David C. Onley Initiative Making Recommendations to Advance Employment for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities


By Tyrone Burke

Companies often assume that accommodating an employee with a disability will cost thousands of dollars. It’s a misperception that can create an additional barrier to finding employment, and it contributes to the job gap between students with disabilities and those without.

“In reality, accommodations often cost $500 or less” says Julie Caldwell, assistant director of program operations for the David C. Onley Initiative.

“Part of what this initiative has been doing is busting myths about disability and addressing the biases, fears and misperceptions that employers can have.”

Since launching in 2018, the David C. Onley Initiative has been developing knowledge, resources and tools to support the employment readiness and career aspirations of students with disabilities. The $5-million project is named for former Ontario lieutenant-governor David C. Onley, and funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

It’s a Carleton-led partnership with the University of Ottawa, Algonquin College and Collège La Cité. In order to better understand the factors contributing to the employability of students with disabilities, the initiative embedded researchers in career and disability offices on each of the four campuses.

David C. Onley Initiative Making Recommendations to Advance Employment for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities David C. Onley

They spoke to those responsible for planning recruitment events about how they ensured that students with disabilities were included, and hosted a series of accessible showcases on each campus, parallel to typical career fairs.

“Because they were for students with disabilities only, it allowed employers and students to engage in meaningful conversations in a safe environment,” says Caldwell.

“Students didn’t have to fear disclosing they had a disability when being considered for meaningful career opportunities.”

Strength in Numbers

“At the core of this initiative, we were looking at how we can enhance the collaboration amongst career and accessibility offices across each campus, to identify ways to better communicate, collaborate and support students with disabilities.”

The David C. Onley Initiative has also sought to inform and educate, both through public awareness campaigns like #ableto and through direct outreach to employers.

“We talked to employers about whether they had diversity and inclusion recruitment teams, and what resources, tools and/or services they had in place to support the hiring of students with disabilities,” says Caldwell.

“In many cases, we received feedback about how organizations are open to hiring a person with a disability, but that they are unsure of how to have a conversation about accessibility and accommodations in the workplace, if needed. They fear saying or doing the wrong thing. Some employers are operating under perceived fears, barriers and/or biases. We busted myths about some of these thoughts through our ableto.ca campaign.”

Delivering Final Report

In September 2020, the initiative will deliver a final report to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Based on its research, it will recommend a transferable model to help facilitate relevant supports for employability of students with disabilities.

“Ontario is facing a skilled labor shortage,” says Caldwell.

“Students with disabilities who are graduating from college and university programs have the training and knowledge to help address this shortage, but are often being overlooked because employers do not have access to tools, training and resources to help them create more accessible and inclusive work environments.”

Though the initiative’s work is winding down, its findings will be carried forward. Last December, Carleton launched a new pan-Canadian research initiative comprised of academic institutions, corporate partners and community service providers ” the Canadian Accessibility Network. One of its five main areas of interest is the advancement of employment opportunities for Canadians with disabilities.

And throughout the project, the initiative has aimed to affect a lasting culture shift in Ottawa’s educational and business communities.

“We wanted to build the capacity of everybody we came in touch with ” employers, campus career or disability offices, and community service providers,” says Caldwell.

Original at https://newsroom.carleton.ca/story/advance-employment-students-with-disabilities/




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Watch the Captioned May 27, 2020 Online Fireside Chat with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner on the Impact of COVID-19 on Ontarians with Disabilities


Tell Us What Barriers Students with Disabilities Face in Colleges and Universities

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/

May 26, 2020

SUMMARY

1. Check Out an Online Fireside Chat Tomorrow Night on the Impact of COVID-19 on 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

Please log on tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 8 pm Eastern time, for a live virtual fireside chat with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. He’s been invited to speak with the leader of the Green Party of Ontario, Mike Schreiner. Captioning is provided. See the details below.

This fireside chat will address the impact that the COVID-19 crisis is having on people with disabilities and the pressing need for the Ford Government to include their urgent needs in its emergency COVID-19 planning.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance commends the Green party for inviting AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to take part in this event. The AODA Alliance would be happy to do so with members of the Legislature from any of Ontario’s political parties, as part of our long-term spirit of non-partisanship.

Please encourage others to watch this event. Publicize it on social media and in any other way you can.

2. More Time for You to Tell Us What Barriers Students with Disabilities Face in Post-Secondary Education in Ontario

The AODA Alliance wants to hear from you about the barriers that students with disabilities face in post-secondary education in Ontario. Back on March 11, 2020, we made public a draft Framework that the AODA Alliance had prepared for your input. It offers ideas on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include for students with disabilities in post-secondary education. Just after that, the COVID-19 crisis hit. As a result, we are extending the time to give us feedback on that draft Framework. You can read that draft Framework by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-barriers-do-students-with-disabilities-face-in-post-secondary-education-in-ontario-send-us-feedback-on-our-draft-framework-for-a-post-secondary-education-accessibility-standard/

With the COVID-19 crisis, post-secondary education has all moved online. This has created a series of new barriers for many students with disabilities. We are eager to hear about those barriers, as well as any that students with disabilities encountered before the COVID-19 crisis arose. We also invite your recommendations for what should be done, both during the period when post-secondary education continues online, and after that, for the time when colleges and universities will re-open for students to attend in person.

Please send us your feedback by June 30, 2020. Send your feedback to us at [email protected] .

Please don’t use “track changes” to give us feedback, as it can present accessibility problems. Instead, send us an email with your comments. You can mention the number of the recommendation on which you are commenting or cut and paste from our draft Framework the passage on which you are commenting.

Once we get your feedback, we will finalize this Framework, make it public, and send it to the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee.

3. Delay and Yet More Delay

There have been 481 days since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been 62 days, or over two months, since we wrote Ontario Premier Doug Ford on March 25, 2020 to urge specific action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. He has not answered. The Premier’s office has not contacted us. The ordeal facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis is worsened by that delay.

Send us your feedback! Write us at [email protected] Please stay safe!

MORE DETAILS

Announcement from the Green Party of Ontario

Supporting our Disability Community During Covid-19
Please tune in for a discussion between Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario and Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, David Lepofsky. The two will discuss the unique challenges affecting the disability community during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the policies needed to ensure the disability community does not continue to fall through the cracks of the government’s response.

Wednesday, May 27 8:00-8:45 pm

The event will be closed-captioned and can be streamed on the Green Party of Ontario Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GreenPartyOntario/

@davidlepofsky @aodaalliance
@OntarioGreens @MikeSchreiner




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Watch the Captioned May 27, 2020 Online Fireside Chat with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner on the Impact of COVID-19 on Ontarians with Disabilities – and – Tell Us What Barriers Students with Disabilities Face in Colleges and Universities


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/

Watch the Captioned May 27, 2020 Online Fireside Chat with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner on the Impact of COVID-19 on Ontarians with Disabilities – and – Tell Us What Barriers Students with Disabilities Face in Colleges and Universities

May 26, 2020

          SUMMARY

1. Check Out an Online Fireside Chat Tomorrow Night on the Impact of COVID-19 on 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

Please log on tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 8 pm Eastern time, for a live virtual fireside chat with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. He’s been invited to speak with the leader of the Green Party of Ontario, Mike Schreiner. Captioning is provided. See the details below.

This fireside chat will address the impact that the COVID-19 crisis is having on people with disabilities and the pressing need for the Ford Government to include their urgent needs in its emergency COVID-19 planning.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance commends the Green party for inviting AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to take part in this event. The AODA Alliance would be happy to do so with members of the Legislature from any of Ontario’s political parties, as part of our long-term spirit of non-partisanship.

Please encourage others to watch this event. Publicize it on social media and in any other way you can.

            2. More Time for You to Tell Us What Barriers Students with Disabilities Face in Post-Secondary Education in Ontario

The AODA Alliance wants to hear from you about the barriers that students with disabilities face in post-secondary education in Ontario. Back on March 11, 2020, we made public a draft Framework that the AODA Alliance had prepared for your input. It offers ideas on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include for students with disabilities in post-secondary education. Just after that, the COVID-19 crisis hit. As a result, we are extending the time to give us feedback on that draft Framework. You can read that draft Framework by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-barriers-do-students-with-disabilities-face-in-post-secondary-education-in-ontario-send-us-feedback-on-our-draft-framework-for-a-post-secondary-education-accessibility-standard/

With the COVID-19 crisis, post-secondary education has all moved online. This has created a series of new barriers for many students with disabilities. We are eager to hear about those barriers, as well as any that students with disabilities encountered before the COVID-19 crisis arose. We also invite your recommendations for what should be done, both during the period when post-secondary education continues online, and after that, for the time when colleges and universities will re-open for students to attend in person.

Please send us your feedback by June 30, 2020. Send your feedback to us at [email protected] .

Please don’t use “track changes” to give us feedback, as it can present accessibility problems. Instead, send us an email with your comments. You can mention the number of the recommendation on which you are commenting or cut and paste from our draft Framework the passage on which you are commenting.

Once we get your feedback, we will finalize this Framework, make it public, and send it to the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee.

 3. Delay and Yet More Delay

There have been 481 days since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been 62 days, or over two months, since we wrote Ontario Premier Doug Ford on March 25, 2020 to urge specific action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. He has not answered. The Premier’s office has not contacted us. The ordeal facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis is worsened by that delay.

Send us your feedback! Write us at [email protected]. Please stay safe!

          MORE DETAILS

 Announcement from the Green Party of Ontario

Supporting our Disability Community During Covid-19

Please tune in for a discussion between Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario and Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, David Lepofsky. The two will discuss the unique challenges affecting the disability community during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the policies needed to ensure the disability community does not continue to fall through the cracks of the government’s response.

Wednesday, May 27 8:00-8:45 pm

The event will be closed-captioned and can be streamed on the Green Party of Ontario Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GreenPartyOntario/

@davidlepofsky @aodaalliance

@OntarioGreens @MikeSchreiner



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Toronto Star Runs A Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the need for the Ontario Government to Come Up with a Plan to Meet the Urgent Needs of 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 crisis


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/

April 21, 2020

SUMMARY

Here is an important guest column that ran in the online version of the Toronto Star on April 20, 2020 by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. In about 750 words, it summarizes key points we have been revealing in our last ten AODA Alliance Updates since March 20, 2020.

We encourage you to:

* Write a letter to the editor at the Toronto Star with your comments on this guest column. Email the Star at: [email protected] Encourage the Star to give this topic as much attention as possible.

* Forward this guest column to your member of the Ontario Legislature with your comments.

* Share this guest column on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Encourage others to read it and to share it with others. Use our new hashtag: #DisabilityUrgent. The link to post that takes people right to the Toronto Star guest column is https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/04/20/ontario-needs-emergency-plan-for-urgent-needs-of-millions-with-disabilities.html

* Send this guest column to your local media. Encourage them to cover this issue, which touches the lives of so many Ontarians.

For more background, check out and widely share:

* The widely viewed April 7, 2020 online Virtual Public Forum on what Government Must Do to Meet the Urgent Needs of People with Disabilities During the COVID crisis. It has American Sign Language interpretation and captioning. This event was jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition. It expands on key points made in this Toronto Star guest column.

* The AODA Alliance’s April 14, 2020 Discussion Paper on Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities.

* Action tips on how to help ensure that patients with disabilities don’t face discrimination in access to critical health care.

* The April 8, 2020 open letter to Premier Ford, organized by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, voicing concerns about the Ontario Government’s protocol for rationing medical care during the COVID crisis.

* The AODA Alliance’s March 25, 2020 letter to Premier Ford, which has gone unanswered.

There have been a total of 446 days since the Ford Government received the groundbreaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. This is so even though the Government staged a glitzy media event on February 28, 2020 to promise that it would “lead by example” on accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.

There have now been 27 days since we wrote Ontario Premier Doug Ford on March 25, 2020 to urge specific action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. He has not answered. The ordeal facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis is made even worse by that delay.

We always welcome your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

Toronto Star Online April 20, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/04/20/ontario-needs-emergency-plan-for-urgent-needs-of-millions-with-disabilities.html Opinion

Ontario needs emergency plan for urgent needs of millions with disabilities By David Lepofsky Contributor

Media have reported on some of the most extreme COVID-19 impacts on people with disabilities, the tip of a horrific iceberg, like the government’s scandalous failure to effectively protect residents in nursing homes and independent living residences. Let me reveal a worrisome but unreported thread running through those reports that connects hitherto-unconnected dots.

People with disabilities suffer a brutal triple whammie during this crisis, beyond what the broader public faces. First, many people with disabilities are disproportionately medically prone to contract COVID-19 and to suffer its harshest physical impacts.

Second, a cruel confluence of government policies and neglect makes people with disabilities even more prone to contract COVID-19.

Third, people with disabilities can fear going to hospital. They face a health care system replete with disability barriers pre-dating COVID-19. The COVID-19 crisis is triggering even more disability barriers in hospitals. We’ve battled uphill for a decade to get the Ontario government to remove these health care barriers. In this crisis, we need Ontario to speed up efforts in this area. Doug Ford instead temporarily hit the brakes, further reducing the snail’s pace of progress.

Add to this the fact that Ford’s government has a secret COVID-19 medical rationing protocol. It would unfairly discriminate against some patients with disabilities who need critical care, should medical rationing be required. There is a justified fear in the disability community, if they need urgent care and there is a ventilator shortage, due to Ford’s triage protocol or its trickle-down effect on nurses and EMTs.

The government claims this secret protocol is just a draft. Then why isn’t it marked draft, as government drafts are always marked? Why hasn’t the Government rescinded it? Ford’s lead doctor drafting that protocol claimed on TVO that it’s a “top priority” to consult the public on it. So why is it still secret? Where’s Ford’s invitation and avenue for public input?

To kick-start public discussion, we’ve made public our own Discussion Paper, giving examples of situations in which patients with disabilities must not be denied critical medical care. Ford’s response? Radio silence.

It is inexcusable that the Ontario government has announced no systematic, comprehensive plan to address the urgent needs of people with disabilities in its emergency COVID-19 planning, nor any intent to create one. We’ve repeatedly called for action for five weeks.

To help the government, we organized a constructive and widely viewed online virtual public forum two weeks ago. Ten experts described practical priority actions needed in this crisis.

It’s good Doug Ford talks about protecting the most vulnerable. Yet key line ministries, such as health, education, colleges and universities, long-term care, community and social services and the premier’s office have not tried to contact us. We’ve only had a few chats with the small accessibility ministry, which has no line responsibility here.

Some pundits claim Premier Ford has surprised many by appearing to do a great job during this crisis, better than some expected. For over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities, this is not the case. We’re getting more of the recurring lip service and neglect we’ve been getting from the Ontario government for several years, since well before the last provincial election.
This issue vitally affects millions of us. It meets every measure of newsworthiness. With the media filled with all COVID-19 all the time, there’s far more airtime and newsprint space to give it attention. We need the premier and his ministers to be pressed on important hitherto-unasked questions for Ontarians with disabilities. We can’t do that in person, while we’re self-isolating.

Premier Ford, why do you have no plan to meet the urgent needs of hundreds of thousands of students with disabilities, for whom online learning can create learning barriers? Ford announced schools were moving online but no plan to deal with students with disabilities. School boards are left in chaos, each trying to figure it out on their own.

Premier Ford, where’s your plan to ensure that the new emergency health facilities you’re creating won’t have barriers impeding patients with disabilities? Your medical triage protocol is just one of those barriers.

Premier Ford, where’s your plan to eradicate the policies and practices that make people with disabilities disproportionately prone to contract COVID-19?

Premier Ford, why not reach out to the grassroots disability community and take up their offer to help? They’re the experts in what they are facing.

We’re eager to help. Premier Ford give us a call.

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




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Toronto Star Runs A Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the need for the Ontario Government to Come Up with a Plan to Meet the Urgent Needs of 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 crisis


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/

Toronto Star Runs A Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the need for the Ontario Government to Come Up with a Plan to Meet the Urgent Needs of 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 crisis

April 21, 2020

          SUMMARY

Here is an important guest column that ran in the online version of the Toronto Star on April 20, 2020 by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. In about 750 words, it summarizes key points we have been revealing in our last ten AODA Alliance Updates since March 20, 2020.

We encourage you to:

* Write a letter to the editor at the Toronto Star with your comments on this guest column. Email the Star at: [email protected] Encourage the Star to give this topic as much attention as possible.

* Forward this guest column to your member of the Ontario Legislature with your comments.

* Share this guest column on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Encourage others to read it and to share it with others. Use our new hashtag: #DisabilityUrgent. The link to post that takes people right to the Toronto Star guest column is https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/04/20/ontario-needs-emergency-plan-for-urgent-needs-of-millions-with-disabilities.html

* Send this guest column to your local media. Encourage them to cover this issue, which touches the lives of so many Ontarians.

For more background, check out and widely share:

* The widely viewed April 7, 2020 online Virtual Public Forum on what Government Must Do to Meet the Urgent Needs of People with Disabilities During the COVID crisis. It has American Sign Language interpretation and captioning. This event was jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition. It expands on key points made in this Toronto Star guest column.

* The AODA Alliance’s April 14, 2020 Discussion Paper on Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities.

* Action tips on how to help ensure that patients with disabilities don’t face discrimination in access to critical health care.

* The April 8, 2020 open letter to Premier Ford, organized by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, voicing concerns about the Ontario Government’s protocol for rationing medical care during the COVID crisis.

* The AODA Alliance’s March 25, 2020 letter to Premier Ford, which has gone unanswered.

There have been a total of 446 days since the Ford Government received the groundbreaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. This is so even though the Government staged a glitzy media event on February 28, 2020 to promise that it would “lead by example” on accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.

There have now been 27 days since we wrote Ontario Premier Doug Ford on March 25, 2020 to urge specific action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. He has not answered. The ordeal facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis is made even worse by that delay.

We always welcome your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

Toronto Star Online April 20, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/04/20/ontario-needs-emergency-plan-for-urgent-needs-of-millions-with-disabilities.html

Opinion

Ontario needs emergency plan for urgent needs of millions with disabilities

By David Lepofsky Contributor

Media have reported on some of the most extreme COVID-19 impacts on people with disabilities, the tip of a horrific iceberg, like the government’s scandalous failure to effectively protect residents in nursing homes and independent living residences. Let me reveal a worrisome but unreported thread running through those reports that connects hitherto-unconnected dots.

People with disabilities suffer a brutal triple whammie during this crisis, beyond what the broader public faces. First, many people with disabilities are disproportionately medically prone to contract COVID-19 and to suffer its harshest physical impacts.

Second, a cruel confluence of government policies and neglect makes people with disabilities even more prone to contract COVID-19.

Third, people with disabilities can fear going to hospital. They face a health care system replete with disability barriers pre-dating COVID-19. The COVID-19 crisis is triggering even more disability barriers in hospitals. We’ve battled uphill for a decade to get the Ontario government to remove these health care barriers. In this crisis, we need Ontario to speed up efforts in this area. Doug Ford instead temporarily hit the brakes, further reducing the snail’s pace of progress.

Add to this the fact that Ford’s government has a secret COVID-19 medical rationing protocol. It would unfairly discriminate against some patients with disabilities who need critical care, should medical rationing be required. There is a justified fear in the disability community, if they need urgent care and there is a ventilator shortage, due to Ford’s triage protocol or its trickle-down effect on nurses and EMTs.

The government claims this secret protocol is just a draft. Then why isn’t it marked draft, as government drafts are always marked? Why hasn’t the Government rescinded it? Ford’s lead doctor drafting that protocol claimed on TVO that it’s a “top priority” to consult the public on it. So why is it still secret? Where’s Ford’s invitation and avenue for public input?

To kick-start public discussion, we’ve made public our own Discussion Paper, giving examples of situations in which patients with disabilities must not be denied critical medical care. Ford’s response? Radio silence.

It is inexcusable that the Ontario government has announced no systematic, comprehensive plan to address the urgent needs of people with disabilities in its emergency COVID-19 planning, nor any intent to create one. We’ve repeatedly called for action for five weeks.

To help the government, we organized a constructive and widely viewed online virtual public forum two weeks ago. Ten experts described practical priority actions needed in this crisis.

It’s good Doug Ford talks about protecting the most vulnerable. Yet key line ministries, such as health, education, colleges and universities, long-term care, community and social services and the premier’s office have not tried to contact us. We’ve only had a few chats with the small accessibility ministry, which has no line responsibility here.

Some pundits claim Premier Ford has surprised many by appearing to do a great job during this crisis, better than some expected. For over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities, this is not the case. We’re getting more of the recurring lip service and neglect we’ve been getting from the Ontario government for several years, since well before the last provincial election.

This issue vitally affects millions of us. It meets every measure of newsworthiness. With the media filled with all COVID-19 all the time, there’s far more airtime and newsprint space to give it attention. We need the premier and his ministers to be pressed on important hitherto-unasked questions for Ontarians with disabilities. We can’t do that in person, while we’re self-isolating.

Premier Ford, why do you have no plan to meet the urgent needs of hundreds of thousands of students with disabilities, for whom online learning can create learning barriers? Ford announced schools were moving online but no plan to deal with students with disabilities. School boards are left in chaos, each trying to figure it out on their own.

Premier Ford, where’s your plan to ensure that the new emergency health facilities you’re creating won’t have barriers impeding patients with disabilities? Your medical triage protocol is just one of those barriers.

Premier Ford, where’s your plan to eradicate the policies and practices that make people with disabilities disproportionately prone to contract COVID-19?

Premier Ford, why not reach out to the grassroots disability community and take up their offer to help? They’re the experts in what they are facing.

We’re eager to help. Premier Ford — give us a call.

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



Source link

AODA Alliance’s Toronto Star Guest Column Honours the Memory of the Late Senator David Smith, An Important Hero in the Campaign for Accessibility for People with Disabilities


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/

March 3, 2020

SUMMARY

1. Toronto Star Runs A Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair on the Legacy for Canadians with Disabilities Left by the Late Senator David Smith

The March 3, 2020 Toronto Star includes a guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, set out below. It recounts the important legacy for people with disabilities in Canada left by the late Senator David Smith, who died last week. Almost 40 years ago, David Smith played a critical role in helping get the Federal Government to amend the proposed Charter of Rights, to entrench in Canada’s Constitution a guarantee of equality for people with disabilities.

The Charter’s guarantee of disability equality underpins the AODA and all other similar accessibility laws across Canada. If you want to know more about the history of the grassroots campaign to win the disability amendment to the Charter back in 1980-82, check out a two-hour captioned online lecture.

2. Liberal Leadership Candidate Brenda Hollingsworth Makes All 10 of the Commitments on Disability Accessibility that the AODA Alliance Seeks

In a tweet to the AODA Alliance last week, Ontario Liberal Leadership candidate Brenda Hollingsworth made all 10 commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities that the AODA Alliance has sought from the six Ontario Liberal leadership candidates. This weekend, the Ontario Liberal Party chooses its next leader, to succeed Kathleen Wynne.

On February 25, 2020, Brenda Hollingsworth tweeted:

“Brenda Hollingsworth @LiberalBrenda
@DavidLepofsky @StevenDelDuca @KateMarieGraham @MitzieHunter @AlvinTedjo Hi David, as I mentioned to you previously, I pledge agreement with all the items in your letter.”

As of now, only two of the six candidates for Ontario Liberal Party leadership have made all 10 pledges we seek, Michael Coteau and Brenda Hollingsworth. Steven Del Duca only made 4 of the 10 commitments we seek. On the other 6, his commitments fell well short of what we asked. Alvin Tedjo only made 1 of the 10 commitments we seek. Mitzie Hunter and Kate Graham have made none of the commitments we seek.

There are still four days left for all of the Liberal leadership candidates to make all the commitments we seek. We will let you know if any more commitments are made.

3. Twenty-Two Years After the Supreme Court of Canada Ordered that Hospitals Provide Sign Language Interpretation Services to Patients with Disabilities, Problems Still Persist

Here is a stunning illustration of the barriers that patients with disabilities continue to face in Ontario’s health care system. A December 26, 2019 Hamilton Spectator article reported on problems that can be faced when a deaf hospital patient seeks Sign Language interpretation services in connection with a hospital visit. We set out that article below.

This is yet more proof why Ontario needs a strong and effective Health Care Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We have been pressing for the Government to do that for over a decade.

Back in 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the landmark case of Eldridge v. B.C. that governments must ensure that hospitals provide Sign Language interpretation services to deaf patients when this is needed to receive health care services. Over two decades later, Ontario still has problems fulfilling this constitutional obligation under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For more background check out the AODA Alliance’s Framework that sets out what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. Watch a captioned one-hour talk by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on what the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard should include, which has already been seen over 1,000 times!

Queen’s Park Briefing Podcast Features an Episode On Our Accessibility Campaign

The Sunday, March 1, 2020 edition of the QP Briefing podcast (a product of the Toronto Star) features an in-depth interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. QP Briefing has, to our knowledge, not posted a transcript of this audio recording.

It’s great that we have been included in this podcast. QP Briefing focuses on key issues getting attention in the halls of Queen’s Park!

The Ford Government’s Delay on Accessibility Continues

A seemingly-endless 397 days have now slipped by since the Ford Government received the blistering final report on the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are waiting and waiting for the Ford Government to come up with a comprehensive and effective plan of new measures to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations, needed to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. To date, all the Government has offered Ontarians with disabilities is thin gruel.

MORE DETAILS

March 3, 2020 Toronto Star Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

Toronto Star March 3, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/03/02/sen-david-smith-an-unsung-hero-of-disabled-canadians.html

OPINION
Sen. David Smith an unsung hero of disabled Canadians
By David Lepofsky Contributor

Canada mourns the passing of Sen. David Smith, who dedicated decades to public service as a municipal and federal politician. Let’s ensure that his eulogies recognize his enduring and incredible achievement for millions of Canadians with disabilities.

It is known to far few that he played a decisive role in the successful grassroots battle to get Parliament to include equality for people with disabilities in Canada’s proposed Charter of Rights. He championed that cause not on the front pages of newspapers, but where we needed help the most, in the backrooms of the halls of federal political power.

Forty years ago, prime minister Pierre Trudeau proposed to add a Charter of Rights to Canada’s Constitution. His proposed Charter of Rights included a guarantee of equality rights, to protect against discrimination by laws and governments. However, that proposed equality clause left out equality for people with disabilities.

A number of us in the disability community rushed to campaign to get Parliament to add disability equality rights to the Charter. We contended that otherwise, the Charter would only guarantee equality for some. Equality for some means equality for none.

It was a near hopeless uphill battle. Trudeau was racing to blitz his constitutional reforms through Parliament. We had no internet, email, social media or other such campaigning tools. The media gave us scant attention.

Thankfully, along came a new Liberal backbench MP David Smith. Entirely unconnected to our campaign, earlier in 1980 he had been appointed to chair an all-party Parliamentary committee to hold public hearings on disability issues, because the UN had declared 1981 to be the International year of the Disabled Person. Those hearings were undoubtedly a Government PR gesture, of which we people with disabilities, have seen many.

Yet those hearings galvanized Smith. He learned about the pressing need to amend the proposed Charter of Rights to protect equality for people with disabilities, before Parliament passed the Charter. With no public fanfare, and known only to a few, he took it on himself to work the backrooms on his own impetus, buttonholing MP after MP, pressing our case.

The result of all these efforts? On Jan. 28, 1981, another Parliamentary Committee (of which Smith was not a member) was debating the Trudeau constitutional reforms, when it held a historic vote. It unanimously voted to amend the proposed Charter of Rights to entrench equality for people with disabilities as a constitutional right.

Smith was likely not even in the room where that committee was meeting. Yet he was arguably the most important MP, relentlessly and successfully advocating for our cause, behind-the-scenes. Equality for people with disabilities was the only right that was added to the Charter during those debates.

To my knowledge, Smith sought no limelight for this achievement. Yet as we look back on his life of accomplishments, this should rank very high among them.

Decades later, the grassroots campaign across Canada to win strong disability accessibility legislation at the federal and provincial levels traces itself back to that historic amendment to the proposed Charter of Rights. It spawned accessibility laws enacted in Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and federally. Other provinces are now playing catch up.

Rest in peace David Smith, with our undying gratitude for what you have done for everyone in Canada for generations to come

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

Hamilton Spectator December 26, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.thespec.com/news-story/9789405–do-you-want-to-live-or-die-son-forced-to-interpret-for-his-deaf-parents-at-hamilton-health-sciences/

‘Do you want to live or die’: Son forced to interpret for his deaf parents at Hamilton Health Sciences

John Davidson says both of his parents were denied an American Sign Language interpreter when they were patients at Hamilton hospitals.

News Dec 26, 2019 by Joanna Frketich The Hamilton Spectator

Mary Davidson, a 62-year-old Hamilton advocate for the deaf, experienced communication barriers during her last weeks in hospital before she died Dec. 24, 2018. This year, her son said he had the same issues getting an interpreter again when his father was in a Hamilton hospital. – submitted by Catherine Soplet

A second deaf patient at Hamilton Health Sciences was denied an American Sign Language interpreter despite repeated requests, alleges the family.

“I’ve gone so far as to look up the number and say ‘Here, call,’” said John Davidson, who was left interpreting difficult conversations about cancer and do-not-resuscitate orders by video chat from work for his dad, Grant Davidson, during a nearly two-week stay at Hamilton General Hospital at the beginning of December.

His dad has a legal right to a qualified interpreter paid for by the hospital and the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) has the ability to fill 99 per cent of urgent requests within 40 minutes.

The catch is that the hospital has to be the one to call because it’s footing the bill.

It’s the same loophole that left his mother, Mary Davidson, with limited ability to communicate at the end of her life one year ago at Juravinski Hospital.

“I’m going through the same thing one year later,” said Davidson. “It hasn’t changed.”

A statement from Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) says it “abides by and supports all provincial legislation and regulations related to disability and accessibility.”

But HHS didn’t answer questions about why two patients at two of its hospitals within one year have been unable to get American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for key discussions around diagnosis, treatment and end-of-life decisions.

Davidson describes being at a construction site working when a doctor contacted him by video chat to ask his 64-year-old dad whether he wanted to sign a do-not-resuscitate order while in the hospital being treated for an infection.

“I don’t know how to say resuscitate in sign language,” said Davidson. “A professional probably does and probably knows a lot more words … I just showed him someone pumping on a chest like CPR.”

The end result was a lot of confusion, said Davidson.

“My father didn’t understand the question well. His answer was, ‘My heart is strong. Why would it stop?’”

Davidson said the doctor then accused him of not properly interpreting his dad’s answer.
“The doctor had the nerve to question whether I was answering for him,” said Davidson. “I was frustrated. Why did you make me ask the question if you are going to question what the answer is?”

He said the doctor had no regard for how difficult it would be for a son to interpret such a conversation. Davidson said it was the same when his mom was in hospital from Nov. 3, 2018, until she died Dec. 24 last year.

The CHS says it’s inappropriate for family members to be used as a go-between, particularly when a patient’s health is being discussed and medical terms used.

“I’m asking my parents, ‘Do you want to live or die’ and I’ve had to do it twice less than a year apart,” he said.

He also had to tell his dad that he might have cancer and would be undergoing tests.

“I spelled it,” said Davidson. “My dad showed me the sign for cancer, so now I’ve learned that one.”

The family said it took nearly four weeks for Davidson’s mother to get minimal translation services before she died. Davidson said his dad never got an interpreter before he left the hospital.

The CHS has no waiting list and fulfils around 90 per cent of the roughly 19,000 requests it gets in Ontario each year for interpreters for medical reasons.

Interpreters can come for key discussions or as much as 24-hours-a-day, but the hospital gets to set the parameters.

Hospitals can also go to any service provider as long as the interpreter is qualified.

“I think that’s the problem, the hospital has to pay for it,” said Davidson. “With all these budget cuts, they can’t afford to give people their rights.”

The HHS statement says that staff and physicians “work very hard to meet the unique needs of every patient in our care on a daily basis. It is an important part of our organization’s values to show respect, caring and accountability in the services we provide … We have polices and tools in place organizationwide to help our staff and physicians arrange interpretation services which would include ASL for any patients in our care.”

But Davidson says that statement is a far cry from his family’s experience.

Instead, staff got by “with writing on pieces of paper and me,” said Davidson, who lives in Toronto.

“From a very young age, I started to translate for them when we went places. For me, it’s the status quo, but it shouldn’t be.”

by Joanna Frketich

Spectator reporter Joanna Frketich covers health. She lives in Hamilton and has been a journalist for more than 20 years, earning many Ontario Newspaper Awards including journalist of the year. She was also a National Newspaper Award finalist. Her Hamilton investigations have revealed past dysfunction among cardiac surgeons, dangerously low vaccination rates, students increasingly failing math standardized testing and hospital overcrowding. Email: [email protected]




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AODA Alliance’s Toronto Star Guest Column Honours the Memory of the Late Senator David Smith, An Important Hero in the Campaign for Accessibility for People with Disabilities – And Other News


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/

AODA Alliance’s Toronto Star Guest Column Honours the Memory of the Late Senator David Smith, An Important Hero in the Campaign for Accessibility for People with Disabilities – And Other News

March 3, 2020

          SUMMARY

1. Toronto Star Runs A Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair on the Legacy for Canadians with Disabilities Left by the Late Senator David Smith

The March 3, 2020 Toronto Star includes a guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, set out below. It recounts the important legacy for people with disabilities in Canada left by the late Senator David Smith, who died last week. Almost 40 years ago, David Smith played a critical role in helping get the Federal Government to amend the proposed Charter of Rights, to entrench in Canada’s Constitution a guarantee of equality for people with disabilities.

The Charter’s guarantee of disability equality underpins the AODA and all other similar accessibility laws across Canada. If you want to know more about the history of the grassroots campaign to win the disability amendment to the Charter back in 1980-82, check out a two-hour captioned online lecture.

2. Liberal Leadership Candidate Brenda Hollingsworth Makes All 10 of the Commitments on Disability Accessibility that the AODA Alliance Seeks

In a tweet to the AODA Alliance last week, Ontario Liberal Leadership candidate Brenda Hollingsworth made all 10 commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities that the AODA Alliance has sought from the six Ontario Liberal leadership candidates. This weekend, the Ontario Liberal Party chooses its next leader, to succeed Kathleen Wynne.

On February 25, 2020, Brenda Hollingsworth tweeted:

“Brenda Hollingsworth @LiberalBrenda

@DavidLepofsky @StevenDelDuca @KateMarieGraham @MitzieHunter @AlvinTedjo Hi David, as I mentioned to you previously, I pledge agreement with all the items in your letter.”

As of now, only two of the six candidates for Ontario Liberal Party leadership have made all 10 pledges we seek, Michael Coteau and Brenda Hollingsworth. Steven Del Duca only made 4 of the 10 commitments we seek. On the other 6, his commitments fell well short of what we asked. Alvin Tedjo only made 1 of the 10 commitments we seek. Mitzie Hunter and Kate Graham have made none of the commitments we seek.

There are still four days left for all of the Liberal leadership candidates to make all the commitments we seek. We will let you know if any more commitments are made.

3. Twenty-Two Years After the Supreme Court of Canada Ordered that Hospitals Provide Sign Language Interpretation Services to Patients with Disabilities, Problems Still Persist

Here is a stunning illustration of the barriers that patients with disabilities continue to face in Ontario’s health care system. A December 26, 2019 Hamilton Spectator article reported on problems that can be faced when a deaf hospital patient seeks Sign Language interpretation services in connection with a hospital visit. We set out that article below.

This is yet more proof why Ontario needs a strong and effective Health Care Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We have been pressing for the Government to do that for over a decade.

Back in 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the landmark case of Eldridge v. B.C. that governments must ensure that hospitals provide Sign Language interpretation services to deaf patients when this is needed to receive health care  services. Over two decades later, Ontario still has problems fulfilling this constitutional obligation under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For more background check out the AODA Alliance’s Framework that sets out what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. Watch a captioned one-hour talk by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on what the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard should include, which has already been seen over 1,000 times!

Queen’s Park Briefing Podcast Features an Episode On Our Accessibility Campaign

The Sunday, March 1, 2020 edition of the QP Briefing podcast (a product of the Toronto Star) features an in-depth interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. QP Briefing has, to our knowledge, not posted a transcript of this audio recording.

It’s great that we have been included in this podcast. QP Briefing focuses on key issues getting attention in the halls of Queen’s Park!

The Ford Government’s Delay on Accessibility Continues

A seemingly-endless 397 days have now slipped by since the Ford Government received the blistering final report on the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are waiting and waiting for the Ford Government to come up with a comprehensive and effective plan of new measures to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations, needed to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. To date, all the Government has offered Ontarians with disabilities is thin gruel.

            MORE DETAILS

March 3, 2020 Toronto Star Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

Toronto Star March 3, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/03/02/sen-david-smith-an-unsung-hero-of-disabled-canadians.html

OPINION

Sen. David Smith an unsung hero of disabled Canadians

By David Lepofsky Contributor

Canada mourns the passing of Sen. David Smith, who dedicated decades to public service as a municipal and federal politician. Let’s ensure that his eulogies recognize his enduring and incredible achievement for millions of Canadians with disabilities.

It is known to far few that he played a decisive role in the successful grassroots battle to get Parliament to include equality for people with disabilities in Canada’s proposed Charter of Rights. He championed that cause not on the front pages of newspapers, but where we needed help the most, in the backrooms of the halls of federal political power.

Forty years ago, prime minister Pierre Trudeau proposed to add a Charter of Rights to Canada’s Constitution. His proposed Charter of Rights included a guarantee of equality rights, to protect against discrimination by laws and governments. However, that proposed equality clause left out equality for people with disabilities.

A number of us in the disability community rushed to campaign to get Parliament to add disability equality rights to the Charter. We contended that otherwise, the Charter would only guarantee equality for some. Equality for some means equality for none.

It was a near hopeless uphill battle. Trudeau was racing to blitz his constitutional reforms through Parliament. We had no internet, email, social media or other such campaigning tools. The media gave us scant attention.

Thankfully, along came a new Liberal backbench MP David Smith. Entirely unconnected to our campaign, earlier in 1980 he had been appointed to chair an all-party Parliamentary committee to hold public hearings on disability issues, because the UN had declared 1981 to be the International year of the Disabled Person. Those hearings were undoubtedly a Government PR gesture, of which we people with disabilities, have seen many.

Yet those hearings galvanized Smith. He learned about the pressing need to amend the proposed Charter of Rights to protect equality for people with disabilities, before Parliament passed the Charter. With no public fanfare, and known only to a few, he took it on himself to work the backrooms on his own impetus, buttonholing MP after MP, pressing our case.

The result of all these efforts? On Jan. 28, 1981, another Parliamentary Committee (of which Smith was not a member) was debating the Trudeau constitutional reforms, when it held a historic vote. It unanimously voted to amend the proposed Charter of Rights to entrench equality for people with disabilities as a constitutional right.

Smith was likely not even in the room where that committee was meeting. Yet he was arguably the most important MP, relentlessly and successfully advocating for our cause, behind-the-scenes. Equality for people with disabilities was the only right that was added to the Charter during those debates.

To my knowledge, Smith sought no limelight for this achievement. Yet as we look back on his life of accomplishments, this should rank very high among them.

Decades later, the grassroots campaign across Canada to win strong disability accessibility legislation at the federal and provincial levels traces itself back to that historic amendment to the proposed Charter of Rights. It spawned accessibility laws enacted in Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and federally. Other provinces are now playing catch up.

Rest in peace David Smith, with our undying gratitude for what you have done for everyone in Canada for generations to come

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

Hamilton Spectator December 26, 2020

Originally posted  at https://www.thespec.com/news-story/9789405–do-you-want-to-live-or-die-son-forced-to-interpret-for-his-deaf-parents-at-hamilton-health-sciences/

‘Do you want to live or die’: Son forced to interpret for his deaf parents at Hamilton Health Sciences

John Davidson says both of his parents were denied an American Sign Language interpreter when they were patients at Hamilton hospitals.

News Dec 26, 2019 by  Joanna Frketich   The Hamilton Spectator

Mary Davidson, a 62-year-old Hamilton advocate for the deaf, experienced communication barriers during her last weeks in hospital before she died Dec. 24, 2018. This year, her son said he had the same issues getting an interpreter again when his father was in a Hamilton hospital. – submitted by Catherine Soplet

A second deaf patient at Hamilton Health Sciences was denied an American Sign Language interpreter despite repeated requests, alleges the family.

“I’ve gone so far as to look up the number and say ‘Here, call,’” said John Davidson, who was left interpreting difficult conversations about cancer and do-not-resuscitate orders by video chat from work for his dad, Grant Davidson, during a nearly two-week stay at Hamilton General Hospital at the beginning of December.

His dad has a legal right to a qualified interpreter paid for by the hospital and the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) has the ability to fill 99 per cent of urgent requests within 40 minutes.

The catch is that the hospital has to be the one to call because it’s footing the bill.

It’s the same loophole that left his mother, Mary Davidson, with limited ability to communicate at the end of her life one year ago at Juravinski Hospital.

“I’m going through the same thing one year later,” said Davidson. “It hasn’t changed.”

A statement from Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) says it “abides by and supports all provincial legislation and regulations related to disability and accessibility.”

But HHS didn’t answer questions about why two patients at two of its hospitals within one year have been unable to get American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for key discussions around diagnosis, treatment and end-of-life decisions.

Davidson describes being at a construction site working when a doctor contacted him by video chat to ask his 64-year-old dad whether he wanted to sign a do-not-resuscitate order while in the hospital being treated for an infection.

“I don’t know how to say resuscitate in sign language,” said Davidson. “A professional probably does and probably knows a lot more words … I just showed him someone pumping on a chest like CPR.”

The end result was a lot of confusion, said Davidson.

“My father didn’t understand the question well. His answer was, ‘My heart is strong. Why would it stop?’”

Davidson said the doctor then accused him of not properly interpreting his dad’s answer.

“The doctor had the nerve to question whether I was answering for him,” said Davidson. “I was frustrated. Why did you make me ask the question if you are going to question what the answer is?”

He said the doctor had no regard for how difficult it would be for a son to interpret such a conversation. Davidson said it was the same when his mom was in hospital from Nov. 3, 2018, until she died Dec. 24 last year.

The CHS says it’s inappropriate for family members to be used as a go-between, particularly when a patient’s health is being discussed and medical terms used.

“I’m asking my parents, ‘Do you want to live or die’ and I’ve had to do it twice less than a year apart,” he said.

He also had to tell his dad that he might have cancer and would be undergoing tests.

“I spelled it,” said Davidson. “My dad showed me the sign for cancer, so now I’ve learned that one.”

The family said it took nearly four weeks for Davidson’s mother to get minimal translation services before she died. Davidson said his dad never got an interpreter before he left the hospital.

The CHS has no waiting list and fulfils around 90 per cent of the roughly 19,000 requests it gets in Ontario each year for interpreters for medical reasons.

Interpreters can come for key discussions or as much as 24-hours-a-day, but the hospital gets to set the parameters.

Hospitals can also go to any service provider as long as the interpreter is qualified.

“I think that’s the problem, the hospital has to pay for it,” said Davidson. “With all these budget cuts, they can’t afford to give people their rights.”

The HHS statement says that staff and physicians “work very hard to meet the unique needs of every patient in our care on a daily basis. It is an important part of our organization’s values to show respect, caring and accountability in the services we provide … We have polices and tools in place organizationwide to help our staff and physicians arrange interpretation services which would include ASL for any patients in our care.”

But Davidson says that statement is a far cry from his family’s experience.

Instead, staff got by “with writing on pieces of paper and me,” said Davidson, who lives in Toronto.

“From a very young age, I started to translate for them when we went places. For me, it’s the status quo, but it shouldn’t be.”

by Joanna Frketich

Spectator reporter Joanna Frketich covers health. She lives in Hamilton and has been a journalist for more than 20 years, earning many Ontario Newspaper Awards including journalist of the year. She was also a National Newspaper Award finalist. Her Hamilton investigations have revealed past dysfunction among cardiac surgeons, dangerously low vaccination rates, students increasingly failing math standardized testing and hospital overcrowding.

Email: [email protected]



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The QP Briefing Podcast: Welcoming David Lepofsky


01.03.2020
Sneh Duggal

David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, joins the QP Briefing podcast this week to discuss accessibility issues in the province.

Lepofsky, who is also a visiting professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, says Ontario is “absolutely not” on track to meet its goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025.

He talks about how the accessibility landscape has changed throughout the decades, progress that has been made and barriers that people with disabilities still face.

Lepofsky also assesses the provincial government’s actions on accessibility, including why he thinks a funding commitment to the Rick Hansen Foundation to conduct accessibility audits of buildings is flawed. He voices concern about the training the foundation offers individuals sent in to rate buildings, saying “you can’t learn to be an accessibility auditor professional in eight days.”

For its part the foundation says it’s worked with more than 1,200 sites to “provide a snapshot of their current level of accessibility and shift the design culture toward more universal approaches in their projects.”

Brad McCannell, the foundation’s vice-president of access and inclusion, said in a statement to QP Briefing that its training course is “only available to industry professionals already working in the field with a strong knowledge of the built environment” and teaches participants to “see the built environment through an accessibility lens: it does not claim to produce accessibility experts. ”

“Our ongoing goal is to help create an accessible built environment for people of all abilities,” McCannell said.

Email [email protected]

Original at https://www.qpbriefing.com/2020/03/01/the-qp-briefing-podcast-welcoming-david-lepofsky/




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For 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Today is a Frustrating Anniversary of Inaction by the Ford Government – We Are Still Waiting for the Government to Announce an Effective Plan of Action to Implement the David Onley Report Received One Year Ago Today


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/

For 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Today is a Frustrating Anniversary of Inaction by the Ford Government – We Are Still Waiting for the Government to Announce an Effective Plan of Action to Implement the David Onley Report Received One Year Ago Today

January 31, 2020

          Summary

Fully one year after the Ford Government received a compelling report that shows a need to substantially strengthen the implementation and enforcement of Ontario’s 2005 disability accessibility law, the Government continues its foot-dragging, with no end in sight. For example, it continues its failure to take important action required under that legislation.

At the same time, the Ford Government instead pushes forward with an unhelpful distraction, its plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars to the problem-ridden Rick Hansen Foundation private accessibility certification program. That public money would be far better spend funding such things as the development and enactment of long-overdue new regulations that would ensure that Ontario’s built environment becomes accessible to Ontarians with disabilities .

While this anniversary of inaction is very frustrating, we remain unstoppably tenacious. We will continue and redouble our efforts in our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities.

1. A Deeply Troubling One Year Anniversary of Government Foot-Dragging

One year ago today, the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, conducted by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. That ground-breaking report called on the Ontario Government to show strong new leadership on accessibility for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities. It found that Ontario remains a province full of “soul-crushing barriers” that daily impede Ontarians with disabilities. It recommended specific, long-overdue actions to speed up and strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We and the Ford Government agreed that Mr. Onley did a marvelous job.

For an entire year, we have pressed the Ford Government to release a strong and comprehensive plan of action to implement the Onley Report. It still has not done so.

Earlier this week, on January 28, 2020, the Ford Government staged a media event to unveil its response to the Onley Report that has been a year in the making. Our news release that day showed that the Ford Government’s announcement offered thin gruel for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. It largely re-announced existing programs. Progress on accessibility will continue at the glacial rate that the Onley Report documented to have been the case in Ontario for years.

For example, the Onley Report said that the recurring barriers that people with disabilities face in the built environment must become a major priority. The Onley Report called for new accessibility regulations to be enacted to fix this. Doug Ford recognize the importance of this in his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance where he set out his party’s 2018 election promises on disability accessibility.

No one can credibly deny that the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions are inadequate. A new building can be built that fully complies with the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards, and still be replete with serious accessibility barriers. For example, thousands of people know this to be the case from viewing three captioned online videos produced by the AODA Alliance. They show serious accessibility barriers in the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre, and the new subway stations recently opened on Toronto’s subway line – all public buildings.

At its media event earlier this week, the Ford Government said that action on barriers facing people with disabilities in the built environment was one of its four priorities. Yet, the Ford Government still has not announced any plans to create a long-overdue Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. Last May, during National Accessibility Week, Doug Ford’s Government hurtfully derided such an idea as “red tape,” as if the rights to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities were red tape.

Under the AODA, a very limited and weak accessibility standard was enacted by the previous Ontario Government in 2012 to address some barriers in public spaces, mainly outside buildings. The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review that weak accessibility over two years ago. That committee is needed and required to advise the Government on any revisions to it that are needed to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025, the AODA’s mandatory deadline. The Government continues to be in open, flagrant and ongoing breach of that obligation. No such Standards Development Committee has been appointed. The previous Wynne Government was in breach of that duty for its last six months in power. The Ford Government has been in breach of it for its entire 19 months in power.

In its weak January 28, 2020 announcement, the Ford Government did not say that it would create a Built Environment Accessibility Standard. Instead, it only re-announced that it would harmonize the weak Ontario Building Code with the weak national building code. That could make things worse for people with disabilities.

So far, the Ford Government’s thin gruel for Ontarians with disabilities has not been well received by people with disabilities. The feedback we have received from people with disabilities has been quite critical of the Government’s announcement. Similar sentiments were expressed in the January 29, 2020 Thunder Bay Chronicle Herald (article set out below) and in a Radio 610 CKTB interview on January 28, 2020 with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. Ontario NDP Disability Critic Joel Harden issued a news release on January 28, 2020, set out below, that was to the same effect.

2. Instead of Embarking on Developing Long-Overdue New Regulations for the Accessibility of Ontario’s Built Environment, the Ford Government is Going Ahead with Its Wasteful Investment in the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Private Accessibility Certification Program

Making this situation even worse, instead of investing public money into developing new, modernized and effective accessibility regulations for the built environment, whether under the Ontario Building Code, the AODA or both, the Ford Government is going ahead with its seriously flawed plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars into the problematic Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) private accessibility certification program. Last year, we exhaustively documented that the RHF program has major deficiencies. Public money should not be spent on it:

*  The RHF purports to “certify” a building as accessible. In reality, it certifies nothing. The fact that the RHF proclaims that a building is accessible does not mean that it is accessible.

* The RHF has an unfair, selective approach to accessibility which, per its own news release, looks at barriers facing people with disabilities relating to mobility, vision and hearing. Yet to properly assess a building’s accessibility, it is important to look at the needs of people with all disabilities, not just those that the RHF has unfairly chosen to prioritize.

* The Standard and process that the RHF uses to assess a building  are deficient and unreliable.

* The RHF’s meager 8-day training program for its assessors is entirely inadequate to qualify a person to conduct such assessments.

Neither the RHF nor the Ford Government have disproven our serious and fully documented concerns. Nevertheless, the Ford Government is forging ahead with this improper use of public money. On January 30, 2020, the RHF issued a news release. We set it out below. It obviously was coordinated with the Ford Government.

That news release invites organizations in ten Ontario cities to apply for a free RHF assessment of their building, entirely at the Ontario taxpayer’s expense. That news release adds new concerns to the many that we have already documented.

Months ago, we asked the Ford Government a number of important questions about this scheme. Many remain unanswered. For example, we have asked who is going to decide which organizations and which buildings will get this free RHF assessment at public expense. From the news release, set out below, we learned that applications for this public benefit go to the RHF, a private foundation, and not to the Ontario Government which will be paying for it. The news release states:

“RHF will be engaging municipalities and their Accessibility Advisory Committees to select finalists in their local communities.”

This strongly implies that the RHF may be the final decision-maker. That would be entirely inappropriate. The RHF is not publicly accountable for such decisions. There is a real risk of conflicts of interest, since the RHF is a charitable foundation that also solicits donations from the public, including those who apply for this publicly-funded offering.

To the extent that the Government is partially downloading the burden to select finalists to municipalities and their accessibility advisory committees, there is no indication that the Ford Government will cover their added costs. Members of the public who serve on municipal accessibility advisory committees are volunteers. They have far more important things to do to serve the needs of their communities.

Neither the Ford Government nor the RHF have announced any criteria for deciding which organizations will get this taxpayer-funded benefit. It is critically important to know how these decisions will be made, with full public accountability for this use of public money.

Because the Ontario Building Codes accessibility provisions are so inadequate, several of these ten Ontario municipalities have their own stronger accessibility standards. Nothing in the RHF program ensures that RHF assessors have the required knowledge and expertise about the technical requirements in the municipal accessibility standards in the relevant municipality. The RHF’s 8-day training course does not ensure that they have that knowledge and expertise. If the RHF certifies a building in London, Ontario that does not comply with London’s accessibility standards, it would be seriously misleading for the RHF to declare it as an accessible building.

We strongly recommend that organizations not apply to the RHF for its assessment of their buildings in this program. There are far better options for taking action to address accessibility issues in their buildings.

If, despite our serious concerns, a municipality and its accessibility advisory committee are still going to get involved in this, they should insist that buildings be assessed for compliance with their own local accessibility standard. They should also insist that the RHF ensure that any RHF assessor that assesses a building in their community proves that they have been properly trained in and have expertise in that municipality’s accessibility standard, well beyond the inadequate 8-day RHF training course.

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

t         More Details

Thunder Bay Chronicle Herald January 29, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/local/accessibility-in-ontario-will-take-time-minister/article_5a0f00b4-425e-11ea-bccb-2be18f1bdb14.html

Accessibility in Ontario will take time: minister

BY CARL CLUTCHEY, NORTH SHORE BUREAU Jan 29, 2020

Advocates for Ontario’s 2.6 million disabled people chided the government Tuesday for continuing to move at a “glacial pace” towards a goal of making the province fully accessible by 2025.

The Toronto-based Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Alliance said an announcement by Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho was more like a “re-announcement” of earlier pledges that have yet to be fulfilled.

“This is the best they can do?” Alliance chairman David Lepofsky scoffed in a news release.

See the full story in the print and digital editions of The Chronicle-Journal.

January 28, 2020 News Release by the Ontario New Democratic Party

 

Originally posted at http://www.joelharden.ca/ford_government_announcement_offers_no_real_commitment_to_enforcing_accessibility_ndp_critic_for_accessibility

 

Ford government announcement offers no real commitment to enforcing accessibility: NDP critic for Accessibility

Published on January 28, 2020

 

QUEEN’S PARK — The NDP’s critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities, Joel Harden, made the following statement in response to this morning’s Ford government announcement on accessibility:

 

“Ontarians with disabilities have waited nearly a year for the Ford government to respond to David Onley’s report on the third review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) with a concrete plan of action for improving Ontario’s accessibility. After years of being let down by the Liberals, who failed to make Ontario more accessible, they were again disappointed today, this time by the Ford government.

 

Not only has the Ford government failed to release a comprehensive plan for ensuring that Ontario achieves full accessibility by 2025 — as the AODA requires — but today’s government announcement falls woefully short of addressing the many barriers that prevent Ontarians with disabilities from living their fullest lives.

 

The framework that Ford’s Minister of Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho mentioned today offers no actual commitment to enforcing accessibility standards in Ontario, creates no new standards to ensure that buildings in Ontario are accessible, and makes no pledge to ensure that public money isn’t used to create new barriers to accessibility.

People with disabilities have waited long enough to access the same opportunities as able-bodied Ontarians. The NDP calls on this government to act with urgency to make our province fully accessible, and to release a real plan of action that incorporates the key recommendations from Onley’s report.”

 

January 30, 2020 News Release by the Rick Hansen Foundation

 

Originally posted at https://www.rickhansen.com/sites/default/files/press-release/2020-01/acp-922-rhfac-and-ontarioaccessibleen.pdf

 

Rick Hansen Foundation calls on people of Ontario to improve accessibility

Complimentary accessibility ratings through the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ program available to 250 sites in Ontario

 

(Toronto) Thursday, January 30, 2020 – Thanks to funding of $1.3 million from the Government of Ontario’s Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) is accepting applications from organizations across 10 municipalities in Ontario to obtain a snapshot of their buildings’ accessibility through the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) program.

RHF is calling on non-profit, public and private organizations to apply to receive complimentary RHFAC ratings. This includes spaces such as community centres, libraries, schools, retailers and office buildings. Two hundred and fifty sites will have the opportunity to be rated through the RHFAC program. The 10 eligible municipalities are:

  1. Brampton
  2. Greater Sudbury
  3. Hamilton
  4. Kitchener
  5. London
  6. Markham
  7. Mississauga
  8. Ottawa
  9. Toronto
  10. Windsor

RHFAC rates the level of meaningful access of the built environment, keeping in mind user experience of people with varying disabilities affecting their mobility, vision and hearing. This means attracting more consumers and potential employees for organizations across the province. According to the Conference Board of Canada, improvements to workplace access would allow more than half a million Canadians with disabilities to work more hours, increasing GDP by $16.8 billion by 2030. To date, more than 1,200 buildings across Canada have been rated through the program.

“People with disabilities and our seniors deserve to be independent and fully participate in their communities as consumers and employees,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “This certification pilot project will help businesses and communities understand how to be more accessible and inclusive for everyone – so that we all benefit. By helping to build awareness of accessible built environments, we are fostering a culture of accessibility and inclusion.”

Speaking about the complimentary ratings, Brad McCannell, VP of Access and Inclusion at RHF, said, “This generous funding from the Ontario government will enable many organizations to

understand and showcase their building’s accessibility, and help inform their future accessibility plans with respect to the built environment. This is a great opportunity for organizations to help make Ontario more inclusive for our aging population and the growing number of people with disabilities.”

Applications from building owners and tenants can be submitted online until March 27, 2020. RHF will be engaging municipalities and their Accessibility Advisory Committees to select finalists in their local communities.

To learn more and apply for a complimentary rating, visit RickHansen.com/FreeRating   

 

About the Rick Hansen Foundation

The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) was established in 1988, following the completion of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour. For nearly 30 years, RHF has worked to raise awareness, change attitudes, and remove barriers for people with disabilities. Visit www.rickhansen.com to learn more.

RHF Media Contact:

Yulu Public Relations

Nora Eastwood / Monica McCluskey

[email protected]

778-751-4542

Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility Media Contact:

Leah Wong

[email protected]

647-962-9892



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Ford Government’s Long Delayed Response to the Blistering Report of the David Onley Independent Review of the Implementation of Ontario’s Disability Accessibility Law Offers Thin Gruel to 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 28, 2020 Toronto: After a year delay, the Ford Government today offered thin gruel to 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities in its response set out below to the searing report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of Ontarios disability accessibility law conducted by David Onley. On January 31, 2019, the Government received Onleys blistering report that concluded that for people with disabilities, Ontario is not a place of opportunity, but is instead full of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing Barriers, with progress on accessibility being barely detectable and coming at a glacial pace.

To fix this, today the Ford Government mainly re-announced existing measures, in place for months or years, primarily focusing on public education efforts that are proven to be insufficient. Among these, it even re-announced a program for purchasing accessible buses that was started a quarter century ago by the Bob Rae Government.

After a year, this is the best they can do? Premier Ford has still announced no action plan to implement the Onley Reports important recommendations to strengthen and speed up the implementation and enforcement of the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The AODA requires the Government to lead Ontario to become accessible by 2025, under five years from now, said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance that leads the campaign for accessibility in Ontario. How long must we wait for a real plan to actually implement the Onley Report? A years dithering mainly produced a re-announcement of earlier voluntary programs that the Onley Report shows were insufficient to meet the needs of Ontarians with disabilities who want to ride public transit, get an education, use our health care system or get a job.

The Onley Report found that Ontario has suffered from years of ineffective leadership on accessibility. Todays announcement shows none of the new leadership by the premier for which the Onley Report called. Indeed, Premier Ford has to date refused to even meet with the AODA Alliance.

Since taking office, the Ford Government has taken steps setting back accessibility, such as:

* For months, it froze the work of five advisory committees, appointed under the AODA to propose new measures to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities in education, health care, information and communication and employment. The AODA Alliance had to campaign hard to get that unjustified freeze lifted.

* It rejected recommendations to create a long-overdue Accessibility Standard to ensure that buildings in Ontario become accessible. The Ford Government unfairly slammed that proposal as “red tape.” Todays re-announcement that the Ford Government plans to harmonize the weak Ontario Building Code with the weak federal building code could lead to a further weakening of already-inadequate accessibility protections for Ontarians with disabilities.

* Again re-announced today, it wastefully diverted $1.3 million public dollars into the deeply-flawed and unaccountable Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification program funds which should have been used to create new regulations on building accessibility, rather than having the Hansen Foundation use inadequate standards to have its insufficiently-trained people inspect a meager 250 buildings across all of Ontario.

* It mandated the creation of serious new barriers against people with disabilities by legalizing electric scooters on Ontario roads and sidewalks, endangering accessibility and safety of people with disabilities and others. Todays announcement says the Ford Government will lead by example on accessibility, but its example so far is one that no one should follow.

* It is considering allowing builders to hire the private building inspector of their choice to inspect their construction project a proposal riddled with conflicts of interest. Here again the Government is showing a weak commitment to accessibility in the built environment, despite the Onley Reports emphasizing it as a top priority and the Governments announcement today emphasizing barriers in the built environment.

* It has not committed to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. This is so even though the Government has emphasized its commitment to be responsible in the use of public money.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Text of the Ford Governments January 28, 2020 Announcement In Response to the Onley Report

Ontario Establishes a New Framework to Continue Progress on Accessibility Applying Cross-Government Actions to Advance Accessibility

NEWS
January 28, 2020
TORONTO When a society is inclusive and barrier-free, people can fully participate in their communities. Making Ontario a province where communities and businesses are accessible for everyone benefits us all.

The government continues to build momentum in creating a barrier-free Ontario, but a lot of work still needs to be done to make the province accessible for everyone. That is why Ontario has developed a new framework informed by the recommendations made by the Honourable David C. Onley in the third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), as well as input from key partners, organizations and people with disabilities. The new framework will make a positive difference in the daily lives of people with disabilities.

Today, Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, announced Advancing Accessibility in Ontario at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. This cross-government framework will help focus the provinces work in four key areas:

* breaking down barriers in the built environment
* government leading by example
* increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and * improving understanding and awareness about accessibility

We know that making Ontario accessible is a journey that cannot be completed overnight or alone. The Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework will support our work with all of our partners across government and beyond to remove barriers for people with disabilities, said Minister Cho. Our government created a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility because we are working towards a more accessible and inclusive province today and for future generations.

As I conducted the third legislative review of the AODA, it became increasingly clear that the people of Ontario wanted an all-of-government commitment to making Ontario far more accessible. This could not be achieved with a single stand-alone ministry attempting to resolve the problem alone, said David C. Onley. That is why I am pleased that the government is coordinating access activities and programs with multiple ministries in an-all-of-government commitment.

The first area in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario breaking down barriers in the built environment shows how government is working with partner ministries and businesses to reduce barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in the built environment and housing.

For example, the Ontario Building Officials Association is receiving funding from the governments EnAbling Change Program to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility. By making building officials more aware of the challenges people with disabilities face in accessing buildings and training them about areas of improvement, new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.

There are several additional examples that illustrate progress and upcoming initiatives as the government continues its work towards making Ontario accessible.

Ontario is committed to protecting what matters most to people with disabilities.

QUICK FACTS

* There are 2.6 million people in Ontario that have a disability.

* The government is investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings. An update on the program will be announced shortly.

* Further information on the other key areas in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario will be announced in the coming weeks.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Breaking down barriers in the built environment

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Accessibility in Ontario: Information for Businesses web page

-30-

MEDIA CONTACTS

Pooja Parekh
Ministers Office
[email protected]

Matt Gloyd
Communications Branch
647-268-7233
[email protected]
ontario.ca/msaa-news
Disponible en français
Ontario Government Backgrounder

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario:
Breaking down barriers in the built environment

BACKGROUNDER
January 28, 2020Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a cross-government framework that will help focus the governments work in four key areas. The four key areas are:

* breaking down barriers in the built environment
* government leading by example in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer * increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and * improving understanding and awareness about accessibility

The first area in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario breaking down barriers in the built environment shows how government is working with partner ministries and businesses to reduce barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in the built environment and housing.

Work the government is doing to break down barriers in the built environment includes:

* Making buildings safer and more accessible for people with disabilities by increasing harmonization of Ontarios Building Code with the National Construction Codes. This process is reducing barriers and has resulted in accessibility changes, including new requirements for the design of barrier-free ramps, clearer accessibility requirements in barrier-free washrooms and easier-to-understand requirements for universal washrooms in large buildings and equipment such as grab bars and faucets.

* Investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings. An update on the program will be announced shortly.

* Improving access to buildings and places for people with disabilities by working with key partners in architecture, design, and building. We are exploring ways to enhance training for those practicing in the field and undertaking discussions with the post-secondary sector to reach a new generation of professionals. For example:
o We are partnering with the Ontario Building Officials Association to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility, helping to ensure that new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.
o The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada is introducing a new course on accessibility to be available March 2020. Introduction to Successful Accessible Design will analyze the impacts of accessibility in society, the built environment, and the development industry. The course will be offered in English and French, both as a complete university graduate level course and as a continuing education course for practicing professionals.

* Making places of worship more accessible so people can connect with their faith groups by funding Our Doors Are Open a free guide created by OCAD University that provides practical information on how places of worship can remove physical barriers to accessibility.

* Helping main street businesses earn more customers and employees by providing them with tips on how to become more accessible through funding a free handbook created by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association called The Business of Accessibility: How to Make Your Main Street Business Accessibility Smart.

* Giving retailers of all sizes in Ontario practical information on how to make their store more welcoming for customers and staff with disabilities by funding EnAbling Change for Retailers: Make your Store Accessible a free guide created by Retail Council of Canada that covers how stores can implement accessibility in their communications, customer service and recruitment and retention.

* Providing $1.4 billion in funding for the 2019-20 school year to help school boards provide safe and healthy learning environments for students, such as installing important accessibility features like elevators and ramps.

* Ensuring better access for people with disabilities throughout Ontario by continuing to require that all public transportation vehicles bought with provincial funding be accessible.

* Continuing to help Ontario residents with long-term mobility disabilities remain in their homes and participate in their communities by funding the Home & Vehicle Modification Program, which is administered by March of Dimes Canada. With an annual investment of $10.6 million, this program reduces safety risks by approving grants up to $15,000 to make basic home and vehicle modifications.

As the government moves forward with making Ontario more accessible, upcoming work includes:

* Funding free resources and training materials for the building sector through the EnAbling Change Program to further educate associations and employers about how to improve accessibility in the built environment. Many of these resources are available on a comprehensive one-stop-shop government web page that provides businesses and communities with information to help them be more accessible and inclusive.

* We are committed to developing an innovation guide with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that will be used to support the implementation of Ontarios Housing Supply Action Plan. The action plan will address housing challenges and support fresh approaches to help make homes more accessible.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Matt Gloyd
Communications Branch
647-268-7233
[email protected]
ontario.ca/msaa-news
Disponible en français




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