Great News! New Toronto City Staff Report Recommends that Toronto Not Allow Electric Scooters – Sign Up to Tell Toronto’s Infrastructure Committee’s April 28, 2021 Virtual Meeting To Say No To E-Scooters


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Great News! New Toronto City Staff Report Recommends that Toronto Not Allow Electric Scooters – Sign Up to Tell Toronto’s Infrastructure Committee’s April 28, 2021 Virtual Meeting To Say No To E-Scooters

April 21, 2021

            SUMMARY

Today we report on two important developments in our campaign to keep electric scooters banned in Toronto.

1. Sign Up to Speak to the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee about E-scooters on April 28, 2021

We urge you to email or call the City of Toronto right away to sign up to tell Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee at its virtual meeting on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 to say no to e-scooters in Toronto. You should just send a request by email to [email protected] or phone the City Clerk at 416-397-4592.

Making it even easier to sign up, we thank the March of Dimes of Canada for creating a simple online link to sign up to present to that Committee.

In your email, you might just say:

I request a chance to speak to the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee at its April 21, 2021 meeting on the topic of e-scooters.

You will get 3 to 5 minutes to speak. You don’t have to use all the time. For ideas on what to say, you might wish to check out the AODA Alliance’s pithy and handy E-scooters Action Kit. Another easy-to-use resource is the AODA Alliance‘s short captioned online video which explains the whole issue for you. It has been viewed almost 1,000 times in the two months since it was created.

We want as many people as possible to present the disability perspective on e-scooters to the Toronto Infrastructure Committee. You can speak right from your home or work. You don’t have to go to City Hall. The meeting will be virtual, not in person, over WebEx. You can connect via your computer, tablet or smartphone, or you can just dial in from an old-fashioned phone. The City Clerk will send you instructions. You can also file a written brief, but you don’t have to do so in order to speak at the meeting.

The e-scooter corporate lobbyists will be trying to get a loud presentation at the Committee in favour of e-scooters. We need you to help urge City Council to stand up for people with disabilities, seniors and others, whom e-scooters endanger, and for them to stand up to the well-financed e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

2. Toronto City staff Recommend that Toronto Not Allow E-scooters

An important Staff Report has just been made public by City of Toronto staff, on the e-scooters issue. We set it out below.

In this excellent report, City staff clearly recommend to Toronto City Council that e-scooters not be allowed in Toronto, either privately owned e-scooters or rental e-scooters. As a result of the advocacy efforts that we and others mounted last summer, Toronto City Council had directed City staff to investigate disability and insurance issues regarding e-scooters. Today’s report fulfils that direction. City staff concluded that e-scooters present real dangers for public safety and disability accessibility. The e-scooter rental companies have not presented any workable way to overcome those concerns. Therefore, City staff recommend that Toronto should not conduct a pilot with e-scooters.

We strongly endorse that recommendation and that report. We offer this short public statement about that report:

“The City Staff Report shows overwhelmingly that Toronto should not allow electric scooters. E-scooters endanger the safety of vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and everyone. They would create many new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities in public places. Toronto has been getting more inaccessible for people with disabilities, and must not create any more new barriers.

City Council should follow the advice of City staff, and leave in place the ban on e-scooters. It should stand up for people with disabilities, and must stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists who are unleashing a feeding frenzy of lobbying at City Hall.”

Several City Council members, as well as Toronto Mayor John Tory, have held off taking a position on e-scooters until they received a report and recommendation from City staff. They now have that report and recommendation. It accords with strong recommendations from the disability community. It also accords with two strong unanimous recommendations from the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, appointed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

If a City Council member were now to vote in favour of e-scooters and an e-scooter pilot, they would be caving in to the immense pressure from the e-scooter corporate lobbyists, and disregarding the advice of City staff and the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. They would be putting corporate profits above individual safety and disability accessibility. With Toronto full of so many disability barriers, we cannot afford to create any more barriers.

For more information on the dangers that e-scooters present, we invite you to:

  1. Read the April 21, 2021 Toronto City staff report, which we set out below.
  1. Read the AODA Alliance’s detailed March 30, 2021 brief to the City of Toronto on the dangers that e-scooters present to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, and
  1. Check out the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter web page.

            MORE DETAILS

City of Toronto Staff April 21, 2021 Report to City Council on Electric Scooters

REPORT FOR ACTION

 

[Title]

Date: April 14, 2021

To: Infrastructure and Environment Committee

From: Barbara Gray, General Manager, Transportation Services

Wards: All

Summary

An electric kick-scooter (or e-scooter) is a new vehicle type operated by standing on a board with two small wheels and using a throttle on a handle stick. They are only allowed for use on private property in Ontario, unless a municipality has opted-in to the Province’s e-scooter pilot project which runs from January 1, 2020 to November 27, 2024. This requires amending municipal by-laws on where e-scooters would be allowed for use in public spaces.

After receiving a report from City staff in July 2020 on e-scooters that included concerns from disability groups and residents, City Council directed Transportation Services to report back on the accessibility and insurance issues, including:

safety, especially for people living with disabilities and seniors, when encountering 1) e-scooters illegally operating on sidewalks and 2) trip hazards or obstructions from poorly parked or numerous rental e-scooters on sidewalks;

lack of city resources for enforcement and the major challenges of enforcing moving violations on sidewalks, parking obstructions and vandalism;

problems with indemnification agreements with e-scooter rental companies and liability of e-scooter riders if injured or injuring others; and

lack of insurance and medical coverage, and the significant liability exposure to the City when no other party provides compensation, leading to costs associated with claims, litigation and settlement.

Based on extensive research and feedback, this report concludes that accessibility barriers, safety concerns and insurance issues remain unresolved for privately owned and rental e-scooters. The solutions proposed by e-scooter industry participants are not satisfactory in addressing the concerns from the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, disability groups, residents, and City staff. Accordingly, City staff recommend that Toronto not opt-in to the e-scooter pilot. The current regulations that prohibit the use of e-scooters in public spaces make sense as they will prevent an increase in street and sidewalk-related injuries and fatalities, and their associated costs. This aligns with the City’s Vision Zero Road Safety goals, including consideration of impacts on pedestrians and persons living with disabilities.

Recommendations

The General Manager, Transportation Services, recommends that:

  1. City Council decline the option to participate in O.Reg 389/19 – Pilot Project – Electric Kick-Scooters.

 

Financial IMPACT

Transportation Services confirms that there are no financial implications resulting from the recommendation included in this report.

The Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer has reviewed this report and agrees with the financial impact information.

Decision History

On February 25, 2021, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee affirmed that it does not support the use of e-scooters, including any pilot project, and requested a ban without exception. The Committee also recommended that City Council request Toronto Police Services, Transportation Services and Municipal Licensing and Standards to consult accessibility stakeholders to develop a public education campaign on existing by-laws prohibiting e-scooter use in public spaces and actively scale up enforcement.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2021.DI14.1

On July 28-29, 2020, City Council directed the General Manager, Transportation Services, to report back on referral Item 14.10 to address issues identified by the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, including insurance issues.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.IE14.10

On February 3, 2020, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee recommended City Council prohibit e-scooters for use in public spaces including sidewalks and roads, and directed that any City permission granted to e-scooter companies be guided by public safety, in robust consultation with persons with disabilities and related organizations.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.DI7.3

On October 2-3, 2019 City Council, directed the General Manager, Transportation Services, to report on an oversight and management program for e-scooters on City roadways, including possibly adding e-scooters to the bike share fleet as a way of managing e-scooters, to ensure a safe and accessible transportation network for all users during the proposed Provincial pilot project. City Council also prohibited e-scooter use on City sidewalks and pedestrian ways, and parking, storing or leaving an e-scooter on any street, sidewalk and pedestrian way.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.IE7.13

On April 25, 2019, the Infrastructure and Environment Committee requested a report back on a proposed regulatory framework, safe road design and intersection requirements for low-speed wheeled modes under 25 km, including but not limited to electric wheelchairs, scooters, cargo cycles, and e-assist cycles in Toronto.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.IE4.5

Comments

Background

E-scooters are a two-wheeled, battery-powered vehicle with a narrow board that the rider stands on and steers using a handle stick and using a throttle for acceleration (see Figure 1).

On January 1, 2020, Ontario Regulation 389/19 Pilot Project – Electric Kick-Scooters under the Highway Traffic Act came into effect for a five-year period subject to conditions. In order to allow e-scooters in public spaces within its jurisdiction, municipalities need to opt-in to the pilot. This requires revising a municipality’s by-laws on where e-scooters would be allowed for use such as on streets and paths, as well as managing oversight such as collecting data on collisions, injuries and fatalities and remitting reports to the Ministry of Transportation.

At its meeting on July 28-29, 2020, after receiving a report from City staff on e-scooters that included concerns from disability groups and residents, City Council referred Item 14.10 E-Scooters – A Vision Zero Road Safety Approach back to City staff and directed Transportation Services to report on accessibility issues raised by the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee (TAAC), including insurance issues.

Key concerns include:

safety and accessibility concerns, in particular for people living with no vision/low vision and seniors, when encountering 1) e-scooters illegally operating on sidewalks and 2) trip hazards or obstructions from poorly parked e-scooters or numerous rental e-scooters on sidewalks;

lack of city resources for enforcement and major challenges enforcing moving violations on sidewalks, parking obstructions and vandalism;

issues and problems with indemnification agreements with e-scooter rental companies, and liability of e-scooter riders if injured or injuring others; and

lack of available insurance and medical coverage (e.g. for rehabilitation, lost wages, and medical costs not covered by OHIP) and the significant liability and cost exposures associated with claims, litigation, and settlement to the City when no other party is able to provide compensation.

 

 

Accessibility Issues & Stakeholder Feedback

Following the July 2020 Council report referral back to staff, e-scooter companies were invited to propose solutions to the aforementioned issues at several stages of Transportation Services Division’s research. Companies were asked to submit information by e-mail in August 2020, which generated questions from companies to staff and further clarification and requests for information in Fall/Winter 2020 (and up to the drafting of this report). An interactive and facilitated e-scooter industry group meeting was held on January 20, 2021 with 29 participants representing 15 companies. The material provided by the industry engagement was incorporated into City staff’s presentation to the TAAC.

Throughout 2020 and continuing in 2021, Transportation Services staff have received many concerns regarding e-scooters, including letters to the Mayor, from residents and several local and Canada-wide accessibility and human rights organizations (see Attachment 1 – List of Accessibility Stakeholders). The letters to the Mayor can be found with Item DI14.1 Electric Kick-Scooters (E-scooters) – Accessibility Feedback – Attachment 1 – Letters from Stakeholders.

Consultation included tele-meetings with key accessibility organizations and a special meeting of the TAAC on February 25, 2021 including deputants who experienced e-scooter pilot projects in other jurisdictions in the U.S. and Ottawa. Three e-scooter companies also made deputations at this meeting. Transportation Services staff also presented on March 3, 2021 to TTC’s Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit’s (ACAT) Service Planning Sub-Committee.

Key concerns include:

 

additional barriers created for pedestrians and persons with disabilities who use sidewalks out of necessity, especially people living with no vision/low vision, users of mobility assistive devices, or older adults encountering illegal sidewalk riding or poorly parked e-scooters;

significant challenges and difficulties with enforcing moving violations (i.e., lack of policing resources to witness/enforce illegal e-scooter use on sidewalks, ‘hit and runs’, and the inability to identify the e-scooter rider); and

how someone injured by an e-scooter rider or trip hazard caused by an improperly parked e-scooter would be compensated for damages (e.g., rehabilitation, lost wages, and medical costs).

At its February 25th meeting, the TAAC unanimously passed a motion to communicate to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee and City Council that they do not support the use of any e-scooters including a pilot project in the City of Toronto, and requested that a ban prohibiting e-scooter use in all public space remain in place without any exceptions. The TAAC also recommended a public education campaign for, and enforcement of, the existing by-laws banning public e-scooter use.

The feedback from residents, accessibility stakeholders and the TAAC indicates that solutions posed for privately-owned and rental/shared e-scooters are not satisfactory in addressing accessibility and safety issues.

Lack of Adequate Solutions to Accessibility and Safety Concerns

Technologies proposed by e-scooter companies are still experimental and do not prevent illegal sidewalk riding and conflicts with pedestrians and persons with disabilities. Sidewalk detection technologies (e.g., using camera data, vibration pattern data, or onboard braking patterns) are still experimental for e-scooter rental companies; and would not apply to privately owned e-scooters. These technologies also do not prevent e-scooter use/conflicts on sidewalks, but take effect once e-scooters are already on sidewalks which is reactive, rather than preventive.

There are not enough city resources for enforcement, and there are inherent problems with enforcing e-scooters that are difficult to overcome, such as requiring police enforcement to be present for incidents on sidewalks and the problem of identifying an e-scooter rider given their speed and no licence plates on devices that are privately owned. Also, the identity of the person renting the e-scooter may not be the person riding the e-scooter if rented/shared. Such enforcement is highly labour- and resource-intensive, and in many ways, infeasible.

“Lock-to” cables are not an effective solution because rental e-scooters could then be locked anywhere including as obstructions. Adding a cable to e-scooters enables them to be locked to spots blocking entrances, paths of travel or even inside transit shelters attached to the bench (a concern of TTC’s ACAT members). E-scooter rental companies note that personally-owned bicycles can be locked to posts/bike rings; however, this is not a fair comparison for rental fleets. Bike Share Toronto bicycles are “docked”, not dockless. Over 6,800 bike share bikes must be docked at Bike Share Toronto stations. Allowing thousands of rental e-scooters to use lock-to cables (essentially being dockless) would create significant pressure on existing bike parking in the City and numerous obstacles on sidewalks.

Residents and accessibility stakeholders say that “lock-to” e-scooters would worsen the number of sidewalk obstructions on already narrow and cluttered sidewalks. While docking stations for e-scooters may have potential, such technologies are still emerging.

Allowing e-scooters will add further barriers, and introduce hazards and distress at a time when COVID-19 has resulted in greater challenges for seniors, persons living with disabilities and their caregivers who use sidewalks as a necessity and not for recreation. Concerns raised include not only the risk of serious injury or fatality to persons with disabilities if tripping and falling or struck by an e-scooter, but the additional concern of being deprioritized for care, given an overburdened health care system and the need for triaging patients during the pandemic.

A scan of other jurisdictions on sidewalk e-scooter riding and non-rider injuries is included in Attachment 2 – Research Scan of Accessibility Issues in Other Jurisdictions.

 

Insurance and Liability Issues Are Not Resolved

Transportation Services, in consultation with the City’s Insurance and Risk Management Section (IRM), also concludes that insurance and liability issues remain unresolved for both privately owned and rental/shared e-scooters, for the reasons below.

Insurance products are not commercially available in Canada for e-scooters. Coverage is available, however, for pedal-assisted / power-assisted bicycles through home, tenant or condo insurance. Such insurance covers personal liability arising from the ownership, use or operation of e-bikes that meet the definition in the policy’s wording for power-assisted bicycle (e-bike). In the event that a pedestrian is injured by an e-bike user, and that e-bike is covered under the homeowners, tenant or condo insurance policy, then their insurance policy would respond subject to any policy limits and exclusions.

E-scooter companies are not providing full indemnification and first and third party insurance coverage to riders. To protect the City and e-scooter riders, rental companies must provide full indemnification for the City, and first and third party insurance coverage for e-scooter riders. This is similar to coverage available in the U.K. for their e-scooter trials, and also similar to liability insurance requirements in other countries such as France, Germany and Malta. Liability insurance held by e-scooter companies themselves (e.g., commercial general liability insurance) does not extend to protect the rider.

First party coverage would address e-scooter rider injuries such as falls; and

Third party coverage would address e-scooter rider liability to third parties such as pedestrians or cyclists (e.g. in collisions or tripping incidents).

There have been demonstrated difficulties in obtaining full indemnification from e-scooter companies. Municipalities have had disagreements with e-scooter companies over indemnification clauses (e.g., Chicago, Oakland) and pursued legal action against e-scooter companies for not complying with the indemnification clauses contained in their agreements (e.g., City of Riverside, California).

E-scooter companies have denied responsibility for losses on municipal property (public infrastructure) where they deem infrastructure conditions to be a contributing factor of the loss. Existing infrastructure design and minimum maintenance standards do not contemplate e-scooters and their particular features, such as small wheels and their device geometry. In addition, there are several risk factors unique to Toronto, such as:

an extensive streetcar track network of approximately 177 linear kilometres which poses a hazard to e-scooter riders due to the vehicle’s small wheels;

freezing and thawing from winters that impact the state-of-good-repair for roads. A large portion of roads are 40 to 50 years old, with about 43 per cent of Major Roads and 24 per cent of Local Roads in poor condition. Coupled with lack of mechanical standards for e-scooter wheels (e.g., traction/size), this makes this particular device more sensitive to uneven surfaces;

street conditions are affected by the city’s high volume of construction projects (e.g., approximately 120 development construction sites in 2019); and

narrow sidewalks and high pedestrian mode shares in the Downtown Core and City Centres increase the likelihood of friction on sidewalks with illegal e-scooter operation on sidewalks and poorly parked e-scooters.

Through feedback at the January 2021 industry group meeting, e-scooter companies have raised issues about the cost of obtaining and providing first and third party insurance coverage for riders; and the challenges of finding viable insurance providers. E-scooter rental companies will need to actively engage and partner with the insurance industry to address this concern, to protect e-scooter riders and avoid becoming a burden on the City and subsequently its taxpayers.

Comparisons to insurance requirements for bike share programs are not appropriate, as City staff discussed at the January 2021 industry group meeting, as the risk profile of e-scooters is not the same as those of bicycles. The reasons are based on the design differences and safety research including, but not limited to, the following:

E-scooters have a higher injury rate per mile than bicycles; e-scooter riders are twice as likely or 100% more likely to be injured from pavement cracks, potholes, signposts or lip of curb than bicyclists (IIHS, 2020).

E-scooters with their small wheels are less stable/controllable and more susceptible to road irregularities, and more likely to crash on poorly maintained roads than bicycles; and their manufacturers should explore safety features like larger wheels, a fork rake, steering stabilisation, indicator lights and a seat. (ITF/OECD, 2020, pp.38-40).

Data from two facial trauma centres in Paris show a trend toward an increase in severe head and neck injuries requiring surgery caused by the use of e-scooters (Hennocq et al., 2020).

There is still lack of protection for e-scooter riders with inadequate device safety standards and lack of available insurance. There are also ineffective solutions as of yet to address underage e-scooter riding and intoxicated e-scooter riding. Without full indemnification for the City and first and third party insurance coverage (including adequate thresholds) and upfront fees/funds held by the City, e-scooter riders and non-riders, as well as the City and subsequently, its taxpayers, are then exposed to the significant costs of responding to claims and litigation.

Long-Term Micromobility Options for the Public

While e-scooter trips have been said to overtake bike share trips – this has been in part due to the removal of bike share options in cities (e.g., Calgary and Hamilton in Canada, and Bloomington, Boise, Boulder, Dallas, Denver, Fort Collins, Knoxville, San Antonio and Seattle in the U.S.) and interestingly, bike share is being brought back again. Most recently, the City of San Francisco has been asked by its central area councillor/District 5 Supervisor (Dean Preston) for a publicly-owned and managed bike share and not a system run by private operators that does not meet the city’s mobility needs and interests.

In this respect, the City of Toronto may be ahead of the micromobility curve for serving the public’s interests. The 2020 Bike Share Toronto expansion added 1,550 bikes, 300 e-bikes and 160 stations to the system. Toronto’s system now has 6,850 bikes and 625 stations total, with more than 360,000 users in 2020. Bike Share Toronto is also integrated with transit at 43 TTC stations and 9 GO Transit stations. Almost 3 million trips were generated on Bike Share Toronto in 2020. Other large, urban peer cities in Canada are also focusing on bike share and e-bike share, like Montréal and Vancouver.

In Summary

 

Based on extensive research and feedback, this report concludes that accessibility barriers, safety concerns, and insurance issues remain unresolved for privately owned and rental e-scooters. The solutions proposed by e-scooter industry participants are not satisfactory in addressing the concerns from the TAAC, disability groups, residents, and City staff. Accordingly, City staff recommend that Toronto not opt-in to the e-scooter pilot, as there are not adequate protections for e-scooter riders and non-riders. The current regulations that prohibit the use of e-scooters in public spaces make sense as they will prevent an increase in street and sidewalk-related injuries and fatalities, and their associated costs. This aligns with the City’s Vision Zero Road Safety goals, including consideration of impacts on pedestrians and persons living with disabilities.

Contact

Elyse Parker                                                                    Janet Lo

Director, Policy and Innovation                   Senior Project Manager

Transportation Services                                Transportation Services

Tel: 416-338-2432                                                         416-397-4853

Email: [email protected]                      [email protected]

Signature

Barbara Gray

General Manager, Transportation Services

attachments

Attachment 1: List of Accessibility Stakeholders

Attachment 2: Research Scan of Accessibility Issues in Other Jurisdictions

 

 

Attachment 1: List of Accessibility Stakeholders

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

ARCH Disability Law Centre

B’nai Brith Canada – League of Human Rights

Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) – Toronto Visionaries Chapter

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)

Citizens With Disabilities – Ontario

Guide Dog Users of Canada

March of Dimes of Canada

Older Women’s Network

Ontario Autism Coalition

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

TTC Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT)

Views for the Visually Impaired

Walk Toronto

Attachment 2: Research Scan of Accessibility Issues in Other Jurisdictions

 

A research scan on e-scooters indicates that illegal sidewalk riding is an unresolved problem:

 

According to the UDV (German Insurers Accident Research) in January 2021, e-scooter riders are four times 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 per cent preferred the sidewalk. If there was only one cycle or multi-purpose lane, 46 per cent rode on the sidewalk. If there was no cycling infrastructure, 49 per cent rolled illegally on the sidewalk.

Tel Aviv has a unit of 22 inspectors dedicated to enforcing that e-scooters do not ride on sidewalks. 21,000 tickets for sidewalk offenses were issued in 2019. (Globes, 2020)

Pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries resulting from e-scooter incidents have occurred (e.g., in France, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, U.K. and U.S), and data is under-reported for e-scooter incidents involving pedestrians:

“Non-riders, mainly pedestrians, represent between 1% and 14% of standing e-scooter related injuries… A major caveat is the likely under-reporting of injuries, a phenomenon that may be greatest among pedestrians. Their injuries may be treated as falls and, as such, lie outside the traditional scope of traffic safety data (Bekhit et al., 2020). Police data from Santa Monica found pedestrians to be involved in 7% of shared micromobility collisions (City of Santa Monica 2019b).” (ITF/OECD, 2020)

Data gaps exist, for example, when studies “explicitly excluded patients aged 55 and older on the grounds that mobility scooter injuries may be misinterpreted as standing e-scooter injuries. Such a protocol should be avoided because it may exclude a number of pedestrian injuries genuinely involving e-scooters.” (ITF/OECD, 2020)

According to a UCLA study of two hospital Emergency Rooms (ERs) in one year, just over eight per cent of the injuries were to pedestrians injured as a result of e-scooters (11 hit by an e-scooter, 5 tripped over a parked e-scooter, and 5 were attempting to move an e-scooter not in use). (Trivedi et al., 2019)

Non-riders accounted for 16 per cent of Emergency Medical Services referred injuries related to e-scooters in a study in Copenhagen. (Blomberg et al., 2019)



Source link

Register for April 20, 2021 Virtual Public Forum on Disability Concerns with Ontario’s Critical Care Triage Plans


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

April 16, 2021

SUMMARY

Please save the date for these two important events that are fast approaching. For the first one, register now. For the second one, stay tuned for details on how to register to take part.

Please publicize both of these events widely on social media, and by carrier pigeon (but only if the birds are socially distancing).

MORE DETAILS

1. Register to Attend the Online Public Forum on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, on the Danger Facing People with Disabilities if Ontario Must Ration or Triage Life-Saving Critical Care

The newest wave of COVID is overloading Ontario intensive care units, which is what triggered Ontario’s latest lockdown. As a result, life-saving critical care in Ontario hospitals could very soon be rationed or “triaged.” Serious concerns about the triage protocol have been raised by disability organizations such as ARCH Disability Law Centre and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

This is a time-sensitive issue. We encourage you to join us on Tuesday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. for a virtual information session to learn more about Ontario’s triage protocol and why it matters. LEARN MORE AND REGISTER NOW! (ASL and closed captioning will be available)

For background on the AODA Alliance’s efforts to battle the danger of disability discrimination in critical care triage, visit the AODA Alliance website’s health care page.

2. Save the Date! On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, Tell the Online Meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee Not to Allow Electric Scooters in Toronto

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the City of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee will be discussing whether Toronto should lift the ban on riding electric scooters in public places. Members of the public will be able to register in advance to speak to that Committee at that meeting before it debates the issue. We urge as many people as possible to sign up to speak against allowing e-scooters. E-scooters endanger the safety of the public, including people with disabilities, and will create new barriers impeding people with disabilities.

We will let you know when you can sign up, and how to register to present. That opportunity to register may not open up until just a few days before the April 28, 2021 meeting.

Members of the public each get only 3 to 5 minutes to speak, so you don’t have to talk long. You can even speak for a shorter time and just tell the members of City Council not to allow e-scooters.

We know the e-scooter corporate lobbyists will be organizing to again pressure City Council. We want City Council to stand up for people with disabilities and to stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

Stay tuned for more information on this. You can learn all about our efforts to protect people with disabilities from e-scooters by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.




Source link

Register for April 20, 2021 Virtual Public Forum on Disability Concerns with Ontario’s Critical Care Triage Plans – Plan to Tell The Virtual April 28, 2021 Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee Meeting Not to Allow Electric Scooters


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Register for April 20, 2021 Virtual Public Forum on Disability Concerns with Ontario’s Critical Care Triage Plans – Plan to Tell The Virtual April 28, 2021 Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee Meeting Not to Allow Electric Scooters

April 16, 2021

            SUMMARY

Please save the date for these two important events that are fast approaching. For the first one, register now. For the second one, stay tuned for details on how to register to take part.

Please publicize both of these events widely on social media, and by carrier pigeon (but only if the birds are socially distancing).

            MORE DETAILS

1. Register to Attend the Online Public Forum on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, on the Danger Facing People with Disabilities if Ontario Must Ration or Triage Life-Saving Critical Care

The newest wave of COVID is overloading Ontario intensive care units, which is what triggered Ontario’s latest lockdown. As a result, life-saving critical care in Ontario hospitals could very soon be rationed or “triaged.” Serious concerns about the triage protocol have been raised by disability organizations such as ARCH Disability Law Centre and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

This is a time-sensitive issue. We encourage you to join us on Tuesday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. for a virtual information session to learn more about Ontario’s triage protocol and why it matters.

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER NOW! (ASL and closed captioning will be available)

For background on the AODA Alliance’s efforts to battle the danger of disability discrimination in critical care triage, visit the AODA Alliance website’s health care page.

2. Save the Date! On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, Tell the Online Meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee Not to Allow Electric Scooters in Toronto

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the City of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee will be discussing whether Toronto should lift the ban on riding electric scooters in public places. Members of the public will be able to register in advance to speak to that Committee at that meeting before it debates the issue. We urge as many people as possible to sign up to speak against allowing e-scooters. E-scooters endanger the safety of the public, including people with disabilities, and will create new barriers impeding people with disabilities.

We will let you know when you can sign up, and how to register to present. That opportunity to register may not open up until just a few days before the April 28, 2021 meeting.

Members of the public each get only 3 to 5 minutes to speak, so you don’t have to talk long. You can even speak for a shorter time and just tell the members of City Council not to allow e-scooters.

We know the e-scooter corporate lobbyists will be organizing to again pressure City Council. We want City Council to stand up for people with disabilities and to stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

Stay tuned for more information on this. You can learn all about our efforts to protect people with disabilities from e-scooters by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.



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Phase 2 of Ontario’s vaccine plan to focus on age, neighbourhood and health conditions in April


The Ontario government says there will be a focus on seniors aged 60 and older, those in other congregate settings, hot spot regions and those who cannot work from home in an updated vaccine rollout plan on Friday.

According to the documents, the vaccine rollout firstly targets death prevention, followed by prevention of illness, hospitalization and ICU admission, and transmission reduction.

The province is currently wrapping up Phase 1, in which those living in long-term care homes, retirement homes, as well as staff and front-line workers were targeted. Over 820,000 doses have been administered and over 269,000 Ontarians have been fully immunized with two shots.

Read more:
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

Officials noted that the plan does not factor in the newly approved Johnson & Johnson shot and additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, which was announced on Friday.

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Health officials said timelines are amendable and may change based on vaccine supply.  There are currently four vaccines approved in Canada: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The first three require two shots several weeks apart while Johnson & Johnson only requires one.

Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of the province’s vaccine rollout said with the approval of the new vaccines, the hope will be that everyone who wishes to be vaccinated will have at least their first dose by the end of June, or potentially by the first day of summer on June 20.

Phase 2 of Ontario’s three-phase rollout plan will see shots administered based on risk factors including age, neighbourhood, existing health conditions and inability to work from home.

Read more:
Toronto, Peel Region moving to grey lockdown restrictions under Ontario’s COVID-19 framework

This strategy focuses on the 2.5 million Ontarians between the ages of 60 and 79 years old.

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Residents over the age of 80 will be vaccinated first in March, followed by those over 75 years old, over 70 years old, over 65 years old and over 60 years old with the target end date to be done by the beginning of June.


The Phase 2 sequencing provided by the Ontario government.


Ontario government


Health Conditions and Congregate Settings

This strategy focuses on the 2.9 million Ontarians living with health conditions and the 0.2 million Ontarians living in congregate settings. This group will begin to be vaccinated in April.

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Ontarians living with the following health conditions will be vaccinated in Phase 2:

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Highest-risk (442,000)

  • organ transplant recipients
  • hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients
  • people with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised
  • haematological malignancy diagnosed <1 year
  • kidney diseases eGFR<30

High-risk (292,000)

  • Obesity (BMI>40)
  • Other treatments causing immunosuppression
  • intellectual or developmental disabilities

At-risk (2.2 million)

  • immune deficiencies and autoimmune disorders
  • stroke/cerebrovascular disease
  • dementia
  • diabetes
  • liver disease
  • all other cancers
  • respiratory diseases
  • spleen problems
  • heart disease
  • hypertension with end organ damage
  • diagnosis of mental disorder
  • substance use disorders
  • thalassemia
  • pregnancy
  • immunocompromising health conditions
  • other disabilities requiring direct support care in the community.

At-risk staff, essential caregivers and residents in congregate settings will be vaccinated in this category.

  • supportive housing
  • developmental services/intervenor and supported independent living
  • emergency homeless shelters
  • other homeless populations not in shelters
  • mental health and addictions congregate settings
  • homes for special care
  • violence against woman shelters and anti-human trafficking residents
  • children’s residential facilities
  • youth justice facilities
  • indigenous healing and wellness
  • provincial and demonstration schools
  • on-farm temporary foreign workers
  • bail beds and indigenous bail beds
  • adult correctional facilities

Read more:
Coronavirus: Toronto still waiting on vaccine supply boost from province

This strategy focuses on the 900,000 Ontarians living in targeted hot spot regions, who have high rates of death, hospitalizations and transmission. These hot spot regions will still focus on older age groups first. The vaccination process will begin in April and is expected to be completed by the end of May.

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The following 13 public health units will receive up to 920,000 additional vaccine doses to target “historic and ongoing hot spots,” according to the documents.

  • Durham
  • Halton
  • Hamilton
  • Niagara
  • Ottawa
  • Peel
  • Simcoe Muskoka
  • Waterloo
  • Wellington Dufferin Guelph
  • Windsor Guelph
  • Windsor Essex
  • York
  • Toronto
  • South West

Read more:
COVID-19 vaccination booking sites busy in Ontario regions offering shots to oldest seniors

This strategy focuses on the almost 2.5 million Ontarians who cannot work from home amid the pandemic. These residents are broken into two groups and those who fall under this category will be vaccinated at the end of Phase 2 expected to be around June.

The first group contains 730, 000 people:

  • elementary/secondary school staff
  • workers responding to critical events (police, fire, compliance, funeral, special constables)
  • childcare and licensed foster care workers
  • food manufacturing workers
  • agriculture and farm workers

The second group contains 1.4 million people:

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  • high-risk and critical retail workers (grocery and pharmacies)
  • remaining manufacturing labourers
  • social workers
  • courts and justice system workers
  • lower-risk retail workers
  • transportation, warehousing and distribution
  • energy, telecom, water and wastewater management
  • financial services
  • waste management
  • mining, oil and gas workers

Over 400,000 essential caregivers will be vaccinated at the same time (at the end of Phase 2), with the focus being on those who take care of residents living with the highest-risk conditions including organ transplants recipients and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients.

Ontario will be launching its online vaccination booking system and call centre on March 15. Certain public health units have launched their own system including in Peel Region and Guelph.


Click to play video 'Ontario pharmacies added to COVID-19 vaccine rollout'







Ontario pharmacies added to COVID-19 vaccine rollout


Ontario pharmacies added to COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The Ontario government said it is also working with all 34 public health units in the province to create mass immunization clinics. According to the document, “it is expected that approximately 80 per cent of total provincial vaccine allocations will be administered through mass immunization clinics during Phase 2 and 3.”

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Vaccinations will also be made available through certain pharmacies and family health centres.

“It is expected that the majority of the first shipment of AstraZeneca in March and in Phase 2 will be supported by the addition of retail pharmacies and primary care,” the documents read.

— With files from The Canadian Press





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





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Log In Tuesday, April 7, 2020 from 10 to 11:30 AM Eastern Time for an Important Virtual Public Forum on What Government Must Do During the COVID-19 Crisis to Protect the Urgent Needs of Ontarians with Disabilities Convened by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition


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/

SUMMARY

On Tuesday morning, April 7, 2020, from 10 to 11:30 am, please use your computer, smart phone or tablet to virtually attend the virtual public forum that the AODA Alliance and Ontario Autism Coalition are jointly organizing and hosting. We will talk to leading experts on the additional barriers and hardships that over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities are now facing during the COVID-19 crisis. We will offer the Government constructive ideas on what should be done in the face of these additional hardships. Hosting and moderating the discussion will be OAC President Laura Kirby-McIntosh and AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.

The link to watch our public forum is https://www.youtube.com/c/OntarioAutismCoalition

We appreciate very much that the Ontario Autism Coalition will provide captioning for this event. We will announce more when we can. This event is being organized by volunteers in an incredible rush, given the rapidly changing events that are swirling around us all.

Please spread the word about our April 7, 2020 virtual public forum, by social media, email and any other way you can. Email us with ideas on what we should discuss. Tell us in advance about the barriers you are facing. Please understand that we cannot answer all those emails. However, we will do our best to cover as many of them as we can in our discussion with the panelists during this virtual public forum. Send your ideas to [email protected]

We invite the Ontario Government to assign a senior representative to take part in our public forum and to speak for a few minutes. We would welcome a chance to hear what they are doing, and to have a discussion with them. We invite all levels of government to watch our public forum and to draw on the ideas that will be shared there for emergency COVID-19 planning.

The new Twitter hashtag to use in the lead-up to this virtual public forum, during it, and afterwards is: #DisabilityUrgent

MORE DETAILS

Two weeks ago, on March 20, 2020, we released an especially-important AODA Alliance Update on the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on people with disabilities. We showed how this crisis is having a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities. We identified a number of important areas where governments need to act now, as part of its emergency planning, to address these issues. We called on governments to consult openly with people with disabilities for ideas on what to do. We offered our help.

Five days later, on March 25, 2020 we wrote Premier Ford directly with this message. We offered more specific ideas for action.

Since then, we have not heard back from the Ontario Premier, the Premier’s office, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, or indeed, from any of the line Ontario ministries that are working on key parts of the Ontario Government’s crisis planning. We have similarly not heard back from the Federal Government.

We have had a few exchanges with the Ministry of Accessibility, where we have pressed the need for the actions we seek. We appreciate any help that that ministry can give. However, that small ministry is not responsible for direct planning and implementation in the key areas where action is needed. We have no idea to what extent, if any, they are influencing the Government’s actual plans on the front lines.

We deeply appreciate that governments at all levels are scrambling to deal with this crisis, and are working around the clock. They are dealing with some things with which they’ve never before dealt. We most certainly cut them a huge amount of slack. However, we also know that unless their emergency planning includes effective measures for the urgent needs of people with disabilities, those needs will once again too often be left behind. We also know that the maxim that government often endorse in this area is no more important than now: “Nothing about us without us!” Voices of the grassroots disability community are indispensable at this crucial time.

It is great that the Government now has American Sign Language at its recent news briefings, and that yesterday it announced emergency funding for mental health services. The Government has not told us what more it is doing or planning in this context.




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Log In Tuesday, April 7, 2020 from 10 to 11:30 AM Eastern Time for an Important Virtual Public Forum on What Government Must Do During the COVID-19 Crisis to Protect the Urgent Needs of Ontarians with Disabilities Convened by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition


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/

Log In Tuesday, April 7, 2020 from 10 to 11:30 AM Eastern Time for an Important  Virtual Public Forum on What Government Must Do During the COVID-19 Crisis to Protect the Urgent Needs of Ontarians with Disabilities Convened by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition

          SUMMARY

On Tuesday morning, April 7, 2020, from 10 to 11:30 am, please use your computer, smart phone or tablet to virtually attend the virtual public forum that the AODA Alliance and Ontario Autism Coalition are jointly organizing and hosting. We will talk to leading experts on the additional barriers and hardships that over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities are now facing during the COVID-19 crisis. We will offer the Government constructive ideas on what should be done in the face of these additional hardships. Hosting and moderating the discussion will be OAC President Laura Kirby-McIntosh and AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.

The link to watch our public forum is https://www.youtube.com/c/OntarioAutismCoalition

We appreciate very much that the Ontario Autism Coalition will provide captioning for this event. We will announce more when we can. This event is being organized by volunteers in an incredible rush, given the rapidly changing events that are swirling around us all.

Please spread the word about our April 7, 2020 virtual public forum, by social media, email and any other way you can. Email us with ideas on what we should discuss. Tell us in advance about the barriers you are facing. Please understand that we cannot answer all those emails. However, we will do our best to cover as many of them as we can in our discussion with the panelists during this virtual public forum. Send your ideas to [email protected]

We invite the Ontario Government to assign a senior representative to take part in our public forum and to speak for a few minutes. We would welcome a chance to hear what they are doing, and to have a discussion with them. We invite all levels of government to watch our public forum and to draw on the ideas that will be shared there for emergency COVID-19 planning.

The new Twitter hashtag to use in the lead-up to this virtual public forum, during it, and afterwards is: #DisabilityUrgent

          MORE DETAILS

Two weeks ago, on March 20, 2020, we released an especially-important AODA Alliance Update on the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on people with disabilities. We showed how this crisis is having a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities. We identified a number of important areas where governments need to act now, as part of its emergency planning, to address these issues. We called on governments to consult openly with people with disabilities for ideas on what to do. We offered our help.

Five days later, on March 25, 2020 we wrote Premier Ford directly with this message. We offered more specific ideas for action.

Since then, we have not heard back from the Ontario Premier, the Premier’s office, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, or indeed, from any of the line Ontario ministries that are working on key parts of the Ontario Government’s crisis planning. We have similarly not heard back from the Federal Government.

We have had a few exchanges with the Ministry of Accessibility, where we have pressed the need for the actions we seek. We appreciate any help that that ministry can give. However, that small ministry is not responsible for direct planning and implementation in the key areas where action is needed. We have no idea to what extent, if any, they are influencing the Government’s actual plans on the front lines.

We deeply appreciate that governments at all levels are scrambling to deal with this crisis, and are working around the clock. They are dealing with some things with which they’ve never before dealt. We most certainly cut them a huge amount of slack. However, we also know that unless their emergency planning includes effective measures for the urgent needs of people with disabilities, those needs will once again too often be left behind. We also know that the maxim that government often endorse in this area is no more important than now: “Nothing about us without us!” Voices of the grassroots disability community are indispensable at this crucial time.

It is great that the Government now has American Sign Language at its recent news briefings, and that yesterday it announced emergency funding for mental health services. The Government has not told us what more it is doing or planning in this context.



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Read or Watch What the AODA Alliance Said to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 About the Need to Strengthen the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


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

April 15, 2019

SUMMARY

Here’s a chance to read or watch exactly what AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky said in our April 11, 2019 evidence presented to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on the need to strengthen the weak Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. See the text below (about 14 pages).

In this text we do not include what two other organizations presented at the same time. We will later post on our website the transcript for the entire set of hearings that the Senate held on Bill C-81. That will include the presentations of all the organizations that presented on Bill C-81, including the others that presented at the same time as the AODA Alliance.

To watch the captioned video of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s opening statement at the Senate Standing Committee on April 11, 2019 (10 minutes), visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FERCAljHbrw&feature=em-uploademail

To watch a captioned video of the portion of the Senate Standing Committee’s question-and-answer after that opening statement, where the AODA Alliance answers questions directed to us (26 minutes), visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr0fCtB_cyw&feature=em-uploademail

We encourage you to read the specific amendments we asked the Senate to make to Bill C-81, and the short brief we submitted in support of those amendments. You can also visit the AODA Alliance website, Canada page to see in one place all our efforts over the past four years to campaign for the enactment of a strong and effective national accessibility law.

It’s not too late for you to help our campaign. Send the Senate Standing Committee a short email to express your support for the amendments to Bill C-81 that the AODA Alliance has requested. We are so appreciative of the individuals and organizations that have already done so. Email the Senate at: [email protected]

The Senate Standing Committee will meet on May 2, 2019 to decide what amendments it will make to Bill C-81. The minister leading this bill, Carla Qualtrough, told the Standing Committee on April 3, 2019 that she is open to amendments and wants Bill C-81 to be the best bill it can be. Senator Jim Munson, who is sponsoring this bill in the Senate, told the Standing Committee on April 10, 2019 in clear and categorical terms that there will be amendments. We are campaigning to ensure that these amendments are strong and effective.

During our presentation to the Senate Standing Committee, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky encouraged the Committee to watch the AODA Alliance’s online video about serious accessibility problems in new Toronto area subway stations. It has already been seen thousands of times and has secured good media coverage. Check it out by visiting https://youtu.be/za1UptZq82o

To help our campaign, on April 5, 2019, the AODA Alliance sent a letter to the leaders of all the federal political parties. We asked them to support amendments to Bill C-81 that the Senate makes to strengthen it. We want these passed in the House of Commons before the federal election this fall. We also asked the party leaders to pledge that if Bill C-81 is not properly strengthened, or is not passed before the election, that they’ll bring it back before Parliament after the federal election to be strengthened and passed into law.

Stay tuned. We will keep you posted on new developments. We always welcome your feedback on this presentation and on anything else we are up to! Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

Text of What AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky Presented to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 Regarding Bill C-81

(Note: The evidence of other presenters and their responses to other Senators has been omitted here, but will be available in the full transcript for these hearings which we will post on our website when it becomes available. Also, the full transcript that we will later post will translate any French passages, set out below, into English.)

THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL AFFAIRS, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EVIDENCE
OTTAWA, Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology met this day at 10:30 a.m. to study Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

Senator Chantal Petitclerc (Chair) in the chair. We will continue with our second panel.

David Lepofsky, Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance: Good morning, senators. Bill C-81 is strong on good intentions, but palpably weak on implementation. Its called An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, but it does not require a single barrier anywhere in Canada, ever, to be removed. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.

Bill C-81, at its core and its heart, is driven by the commendable notion that the federal government will enact enforceable regulations called accessibility standards that will tell federally regulated organizations what they have got to do. But it doesnt require any federal accessibility standards to ever be enacted as enforceable regulations. People with disabilities need and deserve better.

Let me be clear: The regulations that the bill requires to be enacted within two years are on procedural things, not substantive accessibility standards. The federal government could meet that deadline merely by prescribing the forms that people with disabilities shall use if they want to give feedback to Air Canada or Bell Canada. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.

This legislation splinters its enforcement and the setting of enforceable regulations among multiple federal agencies. From the ministers defence of her practice, she conceded that if she was starting from scratch, that isnt necessarily how she would do it. But her explanation of why she did it gives triumphant ascendancy to federal bureaucracy over disability equality.

Now the question is: What do we do about it? The question is not: Are you going to pass this bill, senators? Youre going to pass this bill, so lets take that off the table. We all know it. We all understand it. Thats the starting point.

The question before this committee is: Are you going to amend it first? What we say is that you must. The reality is this bill needs a lot of amendments not to make it perfect thats a red herring but to get this bill from the status of weak to one that is closer to what people with disabilities need and deserve.

In the house, there were a couple hundred pages of amendments. Hard work over the past weekend has led us to distill it down to a series of amendments before you that we proposed and you have received e-mails from some witnesses who support them which fill a grand total of 3.5 pages and cover a few core themes. I am only going to address a couple of them, but let me be clear, there is time to do this. Youre going to vote in committee on May 2. I understand you will do third reading by May 16. We are working and approaching the federal parties to urge that, once amendments are passed if they are that the house consider them quickly, so the issue of swift passage of this bill, whether amended or not, is now, procedurally, not a bar to your being able to do what we need you to do.

So what should you do?

Well, let me just focus on a couple, but I invite questions on all of what we proposed. Lets just turn to the headlines. Yesterday, the Government of Ontario announced a multi-billion-dollar plan for new subways in Toronto, but only if other levels of government, including the federal government, add billions to the allocation the province is committing to. Thats not unusual. But we need the federal government to be required, before it spends our money on a project like that, to say a ground rule of getting our federal money is you have to meet certain federal accessibility requirements.

Now, the minister came before you a week ago and said, We cant do that. We dont have constitutional authority to do that. Respectfully, the minister is wrong. Its called the federal spending power. Have you heard of the Canada Health Act? The Canada Health Act says that if provinces get federal money for provincial health programs, they must meet federal accessibility requirements. Not disability accessibility, but their financial accessibility.

If what the minister told you is right, then the Canada Health Act has been unconstitutional for over three decades since it was enacted. I would be staggered to believe that is the position of the current federal government. If they can do it there, they can at least attach strings when they give money, if they agree to, to local projects and not just federal buildings.

You might look at me and say, Oh, come on, in 2019 we wouldnt use public money to build inaccessible public transit. Senators, go to YouTube, search on AODA Alliance and public transit. You will see a video we released during last springs provincial election that has thousands of views and media coverage where we document serious accessibility problems in brand new subway stations in Toronto that just opened within the past year-and-a-half.

This isnt about perfect, folks. This is about basic equality, so we ask for an amendment that would at least require federal ministers or their ministries, if they are agreeing to give our federal money to a province, a municipality, a college or university for a project like that, to put, as a term of the agreement, an enforceable term, just like the Canada Health Act, that accessibility requirements are required. Why should the federal government ever allow federal money to be used to create new barriers or perpetuate existing ones?

Let me give you one other core amendment. My colleague from the CNIB said the minister last week had agreed to amend the bill to ensure that it does not curtail in any way the human rights code and the duty to accommodate. I hope the minister does that, but I dont hear her as having said that. I hear her as having said that she, as a former human rights lawyer, has ensured that this bill doesnt interfere with the duty to accommodate. But senators, it threatens to.

Section 172 of the bill perpetuates a provision in the Canada transportation legislation that would let the CTA enact a regulation, and once it does so, to set standards for accessible transit, no matter how low that standard may be and no matter how deficient from a human rights standard it may be. As a traveller with a disability or others in my coalition or anyone in Canada, we are barred from asking any more under the legislations guarantee against undue barriers.

With that provision in the act, our position is: Please dont ever enact any standards under the CTA because they threaten to take away our rights. A simple amendment would repeal that provision from the act.

Let me conclude by inviting questions on the other areas that weve raised. Im telling you that we are not just about saying whats wrong. We are about proposing constructive suggestions for whats right, and the amendments weve placed before you are designed for a Senate that has a limited time frame to act, a commitment to respect policy decisions made in the House of Commons and an eagerness to ensure that these amendments can be considered by the house quickly and easily, with a realistic chance of them being taken seriously. They are designed to be tailored both to our needs and to what the minister said to you last week. So we ask you to take them all seriously. They are all substantive, and they all bear on the needs of all people with disabilities.

I conclude by saying this: Im speaking for my coalition, but as an individual, I first came before Parliament 39 years ago as a much younger individual my wife said I had hair back then when she saw the video to appear before the standing committee considering the Charter of Rights. At that time, the Charter proposed to guarantee equality but not to people with disabilities. I and a number of other folks argued and succeeded in getting the Charter amended to include that right.

I leave you with two thoughts. First, the amendments we seek are aimed at making that right become a reality, not just as a matter of good intention but as effective implementation.

The Chair: Thank you so much, Mr. Lepofsky. We have a list of senators who are eager to ask questions.

Senator Seidman: Thank you all very much for your presentations.

Mr. Lepofsky, I will take you up on your challenge. Im searching for commonalities. I appreciate the premise you made that we are looking for clear, crisp, focused and meaningful amendments that have a hope of being passed on the other side because thats exactly whats going to have to happen in this process.

I would like to ask you specifically, you submitted three areas that need strengthening with 11 amendments. I would like to ask you very specifically about your amendment about timelines. It is true that HUMA heard testimony around timelines, but they decided not to amend the bill to include a deadline. You have proposed one. In fact, I think you proposed January 1, 2040.

I would like to hear from you why you are pushing that we have a timeline and why it would be that particular one.

Mr. Lepofsky: There are two timelines that we set. One is that the government should be required not just permitted but required to enact accessibility standards regulations within five years and also the timeline for ultimate accessibility in Canada by 2040. Yes, these were pitched to HUMA. The opposition parties, left and right, united in support of that agenda. The government did not agree.

Our hope is that, on your sober second thought, you find wisdom drawing on the experiences that bring you to this Senate, that a return of this issue to the House in June, months before an election, may lead all members of the house to see the wisdom in adopting them.

To be clear, I have an appointment to meet the minister this afternoon to bring that message. We would like to work with the Senate and the house to see if we can broker a package that covers everything.

With respect to the 2040 deadline, I had the privilege of leading the coalition that fought for a decade to win the enactment of Ontarios accessibility law, and I now lead the coalition that has fought for the past 14 years to get it effectively implemented. The minister doubted whether a deadline in the legislation would help. Our front-line grassroots experience of 14 years demonstrates unequivocally that it does. The minister feared that that might lead to a disincentive. People think, Oh, you have to wait until 2039 to start. Not only doesnt it, but weve proposed wording that you can include that will utterly accommodate the ministers worry by making that clear.

What weve learned is if you say, It will become accessible sometime in the next millennium, whatever, action wont happen. If, on the other hand, the 2040 deadline is set, senator, then Air Canada knows that deadline overarches their plans and their accessibility requirements. CASDO knows that the standards they recommend have to meet that requirement, and cabinet and all other regulation-making bodies will know that that is the measure. Without that tool, our efforts in Ontario which have been a hard slog, believe me would be considerably harder.

Senator Seidman: Thank you.

Senator Munson: Thank you for being here. I think we have to acknowledge the work of former Senator David Smith, when, David, you talked about the Charter. He was the person who led the charge to make sure that dealing with disabilities was in the Charter. It had been left out, and I want to acknowledge that.

I have two quick questions, one for Mr. Belanger and one for Mr. Lepofsky.

Mr. Belanger, you support the bill, but it seems Indigenous people have been left off the table, and I cant understand why. I know there have been discussions about nation to nation, but there are more than 600. So you support it, but you have been left out. If you could address that.

Mr. Lepofsky, you have not been much of a fan of the CRTC, CTA and others. You have an amendment here, so could you explain that amendment to us and how that would work? There is supposed to be no wrong door, but there seem to be a lot of doors, so if you could talk about your amendment, to get that on the record.

Mr. Belanger: (not included here)

Senator Munson: Mr. Lepofsky?

Mr. Lepofsky: Thank you. Sometimes it helps when you have someone who is blind and what you are facing is a bit of a smoke screen. The no wrong door stuff that youve been hearing about, respectfully, I think has been raised by those presenting it as a smokescreen, or as least it is serving that way.

What do I mean? Our strong preference from day one would be one-stop shopping one agency, one place to go, one body making the regulations. It is quicker, more efficient, fairer and certainly easier for us.

The current regime only serves the interests of organizations that want to use the splintering to make it harder for us. But we know that in the amendments that you are going to pass in the next two weeks that a total rewrite of the major chunks of the bill is not feasible.

So what do we do? What could fix it? No wrong door talks about where you get in. It is not the most important thing. What happens when you get there? Right now, we have four agencies with four different procedures, with four different policies and practices, and there will be four different sets of forms and four different potential sets of deadlines. It is a guarantee of chaos for us, but it will be great for the airlines because they know them, or the broadcasters because theyve been navigating them and they are lawyered up to be able to do that.

So whats our solution? A simple amendment that says that the major bodies are required to develop, within a timeline that we prescribe, a series of processes to harmonize and have, essentially, the same procedure, or as close as possible, behind the door when you get there.

We heard yesterday from the leads of those agencies that they have started working together on their processes, but there are no commitments whatsoever to ensure that it is the same process. The bill now, in sections 94 to 110, prescribes a series of expedited processes at the accessibility commissioner. We say, great, if they work expeditiously, but neither the CTA nor the CRTC have been experienced by people with disabilities as expeditious much the reverse.

My last point is you heard yesterday from these agencies that are generally serious in saying all theyve done. Thats understandable from them. But can I just take you to the front lines for a minute? I will just tell you my own personal experience. I could aggregate it across all the feedback we get.

CTAs track record historically is pretty lousy. They finally got religion three years ago and are starting to work on regulations. Theyve had the power to do this for over 30 years. Where have they been? As a blind person who travels internationally, I can tell you I dread entering Canadian airspace, not because we never get service, but it is way more unreliable here than I have seen otherwise.

The CRTC. In the U.S., it has been federal law since, I believe, 2016 that cable providers must provide an accessible PVR. In Canada, where is the CRTC? It is not required here. It should be, but it is not.

So please take the track records and understand that our jadedness is well justified. But our solution is what you can do in a short period is at least require the other agencies, if we are stuck with them, to come up with not just statements to you yesterday about how they want to be expeditious, but actually require them to come up with processes that will be expeditious. Thats what our amendment proposes.

(Passage omitted)

Senator M. Deacon: Thank you for that.

Mr. Lepofsky, I will come back to Senator Seidmans question, and that is the whole concept of the balance of getting this through I cant help but bring this up just one more time in an efficient and expedient and respectful way, and balancing what are significant concerns and amendments that, in many cases, are kind of related. Now that we have this, how do we make sure the stuff gets done?

Mr. Lepofsky: Two things. First, we are used to battling uphill. Doing disability rights advocacy is like swimming up Niagara Falls, but that doesnt deter us. We keep doing it. When the people are more jittery and We better just take what we can get and all that stuff, I get that. But weve never taken that view. Weve stared down the risks.

If we took that view, we would not have gotten a disability amendment in 1982. We probably would have settled for a weak accessibility law passed in Ontario in 2001 rather than standing our ground and getting a stronger one in 2005. And in this case, we have all three parties that voted for this law in the house, though the opposition said it is too weak. We wrote to all the party leaders and said : We want to take this risk off the table. Will you promise, if this bill doesnt come through, you will bring it back in the fall?

So we are putting even more heat on them. We are saying: We want to come back with amendments from the Senate, if the Senate agrees, and decide on this bill in time to get it properly considered. Do whatever you have to do, pass it with the amendments or not. That could be dealt with before the house rises. And theyve got the shared pressure of all the groups youve heard from that are jointly saying: Please get this thing through.

So the pressure will be on them. But we also have the good fortune that we have opposition parties we are non-partisan, and we are supporting amendments in the house. We are hoping and I will be seeing the minister this afternoon that they will see the wisdom of strengthening this.

The final thing I will say, senator, is it is a legitimate concern, but I think it is a concern that has been answered. Minister Qualtrough answered your concern last week. Senator Munson asked her: Are you open to amendments? She could have said: Look, it is too tight. We are too busy. We are not going to be able to get it through; please just approve it.

Thats not what she said. She knew as much as anyone else in this room about the legislative timelines in the house. She probably knows more because she is part of the government. She said: No they are open to amendments, and we want this to be the best bill it possibly can be.

The fact of the matter is, with our short three pages of amendments covering a few core issues that cut across what people said at HUMA and the issues they raised here, that these will help move in the direction that she said she is open to. So I suggest you take her up and hold her to what she said.

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Ma question sadresse à Monsieur Lepofsky.)

(après anglais M. Belanger: … but thats what I believe.)

La sénatrice Mégie: Ma question sadresse à Monsieur Lepofsky. Jai cru comprendre que vous avez collaboré à lélaboration de la Loi sur laccessibilité pour les personnes handicapées de lOntario. Ai-je bien compris?

(anglais suit M. Lepofsky: Yes. Heres the quick CV…)

(Following French – Senator Mégie – . . .ai-je bien compris?)

Mr. Lepofsky: Yes, here’s the quick CV in 1980 .

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Je voulais juste ajouter ma. . .)

(après anglais M. Lepofsky: … in 1980 )

La sénatrice Mégie: Je voulais juste ajouter ma réelle question.

Avaient-ils un échéancier? Sils en avaient un, est-ce que vous observez un mouvement pour la mise en uvre de cet échéancier?

(anglais suit M. Lepofsky: There was a movement to get the legislation…)

(Following French – Senator Mégie – . . .de cet échéancier?)

Mr. Lepofsky: There was a movement to get the legislation in place and I had the privilege of leading that movement. It was passed unanimously in 2005. The idea of the deadline of 2025 came from the government, not from us. The minister who brought it in came to the house committee here and said, You should do it, too, and we agreed with her. It was a great idea and we jumped on it and said it was great. It may not be as quick as wed like, but it got action going. Are they on schedule now? No.

Senator, your colleagues were asking questions about the five-year review. Weve had three of these reviews in Ontario. Their core job is to say, Are we on schedule? And all three reviews demonstrated the most recent one in the most blistering terms no, were not and we need strong action.

Now, if we didnt have that deadline, their review could be informative but it certainly wouldnt have the message that it does that we are far behind schedule. This came up in question period as recently as yesterday in the Ontario legislature. It is a critical tool.

Let me give you one more example because you are asking, Will this help? The Toronto Transit Commission runs a subway and has a whole bunch of subway stations. Approximately half of them have no elevator. But to its credit, the TTC has a plan to make them all accessible by 2025 because theyve read the Ontario legislation.

Actually, the Ontario government has not passed a regulation addressing subway stations, but the mere presence of that date in the legislation itself has lead this major subway to adopt that plan.

Let me tell you one more thing. They tried to back down from that plan a few years ago and push it back, and we went to the media and said: Not fair; the act says 2025. And that media pressure led the TTC to back down and stick to 2025.

If the ministers approach to this legislation had prevailed in Ontario, we would be further behind in getting those subway stations accessible.

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Merci.)

(après anglais M. Lepofsky: … those subway stations accessible.)

La sénatrice Mégie: Merci.

Senator Dasko: I will focus specifically on your meeting with the minister this afternoon. In the interests of being efficient and especially effective, in your meeting with the minister could you focus her mind on what she would be willing to do, and could you get back to us with any insights or promises, pledges, intelligence, anything you can? That will help us move forward, given the time frame thats left, given the suggestions you have for us, which in my mind seem serious and extensive. But maybe it is all easy, but Im a new senator.

If you could learn from the minister what she would be willing to do and Im not saying that will determine what we do that will help us very much in what we do. Then we will understand what might be doable and what all of us, in the end, might hope to expect and get from the process. Can I ask you that question?

Mr. Lepofsky: As a deputant who is notorious for long, wordy answers, my answer is yes.

Senator Dasko: We look forward to getting back to you. And I know Senator Omidvar has a question.

Senator Omidvar: Thank you for being here. And Mr. Lepofsky, for the correspondence that you have been in with not just me but everyone. And I want to probe your assessment the capacity, of the CRTC and the CTA on disability accessibility. They were here yesterday. I quoted to them a section of your letter, a rather blistering assessment of their lack of progress. They, in turn, responded by talking about the great pride they have in the progress they have made. And I will quote from a brief submitted to this committee from the CRTC. They talk about the history of their progress: In the mid 1980s, they mandated TTY relay services. In 2009, it was expanded to include the provision of IP relay services, and five years later, the provision of video relay services. A 911 service is currently mandated. In 2009, the CRTC began to require broadcasters to provide described video services four hours per week. Would you still use the word lousy to describe their progress?

Mr. Lepofsky: Only in public. In private, they may be slightly more colourful.

Senator Omidvar: Tell us what you can.

Mr. Lepofsky: I say this not just to be glib, but we are not saying that they did nothing. Full disclosure: Scott Streiner, the head of the CTA, is a good guy with a strong record in human rights. If you could pass an amendment to make him immortal, we would vote for it, okay?

Senator Omidvar: Not in our power.

Mr. Lepofsky: I dont know if you have the authority. That may be provincial.

I say two things in terms of these agencies. The first is that they do not have core expertise. They are not there; they are experts in broadcasting and in transit, not in accessibility. Thats what the accessibility commissioner will be.

Look at the track record of the CTA three decades, their own draft regulation out for comment now acknowledges that they have not done enough. Why couldnt they have done some of this years ago? We didnt just invent people with disabilities using airplanes or trains. This is not new. It is not rocket science.

The final thing I would say is what the amendment focuses on. They have labyrinthian procedures that are designed for major regulatory decision-making. I get that. But it is not suited to us. Thats why we give credit to the government in its design of sections 94 to 110 to come up with something even more streamlined than the sometimes more labyrinthian process of the Human Rights Commission.

But we need those other agencies to talk about not just no wrong door, but equally fast, comparable procedures, once you get behind that door. And I didnt hear them say they were going to do that, or didnt hear them saying they were going to commit to doing that. Thats why we need this amendment.

Senator Omidvar: Fine. Thank you.



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Read or Watch What the AODA Alliance Said to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 About the Need to Strengthen the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

www.aodaalliance.org  [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

 

Read or Watch What the AODA Alliance Said to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 About the Need to Strengthen the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

 

April 15, 2019

 

          SUMMARY

 

Here’s a chance to read or watch exactly what AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky said in our April 11, 2019 evidence presented to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on the need to strengthen the weak Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. See the text below (about 14 pages).

 

In this text we do not include what two other organizations presented at the same time. We will later post on our website the transcript for the entire set of hearings that the Senate held on Bill C-81. That will include the presentations of all the organizations that presented on Bill C-81, including the others that presented at the same time as the AODA Alliance.

 

To watch the captioned video of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s opening statement at the Senate Standing Committee on April 11, 2019 (10 minutes), visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FERCAljHbrw&feature=em-uploademail

To watch a captioned video of the portion of the Senate Standing Committee’s question-and-answer after that opening statement, where the AODA Alliance answers questions directed to us (26 minutes), visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr0fCtB_cyw&feature=em-uploademail

We encourage you to read the specific amendments we asked the Senate to make to Bill C-81, and the short brief we submitted in support of those amendments. You can also visit the AODA Alliance website, Canada page  to see in one place all our efforts over the past four years to campaign for the enactment of a strong and effective national accessibility law.

 

It’s not too late for you to help our campaign. Send the Senate Standing Committee a short email to express your support for the amendments to Bill C-81 that the AODA Alliance has requested. We are so appreciative of the individuals and organizations that have already done so. Email the Senate at:

[email protected]

 

The Senate Standing Committee will meet on May 2, 2019 to decide what amendments it will make to Bill C-81. The minister leading this bill, Carla Qualtrough, told the Standing Committee on April 3, 2019 that she is open to amendments and wants Bill C-81 to be the best bill it can be. Senator Jim Munson, who is sponsoring this bill in the Senate, told the Standing Committee on April 10, 2019 in clear and categorical terms that there will be amendments. We are campaigning to ensure that these amendments are strong and effective.

 

During our presentation to the Senate Standing Committee, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky encouraged the Committee to watch the AODA Alliance’s online video about serious accessibility problems in new Toronto area subway stations. It has already been seen thousands of times and has secured good media coverage. Check it out by visiting https://youtu.be/za1UptZq82o

 

To help our campaign, on April 5, 2019, the AODA Alliance sent a letter to the leaders of all the federal political parties. We asked them to support amendments to Bill C-81 that the Senate makes to strengthen it. We want these passed in the House of Commons before the federal election this fall. We also asked the party leaders to pledge that if Bill C-81 is not properly strengthened, or is not passed before the election, that they’ll bring it back before Parliament after the federal election to be strengthened and passed into law.

 

Stay tuned. We will keep you posted on new developments. We always welcome your feedback on this presentation and on anything else we are up to! Email us at [email protected]

 

          MORE DETAILS

 

Text of What AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky Presented to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 Regarding Bill C-81

 

(Note: The evidence of other presenters and their responses to other Senators has been omitted here, but will be available in the full transcript for these hearings which we will post on our website when it becomes available. Also, the full transcript that we will later post will translate any French passages, set out below, into English.)

 

THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL AFFAIRS, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

EVIDENCE

OTTAWA, Thursday, April 11, 2019

 

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology met this day at 10:30 a.m. to study Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

 

Senator Chantal Petitclerc (Chair) in the chair. We will continue with our second panel.

 

David Lepofsky, Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance:  Good morning, senators. Bill C-81 is strong on good intentions, but palpably weak on implementation. It’s called An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, but it does not require a single barrier anywhere in Canada, ever, to be removed. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.

Bill C-81, at its core and its heart, is driven by the commendable notion that the federal government will enact enforceable regulations called accessibility standards that will tell federally regulated organizations what they have got to do. But it doesn’t require any federal accessibility standards to ever be enacted as enforceable regulations. People with disabilities need and deserve better.

Let me be clear: The regulations that the bill requires to be enacted within two years are on procedural things, not substantive accessibility standards. The federal government could meet that deadline merely by prescribing the forms that people with disabilities shall use if they want to give feedback to Air Canada or Bell Canada. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.

This legislation splinters its enforcement and the setting of enforceable regulations among multiple federal agencies. From the minister’s defence of her practice, she conceded that if she was starting from scratch, that isn’t necessarily how she would do it. But her explanation of why she did it gives triumphant ascendancy to federal bureaucracy over disability equality.

Now the question is: What do we do about it? The question is not: Are you going to pass this bill, senators? You’re going to pass this bill, so let’s take that off the table. We all know it. We all understand it. That’s the starting point.

The question before this committee is: Are you going to amend it first? What we say is that you must. The reality is this bill needs a lot of amendments not to make it perfect — that’s a red herring — but to get this bill from the status of weak to one that is closer to what people with disabilities need and deserve.

In the house, there were a couple hundred pages of amendments. Hard work over the past weekend has led us to distill it down to a series of amendments before you that we proposed — and you have received e-mails from some witnesses who support them — which fill a grand total of 3.5 pages and cover a few core themes. I am only going to address a couple of them, but let me be clear, there is time to do this. You’re going to vote in committee on May 2. I understand you will do third reading by May 16. We are working and approaching the federal parties to urge that, once amendments are passed — if they are — that the house consider them quickly, so the issue of swift passage of this bill, whether amended or not, is now, procedurally, not a bar to your being able to do what we need you to do.

So what should you do?

Well, let me just focus on a couple, but I invite questions on all of what we proposed. Let’s just turn to the headlines. Yesterday, the Government of Ontario announced a multi-billion-dollar plan for new subways in Toronto, but only if other levels of government, including the federal government, add billions to the allocation the province is committing to. That’s not unusual. But we need the federal government to be required, before it spends our money on a project like that, to say a ground rule of getting our federal money is you have to meet certain federal accessibility requirements.

Now, the minister came before you a week ago and said, “We can’t do that. We don’t have constitutional authority to do that.” Respectfully, the minister is wrong. It’s called the federal spending power. Have you heard of the Canada Health Act? The Canada Health Act says that if provinces get federal money for provincial health programs, they must meet federal accessibility requirements. Not disability accessibility, but their financial accessibility.

If what the minister told you is right, then the Canada Health Act has been unconstitutional for over three decades since it was enacted. I would be staggered to believe that is the position of the current federal government. If they can do it there, they can at least attach strings when they give money, if they agree to, to local projects and not just federal buildings.

You might look at me and say, “Oh, come on, in 2019 we wouldn’t use public money to build inaccessible public transit.” Senators, go to YouTube, search on AODA Alliance and public transit. You will see a video we released during last spring’s provincial election that has thousands of views and media coverage where we document serious accessibility problems in brand new subway stations in Toronto that just opened within the past year-and-a-half.

This isn’t about perfect, folks. This is about basic equality, so we ask for an amendment that would at least require federal ministers or their ministries, if they are agreeing to give our federal money to a province, a municipality, a college or university for a project like that, to put, as a term of the agreement, an enforceable term, just like the Canada Health Act, that accessibility requirements are required. Why should the federal government ever allow federal money to be used to create new barriers or perpetuate existing ones?

Let me give you one other core amendment. My colleague from the CNIB said the minister last week had agreed to amend the bill to ensure that it does not curtail in any way the human rights code and the duty to accommodate. I hope the minister does that, but I don’t hear her as having said that. I hear her as having said that she, as a former human rights lawyer, has ensured that this bill doesn’t interfere with the duty to accommodate. But senators, it threatens to.

Section 172 of the bill perpetuates a provision in the Canada transportation legislation that would let the CTA enact a regulation, and once it does so, to set standards for accessible transit, no matter how low that standard may be and no matter how deficient from a human rights standard it may be. As a traveller with a disability or others in my coalition or anyone in Canada, we are barred from asking any more under the legislation’s guarantee against undue barriers.

With that provision in the act, our position is: Please don’t ever enact any standards under the CTA because they threaten to take away our rights. A simple amendment would repeal that provision from the act.

Let me conclude by inviting questions on the other areas that we’ve raised. I’m telling you that we are not just about saying what’s wrong. We are about proposing constructive suggestions for what’s right, and the amendments we’ve placed before you are designed for a Senate that has a limited time frame to act, a commitment to respect policy decisions made in the House of Commons and an eagerness to ensure that these amendments can be considered by the house quickly and easily, with a realistic chance of them being taken seriously. They are designed to be tailored both to our needs and to what the minister said to you last week. So we ask you to take them all seriously. They are all substantive, and they all bear on the needs of all people with disabilities.

I conclude by saying this: I’m speaking for my coalition, but as an individual, I first came before Parliament 39 years ago as a much younger individual — my wife said I had hair back then when she saw the video — to appear before the standing committee considering the Charter of Rights. At that time, the Charter proposed to guarantee equality but not to people with disabilities. I and a number of other folks argued and succeeded in getting the Charter amended to include that right.

I leave you with two thoughts. First, the amendments we seek are aimed at making that right become a reality, not just as a matter of good intention but as effective implementation.

The Chair: Thank you so much, Mr. Lepofsky. We have a list of senators who are eager to ask questions.

Senator Seidman: Thank you all very much for your presentations.

Mr. Lepofsky, I will take you up on your challenge. I’m searching for commonalities. I appreciate the premise you made that we are looking for clear, crisp, focused and meaningful amendments that have a hope of being passed on the other side because that’s exactly what’s going to have to happen in this process.

I would like to ask you specifically, you submitted three areas that need strengthening with 11 amendments. I would like to ask you very specifically about your amendment about timelines. It is true that HUMA heard testimony around timelines, but they decided not to amend the bill to include a deadline. You have proposed one. In fact, I think you proposed January 1, 2040.

I would like to hear from you why you are pushing that we have a timeline and why it would be that particular one.

Mr. Lepofsky: There are two timelines that we set. One is that the government should be required — not just permitted but required — to enact accessibility standards regulations within five years and also the timeline for ultimate accessibility in Canada by 2040. Yes, these were pitched to HUMA. The opposition parties, left and right, united in support of that agenda. The government did not agree.

Our hope is that, on your sober second thought, you find wisdom drawing on the experiences that bring you to this Senate, that a return of this issue to the House in June, months before an election, may lead all members of the house to see the wisdom in adopting them.

To be clear, I have an appointment to meet the minister this afternoon to bring that message. We would like to work with the Senate and the house to see if we can broker a package that covers everything.

With respect to the 2040 deadline, I had the privilege of leading the coalition that fought for a decade to win the enactment of Ontario’s accessibility law, and I now lead the coalition that has fought for the past 14 years to get it effectively implemented. The minister doubted whether a deadline in the legislation would help. Our front-line grassroots experience of 14 years demonstrates unequivocally that it does. The minister feared that that might lead to a disincentive. People think, “Oh, you have to wait until 2039 to start.” Not only doesn’t it, but we’ve proposed wording that you can include that will utterly accommodate the minister’s worry by making that clear.

What we’ve learned is if you say, “It will become accessible sometime in the next millennium, whatever,” action won’t happen. If, on the other hand, the 2040 deadline is set, senator, then Air Canada knows that deadline overarches their plans and their accessibility requirements. CASDO knows that the standards they recommend have to meet that requirement, and cabinet and all other regulation-making bodies will know that that is the measure. Without that tool, our efforts in Ontario — which have been a hard slog, believe me — would be considerably harder.

Senator Seidman: Thank you.

Senator Munson: Thank you for being here. I think we have to acknowledge the work of former Senator David Smith, when, David, you talked about the Charter. He was the person who led the charge to make sure that dealing with disabilities was in the Charter. It had been left out, and I want to acknowledge that.

I have two quick questions, one for Mr. Belanger and one for Mr. Lepofsky.

Mr. Belanger, you support the bill, but it seems Indigenous people have been left off the table, and I can’t understand why. I know there have been discussions about nation to nation, but there are more than 600. So you support it, but you have been left out. If you could address that.

Mr. Lepofsky, you have not been much of a fan of the CRTC, CTA and others. You have an amendment here, so could you explain that amendment to us and how that would work? There is supposed to be no wrong door, but there seem to be a lot of doors, so if you could talk about your amendment, to get that on the record.

Mr. Belanger: (not included here)

 

 

Senator Munson: Mr. Lepofsky?

Mr. Lepofsky: Thank you. Sometimes it helps when you have someone who is blind and what you are facing is a bit of a smoke screen. The “no wrong door stuff” that you’ve been hearing about, respectfully, I think has been raised by those presenting it as a smokescreen, or as least it is serving that way.

What do I mean? Our strong preference from day one would be one-stop shopping — one agency, one place to go, one body making the regulations. It is quicker, more efficient, fairer and certainly easier for us.

The current regime only serves the interests of organizations that want to use the splintering to make it harder for us. But we know that in the amendments that you are going to pass in the next two weeks that a total rewrite of the major chunks of the bill is not feasible.

So what do we do? What could fix it? “No wrong door” talks about where you get in. It is not the most important thing. What happens when you get there? Right now, we have four agencies with four different procedures, with four different policies and practices, and there will be four different sets of forms and four different potential sets of deadlines. It is a guarantee of chaos for us, but it will be great for the airlines because they know them, or the broadcasters because they’ve been navigating them and they are lawyered up to be able to do that.

So what’s our solution? A simple amendment that says that the major bodies are required to develop, within a timeline that we prescribe, a series of processes to harmonize and have, essentially, the same procedure, or as close as possible, behind the door when you get there.

We heard yesterday from the leads of those agencies that they have started working together on their processes, but there are no commitments whatsoever to ensure that it is the same process. The bill now, in sections 94 to 110, prescribes a series of expedited processes at the accessibility commissioner. We say, great, if they work expeditiously, but neither the CTA nor the CRTC have been experienced by people with disabilities as expeditious — much the reverse.

My last point is you heard yesterday from these agencies that are generally serious in saying all they’ve done. That’s understandable from them. But can I just take you to the front lines for a minute? I will just tell you my own personal experience. I could aggregate it across all the feedback we get.

CTA’s track record historically is pretty lousy. They finally got religion three years ago and are starting to work on regulations. They’ve had the power to do this for over 30 years. Where have they been? As a blind person who travels internationally, I can tell you I dread entering Canadian airspace, not because we never get service, but it is way more unreliable here than I have seen otherwise.

The CRTC. In the U.S., it has been federal law since, I believe, 2016 that cable providers must provide an accessible PVR. In Canada, where is the CRTC? It is not required here. It should be, but it is not.

So please take the track records and understand that our jadedness is well justified. But our solution is what you can do in a short period is at least require the other agencies, if we are stuck with them, to come up with not just statements to you yesterday about how they want to be expeditious, but actually require them to come up with processes that will be expeditious. That’s what our amendment proposes….

(Passage omitted)

 

 

Senator M. Deacon: Thank you for that.

Mr. Lepofsky, I will come back to Senator Seidman’s question, and that is the whole concept of the balance of getting this through — I can’t help but bring this up just one more time — in an efficient and expedient and respectful way, and balancing what are significant concerns and amendments that, in many cases, are kind of related. Now that we have this, how do we make sure the stuff gets done?

Mr. Lepofsky: Two things. First, we are used to battling uphill. Doing disability rights advocacy is like swimming up Niagara Falls, but that doesn’t deter us. We keep doing it. When the people are more jittery and “We better just take what we can get” and all that stuff, I get that. But we’ve never taken that view. We’ve stared down the risks.

If we took that view, we would not have gotten a disability amendment in 1982. We probably would have settled for a weak accessibility law passed in Ontario in 2001 rather than standing our ground and getting a stronger one in 2005. And in this case, we have all three parties that voted for this law in the house, though the opposition said it is too weak. We wrote to all the party leaders and said : We want to take this risk off the table. Will you promise, if this bill doesn’t come through, you will bring it back in the fall?

So we are putting even more heat on them. We are saying: We want to come back with amendments from the Senate, if the Senate agrees, and decide on this bill in time to get it properly considered. Do whatever you have to do, pass it with the amendments or not. That could be dealt with before the house rises. And they’ve got the shared pressure of all the groups you’ve heard from that are jointly saying: Please get this thing through.

So the pressure will be on them. But we also have the good fortune that we have opposition parties — we are non-partisan, and we are supporting amendments in the house. We are hoping — and I will be seeing the minister this afternoon — that they will see the wisdom of strengthening this.

The final thing I will say, senator, is it is a legitimate concern, but I think it is a concern that has been answered. Minister Qualtrough answered your concern last week. Senator Munson asked her: Are you open to amendments? She could have said: Look, it is too tight. We are too busy. We are not going to be able to get it through; please just approve it.

That’s not what she said. She knew as much as anyone else in this room about the legislative timelines in the house. She probably knows more because she is part of the government. She said: No they are open to amendments, and we want this to be the best bill it possibly can be.

The fact of the matter is, with our short three pages of amendments covering a few core issues that cut across what people said at HUMA and the issues they raised here, that these will help move in the direction that she said she is open to. So I suggest you take her up and hold her to what she said.

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Ma question s’adresse à Monsieur Lepofsky.)

(après anglais — M. Belanger: … but that’s what I believe.)

La sénatrice Mégie: Ma question s’adresse à Monsieur Lepofsky. J’ai cru comprendre que vous avez collaboré à l’élaboration de la Loi sur l’accessibilité pour les personnes handicapées de l’Ontario. Ai-je bien compris?

(anglais suit — M. Lepofsky: Yes. Here’s the quick CV…)

(Following French – Senator Mégie – . . .ai-je bien compris?)

Mr. Lepofsky: Yes, here’s the quick CV — in 1980 .

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Je voulais juste ajouter ma. . .)

(après anglais — M. Lepofsky: … in 1980 —)

La sénatrice Mégie: Je voulais juste ajouter ma réelle question.

Avaient-ils un échéancier? S’ils en avaient un, est-ce que vous observez un mouvement pour la mise en œuvre de cet échéancier?

(anglais suit — M. Lepofsky: There was a movement to get the legislation…)

(Following French – Senator Mégie – . . .de cet échéancier?)

Mr. Lepofsky: There was a movement to get the legislation in place and I had the privilege of leading that movement. It was passed unanimously in 2005. The idea of the deadline of 2025 came from the government, not from us. The minister who brought it in came to the house committee here and said, “You should do it, too,” and we agreed with her. It was a great idea and we jumped on it and said it was great. It may not be as quick as we’d like, but it got action going. Are they on schedule now? No.

Senator, your colleagues were asking questions about the five-year review. We’ve had three of these reviews in Ontario. Their core job is to say, “Are we on schedule?” And all three reviews demonstrated — the most recent one in the most blistering terms — no, we’re not and we need strong action.

Now, if we didn’t have that deadline, their review could be informative but it certainly wouldn’t have the message that it does that we are far behind schedule. This came up in question period as recently as yesterday in the Ontario legislature. It is a critical tool.

Let me give you one more example because you are asking, “Will this help?” The Toronto Transit Commission runs a subway and has a whole bunch of subway stations. Approximately half of them have no elevator. But to its credit, the TTC has a plan to make them all accessible by 2025 because they’ve read the Ontario legislation.

Actually, the Ontario government has not passed a regulation addressing subway stations, but the mere presence of that date in the legislation itself has lead this major subway to adopt that plan.

Let me tell you one more thing. They tried to back down from that plan a few years ago and push it back, and we went to the media and said: “Not fair; the act says 2025.” And that media pressure led the TTC to back down and stick to 2025.

If the minister’s approach to this legislation had prevailed in Ontario, we would be further behind in getting those subway stations accessible.

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Merci.)

(après anglais — M. Lepofsky: … those subway stations accessible.)

La sénatrice Mégie: Merci.

Senator Dasko: I will focus specifically on your meeting with the minister this afternoon. In the interests of being efficient and especially effective, in your meeting with the minister could you focus her mind on what she would be willing to do, and could you get back to us with any insights or promises, pledges, intelligence, anything you can? That will help us move forward, given the time frame that’s left, given the suggestions you have for us, which in my mind seem serious and extensive. But maybe it is all easy, but I’m a new senator.

If you could learn from the minister what she would be willing to do — and I’m not saying that will determine what we do — that will help us very much in what we do. Then we will understand what might be doable and what all of us, in the end, might hope to expect and get from the process. Can I ask you that question?

Mr. Lepofsky: As a deputant who is notorious for long, wordy answers, my answer is yes.

Senator Dasko: We look forward to getting back to you. And I know Senator Omidvar has a question.

Senator Omidvar: Thank you for being here. And Mr. Lepofsky, for the correspondence that you have been in with not just me but everyone. And I want to probe your assessment the capacity, of the CRTC and the CTA on disability accessibility. They were here yesterday. I quoted to them a section of your letter, a rather blistering assessment of their lack of progress. They, in turn, responded by talking about the great pride they have in the progress they have made. And I will quote from a brief submitted to this committee from the CRTC. They talk about the history of their progress: In the mid 1980s, they —mandated TTY relay services. In 2009, it was expanded to include the provision of IP relay services, and five years later, the provision of video relay services. A 911 service is currently mandated. In 2009, the CRTC began to require broadcasters to provide described video services four hours per week. Would you still use the word “lousy” to describe their progress?

Mr. Lepofsky: Only in public. In private, they may be slightly more colourful.

Senator Omidvar: Tell us what you can.

Mr. Lepofsky: I say this not just to be glib, but we are not saying that they did nothing. Full disclosure: Scott Streiner, the head of the CTA, is a good guy with a strong record in human rights. If you could pass an amendment to make him immortal, we would vote for it, okay?

Senator Omidvar: Not in our power.

Mr. Lepofsky: I don’t know if you have the authority. That may be provincial.

I say two things in terms of these agencies. The first is that they do not have core expertise. They are not there; they are experts in broadcasting and in transit, not in accessibility. That’s what the accessibility commissioner will be.

Look at the track record of the CTA — three decades, their own draft regulation out for comment now acknowledges that they have not done enough. Why couldn’t they have done some of this years ago? We didn’t just invent people with disabilities using airplanes or trains. This is not new. It is not rocket science.

The final thing I would say is what the amendment focuses on. They have labyrinthian procedures that are designed for major regulatory decision-making. I get that. But it is not suited to us. That’s why we give credit to the government in its design of sections 94 to 110 to come up with something even more streamlined than the sometimes more labyrinthian process of the Human Rights Commission.

But we need those other agencies to talk about not just no wrong door, but equally fast, comparable procedures, once you get behind that door. And I didn’t hear them say they were going to do that, or didn’t hear them saying they were going to commit to doing that. That’s why we need this amendment.

Senator Omidvar: Fine. Thank you.



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AODA Alliance to Present to Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs Thursday April 11, 2019 on the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Here are the Specific Amendments We will Ask the Senate to Make to the Bill

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

April 8, 2019

SUMMARY

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs is holding sped-up public hearings on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. The AODA Alliance has been invited to make a presentation to the Standing Committee at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2019. You can come to watch the hearing live at this address:

Room W110, 1 Wellington St. Ottawa Ontario.

You can also watch the hearing live online at http://senparlvu.parl.gc.ca/XRender/en

The online video will be archived for future viewing, for those who watch it live. In the hearing room will be ASL and LSQ. The sign language will not be available on line for a few days.

We are working hard to get ready for these hearings on such short notice. However, we are not complaining. This is because these tight time lines will give the Senate enough time to amend Bill C-81 to strengthen it, if it is willing, and for the bill to return to the House of Commons for a debate and final vote on those amendments.

This strengthens the hand of the many, including the AODA Alliance, who are campaigning to get this weak bill strengthened. There is no need to avoid seeking amendments because the bill can’t get through Parliament before the fall election.

The public hearings are only taking place on April 10 and 11, and then on May 1. The Standing Committee will only have one meeting, on May 2, to undertake its clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. It is at that May 2 meeting when amendments would be considered.

That means the Senate’s Standing Committee will have very little time to debate amendments. Our list of proposed amendments must be very very short. We have thus worked through the weekend to produce the following 4-page document, which we are now submitting to the Senate. It sets out the wording of the absolutely top-priority amendments we are requesting. We know that this list does not include many of the amendments we need. However, given the tight time lines, a longer list of amendments, coming from us, would actually work against our hope for success.

You will also see that this document sets out a series of recommended “observations.” The Senate can attach statements like these to a bill, calling for further action, whether or not it makes amendments to the bill.

We need your help more than ever. Please email the Senate Standing Committee to urge the senators to amend Bill C-81, as we are proposing. We appreciate the efforts of all of you who have already done so. For those who believe people with disabilities deserve a strong national accessibility law, this is the best way you can help us now. Write the Standing Committee at: [email protected]

Visit our website to learn all about the background to Bill C-81 and our efforts to get it strengthened.

If your organization is going to present to the Standing Committee or submit a brief, we invite you to support these amendments and any others that you consider important. As the following document notes, during the April 3, 2019 meeting of this Senate Standing Committee, federal Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough made an important commitment. We plan to hold her and the Federal Government to it. Senator Munson, who is the sponsor of Bill C-81 in the Senate pointed out to her that there are calls from the disability community for this bill to be amended because it does not go far enough. He asked her if she was open to the bill being amended. Minister Qualtrough agreed that she was open to the bill being amended in the Senate. She said she wants this law to be the best it can be. We here take her up on that offer.

We are sorry that we are not now providing more detailed explanations for the following information. We are rushing to get this to you, to Senators, and others whom we need to reach.

MORE DETAILS

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Proposed Amendments to Bill C-81 Submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs April 8, 2019
Speaking to the Senate’s Social Affairs Committee on April 3, 2019, Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough said she would be open to amendments to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, and that she wants to make this bill “the best it can possibly be.”

We offer this short list of vital amendments, given the Senate’s tight time lines. Had there been more time, a number of other important amendments would have been proposed.

A. Setting a Deadline to Achieve Accessibility

Amendment 1
Section 5 of the Act should be amended to add the words “on or before January 1, 2040”, so that it will provide:

“5?The purpose of this Act is to benefit all persons, especially persons with disabilities, through the realization, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040, ”

Amendment 2
The following section should be added to the bill:

“Clarification
5.2. Nothing in this Act, including in its purpose of the realization of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040, should be construed as authorizing or requiring any delay in the removal or prevention of barriers as soon as reasonably possible.”

Amendment 3
Section 11 should be amended to add the words on or before January 1, 2040, so that it would provide:

“11?(1)?The Ministers mandate is the realization of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040”.

Amendment 4
Section 18 should be amended to add the words “on or before January 1, 2040”, so that it would provide in material part:

“18?The Standards Organizations mandate is to contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040, through, among other things,”

B. Setting Mandatory Duties

Amendment 5
The bill should be amended to add this subsection to section 117:

“Obligation

(1.2)?The Governor in Council must make all the regulations under paragraphs 1(c) and (d) necessary to achieving the purposes of this Act, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, must make at least one regulation under paragraphs (1c) and (d) in each of the areas referred to in section 5 within the period of five years that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force.

Amendment 6
Section 2 definition of “barrier” should be amended to add the words “a law”, so that it will read in material part:

“barrier means anything??including anything physical, architectural, technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a law, a policy or a practice??that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation. (obstacle)”

C. Ensuring the Bill Does Not Reduce Rights of People with Disabilities

Amendment 7
Subsection 172(2) of the bill should be removed from the bill. As well, the bill should repeal its counterpart, s. 172(2) of the Canada Transportation Act, which provides:

“in relation to a matter have been complied with or have not been contravened, the Agency shall determine that there is no undue obstacle to the mobility of persons with disabilities.”

Note: s. 172(2) of the bill uses the word “barrier “instead of the word “obstacle”, but is otherwise the same as s. 172(2) of the Canada Transportation Act.

Amendment 8
Section 6 should be amended to add the following to the principles set out in it:

“(2) For greater certainty, in the event of any inconsistency between the provisions of this Act and the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the provisions of that Act prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.”

Amendment 9
The following provision should be added to the bill:

“123?
Section 123.1.

(1) The Canadian Transportation Agency, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board must within the period of six months that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force, establish policies, practices and procedures for expeditiously receiving, investigating, considering and deciding upon complaints under this Act which are the same as or as reasonably close as possible to, those set out for the Accessibility Commissioner in sections 194 to 110 of the Act.”

Amendment 10
The bill should be amended to add the following provision:

11.1.

(1) No one shall use public money distributed by the Government of Canada in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers.

(2) Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, subsection 1 includes payments by the Government of Canada to any person or entity to purchase or rent any goods, services or facilities, or to contribute to the construction, expansion or renovation of any infrastructure or other capital project, or to provide a business development loan or grant to any person or entity.

(3) Within the period of two years that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force, the minister must establish and make public policies and procedures to implement, monitor compliance with, and report to the public on compliance with subsections 1 and 2.

(4) The power to make regulations under clauses 117 (1) (c) and (d) includes the power to make regulations to implement this section.

Amendment 11
Section 72(1) should be amended to add the words “except any entity referred to in paragraphs 7(1) (a), (b) and (c) (the Government of Canada, or a department or agency of the Government of Canada)”, so that the provision will read in material part:

“72?(1)?The Minister may, by order, exempt any regulated entity or class of regulated entities except the any entity referred to in paragraphs 7(1) (a), (b) and (c) (the Government of Canada, or a department or agency of the Government of Canada) from the application of all or any part of sections 69 to 71, on any terms that the Minister considers necessary. The order ceases to have effect on the earlier of the end of the period of three years that begins on the day on which the order is made and the end of any shorter period specified in the order.”

Observations We Ask the Senate to Attach to Bill C-81

1. Since the bill is entitled “An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada” for people with disabilities but does not require any barriers to be removed, the Committee recommends that the bill be strengthened.
2. Because the bill depends on the Federal Government and various agencies to use their new powers, but does not require most of those powers to be used, the Committee recommends that the Federal Government report back to the Senate in one year on what duties and time lines for action could be added to the bill.

3. Because of concerns from the disability community about the bill splintering its implementation and enforcement, the Committee recommends that the Federal Government report to the Senate in one year on the effectiveness and impact of splintering the bill’s implementation and enforcement among four federal agencies, for further study by the Senate.

4. Since the Federal Government spends billions of dollars of the public’s money on procurement of goods, services and facilities, on new infrastructure projects, and on business development loans and grants, the Federal bill should be strengthened to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.



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