In One Day, Advocacy Action on 3 Accessibility Fronts- Critical Care Triage, Electric Scooters and B.C. Disabilities Act


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/

April 29, 2021

SUMMARY

The grassroots volunteer campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities must be waged on so many fronts. Yesterday, we saw action at the same time on three of those fronts. In a nutshell:

1. On its April 28, 2021 evening TV news broadcast, Global News included a superb report on the disability discrimination in Ontarios critical care triage protocol by senior journalist Caryn Lieberman. We set out below the slightly longer text version of that report that Global also posted online. This is another in Ms. Liebermans consistently excellent reportage on disability issues in recent years.

For more on this issue, visit the AODA Alliance health care web page.

2. On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, after tenacious grassroots efforts by so many, the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee unanimously voted to not allow e-scooters in Toronto, and not to conduct a pilot project with e-scooters. E-scooters endanger the safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and seniors, and frankly, endanger everyone. Disability concerns were at the centre of this decision.

Thanks to all who joined in this grassroots campaign. However, we are not done yet. On May 5, 2021, the entire Toronto City Council will vote on the question. We must keep up the pressure. To help us press all members of Toronto City Council, please follow @aodaalliance on Twitter and retweet our tweets over the next days. Call as many members of Toronto City Council as possible to urge them to vote no to e-scooters, and no to conducting a Toronto e-scooter pilot project.

The disability campaign against e-scooters has gotten more media attention. Below we set out a letter to the editor in todays Toronto Star by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, and two articles on this issue in the Star over the past two days. You can also watch a good report by reporter Jessica Ng on this topic that appeared on the April 28, 2021 6 oclock Toronto news broadcast on CBC TV.

Yesterday was an unusual if not unique day for the AODA Alliance. At the same time over the supper hour, two different TV networks, Global and CBC, each aired news reports that included the AODA Alliance, each addressing different issues. On CBC, it was the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities. On Global, it was the dangers that Ontarios critical care triage protocol poses for people with disabilities.

The April 28, 2021 report on the e-scooters issue in the Toronto Star, set out below, that ran before the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee voted on this issue, included this information:

The chair of Bird Canada is John Bitove. His brother Jordan Bitove is the publisher of the Toronto Star and co-proprietor of Torstar, the company that owns the newspaper.

Bird Canada is one of the two biggest e-scooter rental companies that are aggressively lobbying Toronto City Council to let them rent e-scooters in Toronto, despite their danger for people with disabilities and others.

For more background, check out the AODA Alliances March 30, 2021 brief to the City of Toronto on e-scooters, the AODA Alliance video on why e-scooters are so dangerous (which media can use in any reports), and the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.

3. While all this was going on in Ontario, great news reached us from Canadas west coast. Following the lead that Ontario set back in 2005 with the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the BC Government introduced a bill for first reading in the B.C. Legislature, Bill 6, the Accessible British Columbia Act. We have not yet had a chance to review the bill itself.

We congratulate B.C. disability advocates, led by the grassroots Barrier-Free BC, for this major milestone event. The AODA Alliance has been proud to lend assistance to their efforts from afar, when asked. Back in October 2015, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was the keynote speaker at a town hall event that led to the birth that day of Barrier-Free B.C. From there on in, it was the excellent work of grassroots disability advocates in B.C. that carried the ball, did the hard work, and got their province to this important point. We remain eager to help B.C. in any way we can as this bill makes its way through the B.C. Legislature.

The Ford Governments delays on disability accessibility seem endless. There have now been 819 days, or over 2 and a quarter years, since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has announced no effective plan of new action to implement that report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. The Ontario Government only has 1,343 days left until 2025, the deadline by which the Government must have led Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities.

MORE DETAILS

Global News April 28, 2021

Originally posted at https://963bigfm.com/news/7816548/ontario-covid-triage-protocol-discriminates-disability-advocates/

Ontario’s COVID-19 triage protocol ‘discriminates because of disability,’ advocates say Caryn Lieberman GlobalNews.ca

With Ontarios ICUs being pushed to the brink, hospitals are preparing for the worst. For health-care workers, that means staring difficult life-changing choices in the face. If there arent enough beds, who gets one? As Caryn Lieberman reports, there would be a process to follow, but some says it discriminates against people with disabilities.

When Tracy Odell experienced bleeding in her stomach last summer during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, she went to hospital but vowed she would not return.

I dont feel safe in hospitals and a lot of people with disabilities similar to mine, where you need this much assistance, dont feel safe in a hospital, she said.

Odell was born with spinal muscular atrophy and requires assistance to complete many daily tasks.

Now, amid the third wave and with critical care units filling up, Odell said she fears if she ever needed the care, she would not be able to get it.

I, personally, wouldnt go to a hospital. I would feel it would be a waste of time and Id feel very unsafe to go there Its a real indictment, I think, of our system, that people who have disabilities, have severe needs, dont feel safe in a place where everyones supposed to be safe, she said.

Odell is most concerned about a critical care triage protocol that could be activated in Ontario.

It would essentially allow health-care providers to decide who gets potentially life-saving care and who doesnt.

Under the guidelines, as set out in a draft protocol circulating among hospitals, patients would be ranked on their likelihood to survive one year after the onset of critical illness.

Patients who have a high likelihood of dying within twelve months from the onset of their episode of critical illness (based on an evaluation of their clinical presentation at the point of triage) would have a lower priority for critical care resources, states the document.

Odell says its tough to predict who will survive an illness.

They have to guess whos going to last a year … As a child with my disability, my projected life expectancy was like a kid they didnt think Id live to be a teenager and here I am retired, so its a very hard thing to judge, said Odell.

Disability advocates have been raising alarm bells over the triage protocol for months.

David Lepofsky, of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, sent multiple letters to Minister of Health Christine Elliott demanding transparency, arguing the Ontario governments pervasive secrecy over its critical care triage plans has made many people with disabilities terrified, angry and distrustful.

People with disabilities have disproportionately had to suffer for the past year from the most severe aspects of COVID People with disabilities are disproportionately prone to end up in intensive care units and die from the disease, said Lepofsky.

Now we face the double cruelty that we are disproportionately prone to get told, No, you cant have that life-saving care.’

Lepofsky said the document that is circulating, while not finalized, is problematic, unethical and discriminatory.

The rules that have been given to intensive care units for deciding who gets critical care and who doesnt, if they have to ration, may look fine because theyre full of medical jargon, but they actually explicitly discriminate because of disability, he said.

We agree there should be a protocol, but it cant be one that discriminates because of disability. Thats illegal.

John Mossa, who is living with muscular dystrophy, has been homebound for more than a year, afraid he would contract COVID-19 if he went outside and not survive it.

COVID is a very serious disease for me if I do get COVID, I would probably become very ill and pass away because of my poor respiratory condition. I have about 30 per cent lung capacity due to my muscular dystrophy so COVID is very serious. Its been a very scary time, he said.

Never more frightening than right now, Mossa said, amid a surging third wave with a record number of patients in Ontarios critical care units and the potential for triaging life-saving care.

The people that would be affected the most are the least considered to get care Im afraid, Im totally afraid to go to hospital right now, he said.

A few weeks ago, Mossa said, he had a hip accident but he has avoided the hospital, even though he is suffering and should seek medical help.

I should be considering going to hospital, but Im not going to go to hospital because I know that I wont get the care I need and if it gets any worse. I know that I wouldnt be given an ICU bed, he said.

On Wednesday, when asked about the triage protocol, Elliott said it has not yet been activated.

That was echoed by Dr. James Downar, a palliative and critical care physician in Ottawa who co-wrote Ontarios ICU protocol.

I dont think that theres any plan to initiate a triage process in the next couple of days. I think a lot is going to depend on which way our ICU numbers go. They have been climbing at a fairly alarming rate, he said.

On concerns by advocates that the protocol discriminates against people with disabilities, Downar said, The only criterion in the triage plan is mortality risk.

We absolutely dont want to make any judgments about whose life is more valuable, certainly nothing based on ability, disability or need for accommodations If you value all lives equally, that, I think, is the strongest argument for using an approach that would save as many lives as you can, he said.

Toronto Star April 29, 2021

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2021/04/29/e-scooters-are-a-danger-to-people-with-disabilities.html Letters to the Editor

E-scooters are a danger to people with disabilities
Scoot over, progress. Not in this town, April 27

Matt Elliott is wrong to urge Toronto to allow e-scooters; city council must not unleash dangerous electric scooters in Toronto, now banned, unless council legalizes them.

A city staff report shows e-scooters endanger public safety. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people, like me, can’t know silent e-scooters rocket at us at over 20 kph, driven by unlicensed, uninsured, unhelmeted fun-seeking riders.

It is no solution to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks.

As a blind person, if I get hit by a silent e-scooter racing towards me, it injures me just as badly, whether the rider owns the e-scooter or rents it.

Toronto has too many disability barriers. E-scooters would make it worse.

Toronto’s Disability Accessibility Advisory Committee and disability organizations unanimously called on Toronto not to allow e-scooters.

Mayor John Tory should stand up for people with disabilities, and should stand up to the corporate lobbyists conducting a high-price feeding frenzy at City Hall. David Lepofsky, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Toronto Star April 29, 2021

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/04/28/committee-votes-unanimously-to-uphold-torontos-e-scooter-ban.html

Greater Toronto

Committee upholds T.O. e-scooter ban
Final decision on vehicles to be debated at council next month

Ben Spurr Toronto Star

A city committee has voted to uphold Toronto’s ban on e-scooters, setting up a final decision on the controversial vehicles at council next month.

More than 40 people signed up to speak to a city staff report on e-scooters at a remote meeting of the infrastructure and environment committee Wednesday.

The debate largely pitted transportation experts and representatives of e-scooter companies, who argued the vehicles are an innovative and sustainable transportation option, against disability and seniors advocates, who said e-scooters pose a danger to people with accessibility challenges.

Patricia Israel, a 69-year-old wheelchair user, told the committee she was scared of being hit by someone riding an e-scooter, which are quiet and can have top speeds of more than 40 km/h, although provincial guidelines say they should top out at 24 km/h.

“When a senior crashes to the sidewalk with a broken hip, he or she may die … do you want that?” she asked.

“E-scooters are left scattered all over sidewalks in cities around the world. Some people in wheelchairs cannot pick them up to move them … We’ll be on the sidewalk saying, ‘What do I do now?’” she added.

Jen Freiman, general manager of Lime Canada, an e-scooter sharing company, countered that cars represent the most serious threat on Toronto’s streets, and the city should be allowing safer alternatives.

“I’m not worried about my two young children being hit by someone (on) a scooter in Toronto,” she said. “What does scare me though is a frustrated driver ripping down the side streets by my house.”

She said that e-scooter companies operating in dozens of other cities have found ways to mitigate concerns about safety, street clutter and other issues raised by critics.

E-scooters have become popular in big cities around the world, both for private use and as part of sharing operations that allow users to hop on and off rented vehicles for short trips.

Both uses are currently prohibited on Toronto streets, sidewalks and other public spaces, and the staff report recommended against joining a provincial pilot project that allows cities to legalize the vehicles, subject to conditions.

Staff cited numerous concerns, including the vehicles becoming tripping hazards, unsafe riding on sidewalks, a lack of insurance coverage and insufficient enforcement resources.

Councillors on the committee voted unanimously to support the staff recommendation. Committee member Mike Layton (Ward 11, University-Rosedale) said he was “very conflicted” about the decision, because he believed that the city and e-scooter companies could likely find solutions to the objections critics raised about the vehicles.

But he said the disability community had “very real concerns” and he couldn’t vote against staff advice on a safety issue.

City council will debate the report at its May 5 meeting.

Toronto Star April 28, 2021

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/04/22/as-city-committee-debates-e-scooters-concerns-over-a-missed-opportunity.html#:~:text=GTA-,As%20city%20committee%20debates%20e%2Dscooters,concerns%20over%20’a%20missed%20opportunity’&text=They’re%20fun%2C%20fast%20and,to%20ride%20on%20city%20streets.&text=In%20the%20U.S.%2C%20there%20were,Association%20of%20City%20Transportation%20Officials.

Greater Toronto

E-scooters look for green light on T.O. streets
Method of transportation can be ‘useful part of the puzzle,’ one expert says

Ben Spurr Toronto Star

They’re fun, fast and for the moment, they’re illegal to ride on city streets.

But some transportation experts say Toronto is being too timid in its approach to e-scooters, and council should take a stab at legalizing the zippy two-wheeled vehicles on municipal roads, at least on a trial basis.

E-scooters are prohibited on Toronto streets and other public spaces, and in a report released last week, city transportation staff recommend maintaining the status quo. The city’s infrastructure committee will debate the report Wednesday, before the recommendation goes to council next month.

Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s former chief city planner, argues the city should “work toward safely integrating e-scooters into the transportation landscape … because they can be a useful part of the puzzle.”

Keesmaat said the disruption to travel patterns caused by COVID-19 has presented cities with a golden opportunity to rethink policies that have historically prioritized private cars above other modes. She argued e-scooters could provide an additional, more sustainable transportation alternative and help make cities “greener and quieter places.”

“If we take as a given that we need more micro mobility in the city, and that we want to move away from assuming that getting around in a car is the best or only approach, overcoming the challenges associated with scooters is in the best interest of the city over the long term,” she said, while acknowledging there have been problems with the rollout of e-scooters elsewhere.

Motorized electric stand-up scooters have exploded in popularity in recent years and they’re now used in dozens of cities around the world by both private owners and as part of e-scooter sharing operations, which allow riders to hop on and off rented vehicles for short trips.

In the U.S., there were 86 million trips taken on e-scooters in 2019, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. The average trip length was about 1.6 kilometres. Around one-third of all car trips in the U.S. are less than about three kilometres, which is why some experts believe the two-wheeled devices have the potential to significantly displace car use.

Shauna Brail, an urban planner and associate professor at the Institute for Management & Innovation at the University of Toronto Mississauga, said she’s not convinced e-scooters represent the transformative change their proponents sometimes pitch them as.

But Brail said there’s evidence the electric-powered vehicles have potential to help solve the first mile/last mile problem of connecting people to transit hubs at the beginning or end of their commutes, and not testing them out would be “a missed opportunity.”

Raktim Mitra, co-director of TransForm Laboratory of Transportation and Land Use Planning at Ryerson University, agreed that city staff are being overly conservative.

He said misgivings about safety, liability and street clutter related to e-scooters are valid, but those problems could likely be addressed through “a combination of technology and regulations.”

There is indication that e-scooters are “one of the most interesting innovations to solve the first mile/last mile problem,” Mitra said. “If it was up to me, I would probably support at least a pilot to try it out.”

The Toronto staff report flagged concerns about the devices, chief among them the potential risk they could pose to Torontonians with accessibility challenges if they were left on the street or improperly ridden on sidewalks. The report also warned insurers won’t cover the vehicles, and the city lacks enforcement resources to ensure users follow the rules.

Staff are advising that council vote against joining a five-year pilot project the Ontario government launched in 2020 that allows cities to legalize e-scooters. Under the terms of the pilot, the vehicles must have a top speed of 24 km/h, and weigh no more than 45 kg. Windsor and Ottawa are among those taking part.

Ahead of the Toronto council vote, global e-scooter sharing companies like Bird and Lime have lobbied city hall in an effort to open up the market to their operations.

The chair of Bird Canada is John Bitove. His brother Jordan Bitove is the publisher of the Toronto Star and co-proprietor of Torstar, the company that owns the newspaper.

Matti Siemiatycki, a professor of geography and interim director of the School of Cities at the University of Toronto, said city staff are right to not embrace e-scooters.

“I think that with every technology there’s trade-offs, and with e-scooters, especially the shared approach, the negative consequences of this technology (outweigh the benefits),” he said, citing the hazards they pose to people with disabilities.




Source link

In One Day, Advocacy Action on 3 Accessibility Fronts- Critical Care Triage, Electric Scooters and B.C. Disabilities Act – AODA Alliance


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

In One Day, Advocacy Action on 3 Accessibility Fronts– Critical Care Triage, Electric Scooters and B.C. Disabilities Act

April 29, 2021

            SUMMARY

The grassroots volunteer campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities must be waged on so many fronts. Yesterday, we saw action at the same time on three of those fronts. In a nutshell:

  1. On its April 28, 2021 evening TV news broadcast, Global News included a superb report on the disability discrimination in Ontario’s critical care triage protocol by senior journalist Caryn Lieberman. We set out below the slightly longer text version of that report that Global also posted online. This is another in Ms. Lieberman’s consistently excellent reportage on disability issues in recent years.

For more on this issue, visit the AODA Alliance health care web page.

  1. On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, after tenacious grassroots efforts by so many, the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee unanimously voted to not allow e-scooters in Toronto, and not to conduct a pilot project with e-scooters. E-scooters endanger the safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and seniors, and frankly, endanger everyone. Disability concerns were at the centre of this decision.

Thanks to all who joined in this grassroots campaign. However, we are not done yet. On May 5, 2021, the entire Toronto City Council will vote on the question. We must keep up the pressure. To help us press all members of Toronto City Council, please follow @aodaalliance on Twitter and retweet our tweets over the next days. Call as many members of Toronto City Council as possible to urge them to vote no to e-scooters, and no to conducting a Toronto e-scooter pilot project.

The disability campaign against e-scooters has gotten more media attention. Below we set out a letter to the editor in today’s Toronto Star by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, and two articles on this issue in the Star over the past two days. You can also watch a good report by reporter Jessica Ng on this topic that appeared on the April 28, 2021 6 o’clock Toronto news broadcast on CBC TV.

Yesterday was an unusual if not unique day for the AODA Alliance. At the same time over the supper hour, two different TV networks, Global and CBC, each aired news reports that included the AODA Alliance, each addressing different issues. On CBC, it was the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities. On Global, it was the dangers that Ontario’s critical care triage protocol poses for people with disabilities.

The April 28, 2021 report on the e-scooters issue in the Toronto Star, set out below, that ran before the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee voted on this issue, included this information:

“The chair of Bird Canada is John Bitove. His brother Jordan Bitove is the publisher of the Toronto Star and co-proprietor of Torstar, the company that owns the newspaper.”

Bird Canada is one of the two biggest e-scooter rental companies that are aggressively lobbying Toronto City Council to let them rent e-scooters in Toronto, despite their danger for people with disabilities and others.

For more background, check out the AODA Alliance’s March 30, 2021 brief to the City of Toronto on e-scooters, the AODA Alliance video on why e-scooters are so dangerous (which media can use in any reports), and the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.

  1. While all this was going on in Ontario, great news reached us from Canada’s west coast. Following the lead that Ontario set back in 2005 with the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the BC Government introduced a bill for first reading in the B.C. Legislature, Bill 6, the Accessible British Columbia Act. We have not yet had a chance to review the bill itself.

We congratulate B.C. disability advocates, led by the grassroots Barrier-Free BC, for this major milestone event. The AODA Alliance has been proud to lend assistance to their efforts from afar, when asked. Back in October 2015, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was the keynote speaker at a town hall event that led to the birth that day of Barrier-Free B.C. From there on in, it was the excellent work of grassroots disability advocates in B.C. that carried the ball, did the hard work, and got their province to this important point. We remain eager to help B.C. in any way we can as this bill makes its way through the B.C. Legislature.

The Ford Government’s delays on disability accessibility seem endless. There have now been 819 days, or over 2 and a quarter years, since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has announced no effective plan of new action to implement that report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. The Ontario Government only has 1,343 days left until 2025, the deadline by which the Government must have led Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities.

            MORE DETAILS

Global News April 28, 2021

Originally posted at https://963bigfm.com/news/7816548/ontario-covid-triage-protocol-discriminates-disability-advocates/

Ontario’s COVID-19 triage protocol ‘discriminates because of disability,’ advocates say

Caryn Lieberman GlobalNews.ca

With Ontario’s ICUs being pushed to the brink, hospitals are preparing for the worst. For health-care workers, that means staring difficult life-changing choices in the face. If there aren’t enough beds, who gets one? As Caryn Lieberman reports, there would be a process to follow, but some says it discriminates against people with disabilities.

When Tracy Odell experienced bleeding in her stomach last summer during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, she went to hospital but vowed she would not return.

“I don’t feel safe in hospitals and a lot of people with disabilities similar to mine, where you need this much assistance, don’t feel safe in a hospital,” she said.

Odell was born with spinal muscular atrophy and requires assistance to complete many daily tasks.

Now, amid the third wave and with critical care units filling up, Odell said she fears if she ever needed the care, she would not be able to get it.

“I, personally, wouldn’t go to a hospital. I would feel it would be a waste of time and I’d feel very unsafe to go there … It’s a real indictment, I think, of our system, that people who have disabilities, have severe needs, don’t feel safe in a place where everyone’s supposed to be safe,” she said.

Odell is most concerned about a “critical care triage protocol” that could be activated in Ontario.

It would essentially allow health-care providers to decide who gets potentially life-saving care and who doesn’t.

Under the guidelines, as set out in a draft protocol circulating among hospitals, patients would be ranked on their likelihood to survive one year after the onset of critical illness.

“Patients who have a high likelihood of dying within twelve months from the onset of their episode of critical illness (based on an evaluation of their clinical presentation at the point of triage) would have a lower priority for critical care resources,” states the document.

Odell says it’s tough to predict who will survive an illness.

“They have to guess who’s going to last a year … As a child with my disability, my projected life expectancy was like a kid … they didn’t think I’d live to be a teenager and here I am retired, so it’s a very hard thing to judge,” said Odell.

Disability advocates have been raising alarm bells over the triage protocol for months.

David Lepofsky, of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, sent multiple letters to Minister of Health Christine Elliott demanding transparency, arguing “the Ontario government’s pervasive secrecy over its critical care triage plans has made many people with disabilities terrified, angry and distrustful.”

“People with disabilities have disproportionately had to suffer for the past year from the most severe aspects of COVID … People with disabilities are disproportionately prone to end up in intensive care units and die from the disease,” said Lepofsky.

“Now we face the double cruelty that we are disproportionately prone to get told, ‘No, you can’t have that life-saving care.’”

Lepofsky said the document that is circulating, while not finalized, is problematic, unethical and discriminatory.

“The rules that have been given to intensive care units for deciding who gets critical care and who doesn’t, if they have to ration, may look fine because they’re full of medical jargon, but they actually explicitly discriminate because of disability,” he said.

“We agree there should be a protocol, but it can’t be one that discriminates because of disability. That’s illegal.”

John Mossa, who is living with muscular dystrophy, has been homebound for more than a year, afraid he would contract COVID-19 if he went outside and not survive it.

“COVID is a very serious disease for me … if I do get COVID, I would probably become very ill and pass away because of my poor respiratory condition. I have about 30 per cent lung capacity due to my muscular dystrophy so COVID is very serious. It’s been a very scary time,” he said.

Never more frightening than right now, Mossa said, amid a surging third wave with a record number of patients in Ontario’s critical care units and the potential for triaging life-saving care.

“The people that would be affected the most are the least considered to get care … I’m afraid, I’m totally afraid to go to hospital right now,” he said.

A few weeks ago, Mossa said, he had a hip accident but he has avoided the hospital, even though he is suffering and should seek medical help.

“I should be considering going to hospital, but I’m not going to go to hospital because I know that I won’t get the care I need and if it gets any worse. I know that I wouldn’t be given an ICU bed,” he said.

On Wednesday, when asked about the triage protocol, Elliott said it has not yet been activated.

That was echoed by Dr. James Downar, a palliative and critical care physician in Ottawa who co-wrote Ontario’s ICU protocol.

“I don’t think that there’s any plan to initiate a triage process in the next couple of days. I think a lot is going to depend on which way our ICU numbers go. They have been climbing at a fairly alarming rate,” he said.

On concerns by advocates that the protocol discriminates against people with disabilities, Downar said, “The only criterion in the triage plan is mortality risk.”

“We absolutely don’t want to make any judgments about whose life is more valuable, certainly nothing based on ability, disability or need for accommodations … If you value all lives equally, that, I think, is the strongest argument for using an approach that would save as many lives as you can,” he said.

Toronto Star April 29, 2021

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2021/04/29/e-scooters-are-a-danger-to-people-with-disabilities.html

Letters to the Editor

E-scooters are a danger to people with disabilities

Scoot over, progress. Not in this town, April 27

Matt Elliott is wrong to urge Toronto to allow e-scooters; city council must not unleash dangerous electric scooters in Toronto, now banned, unless council legalizes them.

A city staff report shows e-scooters endanger public safety. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people, like me, can’t know silent e-scooters rocket at us at over 20 kph, driven by unlicensed, uninsured, unhelmeted fun-seeking riders.

It is no solution to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks.

As a blind person, if I get hit by a silent e-scooter racing towards me, it injures me just as badly, whether the rider owns the e-scooter or rents it.

Toronto has too many disability barriers. E-scooters would make it worse.

Toronto’s Disability Accessibility Advisory Committee and disability organizations unanimously called on Toronto not to allow e-scooters.

Mayor John Tory should stand up for people with disabilities, and should stand up to the corporate lobbyists conducting a high-price feeding frenzy at City Hall.

David Lepofsky, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

 Toronto Star April 29, 2021

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/04/28/committee-votes-unanimously-to-uphold-torontos-e-scooter-ban.html

Greater Toronto

Committee upholds T.O. e-scooter ban

Final decision on vehicles to be debated at council next month

Ben Spurr Toronto Star

A city committee has voted to uphold Toronto’s ban on e-scooters, setting up a final decision on the controversial vehicles at council next month.

More than 40 people signed up to speak to a city staff report on e-scooters at a remote meeting of the infrastructure and environment committee Wednesday.

The debate largely pitted transportation experts and representatives of e-scooter companies, who argued the vehicles are an innovative and sustainable transportation option, against disability and seniors advocates, who said e-scooters pose a danger to people with accessibility challenges.

Patricia Israel, a 69-year-old wheelchair user, told the committee she was scared of being hit by someone riding an e-scooter, which are quiet and can have top speeds of more than 40 km/h, although provincial guidelines say they should top out at 24 km/h.

“When a senior crashes to the sidewalk with a broken hip, he or she may die … do you want that?” she asked.

“E-scooters are left scattered all over sidewalks in cities around the world. Some people in wheelchairs cannot pick them up to move them … We’ll be on the sidewalk saying, ‘What do I do now?’” she added.

Jen Freiman, general manager of Lime Canada, an e-scooter sharing company, countered that cars represent the most serious threat on Toronto’s streets, and the city should be allowing safer alternatives.

“I’m not worried about my two young children being hit by someone (on) a scooter in Toronto,” she said. “What does scare me though is a frustrated driver ripping down the side streets by my house.”

She said that e-scooter companies operating in dozens of other cities have found ways to mitigate concerns about safety, street clutter and other issues raised by critics.

E-scooters have become popular in big cities around the world, both for private use and as part of sharing operations that allow users to hop on and off rented vehicles for short trips.

Both uses are currently prohibited on Toronto streets, sidewalks and other public spaces, and the staff report recommended against joining a provincial pilot project that allows cities to legalize the vehicles, subject to conditions.

Staff cited numerous concerns, including the vehicles becoming tripping hazards, unsafe riding on sidewalks, a lack of insurance coverage and insufficient enforcement resources.

Councillors on the committee voted unanimously to support the staff recommendation. Committee member Mike Layton (Ward 11, University-Rosedale) said he was “very conflicted” about the decision, because he believed that the city and e-scooter companies could likely find solutions to the objections critics raised about the vehicles.

But he said the disability community had “very real concerns” and he couldn’t vote against staff advice on a safety issue.

City council will debate the report at its May 5 meeting.

Toronto Star April 28, 2021

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/04/22/as-city-committee-debates-e-scooters-concerns-over-a-missed-opportunity.html#:~:text=GTA-,As%20city%20committee%20debates%20e%2Dscooters,concerns%20over%20’a%20missed%20opportunity’&text=They’re%20fun%2C%20fast%20and,to%20ride%20on%20city%20streets.&text=In%20the%20U.S.%2C%20there%20were,Association%20of%20City%20Transportation%20Officials.

Greater Toronto

E-scooters look for green light on T.O. streets

Method of transportation can be ‘useful part of the puzzle,’ one expert says

Ben Spurr Toronto Star

They’re fun, fast and for the moment, they’re illegal to ride on city streets.

But some transportation experts say Toronto is being too timid in its approach to e-scooters, and council should take a stab at legalizing the zippy two-wheeled vehicles on municipal roads, at least on a trial basis.

E-scooters are prohibited on Toronto streets and other public spaces, and in a report released last week, city transportation staff recommend maintaining the status quo. The city’s infrastructure committee will debate the report Wednesday, before the recommendation goes to council next month.

Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s former chief city planner, argues the city should “work toward safely integrating e-scooters into the transportation landscape … because they can be a useful part of the puzzle.”

Keesmaat said the disruption to travel patterns caused by COVID-19 has presented cities with a golden opportunity to rethink policies that have historically prioritized private cars above other modes. She argued e-scooters could provide an additional, more sustainable transportation alternative and help make cities “greener and quieter places.”

“If we take as a given that we need more micro mobility in the city, and that we want to move away from assuming that getting around in a car is the best or only approach, overcoming the challenges associated with scooters is in the best interest of the city over the long term,” she said, while acknowledging there have been problems with the rollout of e-scooters elsewhere.

Motorized electric stand-up scooters have exploded in popularity in recent years and they’re now used in dozens of cities around the world by both private owners and as part of e-scooter sharing operations, which allow riders to hop on and off rented vehicles for short trips.

In the U.S., there were 86 million trips taken on e-scooters in 2019, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. The average trip length was about 1.6 kilometres. Around one-third of all car trips in the U.S. are less than about three kilometres, which is why some experts believe the two-wheeled devices have the potential to significantly displace car use.

Shauna Brail, an urban planner and associate professor at the Institute for Management & Innovation at the University of Toronto Mississauga, said she’s not convinced e-scooters represent the transformative change their proponents sometimes pitch them as.

But Brail said there’s evidence the electric-powered vehicles have potential to help solve the first mile/last mile problem of connecting people to transit hubs at the beginning or end of their commutes, and not testing them out would be “a missed opportunity.”

Raktim Mitra, co-director of TransForm Laboratory of Transportation and Land Use Planning at Ryerson University, agreed that city staff are being overly conservative.

He said misgivings about safety, liability and street clutter related to e-scooters are valid, but those problems could likely be addressed through “a combination of technology and regulations.”

There is indication that e-scooters are “one of the most interesting innovations to solve the first mile/last mile problem,” Mitra said. “If it was up to me, I would probably support at least a pilot to try it out.”

The Toronto staff report flagged concerns about the devices, chief among them the potential risk they could pose to Torontonians with accessibility challenges if they were left on the street or improperly ridden on sidewalks. The report also warned insurers won’t cover the vehicles, and the city lacks enforcement resources to ensure users follow the rules.

Staff are advising that council vote against joining a five-year pilot project the Ontario government launched in 2020 that allows cities to legalize e-scooters. Under the terms of the pilot, the vehicles must have a top speed of 24 km/h, and weigh no more than 45 kg. Windsor and Ottawa are among those taking part.

Ahead of the Toronto council vote, global e-scooter sharing companies like Bird and Lime have lobbied city hall in an effort to open up the market to their operations.

The chair of Bird Canada is John Bitove. His brother Jordan Bitove is the publisher of the Toronto Star and co-proprietor of Torstar, the company that owns the newspaper.

Matti Siemiatycki, a professor of geography and interim director of the School of Cities at the University of Toronto, said city staff are right to not embrace e-scooters.

“I think that with every technology there’s trade-offs, and with e-scooters, especially the shared approach, the negative consequences of this technology (outweigh the benefits),” he said, citing the hazards they pose to people with disabilities.



Source link

More Advocacy Action, More Media, and More Ford Government Secrecy on Ontario’s Disability-Discriminatory Plans for Critical Care Triage If Hospital ICUs Run Out of Space for All Patients Needing Life-Saving Care


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/

April 14, 2021

SUMMARY

Disability advocacy keeps up the pressure on the critical care triage issue while the Ford Government keeps up the secrecy.

a) On April 13, 2021, the ARCH Disability Law Centre wrote the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Its excellent letter is set out below. CPSO regulates Ontario physicians. ARCH echoed the AODA Alliance’s serious objections to the position on critical care triage that the CPSO sent to all Ontario doctors last week. The AODA Alliance s objections are set out in our April 9, 2021 letter and our April 13, 2021 letter to the CPSO, all of which we have made public.

ARCH’s letter amplified our disability concerns. We thank ARCH for its letter, and for working so closely together with the AODA Alliance and other disability advocates on this issue.

b) On April 13, 2021 Andrea Horwath, Ontario’s Leader of the Official Opposition, and Joel Harden, the Ontario NDP disability critic, released a strong statement on the critical care triage issue, also set out below. It blasts the Ford Government for its secret critical care triage protocol that wrongly discriminates based on disability. We thank the NDP for this action, and urge it to give this urgent issue as much public attention as possible.

c) On April 12, 2021, the Thunder Bay Family Network held a Zoom public forum to rally disability rights organizers and advocates in northern Ontario on the disability discrimination concerns with the Ontario critical care triage protocol and plan. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky spoke at that event. A video of that event is posted on TBFN’s Facebook page. We congratulate TBFN and all those who attended and who made this such a success. We urge other organizations to hold similar events. We’d be delighted to help. Email the AODA Alliance at [email protected]

d) There continues to be some media attention on the critical care triage issue, but we need more of it!

We congratulate the fiery Dahlia Kurtz for her new national program on Sirius-XM Radio Channel 167, and applaud her for including AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on that show’s third day on the air on April 14, 2021. That should be available later today at https://soundcloud.com/canadatalks

Below we set out the April 8, 2021 Toronto Star report on where the Ford Government stands on the idea of it agreeing in advance to pay all doctors’ claims for deaths due to critical care triage under the disability-discriminatory Ontario critical care triage protocol. We regret that the Toronto Star did not identify or address the disability issues here, as the Star last did several months ago.

We also set out below a column in the April 2, 2021 London Free Press. It identified AODA Alliance concerns with the Ford Government’s mishandling of the critical care triage issue.

e) The Ford Government’s delays on disability accessibility seem interminable. There have now been 804 days, or over 2 and a quarter years, since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. The Ontario Government only has 1,358 days left until 2025, the deadline by which the Government must have led Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities.

For More on these issues, check out

1. The AODA Alliance’s new February 25, 2021 independent report on Ontario’s plans for critical care triage if hospitals are overwhelmed by patients needing critical care.

2. Ontario’s January 13, 2021 triage protocol.

3. The eight unanswered letters from the AODA Alliance to the Ford Government on its critical care triage plan, including the AODA Alliances September 25, 2020 letter, its November 2, 2020 letter, its November 9, 2020 letter, its December 7, 2020 letter, its December 15, 2020 letter, its December 17, 2020 letter, its January 18, 2021 letter and its February 25, 2021 letter to Health Minister Christine Elliott.

4. The Government’s earlier external advisory Bioethics Table’s September 11, 2020 draft critical care triage protocol, finally revealed in December 2020.

5. The AODA Alliance website’s health care page, detailing its efforts to tear down barriers in the health care system facing patients with disabilities, and our COVID-19 page, detailing our efforts to address the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

6. You can also visit the AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page to see what we have been up to, trying to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis are properly addressed. Send us your feedback! Write us at [email protected] Please stay safe!

MORE DETAILS

April 13, 2021 ARCH Disability Law Centre Letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

55 University Avenue, 15th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M5J 2H7
www.archdisabilitylaw.ca
(416) 482-8255 (Main) 1 (866) 482-ARCH (2724) (Toll Free)
(416) 482-1254 (TTY) 1 (866) 482-ARCT (2728) (Toll Free)
(416) 482-2981 (FAX) 1 (866) 881-ARCF (2723) (Toll Free)

Sent via email at [email protected] and [email protected] April 13, 2021
Dr. Nancy Whitmore, Registrar and CEO
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
80 College Street
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2E2

Dear Dr. Whitmore:

Re: Triaging of Critical Care in Ontario

I am writing on behalf of ARCH Disability Law Centre in response to your email correspondence to members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario on April 8, 2021, and the College’s subsequent response to the AODA Alliance dated April 12, 2021. ARCH shares the concerns raised by the AODA Alliance in its April 9th and April 13th letters.

We understand and appreciate the context of your correspondence, and the need to respond to the challenging circumstances that this pandemic continues to thrust on our health care service providers including physicians and surgeons. We also understand the need for a plan as this third wave of the pandemic overwhelms hospitals and critical care resources.

Your email correspondence addresses physicians’ obligations regarding the withholding and withdrawing of critical care. You state that the College supports deviation from its policies in following triage frameworks as developed by the command table.

Respectfully, your stated intention to ensure public trust in decision-making is eroded by supporting a critical care triage protocol that has been kept secret, on which there has been no proper public consultation, and which has been subject to serious disability discrimination objections. Disability advocates, and other marginalized communities, have been outspoken for over a year since the first Triage Protocol draft was leaked, identifying serious unlawful discriminatory implications that have persisted and have not yet been remedied. In addition, your correspondence does not clarify that all actions by your members must be taken free from any discrimination. Human rights protections under Ontario’s Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms continue to fully apply during a pandemic. It is precisely during times such as these that our human rights protections are most critical. We are concerned that the College’s messaging disregards and dispenses entirely with such human rights concerns, to the serious detriment of Ontario physicians and patients.

Moreover, in considering public interest and protecting the rights of our most vulnerable patients, any messaging by the College that supports a potentially discriminatory framework and contemplates limitations on patients’ rights such as the making of complaints to the College is troubling and inappropriate.

The public looks to the College to objectively and impartially decide any individual complaints against member physicians. It must not pre-decide issues on which it will have to rule. The public must be given confidence that its complaints process is a fair one. The College’s April 8, 2021 email to its members is inconsistent with that obligation, on a topic where the public needs a strong assurance, rather than a cause for concern.

We urge the College to rescind and clarify its message and ensure that its members understand their paramount human rights obligations during this pandemic, and their continued human rights obligations regardless of what triage frameworks are ultimately approved.

Sincerely,
ARCH Disability Law Centre
Robert Lattanzio
Executive Director

cc:
Premier Doug Ford [email protected]
Christine Elliott, Minister of Health [email protected] Helen Angus, Deputy Minister of Health [email protected] Raymond Cho, Minister of Seniors and Accessibility [email protected]
Denise Cole, Deputy Minister for Seniors and Accessibility [email protected]
Mary Bartolomucci, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate [email protected]
Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services [email protected]
Janet Menard, Deputy Minister of Children, Community and Social Services [email protected] Ena Chadha, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission [email protected]
David Lepofsky, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance [email protected]

April 13, 2021 Statement by New Democratic Party on Critical Care Triage

April 13, 2021

Ford’s triage protocol needs public consultation and must respect disability rights

QUEEN’S PARK NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre), the NDP’s critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities, said that as ICUs struggle to provide care for a rising number of people in critical condition, the provincial government must hold open consultations on the triage protocol and remove disability discrimination from it.

We all desperately hope the triage protocol will never have to be triggered, and there is more the provincial government can do to prevent that horrific scenario from playing out in Ontario. But preparing for life-and-death decisions about the lives of people, including people with disabilities, should not be done by the Ford government in secret, said Horwath. It’s time for this government to do the work it should have done months ago, and consult with disability and human rights groups, as well as Ontario families who will bear the consequences of these decisions.

Horwath and Harden said Doug Ford must stop ignoring human rights leaders and over 200 community organizations that wrote to the Ford government over a year ago exposing and denouncing its directions to Ontario hospitals on life-saving critical care that discriminates against people with disabilities. According to the Toronto Star, the Ford government is considering indemnifying critical care physicians from lawsuits which means the government is planning for doctors to have to make life-and-death decisions about allocating care, but is doing so behind closed doors.

“People with disabilities face a higher risk of getting and being severely impacted by COVID-19,” said Harden. “The Ford government must immediately remove disability discrimination from its clinical triage protocol, and respect the human rights of patients with disabilities.”

Toronto Star April 8, 2021

News

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/politics/provincial/2021/04/07/premier-doug-ford-instituting-province-wide-stay-at-home-order-expected-to-begin-thursday-sources-say.html

[Premier Doug Ford is vowing to have…]

Rob Ferguson, Robert Benzie and Kristin Rushowy Queen’s Park Bureau
Premier Doug Ford is vowing to have 40 per cent of adults vaccinated against COVID-19 – including essential workers over age 18 in Toronto and Peel Region hot spots – during Ontario’s 28-day stay-at-home order that begins Thursday.

Declaring a third state of emergency in a year, Ford said special education workers across the province and “all education workers in high-risk neighbourhoods in Toronto and Peel” would also begin getting shots during next week’s spring break, with dangerous variants of the virus spreading by the day.

The stay-at-home order, which could be extended, goes to May 6. The premier’s office said Ford’s 40 per cent vaccination target should get enough first doses to hot zones and quell transmission levels there.

“We need to get the vaccines where they will have the greatest impact as quickly as possible,” a sombre Ford said Wednesday, bowing to pressure from health experts and educators for targeted shots in trouble spots where outbreaks have resulted in younger adults being hospitalized at higher rates.

Vaccines will be sent to more hot zones in other municipalities as supplies allow.

“I am pleased with the pivot,” said Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, formerly Toronto East General Hospital. He warned that adults under age 50 in ICUs are now dying at twice the speed of the first and second waves, with one fatality every 2.8 days.

For Toronto and Peel hot spots, Ford said mobile teams and pop-up clinics are being organized to give jabs to anyone over 18 living in highly impacted neighbourhoods.

The trigger for the second stay-at-home order since January was a sudden increase in admissions of critically ill Ontarians to hospital intensive care units above levels that had been predicted in the “worst-case” modelling scenarios, threatening the health-care system, Ford added.

“How we handle the next four weeks, what we do until we start achieving mass immunization, will be the difference between life and death for thousands of people,” he said, brushing aside criticisms that he should have acted sooner on the stay-at-home order given repeated warnings from his science advisers.

“Ford walked us right into this lockdown with eyes wide open,” New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath told reporters.

“Experts made it clear every step of the way – he was reopening too quickly, taking away public health protections too soon, and implementing half-measures that would not stop the spread.”

With ICU admissions increasing, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government is trying to boost hospital capacity. It has not yet prepared a cabinet order indemnifying intensive care physicians from liability in making difficult triage decisions as to which patients will get the resources needed to have the best chance to survive, she said.

“We haven’t finalized any of that.”

The province’s science advisers have cautioned the scenario seen last year in New York City and northern Italy, where ICUs were overwhelmed, would become reality in Ontario once patient levels of about 800 are reached in critical care.

The province is at 504 – a record in the pandemic – after a one-third rise in the last week and more admissions expected with the province averaging almost 3,000 new infections a day.

Elliott said many hospitals are at capacity, meaning there is no way for Ontario to vaccinate its way out of the situation and a four-week stay-at-home order is crucial to containing the virus and its highly contagious variants.

“The variants have won this round of the race,” Peel medical officer Dr. Lawrence Loh told a news conference in Brampton. “Close down, vaccinate, and get out of this.”

There were 3,215 new infections reported Wednesday – including 1,095 in Toronto and 596 in Peel – with 17 more deaths bringing the pandemic total to 7,475 fatalities.

The government limited retailers open for in-person shopping mainly to supermarkets, pharmacies, LCBO outlets, and takeout restaurants. Non-essential retailers go back to online sales and curbside pickup. Malls can designate one indoor location for customer pickup of items by appointment.

In a change from a similar order issued to quell the second wave in January, big box stores like Walmart and Costco will be limited to selling essential food, pharmacy, personal and pet care items.

Employees who can are asked to work from home and trips outside the home should be for essential reasons only, such as food shopping, medical appointments and exercise.

Close contact with anyone from another household is discouraged.

The changes came six days after the premier announced an Ontario-wide “lockdown” widely panned as inadequate since it just closed restaurant patios, indoor dining and personal services such as hair salons and barber shops that were open in areas outside Toronto and Peel, and not already in lockdown.

Toronto’s public and Catholic schools closed to in-person learning Wednesday, following in the footsteps of Peel Region schools the day before.

Ford rejected pressure from health experts and opposition parties to introduce a sick pay policy so that people with COVID-19 symptoms and without benefits can stay home if ill. Ford said a federal program is available.

The stay-at-home order is a dramatic turnaround from recent weeks, in which Ford allowed non-essential retailers in lockdown zones to open to 25 per cent customer capacity, raised indoor dining capacity limits in bars and restaurants outside lockdown areas and permitted sidewalk patios in Toronto and Peel.

There was also the promise that barber shops, hair and nail salons could open April 12 in Toronto, Peel and other regions elevated to lockdowns, but as infection levels grew across the province those hopes were dashed.

Cases of COVID-19 are up more than 70 per cent in the last two weeks.

London Free Press April 2, 2021

Originally posted at https://lfpress.com/opinion/columnists/baranyai-triage-framework-should-be-debated-if-public-is-to-have-confidence-as-third-wave-rises Baranyai: Triage framework should be debated as COVID’s third wave rises Author of the article: Robin Baranyai Special to Postmedia News A triage nurse waits for patients in the Emergency Department. (File photo)
Under normal circumstances, patient triage is about identifying who should be treated first: who needs resuscitation, and who can wait to have their broken wrist set. It is not a question of whether the patient receives the care they need, but when.

Last March, that assumption was turned on its head. The world watched in horror as Italy’s well-regarded health-care system, with 3.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people (compared to 2.5 in Canada), was overwhelmed.

The case for delaying the second vaccine dose
Faced with too many patients and too few ventilators, doctors were forced to decide on the fly where scant resources should be allocated. All too often, it came down to the patient’s age.

Canadians hope to avoid these unthinkable choices. As they say: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Concerns again were raised this week about Ontario’s emergency standard of care, designed to provide consistent medical guidance on decisions should they become necessary about who receives care, by prioritizing resources for the patients most likely to survive. The protocol includes an online risk calculator for short-term mortality.

The protocol has been shared with Ontario hospitals, though not approved by the Ministry of Health, nor officially made public. The ministry has deflected queries to Jennifer Gibson, director of the University of Toronto’s joint centre for bioethics, and co-chair of the government’s bioethics table, which developed the triage framework.

It’s not shocking there is a protocol for making life-or-death care decisions, should hospital resources be overwhelmed. It would be shocking if there were not.

It is concerning, however, that an updated version of the protocol was brought to light by a disability advocacy group, and not by an open process of consultation, as recommended by both the bioethics table and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Under the protocol, two physicians would be involved in treatment decisions. The online tool allows doctors to input data on the severity of comorbid conditions, such as cancer, to help estimate patients’ odds of survival. Those with the best chance of surviving 12 months would be given priority for ICU beds.

The use of a clinical frailty scale (CFS) in risk calculations was flagged by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance. It measures the ability to perform everyday tasks in patients older than 65. While a CFS may reduce the subjectivity of assessments, the AODA Alliance rightly points out, difficulty people with disabilities have with everyday tasks may have nothing to do with their odds of survival.

Similar concerns were raised by disability advocates in Quebec. An expert working group developed an emergency protocol last March, and the province held open consultations. The emergency protocol was revised after hearing from advocacy groups, including the Quebec Intellectual Disability Society.

Quebec’s protocol goes further than Ontario’s, establishing criteria by which patients could be removed from life support, if needed, without their consent. As yet, there is no mechanism in Ontario to prioritize treatment of patients with a higher likelihood of survival over those on life support.

This is deeply uncomfortable territory. It forces us to think about choices we’d rather not make, or have made for us. But if we want continued confidence in our health-care system, people need to know how these decisions could be made.

The hard choices of battlefield medicine may not be theoretical for long. At the height of the second wave in January, the number of COVID-19 patients in Ontario ICUs peaked at 420. As of Monday, there were 390.

The battle here is not only between patient care and system capacity. It is between communication and opacity; transparency and uncertainty. Transparency builds confidence.

[email protected]




Source link

Disability Advocacy Coalition Calls for Strong Action by Governments At All Levels to Address the Emergency Needs of People with Disabilities during the Covid Crisis


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

March 20, 2020

SUMMARY

The Covid-19 virus crisis has serious implications for people with disabilities in our community. This cries out for immediate and major action by all levels of government. We call on our federal, provincial and municipal governments and other major public institutions to ensure that planning for the most vulnerable in our society, including people with disabilities, is a key part of all emergency planning in this area. We urge one and all to do what they can to stay isolated and safe.

We here offer concrete ideas. We are ready to help in any way we can. In this Update, we:

* outline some of the serious additional hardships that this Covid crisis is inflicting on over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities.

* Offer concrete proposals for immediate action by all levels of government and

* Outline some important lessons that our government must learn after this crisis is behind us all.

We recognize that our governments at all levels are rushing to address an unbelievable crisis. They have many huge pressures on them. They are working around the clock.

We deeply appreciate all the efforts made to date to help protect the public. We here offer constructive suggestions on how to ensure that their efforts include the pressing needs of people with disabilities in this crisis. In offering these ideas, we don’t want to leave any impression whatsoever that no one is doing anything for people with disabilities. We just want to ensure that our public institutions are collectively doing all we and they can on this front. It may well be that more is going on than we have seen. Whatever be the case, we hope the following ideas will help.

MORE DETAILS

1. The Covid Pandemic’s Serious Impact on People with Disabilities

Of the great many people whom the Covid virus will affect, the 2.6 million Ontarians who have a disability will disproportionately feel its harmful effects. We offer a few important reflections on the particular needs of people with disabilities as our society copes with the Covid-19 virus crisis that has so swiftly engulfed us all.

Specific Government Planning for the Needs of People with Disabilities Is especially vital, for several reasons. Here are the ones we’ve identified on short notice. There are, no doubt, many other similar impacts on people with disabilities beyond those listed here.

First, those who are most vulnerable to the dangers of the Covid virus are seniors and people with disabilities. Disproportionately, seniors have disabilities. Whether or not one is a senior, those with fragile or compromised medical conditions are especially at risk. While not all people with disabilities are medically fragile or compromised, there are a higher proportion of medically vulnerable people among our population of people with disabilities.

Second, the media has reported that the virus has had an especially serious impact on some living in care homes. Of course, those living in such facilities are typically (if not entirely) people with disabilities.

Third, self-imposed isolation at home is vital for everyone at this dangerous time, in order to contain this virus. This self-isolation at home can present additional hardships for some people with disabilities. For them, eliminating all close contact with other people may not be possible.

Fourth, the much-needed cancellation of school and day care programs is hard on all kids. For children with certain disabilities, this can be even harder.

For example, for children with disabilities like autism, the need for a structured and predictable day is important. That structured and predictable day has been blown away by the closure of schools and many programs for children with disabilities. Some children with disabilities get critically important services at school, beyond the school’s education program. Their families must now struggle to find those services elsewhere, and try to get them brought into the home, lest they have to venture out into the community. Some of those services will be closed now, due to the economic shutdown that is hitting so much of our economy.

Some of the important support workers and service providers will face serious economic peril as they are closed or laid off during these closures. Their economic survival may be in jeopardy.

Fifth, effective self-isolation requires a person or family to dig into their savings. A disproportionate number of people with disabilities live at or below the poverty line. They won’t have the savings one needs for this.

Sixth, the homeless too often include people with addiction and/or other mental health conditions. For them, self-isolation at home to avoid this virus is not even an option.

Seventh, we have all been told that frequent hand-washing is extremely important to protect ourselves from getting this virus. As one person with a disability pointed out on Twitter, this is hard to do in washrooms where the soap dispenser is not in an accessible location.

Eighth, for those who were away from home as this crisis escalated, and who have to travel to get home, the many disability barriers in our transportation sector will feel even more amplified now. It has at times been hard to get through on the phone to an airline. Now it is even worse. Long waits at airports are hard on everyone. On passengers with disabilities with frail medical conditions or fatiguing conditions, this is much harder.

Ninth, as the spread of this virus gets worse, we are going to need to rely more and more on our health care system. Our governments are expected to plan for a major surge in demand for hospital services.

Yet patients with disabilities now still face far too many barriers in the health care system. After years and years of our advocacy, the Ontario Government is belatedly working on developing a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
However, at the rate at which the Ontario Government has been going on this issue, a new regulation to set standards for accessibility in the health care system is likely still years away from being enacted and implemented. Last month we made public our detailed Framework that lists what needs to be done to make our health care system truly and fully accessible to patients with disabilities.

Tenth, as schools are closed and post-secondary education organizations such as colleges and universities move their teaching to online platforms, the recurring barriers in education facing students with disabilities become all the more hurtful.

For example, if any colleges and universities have not ensured the full accessibility of their digital learning environment, the move to online learning risks becoming the move to a world of even more education barriers. In that regard, last week the AODA Alliance made public a draft Framework for the promised Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard. We seek your input on that draft before we finalize it. Given the crisis facing us all, it is all the more important for post-secondary education organizations to move very fast now to ensure that their digital learning environments are barrier-free for students with disabilities.

Eleventh, the additional burdens of this virus can be felt differently in different disability contexts. For example:

a) We are all warned to avoid touching surfaces if they have not been recently sanitized. Yet for many people with vision loss, their hands can either intentionally or accidentally contact surfaces around them as they navigate.

b) For people with balance issues or fatiguing conditions, they have an increased need to hold on to railings on staircases or other public places.

c) This Covid crisis is happening as the Ontario Government continues its months of delay in deciding and announcing how it is going to fix the chaos it created last year in its Ontario Autism Program. The Ford Government has left parents of children with autism hanging for months, wondering what services their children will receive. As well, for children with other disabilities that have similar needs but do not get similar provincially-supported services, the situation is also very troubling.

2. What Should We As a Society DO?

Today, the maxim “It takes a village” rings loud and clear. As individuals, we can each reach out to others to see what assistance we can rally. Many are doing so. The business sector can also do a great deal to help, by planning measures to ensure that people with disabilities are accommodated during this crisis.

We commend everyone who is trying to help others, on a one-to-one basis, or through more collective efforts. We applaud those retail stores like grocery stores and drug stores that have announced plans to allocate special shopping hours for customers who are seniors or people with disabilities. We encourage the entire business community, and especially those in the food, restaurant, banking, and other retail and service areas, to implement and announce similarly creative strategies to ensure that customers with disabilities are effectively served.

Such commendable localized and individualized volunteer measures are only one part of the picture. it is absolutely essential for our governments at all levels to take a strong lead and to show decisive leadership on these disability concerns. They need to quickly plan and implement specific strategies to ensure that people with disabilities are safe, are fully protected from the community spread of the Covid-19 virus and are able to live in the isolation to which we all must commit ourselves. Our governments at all levels need to proactively build strong and effective disability considerations into all aspects of their emergency planning.

This makes good policy sense. It is so obvious to Ontarians with disabilities. However, over the years, we have found over and over that our governments too often fail to effectively take into account the needs of people with disabilities in their policy planning. This is so even though government after government congratulates itself on supposedly leading by example on disability accessibility and inclusion.

Multiple reports have told the Ontario Government about this serious unmet need and the lack of effective provincial leadership. This has continued even years after enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

What we seek is a sensible thing to do. It is also an obligation on the part of our government.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees to people with disabilities the constitutional right to equality before and under to the law, and to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on disability. The Supreme Court of Canada made this obligation clear almost a quarter century ago in the landmark case of Eldridge v. British Columbia. It held that governments have a strong duty to take into account and accommodate the needs of people with disabilities when they design and implement public programs, including, most notably, health care. The AODA itself is a law which the grassroots disability community fought for over a decade, to turn Eldridge’s powerful language into a reality in the lives of people with disabilities. However, since the AODA was enacted in 2005, Government after Government has achieved progress on accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities at a glacial pace, according to the 2019 report of the Third Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley.

The accessibility standards enacted to date under the AODA include some requirements regarding emergency planning for people with disabilities. We set these out at the end of this Update. They only cover a small part of what people with disabilities now need in Ontario from their governments and leading public sector organizations like hospitals and public transit providers.

The AODA Alliance has repeatedly revealed that successive governments have done a poor job of enforcing the AODA. In this crisis, the harm to people with disabilities from that failure is even more harmful.

We offer a list of actions that governments should immediately take. This is not the last word on this issue. This list is only the first word. Proper planning and feedback from people with disabilities will reveal other important actions to add to this list.

1. All emergency announcements and supports must be communicated to the public through multiple fully accessible means. Governments must ensure that people with disabilities can learn about them and find them. The public is desperate to know the latest official news, as things keep changing hour by hour.

For example, announcements by the Prime Minister of Canada or Ontario’s Premier should be simultaneously available with captioning and Sign Language interpretation. Public websites where emergency information is posted should be fully barrier-free. Plain language options should be available for persons with intellectual or cognitive disabilities.

2. It is good that there are some government efforts underway to assist people with the serious financial hardships that this crisis is causing. Specific targeted measures need to be announced to address the added needs and vulnerabilities facing people with disabilities as they deal with this crisis.

This could include emergency supplements to social assistance like ODSP, the Disability Tax Credit and other financial supports. Emergency expedited procedures to process those claims should be implemented. There should be a moratorium on Government efforts to cut off such social assistance supports as ODSP. Protections against credit card penalties during this crisis should also be on the agenda. Those who lead the advocacy efforts for income security for people with disabilities should be at the forefront of discussions on this issue.

3. It is good that our health care system is trying to gear up for the anticipated onslaught of patients with the Covid virus. This planning must include emergency efforts to ensure that patients with disabilities will be able to get needed health care services, and to eliminate the barriers that they now must endure throughout the health care system.

As but one example, the Covid testing centres that governments are rushing to open should be designed to be fully barrier-free for patients with disabilities. The AODA Alliance’s Framework for barrier-free health care services is a good starting point for this.

4. It is essential that people with disabilities who need health care services can get prompt accessible transportation to those services. If those services can be delivered at home through new measures, that would avoid this issue. To the extent that patients with disabilities need to use para-transit services to get to our health care system, e.g. for Covid testing, there should now be put in place an expedited process to call into para-transit services and book such urgently-needed transportation. This is all the more urgent since the Ford Government has been sitting on recommendations to strengthen the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard since it took office, with no reforms having been announced. See further our long term efforts to ensure accessible public transit in Ontario.

5. While schools are closed, some efforts are underway to provide parents with educational activities for their kids at home. At the same time, specific and dedicated resources need to be provided for parents of students with disabilities who may not be able to benefit from educational resources that too often are only designed to meet the learning needs of students who have no disabilities. For ideas on what is needed to make education accessible in Ontario, consult the AODA Alliance’s Framework for accessible K-12 education.

6. Our health care providers in the community must now cope with an inexcusable shortage of safety health supplies such as masks and gloves. Our governments must now rush to get these mass-produced in huge quantities.

However, these safety masks and gloves must also be made available widely to people with disabilities who need them to be used by care-givers, attendant care providers, group home staff, and other like people with whom they must closely deal.

7. Governments must immediately deploy emergency strategies to protect homeless people from the devastating impact of this health crisis. It must take into account that disproportionately, homeless people have disabilities. This should include an emergency strategy to protect people with disabilities from becoming homeless during this crisis, because they live in a rental apartment but are on the verge of eviction.

8. Emergency strategies must be put in place to assure needed supports to people with disabilities who are self-isolating, such as needed attendant care and other in-home services.

9. From the experience in other countries where the pandemic has quickly spread, we know that horrible decisions may be made about rationing scarce health care services, when the demand for those services out-strips the supply. It is essential that people with disabilities not get the short end of that stick, based on harmful stereotypes about the quality of life when one is living with a disability. Such stereotypes too often have been present in our health care system. We cannot afford for them to surface now, and be used to justify denying needed medical services because a patient has a disability.

10. Our governments should now undertake a quick multi-level coordinated outreach to people with disabilities to ensure that they know what impacts can make a more informed decisions on how to ensure that disability needs are taken into account in this emergency planning. That should include, among other things, establishing and publicizing a hotline for people with disabilities to report hardships they face during this crisis.

11. Government disability or accessibility offices should be immediately included in all emergency planning.

12. Governments should immediately survey readily-available online resources in this area. For example, we set out below a list of recommendations available online from the International Disability Alliance. While we are not familiar with that organization, it offers good ideas.

Governments are scrambling to deal quickly with this Covid crisis. It is vital to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are not again left out of the policy planning process, where the stakes for everyone are so high.

3. Long Term Disability-Related Lessons that Our Society Can Learn from the Covid Crisis

When we get this crisis behind us, there will be much-needed efforts to figure out what went wrong, and how we can learn from the events that are now unfolding. Our governments, public institutions and private sector organizations must learn some key lessons from the experience of people with disabilities.

One big lesson to be learned is that we are now all suffering the consequences of grossly-inadequate past government efforts at making our society fully accessible to people with disabilities. As one example, for years, the disability community has faced far too much resistance when seeking to get requirements enacted to install such helpful accessibility features as automatic water faucets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers in public bathrooms. The same goes for requiring automatic power doors, so that one does not have to either physically open the door or press a button to get the door to open. Yet in the face of the Covid crisis, these basic accessibility features are now vital to protect everyone from the dangerous spread of the Covid virus when we use a public washroom.

Similarly, in the past, some employees with disabilities have encountered resistance when they have asked some employers to let them work from home. Other employers were supportive. With this virus, employers have rapidly made this accommodation widely available to many of their employees, as a good public health measure to prevent the spread of the virus. ` We need to more effectively ensure that no employees with disabilities ever have to face such resistance to such workplace accommodations in the future.

One can imagine many more such illustrations of this broader lesson to be learned. These examples help show that the failure of government after government in Ontario to effectively implement and enforce the AODA must dramatically change in the future. Three successive Government-appointed Independent Reviews of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement have called for major reforms and strong new provincial leadership. The current Ontario Government has had 414 days since it received the most recent of these reports, and still has no effective plan to implement it.

4. Toward a Disability-Inclusive COVID19 Response: 10 recommendations from the International Disability Alliance

March 19, 2020

)Note: The AODA Alliance encourages all governments to consider the following recommendations which one of our supporters brought to our attention.)

In the light of the COVID19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on persons with disabilities, the International Disability Alliance (IDA) has compiled the following list of the main barriers that persons with disabilities face in this emergency situation along with some practical solutions and recommendations. This document is based on inputs received from our members around the world aiming to assist global, regional, national and local advocacy to more efficiently address the range of risks persons with disabilities face.
If you have any updates on how COVID 19 is affecting persons with disabilities in your area of work, or want to share any good practices or lessons learnt, please contact IDA Inclusive Humanitarian Adviser Ms Elham Youssefian via emailing [email protected]

I. People with disabilities are at higher risk of contracting COVID19 due to barriers accessing preventive information and hygiene, reliance on physical contact with the environment or support persons, as well as respiratory conditions caused by certain impairments.

Recommendation 1: Persons with disabilities must receive information about infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans, and the services offered, in a diversity of accessible formats
* Mass media communication should include captioning, national sign language, high contrast, large print information.
* Digital media should include accessible formats to blind persons and other persons facing restrictions in accessing print. * All communication should be in plain language.
* In case the public communications are yet to become accessible, alternative phone lines for blind persons and email address for deaf and hard of hearing may be a temporary option.
* Sign language interpreters who work in emergency and health settings should be given the same health and safety protections as other health care workers dealing with COVID19.
* There may be appropriate alternatives for optimum access, such as interpreters wearing a transparent mask, so that facial expressions and lip movement is still visible,
* Alternatives are particularly important as remote interpretation is not accessible for everyone, including people with deaf-blindness. Solutions should be explored with concerned people and organizations representing them.
* Assistive technologies should be used such as FM systems for communicating with hard of hearing persons especially important when face masks make lipreading impossible.
Recommendation 2: Additional protective measures must be taken for people with certain types of impairment.
* Disinfection of entrance doors reserved for persons with disabilities, handrails of ramps or staircases, accessibility knobs for doors reserved for people with reduced mobility.
* Introducing proactive testing and more strict preventive measures for groups of persons with disabilities who are more susceptible to infection due to the respiratory or other health complications caused by their impairment.
* The COVID19 crisis and confinement measures may generate fear and anxiety; demonstrating solidarity and community support is important for all, and may be critical for persons with psychosocial disabilities

Recommendation 3: Rapid awareness raising and training of personnel involved in the response are essential
* Government officials and service providers, including emergency responders must be trained on the rights of persons with disabilities, and on risks associated to respiratory complications for people who have specific impairments (e.g. whose health may be jeopardized by coughing).
* Awareness raising on support to persons with disabilities should be part of all protection campaigns.

Recommendation 4: All preparedness and response plans must be inclusive of and accessible to women with disabilities
* Any plans to support women should be inclusive of and accessible to women with disabilities
* Programs to support persons with disabilities should include a gender perspective.

II. Implementing quarantines or similar restrictive programs may entail disruptions in services vital for many persons with disabilities and undermine basic rights such as food, health care, wash and sanitation, and communications, leading to abandonment, isolation and institutionalization.
Recommendation 5: No disability-based institutionalization and abandonment is acceptable
* Persons with disabilities should not be institutionalized as a consequence of quarantine procedures beyond the minimum necessary to overcome the sickness stage and on an equal basis with others.
* Any disruptions in social services should have the least impact possible on persons with disabilities and should not entail abandonment.
* Support family and social networks, in case of being quarantined, should be replaced by other networks or services.
Recommendation 6: During quarantine, support services, personal assistance, physical and communication accessibility must be ensured
* Quarantined persons with disabilities must have access to interpretation and support services, either through externally provided services or through their family and social network;
* Personal assistants, support workers or interpreters shall accompany them in quarantine, upon both parties agreement and subject to adoption of all protective measures;
* Personal assistants, support workers or interpreters should be proactively tested for COVID 19 to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to persons with disabilities
* Remote work or education services must be equally accessible for employees/students with disabilities.
Recommendation 7: Measures of public restrictions must consider persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others
* In case of public restriction measures, persons with disabilities must be supported to meet their daily living requirements, including access to food (as needed with specific dietary requirements), housing, healthcare, in-home, school and community support, as well as maintaining employment and access to accessible transportation.
* Government planners must consider that mobility and business restrictions disproportionately impact persons with reduced mobility and other persons with disabilities and allow for adaptations. For example, Australia has reserved specific opening hours in supermarket for persons with disabilities and older persons
* Providers of support services must have the personal protective equipment and instructions needed to minimize exposure and spread of infection, as well as should be proactively tested for the virus.
* In case of food or hygienic products shortage, immediate measures must be taken to ensure that people with disabilities are not left out as they will be the first group to experience lack of access to such items.
* Any program to provide support to the marginalized groups should be disability-inclusive, e.g. distribution of cash may not be a good option for many people with disabilities as they may not be able to find items they need due to accessibility barriers.

III. When ill with COVID19, persons with disabilities may face additional barriers in seeking health care and also experience discrimination and negligence by health care personnel.
Recommendation 8: Persons with disabilities in need of health services due to COVID19 cannot be deprioritized on the ground of their disability
* Public health communication messages must be respectful and non-discriminatory.
* Instructions to health care personnel should highlight equal dignity for people with disabilities and include safeguards against disability-based discrimination.
* While we appreciate that the urgency is to deal with the fast-rising number of people infected and in need of hospitalization, rapid awareness-raising of key medical personnel is essential to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind or systematically deprioritized in the response to the crisis.
* Communications about the stage of the disease and any procedures must be to the person themselves and through accessible means and modes of communication.

IV. Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) particularly at national and local levels may not be prepared to take immediate action and may not be fully aware how to approach the situation. Some measures OPDs can take include:
Recommendation 9: OPDs can and should play a key role in raising awareness of persons with disabilities and their families.

* Prepare COVID19 instructions and guidance in various accessible formats in local languages; please see existing resources produced by IDA members and their members, which we will keep updating
* Help establish peer-support networks to facilitate support in case of quarantine; * Organize trainings on disability inclusion for responders
* Compile an updated list of accessible health care and other essential service providers in each area

Recommendation 10: OPDs can and should play a key role in advocating for disability-inclusive response to the COVID19 crisis
* Proactively reach to all related authorities including the health system, the national media, the crisis response headquarters and education authorities to:
* Sensitize authorities on how the pandemic as well as the response plans may disproportionally impact persons with disabilities;
* Offer tailored practical tips on how to address accessibility barriers or specific measures required by persons with disabilities
* Based on available resources and capacity, contribute to the national or local emergency response.

*For updated resources on inclusion of persons with disabilities in Covid19 prevention and response, please regularly check the webpage dedicated by the International Disability Alliance at http://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/covid-19

5. Key Emergency Provisions in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation 2011 Enacted Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, enacted in 2011 under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, includes the following emergency-related provisions.

Emergency procedure, plans or public safety information

13. (1) In addition to its obligations under section 12, if an obligated organization prepares emergency procedures, plans or public safety information and makes the information available to the public, the obligated organization shall provide the information in an accessible format or with appropriate communication supports, as soon as practicable, upon request.

(2) Obligated organizations that prepare emergency procedures, plans or public safety information and make the information available to the public shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

Workplace emergency response information

27. (1) Every employer shall provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability is such that the individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 27 (1).

(2) If an employee who receives individualized workplace emergency response information requires assistance and with the employee’s consent, the employer shall provide the workplace emergency response information to the person designated by the employer to provide assistance to the employee. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 27 (2).

(3) Employers shall provide the information required under this section as soon as practicable after the employer becomes aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.

(4) Every employer shall review the individualized workplace emergency response information,

(a) when the employee moves to a different location in the organization;

(b) when the employee’s overall accommodations needs or plans are reviewed; and

(c) when the employer reviews its general emergency response policies.

(5) Every employer shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

28. (1) Employers, other than employers that are small organizations, shall develop and have in place a written process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 28 (1).

(2) The process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans shall include the following elements:

1. The manner in which an employee requesting accommodation can participate in the development of the individual accommodation plan.

2. The means by which the employee is assessed on an individual basis.

3. The manner in which the employer can request an evaluation by an outside medical or other expert, at the employer’s expense, to assist the employer in determining if accommodation can be achieved and, if so, how accommodation can be achieved.

4. The manner in which the employee can request the participation of a representative from their bargaining agent, where the employee is represented by a bargaining agent, or other representative from the workplace, where the employee is not represented by a bargaining agent, in the development of the accommodation plan.

5. The steps taken to protect the privacy of the employee’s personal information.

6. The frequency with which the individual accommodation plan will be reviewed and updated and the manner in which it will be done.

7. If an individual accommodation plan is denied, the manner in which the reasons for the denial will be provided to the employee.

8. The means of providing the individual accommodation plan in a format that takes into account the employee’s accessibility needs due to disability. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 28 (2).

(3) Individual accommodation plans shall,

(a) if requested, include any information regarding accessible formats and communications supports provided, as described in section 26;

(b) if required, include individualized workplace emergency response information, as described in section 27; and

(c) identify any other accommodation that is to be provided.

Emergency preparedness and response policies

37. (1) In addition to any obligations that a conventional transportation service provider or a specialized transportation service provider has under section 13, conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers,

(a) shall establish, implement, maintain and document emergency preparedness and response policies that provide for the safety of persons with disabilities; and

(b) shall make those policies available to the public. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 37 (1).

(2) Conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers shall, upon request, provide the policies described in subsection (1) in an accessible format. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 37 (2).

(3) Conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

Regarding para-transit services, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation requires:

Emergency or compassionate grounds

65. (1) Specialized transportation service providers shall develop procedures respecting the provision of temporary specialized transportation services earlier than in the 14 calendar days referred to in subsection 64 (1),

(a) where the services are required because of an emergency or on compassionate grounds; and

(b) where there are no other accessible transportation services to meet the person’s needs. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 65 (1).

(2) A person shall apply for the services described in subsection (1) in the manner determined by the specialized transportation service provider. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 65 (2).

(3) Specialized transportation service providers shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2014.

LKM




Source link

Disability Advocacy Coalition Calls for Strong Action by Governments At All Levels to Address the Emergency Needs of People with Disabilities during the Covid Crisis


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Disability Advocacy Coalition Calls for Strong Action by Governments At All Levels to Address the Emergency Needs of People with Disabilities during the Covid Crisis

March 20, 2020

          SUMMARY

The Covid-19 virus crisis has serious implications for people with disabilities in our community. This cries out for immediate and major action by all levels of government. We call on our federal, provincial and municipal governments and other major public institutions to ensure that planning for the most vulnerable in our society, including people with disabilities, is a key part of all emergency planning in this area. We urge one and all to do what they can to stay isolated and safe.

We here offer concrete ideas. We are ready to help in any way we can. In this Update, we:

* outline some of the serious additional hardships that this Covid crisis is inflicting on over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities.

* Offer concrete proposals for immediate action by all levels of government and

* Outline some important lessons that our government must learn after this crisis is behind us all.

We recognize that our governments at all levels are rushing to address an unbelievable crisis. They have many huge pressures on them. They are working around the clock.

We deeply appreciate all the efforts made to date to help protect the public. We here offer constructive suggestions on how to ensure that their efforts include the pressing needs of people with disabilities in this crisis. In offering these ideas, we don’t want to leave any impression whatsoever that no one is doing anything for people with disabilities. We just want to ensure that our public institutions are collectively doing all we and they can on this front. It may well be that more is going on than we have seen. Whatever be the case, we hope the following ideas will help.

          MORE DETAILS

1. The Covid Pandemic’s Serious Impact on People with Disabilities

Of the great many people whom the Covid virus will affect, the 2.6 million Ontarians who have a disability will disproportionately feel its harmful effects. We offer a few important reflections on the particular needs of people with disabilities as our society copes with the Covid-19 virus crisis that has so swiftly engulfed us all.

Specific Government Planning for the Needs of People with Disabilities Is especially vital, for several reasons. Here are the ones we’ve identified on short notice. There are, no doubt, many other similar impacts on people with disabilities beyond those listed here.

First, those who are most vulnerable to the dangers of the Covid virus are seniors and people with disabilities. Disproportionately, seniors have disabilities. Whether or not one is a senior, those with fragile or compromised medical conditions are especially at risk. While not all people with disabilities are medically fragile or compromised, there are a higher proportion of medically vulnerable people among our population of people with disabilities.

Second, the media has reported that the virus has had an especially serious impact on some living in care homes. Of course, those living in such facilities are typically (if not entirely) people with disabilities.

Third, self-imposed isolation at home is vital for everyone at this dangerous time, in order to contain this virus. This self-isolation at home can present additional hardships for some people with disabilities. For them, eliminating all close contact with other people may not be possible.

Fourth, the much-needed cancellation of school and day care programs is hard on all kids. For children with certain disabilities, this can be even harder.

For example, for children with disabilities like autism, the need for a structured and predictable day is important. That structured and predictable day has been blown away by the closure of schools and many programs for children with disabilities. Some children with disabilities get critically important services at school, beyond the school’s education program. Their families must now struggle to find those services elsewhere, and try to get them brought into the home, lest they have to venture out into the community. Some of those services will be closed now, due to the economic shutdown that is hitting so much of our economy.

Some of the important support workers and service providers will face serious economic peril as they are closed or laid off during these closures. Their economic survival may be in jeopardy.

Fifth, effective self-isolation requires a person or family to dig into their savings. A disproportionate number of people with disabilities live at or below the poverty line. They won’t have the savings one needs for this.

Sixth, the homeless too often include people with addiction and/or other mental health conditions. For them, self-isolation at home to avoid this virus is not even an option.

Seventh, we have all been told that frequent hand-washing is extremely important to protect ourselves from getting this virus. As one person with a disability pointed out on Twitter, this is hard to do in washrooms where the soap dispenser is not in an accessible location.

Eighth, for those who were away from home as this crisis escalated, and who have to travel to get home, the many disability barriers in our transportation sector will feel even more amplified now. It has at times been hard to get through on the phone to an airline. Now it is even worse. Long waits at airports are hard on everyone. On passengers with disabilities with frail medical conditions or fatiguing conditions, this is much harder.

Ninth, as the spread of this virus gets worse, we are going to need to rely more and more on our health care system. Our governments are expected to plan for a major surge in demand for hospital services.

Yet patients with disabilities now still face far too many barriers in the health care system. After years and years of our advocacy, the Ontario Government is belatedly working on developing a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

However, at the rate at which the Ontario Government has been going on this issue, a new regulation to set standards for accessibility in the health care system is likely still years away from being enacted and implemented. Last month we made public our detailed Framework that lists what needs to be done to make our health care system truly and fully accessible to patients with disabilities.

Tenth, as schools are closed and post-secondary education organizations such as colleges and universities move their teaching to online platforms, the recurring barriers in education facing students with disabilities become all the more hurtful.

For example, if any colleges and universities have not ensured the full accessibility of their digital learning environment, the move to online learning risks becoming the move to a world of even more education barriers. In that regard, last week the AODA Alliance made public a draft Framework for the promised Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard. We seek your input on that draft before we finalize it. Given the crisis facing us all, it is all the more important for post-secondary education organizations to move very fast now to ensure that their digital learning environments are barrier-free for students with disabilities.

Eleventh, the additional burdens of this virus can be felt differently in different disability contexts. For example:

  1. a) We are all warned to avoid touching surfaces if they have not been recently sanitized. Yet for many people with vision loss, their hands can either intentionally or accidentally contact surfaces around them as they navigate.
  1. b) For people with balance issues or fatiguing conditions, they have an increased need to hold on to railings on staircases or other public places.
  1. c) This Covid crisis is happening as the Ontario Government continues its months of delay in deciding and announcing how it is going to fix the chaos it created last year in its Ontario Autism Program. The Ford Government has left parents of children with autism hanging for months, wondering what services their children will receive. As well, for children with other disabilities that have similar needs but do not get similar provincially-supported services, the situation is also very troubling.

2. What Should We As a Society DO?

Today, the maxim “It takes a village” rings loud and clear. As individuals, we can each reach out to others to see what assistance we can rally. Many are doing so. The business sector can also do a great deal to help, by planning measures to ensure that people with disabilities are accommodated during this crisis.

We commend everyone who is trying to help others, on a one-to-one basis, or through more collective efforts. We applaud those retail stores like grocery stores and drug stores that have announced plans to allocate special shopping hours for customers who are seniors or people with disabilities. We encourage the entire business community, and especially those in the food, restaurant, banking, and other retail and service areas, to implement and announce similarly creative strategies to ensure that customers with disabilities are effectively served.

Such commendable localized and individualized volunteer measures are only one part of the picture. it is absolutely essential for our governments at all levels to take a strong lead and to show decisive leadership on these disability concerns. They need to quickly plan and implement specific strategies to ensure that people with disabilities are safe, are fully protected from the community spread of the Covid-19 virus and are able to live in the isolation to which we all must commit ourselves. Our governments at all levels need to proactively build strong and effective disability considerations into all aspects of their emergency planning.

This makes good policy sense. It is so obvious to Ontarians with disabilities. However, over the years, we have found over and over that our governments too often fail to effectively take into account the needs of people with disabilities in their policy planning. This is so even though government after government congratulates itself on supposedly leading by example on disability accessibility and inclusion.

Multiple reports have told the Ontario Government about this serious unmet need and the lack of effective provincial leadership. This has continued even years after enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

What we seek is a sensible thing to do. It is also an obligation on the part of our government.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees to people with disabilities the constitutional right to equality before and under to the law, and to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on disability. The Supreme Court of Canada made this obligation clear almost a quarter century ago in the landmark case of Eldridge v. British Columbia. It held that governments have a strong duty to take into account and accommodate the needs of people with disabilities when they design and implement public programs, including, most notably, health care. The AODA itself is a law which the grassroots disability community fought for over a decade, to turn Eldridge’s powerful language into a reality in the lives of people with disabilities. However, since the AODA was enacted in 2005, Government after Government has achieved progress on accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities at a glacial pace, according to the 2019 report of the Third Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley.

The accessibility standards enacted to date under the AODA include some requirements regarding emergency planning for people with disabilities. We set these out at the end of this Update. They only cover a small part of what people with disabilities now need in Ontario from their governments and leading public sector organizations like hospitals and public transit providers.

The AODA Alliance has repeatedly revealed that successive governments have done a poor job of enforcing the AODA. In this crisis, the harm to people with disabilities from that failure is even more harmful.

We offer a list of actions that governments should immediately take. This is not the last word on this issue. This list is only the first word. Proper planning and feedback from people with disabilities will reveal other important actions to add to this list.

  1. All emergency announcements and supports must be communicated to the public through multiple fully accessible means. Governments must ensure that people with disabilities can learn about them and find them. The public is desperate to know the latest official news, as things keep changing hour by hour.

For example, announcements by the Prime Minister of Canada or Ontario’s Premier should be simultaneously available with captioning and Sign Language interpretation. Public websites where emergency information is posted should be fully barrier-free. Plain language options should be available for persons with intellectual or cognitive disabilities.

  1. It is good that there are some government efforts underway to assist people with the serious financial hardships that this crisis is causing. Specific targeted measures need to be announced to address the added needs and vulnerabilities facing people with disabilities as they deal with this crisis.

This could include emergency supplements to social assistance like ODSP, the Disability Tax Credit and other financial supports. Emergency expedited procedures to process those claims should be implemented. There should be a moratorium on Government efforts to cut off such social assistance supports as ODSP. Protections against credit card penalties during this crisis should also be on the agenda. Those who lead the advocacy efforts for income security for people with disabilities should be at the forefront of discussions on this issue.

  1. It is good that our health care system is trying to gear up for the anticipated onslaught of patients with the Covid virus. This planning must include emergency efforts to ensure that patients with disabilities will be able to get needed health care services, and to eliminate the barriers that they now must endure throughout the health care system.

As but one example, the Covid testing centres that governments are rushing to open should be designed to be fully barrier-free for patients with disabilities. The AODA Alliance’s Framework for barrier-free health care services is a good starting point for this.

  1. It is essential that people with disabilities who need health care services can get prompt accessible transportation to those services. If those services can be delivered at home through new measures, that would avoid this issue. To the extent that patients with disabilities need to use para-transit services to get to our health care system, e.g. for Covid testing, there should now be put in place an expedited process to call into para-transit services and book such urgently-needed transportation. This is all the more urgent since the Ford Government has been sitting on recommendations to strengthen the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard since it took office, with no reforms having been announced. See further our long term efforts to ensure accessible public transit in Ontario.
  1. While schools are closed, some efforts are underway to provide parents with educational activities for their kids at home. At the same time, specific and dedicated resources need to be provided for parents of students with disabilities who may not be able to benefit from educational resources that too often are only designed to meet the learning needs of students who have no disabilities. For ideas on what is needed to make education accessible in Ontario, consult the AODA Alliance’s Framework for accessible K-12 education.
  1. Our health care providers in the community must now cope with an inexcusable shortage of safety health supplies such as masks and gloves. Our governments must now rush to get these mass-produced in huge quantities.

However, these safety masks and gloves must also be made available widely to people with disabilities who need them to be used by care-givers, attendant care providers, group home staff, and other like people with whom they must closely deal.

  1. Governments must immediately deploy emergency strategies to protect homeless people from the devastating impact of this health crisis. It must take into account that disproportionately, homeless people have disabilities. This should include an emergency strategy to protect people with disabilities from becoming homeless during this crisis, because they live in a rental apartment but are on the verge of eviction.
  1. Emergency strategies must be put in place to assure needed supports to people with disabilities who are self-isolating, such as needed attendant care and other in-home services.
  1. From the experience in other countries where the pandemic has quickly spread, we know that horrible decisions may be made about rationing scarce health care services, when the demand for those services out-strips the supply. It is essential that people with disabilities not get the short end of that stick, based on harmful stereotypes about the quality of life when one is living with a disability. Such stereotypes too often have been present in our health care system. We cannot afford for them to surface now, and be used to justify denying needed medical services because a patient has a disability.
  1. Our governments should now undertake a quick multi-level coordinated outreach to people with disabilities to ensure that they know what impacts can make a more informed decisions on how to ensure that disability needs are taken into account in this emergency planning. That should include, among other things, establishing and publicizing a hotline for people with disabilities to report hardships they face during this crisis.
  1. Government disability or accessibility offices should be immediately included in all emergency planning.
  1. Governments should immediately survey readily-available online resources in this area. For example, we set out below a list of recommendations available online from the International Disability Alliance. While we are not familiar with that organization, it offers good ideas.

Governments are scrambling to deal quickly with this Covid crisis. It is vital to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are not again left out of the policy planning process, where the stakes for everyone are so high.

3. Long Term Disability-Related Lessons that Our Society Can Learn from the Covid Crisis

When we get this crisis behind us, there will be much-needed efforts to figure out what went wrong, and how we can learn from the events that are now unfolding. Our governments, public institutions and private sector organizations must learn some key lessons from the experience of people with disabilities.

One big lesson to be learned is that we are now all suffering the consequences of grossly-inadequate past government efforts at making our society fully accessible to people with disabilities. As one example, for years, the disability community has faced far too much resistance when seeking to get requirements enacted to install such helpful accessibility features as automatic water faucets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers in public bathrooms. The same goes for requiring automatic power doors, so that one does not have to either physically open the door or press a button to get the door to open. Yet in the face of the Covid crisis, these basic accessibility features are now vital to protect everyone from the dangerous spread of the Covid virus when we use a public washroom.

Similarly, in the past, some employees with disabilities have encountered resistance when they have asked some employers to let them work from home. Other employers were supportive. With this virus, employers have rapidly made this accommodation widely available to many of their employees, as a good public health measure to prevent the spread of the virus. ` We need to more effectively ensure that no employees with disabilities ever have to face such resistance to such workplace accommodations in the future.

One can imagine many more such illustrations of this broader lesson to be learned. These examples help show that the failure of government after government in Ontario to effectively implement and enforce the AODA must dramatically change in the future. Three successive Government-appointed Independent Reviews of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement have called for major reforms and strong new provincial leadership. The current Ontario Government has had 414 days since it received the most recent of these reports, and still has no effective plan to implement it.

4. Toward a Disability-Inclusive COVID19 Response: 10 recommendations from the International Disability Alliance

March 19, 2020

)Note: The  AODA Alliance encourages all governments to consider the following recommendations which one of our supporters brought to our attention.)

In the light of the COVID19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on persons with disabilities, the International Disability Alliance (IDA) has compiled the following list of the main barriers that persons with disabilities face in this emergency situation along with some practical solutions and recommendations. This document is based on inputs received from our members around the world aiming to assist global, regional, national and local advocacy to more efficiently address the range of risks persons with disabilities face.

If you have any updates on how COVID 19 is affecting persons with disabilities in your area of work, or want to share any good practices or lessons learnt, please contact IDA Inclusive Humanitarian Adviser Ms Elham Youssefian via emailing [email protected]

  1. People with disabilities are at higher risk of contracting COVID19 due to barriers accessing preventive information and hygiene, reliance on physical contact with the environment or support persons, as well as respiratory conditions caused by certain impairments.

Recommendation 1: Persons with disabilities must receive information about infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans, and the services offered, in a diversity of accessible formats

  • Mass media communication should include captioning, national sign language, high contrast, large print information.
  • Digital media should include accessible formats to blind persons and other persons facing restrictions in accessing print.
  • All communication should be in plain language.
  • In case the public communications are yet to become accessible, alternative phone lines for blind persons and email address for deaf and hard of hearing may be a temporary option.
  • Sign language interpreters who work in emergency and health settings should be given the same health and safety protections as other health care workers dealing with COVID19.
  • There may be appropriate alternatives for optimum access, such as interpreters wearing a transparent mask, so that facial expressions and lip movement is still visible,
  • Alternatives are particularly important as remote interpretation is not accessible for everyone, including people with deaf-blindness. Solutions should be explored with concerned people and organizations representing them.
  • Assistive technologies should be used such as FM systems for communicating with hard of hearing persons especially important when face masks make lipreading impossible.

Recommendation 2: Additional protective measures must be taken for people with certain types of impairment.

  • Disinfection of entrance doors reserved for persons with disabilities, handrails of ramps or staircases, accessibility knobs for doors reserved for people with reduced mobility.
  • Introducing proactive testing and more strict preventive measures for groups of persons with disabilities who are more susceptible to infection due to the respiratory or other health complications caused by their impairment.
  • The COVID19 crisis and confinement measures may generate fear and anxiety; demonstrating solidarity and community support is important for all, and may be critical for persons with psychosocial disabilities

Recommendation 3: Rapid awareness raising and training of personnel involved in the response are essential

  • Government officials and service providers, including emergency responders must be trained on the rights of persons with disabilities, and on risks associated to respiratory complications for people who have specific impairments (e.g. whose health may be jeopardized by coughing).
  • Awareness raising on support to persons with disabilities should be part of all protection campaigns.

Recommendation 4: All preparedness and response plans must be inclusive of and accessible to women with disabilities

  • Any plans to support women should be inclusive of and accessible to women with disabilities
  • Programs to support persons with disabilities should include a gender perspective.
  1. Implementing quarantines or similar restrictive programs may entail disruptions in services vital for many persons with disabilities and undermine basic rights such as food, health care, wash and sanitation, and communications, leading to abandonment, isolation and institutionalization.

Recommendation 5: No disability-based institutionalization and abandonment is acceptable

  • Persons with disabilities should not be institutionalized as a consequence of quarantine procedures beyond the minimum necessary to overcome the sickness stage and on an equal basis with others.
  • Any disruptions in social services should have the least impact possible on persons with disabilities and should not entail abandonment.
  • Support family and social networks, in case of being quarantined, should be replaced by other networks or services.

Recommendation 6: During quarantine, support services, personal assistance, physical and communication accessibility must be ensured

  • Quarantined persons with disabilities must have access to interpretation and support services, either through externally provided services or through their family and social network;
  • Personal assistants, support workers or interpreters shall accompany them in quarantine, upon both parties agreement and subject to adoption of all protective measures;
  • Personal assistants, support workers or interpreters should be proactively tested for COVID 19 to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to persons with disabilities
  • Remote work or education services must be equally accessible for employees/students with disabilities.

Recommendation 7: Measures of public restrictions must consider persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others

  • In case of public restriction measures, persons with disabilities must be supported to meet their daily living requirements, including access to food (as needed with specific dietary requirements), housing, healthcare, in-home, school and community support, as well as maintaining employment and access to accessible transportation.
  • Government planners must consider that mobility and business restrictions disproportionately impact persons with reduced mobility and other persons with disabilities and allow for adaptations. For example, Australia has reserved specific opening hours in supermarket for persons with disabilities and older persons
  • Providers of support services must have the personal protective equipment and instructions needed to minimize exposure and spread of infection, as well as should be proactively tested for the virus.
  • In case of food or hygienic products shortage, immediate measures must be taken to ensure that people with disabilities are not left out as they will be the first group to experience lack of access to such items.
  • Any program to provide support to the marginalized groups should be disability-inclusive, e.g. distribution of cash may not be a good option for many people with disabilities as they may not be able to find items they need due to accessibility barriers.
  • When ill with COVID19, persons with disabilities may face additional barriers in seeking health care and also experience discrimination and negligence by health care personnel.

Recommendation 8: Persons with disabilities in need of health services due to COVID19 cannot be deprioritized on the ground of their disability

  • Public health communication messages must be respectful and non-discriminatory.
  • Instructions to health care personnel should highlight equal dignity for people with disabilities and include safeguards against disability-based discrimination.
  • While we appreciate that the urgency is to deal with the fast-rising number of people infected and in need of hospitalization, rapid awareness-raising of key medical personnel is essential to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind or systematically deprioritized in the response to the crisis.
  • Communications about the stage of the disease and any procedures must be to the person themselves and through accessible means and modes of communication.
  1. Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) particularly at national and local levels may not be prepared to take immediate action and may not be fully aware how to approach the situation. Some measures OPDs can take include:

Recommendation 9: OPDs can and should play a key role in raising awareness of persons with disabilities and their families.

 

  • Prepare COVID19 instructions and guidance in various accessible formats in local languages; please see existing resources produced by IDA members and their members, which we will keep updating
  • Help establish peer-support networks to facilitate support in case of quarantine;
  • Organize trainings on disability inclusion for responders
  • Compile an updated list of accessible health care and other essential service providers in each area

Recommendation 10: OPDs can and should play a key role in advocating for disability-inclusive response to the COVID19 crisis

  • Proactively reach to all related authorities including the health system, the national media, the crisis response headquarters and education authorities to:
  • Sensitize authorities on how the pandemic as well as the response plans may disproportionally impact persons with disabilities;
  • Offer tailored practical tips on how to address accessibility barriers or specific measures required by persons with disabilities
  • Based on available resources and capacity, contribute to the national or local emergency response.

*For updated resources on inclusion of persons with disabilities in Covid19 prevention and response, please regularly check the webpage dedicated by the International Disability Alliance at http://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/covid-19

5. Key Emergency Provisions in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation 2011 Enacted Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, enacted in 2011 under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, includes the following emergency-related provisions.

Emergency procedure, plans or public safety information

  1. (1) In addition to its obligations under section 12, if an obligated organization prepares emergency procedures, plans or public safety information and makes the information available to the public, the obligated organization shall provide the information in an accessible format or with appropriate communication supports, as soon as practicable, upon request.

(2) Obligated organizations that prepare emergency procedures, plans or public safety information and make the information available to the public shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

Workplace emergency response information

  1. (1) Every employer shall provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability is such that the individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 27 (1).

(2) If an employee who receives individualized workplace emergency response information requires assistance and with the employee’s consent, the employer shall provide the workplace emergency response information to the person designated by the employer to provide assistance to the employee. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 27 (2).

(3) Employers shall provide the information required under this section as soon as practicable after the employer becomes aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.

(4) Every employer shall review the individualized workplace emergency response information,

(a) when the employee moves to a different location in the organization;

(b) when the employee’s overall accommodations needs or plans are reviewed; and

(c) when the employer reviews its general emergency response policies.

(5) Every employer shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

  1. (1) Employers, other than employers that are small organizations, shall develop and have in place a written process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 28 (1).

(2) The process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans shall include the following elements:

  1. The manner in which an employee requesting accommodation can participate in the development of the individual accommodation plan.
  1. The means by which the employee is assessed on an individual basis.
  1. The manner in which the employer can request an evaluation by an outside medical or other expert, at the employer’s expense, to assist the employer in determining if accommodation can be achieved and, if so, how accommodation can be achieved.
  1. The manner in which the employee can request the participation of a representative from their bargaining agent, where the employee is represented by a bargaining agent, or other representative from the workplace, where the employee is not represented by a bargaining agent, in the development of the accommodation plan.
  1. The steps taken to protect the privacy of the employee’s personal information.
  1. The frequency with which the individual accommodation plan will be reviewed and updated and the manner in which it will be done.
  1. If an individual accommodation plan is denied, the manner in which the reasons for the denial will be provided to the employee.
  1. The means of providing the individual accommodation plan in a format that takes into account the employee’s accessibility needs due to disability. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 28 (2).

(3) Individual accommodation plans shall,

(a) if requested, include any information regarding accessible formats and communications supports provided, as described in section 26;

(b) if required, include individualized workplace emergency response information, as described in section 27; and

(c) identify any other accommodation that is to be provided.

Emergency preparedness and response policies

  1. (1) In addition to any obligations that a conventional transportation service provider or a specialized transportation service provider has under section 13, conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers,

(a) shall establish, implement, maintain and document emergency preparedness and response policies that provide for the safety of persons with disabilities; and

(b) shall make those policies available to the public. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 37 (1).

(2) Conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers shall, upon request, provide the policies described in subsection (1) in an accessible format. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 37 (2).

(3) Conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

Regarding para-transit services, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation requires:

Emergency or compassionate grounds

  1. (1) Specialized transportation service providers shall develop procedures respecting the provision of temporary specialized transportation services earlier than in the 14 calendar days referred to in subsection 64 (1),

(a) where the services are required because of an emergency or on compassionate grounds; and

(b) where there are no other accessible transportation services to meet the person’s needs. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 65 (1).

(2) A person shall apply for the services described in subsection (1) in the manner determined by the specialized transportation service provider. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 65 (2).

(3) Specialized transportation service providers shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2014.

LKM



Source link

Disability Activists Mark a Quarter Century of Tenacious Advocacy for Accessibility for Over 2 Million Ontarians with Disabilities


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
News Release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 3, 2019 Toronto:

What does Ontario learn when two veteran disability rights advocates compare their approaches to tenacious non-partisan political activism on disability issues, especially when they do so on the International Day for People with Disabilities, and mark the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots movement for strong provincial accessibility legislation?? At a Queens Park news conference this morning, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, leading this accessibility campaign, was interviewed by the highly-successful president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, Laura Kirby-McIntosh, that led the relentless campaign against the Ford Governments cuts to the Ontario Autism Program.

Even after a quarter century of tireless advocacy, over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities still face far too many unfair barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education shop in stores, eat in restaurants or use public services like our health care system, said David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance, the non-partisan grassroots coalition that spearheads this accessibility campaign. He earlier chaired the predecessor coalition, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, that carried this torch from 1994 to 2005. After our first decade we won good accessibility legislation in 2005 that was passed unanimously. Initially, the former Liberal Government acted decisively to implement it. But since the 2011 summer, progress under three successive premiers ground down to a snails pace, with endless delays.

The 2005 Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to full accessibility by 2025, by enacting and enforcing all the accessibility standards needed to show the way to full accessibility, for the public and private sectors. Yet the blistering report of a Government-appointed Independent Review of progress on disability accessibility conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, delivered to the Ford Government last January, concluded that progress has been at a glacial pace and barely detectable. the report found that “the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.” And that for most Ontarians with disabilities, Ontario is replete with soul-crushing barriers.

Weve worked together and learned from each others strategies and tactics as we press to make disability issues achieve the prominence they deserve, said Kirby-McIntosh. And we want to be sure that any victories we win benefit people with all kinds of disabilities.

Advocates for accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities are not the least daunted by the fact that Ontario has only five years left to reach full accessibility, while the Ford Government has done nothing new to strengthen the Disabilities Acts implementation and enforcement. Theyve faced insurmountable odds when they launched this campaign on November 29, 1994.

When we started 25 years ago, no one thought we had any hope of uniting a movement behind us and winning legislation. Weve beat the odds before, and were determined to beat the odds again, said Lepofsky. Whether its opposing the provincial plan to unleash electric scooters in Ontario that threatens our safety and accessibility or the Ontario Government wastefully using public money to create new barriers against people with disabilities in the built environment, our sleeves remain rolled up and ready for action.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance
All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in Ontario is available at: www.aodaalliance.org

Check out the background on the actual events at Queens Park on November 29, 1994 that led to the birth of the AODA movement. Read a timeline of major events over the first 20 years of this campaign.




Source link

Disability Activists Mark a Quarter Century of Tenacious Advocacy for Accessibility for Over 2 Million Ontarians with Disabilities – AODA Alliance


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

News Release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Disability Activists Mark a Quarter Century of Tenacious Advocacy for Accessibility for Over 2 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

December 3, 2019 Toronto:

What does Ontario learn when two veteran disability rights advocates compare their approaches to tenacious non-partisan political activism on disability issues, especially when they do so on the International Day for People with Disabilities, and mark the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots movement for strong provincial accessibility legislation?? At a Queen’s Park news conference this morning, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, leading this accessibility campaign, was interviewed by the highly-successful president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, Laura Kirby-McIntosh, that led the relentless campaign against the Ford Government’s cuts to the Ontario Autism Program.

“Even after a quarter century of tireless advocacy, over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities still face far too many unfair barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education shop in stores, eat in restaurants or use public services like our health care system,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance, the non-partisan grassroots coalition that spearheads this accessibility campaign. He earlier chaired the predecessor coalition, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, that carried this torch from 1994 to 2005. “After our first decade we won good accessibility legislation in 2005 that was passed unanimously. Initially, the former Liberal Government acted decisively to implement it. But since the 2011 summer, progress under three successive premiers ground down to a snail’s pace, with endless delays.”

The 2005 Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to full accessibility by 2025, by enacting and enforcing all the accessibility standards needed to show the way to full accessibility, for the public and private sectors. Yet the blistering report of a Government-appointed Independent Review of progress on disability accessibility conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, delivered to the Ford Government last January, concluded that progress has been at a “glacial” pace and “barely detectable.” the report found that “…the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.” And that for most Ontarians with disabilities, Ontario is replete with “soul-crushing barriers.”

“We’ve worked together and learned from each other’s strategies and tactics as we press to make disability issues achieve the prominence they deserve,” said Kirby-McIntosh. “And we want to be sure that any victories we win benefit people with all kinds of disabilities.”

Advocates for accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities are not the least daunted by the fact that Ontario has only five years left to reach full accessibility, while the Ford Government has done nothing new to strengthen the Disabilities Act’s implementation and enforcement. They’ve faced insurmountable odds when they launched this campaign on November 29, 1994.

“When we started 25 years ago, no one thought we had any hope of uniting a movement behind us and winning legislation. We’ve beat the odds before, and we’re determined to beat the odds again,” said Lepofsky. “Whether it’s opposing the provincial plan to unleash electric scooters in Ontario that threatens our safety and accessibility or the Ontario Government wastefully using public money to create new barriers against people with disabilities in the built environment, our sleeves remain rolled up and ready for action.”

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

Twitter: @aodaalliance

All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in Ontario is available at: www.aodaalliance.org

Check out the background on the actual events at Queen’s Park on November 29, 1994 that led to the birth of the AODA movement. Read a timeline of major events over the first 20 years of this campaign.



Source link

Disability Advocacy Gets Action!


The Ford Government Extends Its Public Consultation Period for Its Troubled Proposal to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario from 48 Hours to 2.5 Weeks

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

August 30,2019
SUMMARY

Swift advocacy efforts yesterday by the AODA Alliance and others in the disability community (including Balance for Blind Adults and the CNIB) have yielded some modest results.

Two days ago, the Doug Ford Government quietly posted online a brief notice inviting public input on a proposal to permit the use of electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario for a test period of five years. The Ford Government allowed a paltry 48 hours for public input, expiring on the Labour Day long weekend.

Thankfully we were alerted to this by an AODA Alliance supporter, who was concerned about the safety risk that the use of e-scooters posed for Ontarians with disabilities. Problems have been reported for the public in other jurisdictions that have allowed e-scooters.

The AODA Alliance quickly swung into action on this helpful tip. So did others, including Balance for Blind Adults and the CNIB. The media showed interest quite quickly.

Within hours, the Ford Government gave some ground, though not all the ground we had requested. It announced that it was extending its consultation on this issue to September 12, 2019. A tweet last evening on Twitter from Ontario’s Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, who has lead responsibility in this area, announced this short extension, as follows:

“Caroline Mulroney. Comments on our proposed e-scooter regulation can be submitted until September 12th. We look forward to hearing all stakeholder feedback and getting this pilot project right. https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=30207language=en ontariocanada.com/registry/view.”

The Globe and Mail posted online a good news report on this issue, and included it in its hard copy of the newspaper today. See below.

While this extension is helpful, it is still clearly shorter than typical Government consultations. The Doug Ford Government’s approach strongly suggests that it has already made up its mind to allow e-scooters in Ontario, and is simply going through the motions, when it comes to public consultations. Posting a consultation just before the Labour Day weekend, when many are away on holidays and are not monitoring for new Government consultations, is a well-known strategy for hoping that most will miss the announcement. Such a rushed consultation, whether 48 hours or 2.5 weeks, gives the same signal. Clearly there is no urgency about allowing e-scooters in Ontario, to justify such conduct by our elected leaders.

It is also troubling that the Ford Government has not agreed, prior to going any further with this proposal, to study the safety risks to the public including to Ontarians with disabilities, that e-scooters pose.

“It is inexcusable that the Ford Government tried to hold a public consultation on an issue affecting public safety in a meager 48 hours, and tried to do so just before the Labour Day weekend,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance. “We should never have had to fight such rear-guard battles as this. The Transportation Minister and Ministry neither alerted us to the consultation itself, nor to the extension of time that we and others had to fight for and win.”

We will rush to prepare a submission to this public consultation. Send us your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

Also, we encourage you to send the Government your feedback. Details of the Ford Government’s consultation on this issue is available at https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=30207&language=en

The Doug Ford Government’s haste in trying to deal with this issue stands in striking contrast to its unfair and protracted delays in addressing the serious barriers that over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities still face. There have now been 211 days, or almost seven months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government has still announced no plan of action to implement the Onley report.

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

The AODA Alliance is leading a “Dial Doug” campaign. It is urging members of the public to call or email Premier Ford, and to ask him where is his plan to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

Doug Ford’s office number is +1 (416) 325-1941. His email address is [email protected]

Action tips on how to take part in the #DialDoug blitz are available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/join-in-our-new-dial-doug-campaign-a-grassroots-blitz-unveiled-today-to-get-the-doug-ford-government-to-make-ontario-open-for-over-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

MORE DETAILS

The Globe and Mail AUGUST 30, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-ontario-government-causes-confusion-with-amended-e-scooter-pilot/ Ontario extends e-scooter public-comment period OLIVER MOORE URBAN AFFAIRS REPORTER

Under a proposal posted online by the provincial Ministry of Transportation, the province would conduct a five-year pilot project that would allow e-scooters in the same places as bicycles.

GLENN LOWSON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The Ontario government sparked confusion and pushback by offering a two-day window of opportunity for the public to comment on electric kick scooters being allowed on the provinces roads.

Under a proposal posted online by the provincial Ministry of Transportation, the province would conduct a five-year pilot project that would allow e-scooters in the same places as bicycles. Speeds would be capped at 32 kilometres an hour and no one younger than 16 would be allowed to ride.

The proposal was put online Wednesday, and initially specified that people would have until Friday to weigh in. Ministerial spokesman Bob Nichols said late Thursday afternoon that the deadline was being extended to Sept. 12. He did not explain the reason for the change and apologized for any confusion.”

The apparent brevity of the comment period was one factor that drew criticism from advocates, as was the length of the pilot, at a time of fast-changing transportation options, and the speed at which e-scooters would be allowed to move.

Its a very fast pace for these devices to be travelling, especially if theyre sharing limited space in bicycle lanes and bicycle paths with users that are moving at a slower speed, said Jaime Stuckless, executive director of the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, which has advocated for a 24-km-an-hour limit for the devices. The speed is the major concern for us.

The pilot project proposed by the province follows the introduction of e-scooters into multiple jurisdictions, in many cases prompting the ire of pedestrians who feel endangered and raising concerns among safety advocates.

These e-scooters are sometimes privately owned, but are more likely to be distributed by one of a handful of major firms offering them as short-term rentals. They have popped up in cities around the world but have been largely absent in Ontario, where the current law bars them from both sidewalks and roads.

Attempts to introduce e-scooters without contravening the law include plans for them in Torontos Distillery District, a small private neighbourhood, and a continuing pilot in Waterloo, where users are supposed to keep the vehicles largely on a multiuse trail.

Under the provinces proposal, e-scooters would be permitted on roads, similar to where bicycles can operate. Mr. Nichols said that it was too early to know whether municipalities would still have the power to set aside road space for bicycles only. He also said there was no definitive date for the pilot to begin.

David Lepofsky, a long-time activist for the visually impaired and chair of the AODA Alliance, which advocates for Ontarians with disabilities, raised concerns Thursday that the process is being rushed. The group argues that the government needs to withdraw this consultation and start over, with a focus on studying and making public the impact of e-scooters on safety, including for disabled people.

Ms. Stuckless, with the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, also suggested that a five-year pilot was unwisely long. Her group has called for a two-year pilot, which she said would be more useful for assessing the latest addition to a dynamic transportation sector.

Who knows what the next trend is going to be that evolves in the next five years, she said. The space is changing pretty quickly.




Source link

New Ontario customer service accessibility rules inadequate, advocacy group says – Toronto


TORONTO – Coming changes to the rules governing accessible customer service in Ontario are being decried as inadequate by at least one group representing the clientele the regulations are meant to help.

They argue that changes increasing the number of workers requiring accessibility training, and expanding the number of professionals authorized to vouch for the need for a service animal, do little to directly impact the lives of people with disabilities.

The province’s Liberal government announced the amendments to the customer service section of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) on Monday, three years after undertaking a review of the rules that originally went into effect in 2008.

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, which oversees the act, made the changes after reviewing recommendations from an advisory council that sought public input on how best to reduce accessibility barriers for the estimated 1.8 million Ontario residents currently living with a disability.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Despite ongoing issues, Ontario plans to reduce small business accessibility requirements

The new rules, which go into effect on July 1 and apply to all organizations providing goods, services or facilities, now specify that all employees must undergo accessibility training. Previously only staff who dealt directly with the public had to be trained on accessibility issues.

The government has also expanded the list of professionals authorized to provide documents indicating the need for a service animal. Doctors and nurses were originally the only ones allowed to provide such authorization, but the list now includes psychologists, psychotherapists, audiologists, chiropractors and optometrists.

David Lepofsky, chair of advocacy group the AODA Alliance, described the changes as “minor tinkering.”

He lamented that the new rules would have very little practical impact on the day-to-day challenges the people with disabilities continue to face.

“Changing the documentation for service animals, that’s helpful, but we certainly don’t hear the number of people using service animals who get refused admission to a taxi or restaurant are refused because someone looked at the documentation and said, ‘oh, if only it was signed by this professional instead of that one, we’d let you in,”‘ he said in a telephone interview.

“What we hear is the taxi that won’t even stop or the person at the restaurant who simply says, ‘no dogs allowed.”‘

Story continues below advertisement

A member of the advisory council tasked with recommending changes to the rules said the service animal requirements will have a more widespread, if less visible, impact.

Former CNIB President Jim Sanders said the ranks of service animal users have swollen to include far more than simply blind people relying on a guide dog for travel assistance.

Expanding the list of professionals, he said, makes it easier for those with less visible disabilities such as epilepsy, diabetes or post-traumatic stress disorder to move through society with the supports they need.

“When you need a service animal in order to carry out your day-to-day activities, the last thing you need is a level of bureaucracy that places the individual using a service animal in the awkward position of constantly verifying that this is, in fact, legitimate,” he said.

Sanders said the council at one point toyed with changing the rules to specify only dogs as valid service animals, but opted to keep the regulations broad for maximum flexibility.

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

He described the changes to employee training requirements as “ideal,” but did acknowledge one area that caused the council some trepidation.

The current rules distinguish between large and small corporations, defining small ones as those with fewer than 20 employees.

Story continues below advertisement

The latest amendments will see the definition of small organizations shift to those with fewer than 50 staff members, greatly increasing the number of companies that would now fall under this classification.

Current rules have less stringent documentation requirements for small organizations, which do not have to have written accessibility policies in place and are not subject to government compliance audits.

“For organizations with 20 to 49 employees, which is a huge part of the private sector, they don’t have to have documentation of any of this anymore, which essentially means all the policy has to be is in someone’s head,” Lepofsky said.

The new rules will effectively leave a large swath of the province’s businesses free from audit requirements and efforts to see that accessibility laws are being enforced, he added.

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

Sanders said council members did “struggle” with the issue, but said it made sense to change the classifications to bring them in line with similar government policies.

“The perception by moving it up is that some organizations will be let off the hook. That’s a perception only,” he said, adding the AODA applies to companies whether they have written policies or not.

“The value in having the basic administrative rules harmonized outweighed the perception and the value of having to sit down and fill out a form every year.”

Story continues below advertisement

Sanders said public education will be critical to making sure accessibility rules are enforced throughout Ontario, adding the council got very little feedback during the public consultation phase of its review.

Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid acknowledged the AODA remains a work in progress as Ontario tries to make the entire province fully accessible by 2025.

“There’s more work to be done, but steps like these (new rules) are the foundation to developing a culture of inclusion, where economic and social opportunities exist for people of all abilities,” Duguid said in a statement.




© 2016 The Canadian Press





Source link