years we will be looking at surpluses.

We will be looking at the ability to do more for those families with those kids. We will be able to enter into collective agreements and see wages and real wages and real benefits rising in the public and broader public sectors. We can help that significant minority of Canadians who aren’t saving enough for their retirement get there. That’s what this is about.”