Tell Toronto City Council Not to Subject Canada’s Largest City to the Dangers, Personal Injuries and New Disability Barriers that Electric Scooters Cause


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

July 24, 2020

SUMMARY

At its meeting on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, Toronto City Council has on its agenda the question whether to unleash electric scooters (e-scooters) on the people of Canada’s largest city. The AODA Alliance calls on Toronto’s Mayor John Tory and City Council to resoundingly reject e-scooters. They are a proven danger to the safety of the public including people with disabilities. They will create new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities in a city that already has too many disability barriers and that has done too little to remove those barriers.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Toronto’s City Council should be spending all its time on far more important things than the agenda of corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies. Those companies would stand to profit while Torontonians bear the financial costs and suffer the serious personal injuries.

Below we set out a statement to Toronto City Council on this issue by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. We encourage you to:

* Contact members of Toronto City Council. Their contact information is available at this link https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/council/members-of-council/

Urge them to reject e-scooters for Toronto. At the very least, they should set this issue aside while the COVID-19 pandemic engulfs our society, and spend all their time on issues that are important to the people of Toronto, including people with disabilities.

* circulate this statement to your local media and urge them to print this statement and cover this issue.

* Post this statement on your social media. Spread the word to your family and friends. Ask them to support our cause.

Send us your feedback. Let us know what you can do to help our cause. Email us at [email protected]

For more background:

Read the AODA Alliance’s July 8, 2020 brief to the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, already endorsed by Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and the March of Dimes of Canada

Read the open letter to all Ontario municipal councils from 11 major disability organizations, opposing e-scooters in Ontario, and

Read the AODA Alliance’s July 10, 2020 news release explaining what happened at the July 9, 2020 meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee where the AODA Alliance and others presented on this issue.

Visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.

Statement on Electric Scooters by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

Toronto Should Not Allow Electric Scooters Which Endanger Us All

City Council must not unleash dangerous electric scooters in Toronto! They are banned, unless Council votes to allow them.

With the COVID-19 crisis raging, why is Toronto’s City Council even discussing whether to allow electric scooters? Why are they doing this in the middle of the summer when the public isn’t looking?

A new City Staff Report amply documents that e-scooters pose a real danger to public safety in places that have allowed them. Riders and innocent pedestrians will get seriously injured or killed.

They are especially a danger to seniors and people with disabilities. A blind pedestrian like me can’t know when a silent e-scooter is rocketing at me at over 20 KPH, driven by a fun-seeking unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted rider. When left strewn on sidewalks, they are a tripping hazard for me and an accessibility barrier for people in wheelchairs.

Don’t think that banning e-scooters from sidewalks solves these problems. The City Staff Report shows that e-scooters are ridden on sidewalks in cities that ban them from sidewalks.

We’d need cops on every street corner to effectively police e-scooters. Yet on July 9, Toronto law enforcement told the City’s Infrastructure Committee that they have no capacity to take on enforcement of new e-scooter rules. City Staff told that meeting that there’s no city anywhere that allows e-scooters and that got enforcement right.

Does the City have budget available to hire more law enforcement? One City Council member last week accurately said “the cupboard is bare.” No Councilor disagreed.

For City Council to allow e-scooters will cost taxpayers more money. There’s new law enforcement costs. There’s OHIP costs for treating those injured in our already-overcrowded hospital emergency rooms. The Staff Report rightly warns that the City could also be sued by those injured by e-scooters. Don’t we have more pressing priorities for spending public money?

If e-scooters are allowed, the ones who will be laughing all the way to the bank are the e-scooter rental companies, whose corporate lobbyists are turning up blazing heat on City Councilors to allow e-scooters. That those corporate lobbyists will go to any length was revealed when they tried exploiting the COVID-19 crisis as a pretext to speed up approval and introduction of e-scooters.

The City Staff Report shows that e-scooters don’t significantly reduce road traffic. Typically, those using e-scooters would otherwise walk the short distance to their destination. E-scooters don’t benefit the environment. Instead e-scooters and their toxic batteries eventually become landfill.

The City Staff Report’s findings all show that e-scooters should remain banned. Since the silent menace of e-scooters endanger our safety and create new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities, since they will costs us all more money and won’t really reduce road traffic, as the City Staff Report all documents, why on earth does City Staff propose taking steps towards allowing a pilot with e-scooters in Toronto?

City Council should not vote to conduct a Toronto e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many of us will be injured by this silent menace? We already know they do, from cities that allowed them. Don’t subject us to an unnecessary human experiment where we can get hurt. You need a person’s consent before subjecting them to an experiment that could endanger their safety.

Since we allow bikes, why not e-scooters? A person who has never before ridden an e-scooter (or a bike) can hop on an e-scooter and instantly throttle up to silently race over 20 KPH, endangering us all. In contrast, you can’t instantly pedal a bike that fast, and especially if you’ve never before ridden a bike. In any event, we’ve already got bikes. We don’t need to add the dangers of e-scooters.

Toronto’s City-appointed Disability Accessibility Advisory Committee and several leading disability organizations unanimously called on Toronto not to allow e-scooters. Mayor Tory and City Council should listen to them. Please make Toronto easier and not harder for those of us with disabilities to get around.

With COVID-19, Torontonians are in crisis, facing unprecedented threats to our health and economy. City Council has more important things to do than debating e-scooters, especially now. Montreal tried an e-scooter pilot and called it off. So should Toronto. Vote to protect those of us who need safe, accessible streets and sidewalks, and not the interests of corporate lobbyists.

David Lepofsky is chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and visiting professor, Osgoode Hall Law School.




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Tell Toronto City Council Not to Subject Canada’s Largest City to the Dangers, Personal Injuries and New Disability Barriers that Electric Scooters Cause


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Tell Toronto City Council Not to Subject Canada’s Largest City to the Dangers, Personal Injuries and New Disability Barriers that Electric Scooters Cause

July 24, 2020

          SUMMARY

At its meeting on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, Toronto City Council has on its agenda the question whether to unleash electric scooters (e-scooters) on the people of Canada’s largest city. The AODA Alliance calls on Toronto’s Mayor John Tory and City Council to resoundingly reject e-scooters. They are a proven danger to the safety of the public including people with disabilities. They will create new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities in a city that already has too many disability barriers and that has done too little to remove those barriers.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Toronto’s City Council should be spending all its time on far more important things than the agenda of corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies. Those companies would stand to profit while Torontonians bear the financial costs and suffer the serious personal injuries.

Below we set out a statement to Toronto City Council on this issue by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. We encourage you to:

* Contact members of Toronto City Council. Their contact information is available at this link https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/council/members-of-council/

Urge them to reject e-scooters for Toronto. At the very least, they should set this issue aside while the COVID-19 pandemic engulfs our society, and spend all their time on issues that are important to the people of Toronto, including people with disabilities.

* circulate this statement to your local media and urge them to print this statement and cover this issue.

* Post this statement on your social media. Spread the word to your family and friends. Ask them to support our cause.

Send us your feedback. Let us know what you can do to help our cause. Email us at [email protected]

For more background:

Read the AODA Alliance’s July 8, 2020 brief to the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, already endorsed by Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and the March of Dimes of Canada

Read the open letter to all Ontario municipal councils from 11 major disability organizations, opposing e-scooters in Ontario, and

Read the AODA Alliance’s July 10, 2020 news release explaining what happened at the July 9, 2020 meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee where the AODA Alliance and others presented on this issue.

Visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.

Statement on Electric Scooters by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

Toronto Should Not Allow Electric Scooters Which Endanger Us All

City Council must not unleash dangerous electric scooters in Toronto! They are banned, unless Council votes to allow them.

With the COVID-19 crisis raging, why is Toronto’s City Council even discussing whether to allow electric scooters? Why are they doing this in the middle of the summer when the public isn’t looking?

A new City Staff Report amply documents that e-scooters pose a real danger to public safety in places that have allowed them. Riders and innocent pedestrians will get seriously injured or killed.

They are especially a danger to seniors and people with disabilities. A blind pedestrian like me can’t know when a silent e-scooter is rocketing at me at over 20 KPH, driven by a fun-seeking unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted rider. When left strewn on sidewalks, they are a tripping hazard for me and an accessibility barrier for people in wheelchairs.

Don’t think that banning e-scooters from sidewalks solves these problems. The City Staff Report shows that e-scooters are ridden on sidewalks in cities that ban them from sidewalks.

We’d need cops on every street corner to effectively police e-scooters. Yet on July 9, Toronto law enforcement told the City’s Infrastructure Committee that they have no capacity to take on enforcement of new e-scooter rules. City Staff told that meeting that there’s no city anywhere that allows e-scooters and that got enforcement right.

Does the City have budget available to hire more law enforcement? One City Council member last week accurately said “the cupboard is bare.” No Councilor disagreed.

For City Council to allow e-scooters will cost taxpayers more money. There’s new law enforcement costs. There’s OHIP costs for treating those injured in our already-overcrowded hospital emergency rooms. The Staff Report rightly warns that the City could also be sued by those injured by e-scooters. Don’t we have more pressing priorities for spending public money?

If e-scooters are allowed, the ones who will be laughing all the way to the bank are the e-scooter rental companies, whose corporate lobbyists are turning up blazing heat on City Councilors to allow e-scooters. That those corporate lobbyists will go to any length was revealed when they tried exploiting the COVID-19 crisis as a pretext to speed up approval and introduction of e-scooters.

The City Staff Report shows that e-scooters don’t significantly reduce road traffic. Typically, those using e-scooters would otherwise walk the short distance to their destination. E-scooters don’t benefit the environment. Instead e-scooters and their toxic batteries eventually become landfill.

The City Staff Report’s findings all show that e-scooters should remain banned. Since the silent menace of e-scooters endanger our safety and create new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities, since they will costs us all more money and won’t really reduce road traffic, as the City Staff Report all documents, why on earth does City Staff propose taking steps towards allowing a pilot with e-scooters in Toronto?

City Council should not vote to conduct a Toronto e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many of us will be injured by this silent menace? We already know they do, from cities that allowed them. Don’t subject us to an unnecessary human experiment where we can get hurt. You need a person’s consent before subjecting them to an experiment that could endanger their safety.

Since we allow bikes, why not e-scooters? A person who has never before ridden an e-scooter (or a bike) can hop on an e-scooter and instantly throttle up to silently race over 20 KPH, endangering us all. In contrast, you can’t instantly pedal a bike that fast, and especially if you’ve never before ridden a bike. In any event, we’ve already got bikes. We don’t need to add the dangers of e-scooters.

Toronto’s City-appointed Disability Accessibility Advisory Committee and several leading disability organizations unanimously called on Toronto not to allow e-scooters. Mayor Tory and City Council should listen to them. Please make Toronto easier and not harder for those of us with disabilities to get around.

With COVID-19, Torontonians are in crisis, facing unprecedented threats to our health and economy. City Council has more important things to do than debating e-scooters, especially now. Montreal tried an e-scooter pilot and called it off. So should Toronto. Vote to protect those of us who need safe, accessible streets and sidewalks, and not the interests of corporate lobbyists.

David Lepofsky is chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and visiting professor, Osgoode Hall Law School.



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The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Asks Toronto Mayor John Tory to Help Ensure that Canada’s Largest City Does Not Lift the Ban on Electric Scooters


Torontonians with Disabilities Need Mayor Tory’s Leadership to Prevent the Dangers to Their Safety and Accessibility that E-Scooters Pose

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

February 6, 2020

SUMMARY

The AODA Alliance has written Toronto Mayor John Tory. We asked him to use his leadership to help us ensure that Toronto does not lift the ban in place on electric scooters (e-scooters). Our letter details the dangers that e-scooters pose, and the serious problems with the option for permitting them that Toronto City Staff have said they prefer. We set out our letter below.

Meanwhile, 371 days have now gone by since the Ford Government received the final report on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still waiting for the Ford Government to come up with an effective plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.

Your feedback is always welcome. Write us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance’s February 6, 2020 Letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email: [email protected]
Visit: www.aodalliance.org

February 6, 2020

To: Mayor John Tory
Via Email: [email protected]
Office of the Mayor
City Hall, 2nd Floor
100 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Twitter: @JohnTory

Dear Mayor Tory,

Re: Protecting Torontonians with Disabilities and Others from the Dangers of Electric Scooters

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me on the phone on December 9, 2019 about the serious dangers that electric scooters (e-scooters) pose for Torontonians with disabilities and others. I am writing as a follow-up to that call, and to address new developments since then. We seek your help and leadership.

1. New Open Letter to All Ontario Mayors and City Councilors from 11 Major Disability Organizations

On January 22, 2020, 11 major disability organizations including the AODA Alliance made public an open letter to all the mayors and city councilors of Ontario municipalities. Its message is clear, simple and compelling: Do not lift the ban on e-scooters.

This is easy for you to accomplish. You needn’t do anything. Right now, e-scooters are banned in Ontario, unless a municipality takes active steps to allow them, by passing a bylaw permitting them. If Toronto passes no bylaw, the ban on e-scooters remains in place. People with disabilities remain protected from the dangers that e-scooters pose.

To pass a bylaw that lifts the ban on e-scooters will endanger the physical safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and others, as our open letter explains. Please read our open letter. Please help us ensure that your City Council colleagues and senior City staff read our open letter.

2. The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee Unanimously Passed a Strong Motion Calling on the City of Toronto Not to Allow E-scooters

Reinforcing our open letter, on February 3, 2020, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, chaired by Councilor Wong-Tam and appointed by the City unanimously passed a very important motion. The motion calls on the City of Toronto to leave in place the ban on e-scooters in public places.

That motion combines with our open letter to shift a very heavy onus to anyone who wants to permit e-scooters in public places in Toronto. For the City to permit them would be to reject the serious documented concerns that have been presented to the City by people with disabilities. These are among our community’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents.

We are grateful that you have publicly recognized some problems that e-scooters would create. As you know, the AODA requires Toronto, like all of Ontario, to become barrier-free for people with disabilities by 2025. We are behind schedule for reaching that goal. To create new disability barriers will set things back further.

3. Despite These Concerns, City Staff Prefer to Allow E-scooters in Toronto on Terms that Won’t Solve these Problems

At the February 3, 2020 Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting, City staff said that they are preparing a report on e-scooters for City Council. That staff report will have an important impact. You have publicly said that you are awaiting their report as you decide what Toronto should do.

According to the February 4, 2020 Toronto Star, City staff told the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee at its February 3, 2020 meeting that it has a preferred option. We understand that staff would not go public with this unless that “preferred option” has made its way through key levels of review within the City’s public service.

We are exceedingly concerned about the City staff’s preferred option. Instead of keeping the current ban on e-scooters, City staff prefer an option where e-scooters would be unleashed on Torontonians. They would be managed by the Toronto Parking Authority. The Toronto Star article stated:

“Senior project manager Janet Lo gave a preview Monday to members of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. Those members later called the devices an unacceptable threat to the safety of disabled Torontonians.

Lo said work on the report continues. But staff’s “preferred” model would see riders pick up and leave e-scooters only in designated spots potentially Bike Share Toronto stations, or on-street vehicle parking spots converted to scooter use by Toronto Parking Authority (TPA).

“What we are suggesting is the designated-parking model … The high density of bike share stations they are planning for 625 makes it easy for people to be able to walk to them and access these shared micromobility options,” Lo said. “This addresses the sidewalk clutter and obstructions issue.””

We first learned about this from the Toronto Star article. Senior City staff had not before then reached out to discuss it with us. We are well-known for our advocacy efforts on this issue. City staff should not have chosen a preferred option before speaking to the broader disability community, including us about that option and ensuring that their option resolves our concerns. The unanimous February 3, 2020 Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee motion emphasized the need for proper consultation by the City with the disability community on the e-scooters issue.

The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee’s recommendation is especially timely. Last fall, the Ford Government gave our concerns short shrift. The provincial e-scooters regulation looks like it was written by the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies who are pressing for e-scooters in Ontario.

The City staff’s preferred option is seriously flawed. It should not be preferred by anyone.

The City staff’s preferred option does not eliminate or even reduce the danger to our physical safety posed by unlicensed, uninsured, untrained e-scooter drivers rocketing towards us at 24 KPH on roads or sidewalks on a silent e-scooter. People will get injured or worse. The most vulnerable will be people with disabilities and seniors. They should be able to walk in public in Toronto without our city government exposing them to this new danger.

Beyond the pain and suffering that e-scooters will inflict, they will force new costs, including costs to the City Government, and therefore, to the taxpayer. This includes:

* Increased policing costs, ambulance costs, and other emergency first responder costs.

* The City staff’s preferred option would have the City erect new racks for parking e-scooters in selected parking spots, forcing more costs on the City.

* If the Toronto Parking Authority is to operate an e-scooter rental program on behalf of the City, there will be additional City staffing and other costs for its planning, administration and monitoring.

* If the City operates this program, or contracts with a private e-scooter rental company, the City risks being on the hook for added costs for personal injury and property damage claims arising out of the use of the e-scooters that the City would either own or manage.

We respectfully suggest that there are better ways for the City to use public money.

Beyond these costs, the staff’s preferred option would lead to a reduction in the number of available public parking spots in Toronto. Some would be converted into sites for e-scooter racks. Too often, it is already hard to find street parking in Toronto. For people with disabilities among others, this threatens a further accessibility problem that our Open Letter had not anticipated.

As but one example, the Ontario Government is building a massive new courthouse in the middle of downtown Toronto. We have been active for over two years, raising a series of accessibility problems with that courthouse design. Among other things, that new courthouse will have no public parking, including no accessible public parking for court participants with disabilities who will be coming to court. They have to find street parking. The Ontario Government told us that they are turning to the City of Toronto to make available more accessible public parking. If e-scooter racks eat up more downtown parking spots, that will make things worse, not better, for solving that disability parking problem.

4. Wrong for Others to Be Forced to in Effect Subsidize E-Scooter Rental Companies Who Get the Profits

The taxpayer will be on the hook for all these additional costs, not to mention the added provincial health care costs from the personal injuries that e-scooters will cause. The e-scooter companies will walk away with the profits.

5. City Staff’s Preferred Option Does Not Eliminate the Risk of Some E-Scooters Being Left on Public Sidewalks, Creating Accessibility Barriers and Tripping Hazards

While it is an improvement over some other options, the City staff’s preferred option does not prevent e-scooters from being abandoned in the middle of the sidewalks. These will pose an unpredictable and unforeseeable accessibility barrier and tripping hazard. Beyond this impact on people with disabilities, it will also create barriers for others, such as parents pushing a shopping cart or baby stroller on a sidewalk.

The only way to prevent this, and to prevent e-scooters from being ridden on sidewalks, short of the more appropriate solution of banning them outright, is to flood the city with an armada of police officers on every block. Our overburdened police have too much on their hands as it is. This involves even more costs for the taxpayer.

6. Ontarians with Disabilities Need Your Leadership

Other cities are no doubt looking to Toronto for its leadership on this issue. They will be watching to see if Toronto lifts the e-scooter ban. We therefore need your leadership more than ever to prevent the dangers to people with disabilities and others that e-scooters pose.

The Ford Government has burdened Ontarians with disabilities with the undue hardship of having to advocate on this issue in one municipality after another, right across Ontario. In contrast, the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies have had the ear of Premier Ford. We anticipate that they are hard at work, lobbying members of Toronto City Council and senior staff behind closed doors.

Mayor Tory, Ontarians with disabilities are deeply indebted to you for your leadership on the issue of accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities when you were at Queen’s Park. In 2003-2005, you led the Ontario Progressive Conservative party to support the enactment in 2005 of the AODA, and to press for amendments to strengthen it when it was being debated before the Legislature. We reap the benefits of your support and dedication on this issue to this day. The fact that that legislation passed unanimously has been vital to our cause. It set a trend that has been followed in two other provinces, and federally.

Fifteen years later, we turn to you once again to show that spirited and decisive leadership. Don’t lift the ban on e-scooters in Toronto. Toronto will progress very well without exposing people with disabilities and others to the dangers that e-scooters cause. There are far better ways to address the traffic and other concerns that the e-scooter corporate lobbyists advance in their effort to make money renting e-scooters here.

There are more important issues for City staff to address. There are greater priorities for you and other members of City Council. There are greater unmet needs to which public funds should be directed.

At the very least, please direct City staff to go back to the drawing board. Please direct the City’s top officials to meet with us, before this goes any further. Direct them to review with us and the broader disability community any and all options that they might recommend. There is no reason to rush. If despite all of this, City Council were to decide to disregard the unanimous and wise call from Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, we ask that the City adopt all the restrictions on e-scooters that are set out in our open letter.

We would welcome a chance to discuss this with you further. We would be pleased to provide any help that we can.

Sincerely,

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




Source link

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Asks Toronto Mayor John Tory to Help Ensure that Canada’s Largest City Does Not Lift the Ban on Electric Scooters


Torontonians with Disabilities Need Mayor Tory’s Leadership to Prevent the Dangers to Their Safety and Accessibility that E-Scooters Pose

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

February 6, 2020

SUMMARY

The AODA Alliance has written Toronto Mayor John Tory. We asked him to use his leadership to help us ensure that Toronto does not lift the ban in place on electric scooters (e-scooters). Our letter details the dangers that e-scooters pose, and the serious problems with the option for permitting them that Toronto City Staff have said they prefer. We set out our letter below.

Meanwhile, 371 days have now gone by since the Ford Government received the final report on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still waiting for the Ford Government to come up with an effective plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.

Your feedback is always welcome. Write us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance’s February 6, 2020 Letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email: [email protected]
Visit: www.aodalliance.org

February 6, 2020

To: Mayor John Tory
Via Email: [email protected]
Office of the Mayor
City Hall, 2nd Floor
100 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Twitter: @JohnTory

Dear Mayor Tory,

Re: Protecting Torontonians with Disabilities and Others from the Dangers of Electric Scooters

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me on the phone on December 9, 2019 about the serious dangers that electric scooters (e-scooters) pose for Torontonians with disabilities and others. I am writing as a follow-up to that call, and to address new developments since then. We seek your help and leadership.

1. New Open Letter to All Ontario Mayors and City Councilors from 11 Major Disability Organizations

On January 22, 2020, 11 major disability organizations including the AODA Alliance made public an open letter to all the mayors and city councilors of Ontario municipalities. Its message is clear, simple and compelling: Do not lift the ban on e-scooters.

This is easy for you to accomplish. You needn’t do anything. Right now, e-scooters are banned in Ontario, unless a municipality takes active steps to allow them, by passing a bylaw permitting them. If Toronto passes no bylaw, the ban on e-scooters remains in place. People with disabilities remain protected from the dangers that e-scooters pose.

To pass a bylaw that lifts the ban on e-scooters will endanger the physical safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and others, as our open letter explains. Please read our open letter. Please help us ensure that your City Council colleagues and senior City staff read our open letter.

2. The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee Unanimously Passed a Strong Motion Calling on the City of Toronto Not to Allow E-scooters

Reinforcing our open letter, on February 3, 2020, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, chaired by Councilor Wong-Tam and appointed by the City unanimously passed a very important motion. The motion calls on the City of Toronto to leave in place the ban on e-scooters in public places.

That motion combines with our open letter to shift a very heavy onus to anyone who wants to permit e-scooters in public places in Toronto. For the City to permit them would be to reject the serious documented concerns that have been presented to the City by people with disabilities. These are among our community’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents.

We are grateful that you have publicly recognized some problems that e-scooters would create. As you know, the AODA requires Toronto, like all of Ontario, to become barrier-free for people with disabilities by 2025. We are behind schedule for reaching that goal. To create new disability barriers will set things back further.

3. Despite These Concerns, City Staff Prefer to Allow E-scooters in Toronto on Terms that Won’t Solve these Problems

At the February 3, 2020 Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting, City staff said that they are preparing a report on e-scooters for City Council. That staff report will have an important impact. You have publicly said that you are awaiting their report as you decide what Toronto should do.

According to the February 4, 2020 Toronto Star, City staff told the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee at its February 3, 2020 meeting that it has a preferred option. We understand that staff would not go public with this unless that “preferred option” has made its way through key levels of review within the City’s public service.

We are exceedingly concerned about the City staff’s preferred option. Instead of keeping the current ban on e-scooters, City staff prefer an option where e-scooters would be unleashed on Torontonians. They would be managed by the Toronto Parking Authority. The Toronto Star article stated:

“Senior project manager Janet Lo gave a preview Monday to members of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. Those members later called the devices an unacceptable threat to the safety of disabled Torontonians.

Lo said work on the report continues. But staff’s “preferred” model would see riders pick up and leave e-scooters only in designated spots potentially Bike Share Toronto stations, or on-street vehicle parking spots converted to scooter use by Toronto Parking Authority (TPA).

“What we are suggesting is the designated-parking model … The high density of bike share stations they are planning for 625 makes it easy for people to be able to walk to them and access these shared micromobility options,” Lo said. “This addresses the sidewalk clutter and obstructions issue.””

We first learned about this from the Toronto Star article. Senior City staff had not before then reached out to discuss it with us. We are well-known for our advocacy efforts on this issue. City staff should not have chosen a preferred option before speaking to the broader disability community, including us about that option and ensuring that their option resolves our concerns. The unanimous February 3, 2020 Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee motion emphasized the need for proper consultation by the City with the disability community on the e-scooters issue.

The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee’s recommendation is especially timely. Last fall, the Ford Government gave our concerns short shrift. The provincial e-scooters regulation looks like it was written by the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies who are pressing for e-scooters in Ontario.

The City staff’s preferred option is seriously flawed. It should not be preferred by anyone.

The City staff’s preferred option does not eliminate or even reduce the danger to our physical safety posed by unlicensed, uninsured, untrained e-scooter drivers rocketing towards us at 24 KPH on roads or sidewalks on a silent e-scooter. People will get injured or worse. The most vulnerable will be people with disabilities and seniors. They should be able to walk in public in Toronto without our city government exposing them to this new danger.

Beyond the pain and suffering that e-scooters will inflict, they will force new costs, including costs to the City Government, and therefore, to the taxpayer. This includes:

* Increased policing costs, ambulance costs, and other emergency first responder costs.

* The City staff’s preferred option would have the City erect new racks for parking e-scooters in selected parking spots, forcing more costs on the City.

* If the Toronto Parking Authority is to operate an e-scooter rental program on behalf of the City, there will be additional City staffing and other costs for its planning, administration and monitoring.

* If the City operates this program, or contracts with a private e-scooter rental company, the City risks being on the hook for added costs for personal injury and property damage claims arising out of the use of the e-scooters that the City would either own or manage.

We respectfully suggest that there are better ways for the City to use public money.

Beyond these costs, the staff’s preferred option would lead to a reduction in the number of available public parking spots in Toronto. Some would be converted into sites for e-scooter racks. Too often, it is already hard to find street parking in Toronto. For people with disabilities among others, this threatens a further accessibility problem that our Open Letter had not anticipated.

As but one example, the Ontario Government is building a massive new courthouse in the middle of downtown Toronto. We have been active for over two years, raising a series of accessibility problems with that courthouse design. Among other things, that new courthouse will have no public parking, including no accessible public parking for court participants with disabilities who will be coming to court. They have to find street parking. The Ontario Government told us that they are turning to the City of Toronto to make available more accessible public parking. If e-scooter racks eat up more downtown parking spots, that will make things worse, not better, for solving that disability parking problem.

4. Wrong for Others to Be Forced to in Effect Subsidize E-Scooter Rental Companies Who Get the Profits

The taxpayer will be on the hook for all these additional costs, not to mention the added provincial health care costs from the personal injuries that e-scooters will cause. The e-scooter companies will walk away with the profits.

5. City Staff’s Preferred Option Does Not Eliminate the Risk of Some E-Scooters Being Left on Public Sidewalks, Creating Accessibility Barriers and Tripping Hazards

While it is an improvement over some other options, the City staff’s preferred option does not prevent e-scooters from being abandoned in the middle of the sidewalks. These will pose an unpredictable and unforeseeable accessibility barrier and tripping hazard. Beyond this impact on people with disabilities, it will also create barriers for others, such as parents pushing a shopping cart or baby stroller on a sidewalk.

The only way to prevent this, and to prevent e-scooters from being ridden on sidewalks, short of the more appropriate solution of banning them outright, is to flood the city with an armada of police officers on every block. Our overburdened police have too much on their hands as it is. This involves even more costs for the taxpayer.

6. Ontarians with Disabilities Need Your Leadership

Other cities are no doubt looking to Toronto for its leadership on this issue. They will be watching to see if Toronto lifts the e-scooter ban. We therefore need your leadership more than ever to prevent the dangers to people with disabilities and others that e-scooters pose.

The Ford Government has burdened Ontarians with disabilities with the undue hardship of having to advocate on this issue in one municipality after another, right across Ontario. In contrast, the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies have had the ear of Premier Ford. We anticipate that they are hard at work, lobbying members of Toronto City Council and senior staff behind closed doors.

Mayor Tory, Ontarians with disabilities are deeply indebted to you for your leadership on the issue of accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities when you were at Queen’s Park. In 2003-2005, you led the Ontario Progressive Conservative party to support the enactment in 2005 of the AODA, and to press for amendments to strengthen it when it was being debated before the Legislature. We reap the benefits of your support and dedication on this issue to this day. The fact that that legislation passed unanimously has been vital to our cause. It set a trend that has been followed in two other provinces, and federally.

Fifteen years later, we turn to you once again to show that spirited and decisive leadership. Don’t lift the ban on e-scooters in Toronto. Toronto will progress very well without exposing people with disabilities and others to the dangers that e-scooters cause. There are far better ways to address the traffic and other concerns that the e-scooter corporate lobbyists advance in their effort to make money renting e-scooters here.

There are more important issues for City staff to address. There are greater priorities for you and other members of City Council. There are greater unmet needs to which public funds should be directed.

At the very least, please direct City staff to go back to the drawing board. Please direct the City’s top officials to meet with us, before this goes any further. Direct them to review with us and the broader disability community any and all options that they might recommend. There is no reason to rush. If despite all of this, City Council were to decide to disregard the unanimous and wise call from Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, we ask that the City adopt all the restrictions on e-scooters that are set out in our open letter.

We would welcome a chance to discuss this with you further. We would be pleased to provide any help that we can.

Sincerely,

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




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The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Asks Toronto Mayor John Tory to Help Ensure that Canada’s Largest City Does Not Lift the Ban on Electric Scooters – Torontonians with Disabilities Need Mayor Tory’s Leadership to Prevent the Dangers to Their Safety and Accessibility that E-Scooters Pose


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Asks Toronto Mayor John Tory to Help Ensure that Canada’s Largest City Does Not Lift the Ban on Electric Scooters – Torontonians with Disabilities Need Mayor Tory’s Leadership to Prevent the Dangers to Their Safety and Accessibility that E-Scooters Pose

February 6, 2020

          SUMMARY

The AODA Alliance has written Toronto Mayor John Tory. We asked him to use his leadership to help us ensure that Toronto does not lift the ban in place on electric scooters (e-scooters).  Our letter details the dangers that e-scooters pose, and the serious problems with the option for permitting them that Toronto City Staff have said they prefer. We set out our letter below.

Meanwhile, 371 days have now gone by since the Ford Government received the final report on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still waiting for the Ford Government to come up with an effective plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.

Your feedback is always welcome. Write us at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance’s February 6, 2020 Letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

1929 Bayview Avenue

Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8

Email: [email protected]

Visit: www.aodalliance.org

February 6, 2020

To: Mayor John Tory

Via Email: [email protected]

Office of the Mayor

City Hall, 2nd Floor

100 Queen St. W.

Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Twitter: @JohnTory

Dear Mayor Tory,

Re: Protecting Torontonians with Disabilities and Others from the Dangers of Electric Scooters

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me on the phone on December 9, 2019 about the serious dangers that electric scooters (e-scooters) pose for Torontonians with disabilities and others. I am writing as a follow-up to that call, and to address new developments since then. We seek your help and leadership.

  1. New Open Letter to All Ontario Mayors and City Councilors from 11 Major Disability Organizations

On January 22, 2020, 11 major disability organizations including the AODA Alliance made public an open letter to all the mayors and city councilors of Ontario municipalities. Its message is clear, simple and compelling: Do not lift the ban on e-scooters.

This is easy for you to accomplish. You needn’t do anything. Right now, e-scooters are banned in Ontario, unless a municipality takes active steps to allow them, by passing a bylaw permitting them. If Toronto passes no bylaw, the ban on e-scooters remains in place. People with disabilities remain protected from the dangers that e-scooters pose.

To pass a bylaw that lifts the ban on e-scooters will endanger the physical safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and others, as our open letter explains. Please read our open letter. Please help us ensure that your City Council colleagues and senior City staff read our open letter.

  1. The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee Unanimously Passed a Strong Motion Calling on the City of Toronto Not to Allow E-scooters

Reinforcing our open letter, on February 3, 2020, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, chaired by Councilor Wong-Tam and appointed by the City unanimously passed a very important motion. The motion calls on the City of Toronto to leave in place the ban on e-scooters in public places.

That motion combines with our open letter to shift a very heavy onus to anyone who wants to permit e-scooters in public places in Toronto. For the City to permit them would be to reject the serious documented concerns that have been presented to the City by people with disabilities. These are among our community’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents.

We are grateful that you have publicly recognized some problems that e-scooters would create. As you know, the AODA requires Toronto, like all of Ontario, to become barrier-free for people with disabilities by 2025. We are behind schedule for reaching that goal. To create new disability barriers will set things back further.

  1. Despite These Concerns, City Staff Prefer to Allow E-scooters in Toronto on Terms that Won’t Solve these Problems

At the February 3, 2020 Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting, City staff said that they are preparing a report on e-scooters for City Council. That staff report will have an important impact. You have publicly said that you are awaiting their report as you decide what Toronto should do.

According to the February 4, 2020 Toronto Star, City staff told the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee at its February 3, 2020 meeting that it has a preferred option. We understand that staff would not go public with this unless that “preferred option” has made its way through key levels of review within the City’s public service.

We are exceedingly concerned about the City staff’s preferred option. Instead of keeping the current ban on e-scooters, City staff prefer an option where e-scooters would be unleashed on Torontonians. They would be managed by the Toronto Parking Authority. The Toronto Star article stated:

“Senior project manager Janet Lo gave a preview Monday to members of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. Those members later called the devices an unacceptable threat to the safety of disabled Torontonians.

Lo said work on the report continues. But staff’s “preferred” model would see riders pick up and leave e-scooters only in designated spots — potentially Bike Share Toronto stations, or on-street vehicle parking spots converted to scooter use by Toronto Parking Authority (TPA).

“What we are suggesting is the designated-parking model … The high density of bike share stations — they are planning for 625 — makes it easy for people to be able to walk to them and access these shared micromobility options,” Lo said. “This addresses the sidewalk clutter and obstructions issue.””

We first learned about this from the Toronto Star article. Senior City staff had not before then reached out to discuss it with us. We are well-known for our advocacy efforts on this issue. City staff should not have chosen a preferred option before speaking to the broader disability community, including us about that option and ensuring that their option resolves our concerns. The unanimous February 3, 2020 Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee motion emphasized the need for proper consultation by the City with the disability community on the e-scooters issue.

The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee’s recommendation is especially timely. Last fall, the Ford Government gave our concerns short shrift. The provincial e-scooters regulation looks like it was written by the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies who are pressing for e-scooters in Ontario.

The City staff’s preferred option is seriously flawed. It should not be preferred by anyone.

The City staff’s preferred option does not eliminate or even reduce the danger to our physical safety posed by unlicensed, uninsured, untrained e-scooter drivers rocketing towards us at 24 KPH on roads or sidewalks on a silent e-scooter. People will get injured or worse. The most vulnerable will be people with disabilities and seniors. They should be able to walk in public in Toronto without our city government exposing them to this new danger.

Beyond the pain and suffering that e-scooters will inflict, they will force new costs, including costs to the City Government, and therefore, to the taxpayer. This includes:

* Increased policing costs, ambulance costs, and other emergency first responder costs.

* The City staff’s preferred option would have the City erect new racks for parking e-scooters in selected parking spots, forcing more costs on the City.

* If the Toronto Parking Authority is to operate an e-scooter rental program on behalf of the City, there will be additional City staffing and other costs for its planning, administration and monitoring.

* If the City operates this program, or contracts with a private e-scooter rental company, the City risks being on the hook for added costs for personal injury and property damage claims arising out of the use of the e-scooters that the City would either own or manage.

We respectfully suggest that there are better ways for the City to use public money.

Beyond these costs, the staff’s preferred option would lead to a reduction in the number of available public parking spots in Toronto. Some would be converted into sites for e-scooter racks. Too often, it is already hard to find street parking in Toronto. For people with disabilities among others, this threatens a further accessibility problem that our Open Letter had not anticipated.

As but one example, the Ontario Government is building a massive new courthouse in the middle of downtown Toronto. We have been active for over two years, raising a series of accessibility problems with that courthouse design. Among other things, that new courthouse will have no public parking, including no accessible public parking for court participants with disabilities who will be coming to court. They have to find street parking. The Ontario Government told us that they are turning to the City of Toronto to make available more accessible public parking. If e-scooter racks eat up more downtown parking spots, that will make things worse, not better, for solving that disability parking problem.

  1. Wrong for Others to Be Forced to in Effect Subsidize E-Scooter Rental Companies Who Get the Profits

The taxpayer will be on the hook for all these additional costs, not to mention the added provincial health care costs from the personal injuries that e-scooters will cause. The e-scooter companies will walk away with the profits.

  1. City Staff’s Preferred Option Does Not Eliminate the Risk of Some E-Scooters Being Left on Public Sidewalks, Creating Accessibility Barriers and Tripping Hazards

While it is an improvement over some other options, the City staff’s preferred option does not prevent e-scooters from being abandoned in the middle of the sidewalks. These will pose an unpredictable and unforeseeable accessibility barrier and tripping hazard. Beyond this impact on people with disabilities, it will also create barriers for others, such as parents pushing a shopping cart or baby stroller on a sidewalk.

The only way to prevent this, and to prevent e-scooters from being ridden on sidewalks, short of the more appropriate solution of banning them outright, is to flood the city with an armada of police officers on every block. Our overburdened police have too much on their hands as it is. This involves even more costs for the taxpayer.

  1. Ontarians with Disabilities Need Your Leadership

Other cities are no doubt looking to Toronto for its leadership on this issue. They will be watching to see if Toronto lifts the e-scooter ban. We therefore need your leadership more than ever to prevent the dangers to people with disabilities and others that e-scooters pose.

The Ford Government has burdened Ontarians with disabilities with the undue hardship of having to advocate on this issue in one municipality after another, right across Ontario. In contrast, the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies have had the ear of Premier Ford. We anticipate that they are hard at work, lobbying members of Toronto City Council and senior staff behind closed doors.

Mayor Tory, Ontarians with disabilities are deeply indebted to you for your leadership on the issue of accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities when you were at Queen’s Park. In 2003-2005, you led the Ontario Progressive Conservative party to support the enactment in 2005 of the AODA, and to press for amendments to strengthen it when it was being debated before the Legislature. We reap the benefits of your support and dedication on this issue to this day. The fact that that legislation passed unanimously has been vital to our cause. It set a trend that has been followed in two other provinces, and federally.

Fifteen years later, we turn to you once again to show that spirited and decisive leadership. Don’t lift the ban on e-scooters in Toronto. Toronto will progress very well without exposing people with disabilities and others to the dangers that e-scooters cause. There are far better ways to address the traffic and other concerns that the e-scooter corporate lobbyists advance in their effort to make money renting e-scooters here.

There are more important issues for City staff to address. There are greater priorities for you and other members of City Council. There are greater unmet needs to which public funds should be directed.

At the very least, please direct City staff to go back to the drawing board. Please direct the City’s top officials to meet with us, before this goes any further. Direct them to review with us and the broader disability community any and all options that they might recommend. There is no reason to rush. If despite all of this, City Council were to decide to disregard the unanimous and wise call from Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, we ask that the City adopt all the restrictions on e-scooters that are set out in our open letter.

We would welcome a chance to discuss this with you further. We would be pleased to provide any help that we can.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance



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Federal Election Action Kit Raise Disability Accessibility Issues in Canada’s 2019 Federal Election!


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

September 20, 2019

Introduction

Do you think people with disabilities in Canada should be able to travel on airplanes and on interprovincial buses or trains without being impeded by disability barriers? Do you think they should have equal access to services provided by the Government of Canada? Should they be able to enjoy whatever information CBC posts on its public website? Should they be assured that they can enter their neighbourhood polling station during a federal election, and independently mark their own ballot in private? Should the Federal Government ensure that our public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities?

Over six million people with disabilities in Canada still face too many accessibility barriers. They should not have to individually fight these barriers, one at a time, through endless federal human rights complaints. They need the Federal Government to ensure that it does all it can to ensure that people with disabilities can live in a Canada that is accessible and barrier-free.

Canada’s next federal election is on October 19, 2015. Canadians have a unique opportunity during this election campaign to speed up progress on the long, challenging road to a barrier-free Canada for more than 6 million Canadians with physical, mental, sensory, communication or other disabilities. The new Accessible Canada Act, enacted this past June, requires Canada to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. We want each party and each candidate to commit to plans that will ensure we will reach this goal.

Let’s work together to raise important disability accessibility issues during this federal election campaign. Let’s get the strongest election pledges from each party and candidate. This Action Kit tells you how to pitch in and help with this effort between now and October 21. Our blitz is totally non-partisan. We don’t try to elect or defeat any party or candidate. We try to get all parties and candidates to make the strongest election commitments we can get on our issues.

This Action Kit tells you:

* What we are seeking from the federal parties and candidates in this federal election.

* What we’ve heard from the major parties so far.

* What you can do.

Helping our cause takes just a few minutes. This Action Kit draws on the extensive experience of the AODA Alliance and its predecessor coalition, the ODA Committee, in successfully conducting non-partisan blitzes like this in seven Ontario elections since 1995. All you need to know is in this Action Kit. Be creative. Come up with your own ideas. Share them with us. Contact us at [email protected] or on Twitter @aodaalliance

What We’re Seeking from the Federal Political Parties

We aim to get all the major national parties to commit to strengthen the new Accessible Canada Act and to promptly effectively implement it, so that the many barriers impeding people with disabilities will get torn down, as far as the Federal Government can do this. Back on July 18, 2019, we wrote the leaders of the major federal parties. We asked them to make specific commitments. We are making the responses of the party leaders public on our website at www.aodaalliance.org/canada You can read the AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter to the major national party leaders by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

Let’s build on our past successes! In the 2015 federal election campaign, we and others conducted a successful non-partisan blitz to get commitments to pass a new national law that would make Canada become accessible to people with disabilities, in so far as the Federal Government can do this. Working together, we and others in the disability community succeeded in getting three of the four national parties that existed in 2015 to do so. In the 2015 election, the Liberals, NDP and Greens all made the pledge. Only the federal Conservatives did not.

We and others in the disability community continued to work hard over the past four years since the 2015 election to get strong new national accessibility law passed. In June of this year, Parliament unanimously passed Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act.

The Accessible Canada Act is a helpful step forward for people with disabilities in Canada. We got some of the ingredients in the law that we sought. However the Accessible Canada Act falls well short of what people with disabilities need.

It is good that this new law sets the mandatory goal of Canada becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. It gives us and all people with disabilities in Canada added tools we can try to use in an effort to tear down the many barriers that persist across this country. It includes a complaints-based enforcement process, a national body to recommend accessibility standards to be enacted, and reductions in the improper power of the Canadian Transportation Agency to enact regulations that can cut back on the human rights of people with disabilities.

Yet the Accessible Canada Act also suffers from serious deficiencies. For example:

1. Even though it gives the Federal Government helpful powers to promote accessibility, it largely does not require that these ever be used. For example, it lets the Federal Government create helpful and enforceable national accessibility standards but does not require the Federal Government to ever do so.

2. It provides for helpful enforcement tools but splinters its enforcement across four federal agencies. That is a real disadvantage for people with disabilities.

3. It continues to allow federal public money to be wastefully used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers against people with disabilities.

4. It unfairly lets the Federal Government grant sweeping exemptions from some of the bill’s requirements to regulated organizations, including the Federal Government itself.

5. It is very long, excessively complicated and hard to read and navigate.

The AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter to the federal party leaders asks them for 11 commitments to ensure that Canada becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. We want to know what their plans are to ensure that Canada is accessible by that date.

Where Do the Parties Stand?

As of September 20, 2019, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is the only leader of a major federal party that has answered the AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter, which asked for election commitments on this issue. The NDP made some of the commitments we sought. To read the NDP’s September 16, 2019 letter to the AODA Alliance, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

We will make public any responses we get from the other party leaders. Check out our website’s Canada page for the latest news, at www.aodaalliance.org/Canada and follow our tweets on Twitter: @aodaalliance

How You Can Help

* Phone, email or visit the candidates’ campaign offices in your riding. Later in this Action Kit we give you ideas of what you might say to them. To help you, we have posted online a list of the names, email addresses and Twitter handles (where we could locate ones) for the candidates for some of the major parties at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/list-of-major-national-party-candidates-and-their-email-and-twitter-addresses-in-the-2019-federal-election/

* Go to a local all-candidates’ debate in or near your riding. These are a great place for grassroots democracy. These usually are held at a school, church or other community hall. You can find out when and where an all-candidates’ debate will be held by contacting any local candidate’s campaign office. Ask the candidates a brief, punchy question about the Accessible Canada Act during the debate. Later in this Action Kit, we offer ideas of what you might ask.

* Spread the word about these issues on social media like Twitter and Facebook. These social media platforms give you great ways to reach candidates, voters and news organizations during election campaigns. Later in this Kit, we give you sample tweets you might wish to use on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Tweet candidates in your riding or elsewhere to ask where they stand on the need to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act and to ensure its swift, strong implementation and enforcement. Just include their Twitter name in the tweet.

In fact, you can quickly help our social media blitz, without having to yourself compose your own tweets to the candidates. We and others are daily tweeting about this issue on Twitter. Just follow @aodaalliance on Twitter or search for the hashtag #AccessibleCanada and you will see all our tweets. It would help us so much if you would set aside a few minutes each day to just retweet our tweets to the candidates. Every re-tweet helps.

* On a smart phone or digital camera, take photos or videos of any accessibility barriers you find at candidates’ offices, campaign events, all-candidates debates, and other election events. Share those photos on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #AccessibleCanada

* Use a smart phone to make video or audio recordings of candidates when they answer questions about the Accessible Canada Act, at all-candidates forums or other campaign events. Post these videos for free on YouTube. Then you can share the YouTube link to your video via social media like Facebook, and Twitter. This lets you become your own citizen journalist. Your online video may be the only record of a candidate’s giving commitments at one of these events on the Accessible Canada Act.

* Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about these accessibility issues. Tell them what the parties have said about this issue. Urge them to consider this issue when deciding on their vote.

* Call your local radio or TV station, and your local newspaper. Tell them about disability accessibility barriers that impede you or others you know, especially in areas like air and train travel, banking, cable or telephone services, Canada Post, or when dealing with the federal government. Urge the media to cover this election issue.

* Call in to radio or TV call-in shows. Write letters to the editor. If you are especially eager, write a guest column and urge your local newspaper to print it. Cut and paste as much as you want from this Action Kit and from our website. We are delighted when others make use of our resources.

* If you are connected with a community organization, such as one that deals with disability or other social justice issues, get that organization to circulate this Action Kit and post it or link to it on their website and Facebook page.

What You Might Say to Candidates, Media Reporters and Voters

It is best if you say it in your own words, not ours. However, if you don’t have time to re-phrase our suggestions, just use them as is!

Give examples of barriers that we need the Accessible Canada Act to fix, such as accessibility problems you or others have faced at airports, or when taking flights within Canada or on flights that start or end in Canada; when trying to use services of the Government of Canada; with Canada Post services; using banks in Canada, or when trying to vote in a Canadian election.

Explain why you or others should not have to fight these accessibility barriers one at a time, by launching a human rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, or by suing in court under the Charter of Rights. Accessibility is good for all Canadians. We all are bound to get a disability as we age. These barriers hurt our economy, are bad for business, and create a preventable burden on the public purse.

Be brief candidates and news reporters are extremely busy during election campaigns. Be personal. People remember personal stories more than statistics.

Tips for Phoning or Visiting a Candidate’s Campaign Office:

Usually, a receptionist or volunteer at a candidate’s campaign office will take your call. The candidate is likely out knocking on doors to meet voters. Here is what you might say when someone answers your call or meet you at their campaign office. Try to get the receptionist or volunteer on our side, by getting them interested in the Accessible Canada Act. We have found that often, campaign staff and volunteers have their own personal experience with disability accessibility barriers.

ME: Hello, my name is [insert name] and I’m a voter and constituent of [insert riding]. I’d like to speak with the candidate to introduce myself. Would he/she be available?

RECEPTIONIST: No, he/she is out at the moment. Can I take a message?

ME: Yes, please. My name is [insert name], and I’m a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability. Parliament passed a law last spring called the Accessible Canada Act. It says that Canada must become accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. I want to know what your party will do to achieve this if you are elected.

Note: It is helpful to try to convince a campaign staff member or volunteer about the importance of this issue. If they get really motivated about this issue, they can call their party’s campaign headquarters and help turn up the heat on this issue.

What You Might Say When Talking to a Candidate Wherever You Meet Them

ME: My name is [insert name] and I am a voter in [insert riding]. I’m also a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability. [Describe your connection to disability.]

Last June, Parliament passed the Accessible Canada Act. It requires Canada to become accessible to over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada by 2040. I want to know what you and your party will do to make sure this happens, if you are elected.

Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers in areas that the federal government can address, like air travel, federal government services, banking, Canada Post, phone and cable companies, and other telecommunications. Everyone either has a disability now or will get one as they age. So this issue affects all voters.

Tips for Emailing a Candidate:

Email is a quick and easy way to get your message to candidates. However, candidates often have staff or volunteers monitor email accounts for them. If you want to be sure you’re reaching the candidate him/herself, it is best to email them, and then phone their campaign office to follow up on the email.

Sample email:

Dear [insert name],

As a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability, I would like to know where you stand on an important issue in this federal election.

[Feel free to insert a paragraph about your personal connection to disability.]

Today there are more than 6 million Canadians with disabilities, and this number is expected to grow even larger in the future. These people continue to face unnecessary barriers in areas of federal authority such as federal government services, air travel, cable TV and phone services, Canada Post, banking, and telecommunications. These barriers mean that people with disabilities in Canada can’t fully participate in all aspects of life.

Last June, Parliament unanimously passed the Accessible Canada Act. It requires Canada to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. I want to know what your party’s plan is to ensure that we achieve this goal. What will your party do on this issue, if you are elected? I also want to know if you, as a Member of Parliament, will personally advocate to make sure this new law is effectively implemented and enforced. I would appreciate it if you would tell others in your party that this issue is important to your constituents.

If you have any questions or require further information, please feel free to contact me or to email the AODA Alliance at [email protected]

Yours sincerely,

Tips for Attending a Local All-Candidates’ Debate

Some all-candidates debates let you ask a question from the floor. Others require you to write it out while there, and submit it so that the debate moderator can read it aloud. Either way, you should write it out in advance if you can. Make it short and punchy. If the event’s format presents accessibility challenges, let the organizers know. You may even wish to highlight the challenges as part of your question.

ME: My name is [insert name], and I live in this riding. More than 6 million Canadians have disabilities. They face unfair accessibility barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction like federal government services, Canada Post, air travel, banking, phone and cable TV companies, and telecommunications.

Here is my question for all the candidates:

Last June, Parliament unanimously passed the Accessible Canada Act. It requires Canada to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. I want to know what your party’s plan is to ensure that we achieve this. What will your party do on this issue, if you are elected.

Tweets You Might Wish to Send on Twitter or Facebook

As mentioned earlier, you can find all the email addresses and Twitter handles for federal candidates that we could track down on our website at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/list-of-major-national-party-candidates-and-their-email-and-twitter-addresses-in-the-2019-federal-election/

At the start of your tweet, insert the Twitter handle (i.e. Twitter name) for a candidate and then cut and paste in any of these tweets. These all fit within the Twitter maximum of 280 characters, with a bit of space leftover.

Parliament unanimously passed #AccessibleCanada Act. It requires Canada to become #accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. What is your party’s plan to ensure we reach that goal? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AODA #accessibility #accessibility #canpoli

@aodaalliance wrote party leaders for election pledges to ensure #AccessibleCanada Act is swiftly & effectively implemented & enforced. Will you help get your leader to pledge? Read our letter https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AODA #accessibility #CRPD #canpoli

Parliament unanimously passed the #AccessibleCanada Act this year to make Canada #accessible by 2040. Do you pledge to support its full, strong and prompt implementation & enforcement? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AODA #accessibility #CRPD #canpoli

Do you agree that the Federal Government should never let public money be used to create or perpetuate #accessibility barriers against over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada? Please pledge! https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AccessibleCanada #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you agree and commit that enforceable federal #accessibility regulations should &will be enacted within 4 years in the areas that the new #AccessibleCanada Act is mandated to regulate? Please pledge! https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you agree and commit that nothing should and will be done under the #AccessibleCanada Act that reduces the rights of people with disabilities in Canada? Please pledge https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #accessibility #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you agree that the Federal Government should ensure that no federal laws create or permit #accessibility barriers against people with disabilities? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AccessibleCanada #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you agree that the Federal Government should ensure that voters with disabilities face no #accessibility barriers to voting independently and in private & verifying that their ballot was marked as they wish? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AccessibleCanada

Do you agree that the Federal Government should not be able to exempt itself from any of its obligations under the new #AccessibleCanada Act? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #accessibility #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you commit to only attend all-candidates debates during this election campaign if they are held in a place that has #accessibility for voters with disabilities? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AccessibleCanada #CRPD #Canpoli




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Federal Election Action Kit – Raise Disability Accessibility Issues in Canada’s 2019 Federal Election! – AODA Alliance


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Federal Election Action Kit – Raise Disability Accessibility Issues in Canada’s 2019 Federal Election!

September 20, 2019

Introduction

Do you think people with disabilities in Canada should be able to travel on airplanes and on interprovincial buses or trains without being impeded by disability barriers? Do you think they should have equal access to services provided by the Government of Canada? Should they be able to enjoy whatever information CBC posts on its public website? Should they be assured that they can enter their neighbourhood polling station during a federal election, and independently mark their own ballot in private? Should the Federal Government ensure that our public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities?

Over six million people with disabilities in Canada still face too many accessibility barriers. They should not have to individually fight these barriers, one at a time, through endless federal human rights complaints. They need the Federal Government to ensure that it does all it can to ensure that people with disabilities can live in a Canada that is accessible and barrier-free.

Canada’s next federal election is on October 19, 2015. Canadians have a unique opportunity during this election campaign to speed up progress on the long, challenging road to a barrier-free Canada for more than 6 million Canadians with physical, mental, sensory, communication or other disabilities. The new Accessible Canada Act, enacted this past June, requires Canada to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. We want each party and each candidate to commit to plans that will ensure we will reach this goal.

Let’s work together to raise important disability accessibility issues during this federal election campaign. Let’s get the strongest election pledges from each party and candidate. This Action Kit tells you how to pitch in and help with this effort between now and October 21. Our blitz is totally non-partisan. We don’t try to elect or defeat any party or candidate. We try to get all parties and candidates to make the strongest election commitments we can get on our issues.

This Action Kit tells you:

* What we are seeking from the federal parties and candidates in this federal election.

* What we’ve heard from the major parties so far.

* What you can do.

Helping our cause takes just a few minutes. This Action Kit draws on the extensive experience of the AODA Alliance  and its predecessor coalition, the ODA Committee, in successfully conducting non-partisan blitzes like this in seven Ontario elections since 1995. All you need to know is in this Action Kit. Be creative. Come up with your own ideas. Share them with us. Contact us at [email protected] or on Twitter @aodaalliance

What We’re Seeking from the Federal Political Parties

We aim to get all the major national parties to commit to strengthen the new Accessible Canada Act and to promptly effectively implement it, so that the many barriers impeding people with disabilities will get torn down, as far as the Federal Government can do this. Back on July 18, 2019, we wrote the leaders of the major federal parties. We asked them to make specific commitments. We are making the responses of the party leaders public on our website at www.aodaalliance.org/canada You can read the AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter to the major national party leaders by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

Let’s build on our past successes! In the 2015 federal election campaign, we and others conducted a successful non-partisan blitz to get commitments to pass a new national law that would make Canada become accessible to people with disabilities, in so far as the Federal Government can do this. Working together, we and others in the disability community succeeded in getting three of the four national parties that existed in 2015 to do so. In the 2015 election, the Liberals, NDP and Greens all made the pledge. Only the federal Conservatives did not.

We and others in the disability community continued to work hard over the past four years since the 2015 election to get strong new national accessibility law passed. In June of this year, Parliament unanimously passed Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act.

The Accessible Canada Act is a helpful step forward for people with disabilities in Canada. We got some of the ingredients in the law that we sought. However the Accessible Canada Act falls well short of what people with disabilities need.

It is good that this new law sets the mandatory goal of Canada becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. It gives us and all people with disabilities in Canada added tools we can try to use in an effort to tear down the many barriers that persist across this country. It includes a complaints-based enforcement process, a national body to recommend accessibility standards to be enacted, and reductions in the improper power of the Canadian Transportation Agency to enact regulations that can cut back on the human rights of people with disabilities.

Yet the Accessible Canada Act also suffers from serious deficiencies. For example:

  1. Even though it gives the Federal Government helpful powers to promote accessibility, it largely does not require that these ever be used. For example, it lets the Federal Government create helpful and enforceable national accessibility standards but does not require the Federal Government to ever do so.
  1. It provides for helpful enforcement tools but splinters its enforcement across four federal agencies. That is a real disadvantage for people with disabilities.
  1. It continues to allow federal public money to be wastefully used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers against people with disabilities.
  1. It unfairly lets the Federal Government grant sweeping exemptions from some of the bill’s requirements to regulated organizations, including the Federal Government itself.
  1. It is very long, excessively complicated and hard to read and navigate.

The AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter to the federal party leaders asks them for 11 commitments to ensure that Canada becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. We want to know what their plans are to ensure that Canada is accessible by that date.

Where Do the Parties Stand?

As of September 20, 2019, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is the only leader of a major federal party that has answered the AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter, which asked for election commitments on this issue. The NDP made some of the commitments we sought. To read the NDP’s September 16, 2019 letter to the AODA Alliance, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

We will make public any responses we get from the other party leaders. Check out our website’s Canada page for the latest news, at www.aodaalliance.org/Canada and follow our tweets on Twitter: @aodaalliance

How You Can Help

* Phone, email or visit the candidates’ campaign offices in your riding. Later in this Action Kit we give you ideas of what you might say to them. To help you, we have posted online a list of the names, email addresses and Twitter handles (where we could locate ones) for the candidates for some of the major parties at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/list-of-major-national-party-candidates-and-their-email-and-twitter-addresses-in-the-2019-federal-election/

 

* Go to a local all-candidates’ debate in or near your riding. These are a great place for grassroots democracy. These usually are held at a school, church or other community hall. You can find out when and where an all-candidates’ debate will be held by contacting any local candidate’s campaign office. Ask the candidates a brief, punchy question about the Accessible Canada Act during the debate. Later in this Action Kit, we offer ideas of what you might ask.

* Spread the word about these issues on social media like Twitter and Facebook. These social media platforms give you great ways to reach candidates, voters and news organizations during election campaigns. Later in this Kit, we give you sample tweets you might wish to use on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Tweet candidates in your riding or elsewhere to ask where they stand on the need to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act and to ensure its swift, strong implementation and enforcement. Just include their Twitter name in the tweet.

In fact, you can quickly help our social media blitz, without having to yourself compose your own tweets to the candidates. We and others are daily tweeting about this issue on Twitter. Just follow @aodaalliance on Twitter or search for the hashtag #AccessibleCanada and you will see all our tweets. It would help us so much if you would set aside a few minutes each day to just retweet our tweets to the candidates. Every re-tweet helps.

* On a smart phone or digital camera, take photos or videos of any accessibility barriers you find at candidates’ offices, campaign events, all-candidates debates, and other election events. Share those photos on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #AccessibleCanada

* Use a smart phone to make video or audio recordings of candidates when they answer questions about the Accessible Canada Act, at all-candidates forums or other campaign events. Post these videos for free on YouTube. Then you can share the YouTube link to your video via social media like Facebook, and Twitter. This lets you become your own citizen journalist. Your online video may be the only record of a candidate’s giving commitments at one of these events on the Accessible Canada Act.

* Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about these accessibility issues. Tell them what the parties have said about this issue. Urge them to consider this issue when deciding on their vote.

* Call your local radio or TV station, and your local newspaper. Tell them about disability accessibility barriers that impede you or others you know, especially in areas like air and train travel, banking, cable or telephone services, Canada Post, or when dealing with the federal government. Urge the media to cover this election issue.

* Call in to radio or TV call-in shows. Write letters to the editor. If you are especially eager, write a guest column and urge your local newspaper to print it. Cut and paste as much as you want from this Action Kit and from our website. We are delighted when others make use of our resources.

* If you are connected with a community organization, such as one that deals with disability or other social justice issues, get that organization to circulate this Action Kit and post it or link to it on their website and Facebook page.

What You Might Say to Candidates, Media Reporters and Voters

 

It is best if you say it in your own words, not ours. However, if you don’t have time to re-phrase our suggestions, just use them as is!

Give examples of barriers that we need the Accessible Canada Act to fix, such as accessibility problems you or others have faced at airports, or when taking flights within Canada or on flights that start or end in Canada; when trying to use services of the Government of Canada; with Canada Post services; using banks in Canada, or when trying to vote in a Canadian election.

Explain why you or others should not have to fight these accessibility barriers one at a time, by launching a human rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, or by suing in court under the Charter of Rights. Accessibility is good for all Canadians. We all are bound to get a disability as we age. These barriers hurt our economy, are bad for business, and create a preventable burden on the public purse.

Be brief – candidates and news reporters are extremely busy during election campaigns. Be personal. People remember personal stories more than statistics.

Tips for Phoning or Visiting a Candidate’s Campaign Office:

Usually, a receptionist or volunteer at a candidate’s campaign office will take your call. The candidate is likely out knocking on doors to meet voters. Here is what you might say when someone answers your call or meet you at their campaign office. Try to get the receptionist or volunteer on our side, by getting them interested in the Accessible Canada Act. We have found that often, campaign staff and volunteers have their own personal experience with disability accessibility barriers.

ME:  Hello, my name is [insert name] and I’m a voter and constituent of [insert riding]. I’d like to speak with the candidate to introduce myself. Would he/she be available?

 

RECEPTIONIST: No, he/she is out at the moment. Can I take a message?

ME: Yes, please. My name is [insert name], and I’m a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability. Parliament passed a law last spring called the Accessible Canada Act. It says that Canada must become accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. I want to know what your party will do to achieve this if you are elected.

Note: It is helpful to try to convince a campaign staff member or volunteer about the importance of this issue. If they get really motivated about this issue, they can call their party’s campaign headquarters and help turn up the heat on this issue.

What You Might Say When Talking to a Candidate Wherever You Meet Them

 

ME: My name is [insert name] and I am a voter in [insert riding]. I’m also a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability. [Describe your connection to disability.]

Last June, Parliament passed the Accessible Canada Act. It requires Canada to become accessible to over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada by 2040. I want to know what you and your party will do to make sure this happens, if you are elected.

Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers in areas that the federal government can address, like air travel, federal government services, banking, Canada Post, phone and cable companies, and other telecommunications. Everyone either has a disability now or will get one as they age. So this issue affects all voters.

Tips for Emailing a Candidate:

Email is a quick and easy way to get your message to candidates. However, candidates often have staff or volunteers monitor email accounts for them. If you want to be sure you’re reaching the candidate him/herself, it is best to email them, and then phone their campaign office to follow up on the email.

Sample email:

Dear [insert name],

As a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability, I would like to know where you stand on an important issue in this federal election.

[Feel free to insert a paragraph about your personal connection to disability.]

Today there are more than 6 million Canadians with disabilities, and this number is expected to grow even larger in the future. These people continue to face unnecessary barriers in areas of federal authority such as federal government services, air travel, cable TV and phone services, Canada Post, banking, and telecommunications. These barriers mean that people with disabilities in Canada can’t fully participate in all aspects of life.

Last June, Parliament unanimously passed the Accessible Canada Act. It requires Canada to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. I want to know what your party’s plan is to ensure that we achieve this goal. What will your party do on this issue, if you are elected? I also want to know if you, as a Member of Parliament, will personally advocate to make sure this new law is effectively implemented and enforced. I would appreciate it if you would tell others in your party that this issue is important to your constituents.

If you have any questions or require further information, please feel free to contact me or to email the AODA Alliance at [email protected].

Yours sincerely,

Tips for Attending a Local All-Candidates’ Debate

Some all-candidates debates let you ask a question from the floor. Others require you to write it out while there, and submit it so that the debate moderator can read it aloud. Either way, you should write it out in advance if you can. Make it short and punchy. If the event’s format presents accessibility challenges, let the organizers know. You may even wish to highlight the challenges as part of your question.

ME: My name is [insert name], and I live in this riding. More than 6 million Canadians have disabilities. They face unfair accessibility barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction like federal government services, Canada Post, air travel, banking, phone and cable TV companies, and telecommunications.

Here is my question for all the candidates:

Last June, Parliament unanimously passed the Accessible Canada Act. It requires Canada to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. I want to know what your party’s plan is to ensure that we achieve this. What will your party do on this issue, if you are elected.

 

Tweets You Might Wish to Send on Twitter or Facebook

As mentioned earlier, you can find all the email addresses and Twitter handles for federal candidates that we could track down on our website at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/list-of-major-national-party-candidates-and-their-email-and-twitter-addresses-in-the-2019-federal-election/

At the start of your tweet, insert the Twitter handle (i.e. Twitter name) for a candidate and then cut and paste in any of these tweets. These all fit within the Twitter maximum of 280 characters, with a bit of space leftover.

Parliament unanimously passed #AccessibleCanada Act. It requires Canada to become #accessible to people with disabilities by 2040. What is your party’s plan to ensure we reach that goal? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AODA #accessibility #accessibility #canpoli

@aodaalliance wrote party leaders for election pledges to ensure #AccessibleCanada Act is swiftly & effectively implemented & enforced. Will you help get your leader to pledge? Read our letter https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AODA #accessibility #CRPD #canpoli

Parliament unanimously passed the #AccessibleCanada Act this year to make Canada #accessible by 2040. Do you pledge to support its full, strong and prompt implementation & enforcement? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AODA #accessibility #CRPD #canpoli

Do you agree that the Federal Government should never let public money be used to create or perpetuate #accessibility barriers against over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada? Please pledge! https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AccessibleCanada #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you agree and commit that enforceable federal #accessibility regulations should &will be enacted within 4 years in the areas that the new #AccessibleCanada Act is mandated to regulate? Please pledge! https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you agree and commit that nothing should and will be done under the #AccessibleCanada Act that reduces the rights of people with disabilities in Canada? Please pledge https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #accessibility #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you agree that the Federal Government should ensure that no federal laws create or permit #accessibility barriers against people with disabilities? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AccessibleCanada #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you agree that the Federal Government should ensure that voters with disabilities face no #accessibility barriers to voting independently and in private & verifying that their ballot was marked as they wish? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AccessibleCanada

Do you agree that the Federal Government should not be able to exempt itself from any of its obligations under the new #AccessibleCanada Act? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #accessibility #CRPD #CanPoli

Do you commit to only attend all-candidates debates during this election campaign if they are held in a place that has #accessibility for voters with disabilities? https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/ #AccessibleCanada #CRPD #Canpoli



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Download the final text of the Accessible Canada Act, as passed by Canada’s Parliament, previously called Bill C-81, in English or French, and in an accessible MS Word or a pdf format



Click here to download the English version of the Accessible Canada Act in MS Word format. Click here to down load the English version of the Accessible Canada Act in pdf format. Click here to download the French version of the Accessible Canada Act in an accessible MS Word format. Click here to download the … Continue reading Download the final text of the Accessible Canada Act, as passed by Canada’s Parliament, previously called Bill C-81, in English or French, and in an accessible MS Word or a pdf format



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Canada’s Parliament Has Now Passed Bill C-81, 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

June 3, 2019
SUMMARY

We are right back in action, after being off-line during a short but eventful time in the campaign for accessibility in Canada and Ontario. Get ready for a number of updates to bring you up to speed!

In the most important development last week, right in the middle of National Accessibility Week, the House of Commons passed all the amendments to Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, that the Senate earlier made to the bill. Therefore, Bill C-81 has completed its current journey through Canada’s Parliament.

The Accessible Canada Act does not go into effect until the Federal Government gives the bill “Royal Assent.” We understand that this step may well take place in the next few weeks.

We thank everyone who helped in our shared efforts to get this bill improved. We thank those disability organizations and groups who worked with us on this shared goal. We thank all the AODA Alliance supporters and volunteers who contributed to our efforts. We appreciate every tweet or email sent to add pressure in favour of a stronger bill. As well the feedback we regularly received from our supporters have helped improve our message and our strategies.

We also thank all the MPs and Senators and their staff who helped press for a stronger bill, and all the federal public servants who did the same. Some of their efforts were undertaken behind the scenes, and without an opportunity for public acknowledgement and thanks.

Below we offer seven reflections on this achievement. In summary:

1. Final passage of the amended Bill C-81 is a helpful step forward for people with disabilities in Canada.

2. We got some of the ingredients in the bill that we were seeking.

3. We found creative ways to constructively contribute to advocacy efforts on this legislation where there are so many disability organizations and groups spread over such a big country.

4. While helpful, Bill C-81 still falls well short of what people with disabilities need.

5. We’re ready for the next round in this non-partisan campaign.

6. Our advocacy principles served us well.

7. The media too often failed to cover this important issue a disservice to all Canadians.

As well, for those who want more detail on all of the above, below we provide this further background information:

* A May 30, 2019 report by CTV on line, written by Michelle McQuigge of the Canadian Press, on the final passage of Bill C-81.

* The May 24, 2019 Globe and Mail article, also by CP’s Michelle McQuigge, on the Federal Government’s announcement that it would agree to ratify all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-81.

* The May 22, 2019 Globe and Mail article reporting on efforts to get the Federal Government to finally pass Bill C-81. This article includes some of the inaccurate statements that overstates what Bill C-81 requires.

* The May 30, 2019 news release by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, on the passage of Bill C-81, which provides a good response to the bill’s final passage with which we agree.

* The final version of this spring’s second open letter to the House of Commons, calling for all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-81 to be ratified. Fully 84 disability organizations and groups signed this open letter, listed below.

MORE DETAILS

Our Top Seven Preliminary Reflections on the Enactment of the Accessible Canada Act

Here are our top seven preliminary reflections we offer about this news:

1. Final Passage of the Amended Bill C-81 is a Helpful Step Forward

It is a helpful step forward that Parliament has passed the Accessible Canada Act, replete with all the amendments to it that the Senate made last month. As amended, this law gives us and all people with disabilities in Canada added tools we can try to use in an effort to tear down the many barriers that persist across this country. We plan to be active in pressing the Federal Government to ensure the achievement of the law’s goal of a barrier-free Canada without delay, and in any event, no later than 2040.

2. We Got Some of the Ingredients in the Bill that We Were Seeking

The Act includes features for which we and others pressed over the past four years. These include a fixed deadline to achieve an accessible Canada, a complaints-based enforcement process, a national body to recommend accessibility standards to be enacted, and reductions in the improper power of the Canadian Transportation Agency to enact regulations that can cut back on the human rights of people with disabilities.

Working with others in the disability community, we saw improvements to the law at each stage of the process. We saw improvements when the law was being initially designed, when it first came before the House of Commons for debate in the fall of 2018, and after that, when it came before the Senate this spring. This included some improvements to which the Federal Government had been opposed throughout the process.

3. We Found Ways to Constructively Contribute in a Country with so Many Disability Organizations and Groups

We found constructive and creative ways to work within Canada’s disability community throughout this four-year process. From coast to coast, Canada has a large and diverse landscape of disability organizations and groups. The AODA Alliance is but one of them. We certainly were not the leader of the effort, and at no time purported to be such. There was no one “leader” in this effort.

Moreover, in a country as big as Canada, there is no way to bring all of these disability organizations and groups together at one time and in one place to operate as one unanimous voice. With over five million people with disabilities, there are bound to be differences of opinion and approach.

Our goal was to try to offer influential ideas for the content of Bill C-81 and effective strategies for achieving as strong a bill as possible. We wanted to offer ideas around which as many people with disabilities and disability organizations could rally, based on the strength of those ideas.

We found it very constructive to collaborate with a good number of disability organizations and groups. Among other things, this included a close and ongoing collaboration with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) and the ARCH Disability Law Centre.

Among our contributions and efforts in this process were the following:

* We took part in behind-the-scenes efforts to get 2016 election commitments to pass national accessibility legislation from the federal Liberals and New Democratic Party. We also mounted a major social media campaign to press candidates across Canada to support the enactment of strong national accessibility legislation.

* In 2016, we made public a detailed Discussion Paper on what the national accessibility legislation should include. We refined it after receiving public input on it. We can trace some key features in Bill C-81 to ideas set out in this Discussion Paper. The Discussion Paper built on experience with provincial accessibility legislation.

* In August 2017, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky designed and moderated a 3-hour captioned online policy experts conference on what the promised national accessibility legislation should include. Federal Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough and her deputy minister attended and took active part in this event. It remains archived online for any Canadian province or other government around the world to learn from our ideas. This was conducted under the auspices of a coalition that formed for purposes of the Federal Government’s consultation on this bill, the Alliance for an Accessible and Inclusive Canada.

* We took part in behind-the-scenes briefings of several successive ministers that had responsibility for this file, several MPs from the various federal parties, and senior public servants involved with this issue.
* AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky delivered a lecture on what the promised national accessibility legislation should include at the Osgoode Hall Law School where he is a part-time faculty member. This captioned lecture has remained available online, to assist others advocating in this area.

* Before Bill C-81 was introduced into Parliament in June 2018, we made public a beginner’s guide to how a law goes through parliament. This was written to help everyone involved in this campaign learn the processes for passing a federal law.

* We submitted a very detailed brief to the House of Commons in Fall 2017. It analyzed Bill C-81 in detail and sought 96 amendments. We also made an oral presentation to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee that held public hearings on the bill last fall.

* We joined together with ARCH Disability Law Centre and CCD to collectively spearhead an open letter to the House of Commons at the conclusion of its public hearings. Over 90 disability organizations and groups signed it. It listed key amendments needed to make this legislation strong and effective.

* After the House of Commons passed the bill with some but not all of the amendments we and others had sought, we worked together with other disability organizations to advocate at the Senate for further amendments to the bill. Again, our efforts were coordinated with other like-minded organizations, with a special effort together with ARCH and CCD.

* This spring, we submitted a brief to the Senate as well as the text of a short list of amendments that we proposed. We were also one of the disability organizations that made an oral presentation at the Senate’s Standing Committee hearings in April and May of this year. Here again, the Senate made some but not all of the amendments that we and others sought.

* At the Senate, as at the House of Commons, we were also very busy with extensive behind-the-scenes advocacy efforts with several Senators and their staff. We were delighted at how many were open to consult with us right up to the last minute.

* Over the final three weeks, we and others mounted a concerted and successful campaign to get the House of Commons to ratify all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-81. This ratification was far from a certainty when we began that effort. This included our Twitter blitz to as many MPs as possible.

Again, we joined with ARCH and CCD to create another open letter to the House of Commons. This one called for the House to approve all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-81. Set out below, fully 84 disability organizations and groups signed it.

* We kept our supporters and the broader public aware of each major step in this four-year campaign via our AODA Alliance updates and our tweets. This entire saga is reported at www.aodaalliance.org/canadaHere

* We attempted to use the conventional media, as well as social media, to spread the word on this campaign and get more public support for our cause. We issued news releases at several major steps along the way. Most recently, the April 30, 2019 online Toronto Star included our guest column on this campaign.

* Throughout this process, several members of the House of Commons and the Senate made supportive and flattering references to our presentations and recommendations and advocated for their adoption. We, like ARCH and CCD, were often the sources quoted when a member of the House or Senate was pointing out deficiencies with the bill and the needed improvements. Several other disability organizations pointed to and relied on the detailed analysis of the bill and the detailed recommendations for amendments that we and/or ARCH presented. We worked very closely with ARCH to coordinate our respective analysis and proposals.

4. While Helpful, Bill C-81 Still Falls Well Short of What People with Disabilities Need

While the final version of Bill C-81 is helpful and a step forward, it still suffers from serious deficiencies. For example:

* It gives the Federal Government helpful powers to promote accessibility, but largely does not require that these ever be used. For example, it lets the Federal Government create helpful and enforceable national accessibility standards but does not require the Federal Government to ever do so.

* It provides for helpful enforcement tools but splinters its enforcement across four federal agencies, which is a real disadvantage to people with disabilities.

* It continues to allow federal public money to be used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers against people with disabilities.

* It lets the Federal Government grant sweeping exemptions from some of the bill’s requirements to regulated organizations, including the Federal Government itself.

* It is excessively complicated and hard to read. This threatens to make it less effective and harder to implement.

In the excitement over the passage of a new law called “the Accessible Canada Act,” it is important not to overstate what this law actually does. As we noted in our April 30, 2019 AODA Alliance Update, Rick Hansen incorrectly stated in a guest column in the April 22, 2019 Globe and Mail that Bill C-81 (the proposed Accessible Canada Act), now before Parliament “will require the Government of Canada and organizations under its jurisdiction to ensure that public spaces, workplaces, employment, program, services and information be accessible to everyone.”

We regret that the Globe never ran our letter to the editor correcting this inaccuracy, and that, to our knowledge, Mr. Hansen did not himself correct it. We had asked him to do so.

Similarly, a May 22, 2019 Globe and Mail article, set out below, included these two inaccuracies about Bill C-81:

* “If the amendments recently added by the Senate are accepted, the bill would ensure federal agencies proactively fix their buildings to allow disabled people to move freely as well as design their programs in ways that can be delivered to all Canadians.”

* “Bill C-81 would force more accessible workplaces on agencies such as the RCMP, as well as federally run services that cross provincial lines such as banking and long-range bus transportation.”

We wish Bill C-81 did what the Globe reported in that article and what Rick Hansen wrote in the April 22, 2019 Globe. We regret that it does not require these measures. It only permits them.

5. We’re Ready for the Next Round in This Non-Partisan Campaign

Our volunteer advocacy work is not finished. Over the next weeks and months, we will launch a non-partisan campaign to get the federal political parties to make strong commitments during the upcoming 2019 federal election campaign. We will ask them to make detailed commitments to effectively implement this law, and to strengthen it with further amendments that the Federal Government did not agree to over the past year. Stay tuned for more on this.

6. Our Advocacy Principles Served Us Well

Throughout this process we adhered to important principles:
* We never give up. We took every opportunity up to the last to get this bill strengthened. We did not simply settle for what we considered a weak bill, and we did not give up the chance to get more amendments.

* We maintained complete independence from the Federal Government by not applying for any grant money from the Government at any time. We also will seek no federal grant money in the future.

* We offered our best ideas to the Government and the disability community, focusing on amendments that are substantive and as impactful as possible for all people with disabilities.

7. The Media too Often Failed to Cover this Important Issue A Disservice to All Canadians

It remains deeply troubling that throughout the past four years, the campaign for this legislation secured very little media coverage. It deserved much more coverage, both during the 2015 federal election campaign, during the Federal Government’s 18-month public consultation leading to the bill, and during the bill’s two trips through the House of Commons and one trip through the Senate. It is commendable that despite this, a few reporters tried to cover this issue. You can find most of these reports at www.aodaalliance.org/canada

This is a newsworthy subject. This bill directly affects the needs of over five million people with disabilities in Canada. It ultimately addresses the needs of all in Canada, since everyone is bound to get a disability as they age.

The media should reflect on this. It is profoundly regrettable that the media’s preoccupation with certain scandals and perceived headline-grabbing issues has left far too many Canadians unaware that there even was a Bill C-81 or a campaign to get it strengthened.

CTV News Online May 30, 2019

First national accessibility legislation gets unanimous support in House

Originally posted at https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/first-national-accessibility-legislation-gets-unanimous-support-in-house-1.4444877?cache=yes%3FclipId%3D375756%3FautoPlay%3Dtrue%3Fot%3DAjaxLayout%3FautoPlay%3Dtrue%3FclipId%3D89619

Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Service and Procurement and Accessibility stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Disabled Canadians declared a partial victory Thursday hours after the government voted to enact Canada’s first national accessibility law, calling it a major step forward while cautioning that more work was still needed to ensure it achieves its goal.

The Accessible Canada Act, which aims to improve life for those with disabilities, received unanimous support in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening. It awaits only royal assent, expected in the coming weeks, before officially becoming law.

Advocates who fought for amendments to strengthen the legislation praised the governing Liberals for delivering on a promise to implement the bill and bring Canada more in line with other countries that have had such laws for years. But they also cautioned against complacency, saying more work lay ahead.

“We applaud the government for its willingness to listen to Canadians with disabilities,” Council of Canadians with Disabilities chair Jewelles Smith said in a statement.

“CCD reminds the government that there are many serious ongoing barriers that will not be addressed by this act, and encourages the federal government to pursue policy solutions to these well-known concerns.”

Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough, who spearheaded national consultations on the bill and shepherded it through Parliament, hailed its passage as a significant moment.

“This is the most transformative piece of legislation since enacting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and a true testament to the work, commitment and contributions of the Canadian disability community,” she said in a statement. “This historic act sends a clear signal to Canadians that persons with disabilities will no longer be treated as an afterthought.”

The act passed by Parliament bears striking differences from the version initially tabled last June.

Its stated purpose — to “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction — was greeted with enthusiasm and remains the same. Those areas include built environments, federally run programs and services, banking, telecommunications and transportation that crosses provincial lines.

But disabled advocates almost immediately began raising concerns about the effectiveness of the legislation and lobbied for changes.

Last fall, a group of 95 disability groups signed an open letter outlining nine areas of perceived weakness, including the lack of a timeline for the bill’s implementation and failure to recognize various forms of sign language as official languages of the deaf.

The Senate’s committee on social affairs, science and technology, citing community concerns, amended the bill to include sign language recognition as well as a timeline for the bill to be fully implemented by 2040.

Those amendments were reflected in the bill that garnered parliamentary approval.

Activists celebrated the passage of the act as genuine progress, but some continued to voice concerns about areas where they feel it still falls short.

The Arch Disability Law Centre indicated Thursday that it was particularly troubled by the language employed throughout the bill, which repeatedly uses “may” rather than “shall” or “must” when describing initiatives.

This language gives government … power to make and enforce the new accessibility requirements, but does not actually require them to use these powers,” Arch said in a statement.

An amendment before the Senate committee addressed that concern but was defeated.

Advocates also criticized the bill for granting the government broad powers to exempt people from the new rules, spreading enforcement over numerous agencies, and opting not to withhold federal funding from organizations that don’t comply with accessibility measures. Conservatives and New Democrats echoed those issues in Parliament.

Gabrielle Peters, a Vancouver-based wheelchair user, said the government’s failure to address those areas leaves the law lacking compared to similar legislation in other countries. She said she questions whether the law will prove significant for all its meant to serve.

“I and many like me will be at home with my broken wheelchair in my tiny box of an improperly adapted apartment living in poverty in a city with 8,000 corners where I can’t cross the street,” she said.

“Nothing in the act will change that. But I am glad Canada finally has an Accessible Canada Act, however lacking I find it, and I want to recognize the work of those who actually worked on and for it.”

The Globe and Mail May 24, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-federal-government-will-implement-senate-proposals-to-strengthen/

Accessibility bill will be amended to address concerns: minister

By MICHELLE MCQUIGGE
THE CANADIAN PRESS

The federal government will heed the calls of Canada’s disabled community and amend the country’s first piece of national accessibility legislation to
include some of the changes they sought, the minister spearheading the effort said Thursday.

Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough said the government will be adopting all the amendments the Senate introduced to Bill C-81, also known as the Accessible Canada Act, when it comes back before the House next week.

Earlier this month, the upper chamber’s committee on social affairs, science and technology amended the proposed act to include a handful of measures disability
advocacy organizations across the country said were necessary to make the bill more effective.

Ms. Qualtrough conceded that the government had initially resisted some of their most pressing calls, such as the demand to include a timeline that would require the bill to be fully implemented by 2040.

But Ms. Qualtrough said the legislation, which was drafted after cross-country consultations with disabled individuals and advocacy groups, needed to reflect the will of the people it’s meant to serve.

“It’s just paying tribute to all the work and all the people that have been here in the past 40, 50 years really insisting that disability rights are human rights,” Ms. Qualtrough said in a telephone interview.

Activists had been crusading for Canadian accessibility legislation for decades and watched as other countries, including the United States, got laws on their books.

The Liberals began making good on an election promise to deliver a Canadian version when they tabled the Accessible Canada Act last June, pledging $290-million over six years toward its implementation.

The act’s stated purpose is to “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. This includes built
environments, federally run programs and services, banking, telecommunications and transportation that crosses provincial lines.

Barrier, as defined by the act, includes anything “architectural, physical, technological or attitudinal” that “hinders the full participation in society
of a person with a physical, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or sensory impairment.”

Disabled Canadians reacted with wary optimism when the draft act was first tabled, but soon began voicing concerns that it was too weak to make a difference in their lives.

Last year, an open letter signed by 95 organizations, including the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, National Network for Mental Health and March
of Dimes Canada, raised a number of measures they said the act must include to be effective.

Chief among their concerns was the bill’s unwillingness to include a timeline for implementation, as well as its failure to name various forms of sign language as official languages of deaf Canadians.

The Senate’s social-affairs committee, citing community concerns, amended the bill to address those issues. Ms. Qualtrough said their proposed amendments
will now be incorporated into the bill, which will come before Parliament for final debate next week and could be officially passed into law by the end of June.

The government, Ms. Qualtrough said, has already begun work to appoint the people who will be tasked with implementing and enforcing the bill.

A chief accessibility officer will oversee the implementation of the legislation across all sectors, while a new Accessibility Commissioner will be responsible
for compliance. A new Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, comprised largely of people with a broad spectrum of disabilities, will also be put in place.

“Canadians deserve this,” Ms. Qualtrough said.

Activists celebrated the inclusion of the Senate’s amendments, saying they help to strengthen the bill in some key areas.

“This is an important victory,” accessibility activist David Lepofsky said in a statement. “While the Senate’s amendments don’t fix all the deficiencies with Bill C-81 … they are an important and helpful step forward.”

Many community members said they remain concerned about other areas the Senate did not address when making revisions to the act.

The open letter criticized the bill for granting the government broad powers to exempt people from the new rules, spreading enforcement over numerous agencies,
and opting not to withhold federal funding from organizations that don’t comply with accessibility measures.

Advocates also raised concerns about the way the bill was written. The bill repeatedly uses “may” rather than “shall” or “must” when describing initiatives,
meaning the government is empowered to take actions but never required to follow through on them, they argued.

The Globe and Mail May 22, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-push-is-on-to-pass-canadian-accessibility-law/

Activists urge Ottawa to pass accessibility law before summer

By MIKE HAGER
Globe and Mail, May 22, 2019

VANCOUVER – Disabled Canadians and their supporters are pushing Ottawa to pass a bill enshrining their right to more accessible and inclusive federal workplaces before the next election, legislation they say could help improve the lives of those with physical and mental disabilities.

Bill Adair, a spokesperson for a group of 96 organizations, said more than a thousand people and non-profit groups have recently sent letters to every MP in a blitz aimed at getting Bill C-81, known as the Accessible Canada Act, passed by Parliament and written into law before the summer break begins next month.

“We worked hard at bringing this into effect over the past three years and it is time for our country to take this step forward and throw the doors wide open for participation,” said Mr. Adair, who is also executive director of Spinal Cord Injury Canada.

Mr. Adair said his umbrella group believes the bill, which would “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in agencies and programs that fall under federal jurisdiction, could help level the considerable unemployment gap for disabled people, roughly 60 per cent of whom are employed, compared with 80 per cent for the general population.

If the amendments recently added by the Senate are accepted, the bill would ensure federal agencies proactively fix their buildings to allow disabled people to move freely as well as design their programs in ways that can be delivered to all Canadians.

As well, the bill would recognize various forms of sign language – including Indigenous sign languages – and include them among government services.

Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, said passing the amended bill remains a priority for her government.

“I expect the debate in the House of Commons to take place next week coinciding with National AccessAbility Week – a timely opportunity to highlight the work our government is doing to create a more accessible and inclusive Canada for all,” her statement Tuesday said.

Bill C-81 would force more accessible workplaces on agencies such as the RCMP, as well as federally run services that cross provincial lines such as banking and long-range bus transportation.

The government has pledged $290-million over six years toward implementing the act, which will see Ottawa appoint an accessibility commissioner and create an organization to develop accessibility standards for the industries covered by the law.

Rick Hansen, a former Paralympian whose eponymous foundation is part of the push to pass the bill, said it would be a huge disappointment if the act didn’t pass before the federal election. “Canada can’t afford to let down the one in five Canadians with disabilities,” Mr. Hansen said.

In the absence of national accessibility standards, his organization is launching an awareness campaign called Everyone Everywhere to identify common barriers disabled people face. These include: a lack of visual fire alarms; no push button doors at a building’s main entrance; steep curbs, narrow parking spaces, circular doorknobs; signage without Braille or raised lettering; ramps that are too steep or not wide enough and a lack of grab bars in bathrooms.

Mr. Hansen said a pilot project completed over two years rated about 1,100 buildings across B.C.

for their accessibility and found just more than a third didn’t meet the minimum standard.

Mr. Hansen’s organization also commissioned a Conference Board of Canada report last year that suggested the estimated 2.9 million Canadians with physical disabilities would be able to contribute $16.8-billion more to the gross domestic product by 2030 if they faced fewer barriers to participating in the workforce. Earlier this year, an independent review found deficiencies to nearly all aspects of Ontario’s 14-yearold accessibility law, including that too many buildings are still designed in ways that make it impossible for some disabled people to enter.

Gabrielle Peters, a Vancouverbased writer who led a campaign that created a matted trail for wheelchair users to access one of the city’s most popular beaches last summer, said Bill C-81 needs to give Ottawa the teeth to limit the funding of any agencies not making the effort to improve life for disabled Canadians. Ms. Peters, who uses a wheelchair, said she is genuinely uncertain how the legislation would affect her own life and the lives of other disabled people if it passes. Text of the ARCH Disability Law Centre May 30, 2109 News Release

Originally posted at https://archdisabilitylaw.ca/press-release-arch-disability-law-centre-welcomes-the-passage-of-the-accessible-canada-act/ Press Release ARCH Disability Law Centre welcomes the passage of the Accessible Canada Act

ARCH Disability Law Centre welcomes the passage of the Accessible Canada Act, an important moment in Canadas disability rights movement continuing towards our goal of full inclusion and equality for persons with disabilities across Canada.

The Accessible Canada Act is federal accessibility legislation. Its stated purpose is to achieve a barrier free Canada by 2040. To do this, the Act gives powers to the Government of Canada, the Canadian Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio-television and telecommunications commission to create new legal requirements for advancing accessibility in federal employment, the built environment, transportation, procurement of goods, services and facilities, information and communication technologies, communication, and the design and delivery of programs and services. These new legal requirements will be aimed at identifying, removing and preventing barriers, which the Act defines as anything that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or functional limitation.

Bill C-81 Accessible Canada Act was first introduced in the House of Commons in June 2018. As the Bill wound its way through the legislative process, a number of important changes were made to it. In particular, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI) made several amendments which strengthened the Bill. For example, SOCI included in the Bill a timeline of 2040 for achieving a barrier free Canada; added multiple and intersectional discrimination as a principle which must be considered when laws, policies, services and programs are developed; clarified that nothing in the Bill or its regulations limits the existing legal obligation to accommodate persons with disabilities; and recognized sign languages as the primary languages for communication by Deaf persons in Canada.

SOCI adopted these amendments after receiving recommendations from disability organizations across Canada. ARCH thanks Senators for listening to the concerns of disability communities and taking action to address them. The amendments made by the Senate strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. We commend Minister Qualtrough and the Government for voting to pass Bill C-81 with all the amendments made by the Senate said Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director of ARCH.

Throughout Bill C-81s journey, disability communities across Canada were actively involved in advocating for the Bill to be as strong as possible. ARCH worked closely with Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), AODA Alliance and over 90 national, provincial and local disability groups. To support disability communities with their advocacy, ARCH wrote an extensive legal analysis of Bill C-81, provided updates on the Bills progress in our quarterly newsletter, gave presentations on the legislation, and produced a series of Briefing Notes explaining key amendments sought. ARCH also worked with CCD and AODA Alliance to coordinate 2 Open Letter campaigns. Advocating to strengthen Bill C-81 has provided opportunities for disability communities to work together. It has been a privilege to work closely with so many dedicated advocates. The Accessible Canada Act is stronger because of their tireless work said Kerri Joffe, ARCH Staff Lawyer.

Despite the helpful amendments that were made to the legislation, a number of concerns raised by ARCH and other disability groups remain. One such weakness is the use of permissive language may rather than directive language shall or must in the Accessible Canada Act. This language gives government, the Canadian Transportation Agency, the CRTC and other bodies power to make and enforce the new accessibility requirements, but does not actually require them to use these powers.

The Accessible Canada Act has been passed by the House of Commons, but there is still one more step before it becomes law the Act must receive Royal Asset. ARCH urges the Government to ensure that the Act receives Royal Assent before the next federal election is called.

For more details contact:

Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director
416-482-8255 x. 2233

Kerri Joffe, Staff Lawyer
416-482-8255 x. 2222

Open Letter to the House of Commons Updated

Open Letter on the Need to Swiftly Pass All Senate Amendments to Bill C-81- Accessible Canada Act

[Le français suit]

To: All Members of Parliament
Date: May 14, 2019
The undersigned national, provincial and local disability groups ask all Members of Parliament to commit to swiftly pass all the amendments to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act that the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI) passed on May 2, 2019.
We commend the Honourable Minister Carla Qualtrough for championing this Bill and her openness to considering amendments to it, as she expressed to the Senate Standing Committee.
The Senate Standing Committee heard from a spectrum of disability organizations and advocates who supported the need for national accessibility legislation and who recommended areas where the bill could be improved to achieve its goal of ensuring that Canada becomes barrier-free for people with disabilities. SOCI chair Senator Chantal Petitclerc concluded the committees debates by stating that the committees amendments reflect the maxim of disability communities: Nothing about us without us.
While they do not include all the improvements that disability organizations and advocates sought, the Senates amendments improve Bill C-81. The amendments include: setting 2040 as the end date for Canada to become accessible; ensuring that this time line does not justify any delay in removing and preventing accessibility barriers as soon as reasonably possible; recognizing American Sign Language, Quebec Sign Language and Indigenous Sign Languages as the primary languages for communication used by Deaf people; making it a principle to govern the bill that multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination faced by persons with disabilities must be considered; ensuring that Bill C-81 and regulations made under it cannot cut back on the human rights of people with disabilities guaranteed by the Canadian Human Rights Act; ensuring that the Canadian Transportation Agency cannot reduce existing human rights protections for passengers with disabilities when the Agency handles complaints about barriers in transportation; and fixing problems the Federal Government identified between the bills employment provisions and legislation governing the RCMP.
It is expected that the Senate will pass Bill C-81 as amended by May 16, 2019. The bill then returns to the House of Commons, for a vote on the Senates amendments. It is critical that the House pass all of the Senates amendments to Bill C-81, to ensure that this important bill swiftly becomes law.
We ask the House of Commons to schedule a vote on the bill as soon as possible. We ask all MPs to vote to pass all the Senates amendments to Bill C-81.
If the House of Commons does anything less, it will weaken the bill, and risk the possibility that the bill will not finish its journey through Parliament before the fall election. Signed:
AODA Alliance
ARCH Disability Law Centre
Citizens With Disabilities Ontario (CWDO)
Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD)
Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance (FALA)
Ontario Autism Coalition
Spinal Cord Injury Canada
StopGap Foundation
Travel for All
Older Womens Network
PONDA
Barrier Free Canada Canada sans Barrières
BC Coalition of People who use Guide Dogs
Keremeos Measuring Up Team
National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs in Canada The Project Group Consulting Cooperative
VIEWS Ontario For the Vision ImpairedDoing It Blind
Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)
British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS) DeafBlind Ontario Services
March of Dimes Canada
North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre Inc.
Peterborough Council for Persons with Disabilities
Québec Accessible
CNIB
Electromagnetic Pollution Illnesses Canada Foundation (EPIC) Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy
Rick Hansen Foundation
Access 2 Accessibility
BALANCE for Blind Adults
Barrier Free Manitoba (BFM)
Canadian Association of the Deaf Association des Sourds du Canada (CAD-ASC) Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf
Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT)
Community Living Ontario
Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO)
Hydrocephalus Canada
LArche Canada
Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario
National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) NWT Disability Council
Realize
Tetra Society of North America Ontario Division
Unitarian Commons Co-Housing Corporation
Vibrant Healthcare Alliance
Vie Autonome Montréal
Association du Syndrome de Usher du Québec
Association multiethnique pour lintégration des personnes handicapées (AMEIPH) Barrier Free Saskatchewan
Canadian Association for Community Living
Canadian Centre on Disability Studies Inc. o/a Eviance
Canadian Epilepsy Alliance
Community Services for Independence North West (CSINW)
Deaf Literacy Initiative
Guide Dog Users of Canada
Handicapped Action Group Inc. (HAGI)
Law, Disability & Social Change Research Project
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Muscular Dystrophy Canada
National Network for Mental Health
OCASI- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Ontarian with Disabilitites League for Human Rights of Bnai Brith Canada People First of Canada
reachAbility Association
Regroupement des associations de personnes handicapées de lOutaouais (RAPHO) Silent Voice Canada Inc.
The Canadian Council of the Blind
The Club Inclusion
The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (Toronto Chapter) Family Network for Deaf Children
SPH Planning & Consulting Limited (SPH)
Disability Awareness Consultants
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD)
Empowered Kids Ontario Enfants Avenir Ontario
Sound Times Support Services
Coalition of Persons with Disabilities
JRG Society for the Arts
A Resource Centre for Families Cumberland
Community Inclusion Society
Abilities Centre
Ontario Association of the Deaf
L’Arche Comox Valley
ALS Society of Canada
Saskatchewan ALS Society
Lettre ouverte pour une rapide ratification des modifications sénatoriales au projet de loi C-81, la Loi canadienne sur laccessibilité. À: Tous les membres du Parlement
Date: 14 mai 2019
Nous, les soussignés, organisations nationales, provinciales et locales de personnes handicapées, recommandons à tous les membres du Parlement de sengager à adopter rapidement toutes les modifications au projet de loi C-81, Loi canadienne sur laccessibilité, adoptées le 2 mai 2019 par le Comité sénatorial permanent des affaires sociales, sciences et technologie (SOCI).
Nous félicitons lhonorable ministre Carla Qualtrough davoir défendu ce projet de loi et, tel quexprimé au Comité sénatorial permanent, de son ouverture envers les modifications proposées.
Le Comité sénatorial a entendu une vaste gamme dorganisations de personnes en situation de handicap et dintervenants marteler le besoin dune loi nationale sur laccessibilité et recommander lamélioration de certains secteurs afin que le projet de loi atteigne son objectif, à savoir faire du Canada un pays exempt dobstacles. En clôturant les débats, la sénatrice Chantal Peticlerc, présidente du SOCI, a déclaré que les modifications apportées par le Comité traduisaient le slogan des collectivités de personnes handicapées Rien pour nous, sans nous.
Bien que nincluant pas toutes les améliorations revendiquées par les organisations de personnes handicapées et les intervenants, les modifications sénatoriales améliorent le projet de loi C-81. Elles stipulent : que le Canada devienne un pays totalement exempt dobstacles dici 2040; que cet échéancier ne justifie aucun délai quant à lélimination et la prévention des obstacles le plus tôt possible; que lAmerican Sign Language, de la langue des signes québécoise et de les langues des signes autochtones soient reconnues comme langues de communication fondamentales des personnes Sourdes; que les formes multiples et intersectorielles de discrimination subies par les personnes en situation de handicap soient un principe sous-tendant lapplication du projet de loi; que le projet de loi C-81 et les règlements afférents ne puissent restreindre les droits humains des personnes handicapées, garantis par la Loi canadienne sur les droits de la personne; que lors du règlement des plaintes basées sur les obstacles dans les transports, lOffice des transports du Canada ne puisse atténuer les droits des voyageurs en situation de handicap, actuellement garantis; que soient réglés les problèmes identifiés par le gouvernement fédéral entre les dispositions du projet de loi en matière demploi et la loi régissant la GRC.
Le Sénat devrait adopter le projet de loi C-81, tel que modifié, avant le 16 mai 2019. Le projet de loi reviendra alors en la Chambre des communes pour un vote sur les modifications sénatoriales. Et pour que le projet de loi devienne rapidement loi, ces modifications doivent absolument être adoptées.
Nous demandons à la Chambre des communes de programmer un vote aussitôt que possible et nous demandons à tous les membres du Parlement de voter en faveur des modifications sénatoriales au projet de loi C-81.
La Chambre des communes affaiblira le projet de loi si elle se contente de moins; dans ce cas-là, la course parlementaire de ce projet de loi risque dêtre stoppée avant lélection de cet automne. Lettre ouverte signée par:
AODA Alliance
ARCH Disability Law Centre
Citizens With Disabilities Ontario (CWDO)
Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD)
Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance (FALA)
Ontario Autism Coalition
Spinal Cord Injury Canada
StopGap Foundation
Travel for All
Older Womens Network
PONDA
Barrier Free Canada Canada sans Barrières
BC Coalition of People who use Guide Dogs
Keremeos Measuring Up Team
National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs in Canada The Project Group Consulting Cooperative
VIEWS Ontario For the Vision ImpairedDoing It Blind
Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)
British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS) DeafBlind Ontario Services
March of Dimes Canada
North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre Inc.
Peterborough Council for Persons with Disabilities
Québec Accessible
CNIB
Electromagnetic Pollution Illnesses Canada Foundation (EPIC) Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy
Rick Hansen Foundation
Access 2 Accessibility
BALANCE for Blind Adults
Barrier Free Manitoba (BFM)
Canadian Association of the Deaf Association des Sourds du Canada (CAD-ASC) Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf
Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT)
Community Living Ontario
Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO)
Hydrocephalus Canada
LArche Canada
Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario
National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) NWT Disability Council
Realize
Tetra Society of North America Ontario Division
Unitarian Commons Co-Housing Corporation
Vibrant Healthcare Alliance
Vie Autonome Montréal
Association du Syndrome de Usher du Québec
Association multiethnique pour lintégration des personnes handicapées (AMEIPH) Barrier Free Saskatchewan
Canadian Association for Community Living
Canadian Centre on Disability Studies Inc. o/a Eviance
Canadian Epilepsy Alliance
Community Services for Independence North West (CSINW)
Deaf Literacy Initiative
Guide Dog Users of Canada
Handicapped Action Group Inc. (HAGI)
Law, Disability & Social Change Research Project
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Muscular Dystrophy Canada
National Network for Mental Health
OCASI- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Ontarian with Disabilitites League for Human Rights of Bnai Brith Canada People First of Canada
reachAbility Association
Regroupement des associations de personnes handicapées de lOutaouais (RAPHO) Silent Voice Canada Inc.
The Canadian Council of the Blind
The Club Inclusion
The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (Toronto Chapter) Family Network for Deaf Children
SPH Planning & Consulting Limited (SPH)
Disability Awareness Consultants
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD)
Empowered Kids Ontario Enfants Avenir Ontario
Sound Times Support Services
Coalition of Persons with Disabilities
JRG Society for the Arts
A Resource Centre for Families Cumberland
Community Inclusion Society
Abilities Centre
Ontario Association of the Deaf
L’Arche Comox Valley
ALS Society of Canada
Saskatchewan ALS Society



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