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.”

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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.

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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

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


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:

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

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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

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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.”

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Disability Advocates Want Windsor Homeowners to Shovel Their Sidewalks, Consider Others

‘It makes you feel a little not respected or thought about’
CBC News
Posted: Feb 09, 2021

The past few days of snowfall have made it difficult for Danica McPhee, who uses a wheelchair, to go for walks or get around Windsor due to the number of sidewalks left unshovelled.

Having been stuck in the snow before, McPhee said she’s often discouraged from heading out in the winter to walk her dog or do other activities alone, out of concern that she might find herself in the “humiliating” situation again.

In Windsor, there’s a bylaw that requires homeowners and tenants to clear the snow in front of their house within 12 hours, yet some still don’t get it done.

And while the issue isn’t new, it’s become even more frustrating for people like McPhee who live with a disability.

“It just feels a little bit like you don’t matter and that’s a feeling we get every time we can’t enter a building and it hurts,” said McPhee, who works with Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario.

“It’s difficult … I walk my dog every day, I’m assuming that I’m kind of known to the neighbourhood … and again it makes you feel a little not respected or thought about, even if that’s not the intention.”

McPhee added that the curb cuts, where the sidewalk dips down for someone to cross the street, often also gets covered by snow and she asks that the city be mindful of these spaces, along with bus stops.

Yet most of these accessibility issues don’t get recognized unless someone complains, McPhee said, adding that that’s not necessarily the best way to deal with these issues.

“That actually puts all the onus on the person who’s already being discriminated against to stand up for themselves and they just might not be able to do that,” she said, adding that active monitoring by the city might help.

As a result of snow and ice pile up, she’s unable to routinely walk her dog in the winter and has to send it to a daycare for proper exercise.

Despite the added cost this brings, she said when she comes across a stretch of unshovelled sidewalk she always thinks about the person in the home – whether they also have a disability or are elderly and can’t take off the snow themselves.

“I’m conflicted about it, I get so upset when I’m rolling over the snow and my fingers are freezing and I can’t move but then I wonder is it somebody with a disability in there? Are they trapped inside as well?” she said.

‘Inclusion is the gateway to independence’

But even then, the City of Windsor has a Snow Angels program where residents can call 311 to have someone voluntarily shovel their space if they can’t do it themselves.

Disability advocate Kevin McShan, who uses an electric-powered wheelchair, says he’s also gotten himself stuck in the snow and, like McPhee, has dealt with the issue for quite some time.

“You learn to be strategic I’ll tell you that much, you try to look at the most uncumbersome path and what I mean by that is when there’s less snow you try to aim your wheelchair and if you get stuck in the snow you hope you have enough horsepower to get out of it,” he said, adding that he also makes sure he goes out with a personal support worker or someone who can pull him out.

But what would help is if people took more of an initiative to think of others, he said.

“Inclusion is the gateway to independence so anything we can do to alleviate the concerns for people with disabilities I’m all for it,” he said.

“We’re all rolling in the same boat and one thing I always tell people is ‘if you don’t want to help me out, how about we trade places for a day’ and then they usually get the message.”

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

by Jon Willing
Publishing date:
Feb 02, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[email protected]

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Today is the 40th Anniversary of Parliament Agreeing to Guarantee A Constitutional Right to Equality to People with Disabilities – A Victory Disability Advocates Now Invoke to Prevent Disability Discrimination in Access to Life-Saving Critical Care if Hospitals Start to Triage Critical Care



Today is the 40th Anniversary of Parliament Agreeing to Guarantee A Constitutional Right to Equality to People with Disabilities – A Victory Disability Advocates Now Invoke to Prevent Disability Discrimination in Access to Life-Saving Critical Care if Hospitals Start to Triage Critical Care

January 28, 2021 Toronto: Forty years ago today was the most important single event to protect the constitutional equality rights of millions of people with disabilities, in Canada’s first 114 years. Four decades ago today, the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada (“the Joint Committee”) voted to add equality rights for people with disabilities to the proposed Charter of Rights, then being debated. (“The disability amendment”)

Weeks earlier, in October 1980, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced a bill into Parliament to add a new Charter of Rights to Canada’s Constitution. The proposed Charter of Rights included an equality rights provision, section 15. However, section 15 did not include equality rights for people with disabilities. Unless amended, courts could not interprete section 15 to protect disability equality.

Without the benefit of fax machines, email, the internet or social media (which were years away), people with disabilities campaigned for the disability amendment. Their blitz got little media coverage.

In fall 1980, three major disability organizations appeared before the Joint Committee to call for the disability amendment. In response, on January 12, 1981, Justice Minister Jean Chretien said no to the disability amendment.

Despite that, people with disabilities tenaciously kept up the pressure. Victory came on January 28, 1981, when the Trudeau Government withdrew its opposition to the disability amendment. That day, the Joint Committee voted to pass the disability amendment. Canada became the first western democracy to explicitly protect equality for people with disabilities in its constitution. (Hansard transcript below)

Over the forty years that followed, the disability amendment led to some important court victories for disability rights. It also helped drive the passage of several accessibility laws: Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, Manitoba’s Accessibility for Manitobans Act 2013, Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act 2017, and the federal Accessible Canada Act2019.

“Canada should be proud of what was achieved forty years ago today in the name of equality and full participation for people with disabilities,” said David Lepofsky who was one of the disability advocates who appeared before Parliament to advocate for the disability amendment and who now chairs the non-partisan AODA Alliance that campaigns for disability accessibility. “However, despite the disability amendment, over six million people with disabilities in Canada still face far too many unfair barriers in areas like employment, transportation, education, health care and access to buildings. Top of mind today is the serious danger that patients with disabilities will suffer unjustified disability discrimination in access to life-saving critical medical care if the COVID-19 pandemic overloads Ontario hospitals, requiring the rationing or “triage” of critical care, dressed up as objective medical science. Those of us who fought for the disability amendment could not have imagined that forty years later, we’d need to use that victory to try to prevent disability discrimination in access to life-saving critical medical care.”

In months of public debate over the Charter of Rights four decades ago, the only new constitutional right that was added to the Charter, and which was not in the original draft, was equality for people with disabilities – something the media has also rarely covered. Even lesser known was a second disability rights victory for people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing at the Joint Committee four decades ago today. The Joint Committee also amended section 14 of the Charter, to guarantee the constitutional right to an interpreter for deaf persons when participating in legal proceedings. Previously, section 14’s wording did not guarantee the right to an interpreter to persons needing one due to hearing loss.

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

For more background, check out:

  1. Transcript of the three disability organizations’ presentations in the 1980 fall to the Joint Committee calling for the Charter disability amendment.
  1. Captioned video of the December 12, 1980 presentation by David Lepofsky to the Joint Committee, on behalf of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. He is now chair of the AODA Alliance.
  1. Transcript of the initial refusal on January 12, 1981 by federal Justice Minister Jean Chretien to agree to the disability amendment, which he announced during his appearance before the Joint committee – a decision the Federal Government reversed forty years ago today.
  1. Online captioned lecture at the Osgoode Hall Law School by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the history of the campaign for the Charter disability amendment.

Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons of Canada on the Constitution of Canada Hansard Excerpts January 28, 1981

The following took place on Charter ss. 14 and 15 as it pertains to people with disabilities:

Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would then move this amendment as follows, that Clause 14 of the proposed constitution act, 1980 be amended by striking out lines 40 to 44 on page 5 and substituting the following:

  1. Every person has the right to the assistance of an interpreter in any proceedings before a court, tribunal, commission, board or other authority in which the person is involved or is a party or a witness if the person does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted, or is subject to a hearing impairment.

Et en français, it est proposé

Que l’article 14 du projet de Loi constitutionnelle de 1980 soit modifié par substitution, aux lignes 40 à 43, de ce qui suit:

«14. Les personnes qui ne comprennent pas ou ne parlent pas la langue dans laquelle se déroulent des procédures devant une instance judiciaire, quasi-judiciaire, administrative ou autre, ont droit à l’assistance d’un interprète; les personnes atteintes de déficiences auditives ont également ce droit dans les mêmes circonstances.»

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Before I invite you to give an explanation, Mr. Robinson, the honourable James McGrath on a point of order.

Mr. McGrath: I am just wondering, Mr. Chairman, at first glance it would seem that our amendment, which is CP-7, Clause 14, page 5 should come first.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): The only reason I have called the amendment proposed by the New Democratic Party, I refer to you the previous indication that the Chair would call in order the amendments, and so far as the New Democratic Party amendment deals with line 40 and your amendment deals with line 43, that is why I have to call according to the previous procedure, I have to call the New Democratic Party amendment first even though the Chair realizes that if the

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New Democratic Party amendment is accepted by this Committee, the amendment identified CP-7 is already included in the previous amendment, but if the amendment by the New Democratic Party is not accepted that does not prevent you from moving the amendment identified as CP-7.

Mr. Chrétien: Mr. Chairman, for a matter of clarification, you gave the background of the discussion on Clause 14. We cannot accept the amendment of Mr. Robinson and I will explain why, but we can accept the amendment of the Conservative Parvty and so perhpas we should deal with the two and I can give the explanation to Mr. Robinson so that it will not—the intention is all the same but the way of drafting one is better than the drafting of the other, and the Robinson amendment, if I can use that term, the 150th amendment, it is too vague and could create all sorts of problems.

I am informed, for example …

Mr. Robinson: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order. Mr. Chairman, with great respect to the Minister, if I might have an opportunity to at least explain the amendment before it is shot down by the Minister. That is, I believe the normal procedure.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I will invite Mr. Robinson to present his amendment in the usual way.

Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I know that the Minister still has an open mind on the subject and will be listening with great interest and will not be subject to any impairment involving hearing. it is one thing not to listen, Mr. Chairman, it is another thing to be subjected to a hearing impairment.

Mr. Chairman, the purpose of this amendment is to expand the protection presently accorded in Clause 14 to an interpreter, and it is not something which is unusual or vague or difficult to apply, as the Minister suggested, because with respect, Mr. Minister, through you, Mr. Chairman, the wording is taken precisely from the terms of Bill C-60.

Now, once again, Mr. Minister, I would have assumed that the same people who advised you on Bill C-60 would be advising you today and I am sure that they would not have wished to advise you at that time to accept something which was vague or impossible to interpret.

Mr. Chairman, it is not a question of vagueness, it is a question of scope. In Clause 14, as the amendment would read, we would be going beyond proceedings in which a person was a party or witness, but we would be going to proceedings in which a person was involved, to use the words of the proposed amendment, and we would also be expanding the words to deal with other authorities.

As I say, this is the proposal in Bill C-60, it was accepted by the MacGuigan-Lamontagne Committee, it was not considered by the government two years ago to be vague or difficult to interpret. I suggest that the amendment was reasonable and that it should be accepted. I would hope that it would be accepted by the government.

I would also say that I am pleased to hear that the government is prepared to accept the amendment with respect to

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deafness which is being proposed both by the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party but I would hope that the government would recognize the desirability of expanding this in terms which it was presented in Bill C-60.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you very much, Mr. Robinson.

Mr. Chrétien: I will ask my advisor to give the explanation but the fact that it was accepted in Bill C·60, the deputy minister is not the same, perhaps he is a judge now, so we have a different troop and to explain why we feel after reflection what is better.

Mr. Ewaschuk: Obviously in relation to the proceedings the administration of justice is conducted by a provincial authorities. The expression in which the person is involved means more than the party or the witness so you can have all kinds of interested parties come to court and this would in fact give them a constitutional right to have interpreters so they could understand the proceedings.

Now, oftentimes that is so. If it is a language problem, the interpreter is there, and there is translation that goes on and there is certain accommodation, but if you were to do that for everybody who came in, who is somehow involved, they may be in fact a relative or so who does not understand the language but they are not a witness, they are not the accused and such, it could have certain important ramifications for the adminis· tration of justice and I think that the position we take is that, yes, we are not opposed to that but we would let the provincial try to work that out rather than saying that they have to in fact do it.

We say the minimal, yes, it should be for the witness, it should be for the party, extended to the deaf, but that is as far as we are willing to go at this particular time.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you very much.

Mr. Robinson to conclude.

Mr. Robinson: Just a question, Mr. Chairman, if I may, to the officials or to the Minister.

Is it my understanding that Clause 14 as the government is proposing now would not cover the right to an interpreter of a person who is, let us say, arrested or detained; if they are being questioned, that they would not be protected by this right to an interpreter, that is my reading at least of Clause 14. Whereas, under the proposed amendment, because of the insertion of the words “or other authority” in which the person is involved, they would be protected in those circumstances?

Mr. Ewaschuk: Well, I kind of doubt that. When you are talking about procedings before another authority, I doubt that you would get a court characterizing that as being police interrogating somebody.

You must keep in mind again, and we have gone over this before, that the Crown has to prove a statement as voluntary, so if you have two English policemen who were in fact interrogating somebody who did not understand English, it is very unlikely that the judge is going to find that that statement is voluntary.

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So rather than say that the police have to have to bring in, anytime there is a question on whether or not somebody was being interrogated can understand English, they will do that as a matter of course if they want to get that statement in, but it would not be an absolute right in relation to proceedings because I just do not see that as being characterized as proceedings.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Robinson to conclude.

Mr. Robinson: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

Just to conclude, I would remind the Minister through you, Mr. Chairman, of the recent case in Toronto in which this very point was canvassed and raised in connection with an East Indian who was questioned under circumstances in which it was alleged that he did not understand the language in which he was being questioned.

I would also suggest that the words “other authority” have been interpreted by our courts to include circumstances in which a person is being questioned by the police, that the person is an authority figure, when we are dealing, for example, with confessions, and that is the way Canadian jurisprudence has interpreted those words.

I think, Mr. Chairman, with great respect to the present deputy minister, that the advice which was given in 1978 was very sound advice and I would suggest that this Committee should accept that advice.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Robinson.

Amendment negatived.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I would like then to invite the motion identified as CP-7, Clause 14, page 5, the motion proposed by the Conservative Party to be moved and invite the Honourable James McGrath to so do.

Mr. McGrath: Mr. Chairman, before I read the amendment there is a slight change. The amendment should read “ed or who is deaf” to make it conform technically with the page.

Mr. Chairman, the amendment is as follows, I move that Clause 14 of the proposed constitution act, 1980, be amended by striking out line 43 on page 5 and substituting the following:

ed or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an”

I will ask my colleague, Senator Tremblay, if he will read it en français, s’il vous plait.


Senator Tremblay: Just to please my colleague who could very well read it himself.


Il est proposé

Que le projet de Loi constitutionnelle de 1981 …


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soit modifié par substitution …

Il faut continuer à dire 1980, n’est-ce pas? Merci, monsieur le président, de cette indication.

… soit modifié par substitution, à l’article 14, de ce qui suit:

«14. La partie ou le témoin qui ne peuvent suivre les procédures, soit parce qu’ils ne comprennent pas ou ne parlent pas la langue employée, soit parce qu’ils sont atteints de surdité, ont droit à l’assistance d’un interprète.»


The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Tremblay.


Mr. McGrath, to propose the motion in the usual way?

Mr. McGrath: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I must be getting overtired or perhaps I must be developing a hearing impediment because I thought I hear the Minister say he was going to accept our amendment.

Mr. Chrétien: Yes. Yes.

Mr. McGrath: Well, Mr. Chairman, now that that fact has been so dramatically verified I expect any minute to ask the Minister to give consent to have the amendment withdrawn to be moved on a subsequent amendment. It would be more in keeping with the experience we have had here.

However, Mr. Chairman, this is a serious amendment and I am very, very encouraged by the fact that the government has seen fit to accept it because there are a number of people in this country who have a serious hearing handicap. Indeed, I stand to be corrected on this, but there are over 200,000 Canadians who are deaf or have a hearing disability to the point where they are clinically or legally deaf, and it is a serious problem because their handicap is not apparent and it becomes compounded when they are party to legal proceedings. That is why this amendment is so important.

It is not without interest to note that we are moving in the direction of recognizing the rights of these people, for example in broadcasting they have mechanical devices now in the public broadcasting system in the United States for the hard of hearing or the deaf. I understand that we are moving in that direction in Canada as well.

Mr. Chairman, I am gratified that the government has accepted our amendment and, as a matter of fact, I am speechless.

Mr. Crombie: Two good events on one motion. Two!

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I will not speak on behalf of the government, of course, honourable James McGrath, but you might wonder why the government has changed its mind about that and I told you last week that some see the light because they found their hearts and some change their mind because they hear the voices, and that is probably what happened in the present case.

An hon. Member: I am sure they heard footsteps.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I see that the honourable members are ready for the vote.

Amendment agreed to.

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Clause 14 as amended agreed to.

On Clause 15—Equality before the law and equal protection of the law.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I will invite, then, honourable members to take the amendments in relation to Clause 15. There are a certain number of amendments dealing with Clause 15, especially taking into account that very clause of the proposed motion has two subclauses, Clause 15(1) and Clause 15(2), and in order to deal with the two subclauses in order I would like to invite honourable members to take the amendment identified G-20, Clause 15(1) page 6.

There are two subamendments, to that amendment. The first subamendment that the Chair will invite honourable members to take is the one identified N-21, Clause 15(1), page 6, revised, that is the one with the word “revised” on it, and the next subamendment in relation to the same main amendment is the one identified as CP—8(1), Clause 15, page 6.

So it means that the first subamendment we will be dealing with is the last one that I have mentioned, CP-8(1), Clause 15, page 6, but before we deal with that second subamendment I would like to invite Mr. Irwin to move, or Monsieur Corbin, to move the one identified G-20, subclause 15(1), Page 6.

Monsieur Corbin.

  1. Corbin: Merci, monsieur le president.

Or, je propose

Que le paragraphe 15(1) du projet de Loi constitutionnelle de 1980 soit modifié par substitution, à la rubrique qui précède la ligne 1, et aux lignes 1 à 5, page 6, de ce qui suit:

«Droits à l’égalité

  1. (1) La Loi ne fait acception de person ne et s’applique également à tous et tous ont droit à la même protection et au même bénéfice de la loi, indépendamment de toute discrimination, notamment des discriminations fondées sur la race, l’origine nationale ou ethnique, la couleur, la religion, le sexe ou l’âge.»

Mr. Chairman, I would like to move that the heading preceding Clause 15 and Clause 15(1) of the proposed constitution act, 1980, be amended by striking out the heading immediately preceding line 1 and lines 1 to 5 on page 6 and substituting the following:

“Equality Rights

  1. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex or age.”


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Le coprésident (M. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Corbin.


I would like to invite Mr. Robinson on behalf of the New Democratic Party to introduce the subamendment revised N-21, Clause 15(1), page 6.

Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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I am very pleased to move the subamendment as follows …

Mr. Epp: Just a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

I must have misunderstood you. I take it now that you are going to ask for the New Democratic subamendment first and then call for our subamendment to the subamendment?

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes. That is what I have already stated, Mr. Epp.

Mr. Epp: I did not understand it that way. I thought you asked for our subamendment to the amendment.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): No, that is not the way.

Go on, Mr. Robinson.

Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The amendment is as follows, first of all in English, this is to the proposal of the government, I move that the proposed amendment to Clause 15(1) of the proposed constitution act 1980, be amended by (a) striking out everything immediately following the words “Every individual is equal» and substituting the following:

in, before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law, and to access to employment, accommodation and public services, without unreasonable distinction on grounds including sex, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion or age.

And then, Mr. Chairman, there are six additional subsections. The first is: (b) adding to Clause 15(1) the following: “physical or mental disability,”; (c) adding to Clause 15(1) the following: “marital status,”; (d) adding to Clause 15(1) the following: “sexual orientation,”; (e) adding to Clause 15(1) the following: “political belief,”; (f) adding to Clause 15(1) the following: “lack of means”; and (g) moving the word “or” so that it appears immediately after the penultimate proscribed ground of discrimination.

Mr. Chairman, those are our proposed amendments to Clause 15(1) to recognize some very fundamental and important grounds of discrimination which are not recognized in the government’s proposal.

In French, Mr. Chairman, if you would like me to read this in French.

Il est proposé

Que le projet de modification du paragraphe 15 (1) du projet de Loi constitutionnelle de 1980 soit modifié par:

  1. a) substitution, à ce qui suit le membre de phrase «La loi ne fait exception de personne», de ce qui suit:

«Tous ont droit à la même protection et au même bénéfice de la loi, ainsi qu’à l’accès aux emplois, au logement et aux services publics, indépendamment de

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toute distinction abusive fondee notamment sur le sexe, la race, l’origine nationale ou ethnique, la couleur, la religion ou l’âge.»

  1. b) adjonction, au paragraphe 15 (1), de ce qui suit: «les déficiences physiques ou mentales,»
  2. c) adjonction, au paragraphe 15 (1), de ce qui suit: «la situation familiale,»
  3. d) adjonction, au paragraphe 15 (1), de ce qui suit: «l’inclination sexuelle,»
  4. e) adjonction, au paragraphe 15 (1), de ce qui suit: «les croyances politiques,»
  5. f) adjonction, au paragraphe 15 (1), de ce qui suit: «l’insuffisance de moyens.»
  6. g) insertion de la conjonction «or» avant la dernière distinction discriminatoire énoncée au paragraphe 15 (1) tel que modifié.

Monsieur le president, je crois que cela doit etre «ou» et non’ pas «or».

Mr. Chairman, again these are proposed additions and changes to Clause 15(1) and I am very pleased to note that the Conservative Party will also be proposing the addition of physical and mental disability, supporting our amendment on that particular subclause.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Robinson.

I would like to invite the honourable James McCrath to move the amendment on behalf of the Conservative Party.

Mr. McGrath: Mr. Chairman, my colleague, Mr. Crombie will do so.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): The honourable David Crombie.

Mr. Crombie: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, dealing with Clause 15 and our amendment to it, which is numbered CP-8(1) on the sheet, I wish to move that the proposed amendment to Clause 15 of the proposed constitution act, 1980, be amended by striking out the words “or age” in Clause 15(1) thereof and substituting therefor the following words:

age or mental or physical disability.

En français, il est proposé

Que le projet de modification de I’article 15 du porjet de loi constitution ne! de 1980 soit modi fie par la substitution, a «ou l’âge», au paragraphe (1), de «l’âge ou les déficiences mentales ou physiques.»

Mr. Chairman, speaking to the motion, my understanding is that the government is willing to accept our amendment.

Now, I am not sure we can continue to take this prosperity any longer!

However, on behalf of those groups, organizations and individuals who find themselves physically and mentally dis-

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abled in this country, I would like, on their behalf, since I am the spokesman on their behalf at this point, to offer my thanks to the government for their acceptance of the amendment.

Thank you very much.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, the honourable David Crombie.

Mr. Chrétien: But who told you that I have accepted the amendment. I have not yet spoken. I think it was a good put on.

Mr. Crombie: I have already spoken to Bob Kaplan and he has said it is okay!

Mr. Chrétien: If I can have five minutes I will call the Prime Minister.

It is with great pleasure that I accept the amendment on behalf of the Government.

I do not think we should debate it. There was a great deal of debate. I was very anxious that we should proceed tonight. They were preparing to have a big group tomorrow.

You can have lots of beer on my health.

Thank you for your good representation.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): So the amendment is carried, I should say wholeheartedly with unanimous consent.

Amendment agreed to.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I would like, then, to invite honourable members to come back to the first subamendment and to invite Mr. Robinson to introduce the amendment in the usual way.

Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I certainly would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Minister for listening to the concerns of both the physically and mentally disabled.

I know the Minister will recognize that this is in many ways unprecedented and a historic occasion, because it is a right which has not yet been recognized in many international covenants and charters; I think the Minister and the government deserves full credit for accepting the recommendations of the subcommittee and of many other Canadians.

Certainly, I want to join with my colleague and friend, Mr. Crombie, in thanking you, Mr. Minister, for accepting this very important amendment.

Mr. Chrétien: I forgot to mention, with your permission, Mr. Chairman, that I think we should thank all the members of the special committee, presided over by Mr. David Smith, who has worked very hard indeed.

I would like to thank Mr. Smith and all members of the Committee who have worked all summer very hard on the problem.

We are entering a new field, and quite properly breaking good ground. I think we should be careful that we should not take it to the extent of opening the door to a list that would be meaningless. It is on the list as an amendment which will be accepted.

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Mr. Robinson: Once again, Mr. Chairman, I know that the Minister will listen carefully to the representations made on the amendment which we will be proposing, just as he has listened with care to the representations of the groups representing the physically and mentally disabled.

Mr. Chairman, I also cannot resist pointing out that this fundamental right to protection from discrimination on grounds of physical and mental disability is surely one which should be accorded to all Canadians right across Canada, in every province in Canada, and that no provincial government should be permitted to opt out of providing basic and fundamental rights and freedoms to the handicapped.

Mr. Chairman, perhaps my Conservative colleagues would pay particular attention to that point, that the effect of their proposed amending formula, would grant rights to the handicapped in some provinces and not to the handicapped in other provinces which chose to opt out.

The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Robinson, I regret to interrupt, but as I have already expressed on other occasions, I think you should address yourself to the content of the proposed amendment.

The amending formula will come later on in our discussions; but at this point we are dealing on a clause which does not have any reference to the amending formula as such.

I would invite you to restrict your remarks to the contents of the proposed amendment.

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