After Winning the Battle in Toronto Last Spring, AODA Alliance and Other Disability Advocates Now Call on London City Council Not to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing Electric Scooters


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

August 30, 2021

SUMMARY

Will it ever end? Now It’s London Ontario that is considering the possibility of legalizing electric scooters (e-scooters). Due to the Ford Government, we must fight this battle in one city after the next. It was the Ford Government that gave municipalities the power to allow e-scooters. Premier Ford ignored all disability concerns and acted instead at the behest of the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

With this issue now rearing its ugly head in London Ontario, the AODA Alliance and other disability advocates are now hitting the ground running, in an effort to avert this danger to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others who live in or visit London. On Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at noon, this issue is an agenda item on the City of London’s Civic Works Committee. The AODA Alliance is one of the disability organizations that have sent in written submissions to that Committee, asking London to say no to e-scooters. The AODA Alliance’s August 27, 2021 brief to the London Civic Works Committee is set out below.

We understand that London’s Accessibility Advisory Committee has commendably recommended that London say no to e-scooters. Earlier this year, the AODA Alliance and several other disability organizations and advocates convinced the Toronto City Council to unanimously say no to e-scooters. We are now trying to convince London to do the same thing, without burdening people with disabilities with the hardship of having to mount another hard-fought campaign to protect our safety and accessibility. We need London City Council to stand up for people with disabilities, seniors and others, and to stand up to the e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists.

We have asked London’s Civic Works Committee to allow for a deputation by the AODA Alliance at its August 31, 2021 meeting. We understand that no final votes on the e-scooters issue are expected at that meeting.

You can watch the August 31, 2021 London Civic Works Committee meeting live-streamed on Youtube on the City of London’s Youtube stream at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmRugRQ2sUo

For more details on the battle that people with disabilities have fought in Ontario over the past two years to avert the danger that e-scooters pose for them, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

Riding Electric Scooters in London is Dangerous and Must Remain Banned — AODA Alliance brief to the City of London Civic Works Committee August 27, 2021
Via email: [email protected]

On its agenda for its August 31, 2021 meeting, the Civic Works Committee of London City Council has an agenda item regarding the possibility of allowing electric scooters (e-scooters) in the City of London. The AODA Alliance submits this brief to London’s Civic Works Committee on that agenda item, and requests an opportunity to make a presentation or deputation at that meeting via whatever virtual platform is being used.

In summary, London City Council must not unleash dangerous e-scooters in London. Riding e-scooters in public places in London is now banned and remains banned unless City Council legalizes them.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance has played a leading role in raising serious disability safety and accessibility concerns with e-scooters. To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s advocacy efforts to protect people with disabilities and others from the dangers that e-scooters pose, visit its e-scooters web page.

The AODA Alliance strongly commends the London Accessibility Advisory Committee for recommending that e-scooters should not be allowed in London. The AODA Alliance asks the City of London Civic Works Committee to follow that advice, and to recommend the following:

1. London should not permit the use of e-scooters, and should not conduct a pilot project with e-scooters.

2. If the City of London is going to explore the possibility of allowing e-scooters, e-scooters should not be permitted if they present any risk to the health or safety of people with disabilities, seniors, children or others, or if they are prone to create new accessibility barriers that would impede people with disabilities within London.

3. At the very least, if this issue is not simply taken right off the table, before proceeding any further, City staff should investigate the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. A public consultation on that issue should be held, beyond a purely online digital survey form.

London should benefit from the extensive and commendable work done on this issue in Toronto. This past spring, Toronto City Council voted unanimously not to allow e-scooters, after very extensive consideration of the issue. Toronto City Staff undertook the most thorough investigation of this issue of any Ontario municipality, as far as we have been able to discover.

An initial July 2020 Toronto City Staff Report, supplemented by a second February 2021 Toronto City Staff report, together amply show that e-scooters endanger public safety in communities that have permitted them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people cannot detect silent e-scooters that can accelerate at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmeted fun-seeking riders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for people with vision loss and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

It is no solution to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. The Toronto City Staff reports, referred to above, document the silent menace of e-scooters continuing to be ridden on sidewalks in cities that just ban them from sidewalks. London would need police officers on every block. Toronto City Staff reported to Toronto City Council last summer that no city that allows e-scooters has gotten enforcement right.

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

Especially with COVID still raging, London City Council should not be considering the legalization of dangerous e-scooters. In Toronto, a stunning well-funded behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy of back-room pressure by corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies had inundated City Hall with for months. The corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank, while injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital emergency rooms. That the Toronto City Council unanimously said no to e-scooters despite this massive corporate lobbying should signal to London how important it is to stand up for people with disabilities and others endangered by e-scooters.

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

London, like the rest of Ontario, already has too many disability barriers that impede accessibility for people with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires London and the rest of Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. To allow e-scooters would be to make things worse, not better, by creating new barriers impeding people with disabilities.

E-scooters create problems for businesses, as well as for people with disabilities. That is why Toronto’s Broadview Danforth BIA made an April 26, 2021 submission to the City of Toronto, set out below, that urged that e-scooters not be allowed. That BIA includes a part of Toronto that has similarities to downtown London.

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

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

London should now call a stop to its exploration of e-scooters. Its residents with disabilities, its seniors and others should not have to mount an advocacy effort like the one that was necessary in Toronto to prevent the City from exposing its residents and visitors to the proven dangers that e-scooters pose. This is so especially while they along with all others must continue trying to cope with the pandemic.

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

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

Learn more about the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, by visiting the AODA Alliance e-scooter web page and by watching the AODA Alliance’s short, captioned video on this issue. Read the AODA Alliance’s March 30, 2021 detailed brief to Toronto City Council on e-scooters. Read the January 22, 2020 open letter to all municipalities and to Premier Doug Ford co-signed by 11 disability organization, that oppose e-scooters in Ontario.

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

April 26, 2021 Written Submission to the City of Toronto by the Broadview Danforth Business Improvement Area

April 26, 2021

TO: Infrastructure and Environment Committee Clerk

FROM: The Broadview Danforth BIA

RE: Item: 1E21.7 Pilot Project: Electric Kick-Scooters

I’m writing on behalf of the 355 business members in the Broadview Danforth BIA to support the recommendation being made by the General Manager, Transportation Services to decline the option to participate in O.Reg 389/19 Pilot Project for Electric Kick-Scooters. Our comments below can be shared with the Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting on April 28, 2021.

We have reviewed the components related to this proposed pilot project and have serious concerns that it would be very difficult to implement in a manner consistent with public safety and order.

Following a presentation made by Janet Lo from Transportation Services to BIAs, our key concerns are as follows:
Safety issues related to people with disabilities who use our sidewalks and wouldn’t be able to safely continue doing so if e-scooters were allowed on sidewalks.

Safety issues related to all people using sidewalks the potential of e-scooters being left on the sidewalks or tied to benches, tree guards etc. and falling over will lead to potential tripping hazards.

Lack of clarity on insurance coverage for riders, e-scooter rental companies and the general public who may be injured by e-scooter riders. Lack of City/police resources to enforce any kind of e-scooter laws. At the moment we have cyclists improperly using the roads and bike lanes and enforcement is almost non-existent. It’s impossible to believe that enforcement will be available for e-scooters. Our businesses are fighting for their survival during this pandemic and the last thing we need is for customers to feel unsafe using our sidewalks.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our feedback on this issue.

Albert Stortchak
Board Chair
Broadview Danforth BIA




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After Winning the Battle in Toronto Last Spring, AODA Alliance and Other Disability Advocates Now Call on London City Council Not to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing Electric Scooters


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/

After Winning the Battle in Toronto Last Spring, AODA Alliance and Other Disability Advocates Now Call on London City Council Not to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing Electric Scooters

August 30, 2021

        SUMMARY

Will it ever end? Now It’s London Ontario that is considering the possibility of legalizing electric scooters (e-scooters). Due to the Ford Government, we must fight this battle in one city after the next. It was the Ford Government that gave municipalities the power to allow e-scooters. Premier Ford ignored all disability concerns and acted instead at the behest of the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

With this issue now rearing its ugly head in London Ontario, the AODA Alliance and other disability advocates are now hitting the ground running, in an effort to avert this danger to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others who live in or visit London. On Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at noon, this issue is an agenda item on the City of London’s Civic Works Committee. The AODA Alliance is one of the disability organizations that have sent in written submissions to that Committee, asking London to say no to e-scooters. The AODA Alliance’s August 27, 2021 brief to the London Civic Works Committee is set out below.

We understand that London’s Accessibility Advisory Committee has commendably recommended that London say no to e-scooters. Earlier this year, the AODA Alliance and several other disability organizations and advocates convinced the Toronto City Council to unanimously say no to e-scooters. We are now trying to convince London to do the same thing, without burdening people with disabilities with the hardship of having to mount another hard-fought campaign to protect our safety and accessibility. We need London City Council to stand up for people with disabilities, seniors and others, and to stand up to the e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists.

We have asked London’s Civic Works Committee to allow for a deputation by the AODA Alliance at its August 31, 2021 meeting. We understand that no final votes on the e-scooters issue are expected at that meeting.

You can watch the August 31, 2021 London Civic Works Committee meeting live-streamed on Youtube on the City of London’s Youtube stream at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmRugRQ2sUo

For more details on the battle that people with disabilities have fought in Ontario over the past two years to avert the danger that e-scooters pose for them, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

Riding Electric Scooters in London is Dangerous and Must Remain Banned — AODA Alliance brief to the City of London Civic Works Committee

August 27, 2021

Via email: [email protected]

On its agenda for its August 31, 2021 meeting, the Civic Works Committee of London City Council has an agenda item regarding the possibility of allowing electric scooters (e-scooters) in the City of London. The AODA Alliance submits this brief to London’s Civic Works Committee on that agenda item, and requests an opportunity to make a presentation or deputation at that meeting via whatever virtual platform is being used.

In summary, London City Council must not unleash dangerous e-scooters in London. Riding e-scooters in public places in London is now banned and remains banned unless City Council legalizes them.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance has played a leading role in raising serious disability safety and accessibility concerns with e-scooters. To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s advocacy efforts to protect people with disabilities and others from the dangers that e-scooters pose, visit its e-scooters web page.

The AODA Alliance strongly commends the London Accessibility Advisory Committee for recommending that e-scooters should not be allowed in London. The AODA Alliance asks the City of London Civic Works Committee to follow that advice, and to recommend the following:

  1. London should not permit the use of e-scooters, and should not conduct a pilot project with e-scooters.
  1. If the City of London is going to explore the possibility of allowing e-scooters, e-scooters should not be permitted if they present any risk to the health or safety of people with disabilities, seniors, children or others, or if they are prone to create new accessibility barriers that would impede people with disabilities within London.
  1. At the very least, if this issue is not simply taken right off the table, before proceeding any further, City staff should investigate the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. A public consultation on that issue should be held, beyond a purely online digital survey form.

London should benefit from the extensive and commendable work done on this issue in Toronto. This past spring, Toronto City Council voted unanimously not to allow e-scooters, after very extensive consideration of the issue. Toronto City Staff undertook the most thorough investigation of this issue of any Ontario municipality, as far as we have been able to discover.

An initial July 2020 Toronto City Staff Report, supplemented by a second February 2021 Toronto City Staff report, together amply show that e-scooters endanger public safety in communities that have permitted them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people cannot detect silent e-scooters that can accelerate at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmeted fun-seeking riders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for people with vision loss and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

It is no solution to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. The Toronto City Staff reports, referred to above, document the silent menace of e-scooters continuing to be ridden on sidewalks in cities that just ban them from sidewalks. London would need police officers on every block. Toronto City Staff reported to Toronto City Council last summer that no city that allows e-scooters has gotten enforcement right.

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

Especially with COVID still raging, London City Council should not be considering the legalization of dangerous e-scooters. In Toronto, a stunning well-funded behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy of back-room pressure by corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies had inundated City Hall with for months. The corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank, while injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital emergency rooms. That the Toronto City Council unanimously said no to e-scooters despite this massive corporate lobbying should signal to London how important it is to stand up for people with disabilities and others endangered by e-scooters.

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

London, like the rest of Ontario, already has too many disability barriers that impede accessibility for people with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires London and the rest of Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. To allow e-scooters would be to make things worse, not better, by creating new barriers impeding people with disabilities.

E-scooters create problems for businesses, as well as for people with disabilities. That is why Toronto’s Broadview Danforth BIA made an April 26, 2021 submission to the City of Toronto, set out below, that urged that e-scooters not be allowed. That BIA includes a part of Toronto that has similarities to downtown London.

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

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

London should now call a stop to its exploration of e-scooters. Its residents with disabilities, its seniors and others should not have to mount an advocacy effort like the one that was necessary in Toronto to prevent the City from exposing its residents and visitors to the proven dangers that e-scooters pose. This is so especially while they along with all others must continue trying to cope with the pandemic.

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

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

Learn more about the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, by visiting the AODA Alliance e-scooter web page and by watching the AODA Alliance’s short, captioned video on this issue. Read the AODA Alliance’s March 30, 2021 detailed brief to Toronto City Council on e-scooters. Read the January 22, 2020 open letter to all municipalities and to Premier Doug Ford co-signed by 11 disability organization, that oppose e-scooters in Ontario.

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

April 26, 2021 Written Submission to the City of Toronto by the Broadview Danforth Business Improvement Area

April 26, 2021

TO: Infrastructure and Environment Committee Clerk

FROM: The Broadview Danforth BIA

RE: Item: 1E21.7 Pilot Project: Electric Kick-Scooters

I’m writing on behalf of the 355 business members in the Broadview Danforth BIA to support the recommendation being made by the General Manager, Transportation Services to decline the option to participate in O.Reg 389/19 Pilot Project for Electric Kick-Scooters. Our comments below can be shared with the Infrastructure and Environment Committee — meeting on April 28, 2021.

We have reviewed the components related to this proposed pilot project and have serious concerns that it would be very difficult to implement in a manner consistent with public safety and order.

Following a presentation made by Janet Lo from Transportation Services to BIAs, our key concerns are as follows:

Safety issues related to people with disabilities who use our sidewalks and wouldn’t be able to safely continue doing so if e-scooters were allowed on sidewalks.

Safety issues related to all people using sidewalks — the potential of e-scooters being left on the sidewalks or tied to benches, tree guards etc. and falling over will lead to potential tripping hazards.

Lack of clarity on insurance coverage for riders, e-scooter rental companies and the general public who may be injured by e-scooter riders. Lack of City/police resources to enforce any kind of e-scooter laws. At the moment we have cyclists improperly using the roads and bike lanes and enforcement is almost non-existent. It’s impossible to believe that enforcement will be available for e-scooters. Our businesses are fighting for their survival during this pandemic and the last thing we need is for customers to feel unsafe using our sidewalks.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our feedback on this issue.

Albert Stortchak

Board Chair

Broadview Danforth BIA



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Pandemic-Era Patios Still too Often Inaccessible, Disability Advocates Say


Patios are ‘very frustrating’ for people with hearing loss, advocate says Emma Paling , CBC News
Posted: Aug 07, 2021

More than 16 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians with disabilities say many restaurant and bar patios that have been expanded onto streets and sidewalks to create more outdoor seating remain inaccessible to them.

They say it’s bad for people with disabilities and bad for businesses.

David Lepofsky, a law professor and chair of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance said the expanded patios pose two challenges. One is that the patios themselves are often inaccessible for people who have mobility issues, vision loss or hearing loss. The other is that they also sometimes make the sidewalks and streets inaccessible, too.

Bars and restaurants across Canada have expanded outdoor seating as provinces clamped down on indoor dining to curb COVID-19 infections, which spread more easily indoors.

Walking into oncoming traffic

Lepofsky, who is blind, said in an interview that he was once forced to step into the street because there was no space to socially distance on the sidewalk next to a patio in Toronto.

“Nobody really wants to walk into oncoming traffic. And if you’re a blind person, you particularly don’t want to walk into oncoming traffic,” he said.

Toronto’s guidebook for patios does include a list of accessibility requirements, including leaving a 2.1-metre pathway clear for pedestrians, that the city’s accessibility rules and the province’s rules under AODA are complied with and that patios have a barrier around them so that people who use white canes can pass by safely.

“This past winter, City staff committed to enhancing the requirements in the guidebook by including feedback from the accessibility community and meeting with the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee,” City of Toronto spokesperson Deborah Blackstone said in an email to CBC News.

“Members of the public are encouraged to contact 311 if they observe a public space that has been obstructed or blocked so that City staff can respond as soon as possible.”

A ‘very frustrating’ experience

But Lepofsky said the pathways beside sidewalk patios are often not large enough to allow for social distancing and that the existing rules under AODA are insufficient.

He argues that requirements for new structures under Ontario’s Building Code or AODA are inadequate and “have been for a long time.”

“And there appears to be no municipal enforcement to ensure that there is a safe, accessible path of travel around the patio,” he said.

Lee Pigeau, national executive director of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, said dining on patios can be “very frustrating” for people with hearing loss.

People who read lips are already struggling to communicate because everyone is wearing masks, and street patios add additional distractions with the noise from traffic, he said.

“You get music and noises from all sides, which makes communication very difficult,” he said in an interview.

Businesses are losing customers, advocate says

In New Brunswick, where disability rates are higher than the national level, accessibility standards for sidewalk patios are inadequate, says Haley Flaro, executive director of Ability New Brunswick.

In Fredericton, where Flaro lives, the city lists two accessibility requirements on its application for sidewalk patios. It says patios must be wheelchair accessible and a two-metre pathway must be left beside the patio when possible.

But Flaro says that’s not enough, since there’s often not enough room to navigate a wheelchair between tables and the tables themselves may not be high enough for wheelchairs to fit underneath.

“When a business opens or expands the patio and it is not accessible, they’re losing about 12 per cent of their business in New Brunswick right off the bat,” she said. “So we know accessibility is good for a lot of things and business is one of them.”

Spokespeople for the City of Fredericton did not respond to a request for comment.

‘Here we go again’

Victoria Levack of Halifax uses a power wheelchair. She’s the spokesperson for the Disability Rights Coalition of Nova Scotia and chair of the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities.

“There are times I can’t get by [sidewalk patios]. I physically can’t,” she said in an interview.

Both she and Lepofsky said that the patios are just one small piece of a bigger problem: Canadian cities aren’t accessible enough for people with disabilities.

“So along comes the pandemic and these patios and it’s like ‘Here we go again,’” Lepofsky said.

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/pandemic-era-patios-still-too-often-inaccessible-disability-advocates-say-1.6132490




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Advocates Call on TTC to Pause Wheel-Trans Changes, Saying Thousands Could Lose Access


Changes mean people with disabilities, seniors may just stay home, advocates say Muriel Draaisma, CBC News
Posted: Jun 17, 2021

Advocates are calling on the TTC to pause a program that requires users to reregister for Wheel-Trans, saying they fear the process could mean thousands of people with disabilities will lose access to the specialized service.

According to a report approved by the TTC board on Wednesday, the TTC plans to divert 50 per cent of Wheel-Trans users to the conventional TTC system for part of their trips by 2025. The conventional TTC system means buses, streetcars and subways. Wheel-Trans is TTC’s door-to-door service for people with mobility issues.

Adam Cohoon, a TTCriders accessibility committee member, told the board that people with disabilities are “not really ready” to begin using the conventional system under what is known as the Wheel-Trans Transformational Program.

If people with disabilities have to reregister for Wheel-Trans, they could be forced to take the conventional TTC for part of their trips, and that could mean they simply do not go out or go out much less, Cohoon said.

“I really think you guys have to rethink some of this mandatory screening because there are going to be people that actually fall through the cracks and are just going to end up having the same isolated lives that they already have had for 18 months,” Cohoon said at the virtual meeting.

Cohoon, who has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair, said he is concerned about changes to Wheel-Trans because the TTC is not yet fully accessible and its subways lack blue accessibility buttons that users could press when they need to talk to customer service or transit control staff.

As well, he said he believes the TTC has fewer staff than in previous years to help people with disabilities on its conventional system. Cohoon has used Wheel-Trans for more than 20 years.

Adina Lebo, a member of the Toronto Seniors’ Forum, told the board that seniors will become isolated and confined to their homes if they are required to use the conventional system. The forum is a city-sponsored group of seniors who are Toronto residents.

Lebo said some seniors say the conventional TTC system is inaccessible and they are terrified for their safety.

“When I read that 50 per cent of Wheel-Trans users will be transitioned to the conventional TTC and forced onto buses, streetcars and subways that are not totally accessible at this point in time, it’s scary,” she said.

“I see 50 per cent of seniors choosing to stay at home and minimize their lives.”

TTC classifying Wheel-Trans users into 3 categories

According to the TTC, Wheel-Trans users have to reregister for the service to comply with the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). More than 7,000 people have reregistered since 2019. The TTC says re-registration is now being done on a voluntary basis.

Under that law, users are categorized into three classifications for eligibility:

  • Unconditional service, which is for customers who have a disability that always prevents them from using the TTC’s conventional system. These customers require door-to-door service for all of their trips.
  • Conditional service, which is for customers who have a disability that limits their ability to use the TTC’s conventional system “consistently.” These customers may be able to use conventional transit for all or part of a trip, but may also qualify for door-to-door service under specific circumstances, such as weather or travel to a remote location.
  • Temporary service, which is for customers who have a temporary disability that prevents them from using the TTC’s conventional system. Customers are provided Wheel-Trans for all or part of a trip for a defined period of time, such as following an injury or surgery.

Dwayne Geddes, head of Wheel-Trans at the TTC, said on Wednesday that it is a “misconception” that people who need the service will lose access to Wheel-Trans after having to re-register.

“I think some of the concern is that it’s believed that Wheel-Trans door-to-door service will disappear and will no longer be there for customers. That’s not the case. That’s a misconception. Door-to-door service will always be there for customers who need it,” Geddes said.

“If you require Wheel-Trans door-to-door service, it will be there guaranteed.”

The point of re-registration, he added, is that the TTC wants to ensure it has the right eligibility classification for its Wheel-Trans users.

Geddes said the TTC is not prepared to pause the program.

“We don’t have information that says the program isn’t working. In fact, the information we have is pointing to the opposite, that it is working,” he said. “We are committed to ensure that we provide a transit system that is fair and equitable for all customers.”

TTC say program introduced in part to sustain Wheel-Trans

In his report to the board, Geddes said the Wheel-Trans Transformational Program, which started in 2016, was an attempt to address legislative changes and an attempt to modernize and sustain the service. An expansion of eligibility under the law meant increasing demand, he said.

In an interview later, he said: “The whole plan of the program is to introduce a fully accessible conventional service, which means a service that anybody can use. It’s equitable for all.”

Geddes said the TTC was long known for having buses with stairs, streetcars with stairs, subways that had no elevators or escalators that didn’t work, but the transit agency has “turned a corner.” It has upgraded its stations and it is making its streetcars low floor, its buses and trains accessible, he said.

“Now that we’ve made the system more accessible, it’s almost like a reintroduction to the TTC for those with disabilities or mobility impairments,” he said.

“It’s basically saying, here’s our family of services that is now fully accessible and we want to encourage you to take it, if you can take it. I think the key point here is, if you can, if you’re comfortable taking it, if you can take it, we want you to take it,” he added.

“With this program, it really promotes and ensures that we are providing our customers with equity, dignity, spontaneity, fairness and freedom of travel.”

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/advocates-disabled-people-seniors-access-wheel-trans-ttc-board-1.6068843




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‘Grave’ Safety Concerns From Accessibility Advocates Could Stop London Rollout of e-Scooters


Daryl Newcombe CTV News London Reporter
May 28, 2021

LONDON, ONT. — A pilot project that would bring e-scooter sharing to London streets got a rough ride from city hall’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC).

“We have very grave concerns about the accessibility issues this would cause,” explains Jay Menard, Chair of AAC.

Menard warns that e-scooters pose a danger to people with mobility or visual impairments because they travel quickly with little noise, and if parked improperly on sidewalks could become a barrier.

“Yes, these things can be enforced, but who is doing that? And at what cost? Who is paying for that?” he asks.

City staff are collecting feedback on a provincial pilot project that would permit electric scooters on London streets.

Adults could use an app to rent a battery-powered scooter for short trips within the central part of London and Western University.

E-scooters can travel up to 24 km/hr, but speeds can be internally limited in different geographic areas using GPS technology.

Participation in the provincial pilot project has been inconsistent.

E-scooters currently cruise many of the streets and paved pathways of Windsor and Ottawa, but Toronto has decided to opt-out, based on accessibility and safety concerns.

Bird Canada, which operates e-scooter sharing in Windsor, Ottawa, and other cities says the concerns raised by the advisory committee are not new, and can be addressed through recent technology advancements.

“Sidewalk riding detection technology lets the e-scooter knows when it is on a sidewalk and can gradually and safely come to a complete stop to discourage riding on sidewalks,” explains Chris Schafer of Bird Canada.

He adds that Bird Canada has a team of people to educate riders and address operational issues in its partnering cities.

Schafer says injuries are few, and there have been no deaths in Canada related to public e-scooter fleets.

He suggests London has the ability to avoid some of the challenges faced in cities that first adopted e-scooters three to five years ago.

“Learn from them, take their best practices, and implement them locally to address the valid concerns, that our friends in the accessibility community have,” he adds.

The Accessibility Advisory Committee is preparing a written response to the pilot project that will express their concerns to city council.

“Unless we get those answers in a satisfactory manner,” he explains. “We are not going to be supportive of this program.”

City staff will continue consulting with stakeholders before bringing a report to council in late summer.

If approved, e-scooters could be on London streets this fall or next spring.

Original at https://london.ctvnews.ca/grave-safety-concerns-from-accessibility-advocates-could-stop-london-rollout-of-e-scooters-1.5447483




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


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.

Read more:
Pushing Ontario’s ICUs to the brink — How some hospitals are preparing for the worst

“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 thereIt’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.

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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.

Read more:
Ontario reports 3,480 new COVID-19 cases, 24 deaths

“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.

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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.”

Read more:
‘She deteriorated like she fell off a cliff’ — Vaccinated Ontario senior battles COVID-19 in hospital

“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.

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Read more:
COVID-19 — Critical care nurses in high demand in Ontario as 3rd wave puts pressure on hospitals

“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.

Read more:
‘A lot of suffering’ — Front-line health-care workers describe the moments before death by COVID-19

“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.

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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.

Read more:
The complications of getting COVID-19 vaccinations for non-residents in Ontario

“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.


Click to play video: 'Ontario to allow hospitals to move patients to long-term care, retirement homes to create room for COVID-19 patients'







Ontario to allow hospitals to move patients to long-term care, retirement homes to create room for COVID-19 patients


Ontario to allow hospitals to move patients to long-term care, retirement homes to create room for COVID-19 patients





© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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Disability Advocates to Present Today at Virtual Meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure Committee to Oppose Allowing Electric Scooters


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

April 28, 2021 Toronto: Today starting at 9:30 am, the City of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee will consider if the City should allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in Toronto. The AODA Alliance and other disability advocates are scheduled to make deputations to the Committee. The Committee meeting will be live-streamed at: http://www.youtube.com/torontocitycouncillive

City staff and Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee have made strong recommendations to City Council against allowing e-scooters in Toronto, and against conducting a pilot project. In the same direction, disability advocates will tell the Committee that Mayor Tory and City Council must not unleash dangerous electric scooters in Toronto (now banned, unless Council legalizes them).

A City Staff Report amply shows e-scooters endanger public safety in places allowing them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people can’t know silent e-scooters rocket at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted fun-seeking riders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for blind people and accessibility nightmares for wheelchair users.

Toronto has been getting less accessible to people with disabilities. Allowing e-scooters would make that worse.

It accomplishes nothing to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. The City Staff Report documents the silent menace of e-scooters continue to be ridden on sidewalks in cities that just ban them from sidewalks. We’d need cops on every block. Toronto law enforcement told City Councilors last July 9 that they have no capacity to enforce such new e-scooter rules.

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

City Council should not conduct an e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many innocent people will be injured? We already know they will, from cities that allowed them. Torontonians should not be subjected to such a human experiment, especially without the consent of those at risk of being injured.

The AODA Alliance exposed the stunning well-funded behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy of back-room pressure that corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies have inundated City Hall with for months. “The corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank as injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. “We call on Mayor Tory and City Council to stand up for people with disabilities,, and to stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.”

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




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Accessibility advocates raise serious concerns with new policy allowing dogs on Nova Scotia patios – Halifax


One day after the Nova Scotia government announced a new policy allowing dogs on outdoor patios, some accessibility advocates and guide dog users are raising concerns that the presence of pets could compromise their safety.

While service animals are well-trained, any barking or play from dogs at other tables may still distract them, interfering with their ability to keep their owner safe, said guide dog user Shelley Adams.

“I’m just worried about the extra distraction it’s going to bring,” said Adams, sitting next to her own guide dog, Rookie.

“I don’t want to have to be sitting there worrying that another dog is going to try and engage with him, or I don’t know, hurt him in any way … He is my mobility aid.”

Read more:
Bone appetit! Dogs now allowed on Nova Scotia restaurant and cafe patios

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Adams said she is not opposed to the policy, and would still attend an outdoor patio but ask to be seated away from other dogs.

In the event someone else’s dog were to start misbehaving, however, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) said the desire of the service dog user to sit on the patio must be prioritized.

“If there are going to be other animals on a patio, there’s potential for the other animals to negatively interfere with the work of a guide dog. I think the behaviour of the animals needs to be held to the same high standards that we as guide dog users have our dogs following,” said CNIB guide dog program president Diane Bergeron.

It’s important to distinguish between the rights and needs of a service dog user and the preference of a pet owner, she added.


Click to play video: 'Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios'







Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios


Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios – Mar 30, 2021

Read more:
Halifax woman who is blind says sidewalk barricade putting ‘lives at risk’

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The provincial change came into effect on Tuesday, answering a longstanding request from the restaurant industry to remove barriers for dog owners, who may be more likely to stop for a meal or a drink if their dogs can accompany them.

In a Wednesday statement, Environment Department spokesperson Barbara MacLean it’s important for Nova Scotians to do their part not to distract service dogs or interfere with their ability to do their job, but ultimately, establishments are responsible for enforcing the policy properly.

“It’s up to restaurant owners to ensure that dogs on patios are not impeding their customers, including those from the accessibility community and service dogs,” she wrote.

Read more:
Halifax restaurants calling on province to change food safety rules following warnings about dogs

Businesses that choose to allow pets must also follow certain rules, she added, including keeping their dogs leashed, on the ground and away from the aisles. Pet dogs are still prohibited from entering bars and restaurants, while service dogs are not.

Luc Erjavec, vice-president of the Restaurants Canada Atlantic chapter, emphasized that the new patio provision is voluntary and not every restaurant will choose to adopt it.

Restaurant owners who do choose to allow pets, he added, will do their utmost to accommodate all customers.

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“I don’t think any operator wants 10 dogs on a small patio. I think they’re going to look at each individual situation, the time of day, what’s going on and respond accordingly,” he said. “Our goal is to keep our customers happy.”


Click to play video: 'Letting the dogs out through Canicross'







Letting the dogs out through Canicross


Letting the dogs out through Canicross – Mar 25, 2021

Read more:
Accessibility advocates say Peggy’s Cove viewing deck will ensure safe access for all

Accessibility advocate Paul Vienneau, who helped win the case for accessible washrooms in Nova Scotia restaurants, said he shares the concerns of guide dog users.

He loves dogs and sympathizes with the restaurant industry, he told Global News, but he fears the policy decision was taken without consultation from the disability community, casting a shadow over years of accessibility progress.

“There are other ways to make money than doing this,” said Vienneau. “For the government to just wave their hand and basically wipe away decades of hard work by disabled and blind folks that they’ve done is pretty disrespectful to these people.”

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David Fraser, a privacy lawyer who represented wheelchair users in the 2018 challenge for accessible restaurant washrooms, also wondered whether the new policy was “thought through.”

“My concern is by allowing dogs access to patios, you might be reducing the access to those patios that are otherwise accessible to individuals who use service animals, and I think that’s a real concern,” he said.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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Mask Exemptions Must Be Respected, Disability Advocates Say


Failure to allow exemptions under mandatory mask order constitutes human rights discrimination, city’s accessibility committee says. Ian Kaufman
March 26, 2021

THUNDER BAY Disability advocates are warning local businesses that failure to respect exemptions to mandatory mask policies constitutes discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The City of Thunder Bay’s Accessibility Advisory Committee recently raised concerns that at least one business had posted a sign refusing entry to anyone not wearing a mask, “stating that persons unable to wear masks into the business are required to order purchases online.”

The committee brought the issue forward in a letter to the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, asking it to re-educate its members on the provincial legislation requiring business owners to accommodate those who cannot wear masks due to a disability.

“Unfortunately, there are a number of people in the disabled community who are unable to wear masks, for a variety of reasons, and who cannot be served online,” said committee chair Tessa Soderberg. “Basically, creating signage like that is discriminating against people who for very legitimate reasons cannot wear a mask.”

Wearing masks is mandatory in public indoor spaces including businesses under the Reopening Ontario Act, but orders made under the act include clear exemptions.

The mandatory mask order does not apply to those “unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person,” or who are otherwise “being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.”

Those claiming exemption under the act are not required to provide any proof. That has allowed some abuse of the policy by those who simply don’t want to wear a mask, Soderberg believes.

“I don’t think [the sign refusing service] was specifically aimed at people with disabilities, it’s just that we happen to get caught up in that grouping,” she said.

“It’s similar to the challenges we’re facing with people claiming their pets as service animals, and then making it that much more difficult for [those with] legitimate service animals. You have people who are just refusing to wear a mask, or claiming they can’t, and not necessarily legitimately.”

Accommodation for people whose disabilities prevent them from wearing masks could include arranging alternate pick-up times or speaking with the person outdoors, if they agree, she said.

However, she emphasized the bottom line is that businesses cannot legally refuse entry to someone claiming an exemption.

Charla Robinson, president of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, said many business owners did look to alternatives like outdoor service and online or phone bookings to accommodate customers who cannot wear masks.

She acknowledged the responsibility to accommodate under the AODA, but said the mask policy put owners in a difficult position, with customers often uncomfortable with seeing others maskless, and concerns over enforcement.

“It’s a very challenging situation, because as an employer, the labour inspectors are coming to their business to make sure on their checklist that all of your employees are wearing masks, you’re requiring your customers to wear masks, you’ve got all of these pieces in place,” she said.

“Then when a customer comes in and isn’t wearing a mask, it does put them in a bit of a challenging situation as to, how do we manage this appropriately?”

Under an instruction letter sent to businesses by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit in July of 2020, when the mandatory mask order was introduced, staff are required to verify a customer not wearing a mask is claiming an exemption.

“When a customer or client is not complying with mask requirements, they must be asked to put on a mask,” health unit guidance states. “Businesses must recognize that there are exemptions for individuals who are unable to wear a mask. The law does not require a person to provide proof of their exemption.”

The chamber plans to meet with the Accessibility Advisory Committee in the near future to better understand the concerns and reinforce exemption rules, Robinson said.

“We look forward to working with the Accessibility committee to develop messaging that will help businesses understand how they can address these issues and make sure everyone is accommodated appropriately.”

Original at https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/mask-exemptions-must-be-respected-disability-advocates-say-3579508 Advertisement




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