Despite ongoing issues, Ontario plans to reduce small business accessibility requirements – Toronto

For most people, hailing a cab is no big deal, but Diane Bergeron has a guide dog and she says that makes all the difference.

After a hotel doorman hailed a taxi for Bergeron, she said the driver refused to allow her guide dog Lucy on board.

“He just said, ‘No I’m not taking a dog,’ even though I was in full view,” said Bergeron, who works with CNIB, an non-proit rehabilitation agency for the visually impaired.

READ MORE: Some Toronto police still unaware of guide dog enforcement despite promise

Bergeron said her dog wears a harness identifying it as a guide dog, but a second cab also refused.

The third one finally took her.

“I am always on edge getting a taxi,” she said.

Bergeron has added her voice to others who said they have been denied various services due to their guide dog.

Provincial legislation, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, protects the rights of people with disabilities.

But critics said the government plans to backtrack on requirements for small businesses.

READ MORE: Woman challenged by Tim Hortons over guide dog last year not happy with response

Currently, companies with more than 20 employees must have a written policy on accessibility.

But that is soon expected to apply only to businesses with more than 50 employees.

“So if you go into one of those places and say ‘Do you have a policy?’ all the person has to do is point to their heads and say, ‘Yes, it’s in here’, well, how do you enforce that?” asked David Lepofksy, Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“Making them do more paperwork is not the route to go,” added Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.

“The key for us is to make sure the businesses are aware of the opportunities of becoming more accessible.”

“The government’s solution when there’s large lawbreaking when there’s ineffective enforcement is promise more and pass regulations which means there’s actually going to be less effective enforcement,” said Lepofsky.

Duguid explained if someone does encounter a problem, there is a provincial line they can call.

“And we will send out enforcement where we can,” said Duguid.

READ MORE: Toronto woman drops human rights complaint over guide dog after apology

But when Global News called the toll free line and asked if it is linked to enforcement, the operator said they did not have one in place.

She wasn’t even sure where to report the denial of access due to a service dog.

The government is, however, working on a new initiative in a website similar to the popular travel review site TripAdvisor, but for issues of accessibility.

Bergeron also said creating change isn’t all on the government, as everyone can play a role, including the public.

“If they see somebody being refused with a guide dog, help them by making sure that they can come forward as a witness,” she said.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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MDMA will be approved to aid therapy for PTSD suffers by 2021: research group

For the first time in decades, Canadian researchers are probing the potential of a psychedelic drug – ecstasy – for use in psychotherapy in a clinical trial approved by Health Canada.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), is investigating the use of MDMA, the pure form of the party drug ecstasy, to assist therapy sessions for people with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The early research coming from this team has shown promise in treating those who suffer from some of the most challenging forms of PTSD.

Filling a gap

Currently available PTSD treatments have little effect on a certain subset of PTSD sufferers considered to be treatment resistant. Dr. Ingrid Pacey, a psychiatrist and the principal investigator for MAPS in Vancouver, says MDMA can help overcome one of the major hurdles for conventional PTSD treatments.

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Dr. Ingrid Pacey says MDMA can help overcome one of the major hurdles for conventional PTSD treatments

Dr. Ingrid Pacey says MDMA can help overcome one of the major hurdles for conventional PTSD treatments.


“With talk therapy the person’s fear starts to rise and they block,” Pacey said.

MDMA, she said, can help with those blocks by bringing down fear and anxiety.

“It means you can talk about something really difficult without being terrified. You may still feel distressed but you can go there,” Pacey said.

She has worked with trauma survivors for close to 40 years and says that in many cases traditional therapies haven’t been successful in improving quality of life for people suffering from PTSD, “people would be in therapy for 10, 15 years. It was a long time. Or if there was no access to that, they would be medicated.”

She says that therapeutic work that would take three or four years in some cases can be done in a couple of months with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

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How it works

MAPS’ researchers emphasize that in their work MDMA is being used as a tool to aid therapy – not simply as a medication. In each six- to eight- hour session, a study subject is supervised by two trained therapists. The sessions take place in a comfortable room and combine silent reflection, often aided by music, with loose discussions of issues that arise for the subject under the influence of the drug. The therapists are there to guide the subjects through discussions of topics often too challenging to have without the aid of the drug.

The treatment currently under investigation in the clinical trial involves two to five MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions spaced out over the course of eight to 10 weeks and regular contact with therapists between sessions.

The Vancouver work is part of a larger study directed by the American based non-profit organization MAPS. The organization’s other trials have been conducted in The United States, Israel and Switzerland.

EXTRA: What went into equipping a Vancouver pharmacy to receive and store MDMA

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One veteran’s experience

Nigel McCourry developed PTSD as a result of a combat tour in Iraq

Nigel McCourry developed PTSD as a result of a combat tour in Iraq.


Nigel McCourry of Asheville, N.C., took part in one of these trials. He developed PTSD as a result of a combat tour in Iraq. Despite receiving conventional PTSD treatment he suffered years of nightmares, anxiety, depression and isolation — he was desperate for help.

“I actually didn’t think there was a good shot at ever improving my life. I thought I was going to be really just psychologically wrecked for the rest of my life,” McCourry said.

Despite receiving conventional PTSD treatment, Nigel McCourry suffered years of nightmares, anxiety, depression and isolation – he was desperate for help.

Despite receiving conventional PTSD treatment, Nigel McCourry suffered years of nightmares, anxiety, depression and isolation – he was desperate for help.


McCourry found out about MAPS’ experimental research and enrolled in one of their trials in South Carolina. While he had few expectations going into the study, he felt relief almost immediately after his first MDMA session. His sleep issues started improving right away and in the weeks to follow his other symptoms improved as well.

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Two months after McCourry’s MDMA sessions concluded, it was determined he no longer had measurable PTSD. It has now been three years since his treatment concluded and he says he feels cured of his PTSD.

“If I was plotting the quality of my life over time, that since I’d been back from Iraq, it was just steadily going down. And then the MDMA therapy on that same plot was a turning point where, after that, my quality of life just kept going up,” McCourry said.

READ MORE: In Harm’s Way: The PTSD crisis among Canada’s first responders

Subjects in these trials were not only war veterans, but first responders, survivors of sexual abuse and childhood trauma. Published work from one of MAPS’ earlier Phase 2 trials found Nigel was not the only one helped by this treatment: 83 per cent of participants in a small group studied no longer had PTSD after two months and maintained this result over the next 3.8 years.

Results from the most recent Phase 2 clinical trials are expected to be published fall 2016. MAPS says the data from these trials is generally consistent with these previously published results but is not releasing exact numbers yet.

More research needed

In order for this treatment to be approved for use outside of a clinical trial setting, a Phase 3 trial will need to be conducted and results will need to be replicated on a larger scale with more study participants. The treatment will need to be proven to be both safe and effective.

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Col. Rakesh Jetly, chief psychiatrist with the Canadian Armed Forces, says he sees a lot of new treatments come by his desk with promising preliminary research that can’t be replicated. However he says that the military is not ruling out the potential of this therapy.

“If the studies are replicated, if they’re published, if the safety, efficacy, all of those are shown, then it can be just another tool in the toolbox for us, for people that are having difficulties with the conventional treatments.”

Jetly adds that he is not put off by the reputation of ecstasy as a club drug.

“There is a stigma, but I think that’s a mistake … There’s no such thing as an illicit drug. You know, there’s illicit use of drugs.”

Future of use outside clinical trials

Researchers and many of the study’s subjects believe that having this treatment available widely is critical for PTSD sufferers struggling to get help. But even by the research group’s own estimation this treatment is still years away from being available to people outside the trial setting. MAPS goal is to get approval by Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use this drug in therapy by 2021.

EXTRA: Mark Haden with Maps Canada talks about the past and future of psychedelic drugs

But the organization still faces the challenges of meeting regulatory requirements, financing the work and fighting the stigma associated with this alternative research.

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In the meantime, advocates insist that people will suffer without access to this therapy. Nigel McCourry, for one, believes that MDMA-assisted therapy could help prevent suicides of veterans.
“It’s a quick and direct route to feeling like you’ve turned your life around, like that struggle that you’ve been carrying is getting lighter.”


© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Save-On-Foods comes to Regina – Regina

REGINA – Shoppers in Regina have a new option for their groceries with the opening of the first Save-On-Foods in the province.

The Vancouver-based chain has had prairie plans for a while now, but first needed to get the infrastructure in place.

“We built our warehouse in Edmonton recently and now we have the ability to move east,” Store Manager Christopher Drobot explained.

“This is our first store in Saskatchewan and we have plans for many more. We’re going to be opening up in Saskatoon, in Yorkton, in Moose Jaw, and we have expansion plans as well for Winnipeg.”

Save-On’s soft launch Friday morning was well received by shoppers at the south Albert Street location. Just hours after opening at 7 a.m. the parking lot was full of curious consumers checking out the new grocery store.

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The grand opening takes place on Saturday.

The store boasts online shopping, with pickup and delivery options, along with their “misfit” produce section as ways to stand apart from the competition.

“There’s a lot of time where the produce we get, we expect it to look perfect. The fact is there’s a lot of product that doesn’t make the cut for perfect top grade produce, but the fruit itself is perfectly fine to eat,” Drobot said.

“We also make sure a lot of product we can’t use in the store here is donated to the food bank.”

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