Change In Ontario Law Creates Uncertainty For Service Dogs In Schools


“Are all these school boards going to start saying that the dogs need to be certified?” By Bailey Martens

Fifteen-year-old Cameron Cadarette was a C student, struggling to stay in school in Windsor, Ont. until Vincent came along. The specifically trained golden Labrador helps the teen manage his post-traumatic stress disorder, and gain better focus in classes.

Cameron scratches his arms and legs until they bleed; Vincent is able to interrupt his self-harming behaviour by nudging the teen’s hand. The service animal also keeps the teen safe at night, waking him from night terrors and bringing him water bottles to help him catch his breath during an anxiety attack.

Two years later, Cameron holds an average of 95 per cent in Grade 9 and is able to have relationships with his peers. “He can meld into the school system and not be an outcast,” said his mother, Nicole McMillan.

But a recent change in Ontario’s Safe and Supportive Classroom Act is making McMillan and other families with students who use service animals nervous.

Vague nature of new section concerns dog handlers

A new section on service dogs, which was approved in April, notes that the education minister may create policies and guidelines, and require school boards to comply with them or create their own based on the minister’s parameters.

A draft policy is underway, the Ministry of Education told HuffPost Canada, that will “set out the framework and required components of board policies across the province resulting in greater consistency, transparency and clarity of process when requesting that a student be accompanied by a service animal in school.”

“We are committed to ensuring every student in Ontario has access to safe and supportive learning environments,” said a ministry statement, which noted that it’s aware of 39 of 72 school boards with active policies on service animals.

Still, the vague nature of the new section has left service dog handlers with more questions than answers.

“Nothing is actually changing because they’re just passing a bill that says the minister could do something,” said Deanna Allain, an Ontario-based service dog trainer and lobbyist. But the concern comes in the unknown: “The minister could ban all service dogs, that’s that’s how specific this legislation is.”

Emily Write has been working with her diabetic alert service dog Kailey for six years. Kailey is scent-trained to alert her handler to dangerous changes in blood sugar levels.

Write is nearing completion of her masters degree from the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute For Studies In Education, and has been doing a required teaching placement at a Catholic school.

“I realize that we can’t just have anyone bring a dog in a school and that the dog does need to have appropriate training levels,” Write told HuffPost Canada. But the new addition in the law is not the way to go about it, she said.

With a lack of clear expectations, it provides no information on the process to bring a service dog to school. “Are all these school boards going to start saying that the dogs need to be certified, and who is going to monitor that? Because we don’t have a certification process,” said Write.

Uneven requirements across Canada

Currently, Ontario only requires a note from a medical professional outlining the need for a service dog. This is contrary to provinces like British Columbia, which mandates a certification test, or Alberta, where certification is voluntary. There’s no national standard or consistency across provincial laws, which becomes problematic when more public places are requesting proof of certifications. An increase in fraudulent registries and copycat harnesses and ID cards doesn’t help either.

Then there’s the issue of reporting complaints. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) that governs service animals does not have a formal complaint process. Write wonders why new service dog legislation would be implemented if it has no clear path to enforcement.

McMillan has fought complex policies before. Cameron’s service dog was initially denied by both the Greater Essex Public School Board and the Windsor-Essex County Catholic School Boards because they couldn’t recognize Vincent’s international training credentials from Florida.

The public school board has its own service dog policies and was considered complaint with the AODA. McMillan took their case to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, which said the issue was settled through mediation in 2017.

Cameron now attends a private school with Vincent by his side.

“All I want for him is an education that he has the right to,” said McMillan.

She feels the new section in provincial legislation can open doors, “but it’s also left room for interpretation, which in the long run, I think you’ll see some battles from families trying to … get their service dogs in schools that are adequately trained for their children.”

“It encourages empathy.
Emily Write

McMillan fears that families will go “school-district shopping” as they try to place students in schools with better service dog policies, as it appears the act’s new section would allow districts to have varying policies.

As a teacher in training, Write points out that service dogs benefit the whole classroom. “It encourages empathy,” she said. She noted how students she worked with, ranging from kindergarten to Grade 12, recognized when the classroom was getting too loud through Kailey’s changing body language and would respond accordingly.

“As an educator, that’s not something I ever knew: that by bringing a service dog into a classroom that it would not just benefit me but also benefit my students,” said Write.

Original at https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/ontario-service-dog-school-policy_ca_5d014863e4b0985c419705b8?utm_hp_ref=ca-living&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS91cmw_cmN0PWomc2E9dCZ1cmw9aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuaHVmZmluZ3RvbnBvc3QuY2EvZW50cnkvb250YXJpby1zZXJ2aWNlLWRvZy1zY2hvb2wtcG9saWN5X2NhXzVkMDE0ODYzZTRiMDk4NWM0MTk3MDViOCUzRnV0bV9ocF9yZWYlM0RjYS1saXZpbmcmY3Q9Z2EmY2Q9Q0FFWUFDb1VNVEEwTURnNE5qWXlNamN4TmpRek9Ea3dOemt5R2pGa1l6QTJOVFF5TjJaa00yRmhORFE2WTI5dE9tVnVPbFZUJnVzZz1BRlFqQ05FYXZiTTdqeDFZUTE3OXVRcElabkxsekNFYWl3&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAACquXyzeRYfHimJ7dPggreypPKVGbaamqEGxlH9Uk4ADtqTX1oq4Z9iLbgCR6CbQJnTKndTqxxv46eR0LjoXnjQiw4Hrghk0WMoSBP29oaXjuJRmjiQDiK4FwzCtSCFbPeFxMBtOqn8QQudOe6E704VNYOn41BsqlM1OwhPgwcGA



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Law Around Service Animals


Tuesday, May 28, 2019
By Amanda Lawrence-Patel

The recent increase in media reports regarding requests by individuals to access their service animals, or “therapy pets” or “compassion pets” in the course of their employment and in accessing services has caused various organizations to consider their responsibility to accommodate staff and clients who require the use of a guide dog or service animal. Accordingly, the purpose of this article is to provide some best practices to ensure that your organization knows how to respond when a request for access to a service animal is received.

Familiarize yourself with key terms

While the terms “service animal” and “guide dogs” are sometimes used interchangeably when speaking about the right of an individual to access a service animal or guide dog, the two terms are not synonymous for the purposes of all applicable legislation. Indeed, the legislation which provides individuals with a right to use a service animal may differ slightly depending on the animal and/or its purpose, although all are covered by the Human Rights Code.

Know applicable legislation

Organizations should be aware of three key pieces of legislation. First, the Blind Person Rights Act specifically pertains to guide dogs used for blind persons and defines a guide dog as a dog trained as a guide for a blind person and having the qualifications prescribed by the regulations. Under the Act, no person shall deny accommodation, services or facilities to a person accompanied by a guide dog or shall discriminate against any person for the reason that they are accompanied by a guide dog.

Second, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) states that where a person with a disability is accompanied by a guide dog or other service animal, a provider of services shall ensure that the person is permitted to enter the premises with the animal and to keep the animal with him or her (unless otherwise excluded by law). Under the AODA, an animal is a service animal if the animal can be readily identified as one that is being used by a person for reasons relating to that person’s disability, including where the animal is confirmed as such by a letter from a qualified “regulated health professional.”

The third piece of legislation to be aware of is the Ontario Human Rights Code. “Disability” under the Code includes “physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal.” This captures guide dogs, but like the AODA, it is also much broader and includes all types of dogs as well as other animals used for support purposes. Failing to accommodate a guide dog or service animal where the animal is actually required for a disability related need to the point of undue hardship constitutes a failure to accommodate a disability.

Respond appropriately to request

First, regardless of whether a request to access a guide dog or service animal is in the context of employment or access to services, be sure that the organization responds promptly and takes the request seriously. To facilitate this, organizations should consider developing a policy for employees outlining how requests will be handled and the process for a response.

Second, the organization should look critically at whether the service animal or guide dog is actually required to address a disability-related need that is acting as a barrier to employment or accessing the service. In many cases, the first step of the inquiry is easy for example, in the case of a blind individual, the guide dog is clearly addressing a disability-related need as the “eyes” of the individual.

In other cases, the issue of whether a service animal is required to address a disability-related need is not as straightforward. In those circumstances, the organization should have a thoughtful and respectful discussion with the individual who has made the request, to discuss the type of support that the service animal provides to the individual and other relevant information, such as what care the animal needs.

There may be some circumstances, such as where the request is made in the context of employment or where the request involves ongoing access to an organization’s premises, which necessitates a request for medical documentation related to the individual’s disability-related needs. The information which is requested should, in almost all cases, be limited only to the individual’s limitations and restrictions and the need which the service animal will address.

Implement accommodation as appropriate

If it is determined that access to a service animal is a reasonable accommodation, the organization should consider how to integrate the animal into the workplace. For example, there may be circumstances where the organization should give notice of the animal’s presence to other employees, customers or third parties. Concerns raised by other employees, customers or clients about a fear of animals or allergies to animals must be addressed and a balancing of rights may need to be considered.

Finally, organizations may also want to re-evaluate the need for the service animal periodically where appropriate.

Amanda Lawrence-Patel is a labour and employment lawyer in the Toronto office of Hicks Morley LLP. She frequently provides workplace investigation training and accommodation training to clients at internal workplace sessions and she provides external training on issues such as the duty to accommodate and workplace harassment. You can reach her at 416-450-6022 or [email protected]

Original at https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/12612/law-around-service-animals



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Support Persons Law in Ontario


Under the Customer Service Standard of the AODA, service providers’ policies must state that they welcome support persons. Support persons assist people who have disabilities with a variety of tasks, depending on their capabilities and needs. Here we outline support persons law that service providers should follow.

Support Persons Law in Ontario

Welcoming Support Persons

All service providers that operate premises open to the public, or to third parties that serve the public, must welcome support persons. They must allow customers with disabilities to keep their support persons with them anywhere they need to go. For instance, a customer may need a support person with them at times when other people receive service alone to maintain privacy, such as a doctor’s or lawyer’s office. In situations like these, providers of confidential services may require support persons to sign confidentiality agreements to ensure that everyone in the room will respect client-provider privacy.

Can organizations require support persons?

Providers can only require that a customer has a support person with them if the support person’s absence would create health or safety risks for the customer or for others. Providers cannot decide to require a support person unless they first consult with the customer whom they believe should not receive service without personal support. Some service providers may not understand how people with various disabilities accomplish tasks. As a result, they may feel that most customers with disabilities should have support persons with them. However, this belief is false. As a result, organizations cannot usually require that customers with disabilities bring support persons with them. Likewise, organizations usually cannot deny service to customers who do not have support persons.

Nonetheless, support persons are sometimes necessary. Providers wishing to require support persons should consult with many people who have different disabilities. The providers and the people with disabilities should talk about whether activities would be more risky for customers with disabilities than for customers without disabilities. Providers may sometimes falsely believe that every-day activities are more risky for people with disabilities than they truly are. In addition, if risks do exist, customers with disabilities may have ways of reducing them that the provider has not thought of. Each customer will know how they can best accomplish tasks. They will also know whether or not they need a support person in different situations.

Reduced or Waived Fees for Support Persons

Moreover, many Ontario venues have policies allowing support persons to attend events for a reduced or waived fee. These policies are not support persons law, but they remove barriers for customers who cannot attend events without support persons. Otherwise, such customers would need to pay double what others pay. All venues must let customers know whether or not they reduce prices for support persons and what the reduction is.

Service providers who follow support persons law are showing their commitment to serving all customers.



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CBC Radio and TV Report on the Ford Government’s Continued Freeze on the Work of Standards Development Committees to Tackle Disability Barriers in Ontario’s Education and Health Care Systems – and – The Ford Government Makes the Obviously Incorrect Claim that Ontario’s Accessibility Law Doesn’t Cover Accessibility of Buildings


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

CBC Radio and TV Report on the Ford Government’s Continued Freeze on the Work of Standards Development Committees  to Tackle Disability Barriers in Ontario’s Education and Health Care Systems – and – The Ford Government Makes the Obviously Incorrect Claim that Ontario’s Accessibility Law Doesn’t Cover Accessibility of Buildings

November 16, 2018

          SUMMARY

1. Still No End in Sight for the Ford Government’s Four-Month-long Freeze of the Work on Removing and Preventing Barriers Against Students with Disabilities in Ontario’s Education system, and Barriers Against Patients with Disabilities in Ontario’s Health Care System

On November 13, 2018, CBC TV and radio news aired excellent reports on the Ford Government’s ongoing and unjustified freeze on the work of the Standards Development Committees that were appointed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to recommend what disability barriers must be removed and prevented in Ontario’s education system and health care system. This freeze has gone on for over four months. From what the Government told CBC, this freeze appears to have no end in sight. The Government says that it will be giving this issue “further consideration””

We set out below the text of the online version of this CBC news report. While preparing this report, CBC news sent AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky a statement, which the Ford Government sent to CBC on November 9, 2018 on point. CBC asked the AODA Alliance to comment on the Government’s statement. We set that full statement out below.

The Government’s statement notes that the Government is resuming the work of the Employment Standards Development Committee and the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. All that Government statement said about the work on education and health care standards was this:

“We will have more to say regarding the resumption of the Education and Health Standards Development Committees upon further consideration.”

The Government has made no public statement on what “further consideration” is needed, or how long this further consideration will take, or why it has taken over four months so far, with no end in sight. The new Government has shown itself capable of acting quickly and decisively on other issues, when it wishes to do so.

Early last summer, the Ontario Government said that it needed to brief the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors on this. It does not take this long to brief a minister.

The AODA Alliance wrote the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho back on August 29, 2018, to spell out in detail why it is important for the Ford Government to lift this freeze now. the Government has not answered that letter.

If it takes the Government this long just to decide on resuming the work of these Standards Development Committees, there can be real concern whether the Government will act promptly and effectively to get Ontario back on schedule to reach accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. This delay in resuming the work of the Education and Health Care Standards Development Committees does not square with the commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities that Doug Ford made in the 2018 Ontario election. In his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, Doug Ford wrote:

“Your issues are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus and Candidates, which is why they will play an outstanding role in shaping policy for the Ontario PC Party to assist Ontarians in need.

Too many Ontarians with disabilities still face barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education, use our healthcare system, buy goods or services, or eat in restaurants.

Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA in 2005 was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities.

For the Ontario PCs, this remains our goal. Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.”

2. The Ford Government Wrongly Claims that Ontario’s Accessibility Law Doesn’t Cover Accessibility of Buildings

Is the Ford Government trying to substantially cut back on the reach of the AODA? We have a basis for concern.

The Government’s November 9, 2018 statement to CBC includes a very disturbing new and clearly incorrect statement on the reach of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The CBC’s November 13, 2018 news report does not address this issue.

The Ford Government told CBC:

“It is important to note that accessibility in buildings does not fall under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), but under the Ontario Building Code. Accessibility requirements for buildings are included in Ontario’s Building Code to make it easier for organizations by ensuring that all construction requirements are found in one place. The Building Code is the responsibility of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.”

This is obviously untrue. Accessibility in buildings falls well within the AODA. It is true that the Ontario Building Code has provisions, albeit chronically insufficient ones, on accessibility in new buildings and in major renovations of existing buildings. However, it is incorrect for the Government to claim that accessibility of buildings is somehow outside the scope of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The very first section of the AODA specifically includes accessibility of buildings. It defines the scope and purpose of the AODA. Section 1 of the AODA provides:

”      1. Recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities

in Ontario, the purpose of this Act is to benefit all Ontarians by,

(a)    developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025; and

(b)    providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and of various sectors of the economy in the development of the accessibility standards.”

Section 3(d) of the AODA makes the AODA apply, to among others, a person who:

”         (d)    owns or occupies a building, structure or premises…”

Section 6 of the AODA requires an accessibility standard to address, among other things, barriers in buildings. Section 6 includes:

”       (6)   An accessibility standard shall,

(a)    set out measures, policies, practices or other requirements for the identification and removal of barriers with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures, premises or such other things as may be prescribed, and for the prevention of the erection of such barriers;…”

In February 2015, the former Ontario Government released the report of an Independent Review of the AODA, conducted by former University of Toronto law dean Mayo Moran. Her report said this, among other things:

* “The Building Code does not require retrofitting of existing buildings to improve accessibility and most of the accessibility provisions do not apply to houses.

* “The issue of retrofits to remove existing barriers was a particular subject of discussion during the consultations. Current accessibility requirements apply to new buildings and extensive renovations as well as to newly constructed or redeveloped public spaces. They do not call for the retrofitting of the built environment, but many in the disability community and in the business sector do not realize this. As a result, people with disabilities may feel betrayed when they encounter physical barriers, while some businesses are turned against accessibility by what they fear will be high retrofit costs.”

* “As mentioned above, the current Built Environment Standards do not cover retrofits to remove existing barriers. Many disability stakeholders argued that this must change. They pointed out that barriers in buildings mean people with disabilities cannot use them, whether to shop, study, work, play or obtain services from health care to driver’s licences.

During the Review, considerable discussion of retrofits arose in different sectors.  Many concerns were raised about the built environment in health care, such as lack of elevators to doctors’ offices and inaccessible hospital washrooms.  A strong view was expressed that all health care facilities in particular should be physically accessible to people with disabilities.  The importance of access to buildings was also underlined in the education sector.  In the housing sector, a suggestion was made for retrofits of all apartment suites to install power door openers.

Generally speaking, the Review heard that if accessibility standards were expanded to require building retrofits, it would be necessary to create exemptions in cases of undue hardship.  For example, some people with disabilities who contended that the AODA should require retrofits of ramps and door openers felt this should apply only where it can be done without undue hardship.  Other disability stakeholders observed that such exemptions would be inconsistent with the usual approach under the Building Code, which is to impose accessibility requirements without providing for exceptions if the cost would result in undue hardship.  It was argued that this usual practice should be overlooked if it stands in the way of retrofits to improve accessibility.”

* “On the content of other possible new standards, it may be helpful to summarize the gap analysis that emerged from the Review.  The gap that stood out most clearly from the perspective of this Review concerned the built environment and the issue of retrofits.   As mentioned earlier, of all the barriers facing people with disabilities, those involving the built environment attracted the most comment during the Review.  Yet, as noted above, barriers in existing facilities – as opposed to those in new construction or renovations – are not covered by the current accessibility standards, leading to much frustration in the disability community.  The Review repeatedly heard that in the absence of an obligation to ensure that the built environment eventually incorporates at least some accessibility features, it will be very difficult to celebrate the Ontario of 2025 as a leader in accessibility.  At the same time, it is also very clear that retrofit obligations (which many assume are already part of the AODA standards) can be costly undertakings and imposing any new obligations in this regard requires sensitivity.

Ontario could begin to address this issue by considering standards resembling the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations which require private facilities that provide goods or services to remove existing architectural barriers where this is “readily achievable, i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense.”  (ADA Title III Regulations, section 36.304).  This approach would lend itself to setting some priorities for accessibility enhancements, such as entry ways and washrooms (the two areas most frequently referred to in the consultations).  Although by no means a full solution, beginning to address the built environment through a relatively modest option would significantly improve access for people with disabilities without generating major worries about cost.

As is the case with all AODA standards, compliance with such a requirement would not relieve organizations of their obligation under the Human Rights Code to accommodate people with disabilities to the point of undue hardship.  Individuals who believed their needs were not adequately met by “readily achievable” measures would still have the option of seeking recourse through the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.”

It is true that AODA standards to date have not comprehensively addressed disability accessibility barriers in the built environment. The former Ontario Government promised to enact a Built Environment Accessibility Standard, but did not ever do so. It only enacted a much narrower accessibility standard, addressing barriers in a limited number of public spaces.

However, that does not mean that “accessibility in buildings does not fall under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act” as the Ford Government claims. It is very important for the Ford Government to correct this serious misunderstanding of its obligations under the AODA.

We always welcome your feedback. Write us at [email protected] or tweet us at @aodaalliance

More Details

CBC News November 13, 2018

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-standards-development-committees-1.4901869

Accessibility advocates want the Ontario government to put them to work

Committees working on provincial accessibility standards say their work’s been paused for too long

Taylor Simmons CBC News

Posted: Nov 13, 2018 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: November 13

Kathleen Lynch, a student at Humber College, looks down at a garbage can blocking the path to her classroom. She wants Ontario to get back to work creating accessibility standards, so all of her classrooms will be equipped with automatic doors. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

A Toronto student with multiple sclerosis has a message for Premier Doug Ford: “Get in my chair” and see how you experience the province.

Kathleen Lynch, a journalism student at Humber College, is one of some 74,000 post-secondary students with disabilities in Ontario.

She says if Ford could only see the daily challenges she faces, he’d work much harder to ensure the province accomplishes its goal of becoming fully-accessible by 2025.

“Do you know how quickly he’d be snapping his fingers saying, ‘We need to do something about this?’” she said.

And Lynch isn’t alone in her criticism.

Kathleen Lynch wants to see the government do more to make post-secondary institutions more accessible to students with disabilities. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

Accessibility advocates say the government hasn’t put several Standards Development Committees (SDCs) — special groups looking at how to get rid of accessibility barriers in the province — back to work almost five months after the spring election.

Their work is an essential part of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), passed in 2005. All the parties voted to work toward making the province barrier-free by 2025.

Creating a standard

The SDCs are meant to study barriers in different sectors to make recommendations for an accessibility standard.

The three still paused — looking at health care, schools K – 12 and post-secondary institutions — are the most recent to begin their work.

They stopped work on May 8, 2018, when the provincial election campaign officially began.

Raymond Cho became Ontario’s new minister of Seniors and Accessibility in June 2018. He was a previously a Toronto city councillor. (John Sandeman/CBC)

In a statement, the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility said they’ve resumed some of the other committees, but they’ll have more to say on the ones still paused “upon further consideration.”

That doesn’t sit well with David Lepofsky, the chair of the AODA Alliance.

He said as the official opposition, the PCs had previously criticized the former Liberal government for not moving fast enough to create the committees.

“On our behalf they slammed the former government when it delayed,” he said. “The Conservative Party that used to press to move forward on this has frozen our work … That’s not fair.”

When he inquired, Lepofsky said a spokesperson told him the government needed time to brief the new minister before resuming the committees’ work.

David Lepofsky is also a member of the K-12 Standards Development Committee. (CBC)

“It doesn’t take four months to brief a new minister,” he said. “Our students with disabilities have been facing this uphill situation in schools for years. It’s long overdue time to fix it, so we can’t afford a delay.”

Why the standards matter

In the absence of a standard, Lynch feels she’s been left to fight her own battle.

As a result of her disease, she isn’t able to move her left arm and uses a power wheelchair to get around.

Most of her classrooms are not equipped with automatic door openers, which she said makes it extremely difficult to get through them.

“If there is an automatic button … that’s my independence,” she said. “There’s a lot of handicapped kids, and I don’t know if their needs are being met.”

Lynch said this is the only classroom door, as part of her program, she can open using an automatic door opener. Otherwise, she’s left flagging other students down for help. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

On top of that, she said other students are often using the barrier-free washrooms, which are the only ones she can use.

“Several times I’ve come here and I’m waiting 10, 15 minutes for somebody to walk out that door. And it’s kind of demoralizing, it’s kind of dehumanizing and it’s a basic need to go to the washroom,” she said.

As a fix, she’d like to see the college give out key cards to students with disabilities so only they can use those washrooms.

In a statement, Humber College said Lynch’s building exceeds accessibility standards, and has automatic door openers installed at all public entrances and at barrier-free washrooms.

But an accessibility standard might require them to do more.

When a student with a physical disability enrolls in a program, the standard might require the school to offer those classes in rooms already equipped with automatic openers.

Lynch said those openers would give her back her independence, which is why she’s also eager for the SDCs to get back to work.

“It’s 2018. They’re too far behind,” she said.

‘We’re disappointed to still be waiting’

Sandi Bell, the chair of the Health Care Standards Development Committee, agrees.

“We’re disappointed to still be waiting,” she said. “I have been particularly concerned because we are one of the most recent … committees to have been formed. So we’re still working on our very first set of recommendations.”

Bell said they’re looking at complex barriers, such as what a hospital might do with a person’s service animal should they experience an emergency.

“The issues are huge,” she said. “Every day that goes by, someone may not be being afforded the accessibility, the accommodation that they need.”

Jeanette Parsons is a member of the Post-Secondary Standards Development Committee. (Grant Linton/CBC)

Jeanette Parsons, the chair of the Inter-University Disability Issues Association and a member of the post-secondary SDC, is also eager to resume.

“We really, really do want to come back to the table with this and we’re looking forward to the resumption of this work,” she said.

Parsons’s committee had just begun to identify some of the biggest barriers facing post-secondary students with disabilities, such as transitioning from high school, accessible learning materials and mental health.

“It’s valuable for universities to sort of have a road map as to how they can enhance accessibility generally,” she said.

Many hospitals and schools have created their own accessibility standards, but according to Lepofsky: “There’s no specific accessibility standard regulation that’s enforceable in Ontario for schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and other health care providers.”

There are accessibility requirements for buildings under the Ontario Building Code, but they’re “completely inadequate,” Lepofsky says.

People can also file complaints under the Ontario Human Rights Code, but it’s up to the individuals to fight those battles.

“If we set one provincial standard then everyone will know what they’ve got to do,” Lepofsky said.

“We’re eager to get back to work so we can give this government good recommendations … but we can’t do that until they lift their freeze.”

Statement from the Ontario Government to CBC on Friday November 9, 2018

Everyone in Ontario deserves to fully participate in everyday life and we are committed to working with our partners to advance accessibility. Increasing accessibility is good for everyone including people with disabilities, businesses, seniors and families with young children.

It is important to note that accessibility in buildings does not fall under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), but under the Ontario Building Code. Accessibility requirements for buildings are included in Ontario’s Building Code to make it easier for organizations by ensuring that all construction requirements are found in one place. The Building Code is the responsibility of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Also, Ontarians, including students should know that under Ontario’s existing accessibility laws, organizations are required to ensure that if accessibility features are not in place, alternate measures are available so that a person with a disability can access goods or services. Organizations are also required to have a process in place to receive and respond to feedback.

Under the AODA, Standard Development Committees engage in important work recommending and reviewing Ontario’s accessibility standards. Active committees were paused in advance of the spring election, however we are pleased to confirm that the Employment and Information & Communications Standards Development Committees have been notified that their work will be resuming this year. The Transportation standards committee’s work is complete, and their final recommendations were posted on Ontario.ca in May of 2018.

We will have more to say regarding the resumption of the Education and Health Standards Development Committees upon further consideration.



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Trudeau Government’s Proposed Federal Law on Accessibility for People with Disabilities Falls Far Short and Must be Substantially Beefed Up, Disability Advocates to Tell Parliamentary Committee Today


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Trudeau Government’s Proposed Federal Law on Accessibility for People with Disabilities Falls Far Short and Must be Substantially Beefed Up, Disability Advocates to Tell Parliamentary Committee Today

 

October 25, 2018 Ottawa: Bill C-81, a bill now before Parliament, which aims  to ensure that Canada becomes accessible to over 5 million people with disabilities, must be amended to make it strong and effective, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities will be told from 8 to 10 a.m. today at the Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street, Ottawa. Among the presenters from 8 to 9 a.m. will be AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who led the campaign from 1994 to 2005 to get Ontario’s 2005 accessibility law passed, and now leads the campaign to get it effectively implemented.

“It’s good the Federal Government agrees that Canada needs a new federal law because people with disabilities face too many barriers when travelling by air or train, when trying to use banks, cell phone or cable TV services, or when dealing with the Federal Government itself,” said David Lepofsky. However, he cautioned: “This bill is great on intentions but palpably weak on implementation and enforcement.”

The AODA Alliance is one of many groups presenting similar strong concerns with Bill C-81, although they heartily commend the Federal Government for agreeing to bring forward a bill and for consulting widely on it. For its part, the AODA Alliance submitted a 114-page brief, tabling 97 specific amendments, backed by detailed analysis. Seven key amendments are summarized in an easy-to-read 4-page summary sent to MPs.

“With a federal election coming next year, MPs from all parties will want to be sure this bill is amended to make it a historic law,” said Lepofsky. “We’ll remind MPs at the hearings today that people with disabilities are the minority of everyone, since everyone either has a disability now or is bound to get one later. No politician or party can afford to disregard the needs of the minority of everyone!”

“For me, this day has a real feel of history,” said Lepofsky. Thirty-eight years ago, Lepofsky, now a visiting professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School, appeared before a Standing Committee of Parliament on CNIB’s behalf, to urge the Pierre Trudeau Government to amend the proposed Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms so it would guarantee equal rights for people with disabilities in Canada. (That December 12, 1980 presentation to Parliament is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBdYFUtAslc “Today’s presentation aims to get the proposed new Accessible Canada Act amended so that it will make the Charter’s guarantee of disability equality at last become a reality in the lives of over 5 million people with disabilities in Canada and all others, who are bound to get a disability later in life,” Lepofsky explained.

The AODA Alliance is tweeting MPs one at a time, to urge them to support these amendments. Follow @aodaalliance

The AODA Alliance’s proposed amendments draw on front-line experience with accessibility legislation in Ontario since 2005, in Manitoba since 2013, in Nova Scotia since 2017, in the US since 1990 and in Israel since 1998. The hearings are open to the public, and streamed live at www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/HUMA Presenters will be available to media after the Committee adjourns at 10am.

Presenters at the hearing will include:

8-9 a.m. AODA Alliance, CNIB and the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association

9-10 a.m. Canadian Association of the Deaf and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

Contact:  David Lepofsky, [email protected]

Twitter: @aodaalliance

All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for strong national accessibility legislation is available at www.aodaalliance.org/Canada

All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in Ontario is available at: www.aodaalliance.org



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Quick Ways You can Help Us Get Parliament to Amend Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act, to Make It a Good Law


David Onley’s Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Re-schedules Thunder Bay Public Hearing

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

October 12, 2018

SUMMARY

Help Us Press the Federal Government to Strengthen Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act – Here Are Several Quick Options

We need your help now. a Standing Committee of Canada’s Parliament will decide in the next few weeks what amendments to make to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. The AODA Alliance has submitted a detailed brief to Parliament, explaining what changes are needed, and why. We’ve also made public a 4-page summary of the seven most important changes that are needed. Without the reforms we’ve recommended, Bill C-81 will not be a strong and successful law that lives up to the Federal Government’s stated intentions.

Here’s how you can help:

1 It would be great if you would email your Member of Parliament (MP) and, if you have the time, as many other MPs as possible. Urge them to make the amendments to Bill C-81 that we recommend in our September 27, 2018 brief. Here is a sample of what you might say in your email, if you don’t have time to write one yourself:

“It is important for Parliament to make important amendments to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, in order for that bill to become a good law. Over four million people with disabilities need this bill to be strengthened by these amendments.

I support the brief that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance submitted to Parliament on September 27, 2018. You can find that brief at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/please-tell-the-federal-government-if-you-support-the-aoda-alliances-finalized-brief-to-the-parliament-of-canada-that-requests-amendments-to-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act/ You can find a 4-page summary of the seven top amendments that are needed at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-aoda-alliance-is-invited-to-present-to-the-house-of-commons-standing-committee-on-human-resources-skills-and-social-development-and-the-status-of-persons-with-disabilities-on-october-25-2018-to/

Everyone either has a disability now, or is bound to get one later in life, as they age. We need this bill strengthened for everyone’s sake.”

We’ve made it easy for you to find out the email address for each MP in Parliament. We’ve posted a list on line. You can find it at: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/email-addresses-and-twitter-handles-for-all-members-of-canadas-parliament-as-of-october-11-2018/

2. Please send a tweet to your MP, urging them to support our brief. Below we set out a sample tweet. You just have to add to it the Twitter handle (Twitter name) for your MP. We’ve also made this easy, by making available a list of the Twitter handles for every MP who is on Twitter. You’ll find that information on the same list as their email addresses, at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/email-addresses-and-twitter-handles-for-all-members-of-canadas-parliament-as-of-october-11-2018/ 3. We are tweeting every MP in Parliament. We are asking each of them, one at a time, to support the amendments that we seek to Bill C-81. It would help if you would retweet our tweets to them. Follow @aodaalliance on Twitter or just search on #AccessibleCanada and you will see all these tweets at a glance. We send out a batch virtually every day. Your retweets can help us make even more of an impact.

4. As we’ve mentioned in earlier Updates, it also really helps if you send a one-sentence email to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities and to Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough, supporting our brief.

Email for the Standing Committee: [email protected]
Email for Minister Qualtrough: [email protected]

Please CC us on that email: [email protected]

As we’ve earlier suggested, all you need to include in that email, if you don’t want to write more, is this:

“I’m writing to support the brief which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance has submitted on September 27, 2018 to the Parliament of Canada that recommends improvements to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act.”

If you can get an organization to support our brief, be sure to get that organization to send in a supporting email to the email addresses above, and to include the name of that organization in their email.

4. Come to the hearings of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, October 25, 2018 from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m., when AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky will be one of the presenters. If you are in Ottawa, the hearing will be at the Parliament Buildings, Room 415, 180 Wellington, Ottawa, ON (Entrance at 197 Sparks Street.

5. If you cannot make it to Parliament that day, why not watch the hearing at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities live online, where it will be streamed, or later, where it will be permanently archived. Check out the Committee’s web page at the link below for information on the accessibility supports at the hearing and online for persons who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.

For information on how to watch that Committee’s hearings live online that day, and throughout its hearings, or later when it is archived, visit http://www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/HUMA/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=10268658 Please spread the word about these hearings. Encourage others to watch. You can “live tweet” during the hearings. Repeat what is said at the hearings and add your comments in your tweets on Twitter. Use the hashtag #AccessibleCanada

David Onley’s AODA Independent Review Schedules New Public Hearing in Thunder Bay on October 30, 2018, After the AODA Alliance Objected to Its Cancelling Its Earlier Thunder Bay Public Hearing

The Ontario Government appointed David Onley to conduct a mandatory Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. To date his public hearings have been very poorly publicized. From what we have heard, they have not been well-attended. We earlier made public our concerns about this. Under the AODA, such an Independent Review has a duty to consult the public, and particularly, people with disabilities.

We learned via the grapevine late in the summer that the David Onley AODA Independent Review had scheduled a public hearing for Thunder Bay on September 13, 2018. We later heard through the grapevine that it had been cancelled due to low registration. We made our concerns about this public in our September 17, 2018 AODA Alliance Update. We also took this issue to the Thunder Bay media.

On September 20, 2018, CBC Radio in Thunder Bay posted a story on this issue, which quoted AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on this issue. Below we set out a transcript of that news report.

After this, we were happy to learn that the David Onley AODA Independent Review had decided to re-schedule a new public hearing for Thunder Bay for October 30, 2018. Our efforts paid off. That Independent Review emailed us to tell us about this hearing date, and to ask us, and others, to publicize it. Below we set out the AODA Independent Review’s October 10, 2018 announcement. It gives the exact time and location for the Thunder Bay public hearing.

Please spread the word about it. If you are in the Thunder Bay area, we encourage you to attend and to give your feedback to the Independent Review on how effectively the Ontario Government has been implementing and enforcing the AODA.

We were copied on an email from an AODA supporter in Thunder Bay who is blind, addressed to the David Onley AODA Independent Review. The supporter reported that they found the online form for registering for the Thunder Bay public hearing difficult to navigate. We do not know if others have experienced this issue.

Finally, we have heard that the David Onley AODA Independent Review has extended its deadline for sending it your written submissions to November 2, 2018. Far too few knew of its earlier deadline.

We commend the Onley AODA Independent Review both for re-scheduling its Thunder Bay hearings and for extending its deadline for receiving written submissions and comments on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We want to flag for you that the October 10, 2018 email from the David Onley AODA Independent Review, set out below, incorrectly still gives an earlier deadline for written submissions.

We have alerted the Independent Review that we won’t be able to submit our brief until the end of November. We are working on it now. We always welcome your feedback on what we should include in our brief to the Onley AODA Independent Review. Email your thoughts to us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

CBC Radio Thunder Bay September 20, 2018

Originally posted at:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-disabilities-review-cancelling-1.4830504 Disability rights advocate wants cancelled Thunder Bay accessibility hearing rescheduled

Hearing was cancelled due to low registration, event is part of regular review of Ontario’s accessibility act

Cathy Alex CBC News Posted: Sep 20, 2018

Disability rights advocate David Lepofsky wants the public hearings in Thunder Bay, about Ontario’s accessibility act, to be rescheduled after they were cancelled due to low registration. He says the event was poorly publicized. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC News )

A disability rights advocate is expressing concern about the cancellation of a public hearing in Thunder Bay, saying people have lost an important chance to share their experiences during a provincial review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, led by the Honourable David C. Onley.

The act mandates that by 2025 the province be fully accessible, said David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

The act pertains to people with physical disabilities such as being blind, deaf or needing to use a wheelchair. It also covers people with intellectual or developmental disabilities such as autism.

Approximately every four years the Ontario government must review how it’s doing in terms of achieving that accessibility goal.

‘Important to see how things are going’

“It’s important to see how things are going,” said Lepofsky, noting the review usually includes inviting people with disabilities, in communities all over the province, to share their experiences.

“Are kids with disabilities able to fully participate in their schools? Are people with disabilities able to shop in stores and eat in restaurants? Are people with disabilities able to use our public parks without facing barriers?”

A public consultation was scheduled for September 13 in Thunder Bay, but a posting on the act review website says it was cancelled due to low registration.

“There’s been precious little done to publicize it,” Lepofsky said, who is visually impaired. He added that he believes people didn’t register for the event because they didn’t know about the hearing.

‘Reschedule Thunder Bay hearings’

He said as far as he’s been able to determine the only advertising for the public consultation was on the review website.

“So unless you know about the website, most don’t, and unless you check that website daily, most don’t, you won’t know first about the hearing, and then about it being cancelled.”

Lepofsky wants the government “to step up and make sure this problem gets solved. The David Onley review should reschedule the Thunder Bay hearings. It should give the public proper and ample notice, well enough in advance, to enable people with disabilities, and the rest of the public, to be able to have their say.”

The review committee posted online that people can email their comments or questions to [email protected] It also tells people to stay tuned for a northern virtual consultation, but does not specify a date.

October 10, 2018 Broadcast Email from the David Onley AODA Independent Review

Please share widely!

As you know, Ontario has appointed the Honourable David Onley, CM, O.Ont., senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough and Ontarios 28th Lieutenant Governor, to lead a review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

As part of the review process, Mr. Onley would like to hear from interested parties and people with disabilities to determine their views on the progress and effectiveness of the AODA, and their vision of accessibility through to 2025 and beyond. To learn more about this review, please visit The Third Review of the AODA website.

We are happy to announce that the Valhalla Inn Hotel will be hosting one of five Public Consultation sessions for the Third Review of the AODA.

The session will be held on Tuesday, October 30th from 1PM to 3PM in the Valhalla Inn Hotel, 1 Valhalla Inn Road Thunder Bay, ON P7E 6J1. Please register on Eventbrite to attend this session.

If you are not available to attend the session above, you may submit a written submission, attend an online session or one of the other in person consultation sessions:

Call for Written Submissions
Until October 1, 2018 the Honourable David C. Onley will be accepting written submissions. Please submit your written submission here. Public Consultations
Attend a public meeting in your area! David C. Onley will be traveling across the province to hear your feedback on the AODA. He will also be hosting online consultation sessions. Please see the list of all events here.
Please share widely with your networks. Contact the event organizers if you have any questions. We hope to see you there

Billi Jo Cox. | Project Lead, Third Review of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 Phone: 416-208-2719
Address: 1265 Military Trail | Toronto | Ontario | M1C 1A



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Quick Ways You can Help Us Get Parliament to Amend Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act, to Make It a Good Law – and – David Onley’s Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Re-schedules Thunder Bay Public Hearing


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Quick Ways You can Help Us Get Parliament to Amend Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act, to Make It a Good Law – and – David Onley’s Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Re-schedules Thunder Bay Public Hearing

October 12, 2018

          SUMMARY

Help Us Press the Federal Government to Strengthen Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act – Here Are Several Quick Options

We need your help now. a Standing Committee of Canada’s Parliament will decide in the next few weeks what amendments to make to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. The AODA Alliance has submitted a detailed brief to Parliament, explaining what changes are needed, and why. We’ve also made public a 4-page summary of the seven most important changes that are needed. Without the reforms we’ve recommended, Bill C-81 will not be a strong and successful law that lives up to the Federal Government’s stated intentions.

Here’s how you can help:

1 It would be great if you would email your Member of Parliament (MP) and, if you have the time, as many other MPs as possible. Urge them to make the amendments to Bill C-81 that we recommend in our September 27, 2018 brief. Here is a sample of what you might say in your email, if you don’t have time to write one yourself:

“It is important for Parliament to make important amendments to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, in order for that bill to become a good law. Over four million people with disabilities need this bill to be strengthened by these amendments.

I support the brief that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance submitted to Parliament on September 27, 2018. You can find that brief at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/please-tell-the-federal-government-if-you-support-the-aoda-alliances-finalized-brief-to-the-parliament-of-canada-that-requests-amendments-to-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act/  You can find a 4-page summary of the seven top amendments that are needed at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-aoda-alliance-is-invited-to-present-to-the-house-of-commons-standing-committee-on-human-resources-skills-and-social-development-and-the-status-of-persons-with-disabilities-on-october-25-2018-to/

Everyone either has a disability now, or is bound to get one later in life, as they age. We need this bill strengthened for everyone’s sake.”

We’ve made it easy for you to find out the email address for each MP in Parliament. We’ve posted a list on line. You can find it at: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/email-addresses-and-twitter-handles-for-all-members-of-canadas-parliament-as-of-october-11-2018/

  1. Please send a tweet to your MP, urging them to support our brief. Below we set out a sample tweet. You just have to add to it the Twitter handle (Twitter name) for your MP. We’ve also made this easy, by making available a list of the Twitter handles for every MP who is on Twitter. You’ll find that information on the same list as their email addresses, at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/email-addresses-and-twitter-handles-for-all-members-of-canadas-parliament-as-of-october-11-2018/
  1. We are tweeting every MP in Parliament. We are asking each of them, one at a time, to support the amendments that we seek to Bill C-81. It would help if you would retweet our tweets to them. Follow @aodaalliance on Twitter or just search on #AccessibleCanada and you will see all these tweets at a glance. We send out a batch virtually every day. Your retweets can help us make even more of an impact.
  1. As we’ve mentioned in earlier Updates, it also really helps if you send a one-sentence email to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities and to Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough, supporting our brief.

Email for the Standing Committee: [email protected]

Email for Minister Qualtrough: [email protected]

Please CC us on that email: [email protected]

As we’ve earlier suggested, all you need to include in that email, if you don’t want to write more, is this:

“I’m writing to support the brief which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance has submitted on September 27, 2018 to the Parliament of Canada that recommends improvements to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act.”

If you can get an organization to support our brief, be sure to get that organization to send in a supporting email to the email addresses above, and to include the name of that organization in their email.

  1. Come to the hearings of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, October 25, 2018 from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m., when AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky will be one of the presenters. If you are in Ottawa, the hearing will be at the Parliament Buildings, Room 415, 180 Wellington, Ottawa, ON (Entrance at 197 Sparks Street.
  1. If you cannot make it to Parliament that day, why not watch the hearing at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities live online, where it will be streamed, or later, where it will be permanently archived. Check out the Committee’s web page at the link below for information on the accessibility supports at the hearing and online for persons who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.

For information on how to watch that Committee’s hearings live online that day, and throughout its hearings, or later when it is archived, visit http://www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/HUMA/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=10268658

Please spread the word about these hearings. Encourage others to watch. You can “live tweet” during the hearings. Repeat what is said at the hearings and add your comments in your tweets on Twitter. Use the hashtag #AccessibleCanada

David Onley’s AODA Independent Review Schedules New Public Hearing in Thunder Bay on October 30, 2018, After the AODA Alliance Objected to Its Cancelling Its Earlier Thunder Bay Public Hearing

The Ontario Government appointed David Onley to conduct a mandatory Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. To date his public hearings have been very poorly publicized. From what we have heard, they have not been well-attended. We earlier made public our concerns about this. Under the AODA, such an Independent Review has a duty to consult the public, and particularly, people with disabilities.

We learned via the grapevine late in the summer that the David Onley AODA Independent Review had scheduled a public hearing for Thunder Bay on September 13, 2018. We later heard through the grapevine that it had been cancelled due to low registration. We made our concerns about this public in our September 17, 2018 AODA Alliance Update. We also took this issue to the Thunder Bay media.

On September 20, 2018, CBC Radio in Thunder Bay posted a story on this issue, which quoted AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on this issue. Below we set out a transcript of that news report.

After this, we were happy to learn that the David Onley AODA Independent Review had decided to re-schedule a new public hearing for Thunder Bay for October 30, 2018. Our efforts paid off. That Independent Review emailed us to tell us about this hearing date, and to ask us, and others, to publicize it. Below we set out the AODA Independent Review’s October 10, 2018 announcement. It gives the exact time and location for the Thunder Bay public hearing.

Please spread the word about it. If you are in the Thunder Bay area, we encourage you to attend and to give your feedback to the Independent Review on how effectively the Ontario Government has been implementing and enforcing the AODA.

We were copied on an email from an AODA supporter in Thunder Bay who is blind, addressed to the David Onley AODA Independent Review. The supporter reported that they found the online form for registering for the Thunder Bay public hearing difficult to navigate. We do not know if others have experienced this issue.

Finally, we have heard that the David Onley AODA Independent Review has extended its deadline for sending it your written submissions to November 2, 2018. Far too few knew of its earlier deadline.

We commend the Onley AODA Independent Review both for re-scheduling its Thunder Bay hearings and for extending its deadline for receiving written submissions and comments on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We want to flag for you that the October 10, 2018 email from the David Onley AODA Independent Review, set out below, incorrectly still gives an earlier deadline for written submissions.

We have alerted the Independent Review that we won’t be able to submit our brief until the end of November. We are working on it now. We always welcome your feedback on what we should include in our brief to the Onley AODA Independent Review. Email your thoughts to us at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

CBC Radio Thunder Bay September 20, 2018

Originally posted at:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-disabilities-review-cancelling-1.4830504

Disability rights advocate wants cancelled Thunder Bay accessibility hearing rescheduled

Hearing was cancelled due to low registration, event is part of regular review of Ontario’s accessibility act

Cathy Alex CBC News  Posted: Sep 20, 2018

Disability rights advocate David Lepofsky wants the public hearings in Thunder Bay, about Ontario’s accessibility act, to be rescheduled after they were cancelled due to low registration. He says the event was poorly publicized.  (Natalie Nanowski/CBC News )

A disability rights advocate is expressing concern about the cancellation of a public hearing in Thunder Bay, saying people have lost an important chance to share their experiences during a provincial review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, led by the Honourable David C. Onley.

The act mandates that by 2025 the province be fully accessible, said David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

The act pertains to people with physical disabilities such as being blind, deaf or needing to use a wheelchair. It also covers people with intellectual or developmental disabilities such as autism.

Approximately every four years the Ontario government must review how it’s doing in terms of achieving that accessibility goal.

‘Important to see how things are going’

“It’s important to see how things are going,” said Lepofsky, noting the review usually includes inviting people with disabilities, in communities all over the province, to share their experiences.

“Are kids with disabilities able to fully participate in their schools? Are people with disabilities able to shop in stores and eat in restaurants? Are people with disabilities able to use our public parks without facing barriers?”

A public consultation was scheduled for September 13 in Thunder Bay, but a posting on the act review website says it was cancelled due to low registration.

“There’s been precious little done to publicize it,” Lepofsky said, who is visually impaired. He added that he believes people didn’t register for the event because they didn’t know about the hearing.

‘Reschedule Thunder Bay hearings’

He said as far as he’s been able to determine the only advertising for the public consultation was on the review website.

“So unless you know about the website, most don’t, and unless you check that website daily, most don’t, you won’t know first about the hearing, and then about it being cancelled.”

Lepofsky wants the government “to step up and make sure this problem gets solved. The David Onley review should reschedule the Thunder Bay hearings. It should give the public proper and ample notice, well enough in advance, to enable people with disabilities, and the rest of the public, to be able to have their say.”

The review committee posted online that people can email their comments or questions to [email protected] It also tells people to stay tuned for a northern virtual consultation, but does not specify a date.

October 10, 2018 Broadcast Email from the David Onley AODA Independent Review

Please share widely!

As you know, Ontario has appointed the Honourable David Onley, CM, O.Ont., senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough and Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor, to lead a review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

As part of the review process, Mr. Onley would like to hear from interested parties and people with disabilities to determine their views on the progress and effectiveness of the AODA, and their vision of accessibility through to 2025 and beyond. To learn more about this review, please visit The Third Review of the AODA website.

We are happy to announce that the Valhalla Inn Hotel will be hosting one of five Public Consultation sessions for the Third Review of the AODA.

The session will be held on Tuesday, October 30th from 1PM to 3PM in the Valhalla Inn Hotel, 1 Valhalla Inn Road Thunder Bay, ON P7E 6J1. Please register on Eventbrite to attend this session.

If you are not available to attend the session above, you may submit a written submission, attend an online session or one of the other in person consultation sessions:

  • Call for Written Submissions

Until October 1, 2018 the Honourable David C. Onley will be accepting written submissions. Please submit your written submission here.

Attend a public meeting in your area! David C. Onley will be traveling across the province to hear your feedback on the AODA. He will also be hosting online consultation sessions. Please see the list of all events here.

Please share widely with your networks. Contact the event organizers if you have any questions. We hope to see you there

Billi Jo Cox. | Project Lead, Third Review of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

Phone: 416-208-2719

Address: 1265 Military Trail | Toronto | Ontario | M1C 1A



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The AODA Alliance Is Invited to Present to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities On October 25, 2018 To Propose Amendments to Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act – Here are the Seven Most Important Amendments Needed to Make that Bill Become a Good Law


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

The AODA Alliance Is Invited to Present to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities On October 25, 2018 To Propose Amendments to Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act – Here are the Seven Most Important Amendments Needed to Make that Bill Become a Good Law

October 3, 2018

          SUMMARY

The House of Commons in Ottawa has invited the AODA Alliance to make a presentation on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, October 25, 2018, at the Parliament Building in Ottawa. This will be the last day for public hearings on that bill.

We have already submitted our detailed September 27, 2018 brief to Parliament. It lists all the amendments needed to make Bill C-81 into a good bill. We are today making public our short, punchy 4-page summary of that brief. Set out below, it explains the seven most important changes that must be made to Bill C-81, for it to live up to the public statements that the Federal Government has made about its intentions. Of course, our more detailed brief goes into a great deal of detail, and addresses other important issues, beyond these seven.

Please widely circulate this 4-page summary. Encourage as many people and organizations as possible to write the Federal Government to support the AODA Alliances September 27, 2018 brief.

You might say this, either as an individual, or on behalf of an organization that you can speak for:

“I’m writing to support the brief which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance has submitted on September 27, 2018 to the Parliament of Canada that recommends improvements to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act.”

Of course, you should feel free to add any additional information and recommendations about Bill C-81 you might wish to share, including anything we did not say in our brief.

Email to the Standing Committee of the House of Commons:

[email protected]

Please also email the minister who is championing this bill, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister for People with Disabilities, at:

[email protected]

Please copy the AODA Alliance on your email. Email us at:

[email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

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

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

How to Make Bill C-81, the Proposed “Accessible Canada Act”, a Good Law –Summary of the AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 Brief to the Parliament of Canada            October 2, 2018

We congratulate the Federal Government for committing to enact national accessibility legislation, for widely consulting the public on it in 2016-2017, and for bringing a bill to Parliament on June 20, 2018. Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, aims to eradicate the barriers that impede accessibility for over four million people with disabilities in Canada, in areas that the Federal Government can regulate. That includes, for example air travel, banking, the post office, TV and radio broadcasts, telecommunications (like telephone and cell phone services), Federal Government Services, and anything that anyone does using money from the Federal Government.

Bill C-81 is a good start. However it needs substantial amendments for it to become a good and effective law, one that lives up to the commendable goals that the Federal Government announced in public statements supporting this bill. The AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 brief to Parliament explains in detail what is needed to strengthen this bill. The improvements we seek all fit within the bill’s framework. We here summarize the most important amendments we need. Our detailed September 27, 2018 brief to Parliament also describes other needed changes.

The AODA Alliance is a non-partisan community coalition that has advocated in Ontario since 2005 for the effective implementation and enforcement of Canada’s first comprehensive provincial accessibility law, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. We are the successor to the community coalition that successfully campaigned from 1994 to 2005 for the AODA’s enactment. We have been consulted by and spoken to many including from several provinces around Canada, and in the United Nations, the European Union, Israel and New Zealand.

Good Ingredients in the Bill

The bill creates several important new federal officials and agencies to promote accessibility. This includes a new federal Accessibility Commissioner to enforce the bill in part, a new federal Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization to create model accessibility standards that the Federal Government can choose to enact as enforceable regulations, a new federal Chief Accessibility Officer to advise and report on progress and needed improvements, and a minister to be responsible for some key functions under the bill.

The bill permits the development of non-binding federal accessibility standards. These can guide organizations across Canada on what they need to do to tear down accessibility barriers, and to avoid creating new barriers. The bill allows for the enactment of these standards as federal laws, called regulations. When enacted, these become enforceable.

The bill requires federally-regulated organizations to create multi-year accessibility plans and to update these over a period of years. The bill aims to provide effective enforcement and for the public accountability of obligated organizations for their accessibility efforts. This includes a complaint process. The bill requires legislative and Independent Reviews of the bill’s effectiveness over a period of years.

Amendments Needed to Make this Bill Become a Good Law

  1. It is good that the bill is called An Act to Ensure a Barrier-Free Canada. However the bill’s section that sets out the law’s purpose is much weaker. It says the law’s purpose is “the progressive realization……of a Canada without barriers”. Unlike Ontario’s 2005 accessibility legislation, this federal bill does not set a deadline for Canada to become accessible to people with disabilities. Under it, Canada may not become accessible to people with disabilities for hundreds of years, if ever.

We ask for the bill to be amended to set a deadline for Canada to become accessible. We urge the Federal Government to work with us and others to arrive at a workable and achievable deadline to enshrine in the bill.

  1. It is good that the bill gives the Federal Government and federal accessibility agencies/officials helpful powers to promote accessibility. However, the bill imposes no duty on them to use those powers. It sets no deadlines for taking major implementation steps that the Government must take to implement this bill. The Government could drag its feet for years.

For example, the bill commendably empowers the Government to create accessibility standards as enforceable regulations. However, it does not require the Government to ever enact any of these accessibility regulations. It gives the Federal Government enforcement powers but doesn’t require the bill to be effectively enforced.

We ask that the bill be amended to impose duties on the Federal Government and its accessibility officials and agencies to use the bill’s powers, such as these, and time lines within which they must act.

  1. It is helpful that the bill requires federally-regulated organizations to establish accessibility plans. However, the bill does not require these to be good plans. It does not require an organization to implement its accessibility plan. It does not provide people with disabilities with a way to lodge complaints against an organization if it makes no plan, or makes a poor plan or doesn’t implement its plan. We ask that the bill be amended to correct this.
  1. The bill is unnecessarily confusing and complicated. It will be hard for people with disabilities and others to figure out what it means, and to navigate its complicated provisions. This is because the bill wrongly splinters the power to make accessibility standard regulations and the power to enforce the bill among a number of federal agencies, such as the new federal Accessibility Commissioner, the Canada Transportation Agency CTA and the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission CRTC.

This splintering makes the bill’s implementation and enforcement less effective, more confusing, more complicated and more costly. It will take longer to get accessibility regulations enacted. These regulations will be weaker and inconsistent because more than one federal authority can enact them.

This splintering makes it much harder for people with disabilities to navigate the system, and to figure out what rights they have, whether they are being honoured, and how to get this fixed if there are violations. People with disabilities will have to figure out as many as three or four different procedures, rules, forms and time lines for presenting an accessibility complaint. That weakens the rights and voices of people with disabilities.

The only interests this splintering serves are those of existing federal bureaucracies that want more power, and of any obligated organizations that want to oppose taking action on accessibility. Those organizations will relish exploiting the bill’s confusing complexity to delay and impede its implementation and enforcement.

It is wrong for the bill to give almost exclusive powers over accessibility at federally-regulated transportation organizations (like airlines) to the CTA, and almost exclusive powers over broadcasters and telecommunication companies (like Bell Canada and Rogers Communications) to the CRTC. The CTA and CRTC have had powers in this area for years. Their record of action on accessibility is not good.

The CTA and CRTC are too close to the industries they regulate. They lack expertise in, and proven commitment to disability accessibility. The industries the CTA and CRTC regulate will love that the Federal Government wants the CTA and CRTC to stay largely in control of their accessibility obligations. People with disabilities deserve better.

We ask for the bill to be greatly simplified, to get rid of its harmful splintering of federal responsibilities. Only the Federal Cabinet should make all accessibility regulations. The new federal Accessibility Commissioner should do all the bill’s enforcement. This ensures clearer, smoother, lower-cost easier-to-access one-stop-shopping for people with disabilities, and easier implementation for the Federal Government and obligated organizations.

Now under the bill, transportation organizations, broadcasters and telecommunication companies must make two concurrent accessibility plans, one supervised by the Accessibility Commissioner and the other supervised either by the CTA or CRTC. We ask for the bill to be amended so that all obligated organizations will only have to make one accessibility plan at one time, all supervised by the new federal Accessibility Commissioner.

It is no solution to the bill’s serious “splintering” problem for the Federal Government to create a “single door” or single place to lodge a complaint under the bill, after which a bureaucrat will decide which of the bill’s many enforcement agencies to send it to. Adding this additional layer of bureaucracy leaves all the problems in place we identified. This added layer would also inject more delays into the process.

  1. The bill has too many loopholes. These need to be closed.

As one example, the bill gives various federal agencies the sweeping, unjustified and unaccountable power to exempt any or all organizations from a number of important accessibility obligations. The Government can even exempt itself.

No reasons need ever be given for exempting an organization. These exemptions can last into the indefinite future, even if the exempted organization is doing a poor job on accessibility. This power to grant exemptions should be removed from the bill.

As a second example, the bill gives too much power to the federal Cabinet to make regulations. A future government could weaken or largely gut this bill by mere amendments to regulations. They wouldn’t have to bring a bill before Parliament and to publicly debate and vote on those harmful measures. Federal regulations under the bill can be passed by the Federal Cabinet, the CTA and the CRTC, in private meetings. The power to make these regulations under the bill must be substantially reduced.

As a third example, the bill includes no protections to ensure that nothing is done under the bill that cuts back on the rights or opportunities of people with disabilities. We need the bill amended to make it clear that nothing can be done under the bill that reduces the rights or opportunities of people with disabilities, and that if there are ever two different accessibility laws, the stronger one always prevails.

  1. The bill does not ensure that the Federal Government will use its levers of readily-available power to promote accessibility across Canada. For example, it does not require the Federal Government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds, to create or perpetuate disability barriers. It lets the Federal Government impose accessibility requirements when it buys goods or services, but doesn’t require the Federal Government to ever do so. Moreover, the bill doesn’t leverage much if not most federal spending, in order to promote accessibility.

The bill should be amended to require this disability lens, by attaching accessibility strings to any recipient of federal money. This should include, for example, when federal money contributes to building any new or renovated infrastructure, or when it is used for federal loans, grants or transfer payments.

  1. The Federal Government is the largest organization that will have to obey this legislation. Therefore, the key federal accessibility agencies that will oversee and enforce this legislation must be independent of the Federal Government. Under the bill, they are not. They all report to the Federal Government.

We ask for the bill to be amended to make the new Accessibility Commissioner, the new Canada Accessibility Standards Development Organization CASDO, and the new Chief Accessibility Officer report directly to Parliament, rather than to the Government. If this is not done, then we ask for the bill to be amended to give these key federal accessibility agencies/officials real operational independence from the Federal Government.

For more information, contact the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance care of its chair David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont.

Email:  [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Visit our website: www.aodaalliance.org



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