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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


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

February 22, 2021

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt 1

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

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

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

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

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

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




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Yesterday’s Roundtable on Critical Care Triage during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Hosted by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Leads the AODA Alliance to Again Write Health Minister Christine Elliott to Raise Important New Issues


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

December 18, 2020
SUMMARY

Yesterday, the AODA Alliance joined the ARCH Disability Law Centre and a number of other advocates from Ontario’s disability, racialized and Indigenous communities, all invited by the Ontario Human Rights Commission to a virtual roundtable discussion. It focused on the September 11, 2020 draft critical medical care triage protocol that was finally made public a week earlier. We have campaigned for three months to get that document made public.

Given the number of participants, we could only scratch the surface on this life-and-death issue during this two-hour roundtable. The painful fact that that day, Ontario had another record-breaking number of new COVID-19 infections made this discussion especially urgent and long-overdue.

A number of new important issues were identified at this roundtable by a spectrum of participants. All were in strong agreement on a range of concerns. The AODA Alliance’s concerns were echoed or endorsed by a number of participants.

Some of the key points which the AODA Alliance raised are spelled out in the newest letter to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot from the AODA Alliance, dated December 17, 2020 and set out below. We hope that the Minister will this time respond to our letter. The Ford Government has not answered any of our earlier letters to her on this topic.

Present to receive feedback at the roundtable were representatives from the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario-Government’s external Bioethics Table. As well, there were some representatives from the Ford Government, including from the Health Minister’s office, from Ontario Health, and from the Government’s internal Critical Care Command Centre. We asked to be sent the names and contact information for these provincial officials and are waiting to hear back. We also asked to be sent all the information on the Bioethics Table’s September 11, 2020 draft critical care triage protocol that the Government has sent to hospitals. No one spoke up to agree to send this to us.

This entire triage issue remains in flux. We will keep you posted. With COVID-19 infections rising and hospitals getting filled to capacity, we fear that triage may be taking place right now.

Send your feedback to us at [email protected]

For more background on this issue, check out:
1. The Government’s external advisory Bioethics Table’s September 11, 2020 draft critical care triage protocol.
2. The December 3, 2020 open letter to the Ford Government from 64 community organizations, calling for the Government to make public the secret report on critical care triage from the Government-appointed Bioethics Table.
3. The AODA Alliance’s unanswered September 25, 2020 letter, its November 2, 2020 letter, its November 9, 2020 letter, its December 7, 2020 letter, and its December 15, 2020 letter to Health Minister Christine Elliott.
4. The August 30, 2020 AODA Alliance submission to the Ford Government’s Bioethics Table, and a captioned online video of the AODA Alliance’s August 31, 2020 oral presentation to the Bioethics Table on disability discrimination concerns in critical care triage.
5. The September 1, 2020 submission and July 20, 2020 submission by the ARCH Disability Law Centre to the Bioethics Table.
6. The November 5, 2020 captioned online speech by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the disability rights concerns with Ontario’s critical care triage protocol.
7. The AODA Alliance website’s health care page, detailing its efforts to tear down barriers in the health care system facing patients with disabilities, and our COVID-19 page, detailing our efforts to address the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

MORE DETAILS

December 17, 2020 Letter from the AODA Alliance to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
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/

December 17, 2020

To: The Hon. Christine Elliott, Minister of Health
Via email: [email protected]
Ministry of Health
5th Floor
777 Bay St.
Toronto, ON M7A 2J3

Dear Minister,

Re: Ontario Government’s Protocol for Medical Triage of Life-Saving Critical Care in the Event Hospitals Cannot Handle All COVID-19 Cases

We urgently write to follow up on our five unanswered letters to you dated September 25, November 2, November 9, December 7 and December 15, 2020. These ask about the Ford Government’s plans for deciding which patients would be refused life-saving critical medical care that they need, if the record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases overloads Ontario hospitals and requires rationing or “triage” of critical care beds and services.

This morning, we took part in a two-hour virtual roundtable, convened by the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Government-appointed COVID-19 Bioethics Table. It was convened on very short notice to gather feedback on the Bioethics Table’s recently-released September 11, 2020 proposed critical care triage protocol.

These are among the many urgent points that arose at or from the discussion at that roundtable:

1. None of us invited to that roundtable from the disability, racialized or Indigenous communities had had anywhere near the time we needed to properly review the detailed 36-page September 11, 2020 draft critical care triage protocol. Such virtual face-to-face consultations are vital but must be preceded by enough time to prepare. Sending in written submissions is no substitute. Don’t now consider that the consultation check box can be ticked.

2. No one has shown us that anything in the proposed triage protocol is authorized by law. We have raised this concern time and again. The most interesting and thorough discussion with the Bioethics Table on how triage should be carried out is utterly irrelevant if the protocol, whatever it says, is not properly mandated by law a law that passes constitutional muster.

For example, it will be shocking and deeply disturbing to many if not most to learn the draft triage protocol would have doctors under certain triage circumstances actually withdraw critical care services from a critical care patient who needs those services and who is in the middle of receiving those insured medical services. How can a mere memo from some bureaucrat in the Ministry of Health or from Ontario Health purport to authorize that, if there is no legislative authority for it? Couldn’t that give rise to possible criminal responsibility, for those taking such action? We don’t believe that a provincial memo overrides the Criminal Code of Canada.

3. It appeared that none of us, from whom input was being sought, could understand from this 36-page document exactly how a doctor is to specifically decide who will be refused critical care under the September 11, 2020 draft triage protocol. We cannot give the kind of detailed input that is needed without that being clarified. We wrote the Bioethics Table co-chairs about this in advance of this meeting. No such clarification was provided.

4. An extremely worrisome revelation was made in the only statement we have heard from anyone within the Government’s internal critical care triage infrastructure. Dr. Andrew Baker identified himself as a member of the Ministry of Health’s Critical Care Command Centre. Right near the end of the roundtable, responding to feedback at the roundtable, Dr. Baker stated that doctors value life inherently, and that at present, doctors “default to life years, when we have finite resources. One principle, life years.”

What we take from this is that at present, such triage decisions would be made based on “life years saved.” He went on to say that a new approach to triage, embodying the concerns raised at the roundtable (with which he seemed to find real merit), would in effect have to wait for a future time. That would have to be after this pandemic is over.

That statement in effect summarily and categorically dismissed all the serious human rights and constitutional concerns we had raised for two hours as not ready to be implemented during this pandemic, even if critical care triage becomes necessary.

We strongly disagree. The Government cannot give up on this now. The thought that we might not have time to put these principles into action now is especially cruel, since our community has been pleading with your Government since early April to directly consult us on this issue.

Dr. Baker’s endorsement of using “life years saved” points to an approach riddled with discrimination because of age, disability, or both. Minister, Dr. Baker’s single statement crystalizes so many of our concerns. It reveals that whatever is written in this or other triage protocols won’t matter at the front lines, and that vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities, among others, now have a great deal to worry about.

This requires you to immediately take over personal leadership on this issue, and to let our vulnerable communities speak directly to you and your senior officials.

5. From what we can determine, the September 11, 2020 draft triage protocol would have a doctor or doctors assess, based on an individual clinical assessment, if a patient, needing critical care, has less than 12 months to live. As I pointed out at the roundtable, Dr. James Downar, of the Bioethics Table, has previously told us that when doctors assess whether a patient has less than 3 months to live in order to decide if that patient should be allowed to go into palliative care, doctors “lie”. By this, we understand him to mean that they try to make a result-oriented assessment to get palliative resources for their patient.

If doctors routinely lie for assessing a patient’s likely mortality within three months, we have every reason to fear that they could do the same when the figure is changed from three months to twelve months, in connection with critical care triage decisions. We realize that there is a difference between admission to palliative care on the one hand, and admission to critical care on the other. However, for current purposes, that difference does not make a difference.

6. The September 11, 2020 draft critical care triage protocol, like the two earlier versions that the Bioethics Table produced this year, give these life-and-death decisions over to doctors. As addressed in our next point, we think this needs reconsideration. It provides no appeal from those doctors to an outside independent body, such as a court or the Consent and Capacity Board. Such an appeal is needed. Moreover, it proposes to immunize doctors and other health care professionals making these life-and-death decisions from any accountability. It states that the protocol should:

“4. Ensure liability protection for all those who would be involved in implementing the Proposed Framework (e.g., physicians, clinical teams, Triage Team members, Appeals Committee members, implementation planners, etc.), including an Emergency Order related to any aspect requiring a deviation from the Health Care Consent Act.”

It is certainly questionable whether that can be done. We believe it is beyond question that it should not be done.

7. As we also emphasized at the roundtable, it is not clear to us that these purely medical triage criteria are the way for Ontario to go. Other non-medical triage criteria outside the preserve of doctors are worth considering.

Minister, please talk to us. Have your Ministry officials talk to us. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Stay safe.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O. Ont
Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Enclosure: December 11, 2020 email from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to Jennifer Gibson, Bioethics Table co-chair

cc:
Premier Doug Ford [email protected]
Helen Angus, Deputy Minister of Health [email protected] Raymond Cho, Minister of Seniors and Accessibility [email protected]
Denise Cole, Deputy Minister for Seniors and Accessibility [email protected]
Mary Bartolomucci, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, [email protected]
Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services [email protected]
Janet Menard, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services [email protected]
Ena Chadha, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission [email protected] Jennifer Gibson, Co-Chair, Bioethics Table [email protected] Dianne Godkin, Co-Chair, Bioethics Table [email protected]




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Yesterday’s Roundtable on Critical Care Triage during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Hosted by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Leads the AODA Alliance to Again Write Health Minister Christine Elliott to Raise Important New Issues


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/

Yesterday’s Roundtable on Critical Care Triage during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Hosted by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Leads the AODA Alliance to Again Write Health Minister Christine Elliott to Raise Important New Issues

December 18, 2020

SUMMARY

Yesterday, the AODA Alliance joined the ARCH Disability Law Centre and a number of other advocates from Ontario’s disability, racialized and Indigenous communities, all invited by the Ontario Human Rights Commission to a virtual roundtable discussion. It focused on the September 11, 2020 draft critical medical care triage protocol that was finally made public a week earlier. We have campaigned for three months to get that document made public.

Given the number of participants, we could only scratch the surface on this life-and-death issue during this two-hour roundtable. The painful fact that that day, Ontario had another record-breaking number of new COVID-19 infections made this discussion especially urgent and long-overdue.

A number of new important issues were identified at this roundtable by a spectrum of participants. All were in strong agreement on a range of concerns. The AODA Alliance’s concerns were echoed or endorsed by a number of participants.

Some of the key points which the AODA Alliance raised are spelled out in the newest letter to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot from the AODA Alliance, dated December 17, 2020 and set out below. We hope that the Minister will this time respond to our letter. The Ford Government has not answered any of our earlier letters to her on this topic.

Present to receive feedback at the roundtable were representatives from the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario-Government’s external Bioethics Table. As well, there were some representatives from the Ford Government, including from the Health Minister’s office, from Ontario Health, and from the Government’s internal Critical Care Command Centre. We asked to be sent the names and contact information for these provincial officials and are waiting to hear back. We also asked to be sent all the information on the Bioethics Table’s September 11, 2020 draft critical care triage protocol that the Government has sent to hospitals. No one spoke up to agree to send this to us.

This entire triage issue remains in flux. We will keep you posted. With COVID-19 infections rising and hospitals getting filled to capacity, we fear that triage may be taking place right now.

Send your feedback to us at [email protected].

For more background on this issue, check out:

  1. The Government’s external advisory Bioethics Table’s September 11, 2020 draft critical care triage protocol.
  2. The December 3, 2020 open letter to the Ford Government from 64 community organizations, calling for the Government to make public the secret report on critical care triage from the Government-appointed Bioethics Table.
  3. The AODA Alliance’s unanswered September 25, 2020 letter, its November 2, 2020 letter, its November 9, 2020 letter, its December 7, 2020 letter, and its December 15, 2020 letter to Health Minister Christine Elliott.
  4. The August 30, 2020 AODA Alliance submission to the Ford Government’s Bioethics Table, and a captioned online video of the AODA Alliance’s August 31, 2020 oral presentation to the Bioethics Table on disability discrimination concerns in critical care triage.
  5. The September 1, 2020 submission and July 20, 2020 submission by the ARCH Disability Law Centre to the Bioethics Table.
  6. The November 5, 2020 captioned online speech by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the disability rights concerns with Ontario’s critical care triage protocol.
  7. The AODA Alliance website’s health care page, detailing its efforts to tear down barriers in the health care system facing patients with disabilities, and our COVID-19 page, detailing our efforts to address the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

MORE DETAILS

December 17, 2020 Letter from the AODA Alliance to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

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/

December 17, 2020

To: The Hon. Christine Elliott, Minister of Health

Via email: [email protected]

Ministry of Health

5th Floor

777 Bay St.

Toronto, ON M7A 2J3

Dear Minister,

Re: Ontario Government’s Protocol for Medical Triage of Life-Saving Critical Care in the Event Hospitals Cannot Handle All COVID-19 Cases

We urgently write to follow up on our five unanswered letters to you dated September 25, November 2, November 9, December 7 and December 15, 2020. These ask about the Ford Government’s plans for deciding which patients would be refused life-saving critical medical care that they need, if the record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases overloads Ontario hospitals and requires rationing or “triage” of critical care beds and services.

This morning, we took part in a two-hour virtual roundtable, convened by the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Government-appointed COVID-19 Bioethics Table. It was convened on very short notice to gather feedback on the Bioethics Table’s recently-released September 11, 2020 proposed critical care triage protocol.

These are among the many urgent points that arose at or from the discussion at that roundtable:

  1. None of us invited to that roundtable from the disability, racialized or Indigenous communities had had anywhere near the time we needed to properly review the detailed 36-page September 11, 2020 draft critical care triage protocol. Such virtual face-to-face consultations are vital but must be preceded by enough time to prepare. Sending in written submissions is no substitute. Don’t now consider that the consultation check box can be ticked.
  1. No one has shown us that anything in the proposed triage protocol is authorized by law. We have raised this concern time and again. The most interesting and thorough discussion with the Bioethics Table on how triage should be carried out is utterly irrelevant if the protocol, whatever it says, is not properly mandated by law – a law that passes constitutional muster.

For example, it will be shocking and deeply disturbing to many if not most to learn the draft triage protocol would have doctors under certain triage circumstances actually withdraw critical care services from a critical care patient who needs those services and who is in the middle of receiving those insured medical services. How can a mere memo from some bureaucrat in the Ministry of Health or from Ontario Health purport to authorize that, if there is no legislative authority for it? Couldn’t that give rise to possible criminal responsibility, for those taking such action? We don’t believe that a provincial memo overrides the Criminal Code of Canada.

  1. It appeared that none of us, from whom input was being sought, could understand from this 36-page document exactly how a doctor is to specifically decide who will be refused critical care under the September 11, 2020 draft triage protocol. We cannot give the kind of detailed input that is needed without that being clarified. We wrote the Bioethics Table co-chairs about this in advance of this meeting. No such clarification was provided.
  1. An extremely worrisome revelation was made in the only statement we have heard from anyone within the Government’s internal critical care triage infrastructure. Dr. Andrew Baker identified himself as a member of the Ministry of Health’s Critical Care Command Centre. Right near the end of the roundtable, responding to feedback at the roundtable, Dr. Baker stated that doctors value life inherently, and that at present, doctors “default to life years, when we have finite resources. One principle, life years.”

What we take from this is that at present, such triage decisions would be made based on “life years saved.” He went on to say that a new approach to triage, embodying the concerns raised at the roundtable (with which he seemed to find real merit), would in effect have to wait for a future time. That would have to be after this pandemic is over.

That statement in effect summarily and categorically dismissed all the serious human rights and constitutional concerns we had raised for two hours as not ready to be implemented during this pandemic, even if critical care triage becomes necessary.

We strongly disagree. The Government cannot give up on this now. The thought that we might not have time to put these principles into action now is especially cruel, since our community has been pleading with your Government since early April to directly consult us on this issue.

Dr. Baker’s endorsement of using “life years saved” points to an approach riddled with discrimination because of age, disability, or both. Minister, Dr. Baker’s single statement crystalizes so many of our concerns. It reveals that whatever is written in this or other triage protocols won’t matter at the front lines, and that vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities, among others, now have a great deal to worry about.

This requires you to immediately take over personal leadership on this issue, and to let our vulnerable communities speak directly to you and your senior officials.

  1. From what we can determine, the September 11, 2020 draft triage protocol would have a doctor or doctors assess, based on an individual clinical assessment, if a patient, needing critical care, has less than 12 months to live. As I pointed out at the roundtable, Dr. James Downar, of the Bioethics Table, has previously told us that when doctors assess whether a patient has less than 3 months to live in order to decide if that patient should be allowed to go into palliative care, doctors “lie”. By this, we understand him to mean that they try to make a result-oriented assessment to get palliative resources for their patient.

If doctors routinely lie for assessing a patient’s likely mortality within three months, we have every reason to fear that they could do the same when the figure is changed from three months to twelve months, in connection with critical care triage decisions. We realize that there is a difference between admission to palliative care on the one hand, and admission to critical care on the other. However, for current purposes, that difference does not make a difference.

  1. The September 11, 2020 draft critical care triage protocol, like the two earlier versions that the Bioethics Table produced this year, give these life-and-death decisions over to doctors. As addressed in our next point, we think this needs reconsideration. It provides no appeal from those doctors to an outside independent body, such as a court or the Consent and Capacity Board. Such an appeal is needed. Moreover, it proposes to immunize doctors and other health care professionals making these life-and-death decisions from any accountability. It states that the protocol should:

“4.       Ensure liability protection for all those who would be involved in implementing the Proposed Framework (e.g., physicians, clinical teams, Triage Team members, Appeals Committee members, implementation planners, etc.), including an Emergency Order related to any aspect requiring a deviation from the Health Care Consent Act.”

It is certainly questionable whether that can be done. We believe it is beyond question that it should not be done.

  1. As we also emphasized at the roundtable, it is not clear to us that these purely medical triage criteria are the way for Ontario to go. Other non-medical triage criteria outside the preserve of doctors are worth considering.

Minister, please talk to us. Have your Ministry officials talk to us. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Stay safe.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O. Ont

Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Enclosure: December 11, 2020 email from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to Jennifer Gibson, Bioethics Table co-chair

cc:

Premier Doug Ford [email protected]

Helen Angus, Deputy Minister of Health [email protected]

Raymond Cho, Minister of Seniors and Accessibility [email protected]

Denise Cole, Deputy Minister for Seniors and Accessibility [email protected]

Mary Bartolomucci, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, [email protected]

Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services [email protected]

Janet Menard, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services [email protected]

Ena Chadha, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission [email protected]

Jennifer Gibson, Co-Chair, Bioethics Table [email protected]

Dianne Godkin, Co-Chair, Bioethics Table [email protected]



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Improving AODA Compliance in Public Spaces


Under the AODA, private or non-profit businesses with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years. The next accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses were due on December 31st, 2020. However, the Ontario government has extended this deadline. This extended deadline for accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses is June 30th, 2021. Nonetheless, businesses should use this extra time to assess how compliant they are with AODA standards. Moreover, businesses should also improve their compliance by changing the services they offer so that their businesses are more accessible. In this article, we will outline ways to improve AODA compliance in public spaces.

Improving AODA Compliance in Public Spaces

Even if businesses are fully compliant with the design of public spaces standards, they can still make changes to their policies and services to enhance accessibility. For instance, the standards only mandate accessibility in buildings and spaces that are new or redeveloped. These legal limitations mean that older buildings and spaces are closed or unwelcoming to people with certain disabilities, including people who:

Business owners or managers may feel that they do not need to worry about making older spaces accessible because the standards do not require them to do so. They may also fear that installing accessible features will be costly, time-consuming, or inconvenient. However, grants for structural accessibility may offset costs. In addition, some changes are less costly and easier to put in place. While renovating for accessibility may take time and construction is inconvenient, inaccessibility is just as time-consuming and inconvenient for people with disabilities.

Moreover, accessible spaces offer many benefits to businesses, in addition to welcoming visitors with disabilities. For instance, accessible areas for walking, waiting, or eating could benefit:

  • Families with babies or small children
  • Shoppers with carts

In addition, people who develop disabilities later in life can continue to patronize businesses with accessible features. Businesses that go above and beyond the AODA standards can prove that they value all visitors.




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Assessing AODA Compliance in Public Spaces


Under the AODA, private or non-profit businesses with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years. The next accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses were due on December 31st, 2020. However, the Ontario government has extended this deadline. This extended deadline for accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses is June 30th, 2021. Nonetheless, businesses should use this extra time to assess how compliant they are with AODA standards. Moreover, businesses should also improve their compliance by changing the services they offer so that their businesses are more accessible. In this article, we will outline ways to assess AODA compliance in public spaces.

Assessing AODA Compliance in Public Spaces

Businesses with fifty (50) or more workers need to report on the accessibility of any public spaces they have built or renovated. However, both small and large businesses need to comply with AODA requirements governing public spaces. For instance, people with disabilities must have access to new or renovated:

Furthermore, businesses with fifty (50) or more workers must ensure the accessibility of new or renovated:

The extended deadline for AODA compliance reports gives staff of businesses more time to assess how well their companies are fulfilling all these requirements.

How to Assess AODA Compliance in Public Spaces

Companies can start to assess their AODA compliance by requesting anonymous feedback from customers, workers, or other visitors who have needed accessible features. For instance, visitors can explain whether:

  • They could park their vehicles in accessible spaces
  • There was enough room to exit vehicles with ramps and transfer to assistive devices
  • Parking spaces were close enough for them to reach buildings or events easily

Similarly, customers, workers, and visitors could explain whether they could:

  • Wait in lines or waiting areas that:
  • Receive service at accessible counters
  • Enjoy leisure time on a trail or beach
  • Travel independently on all paths or walkways
  • Access public eating areas with their friends or families
  • Watch their children join peers on accessible play spaces

Accessing Older Public Spaces

Alternatively, if a business does not have accessible features, visitors with disabilities must still be able to access their services. Therefore, visitors could also give feedback about how well staff supported their access needs. For example, visitors can explain whether staff:

  • Knew what accessible features their premises had, or did not have
  • Invited them to wait in an accessible place
  • Alerted them when their turn for service came, when line areas were not accessible
  • Provided service away from high counters when needed
  • Served them remotely if parking and paths were not accessible
  • Recommended locations with more welcoming:
    • Trail or beach access
    • Eating areas
    • Play spaces

If customers or other visitors have the option to describe their positive or negative encounters with staff, these stories can help staff recognize what they should or should not do when supporting visitors’ access to their spaces. If much of the feedback a business receives is negative, it is likely that the business is not compliant with the AODA. As a result, the business will need to make changes, which could include:

  • Making sure that any plans for new or renovated spaces include accessible features
  • Improving their AODA training, to ensure that staff know how to meet visitors’ needs

Accessibility Consulting

In addition, businesses could enter short-term or on-going contracts to consult with people who have disabilities. Alternatively, companies could request the services of professional organizations that specialize in assessing accessibility. In either case, an accessibility assessor with lived experience of disability could:

  • Observe and give feedback on the quality of AODA training
  • Assess any plans for new or renovated spaces, to ensure that accessible features are included

If any of these plans or processes do not comply with AODA requirements, consultants could offer suggestions or assistance. Moreover, consultants could also help companies find resources to support them in strengthening their policies and services.




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Improving AODA Compliance in Customer Service


Under the AODA, private or non-profit businesses with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years. The next accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses were due on December 31st, 2020. However, the Ontario government has extended this deadline. This extended deadline for accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses is June 30th, 2021. Nonetheless, businesses should use this extra time to assess how compliant they are with AODA standards. Moreover, businesses should also improve their compliance by changing the services they offer so that their businesses are more accessible. In this article, we will outline ways to improve AODA compliance in customer service.

Improving AODA Compliance in Customer Service

Even if businesses are fully compliant with the customer service standards, they can still make changes to their policies and services to enhance accessibility. For instance, some services that businesses could offer include:

In addition, service providers can alert all customers about all accessible features and services they have. For example, businesses can inform customers about the availability and location of physical features, such as:

Likewise, businesses can also tell customers about other accessible services, such as:

Finally, businesses that do not yet offer these features and services can explain how they will meet customers’ needs in other ways, such as:

  • Meeting customers in accessible locations
  • Serving customers by phone or email
  • Alerting customers to information on inaccessible signage

When service providers make customers aware of the accessible services they have, they can start doing business with many more clients.

Enhanced Customer Service Training

Furthermore, businesses can also improve the quality of the customer service training their staff receive. Under the customer service standards, training can take many formats, from basic handouts to more in-depth instruction. When staff receive higher-quality training, they can learn:

High-quality training can also be geared specifically to a business’s services. For instance, restaurant staff could have training that helps them practice:

This practice will allow staff to gain experience serving customers with a variety of disabilities. As a result, businesses can confidently welcome and serve all their customers.




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Assessing AODA Compliance in Customer Service


Under the AODA, private or non-profit businesses with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years. The next accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses were due on December 31st, 2020. However, the Ontario government has extended this deadline. This extended deadline for accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses is June 30th, 2021. Nonetheless, businesses should use this extra time to assess how compliant they are with AODA standards. Moreover, businesses should also improve their compliance by changing the services they offer so that their businesses are more accessible. In this article, we will outline ways to assess AODA compliance in customer service.

Assessing AODA Compliance in Customer Service

Businesses that have twenty (20) or more workers and provide customer service need to comply with AODA customer service requirements, including:

In addition, businesses with fifty (50) or more workers need to:

  • Document their customer service policies
  • Have accessibility plans
  • Update policies and plans every five years
  • Keep records of workers’ AODA training

The extended deadline for AODA compliance reports gives staff of businesses more time to assess how well their companies are fulfilling all these requirements.

How to Assess AODA Customer Service Compliance

Companies can start to assess their AODA compliance by requesting anonymous feedback from customers who have needed accessible service. For instance, they can ask customers whether staff interacted with them courteously, in ways that:

  • Respected their dignity and independence
  • Integrated service for customers with and without disabilities, whenever possible
  • Offered equal opportunities to customers with and without disabilities
  • Took their accessibility needs into account

Companies could also ask whether staff:

  • Interacted comfortably and appropriately with their service animal or support person
  • Knew how to find and operate any assistive devices available at the premises
  • Publicized service disruptions and other communications in ways they could access, such as:
  • Responded well to any feedback they offered

If customers have the option to describe their positive or negative encounters with staff, these stories can help staff recognize what they should or should not do when providing accessible service. For example, a customer could describe an incident when staff spoke to their support person instead of directly to them. However, this customer could also explain how staff learned to speak directly to them, instead of about them. Alternatively, another customer could state that staff were not willing to allow their service animal on the premises, and so discriminated against them.

If much of the feedback is negative, it is likely that the business is not compliant with the AODA. As a result, the business will need to make changes, which could include:

  • Improving AODA customer service training
  • Updating policies, plans, or processes

Accessibility Consulting

In addition, businesses could enter short-term or on-going contracts to consult with people who have disabilities. Alternatively, companies could request the services of professional organizations that specialize in assessing accessibility. In either case, an accessibility assessor with lived experience of disability could:

  • Observe and give feedback on the quality of AODA training
  • Comment on the content and accessibility of documents, such as:
    • Customer service policies and plans
    • Feedback processes
    • Notifications of service disruptions

If any of these processes do not comply with AODA requirements, consultants could offer suggestions or assistance. Moreover, consultants could also help companies find resources to support them in strengthening their policies and services.




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Improving AODA Compliance in Employment


Under the AODA, private or non-profit businesses with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years. The next accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses were due on December 31st, 2020. However, the Ontario government has extended this deadline. This extended deadline for accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses is June 30th, 2021. Nonetheless, businesses should use this extra time to assess how compliant they are with AODA standards. Moreover, businesses should also improve their compliance by changing the services they offer so that their businesses are more accessible. In this article, we will outline ways to improve AODA compliance in employment.

Improving AODA Compliance in Employment

Even if businesses are fully compliant with the employment standards, they can still make changes to their policies and services to enhance accessibility. For instance, they can provide AODA training for their staff that focuses on making employment accessible. Staff who oversee other workers, such as supervisors and human resources personnel, could receive this training and learn:

  • About harmful myths that limit the opportunities of workers with disabilities
  • That workers with disabilities can be productive and independent, once accommodations are in place
  • How to interact comfortably with colleagues who have disabilities, including colleagues who use:
  • How to provide some of the accommodations workers may ask for, including:

This training could create a workplace culture that welcomes potential colleagues with disabilities, the contributions they make, and the diversity they bring.

Proactive Recruiting

Furthermore, businesses can also choose to proactively recruit job applicants with disabilities. They can do so by partnering with organizations that support job-seekers with disabilities. In addition, they can expand their policy statements on accommodation. Under the employment standards, businesses must have policies that state their willingness to accommodate workers with disabilities. However, businesses can make these policies more thorough and specific. Moreover, they can offer examples of accommodations they are prepared to provide. These details will show potential applicants with disabilities that the business’s staff is:

  • Knowledgeable about some types of accommodations
  • Aware that applicants with disabilities can be valuable colleagues

When businesses show that they believe in the potential of workers with disabilities and are willing to accommodate, job-seekers with disabilities will be eager to work with them.

Moreover, when employers openly welcome workers with disabilities, workers who develop disabilities during their careers may feel more comfortable disclosing their needs for workplace accommodations. As a result, these workers will remain productive, while businesses have the chance to retain workers who are loyal and eager to contribute.




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Assessing AODA Compliance in Employment


Under the AODA, private or non-profit businesses with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years. The next accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses were due on December 31st, 2020. However, the Ontario government has extended this deadline. This extended deadline for accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses is June 30th, 2021. Nonetheless, businesses should use this extra time to assess how compliant they are with AODA standards. Moreover, businesses should also improve their compliance by changing the services they offer so that their businesses are more accessible. In this article, we will outline ways to assess AODA compliance in employment.

Assessing AODA Compliance in Employment

Businesses with fifty (50) or more workers need to report on how accessible their employment practices are. However, both small and large businesses need to comply with AODA requirements governing employment. For instance, they need to:

Furthermore, businesses with fifty (50) or more workers must develop processes for creating:

The extended deadline for AODA compliance reports gives staff of businesses more time to assess how well their companies are fulfilling all these requirements.

How to Assess AODA Compliance in Employment

Companies can start to assess their AODA compliance by requesting anonymous feedback about the accessibility of their employment practices. For instance, companies could request anonymous feedback from anyone with a disability who has:

  • Considered applying for a position but found the process inaccessible
  • Requested accommodations for:
    • Application processes
    • Interviews
    • On-boarding, job training, or employment
    • Performance management
    • Career advancement
    • Redeployment
  • Returned to work with a disability
  • Disclosed a disability while already employed

If people have the option to describe their positive or negative experiences, these stories can help staff recognize what they should or should not do to welcome and support applicants and workers. For example, potential applicants may report that they could not access an online application process. However, these applicants could also describe staff who worked with them to find an alternative way to apply. In contrast, other applicants could state that staff refused to provide accommodations they requested, such as:

  • Accessible interview locations
  • Remote work
  • Changes to scheduling or work stations
  • Accessible information or communications, such as:
    • Company-wide messages and work manuals in accessible digital formats
    • Sign language interpretation or captions for meetings

If much of the feedback is negative, it is likely that the business is not compliant with the AODA. As a result, the business will need to make changes, which could include:

  • Ensuring that their websites comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  • Updating their individual accommodation and return-to-work processes
  • Developing emergency response plans for workers who need them
  • Improving their AODA training, so that staff recognize the requirement to accommodate

Accessibility Consulting

In addition, businesses could enter short-term or on-going contracts to consult with people who have disabilities. Alternatively, companies could request the services of professional organizations that specialize in assessing accessibility. In either case, an accessibility assessor with lived experience of disability could:

  • Observe and give feedback on the quality of AODA training
  • Teach staff about different types of accommodations and how to provide them
  • Comment on the content and accessibility of documents, such as:
    • Statements of willingness to accommodate applicants with disabilities
    • Templates for emergency response plans
    • Accommodation and return-to-work processes

If any of these procedures do not comply with AODA requirements, consultants could offer suggestions or assistance. Moreover, consultants could also help companies find resources to support them in strengthening their policies and services.




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