Accessibility Law Reviews Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility law reviews across Canada.

Accessibility Law Reviews Across Canada

Ontario

Every four (4) years, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario appoints someone to review the AODA. This reviewer spends time meeting with the public, especially people with disabilities, discussing possible improvements the AODA might need. Based on this public feedback, the reviewer writes a report about how effective the AODA and its mandates are. In addition, the reviewer recommends steps the government can take to improve the Act. The reviewer then submits this report to the Minister in charge of the AODA.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia

Manitoba and Nova Scotia’s accessibility acts include similar review processes. However, these reviews take place every five (5) years, instead of every four (4) years. Moreover, while Ontario’s review process includes consultation with people who have disabilities, the other provinces’ review processes mandate more consultation. For instance, the reviewer of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act must consult with:

  • People with disabilities
  • Members of organizations that represent people with disabilities

In addition, reviewers of the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act must consult people representing the sectors of the economy that accessibility standards impact.

Accessible Canada Act

Likewise, committees from the Canadian House of Commons or the Senate must review how effective the Accessible Canada Act is. While preparing their review, committee members must consult with:

  • People with disabilities
  • Members of organizations that represent people with disabilities
  • People representing the sectors of the economy that accessibility standards impact

The second review of the Act must take place five (5) years after the first. However, the Act only mandates later reviews every ten (10) years.

Requirements under all these accessibility laws ensure that, from time to time, one or more people analyze how effective standards are. Moreover, accessibility law reviews ensure that the provincial and federal governments know whether or not standards are working well. In addition, the governments also receive reviewers’ suggestions about ways to improve the standards. If governments choose to implement any recommendations in the reviews of these laws, structures and services may gradually become accessible to people of all abilities.

However, none of these accessibility laws require the governments to implement any of the recommendations that reviewers make. As a result, these valuable suggestions for making Canada a more accessible country may never become reality.




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AODA Alliance to Present Tomorrow at Virtual Meeting of the City of Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee to Oppose Allowing Electric Scooters


Submits Brief Showing City Staff Reports Prove E-Scooters Endanger Public Safety and Accessibility for People with Disabilities, Seniors, Children and Others

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 24, 2021 Toronto: Tomorrow, starting at 9:30 am, the City of Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee will consider if the City should take steps to allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in Toronto. The AODA Alliance is scheduled to make a deputation to the Committee. The meeting will be live-streamed at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfe2rzOnQzgEDvNzRRPUJsA

The AODA Alliance filed a detailed brief with the Committee. It explains that e-scooters would endanger public safety, lead to injuries and even deaths, create barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities, and force the taxpayer to shoulder new financial burdens. A City Staff Report last summer showed that the supposed social benefits of e-scooters reducing road traffic and pollution are illusory and unproven.

“If e-scooters in Toronto get approved, Torontonians will suffer the personal injuries and get stuck paying the expenses while e-scooter rental companies, who are pushing for their product to get into Toronto, will earn the profits and try to dodge liability for injuries they cause,” said David Lepofsky, Chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance that has spearheaded advocacy to protect people with disabilities from the dangers that e-scooters pose. “Those e-scooter corporate lobbyists will be laughing all the way to the bank while we are sobbing all the way to hospital emergency rooms.”

The AODA Alliance will applaud the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee for unanimously advising Toronto City Council back on February 3, 2020 that e-scooters should remain banned in Toronto. It will call on Mayor John Tory and City Council members to stand up for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others whom e-scooters endanger. They should stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists that are inundating City Hall with a high-price feeding frenzy of backroom lobbying.

On October 30, 2020, a new report pulled back the curtain to reveal the stunning behind-the-scenes high-price feeding frenzy of back-room pressure that e-scooter corporate lobbyists have flooded City Hall with for months, relentlessly pressuring City Hall to pass a by-law to lift the much-needed ban on e-scooters. That report gave insight into why in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when other pressing issues should be a priority, Toronto’s municipal politicians are so seriously considering unleashing e-scooters in Toronto, despite their amply-documented dangers to people with disabilities, seniors and others. Key disability organizations vigourously oppose e-scooters, because of these proven dangers.

That report showed that entries in Toronto’s official Lobbyist Registry filling fully 73 pages, reveal that in just the two years from June 2018 to October 2020, eight e-scooter rental companies and three lobbying firms have documented fully 1,384 contacts with City Hall in person, by phone, by virtual meeting or by email. Amidst this onslaught of corporate lobbyists’ approaches are a dizzying 94 contacts with the Mayor’s Office, including 10 with Mayor Tory himself, 58 with the Mayor’s Senior Advisor, Legislative Affairs Daniela Magisano, 15 with Mayor Tory’s Director of Legislative Affairs Edward Birnbaum, 10 with his Chief of Staff Luke Robertson, and 1 with Mayor Tory’s Deputy Chief of Staff Courtney Glen.

Taking on the well-connected and well-funded corporate lobbyists at City Hall is quite a lopsided battle, but disability advocates are experienced with uphill battles. Corporate lobbyists are pressing for a pilot project in Toronto with e-scooters. This would be nothing less than a human experiment on the public and would endanger the public, including people with disabilities, without their consent. Human experimentation on non-consenting people is universally condemned.

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

For more background, read the AODA Alliance ‘s February 22, 2021 brief to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. Visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page. Check out the AODA Alliance’s short captioned video that shows why Toronto should not allow e-scooters.




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Accessibility Compliance Appeals Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility compliance appeals across Canada.

Accessibility Compliance Appeals Across Canada

Ontario

In Ontario, tribunals judge appeals that organizations make after they have received orders to comply with AODA standards. The Lieutenant Governor appoints AODA tribunals and specifies the types of appeals each tribunal can judge. In addition, the Lieutenant Governor can give tribunals other tasks or duties.

Organizations have fifteen (15) days after receiving an order to file an appeal. However, the tribunal can extend this time limit to accommodate someone with a disability, or for any other reason. Organizations must pay a filing fee.

During the appeal process, organizations are not required to comply with the order they are appealing.

People or organizations involved in an appeal to a tribunal include:

  • The organization appealing an order
  • The director who gave the order being appealed
  • Any other person or organization the Tribunal believes necessary for the appeal hearing

Moreover, appeal hearings most often take place in writing. Nonetheless, organizations can request to make their appeals in person. In some cases, the full tribunal hears appeals. In others, the chair of a tribunal can appoint a panel to oversee a hearing.

Orders of Tribunals

After a hearing, a tribunal makes a decision about whether the organization must obey the director’s order. For instance, the tribunal may:

  • Confirm the director’s order
  • Rescind the director’s order
  • Vary the director’s order

In other words, the tribunal may require the organization to comply with the director’s order. In contrast, the tribunal may remove the order. Alternatively, the tribunal may make changes to the order and require the organization to comply with the revised version.

Mediation

AODA tribunals may try to settle part or all of an appeal through mediation. The organization and director involved in the appeal must agree to the mediation. In addition, the tribunal must believe that mediation would be in the public interest. However, the AODA gives no further details about the mediation process, such as how tribunals proceed if mediation does not resolve an appeal.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia

In Manitoba and Nova Scotia, organizations also have the option of appealing directors’ orders. However, organizations appeal directly to a court, instead of to a tribunal. Nonetheless, many of the same rules of Ontario tribunal appeals also apply under other provincial accessibility laws. For example, the organization and director both take part in appeals. Likewise, organizations are not required to comply with orders that they are in the process of appealing. In addition, provincial courts can confirm, rescind, or vary orders.

However, directors and ministers in the other provinces have more power to enforce orders and the outcomes of appeals. For instance, in Manitoba, directors can publish reports that list the names of organizations that have received orders or penalties. Similarly, in Nova Scotia, the Minister in charge of the Act has the same power to publicize the names of non-compliant organizations. In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends that Ontario should follow this example, to better enforce the AODA.

Accessible Canada Act

The Accessible Canada Act outlines a similar appeal process. After reviewing and confirming a compliance order, the Accessibility Commissioner may send a warning to organizations that continue not to comply. These organizations can request another review to appeal the finding of non-compliance or the penalty the Accessibility Commissioner has given them. Alternatively, an organization can enter into a compliance agreement with the Accessibility Commissioner. This agreement, like an incentive agreement, allows the organization to work toward compliance, instead of paying a penalty.

As governments work together to align their accessibility laws, some AODA mandates may change so that law in Ontario corresponds more closely with laws in other provinces, or with the Accessible Canada Act. For instance, AODA appeals could one day take place in court, instead of in front of tribunals. Alternatively, Ontario organizations that violate the AODA could enter into compliance agreements, instead of attempting to settle appeals through mediation.




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AODA Alliance Submits a Short, Punchy Brief to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, Calling for Toronto Not to Lift the Much-Needed Ban on Electric Scooters


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: https://www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

February 22, 2021

SUMMARY

Today, the AODA Alliance submitted a short, strong brief to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, set out below. It calls for Toronto to leave in place the ban on electric scooters (e-scooters).

The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee will be holding a special virtual meeting on the issue of e-scooters, and the danger they pose for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, on Thursday, February 25, 2021. The AODA Alliance will be making a deputation at that meeting, in support of our brief.

Please spread the word about this issue. If you have not already done so, please write or phone Toronto Mayor John Tory. Tell him not to allow e-scooters in Toronto. His email is [email protected] You can call his office at 416 397-2489.

Send this new brief to your member of Toronto City Council, if you live in Toronto. If you are going to make a presentation to the February 25, 2021 meeting of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, please endorse this brief.

Learn more about this issue by watching the AODA Alliance’s new short, captioned video on why we must not allow e-scooters in Toronto. Also, check out the AODA Alliance’s action kit on this issue. Share these resources with your family members, friends and social media contacts.

Visit the AODA Alliance’s e-scooters web page. As always, we welcome your feedback. Write to us at [email protected]

Riding Electric Scooters in Toronto is Dangerous and Must Remain Banned
AODA Alliance brief to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee on Electric Scooters February 22, 2021
Via email: [email protected]

Mayor Tory and Toronto City Council must not unleash dangerous electric scooters in Toronto. Riding e-scooters in public places in Toronto is now banned and remains banned unless Council legalizes them.

The AODA Alliance strongly commends the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee for holding a special meeting on February 25, 2021, to obtain input from the disability community on the dangers that e-scooters present to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. We congratulate the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee for unanimously recommending to Toronto City Council a year ago, on February 3, 2020, that e-scooters should not be allowed in Toronto.

It was wrong for the City of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee to pay only token lip service to that wise recommendation, at its July 9, 2020 meeting. It was also wrong for fully 11 out of 23 members of City council to vote on July 28, 2020, against the City staff further investigating the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities, including Councilors Ainslie, Bailao, Colle, Crawford, Filion, Ford, Grimes, Holyday, Lai, Layton and McKelvie. The fact that 11 members of Toronto City Council openly voted against the needs of Torontonians with disabilities is very troubling. None of those Council members reached out to the AODA Alliance to learn of our concerns before voting against the City further investigating them.

A City Staff Report last July, supplemented by the new February 2021 City Staff report prepared for the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee (key excerpts are below), amply shows that e-scooters endanger public safety in communities that have permitted them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people like myself cannot detect silent e-scooters accelerate at us at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmeted fun-seeking riders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for people with vision loss and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

It is no solution to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. Last summer’s City Staff Report and the new City Staff report prepared for the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee (the latter excerpted below), document the silent menace of e-scooters continuing to be ridden on sidewalks in cities that just ban them from sidewalks. Toronto would need cops on every block. Toronto law enforcement told City Councilors on July 9, 2020, that they have no capacity to enforce new e-scooter rules. City Staff reported last summer that no city that allows e-scooters has gotten enforcement right.

E-scooters would cost taxpayers lots. This would include new law enforcement, OHIP for treating those injured by e-scooters, and lawsuits by the injured. Toronto has far more pressing budget priorities.

With COVID raging, why is City Council even considering the legalization of dangerous e-scooters? The October 30, 2020 report, released by the AODA Alliance, revealed the stunning well-funded behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy of back-room pressure that corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies have inundated City Hall with for months. The corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank, while injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital emergency rooms. 73 pages of entries in Toronto’s Lobbyist Registry, quoted verbatim in that report, reveal that in just over two years, a stunning 1,384 contacts by corporate lobbyists have taken place with City Hall from top to bottom in person, by phone, virtual meeting or email. Of those, as of last fall, there had been 94 such contacts with Mayor Tory or his office. There may be a couple of janitors the e-scooter corporate lobbyists have not reached yet.

City Council should not conduct an e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many of us will be injured? We already know they will, from cities that allowed them. It is immoral to subject Torontonians to a City-wide human experiment, especially without our consent, where we can get injured. The call for a pilot project with e-scooters is just the corporate lobbyists’ strategy to try to get their foot firmly planted in the door, so it will be harder to later get rid of e-scooters.

Since we allow bikes, why not e-scooters? An e-scooter, unlike a bike, is a motor vehicle. They should not be exempt from public safety regulations that apply to motor vehicles. A person who has never ridden an e-scooter can hop on one and instantly throttle up to race over 20 KPH. A person cannot instantly pedal a bike that fast, especially if they have never ridden a bike. In any event, Toronto already has bikes and BikeShare. We do not need the dangers of e-scooters.

The July 2020 City Staff Report shows that e-scooters do not bring the great benefits for reduced car traffic and pollution that the corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies claim.

Please make Toronto easier and not harder for those of us with disabilities to get around. Protect those who need safe, accessible streets and sidewalks, not the interests of corporate lobbyists.

Mayor Tory’s decision on this issue will strongly influence or decide how City Council votes. He should attend the February 25, 2021 special meeting of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, to hear directly from Torontonians with disabilities.

We need the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee to speak out again now, in as strong a voice as possible. On this issue, it is quite an uphill battle to get City Council to listen to us, over the call of the well-funded e-scooter corporate lobbyists. We need Toronto Mayor John Tory and all City Council members to stand up to those well-resourced and well-connected e-scooter corporate lobbyists, and to stand up for Torontonians with disabilities.

The e-scooter corporate lobbyists have proposed utterly inadequate solutions to the dangers that e-scooters pose. Those solutions are incapable of solving the problem. Only a ban on riding e-scooters in Toronto will provide us with the protections Torontonians deserve. The fact that the e-scooter corporate lobbyists have no effective solutions to offer, after operating e-scooters in several other cities around the world, proves that e-scooters should simply remain banned.

For example, geofencing cannot work. GPS technology is not precise enough to know when an e-scooter is ridden on a sidewalk, as opposed to on a road. Moreover, geofencing does not prevent any of the dangers that the silent menace of e-scooters present when ridden on the road, e.g. on roads where there is no sidewalk.

As another example, placing e-scooters in docking stations does not ensure that e-scooters are kept there. It does not prevent the dangers that e-scooters present when being ridden on roads, sidewalks or other public places.

We therefore call on the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee to pass a resolution along the following lines:

The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee recommends to Toronto City Council that:

1. The use of electric scooters in any public place should remain banned in Toronto, including riding an e-scooter that the rider rents, owns or borrows.

2. No pilot project with electric scooters should be conducted in Toronto. City Council should not conduct an experiment that endangers Torontonians.

3. City law enforcement officers should now enforce the ban on riding e-scooters in Toronto, in the case of anyone who now rides one.

We want to make it clear that these references to banning e-scooters do not refer to the very different scooters that some people with disabilities use for mobility devices. Those mobility devices are now permitted and of course, should remain permitted.

Learn more about the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, by visiting the AODA Alliance e-scooter web page and by watching the AODA Alliance’s new short, captioned video on this issue.

Learn more about the AODA Alliance by visiting www.aodaalliance.org, by following @aodaalliance on Twitter, by visiting our Facebook page at www.facebook.com or by emailing us at [email protected]

Excerpts from the City of Toronto Staff Report to February 25, 2021, Special Meeting of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee

Excerpt 1

According to the UDV (German Insurers Accident Research) in January 2021, e-scooter riders are 4 times more (or 400% more) likely than bicyclists to injure others, due to e-scooters being illegally ridden on sidewalks.
In 21% of e-scooter incidents with personal injury, the victim is not the rider, but another road user. This is due in part to e-scooters being ridden on sidewalks 60% of the time when they should be on the road or bike lane.
According to Austria’s Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit (KFV) in October 2020, 34% of 573 e-scooter riders observed at several Vienna locations illegally rode on the sidewalk.
Even if there was a bike path, 23 percent preferred the sidewalk. If there was only one cycle or multi-purpose lane, 46 percent rode on the sidewalk. If there was no cycling infrastructure, 49 percent rolled illegally on the sidewalk. Excerpt 2

Accessibility Feedback on Proposed Solutions
Technologies are still emerging and not adequate yet:
Geofencing and other technologies to prevent sidewalk riding are not sophisticated enough and would only apply to rental e-scooters.
Docking stations for e-scooters has potential but is still in development.
Lock-to cables on e-scooters mean they could be locked anywhere (e.g., café fence/railing) including in spots blocking entrance access and paths of travel.
There is already a lack of bike parking so this would worsen the number of sidewalk obstructions on narrow and cluttered sidewalks.
If Bike Share Toronto were dockless, there would not be enough bike rings to lock the rental fleet same for dockless rental e-scooter fleets. Accessibility Feedback on Proposed Solutions
Not enough city resources for enforcement and infrastructure priorities
Oversight is very labour- and resource-intensive and depends on enforcement, which is already stretched or non-existent in parts of the City.
o Licence plates on rental e-scooter fleets could help, but this is a reactive tool and would be a drain on city resources to monitor and enforce. Bigger priorities for limited city resources.
Inadequate infrastructure is a bigger priority not enough sidewalk space or accessible infrastructure; not enough bike lanes/bike lane space; and not enough public transit.
Importance of other city priorities before allowing something which poses a hazard and a nuisance for pedestrians and persons with disabilities.

Accessibility Feedback on Proposed Solutions
Impacts on seniors and persons with disabilities on sidewalks
COVID-19 has resulted in challenges for persons with disabilities, their caregivers and pedestrians who use sidewalks as a necessity and not for recreation.
Allowing e-scooters will pose hazards that affect persons with disabilities, seniors, their caregivers and pedestrians.
Risk of severe injury for seniors or persons with disabilities if tripping and falling or struck by an e-scooter.
Inability to identify e-scooter rider because of their speed, and that the person’s credit card on the app may not be the person riding the e-scooter.

Excerpt 3
Canadian context City of Calgary
No bike share. Only rental e-scooters allowed in Alberta.
Allows e-scooter riding on sidewalks.
43% of 311 requests about bad behaviour or conflicts with pedestrians; 42% parking concerns. (total of 769 requests over the pilot period)
Now allowing e-scooter use on some roads to reduce sidewalk riding issues. Added slow speed zones and 30 parking zones (2.5% of riders ended trips in parking zones; 10% of the e-scooter fleet was deployed to the parking zones).
E-scooters to return via the procurement process. Lowered fleet cap from 2,800 (2020) to 1,500 (2021). Will require licence plates for enforcement.
Likely that e-scooters have the highest rate of injury per transportation mode but less severe. 43% of EMS e-scooter injuries required surgery (double that of EMS bicycles at 21%). 37% of severe e-scooter injuries had suspected intoxication.
1,300 e-Scooter-related ER visits during the pilot period but may be over-inclusive of other devices referred to as scooters. 75 required ambulance transport, 5% were pedestrians injured.

Canadian context City of Ottawa
No bike share. Personal use and rental e-scooters allowed on roads with max 50km/h limit, bike lanes, and trails/paths that are not National Capital Commission multi-use paths.
Lowered max. speed to 20km/hr for e-scooters from the permitted 24km/hr under the provincial pilot. 8km/hr for slow zones, e.g., transit malls/stations.
Piloted a fleet of 600 e-scooters with 3 vendors in 2020. Will increase the fleet cap to between 1,200 and 1,500 for 2021 and expand outside the Greenbelt (suburban area).
76% of e-scooter riders surveyed used e-scooters for recreation; 2% to connect to transit (COVID-19 context)
Will pilot in 2021 via procurement process. Staff labour costs not included in cost-recovery. Considering designated parking areas. 69% of all survey respondents reported encountering improperly parked e-scooters.
No injury data collection with hospitals and not likely for 2021 given the pandemic.
Accessibility stakeholders were consulted and raised concerns about sidewalk riding and improper parking, especially barriers for persons with low vision or no vision.

Large Urban Peer Cities
Peer cities have banned rental/shared e-scooters from downtowns in Chicago and New York City. No rental/shared e-scooters yet in places such as:
Montréal (not for 2021) or Vancouver
Massachusetts (e.g., City of Boston)
Pennsylvania (e.g., City of Philadelphia)
New South Wales (e.g., City of Sydney, Australia)
Scotland (e.g., City of Edinburgh), The Netherlands (e.g., Amsterdam), and
Others have banned or since banned them, e.g., Copenhagen (city centre), Houston, San Diego (boardwalk ban), etc.
NYC (outside of Manhattan only) and Transport for London (UK) pilots not yet underway.




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Accessibility Compliance Orders Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility compliance orders across Canada.

Accessibility Compliance Orders Across Canada

Ontario

In Ontario, directors of the AODA review the accessibility reports that organizations are required to submit. Moreover, directors can ask a person or organization for more details about their compliance. The person or organization must provide the director with this information. When an organization has not submitted a report or information, the director can order the organization to do so. In addition, the order can include a fine. Similarly, a director can order a non-compliant person or organization to obey AODA standards and pay fines. Finally, if organizations do not comply with these orders, directors can fine those organizations using more orders.

All these types of orders must include a description of the AODA rule or previous order that the person or organization has failed to comply with. Furthermore, the order must explain what the organization must do to comply. Finally, the order must include a time limit for organizations to comply. However, the director can extend this time limit to accommodate someone with a disability, or for any other reason.

More Directors’ Orders

A director may also create an order when a non-compliant person or organization claims that they do not need to comply with a standard. For instance, an organization might claim that it does not belong to the industry or sector of the economy that a standard applies to. For example, a rideshare company might claim that it does not need to obey the Transportation Standards. The company might make this claim because it is not a bus, train, ferry, or taxi service. However, a director can order that this organization does belong to an industry that must comply with the standard.

Likewise, a director can order that two organizations be treated as one organization, for the purposes of the AODA. For instance, an employer with a private company of sixty workers might not want to obey AODA rules for companies with fifty or more workers. As a result, this employer might divide their company into two organizations. However, a director can order that these two companies must be treated as one company.

Notice of Orders

Before giving any order, directors must give notice to the non-compliant organizations. This notice tells the organizations what the order is about and what steps they should take to comply with the Act. Moreover, notice allows these organizations to explain any reasons they might have for not complying with the AODA. Furthermore, organizations have thirty days after receiving notice to explain in writing. However, the director can extend this time limit to accommodate someone with a disability, or for any other reason.

In addition, organizations who receive any order can appeal it in front of a tribunal that the Lieutenant Governor appoints.

Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and the Accessible Canada Act

In Manitoba and Nova Scotia, inspectors have similar mandates to order organizations to comply with their accessibility laws. Similarly, under the Accessible Canada Act, the Accessibility Commissioner can also order organizations to comply with the Act. Moreover, under all these acts, organizations may need to pay fines, or they can request that a director or Accessibility Commissioner review the order. However, these laws do not mention the possibility that organizations can choose not to comply by claiming that certain standards do not apply to them. As a result, some organizations may choose not to comply, since the law does not state that inspectors or directors can make orders that prevent this loophole.

In contrast, the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act includes a mandate that the other provincial laws do not. Under this act, fines from non-compliant organizations must be used to improve accessibility. For instance, they could fund efforts to raise awareness about why accessibility matters.

As governments align their accessibility laws, the AODA may change to correspond more closely with standards in other provinces, or with the Accessible Canada Act. For instance, AODA fines could fund efforts to raise public awareness of accessibility. In contrast, other accessibility laws could give inspectors and directors more power to remove loopholes and encourage more widespread compliance.




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Open House: Converting homes to safely age in place



The aging population spread of COVID-19 in care homes has lead to an increase in renovations on current homes to allow aging in place. One local company has been kept busy converting homes and especially bathrooms to safely allow people to stay in their homes longer.



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Accessibility Inspections Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility inspections across Canada.

Accessibility Inspections Across Canada

Ontario

AODA Inspections allow the government to find out if businesses are complying with the Act. An inspector can enter a business without a warrant if the inspector believes the place contains relevant documents or things. However, the inspector must enter during the hours the place is open for business. Alternatively, if a place does not have business hours, an inspector must enter during daylight hours.

Moreover, during the inspection, the inspector can ask for any item that is related to the inspection. For instance, the inspector can request a document or record. However, the inspector must make this request in writing. Furthermore, the inspector can use any equipment, such as a computer, to retrieve the items they need to view. In addition, the inspector can borrow these documents, records, or things, to make copies. However, the inspector must give a receipt for the documents, records, or things they borrow. In addition, the inspector must give the owner of the documents or things access to them, if needed. This access must take place at a time convenient for both the inspector and the owner.

Inspectors can bring other people, such as people with expert knowledge, to help with inspections. In addition, the inspector can question any person on the premises about the inspection. People on the premises must give the inspector all the help they can. For instance, they must help the inspector use computers or other devices to retrieve documents, if required.

Inspections with Warrants

If an inspector believes that a business is not complying with the AODA, thee inspector can acquire a search warrant from a justice of the peace. A warrant gives inspectors more power than they have during inspections without warrants. For instance, warrants allow inspectors to:

  • Enter dwellings
  • Search before or after business hours
  • Use force, or ask for assistance from police officers

Inspectors have thirty (30) days, after a warrant has been issued, to conduct a search. However, this time limit can be renewed for another thirty (30) days.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia

In Manitoba and Nova Scotia, inspectors have many of the same duties and guidelines. For instance, inspectors can:

  • Enter any place to inspect it, except a dwelling
  • Enter a dwelling only with a warrant
  • Request and receive copies of documents or other relevant records

As in Ontario, inspectors in Manitoba and Nova Scotia can also require the assistance of people on the premises during the inspection. However, in Manitoba and Nova Scotia, inspectors can only Ask for assistance, or written responses, from people in charge of the premises or its records. In contrast, Ontario inspectors can ask for assistance from any person on the premises. This wider mandate could allow inspectors in Ontario to access more information about how an organization meets the needs of people with disabilities.

The Accessible Canada Act

Similarly, under the Accessible Canada Act, the Accessibility Commissioner can enter any location under federal jurisdiction to verify its compliance with parts of the Act, including:

In addition, inspectors can also examine anything on the premises, including hard-copy or electronic documents. Moreover, inspectors can borrow or make copies of documents, in whole or in part. Furthermore, inspectors have the power to start or stop:

  • Activities that will help or hinder an inspection
  • Movements of conveyances
  • Activities involving any new standards that the Act has mandated

Like Ontario inspectors, the Commissioner can have another person assist in conducting the inspection.

The Act also allows the Commissioner to conduct inspections remotely, as well as in person. These requirements will make it possible for the Commissioner to perform more frequent or thorough inspections. However, inspections under the Act only oversee an organization’s accessibility plans, progress reports, and feedback processes. In contrast, the wider mandates of provincial inspectors may allow them to encounter more organizations and encourage more accessible service.




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Accessibility Incentive Agreements Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility incentive agreements across Canada.

Accessibility Incentive Agreements Across Canada

Under the AODA, the minister in charge of the act can make incentive agreements with organizations. Incentive agreements provide support to businesses that choose to become more accessible than the law requires. For instance, customer service providers can offer more extensive AODA training for workers. Similarly, small businesses, not required to document their customer service policies, can do so. Furthermore, businesses can enhance their hiring practices and actively recruit qualified workers with disabilities. Likewise, small private businesses, not required to create processes for writing accommodation plans, can do so.

In addition, businesses can prepare accessible formats and communication supports in advance, instead of waiting until a customer makes a request. Similarly, businesses with older websites can make that web content accessible. Moreover, transportation providers can offer more in-depth AODA training for transportation workers. Likewise, providers with older vehicles can retrofit them for accessibility or buy new vehicles. Finally, businesses can retrofit their spaces to include accessible features, such as parking. Similarly, small businesses, not required to have accessible outdoor eating areas, can install them.

When businesses make agreements with the minister, the two parties decide which requirements the business will exceed. In addition, they will agree on a timeframe, so that the business has a deadline for its goal. Finally, the minister may exempt some businesses from filling in part of their accessibility reports. This exemption may help businesses focus on meeting their new requirements.

Businesses may begin making incentive agreements because they value the incentives they receive. However, they may come to value how their efforts allow new customers, clients, and workers to access their spaces and services.

Exemptions

Nova Scotia is the only other province where the accessibility law references incentive agreements. In contrast, all three provincial accessibility laws, as well as the Accessible Canada Act, mention exemptions. For instance, under the Accessible Canada Act, organizations can receive exemptions from:

These exemptions, like the exemption in the AODA, reduces the paperwork that organizations need to complete. As a result, exempted organizations have more time to focus on concrete accessibility. However, organizations may sometimes receive exemptions that do not require this level of increased accessibility. Instead, there is a chance that organizations could use exemptions to avoid improving their accessibility. On the other hand, under incentive agreements, organizations are required to improve their structures and services to meet the needs of customers and workers with disabilities.

As governments work together to align their accessibility laws, the AODA may change to correspond more closely to laws in other provinces, as well as the Accessible Canada Act. As a result, the AODA may one day no longer include the possibility of incentive agreements. On the other hand, other jurisdictions may decide that incentive agreements offer benefits to the organizations and governments that make them.




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Accessibility Compliance Reports Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility compliance reports across Canada.

Accessibility Compliance Reports Across Canada

Ontario

Under the AODA, most Ontario organizations must complete accessibility compliance reports. These reports inform the government and the public that organizations are meeting the requirements of AODA standards. Small and Large public sector organizations must complete reports every two years. In contrast, private or non-profit businesses with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years.

Organizations complete their reports by filling in a form on the Ontario government’s website. One senior member of the organization must give their name and contact information. This senior member, called the certifier, will later confirm that the report is complete and accurate. The certifier must have legal authority to make this claim.

Workers must then answer the yes-or-no questions on the form. Once they have answered all questions, organizations submit the form by clicking a button at the bottom. Organizations must also make their accessibility reports available to the public.

Directors of the AODA review the accessibility reports that organizations are required to submit. Moreover, directors can ask a person or organization for more details about their compliance. The person or organization must provide the director with this information. When an organization has not submitted a report or information, the director can order the organization to do so.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act and the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act do not require organizations to submit accessibility reports. However, both these acts require public-sector organizations to create accessibility plans. In these plans, organizations must describe their progress in identifying, removing, and preventing accessibility barriers. Furthermore, the plans must also outline how the organizations intend to continue to notice and remove barriers in future.

These descriptions of barrier removal could benefit organizations far more than the current yes-or-no-question format of reports in Ontario. For instance, workers writing these plans must reflect on how they and their colleagues have changed policies, practices, structures and services. In contrast, yes-or-no questions do not require the same level of thought. In addition, workers responding to these questions could easily claim that they are complying with standards, while continuing not to comply. However, organizations can make false reports less easily when descriptions are required. If the AODA one day changes to align more closely with other provinces, Ontario could follow this example. Conversely, Manitoba and Nova Scotia could require some private sector organizations to have accessibility plans, as Ontario does.

Accessible Canada Act

Under the Accessible Canada Act, organizations must create accessibility plans that outline future barrier identification, removal, and prevention. Although these plans need not include records of removing barriers in the past, organizations must also create progress reports that show how they are implementing these plans. As a result, these progress reports function as a public record of the steps organizations have taken to comply .

However, organizations are only required to develop accessibility plans, and progress reports, if the organization that governs them chooses to enforce the requirement to do so. As a result, some organizations may not develop progress reports.

As governments work together to align their accessibility laws, the AODA may change to correspond more closely to other accessibility laws across the country. For instance, the AODA could require organizations to develop accessibility compliance reports that required organizations to do more than clicking “yes” or “no”. Alternatively, other provincial and federal accessibility legislation could change to align more closely with the AODA. For instance, the Accessible Canada Act could adopt some AODA mandates, such as requiring all organizations to create and implement accessibility plans and progress reports.




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Accessibility Advocates Call for Constant Sound to Be Emitted By Ottawa e-Scooters in 2021


by Jon Willing
Publishing date:
Feb 02, 2021

Electronic scooters, which could hit Ottawa streets in greater numbers this spring, are receiving a tough ride from accessibility advocates as councillors decide if rental companies should be allowed to operate again in 2021.

The city’s transportation department is pleased with the results from the first year of the pilot project in 2020, leading staff to suggest an expanded e-scooter program in 2021. Council’s transportation committee on Wednesday will make a recommendation on the staff proposal to continue the e-scooter program this year.

But Phillip Turcotte, chair of the city’s accessibility advisory committee, said a majority his members don’t want the e-scooter program to continue under the current recommendations from staff.

“Our point of view at this time is it’s something that transportation committee should not adopt,” Turcotte said, adding that people with disabilities get no benefits from the e-scooter pilot project but they’re impacted the most.

The accessibility advisory committee has two main criticisms of the e-scooter rental program: the devices make no sounds and the complaint process for improperly parked e-scooters is arduous.

Since battery-powered e-scooters are virtually silent, there’s no way for someone who’s blind or visually impaired to know if one is approaching, Turcotte said.

The advisory committee wants the city to require rental companies to make sure their e-scooters emit a constant sound, especially since some users illegally operate e-scooters on sidewalks, he said.

Turcotte said improperly parked e-scooters, such as one blocking a sidewalk, involve a cumbersome two-step reporting process to make sure the devices are moved. A company has an hour to move the e-scooter after receiving the call, and if that doesn’t work, the city needs to be notified to impound the e-scooter.

City staff are recommending for 2021 that rental companies be required to proactively monitor and move improperly parked scooters in high-use areas and provide a reporting option in their apps so people aren’t waiting on the phone for a response. A call to 311 would also trigger an email to e-scooter companies for quick response.

Kathleen Forestell, CNIB’s local lead for advocacy and community outreach and also a member of the city’s accessibility advisory committee, said the quiet nature of e-scooters is a top concern for people who are blind or partially sighted.

E-scooters must be equipped with a bell left up to the rider to use, but it’s not fair to compare e-scooters with bikes, Forestell said.

“A bicycle in some ways makes more sound than an e-scooter does because of the mechanical components on it,” she said..

“For me as a blind pedestrian, having a constant noise emitted by the e-scooter would allow me to know where it is in the vicinity and just have a greater awareness if it’s navigating near me and at what speed.”

Forestell said the technology is available, since a German company called Tier has been working with a U.K.-based charity to add sounds to its e-scooters.

So far, the city isn’t recommending e-scooter companies make their devices have constant sounds for the 2021 season.

If approved by committee and then council, the city will allow three e-scooter rental companies to operate in Ottawa this year, making available a total of 1,200-1,500 e-scooters for the paying public in an expanded area, which could include a community outside the Greenbelt. The 2020 season involved 600 e-scooters in the downtown region.

Turcotte said the increased number of e-scooters could present a bigger problem when it comes to accessibility barriers.

Coun. Matthew Luloff, the council liaison to the accessibility advisory committee and a member of council’s transportation committee, said he’s encouraging e-scooter rental companies to speak with Turcotte about accessibility improvements to their programs.

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Original at https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/accessibility-advocates-call-for-constant-noise-emitted-by-ottawa-e-scooters-in-2021






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