Send Us Feedback on the Draft AODA Alliance Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard – and – Results of The December 3 Celebration of the 25th Birthday of the Grassroots AODA Movement


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Send Us Feedback on the Draft AODA Alliance Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard – and – Results of The December 3 Celebration of the 25th Birthday of the Grassroots AODA Movement

December 5, 2019

          SUMMARY

After a very busy year, this may be our last AODA Alliance Update until the New Year. It is full of important news for you.

We thank one and all for your ongoing support for and help with our campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities. We wish one and all a safe and happy holiday season and a barrier-free new year!

1. Send Us Feedback on Our Draft of an AODA Alliance Proposed Framework for the Promised Health Care Accessibility Standard

We have made public a draft of an important brief. We want your feedback on it before we finalize it. This time, we are focusing on disability accessibility barriers in the health care system.

The Ontario Government is working on developing a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It would address barriers in the health care system that patients with disabilities and their support people with disabilities face in the health care system. The Health Care Standards Development Committee is developing recommendations for the Ontario Government on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include.

To help the Health Care Standards Development Committee with this work, we plan to send it an AODA Alliance Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard. We have written a 24-page draft of this Framework. We are eager for your feedback. This draft is the result of a great deal of work. It builds on feedback that our supporters have shared with us. We’ve gotten tremendous help from the ARCH Disability Law Centre and from a wonderful team of volunteers who are law students at the Osgoode Hall Law School.

Please download and read our draft of this Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard. You can download it in an accessible MS Word format by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Dec-2-2019-AODA-Alliance-Draft-of-Proposed-Framework-for-Health-Care-Accessibility-Standard.docx

Send us your feedback by December 20, 2019 by emailing us at [email protected]

Also, please encourage your friends and family members to share their feedback with us. We aim to use that feedback to finalize this Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard and submit it to the Ontario Government and the Health Care Standards Development Committee in early January 2020.

Here are the headings in this draft Framework:

  1. What Should the Long-term Objectives of the Health Care Accessibility Standard Be?
  1. A Vision of An Accessible Health Care System
  1. General provisions that the Health Care Accessibility Standard Should Include
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and Their Support People with Disabilities to Know about The Health Care Services Available to Them, about Available Disability-Related Supports and Accommodations, about Important Information Regarding Their Diagnosis and Treatment, and How to Access Them
  1. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Get to Health Care Services
  1. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Get into and Around Facilities Where Health Care Services are Provided
  1. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Furniture and Floor Plans in Health Care Facilities
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Identify their Disability-Related Accessibility Needs in Advance and Request Accessibility/Accommodation from a Health Care Provider or Facility
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Accessible Diagnostic and Treatment Equipment
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Privacy of Their Health Care Information
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Information and Communication in Connection with Health Care
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Support Services They Need to Access Health Care Services
  1. The Right of Patients and their Support People with Disabilities to Health Care Providers Free from Knowledge and Attitude Barriers Regarding Disabilities
  1. The Right of Patients and Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Complaint Processes at Health Care Providers’ Self-Governing Colleges and To Have Those Colleges Ensure that the Profession They Regulate Are Trained to Meet the Needs of Patients with Disabilities
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Systemic Action and Safeguards to Remove and Prevent Barriers in Ontario’s Health Care System
  1. The Need to Harness the Experience and Expertise of People with Disabilities Working in the Health Care System, To Expedite the Removal and Prevention of Barriers Facing Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities

2. A Very Successful Day to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Grassroots AODA Movement at the Ontario Legislature on December 3, 2019

On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, the International Day of People with Disabilities, we had a very successful day at Queen’s Park to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots movement for the enactment and implementation of strong accessibility legislation in Ontario.

Our 10 a.m. news conference went very well. We are working on getting it posted online. It yielded a detailed article in the December 3, 2019 edition of QP Briefing, an influential news publication about issues at Queen’s Park. We set that article out below.

From 4 to 6 pm, the big birthday party for the grassroots AODA movement was a huge success. Some 200 people signed up to attend. There was also a great turnout of MPPs from all the political parties.

Both the 25th anniversary of the AODA movement and the International Day of People with Disabilities were mentioned several times in the Legislature. Below we set out four key excerpts from the Legislature’s official transcript, called “Hansard.”

Meanwhile, the partying is over and the work must continue. As of today, there have now been 308 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government did not take the opportunity on December 3 to finally announce a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report. This is so even though a spokesperson for Premier Ford’s Accessibility Minister is quoted in the QP Briefing article below as stating that accessibility for people with disabilities is a “top priority.”  We are still waiting.

          MORE DETAILS

QP Briefing December 3, 2019

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, advocate says Ontario “nowhere near close” to accessibility goal

Sneh Duggal

Disability advocate David Lepofsky warned Ontario is “not on schedule” to meet its goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025 as people across the globe marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3.

“That was ambitious, but doable,” Lepofsky said of the goal that is outlined in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, legislation that was passed in 2005.”With just over five years left, we’re not on schedule, we’re nowhere near close.”

The legislation called on the province to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards “in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025.”

The province’s former lieutenant governor David Onley was tasked with reviewing the implementation of the AODA and said in a report tabled earlier this year that the “promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.”

“There’s no question we’ve made progress, but nowhere near the progress we need and nowhere near the progress the law guaranteed to us,” said Lepofsky, who is chair of an advocacy group called the AODA Alliance.

Lepofsky was at Queen’s Park on Tuesday to discuss accessibility issues in the province, although his media availability took on a slightly different format. He was joined by Laura Kirby-McIntosh, president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, who fired numerous questions at Lepofsky about his years of work advocating for people with disabilities. The AODA Alliance also marked the 25th anniversary of the movement its chair helped spearhead on the “enactment and effective implementation of accessibility legislation in Ontario” with a celebration at Queen’s Park.

During his fireside chat with Kirby-McIntosh, Lepofsky noted that barriers remain in many areas for people with disabilities.

“This is a province where many of our buildings are ones that are hard to get into and hard to get around, our public transit systems are full of accessibility barriers,” he said. Lepofsky said the education system meant to serve all students “treats students with disabilities as second-class citizens,” and that the health-care system is “full of barriers” such as getting accessible information about a diagnosis, treatment or medication.

Lepofsky said while the provincial government had a good start at trying to implement the legislation after it was passed in 2005 until about 2011, progress started to slow down “to a virtual snail’s pace.”

“And the new government of Doug Ford, rather than speed things up, slowed things down,” Lepofsky said. He said while he appreciates statements of support from the government, “this province right now has no plan and this current government has no plan to get us to full accessibility by 2025.”

As part of the implementation of the AODA, various committees were struck and tasked with proposing standards that could be turned into regulation in areas like transportation and customer service.

Lepofsky criticized the Progressive Conservative government for “months of delay” in getting some of the committee work underway. He’s involved in one of the committees and said work is being done.

Raymond Cho, the minister responsible for seniors and accessibility, said earlier this year that the government had resumed the Employment Standards Development Committee and the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee last fall.

“I am proud to say that these committees have already met and completed their work,” the minister said at the time.

He said the government also resumed the education and health standard development committees in March, and that the chairs “have been engaged with the ministry and are working to develop new work-plans.”

In response to a query during question period from NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky about when the government would put forward a “comprehensive plan to improve the lives of people living with disabilities,” Cho thanked Onley for his report and pinned some blame on the previous Liberal government.

“The previous government had 14 years to improve the AODA. Mr. Onley said in his report that they did so little,” Cho said on Tuesday.

“The government knows that a lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone. Making Ontario accessible is a journey. This government will continue to take an all-of-government approach to tearing down barriers,” he said.

Pooja Parekh, Cho’s spokesperson, said the government sees accessibility as a “top priority.” A lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone, and it cannot be completed overnight,” Parekh said. “A key part of this journey includes recognizing that there are 2.6 million people in the province that have a disability.”

She pointed to provincial initiatives focused on accessibility such as the EnAbling Change Program, which funds not-for-profit disability and industry associations “to develop practical tools and guides to help communities and businesses understand the benefits of accessibility.”

“As well, families will experience clearer and more transparent processes when requesting service animals accompany their children to school, no matter where they live in Ontario,” Parekh noted. “The updated elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum reflects the diversity of Ontario students of all abilities.”

In May, NDP MPP Joel Harden proposed a motion in the House calling on the government to “release a plan of action on accessibility in response to David Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.” The motion was struck down by the government.

Speaking just before question period on Tuesday, Lepofsky said he wants to see the provincial government develop a roadmap “on how to get us to full accessibility” and ensure that the government “doesn’t make things worse.”

“We want them to adopt a strategy now to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers,” he said.

Lepofsky also raised concerns about policies that he feels could post a threat to the safety of those with disabilities. He pointed to the government’s recent announcement to launch a pilot project that would let municipalities allow the use of electric scooters.

He said a priority for him going forward will be on “making sure that the current provincial government doesn’t create a new series of barriers to our accessibility and our personal safety.”

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday, the NDP and disability advocates called on the government to boost funding for adults with disabilities, with Gretzky saying the province is facing a “crisis in developmental services.”

Christine Wood, press secretary for Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Todd Smith, said the province is providing $2.57 billion in annual funding for developmental services. Wood previously noted that “adults with developmental disabilities may be eligible for funding from the Ontario Disability Support Program and the Passport program.

The Passport program provides funding to adults with a development disability for community classes, hiring a support worker, respite for caregivers or developing skills. Wood noted that “the maximum annual funding an individual can receive through the Passport program is up to $40,250.”

But Gretzky said many young adults face a wait-list for the program and that not every individual receives the maximum amount of support. She said that individuals “fall through the gap” in terms of services when they turn 18.

“The biggest gap that families are facing now and individuals is the fact that they lose all supports and services once an individual celebrates an 18th birthday,” said Gretzky, who introduced a private member’s bill about a year ago that aimed to address this issue. The bill passed second reading and was referred to committee in February.

“As soon as a person is deemed eligible for adult developmental services, they are automatically approved for $5000 in direct funding through the Passport program,” Wood said. “This allows people to purchase services and support. Following the completion of the developmental services application package, additional funding may be provided as it becomes available.”

She said Smith’s ministry works with the education ministry to provide “transition planning” for youth with disabilities who are transitioning to adulthood.

She also noted that since he took over this file, Smith has been “talking to families, adults with developmental disabilities and service providers about how our government can better serve those who depend on us.”

Excerpts from Ontario Hansard for December 3, 2019

Excerpt 1

Mr. Joel Harden: Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and we are very privileged in this House to be joined by some of our country’s leaders on that front. I want to mention the great David Lepofsky, who I just got back from a press conference with, Odelia Bay, and Sarah Jama. Thank you for all the work you do for our country, for our province, and for people with disabilities.

Excerpt 2

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I would like to invite members to the reception hosted by the All Disability Network later this afternoon in room 228. More than 160 representatives from the disability community will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ontario’s provincial accessibility legislation. I encourage all members to join me there.

Excerpt 3

Question Period

Assistance to persons with disabilities

Mr. Joel Harden: My question is to the Premier. Today is the international day for people with disabilities. Living with disabilities in Ontario is getting harder for them. This is a crisis, but the actions of this government so far have been to include a cut—in half—to planned increases to the Ontario Disability Support Program, and take $1 billion out of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. That has made life worse.

We know that there are 16,000 people waiting for supportive housing in Ontario. We know that people with disabilities experience higher rates of homelessness, violence, food insecurity and poverty. We know that from the time children with disabilities are born to the time they grow old, we’re failing them. We’re failing them right now, and we are failing their caregivers, who suffer from ritual burnout right across this province.

On this day, for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, will this Premier keep making things worse, or will he finally turn this around and start making life better for people with disabilities?

Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the member opposite for the question. It’s very important, particularly on this day. But every day, my ministry is working to ensure that we’re improving supports for those living with disabilities, including all of the types of disabilities that the member opposite mentioned. When it comes to developmental disabilities, we are looking into how we are delivering services to those in the DS sector—the developmental services sector—to ensure that we get them what they need.

The previous government, for many, many years, didn’t improve supports for these individuals. That’s why we’re taking an approach where we’re looking across all of the different programs that are available. I’ve met with OASIS—and I know the members opposite were with OASIS when they were here last week—and Community Living and all those different organizations. As a matter of fact, I had a great meeting on Friday with Terri Korkush in my own riding. She is the executive director of Community Visions and Networking in the Quinte region.

There are many different models out there. We’re going to find the ones that work—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.

Supplementary, the member for Windsor West.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Back to the Premier: The fact of the matter is, there have been numerous studies and reports done. You have the Nowhere to Turn report done by the Ombudsman. You have the housing task force report that was put forward. You have the Deputy Premier, who sat on a select committee and made recommendations about the crisis for people with disabilities.

It’s time for you to actually act to help those people. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is important to take stock of how we as a society support those living with a disability to lead full and happy lives. The reality is that living with a disability in Ontario is hard, and the government is not doing nearly enough to make life better for people living with disabilities. Wait times under the Assistive Devices Program, which helps people access things like hearing aids and wheelchairs, have ballooned to as much as six months under this Conservative government, and there is still no response to the Onley report, or any plan for Ontario to achieve full accessibility by 2025. In fact, this government is going backwards when it comes to accessibility.

When will this government put forward a real, comprehensive plan to improve the lives of people living with disabilities?

Hon. Todd Smith: Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I would like to thank the member for raising that question. But first of all, I would like to thank the Honourable David Onley once again for his work with the AODA review. The previous government had 14 years to improve the AODA. Mr. Onley said in his report that they did so little. When I tabled Mr. Onley’s report, I was very pleased to announce the return of the health and education SDCs, which was one of his recommendations.

The government knows that a lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone. Making Ontario accessible is a journey. This government will continue to take an all-of-government approach to tearing down barriers.

Excerpt 4

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I’m honoured to rise today to mark the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Since 1992, countries around the world have observed December 3 as a time to raise awareness about accessibility.

In Ontario, 2.6 million people have a disability.

Mr. Speaker, in Ontario we continue on our journey to make our province accessible. Our government is committed to protecting what matters most to people with disabilities and their families. By helping to remove accessibility barriers, we are empowering everyone to drive their own futures on their own terms.

We are taking a cross-government approach towards accessibility. This includes working with partners in the disability community, business, not-for-profit and broader public sectors. Collaboration is key in making this happen. By working together, we’ll make a positive difference that will impact the daily lives of people with disabilities.

We are helping improve understanding and awareness about accessibility. For example, our EnAbling Change program provides funding to not-for-profit disability and industry associations to develop practical tools and guides to help communities and businesses understand the benefits of accessibility. Many of these free resources are available on a convenient web page at ontario.ca/accessiblebusiness.

One of the resources is a handbook called The Business of Accessibility: How to Make Your Main Street Business Accessibility Smart. It includes helpful tips to help businesses be welcoming to all customers.

When communities and businesses are accessible, everyone benefits. People with disabilities can take part in everyday life, and businesses gain potential talent, customers and higher profits.

As part of our government’s commitment to break down barriers in the built environment, we are providing $1.3 million to the Rick Hansen Foundation to help make buildings more accessible. This accessibility certification program will provide free accessibility ratings of 250 building over two years.

Just two months ago, we announced ways that Ontario is making its education system more accessible. For example, the updated elementary health and physical education curriculum reflects the diversity of Ontario students.

The K-12 and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees resumed their work this fall to provide advice to government on addressing education barriers.

Also, the processes for families requesting service animals to accompany their child to school are clearer.

We’re providing $1.4 billion in funding for the 2019-20 school year to help school boards install accessibility features in learning environments.

Ontario is advancing accessibility. However, we know that a lot of work still needs to be done. It requires changing attitudes about disability.

As we recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I invite my MPP colleagues to join me as we work to bring positive change to the daily lives of people with disabilities.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Responses?

Mr. Joel Harden: This is an important day. This is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. This is also the 25th anniversary, last Friday, of the accessibility movement in Ontario embodied in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

I want to acknowledge at this moment, as the critic for people with disabilities in this province, that that act was created by sympathetic people in this chamber, pushed by disability rights activists in this province and around this country.

I want to salute in particular David Lepofsky, who is here, who is the current chair of the AODA Alliance. I also want to salute my friend Sarah Jama, who is here with the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, and who is one of this country’s tireless campaigners for disability rights.

I also want to salute the legacy of Gary Malkowski, who was part of the NDP government from 1990 to 1995, who was the first deaf parliamentarian in this space, and who championed the case brought in 1994 to have an act that was finally realized in 2005 with the AODA.

I want to salute people like Laura Kirby-McIntosh, her daughter, Clara McIntosh, and her partner, Bruce McIntosh. I want to salute Sherry Caldwell, with the Ontario Disability Coalition. I want to salute Sally Thomas and I want to salute Kenzie McCurdy, folks back in Ottawa Centre who have fought tirelessly to get people in our profession to pay attention to them so that it might get embodied in an act like the AODA.

But let me be perfectly clear: While we celebrate the AODA, we have to acknowledge, as Mr. Onley acknowledged in his latest report, that we are nowhere near meeting our AODA obligations. Let me be very clear: A $1.3-million investment to look into the building infrastructure of 250 buildings in this province is vastly short of what we need.

Speaker, I want us to ask ourselves how we would feel if we showed up for work in this place and there was a sign, real or imagined, that said, “You don’t get to come into this place today”—because what Mr. Onley said in his report is that those signs, real or imagined, exist across this province. They exist for the dyslexic child right now who is sitting in a school somewhere in Ontario and who is being asked or compelled to write or learn in a way that is not accessible to her or to him. They exist right now for people who, as Sarah has mentioned so eloquently, cannot get life-essential devices for them for months—for months—with the absolute gong show that is the Assistive Devices Program. Can you imagine, Speaker, what would happen to any one of us if crucial services essential for our lives spun around in circles—which happens sometimes when power chairs malfunction—or if crucial devices that allow diabetics to live safely and monitor their insulin level weren’t available to us? What would people who are neurotypical or who are the so-called able-bodied have to say? We wouldn’t put up with it.

Let us be honest on this day for the elimination of all barriers: We do not have sufficient urgency. Who are we looking after? Let’s talk about that for a second.

We returned to this sitting of Parliament to find out that there were five new associate ministers created in this government, each of whom got a $22,000 pay increase. We found out that this government set in place an incentive structure for deputy ministers so that if they met their targets, they got a 14% pay increase. We found out that this government is constantly maintaining tax expenditures created under previous Liberal governments that allow people who are affluent to deduct things like Raptors tickets and Maple Leafs tickets as legitimate business expenses.

We are hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars every year lavishing things upon the already affluent. That’s who Ontario currently serves. What can we spare for people with disabilities? Just $1.3 million; platitudes around education while people who are hurting, who are suffering, are not getting the essential things they need in life.

I want to name something as I close my remarks. This government, as were previous governments before it, is stuck in a charity model when they regard people with disabilities. They want to think that they’re compassionate if they do awareness days or if they do boutique announcements. People with disabilities don’t want our charity. They want solidarity. They want an equal opportunity to be themselves. “Free to be,” as the DJNO folks say: That’s what they want, what any of us would want. What it requires is for us to use the resources of this province fairly and make sure that when we talk about people with disabilities, we empower them to be their fullest selves and we do not create a disabling society.

Mr. John Fraser: It’s a pleasure to speak on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We’re encouraged to reflect on how persons with disabilities participate in society and how we evaluate the barriers that lay in front of them. It’s an opportunity to examine what we can do better to help integrate everybody to fully participate in our society in this province. We have a responsibility as legislators to better include all people in this province.

I want to stop now and tell a little story about a woman named Linda Smith. Linda Smith died about four years ago. She was an exceptional person. She lived in Ottawa and she touched the lives of many as a volunteer for politicians of every stripe—and as you can imagine, in Ottawa, that’s a lot of politicians.

Linda had a developmental disability or, as I like to refer to it, an exceptionality. That exceptionality filled her with love and acceptance in abundance. She would often call our office several times a day just to check in, and more than one person has said to me, “You could be having an awful day, and Linda would call and you’d forget all your troubles.” She had that effect.

Linda was a regular at city council meetings, often sitting in the front row until the mayor recognized her. There’s a plaque at city hall now in honour of her. She loved to have her picture taken with everybody; it didn’t matter who. There are hundreds of pictures of her with all sorts of politicians from all over Canada, actually.

Linda would help out with any mundane task. I was thinking about it this year, because she loved to do Christmas cards, especially because it came with lunch: two slices of pizza, with one to take home, and a Pepsi.

She was great company. She loved strawberry milkshakes and ice cream.

Her exceptionality left her vulnerable, and she struggled with how people could be cruel, mean and thoughtless, although she was resilient and was always quick to forgive.

Linda was our friend, and we are the better for it. She had this ability to bring everybody together. It was really quite incredible, and we all miss her.

When I think of Linda, I try to understand what the world looked like through her eyes. I’ve never quite gotten to that point; I’ve seen some of that. As legislators, it’s not just for the Lindas of the world who have a developmental exceptionality—which also gives them a great gift, in another way—but there are people who have disabilities and exceptionalities that are different than that. We need to try to see the world through their eyes and understand the barriers that are in front of them—whether that’s a device they need to be healthy, as the member from Ottawa Centre said, or whether that’s access to a public building, access to a restaurant.

My eyes were opened when my father-in-law became wheelchair-bound and we tried to find a restaurant where we could get him in and out, with an accessible washroom. The definition of “accessible” is definitely different in many different places.

So our job is to see the world through their eyes and then make laws and investments with that in mind.

I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to this today, and all the members’ words in this House.

Let’s remember to try to see the world through their eyes.



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Tomorrow 4-5 pm EST Watch Live Stream of the Birthday Party for the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the AODA Movement at Queen’s Park – and — Toronto Star Publishes Letter to the Editor from the AODA Alliance on the Dangers to People with Disabilities Posed by the Ford Government’s Allowing E-scooters in Ontario


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Tomorrow 4-5 pm EST Watch Live Stream of the Birthday Party for the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the AODA Movement at Queen’s Park – and — Toronto Star Publishes Letter to the Editor from the AODA Alliance on the Dangers to People with Disabilities Posed by the Ford Government’s Allowing E-scooters in Ontario

December 2, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. If You Did Not RSVP to Attend the AODA Movement’s 25th Birthday Party Tomorrow at the Ontario Legislature, You Can Watch the Speeches Streamed Live

Tomorrow from 4 to 6 pm EST will be the big birthday party for the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots non-partisan campaign to get a strong Ontario accessibility law enacted and implemented. It takes place at the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park, as we earlier announced.

If you have not already registered to attend, the event is now filled to capacity. There won’t be room for any others to be added.

However, don’t fret or feel left out! You can watch the speeches live-streamed on the AODA Alliance’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

There will be live captioning of the speeches. They will be available online in real time. You need to open them in a separate window. They will not be streaming with the video itself. For the captions,  visit https://2020archive.1capapp.com/event/marchofdimes/

We will only be streaming the speeches, and not the rest of the event. We expect them to begin around 4:30 pm and to go for no more than 30 minutes. The video will come on the Facebook live stream just before the speeches begin, and not beforehand.

We hope to later archive this video. We hope that it all works as planned. Of course, with technology, we regret that you can never be sure! We will do our best.

To read about the historic events that got this movement started 25 years ago, visit our website.

2. Toronto Star Publishes the ‘AODA Alliances Letter to the Editor on the Dangers that the Ford Government Has Created for Ontarians with Disabilities by Allowing Electric Scooters

The December 1, 2019 Toronto Star published a somewhat edited version of the letter to the editor that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky sent to the newspaper. We set it out below. It addresses the dangers to Ontarians with disabilities that the Ford Government has created by allowing e-scooters in Ontario. We have been raising this issue with the Government and the media over the past three months since the Ford Government made public its troubling intentions.

We will keep up the pressure and invite you to do the same. Please raise these issues you’re your member of the Ontario Legislature. Send your own letter to the editor of the Toronto Star. Email it to [email protected]

3. Will the Ford Government Ever Implement the Onley Report?

There have now been 305 days since the Doug Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that former Lieutenant Governor David Onley conducted. The Government has announced no plans to implement that report. The AODA’s mandatory 2025 deadline for Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities is only 5 years and one month away.

          MORE DETAILS

Toronto Star December 1, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/12/01/ontarios-e-scooter-regulations-will-endanger-people-with-disabilities.html

Letters to the Editor

E-scooter rules will endanger people with disabilities

Rules that make sense, Editorial, Nov. 29

The Star was wrong to applaud the Doug Ford government’s decision to let municipalities pilot electric scooters.

Ford ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns, documented by Ontarians with disabilities, by allowing dangerously fast e-scooters on roads, sidewalks and other places. We and others will be exposed to the danger of serious injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will be unforeseeable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.

As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 km/h. Ford will even let municipalities allow e-scooters on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.

Ford paid lip service to safety and disability accessibility. He created weak, unenforceable provisions to limit how e-scooters are ridden and whether they may be left on sidewalks. He appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. Ontarians with disabilities are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged. We don’t have the resources to fight corporate lobbyists in hundreds of municipalities to fend off these dangers.

David Lepofsky, Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto



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Today Is the AODA Movement’s 25th Birthday! – Watch Our Movement’s Latest Interview on TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Any Time on YouTube – and – Toronto Star Runs Very Troubling Editorial that Wrongly Applauds the Ford Government’s Unleashing Electric Scooters on Ontarians, Despite their Proven Dangers to Safety and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Today Is the AODA Movement’s 25th Birthday! – Watch Our Movement’s Latest Interview on TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Any Time on YouTube – and – Toronto Star Runs Very Troubling Editorial that Wrongly Applauds the Ford Government’s Unleashing Electric Scooters on Ontarians, Despite their Proven Dangers to Safety and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities

November 29, 2019

                    Summary

1. A Quarter-Century of Tenacious Advocacy Started on this Date in 1994

Twenty-five years ago today, a group of some twenty people with disabilities spontaneously gathered in a meeting room at Queen’s Park, feeling that they had to do something. The “something” that they did was to create a new and enduring grassroots non-partisan movement to campaign for strong accessibility legislation in Ontario.

Twenty-five years later, we have a lot to show for our efforts, but a lot more that we need to accomplish. Next Tuesday, on December 3, 2019, the International Day for People with Disabilities, we will have more to say about the past 25 years and about the future that we must create. For today, however, we encourage you to remember–or learn for the first time–about how it all got started and to reflect on where we need to go.

You can read about the events that led up to the birth of Ontario’s enduring disability accessibility movement by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/come-to-a-birthday-party-on-december-3-2019-the-international-day-for-people-with-disabilities-at-queens-park-to-celebrate-the-25th-anniversary-of-the-birth-of-the-non-partisan-grassroots-movemen/

You can watch a captioned one-hour video of the celebration we held on November 28, 2014, the 20th anniversary of the birth of the AODA movement

2. Watch on YouTube the Interview on TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Reflecting on the 25th Anniversary of the AODA Movement

Did you miss the live broadcast of the November 28, 2019, edition of TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin”? It included an interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and expert accessibility consultant Thea Kurdi. No worries! You can watch it anytime on YouTube. Encourage others to do the same.

We understand that TVO typically takes a few days to upload its captioning for these interviews. It may be available now only with YouTube’s less reliable automated captioning.

Encourage others to watch the video, including your Member of the Ontario Legislature. Encourage your local media to cover this too! That interview was taped the day before the Ford Government announced its new regulation permitting electric scooters in Ontario, despite their proven dangers to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities.

3. A Painful Irony on Our 25th Birthday! A Very Disturbing Toronto Star Editorial Today Applauds the Ford Government’s Unleashing Dangerous E-scooters on Ontarians When it Should Have Condemned Them

Regrettably, we can never rest when it comes to advocating for accessibility for people with disabilities! It is a painful though undoubtedly an inadvertent irony that today, the 25th anniversary of the AODA movement, is when the Toronto Star ran a very troubling editorial, set out below. It applauds the Ford Government’s decision to unleash e-scooters on Ontario, despite their dangers to safety and accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. This is a very disturbing departure from the Star’s long and commendable tradition of strongly supporting our accessibility cause.

We encourage everyone to write a letter to the editor at the Toronto Star to take issue with this editorial. Below we set out the letter to the editor that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has already sent to the Toronto Star. We hope the Star will include it in both the hard copy and online version of the paper.

If you want ideas of what to say, check out the AODA Alliance’s November 28, 2019 news release on this topic. Letters can be emailed to the Star by writing [email protected]

We also set out below the November 28, 2019 report in the Toronto Star on the Ford Government’s e-scooter announcement, and the November 27, 2019 report on this topic in the Mississauga News. The Star made a general reference to disability concerns, while the Mississauga News quoted the AODA Alliance.

We will keep up pressure on the Ford Government to get them to rein in its e-scooter plans so that the safety and accessibility of people with disabilities are protected. We have not yet heard back regarding our request earlier this week to meet with Premier Ford. We will also press local municipalities not to expose their communities and people with disabilities who live in them to the safety and accessibility dangers that e-scooters have been proven to pose.

As of this 25th anniversary of our campaign, 302 days have passed since the Ontario Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that was conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are waiting for the Ontario Government to announce a plan to implement that report.

We always welcome your feedback. Write us today or any day at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

The Toronto Star November 29, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/11/28/the-ford-government-e-scooter-pilot-gets-better.html

Editorial

Rules that make sense

The Ford government made the right decision this week in giving municipalities the final say on whether to allow two-wheeled electric scooters on their roadways and what local rules rental companies must follow.

That gives cities like Toronto and Mississauga time to come up with bylaws that can, hopefully, balance the needs of those who want to use e-scooters to commute around town and those who have serious safety concerns about them.

The government got it right, too, for the most part, on the rules the vehicles must operate under in all jurisdictions.

It sensibly reduced the maximum allowable speed to 24 km/h, down from the 32 km/h it originally proposed.

Other smart rules include: no riders under 16, mandatory helmets for riders under 18, no passengers and mandatory bells and lights.

It’s individual cities that will now have to decide the thorny issue of where the scooters can be used – roads, bike lanes or sidewalks. And, just as crucially, where the dockless scooters can be parked.

In cities around the world where e-scooter rentals have already been rolled out, there’s been considerable controversy over the devices that have a tendency to be strewn all over sidewalks and paths, creating tripping hazards. (Montreal has tried to get around that problem by designating parking spots where scooters must be left.)

The province still missed the mark on one major point: Its e-scooter pilot project, which begins Jan. 1, is five years long.

That’s too long considering the problems and safety concerns that have cropped up elsewhere.

Ontario needs to review the results of the pilot sooner than that. And the province and cities need to be ready to pull the plug if e-scooters prove to be a serious danger to pedestrians, especially those with disabilities, and to the users themselves.

Letter to the Toronto Star Editor from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

Via email: [email protected]

November 29, 2019

The Star was wrong to applaud Doug Ford’s decision to let municipalities pilot electric scooters (Editorial Rules that make sense.) Ford ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns documented by Ontarians with disabilities, by allowing dangerously fast e-scooters on roads, sidewalks and other places. We and others will be exposed to the danger of serious injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will be unforeseeable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.

As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 KPH. Ford even lets municipalities allow e-scooters on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.

Ford says one of his priorities is to “build safer communities.” He claims this regulation makes it easier for people to get around. Yet rental e-scooters, strewn in public places, do the opposite for people with disabilities.

Ford paid lip service to safety and disability accessibility. He created weak, unenforceable provisions to limit how e-scooters are ridden and whether they may be left on sidewalks.

Ford appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. The regulation reads as if their corporate lobbyists wrote it.

We oppose e-scooters. If permitted, provincial laws should require each e-scooter and driver to have a license, a helmet (even if over age 17) and insurance. If an e-scooter is left in a public place like a sidewalk, it should be forfeited and confiscated. E-scooter rental companies should be liable for injuries e-scooters cause, and caps on numbers of e-scooters.

Ontarians with disabilities are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged. We don’t have the resources to fight corporate lobbyists in hundreds of municipalities, to fend off these dangers.

David Lepofsky CM, O.Ont

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Visiting Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School

The Toronto Star, November 28, 2019

News

Ontario to allow e-scooters on streets in 5-year trial

But province leaves final say to municipalities

David Rider Toronto Star Chief

Electric scooters are quietly gliding closer to becoming a transportation option on GTA streets.

The Ontario government on Wednesday released “broad rules and requirements” for e-scooters, including maximum speed and helmet use, as part of a five-year pilot project beginning Jan. 1.

But the province is leaving the final say to Toronto and other municipalities on allowing and regulating e-scooter sharing services that are slowly spreading across Canada after rapid rollout across the world, including cities that have had them and later banned them.

“It is now up to the municipalities to pass bylaws to allow their use and determine where they can operate most safely in each unique environment,” the transportation ministry said in a new release.

In a video posted on Twitter, MPP Vijay Thanigasalam, parliamentary secretary to Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, rolls up to the camera and calls the devices “a cool new way for people to get from point A to point B in their communities.”

Provincial rules include: no riders under age 16; mandatory helmet use for riders under 18; top speed of 24 km/h, down from 32 km/h in earlier provincial documents; no passengers; a mandatory horn, bell, white light in front and red light in back.

Rules for cities to decide, if they allow the service, include whether riders can go on roads, sidewalks or bike lanes, and the thorny question of where people can leave them when they walk away.

Lime and Bird, the world’s two biggest e-scooter sharing services in the world, are eager to add the biggest city in Canada to their service maps. They

both welcomed the Ontario announcement, saying they await detailed regulations and hope to have Torontonians whizzing around by next spring.

“What Ontario is saying is consistent with other provinces, and the regulatory change will enable cities in Ontario to proceed if they wish to have scooter-share operations in 2020,” said Chris Schafer, a Lime Canada senior executive.

Bird Canada chief executive Stewart Lyons told the Star: “Overall we’re extremely excited that the government is taking this first step for Ontario following in the footsteps of where Alberta and Quebec have gone,” with pilot projects underway on the streets of Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal.

“The feedback from (Toronto) city staff and councillors has been positive, that they want to bring the scooter program to Toronto for next spring.”

At Toronto City Hall, however, Mayor John Tory said his city won’t be rushed into anything. Last month city council voted to ban the e-scooter services until city staff release a report, with recommendations on e-scooter rules, early in 2020.

Tory said his main concerns are safety – Toronto is already dealing with a spike in pedestrian and cyclist deaths, and Calgary saw a rush of people to hospital emergency wards after e-scooters debuted there – and “clutter if there aren’t rules in place and provisions to ensure they are stored properly when not in use.”

Advocates for disabled Ontarians have voiced concerns about e-scooters being left on sidewalks and other places that could block access. The Ontario NDP blasted Premier Doug Ford’s government for failing to address their feedback in the guidelines released Wednesday.

Councillor Paul Ainslie, head of the Toronto’s licensing committee that will receive the e-scooter report, said: “I would appreciate the province working on a number of other areas first – housing, poverty reduction, red-light cameras.”

Mississauga city council in late October tasked staff with a report to come back with recommendations on e-scooter regulations next year.

“Staff are currently looking at a variety of options and models including publicly owned and operated, privately owned and operated as well as mixed publicly and privately owned and operated programs,” said a statement from Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s office.

“We look forward to exploring how we can expand transportation options for our residents while ensuring road safety remains a top priority.”

Edmonton and Calgary’s pilot projects share similar rules, with no helmet requirement and speeds capped at 20 km/h. But Calgary users can glide along sidewalks, something forbidden in Edmonton.

Montreal adopted more rules than the Alberta cities, including designated parking spots where e-scooters must be left, mandatory helmet usage and no sidewalk riding. Authorities there have expressed dismay with riders ignoring the helmet rule.

The e-scooter craze first exploded in the U.S., sometimes in cities caught by surprise when the devices appeared, and quickly spread internationally as a fun and relatively inexpensive way to take short urban trips.

But there has been a backlash and rule tightening, as well as bans in some places. Germany, where scooter regulations passed in June, has reported serious

injuries, impaired riders and one user following his GPS onto a highway.

The council for Elizabeth, N.J., on Tuesday voted to immediately end that city’s e-scooter pilot project after a 16-year-old riding a scooter was struck and killed by a tow truck.

Mississauga News November 27, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.mississauga.com/news-story/9738260-mississauga-considering-how-to-encourage-bike-e-bike-and-e-scooter-share-systems/

Mississauga considering how to encourage bike, e-bike and e-scooter share systems

Province starts 5-year e-scooter pilot in 2020

NEWS Nov 27, 2019 by Steve Cornwell, Mississauga News

Next summer, Mississauga residents and visitors might have a few more options to get around.

City council directed its staff to look at how Mississauga can encourage “micromobility” sharing systems, including e-scooters, e-bikes and bicycles.

The city hopes that the devices could help residents and visitors travel short distances in the downtown core, along the future Hurontario LRT and in Mississauga neighbourhoods like Meadowvale and Lisgar.

According to Matthew Sweet, the city’s active transportation manager, all vehicles, docking systems and operational models are under consideration.

We’re not prescribing the type of vehicle or device at this point,” he said. “Not least because the industry is so fast moving and changing.”

Sweet said the most important aspect for the city is not the device, how it’s parked or whether it’s publicly or privately owned.

“Really the first thing you should think about is how do these systems meet the city’s goals,” he said.

According to a staff report, micromobility systems align with City of Mississauga goals including promoting environmental sustainability and equity by “increasing access to viable transportation options for all.”

The move comes as the province is set to start a five-year pilot allowing e-scooters on Ontario roadways. Municipalities can opt-in to allowing e-scooters after Jan. 1, 2020. Bikes and e-bikes are already allowed on roadways in Ontario.

E-scooters abandoned on sidewalks, roadways and other undesignated parking spots have been an issue in several cities where they’ve launched in North America, including Calgary and Edmonton.

Accessibility advocate and lawyer David Lepofsky said that e-scooters are a “blight” wherever they are deployed and have been a consistent tripping hazard for people with disabilities.

“(E-scooter shares) are a brilliant business model for a company that wants free parking at the taxpayer’s expense,” he said.

Lepofsky is also the volunteer chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and the group has asked the province to forbid rental e-scooters.

The city staff report from August 2019 recommends that the city accept micromobility sharing systems be introduced in phases and that bikes and e-bikes be favoured over e-scooters for now.

City staff is anticipating the next phase of the micromobility study will be finalized in June 2020.



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Is the Ford Government Obeying the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act? – And Other News from the Accessibility Front


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Is the Ford Government Obeying the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act? – And Other News from the Accessibility Front

November 25, 2019

          SUMMARY

Here is a sampling of news from the grassroots of Ontario’s non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities.

1. Two Illustrations of How the Ford Government Has Not Obeyed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

For years, the Ontario Government has proclaimed that it is leading Ontario by its example when it comes to achieving accessibility for people with disabilities. Yet is the Government itself fully obeying Ontario’s key accessibility law, the AODA? We here highlight two ways in which the Ontario Government is not now in compliance with the AODA:

First, as far as it has announced, the Government has not fulfilled its mandatory and important duty under s. 9 of the AODA to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard that was enacted in December 2012. We have not even seen a public posting inviting people to apply to serve on that Standards Development Committee.

In our July 17, 2018 letter to Ontario’s Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho, we alerted the minister to this obligation. Fully 16 months later, we have seen no action on this. In that letter, we identified this as a priority for the minister:

“4. Get a Standards Development Committee appointed to develop recommendations on accessibility standards needed to address barriers in the built environment, in residential housing, and in existing buildings whether or not they are undergoing major renovations.

One effective way to do this would be to fulfil the Government’s overdue obligation under the AODA, which the previous Government failed to fulfil, to appoint a new Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on any revisions needed to the 2012 provisions of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation which address disability barriers in public spaces.”

That review had to be started within five years, i.e. by December 2017. Both the previous Wynne Government and the current Doug Ford Government have each failed to do so. Section 9 of the AODA provides:

“(9)   Within five years after an accessibility standard is adopted by regulation or at such earlier time as the Minister may specify, the standards development committee responsible for the industry, sector of the economy or class of persons or organizations to which the standard applies shall,

(a)    re-examine the long-term accessibility objectives determined under subsection (2);

(b)    if required, revise the measures, policies, practices and requirements to be implemented on or before January 1, 2025 and the time-frame for their implementation;

(c)    develop another proposed accessibility standard containing such additions or modifications to the existing accessibility standard as the standards development committee deems advisable and submit it to the Minister for the purposes of making the proposed standard public and receiving comments in accordance with section 10; and

(d)    make such changes it considers advisable to the proposed accessibility standard developed under clause (c) based on the comments received under section 10 and provide the Minister with the subsequent proposed accessibility standard.”

Second, the Ford Government is not obeying the mandatory requirement to have an Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) in place. The previous Government had appointed an ASAC. It met over the years since the AODA was enacted in 2005.

However, there has been no meeting of ASAC since the Ford Government took office in June 2018. At present, according to the Government’s website, there is only one member left on ASAC and no chair or vice chair of that Council.

Section 31 of the AODA provides:

“Accessibility Standards Advisory Council

  1. (1)   The Minister shall establish a council to be known in English as the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council and in French as Conseil consultatif des normes d’accessibilité.

Members

(2)   A majority of the members of the Council shall be persons with disabilities.

Remuneration and expenses

(3)   The Minister may pay the members of the Council the remuneration and the reimbursement for expenses that the Lieutenant Governor in Council determines.

Duties

(4)   At the direction of the Minister, the Council shall advise the Minister on,

(a)    the process for the development of accessibility standards and the progress made by standards development committees in the development of proposed accessibility standards and in achieving the purposes of this Act;

(b)    accessibility reports prepared under this Act;

(c)    programs of public information related to this Act; and

(d)    all other matters related to the subject-matter of this Act that the Minister directs.

Public consultation

(5)   At the direction of the Minister, the Council shall hold public consultations in relation to the matters referred to in subsection (4).

Reports

(6)   The Council shall give the Minister such reports as the Minister may request.”

Of these two clear contraventions of the AODA, the first is by far the most important. However, the Government should never disobey our accessibility legislation, especially at a time when Ontario keeps slipping further and further behind the AODA’s mandatory goal of becoming an accessible province for people with disabilities by 2025.

2. Act Quickly to RSVP to Come to the December 3, 2019 Birthday Party to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the Grassroots Non-Partisan Campaign for Strong Ontario Accessibility Legislation

Available spaces are quickly filling up to attend the December 3, 2019 birthday party at Queen’s Park to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth in that very building of the non-partisan grassroots campaign for strong accessibility legislation in Ontario for over 2 million people with disabilities. For information about this event, and how to RSVP, and for a summary of the historic events on November 29, 1994, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/come-to-a-birthday-party-on-december-3-2019-the-international-day-for-people-with-disabilities-at-queens-park-to-celebrate-the-25th-anniversary-of-the-birth-of-the-non-partisan-grassroots-movemen/

Once the maximum of 150 people is reached, anyone who RSVPs will get a spot on the waiting list.

3. The Doug Ford Government Has Still Not Announced a Plan to Implement the Report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA

A total of 298 days or almost ten months have now passed since the Doug Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Onley Report found that the Government’s implementation and enforcement of the AODA has been far too sluggish and ineffective. The Ford Government has still announced no plan to implement that report, nor has it said that it will do so.

4. A Successful Public Forum on Accessibility Was Held Earlier this Month in the County of Essex

On November 5, 2019, the County of Essex and its Accessibility Advisory Committee held a very successful public forum on disability accessibility. It focused on practical things that can be done to make accessibility a reality for people with disabilities.

Below we set out news coverage of that event. We were delighted that in attendance were the mayor or deputy mayor of several local municipalities, as well as people with disabilities, senior municipal public servants and representatives of disability community organizations. We encourage other local communities to organize similar events. We’d be happy to help and to provide a speaker if possible.

5. Carla Qualtrough is Back as the Minister Responsible for Implementing and Enforcing the New Accessible Canada Act

After the recent federal election, Prime Minister Trudeau has announced his new Cabinet. He has again appointed Carla Qualtrough to serve as the federal minister responsible to lead the implementation and enforcement of the new Accessible Canada Act. Her title has been modified. She is now Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

We congratulate Minister Qualtrough on her new appointment. We look forward to working with her on our proposal which we announced on November 18, 2019 , that a short bill be introduced into Parliament to better enable the Accessible Canada Act to achieve its important goals.

          MORE DETAILS

The Windsor Star November 6, 2019

Originally posted at https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/accessibility-advocate-david-lepofsky-urging-people-to-highlight-access-deficiencies

Accessibility advocate David Lepofsky urging people to highlight access deficiencies

CHRIS THOMPSON, WINDSOR STAR Updated: November 5, 2019

David Lepofsky, a prominent champion of accessibility and the rights of persons with disabilities, speaks at an event hosted by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee at the Civic Centre, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Accessibility advocate David Lepofsky came to Essex Tuesday to promote a Twitter campaign aimed at affecting change by identifying barriers to mobility for the disabled.

Lepofsky, chairman of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Alliance, spoke to about 60 people at the Essex Civic Centre.

“We have made progress, but we are not on schedule for accessibility in 2025, nowhere close,” said Lepofsky. “Our accessibility and our rights should not be dismissed as red tape.”

Lepofsky is encouraging all Ontarians to use social media to expose accessibility barriers with photographs using the hashtags #DialDoug and #AODAFail.

Lepofsky is calling on the Progressive Conservative government of Doug Ford to make the province fully accessible for the 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

He said the disabled community is “the minority of everyone” because you either have a disability, know someone with a disability or will get a disability later in life.

“The biggest cause of disability is getting older,” Lepofsky said.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was enacted in 2005 to improve accessibility standards for Ontarians with physical and mental disabilities to all public establishments by 2025.

Compliance deadlines depend on the size of the institution and the sector in which it operates.

[email protected]

Excerpt from Ontario Government’s Website Listing the Membership of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council as of November 24, 2019

Originally posted at: https://www.pas.gov.on.ca/Home/Agency/1

  1. Chair (Part-Time)
  2. Vice-Chair (Part-Time)
  3. Member (Part-Time) OLGA DOSIS, 03-Jan-2018 – 02-Jan-2020, Woodbridge
  4. Member (Part-Time)
  5. Member (Part-Time)
  6. Member (Part-Time)
  7. Member (Part-Time)
  8. Member (Part-Time)
  9. Member (Part-Time)
  10. Member (Part-Time)
  11. Member (Part-Time)
  12. Member (Part-Time)
  13. Member (Part-Time)
  14. Member (Part-Time)
  15. Member (Part-Time)
  16. Member (Part-Time)



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What Is the Doug Ford Government Planning for Its Widely-Criticized Proposal to Allow Unlicensed, Uninsured Electric Scooters in Ontario? Over 2 Million Ontarians with Disabilities and Many Others Await A Government Announcement, With Serious Concerns and Unanswered Questions


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What Is the Doug Ford Government Planning for Its Widely-Criticized Proposal to Allow Unlicensed, Uninsured Electric Scooters in Ontario? Over 2 Million Ontarians with Disabilities and Many Others Await A Government Announcement, With Serious Concerns and Unanswered Questions

November 1, 2019 Toronto: There has been striking radio silence from the Ford Government since it terminated its rushed public consultation in early September on its widely-criticized and controversial proposal to run a 5-year pilot project that would allow uninsured and unlicensed electric scooters (e-scooters) on Ontario roads and bike paths. In the meantime, there is no doubt that corporate lobbyists are pressing the Ontario Government and municipal councilors to unleash e-scooters on Ontario no matter the threat they pose to public safety and to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. In an August 30, 2019 City-TV news story, the Government admitted that in designing its proposed 5-year e-scooter pilot, it was compromising between road safety on the one hand, and business and consumer interests on the other. The AODA Alliance emphasizes that the Government should never compromise on public safety, especially in order to help some businesses make more money.

“In August, the AODA Alliance revealed that the Ford Government was holding a mere 2-day public consultation just before Labour Day, making it hard for grassroots opposition to e-scooters to organize,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance which has been vocal in raising serious concerns about e-scooters. “After the Ford Government was shamed into extending that consultation for 16 more days, media coverage spotlighted that e-scooters pose a serious risk to public safety and create accessibility barriers for people with disabilities.”

Ample reports from other places where e-scooters are allowed show that they lead to injuries to their riders and to innocent pedestrians. That will make lineups and delays even longer in the hallways of hospital emergency rooms. As well, when left lying on sidewalks, they create accessibility hazards for people with disabilities. The corporations that rent them to the public elsewhere, and are evidently lobbying provincial and municipal officials to allow them here, use sidewalks as their free parking, having riders dump them wherever they wish when they are finished with them. We set out below a recent media report of a person with a disability suing in Minnesota under the Americans with Disabilities Act over the barriers e-scooters pose.

The Ford Government has not yet announced what it plans to do, or when it will let the public know. The Government has not publicly responded to the serious concerns with e-scooters amply documented in the AODA Alliance’s September 12, 2019 brief.

We encourage the media to ask the Ford Government these important Questions, in the event that the Government decides to allow e-scooters in Ontario despite their proven dangers and despite so much public opposition to them here:

  1. Will owners and drivers of an e-scooter each be required to carry insurance?
  1. Will each e-scooter be required to have a licence and license plate, to enable an injured victim to identify the e-scooter that hit them as it races away?
  1. Will each scooter rider be required to have a license and sufficient training on the e-scooter’s use?
  1. Will the owner and named renter of an e-scooter, as well as its driver, be mandatorily liable for any injury caused by the e-scooter’s use?
  1. Will an e-scooter be required to meet proper safety standards, and to be certified by the Canadian Standards Association as safe for use, before it can be sold, rented or used in Ontario?
  1. Will the Government ban rentals of e-scooters, given the record of serious problems associated with them elsewhere?
  1. Will there be a strict ban on leaving an e-scooter on a sidewalk or other public place, with a right for anyone to immediately confiscate and dispose of any e-scooter that is left there?
  1. If, despite serious objections, the Ford Government allows e-scooter rentals, will a rental company be mandatorily liable for any injury caused by their use?
  1. If a person is injured by an e-scooter, will the Government require any rental company to turn over to police any tracking information on the location of e-scooters used in the affected area, the identity of persons renting the e-scooter, and the GPS data on the route that the e-scooter travelled at the relevant times?
  1. What additional laws and measures will the Ontario Government implement to protect the public from people driving e-scooters while drunk or stoned? Will the Ontario Government ban anyone from parking or leaving an e-scooter within 750 meters of a bar or other establishment where alcohol is sold or served, to help reduce a risk of impaired driving of e-scooters?
  1. What responsibility and liability will the Ontario Government now agree to assume for injuries and deaths that we know e-scooters will cause, as they have in other places where they have been allowed?
  1. What additional measures will the Ontario Government implement to protect the public against e-scooters being driven on sidewalks, since bike-riders regularly do this with impunity even though it is forbidden?
  1. Will the Ontario Government set and enforce strong mandatory provincial rules that will protect public safety and disability accessibility across Ontario, or will Ontario leave this to each municipality, thereby imposing on people with disabilities and others the extraordinary hardship of having to advocate to every Ontario municipality, one at a time, in order to protect ourselves from the dangers posed by e-scooters?
  1. Will all e-scooter drivers be required to wear a helmet, instead of merely those under 18 as the Ford Government initially proposed? Or will the Ontario taxpayer have to finance the medical costs of the injuries that unhelmetted e-scooter drivers will cause themselves?
  1. Why did the Ontario Government never arrange a joint consultation where it could hear at the same time and the same table from both community groups like the AODA Alliance who have raised serious concerns about e-scooters, and the corporate lobbyists who are pressing for e-scooters to be unleashed on Ontarians?
  1. What is the purpose for the Government’s contemplated pilot project with e-scooters? Why can’t the Government learn what it wants to know by studying what has happened in other places where they are allowed, rather than experimenting on innocent Ontarians and subjecting them to the risk of personal injuries?

When the Ford Government publicly announces its plans for e-scooters, we will be asking the Government the preceding questions, and will be available for comment.

There have now been 276 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act’s implementation prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. Doug Ford’s Government has still not announced a plan to implement the Onley report. Instead, it has proposed a troubling e-scooter pilot project which threatens to create even more new accessibility barriers against Ontarians with disabilities.

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

For background on the AODA Alliance’s efforts to address the risks and threats posed by e-scooters, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/category/whats-new/

For up-to-the-minute news on the AODA Alliance’s non-partisan campaign for accessibility, follow  @aodaalliance on Twitter.

KDLT News Today October 18, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.kdlt.com/2019/10/18/advocate-for-disabled-sues-minneapolis-over-electric-scooters/

Advocate for Disabled Sues Minneapolis Over Electric Scooters

October 18, 2019 by Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – An advocate for people with disabilities is taking the city of Minneapolis and two electric scooter companies to court.

Noah McCourt says the electric scooters have made city sidewalks inaccessible. McCourt, who has autism and a coordination disorder, says he was injured while tripping over a scooter at a light rain station.

Minnesota Public Radio News reports the federal lawsuit filed Wednesday says the scooters are also an impediment to people who use wheelchairs. McCourt claims the city and scooter companies are violating the American with Disabilities Act.

The city declined comment on the lawsuit. One of the other defendants, Lime, says it’s working to educate users about proper riding and parking etiquette. The other defendant, Bird, ended operations in Minneapolis in late 2018.

Minnesota law generally prohibits riding electric scooters on sidewalks.



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Come to A November 5, 2019 Windsor Area Public Forum on Accessibility – CBC’s “The National” Reveals A Troubling Barrier to Accessible Housing Facing Too Many People with Disabilities – and Another Memorable Anniversary on the Road to A Barrier-Free Ontario


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Come to A November 5, 2019 Windsor Area Public Forum on Accessibility – CBC’s “The National” Reveals A Troubling Barrier to Accessible Housing Facing Too Many People with Disabilities – and Another Memorable Anniversary on the Road to A Barrier-Free Ontario

October 29, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. Come to the November 5, 2019 Essex County Town Hall Forum on the AODA and Accessible Canada Act

Want to hear the latest news in our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities, at the municipal, provincial and federal levels? Want to know how you can make a big difference for over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada?

If you live in Windsor, or anywhere in Essex County, please come to the Essex County Civic Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, beginning at 1 p.m. for a Town Hall Public Forum on making the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Accessible Canada Act work for you. The speaker will be AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. Below is the announcement of this event by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee. We commend that Committee and the municipal staff that supports them for organizing this event and for reaching out to the AODA Alliance to have our chair take part. Information on how to RSVP is available at a link in the announcement, set out below.

2. CBC’s “The National” TV Program Shines Light on Another Troubling Disability Accessibility Barrier

For the third time this year, CBC TV’s unstoppable reporter Rosa Marchitelli shone a bright light on another troubling accessibility barrier that faces too many people with disabilities in Canada. This time, it was a barrier to accessible housing. A condo refused to install an automatic door opener to accommodate a woman with a disability who needs it to get in and out of the building where she lives. We set that story out below, and commend CBC, Rosa Marchitelli and her team for covering this barrier.

This story is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the critical shortage of accessible housing in Canada, needed by a growing population that needs an accessible place to live. Federal, provincial and municipal action is needed to address this. We are honoured that CBC has come to us with this story and sought our comment on it.

 3. Today is An Important Anniversary for the Campaign for Accessibility

Twenty-one years ago today, tireless and tenacious grass roots disability advocacy paid off, with long term consequences for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities!

On October 29, 1998, when the Conservative Government of Premier Mike Harris was in power, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee (the predecessor to the AODA Alliance) got the Ontario Legislature to unanimously pass a powerful resolution. It called for the enactment of a provincial disability accessibility law that puts into effect the 11 principles that grass roots disability advocates had formulated. You can read that resolution by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/today-is-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-ontario-legislatures-historic-unanimous-resolution-calling-for-ontario-to-enact-strong-and-effective-disability-accessibility-legislation-how-far-have-1-9-mil/

The events of that dramatic day are summarized in a three-page excerpt, set out below, from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s detailed article which summarizes the Disabilities Act movement’s history from 1994 to 2003. To read the debates in the Ontario Legislature on October 29, 1998, leading to the passage of this resolution, visit http://www.odacommittee.net/hansard18.html

Over two decades later, we still measure the legislation we’ve won, the McGuinty Government’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, against the 11 principles that the Ontario Legislature adopted on October 29, 1998. We also continue to measure any accessibility standards and other actions taken under the AODA 2005 against the 11 bedrock principles which the Ontario Legislature adopted on that historic day.

It is troubling that on this anniversary, a seemingly-endless 273 days have passed since the Ontario Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ontario Government has still not announced a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report. In the meantime, public money continues to be freely available to create new barriers against people with disabilities in Ontario and to perpetuate existing barriers.

Learn more about the ODA Committee’s campaign that led to the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005.

Learn more about the AODA Alliance’s campaign since 2005 to get the AODA effectively implemented and enforced.

Learn more about the AODA Alliance’s campaign to get the Federal Government to enact strong national accessibility legislation.

          MORE DETAILS

 Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee Announcement of November 5, 2019 Town Hall Public Forum on Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Accessibility Champion to Speak at Essex County Civic Centre

David Lepofsky, a prominent and passionate champion for accessibility and the rights of persons with disabilities, will speak at a free event hosted by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee at the Civic Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

An author, advocate, professor, lawyer and community organizer, Lepofsky will speak about accessibility in municipal settings and the need for continued advocacy in pursuit of an inclusive society accessible to all. The ECAAC is thrilled to welcome such an experienced, engaging and dynamic speaker on such an important topic.

Lepofsky has been advocating for laws to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Canada since the 1970s. In the early 1980s, he was part of a successful effort to ensure the rights of those with disabilities were protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He began fighting for those with vision loss in the 1990s and won cases against the Toronto Transit Commission before the Human Rights Tribunal, which ordered the TTC in 2005 to announce all subway stops and in 2007 to announce all bus and streetcar stops.

From 1994 to 2005, Lepofsky led the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, which campaigned for a decade to secure passage of two provincial laws to make Ontario fully accessible – the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005.

He is presently the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, which advocates for the strong accessibility standards outlined in provincial legislation. The Alliance successfully secured in 2010 amendments to electoral legislation to address barriers to voting in Ontario and is currently working for the expansion of telephone and internet voting.

Lepofsky is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Osgoode Hall Law School, where he is a visiting professor of Disability Rights and Legal Education. He is also an adjunct member of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. He is the author of one law book, the author or co-author of 30 law journal articles or book chapters and his work has been cited in several decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada.

He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1995, the Order of Ontario in 2007 and inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 2003. He has honorary doctorates from multiple Canadian universities and awards from several organizations including the March of Dimes Canada and Community Living Ontario. Canadian Lawyer magazine named him one of Canada’s 25 most influential lawyers in 2010.

Lepofsky has been a featured speaker across Canada and the United States as well as Israel, Denmark, Belgium, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland. He will speak at the Essex County Civic Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 5, beginning at 1 p.m.

The event is free but space is limited, so participants are asked to register by visiting the County of Essex’s website.

CBC TV News The National October 13, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/go-public-disabled-automatic-door-1.5313633

Calgary GO PUBLIC

‘If there’s a fire I’m dead’: Quadruple amputee battles condo board for access to her own building

Governments need to ‘get with the program,’ fix building codes and laws, advocate says

Rosa Marchitelli CBC News

Verna Marzo says she’ll never forget the embarrassment of being stuck outside her Calgary condo building — in the cold for almost two hours, waiting for someone to let her in — because as a quadruple amputee she can’t open the doors on her own, and her condo board has refused to install automatic doors she can use.

“Someone helped me [get] out, but when I wanted to go back in, there was no one to open the door,” said Marzo, 46.

“It was cold. I called my sister but my sister was at work … so I waited until my caregiver arrived.” She says none of the other doors in the building is an option.

“That means I get stuck behind the doors. If there’s an emergency … if there’s a fire, I’m dead, there’s no way I can get outside.”

According to an advocate for people with disabilities, situations like Marzo’s are “all too common,” because weak building codes and a lack of provincial accessibility laws are causing a “chronic and pervasive shortage” of accessible housing.

“Imagine that you’re in a building where you paid good money to live … and you can’t get in or out without having someone there,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“Imagine you go to sleep at night knowing — God forbid — if there’s a fire, you can’t let yourself out. No one would want to live that way and people with disabilities shouldn’t have to live that way.”

Homebound and frustrated

Two years ago, after having emergency abdominal surgery, Marzo contracted sepsis — a reaction to a severe blood infection that leads to organs shutting down. Doctors amputated both legs and arms to save her life.

Earlier this year, she started shopping for a condo that would allow her to get around with her wheelchair or prosthetics. She says she knew the place she bought wasn’t perfect, but it was one of the few she could afford. She hoped to deal with issues as they came up, but never expected to be fighting for a door.

In May, a few months after she was locked outside in the cold, she asked the building manager if automatic doors could be installed.

She was told the condo board decided not at this time. Marzo’s social worker tried again, contacting the board on her behalf.

She was told the board already had a plan for new doors but there would be no automatic push-button system due to security concerns of the doors being open too long.

That explanation is “a total red herring,” according to Lepofsky.

“You could design doors with optical sensors to protect against that. But even a manual door, with a lock, there’s no guarantee that requires it to be held open only long enough for the person with the key to get through.”

Meanwhile, Marzo remains homebound and frustrated.

“I don’t want to only benefit me. I want people who have lesser mobility to benefit as well. Because it’s not easy to just be staying at home and be depressed,” she said.

The property management company declined to answer Go Public’s questions, claiming it was a legal matter and referring us to the condo board.

Go Public made repeated requests to board members for comment; all went unanswered.

‘Get with the program’

Automatic doors would cost between $2,500 to $7,500, depending on the design, according to Sean Crump from Universal Access, a Calgary company that provides advice to businesses on how to make buildings more accessible.

Crump says there is public funding available to qualified candidates to help pay for building modifications, though it’s not clear if Marzo’s building qualifies.

“There are a few resources. The federal government has an Enabling Access Fund that allows funds to be put into accessible design for spaces and buildings — and it’s done a lot of good.”

More than three million people over the age of 15 have at least one physical disability according to the most recent Statistics Canada numbers from 2017.

On July 11, the Accessible Canada Act came into force. Lepofsky says it’s a well intentioned effort at mandating barrier-free access, but it, too, falls short by covering only sectors within Ottawa’s jurisdiction like banking, telecommunications and the federal government.

He says that leaves a mish-mash of accessibility laws — or none at all — at the provincial level. Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia are the only provinces with that kind of legislation.

“We need the seven provinces in Canada that don’t have a provincial accessibility law to enact one — to get with the program,” Lepofsky said.

But even in those provinces, Marzo would have little or no recourse. Manitoba and Nova Scotia’s legislation don’t address the responsibilities of condo boards.

Ontario’s does, but since it was implemented in 2005, it’s done little to help people with disabilities, according to a review released in January by former lieutenant governor David Onley.

“We are almost 14 years later,” Onley, who was Canada’s first lieutenant governor with a physical disability, wrote, “and the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.”

“For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

Changing the building codes could also help, according to Lepofsky. But, though national and provincial codes cover new buildings and major renovations, older buildings like Marzo’s are under no obligation to renovate.

All of this, Lepofsky says, leaves people with disabilities to deal with problems “one battle at a time” through human rights complaints.

The national and provincial human rights codes say buildings used by the public need to be accessible.

Fight for doors ‘hideous’

Marzo says everywhere she turned no one could — or would — help. She says her call to the Alberta Human Rights Commission wasn’t returned and the City of Calgary told her there is nothing it can do.

“They just keep [telling me] call this person or this person and eventually someone from City of Calgary called me and said they cannot force the condo board to put the door in because it’s not the law.”

Go Public took Marzo’s situation to provincial and federal lawmakers.

Jennifer Dagsvik, spokesperson for Alberta’s Ministry of Community and Social Service, says the province is “monitoring” the new federal and existing provincial laws.

She says while Alberta lacks an accessibility law, people with disabilities can seek help under the Alberta Human Rights Act and the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Ottawa’s most recent minister of public services and procurement and accessibility didn’t answer Go Public’s questions directly.

Instead Carla Qualtrough sent a general statement, referring to the Accessible Canada Act and the accessibility review board — the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) — it created.

“While CASDO is still in its early stages of development, it has been made evident by Canadians and members of the disability community that standards in new and existing buildings is a priority,” Qualtrough said.

Marzo says she won’t give up, saying it’s “hideous” she’s had to fight this hard to be able to enter and exit the building she lives in.

She’s planning to talk to a lawyer for advice on what to do next.

“They will get old too,” she says, referring to members of her condo board. “And they will lose their strength. And they will thank me for that door if they will do it now.”

Rosa Marchitelli

@cbcRosa

Rosa Marchitelli is a national award winner for her investigative work. As co-host of the CBC News segment Go Public, she has a reputation for asking tough questions and holding companies and individuals to account. Rosa’s work is seen across CBC News platforms.

With files by Jenn Blair

 Excerpt from The Long, Arduous Road To A Barrier-Free Ontario For People With Disabilities: The History Of The Ontarians with Disabilities Act — The First Chapter

(2004, 15 National Journal of Constitutional Law)

By David Lepofsky

8)         FALL 1998: THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE DECLARES WHAT THE ODA MUST INCLUDE AND THE GOVERNMENT BRINGS FORWARD ITS FIRST ODA BILL

  1. a) Enshrining The ODA Yardstick – The Legislature’s Second ODA Resolution Adopts Our Eleven Principles

Perhaps the most significant milestone in the first chapter of our campaign came in October 1998. In the Fall of 1998, after the Government’s 1998 ODA closed consultations ended, we turned our attention to a next big challenge. A Government ODA bill could come at any time. We had no reason to expect that the Government would forewarn us of the date when it would introduce an ODA bill into the Legislature. The Government hadn’t forewarned us of the July 1998 release of its ODA discussion paper.

We wanted to publicly set a clear benchmark or yardstick against which any Government’s ODA bill could be measured. We had no reason to expect that a Government ODA bill would be any better than its weak policy framework in its ODA discussion paper.

Early in the Fall of 1998, we were approached by Liberal Windsor MPP Dwight Duncan. Until then, Hamilton Liberal MPP Dominic Agostino had been the lead Liberal MPP championing the ODA in the Legislature. Agostino had announced at one of our news conferences that his father had been an injured worker. From this, he well understood the barriers persons with disabilities faced. He had brought a personal passion to the ODA issue.

Mr. Duncan told us he wanted to introduce a private member’s ODA bill in the Legislature for us. We welcomed his support. However, we were still very reluctant to put massive work into researching and drafting a private member’s bill, for the reasons discussed earlier. We also feared that the Government could skilfully focus a barrage of criticism on some minor, distracting target in a bill that we would crank out, such as some obscure inconsequential wording problem. It could thereby transform a red herring into the central public issue. This could drag us off our message.

Accordingly we asked Duncan to instead introduce another private member’s ODA resolution into the Legislature. This tactic had worked so well for us in May 1996, when NDP MPP Marion Boyd had successfully brought forward the first ODA resolution to the Legislature. If Duncan were to bring forward another ODA resolution, this could help increase the Liberal Party’s support for the ODA. It was very important for our coalition to be, and to be seen as non-partisan. Rotating our activities among both opposition parties helped us achieve this.

Duncan was open to our idea. We then had to decide what this second ODA resolution should say. It needn’t replicate the first ODA resolution. That had called on the Ontario Government to keep its 1995 ODA election promise. We again didn’t want the resolution to be a partisan attack on the Conservative Government. As in 1996, we didn’t want to give the Government an easy excuse to use its majority in the Legislature to defeat this resolution.

We came up with an idea which would move the ODA cause forward, and which would put all of the political parties to the test. We proposed to Duncan that his resolution call on the Ontario Legislature to pass an ODA which complies with our 11 principles. A legislative debate over those principles took the ODA discussion far beyond the realm of just discussing in the abstract whether a law called the ODA should be passed. Such a resolution would make the parties either vote for or against our core principles on what that legislation should contain.

Dwight Duncan agreed to introduce the resolution we proposed. He also secured the Liberal Party’s support for the resolution. The NDP also notified us that it would support the resolution. We did not know whether the Conservatives, who commanded a majority of votes in the Legislature, would support it. We had no reason in advance for any optimism.

The resolution was scheduled for a debate and vote in the Legislature on October 29, 1998. This was one week after our meeting with Citizenship Minister Bassett, where we had been treated to the overhead slide show. The date for the resolution’s debate and vote also came a mere two days before Hallowe’en. Carole Riback, an inspired and inspiring ODA activist, dreamt up a clever Hallowe’en slogan around which we rallied. This resolution vote raised the question: “Would the ODA be a trick or treat?”

In Fall 1998, the ODA movement made its main focus getting this resolution passed. We urged ODA supporters to lobby MPPs from all three parties to vote for it. We also urged them to go to their local media to publicize this issue. We were learning more and more that the ODA movement was increasingly effective when it channelled its energies over a period of weeks on one concrete short-term goal.

The ODA Committee again quickly pulled together a major event at the legislative building at Queen’s Park for the morning of the resolution’s debate and vote. ODA supporters came to the legislative building and met in committee rooms. We planned to break into small teams to each go to MPPs’ offices, door to door, to “trick or treat,” canvassing them for their support on the resolution.

All hurried planning for this event went well, until we were contacted the night before by the office of the Speaker of the Legislature. It confronted us with a huge problem. The Speaker would not let us go to any MPP’s office unless we had a prior appointment. We were told that there is a blanket rule that provides that no one can get near the MPPs’ offices without an invitation. We were threatened with all being refused admittance to the legislative building. Since the Conservatives had taken power in 1995, Queen’s Park building security had increased extraordinarily.

This threatened to eviscerate our plans. We explained to the Speaker’s office that we planned an informal door-to-door canvass. It was impossible for us at that late hour to call then, the very night before our event, to try to book meetings with each MPP. We feared that if asked, Conservative MPPs would not agree to meet with us. They had refused to come to most of our prior events, and had so often resisted meeting our supporters in their local communities. If we could even get through to their offices at that late hour (which was unlikely), we would likely be told that appointments cannot be booked on such short notice.

We hurriedly negotiated a solution with the Speaker’s office. Small groups of our supporters could go to MPPs’ offices without a prior appointment, if each group was escorted by one Queen’s Park security officer, one MPP staffer, and one ODA committee representative. We had to agree to immediately recall all groups if any complaints about their conduct were received.

Having removed this last-minute roadblock, October 29, 1998 was a dramatic day. We had no idea in advance whether the resolution would pass. The Conservative majority held the power to decide this. Our teams carried out their door-to-door trick or treat canvass without any complaint.

One group was larger than authorized. We persuaded the Queen’s Park security staff not to complain. That group was composed entirely of deaf people. They made no noise, and needed our sign language interpreters. Queen’s Park security officials who travelled with our teams seemed to be enjoying the process.

An ODA supporter on one of our “trick or treat” teams reported that a Conservative MPP happened to be quickly leaving his office as the ODA team approached. The MPP called out that he had no time to meet, but he would vote for us, whatever it was we wanted him to vote for. While behind a glass door, another Conservative MPP turned to a staff member and mouthed that he did not know what the Ontarians with Disabilities Act was all about. That MPP hadn’t foreseen that among those on the other side of the glass door was a hard-of-hearing ODA supporter who can read lips.

The trick or treat teams finished their tours of MPPs’ offices. They then converged in Queen’s Park legislative committee rooms to watch the MPPs debate Dwight Duncan’s resolution in the Legislature, again on video monitors. We again brought our own sign language interpretation. As in the past, the Legislature’s public galleries remained almost totally inaccessible to persons with mobility disabilities.

During the debate in the Legislature, Liberal and NDP MPPs predictably spoke in favour of the resolution. The governing Conservative MPPs boasted of their Government’s record, and sounded as if they would vote against the resolution. However, when the vote came, our second ODA resolution in the Ontario Legislature passed unanimously.

Immediately afterward, we held a triumphant news conference at the Queen’s Park media studio. Both opposition parties had MPPs in attendance. The Government again declined our invitation to participate.

As another important step forward for us, the new Liberal leader, Dalton McGuinty attended our news conference. He announced on the record that if his party were elected, they would commit to passing an ODA which complies with Dwight Duncan’s resolution.44

Later that day Citizenship Minister Bassett was asked in Question Period whether her Government would honour the resolution that the Legislature had unanimously passed that morning. Minister Bassett had not attended the debate in the Legislature that morning when the resolution was under consideration, even though it directly related to legislation for which she had lead responsibility for the Government. In her evasive answer to the opposition’s question put to her in Question Period that afternoon, Minister Bassett condemned the resolution as calling for job hiring quotas.

It was self-evident from the resolution’s text that it did not call for job hiring quotas or even hint at them. When we realized that the Government was going to use the hot-button “job quotas” accusation to try to whip up public opposition against us, we immediately launched a province-wide letter-writing campaign addressed directly to Minister Bassett and Premier Harris. We proclaimed that we sought no job hiring quotas. We called on the Government to desist in their inaccurate claims. Within a short time, Minister Bassett candidly conceded on a CBC radio interview that we were not seeking quotas. The Government thereafter dropped that tactic.

The Legislature’s passage of Dwight Duncan’s October 29, 1998 resolution was likely the most critical victory for the ODA movement in its history to that date. From then on, we no longer referred to the 11 principles as simply “the ODA Committee’s 11 principles for the ODA.” From then on we could, and did point to them as “the 11 principles for the ODA which the Ontario Legislature unanimously approved by a resolution on October 29, 1998.” We were indebted to Duncan for spearheading this resolution in a non-partisan way. His resolution served to become the yardstick by which any future legislation would be tested. It was also the catalyst that brought the Liberal and New Democratic Parties officially on the record in support of our 11 principles for the ODA. Both parties would go on to campaign for these 11 principles in the 1999 and 2003 provincial elections, and would actively press the Conservative Government to live up to them.

In the end, October 29, 1998 was a decisive, indeed towering milestone on the road to a barrier-free Ontario. Ironically, we got no media coverage that day, despite our best efforts. This cannot be explained on the basis that this story wasn’t newsworthy. The story had all the hallmarks of newsworthiness. We have learned that this is an unfortunate fact of community advocacy life. It did not deter our tenacity.

44 This was Mr. McGuinty’s first public commitment to this effect. Of great importance to the as-yet unwritten second chapter of the ODA saga, five years later, Mr. McGuinty would be elected Premier of Ontario in the October 2, 2003 provincial election. His 2003 election platform included a pledge to fulfil the commitment he first gave at our news conference on October 29, 1998.



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Come to a Toronto Area Public Forum on the Federal Elections’ Disability Issues on October 16 – and – More Reasons Why Electric Scooters are Bad for Ontario


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Come to a Toronto Area Public Forum on the Federal Elections’ Disability Issues on October 16 – and – More Reasons Why Electric Scooters are Bad for Ontario

October 11, 2019

          SUMMARY

Here are bits and pieces of accessibility news to share, that have been building up in our virtual in-tray! We hope you enjoy this information, on the 254th day since the Ford Government received the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. How much more we would have to give thanks for on this Thanksgiving weekend if the Government were to have announced a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report.

On the national front, we want to let you know that on the evening of October 16, 2019, a federal election forum will be held in Toronto to focus on disability issues in the current federal election. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to be one of the event’s speakers. We encourage you to attend. The full details are set out in the event announcement, below.

We remind one and all to raise disability accessibility issues with the candidates in this election. Use the AODA Alliance’s new Federal Election Action Kit. It gives you great action tips and all the background that you need to help press our issues. Please retweet the tweets that @aodaalliance is now tweeting to candidates for Canada’s Parliament, where we ask for election commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities.

Turning to the provincial front, the AODA Alliance has been trying to play a leading role in  raising concerns with the Ford Government’s plans to expose Ontarians to the serious safety and accessibility risks posed by allowing electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario.

We have no word from the Ford Government on the results of their rushed consultations on this issue last month. In the meantime, opposition continues to grow to the Government’s plans. Below, we set out the October 2, 2019 news release by the City of Toronto on the subject. It recognizes a need to ensure protection for both public safety and accessibility, and reflects a cautious approach to allowing e-scooters in Canada’s and Ontario’s biggest city.

Torontonians need to press their city council members as well as the Ford Government to not allow e-scooters onto our streets, sidewalks or other public places, since they pose a safety and accessibility threat. We expect that the companies that want to make money renting e-scooters in Ontario and having them parked for free all over our sidewalks, like Lime and Bird, are heavily lobbying both the Ford Government and members of Toronto City Council, behind closed doors.

We also set out below an October 5, 2019 guest column in the Toronto Star that highlights how much of a safety risk e-scooters have proven themselves to be. We also show you an October 9, 2019 letter to the editor in the Toronto Star that reinforces those safety concerns.

We wish one and all a happy and barrier-free Thanksgiving.

          MORE DETAILS

 

Announcement of October 16, 2019 Toronto Area Federal Election Forum on Disability Issues

2019 Federal Election Forum on Accessibility and Disability Justice

 

The GTA Disability Coalition invites people with disabilities and their allies to join us for a federal election forum on accessibility and disability justice.

– Engage with an informed panel of experts speaking on the federal parties’ platforms on key disability issues

– Raise your awareness about actions you can call on parties to take to advance an accessible Canada

– Ask questions and share your civic voice in #AccessibleCndVOTE 

DATE: Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
TIME: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm)
LOCATION: Ryerson University, Tecumseh Auditorium, Ryerson Student Centre, 55 Gould Street (SW side of Gould and Church St)

RSVP to Robin Simmons at 416-599-2458 ext. 293 by Monday, October 14, 2019. Seating is limited. You can also register for this event via Eventbrite

Submit your questions on Twitter to #AccessibleCndVOTE

 

Forum Partners: Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians.  A-Way Express. Balance for Blind Adults. Canadian National Institute for the Blind.  Centre for Independent Living in Toronto.  Doris Power. Ethno-racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario.  Empowerment Council.  Kim Adlard. Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. ODSP Action Coalition. Older Women’s Network.  Ryerson University.  Springtide Resources. Students for Barrier-Free Access -U of T. Working for Change.

October 2, 2019 City of Toronto News Release on E-Scooters

City of Toronto Media Relations has issued the following:

News Release

October 2, 2019

City of Toronto moves to ensure safety and accessibility at forefront of planning for e-scooters

Toronto City Council today adopted a series of recommendations focused on dealing with the future oversight and management of e-scooters in Toronto.

The City is carefully planning for the provincial government’s anticipated introduction of e-scooters in Ontario by prioritizing safety and accessibility for the use of e-scooters in Toronto. Among comments provided to the province, municipalities in Ontario including Toronto have requested that municipalities maintain oversight on how e-scooters are regulated and how they are deployed on local streets.

City Council voted to direct Transportation Services, Municipal Licensing and Standards, the Medical Officer of Health and the Toronto Parking Authority, to report later this year on a program to enable the oversight and management of e-scooters on City roadways, including the possibility of adding electric scooters to the bike share fleet as a way of managing e-scooters in the public right-of-way, with the goal of ensuring a safe and accessible transportation network for all users during the proposed 5-year Provincial pilot project.

Until proper regulations are developed, City staff successfully recommended that City Council continue to prohibit the use of e-scooters on City sidewalks and pedestrian ways, prohibit any person from parking, storing or leaving an e-scooter on any street, sidewalk and pedestrian way.

Currently under the Province of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA), vehicles such as e-scooters are not considered legal for use on city/public roads, including in bike lanes. As motorized vehicles, they are also not permitted for use on municipal sidewalks.

The Ontario government has proposed regulations for the use of e-scooters, including details for a five-year pilot window. The HTA will not be altered but the rules around pilot projects for e-scooters in Ontario are expected to be outlined. Timing is currently unknown while the province reviews public input.

E-scooters are being piloted in several North American cities, including Canadian jurisdictions outside Ontario, as well as in a variety of American jurisdictions. Programs have had varied success and outcomes with regard to use, safety, sidewalk clutter and parking. More data is being collected in other cities on safety and environmental impacts of e-scooters.

While a number of cities have piloted e-scooters, some cities are reviewing and consulting the public such as Boston, Seattle and Boulder. Examples of cities that currently prohibit e-scooter programs include London (UK), New York City (Manhattan), Philadelphia, Dublin and Honolulu.

Once the regulation for Ontario is made available by the province, City staff will review it and are expected to report back to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in December on a proposed framework that enables the oversight and management of e-scooters on Toronto roadways, with the aim of ensuring safe, sustainable and accessible transportation for all users during a proposed pilot project.

Documentation of the motion that City Council adopted today is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.IE7.13

A letter from the Toronto City Manager to the Ministry of Transportation is available at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2019/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-138531.pdf#xd_co_f=ODM2YzZiMjYtMzIwZi00MGQ5LTlhZTgtZTNiYTU2Mjg1ZTI0~.

Link to the relevant portion of the Highway Traffic Act (PDF file): https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_950.pdf

Quotes

“We must plan responsibly for e-scooters on our streets with safety and accessibility at the forefront of those plans. I believe this approach to this emerging transportation option will ensure we go about this in the right way that listens carefully to our residents, community groups, and businesses.”

– Mayor John Tory

“We all want safe, sustainable and modern travel options in Toronto. Learning from other cities, we know that success means taking care to develop an e-scooter program for Toronto.”

– Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cityoftoronto, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cityofto.

– 30 –

Media contact: Eric Holmes, Strategic Communications, 416-392-4391, 416-629-4891 (cell), [email protected]

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All City of Toronto news releases are also available on the City’s website at www.toronto.ca/home/media-room/news-releases-media-advisories/

Toronto Star October 5, 2019

OPINION

Just how dangerous are e-scooters? Early numbers show an injury rate that’s almost 600 times higher than taking the bus

By Duncan Stewart, Contributor

How many Torontonians will be scooter commuters? Fewer than you think.

Although rentable dockless e-scooters (adult sized versions of push scooters with a battery and electric motor) are coming to Toronto soon in a pilot at the Distillery District, new data on safety makes it unlikely that many Torontonians will use them as part of their daily commute.

We could certainly use them: There is a clear need for environmentally friendly modes of transport for short distances and e-scooters and e-bikes — often referred to as micromobility devices —could reduce the number of private car, taxi and Uber trips we make.

Especially those that really don’t need to be car trips at all: as of 2017, 46 per cent of all U.S. car trips annually were for 5 kilometres or less, and 21 per cent were for less than 1.6 km. Assuming a 25 km/h speed limit for scooters, those trip distances translate into 12 minutes or less. I’ve spent longer than that waiting for an Uber or looking for parking!

Both e-scooters and e-bikes are suggested as a way of getting commuters out of cars and reducing congestion: Toronto was recently ranked the North American city with the worst commute, and sixth worst globally. And if scooters are used for daily commuting, not only does that mean fewer cars at peak traffic times, we’d also probably see less-crowded buses, streetcars and subways.

Not so fast.

The Toronto pilot is not the first e-scooter program in Canada: they have been in Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary for a while now… and Calgary is particularly interesting in that Alberta Health Services has been tracking how many people are showing up in  hospital emergency departments due to scooter injuries  since the start of their pilot in July. I was eager to see Canadian data, since I already had data from a study done in Austin, Texas in 2018, and I wondered if scooters had a different safety profile up here.

Before discussing the Calgary findings, we need to put safety of different transportation modes in context. Experts look at the number of deaths and injuries per trip. A massive 2007 U.S. study showed that the combined death and injury rate/100 million trips was about 160 for buses, 200 for pedestrians, 800 for passenger vehicles, and 1,500 for bikes. The Austin numbers were shocking: using the exact same way of counting, the injury rate for e-scooters was 20,000 per 100 million trips. Scooters were 100 times riskier than walking, and 13 times riskier than biking.

Data is still coming in from Calgary, but as of mid-September, 477 scooter riders have been to hospital and have taken a cumulative 500,000 trips. Which translates to an injury rate (no deaths yet, thank goodness, but there have been eight so far in the U.S.) of 95,400 per 100 million trips.

That is not a typo or miscalculation: the Calgary injury rate is nearly five times higher than Austin, and almost 600 times higher than taking the bus. I doubt that the Calgary injury rate is actually that much different from Austin – I expect the differences in our respective medical systems make Canadians much more likely to go hospitals, so the Texas data actually under-reports the true e-scooter injury rate.

How will this affect scooter usage in Toronto over the long run? There are two groups of likely scooter users: tourists and micromobility commuters. Toronto had 44 million visitors in 2017, and many of them come here when our streets are not filled with snow and ice, so scooters may make sense for many of them. And they’re fun to ride! But tourists think about risk and injury differently than commuters: they go hot air ballooning, bungee jumping and ziplining, despite those activities having relatively higher risks. It’s only once or twice, so the overall risk is low. But no one commutes 500 times per year, year after year, by balloon or zip line.

Leave the e-scooters for the tourists – for the rest of us, they look like a greener, faster, and more fun way to get to an emergency room.

Duncan Stewart is the director of research for tech, media and telecom for Deloitte Canada.

Toronto Star October 8, 2019

Letters

E-scooters are a risky way to commute

Numbers are in, and e-scooters look dangerous, Opinion, Oct. 5

Duncan Stewart’s article was a breath of fresh air because it was based on research, not a marketing hype to attract renters and local governments to buy in.

Using e-scooters to get commuters out of cars and reduce traffic congestion in Toronto will soon be tested in a pilot program in the Distillery District. But hold on. Pilots have already been run in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa and Edmonton. And in Austin, Texas. The Calgary results are stunning. Based on hospital visits, it was deemed that it is 500 times riskier to ride the e-scooter than to walk and 65 times riskier to ride an e- scooter than a bicycle. Austin stats were lower, but were possibly related to the fact that injured riders might not as quickly go to the hospital without universal coverage as we enjoy in Canada.

The high injury stats make sense. For an inexperienced user, there is a learning curve of balance, speed and the all-important reading of the situation on the street or path. All of this happening when others are speeding past you on e-bikes, cycles and other scooters and, of course, cars if you are on the street.

Stewart nails it with his last comment: “They look like a greener, funner and faster way to get to an emergency room.”

Mike Faye, Toronto





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More Media on the E-scooters Issue – and – On September 25, Attend Either a Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act or the TTC’s Public Forum on Accessible Transit


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

More Media on the E-scooters Issue – and – On September 25, Attend Either a Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act or the TTC’s Public Forum on Accessible Transit

September 23, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. Yet More Media Attention on the Problems with Allowing Electric Scooters Out in Public in Our Province

There have now been four weeks since we learned about the Ford Government’s troubling plan to allow unlicensed, uninsured people to drive electric scooters in Ontario in a 5-year pilot project. We presented it to Ontarians as a serious disability issue. Since then, the media coverage of this issue just keeps on coming!

Below we set out an article on this subject that was in the September 21, 2019 Globe and Mail. It does not make the e-scooters’ disability issues its focus.

As well, last week, on Friday, September 20, 2019, CBC Radio devoted an entire hour to a province-wide call-in program on e-scooters on its Ontario Today program. Those taking part in that program echoed a number of the concerns with e-scooters that we have been raising. The CBC included a clip from an earlier interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in the program.

We are especially concerned to know what kind of audience our provincial and municipal politicians are giving to the lobbyists for the companies that are lobbying hard to rent e-scooters in Ontario. Those of course are the very companies whose business plan includes people randomly leaving e-scooters on our public sidewalks, creating new barriers for pedestrians with disabilities. We have contended that our public sidewalks are not meant for their businesses’ free parking. Our provincial and municipal politicians should make public their discussions with those corporate lobbyists.

We encourage you to check out the September 12, 2019 brief that the AODA Alliance has submitted to the Ontario Government. Please let the Government know if you support our brief and its recommendations. You can write the Government at [email protected]

2. Come to the Toronto September 25, 2019 Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act

Would you like to know what the federal parties are promising to do, if elected, to strengthen the new Accessible Canada Act and to ensure that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced? If you are in the Toronto area, come to the September 25, 2019 federal candidates’ forum on this topic, organized by the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre, and the Reena Foundation. We set out the announcement below. It includes information on how to sign up to attend this event.

We are hoping that this event will also be live streamed, but details are still in the works. , AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to be a subject matter expert during this debate.

We encourage you to use the AODA Alliance’s brand new Action Kit for tips on how to raise disability accessibility issues in this federal election.

3. Another Chance to Alert TTC to Public Transit Barriers in Toronto

Do you still run into accessibility barriers when using public transit in Toronto? Here is another opportunity to try to press for reforms at the TTC.

Below is the Toronto Transit Commission’s announcement of its 2019 Annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit. It will be held on the evening of Wednesday, September 25, 2019 from 7 to 9 pm.

It is too bad that both this TTC forum and the federal candidates forum on the Accessible Canada Act will be taking place at the same date and time. We encourage one and all in the Toronto area to come to this TTC event, or the federal candidates’ event. Raise accessibility problems you have experienced on the TTC. It is important to shine the light on accessibility issues that continue to plague people with disabilities on public transit in Canada’s biggest city.

Over three years ago, the Ontario Government appointed a new Transportation Standards Development Committee under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to review the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, and to recommend any needed changes to strengthen it. That Committee’s final reform recommendations, which the former Ontario Government under Kathleen Wynne made public in the 2018 spring, were exceptionally weak. If implemented, they wouldn’t significantly improve that very limited accessibility standard.

In its first 15 months in office, the new Ontario Government under Premier Doug Ford has announced no new action to make public transit accessible in Ontario for people with disabilities. It has announced no action on this subject as a result of the Transportation Standards Development Committee’s 2018 recommendations.

This is part of a bigger and troubling provincial picture. The Ford Government has done nothing since taking office to strengthen and accelerate the sluggish implementation and enforcement of the AODA.

Back on January 31, 2019, the Ford Government received the final report of the most recent Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. That was 236 days ago. That report found a pressing need to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation. Yet the Ford Government has announced no comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations for strengthening the AODA’s implementation.

Please contact your local media and encourage them to attend the TTC forum. Video record or photograph barriers on TTC you have experienced. Send them to the media. Publicize them on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Use the ever-popular hashtag #AODAfail in tweets about these barriers, as part of our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign.

TTC will again stream this public forum event live. Check out details below in the TTC announcement.

This TTC Public Forum originated in 2008 as a result of the 2007 Human Rights Tribunal order in Lepofsky v. TTC #2. Eleven years ago, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ordered TTC to hold one such event per year for the three years after the Tribunal ruled against TTC in Lepofsky v. TTC #2.

After starting to hold these events because it was ordered to do so commendably TTC decided to keep holding these events once per year, even though TTC originally and strenuously opposed David Lepofsky when he asked the Human Rights Tribunal to make this order.

Since 2011, TTC and all public transit providers in Ontario are required by law to hold a similar event each year in your community under section 41(2) of the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation, enacted under the AODA. If you live outside Toronto, ask your public transit provider when they are planning to hold their annual public forum on accessible transit. If your public transit authority has not done so, please contact Raymond Cho, who is Ontario’s Minister for Seniors and Accessibility and is responsible for enforcing the AODA, and ask that this provision be strictly enforced. This section provides:

“41(2) Every conventional transportation service provider shall annually hold at least one public meeting involving persons with disabilities to ensure that they have an opportunity to participate in a review of the accessibility plan and that they are given the opportunity to provide feedback on the accessibility plan.”

Let us know if your public transit authority elsewhere in Ontario is holding a similar event this year, or did so last year. Email us at [email protected] or reply to this email.

Each year there is an impressive turnout of hundreds of people at TTC’s public forums on accessible transit. Each wants a chance at the microphone to tell their story. Unfortunately, TTC each year uses up far too much time, as much as a third of the time in some instances, making speeches on what a great job TTC says it’s doing on accessibility. We have urged TTC to keep all of those speeches down to a total of five or ten minutes, maximum, to give as much time as possible to the attendees to speak, since they made the effort to come to this event. We hope TTC will listen to this suggestion this time. They have not done so in the past despite our requests.

Under the Human Rights Tribunal’s order, all TTC Commissioners were required to attend each public forum. Since that order expired, many if not most TTC Commissioners have skipped these TTC accessible transit public forums. This is wrong. TTC chose the forum’s date well in advance. Its Commissioners should be able to make it. If hundreds of people with disabilities take the time out of their busy day to come to speak to the TTC Commissioners, the least that those TTC Commissioners can do is to themselves take the time to show up to this TTC community event and listen to the front-line experiences of riders with disabilities.

          More Details

The Globe and Mail September 21, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/alberta/article-politicians-and-planners-look-to-data-for-answers-on-e-scooters/

Cities look to data for answers on e-scooters

By CARRIE TAIT

Staff

CALGARY – Calgarians puttering around on electric scooters flock to Prince’s Island Park, a downtown gem and the river paths. Montrealers favour Old Montreal. And in Edmonton, Whyte Avenue, known for pubs and shops, is a popular destination.

A handful of Canadian cities launched e-scooter pilot projects this summer, writing bylaws with limited data. Even the most basic rule – where, exactly, are riders allowed to scoot – varies from city to city. In Edmonton, for example, scooters are allowed on streets with speed limits up to 50 kilometres an hour, but not sidewalks; in Calgary, sidewalks are in and roads are out.

Now, as summer wraps up, politicians and urban planners have information they will use to rewrite the rules for shared escooters. But the data will do far more than influence speed limits on pathways. It will affect largescale infrastructure plans – the types of projects that cost billions of dollars and take years to complete.

Shauna Brail is a professor at the University of Toronto’s urban-planning program and studies new methods of transportation – think bike-sharing programs and autonomous vehicles – in cities. She anticipates cities will adopt stricter rules around where users can leave their scooters.

“I think we’ll start to see more and more regulations around parking,” Dr. Brail said. “This is one of the biggest pieces of contention.”

Two companies dominate pilot projects in Canada: Lime and Bird. Riders use apps to find and unlock scooters, and are generally charged a flat rate to get started and then pay by the minute. Users in some cities can leave the scooters anywhere within designated boundaries; riders in other cities can park only in specific spots. Some cities allow parking on sidewalks, so long as the scooters do not obstruct the walkway.

Calgary received 62 complaints through its 311 service about abandoned or improperly parked scooters in the first nine weeks of the pilot project. Parking complaints were the second most common reason citizens turned to 311 regarding scooters, behind sidewalk conflicts.

Montreal, which launched its pilot project in August, has already taken action to thwart troublesome parking jobs. Politicians there last week announced plans to fine e-scooter and e-bike users $50 for shoddy parking and Montreal will fine the companies $100 every time a police officer or city official finds one of their respective scooters or bikes parked illegally.

Calgary approved 1,500 scooters for the pilot project launched in the middle of July. Their popularity among users outpaced the city’s expectations. As of Wednesday, riders in Calgary had made a collective 542,374 trips covering more than 1.1 million kilometres. The median trip lasts 10 minutes, according to city data.

Roughly 142,100 unique users have used the e-scooters at least once. After accounting for tourist traffic, city officials estimate this means about 10 per cent of Calgarians have gone for at least one spin. These numbers exclude privately owned e-scooters.

Calgary’s 311 data show the most common concern about escooters stems from riding on sidewalks, which is legal in the city. Concerned citizens, for example, want the scooters to slow down and want the city to crack down on riders who are inconsiderate on the sidewalks, the city said. It counts 112 submissions related to sidewalks.

The 311 data, however, also demonstrate Calgarians are adjusting to e-scooters. Since the pilot’s launch, the city service recorded 281 submissions tied to escooters. Complaints spiked around the third week of the pilot, with 68 concerns registered.

But submissions have dropped every week since, hitting and holding at 15 around weeks eight and nine.

Nathan Carswell, Calgary’s shared-mobility program co-ordinator, said the city will make changes as data flow in. Sidewalk problems, for example, may be alleviated by working with the scooter companies to lower the machines’ top speed in designated areas, such as busy downtown corridors, Mr. Carswell said.

GPS data, injury rates and the degree of conflict with pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, will help shape city infrastructure.

The information, Mr. Carswell said, provides hints on where Calgary should expand its separated bike-lane network, whether sidewalks in some areas should be widened, or whether there are areas where it would be appropriate to allow scooters on roadways, for example.

“I think they are here for the long run,” he said.

In Edmonton, which launched its pilot project in the middle of August, Mayor Don Iveson noted pedestrians, business owners and people with mobility issues have complained about users illegally riding the scooters on the sidewalk.

“It is not going well,” he said.

The mayor has also said if issues persist, Edmonton will reassess whether e-scooters are suitable in Alberta’s capital.

Eddy Lang, the department head for emergency medicine at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, is analyzing statistics related to ER and urgent-care visits related to scooters and bicycle incidents.

There have been 477 visits to Calgary’s ER and urgent-care facilities owing to scooter injuries. Fractures are the most common reason, clocking in at 121 incidents, followed by head and facial injuries, at 83 visits. Visits related to bicycle injuries far outpace scooter visits, but there are far more cyclists than scooter riders in the city.

Announcement of September 25, 2019 Federal Candidates’ Forum on the, Accessible Canada Act

Originally posted at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/accessible-canada-act-candidates-forum-tickets-71795944603

Sep 25

Accessible Canada Act: Candidates’ Forum

By Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena

Wed, 25 September 2019, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT

Join us to learn more about the Accessible Canada Act and to hear directly from federal candidates on potential implementation strategies

About this Event

On June 21, 2019, the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81), received Royal Assent after passing unanimously through the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada.

The act fulfills the government’s mandate promise to introduce new accessibility legislation toward ensuring a barrier-free Canada, though no recommendations have been made to date.

To learn more about the act and its potential implications for Canadians, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena are hosting Accessible Canada Act: Candidates’ Forum that will serve to educate on the importance of the act, its potential outcomes and provide an opportunity to hear directly from candidates on their parties’ potential implementation strategies.

Light refreshments will be served. Kashrut observed.

If you require any special accommodations to attend the event, please send an email to [email protected] before September 20.

Announcement of the September 25, 2019 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit

Originally posted at http://ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Public_Forum_on_Accessible_Transit/2019/index.jsp

The 2019 Public Forum on Accessible Transit is happening this September!

On Wednesday, September 25 the 2019 Public Forum on Accessible Transit is taking place at the Beanfield Centre!

Join us to learn more about Easier Access at the TTC, Family of Services and conditional trip-matching.

For further information on accommodations, booking your trip and the livestream, please head to: http://www.ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Public_Forum_on_Accessible_Transit/2019/index.jsp



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What Pledges Will the Federal Party Leaders Make in This Election to Make Canada Accessible for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities? Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Is First National Leader to Write the AODA Alliance to Pledge to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What Pledges Will the Federal Party Leaders Make in This Election to Make Canada Accessible for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities? Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Is First National Leader to Write the AODA Alliance to Pledge to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act

September 19, 2019 Toronto: In the federal election, the NDP is the first federal party to write the AODA Alliance to commit to strengthen the recently-enacted Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against over six million people with disabilities. In its July 18, 2019 letter to the major party leaders, the non-partisan AODA Alliance requested 11 specific commitments to strengthen the ACA and to ensure its swift and effective implementation and enforcement. (Summary of 11 requests set out below). On September 16, 2019, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh became the first, and to date, the only federal leader to answer this request. In the NDP’s letter, set out below, Mr. Singh makes several of the commitments the AODA Alliance sought.

“We’ve gotten commitments from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, so now we aim to get the other federal party leaders to meet or beat those commitments,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. “We and other disability advocates together got the Accessible Canada Act introduced into Parliament, and then got it strengthened somewhat over the past year before it was passed in June. It has helpful ingredients, but is too weak. We are seeking commitments to ensure that this law gets strengthened, and that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced.”

In Parliament, the Liberals have made promising statements about what the new law would achieve for people with disabilities. Commitments are now sought to turn those statements into assured action.

Even though Parliament unanimously passed the ACA, the federal parties were substantially divided on whether it went far enough to meet the needs of people with disabilities. The Tories, NDP and Greens argued in Parliament for the bill to be made stronger, speaking on behalf of diverse voices from the disability community. Last year, the Liberals voted down most of the proposed opposition amendments that were advanced on behalf of people with disabilities.

Last spring, the Senate called for new measures to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities. The ACA does not ensure this.

Among the disability organizations that are raising disability issues in this election, the AODA Alliance is spearheading a blitz to help the grassroots press these issues on the hustings, in social media and at all-candidates’ debates. The AODA Alliance is tweeting candidates across Canada to solicit their commitments and will make public any commitments that the other party leaders make. Follow @aodaalliance. As a non-partisan effort, the AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any party or candidate.

The AODA Alliance is also calling on the Federal Government and Elections Canada to ensure for the first time that millions of voters with disabilities can vote in this election without fearing that they may encounter accessibility barriers in the voting process.

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

For background on the AODA Alliance ‘s participation in the grassroots non-partisan campaign since 2015 for the Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

September 16, 2019 Letter to the AODA Alliance from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

From: Jagmeet Singh <[email protected]>
Date: September 16, 2019 at 10:54:40 AM EDT
To:[email protected]” <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Seeking All Parties’ election commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your questionnaire.

Please find the NDP’s response attached.

All the best,

NDP Team

Attachment: NDP Response:  Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

  1. Will you enact or amend legislation to require the Federal Government, the CTA

and the CRTC to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in all the areas that

the ACA covers within four years? If not, will you commit that those regulations

will be enacted under the ACA within four years?

We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make accessibility standards in a timely manner.

The NDP made multiple attempts to include implementation of timelines. During Committee meetings of Persons Living with Disabilities, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us aligned with the leading experts’ proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties. A New Democrat government will work hard to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in a timely fashion.

  1. Will your party commit to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced?

 

Yes, it’s critical to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced. Once again, the NDP made multiple attempts to ensure the ACA is effectively enforced. During Committee, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us were taken from their proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut

this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties.

  1. Will your party ensure by legislation, and if not, then by public policy, that no one will use public money distributed by the Government of Canada in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers, including e.g., payments by the Government of Canada to any person or entity to purchase or rent any goods, services or facilities, or to contribute to the construction, expansion or renovation of any infrastructure or other capital project, or to provide a business development loan or grant to any person or entity?

The Liberal government missed a sizable opportunity in C-81. Federal money should never used by any recipient to create or perpetuate disability barriers. We proposed such an amendment during committee hearing.

Our ultimate goal is to help foster a society in which all of our citizens are able to participate fully and equally. We believe that this cannot happen

until all of our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. The NDP would require that federal public money would never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers, including federal money received for procurement; infrastructure; transfer payments; research grants; business development loans or grants, or for any other kind of payment, including purpose under a contract.

  1. Will your party amend the ACA to provide that if a provision of the ACA or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility shall prevail, and that nothing in the ACA or in any regulations enacted under it or in any actions taken under it shall reduce any rights which people with disabilities otherwise enjoy under law?

Yes, if a provision of the Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any

other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons  with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation,  buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.

  1. Will your party repeal the offending portion of section 172(3) of the ACA that

reads “but if it does so, it may only require the taking of appropriate corrective

measures.”” And replace them with words such as: “and grant a remedy in

accordance with subsection 2.”?

 

We will review section 172(3) of the ACA a take the appropriate corrective measures to make

sure airlines and railways pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to

pay up.

  1. Will your party assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the ACA to the Federal Cabinet? If not, then at a minimum, would your party require by legislation or policy that the CRTC, CTA and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board must, within six months, establish  policies, practices and procedures for expeditiously receiving, investigating,  considering and deciding upon complaints under this Act which are the same as or

as reasonably close as possible to, those set out for the Accessibility  Commissioner?

Yes. The Liberal government`s Bill C-81 wrongly gave several public agencies or officials far too much sweeping power to grant partial or blanket exemptions

to specific organizations from important parts of this bill. C-81 separated enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies. Rather it should be providing people with disabilities with what they need: the single service location or, one-stop shop..

We will assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the

ACA to the Federal Cabinet.

  1. Will your Party review all federal laws to identify any which require or permit any barriers against people with disabilities, and will your party amend Section 2 of the ACA (definition of “barrier”) to add the words “a law”, so that it will read:

“barrier means anything — including anything physical, architectural,

technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or

communications or anything that is the result of a law, a policy or a

practice — that hinders the full and equal participation in society of

persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental,

intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory

impairment or a functional limitation.”

The NDP has long been committed to the rights of persons with disabilities. It has been our longstanding position that all of government—every budget,

every policy and regulation—should be viewed through a disability lens. The NDP has supported the establishment of a Canadians with Disabilities Act for many years.

  1. Will your party pass legislation or regulations and adopt policies needed to ensure that federal elections become barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.

New Democrats have always fought to remove the barriers keeping persons with disabilities from living with dignity and independence, because when barriers are removed all Canadians are empowered to participate fully in society and we all benefit.

We brought forward amendments to C-81 that require the Accessibility Commissioner to appoint, within 12 months of the bill being enacted, an independent person (with no current or prior involvement in administering elections) to conduct an Independent Review of disability barriers in the election process, with a requirement to consult the public, including persons with disabilities, and to report within 12 months to the Federal Government. Their report should immediately be made public. Additionally, we would require the Federal Government to designate a minister with responsibility to bring forward a bill to reform elections legislation within 12 months of the completion of that Independent Review.

  1. Will your Party eliminate or reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes? Such as eliminating the power to exempt the Government of Canada, or a federal department or agency? If not, will your party commit not to grant any exemptions from the ACA?

 

Nine years ago, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with

Disabilities (CRPD). Though the Liberal government has tabled a new Accessibility Act, its’ exemptions mean C-81 falls short of meeting Canada’s goal of creating an inclusive and barrier-free country. An NDP government will reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes.

 

  1. Will your party 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 CTA) become accessible.

The amendment we brought forward during the C-81 proceedings would have required the

Minister of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Government, to develop and implement a multi-

year plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and

Federal Courts) as well as federally-created administrative tribunals become fully accessible to

court participants with disabilities, by the bill’s accessibility deadline. This should adopt and

build upon the work of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee, which oversees efforts on

accessibility for provincially-regulated courts in Ontario.

  1. Would your party pass the amendments to the ACA which the opposition proposed in the fall of 2018 in the House of Commons, which the Government had defeated, and which would strengthen the ACA?

 

Absolutely! The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of

Liberal half-measures. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal Party rhetoric.

Summary of the Election Pledges that the AODA Alliance Sought In Its July 18, 2019 Letter to the Federal Party Leaders

The specific pledges we seek include:

  1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.
  1. The ACA should be effectively enforced.
  1. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.
  1. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.
  1. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.
  2. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in One federal agency, not splintered among several of them.
  1. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.
  1. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.
  1. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.
  1. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.
  1. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.



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Tell the Ford Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Brief and Recommendations on the Government’s Proposal to Hold a 5-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario – and – Lots More Media Coverage of Our Issues Over the Past Two Weeks


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Tell the Ford Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Brief and Recommendations on the Government’s Proposal to Hold a 5-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario – and – Lots More Media Coverage of Our Issues Over the Past Two Weeks

September 13, 2019

SUMMARY

1. Please Tell the Ford Government If you Support the AODA Alliance’s Brief on the Proposal to Hold a 5-Year Pilot Project Allowing E-scooters in Ontario

Please email the Doug Ford Government as soon as you can to support the AODA Alliance’s September 12, 2019 brief on the Government’s proposal to permit the use of electric scooters on Ontario roads and bike paths for the next 5 years as a pilot project. Even though the Government’s incredibly-rushed 2.5 week public consultation on this proposal ended yesterday, nothing stops you from now writing the Government. Send your email to: [email protected]

It’s best when you use your own words in your email. If you are in a rush, you can simply say:

I support the September 12, 2019 brief to the Ontario Government on its proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot project.

Feel free to copy us on your email to the Government if you wish. Our email address is [email protected]

You can write the Government as an individual. We are also eager for any community organizations to write the Government to support our brief as an organization.

In summary, the AODA Alliance brief calls for the Government not to allow e-scooters in Ontario. It urges the Government to withdraw its proposal to hold an excessive 5-year pilot that would allow anyone age 16 and up to ride e-scooters on Ontario roads and bike paths, even if they and the e-scooter have no training, are uninsured and have no license.

E-scooters racing at up to 32 KPH will create serious new public safety and disability accessibility problems. Either riding or leaving an e-scooter on a sidewalk should be banned. An e-scooter left on a sidewalk should be immediately forfeited and confiscated.

If, despite this, e-scooters are allowed at all, e-scooter rentals, like those dominating in some US cities, should not be permitted. An e-scooter and its driver should be required to have a license and insurance. Virtually silent e-scooters should be required to audibly beep when in use, to warn pedestrians, including those who are blind, that they are racing towards them.

The AODA Alliance opposes the idea of the Province first permitting e-scooters and then leaving it to municipalities to regulate them. Ontarians with disabilities and others who do not welcome a risk to their safety should not have to fight separate battles, in one city after the next. Each municipality should not be burdened to clean up the mess that the Province is proposing to create.

If, despite these serious concerns, the Government wishes to proceed with a pilot, it should be for 6 months, not 5 years. It should be restricted to a small part of Ontario. The residents of an area selected for such a pilot should have to first consent to the pilot taking place there.

To make it easier for you, below we set out the 16 recommendations in our brief. You can read the entire AODA Alliance September 12, 2019 brief on this topic by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-files-a-brief-with-ontarios-doug-ford-government-urging-that-ontario-should-not-allow-e-scooters-should-withdraw-its-proposal-for-a-5-year-e-scooter-pilot-project-or-if-allowed-sh/

We again thank the people who took the time to send us their feedback on our earlier draft of this brief. Their input helped us as we turned that draft into the finished product that we made public yesterday. We are encouraged by the strong support for our concerns that has been voiced.

2. Yet More Great Media Coverage of Our Issues Over the Past Two Weeks

To supplement the recent coverage of the disability concerns regarding the Ford Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot that has been reported in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, City TV news and several CBC radio programs, our accessibility issues have kept getting great media coverage. We set out a sampling below. We also include an item that concerns weak action by the Federal Government on the eve of the current federal election in its early days to implement the brand-new Accessible Canada Act.

  1. The September 9, 2019 Toronto Star included a good editorial that raised a number of concerns that we had earlier raised with the Ford Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario. We applaud this editorial, even though the Star did not refer to the specific disability concerns that we had raised and did not mention the AODA Alliance.
  1. The September 10, 2019 Toronto Star included a letter to the editor from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. It pointed out the additional disability concerns with the Ford Government’s e-scooter proposal that the Star’s September 9, 2019 editorial did not mention.
  1. The Toronto Star’s September 10, 2019 edition also included an article on concerns with e-scooters that were raised at a meeting of a Toronto City council Committee. We were not involved in that committee’s meeting. That article reported on Toronto Mayor John Tory’s commendable reluctance to allow e-scooters in Toronto.
  1. On September 11, 2019, CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning program included an interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the e-scooters issue. CBC posted an online news report on that issue, based on that interview. That interview supplements the interviews on the same issue that all seven other CBC local morning programs aired one week earlier, on September 4, 2019, with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.
  1. The September 12, 2019 Toronto Star included another letter to the editor on the e-scooters issue. It voiced strong opposition to allowing e-scooters in Ontario. It did not refer to disability-specific concerns with e-scooters.
  1. The September 9, 2019 edition of the Globe and Mail included an article by the Canadian Press that a number of other media outlets also posted on their websites. It focuses on a number of concerns with new regulations enacted by the Canadian Transportation Agency to address disability accessibility needs in federally-regulated transportation, such as air travel. That article quoted a number of sources from the disability community, including the AODA Alliance. Its quotes of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky are to some extent inaccurate.

The regulation addressed in this article is the first such regulation enacted in this area since Parliament passed the Accessible Canada Act last June. The problems with that regulation exemplify the serious concerns we raised over the past year at the House of Commons and Senate with the Accessible Canada Act leaving the Canadian Transportation Agency with responsibility for creating regulations in the area of accessible transportation. Regulations seem to cater far more to the resistance of airlines and other federally-regulated transportation providers, and too little to the needs of passengers with disabilities.

3. The Ford Government’s Dithering on the Onley Report Continues

There have been 226 days, or over seven months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of Ontario’s accessibility law, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government has not announced any plan of action to implement the Onley report.

The Onley report showed that Ontario remains full of “soul-crushing” barriers against over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities, and that Ontario Government action to redress these has been inadequate.

          MORE DETAILS

List of the 16 Recommendations in the AODA Alliance’s September 12, 2019 Brief to the Ontario Government Regarding E-scooters

Recommendation #1

There should be no pilot project allowing e-scooters to be driven in public places in Ontario.

Recommendation #2

The Government should withdraw this e-scooter public consultation and go back to the drawing board. If it is not prepared to withdraw this public consultation on e-scooters, the Ontario Government should at least extend the consultation period to October 31, 2019.

Recommendation #3

The rental of e-scooters should be strictly forbidden, even if private ownership of an e-scooter by a user of that e-scooter were to be permitted.

Recommendation #4

There should be a strict ban on leaving an e-scooter in a public sidewalk or like location. If an e-scooter is left in such a place, it should be subject to immediate confiscation and forfeiture, as well as a strict penalty.

Recommendation #5

If e-scooters are to be permitted in Ontario, they should be required to make an ongoing beeping sound when they are powered on, to warn others of their approach.

Recommendation #6

The speed limit for e-scooters should initially be set much lower than 32 KPH, such as 15 or 20 KPH, until a strong showing can be made that a higher speed limit poses no safety threat to the public.

 

Recommendation #7

A person wishing to drive an e-scooter should be required to first take required training on its safe operation and on the rules of the road, and then to obtain a license.

Recommendation #8

Each e-scooter should be required to be licensed and to display a readily-seen license plate number.

Recommendation #9

The owner and driver of an e-scooter should be required to carry sufficient liability insurance for injuries or other damages that the e-scooter causes to others.

Recommendation #10

All e-scooter drivers, regardless of their age, should be required to wear a helmet whenever operating an e-scooter.

Recommendation #11

No e-scooter pilot project should be held in Ontario until the Ontario Government effectively studies the impact on public safety of e-scooters in jurisdictions that have allowed them, and on options for regulatory controls of them, and has made the details of these public. A pilot project should only be held in Ontario if public safety can be fully and effectively protected.

Recommendation #12

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, it should only take place for a period much shorter than five years, e.g. six months, and should only take place in a specific community that has consented to permit that pilot project there.

Recommendation #13

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, the Ontario Government should retain a trusted independent organization with expertise in public safety to study the impact of e-scooters during that pilot project, and to make the full results of that study public.

Recommendation #14

The Government should not treat a ban on riding e-scooters on the sidewalk, while necessary, as a sufficient protection against the threat to public safety that e-scooters present.

Recommendation #15

nothing should be done to reduce or restrict the availability or use of powered mobility devices used by people with disabilities.

Recommendation #16

The Ontario Government should not permit e-scooters and then leave it to each municipality to regulate them or leave it to each municipality to decide if they want to permit e-scooters.

The Toronto Star September 9, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/09/09/ontario-can-do-better-on-electric-scooters.html

Editorial

Let’s do better on e-scooters

Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying that two-wheeled electric scooters are finding their way onto streets, cycle paths and sidewalks all over the world.

So Ontario’s plan to regulate them is welcome, and a pilot project is a good way to find out if its rules work or a different approach is needed.

But there are significant problems with the proposal the Ford government quietly posted online last week.

The first relates to speed. That’s both the 32 km/h allowable speed for e-scooters, which is too fast to be safe for riders or the people around them, and the public consultation period.

Originally, the government thought two days would be sufficient for consultation. After an uproar that was extended until Sept. 12, which is still unnecessarily hasty.

The second concern is over the length of Ontario’s pilot project – an astonishing five years.

That’s longer than the mandate of a provincial government and it’s far too long for an e-scooter trial, especially if problems arise here as they have elsewhere. The results should be reviewed after no more than a year to decide whether it should continue, be changed or be scrapped entirely.

The current proposal would limit scooters to roads, lanes and paths where bicycles are allowed and set a minimum age of 16 to ride one.

If these rules go forward, they’ll throw open the door to rental companies that operate like bike-share programs but with dockless scooters that can be left anywhere. Tourists and locals use an app to find and unlock them.

The government’s summary of its plan breezily states that “e-scooters have been launched in more than 125 cities across the United States.”

They’re in Canadian and European cities, too. But none of that has been without considerable controversy and problems.

Chicago has fined rental companies for failing to live up to the rules it set. Nashville just ended its pilot and banned e-scooters entirely.

People in Los Angeles are vandalizing them in protest. And in Paris, a group of victims of e-scooter accidents are threatening to sue the city and demanding stricter rules to deal with the “chaos and anarchy in the streets.”

Even their credentials as a particularly green form of transport are being challenged. Are they replacing car trips or healthier walking?

While the annoyance of e-scooters cluttering sidewalks and creating tripping hazards or riders breaking laws and behaving badly gets the lion’s share of the negative attention, the people at the greatest risk are users themselves. (Most don’t wear helmets and, like cyclists, they really should.) An American study found an emergency room surge in head injuries, fractures and dislocations related to scooters.

All of this is of particular concern in Toronto, which is already struggling with its Vision Zero plan to make roads safer for everyone. There’s a lot of tension on city streets and the addition of scooter rental companies catering in part to tourists unfamiliar with the city’s traffic rules and its many potholes will only add to that.

The province’s pilot project must give municipalities the flexibility they need to manage the challenges of e-scooters and come up with local solutions.

That’s the only hope of reaping the potential benefits of this new form of shared transportation.

Around the world e-scooters have grown faster than the rules to regulate them, much like ride-hailing and home-sharing services. So, yes, let’s get ahead of it for once.

But let’s not pretend we’re starting from scratch. Ontario needs to design a pilot project that learns from mistakes elsewhere rather than simply repeating them.

The Toronto Star September 10, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/09/10/ontarians-with-disabilities-on-losing-end-of-e-scooter-pilot.html

Letters to the Editor

Ontarians with disabilities on losing end of e-scooter pilot

Let’s do better on e-scooters, Editorial, Sept. 9

It’s great that your editorial demands the Ford government be more cautious before exposing Ontarians to the dangers that electric scooters pose if allowed.

But you missed key problems.

The Star said “The people at the greatest risk are users themselves.” In fact, Ontarians with disabilities are among those at greatest risk. Rental e-scooters, routinely left on sidewalks in other cities where allowed, are a serious tripping hazard for blind people like me. They are a new accessibility barrier for people using wheelchairs or walkers. Silent e-scooters are also a danger to us blind people when we cross streets.

The Disabilities Act requires the government to lead Ontario to become barrier-free for Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. The Ford government is way behind on this. E-scooters would create new disability barriers.

Those injured by e-scooters aren’t just the users, but innocent pedestrians. Premier Doug Ford promised to end hallway medicine. The hours of waiting to see a doctor in emergency rooms will only get longer as they are cluttered up with e-scooters’ victims, drivers and pedestrians.

If Ontario is to pilot e-scooters, it should have safeguards like your editorial mentioned. We must go further. Ontario shouldn’t run any pilot until and

unless e-scooters’ safety risks are eliminated.

Banning e-scooters from being driven on sidewalks won’t protect us. Such a ban, while needed, is extremely difficult to enforce.

Don’t burden municipalities with cleaning up this mess. Strict provincial rules must ensure our safety.

David Lepofsky, chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto

The Toronto Star September 10, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/09/09/toronto-committee-wants-e-scooters-barred-from-sidewalks.html

City wants e-scooters off sidewalks

Bird CEO argues temporary ban will make launch impossible

Francine Kopun

The Toronto Star Sept. 10, 2019

Barring e-scooters from city sidewalks, recommended by a city committee on Monday, would make it impossible to introduce the concept to Toronto, according to the CEO of Bird Canada, an e-scooter company hoping to launch here in the spring of 2020.

“If you can’t park them on the sidewalk and you can’t park them on the street, I guess we’re parking them in the air?” Stewart Lyons said.

“I don’t know where we’re parking them. They can’t fly.”

Lyons was speaking after the city’s infrastructure and environment committee passed a motion that would temporarily prevent e-scooters from occupying sidewalks – at least until city staff can come up with a better plan, expected later this year.

Lyons said being able to park e-scooters on some sidewalks is a key part of the e-scooter program.

He said it would be hard to create enough demand if the scooters can’t be made available to customers right where they live and work, arguing that docking stations, such as those used by the current Bike Share Toronto program, wouldn’t be accessible enough.

Currently, users in cities where shared e-scooter programs are in place can locate scooters near them using an app.

Mayor John Tory said he supports the motion, saying it’s meant to preserve the status quo, so Toronto doesn’t have an uncontrolled and undisciplined entry of e-scooters into the market.

Tory said he is concerned about the safety of scooter use and clutter they may create, adding Toronto has many narrow sidewalks and the city must be careful with regulations controlling their use.

The mayor said he has seen scooters littering sidewalks in Austin, Texas, and has asked mayors from other cities about their experiences with the dockless devices.

“They described it all the way from successful to others who would describe it … as a gong show,” Tory said. “We don’t want any gong shows in Toronto, we don’t want people to have their safety imperiled on sidewalks or elsewhere and we don’t want the city to become cluttered.”

Tory said he personally doesn’t think e-scooters should be allowed to be driven on sidewalks, or left helter-skelter there, but he’ll wait to see what city staff propose.

The fact that e-scooters from companies such as Bird and rival firm Lime have no docking stations has led to problems in some cities, with scooters being littered across sidewalks, thrown into bushes and even into bodies of water.

Lyons said that was a problem in the early days of the program, but it’s mostly been resolved. He said the scooters were being left around because the company was hiring workers on contract who were ditching them instead of relocating them in order to save time.

These days, the company uses a more secure method to collect, charge and redistribute the scooters. The program is active in Edmonton and Calgary and is set to launch in Montreal in a couple of weeks, Lyons said.

“The good thing about Canada starting a little bit later is we have now the lessons learned and now we want to be better …. operators,” Lyons said.

The province intends to release regulations soon concerning the use of e-scooters on roads. But it’s up to the city to police sidewalks.

Committee member Mike Layton (Ward 11, University-Rosedale) said the ban on sidewalk use by e-scooters, if council adopts it, would be temporary, until city staff can come up with a more detailed plan.

He said the committee is already thinking of ways to refine it, but they wanted to get out in front of the issue quickly.

“We wanted to make sure that the city’s regulatory regime is out front before one of these companies tried to come into a municipality and impose a system,” said Layton, who supports the idea of docking stations for e-scooters.

The province is looking at a five-year pilot program that would allow e-scooters to be operated in the same places bicycles can operate. It’s looking for feedback by Sept. 12 on the proposal.

The proposed rules would set a minimum age for drivers at 16 and a maximum speed of 32 km/h.

E-scooters, which have been adopted in numerous cities in North America and Europe, are being pitched as a solution to gridlock in big cities and an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, but have proven controversial.

Nashville banned them entirely after a pilot project. In Los Angeles, people are vandalizing them in protest.

The problem is they clutter sidewalks when not in use, presenting obstacles for pedestrians, people pushing strollers and anyone with a visual or mobility impairment.

One U.S. study traced a surge in head injuries, fractures and dislocations treated in emergency rooms to scooter use. And researchers at North Carolina State University found that scooter travel produces more greenhouse gas emissions per kilometre than travelling by foot, bicycle or public transit.

Bird Canada is offering free trials of its scooters in the Distillery District until Sunday.

It expects to charges $1.15 to unlock its scooters and 35 cents a minute to ride them when it introduces the service next spring.

“Hopefully some cooler heads prevail between now and council,” Lyons said.

CBC Radio Ottawa September 11, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/e-scooters-disabilities-ontario-feedback-pilot-project-1.5278879

Ottawa

Scrap Ontario e-scooter pilot, disability advocate urges

Province seeking feedback ahead of proposed 5-year pilot project

The Ontario government is considering a five-year pilot project that would allow e-scooters on the province’s roads, but disability advocates have major concerns with the plan. (Mike

A group that advocates for the rights of disabled Ontarians is urging the province to hit the brakes on a proposed five-year e-scooter pilot project before it begins.

The province has been seeking public feedback on their plan to allow electric scooters on the same roads where bicycles can operate, save for provincial highways.

  • Ontario plans to launch 5-year pilot project that allows e-scooters on roads
  • Why an image problem is slowing e-scooter rollout in Canada

Under the proposed pilot, drivers would have to be at least 16 years old and could not have passengers. The e-scooters could not exceed a maximum operating speed of 32 km/h.

Even with those limitations, allowing e-scooters on the roads will make it harder for people with disabilities to get around, and could lead to more injuries, said David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“We’ve got lots of proof that these pose a lot of problems,” Lepofsky told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning. “We don’t need to experiment on Ontarians.”

‘An instant barrier’

Many e-scooter rental services around the world allow users to sign out the devices using an app and then — once they’re done with them — simply leave them behind on a sidewalk or other public space.

While Lepofsky’s group has asked the Ontario government to kill its pilot project entirely, it has also come up with 12 draft recommendations should the experiment ultimately go ahead.

They include cutting the maximum speed limit by as much as half, requiring drivers to be licensed and levying strict penalties if the scooters are dumped on sidewalks — though Lepofsky admits that last recommendation could be hard to enforce.

Something can be barrelling at me at 32 kilometres an hour … and I can’t know they’re coming.

“You’re walking down the street, you’re blind, and all of the sudden there’s an instant barrier, a tripping hazard in your path,” said Lepofsky, who’s been blind most of his life.

“Five minutes later it could be gone … how do you prove your case? We don’t have police on every corner just waiting to enforce [that restriction].”

Then, there’s the fact the scooters are largely silent: Lepofsky also wants the e-scooters, if they’re allowed, to emit beeping noises that warn others of their approach.

“Something can be barrelling at me at 32 km/h, ridden at me by an unlicensed and uninsured driver,” Lepofsky said. “And I can’t know they’re coming.”

David Lepofsky, a law professor and chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, says the province should rethink its plans for a five-year e-scooter pilot project. (Tina Mackenzie/CBC)

Safety ‘key consideration’

Lepofsky also questioned the need for a five-year study that would be rolled out from one end of Ontario to the other.

“If you want to see if it’s safe on our roads, you do it for a much [narrower] piece of territory, not the entire province of Ontario, and for a much shorter period — six months or something like that is what we’d propose,” he said.

San Francisco-based Lime has already been lobbying Ottawa city councillors, claiming its dockless e-scooters would be an ideal fit with the city’s stated transportation goals.

The company recently wrapped up a trial rollout at the University of Waterloo, with competitor Bird Canada slated to launch a similar project this month in Toronto’s Distillery District.

  • E-scooter pilot project to launch in Toronto, but major hurdles remain
  • Lime e-scooter pilot project to end in Waterloo

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation declined an interview with CBC News, but said in a statement that all feedback heard during the consultation process “will be taken into consideration before any final decisions on the pilot take place.”

“Ensuring that new vehicle types can integrate safely with pedestrians and other vehicles is a key consideration before any new vehicle type will be allowed on-road,” the statement said.

The public consultation period wraps up Sept. 12.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning

The Toronto Star September 12, 2019

Letters to the editor

E-scooters have no place in current infrastructure

City wants e-scooters off sidewalks, Sept. 10

Toronto is in the throes of a traffic crisis. Deaths and injuries are occurring daily.

To this we plan to add e-scooters, which can travel at 32 kph, into the already-congested bike lanes, to be ultimately discarded on our sidewalks?

Surely wisdom dictates that adding another form of transportation into this chaos is not a move to be contemplated until our city figures out a way to make commuters safe within our present infrastructure. E-scooters? Eek!

Judith Butler, Toronto

The Globe and Mail September 9, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-advocates-say-new-canadian-air-travel-rules-present-greater-barriers/

Report on Business

Advocates of accessible air travel say new rules raise barriers to mobility

By CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS

THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL – Tracy Odell recalls with a mix of pride and pain the sunny spring day two years ago that her daughter got married in California.

Pride in the milestone. Pain at having to miss it.

Airlines, she said, effectively failed to accommodate her disability, a problem that thousands of Canadians continue to face despite new rules designed in theory to open the skies to disabled travellers.

As seating space shrank and cargo doors were often too small for customized wheelchairs, Ms.Odell cut back on the flights she once took routinely for her work with a non-profit.

“My wheelchair is part of me,” said Ms. Odell, 61, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that gradually prevents forming and keeping the muscles needed to walk, balance, eat and even breathe. “I’m helpless without it.”

“It’s like if someone says, ‘I’m sorry, you can travel but we have to unscrew your legs,’ ” said Ms.Odell, who last took an airplane in 2009.

Her $18,000 mobility device is not allowed in the aircraft cabin, nor can it fit through some cargo doors without being tipped on its side, risking damage. As a result, her husband opted to stay by her side and miss their daughter’s San Jose wedding, too.

Ms. Odell, president of Citizens with Disabilities Ontario, is one of a number of advocates who say new rules ostensibly designed to make air travel more accessible fail to go far enough – and, in some cases, mark a step backward.

“It’s called second-class citizenry. I’ve felt it all my life,” said Marcia Yale, a lifelong advocate for blind Canadians.

The regulations, rolled out in June under a revised Canada Transportation Act – with most slated to take effect in June, 2020 – do little to improve spotty airport service or accommodate attendants and service dogs on international flights, she said.

“These are going backwards,” Ms. Yale said, citing carriers’ legal duty to accommodate. “We wanted pro-active regulations that were going to raise the bar. And in some ways, they’ve lowered it.”

The new rules require travellers to notify airlines anywhere from 48 to 96 hours in advance to receive certain accommodations, such as being guided through security or receiving help transferring from a wheelchair to a smaller, cabin-compatible mobility device. There are currently no rules requiring notification that can jeopardize last-minute travel for work or emergencies.

Many passenger planes’ cargo doors are about 79 centimetres in height – a little more than 2 1/2 – slightly smaller than a typical power wheelchair for youth, said Terry Green, chairman of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities’ transportation committee.

“These aircraft are totally restricting adults who use large mobility devices from travelling,” he said, saying many wheelchairs cannot fit into cargo at all.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) says it will be “monitoring … very closely” a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration study on wheelchair anchor systems, with an eye to allowing passengers to remain seated in the cabin in their mobility devices. A report is expected in the next three years.

David Lepofsky, an adjunct law professor at the University of Toronto, is reminded of the challenges facing disabled passengers by the case of a couple abandoned in their wheelchairs for 12 hours after being dropped at a service counter in the Vancouver airport en route to Edmonton from their home in Nepal earlier this year.

He can relate.

“There are times it takes me longer to get out of the airport than it took to fly here,” said Prof. Lepofsky, who is blind and travels frequently for lectures.

Prof. Lepofsky says he’ll often ask a passerby to guide him to the gate rather than go through the stop-and-go relay he’s experienced with airport and airline agents.

The Canadian Transportation Agency’s stated goals, variously defined as “equal access” and “more accessible” service, conflict with each other, leaving levels of accommodation unclear, Prof. Lepofsky said.

The rules require an airport to provide a disabled passenger with curb-to-gate assistance, except “if the transportation provider is providing that service.”

“It’s good that they spell out what has to be provided; it’s bad that there are so many escape clauses,” Prof. Lepofsky said.

He added that the confusion may be more tolerable if airports were required to install way-finding beacons – which connect with an app on a user’s smartphone via Bluetooth to offer verbal directions (Toronto’s Pearson airport recently added the devices) – or kiosks with audio output, an omission he deemed “inexcusable.”

The new rules come alongside a passenger bill of rights that beefs up compensation for travellers subjected to delayed flights and damaged luggage.

Consumer- rights advocates have said the regulations grant airlines loopholes to avoid payment, while Canadian carriers have launched a legal challenge to quash provisions they argue breach international standards.

Meanwhile, the new accessibility regulations require free travel for an attendant or guide dog in an adjacent seat only on domestic flights, with taxes and fees still applicable. A second phase of the regulatory process, now under way, will consider extending the one-person-one-fare requirement to international flights, according to the CTA.



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