Please Tell the Federal Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada, that Requests Amendments to Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Please Tell the Federal Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada, that Requests Amendments to Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

September 28, 2018

          SUMMARY

Here’s a quick and easy way to have your say! The AODA Alliance has just submitted its finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. Our brief asks Parliament to make a series of amendments to the bill, in order to make it a strong, effective and good law. It is the result of months of work.

Please let Parliament and the Federal Government know if you support our brief. If you are really busy, just a one-sentence email to them, would help. We give you the email addresses to use, below.

For example you might say the following, either as an individual, or on behalf of an organization that you can speak for:

“I’m writing to support the brief which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance has submitted on September 27, 2018 to the Parliament of Canada that recommends improvements to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act.”

Of course, if you want, you should also add any additional information about Bill C-81 you might wish to share, including anything we did not say in our brief.

We recommend that you send an email to:

[email protected]

That is the email address for the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities:

Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street

House of Commons

Ottawa ON   K1A 0A6

Fax: 613-947-3089

You should also address your email to the minister who is championing this bill, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister for People with Disabilities. You can email her at:

[email protected]

Please also copy the AODA Alliance on your email, so we know who has voiced their support for us. Email us at:

[email protected]

You can download the AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 finalized brief on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, by clicking here:

https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Sept-27-2018-AODA-Alliance-Brief-to-Parliament-on-Bill-C81-Final-Version.docx

Download the text of Bill C-81 at First Reading in Parliament by visiting:

https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2018/click-here-to-download-in-ms-word-the-text-at-first-reading-june-20-2018-of-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act/

Things are moving quite fast with Bill C-81. This week, Bill C-81 passed Second Reading in the House of Commons. We will have more to report to you on what was said during Second Reading debates in an upcoming AODA Alliance Update.

We anticipate that Bill C-81 will be coming quite soon before the Standing Committee of the House of Commons for public hearings. We have applied to appear at those hearings. Our brief will be the basis of our presentation.

We hope our brief will also help others who present to the Standing Committee, and that as many as possible will support and endorse our brief, in addition to any recommendations that they choose to bring forward. Feel free to make use of, and even cut and paste from our brief, as much as you want!

Below, we set out a five-page summary of the brief. Our brief is quite detailed. This is because Bill C-81 is itself over 100 pages long, and quite complicated.

For each issue we identify in the brief, we explain what the issue is, and quote the relevant part of the bill. We explain our concerns, and make concrete recommendations on how to address those concerns.

At the end of the brief is an appendix. It gathers together in one place all the recommendations set out in the brief. Each recommendation in the appendix has one, two or three *s next to it. These are meant to signal the priority level of each recommendation. All our recommendations are, of course, important.

This brief builds on the AODA Alliance’s preliminary analysis of the bill which we raced to make public the day after the bill was tabled in Parliament. It also builds on the draft brief which we made public on August 3, 2018, in order for one and all to send us their feedback and suggestions. It builds on the Discussion Paper on the promised national accessibility law that we made public two years ago, and on which we received very helpful feedback.

This brief includes almost all of the contents that were in our August 2, 2018 draft brief. A few topics and details were added as a result of our further research and feedback that we received on our August 2, 2018 draft brief.

We are very indebted to all who have shared their input now and in the past. It has really helped with this major project. We want to especially thank the ARCH Disability Law Centre. As ARCH developed its own analysis of the bill, we and ARCH exchanged our drafts in progress, and shared our feedback. This helped improve all our efforts.

We hope that disability organizations and others across Canada will find our ideas helpful. Please circulate our brief and encourage others to support it, using the contact information we set out above.

Do you want to learn the steps a bill like Bill C-81 must go through to get through Canada’s Parliament and become a law? Check out the AODA Alliance’s introductory guide for beginners on how a law gets through Parliament.

          MORE DETAILS

Summary of the AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 Brief on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

a) General

We congratulate the Federal Government for committing in 2015 to pass a national accessibility law, and for introducing Bill C-81 in Parliament in June 2018 for First Reading. This bill is quite a good start. It contains a number of important ingredients. It embodies a number of the ideas that we shared with the Federal Government during its two-year public consultation. It shows a serious effort by the Federal Government to craft constructive legislation.

However, the bill has substantial deficiencies that need significant improvement. These improvements are all readily achievable within the bill’s overall framework. We certainly don’t ask the Federal Government to start again from scratch.

With the amendments proposed in this brief, this bill can be turned into good legislation. Without those amendments, it will not be sufficient to achieve its important goals. The need for these improvements to this bill does not take away from the fact that the Federal Government is commended for bringing this bill forward, and for including in it a number of the core components that it did.

We look forward to working with the Federal Government and with all parties in Parliament to get the bill improved through the debates and hearings process. We strongly urge Parliament to hold robust, open, nation-wide, travelling legislative hearings on this bill, where people with disabilities and all Canadians can offer ideas for improvements.

b) Helpful Features in the Bill

This bill’s good and promising features include the following:

It is good that by its title, this bill aims to create an accessible and barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities.

The bill endeavours to broadly define the key terms “disability” and “barrier.”

The bill establishes several important new officials and agencies to achieve its goal. This includes a new Accessibility Commissioner to enforce the bill in part, a new federal Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) to create model accessibility standards that the Federal Government can choose to enact as enforceable federal regulations, a new Chief Accessibility Officer to advise and report on progress and needed improvements, and a minister to be responsible for certain key functions under the bill.

The bill allows for the development of non-binding accessibility standards, which can guide federally or provincially regulated organizations. It allows for the enactment of these standards, either “as is” or with modifications. When enacted, these would become enforceable regulations, that are binding on organizations that the Federal Government can regulate.

The bill aims to provide effective enforcement and for the public accountability of obligated organizations for accessibility efforts, including a formal complaint process. It also provides for legislative and Independent Reviews of the bill’s effectiveness over a period of years.

The bill includes a regime for federally-related organizations to create multi-year accessibility plans and to update these over a period of years.

c) Areas Where the Bill Needs Improvement

The bill’s deficiencies, needing correction by amendments, include the following:

The bill’s “purpose clause” is too weak. It falls well short of the goal proclaimed in the bill’s title. The purpose clause only seeks the “progressive realization,” of a barrier-free Canada. It does not set a much-needed specific deadline for reaching full accessibility, something the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act commendably has. This means that under this bill, people with disabilities could face the prospect of disability accessibility barriers for the indefinite future.

The bill’s well-intended definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are too narrow.

The bill gives the Federal Government and various accessibility agencies a set of helpful powers to promote accessibility. However, it does not impose any duty on them to use those powers, or any mandatory time lines for the major implementation steps that the Government must take to get this bill effectively implemented. For example, the bill commendably empowers the Government to create accessibility standards or regulations. However, it wrongly does not require the Government to ever make any accessibility regulations. Moreover, it wrongly splinters power to make enforceable accessibility regulations over more than one governmental body. This threatens to create a patchwork of confusing and potentially inconsistent if not contradictory accessibility regulations.

The bill wrongly splinters the important power to enact binding and enforceable accessibility standard regulations among three federal bodies, the Federal Cabinet, the Canada Transportation Agency (CTA) and the Canada Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) All power to enact accessibility standard regulations should be assigned to the Federal Cabinet.

The bill wrongly splinters enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over a number of different public enforcement agencies, rather than providing people with disabilities with the simple, easy-to-navigate, one-stop enforcement process that they need. This wasteful duplication will slow and weaken the bill’s effective implementation, and risks inconsistent and unpredictable enforcement. It unfairly makes it harder for people with disabilities to get effective enforcement of the bill. They risk being unfairly shuffled back and forth from one federal enforcement agency to another.

For example, the bill wrongly leaves enforcement for broadcasting and telecommunications to the CRTC and for transportation to the CTA. It does so despite the CRTC’s and CTA’s inadequate track records on enforcing accessibility over many years.

Each of the Accessibility Commissioner, the CRTC and the CTA will have to get regulations enacted to cover very similar topics. This duplication again risks inconsistencies, even further delays, and the real possibility that some sectors of the economy will have these regulations ready for them before other sectors. It unfairly burdens the disability community to lobby each of these different public oversight agencies on the same issues in these duplicative regulations.

The bill unjustifiably gives various public bodies sweeping, unnecessary, unjustified and unaccountable powers to exempt any or all obligated organizations from a number of important of their accessibility obligations under the bill.

The bill helpfully requires obligated organizations to establish accessibility plans, but does not require them to be good plans. It does not require an obligated organization to implement its accessibility plan. It does not provide people with disabilities with an avenue to lodge complaints against an organization if it has a deficient plan, or no plan at all. It also requires some obligated organizations, namely transportation organizations, telecommunications organizations and broadcasts, to make two sets of plans at the same time, and gives different federal oversight agencies mandates over each of these plans. This confusing and convoluted approach will weaken the bill’s implementation, by unnecessarily making it more complex and confusing.

The bill unnecessarily delays some important duties of obligated organizations, and the corresponding rights of people with disabilities, until certain technical regulations are passed. If those regulations are not passed, obligated organizations won’t have those important duties. Thus, the disability community would have to lobby various federal entities, possibly for years, to get all those regulations passed.

The bill does not effectively ensure that the Federal Government will use all its levers of readily-available power to promote accessibility across Canada. For example, it does not require the Federal Government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds, to create or perpetuate disability barriers, e.g. when federal money contributes to new or renovated infrastructure, or when it is used for federal loans, grants or transfer payments.

The bill commendably has some public accountability requirements for key public organizations or offices that have implementation and enforcement duties, and for obligated organizations. However, these are too weak. Both the Federal Government’s accessibility agencies and obligated organizations should have broader public accountability requirements regarding accessibility.

The bill gives too much power to the federal Cabinet to make regulations. This allows a future Government to weaken or largely gut this bill by mere amendments to regulations, without ever having to bring a bill before Parliament and to publicly debate and vote on such plans.

Several needed ingredients are missing from the bill. This includes, for example, needed provisions on the Federal Government in relation to Indigenous People, and on federal duties to review all federal laws for accessibility issues, to ensure federal elections are accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities, and to ensure that the Federal Government itself operates as a model of an accessible employer and service-provider.

d) Recommended Amendments

This brief recommends that the bill be amended to do such things as the following:

  1. To set the bill’s purpose as achieving a barrier-free Canada by a date the bill will fix, in so far as the Federal Government and Parliament can do so.
  1. To specify that the Federal Government as a whole is responsible for leading Canada to the goal of accessibility, in so far as the Federal Government has constitutional authority to do so.
  1. To ensure that the bill’s definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are broad and inclusive.
  1. To ensure that the bill reaches the actions of all organizations that the Federal Government and Parliament can reach, including any recipients of federal money and all operations within Parliament.
  1. To impose specific duties and implementation time lines on the Federal Government, and on specified public officials and agencies, regarding their roles to implement and enforce the bill. For example, the Federal Government should have a duty to enact and enforce all the accessibility standard regulations needed to achieve the bill’s purpose.
  1. To consolidate all the power to make accessibility standard regulations in the federal Cabinet, rather than splintering this power among other federal agencies, beyond the federal Cabinet.
  1. To consolidate all of the bill’s enforcement in the Accessibility Commissioner, rather than it being splintered among several federal regulatory agencies. If not consolidated, then remove duplicative regulation-making requirements to ensure consistent implementation and enforcement across all accessibility enforcement agencies.
  1. To ensure that key bodies responsible for the bill’s oversight, such as CASDO and the Chief Accessibility Officer, are fully and effectively independent of the Government, and are seen by the public to be independent.
  1. To strengthen the mandates of CASDO, the Accessibility Commissioner and the Chief Accessibility Officer.
  1. To strengthen the openness of the standards development process under the bill, while ensuring that people with disabilities have effective input into accessibility regulations that the Federal Cabinet enacts.
  1. To remove from the bill, or drastically reduce and constrain the sweeping and unnecessary powers to exempt obligated organizations from certain obligations under the bill.
  1. To ensure that obligated organizations’ accessibility plans are good plans, and to ensure that they are implemented and enforceable.
  1. To require that obligated organizations each only have to make one accessibility plan at a time, which will be overseen by the Accessibility Commissioner.
  1. To remove preconditions in the bill that require that certain duties of obligated organizations do not come into effect until and unless certain regulations are enacted.
  1. To increase duties to make public key information on accessibility on a timely basis.
  1. To reduce the power of the Federal Cabinet and key accessibility enforcement agencies to make regulations, especially where regulations could weaken or gut the bill.
  1. To speed up the requirements for future reviews of this bill by Parliament and by an Independent Review which the Federal Government will appoint.
  1. To require the Federal Government to focus specific efforts to address its special responsibilities in relation to Indigenous People with disabilities.
  1. To guarantee that in the case of conflicting legal provisions, the strongest accessibility law always prevails.
  1. To ensure that nothing in the Act, or in its regulations or in any actions taken under it shall reduce in any way any rights which people with disabilities enjoy under law.
  1. To require the Federal Government to review all its statutes and regulations for accessibility barriers.
  1. To enforceably require that no public money can be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, e.g. money spent on procurement, infrastructure, grants, loans or transfer payments.
  1. To require the Federal Government to use all other readily-available levers of power to advance the goal of accessibility.
  1. To require that whenever a federal statute or regulation confers a discretionary power on any federal public official, department or agency, that decision-maker shall take into account, in its exercise, its impact on accessibility for people with disabilities.
  1. To require the Federal Government to ensure that federal elections become barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.
  1. To include effective measures to ensure that the Federal Government becomes a model accessible workplace and service-provider.
  1. To require the Federal Government to develop and implement a plan to ensure that all federally-operated courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts), and federally operated regulatory tribunals (like the CRTC and Canada Transportation Agency) become accessible.



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Please Tell the Federal Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada, that Requests Amendments to Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

September 28, 2018

SUMMARY

Here’s a quick and easy way to have your say! The AODA Alliance has just submitted its finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. Our brief asks Parliament to make a series of amendments to the bill, in order to make it a strong, effective and good law. It is the result of months of work.

Please let Parliament and the Federal Government know if you support our brief. If you are really busy, just a one-sentence email to them, would help. We give you the email addresses to use, below.

For example you might say the following, either as an individual, or on behalf of an organization that you can speak for:

“I’m writing to support the brief which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance has submitted on September 27, 2018 to the Parliament of Canada that recommends improvements to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act.”

Of course, if you want, you should also add any additional information about Bill C-81 you might wish to share, including anything we did not say in our brief.

We recommend that you send an email to:
[email protected]

That is the email address for the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities: Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
Fax: 613-947-3089

You should also address your email to the minister who is championing this bill, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister for People with Disabilities. You can email her at: [email protected]

Please also copy the AODA Alliance on your email, so we know who has voiced their support for us. Email us at: [email protected]

You can download the AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 finalized brief on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, by clicking here:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Sept-27-2018-AODA-Alliance-Brief-to-Parliament-on-Bill-C81-Final-Version.docx

Download the text of Bill C-81 at First Reading in Parliament by visiting:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2018/click-here-to-download-in-ms-word-the-text-at-first-reading-june-20-2018-of-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act/ Things are moving quite fast with Bill C-81. This week, Bill C-81 passed Second Reading in the House of Commons. We will have more to report to you on what was said during Second Reading debates in an upcoming AODA Alliance Update.

We anticipate that Bill C-81 will be coming quite soon before the Standing Committee of the House of Commons for public hearings. We have applied to appear at those hearings. Our brief will be the basis of our presentation.

We hope our brief will also help others who present to the Standing Committee, and that as many as possible will support and endorse our brief, in addition to any recommendations that they choose to bring forward. Feel free to make use of, and even cut and paste from our brief, as much as you want!

Below, we set out a five-page summary of the brief. Our brief is quite detailed. This is because Bill C-81 is itself over 100 pages long, and quite complicated.

For each issue we identify in the brief, we explain what the issue is, and quote the relevant part of the bill. We explain our concerns, and make concrete recommendations on how to address those concerns.

At the end of the brief is an appendix. It gathers together in one place all the recommendations set out in the brief. Each recommendation in the appendix has one, two or three *s next to it. These are meant to signal the priority level of each recommendation. All our recommendations are, of course, important.

This brief builds on the AODA Alliance’s preliminary analysis of the bill which we raced to make public the day after the bill was tabled in Parliament. It also builds on the draft brief which we made public on August 3, 2018, in order for one and all to send us their feedback and suggestions. It builds on the Discussion Paper on the promised national accessibility law that we made public two years ago, and on which we received very helpful feedback.

This brief includes almost all of the contents that were in our August 2, 2018 draft brief. A few topics and details were added as a result of our further research and feedback that we received on our August 2, 2018 draft brief.

We are very indebted to all who have shared their input now and in the past. It has really helped with this major project. We want to especially thank the ARCH Disability Law Centre. As ARCH developed its own analysis of the bill, we and ARCH exchanged our drafts in progress, and shared our feedback. This helped improve all our efforts.

We hope that disability organizations and others across Canada will find our ideas helpful. Please circulate our brief and encourage others to support it, using the contact information we set out above.

Do you want to learn the steps a bill like Bill C-81 must go through to get through Canada’s Parliament and become a law? Check out the AODA Alliance’s introductory guide for beginners on how a law gets through Parliament.

MORE DETAILS

Summary of the AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 Brief on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

a) General
We congratulate the Federal Government for committing in 2015 to pass a national accessibility law, and for introducing Bill C-81 in Parliament in June 2018 for First Reading. This bill is quite a good start. It contains a number of important ingredients. It embodies a number of the ideas that we shared with the Federal Government during its two-year public consultation. It shows a serious effort by the Federal Government to craft constructive legislation.

However, the bill has substantial deficiencies that need significant improvement. These improvements are all readily achievable within the bill’s overall framework. We certainly don’t ask the Federal Government to start again from scratch.

With the amendments proposed in this brief, this bill can be turned into good legislation. Without those amendments, it will not be sufficient to achieve its important goals. The need for these improvements to this bill does not take away from the fact that the Federal Government is commended for bringing this bill forward, and for including in it a number of the core components that it did.

We look forward to working with the Federal Government and with all parties in Parliament to get the bill improved through the debates and hearings process. We strongly urge Parliament to hold robust, open, nation-wide, travelling legislative hearings on this bill, where people with disabilities and all Canadians can offer ideas for improvements.

b) Helpful Features in the Bill

This bill’s good and promising features include the following:

It is good that by its title, this bill aims to create an accessible and barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities.

The bill endeavours to broadly define the key terms “disability” and “barrier.”

The bill establishes several important new officials and agencies to achieve its goal. This includes a new Accessibility Commissioner to enforce the bill in part, a new federal Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) to create model accessibility standards that the Federal Government can choose to enact as enforceable federal regulations, a new Chief Accessibility Officer to advise and report on progress and needed improvements, and a minister to be responsible for certain key functions under the bill.

The bill allows for the development of non-binding accessibility standards, which can guide federally or provincially regulated organizations. It allows for the enactment of these standards, either “as is” or with modifications. When enacted, these would become enforceable regulations, that are binding on organizations that the Federal Government can regulate.

The bill aims to provide effective enforcement and for the public accountability of obligated organizations for accessibility efforts, including a formal complaint process. It also provides for legislative and Independent Reviews of the bill’s effectiveness over a period of years.

The bill includes a regime for federally-related organizations to create multi-year accessibility plans and to update these over a period of years.

c) Areas Where the Bill Needs Improvement

The bill’s deficiencies, needing correction by amendments, include the following:
The bill’s “purpose clause” is too weak. It falls well short of the goal proclaimed in the bill’s title. The purpose clause only seeks the “progressive realization,” of a barrier-free Canada. It does not set a much-needed specific deadline for reaching full accessibility, something the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act commendably has. This means that under this bill, people with disabilities could face the prospect of disability accessibility barriers for the indefinite future.

The bill’s well-intended definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are too narrow.

The bill gives the Federal Government and various accessibility agencies a set of helpful powers to promote accessibility. However, it does not impose any duty on them to use those powers, or any mandatory time lines for the major implementation steps that the Government must take to get this bill effectively implemented. For example, the bill commendably empowers the Government to create accessibility standards or regulations. However, it wrongly does not require the Government to ever make any accessibility regulations. Moreover, it wrongly splinters power to make enforceable accessibility regulations over more than one governmental body. This threatens to create a patchwork of confusing and potentially inconsistent if not contradictory accessibility regulations.

The bill wrongly splinters the important power to enact binding and enforceable accessibility standard regulations among three federal bodies, the Federal Cabinet, the Canada Transportation Agency (CTA) and the Canada Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) All power to enact accessibility standard regulations should be assigned to the Federal Cabinet.

The bill wrongly splinters enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over a number of different public enforcement agencies, rather than providing people with disabilities with the simple, easy-to-navigate, one-stop enforcement process that they need. This wasteful duplication will slow and weaken the bill’s effective implementation, and risks inconsistent and unpredictable enforcement. It unfairly makes it harder for people with disabilities to get effective enforcement of the bill. They risk being unfairly shuffled back and forth from one federal enforcement agency to another.

For example, the bill wrongly leaves enforcement for broadcasting and telecommunications to the CRTC and for transportation to the CTA. It does so despite the CRTC’s and CTA’s inadequate track records on enforcing accessibility over many years.

Each of the Accessibility Commissioner, the CRTC and the CTA will have to get regulations enacted to cover very similar topics. This duplication again risks inconsistencies, even further delays, and the real possibility that some sectors of the economy will have these regulations ready for them before other sectors. It unfairly burdens the disability community to lobby each of these different public oversight agencies on the same issues in these duplicative regulations.

The bill unjustifiably gives various public bodies sweeping, unnecessary, unjustified and unaccountable powers to exempt any or all obligated organizations from a number of important of their accessibility obligations under the bill.

The bill helpfully requires obligated organizations to establish accessibility plans, but does not require them to be good plans. It does not require an obligated organization to implement its accessibility plan. It does not provide people with disabilities with an avenue to lodge complaints against an organization if it has a deficient plan, or no plan at all. It also requires some obligated organizations, namely transportation organizations, telecommunications organizations and broadcasts, to make two sets of plans at the same time, and gives different federal oversight agencies mandates over each of these plans. This confusing and convoluted approach will weaken the bill’s implementation, by unnecessarily making it more complex and confusing.

The bill unnecessarily delays some important duties of obligated organizations, and the corresponding rights of people with disabilities, until certain technical regulations are passed. If those regulations are not passed, obligated organizations won’t have those important duties. Thus, the disability community would have to lobby various federal entities, possibly for years, to get all those regulations passed.

The bill does not effectively ensure that the Federal Government will use all its levers of readily-available power to promote accessibility across Canada. For example, it does not require the Federal Government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds, to create or perpetuate disability barriers, e.g. when federal money contributes to new or renovated infrastructure, or when it is used for federal loans, grants or transfer payments.

The bill commendably has some public accountability requirements for key public organizations or offices that have implementation and enforcement duties, and for obligated organizations. However, these are too weak. Both the Federal Government’s accessibility agencies and obligated organizations should have broader public accountability requirements regarding accessibility.

The bill gives too much power to the federal Cabinet to make regulations. This allows a future Government to weaken or largely gut this bill by mere amendments to regulations, without ever having to bring a bill before Parliament and to publicly debate and vote on such plans.

Several needed ingredients are missing from the bill. This includes, for example, needed provisions on the Federal Government in relation to Indigenous People, and on federal duties to review all federal laws for accessibility issues, to ensure federal elections are accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities, and to ensure that the Federal Government itself operates as a model of an accessible employer and service-provider.

d) Recommended Amendments

This brief recommends that the bill be amended to do such things as the following:

1. To set the bill’s purpose as achieving a barrier-free Canada by a date the bill will fix, in so far as the Federal Government and Parliament can do so.

2. To specify that the Federal Government as a whole is responsible for leading Canada to the goal of accessibility, in so far as the Federal Government has constitutional authority to do so.

3. To ensure that the bill’s definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are broad and inclusive.

4. To ensure that the bill reaches the actions of all organizations that the Federal Government and Parliament can reach, including any recipients of federal money and all operations within Parliament.

5. To impose specific duties and implementation time lines on the Federal Government, and on specified public officials and agencies, regarding their roles to implement and enforce the bill. For example, the Federal Government should have a duty to enact and enforce all the accessibility standard regulations needed to achieve the bill’s purpose.

6. To consolidate all the power to make accessibility standard regulations in the federal Cabinet, rather than splintering this power among other federal agencies, beyond the federal Cabinet.

7. To consolidate all of the bill’s enforcement in the Accessibility Commissioner, rather than it being splintered among several federal regulatory agencies. If not consolidated, then remove duplicative regulation-making requirements to ensure consistent implementation and enforcement across all accessibility enforcement agencies.

8. To ensure that key bodies responsible for the bill’s oversight, such as CASDO and the Chief Accessibility Officer, are fully and effectively independent of the Government, and are seen by the public to be independent.

9. To strengthen the mandates of CASDO, the Accessibility Commissioner and the Chief Accessibility Officer.

10. To strengthen the openness of the standards development process under the bill, while ensuring that people with disabilities have effective input into accessibility regulations that the Federal Cabinet enacts.

11. To remove from the bill, or drastically reduce and constrain the sweeping and unnecessary powers to exempt obligated organizations from certain obligations under the bill.

12. To ensure that obligated organizations’ accessibility plans are good plans, and to ensure that they are implemented and enforceable.

13. To require that obligated organizations each only have to make one accessibility plan at a time, which will be overseen by the Accessibility Commissioner.

14. To remove preconditions in the bill that require that certain duties of obligated organizations do not come into effect until and unless certain regulations are enacted.

15. To increase duties to make public key information on accessibility on a timely basis.

16. To reduce the power of the Federal Cabinet and key accessibility enforcement agencies to make regulations, especially where regulations could weaken or gut the bill.

17. To speed up the requirements for future reviews of this bill by Parliament and by an Independent Review which the Federal Government will appoint.

18. To require the Federal Government to focus specific efforts to address its special responsibilities in relation to Indigenous People with disabilities.

19. To guarantee that in the case of conflicting legal provisions, the strongest accessibility law always prevails.

20. To ensure that nothing in the Act, or in its regulations or in any actions taken under it shall reduce in any way any rights which people with disabilities enjoy under law.

21. To require the Federal Government to review all its statutes and regulations for accessibility barriers.

22. To enforceably require that no public money can be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, e.g. money spent on procurement, infrastructure, grants, loans or transfer payments.

23. To require the Federal Government to use all other readily-available levers of power to advance the goal of accessibility.

24. To require that whenever a federal statute or regulation confers a discretionary power on any federal public official, department or agency, that decision-maker shall take into account, in its exercise, its impact on accessibility for people with disabilities.

25. To require the Federal Government to ensure that federal elections become barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.

26. To include effective measures to ensure that the Federal Government becomes a model accessible workplace and service-provider.

27. To require the Federal Government to develop and implement a plan to ensure that all federally-operated courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts), and federally operated regulatory tribunals (like the CRTC and Canada Transportation Agency) become accessible.



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Accessibility Upgrades Completed at Peterborough Curling Club


By Mark Giunta
Videographer, Backup News & Sports Anchor Global News

The Peterborough Curling Club is now fully accessible thanks to replacement doors at its entrance.

The new interior and exterior doors are automated allowing those with mobility issues easier access to the club.

There are at least five wheelchair curlers who frequent the club, including Carl Bax and Alec Denys.

“We’re high-functioning disabled people, but there are a lot of people who aren’t as handy,” Bax said. “This is just great for them.”

“There’s not enough of us around to form teams and be able to participate on our own,” said Denys. “We need to be integrated into the community. This club has been great and has made us feel welcome. All the things they’ve done the elevator, the ice surface it’s all fully accessible.”

Earlier this year, the club received a $25,000 grant through the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program.

That grant helped the club become fully accessible and land a provincial wheelchair bonspiel event on Dec. 8 and 9.

“The fact is there are lots more people who are in wheelchairs or could use wheelchairs that could curl here,” added Denys. “The bonspiel will bring that focus here.”

“This is going to become known as one of the clubs in Ontario that can host an event of that stature,” said Dave Calvert, president of the senior men’s section at the club.

The ice will go in at the club by the Thanksgiving weekend. The first curling event of the season is Oct. 9.

Original at https://globalnews.ca/news/4486175/accessibility-upgrades-completed-at-peterborough-curling-club/



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Making the Municipal Election Accessible for Everyone


‘So it is all done in a privacy screen so nobody can see how they are voting and is completely independent’ by: Chris Dawson
Sept 26, 2018

The municipal election is still more than three weeks away but today the City of North Bay was getting prepared for it.

Officials gathered at Memorial Gardens to test their Automark Voter terminal – one of five that will be set up for the advanced polls which begin on October 3rd at the Gardens.

Through the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which was introduced in 2005, the province has targeted 2025 as a date to make the province fully accessible.

The City of North Bay wants to be right on track with that mandate.

“The City of North Bay is committed to participating in that initiative and we are working to make sure the election is available for everyone within the city of North Bay if they are an elector,” said Judy Bechard, Deputy City Clerk with the City of North Bay.

“The interesting thing is one in seven persons in Ontario could be a person with a disability. If we were to do the calculations in the city of North Bay that could be over 5,000 individuals. Disabilities are not always readily apparent but what we want to do is remove the barriers that we can to make the election fully accessible.”

Bechard says the terminal will read back a ballot to an individual who has low vision or is blind. It reads it back and tells them what the selections options are on the ballot and confirms that selection they make and then marks the ballot for them.

“So it is all done in a privacy screen so nobody can see how they are voting and is completely independent,” said Bechard.

Members of the Municipality Accessibility Advisory Committee are thrilled the city is offering this service at the advanced polls.

“I can only imagine how members of our community must feel as the barriers are removed at the voting polls,” stated Nora Long, Chair of the (MAAC) Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee.

“This barrier-free environment provides inclusion for our community with the accessibility to participate in such an important event.”

Advance Polls will be held at the following locations:

Memorial Gardens – 100 Chippewa St W

October 3, 2018 10 a.m. – 3 p.m

Original at https://www.baytoday.ca/local-news/making-the-municipal-election-accessible-for-everyone-1063082



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Disability Rights Advocate Wants Cancelled Thunder Bay Accessibility Hearing Rescheduled


Hearing was cancelled due to low registration, event is part of regular review of Ontario’s accessibility act Cathy Alex · CBC News · Posted: Sep 20, 2018

Disability rights advocate David Lepofsky wants the public hearings in Thunder Bay, about Ontario’s accessibility act, to be rescheduled after they were cancelled due to low registration. He says the event was poorly publicized.

A disability rights advocate is expressing concern about the cancellation of a public hearing in Thunder Bay, saying people have lost an important chance to share their experiences during a provincial review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, led by the Honourable David C. Onley.

The act mandates that by 2025 the province be fully accessible, said David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

The act pertains to people with physical disabilities such as being blind, deaf or needing to use a wheelchair. It also covers people with intellectual or developmental disabilities such as autism.

Approximately every four years the Ontario government must review how it’s doing in terms of achieving that accessibility goal.

‘Important to see how things are going’

“It’s important to see how things are going,” said Lepofsky, noting the review usually includes inviting people with disabilities, in communities all over the province, to share their experiences.

“Are kids with disabilities able to fully participate in their schools? Are people with disabilities able to shop in stores and eat in restaurants? Are people with disabilities able to use our public parks without facing barriers?”

A public consultation was scheduled for September 13 in Thunder Bay, but a posting on the act review website says it was cancelled due to low registration.

“There’s been precious little done to publicize it,” Lepofsky said, who is visually impaired. He added that he believes people didn’t register for the event because they didn’t know about the hearing.

‘Reschedule Thunder Bay hearings’

He said as far as he’s been able to determine the only advertising for the public consultation was on the review website.

“So unless you know about the website, most don’t, and unless you check that website daily, most don’t, you won’t know first about the hearing, and then about it being cancelled.”

Lepofsky wants the government “to step up and make sure this problem gets solved. The David Onley review should reschedule the Thunder Bay hearings. It should give the public proper and ample notice, well enough in advance, to enable people with disabilities, and the rest of the public, to be able to have their say.”

The review committee posted online that people can email their comments or questions to [email protected] It also tells people to stay tuned for a northern virtual consultation, but does not specify a date.

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-disabilities-review-cancelling-1.4830504



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Ontario Human Rights Commission Releases Policy on Accessible Education


September 20, 2018 Alexandra Elves

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recently released a new policy on accessible education for students with disabilities, which says students with disabilities continue to face barriers in all levels of education.

“All students have the right to an education that allows them to meet their full potential and contribute to society, and yet students with disabilities continue to face obstacles accessing education services in Ontario,” Renu Mandhane, OHRC chief commissioner, said in a press release. “Our policy and recommendations call on key players in the sector to take proactive steps to remove barriers and put an end to discrimination in education, so that all students can gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”

Statistics Canada reports that Ontarians with disabilities continue to have lower educational achievement levels, a higher unemployment rate, and are more likely to have a lower income than people without disabilities.

Addressed in the policy is the evolving legal definition of disability and what it implies for education providers, along with the impact of ableism on students’ experiences. The policy says that “ableism refers to attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of people with disabilities.”

This evolving definition includes a focus on non-evident disabilities, such as mental health issues.

The new policy release comes after the OHRC wrote a letter raising human rights concerns to the University of Toronto’s (U of T) around the U of T’s University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy.

Contested by many students, the U of T policy allows students with severe mental health problems to be placed on a non-punitive, mandatory leave by the university.

“Human rights law is constantly developing, and certain conditions, characteristics or experiences that have not historically been recognized as disabilities, may come to be commonly accepted as such, due to changes in the law reflecting medical, social or ideological advancements,” the policy said.

The OHRC also released recommendations on how education providers can best meet legal obligations under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

The first recommendation for post-secondary institutions is the need to communicate the right to disability-related accommodations for students through multiple means.

At Carleton University, students can receive accommodations and support through the Paul Menton Centre for students with disabilities (PMC).

Carleton is “arguably the most accessible post-secondary institution in Canada for students with disabilities,” the university said in a press release after they were granted $800,000 to help kickstart careers for students with disabilities in July.

Taneeta Taljit, a second-year psychology student at Carleton, said in an email that these accommodations are effectively communicated to students.

“While it isn’t usually the forefront of most discussions, I have found that the majority of the faculty have been consistent in informing students of the accommodations available to them, should they be in need of any extra assistance,” she said.

Maddy Deveau, a second-year global and international studies student at Carleton, agreed with this sentiment.

In an email, she said she thinks for the most part, accommodations are explained pretty well but, during her first appointment at the PMC, she had some trouble following along.

“I had to keep asking follow-up questions because things were going fast and some of the accommodations I hadn’t been used to before,” Deveau said. “I found it hard to find out what I was eligible for in terms of accommodations, because it’s not advertised anywhere, so I felt like I was going in blind.”

This is the first time the OHRC has updated its policy for accessible education in 14 years.

Original at https://charlatan.ca/2018/09/ontario-human-rights-commission-releases-policy-on-accessible-education/



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MAAC Hopes to Entice Cab Owners to Acquire Accessible Taxis


A brand new and fully accessible taxi vehicle is on the market at a price that might be better than expected by the taxi companies in Timmins. Len Gillis
Published on: September 20, 2018

Timmins resident David Rivard navigates his motorized wheelchair down the ramp from an accessible van that was set up on display in the Urban Park on Thursday. While Timmins taxi companies have not yet purchased a properly equipped accessibility taxi vehicle, there was one on display Thursday at the Urban Park Farmers’ Market in downtown Timmins. The vehicle was provided by Overland Custom Coach to demonstrate that such vehicles are on the market and at price that Overland said is not prohibitive for the cab companies.

A brand new and fully accessible taxi vehicle is on the market at a price that might be better than expected by the taxi companies in Timmins.

The Overland Custom Coach company was in Timmins Thursday to show off one of their latest models, a Dodge van that is customized to handle a wheelchair or a mobility scooter.

Overland brought a customized accessible taxi van to the Downtown Timmins Urban Park Farmer’s Market Thursday just to show what is available to the market.

It was almost a year ago that the Timmins Police Services Board, which oversees the taxi bylaw in Timmins, agreed to allow for additional taxi licences to accommodate the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

That means any taxi company in Timmins that wants to provide the service only has to ask for a licence if they provide the proper vehicle.

There are two taxi companies in Timmins; Vet’s Taxi which has several independent brokers and Northern Taxi, a newer company that has been in business for only a few years.

So far, neither company has acquired an accessible taxi or an accessible taxi licence.

Overland Custom Coach representative David Branston said his visit came at the suggestion of Timmins Transit officials he met at a recent trade show. His company has provided Timmins Transit with Handy-Transit vehicles.

He said accessible taxis operate in other Ontario cities and have been found to be useful in that the vehicles can serve as a conventional cab or as a proper accessibility cab, when it is needed.

As he demonstrated the various features of the customized Dodge van, Branston said the price was not prohibitive.

He said the cost of the accessible vehicle for use in the taxi business would be in the range of $50,000 to $60,000 depending on the features. The vehicle he brought to Timmins could be priced around $55,000, he said.

During discussions held at the TPS Board last year, local taxi officials said the cost of an accessible van for taxi service could run between $150,000 and $200,000.

Branston said one of the key features of the Overland vehicle is how easy it can accommodate customers in mobility scooters or wheelchairs. A low-level ramp is pulled out from the passenger side of the van, the wheelchair rolls up, gets strapped in with heavy floor-mounted strapping devices and the trip begins.

Branston said some customers prefer to ride up front, instead of sitting in the area behind the driver. In that case, he said, the front passenger seat can be pulled back and the wheelchair can roll forward and be locked in to the front passenger space. He added that four additional seats in the van will allow wheelchair users to travel with friends and family members.

The accessible taxi van demonstration was welcomed by Dan McKay, a local advocate with the Timmins Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC). McKay attended the demonstration and told reporters the cab would fill a gap in service for people with mobility issues.

The Timmins Handy-Transit system operates within the hours of regular bus service, but there is limited service on weekends and no service on statutory holidays. While Handy-Transit users pay the same fares as Timmins Transit users, they must be registered and have to phone ahead to make a reservation for being picked up as well as for the return trip back home. An accessible taxi service would provide on-demand service around the clock at regular taxi rates.

McKay said the MAAC group is hoping either Vets, Northern or both cab companies will consider purchasing an accessible van. He said MAAC is willing to subsidize the purchase up to $10,000 per vehicle.

“The ball’s in the court of the owners of the cab companies,” said McKay. He added that the funding for MAAC comes from the fines levied on motorists who illegally park their vehicles in designated handicapped parking spaces.

As the demonstration for the van was underway, one city resident David Rivard navigated his motorized wheelchair up the ramp and into the van to check it out. Rivard spent several minutes chatting with Branston, the Overland representative.

Afterwards, Rivard said if the van was purchased by a cab company he would indeed use it. He said he is a regular user of Handy-Transit, but said it has limitations. He said he liked that the accessible taxi van would provide him with a new option for travel.

He said a regular accessible taxi would be useful for medical appointments and other everyday outings. He also mentioned it would be nice to go out with friends for an evening social event, without having to wrap things up by 11 p.m. which is how late the Handy-Transit will operate.

Original at https://www.timminspress.com/news/local-news/maac-hopes-to-entice-cab-owners-to-acquire-accessible-taxis



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David Onley Independent Review of Ontario’s Disabilities Act Cancels Its Thunder Bay Public Hearings Due to Poor Enrollment, After the Review Poorly Publicized these Hearings


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

September 17, 2018

SUMMARY

Here is the latest concern regarding the Third Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act which is now being conducted by David Onley. According to the David Onley AODA Independent Review’s website, its scheduled September 13, 2018 Thunder Bay public hearing was cancelled “due to low registration”. That website states this at http://www.aodareview2018.ca/how-to-participate/events/

“Public Consultation Thunder Bay, Ontario
Location: Lakehead University
Room: Conference Room A & the Fireside Lounge
Address: 955 Oliver Rd, Thunder Bay, ON, P7B 5E1
Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018
Time: 11:00 AM 4:00 PM
Event canceled due to low registration. Stay tuned for a Northern Virtual Consultation. If you would like to receive the information directly about the consultation please email [email protected]

We call on the David Onley AODA Independent Review to re-schedule its cancelled Thunder Bay public hearing, and to properly publicize it. It is not good enough to tell people in and around Thunder Bay that they can only have input online. We say the same regarding its earlier consultation hearings elsewhere, which were not properly publicized.

The reason why more people did not sign up for the Thunder Bay public hearing is no doubt because it was so poorly publicized. We have seen nothing from the Ontario Government or the David Onley AODA Independent Review to publicize it, beyond a short posting on the Onley Independent Review’s website. When the AODA Alliance heard about this upcoming event via the grapevine, we took it upon ourselves to publicize it via our email Update and social media network.

Neither the Onley AODA Independent Review nor the Ontario Government notified us about any of the Review’s hearings, nor asked the AODA Alliance to publicize them to our many supporters and followers. We have arguably done more to publicize this event than has either the Onley Independent Review or the Ontario Government.

The AODA Alliance has earlier made public its serious concerns about the David Onley AODA Independent Review’s insufficient publicity of its public hearings. We did so in our August 24, 2018 AODA Alliance Update, and in our September 11, 2018 letter to the David Onley AODA Independent Review.

Sadly, history is repeating itself. In 2012, the Ontario Government appointed Toronto lawyer Andrew Pinto to conduct an Independent Review of Bill 107. That Ontario legislation had privatized the enforcement of human rights in Ontario. The Pinto Human Rights Independent Review did a similarly poor job of publicizing public hearings in Thunder Bay. The Pinto Review then cancelled its Thunder Bay public hearing due to poor registration for it.

Back in 2012, the AODA Alliance swung into action when we learned of that Independent Review’s cancellation of its Thunder Bay hearing. We brought the story to the Thunder Bay media. The media covered this. Below we set out the February 20, 2012 report on CBC Thunder Bay Radio.

The resulting media coverage and attention led the Andrew Pinto Human Rights Independent Review to back down and agree to schedule a new public hearing in Thunder Bay. It went ahead. From what we heard, it had a good turnout.

We have every reason to believe that people with disabilities in Thunder Bay would like to have their say, in person, face to face, with the David Onley AODA Independent Review. They should be able to let him know what disability accessibility barriers they still face, and whether they think Ontario is now on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. They should have a chance to say face-to-face whether they think the Ontario Government is doing a good enough job of enforcing AODA, and whether Ontario’s accessibility standards and the Ontario Building Code are sufficiently strong and comprehensive.

The last AODA Independent Review, conducted in 2014 by Mayo Moran, did a better job of publicizing its consultation hearings. It held a successful public hearing in Thunder Bay in the spring of 2014. Below we set out the text of the April 21, 2014 CBC Thunder Bay Radio news report on that successful consultation.

When we wrote the David Onley AODA Independent Review on September 11, 2018, we also asked it to extend its October 1, 2018 deadline for written submissions t to the end of November. We have not received an answer to that request. Mr. Onley has agreed to meet, in response to that letter.

We always welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

You can send your input to the David Onley AODA Independent Review by emailing [email protected]

There have been 88 days since the work of five Ontario accessibility Standards Development Committees was frozen by the Ontario Government, pending briefing the new Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho. We have called on the Ford Government to lift its freeze on their work so they can get back to their work in progress, developing recommendations on which disability barriers need to be removed and prevented in the important areas of education, employment, health care, and information and communication.

MORE DETAILS

Text of CBC Radio Thunder Bay News February 20, 2012

Originally posted at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/story/2012/02/20/tbay-human-rights.html Human Rights Review Bypasses Thunder Bay

February 21, 2012 Advocate

Organizers cite lack of interest
CBC News Posted: Feb 20, 2012

An advocacy group is upset Andrew Pinto, the head of an Ontario Human Rights review, is bypassing Thunder Bay. (Pinto Wray James LLP)

A lawyer has been appointed by the Attorney-General to consult the public and visit cities across the province for feedback about the way human rights are enforced.

He decided not to travel to Thunder Bay due to a lack of interest.

David Lepofsky is the chair of the lobby group, Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act Alliance. He blamed poor marketing and poor communication for lack of interest.

“This review has done an extremely paltry job of publicizing the availability of public forum. The only way this has been publicized is by sending an email to a group of people,” he said.

Andrew Pinto is conducting the review. He said he emailed hundreds of organizations with thousands of members. Pinto said enough interest was shown in six other Ontario cities.

“We actually received only one inquiry to come out to Thunder Bay and we have to be responsible for me to fly to Thunder Bay for one meeting,” Pinto said. Pinto said if interest picked up in Thunder Bay, he would set up a consultation in the city.

Text of the April 21, 2014 CBC Thunder Bay Radio News Report

CBC NEWS April 21, 2014
Thunder Bay
Originally posted at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/progress-of-ontario-s-disabilities-act-being-reviewed-1.2616503 Progress of Ontario’s disabilities act being reviewed

Mayo Moran, University of Toronto’s law dean, holding public consultations across Ontario

CBC News Posted: Apr 21, 2014 8:02 AM ET| Last Updated: Apr 21, 2014 8:02 AM ET

An independent reviewer is checking on the progress of making Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.
An independent reviewer is checking on the progress of making Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.

The dean of law at the University of Toronto is holding public consultations across the province and online.

Mayo Moran was recently in Thunder Bay hearing from the public.

Tracy Hurlbert, who uses a wheelchair to get around, was one of several people with various disabilities who gathered at the conference at a Thunder Bay hotel last week.

Hurlbert made a presentation noting the barriers of getting public transportation, for example.

University of Toronto Dean of Law, Mayo Moran, is reviewing progress of Ontario disabilities act. (Nicole Ireland/CBC News)

The accessible transit service in Thunder Bay requires users to pre-book their trips, including doctor’s appointments, days in advance.

“Why should we be expected to … book our rides and our lives a week in advance?” Hurlbert said. “Do you know today that you’re going to get sick next Tuesday? Of course not. Neither do I.”

Hurlbert told the hearing she missed two funerals because she couldn’t give enough notice to book the accessible transit service.

Hurlbert said there are smaller, everyday barriers, too. Hurlbert said many establishments, such as restaurants, call themselves accessible because they have wheelchair-friendly entrances. But that’s where the accessibility ends, she said.

“Imagine going to a restaurant, eating your meal, only to discover that there are no washrooms,” she said. “The bathrooms are in the basement or they’re upstairs.”

Toronto law dean Moran said concerns like Hurlbert’s have come up before.

“I think what that points to is … the really significant need for awareness and for people to have training that helps them think through everything that would matter to someone who doesn’t have the same mobility that they do,” Moran said.

Moran said people are also worried about how even whether the accessibility law will be enforced.

“It’s like having a hockey game without any referee. You need enforcement; proper, court-appointed enforcement,” said Eugene Lefrancois, who became disabled while working in forestry more than 25 years ago.

There will be online consultation Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m ET. It’s open to anyone in Ontario who wants to participate.

Another live meeting is scheduled in Toronto on April 29.



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David Onley Independent Review of Ontario’s Disabilities Act Cancels Its Thunder Bay Public Hearings Due to Poor Enrollment, After the Review Poorly Publicized these Hearings- Northern Ontario Deserves Better


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

David Onley Independent Review of Ontario’s Disabilities Act Cancels Its Thunder Bay Public Hearings Due to Poor Enrollment, After the Review Poorly Publicized these Hearings– Northern Ontario Deserves Better

September 17, 2018

          SUMMARY

Here is the latest concern regarding the Third Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act which is now being conducted by David Onley. According to the David Onley AODA Independent Review’s website, its scheduled September 13, 2018 Thunder Bay public hearing was cancelled “due to low registration”. That website states this at http://www.aodareview2018.ca/how-to-participate/events/

“Public Consultation – Thunder Bay, Ontario

Location: Lakehead University

Room: Conference Room A & the Fireside Lounge

Address: 955 Oliver Rd, Thunder Bay, ON, P7B 5E1

Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018

Time: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Event canceled due to low registration. Stay tuned for a Northern Virtual Consultation. If you would like to receive the information directly about the consultation please email [email protected]

We call on the David Onley AODA Independent Review to re-schedule its cancelled Thunder Bay public hearing, and to properly publicize it. It is not good enough to tell people in and around Thunder Bay that they can only have input online. We say the same regarding its earlier consultation hearings elsewhere, which were not properly publicized.

The reason why more people did not sign up for the Thunder Bay public hearing is no doubt because it was so poorly publicized. We have seen nothing from the Ontario Government or the David Onley AODA Independent Review to publicize it, beyond a short posting on the Onley Independent Review’s website. When the AODA Alliance heard about this upcoming event via the grapevine, we took it upon ourselves to publicize it via our email Update and social media network.

Neither the Onley AODA Independent Review nor the Ontario Government notified us about any of the Review’s hearings, nor asked the AODA Alliance to publicize them to our many supporters and followers. We have arguably done more to publicize this event than has either the Onley Independent Review or the Ontario Government.

The AODA Alliance has earlier made public its serious concerns about the David Onley AODA Independent Review’s insufficient publicity of its public hearings. We did so in our August 24, 2018 AODA Alliance Update, and in our September 11, 2018 letter to the David Onley AODA Independent Review.

Sadly, history is repeating itself. In 2012, the Ontario Government appointed Toronto lawyer Andrew Pinto to conduct an Independent Review of Bill 107. That Ontario legislation had privatized the enforcement of human rights in Ontario. The Pinto Human Rights Independent Review did a similarly poor job of publicizing public hearings in Thunder Bay. The Pinto Review then cancelled its Thunder Bay public hearing due to poor registration for it.

Back in 2012, the AODA Alliance swung into action when we learned of that Independent Review’s cancellation of its Thunder Bay hearing. We brought the story to the Thunder Bay media. The media covered this. Below we set out the February 20, 2012 report on CBC Thunder Bay Radio.

The resulting media coverage and attention led the Andrew Pinto Human Rights Independent Review to back down and agree to schedule a new public hearing in Thunder Bay. It went ahead. From what we heard, it had a good turnout.

We have every reason to believe that people with disabilities in Thunder Bay would like to have their say, in person, face to face, with the David Onley AODA Independent Review. They should be able to let him know what disability accessibility barriers they still face, and whether they think Ontario is now on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. They should have a chance to say face-to-face whether they think the Ontario Government is doing a good enough job of enforcing AODA, and whether Ontario’s accessibility standards and the Ontario Building Code are sufficiently strong and comprehensive.

The last AODA Independent Review, conducted in 2014 by Mayo Moran, did a better job of publicizing its consultation hearings. It held a successful public hearing in Thunder Bay in the spring of 2014. Below we set out the text of the April 21, 2014 CBC Thunder Bay Radio news report on that successful consultation.

When we wrote the David Onley AODA Independent Review on September 11, 2018, we also asked it to extend its October 1, 2018 deadline for written submissions t to the end of November. We have not received an answer to that request. Mr. Onley has agreed to meet, in response to that letter.

We always welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

You can send your input to the David Onley AODA Independent Review by emailing [email protected]

There have been 88 days since the work of five Ontario accessibility Standards Development Committees was frozen by the Ontario Government, pending briefing the new Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho. We have called on the Ford Government to lift its freeze on their work so they can get back to their work in progress, developing recommendations on which disability barriers need to be removed and prevented in the important areas of education, employment, health care, and information and communication.

          MORE DETAILS

Text of CBC Radio Thunder Bay News February 20, 2012

Originally posted at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/story/2012/02/20/tbay-human-rights.html

Human Rights Review Bypasses Thunder Bay

February 21, 2012 Advocate

Organizers cite lack of interest

CBC News Posted: Feb 20, 2012

An advocacy group is upset Andrew Pinto, the head of an Ontario Human Rights review, is bypassing Thunder Bay. (Pinto Wray James LLP)

A lawyer has been appointed by the Attorney-General to consult the public and visit cities across the province for feedback about the way human rights are enforced.

He decided not to travel to Thunder Bay due to a lack of interest.

David Lepofsky is the chair of the lobby group, Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act Alliance. He blamed poor marketing and poor communication for lack of interest.

“This review has done an extremely paltry job of publicizing the availability of public forum. The only way this has been publicized is by sending an email to a group of people,” he said.

Andrew Pinto is conducting the review. He said he emailed hundreds of organizations with thousands of members. Pinto said enough interest was shown in six other Ontario cities.

“We actually received only one inquiry to come out to Thunder Bay and we have to be responsible for me to fly to Thunder Bay for one meeting,” Pinto said. Pinto said if interest picked up in Thunder Bay, he would set up a consultation in the city.

Text of the April 21, 2014 CBC Thunder Bay Radio News Report

CBC NEWS April 21, 2014

Thunder Bay

Originally posted at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/progress-of-ontario-s-disabilities-act-being-reviewed-1.2616503

Progress of Ontario’s disabilities act being reviewed

Mayo Moran, University of Toronto’s law dean, holding public consultations across Ontario

CBC News Posted: Apr 21, 2014 8:02 AM ET| Last Updated: Apr 21, 2014 8:02 AM ET

An independent reviewer is checking on the progress of making Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.

An independent reviewer is checking on the progress of making Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.

The dean of law at the University of Toronto is holding public consultations across the province and online.

Mayo Moran was recently in Thunder Bay hearing from the public.

Tracy Hurlbert, who uses a wheelchair to get around, was one of several people with various disabilities who gathered at the conference at a Thunder Bay hotel last week.

Hurlbert made a presentation noting the barriers of getting public transportation, for example.

University of Toronto Dean of Law, Mayo Moran, is reviewing progress of Ontario disabilities act. (Nicole Ireland/CBC News)

The accessible transit service in Thunder Bay requires users to pre-book their trips, including doctor’s appointments, days in advance.

“Why should we be expected to … book our rides and our lives a week in advance?” Hurlbert said. “Do you know today that you’re going to get sick next Tuesday? Of course not. Neither do I.”

Hurlbert told the hearing she missed two funerals because she couldn’t give enough notice to book the accessible transit service.

Hurlbert said there are smaller, everyday barriers, too. Hurlbert said many establishments, such as restaurants, call themselves accessible because they have wheelchair-friendly entrances. But that’s where the accessibility ends, she said.

“Imagine going to a restaurant, eating your meal, only to discover that there are no washrooms,” she said. “The bathrooms are in the basement or they’re upstairs.”

Toronto law dean Moran said concerns like Hurlbert’s have come up before.

“I think what that points to is … the really significant need for awareness and for people to have training that helps them think through everything that would matter to someone who doesn’t have the same mobility that they do,” Moran said.

Moran said people are also worried about how — even whether — the accessibility law will be enforced.

“It’s like having a hockey game without any referee. You need enforcement; proper, court-appointed enforcement,” said Eugene Lefrancois, who became disabled while working in forestry more than 25 years ago.

There will be online consultation Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m ET. It’s open to anyone in Ontario who wants to participate.

Another live meeting is scheduled in Toronto on April 29.



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