March 24, 2004

York Region makes recommendations for a more effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act


NEWMARKET For The Regional Municipality of York to meet the requirements of  a strengthened Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA),   the Province must continue to include municipalities in all aspects of developing new legislation and provide funding assistance and other support.
 
These and other recommendations were presented by York Region to the provincial government at the Ontario Minister for Citizenship and Immigration's Roundtable discussion and at a regional public meeting held in Toronto yesterday evening. 
The provincial government is holding public meetings across the province to determine how to make the ODA strong and effective. The government has committed to introducing measures for making the ODA more meaningful for people with disabilities by the fall.
 
"The Province's public consultations now underway on the ODA present an important opportunity for York Region to assist in making this legislation more effective and meaningful," said Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  "There are tremendous benefits to be gained for our communities when people with disabilities can participate fully in all that our municipalities and the Province has to offer."
 
York Region has demonstrated its commitment to the ODA by adopting a strategic approach to implementing the ODA, which is grounded in the Vision 2026, the Region's 25-year strategic plan.  Understanding Barriers:  York Region's First Annual Accessibility Plan was successfully developed with collaboration from all of the Region's corporate departments as well as York Regional Police and public input, and is recognized as a province model in terms of style and content.
 
"We are strong supporters of accessibility planning but believe that real change requires real support not just politically but also financially" said Michael Garrett, York Region's CAO. "The province must equip municipalities to implement a strengthened ODA by providing the funding and others supports that will make true progress possible".
 

The Region's recommendations will enhance the ODA and the ability of York Region to implement the ODA to remove and prevent barriers for all York Region residents.  The recommendations include:
 need for a funding framework to assist municipalities in implementing the ODA
 clear timelines that are flexible, which allow for a phased approach to the identification, removal and prevention of barriers
 base standards to ensure a consistent approach across the Province; standards should be developed in consultation with the municipal sector and other stakeholders
 amend legislation to allow for annual accessibility planning to be integrated with municipal annual business planning cycle
 amend the ODA to include additional definitions to clarify language in the Act
 expand the ODA to the private sector, to be overseen by the Province
 stronger provincial support and guidance for the ODA
 

The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:  www.region.york.on.ca

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

 
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