Online shopping sales surge by 99% in Canada amid coronavirus pandemic  – National


Canadian consumers flocked to online shopping as the measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic were enacted, according to a Statistics Canada report.

A new report from the agency found that total retail sales fell by 17.9 per cent as Canadians increasingly sheltered in place between February and May and brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors.

Even so, shoppers rushed to make online purchases, with sales surging 99.3 per cent during the period.

Statistics Canada says e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May, a 2.3 per cent increase over April and 99.3 per cent increase over February.

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E-commerce sales more than doubled year over year, with a 110.8 per cent increase compared with May 2019.

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Kostya Polyakov, partner and national industry leader for KPMG’s consumer and retail practice in Vancouver, says that “the split between e-commerce purchases and in-store purchases has changed forever,” but that it won’t always be as extreme as the numbers reported by Statistics Canada on Friday.

“I spend a lot of time with all the top retailers in the country,” says Polyakov. “I think the consensus is certainly you will see a return (of shoppers) to stores.”






Montreal stores reopen for business but pandemic a drag on sales


Montreal stores reopen for business but pandemic a drag on sales

The report from Statistics Canada found that all 11 retail subsectors with e-commerce sales saw those sales increase.

The record gains in e-commerce occurred as total retail sales experienced record declines, the report says, with April data showing the most stark contrast. Retail sales that month plummeted to $33.9 billion, down 29.1 per cent from February and 26.4 per cent from the prior year. Meanwhile, e-commerce increased 63.8 per cent in April.

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Calgary organization offers online thrift shopping service to benefit charity


Calgary organization offers online thrift shopping service to benefit charity

From February to April, only the food and beverage subsector saw an increase in in-store sales, which were up 3.3 per cent, while e-commerce sales surged 107 per cent. In-store sales declined for general merchandise stores, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, and health and personal care stores.

Other retail trade subsectors such as furniture and home furnishings stores, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, and clothing and clothing accessories stores saw much sharper declines in in-store sales from February to April 2020. As in-store sales decreased for these subsectors, e-commerce sales increased.

Marty Weintraub, national Retail leader at Deloitte Canada, says that not all retailers face the same level of challenges when it comes to the move to online shopping. For example, consumers may still be delaying large purchases on some types of items, out of fear that unemployment may still be around the corner, said Weintraub.

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“We don’t believe the e-commerce rates we have seen will stay at the levels we have seen them. We are already starting to see a little pulling back, most notably in apparel,” said Weintraub. “But (e-commerce rates) will be higher than where it was before the pandemic, absolutely.”

Statistics Canada said it will continue to update the e-commerce data to assess the long-term changes after the pandemic, noting that as stores reopened in May, the proportion of e-commerce sales was 10 per cent, down from a record high of 11.4 per cent in April.

“Will the COVID-19 pandemic have a lasting impact on the retail trade sector? Small businesses are increasingly turning to e-commerce platforms, and are using these platforms in innovative ways,” the report said.

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Brick-and-mortar stores, particularly small ones with little online presence, may scoop back some of the recent online sales by making sure their inventory is up-to-date, Polyakov says.

“If you need a new pair of ice skates for your kid’s hockey practice tomorrow, (retailers) want you the consumer to say, `You’re better off running out to Sport Chek, because we will for sure have those skates for him,’ rather than waiting, you know, two, three days for Amazon to ship them to you,” says Polyakov.

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Polyakov expects there is a group that bought something online during the lockdown that they’d rather try in store, such as shoes or a tent. Second, a group of consumers have had to learn e-commerce systems, and were previously less accustomed to online shopping technology, such as some members of Baby Boomers or Generation X. These two groups helped push online sales higher during the lockdown, said Polyakov.

Some, particularly older generations, may keep taking advantage of the convenience of online shopping, says Polyakov, especially as some shopping malls are prioritizing appointments over browsing. The bigger questions, says Polyakov, is whether people will continue to buy items online that they prefer to try in the store, such as winter coats.

The new data from Statistics Canada is the latest peek into a changing retail sector, also reflected in two other recent data releases.






Delivery companies working overtime due to COVID-19


Delivery companies working overtime due to COVID-19

Overall retail sales data for May, released on July 21, indicated that while about 23 per cent of retailers were closed during the month, for an average of five business days, sales are 80 per cent recovered from the worst of the pandemic period.

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The consumer price index, released on July 22, suggested that consumer behaviour has shifted so much that it has thrown off the inflation index.

“Where we settle will depend on how the pandemic unfolds,” said Weintraub. “The longer we are in this state of being, the greater the likelihood that this (online shopping) behaviour will stick.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2020.

Canadian consumers flocked to online shopping as the measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic were enacted, according to a Statistics Canada report.

A new report from the agency found that total retail sales fell by 17.9 per cent as Canadians increasingly sheltered in place between February and May and brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors.

Even so, shoppers rushed to make online purchases, with sales surging 99.3 per cent during the period.

Statistics Canada says e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May, a 2.3 per cent increase over April and 99.3 per cent increase over February.

E-commerce sales more than doubled year over year, with a 110.8 per cent increase compared with May 2019.

The report found that all 11 retail subsectors with e-commerce sales saw those sales increase.

Story continues below advertisement

The record gains in e-commerce occurred as total retail sales experienced record declines, the report says, with April data showing the most stark contrast. Retail sales that month plummeted to $33.9 billion, down 29.1 per cent from February and 26.4 per cent from the prior year. Meanwhile, e-commerce increased 63.8 per cent in April.

From February to April, only the food and beverage subsector saw an increase in in-store sales, which were up 3.3 per cent, while e-commerce sales surged 107 per cent. In-store sales declined for general merchandise stores, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, and health and personal care stores.






Global News Morning Market & Business Report – July 22, 2020


Global News Morning Market & Business Report – July 22, 2020

Other retail trade subsectors such as furniture and home furnishings stores, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, and clothing and clothing accessories stores saw much sharper declines in in-store sales from February to April 2020. As in-store sales decreased for these subsectors, e-commerce sales increased.

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Statistics Canada said it will continue to update the e-commerce data to assess the long-term changes after the pandemic, noting that as stores reopened in May, the proportion of e-commerce sales was 10 per cent, down from a record high of 11.4 per cent in April.

“Will the COVID-19 pandemic have a lasting impact on the retail trade sector? Small businesses are increasingly turning to e-commerce platforms, and are using these platforms in innovative ways,” the report said.

The new data from Statistics Canada is the latest peek into a changing retail sector, also reflected in two other recent data releases. The consumer price index, released on July 22, suggested that consumer behaviour has shifted so much that it has thrown off the inflation index.

Overall retail sales data for May, released on July 21, indicated that while about 23 per cent of retailers were closed during the month, for an average of five business days, sales are 80 per cent recovered from the worst of the pandemic period.



© 2020 The Canadian Press





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Stretch of Guelph’s Eramosa Road to close for construction – Guelph



The City of Guelph says a major artery out of the downtown core is expected to be blocked off later this month to make way for railway construction.

Eramosa Road, between Woolwich and Arthur streets, is scheduled to close for four days, beginning July 31.

The city said the Guelph Railway Junction is completing emergency maintenance work at the rail crossing next to the Speed River.

Only local traffic will be permitted through the construction area and pedestrians won’t be allowed through.

Guelph Transit routes 12 and 13 will be detoured around the closed-off area.

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This is the second major road closure around the city’s downtown core after the intersection of Woolwich and Macdonell streets was closed for the city’s dining district.

The city said it appreciates the patience and understanding from residents during the construction project.




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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Online platforms scramble as content moderators in short supply amid coronavirus – National


While hundreds of thousands of companies across the country have seen work grind to a halt amid COVID-19, Chris Priebe is experiencing the opposite.

The owner of Two Hat, an artificial intelligence-powered content moderation company based in Kelowna, B.C., has never been busier helping customers including gaming brands Nintendo Switch, Habbo, Rovio and Supercell sift through billions of comments and conversations and quickly identify and remove anything harmful to users.

“We processed 60 billion last month. It used to be 30 billion. That’s how bad coronavirus is. That is at least twice the normal volume,” said Priebe in April, before monthly processing volumes hit 90 billion.

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“(Platforms) are faced with, in some cases, 15 times the volume. How can they possibly care for their audience? Because that doesn’t mean that the revenues are up 15 times or that they can afford to hire that many more people.”

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Priebe is not alone in the scramble to keep online, social media and gaming platforms safe amid COVID-19. Companies including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google have all been warning users since at least April that they are experiencing shortages of content moderators, causing a backlog in the removal of harmful posts.

The stakes are high. Record numbers of people around the globe are spending increased amounts of time at home on their favourite platforms, challenging servers and turning messaging services, social networks and comment sections into a wild west.

The situation has heightened privacy experts’ worries about the spread of misinformation and the likelihood that users will stumble upon hate speech, pornography, violence and other harmful content.






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Trump threatens social media platforms after Twitter labels tweets with fact check label

“Quite a few people are fairly dissatisfied with the content moderation process as it is…and then you add on this pandemic…You are seeing a huge increase in harassing behaviour and problematic behaviour and then having the content stay up longer,” said Suzie Dunn, a University of Ottawa professor who specializes in the intersection of technology, equality and the law.

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“It’s a real challenge because content moderators are a little bit like frontline workers. They’re an essential service that we need to have at a time like this, so we would hope to see more content moderators working.”

However, unlike workers in other sectors who have been working from home since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, such a shift is difficult for many content moderators as their jobs deal with images and language you wouldn’t want kids or other family members catching a glimpse of.

“Some of them may not be able to work on certain things that they would work on in the office,” Kevin Chan, Facebook Canada’s head of public policy, told The Canadian Press.

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“They’re looking at potentially private, and sensitive things that have been reported to them and we need to make sure….that these things can be treated in the secure and private manner that they deserve.”

Full-time Facebook employees have stepped up and are taking on some of the moderating work, including from contractors who can’t have proprietary and sensitive content at home. These workers are dealing with content related to “real-world harm” like child safety and suicide and self-injury.

“There is no question this is going to pose challenges to the degree to which we can be as responsive,’ Chan said.

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To deal with the situation, Facebook has rolled out measures meant to curb the flow of COVID-19 misinformation and is focused on weeding out and removing content around terrorism and anything inciting violence or linking to “dangerous” individuals and organizations.






Introducing social media to children during the COVID-19 crisis


Introducing social media to children during the COVID-19 crisis

At Twitter, machine learning and automation is being used to help the company review reports most likely to cause harm first and to help rank content or “challenge” accounts automatically.

“While we work to ensure our systems are consistent, they can sometimes lack the context that our teams bring, and this may result in us making mistakes,” Twitter said in a blog. “As a result, we will not permanently suspend any accounts based solely on our automated enforcement systems.”

Google has also upped its reliance on machine-based systems to reduce the need for people to work from the office and said the increase in automation has many downsides, including a potential increase in content classified for removal and slower turnaround times for appeals.

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“They are not always as accurate or granular in their analysis of content as human reviewers,” added a Google blog released in March.

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This is a sentiment Priebe has encountered many times, but he has a counter-argument: “AI is not perfect but…humans are also not perfect.”

He gives the example of a child playing a game at home during the pandemic, when pedophiles might be more active online and trying to contact young people.

“You have three different humans look at the same conversation and they’re not going to give you the same answer. Some of them are going to call it grooming and some of them aren’t,” said Priebe.

Priebe believes an ideal system blends humans and AI because the latter is good at knowing what to do with obvious cases like when a user’s content is flagged almost a dozen times in a short period of time or when someone gets a message that only reads hello and hits report just to see what the button does.






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Coronavirus searches trend on Twitter as experts recommend sticking to credible sources

“You don’t need a human to have to be looking at their screen and looking at this absolutely sexual content in front of potentially their children who snuck up behind them because artificial intelligence is going to win every time on that,” he said.

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“Let humans do what humans do well, which is deal with that middle category of stuff that is subjective, difficult or hard to understand, that the AI is not confident about.”

Regardless of how the moderation gets done, some things will always slip through the cracks, especially in a pandemic, said Dunn.

“No system is perfect.”




© 2020 The Canadian Press





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‘I need help’: Coronavirus highlights disparities among Canadians with disabilities – National


Prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, 27-year-old Marissa Blake was rarely ever home.

Now, Blake, who lives in Toronto supportive housing and needs assistance to walk, can only have one visitor a week for three hours and can’t see her friends in-person. An appointment to discuss surgery on her legs was cancelled, and her sleep and care schedule are in flux because her personal support workers keep changing.

“It’s difficult,” she said. “I feel like I’m in jail.”

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Her exercise program with March of Dimes Canada, a rehabilitation foundation for disabled persons, was cancelled, and Blake said she’s been less physically active than usual.

“It’s been really making me tight, really making me feel like I’m fighting with my body,” she said. “I can’t just get up and walk. I need help.”

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But for Blake, isolation and exclusion are having the largest impact.

“The biggest thing for me is support,” she said.






Warning ignored from B.C. disability advocate about essential hospital visitors


Warning ignored from B.C. disability advocate about essential hospital visitors

“I miss my friends. I miss interacting with people. Because when you look at a computer, it’s great but it’s not the same as seeing them face-to-face.”

One in four Canadians — about 25 per cent of the population — has a disability, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.  Despite this, advocates say they are often left out of emergency planning.

David Lepofsky, who chairs the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, likened the situation to a fire raging inside of an apartment building complex, where the people inside are alerted by a fire alarm and loudspeaker that tells them to exit by taking designated stairs illuminated by clearly-indicated markers.

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A person who is deaf wouldn’t hear the fire alarm. A person in a wheelchair would be trapped inside. And those designated markers will do nothing for someone who can’t see. Unless they receive support, Lepofsky said anyone with disabilities living in the building will likely not survive.

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Similarly, he said the government has applied a mostly one-size-fits-all approach to COVID-19 measures that offer little support the country’s disabled.

“It’s because of their disability and it’s because no one planned for them in the emergency,” he said.

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Often, Canadians with more severe disabilities will get placed in long-term care facilities, where health officials said over 79 per cent of COVID-19-related deaths occur. Lepofsky said that poses a danger to those with disabilities, as well.

He said comparable problems arise in Ontario’s virtual elementary and secondary education system, called Learn At Home. The program isn’t user-friendly for students with disabilities who may be deaf, blind or unable to use a mouse, said Lepofsky.






Woman with disability dies alone after hospital refuses entry to support workers


Woman with disability dies alone after hospital refuses entry to support workers

Despite making up upwards of one-in-six of the student population, he said much of the program was made with only able-bodied students in mind.

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When asked about this, the Ontario Ministry of Education said in a statement to Global News that Education Minister Stephen Lecce had convened two “urgent” discussions with the Minister’s Advisory Council on Special Education where they discussed how best to support students and families during this period and has consulted the K-12 Standards Development Committee struck by the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility.

They said all resources were reviewed for accessibility based on the standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005), but that school boards were ultimately responsible for making decisions on the use of digital learning resources and collaboration tools to support students’ learning online.

“The Ministry has provided clear direction to school boards on how to support students with special education and mental health needs during school closures,” they said.

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March of Dimes Canada president Len Baker said even before the existence of COVID-19, people with disabilities were facing “significant” challenges every day, including already-existing barriers like attitudinal ones about disability.

“Those historic barriers become exacerbated during a time such as this pandemic, where now not only do they have to address the issues that they need to be able to complete their goals and feel connected to the community, but with social distancing and the isolation that the pandemic brings, it causes us concern that many individuals are going to feel even a greater sense of isolation and loneliness during this time,” he said.

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Baker said around 50,000 students with disabilities rely on the organization for opportunities to read, learn skills, get out in the community, to participate and connect with others.

But since the pandemic started, he said they’ve had to revamp their services to be available virtually or over the phone.






Calgary disability sector struggles to access personal protective equipment


Calgary disability sector struggles to access personal protective equipment

Marielle Hossack, press secretary to the minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, said in a statement to Global News the federal government has increased human resources for support services for Canadians with disabilities over the phone and online, and is looking into implementing ALS and LSQ into current and future emergency responses.

The federal government has also established the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group, which is comprised of experts in disability inclusion, that provide advice on “real-time live experiences of persons with disabilities.”

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Hossack wrote the group discusses disability-specific issues, challenges and systemic gaps as well as strategies, measures and steps to be taken.

But some advocates don’t think that’s enough.

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Karine Myrgianie Jean-François, director of operations at DisAbled Women’s Network Canada, told Global News that despite making up such a large percentage of the population, many are not getting support services typically provided by provincial health departments or social services.

This is due to a lot of factors, she said — because there’s a lack of protective equipment, because people are getting sick, because it’s too dangerous.

For children with disabilities, Jean-François said the pandemic means they’re often relying on their parents for mental and physical support they would have received at school.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia health official asks province to ‘please offer your help’ to anyone with ‘unique challenges’ during pandemic

“A lot of the measures that have been made to prepare for this pandemic have been done to think about the greatest number of people, which often means that we forget about people who are more marginalized and people who have a disability are included in that,” she said.

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Jean-François said that includes the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Currently, 70 per cent of Canadians eligible for the disability tax credit will receive the enhanced GST/HST benefit based on their income levels due to COVID-19, but that may not add up to much for Canadians with disabilities who may also need to hire food deliveries, in-house care, or those that would be deemed ineligible for the aid because they’re unable to work.

The money “doesn’t go as far as it used to,” she said.

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When factored to include the rising cost of living, Jean-François said most Canadians with disabilities — many of whom are already living at or near the poverty line — end up barely scraping by.

“We’re not all equal under COVID-19,” she said.

“We need to be looking at… who stands up to make sure that people get what they need, and how to make sure that they’re supported in what they’re doing both financially but also mentally, because it’s it’s really hard work to support people who were left alone.”



© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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COMMENTARY: Robots don’t get sick. Will COVID-19 speed up workplace automation? – National


What is an essential worker? The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the very idea on its head. Retail salespeople, entertainers and baristas do not make the cut. Grocery clerks, warehouse stockers and delivery people do.

Without these workers, the “rest of us” would starve and run out of toilet paper. Together with health-care workers and first responders, who have always been essential, they form the front line in the war against COVID-19.

Not surprisingly, the value of these unsung heroes has increased. Grocery chains have given their cashiers raises. Amazon employees are demanding personal protective equipment. When companies fail to support their personnel, they get negative publicity. They are thus scrambling to safeguard workers — and their reputations — by making changes. Changes that cost money — and that in low-margin businesses, like food, might be impossible to sustain in the long term, unless they substantially increase the price of their goods.

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READ MORE: Hamilton researchers hope ‘robot colleagues’ will help step up coronavirus testing

Some observers claim this heralds a new era. We will place greater value on these essential jobs. Society will grant them more respect, and companies will grant them higher wages. Finally, we will realize the value of this work — work that has long been taken for granted.

In the short term, this is true. But in the long term, things may be quite different.

When workers become more expensive, the incentive to find alternatives to their labour increases. In a pandemic, businesses also need to account for costs associated with the spread of disease. Combine these two factors, and the most effective way to “pandemic-proof” your business is to remove humans from the equation as much as possible.

In other words, to automate.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Drone deliveries help elderly Chileans vulnerable to COVID-19

Consider the grocery store. Cashiers are commanding a premium and need to be protected from infection. But there are other ways of paying for groceries. Prior to COVID-19, stores had already introduced self-checkouts. The existing self-checkout model is not an option, as shared screens could spread disease. But if self-checkout could be connected to customers’ personal mobile devices, allowing them to scan items and pay from their own screen, this would reduce costs and keep food prices down.

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Food processing plants could also benefit from increased automation. A Cargill meat plant in High River, Alta., for example, was recently closed after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and hundreds of other cases were reported. The cost to the plant is enormous, as is the cost of negative publicity to the entire meat industry. The incentive to replace workers with machines increases exponentially in such situations.

Robots don’t get sick. They don’t strike. They don’t demand higher wages for dangerous jobs. In fact, they are ideal for dangerous jobs. Which, in a pandemic, is any job that requires interaction with people.

READ MORE: Coronavirus pandemic raises question — is it time for a basic income?

What could be the consequences of accelerating automation of these essential jobs? Ironically, it dovetails with another policy shift that is emerging from the pandemic: the call for a universal basic income, or UBI.

To curb the spread of COVID-19, governments around the world are paying people a basic income to allow them to stay home and curb the spread of disease. Supporters of UBI argue that such payments should remain after the pandemic subsides and replace existing income support programs, such as employment insurance and welfare.

Before the pandemic, however, these advocates often cited a different reason for UBI: increasing automation. Well before COVID-19, they envisioned a future of less available work for humans and a greater need for income support.

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For some people, this crisis may produce that future. Jobs that can be automated will be automated at an accelerated rate. The cashier, the food plant worker, the trucker: all are vulnerable to automation. Today’s heroes may need some support to transition to the new economy, as they risk being replaced at a faster rate than they would have in a pre-COVID-19 world.






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Robots and drive-thrus: how some funeral homes are holding services amid COVID-19

But will this be the case for all workers? The answer is no. While some retail jobs will be replaced by online ordering, demand for others will return as customers, shuttered in their homes, seek a return to human contact. People will get out again to restaurants and stores and attend live events and performances. Jobs that cannot be automated, or that derive value from human interaction, will return.

We should not forget that just a month ago, unemployment rates in Canada were at historic lows, even as technology constantly accelerated. This is because while new technologies displace some workers, they open opportunities for others.

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Ten years ago, no one was a digital marketing specialist, social media monitor or Instagrammer. While it is unrealistic to assume that displaced grocery clerks will suddenly all become app developers and chief idea officers, those people and their companies will need support services that the displaced clerks might be able to provide down the line.

A permanent UBI is therefore not the right remedy for economic dislocation spawned by the pandemic, whether through automation or otherwise. Then, as now, income support should be targeted to people who need it, not to those who will be able to resume their employment. People who were paid to stay home are not owed more funds when the crisis is over. These should go to people who did not take that money and risked their well-being for the rest of us in our common time of need.

Tasha Kheiriddin is the founder and CEO of Ellipsum Communications and a Global News contributor.






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Coordinating Accessibility Laws Across Canada


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need to make accessibility law throughout Canada more similar. During public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees requested government commitment to coordinating accessibility laws across Canada. In addition, Onley states that a 2018 federal law requires the Canadian government to work with the provinces on accessibility. As a result, Onley recommends that the Ontario government make the same commitment. In other words, the Ontario government should work more closely with the federal government and the governments of other provinces.

Coordinating Accessibility Laws Across Canada

Onley’s review points out that Ontario was the first province to enact accessibility standards. However, other provinces have created laws that will allow them to develop accessibility standards of their own. These provinces are:

In addition, other provinces may one day choose to develop accessibility standards. Furthermore, Canada has recently enacted the Accessible Canada Act, which governs accessibility standards throughout the country. In other words, many separate accessibility standards exist in Canada.

On one hand, all these laws show that many governments are starting to understand how important accessibility is. On the other hand, the separate development of these laws may create conflicts for businesses. For instance, a business that operates in Ontario and Manitoba may need to follow different laws in each province. Onley’s review states that many organizations find it difficult to learn how the AODA applies to them. As a result, the review recommends more resources to help organizations learn how to comply with AODA standards. However, different standards in different provinces will mean that organizations will need resources for each set of provincial standards. In contrast, if provinces work together to develop standards, they will need to create fewer learning resources.

Working Together to Create Standards

Ontario could help other provinces to enact standards similar to our own. Alternatively, if other provinces create stronger standards, Ontario could strengthen its standards. This strengthening would help Ontario reach its goal of becoming accessible by 2025. Moreover, there are many standards which Ontario has not developed yet. Therefore, several provinces that need to develop the same standards could work together to create them. Similarly, the federal government could also work with the provinces on coordinating accessibility laws across Canada at both the federal and provincial levels.




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New 5-year e-scooter pilot begins New Year’s Day in Ontario


TORONTO – A five-year pilot project allowing the use of electric scooters on provincial roads launches in Ontario on Wednesday, despite safety concerns raised by some advocates for the disabled.

The Ontario government announced the pilot in November after holding several weeks of consultations, saying the move will expand business opportunities and help cut down congestion on provincial roads.

But a long-time accessibility advocate said this week he still hopes to convince Premier Doug Ford’s government to require strict enforcement when the e-scooters hit the roads in the coming months.

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“Premier Ford seems to want to motor ahead with this plan,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. “We’d like him to put the brakes on. What’s the hurry?”

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The Ministry of Transportation floated the idea of legalizing e-scooters during the summer, allowing them to be driven anywhere a bicycle can operate.

The two-wheeled, motorized vehicles are currently illegal to operate anywhere other than private property. Under the new regulations, they will be permitted on roads but cannot exceed a maximum operating speed of 24 kilometres per hour and must also have a horn or bell.

Riders must be at least 16 years old and must wear a helmet while driving one of the vehicles, which cannot weigh more than 45 kilograms.

The ministry said Tuesday that municipalities can pass their own individual bylaws to permit e-scooter use and set safety standards in their communities.

“We expect the municipalities that participate in the pilot to make safety a priority and establish rules that promote the safe operation and integration of e-scooters in their communities,” spokesman Jacob Henry in a statement.

Lepofsky said the vehicles move quickly and quietly and will present a safety threat for the disabled and non-disabled alike.

“As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public,” he said.

“I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 kilometres per hour on an e-scooter.”

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Lepofsky said provincial laws should require e-scooter drivers to have a licence and insurance. They should also ensure that if an e-scooter is left in a public place like a sidewalk, it should be forfeited and confiscated, he said.

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E-scooter rental companies should have mandatory liability for any injuries that the vehicles cause, and limits on the number of e-scooters, he added.

Earlier this year, the CNIB Foundation, which advocates for the blind or people living with vision loss, said it was concerned about the rules spelled out in the government’s proposal not taking into account the potential for the vehicles to be improperly driven on sidewalks.

The CEO of Bird Canada, an e-scooter rental company preparing to launch in Toronto this spring, said the company is committed to safety.

Stewart Lyon said he has met with organizations that advocate on behalf of the disabled, including the CNIB Foundation and the City of Toronto’s accessibility committee, to address their concerns.

“We have bells on the scooters and we work very hard to make sure they are parked correctly,” he said. “It’s not in our interest to be a pain in anyone’s side. It’s not in our interest to impinge the accessible community in any way.”

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First Fully Accessible Universal Washroom Opens at Upper Canada


Accessibility advocates say the new facility at Newmarket’s mall should serve as a benchmark for universal washrooms of the future By: Kim Champion
Dec. 3, 2019

Newmarket resident and chairperson of the Town of Newmarket’s accessibility advisory committee, Steve Foglia (left), and Derek Bunn, a special education teacher who also works with Community Living, were the driving force behind the new fully accessible universal washroom at Upper Canada Mall that’s now open.

A Change.org petition that garnered more than 26,000 signatures to get physically disabled children, adults and seniors off the washroom floor at Upper Canada Mall was instrumental in the official opening today of the first fully accessible universal washroom on the premises.

It’s been a two-year long project that saw many in the community working together to make it happen.

York Region District School Board special education teacher Derek Bunn, who started the petition in 2018, said support poured in from across the community and Canada, the United States and around the world.

He describes the situation for supporting people on a trip to the loo as follows:

“Children, adults and seniors who visit the Upper Canada Mall or any mall, and need to use the washroom, must be physically lifted from their wheelchair and be laid on the floor near toilets and the garbage in order to be changed. This type of activity is happening every day. Does this seem fair? Does this bother you? Does it shock you? I’m one of many who does this when I support someone at the mall. It is really unfair, unhygienic, unsafe and not dignified,” Bunn stated in the petition.

He sent the petition to Upper Canada Mall manager Oxford Properties Group, which helped “push the mall in the right direction,” to design its first fully accessible universal washroom, Bunn said.

Everyone involved in bringing the project to fruition was on hand this morning for the official ribbon-cutting of the 238-square-foot private washroom near the mall food court that could serve as the benchmark for universal washrooms of the future, said Steve Foglia, a Newmarket resident and artist who is chairperson of the Town of Newmarket’s accessibility advisory committee.

Foglia said Bunn mentioned to the committee a few years ago that he was having an issue with being forced to change school children on the floor while they were on outings.

“I thought, that’s got to stop,” Foglia said. “We are so grateful and, honestly, they gave us everything we asked for without even questioning it, everything.”

As it turned out, Upper Canada Mall was undertaking a renovation of its washroom facilities in 2019, and the stage was set for the universal washroom.

The area’s councillor, Christina Bisanz, contacted mall management on behalf of the accessibility advisory committee, and Petroff Partnership Architects were brought in to carry out the vision.

“If you build an accessible washroom by the Ontario Building Code, it’s not accessible,” Foglia said. “If you build it by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act standards, it’s better but it’s still not 100 per cent accessible. This universal washroom is doing everything you could possibly need it to.”

To put the features of the new universal washroom into perspective, Foglia said there’s always an issue for people in wheelchairs to get through the door without banging into the sides. Personally, he can’t wash his hands a lot of the time because he can’t fit his chair underneath the sink.

“So we made an extra wide door that’s 40 inches wide so people can go through the door just like an able-bodied person would,” he said. “We also have a sink that you can access with a wheelchair, along with the soap dispenser and water, and hand dryer.”

“We pulled things away from the wall so you can get under it with a chair,” he said. “And a person can use the sling to transfer themselves out of the chair, onto the adjustable change table, over to the toilet, over to the sink and back to the change table, and back to the chair without anybody having to lift somebody out of the chair, that’s very important. And keeping people off the floor, as it should be.”

Here are the features of the fully accessible universal washroom at Upper Canada Mall:

  • An adult change table complete with a lift and sling (600 lb. capacity) that allows an individual to move around the room
  • Waiting area for support workers
  • Privacy curtain
  • Emergency bars to call for help
  • Accessible toilet, sink, soap dispenser, water, and hand dryer
  • Contrasting floor tiles to help those with a visual impairment navigate the facilities
  • Child-sized toilet and child change table
  • Grab bars fastened to walls
  • Security system that includes guests buzzing in to gain access

“This is how it should be done,” Foglia said.

Upper Canada Mall’s general manager, Ryan DaSilva, thanked the Newmarket community for their help and support on the project, and said the universal washroom ensures “everyone feels welcome at the mall”.

Bunn added that Upper Canada Mall has always been the hub of social and shopping experiences, and it is a great atmosphere for people in wheelchairs to spend the day there.

“What a great economic benefit this is to the mall, and a great social outing to everybody in the GTA,” he said.

Oxford Properties Group declined to provide the cost of the new washroom, but said the project was a custom-build and the first of its kind for the group.

Original at https://www.newmarkettoday.ca/local-news/first-fully-accessible-universal-washroom-opens-at-upper-canada-1897800




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Toyota Canada Announces Partnership With StopGap, $100,000 Investment


PRNewswire
November 22, 2019

TORONTO, Nov. 22, 2019 /CNW/ – Last night, StopGap Foundation announced a new national partnership with Toyota Canada at StopGap’s big annual fundraising event. A $100,000 donation from the company will support the development and growth of StopGap’s School Project. The partnership will ultimately contribute to the longevity and livelihood of the Foundation and all its important awareness-raising programs in communities all across Canada.

“StopGap is a visionary organization that, by implementing a simple yet highly effective solution, has opened up hundreds of businesses across the country to people living with a disability or limited mobility,” said Stephen Beatty, Vice President, Corporate, Toyota Canada Inc. “Toyota Canada applauds StopGap’s important leadership in this space, and we look forward to joining them in their mission to make the world more inclusive through physical accessibility.”

The partnership with Toyota Canada is rooted in shared values. Toyota’s vision of becoming a global mobility company is underpinned by their commitment to creating a more inclusive society where everyone has access to mobility.

The support from Toyota Canada will elevate the Foundation’s impact and reach even more communities across Canada. Enabling growth of the School Project will also support the growth of Community Ramp Projects to create more barrier-free spaces, all while sparking an important dialogue to inspire a shift in the way Canadians think about disability and address accessibility challenges.

“We will all experience a shift in the way we move, whether it’s becoming a parent, sustaining an injury, a job requirement, or simply aging,” says Luke Anderson, StopGap Foundation Executive Director and Co-Founder. “At some point in our lives, we will need to rely on a barrier-free amenity, so it’s important that our world is designed and built to accommodate these shifts to maximize independence and spontaneity.”

StopGap Foundation is a registered Canadian charity that is raising awareness about the importance of accessibility and inclusion. The Foundation’s School Project, Community Ramp Project and Corporate Teambuilding program help ensure that our society’s collective understanding, about how barriers to access hold so many people back from reaching their full potential, continues to advance and grow.

StopGap provides brightly coloured ramps to business owners across Canada to help them overcome what Anderson calls the “one-step problem” a single step outside a business that makes the entire building inaccessible to many people who use mobility aids.

The deployable custom wooden ramps – painted in bright colours to attract attention and create awareness – allow easier access for those who use mobility aids and anyone else who finds a stepped entryway challenging, including the elderly, parents with strollers, and couriers. The simple-yet-impactful ramps help highlight the value of having a storefront that everyone can access and get communities thinking about great solutions to accessibility issues affecting so many Canadians.

About StopGap Foundation

StopGap Foundation began its awareness-raising journey in 2011 and has since populated the country with over 2,000 ramps in over 60 Canadian communities. Last summer, the grassroots organization celebrated the launch of its first U.S.-based project with more than a dozen businesses with single-stepped entryways in NYC hopping on the awareness-raising bandwagon. The Foundation has a goal of extending its programs to communities worldwide.

About Toyota Canada

Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Toyota has sold over eight million vehicles in Canada through a national network of 287 Toyota and Lexus dealerships. Toyota is dedicated to bringing safety, quality, dependability and reliability to the vehicles Canadians drive and the service they receive. TCI’s head office is located in Toronto, with regional offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Halifax, and parts distribution centres in Toronto and Vancouver. Toyota operates two manufacturing facilities in Canada. Having produced more than eight million vehicles, popular Canadian models built at these facilities include Toyota RAV4, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid. Recent investments at its facilities in Ontario will allow for increased production of the top-selling Toyota RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid models.

Original at https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/19/11/n14868396/toyota-canada-announces-partnership-with-stopgap-100-000-investment




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AODA Alliance Asks Federal Party Leaders For a New Bill to Strengthen the 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

November 18, 2019

SUMMARY

We today kick off the next phase in our campaign for accessibility at the federal level in Canada.

The AODA Alliance today wrote the leaders of the federal parties in Canadas newly-elected Parliament. We have asked them to pass a proposed new bill that we have outlined to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act that Parliament passed last June. We set out that letter below. It includes our framework for the new short but punchy bill that we are proposing and explains why we need it. In summary, we want this bill to:

a) ensure that enforceable accessibility standards are enacted under the Accessible Canada Act within five years;

b) remove an unfair and discriminatory provision So that passengers with disabilities who are the victims of accessibility barriers in federally-regulated travel (like air travel) are always able to seek monetary compensation when they deserve it;

c) ensure that the Accessible Canada Act never reduces the rights of people with disabilities, and that in any conflict between laws, the one that provides the highest level of accessibility prevails;

d) ensure that federal laws never create or permit accessibility barriers;

e) ensure that federal public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities;

f) simplify the Accessible Canada Acts unnecessarily confusing and complicated enforcement process;

g) eliminate the Federal Governments power to exempt itself from some of its duties under the Accessible Canada Act, and

h) require the Federal Government to apply a disability lens when it makes decisions or policies.

As our letter to the party leaders explains, it is good that Parliament unanimously passed the Accessible Canada Act. However, it needs to be strengthened to ensure that it fulfils its goal of making Canada barrier-free for over six million people with disabilities by 2040. While the Acts commendable goal is a barrier-free Canada, it does not require any disability accessibility barriers to ever be removed or prevented.

The recent federal election has opened the door to a tremendous new opportunity for us to advocate for this proposed new bill. Canada now has a minority government. All parties supported the goal of a barrier-free Canada and recognized the need for strong legislation to achieve this. The opposition Conservatives, NDP and Greens have all supported amendments to strengthen this bill. However, because our last government was a majority government, the opposition parties did not have the ability to make this happen.

The new minority government situation changes all that, and creates a new window of opportunity for us. However, minority governments typically only last for two or, at most, three years. We must move quickly. We are eager to work with any and all parties on this issue, in our well-known tradition of non-partisanship.

As our framework for this bill shows, our proposals for this bill are intentionally short and limited. They are the most high-impact changes with the best chance of getting them through Parliament. They reflect concerns that disability organizations repeatedly pressed for over the past year during public hearings in the House of Commons and the Senate on Bill C-81. Our experience with provincial disability accessibility legislation amply shows that these are top priorities.

Some might think it will be an uphill battle to get Parliament to amend the Accessible Canada Act now, so soon after it was enacted. We are used to uphill battles, including very daunting ones! For example, just one year ago, many thought it would be impossible to get the Senate to strengthen Bill C-81, especially so close to an election, and then to get the House of Commons to ratify any Senate amendments. Yet we and many others from the disability community tenaciously persisted. As a result, the Senate passed some amendments to strengthen Bill C-81 last spring. After that, the House of Commons approved all the Senates amendments.

We have nothing to lose in presenting this new proposal, and a lot to gain! Please urge your Member of Parliament to support this proposal for a new bill. Help us get all parties to make this a priority in the forthcoming session of Canadas new Parliament.

Stay tuned for more on this issue. For more background on the non-partisan campaign for a strong and effective Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/Canada

We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS — AODA Alliance Letter to Federal Party Leaders on a New ACA Bill

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance www.aodaalliance.org United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

November 18, 2019

To:
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Via email: [email protected]
Office of the Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Twitter: @JustinTrudeau

The Hon. Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Loyal Opposition and of the Conservative Party Via email: [email protected]
Leader of the Conservative Party
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Twitter: @AndrewScheer

The Hon. Yves-François Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois Via email: [email protected]
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
3750 boul. Crémazie Est, bureau 402
Montréal Quebec H2A 1B6
Twitter: @yfblanchet

The Hon. Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP
Via email: [email protected]
300 279 Laurier West
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5J9
Twitter: @theJagmeetSingh

The Hon. Jo-Ann Roberts, Interim Leader of the Green Party; MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands Via email: [email protected]
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Twitter: @JoAnnRobertsHFX

Dear Federal Party Leaders,

Re: Strengthening the Accessible Canada Act to Achieve a Barrier-Free Canada for Over Six Million People with Disabilities

As the new Parliament prepares to meet, we ask your parties to ensure that its agenda includes a new short, but vital bill to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. This is important for over six million people with disabilities who face too many accessibility barriers every day. It is also important for everyone else in Canada, since everyone is bound to get a disability as they grow older.

At the end of this letter we set out a framework detailing what this new bill should include. In summary, this new bill should:

a) ensure that enforceable accessibility standards are enacted under the Accessible Canada Act within five years;

b) remove an unfair and discriminatory provision So that passengers with disabilities who are the victims of accessibility barriers in federally-regulated travel (like air travel) are always able to seek monetary compensation when they deserve it;

c) ensure that the Accessible Canada Act never reduces the rights of people with disabilities, and that in any conflict between laws, the one that provides the highest level of accessibility prevails;

d) ensure that federal laws never create or permit accessibility barriers;

e) ensure that federal public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities;

f) simplify the Accessible Canada Acts unnecessarily confusing and complicated enforcement process;

g) eliminate the Federal Governments power to exempt itself from some of its duties under the Accessible Canada Act, and

h) require the Federal Government to apply a disability lens when it makes decisions or policies.

Founded in 2005, the AODA Alliance is a non-partisan community coalition that advocates for accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario and Canada. We presented to the House of Commons and Senate to ask for amendments to strengthen Bill C-81. During debates in Parliament, MPs and Senators quoted and relied on our submissions.

In June, before rising for the election, Parliament unanimously passed Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. We appreciate and commend its unanimous passage. Many people with disabilities were encouraged by Parliaments unanimity in recognizing that Canada has too many barriers impeding people with disabilities, and that the needed legislative solution to this problem must be based on the principle of Nothing about us without us!

It is good that the Accessible Canada Act sets the goal of Canada becoming barrier-free by 2040, and that it gives the Federal Government a range of important powers to achieve that goal. However, there was also commendable recognition from many in Parliament that the bill needs to include more to achieve its goal. Even though the Accessible Canada Act has the goal of ensuring that Canada becomes barrier-free by 2040, it does not require that a single disability barrier ever be removed.

In the House of Commons Standing Committee hearings, many disability advocates identified ways Bill C-81 needed to be strengthened. During clause-by-clause debate in the House last fall, the Conservatives and NDP presented a substantial number of proposed amendments at the request of disability organizations. The Federal Government presented a shorter package of amendments. The Federal Governments amendments were passed.

After that, the bill came to the Senate last spring. A Senate Standing Committee held a second round of public hearings. The Senate heard that there was ample support for the need for this legislation, but that the bill still needed strengthening.

Commendably, the Senate passed a short package of improvements to the bill, before returning it to the House of Commons. Senators saw that the bill needed improvements. They were reluctant to pass more than a bare number of amendments, because they did not want to risk the bill dying on the order paper when the imminent election was called.

The Senate did what little it could to strengthen the bill within these substantial constraints. However, it did not fix all the key deficiencies with Bill C-81. When the bill was returned to the House of Commons last spring, it was commendable that the House unanimously passed the Senates improvements.

The job of coming up with an Accessible Canada Act that meets the needs of over six million people with disabilities in Canada is therefore still unfinished. We urge Parliament to now finish this important work, by strengthening the Accessible Canada Act. We propose amendments. Set out below, these amendments echo key requests from the disability community to the House of Commons and later to the Senate before the election. For Parliament to now act on them is true to the parties commitment to the principle Nothing about us without us.

To past a modest bill now to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act is consistent with the calls last year by the Conservative, NDP and Green Parties for Bill C-81 to be strengthened. During Third Reading debates on Bill C-81 in the House of Commons, the Conservatives promised, if elected, to make the strengthening of this bill a priority. The NDP promised specific amendments to this bill during the 2019 federal election. The Liberals promised that this new law would be historic and would ensure that Canada becomes accessible to people with disabilities. The Liberals also promised during the recent election to apply a disability lens to all government decisions. When a disability lens is applied to the Accessible Canada Act itself, it brings into sharp focus the fact that the amendments we seek are needed now.

These amendments would not delay the Federal Governments current activity on implementing the Accessible Canada Act. Parliamentary debate over this short amendments package need not hold up other pressing Parliamentary business.

We anticipate that some within the Federal Public Service may push back that this should all await an Independent Review of the Accessible Canada Acts operations. Yet people with disabilities cannot wait the seven or more years for that review to begin. The need for these amendments is clear and present now. Any delay in making them will only slow Canadas progress towards the goal of full accessibility.

In the new minority Parliament that voters elected, your parties have committed to work together. Our proposed bill is an excellent opportunity for this. It reflects what your parties have said about accessibility for people with disabilities and to what many disability advocates told Parliament.

We would welcome the opportunity to speak to any of your parties officials about this. Please let us know with whom we should speak within your party.

We urge you to support the bill we seek, and to make this a priority on Parliaments agenda. We are eager to work together with you on this positive proposal in the spirit of non-partisanship that is the hallmark of our many years of grassroots disability advocacy.

Sincerely,

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

Framework of a Proposed Federal Bill to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act

November 18, 2019

Introduction

We call on Canadas Parliament to pass a new bill to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. The Accessible Canada Act is federal legislation that has the purpose of ensuring that Canada becomes barrier-free for over six million people with disabilities by 2040. This framework explains the amendments to the Accessible Canada Act that we seek via a new bill.

A. Enforceable Accessibility Standard Regulations Should Be Enacted Within Five Years

The Accessible Canada Act’s centerpiece is the enactment and enforcement of accessibility standard regulations. These regulations will specify what an organization must do, and by when to become accessible. The Act lets the Federal Cabinet, the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) enact these regulations. However, it does not require them ever to be enacted. If they are not enacted, the Act will fail.

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Act to require the Federal Government, the CTA and the CRTC to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in all the areas that the Act covers within five years. We therefore propose:

1. The Accessible Canada Act 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.

B. The Accessible Canada Act Should Never Reduce the Rights of People with Disabilities

The Accessible Canada Act includes insufficient protections to ensure that nothing under the Act reduces the rights of people with disabilities and that if there is a conflict between two laws regarding accessibility, the stronger one will prevail.

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Act to provide that if a provision of that Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility shall prevail, and that nothing in the Accessible Canada Act or in any regulations enacted under it or actions taken under it shall reduce any rights which people with disabilities otherwise enjoy under law. We therefore propose:

2. Section 6 of the Accessible Canada Act should be amended to add the following to the principles set out in it that govern the Act:

“(2) (a) If a provision of this Act or of any regulation under this Act conflicts with or guarantees a different level ofaccessibility for people with disabilities than a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.

(b) Nothing in or under this Act or regulations enacted under it may be construed or applied to reduce the rights of people with disabilities enjoyed at law.

C. An Unfair and Discriminatory Provision of the Accessible Canada Act Should Be Removed So that Passengers with Disabilities Who Are the Victims of Accessibility Barriers in Federally-Regulated Travel (Like Air Travel) are Always Able to Seek Monetary Compensation When They Deserve It

An unfair and discriminatory provision, section 172, was included in the Accessible Canada Act. It is helpful that the Senate somewhat softened it, after tenacious pressure from disability advocates. However, it should be repealed altogether.

Specifically, section 172(3) of the Accessible Canada Act unfairly takes away important rights from people with disabilities in a discriminatory way. It bars the CTA from awarding justly-deserved monetary compensation to a passenger with a disability, even if the CTA finds that an airline or other federally-regulated transportation-provider imposed an undue barrier against them, so long as a federal transportation accessibility regulation says that the airline did not have to provide the passenger with that accommodation.

This unfairly protects huge, well-funded airlines and railways from having to pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to pay up. Our proposed bill would repeal the offending portion of section 172(3). We therefore propose:

3. To ensure that the Canadian Transportation Agency can decide whether there is an undue barrier that makes federal transportation inaccessible for persons with disabilities and can always order the full range of remedies to remove and prevent such barriers, and to ensure that s. 172(3) of the Canada Transportation Act does not reduce rights of persons with disabilities, subsection 172(3) of the Accessible Canada Act and the corresponding s. 172(3) of the Canada Transportation Act should be amended to remove the words but if it does so, it may only require the taking of appropriate corrective measures.

Section 172(3) of the Canada Transportation Act currently reads: Compliance with regulations
(3)If the Agency is satisfied that regulations made under subsection 170(1) that are applicable in relation to a matter have been complied with or have not been contravened, the Agency may determine that there is an undue barrier in relation to that matter but if it does so, it may only require the taking of appropriate corrective measures.

With this amendment, section 172(3) would read:
Compliance with regulations
(3)If the Agency is satisfied that regulations made under subsection 170(1) that are applicable in relation to a matter have been complied with or have not been contravened, the Agency may determine that there is an undue barrier in relation to that matter.

D. No Federal Laws Should Create or Permit Disability Barriers

The Accessible Canada Act does not ensure that federal laws never impose or permit the creation of barriers against people with disabilities.

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Acts definition of “barrier” to include laws that create or permit disability barriers. We therefore propose:

4. Section 2 of the Accessible Canada Acts 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)”

E. Federal Public Money Should Never Be Used to Create or Perpetuate Barriers

The Accessible Canada Act does not require the Federal Government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds to create or perpetuate disability barriers. For example, the Act doesn’t require the Federal Government to attach accessibility strings when it gives money to a municipality, college, university, local transit authority or other organization to build new infrastructure. Those recipients are left free to use federal public money to design and build new infrastructure that is not fully accessible to people with disabilities. Also, the Act doesn’t require the Federal Government to attach any federal accessibility strings when it gives business development loans or grants to private businesses.

It is helpful that the Act lets the Federal Government impose accessibility requirements when it buys goods or services. However, it doesn’t require the Federal Government to ever do so.

This allows for a wasteful and harmful use of public money. The Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs that held hearings on Bill C-81 made this important observation in its May 7, 2019 report to the Senate:

“Your committee heard concerns that despite this legislation, federal funding may continue to be spent on projects that do not always meet accessibility standards. Therefore, we encourage the federal government to ensure that when public money is spent or transferred, the funding should never be used to create or perpetuate disability-related barriers when it is reasonable to expect that such barriers can be avoided.”

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Act to require that no one may use public money distributed by the Government of Canada in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers, including e.g., 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. We therefore propose:

5. The Accessible Canada Act should be amended to add the following provision:

11.1.

(1) No one shall use public money distributed by the Government of Canada or any agency thereof by loan, grant, or other like payment 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.

F. The Confusing and Complicated Implementation and Enforcement of the Accessible Canada Act Should be Simplified

The lengthy Accessible Canada Act is very complicated and confusing. It will be hard for people with disabilities to navigate it. It splinters the power to make accessibility standard regulations and the power to enforce the bill among a number of federal agencies, such as the new federal Accessibility Commissioner, the CTA, and the CRTC.

This makes it much harder for people with disabilities to navigate the system, to find out what rights they have, and to get violations fixed. People with disabilities have to learn to navigate as many as three or four different sets of accessibility rules, enforcement agencies, procedures, forms and time lines for presenting an accessibility complaint.

Our proposed bill would require that the CRTC, CTA and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, within six months, 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 that the Accessible Canada Act sets out for the Accessibility Commissioner. We therefore propose:

6. The following provision should be added to the Accessible Canada Act:

“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 94 to 110 of the Act.”

G. The Accessible Canada Acts Power to Exempt the Federal Government from Some of the Acts Requirements Should be Eliminated

The Accessible Canada Act has too many loopholes. For example, it lets the Federal Government exempt itself from some of its duties under the Act. The Government should not ever be able to exempt itself.

Our proposed bill would eliminate the Federal Governments power to exempt itself from some of its duties under the Accessible Canada Act. We therefore propose:

7. Section 72(1) of the Accessible Canada Act 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.”

H. The Federal Government Should Be Required to Apply a Disability Lens to All Its Decisions

In the 2019 election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada promised that it would apply a disability lens to all Federal Government decisions. Proposed opposition amendments to Bill C-81 last year would have made this a permanent legal requirement, not a voluntary practice that future governments could ignore.

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Act to entrench in law a disability lens, that must be applied to all Government policies and decisions and would make it binding on both the current Government and future governments. We therefore propose:

8. The following provision should be added to the Accessible Canada Act:

In order to systemically entrench the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all opportunities available in Canada, the government shall implement a disability lens whereby:

(a) Within two years the government shall have reviewed all existing policies to ensure that they do not exclude or adversely affect persons with disabilities.

(b) within 3 months of completing this review, the Minister shall submit a report to Parliament on the findings of the review and corrective measures taken.

(c) the government shall review all new policies and decisions to ensure that they do not exclude or adversely affect persons with disabilities.

(d) Before the Government of Canada adopts any new policies or makes any new decisions, the Minister shall certify that the policy has been reviewed to ensure that it does not exclude or adversely affect persons with disabilities, and shall annually report to Parliament on the reviews conducted and corrective measures taken




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