Canadians urged Trudeau to address police racism after George Floyd murder, emails show

They didn’t always agree on what to do, but scores of concerned citizens penned letters urging the federal Liberals to address police mistreatment of Black and Indigenous people as the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota helped spark indignation about injustices in Canada.

Hundreds of pages of correspondence disclosed through the Access to Information Act reveal deep mistrust of the RCMP and other police services, along with plenty of suggestions on how to make things better.

Many of the emails, from May 25 to July 1 of last year, were addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, though they all wound up in the inbox of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, the cabinet member responsible for the Mounties and the federal prison and border agencies.

READ MORE: 84% of Canadians satisfied with Derek Chauvin guilty verdict in George Floyd death, poll says

In most cases the senders’ names were removed, out of respect for privacy, before release under the access law.

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“The people should know they are safe in the presence of the law,” said a message from Toronto. “Right now, many do not.”

A Verdun, Que., writer said that as a white male he had never experienced racial or gender discrimination, so he could not truly understand the pain and rage of people of colour. “But I feel their pain and will not remain silent.”

Added another letter: “Although we might need the police in some specific instances, the unrestrained force that they regularly use against Black and Indigenous people is appalling and completely unacceptable in a country like Canada.”

At an anti-racism rally in Ottawa last June, Trudeau put one knee to the ground, his head bowed, as others also took a knee around him. The demonstration was one of several events in Canada following days of rallies against racism and police brutality in numerous American cities prompted by Floyd’s death at the hands of police.

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Thousands gather in Ottawa for demonstration, Trudeau takes knee

Thousands gather in Ottawa for demonstration, Trudeau takes knee – Jun 5, 2020

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki initially stopped short last June of endorsing Trudeau’s assessment that the national police force, like all Canadian institutions, exhibits systemic racism.

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In a sudden reversal soon after, Lucki spoke with regret for not having done so.

A writer from Powell River, B.C., told Trudeau in mid-June it was time for Lucki to go.

“Enough is enough! The replacement of the current commissioner will send notice to our police and all our nation’s people that this laissez-faire hedging and outright denial will not stand.”

A New Brunswick correspondent advised the prime minister that demanding Lucki’s resignation would not rid the RCMP of racism, and instead recommended improved recruitment and training of Mounties. “Selecting better suited candidates would go a long way in rectifying the situation.”

The Mounties should be completely removed from Indigenous communities, a writer from Amherst, N.S., said after seeing a video of the RCMP violently arresting Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam in Alberta.

“I have read before that the Indigenous people have grown to distrust the RCMP and I now see why.”

A letter from Calgary urged Blair late last July to take drastic action by diverting funds from police forces to “those measures that actually address the root of crime,” such as education, mental-health services, housing and social work.

“There are countless examples of police brutality in Canadian history, and without acknowledging this fact and actively working to change it, there will continue to be,” the message says.

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An email from B.C. rejected the notion of reducing police budgets, calling instead for better training of officers in arrest methods.

Another letter writer urged the prime minister to take concrete steps as soon as possible to reform Canadian policing to eliminate racial bias.

READ MORE: Why racism in Canada’s police force is as old as policing

“Unfortunately, we haven’t done enough yet to save the lives and preserve the well-being of Black and Indigenous Canadians,” the letter says.

“I don’t know what the solutions are, but I encourage you to listen to the people who do.”

The House of Commons public safety committee is preparing to release a report on systemic racism in policing.

In last fall’s throne speech, the Liberal government promised legislation and money to address systemic inequities in all phases of the criminal justice system.

It pledged action on issues ranging from sentencing and rehabilitation to improved civilian oversight of the RCMP and standards on police use of force.

The planned measures also include modern training for police and other law-enforcement agencies, as well as broader RCMP reforms that emphasize a shift toward community-led policing.

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In addition, the Liberals promised to speed up work on a legislative framework for First Nations policing as an essential service, seen as crucial to ensuring safety in Indigenous communities.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Mental health report: Vast majority of Ontarians experiencing negative emotions amid pandemic

The Canadian Mental Health Association has launched a report that shows most Ontarians are continuing to deal with negative emotions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report was released in time for Mental Health Week, which launched Monday.

The report, which surveyed roughly 3,000 people across Ontario in January, says 84 per cent of adults said they were feeling worried, anxious, bored, stressed, lonely, isolated or sad.

Data also suggests 76 per cent of Ontarians reported coping at least fairly well with the stress of the pandemic. Sixty per cent of participants also said their screen time increased and 31 per cent reported consuming more food.

“The pandemic is one of those situations where it causes so many different things,” Alec King with CMHA Durham said.

Read more:
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“It’s not just (the pandemic), it’s also the isolation, the uncertainty, the worry and the concern that people are feeling.”

King says while the data is discouraging, difficult emotions may be an appropriate response to Ontarian’s current circumstances.

“For Mental Health Week we want to talk about how it’s good to give emotions voice,” he said.

“Positive mental health isn’t about always being happy. It’s about being able to express your emotions in a way that’s healthy and good.”

Jamie Andrews was diagnosed with depression in his early 20s. He, along with many others who have struggled with their mental health, are sharing their experiences through a new mental health podcast called ‘Over Thinking.’

Read more:
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“We have feelings and those feelings are telling us something, but it’s up to us to look inside and see what it is,” he said.

“We need to normalize this conversation, and that’s one of the things that I hope our goal is for the overthinking podcast.”

Other mental health advocates, like Olabiyi Dipeolu, have been working tirelessly to ensure people of all income levels can access mental health services. Dipeolu’s online retail store, Maqoba, donates its net profits to mental health services like the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). It also navigates users towards free, accessible resources for those who are currently struggling.

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Read more:
Canadians’ mental health further declining during COVID-19 2nd wave: study

“Even though we live in a wonderful country and we have access to mental health, not everyone knows how to find those resources,” he said.

“100 per cent of the net proceeds go to those who can’t afford mental health treatment. This is in the form of get well packages, therapy sessions, and housing opportunities.”

The CMHA encourages those currently facing mental health challenges to contact the organization. Mental health advocates encourage people to turn to friends and loved ones for additional support.

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

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‘You’ve got to keep pushing’: CTA rules in woman’s favour over Regina bus accessibility

After waiting over two years, a Regina woman who uses a wheelchair is happy the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruled in her favour against a bus company.

In October 2018, Terri Sleeva called Rider Express Transportation to book a ride from Regina to Saskatoon for a date in November.

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Sleeva told the operator that she uses a wheelchair and was told that the bus was not wheelchair accessible. The operator told Sleeva the company would be receiving wheelchair-accessible buses in the future but was not told a specific date.

Sleeva is part of a group called Transportation for All with individuals who mostly use wheelchairs. The group was founded when Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) closed in 2017.

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“They couldn’t go home for Christmas. They couldn’t go to funerals, they couldn’t go to weddings. Nothing, because the (Saskatchewan Transportation Company) was gone and a (taxi) trip to Saskatoon and back costs $600,” Sleeva told Global News.

Armed with knowledge of Canadian transportation and accessibility rights, Sleeva filed a claim against Rider Express with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Sleeva’s claim was passed onto the Canadian Human Rights Commission because the company is headquartered in Calgary. The claim was passed on again for a final time to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

Sleeva said it was frustrating process. She was even told by peers that her claim wasn’t going to get anywhere and it was “no action thing.”

“The thing is you’ve got keep pushing, you’ve got to. If you feel that’s the right way to do things, keep going and persevere, it comes to pass eventually.”

According to subsection 172(3) of the CTA, the agency may require corrective measures be taken on determining that there is an undue obstacle to the mobility of a persons with disability.

“Transportation service providers, including (Rider Express), have a duty to accommodate persons with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship,” the CTA added.

In their decision, released on April 14, the agency found that there is no basis to conclude that removing the obstacle to Sleeva’s mobility would cause undue hardship for Rider Express.

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“The agency therefore finds that appropriate corrective actions should be ordered,” the decision read.

Click to play video: 'Advocacy group sounding alarm on ‘extreme’ wait times for specialized mobility aids in Alberta'

Advocacy group sounding alarm on ‘extreme’ wait times for specialized mobility aids in Alberta

Advocacy group sounding alarm on ‘extreme’ wait times for specialized mobility aids in Alberta – Jan 21, 2021

The CTA added in their ruling that in order for Rider Express to meet its obligation to provide accessible services to persons with disabilities, they must provide bus services that are wheelchair accessible.

Rider Express has until May 12 to confirm that a number of measures set out by the CTA are in place for all of its routes.

The decision adds that if Rider Express does not have buses that can accommodate a wheelchair or if not all of its routes are served by wheelchair-accommodating buses, they must provide alternate transportation for someone who makes the request 48 hours before scheduled departure time, or make a reasonable effort to do so if the request is made 48 hours before departure time. This may include providing a wheelchair-accessible van or taxi for a person in need.

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Read more:
Disabilities group calls for STC return, accessible transit coming to certain Sask. routes

Rider Express is required to confirm that the alternate transportation means are in place no later than June 10.

Sleeva said she went into disbelief when she received the decision.

Dylan Morin from Transportation for All said the decision was “fantastic.”

Morin said people with disabilities and mobility issues face a number of challenges since the STC shut down.

“If they can’t get a ride, they stay home. They can’t go and see family, they can’t go and see friends. They can’t go to community events. If you’re on a provincial board, you may not be able to get to meetings, if you don’t have transportation,” he said.

Morin is hoping that things will change now based on this ruling.

Read more:
Regina group looking to bring back bus service through Human Rights Commission

In their decision, CTA said that Rider Express chose not to participate in the proceeding though CTA made several attempts to contact the company by phone, email and mail.

“(Rider Express) remained silent throughout the process and did not respond at any point, even when the onus shifted to it, in the second part of the proceeding, to explain how it would remove the obstacle or why it believed it could not do so without experiencing undue hardship,” the CTA decision read.

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Rider Express did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls from Global News. This story will be updated when a statement is provided.

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

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CRA tax-filing portal hits issues day before deadline

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) says its website was experiencing issues for up to two hours on Thursday evening, the day before the deadline to submit tax filings for many.

CRA spokesperson Jeremy Bellefeuille said that there was an update to the website on Thursday that resulted in links on CRA’s website being disabled, specifically for its Represent a Client and My Business Account services.

The issue is now fixed, Bellefeuille said.

Candace Nancke, a partner at accounting firm Loren Nancke, said the impact on the Represent a Client service, which allows authorized representatives online access to individuals and businesses’ tax information, affected her and many other accountants’ ability to file taxes.

Read more:
Locked out by CRA? How to gain access to your online account (March 12, 2021)

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“A lot of accountants are not happy,” she said. “Many taxpayers and accountants are reporting having to spend hours on the phone in a queue to speak to CRA.”

Bellefeuille said CRA will not be extending the April 30 deadline for filing taxes that applies to most Canadians.

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Cyber security expert shares tips for safely filing taxes last-minute

Cyber security expert shares tips for safely filing taxes last-minute

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Ontario’s COVID-19 triage protocol ‘discriminates because of disability,’ advocates say

When Tracy Odell experienced bleeding in her stomach last summer during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, she went to hospital but vowed she would not return.

“I don’t feel safe in hospitals and a lot of people with disabilities similar to mine, where you need this much assistance, don’t feel safe in a hospital,” she said.

Odell was born with spinal muscular atrophy and requires assistance to complete many daily tasks.

Now, amid the third wave and with critical care units filling up, Odell said she fears if she ever needed the care, she would not be able to get it.

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“I, personally, wouldn’t go to a hospital. I would feel it would be a waste of time and I’d feel very unsafe to go thereIt’s a real indictment, I think, of our system, that people who have disabilities, have severe needs, don’t feel safe in a place where everyone’s supposed to be safe,” she said.

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Odell is most concerned about a “critical care triage protocol” that could be activated in Ontario.

It would essentially allow health-care providers to decide who gets potentially life-saving care and who doesn’t.

Under the guidelines, as set out in a draft protocol circulating among hospitals, patients would be ranked on their likelihood to survive one year after the onset of critical illness.

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“Patients who have a high likelihood of dying within twelve months from the onset of their episode of critical illness (based on an evaluation of their clinical presentation at the point of triage) would have a lower priority for critical care resources,” states the document.

Odell says it’s tough to predict who will survive an illness.

“They have to guess who’s going to last a year ... As a child with my disability, my projected life expectancy was like a kid … they didn’t think I’d live to be a teenager and here I am retired, so it’s a very hard thing to judge,” said Odell.

Disability advocates have been raising alarm bells over the triage protocol for months.

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David Lepofsky, of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, sent multiple letters to Minister of Health Christine Elliott demanding transparency, arguing “the Ontario government’s pervasive secrecy over its critical care triage plans has made many people with disabilities terrified, angry and distrustful.”

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‘She deteriorated like she fell off a cliff’ — Vaccinated Ontario senior battles COVID-19 in hospital

“People with disabilities have disproportionately had to suffer for the past year from the most severe aspects of COVID … People with disabilities are disproportionately prone to end up in intensive care units and die from the disease,” said Lepofsky.

“Now we face the double cruelty that we are disproportionately prone to get told, ‘No, you can’t have that life-saving care.’”

Lepofsky said the document that is circulating, while not finalized, is problematic, unethical and discriminatory.

“The rules that have been given to intensive care units for deciding who gets critical care and who doesn’t, if they have to ration, may look fine because they’re full of medical jargon, but they actually explicitly discriminate because of disability,” he said.

“We agree there should be a protocol, but it can’t be one that discriminates because of disability. That’s illegal.”

John Mossa, who is living with muscular dystrophy, has been homebound for more than a year, afraid he would contract COVID-19 if he went outside and not survive it.

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Read more:
COVID-19 — Critical care nurses in high demand in Ontario as 3rd wave puts pressure on hospitals

“COVID is a very serious disease for me … if I do get COVID, I would probably become very ill and pass away because of my poor respiratory condition. I have about 30 per cent lung capacity due to my muscular dystrophy so COVID is very serious. It’s been a very scary time,” he said.

Never more frightening than right now, Mossa said, amid a surging third wave with a record number of patients in Ontario’s critical care units and the potential for triaging life-saving care.

“The people that would be affected the most are the least considered to get care … I’m afraid, I’m totally afraid to go to hospital right now,” he said.

A few weeks ago, Mossa said, he had a hip accident but he has avoided the hospital, even though he is suffering and should seek medical help.

Read more:
‘A lot of suffering’ — Front-line health-care workers describe the moments before death by COVID-19

“I should be considering going to hospital, but I’m not going to go to hospital because I know that I won’t get the care I need and if it gets any worse. I know that I wouldn’t be given an ICU bed,” he said.

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On Wednesday, when asked about the triage protocol, Elliott said it has not yet been activated.

That was echoed by Dr. James Downar, a palliative and critical care physician in Ottawa who co-wrote Ontario’s ICU protocol.

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The complications of getting COVID-19 vaccinations for non-residents in Ontario

“I don’t think that there’s any plan to initiate a triage process in the next couple of days. I think a lot is going to depend on which way our ICU numbers go. They have been climbing at a fairly alarming rate,” he said.

On concerns by advocates that the protocol discriminates against people with disabilities, Downar said, “The only criterion in the triage plan is mortality risk.”

“We absolutely don’t want to make any judgments about whose life is more valuable, certainly nothing based on ability, disability or need for accommodations … If you value all lives equally, that, I think, is the strongest argument for using an approach that would save as many lives as you can,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Ontario to allow hospitals to move patients to long-term care, retirement homes to create room for COVID-19 patients'

Ontario to allow hospitals to move patients to long-term care, retirement homes to create room for COVID-19 patients

Ontario to allow hospitals to move patients to long-term care, retirement homes to create room for COVID-19 patients

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Accessibility advocates raise serious concerns with new policy allowing dogs on Nova Scotia patios – Halifax

One day after the Nova Scotia government announced a new policy allowing dogs on outdoor patios, some accessibility advocates and guide dog users are raising concerns that the presence of pets could compromise their safety.

While service animals are well-trained, any barking or play from dogs at other tables may still distract them, interfering with their ability to keep their owner safe, said guide dog user Shelley Adams.

“I’m just worried about the extra distraction it’s going to bring,” said Adams, sitting next to her own guide dog, Rookie.

“I don’t want to have to be sitting there worrying that another dog is going to try and engage with him, or I don’t know, hurt him in any way … He is my mobility aid.”

Read more:
Bone appetit! Dogs now allowed on Nova Scotia restaurant and cafe patios

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Adams said she is not opposed to the policy, and would still attend an outdoor patio but ask to be seated away from other dogs.

In the event someone else’s dog were to start misbehaving, however, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) said the desire of the service dog user to sit on the patio must be prioritized.

“If there are going to be other animals on a patio, there’s potential for the other animals to negatively interfere with the work of a guide dog. I think the behaviour of the animals needs to be held to the same high standards that we as guide dog users have our dogs following,” said CNIB guide dog program president Diane Bergeron.

It’s important to distinguish between the rights and needs of a service dog user and the preference of a pet owner, she added.

Click to play video: 'Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios'

Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios

Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios – Mar 30, 2021

Read more:
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The provincial change came into effect on Tuesday, answering a longstanding request from the restaurant industry to remove barriers for dog owners, who may be more likely to stop for a meal or a drink if their dogs can accompany them.

In a Wednesday statement, Environment Department spokesperson Barbara MacLean it’s important for Nova Scotians to do their part not to distract service dogs or interfere with their ability to do their job, but ultimately, establishments are responsible for enforcing the policy properly.

“It’s up to restaurant owners to ensure that dogs on patios are not impeding their customers, including those from the accessibility community and service dogs,” she wrote.

Read more:
Halifax restaurants calling on province to change food safety rules following warnings about dogs

Businesses that choose to allow pets must also follow certain rules, she added, including keeping their dogs leashed, on the ground and away from the aisles. Pet dogs are still prohibited from entering bars and restaurants, while service dogs are not.

Luc Erjavec, vice-president of the Restaurants Canada Atlantic chapter, emphasized that the new patio provision is voluntary and not every restaurant will choose to adopt it.

Restaurant owners who do choose to allow pets, he added, will do their utmost to accommodate all customers.

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“I don’t think any operator wants 10 dogs on a small patio. I think they’re going to look at each individual situation, the time of day, what’s going on and respond accordingly,” he said. “Our goal is to keep our customers happy.”

Click to play video: 'Letting the dogs out through Canicross'

Letting the dogs out through Canicross

Letting the dogs out through Canicross – Mar 25, 2021

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Accessibility advocate Paul Vienneau, who helped win the case for accessible washrooms in Nova Scotia restaurants, said he shares the concerns of guide dog users.

He loves dogs and sympathizes with the restaurant industry, he told Global News, but he fears the policy decision was taken without consultation from the disability community, casting a shadow over years of accessibility progress.

“There are other ways to make money than doing this,” said Vienneau. “For the government to just wave their hand and basically wipe away decades of hard work by disabled and blind folks that they’ve done is pretty disrespectful to these people.”

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David Fraser, a privacy lawyer who represented wheelchair users in the 2018 challenge for accessible restaurant washrooms, also wondered whether the new policy was “thought through.”

“My concern is by allowing dogs access to patios, you might be reducing the access to those patios that are otherwise accessible to individuals who use service animals, and I think that’s a real concern,” he said.

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

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Sidewalk debate: London, Ont., Civic Works Committee grants no exemption for any street – London

London, Ont., city council’s Civic Works Committee has voted against exempting any street that’s set to receive a new sidewalk this summer.

The debate, which took place during a virtual meeting Monday afternoon, heard both sides from members of city council as well as 31 delegates.

Eleven streets were set to get new sidewalks installed once underground infrastructure reconstruction takes place, but this didn’t sit well with some homeowners.

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Speaking at the meeting, more than 10 homeowners brought up the issue of tree removal that comes with installing new sidewalks.

“It appears that there are 14 trees on 13 properties slated for removal,” said a resident of Bartlett Crescent, one of the streets on the city’s sidewalk installation list.

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“We will be left with three trees on 13 properties… This is an unnecessary loss of trees that are integral to the charm and beauty of our landscape.”

Click to play video: 'Icy sidewalk dispute in Saint John'

Icy sidewalk dispute in Saint John

Icy sidewalk dispute in Saint John – Mar 8, 2021

Others said the roads are safe for both pedestrians and drivers. One resident also brought up the mental health benefits that comes with a greater number of trees.

On the other hand, accessibility advocates argued sidewalks are vital to ensuring London is moving towards becoming more inclusive.

“Older adults with mobility challenges, young families pushing strollers… neither of whom should be on the street,” said Jay Menard, the chair of London city hall’s Accessibility Advisory Committee.

“From city parks to sidewalk debates over the past few years, disabled Londoners have routinely been told to go somewhere else or to wait for the next time around,” added Jeff Preston, an assistant professor in disability studies at Western University.

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Read more:
Accessibility advocate invites Londoners to ‘roll a mile in my wheels’

The debate also heard from a resident with a disability who disagrees with sidewalk installations.

S. Skelton lives in the St. Anthony Road area and has lived with the challenges of a traumatic brain injury for more than 20 years. St. Anthony Road is set to get sidewalks this summer.

“I speak for six per cent of households (in my neighbourhood) with a resident who meets the criteria of an Ontarian with a disability,” she said. “What we are unanimously opposed to is the assumption that sidewalks in our neighbourhood will improve our accessibility (and) safety.”

Skelton said sidewalks often cause more trouble for those with disabilities because ridges can make walking or wheeling uncomfortable and difficult. Snowy and icy conditions means sidewalks are unusable at times.

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S. Connolly, who lives in the Friars Way area expressed similar concerns. He’s the stepfather to a 21-year-old who uses a wheelchair.

“I am opposed to the sidewalks because (they) reduce Noah’s accessibility and they are a potential safety hazard.”

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“We have never (experienced) any issues or problems using the roadways… Just because we have no sidewalks doesn’t mean the neighbourhood is not accessible to all. In our neighbourhood, (the) quiet roads without sidewalks are more accessible.”

Click to play video: 'Green access road prompts heated debate'

Green access road prompts heated debate

Green access road prompts heated debate – Aug 22, 2018

Towards the end of the meeting, members of the Civic Works Committee voted against exempting any street that’s set to receive a new sidewalk.

Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen was the sole member of the committee that voted to grant exemptions for all streets.

Councillor Elizabeth Peloza also voted to grant an exemption for Bartlett Crescent only.

Read more:
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The final decision goes to city council on March 23.

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The following streets are part of the city’s sideline installation project:

  • Abbey Rise
  • Elm Street
  • Friars Way
  • Imperial Road
  • Paymaster Avenue
  • St. Anthony Road
  • Tarbart Terrace
  • Bartlett Crescent
  • Doncaster Avenue
  • Doncaster Place

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

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Halifax wheelchair user ‘trapped’ in apartment due to 15-day-long elevator repair

A Halifax mom is advocating for her son with disabilities, who hasn’t been able to leave his apartment for more than two weeks, due to an out-of-order elevator.

Tracy Denney and her 30-year-old son Adam live on the third floor at 16 Caxton Close, with four flights of stairs standing between their apartment and the exit.

“I’m fed up,” Denney tells Global News.

Adam has spina bifida and has been wheelchair-bound since he was two years old.

The only elevator in their building broke down Feb 24. For more than two weeks, Adam has not been able to leave his apartment.

Read more:
Waiting list ‘abyss’ in N.S. for care and housing of people with disabilities: doctor

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Now, his mother says it’s having an impact on his physical and mental health.

“I understand that probably in the last year with COVID, a lot of people have been stuck in their house. But there’s a difference between being stuck in your house and being trapped,” Denney said.

“He’s actually physically not able to get out of the apartment.

“It’s mental health and panic attacks; he’s just overwhelmed by what’s going on.”

Denney also said Adam is now going onto week three of having to miss work because he cannot leave. She is a single mother, so this is having a financial impact on the family as well.

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She said this is not the first time the elevator has broken. She and her son moved into the building in 2005, but issues with the elevator arose in the last two years.

“It’s gone down many times, sometimes that’s days at a time,” said Denney.

She said the elevator broke on New Year’s Day in 2020 and stayed broken for nine days. Adam missed holiday dinners and a hockey games he sometimes coaches.

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Submitted by Tracy Denney.

Submitted by Tracy Denney

“We have been actively looking for a wheelchair-accessible apartment, and the problem is in the HRM, there’s no affordable, accessible housing. So we’re pretty well stuck.”

In the last 15 days, Denney said she’s made countless of phone calls to the owners of the building, operated by Doric Management, as well as the company in charge of fixing the elevator.

“I’m sort of just getting the run around because the elevator place doesn’t really tell me what’s going on.”

Having already unsuccessfully contacted medical services and the fire department in hopes of getting help, Denney said she’s exhausted her options.

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Advocates call for reversal of funding cuts for books for people with disabilities

Advocates call for reversal of funding cuts for books for people with disabilities

On Tuesday, Denney filed a complaint with the Residential Tenancies Program, also known as the tenancy board.

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“We’re just at our wit’s end. We don’t know what to do,” she said.

Doric Management declined an interview with Global News. In an email statement, the agency said the lengthy repair is out of their hands.

“Our repair company is working to complete the repairs on a timely basis. We regret the inconvenience that this is causing our tenants,” the statement read.

The company said it is aware of the issues an out-of-order elevator has caused tenants with mobility issues.

“The elevator is an amenity which helps many of our tenants on a daily basis. Any time it is out of commission for needed repairs it’s inconvenient and we recognize that,” the statement added.

“At the same time, repairs and maintenance are required for the continued safe operation of the elevator. We need to make sure the elevator is operating safely, and this sometimes means it is unavailable during repairs.”

An ‘out-of-order’ sign is seen at the 16 Caxton Close apartment building in Halifax.

Submitted by Tracy Denney

In response to a safety concern, Doric Management said: “Absolutely safety is a concern. This is why we need to maintain and repair the elevator to ensure it in safe working order.”

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As of Wednesday evening, the elevator was still out of order.

Denney said able-bodied people are just not aware of how difficult this is for her son.

“It would be like me removing the stairs and telling everybody ‘you have to stay in your apartment.’ I know that’s not something that would happen, but to him, that’s what’s happening,” Denney said.

“His way of exit and entry is gone.”

Denney says she knows she may be annoying to the property managers, but she is Adam’s only advocate.

“I’ll do anything to make sure he’s able to get in and out,” Denney said.

The Department of Service Nova Scotia stold Global News in an email that it “(does) not comment on complaints due to privacy of the individuals involved.”

“The Human Rights Commission may be able to provide information on the rights of persons with a disability,” the email read.

As for the complaint, the department said “a residential tenancies officer can offer to mediate the dispute or a hearing will be held and a decision made within 14 days.”

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Tracy and Adam Denney are scheduled to attend a Residential Tenancy hearing by phone on April 7.

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

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Saskatoon medically-assisted dying facility on hold pending Bill C-7 – Saskatoon

Jae Blakley is working to improve access to medical assistance in dying — or MAID — in Saskatoon after years of experience working in palliative care.

“I’ve seen a lot of death… and not all of it has been good death,” he said.

Last February he started fundraising for a new home-like facility for MAID called the Saskatoon Cider House. A few thousand dollars have trickled in since.

Read more:
Saskatchewan team working to raise $1M for medical assistance in dying facility

Based on support that’s been put forward for the palliative care unit at St. Paul’s Hospital and Hospice at Glengarda, there certainly is an appetite for expanding the continuum of palliative and end of life care and we certainly fit into that,” Blakley said. 

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Blakley said his plans for the Cider House hinge on Bill C-7 which is still before parliament.

The proposed changes in Bill-C7 would expand access to MAID to people who are suffering unbearable pain but are not dying.

That could include those with an incurable illness or disability.

Advocates worry that this means people with disabilities may seek MAID due to inadequate access to supports including housing, adequate financial aid and health care.

Read more:
Feds gets another month to expand access to assisted dying as bill stalls in the Commons

“For everybody else who suffers disproportionately in Canadian society, we have suicide intervention [and] prevention and we essentially say to people ‘we believe your lives are worth saving, and we want to help you,’” said Inclusion Canada executive vice-president Krista Carr.

“But for people with a disability, in effect we’re saying, ‘Well, for you, there must be nothing worse than living with a disability, and having a disability must be a fate worse than death.’” 

Dying with Dignity Canada says this could actually put MAID further out of reach for Canadians due to some of the proposed changes that would extend the process to apply and receive MAID services.

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“I do think there will be a dropout of assessors and providers who will not want to provide under the more rigid conditions of Bill C-7,” Dying with Dignity Canada board member Chantal Perrot said Thursday.

Provincial health statistics show 154 people received medical assistance in dying last year in Saskatchewan — up from 97 in 2019 and 85 in 2018.

Read more:
Saskatchewan MAID adviser gives stamp of approval to new assisted death legislation

Saskatchewan’s health ministry said in a statement to Global News it is not considering additional options for MAID provision like the Cider House, saying, in part:

“The provincial program is meeting current demand for services, and we will continue to monitor the volumes of patients receiving medical assistance in dying, any barriers to access, and make adjustments, as appropriate.”

Blakley is waiting to receive charitable status for Saskatoon Cider House in preparation of Bill C-7’s outcome.

“I want to get us to a place in society where we can have better deaths than I think we’re dealing with right now,” Blakley said.

Click to play video 'Saskatoon one step closer to brick-and-mortar MAID facility'

Saskatoon one step closer to brick-and-mortar MAID facility

Saskatoon one step closer to brick-and-mortar MAID facility – Feb 17, 2020

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Smitty’s pancake days charity for children with disabilities raises over $5000 this year – Kingston

Smitty’s Family Restaurant & Lounge hosted their 23rd annual Pancake Days in February, where a short stacks of pancakes were made available for $9.99, and all proceeds were donated to the Easter Seal Kids.

The restaurant announced in a statement Monday that their Pancake Days have raised a total of $5,083.53, which is over a thousand dollars more than last year’s charity.

“I know it’s a difficult time right now for people trying to raise money for good causes, the need is ongoing for these families,” says Smitty’s owner, Randy Loucks.

Loucks and his family donated $1,000 personally this year as well.

Read more:
Easter Seals amps up online fundraising as equipment requests climb

Pancake Days ran from Tuesday, Feb. 16 until Sunday, Feb. 28, with the very first day starting during a snowstorm.

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“It is what it is,” said Loucks of the weather to Global News that day, still prepared to serve pancakes for a good cause.

Easter Seals Ontario provides programs and services to children and youth with physical disabilities across the province, with the goal of helping them to achieve independence through integration.

The charity owns and runs two fully accessible summer camps where youth can enjoy a 10-day program away from home to take part in activities like its indoor climbing wall, sailing and kayaking. The Easter Seals also provide funding for accessible equipment of up to $3,000 per year, per child to help with purchases like wheelchairs and ramps.

The management and staff at Smitty’s ended their statement by thanking the residents of Kingston in helping them achieve this goal.

The restaurant has raised a total of $86,000 during the past 23 years of hosting Pancake Days.

Click to play video 'Kingston family turns a fun outdoor project into a local fundraising initiative'

Kingston family turns a fun outdoor project into a local fundraising initiative

Kingston family turns a fun outdoor project into a local fundraising initiative

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

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