Ontarians with Disabilities Act

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The Ontarians with Disabilities Act is the short title of the Ontario Government's Bill 125 - "An Act to improve the identification, removal and prevention of barriers faced by persons with disabilities and to make related amendments to other Acts". The Act received Royal Assent on 14 December 2001 and came into force on February 7, 2002. A new piece of legislation was enacted to address accessibility issues, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 in 2005. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act remains in force.

The Bill's original purpose had been to achieve a barrier-free Ontario for persons with disabilities -- a right of full participation. It was to require the timely removal of existing new barriers, within reasonable time lines and in accordance with reasonable cost parameters. It was meant to apply to employment, public transit, education, provincial and municipal government services and facilities, and other goods, services and facilities offered to the public.

Those who supported the idea of an ODA hoped that it would require government bodies, and others bound by law to identify the barriers that they now have which impede persons with disabilities from full participation, and to design reasonable plans consistent with their resources to remove these barriers and to prevent new ones from being created, all within reasonable time lines. They wanted it to allow for the enactment of regulations with input from disability groups, business interests and others, to set out measures to be implemented to achieve the ODA's goals, and reasonable time lines for their achievement. It was meant to incorporate an effective, fair and timely process for enforcement.

However, Bill 125 became a weak act[by whom?] that suggested voluntary action without enforcement, penalties or deadlines. Critics of the Bill (e.g. the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee) have petitioned the government to revisit the Act and pass a stronger, more effective Act, which they did in 2005 with the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).

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