How Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal Went Off the Rails in an Important Disability Accessibility Case–Read the New Article by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the Tribunal’s Ruling Against an 8-Year-Old Student With Autism Who Wanted to Bring His Autism Service Dog to School


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

How Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal Went Off the Rails in an Important  Disability Accessibility Case–Read the New Article by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the Tribunal’s Ruling Against an 8-Year-Old Student With Autism Who Wanted to Bring His Autism Service Dog to School

July 5, 2019

          SUMMARY

Two years ago, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario rendered a controversial and deeply troubling decision about the rights of students with disabilities in Ontario schools. An 8-year-old boy with autism wanted to bring his certified autism service dog to school with him. The school board refused. His family filed a human rights complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The Tribunal ruled in favour of the school board and against the student.

Many reacted with surprise or shock at this ruling. Now you have a chance to delve deeper and see what went wrong. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has written a 28-page article analyzing this human rights decision. He found that there are several problems with the decision. His article is entitled “Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal Bungles the School Boards’ Human Rights Duty to Accommodate Students with Disabilities – J.F. v Waterloo District Catholic School Board – An Erroneous Rejection of A Student’s Request to Bring His Autism Service Dog to School.”

In the fall of 2020, this article will be published in volume 40.1 of the National Journal of Constitutional Law. You don’t need any legal training or background to read this article.

Below we set out this article’s introduction. You can download the entire article in an accessible MS Word format by clicking here https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/ASD-Dog-Article-by-David-Lepofsky-Accepted-for-Publication-in-the-NJCL-dated-july-4-2019.docx

The published text of this article next year may have minor editorial changes.

The AODA Alliance has pressed the Ford Government for over a year to get the Education Standards Development Committee back to work, developing recommendations for what should be included in an Education Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the AODA. Among other things, we plan to propose detailed standards to bind all schools on letting students with autism bring their qualified service animal to school.

AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. On March 7, 2019, the Ford Government said it was lifting that freeze. Yet no date for the next meeting of that AODA Standards Development Committee is set.

There have been 155 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. That report found that Ontario is full of “soul-crushing” barriers that impede over 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. It calls on the Ontario Government to show new leadership and to take strong action on accessibility for people with disabilities. the Ford Government has not announced a plan to implement the Onley Report.

          MORE DETAILS

Excerpt from the Article ” Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal Bungles the School Boards’ Human Rights Duty to Accommodate Students with Disabilities – J.F. v Waterloo District Catholic School Board – An Erroneous Rejection of A Student’s Request to Bring His Autism Service Dog to School” by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to be Published in Volume 40.1 of the National Journal of Constitutional Law

A child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can experience anxiety, challenges in self-regulating their mood and behaviours, and difficulty adjusting to transitions. Helpful measures to address these needs contribute to a child’s developmental progress. An autism service dog can help with these needs.

ASD’s emotional, behavioural and communicational impacts on a child cannot be measured, day-by-day, by a blood test or thermometer. It is typically not possible to isolate and quantify exactly when and how an intervention such as a service dog has helped, any more than an omelet can be unscrambled. This does not derogate from the benefits experienced from using such a service dog. For children with ASD, as with many others, trial and error is so often the best approach.

This article examines a troubling case where a school board, and then Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal, each got it wrong when it came to accommodating a student with ASD. In J.F. v. Waterloo District Catholic School Board, an eight-year-old boy with ASD benefitted at home from a trained autism service dog. His family asked the school board to let him bring the service dog to school, to help accommodate his ASD. The school board said no. The Tribunal sided with the board.

There was no showing that board employees, addressing this issue, had prior knowledge, experience or expertise with autism service dogs, or that those officials tried to observe the boy outside school when using the autism service dog. There was no indication that the board took any proactive steps to learn about the benefits of these service dogs, or considered a trial period with this boy bringing his autism service dog to school.

In contrast, some other Ontario school boards let students with ASD bring a service dog to school. If other school boards can do so, the Waterloo District Catholic School Board could do the same, rather than putting barriers in the path of a vulnerable student.

The boy’s family filed a human rights complaint against the school board. It alleged a violation of his right to equal treatment in education without discrimination due to his disability, guaranteed by s. 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The family argued that the board failed to fulfil its substantive duty to accommodate (its duty to provide a disability-related accommodation he needed), and its procedural duty to accommodate (its duty to adequately investigate his disability-related needs and the options for accommodating them). In a widely-publicized and erroneous decision, the Tribunal ruled against the boy on both scores.

The school board and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario failed to properly apply human rights principles to a vulnerable student with an undisputed disability. This case provides a powerful illustration of a Human Rights Tribunal that failed to properly apply both the human rights procedural duty to accommodate and the substantive duty to accommodate. The school board’s failure to fulfil its procedural duty to accommodate this boy’s disability also serves to substantially weaken the board’s claim that it met its substantive duty to accommodate.

As well, this case illustrates unfair accessibility barriers that students with disabilities too often face in Ontario’s education system. It shows how families must repeatedly fight against the same barriers, at school board after school board. This case also highlights serious flaws in Ontario’s controversial system for enforcing human rights. It shows why Ontario needs a strong and effective Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to remove such recurring disability accessibility barriers in Ontario’s education system.

Had this school board redirected more of its effort and public money towards working out a way to let this student bring his autism service dog to school, rather than fighting against him, a more positive outcome here was likely. Instead the Board marshalled its formidable legal resources to fight against this boy.

This article first delineates the case’s largely undisputed facts. It then explores the evolution of the procedural duty to accommodate in human rights law. The importance of the duty to accommodate in the education context is then investigated.

Attention next turns to problems in the Tribunal’s reasoning that led it to find that the school board did not violate the procedural duty to accommodate. After that, serious problems are identified with the Tribunal’s finding that the school board did not violate its substantive duty to accommodate.

This article concludes with a look more broadly at this case’s implications. This case typifies problems since 2008 with the way human rights are enforced in Ontario. This case also illustrates the need for the Ontario Government to adopt a reformed approach to the education of students with disabilities in Ontario schools as well as the need for an Education Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.



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We’re In the Media Two Days in a Row! A Globe and Mail Article on our January 30, 2019 Joint News Conference on School Principals Excluding Students from School and a Toronto Star Letter to the Editor from the AODA Alliance


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

February 1, 2019

SUMMARY

We’re starting 2019 with great media coverage early in the New Year:

* Below, check out an excellent January 31, 2019 Globe and Mail article. It reports on our January 30, 2019 joint Queen’s Park news conference with the unstoppable Ontario Autism Coalition. We there called on The Ford Government to act now to rein in the troubling excesses in the sweeping power of a school principal to block a student from coming to school, without justifying this by suspending or expelling the student under the law’s process for administering discipline. This article provides a good summary of the key points we made at that news conference, as spelled out in our January 3, 2019 joint news release.

We also set out below the January 30, 2019 statement by Ontario’s New Democratic Party. It supports our position presented at the AODA Alliance/Ontario Autism Coalition news conference. We very much appreciate that support.

You also might wish to check out the media coverage of this issue earlier this month in the Globe and Mail.

It is a step forward that the Globe article shows some potential interest in our proposal that the Ontario Government convene a summit to explore reforming the sweeping power of school principals to refuse to allow a student to come to school.

* We also set out below the letter to the editor by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky that ran in the January 30, 2019 Toronto Star on a broader and equally important topic. Back on January 20, 2019, the Toronto Star ran a guest column by Ms. Karen Stintz. In it, she questioned the need for and the usefulness of accessibility legislation. Ms. Stintz is the CEO of Variety Village. Our letter to the editor refutes her position and emphasizes the importance of accessibility legislation.

Below we set out the fuller version of our letter to the editor which appears in the online edition of the Toronto Star. A slightly shorter version ran in the print version of the newspaper on January 30, 2019.

A disturbing 225 days have now passed since the Ontario Government shut down the work of the AODA Standards Development Committees that were hard at work, developing recommendations for the Government on measures needed to tear down barriers that impede students with disabilities in Ontario’s education system, and patients with disabilities in Ontario’s health care system. The weather is cold enough! We don’t need any more of the Government’s freeze on the important work of those Standards Development Committees.

David Onley was scheduled to deliver his final report of his Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement to The Ford Government yesterday. The Ford Government has said it is awaiting that report before deciding what to do about its freeze on the work of those Standards Development Committees. We are hoping that Mr. Onley will recommend that the Government immediately end that freeze. Once the Government has seen what he recommends on this subject, it should act immediately.

MORE DETAILS

The Globe and Mail January 31, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-advocates-call-on-ford-government-to-help-special-needs-children-who/ News

Groups call on Ford PCs to curb schools’ exclusion of special-needs children

By VICTORIA GIBSON
Staff

Disability advocates congregated at Queen’s Park on Wednesday morning demanding that the provincial government rein in the power of principals to exclude students with complex needs from schools across the province.

Both the Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA) called on Education Minister Lisa Thompson to hold a summit of key stakeholders – including parents, teachers, principals, school boards and students –
where they can discuss possible legislation and policy changes surrounding exclusions of students with disabilities who are presenting behavioural issues. The groups also asked the minister to issue a policy directive to school boards imposing interim restrictions on when exclusions can be used.

“What is the Ford government going to do to rein in the excessive, unfair and arbitrary power of school principals to exclude students from school?” OAC president Laura Kirby McIntosh asked.

“We just can’t leave the status quo in place,” AODA Alliance chair David Lepovsky said.

The minister’s office responded Wednesday afternoon, with staff member Kayla Iafelice saying the government is aware of the issues cited by the OAC and AODA Alliance and looks forward to providing an update on them “in the near future.”

The Wednesday call to action comes after a story by The Globe and Mail this month that found families with children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities are increasingly being asked to pick up children early, start their school day later or keep them home for days. Most school districts don’t formally track these kinds of exclusions or shortened days. Parent and advocacy groups have informally documented school exclusions, and have seen them rise in frequency. In December, the OAC wrote a letter to Ms. Thompson asking to meet about the issue, which it says has gone unanswered.

“I want to emphasize how incredibly vulnerable a family feels in the face of the might and the resources of a publicly funded school board and all of their lawyers,” Ms. KirbyMcIntosh said. “They are terrified and they are distressed. This is not a new problem, but until recent coverage sparked by The Globe and Mail … it’s now a subject finally getting public attention.”

The Globe’s January story highlighted the plight of Grayson Kahn, a seven-year-old boy with autism and behavioural issues who was expelled from his school in Guelph, Ont. The expulsion followed an incident where the boy struck an educational assistant, leaving her with bruises, scrapes and a concussion. Expulsions such as Grayson’s are rare – they involve a principal’s report and a hearing by a school board committee. Advocates for students with disabilities say exclusions are far more common and are typically informal; parents will be given oral notice of a decision made at a principal’s discretion.

Luke Reid, a lawyer at ARCH Disability Law Centre, said there is no formal legislative or policy limit on how long exclusions can last, and that there is often an absence of due process. “It’s sort of the Wild West in some ways,” he said.

Ms. Kirby-McIntosh added there was “an appalling lack of data” chronicling the frequency at which such exclusions are occurring. “Each principal is essentially allowed to be a law unto themselves,” she said. “We are not saying principals are bad people. They are working with an antiquated funding formula, a shortage of qualified staff and an increasingly complex student population.”

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), said he agrees that long-term exclusions are “extremely problematic,” and endorsed the idea of a stakeholders meeting. The ETFO has been calling for an increase in direct funding for students with special educational needs, he said. “I say this with all due respect to parents of autistic children and autistic children: What are teachers and administrators supposed to do when they have gotten to the end of the supports and the resources that are available to them?” Mr. Hammond asked.

The OAC and the AODA Alliance didn’t ask for additional resources Wednesday; Mr. Lepovsky said that “especially in the current economic situation and the current discretions in terms of funding,” he thought such a request would slow down their potential progress. “This government’s got fiscal constraints. It’s not a big expenditure to just get us to the table and get us talking, and for them to listen. And it’s not a big constraint to impose the policy directive,” he said.

The Ontario Principals’ Council disputes the idea that decisions on exclusions are made exclusively by a principal, and says it has logged an “unfortunate increase” in incidents involving violent or aggressive student behaviour in recent years. It said on Wednesday that exclusions were used only after other strategies proved unsuccessful.

January 30, 2019 Statement by the Ontario New Democratic Party

Originally posted at https://www.ontariondp.ca/news/its-time-real-action-address-school-exclusions-ndp-mpps January 30th, 2019

It’s time for real action to address school exclusions: NDP MPPs

QUEEN’S PARK Ontario NDP MPPs Joel Harden (critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities), Marit Stiles (Education critic) and Monique Taylor (critic for Child and Youth Services) released the following statement:

“More than half of all students with an intellectual disability have been excluded from school at least once, impacting the quality of their education and placing a burden on parents who have to stay home with them.

It should never have come to this, and Doug Ford’s cuts to education will only take the problem of exclusions from bad to worse. Instead of cutting back on special education that was already neglected by the previous government, we need new investment in classroom supports so the horrible option of exclusion is not exercised.

We also need to strengthen, not eliminate, class size caps so that students with disabilities get the one-on-one attention they require.

The Ford government must also immediately reconvene the AODA standards development committees that have been frozen since the June election, including one on K-12 education, to address barriers affecting students with disabilities.

It’s time for this government to stop neglecting accessibility in our education system, and start working with disability advocates to make sure students with disabilities can thrive.”

Contact
2069 Lakeshore Blvd West, Suite 201
Toronto, Ontario. M8V 3Z4
Toll free phone: 1-866-390-6637
Phone: 416-591-8637
Fax: 416-599-4820
Email: [email protected]

Toronto Star Online January 30, 2019

Letters to the Editor
Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/01/30/legislation-vital-to-improving-accessibility.html Legislation vital to improving accessibility

The limits to legislating workplace accessibility, Jan. 20

Karen Stintz has great intentions, but the wrong idea. She’s proud of progress on accessibility for people with disabilities at Variety Village, where she’s CEO, but she’s wrong to blast the need for laws to tear down the many accessibility barriers impeding people with a physical, mental, sensory or other disability when trying to get a job or education, ride public transit, use public services, shop in stores or eat in restaurants.

Legislation alone isn’t the entire solution, but it’s proven here and abroad to be a vital and indispensable part. Stintz wrongly invents a false dilemma, claiming: “Accessibility and inclusion aren’t about legislation; they are about a social and cultural shift and deep understanding of community.” Countries lacking strong accessibility laws, or which don’t effectively enforce those laws, simply make far less progress on accessibility.

There was great promise when Ontario’s legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. We people with disabilities campaigned tirelessly for it for a decade. Where its impact has fallen short, is not because we don’t need a good law, it’s because the previous government did a poor job implementing and enforcing it. So far, the Doug Ford government hasn’t done any better.

Do you like TTC’s audible announcements of all route stops, for blind people like me? These didn’t come from a culture change at TTC. Those announcements exist because I used the law. I successfully sued under the Human Rights Code. The TTC fought me every step of the way. Thankfully we had laws on accessibility.

When Variety Village commendably offers accessibility training to others around Ontario, it will find audiences more receptive, because accessibility is the law. I encourage Stintz to give this a serious re-think and learn from those of us who’ve battled at the front lines of Ontario’s non-partisan campaign for over two decades, before claiming that accessibility laws have no role to play at all.

David Lepofsky, Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto

Toronto Star January 20, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2019/01/20/the-limits-to-legislating-workplace-accessibility.html The limits to legislating workplace accessibility

Karen Stintz Opinion

Accessibility and inclusion aren’t about legislation, they are about a social and cultural shift and deep understanding of community.

The Ontario government tried to legislate change when it passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. The act is intended to identify and break down barriers for people with a disability and is multi-faceted.

The legislation covers areas such as customer service, information and communication, employment standards, transportation standards and design of public spaces. Ultimately, the goal is to create a culture of inclusion in government, education and in workplaces.

Although the act has heightened our collective awareness of inclusion as a worthy goal, no government can legislate culture change within any organization.
In spite of the best efforts of governments and employers across the province, the culture of inclusion remains elusive to many.

At Variety Village, we have achieved a culture of inclusion; however, our success was not determined because we are better at implementing legislation.

Our success hinges on the fact that 50 per cent of the population we serve has a disability so we are already ahead of the curve. Since we have a critical
mass of individuals involved in the organization that either have a disability, or are knowledgeable about disabilities, we are constantly evolving and responding to the changing needs of our environment.

Variety Village is a leader in inclusion and, now, our organization is taking what it has learned and is bringing that knowledge to communities across Ontario.

We create agents of change for inclusion through programming that is designed so every child can participate.

Our programs are integrated, which means all participants have the opportunity to become the best version of themselves.

It takes resources and understanding but our programs teach children how to participate in, and create, a barrier-free environment.

Our staff are trained in a culture of inclusion and many go on to other occupations where they become the agents of change in those workplaces. For example,
many camp councillors at Variety Village have become special educational assistants for the school board.

If any organization wants to undertake major organizational change, there needs to be a critical mass of support. Very few organizations are going to have
50 per cent of their employees, students or customers with a disability but every organization needs to have a critical mass of individuals who truly understand the importance of accessibility if there is going to be a culture of inclusion.

Anyone in an organization can become an agent of change for inclusion by believing the benefits of inclusion are not for the individuals who are accommodated but for everyone in the community.

Karen Stintz is CEO of Variety, the Children’s Charity, and Variety Village.



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We’re In the Media Two Days in a Row! A Globe and Mail Article on our January 30, 2019 Joint News Conference on School Principals Excluding Students from School and a Toronto Star Letter to the Editor from the AODA Alliance


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

We’re In the Media Two Days in a Row! A Globe and Mail Article on our January 30, 2019 Joint News Conference on School Principals Excluding Students from School and a Toronto Star Letter to the Editor from the AODA Alliance

February 1, 2019

          SUMMARY

We’re starting 2019 with great media coverage early in the New Year:

* Below, check out an excellent January 31, 2019 Globe and Mail article. It reports on our January 30, 2019 joint Queen’s Park news conference with the unstoppable Ontario Autism Coalition. We there called on The Ford Government to act now to rein in the troubling excesses in the sweeping power of a school principal to block a student from coming to school, without justifying this by suspending or expelling the student under the law’s process for administering discipline. This article provides a good summary of the key points we made at that news conference, as spelled out in our January 3, 2019 joint news release.

We also set out below the January 30, 2019 statement by Ontario’s New Democratic Party. It supports our position presented at the AODA Alliance/Ontario Autism Coalition news conference. We very much appreciate that support.

You also might wish to check out the media coverage of this issue earlier this month in the Globe and Mail.

It is a step forward that the Globe article shows some potential interest in our proposal that the Ontario Government convene a summit to explore reforming the sweeping power of school principals to refuse to allow a student to come to school.

* We also set out below the letter to the editor by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky that ran in the January 30, 2019 Toronto Star on a broader and equally important topic. Back on January 20, 2019, the Toronto Star ran a guest column by Ms. Karen Stintz. In it, she questioned the need for and the usefulness of accessibility legislation. Ms. Stintz is the CEO of Variety Village. Our letter to the editor refutes her position and emphasizes the importance of accessibility legislation.

Below we set out the fuller version of our letter to the editor which appears in the online edition of the Toronto Star. A slightly shorter version ran in the print version of the newspaper on January 30, 2019.

A disturbing 225 days have now passed since the Ontario Government shut down the work of the AODA Standards Development Committees that were hard at work, developing recommendations for the Government on measures needed to tear down barriers that impede students with disabilities in Ontario’s education system, and patients with disabilities in Ontario’s health care system. The weather is cold enough! We don’t need any more of the Government’s freeze on the important work of those Standards Development Committees.

David Onley was scheduled to deliver his final report of his Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement to The Ford Government yesterday. The Ford Government has said it is awaiting that report before deciding what to do about its freeze on the work of those Standards Development Committees. We are hoping that Mr. Onley will recommend that the Government immediately end that freeze. Once the Government has seen what he recommends on this subject, it should act immediately.

          MORE DETAILS

The Globe and Mail January 31, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-advocates-call-on-ford-government-to-help-special-needs-children-who/ News

Groups call on Ford PCs to curb schools’ exclusion of special-needs children

By VICTORIA GIBSON

Staff

Disability advocates congregated at Queen’s Park on Wednesday morning demanding that the provincial government rein in the power of principals to exclude students with complex needs from schools across the province.

Both the Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA) called on Education Minister Lisa Thompson to hold a summit of key stakeholders – including parents, teachers, principals, school boards and students – where they can discuss possible legislation and policy changes surrounding exclusions of students with disabilities who are presenting behavioural issues. The groups also asked the minister to issue a policy directive to school boards imposing interim restrictions on when exclusions can be used.

“What is the Ford government going to do to rein in the excessive, unfair and arbitrary power of school principals to exclude students from school?” OAC president Laura Kirby McIntosh asked.

“We just can’t leave the status quo in place,” AODA Alliance chair David Lepovsky said.

The minister’s office responded Wednesday afternoon, with staff member Kayla Iafelice saying the government is aware of the issues cited by the OAC and AODA Alliance and looks forward to providing an update on them “in the near future.”

The Wednesday call to action comes after a story by The Globe and Mail this month that found families with children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities are increasingly being asked to pick up children early, start their school day later or keep them home for days. Most school districts don’t formally track these kinds of exclusions or shortened days. Parent and advocacy groups have informally documented school exclusions, and have seen them rise in frequency. In December, the OAC wrote a letter to Ms. Thompson asking to meet about the issue, which it says has gone unanswered.

“I want to emphasize how incredibly vulnerable a family feels in the face of the might and the resources of a publicly funded school board and all of their lawyers,” Ms. KirbyMcIntosh said. “They are terrified and they are distressed. This is not a new problem, but until recent coverage sparked by The Globe and Mail … it’s now a subject finally getting public attention.”

The Globe’s January story highlighted the plight of Grayson Kahn, a seven-year-old boy with autism and behavioural issues who was expelled from his school in Guelph, Ont. The expulsion followed an incident where the boy struck an educational assistant, leaving her with bruises, scrapes and a concussion. Expulsions such as Grayson’s are rare – they involve a principal’s report and a hearing by a school board committee. Advocates for students with disabilities say exclusions are far more common and are typically informal; parents will be given oral notice of a decision made at a principal’s discretion.

Luke Reid, a lawyer at ARCH Disability Law Centre, said there is no formal legislative or policy limit on how long exclusions can last, and that there is often an absence of due process. “It’s sort of the Wild West in some ways,” he said.

Ms. Kirby-McIntosh added there was “an appalling lack of data” chronicling the frequency at which such exclusions are occurring. “Each principal is essentially allowed to be a law unto themselves,” she said. “We are not saying principals are bad people. They are working with an antiquated funding formula, a shortage of qualified staff and an increasingly complex student population.”

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), said he agrees that long-term exclusions are “extremely problematic,” and endorsed the idea of a stakeholders meeting. The ETFO has been calling for an increase in direct funding for students with special educational needs, he said. “I say this with all due respect to parents of autistic children and autistic children: What are teachers and administrators supposed to do when they have gotten to the end of the supports and the resources that are available to them?” Mr. Hammond asked.

The OAC and the AODA Alliance didn’t ask for additional resources Wednesday; Mr. Lepovsky said that “especially in the current economic situation and the current discretions in terms of funding,” he thought such a request would slow down their potential progress. “This government’s got fiscal constraints. It’s not a big expenditure to just get us to the table and get us talking, and for them to listen. And it’s not a big constraint to impose the policy directive,” he said.

The Ontario Principals’ Council disputes the idea that decisions on exclusions are made exclusively by a principal, and says it has logged an “unfortunate increase” in incidents involving violent or aggressive student behaviour in recent years. It said on Wednesday that exclusions were used only after other strategies proved unsuccessful.

January 30, 2019 Statement by the Ontario New Democratic Party

Originally posted at https://www.ontariondp.ca/news/its-time-real-action-address-school-exclusions-ndp-mpps January 30th, 2019

It’s time for real action to address school exclusions: NDP MPPs

QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario NDP MPPs Joel Harden (critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities), Marit Stiles (Education critic) and Monique Taylor (critic for Child and Youth Services) released the following statement:

“More than half of all students with an intellectual disability have been excluded from school at least once, impacting the quality of their education and placing a burden on parents who have to stay home with them.

It should never have come to this, and Doug Ford’s cuts to education will only take the problem of exclusions from bad to worse. Instead of cutting back on special education that was already neglected by the previous government, we need new investment in classroom supports so the horrible option of exclusion is not exercised.

We also need to strengthen, not eliminate, class size caps so that students with disabilities get the one-on-one attention they require.

The Ford government must also immediately reconvene the AODA standards development committees that have been frozen since the June election, including one on K-12 education, to address barriers affecting students with disabilities.

It’s time for this government to stop neglecting accessibility in our education system, and start working with disability advocates to make sure students with disabilities can thrive.”

Contact

2069 Lakeshore Blvd West, Suite 201

Toronto, Ontario. M8V 3Z4

Toll free phone: 1-866-390-6637

Phone: 416-591-8637

Fax: 416-599-4820

Email: [email protected]

Toronto Star Online January 30, 2019

Letters to the Editor

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/01/30/legislation-vital-to-improving-accessibility.html

Legislation vital to improving accessibility

The limits to legislating workplace accessibility, Jan. 20

Karen Stintz has great intentions, but the wrong idea. She’s proud of progress on accessibility for people with disabilities at Variety Village, where she’s CEO, but she’s wrong to blast the need for laws to tear down the many accessibility barriers impeding people with a physical, mental, sensory or other disability when trying to get a job or education, ride public transit, use public services, shop in stores or eat in restaurants.

Legislation alone isn’t the entire solution, but it’s proven here and abroad to be a vital and indispensable part. Stintz wrongly invents a false dilemma, claiming: “Accessibility and inclusion aren’t about legislation; they are about a social and cultural shift and deep understanding of community.” Countries lacking strong accessibility laws, or which don’t effectively enforce those laws, simply make far less progress on accessibility.

There was great promise when Ontario’s legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. We people with disabilities campaigned tirelessly for it for a decade. Where its impact has fallen short, is not because we don’t need a good law, it’s because the previous government did a poor job implementing and enforcing it. So far, the Doug Ford government hasn’t done any better.

Do you like TTC’s audible announcements of all route stops, for blind people like me? These didn’t come from a culture change at TTC. Those announcements exist because I used the law. I successfully sued under the Human Rights Code. The TTC fought me every step of the way. Thankfully we had laws on accessibility.

When Variety Village commendably offers accessibility training to others around Ontario, it will find audiences more receptive, because accessibility is the law. I encourage Stintz to give this a serious re-think and learn from those of us who’ve battled at the front lines of Ontario’s non-partisan campaign for over two decades, before claiming that accessibility laws have no role to play at all.

David Lepofsky, Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto

Toronto Star   January 20, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2019/01/20/the-limits-to-legislating-workplace-accessibility.html

The limits to legislating workplace accessibility

Karen Stintz Opinion

Accessibility and inclusion aren’t about legislation, they are about a social and cultural shift and deep understanding of community.

The Ontario government tried to legislate change when it passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. The act is intended to identify and break down barriers for people with a disability and is multi-faceted.

The legislation covers areas such as customer service, information and communication, employment standards, transportation standards and design of public spaces. Ultimately, the goal is to create a culture of inclusion in government, education and in workplaces.

Although the act has heightened our collective awareness of inclusion as a worthy goal, no government can legislate culture change within any organization.

In spite of the best efforts of governments and employers across the province, the culture of inclusion remains elusive to many.

At Variety Village, we have achieved a culture of inclusion; however, our success was not determined because we are better at implementing legislation.

Our success hinges on the fact that 50 per cent of the population we serve has a disability so we are already ahead of the curve. Since we have a critical

mass of individuals involved in the organization that either have a disability, or are knowledgeable about disabilities, we are constantly evolving and

responding to the changing needs of our environment.

Variety Village is a leader in inclusion and, now, our organization is taking what it has learned and is bringing that knowledge to communities across

Ontario.

We create agents of change for inclusion through programming that is designed so every child can participate.

Our programs are integrated, which means all participants have the opportunity to become the best version of themselves.

It takes resources and understanding but our programs teach children how to participate in, and create, a barrier-free environment.

Our staff are trained in a culture of inclusion and many go on to other occupations where they become the agents of change in those workplaces. For example,

many camp councillors at Variety Village have become special educational assistants for the school board.

If any organization wants to undertake major organizational change, there needs to be a critical mass of support. Very few organizations are going to have

50 per cent of their employees, students or customers with a disability but every organization needs to have a critical mass of individuals who truly understand

the importance of accessibility if there is going to be a culture of inclusion.

Anyone in an organization can become an agent of change for inclusion by believing the benefits of inclusion are not for the individuals who are accommodated

but for everyone in the community.

Karen Stintz is CEO of Variety, the Children’s Charity, and Variety Village.



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Excellent Toronto Star Article Reports on Our Call for Canada’s Senate to Hold Public Hearings and Amend 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

Excellent Toronto Star Article Reports on Our Call for Canada’s Senate to Hold Public Hearings and Amend the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

December 5, 2018

Summary

Page A-3 of the December 4, 2018 Toronto Star included a great report on our call for Canada’s Senate to hold public hearings early in 2019, and to amend the weak Bill C-81. That bill is the Federal Government’s proposed Accessible Canada Act. We set out the Toronto Star article below.

Proposed by the Federal Government, Bill C-81 is supposed to make Canada become barrier-free for people with disabilities. However, its well-intentioned provisions are quite weak. They let the Federal Government do a lot of things to advance the goal of accessibility, if it wishes. However this bill doesn’t require the Federal Government to do very much. It allows for the bill’s enforcement. However it creates a confusing and complicated enforcement process that people with disabilities will often find hard to navigate.

We will have lots more to say about this in the New Year. In the meantime, we welcome your help with this effort. Please contact any senators you can. Send them this article, and the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2018 news release. Senators are identified by the province they represent. Feel free to reach out to any senator, whether or not they come from your province. You can find out which senators come from your province. For each senator, you can find out their political party affiliation, if any, and their contact information such as their email address and Twitter handle by visiting https://sencanada.ca/en/senators/

Emphasize to them that this is all about equality for people with disabilities, a vulnerable population in our society. Urge senators to agree to hold public hearings on Bill C-81 early in 2019. Urge them to amend Bill C-81, especially in light of the concerns set out in the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on Bill C-81, which is included in our December 3, 2018 news release.

Let us know what you do and what response you get. Email us at [email protected]

In the build-up to the holiday break, there will be more AODA Alliance Updates than usual this week. All the news we will share is important. Please circulate our updates to your friends.

For tons of background on our campaign to get Bill C-81 strengthened, and to read all the debates in the House of Commons on this bill, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

          MORE DETAILS

The Toronto Star December 4, 2018 Page A-3

Originally posted at: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/12/03/advocates-urge-senate-to-improve-national-accessibility-law.html

News

National accessibility legislation ‘falls short’

Advocates for disabled cite lack of timeline in asking Senate for change

Laurie Monsebraaten Toronto Star

Disability activists say Ottawa has ignored their calls to strengthen Canada’s first national accessibility legislation and are urging the Senate to intervene.

More than 90 groups, including the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and Ontario-based ARCH Disability Law, say the proposed Accessible Canada Act, passed by Parliament on Nov. 27, is too weak to achieve its goal of making Canada barrier-free for over five million Canadians with disabilities.

They want the Senate to hold public hearings next year and make amendments to improve the legislation before it becomes law.

“People with disabilities still face too many accessibility barriers in areas that the federal government regulates, like air or train travel, cable and internet TV service, and dealing with the federal government,” said David Lepofsky, head of the AODA Alliance, an Ontario disability coalition working to ensure the province achieves its goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025.

“The federal legislation has good intentions, but falls short on implementation and enforcement,” said Lepofsky, whose coalition is leading the disability community’s appeal to the Senate.

Carla Qualtrough, minister for public services and procurement and accessibility, said the government is grateful for the participation and contribution of Canadians with disabilities in developing the law.

“Like other members of the disability community, I am eager to see meaningful progress in a timely manner,” said Qualtrough, who is blind.

“For that reason, we are working to achieve significant progress within the first year following the passage of the act. This includes opening the doors of the new Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization in the summer of 2019.”

The Accessible Canada Act, introduced in June, covers federally regulated sectors such as banking, interprovincial and international transportation, telecommunications and government-run services such as Canada Post.

In an open letter Oct. 30 to Qualtrough and the federal standing committee studying the legislation, disability activists urged the government to make nine amendments to beef up the law.

Currently, the legislation sets no timetable for Ottawa to meet its goal of a “barrier-free” Canada and nothing in the legislation compels the government to act, activists say.



Source link

Excellent Toronto Star Article Reports on Our Call for Canada’s Senate to Hold Public Hearings and Amend 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

December 5, 2018

Summary

Page A-3 of the December 4, 2018 Toronto Star included a great report on our call for Canada’s Senate to hold public hearings early in 2019, and to amend the weak Bill C-81. That bill is the Federal Government’s proposed Accessible Canada Act. We set out the Toronto Star article below.

Proposed by the Federal Government, Bill C-81 is supposed to make Canada become barrier-free for people with disabilities. However, its well-intentioned provisions are quite weak. They let the Federal Government do a lot of things to advance the goal of accessibility, if it wishes. However this bill doesn’t require the Federal Government to do very much. It allows for the bill’s enforcement. However it creates a confusing and complicated enforcement process that people with disabilities will often find hard to navigate.

We will have lots more to say about this in the New Year. In the meantime, we welcome your help with this effort. Please contact any senators you can. Send them this article, and the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2018 news release. Senators are identified by the province they represent. Feel free to reach out to any senator, whether or not they come from your province. You can find out which senators come from your province. For each senator, you can find out their political party affiliation, if any, and their contact information such as their email address and Twitter handle by visiting https://sencanada.ca/en/senators/

Emphasize to them that this is all about equality for people with disabilities, a vulnerable population in our society. Urge senators to agree to hold public hearings on Bill C-81 early in 2019. Urge them to amend Bill C-81, especially in light of the concerns set out in the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on Bill C-81, which is included in our December 3, 2018 news release.

Let us know what you do and what response you get. Email us at [email protected]

In the build-up to the holiday break, there will be more AODA Alliance Updates than usual this week. All the news we will share is important. Please circulate our updates to your friends.
For tons of background on our campaign to get Bill C-81 strengthened, and to read all the debates in the House of Commons on this bill, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

MORE DETAILS

The Toronto Star December 4, 2018 Page A-3

Originally posted at: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/12/03/advocates-urge-senate-to-improve-national-accessibility-law.html News

National accessibility legislation ‘falls short’
Advocates for disabled cite lack of timeline in asking Senate for change

Laurie Monsebraaten Toronto Star

Disability activists say Ottawa has ignored their calls to strengthen Canada’s first national accessibility legislation and are urging the Senate to intervene.

More than 90 groups, including the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and Ontario-based ARCH Disability Law, say the proposed Accessible Canada Act, passed by Parliament on Nov. 27, is too weak to achieve its goal of making Canada barrier-free for over five million Canadians with disabilities.

They want the Senate to hold public hearings next year and make amendments to improve the legislation before it becomes law.

“People with disabilities still face too many accessibility barriers in areas that the federal government regulates, like air or train travel, cable and internet TV service, and dealing with the federal government,” said David Lepofsky, head of the AODA Alliance, an Ontario disability coalition working to ensure the province achieves its goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025.

“The federal legislation has good intentions, but falls short on implementation and enforcement,” said Lepofsky, whose coalition is leading the disability community’s appeal to the Senate.

Carla Qualtrough, minister for public services and procurement and accessibility, said the government is grateful for the participation and contribution of Canadians with disabilities in developing the law.

“Like other members of the disability community, I am eager to see meaningful progress in a timely manner,” said Qualtrough, who is blind.

“For that reason, we are working to achieve significant progress within the first year following the passage of the act. This includes opening the doors of the new Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization in the summer of 2019.”

The Accessible Canada Act, introduced in June, covers federally regulated sectors such as banking, interprovincial and international transportation, telecommunications and government-run services such as Canada Post.

In an open letter Oct. 30 to Qualtrough and the federal standing committee studying the legislation, disability activists urged the government to make nine amendments to beef up the law.

Currently, the legislation sets no timetable for Ottawa to meet its goal of a “barrier-free” Canada and nothing in the legislation compels the government to act, activists say.



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