To Honour National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Announces Nothing New to Address the Unmet Urgent Needs of 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Crisis


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

To Honour National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Announces Nothing New to Address the Unmet Urgent Needs of 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Crisis

June 5, 2020 Toronto: The Ford Government’s self-congratulatory June 1, 2020 announcement to mark National AccessAbility Week (set out below) announces no comprehensive plan of new action to address the unmet urgent needs of 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Instead it once again simply re-announces measures that have been in place for months or years and that have failed to redress the serious additional hardships that COVID-19 inflicts on many people with disabilities.

“For almost three months, we’ve been pleading with the Ford Government to announce a plan of action to address the disproportionate hardships that people with disabilities face in Ontario’s health care, education, housing and income support programs during the COVID-19 crisis, but neither Premier Ford nor the Premier’s office have even answered our March 25, 2020 letter or our pleas for help,” said David Lepofsky, Chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, a grassroots disability coalition that has tenaciously campaigned on this issue. “Instead, the Ford Government claims to be ‘leading by example’ on accessibility for people with disabilities. This hurtful, protracted neglect is not the example by which we deserve to be led.”

Patients with disabilities, who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, are now facing new and stressful barriers in our health care system. Students with disabilities as well as their parents, teachers and school boards are left by the Ford Government to struggle and flounder, each trying to figure out how to help these students learn at home during the COVID-19 crisis. The Ford Government announced nothing new for any of these people with disabilities during National AccessAbility Week.

Instead, the Government’s June 1 announcement pointed to such failed strategies as its diverting public funds into the seriously flawed Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification program. Neither the Ford Government nor the Rick Hansen Foundation has publicly refuted the serious problems with that program that the AODA Alliance publicly documented last summer. Since then, the Government has not pointed to a single barrier in any building in Ontario that has been removed as a result of its commitment to spend 1.3 million public dollars on that program.

This is part of a bigger picture. On May 30, 2019, during last year’s National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature to defeat a resolution that called on the Government to create a plan to implement the report of former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Government then invoked false and hurtful stereotypes about the Disabilities Act, unfairly disparaging its implementation and enforcement as “red tape.”

The Government’s June 1, 2020 statement, set out below, is transparently incorrect where it claims that “we are making significant progress in implementing the AODA.” There have been 491 days since the Ford Government received the blistering Onley Report. That report documented that progress on accessibility in Ontario has proceeded at a “glacial” pace for years. The Government has still announced no plan of action to effectively implement that report. That failure has weakened the Government’s ability to respond to the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the COVID-19 crisis drags into its fourth month, with no clear end in sight, it is more important than ever for the Ford Government to announce and implement comprehensive plans targeted at meeting the additional needs that people with disabilities are suffering during this pandemic,” said Lepofsky. “National AccessAbility Week would be a great time to do so. We remain eager to help.”

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

Twitter: @aodaalliance

For more background, check out:

* The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page, listing all that coalition’s efforts to raise these issues since mid-March.

* The April 7, 2020 virtual Town Hall on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition, now viewed almost 3,000 times.

* The May 4, 2020 virtual Town Hall on how to teach students with disabilities during the COVID-19crisis, also jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition, viewed over 1,500 times.

The May 27, 2020 online virtual fireside chat on the impact of , COVID-19 on Ontarians with disabilities with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

June 1, 2020 Mass Email Announcement by the Minister of Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho

To our valued partners:

This year, National AccessAbility Week comes during a particularly challenging time. COVID-19 has forced many people to stay home and practice physical distancing. This can be stressful and lonely, and we must pay close attention to ensuring accessibility remains a priority and be mindful of potential barriers.

Our government is proud to work towards creating a society and economy that is accessible and inclusive for all Ontarians. Our work has been especially significant during the COVID-19 outbreak, and it is more important than ever that we come together to support our communities, including people with disabilities and seniors.

I am proud to share that we recently invested $11 million into the Ontario Community Support Program, which helps deliver hot meals, medicine and other essentials to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. We’ve also partnered with SPARK Ontario and invested $100,000 towards a provincial hub that connects volunteers to community organizations that support seniors and people with disabilities.

In 2005, Ontario passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and our commitment to making the province barrier-free continues today.

We recently announced a new cross-government framework called Advancing Accessibility in Ontario, which will help focus our work in four key areas as we move forward working with partners inside and beyond government.

Our government is working hard to lead by example and improve accessibility in our role as policy maker, service provider and employer. For example, we are making significant progress in implementing the AODA. As an organization, we are ensuring Ontario’s own ministries are taking accessibility into account as a key consideration when developing policies.

This includes supporting Ontario’s Standards Development Committees as they continue their important work to develop proposed accessibility standards in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 and post-secondary education sectors, as well as a proposed accessibility health care standard for hospitals.

We are also dedicated to breaking down barriers in the built environment. To do this, we are working with key partners in architecture, design and building to enhance curriculum and training on accessibility to help ensure new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible. We recently invested $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch a certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings.

Part of our Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework focuses on increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities. We have helped businesses in Ontario realize the benefits of employing people with disabilities through working with our Employers’ Partnership Table. As our government turns towards recovery efforts, we will work to ensure it includes innovative and focused approaches for people with disabilities.

Another key area in our new framework is about improving understanding and awareness about accessibility. We know this is a key focus for many of your own groups. Our government provides free webinars with practical tips on accessibility for organizations and the public. We also fund the development of many free resources and training materials through our EnAbling Change Program to further educate businesses and communities.

Many of the guides and resources about how to make businesses and organizations more accessible and inclusive can be found at the webpage

ontario.ca/AccessibleBusiness.

From May 31 – June 6, I ask everyone to take time to recognize the importance of accessibility and inclusion in our communities and workplaces, as well as acknowledge the contributions of Canadians with disabilities. I would also like to thank all of the individuals, groups and partners working together towards creating a barrier-free Ontario.

Each step we take together to remove barriers will make a difference today and in the future.

Sincerely,

Raymond Cho

Minister for Seniors and Accessibility



Source link

To Honour National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Announces Nothing New to Address the Unmet Urgent Needs of 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Crisis


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

June 5, 2020 Toronto: The Ford Government’s self-congratulatory June 1, 2020 announcement to mark National AccessAbility Week (set out below) announces no comprehensive plan of new action to address the unmet urgent needs of 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Instead it once again simply re-announces measures that have been in place for months or years and that have failed to redress the serious additional hardships that COVID-19 inflicts on many people with disabilities.

“For almost three months, we’ve been pleading with the Ford Government to announce a plan of action to address the disproportionate hardships that people with disabilities face in Ontario’s health care, education, housing and income support programs during the COVID-19 crisis, but neither Premier Ford nor the Premier’s office have even answered our March 25, 2020 letter or our pleas for help,” said David Lepofsky, Chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, a grassroots disability coalition that has tenaciously campaigned on this issue. “Instead, the Ford Government claims to be ‘leading by example’ on accessibility for people with disabilities. This hurtful, protracted neglect is not the example by which we deserve to be led.”

Patients with disabilities, who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, are now facing new and stressful barriers in our health care system. Students with disabilities as well as their parents, teachers and school boards are left by the Ford Government to struggle and flounder, each trying to figure out how to help these students learn at home during the COVID-19 crisis. The Ford Government announced nothing new for any of these people with disabilities during National AccessAbility Week.

Instead, the Government’s June 1 announcement pointed to such failed strategies as its diverting public funds into the seriously flawed Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification program. Neither the Ford Government nor the Rick Hansen Foundation has publicly refuted the serious problems with that program that the AODA Alliance publicly documented last summer. Since then, the Government has not pointed to a single barrier in any building in Ontario that has been removed as a result of its commitment to spend 1.3 million public dollars on that program.

This is part of a bigger picture. On May 30, 2019, during last year’s National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature to defeat a resolution that called on the Government to create a plan to implement the report of former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Government then invoked false and hurtful stereotypes about the Disabilities Act, unfairly disparaging its implementation and enforcement as “red tape.”

The Government’s June 1, 2020 statement, set out below, is transparently incorrect where it claims that “we are making significant progress in implementing the AODA.” There have been 491 days since the Ford Government received the blistering Onley Report. That report documented that progress on accessibility in Ontario has proceeded at a “glacial” pace for years. The Government has still announced no plan of action to effectively implement that report. That failure has weakened the Government’s ability to respond to the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the COVID-19 crisis drags into its fourth month, with no clear end in sight, it is more important than ever for the Ford Government to announce and implement comprehensive plans targeted at meeting the additional needs that people with disabilities are suffering during this pandemic,” said Lepofsky. “National AccessAbility Week would be a great time to do so. We remain eager to help.”

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

For more background, check out:

* The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page, listing all that coalition’s efforts to raise these issues since mid-March.

* The April 7, 2020 virtual Town Hall on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition, now viewed almost 3,000 times.

* The May 4, 2020 virtual Town Hall on how to teach students with disabilities during the COVID-19crisis, also jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition, viewed over 1,500 times.

The May 27, 2020 online virtual fireside chat on the impact of , COVID-19 on Ontarians with disabilities with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

June 1, 2020 Mass Email Announcement by the Minister of Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho

To our valued partners:
This year, National AccessAbility Week comes during a particularly challenging time. COVID-19 has forced many people to stay home and practice physical distancing. This can be stressful and lonely, and we must pay close attention to ensuring accessibility remains a priority and be mindful of potential barriers.

Our government is proud to work towards creating a society and economy that is accessible and inclusive for all Ontarians. Our work has been especially significant during the COVID-19 outbreak, and it is more important than ever that we come together to support our communities, including people with disabilities and seniors.

I am proud to share that we recently invested $11 million into the Ontario Community Support Program, which helps deliver hot meals, medicine and other essentials to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. We’ve also partnered with SPARK Ontario and invested $100,000 towards a provincial hub that connects volunteers to community organizations that support seniors and people with disabilities.

In 2005, Ontario passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and our commitment to making the province barrier-free continues today.

We recently announced a new cross-government framework called Advancing Accessibility in Ontario, which will help focus our work in four key areas as we move forward working with partners inside and beyond government.

Our government is working hard to lead by example and improve accessibility in our role as policy maker, service provider and employer. For example, we are making significant progress in implementing the AODA. As an organization, we are ensuring Ontario’s own ministries are taking accessibility into account as a key consideration when developing policies.

This includes supporting Ontario’s Standards Development Committees as they continue their important work to develop proposed accessibility standards in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 and post-secondary education sectors, as well as a proposed accessibility health care standard for hospitals.

We are also dedicated to breaking down barriers in the built environment. To do this, we are working with key partners in architecture, design and building to enhance curriculum and training on accessibility to help ensure new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible. We recently invested $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch a certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings.

Part of our Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework focuses on increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities. We have helped businesses in Ontario realize the benefits of employing people with disabilities through working with our Employers’ Partnership Table. As our government turns towards recovery efforts, we will work to ensure it includes innovative and focused approaches for people with disabilities.

Another key area in our new framework is about improving understanding and awareness about accessibility. We know this is a key focus for many of your own groups. Our government provides free webinars with practical tips on accessibility for organizations and the public. We also fund the development of many free resources and training materials through our EnAbling Change Program to further educate businesses and communities.

Many of the guides and resources about how to make businesses and organizations more accessible and inclusive can be found at the webpage ontario.ca/AccessibleBusiness.

From May 31 June 6, I ask everyone to take time to recognize the importance of accessibility and inclusion in our communities and workplaces, as well as acknowledge the contributions of Canadians with disabilities. I would also like to thank all of the individuals, groups and partners working together towards creating a barrier-free Ontario.

Each step we take together to remove barriers will make a difference today and in the future.

Sincerely,

Raymond Cho
Minister for Seniors and Accessibility




Source link

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




Source link

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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Qualifying for the CERB Can Put Ontarians With Disabilities in a Tricky Financial Spot


The pandemic has caused confusion among disability recipients when it comes to properly reporting income by Aaron Broverman
May 16, 2020

Confusion around the Ontario Disability Support Program during the pandemic put writer Meagan Gillmore in a financial bind.

It’s no secret that Torontonians with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, and there’s a fear among the disabled community that they would not receive adequate treatment while in hospital.

Recently, the Ontario government has made it even more difficult for them to self-isolate and afford basic needs, even if they qualify for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The CERB provides up to $2,000 a month for up to 16 weeks to people who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

Hundreds of thousands Ontarians with disabilities already receive income support through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), but the maximum any single individual can receive already puts people 30 to 40 per cent below the poverty line at $1,169 a month. People on ODSP can work, but any income they earn is clawed back at $0.50 on the dollar and deducted from the cheque after the first $200.

After a month of uncertainty, the province announced on April 21 that the CERB would be treated as income if you are among the estimated 75,000 Ontarians with disabilities who receive ODSP but also qualify for the federal benefit (having made $5,000 in 2019). ODSP would be clawed back at the usual rate and an individual could expect to lose $900 from their cheque despite the federal government recommending the CERB not be treated as income.

“ODSP benefits have been very low for a long time. They are not adequate for someone to be able to live on,” says Arash Ghiassi, lawyer and Yale Public Interest Fellow at the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC), a non-profit legal clinic advancing the systemic interests and rights of low-income Ontarians. “When faced with a pandemic, we know that poverty and disability are going to make it more difficult for ODSP recipients to be able to keep themselves healthy and keep all of us healthy.

“This [CERB] benefit is meant to go to all Canadians who need it, including people with disabilities,” Ghiassi adds. “It should not go to provincial coffers.”

As a result of qualifying for both CERB and ODSP, depending what a recipient earned before, some will get more money in their pockets than they did pre-pandemic and some will receive less.

“Some may argue that it’s unfair for anyone with a disability to receive more because they have lower fixed expenses than the average person,” says Ron Malis, a Toronto-based financial advisor who specializes in financial advice for people with disabilities and their families.

He contends that people with disabilities are getting the short end of the financial stick. “I would argue people on ODSP may have lower fixed expenses, but their discretionary expenses are also little to nothing so they have no wiggle room.”

Meanwhile, the pandemic is also causing confusion among ODSP recipients as far as how to properly report income, causing many to receive money they’re not actually entitled to and putting them on the hook to pay it back in addition to managing their own survival.

Meagan Gilmore is a freelance journalist who covers disability legislation issues for TV channel Accessible Media Inc. Before the pandemic, her ODSP payments were suspended because over the last few months she made too much to qualify.

Then in March, as things were beginning to shut down, not only was it difficult to get a hold of social workers at the ODSP, but Gilmore says she received a letter stating she wouldn’t need to report and that her ODSP would continue to be distributed at previous income levels. (In her case, zero.)

However, when she didn’t report her income for March, she received the full ODSP amount in April, as it was assumed she didn’t make any income. She had two choices: either write a cheque or have a small amount deducted from each cheque over the next 20 months.

“Obviously, I’m going to write a cheque for the full amount, but it’s one of those things where you think, ‘Really, you’re going to penalize someone for close to two years because you were unclear in your communication?’” says Gillmore.

According to Ghiassi, the difficult position Gillmore was put in is emblematic of other errors arising from the pandemic and the way benefits are treated if you receive ODSP.

“The issue of overpayment is an issue we’re hearing more and more about,” he says. “People are being penalized for applying for the CERB and then it turns out they don’t qualify for it and have to pay it back,” he says, adding that people have to pay it back twice once to the federal government and once as a partial clawback from the province.

“It’s an issue we’re seeing again and again and an issue we will see more when time goes by, but it needs to stop. We’ve asked the provincial government to stop assessing overpayments and receiving overpayments for the duration of the pandemic.”

@broverman

Original at https://nowtoronto.com/lifestyle/finance/cerb-odsp-ontarians-with-disability-finances/




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Premier Ford Pledged to Protect the Most Vulnerable During the COVID-19 Crisis — Watch Online and Widely Circulate the May 8, 2020 Interview on TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Showing How Premier Ford is Repeatedly Failing to Protect Vulnerable Ontarians with Disabilities


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/

Premier Ford Pledged to Protect the Most Vulnerable During the COVID-19 Crisis — Watch Online and Widely Circulate the May 8, 2020 Interview on TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Showing How Premier Ford is Repeatedly Failing to Protect Vulnerable Ontarians with Disabilities

May 11, 2020

          SUMMARY

You can now watch the 20-minute interview on the May 8, 2020 episode of TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” any time on YouTube. In just over a day after it aired, it had already gotten over 1,000 views and lots of positive feedback.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford pledged that his Government would protect the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis. During this interview, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and the executive director of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) Wendy Porch explain in vivid detail how the Ford Government has repeatedly failed to protect the most vulnerable, namely the 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities.

This video is now an important tool in our advocacy efforts for people with disabilities. You can quickly and easily use this interview to help us try to improve this situation. The public link to the interview is https://youtu.be/KmMlTrNbud8

Please take one or more of these steps today and get others to do so too!

* Share this link with your family and friends. Urge them to watch the interview and to share it with others they know.

* Post this interview link on your social media, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Encourage your social media friends and followers to watch the interview and to share the link with their social media friends and followers. If you have done this already, do it again! Each social media reminder and blitz helps!

* If you are connected with a disability organization or group, or any religious or other community group, get them to post this link on their website and social media pages. Urge them to press the Ford Government to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities in its emergency COVID-19 planning.

* Email your Member of the Ontario Legislature. Send them this link. Demand that the Government address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during its emergency COVID-19 planning.

* Call the Premier’s office at 416-325-1941. Tell whoever answers your call that the Premier must address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities in the Government’s emergency COVID-19 planning.

* Let your local media know about specific barriers and hardships that you know any people with disabilities are facing during the COVID-19crisis. During the interview on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, David Lepofsky and Wendy Porch only had time to talk about some of those serious hardships.

The media responds most readily to specific incidents that you bring to them. These can be shown to be part of a much bigger picture of recurring provincial failures to address our urgent needs. You can send your local media the link to the interview on The Agenda with Steve Paikin to show how much of a recurring issue this is for Ontarians with disabilities, and indeed, for people with disabilities across the country during COVID-19. Let the media know that they can contact us for more general background and comment. We are always standing by at [email protected]

Below we set out just one illustration of this. A family brought to the media the wrenching story of an Ontario hospital refusing to allow a patient with serious communication disabilities to use a vital communication aid for more than one hour a day, and the failure of the Ford Government to fix this barrier. We alerted you to that report in the May 6, 2020 AODA Alliance Update. We also reached out to the reporter to provide more background for a follow-up story that that reporter had decided to write. Below you can find the May 9, 2020 follow-up story in the May 9, 2020 Toronto Sun.

If a reporter wants more background, urge them to check out:

* The May 4, 2020 virtual Town Hall that the AODA Alliance and Ontario Autism Coalition held to share practical tips for teachers and parents on how to meet the urgent needs of students with disabilities  during the COVID-19crisis. In just one week since we held that event, it has gotten over 1,000 views.

* The earlier April 7, 2020 virtual Town Hall, also organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition, which more broadly address the urgent needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

* The April 30, 2020 letter from the AODA Alliance to Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce, which sets out a list of concrete and constructive requests for action that the AODA Alliance presented to Ontario’s Ministry of Education.

* The AODA Alliance’s education web page, that documents its efforts over the past decade to advocate for Ontario’s education system to become fully accessible to students with disabilities

* The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page, setting out our efforts to advocate for governments to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

Believe it or not, there have been 466 days since the Ford Government got 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 problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been 47 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 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

Toronto Sun May 9, 2020

Originally posted at https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/levy-people-who-cant-communicate-treated-terribly-during-covid-19?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1589067224

LEVY: People who can’t communicate treated terribly during COVID-19

Sue-Ann Levy

Tommy Jutcovich, a 69-year-old former educator with multiple systems atrophy, has been told by Toronto Grace Health Centre officials he can’t use his tablet — his sole means of communication — consistently throughout the day for fear it will act as a “surveillance” tool.

In British Columbia, a 40-year-old woman with cerebral palsy, Ariis Knight, died alone April 18 in a Vancouver hospital because her family was not permitted inside and she could not communicate without a family member or a caregiver. She didn’t have COVID-19.

Closer to home, my father-in law, who passed away a week ago (not from the novel coronavirus), was forced to enter hospital completely alone during the pandemic restrictions.

He was there for days without his caregiver, who would have ensured the less-than-compassionate doctors and nurses who saw him understood his medication and food needs. Despite several pleas from his daughters that the caregiver could be tested for COVID-19 and properly protected, the hospital adamantly refused to relent.

These are some of the heartbreaking stories of COVID-19, which have shone a light on the lack of proper practices by hospitals, long-term care and group homes to deal with people who are either unable to, or have trouble speaking for themselves, says a disabilities advocate.

Barbara Collier, executive director of Communications Disabilities Access Canada, says there have been very few policies for years and years to accommodate people with communications disabilities in the health-care system.

Without “explicit” guidelines, hospitals are taking it upon themselves to make decisions — often draconian and inflexible ones, I say.

“It’s the vulnerable groups that are completely marginalized and disempowered again because of this,” Collier said Saturday.

Tommy Jutcovich, 69, is bedridden in Toronto Grace hospital but staff are no longer allowing him unlimited use of his iPad — his lifeline to the outside world during the COVID-19 pandemic — because it is considered a “surveillance tool.” SUPPLIED PHOTO/FAMILY Supplied photo / Family

“This is happening in every hospital across Canada for years and years and we didn’t have good policies in place to ensure people could effectively communicate.”

There are at least 500,000 people with speech and language disabilities in Canada — including those on the autism spectrum or suffering from cerebral palsy, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, early dementia, MS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and people such as Tommy Jutcovich, who has multiple systems atrophy, Collier said.

She said most people have a “fair idea” of the duty to accommodate those with disabilities when it means getting into a building or opening a door, or with those who are deaf or have visual impairments.

The “missing piece” is how accommodation is handled (or mishandled) for those who have a speech and language disability — those with little or no speech, or who have difficultly comprehending information before providing informed consent.

Collier says the hospital “no visitor policy” is denying patients access to support people who can assist them with communication.

“There are many people who haven’t fared well in a health-care setting if they don’t have somebody who can interpret their speech or provide access to their visual display or iPad,” she said.

“The support people are not visitors, they’re essential.”

She said caregivers or support people could easily be “gowned-up” to protect their safety against this vicious virus.

She says those with disabilities should have the right to a range of communication aids available to them in hospital or in long-term care homes.

Collier adds that speech language pathologists should also be stationed around the hospital to help those with communication issues so they understand their treatment and are truly able to give informed consent.

She said the Toronto-based ARCH Disability Law Centre just released a COVID-19 tool kit that helps those with disabilities advocate to have their support person or communications assistant with them while in hospital — in other words to have an exemption from the hospital ban.

[email protected]



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Still More Media Reports Reveal Disproportionate Harm to Ontarians with Disabilities Due to the Ontario Government’s Failure to Effectively Plan for Urgent Disability Needs in its COVID-19 Emergency Efforts


and – Federal Government Announces Disability COVID-19 Advisory Panel, So We Offer Our Advice

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 23, 2020

SUMMARY

Here are yet more helpful media reports that illustrate how people with disabilities are disproportionately suffering the consequences of the Ontario Governments failure to effectively include the urgent needs of people with disabilities in its emergency COVID-19 planning. Our ongoing advocacy efforts are showing some signs of success, but the battle remains an uphill one. We remain tenacious as we join in that battle!

Below you will find:

* An excellent April 22, 2020 City TV news report by reporter Pam Seatle, on the Ford Governments failure to effectively plan for the COVID-19 needs of Ontarians with disabilities.

* A great April 22, 2020 report on CBC Radio Kitchener Waterloo by reporter Paula Duhatschek on the cruel impact on one individual with disabilities of the Ford Governments unjustified and inexplicable closure of the Adaptive Devices Program during the COVID-19 crisis as a supposedly non-essential program. We commend the individual who brought that issue to CBC.

* An earlier superb April 11, 2020 Canadian Press report by reporter Michelle McQuigge that appeared in a number of media outlets including the Globe and Mail, on the Federal Governments announcement of a federal advisory panel on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities.

We also set out below the Federal Governments actual April 10, 2020 announcement of its federal disability advisory panel on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. We commend the Federal Government for Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtroughs acknowledging:

We recognize that some groups of Canadians are significantly and disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, in particular Canadians with disabilities. For some persons with disabilities, underlying medical conditions put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19. Others face discrimination and barriers in accessing information, social services, and health care. For others, the need for self-isolation and physical distancing create additional challenges.

We first learned of the Federal Governments plans in this regard at the same time as did the public when it was publicly announced. It is good that the Federal Government has recognized the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. However, as we noted in the April 11, 2020 Canadian Press article by reporter Michelle McQuigge, 95% of the problems people with disabilities face in this crisis are within provincial responsibility, and are not the responsibility of the Federal Government.

It is very important for the Federal and provincial governments across Canada to also directly reach out to, hear from and follow the advice of anyone with the best front-line experience with the impact of COVID-19 on the grassroots disability community. That would include, for example, the ten experts that were interviewed on the April 7, 2020 virtual public forum on COVID-19 and people with disabilities organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition.

In the federal sphere, we offer these recommendations:

* The Federal Government pledged in the fall 2019 federal election that it would apply a disability lens to all its decisions. Beyond creating a new advisory panel, it is important for the Federal Government to let us and the entire public know what it is doing and has done since this crisis began to apply that disability lens to all its decisions in the COVID-19 crisis.

* The new federal disability advisory group should itself watch the April 7, 2020 virtual public forum on COVID-19 and disability, and advocate for the recommendations made there.

* The Federal Government should immediately make public the work of its new federal disability advisory group, when it is meeting, what it is recommending, and what actions the Federal Government is taking as a result to protect people with disabilities during this crisis. Openness and transparency by our governments is especially important during a crisis like this one.

We are not recommending that the Ford Government create a similar advisory panel. It would take the Government too long to set it up, and risk being a distraction. Instead, the Ford Government should immediately reach out to the grassroots disability community to learn about the hardships they are facing during this crisis. The Ford Government should also recognize, as has the Federal Government, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. As we have been urging for weeks, the Ford Government should quickly develop and make public a comprehensive plan of action to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities as part of its emergency COVID-19 planning.

Our non-partisan campaign is substantially fortified when individuals bring to the media their personal stories about the hardships and barriers they are facing during the COVID-19 crisis due to their disability. The AODA Alliance remains ready and willing to provide broader comments to the media on these issues, as we do in the stories set out below. To help you with this, you can get more background, check out and widely share:

* The guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in the April 20, 2020 online Toronto Star, which summarizes our major COVID disability issues in one place.

* 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.

* The AODA Alliances 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 dont 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 Governments protocol for rationing medical care during the COVID crisis.

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

There have been an inexcusable 448 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 announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. That makes worse the problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been 29 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 worsened by that delay.

We are sending you more AODA Alliance Updates than usual because of the influx of important news that is important to people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. We are doing our best to stay on top of the rapidly changing events, and to effectively advocate for efforts so that people with disabilities are equally served by government emergency COVID-19 planning.

MORE DETAILS

City News April 22, 2020

Originally posted at https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/04/22/advocates-say-coronavirus-planning-leaves-out-people-with-disabilities/

Advocates say coronavirus planning leaves out people with disabilities BY PAM SEATLE AND DILSHAD BURMANPOSTED APR 22, 2020

Summary
Disabilities advocates say their community has been overlooked in the government’s COVID-19 planning

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the province to provide in-home testing for people with disabilities

No plans have been announced but Minister of Health Christine Elliott says those with disabilities will be accommodated

As the country continues to wage battle against the novel coronavirus, vulnerable populations have been highlighted repeatedly including seniors, those with compromised immune systems, and more recently, those living in low-income neighbourhoods.

While there is no doubt all of those groups are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, disabilities advocates say their community is also a large and highly vulnerable group that has been entirely overlooked by the government in many areas.

People with disabilities in Ontario number at 2.5 million. [They] are facing, really, a triple whammy during this COVID crisis, beyond what everybody else is facing, says David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA).

Lepofsky says the problem includes the following issues:

* People with disabilities are disproportionately prone to contracting COVID-19 and also likely to suffer its most severe medical impacts
* A combination of government neglect and failure to plan is making them even more prone to getting COVID-19 than they already are
* If they do get the disease and have to visit a hospital, they face serious existing accessibility barriers in the healthcare system

The solution is as clear as it is obvious as it is missing. We need the Premier and the Government of Ontario to say we gotta plan. We gotta include in our emergency planning for COVID, specific plans to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities, who are among the most vulnerable, says Lepofsky.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is also calling on the Ford government to address the needs of Ontarians with disabilities.

They are worried and concerned that theyve been left behind, says Horwath.

She says there is no plan to ensure that people with disabilities will get tested if they begin to show symptoms of COVID-19 and there are concerns in the community that they will not have access to testing like everybody else.

Weve asked the government to put in place a plan to have testing available for those folks that would include ensuring that they can get tested at home, says Horwath, adding that this would help mitigate the issues of barriers to transit and navigating public spaces for those with mobility issues.

Lets not leave these folks out. Lets do some proactive testing, lets get to people in their homes and lets give them the peace of mind that others are able to get by having mobility and being able to go out to testing centres and get that testing done.

However, testing and care are not the only ways in which Lepofsky says people with disabilities are falling through the cracks.

He adds that thousands of children with disabilities are being left behind as the government implements online learning which is not accessible to many such students. Plus, he says people with disabilities who live independently at home but still need assistance, are being overlooked as well.

Wendy Porch, the head of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto, manages a program for about a thousand Ontarians who live independently but need assistance with daily tasks such as eating, getting washed and dressed.

She agrees with Lepofsky and says the people she works with have been ignored.

The folks that we work with have not been considered a priority in any of the priority populations that weve seen defined, she says. There has been no particular guidance thats been released around people with disabilities living at home.

In addition, she says when the issue is raised with authorities, they are told theyre just not there yet.

Theres no attention paid to this population at this point, says Porch.

Making matters arguably worse is that those who care for people with disabilities at home are not receiving any government assistance with personal protective equipment (PPE), despite being essential workers with close physical contact with clients.

Our program is not a medically oriented program, but the people who receive these supports at home, they see the same personal support workers that work in long-term care facilities and theyre certainly at risk. But because theyre at home, it seems as though theyve fallen through the cracks, she says. Because we were named as an essential service, if we could be included in the kind of supply chain relationships that exist between the Ministry of Health and some of these suppliers [of PPE], that would go a long way towards solving this problem for our folks.

In addition to these worries, Lepofsky says one of his biggest concerns is what he calls the provinces secret plans on how patients will be prioritized should critical equipment such as respirators fall into short supply. He says the governments plans to ration critical medical care if such a situation were to arise leaves out those with disabilities.

In an open letter, the province responded to such concerns saying all will be treated equally.

We believe that a human life cannot be valued differently. As such, Ontario Health has been asked to consult with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, as well as human rights and key community experts, to make certain that any medical protocols that may be required during this outbreak do not disproportionately affect vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, older persons, Indigenous communities and racialized people, they said

Health Minister Christine Elliott was asked about the issue at the provinces daily briefing on Wednesday. She said the government is willing to accommodate everybody.

If people need to be tested, we can take the testing to them, especially people with disabilities who maybe have significant mobility challenges, she said. We want to make sure, if they need to be tested, that they will be tested and if they need care that they will receive the care that they need, including hospital admissions or if theyre doing self-isolation making sure that they have the supplies and equipment and assistance that they need.

At this time, the province has not yet put forth a definitive plan for at-home testing and care.

CBC News Kitchener Waterloo April 22, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/man-stuck-hours-daily-on-floor-while-province-closes-assistive-devices-office-1.5540041

Man stuck hours daily on floor while province closes Assistive Devices office
Michael Wilson says wheelchair broke while awaiting a replacement, then COVID-19 hit Paula Duhatschek

A Kitchener man has spent nearly a month stuck in his apartmentafter his wheelchair fell apart and a replacement has been delayed.

Meanwhile, the province has shuttered its Assisted Devices Program office, which helps people access funds to pay for their wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

Michael Wilson, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around, receivesa replacement every five years, paid for through the province’s program.

This year, he says he was due for a new wheelchairbut that the process was delayed after the province initially rejected his applicationand he had to file an appeal.

Wilson was still using his old wheelchair on March 24 when he left his apartment to stock up on essentials.The motor and wheel fell offmid-trip, he says. Without a functional wheelchair, Wilson been unable to venture out for grocery or banking trips, and has mostly been eating delivery pizza. He also can’t comfortably change positions or move himself around his apartment.

“It’s awkward,” he said.

Office not processing applications
Although the province pays mostof the cost of devices provided through the Assisted Devices Program, it’s up to individual vendors to supply them. Corrinne Cave, who is witha localhome care company working with Wilson, said she couldn’t comment on individual cases for privacy reasons. But she saysher business’soperations have been complicated by the fact that the program office was closed due to COVID-19 and is no longer answering the phone or processing new funding applications.

“We’re trying to figure out a balance on how to get these [devices] to people who do need it” while also considering what costs they can absorb, she said.

France Gélinas, NDP health critic and Nickel Belt MPP, told CBC News that vendors and people with disabilities have been left in a tough position following the closure of the office. She saystheprogram itself has long been due for an upgrade, so that people who need new wheelchairs and other devices can get them based on need rather than “arbitrary” rules.

For the time being, Gelinas saysthe office should at least have someone around topick up the phone. “Right now, to not even be able to talk to them I don’t understand it,” Gelinas told CBC News.

“It is disrespectful, it is causing a lot of real hardship to people who often have severe disabilities,depend on those wheelchairs, to anything else to live their lives, and now they’re stuck.”

Pandemic creates urgency
Ontario disability advocate David Lepofsky agrees. He saysassistive devices are even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, now people have been told to physically distanceand can’t ask their friends and neighbours for extra help.

“The first thing [the province] should do is immediately re-open the assistive devices program and declare it essential,” said Lepofsky. “The second thing they should do is essentially do a short-term surge to try to clear the backlog that will have now been created.”

Province ‘evaluating options’
A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province couldn’t comment on individual cases. She said vendors will still receive payments based on historical invoicesand can dispense and repair devices for clients who are eligible. “We’re currently evaluating options to provide greater continuity of services under the assisted devices program during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

He says they should replace wheelchairs more frequently, before safety becomes an issue. He thinks the programshould also be more cautious about rejecting applications and requiring appeals for needed devices like wheelchairs, especially when it comes to situations like his.

As of Monday, Wilson was still without a wheelchair. But after CBC News contacted the vendor and province about his story, Wilson was told his wheelchair would be delivered Wednesday. When it arrives, he says,he looks forward to finishing up the errands he started back in March.

The Globe and Mail April 11, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-federal-government-names-group-to-ensure-disabled-canadians-included-2/ Federal government names group to ensure disabled Canadians included in COVID-19 response MICHELLE MCQUIGGE THE CANADIAN PRESS

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday March 26, 2020.

Qualtrough did not elaborate on specific systemic barriers in place, but members of Canadas disabled community have been sounding alarms since the beginning of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS figure

The COVID-19 pandemic takes a particularly heavy toll on Canadians with disabilities and more efforts are needed to ensure theyre included in national efforts to respond to the crisis, the minister overseeing accessibility issues said Friday as she appointed an advisory group to take on the task.

Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough said disabled residents have been sounding alarms about a host of concerns related to the outbreak, which has already killed at least 550 Canadians and sickened a minimum of 22,000 others. In a statement announcing the advisory group, Qualtrough said greater efforts are needed to ensure disabled voices are heard during a troubling time.

For some persons with disabilities, underlying medical conditions put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19, Ms. Qualtrough said in the statement. Others face discrimination and barriers in accessing information, social services and health care. For others, the need for self-isolation and physical distancing create additional challenges.

As we continue to address the COVID-19 outbreak, our priority will remain helping persons with disabilities maintain their health, safety, and dignity.

Ms. Qualtrough did not elaborate on specific systemic barriers in place, but members of Canadas disabled community have been sounding alarms since the beginning of the outbreak.

Early public-health messages and briefings at all levels of government often failed to include accessibility measures, such as sign language interpreters for the deaf or simplified messaging for those with intellectual disabilities.

Since then, more concerns have been raised about access to overtaxed health-care resources, the availability of educational supports for disabled students, and the greater vulnerability of those living in confined settings such as prisons, homeless shelters and long-term care institutions. At one assisted living facility in Markham, Ont., the executive director confirmed an outbreak had infected 10 of 42 residents and two staff members. Shelley Brillinger said news of the outbreak prompted the rest of the staff at Participation House to walk off the job, leaving residents without the care they need.

Our residents are the most vulnerable in society, she said. They dont have a voice, and my message would be its our responsibility to speak up for those who cant speak for themselves and ensure that they have the care that they deserve.

The 11-member advisory group, consisting of academics and organization leaders spanning a range of physical and intellectual disabilities, has been tasked
with apprising the government of the barriers their communities face and ensuring their needs are adequately addressed.

Committee member Bonnie Brayton, executive director of the DisAbled Womens Network Canada, said the issues before the group are matters of equality and fundamental access to human rights.

She said the proliferation of the novel coronavirus has laid bear many systemic issues that dogged the community for decades, but have taken on increased urgency as the disease continues to spread.

What the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is that the question of equality rights for people with disabilities apparently is still on the table in the legal system, in the health system, and I think in the soul of Canadians, Ms. Brayton said in a telephone interview. Its the last piece of our really becoming the country we need to become in terms of human rights.

Other advocates welcomed the federal governments recognition of the need for action, but expressed reservations about the impact such a move could have. David Lepofsky, founder of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and a long-time crusader for accessibility rights, said federal governments do not have jurisdiction over most of the programs with the greatest impact on the lives of disabled residents.

Only provincial governments can take 95 per cent of the action people with disabilities desperately need to avert the disproportionate hardships that the COVID-19 crisis inflicts on them, including the horrifying risk that their disability could be used as a reason to deny them medical services during rationing, he said. Were disproportionately vulnerable to get this disease, to suffer its harshest impacts and then to slam into serious barriers in our health care system.

Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director of the Arch Disability Law Centre, shared Mr. Lepofskys concern. He said there is currently no uniform approach to disability inclusion during the COVID-19 crisis. While he applauded the federal government for acknowledging as much, he expressed hope that the advisory group would continually seek input from those without seats at the government table. The disproportionate impact of this pandemic on persons with disabilities is undisputed, but it is playing out very differently across different provinces, territories, cities, and towns, Mr. Lattanzio said. We need voices from people with disabilities who are on the ground and who understand the complexity and nuances of what is actually happening. April 10, 2020 Announcement by Federal Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough

Originally posted at https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2020/04/statement-by-minister-qualtrough-on-canadas-disability-inclusive-approach-to-its-covid-19-pandemic-response.html Statement by Minister Qualtrough on Canadas Disability-Inclusive approach to its COVID-19 pandemic response From: Employment and Social Development Canada

April 10, 2020 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, today issued the following statement:

From the onset of the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government of Canada has taken significant steps to curb the spread of this virus and to reduce its impacts on the health of Canadians and our economy.

We recognize that some groups of Canadians are significantly and disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, in particular Canadians with disabilities. For some persons with disabilities, underlying medical conditions put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19. Others face discrimination and barriers in accessing information, social services, and health care. For others, the need for self-isolation and physical distancing create additional challenges.

As we continue to address the COVID-19 outbreak, our priority will remain helping persons with disabilities maintain their health, safety, and dignity. This includes through more formal communication channels and touch points with the disability community.

To this end, we are establishing the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group, comprised of experts in disability inclusion. This Group will provide advice on the real-time lived experiences of persons with disabilities during this crisis; disability-specific issues, challenges and systemic gaps; and strategies, measures and steps to be taken. Areas of particular focus will be equality of access to health care and supports; access to information and communications, mental health and social isolation; and employment and income supports.

From the onset, our Government has worked hard to ensure that the interests and needs of persons with a disability are being taken into consideration in our decisions and measures adopted in response to COVID-19. We have put a disability lens on decision-making and have been consulting national disability organizations and other stakeholders. We are also working with other levels of government. We are making strides on accessibility of public announcements and Government of Canada communications.

But we know that there is much more to do.

We have heard the concerns expressed by individuals and organizations for persons with disabilities, as well as their recommendations for ensuring a disability-inclusive approach to this pandemic.

Rest assured that as we support Canadians through this crisis, our Government is unequivocal in our commitment to the rights of every citizen and the value of every life, including the right to equal access to medical treatment and care. This is in keeping with our Governments commitment to nothing without us, and in line with the principles and objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Accessible Canada Act.

April 10, 2020 Federal Government Backgrounder

Originally posted at https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2020/04/backgrounder–covid-19-disability-advisory-group.html

Canada.ca Employment and Social Development Canada

Backgrounder : COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group
From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Backgrounder

During this time of public health and economic crisis, in the spirit of Nothing Without Us and the Accessible Canada Act, and in recognition of Canadas domestic and international human rights obligations, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that it considers, respects and incorporates the interests and needs of persons with disabilities into its decision-making and pandemic response.

Persons with disabilities face unique and heightened challenges and vulnerabilities in a time of pandemic, including equality of access to health care and supports, access to information and communications, mental health and social isolation and employment and income supports. Additional vigilance is also required to protect the human rights of persons with disabilities during these times. This necessitates a disability inclusive approach to Government decision-making and action.

The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action by announcing the establishment of the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group (CDAG). The CDAG will advise the Minister on the real-time lived experiences of persons with disabilities during this crisis on disability-specific issues, challenges and systemic gaps and on strategies, measures and steps to be taken.

Co-chaired by Minister Qualtrough, the Advisory Group will be comprised of individual experts from the disability community:

Co-Chair: Al Etmanski, is a writer, community organizer and social entrepreneur. He was welcomed into the world of disability in 1978 when his daughter was born. He led the closure of institutions, segregated schools, and sheltered workshops in BC, founded Canadas first Family Support Institute, and initiated the precedent setting right-to-treatment court case for Stephen Dawson. In 1989, he co-founded Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) with his wife Vickie Cammack. PLAN lobbied into existence the Registered Disability Savings Plan. Mr. Etmanski sparked a national conversation about belonging, and was instrumental in establishing a grass roots alternative to legal guardianship and expanding the legal definition of capacity. His last book, Impact: 6 Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation is a national bestseller. His forthcoming book is The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving and Changing the World. He blogs at aletmanski.com.

Bill Adair, Executive Director, Spinal Cord Injury Canada. Mr. Adair offers a depth of provincial and national experience in the spinal cord rehabilitation field. As a former Ontario government employee, national task force leader and Director of the National Patient Services Program with the Canadian Cancer Society, he has nearly three decades of expertise in non-profit management and strategic leadership. Prior to joining Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, he was Director of the National Patient Services Program with the Canadian Cancer Society for 13 years. His involvement in providing services to people with disabilities includes serving as the Director of the International Year for Disabled Persons, the Executive Director of a national task force that designed a system to coordinate cancer control efforts throughout Canada, and the Founding Executive Director of Wellspring.

Neil Belanger, Executive Director of the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS). Mr. Belanger has over 30 years of experience working within in Canadas Indigenous and non-Indigenous disability and health sectors. Since 2013, BCANDS has been the recipient of eight provincial, national and international awards, the most recent being the Zero Project International Award presented to the Society in Vienna, in February 2019. He also serves in a variety of disability related advisory roles, some of which include: Canada Posts Accessibility Advisory Committee; Ministers Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction; Ministers Council on Employment and Accessibility; Ministers Registered Disability Savings Plan Action Group and Board Member with Inclusion BC. He is a member of the Lax Se el (Frog Clan) of the Gitxsan First Nation and resides in Victoria with his wife and two children.

Diane Bergeron, President, CNIB Guide Dogs and Vice President, International Affairs.As President of CNIB Guide Dogs, Ms. Bergeron brings lived experience to the position. As a guide dog handler for more than 35 years, she raises her voice to challenge stigma and support equal rights. In addition, as vice president of International Affairs for the CNIB Foundation, she is actively engaged in regional, national and international initiatives that enable people impacted by blindness to live the lives they choose. Before joining CNIB, Ms. Bergeron held senior roles with the Government of Alberta and the City of Edmonton.

Bonnie Brayton, A recognized leader in both the feminist and disability movements, Ms. Brayton has been the National Executive Director of the DisAbled Womens Network (DAWN) of Canada since May 2007. In this role, she has proven herself as a formidable advocate for women with disabilities here in Canada and internationally. During her tenure with DAWN Canada, Ms. Brayton has worked diligently to highlight key issues that impact the lives of women and girls with disabilities. Since 2016, Ms. Brayton has served as a member of the Federal Department of Women and Gender Equality (WAGE, formerly known as Status of Women Canada), Ministers Advisory Council on Gender-Based Violence. She also presents regularly to Parliamentary and Senate Committees, at public consultations and has represented women and girls with disabilities in both Canadian and International spheres.
Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL). Ms. Carr was previously the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL). She had been working with the NBACL for 21 years, the last 16 as Executive Director. She also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of New Brunswick.

Maureen Haan: Ms. Haan has been the President & CEO of the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) since 2012. CCRW is the only national organization with the sole vision of equitable and meaningful employment for people with disabilities, in operation for over 40 years. Under her leadership, CCRW has seen an increase in direct program service throughout Canada, as well as a more transparent, stream-lining of understanding the business case of hiring a person with a disability. She has been very active in the cross-disability sector, currently focusing on employment issues. Ms. Haan has been involved with numerous committees and groups that increase awareness of and access for the disability sector and the Deaf community, including involvement with civil society on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and co-development and leadership of the pan-Canadian Strategy on Disability and Work.

Hélène Hébert, President, Réseau québécois pour l’inclusion sociale des personnes sourdes et malentendantes (REQIS). Ms. Hébert is the president of Reqis, a provincial organization defending the collective rights and promoting the interests of deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Its mission is also to contribute to the development and influence of its members through networking and knowledge exchange. She is also a member of VoirDire, a bi-monthly publication serving the deaf population of Quebec since 1983.

Dr. Heidi Janz, University of Alberta, Assistant Adjunct Professor with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre. Dr. Janz specializes in the field of Disability Ethics and has been affiliated with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre since 2006. She was previously the Curriculum Coordinator for an emerging Certificate Program in Disability Ethics in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. In her other life, Dr. Janz is a writer and playwright. Dr. Janz is also Chair of the End-of-life ethics committee for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD).

Rabia Khedr, CEO, Disability Empowerment Equality Network Support Services and Executive Director, Muslim Council of Peel. Rabia is a community leader who helps others with issues of fairness and justice that affect persons with disabilities, women and diverse communities. She was recently the Commissioner for the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Ms. Khedr created the Canadian Alliance on Race and Disability, which represents persons with disabilities and organizations at local, provincial and national meetings. She is also a member of the Mississauga Accessibility Advisory Committee. She is a motivational speaker and documentary commentator and has been awarded many awards, including a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Dr. Michael Prince, Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy at the University of Victoria. He teaches courses on public sector governance and public policy analysis in the School of Public Administration and the School of Public Health and Social Policy. As a policy consultant, Dr. Prince has been an advisor to various federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal government agencies; four Royal commissions; and, to a number of parliamentary committees federally and provincially. An active volunteer, Dr. Prince has been a board member of a community health clinic, a legal aid society, a hospital society and hospital foundation, the BC Association for Community Living, and the social policy committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.




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Still More Media Reports Reveal Disproportionate Harm to Ontarians with Disabilities Due to the Ontario Government’s Failure to Effectively Plan for Urgent Disability Needs in its COVID-19 Emergency Efforts – and – Federal Government Announces Disability COVID-19 Advisory Panel, So We Offer Our Advice


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/

Still More Media Reports Reveal Disproportionate Harm to Ontarians with Disabilities Due to the Ontario Government’s Failure to Effectively Plan for Urgent Disability Needs in its COVID-19 Emergency Efforts – and – Federal Government Announces Disability COVID-19 Advisory Panel, So We Offer Our Advice

April 23, 2020

          SUMMARY

Here are yet more helpful media reports that illustrate how people with disabilities are disproportionately suffering the consequences of the Ontario Government’s failure to effectively include the urgent needs of people with disabilities in its emergency COVID-19 planning. Our ongoing advocacy efforts are showing some signs of success, but the battle remains an uphill one. We remain tenacious as we join in that battle!

Below you will find:

* An excellent April 22, 2020 City TV news report by reporter Pam Seatle, on the Ford Government’s failure to effectively plan for the COVID-19 needs of Ontarians with disabilities.

* A great April 22, 2020 report on CBC Radio Kitchener Waterloo by reporter Paula Duhatschek on the cruel impact on one individual with disabilities of the Ford Government’s unjustified and inexplicable closure of the Adaptive Devices Program during the COVID-19 crisis as a supposedly non-essential program. We commend the individual who brought that issue to CBC.

* An earlier superb April 11, 2020 Canadian Press report by reporter Michelle McQuigge that appeared in a number of media outlets including the Globe and Mail, on the Federal Government’s announcement of a federal advisory panel on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities.

We also set out below the Federal Government’s actual April 10, 2020 announcement of its federal disability advisory panel on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. We commend the Federal Government for Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough’s acknowledging:

“We recognize that some groups of Canadians are significantly and disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, in particular Canadians with disabilities. For some persons with disabilities, underlying medical conditions put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19. Others face discrimination and barriers in accessing information, social services, and health care. For others, the need for self-isolation and physical distancing create additional challenges.”

We first learned of the Federal Government’s plans in this regard at the same time as did the public – when it was publicly announced. It is good that the Federal Government has recognized the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. However, as we noted in the April 11, 2020 Canadian Press article by reporter Michelle McQuigge, 95% of the problems people with disabilities face in this crisis are within provincial responsibility, and are not the responsibility of the Federal Government.

It is very important for the Federal and provincial governments to also directly reach out to, hear from and follow the advice of anyone with the best front-line experience with the impact of COVID-19 on the grassroots disability community. That would include, for example, the ten experts that were interviewed on the April 7, 2020 virtual public forum on COVID-19 and people with disabilities organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition.

In the federal sphere, we offer these recommendations:

* The Federal Government pledged in the fall 2019 federal election that it would apply a disability lens to all its decisions. Beyond creating a new advisory panel, it is important for the Federal Government to let us and the entire public know what it is doing and has done since this crisis began to apply that disability lens to all its decisions in the COVID-19 crisis.

* The new federal disability advisory group should itself watch the April 7, 2020 virtual public forum on COVID-19 and disability, and advocate for the recommendations made there.

* The Federal Government should immediately make public the work of its new federal disability advisory group, when it is meeting, what it is recommending, and what actions the Federal Government is taking as a result to protect people with disabilities during this crisis. Openness and transparency by our governments is especially important during a crisis like this one.

We are not recommending that the Ford Government create a similar advisory panel. It would take the Government too long to set it up, and risk being a distraction. Instead, the Ford Government should immediately reach out to the grassroots disability community to learn about the hardships they are facing during this crisis. The Ford Government should also recognize, as has the Federal Government, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. As we have been urging for weeks, the Ford Government should quickly develop and make public a comprehensive plan of action to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities as part of its emergency COVID-19 planning.

Our non-partisan campaign is substantially fortified when individuals bring to the media their personal stories about the hardships and barriers they are facing during the COVID-19 crisis due to their disability. The AODA Alliance remains ready and willing to provide broader comments to the media on these issues, as we do in the stories set out below. To help you with this, you can get more background, check out and widely share:

* The guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in the April 20, 2020 online Toronto Star, which summarizes our major COVID disability issues in one place.

* 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.

* 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 an inexcusable 448 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 announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. That makes worse the problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been 29 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 worsened by that delay.

We are sending you more AODA Alliance Updates than usual because of the influx of important news that is important to people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. We are doing our best to stay on top of the rapidly changing events, and to effectively advocate for efforts so that people with disabilities are equally served by government emergency COVID-19 planning.

          MORE DETAILS

City News April 22, 2020

Originally posted at https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/04/22/advocates-say-coronavirus-planning-leaves-out-people-with-disabilities/

Advocates say coronavirus planning leaves out people with disabilities

BY PAM SEATLE AND DILSHAD BURMANPOSTED APR 22, 2020

Summary

Disabilities advocates say their community has been overlooked in the government’s COVID-19 planning

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the province to provide in-home testing for people with disabilities

No plans have been announced but Minister of Health Christine Elliott says those with disabilities will be accommodated

As the country continues to wage battle against the novel coronavirus, vulnerable populations have been highlighted repeatedly — including seniors, those with compromised immune systems, and more recently, those living in low-income neighbourhoods.

While there is no doubt all of those groups are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, disabilities advocates say their community is also a large and highly vulnerable group that has been entirely overlooked by the government in many areas.

“People with disabilities in Ontario number at 2.5 million. [They] are facing, really, a triple whammy during this COVID crisis, beyond what everybody else is facing,” says David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA).

Lepofsky says the problem includes the following issues:

  • People with disabilities are disproportionately prone to contracting COVID-19 and also likely to suffer it’s most severe medical impacts
  • A combination of government neglect and failure to plan is making them even more prone to getting COVID-19 than they already are
  • If they do get the disease and have to visit a hospital, they face serious existing accessibility barriers in the healthcare system

“The solution is as clear as it is obvious as it is missing. We need the Premier and the Government of Ontario to say ‘we gotta plan. We gotta include in our emergency planning for COVID, specific plans to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities, who are among the most vulnerable’,” says Lepofsky.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is also calling on the Ford government to address the needs of Ontarians with disabilities.

“They are worried and concerned that they’ve been left behind,” says Horwath.

She says there is no plan to ensure that people with disabilities will get tested if they begin to show symptoms of COVID-19 and there are concerns in the community that they will not have access to testing like everybody else.

“We’ve asked the government to put in place a plan to have testing available for those folks — that would include ensuring that they can get tested at home,” says Horwath, adding that this would help mitigate the issues of barriers to transit and navigating public spaces for those with mobility issues.

“Let’s not leave these folks out. Let’s do some proactive testing, let’s get to people in their homes and let’s give them the peace of mind that others are able to get by having mobility and being able to go out to testing centres and get that testing done.”

However, testing and care are not the only ways in which Lepofsky says people with disabilities are falling through the cracks.

He adds that thousands of children with disabilities are being left behind as the government implements online learning — which is not accessible to many such students. Plus, he says people with disabilities who live independently at home but still need assistance, are being overlooked as well.

Wendy Porch, the head of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto, manages a program for about a thousand Ontarians who live independently but need assistance with daily tasks such as eating, getting washed and dressed.

She agrees with Lepofsky and says the people she works with have been ignored.

“The folks that we work with have not been considered a priority in any of the priority populations that we’ve seen defined,” she says. “There has been no particular guidance that’s been released around people with disabilities living at home.”

In addition, she says when the issue is raised with authorities, they are told they’re “just not there yet.”

“There’s no attention paid to this population at this point,” says Porch.

Making matters arguably worse is that those who care for people with disabilities at home are not receiving any government assistance with personal protective equipment (PPE), despite being essential workers with close physical contact with clients.

“Our program … is not a medically oriented program, but the people who receive these supports at home, they see the same personal support workers that work in long-term care facilities and they’re certainly at risk. But because they’re at home, it seems as though they’ve fallen through the cracks,” she says. “Because we were named as an essential service, if we could be included in the kind of supply chain relationships that exist between the Ministry of Health and some of these suppliers [of PPE], that would go a long way towards solving this problem for our folks.”

In addition to these worries, Lepofsky says one of his biggest concerns is what he calls the province’s “secret plans” on how patients will be prioritized should critical equipment such as respirators fall into short supply. He says the government’s plans to ration critical medical care if such a situation were to arise leaves out those with disabilities.

In an open letter, the province responded to such concerns saying all will be treated equally.

“We believe that a human life cannot be valued differently. As such, Ontario Health has been asked to consult with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, as well as human rights and key community experts, to make certain that any medical protocols that may be required during this outbreak do not disproportionately affect vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, older persons, Indigenous communities and racialized people,” they said

Health Minister Christine Elliott was asked about the issue at the province’s daily briefing on Wednesday. She said the government is willing to accommodate everybody.

“If people need to be tested, we can take the testing to them, especially people with disabilities who maybe have significant mobility challenges,” she said. “We want to make sure, if they need to be tested, that they will be tested and if they need care that they will receive the care that they need, including hospital admissions or if they’re doing self-isolation — making sure that they have the supplies and equipment and assistance that they need.”

At this time, the province has not yet put forth a definitive plan for at-home testing and care.

CBC News Kitchener Waterloo April 22, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/man-stuck-hours-daily-on-floor-while-province-closes-assistive-devices-office-1.5540041

Man stuck hours daily on floor while province closes Assistive Devices office

Michael Wilson says wheelchair broke while awaiting a replacement, then COVID-19 hit

Paula Duhatschek

A Kitchener man has spent nearly a month stuck in his apartment after his wheelchair fell apart and a replacement has been delayed.

Meanwhile, the province has shuttered its Assisted Devices Program office, which helps people access funds to pay for their wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

Michael Wilson, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around, receives a replacement every five years, paid for through the province’s program.

This year, he says he was due for a new wheelchair but that the process was delayed after the province initially rejected his application and he had to file an appeal.

Wilson was still using his old wheelchair on March 24 when he left his apartment to stock up on essentials. The motor and wheel fell off mid-trip, he says. Without a functional wheelchair, Wilson been unable to venture out for grocery or banking trips, and has mostly been eating delivery pizza. He also can’t comfortably change positions or move himself around his apartment.

“It’s awkward,” he said.

Office not processing applications

Although the province pays most of the cost of devices provided through the Assisted Devices Program, it’s up to individual vendors to supply them.  Corrinne Cave, who is with a local home care company working with Wilson, said she couldn’t comment on individual cases for privacy reasons. But she says her business’s operations have been complicated by the fact that the program office was closed due to COVID-19 and is no longer answering the phone or processing new funding applications.

“We’re trying to figure out a balance on how to get these [devices] to people who do need it” while also considering what costs they can absorb, she said.

France Gélinas, NDP health critic and Nickel Belt MPP, told CBC News that vendors and people with disabilities have been left in a tough position following the closure of the office. She says the program itself has long been due for an upgrade, so that people who need new wheelchairs and other devices can get them based on need rather than “arbitrary” rules.

For the time being, Gelinas says the office should at least have someone around to pick up the phone.  “Right now, to not even be able to talk to them … I don’t understand it,” Gelinas told CBC News.

“It is disrespectful, it is causing a lot of real hardship to people who often have severe disabilities, depend on those wheelchairs, to anything else to live their lives, and now they’re stuck.”

Pandemic creates urgency

Ontario disability advocate David Lepofsky agrees. He says assistive devices are even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, now people have been told to physically distance and can’t ask their friends and neighbours for extra help.

“The first thing [the province] should do is immediately re-open the assistive devices program and declare it essential,” said Lepofsky. “The second thing they should do is … essentially do a short-term surge to try to clear the backlog that will have now been created.”

Province ‘evaluating options’

A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province couldn’t comment on individual cases. She said vendors will still receive payments based on historical invoices and can dispense and repair devices for clients who are eligible. “We’re currently evaluating options to provide greater continuity of services under the assisted devices program during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

He says they should replace wheelchairs more frequently, before safety becomes an issue. He thinks the program should also be more cautious about rejecting applications and requiring appeals for needed devices like wheelchairs, especially when it comes to situations like his.

As of Monday, Wilson was still without a wheelchair. But after CBC News contacted the vendor and province about his story, Wilson was told his wheelchair would be delivered Wednesday. When it arrives, he says, he looks forward to finishing up the errands he started back in March.

The Globe and Mail April 11, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-federal-government-names-group-to-ensure-disabled-canadians-included-2/

Federal government names group to ensure disabled Canadians included in COVID-19 response MICHELLE MCQUIGGE

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday March 26, 2020.

Qualtrough did not elaborate on specific systemic barriers in place, but members of Canada’s disabled community have been sounding alarms since the beginning of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS figure

The COVID-19 pandemic takes a particularly heavy toll on Canadians with disabilities and more efforts are needed to ensure they’re included in national efforts to respond to the crisis, the minister overseeing accessibility issues said Friday as she appointed an advisory group to take on the task.

Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough said disabled residents have been sounding alarms about a host of concerns related to the outbreak, which has already killed at least 550 Canadians and sickened a minimum of 22,000 others. In a statement announcing the advisory group, Qualtrough said greater efforts are needed to ensure disabled voices are heard during a troubling time.

“For some persons with disabilities, underlying medical conditions put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19,” Ms. Qualtrough said in the statement. “Others face discrimination and barriers in accessing information, social services and health care. For others, the need for self-isolation and physical distancing create additional challenges.

“As we continue to address the COVID-19 outbreak, our priority will remain helping persons with disabilities maintain their health, safety, and dignity.”

Ms. Qualtrough did not elaborate on specific systemic barriers in place, but members of Canada’s disabled community have been sounding alarms since the beginning of the outbreak.

Early public-health messages and briefings at all levels of government often failed to include accessibility measures, such as sign language interpreters for the deaf or simplified messaging for those with intellectual disabilities.

Since then, more concerns have been raised about access to overtaxed health-care resources, the availability of educational supports for disabled students, and the greater vulnerability of those living in confined settings such as prisons, homeless shelters and long-term care institutions. At one assisted living facility in Markham, Ont., the executive director confirmed an outbreak had infected 10 of 42 residents and two staff members. Shelley Brillinger said news of the outbreak prompted the rest of the staff at Participation House to walk off the job, leaving residents without the care they need.

“Our residents are the most vulnerable in society,” she said. “… They don’t have a voice, and my message would be it’s our responsibility to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves and ensure that they have the care that they deserve.”

The 11-member advisory group, consisting of academics and organization leaders spanning a range of physical and intellectual disabilities, has been tasked

with apprising the government of the barriers their communities face and ensuring their needs are adequately addressed.

Committee member Bonnie Brayton, executive director of the DisAbled Women’s Network Canada, said the issues before the group are matters of equality and fundamental access to human rights.

She said the proliferation of the novel coronavirus has laid bear many systemic issues that dogged the community for decades, but have taken on increased urgency as the disease continues to spread.

“What the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is that the question of equality rights for people with disabilities apparently is still on the table in the legal system, in the health system, and I think in the soul of Canadians,” Ms. Brayton said in a telephone interview. “It’s the last piece of our really becoming the country we need to become in terms of human rights.”

Other advocates welcomed the federal governments’ recognition of the need for action, but expressed reservations about the impact such a move could have. David Lepofsky, founder of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and a long-time crusader for accessibility rights, said federal governments do not have jurisdiction over most of the programs with the greatest impact on the lives of disabled residents.

“Only provincial governments can take 95 per cent of the action people with disabilities desperately need to avert the disproportionate hardships that the COVID-19 crisis inflicts on them, including the horrifying risk that their disability could be used as a reason to deny them medical services during rationing,” he said. “We’re disproportionately vulnerable to get this disease, to suffer its harshest impacts and then to slam into serious barriers in our health care system.”

Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director of the Arch Disability Law Centre, shared Mr. Lepofsky’s concern. He said there is currently no uniform approach to disability inclusion during the COVID-19 crisis. While he applauded the federal government for acknowledging as much, he expressed hope that the advisory group would continually seek input from those without seats at the government table. “The disproportionate impact of this pandemic on persons with disabilities is undisputed, but it is playing out very differently across different provinces, territories, cities, and towns,” Mr. Lattanzio said. “We need voices from people with disabilities who are on the ground and who understand the complexity and nuances of what is actually happening.”

April 10, 2020 Announcement by Federal Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough

Originally posted at https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2020/04/statement-by-minister-qualtrough-on-canadas-disability-inclusive-approach-to-its-covid-19-pandemic-response.html

Statement by Minister Qualtrough on Canada’s Disability-Inclusive approach to its COVID-19 pandemic response

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

April 10, 2020       Gatineau, Quebec       Employment and Social Development Canada

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, today issued the following statement:

“From the onset of the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government of Canada has taken significant steps to curb the spread of this virus and to reduce its impacts on the health of Canadians and our economy.

We recognize that some groups of Canadians are significantly and disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, in particular Canadians with disabilities. For some persons with disabilities, underlying medical conditions put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19. Others face discrimination and barriers in accessing information, social services, and health care. For others, the need for self-isolation and physical distancing create additional challenges.

As we continue to address the COVID-19 outbreak, our priority will remain helping persons with disabilities maintain their health, safety, and dignity. This includes through more formal communication channels and touch points with the disability community.

To this end, we are establishing the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group, comprised of experts in disability inclusion. This Group will provide advice on the real-time lived experiences of persons with disabilities during this crisis; disability-specific issues, challenges and systemic gaps; and strategies, measures and steps to be taken. Areas of particular focus will be equality of access to health care and supports; access to information and communications, mental health and social isolation; and employment and income supports.

From the onset, our Government has worked hard to ensure that the interests and needs of persons with a disability are being taken into consideration in our decisions and measures adopted in response to COVID-19. We have put a disability lens on decision-making and have been consulting national disability organizations and other stakeholders. We are also working with other levels of government. We are making strides on accessibility of public announcements and Government of Canada communications.

But we know that there is much more to do.

We have heard the concerns expressed by individuals and organizations for persons with disabilities, as well as their recommendations for ensuring a disability-inclusive approach to this pandemic.

Rest assured that as we support Canadians through this crisis, our Government is unequivocal in our commitment to the rights of every citizen and the value of every life, including the right to equal access to medical treatment and care. This is in keeping with our Government’s commitment to “nothing without us”, and in line with the principles and objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Accessible Canada Act.”

April 10, 2020 Federal Government Backgrounder

Originally posted at https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2020/04/backgrounder–covid-19-disability-advisory-group.html

Canada.ca Employment and Social Development Canada

Backgrounder : COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Backgrounder

During this time of public health and economic crisis, in the spirit of “Nothing Without Us” and the Accessible Canada Act, and in recognition of Canada’s domestic and international human rights obligations, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that it considers, respects and incorporates the interests and needs of persons with disabilities into its decision-making and pandemic response.

Persons with disabilities face unique and heightened challenges and vulnerabilities in a time of pandemic, including equality of access to health care and supports, access to information and communications, mental health and social isolation and employment and income supports. Additional vigilance is also required to protect the human rights of persons with disabilities during these times. This necessitates a disability inclusive approach to Government decision-making and action.

The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action by announcing the establishment of the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group (CDAG). The CDAG will advise the Minister on the real-time lived experiences of persons with disabilities during this crisis on disability-specific issues, challenges and systemic gaps and on strategies, measures and steps to be taken.

Co-chaired by Minister Qualtrough, the Advisory Group will be comprised of individual experts from the disability community:

Co-Chair: Al Etmanski, is a writer, community organizer and social entrepreneur. He was welcomed into the world of disability in 1978 when his daughter was born. He led the closure of institutions, segregated schools, and sheltered workshops in BC, founded Canada’s first Family Support Institute, and initiated the precedent setting right-to-treatment court case for Stephen Dawson. In 1989, he co-founded Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) with his wife Vickie Cammack. PLAN lobbied into existence the Registered Disability Savings Plan. Mr. Etmanski sparked a national conversation about ‘belonging,’ and was instrumental in establishing a grass roots alternative to legal guardianship and expanding the legal definition of capacity. His last book, Impact: 6 Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation is a national bestseller. His forthcoming book is The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving and Changing the World. He blogs at aletmanski.com.

Bill Adair, Executive Director, Spinal Cord Injury Canada. Mr. Adair offers a depth of provincial and national experience in the spinal cord rehabilitation field. As a former Ontario government employee, national task force leader and Director of the National Patient Services Program with the Canadian Cancer Society, he has nearly three decades of expertise in non-profit management and strategic leadership. Prior to joining Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, he was Director of the National Patient Services Program with the Canadian Cancer Society for 13 years. His involvement in providing services to people with disabilities includes serving as the Director of the International Year for Disabled Persons, the Executive Director of a national task force that designed a system to coordinate cancer control efforts throughout Canada, and the Founding Executive Director of Wellspring.

Neil Belanger, Executive Director of the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS). Mr. Belanger has over 30 years of experience working within in Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous disability and health sectors. Since 2013, BCANDS has been the recipient of eight provincial, national and international awards, the most recent being the Zero Project International Award presented to the Society in Vienna, in February 2019. He also serves in a variety of disability related advisory roles, some of which include: Canada Post’s Accessibility Advisory Committee; Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction; Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility; Minister’s Registered Disability Savings Plan Action Group and Board Member with Inclusion BC. He is a member of the Lax Se el (Frog Clan) of the Gitxsan First Nation and resides in Victoria with his wife and two children.

Diane Bergeron, President, CNIB Guide Dogs and Vice President, International Affairs.As President of CNIB Guide Dogs, Ms. Bergeron brings lived experience to the position. As a guide dog handler for more than 35 years, she raises her voice to challenge stigma and support equal rights. In addition, as vice president of International Affairs for the CNIB Foundation, she is actively engaged in regional, national and international initiatives that enable people impacted by blindness to live the lives they choose. Before joining CNIB, Ms. Bergeron held senior roles with the Government of Alberta and the City of Edmonton.

Bonnie Brayton, A recognized leader in both the feminist and disability movements, Ms. Brayton has been the National Executive Director of the DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) of Canada since May 2007. In this role, she has proven herself as a formidable advocate for women with disabilities here in Canada and internationally. During her tenure with DAWN Canada, Ms. Brayton has worked diligently to highlight key issues that impact the lives of women and girls with disabilities. Since 2016, Ms. Brayton has served as a member of the Federal Department of Women and Gender Equality (WAGE, formerly known as Status of Women Canada), Minister’s Advisory Council on Gender-Based Violence. She also presents regularly to Parliamentary and Senate Committees, at public consultations and has represented women and girls with disabilities in both Canadian and International spheres.

Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL). Ms. Carr was previously the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL). She had been working with the NBACL for 21 years, the last 16 as Executive Director. She also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of New Brunswick.

Maureen Haan: Ms. Haan has been the President & CEO of the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) since 2012. CCRW is the only national organization with the sole vision of equitable and meaningful employment for people with disabilities, in operation for over 40 years. Under her leadership, CCRW has seen an increase in direct program service throughout Canada, as well as a more transparent, stream-lining of understanding the business case of hiring a person with a disability. She has been very active in the cross-disability sector, currently focusing on employment issues. Ms. Haan has been involved with numerous committees and groups that increase awareness of and access for the disability sector and the Deaf community, including involvement with civil society on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and co-development and leadership of the pan-Canadian Strategy on Disability and Work.

Hélène Hébert, President, Réseau québécois pour l’inclusion sociale des personnes sourdes et malentendantes (REQIS). Ms. Hébert is the president of Reqis, a provincial organization defending the collective rights and promoting the interests of deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Its mission is also to contribute to the development and influence of its members through networking and knowledge exchange. She is also a member of VoirDire, a bi-monthly publication serving the deaf population of Quebec since 1983.

Dr. Heidi Janz, University of Alberta, Assistant Adjunct Professor with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre. Dr. Janz specializes in the field of Disability Ethics and has been affiliated with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre since 2006. She was previously the Curriculum Coordinator for an emerging Certificate Program in Disability Ethics in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. In her “other life,” Dr. Janz is a writer and playwright. Dr. Janz is also Chair of the End-of-life ethics committee for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD).

Rabia Khedr, CEO, Disability Empowerment Equality Network Support Services and Executive Director, Muslim Council of Peel. Rabia is a community leader who helps others with issues of fairness and justice that affect persons with disabilities, women and diverse communities. She was recently the Commissioner for the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Ms. Khedr created the Canadian Alliance on Race and Disability, which represents persons with disabilities and organizations at local, provincial and national meetings. She is also a member of the Mississauga Accessibility Advisory Committee. She is a motivational speaker and documentary commentator and has been awarded many awards, including a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Dr. Michael Prince, Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy at the University of Victoria. He teaches courses on public sector governance and public policy analysis in the School of Public Administration and the School of Public Health and Social Policy. As a policy consultant, Dr. Prince has been an advisor to various federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal government agencies; four Royal commissions; and, to a number of parliamentary committees federally and provincially. An active volunteer, Dr. Prince has been a board member of a community health clinic, a legal aid society, a hospital society and hospital foundation, the BC Association for Community Living, and the social policy committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.



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Ontario’s New Democratic Party and the Ontario Human Rights Commission Press the Ford Government to Take Substantially More Action to Address Ontarians with Disabilities’ Urgent Needs 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 22, 2020

SUMMARY

Here are even more calls for the Ford Government to take substantially more action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Below we set out four important recent documents showing this crisis. The first three are from the Ontario New Democratic Party, and the fourth is from the Ontario Human Rights Commission:

1. On April 22, 2020, an NDP news release called on the Ford Government to include in a long-overdue emergency plan for people with disabilities a number of important measures, including mobile testing for people with disabilities who need to be tested for COVID-19.

2. On April 17, 2020, NDP leader Andrea Horwath and NDP disabilities critic Joel Harden wrote to the Ford Government, combining to echo the AODA Alliance’s call for the Ford Government to create a focused plan to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities as part of its COVID-19 emergency planning. The NDP also echoed our call for the Government to consult the grassroots disability community on this. As their letter shows, the NDP was inspired to take this action by the April 7, 2020 online Virtual Public Forum on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities that was jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition. In the two weeks since that virtual public forum, it has been viewed over 2,000 times. It remains available to be viewed online, with captions and American Sign Language interpretation.

3. In the April 6, 2020 letter from NDP health critic France Gelinas to Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott, the NDP urged the Government to re-open the shuttered Assistive Devices Program (ADP) and to treat it as an essential service for people with disabilities. The Government’s failure to do so is symptomatic of its larger and recurring failure to effectively address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during this crisis.

4. In the April 6, 2020 letter from Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Renu Mandhane to Health Minister Christine Elliott, the Commission raised important human rights concerns with the Government’s controversial and secret March 28, 2020 medical triage protocol. Yesterday, as detailed in the AODA Alliance’s April 21, 2020 news release, the Government has walked back that protocol and agreed to consult human rights and community experts on it. We have not yet heard whether the Ford Government will include the AODA Alliance among those it will consult.

We thank and commend the NDP and the Ontario Human Rights Commission for these efforts. For more background, check out and widely share:

* The guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in the April 20, 2020 online Toronto Star, which summarizes our major COVID disability issues in one place.

* 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.

* 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 now been 447 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. That is making worse the problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been 28 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.

MORE DETAILS

April 22, 2020 News Release from the Ontario New Democratic Party

Government must make in-home testing available for people with disabilities: NDP
Province needs a plan to meet the needs of 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities

QUEEN’S PARK The Official Opposition is calling for the Ford government to make COVID-19 testing available at home for people with disabilities who face barriers trying to travel to testing sites.

“There are 2.6 million Ontarians living with disabilities, yet Doug Ford has not announced any plans to support them during the pandemic despite the fact that many people with disabilities are among the most susceptible to COVID-19, and often face barriers in accessing testing and treatment,” said Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition.

“Access to testing must not discriminate based on ability,” said Joel Harden, NDP critic for Accessibility and People with Disabilities. “If we are truly all in this together, that means making sure every Ontarian who should get a test can get one.”

Harden said that for people like John Mossa, the testing system simply excludes them. Mossa has a mobility disability, and fragile health with limited lung function. When he came down with cold-like symptoms, including a cough, he felt he needed a test but would have needed a PSW to go along with him to a hospital or assessment centre, and worried about exposing his weak system to transit staff and others along the way. Ultimately, medical professionals advised him not to get a test, because the risks were too great and supports too few.

“People with disabilities, their families, and their caregivers cannot be an afterthought in the government’s response to COVID-19,” said Harden. “We need urgent action to ensure that their needs are met during this pandemic.”

Home-based tests for people with disabilities should be delivered by workers wearing full personal protective equipment, noted Harden.

Horwath and Harden wrote to Doug Ford calling for his government to adopt a plan in consultation with experts and grassroots disability community leaders. The plan should include, but not be limited to:

* Adopting a clinical triage protocol that respects the human rights of people with disabilities
* Ensuring that attendant care workers who help people with disabilities in their own homes have access to personal protective equipment
* Resources and clear guidelines to support 330,000 special education students with e-learning
* Provide remote and distance supports to assist the families of people with developmental or intellectual disabilities living with them, to provide respite for family members during mandatory periods of isolation at home
* Declaring the Assistive Devices Program an essential service so that no one is deprived of critical mobility or medical aides

Media contact: Jodie Shupac, 416-806-9147
Quotes

John Mossa,Toronto:
“There should be COVID testing in the home of people with disabilities, especially if they are symptomatic, to prevent community spread and properly treat their illness. It is an accessibility accommodation the government should provide to vulnerable Ontarians – in keeping with the AODA.”

April 17, 2020 Letter to Premier Doug Ford from the Ontario New Democratic Party April 17, 2020

Premier Doug Ford
Room 281
Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Dear Premier,

We write to you having convened an urgent discussion with disability rights groups and leaders within this important sector. We are urging your government to adopt a comprehensive plan in consultation with them that ensures people with disabilities’ needs are met during this pandemic.

There are 2.6 million people with disabilities in Ontario, and their concerns are not being properly addressed in our province’s response to COVID-19. The same is true for their paid and unpaid caregivers. These are among the most vulnerable people to the spread of the virus.

Ontario has not announced a disability strategy for COVID-19, and the government has not responded to repeated appeals by grassroots disability rights groups. These groups have identified a number of concerns with respect to the government’s response, including but not limited to:

* According to Ontario Health’s Clinical Triage Protocol for Major Surge in COVID pandemic, dated March 28, some people will not get critical care because of their disability. Over 200 organizations have signed an open letter calling on the government to adopt a triage protocol that respects the human rights and needs of people with disabilities.
* Attendant care for Ontarians with disabilities is also precarious given the lack of access to personal protective equipment. Social distancing is impossible between care workers and their disabled clients, so the lack of access to PPE presents a real threat to the spread of COVID-19.
* Over 330,000 children with disabilities are currently attempting to learn from home with little or no strategy or support from the Ministry of Education. We cannot assume that all families and students can easily adjust to online learning, particularly when the format itself can be a barrier.
* Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program was not declared an essential service under COVID-19, and has effectively ceased functioning. This has left thousands of disabled Ontarians without access to the crucial supports they need.

Last week, the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition convened a virtual town hall that brought together a variety of experts and disability rights organizations. They presented a number of recommendations that would help key departments, including health and education, in the fight against the virus. We urge your office to reach out to them without delay so these ministries get the best advice possible.

Ontario has a legal obligation to ensure no new barriers are created for people with disabilities, and that requires ensuring their voices are heard as our COVID-19 response continues.

In the end, Ontario will be judged by how we care for the most vulnerable among us during COVID-19. We urge you to consult experts and grassroots leaders from the disability community, and take immediate action given what you hear.

Sincerely,

Andrea Horwath Joel Harden
Leader of the Official Opposition MPP for Ottawa-Centre

Cc: Minister Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility

April 6, 2020 Letter from Ontario NDP to the Ontario Health Minister

Hon. Christine Elliott April 6, 2020
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
5th Floor, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2J3

Minister Elliott,

I understand the need to keep employees safe and take the advice of Public Health during this pandemic. Your office has shared with me that the ADP is closed. I am concerned with the impact the closure of the Assistive Devices Program office is having on families across Ontario. I would like to share a few examples with you.

In London, a palliative cancer care patient was taken home by her husband in order to decrease the occupancy rate and free up a bed at the hospital. Dave Houghton tried to re-apply to ADP to restore his wife’s grant for ostomy supplies and possibly rent/purchase a chair lift. The LHIN agreed to provide the ostomy supplies this month but supplies for next month are in limbo. Approval of funding for the needed chair lift, remains in limbo too as the ADP is closed.

In Windsor, a family needed an enteral feeding pump for the first time. They rented this from an ADP vendor. They tried to apply to ADP for funding to purchase a pump outright but the Office is closed. The LHIN paid to rent the pump for April but no one knows where funding will come from for May, since the ADP is closed.

In Barrie, 16-year old Ten Morgan needs a power wheelchair. She has an undiagnosed muscular condition that leaves her flat in bed most of the time. She is unable to hold herself upright. Her second-hand wheelchair was sized for a 7-year old so she cannot attend school as a result. Her family applied for a power wheelchair to ADP over one year ago, but a response was not received before the Office closed.

These situations create hardship for families in this stressful time. The services of the Assistive Devices Program are needed now, during the pandemic, as hospitals try to free up as many beds as possible. I know ADP has made financial arrangements so vendors are not too affected. Similar arrangements are needed for patients. Families with loved ones living with serious medical conditions have enough to deal with and they should not be left scrambling to find funding for medically necessary supplies and mobility devices because the ADP is closed.

Minister, I hope you will find a way to make the services of the ADP accessible to the families who need them.

Regards,

France Gelinas
Official Opposition Health Critic
MPP, Nickel Belt

April 9 2020 Letter to the Ontario Minister of Health from the Ontario Human Rights Commission

April 9, 2020

The Honourable Christine Elliott
Minister of Health
College Park, 5th Floor
777 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2J3
[email protected]

Dear Minister Elliott:

RE: Potential human rights issues in the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 response

I hope this finds you and your team safe and healthy. On behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), thank you for your ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OHRC is ready and willing to assist the government to proactively consider, assess and address human rights concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As you may know, last week, the OHRC released policy guidance to help Ontario adopt a human rights-based approach to pandemic management.

I am writing today to encourage the Ministry of Health (MOH) to engage with the OHRC on COVID-19 responses that raise potential human rights issues, including but not limited to: 1. MOH’s development of a “clinical triage protocol”
2. Collection and public reporting of human rights-based data related to COVID-19.

1. Clinical triage protocol

The media has recently reported that Ontario is developing a clinical triage protocol to address limited critical care capacity in anticipation of a potential major surge in COVID-19 cases. Disability rights groups have contacted the OHRC because they are concerned that such a protocol could have a disproportionate and discriminatory effect on Ontarians with disabilities.

Development of such protocols is obviously complex, raising many difficult ethical and moral questions. However, it is vitally important that any process to develop clinical triage protocols include, not only medical professionals and ethicists, but also human rights experts and representatives from vulnerable groups that may be disproportionately affected by its operation, including people with disabilities, older persons, Indigenous and racialized people, etc.

Consistent with the its Actions consistent with a human rights-based approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic, the OHRC strongly recommends that MOH establish a mechanism to ensure human rights oversight and accountability before finalizing any clinical triage protocol.

To this end, the OHRC would be pleased to support MOH by providing input on the protocol, either informally or as part of the ethics table established for the government’s coordinated COVID-19 response.

2. Human rights-based pandemic data
The OHRC is also concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic may have a disproportionate and potentially discriminatory effect on Code-protected groups. As such, MOH must collect and publicly report on human rights data to properly assess and address these impacts.

It is clear that some vulnerable groups may have a more difficult time following public health guidance around isolation and physical distancing, which may increase their risk of contracting COVID-19. These vulnerable groups include people with disabilities and addictions, Indigenous and racialized people, women and children facing domestic violence, people who do not have access to stable housing, amongst others. At the same time, people from vulnerable groups may be over-represented in essential service professions (cleaners, cashiers, construction workers etc.) and tend to be recipients of essential services themselves.

The immediate risk to vulnerable groups is amplified when one considers pre-existing health inequalities and poor health outcomes within these communities, especially and including Indigenous communities. In the United States, for example, media reports indicate that Black Americans comprise 70% of reported COVID-19 deaths in Chicago while making up only 29% of the population. In Louisiana, where Black Americans make up one-third of the population, the media reports that they represent 70% of COVID-19-related deaths.

Unfortunately, unlike many jurisdictions outside Canada, MOH’s public data on COVID-19 is not disaggregated on human rights grounds and cannot be used to identify any disparate impacts on vulnerable groups. This is a serious problem and should be immediately remedied to ensure that Ontario’s short-term and long-term response to the pandemic is effective and equitable.

The OHRC has extensive experience advising governments and other public bodies on the collective and reporting of human rights-based data, and would be pleased to assist MOH in developing the necessary protocols in the context of COVID-19.

Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss these issues further. Sincerely,

Original Signed by

Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.
Chief Commissioner

cc: Hon. Doug Downey, Attorney General
Roberto Lattanzio, Executive Director, ARCH Disability Law Centre David Lepofsky, Chair, AODA Alliance
OHRC Commissioners




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Ontario’s New Democratic Party and the Ontario Human Rights Commission Press the Ford Government to Take Substantially More Action to Address Ontarians with Disabilities’ Urgent Needs 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/

Ontario’s New Democratic Party and the Ontario Human Rights Commission Press the Ford Government to Take Substantially More Action to Address Ontarians with Disabilities’ Urgent Needs During the COVID-19 Crisis

April 22, 2020

          SUMMARY

Here are even more calls for the Ford Government to take substantially more action to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Below we set out four important recent documents showing this crisis. The first three are from the Ontario New Democratic Party, and the fourth is from the Ontario Human Rights Commission:

  1. On April 22, 2020, an NDP news release called on the Ford Government to include in a long-overdue emergency plan for people with disabilities a number of important measures, including mobile testing for people with disabilities who need to be tested for COVID-19.
  1. On April 17, 2020, NDP leader Andrea Horwath and NDP disabilities critic Joel Harden wrote to the Ford Government, combining to echo the AODA Alliance’s call for the Ford Government to create a focused plan to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities as part of its COVID-19 emergency planning. The NDP also echoed our call for the Government to consult the grassroots disability community on this. As their letter shows, the NDP was inspired to take this action by the April 7, 2020 online Virtual Public Forum on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities that was jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition. In the two weeks since that virtual public forum, it has been viewed over 2,000 times. It remains available to be viewed online, with captions and American Sign Language interpretation.
  1. In the April 6, 2020 letter from NDP health critic France Gelinas to Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott, the NDP urged the Government to re-open the shuttered Assistive Devices Program (ADP) and to treat it as an essential service for people with disabilities. The Government’s failure to do so is symptomatic of its larger and recurring failure to effectively address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during this crisis.
  1. In the April 6, 2020 letter from Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Renu Mandhane to Health Minister Christine Elliott, the Commission raised important human rights concerns with the Government’s controversial and secret March 28, 2020 medical triage protocol. Yesterday, as detailed in the AODA Alliance’s April 21, 2020 news release, the Government has walked back that protocol and agreed to consult human rights and community experts on it. We have not yet heard whether the Ford Government will include the AODA Alliance among those it will consult.

We thank and commend the NDP and the Ontario Human Rights Commission for these efforts. For more background, check out and widely share:

* The guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in the April 20, 2020 online Toronto Star, which summarizes our major COVID disability issues in one place.

* 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.

* 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 now been 447 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. That is making worse the problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been 28 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.

          MORE DETAILS

April 22, 2020 News Release from the Ontario New Democratic Party

Government must make in-home testing available for people with disabilities: NDP

Province needs a plan to meet the needs of 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities

QUEEN’S PARK — The Official Opposition is calling for the Ford government to make COVID-19 testing available at home for people with disabilities who face barriers trying to travel to testing sites.

“There are 2.6 million Ontarians living with disabilities, yet Doug Ford has not announced any plans to support them during the pandemic — despite the fact that many people with disabilities are among the most susceptible to COVID-19, and often face barriers in accessing testing and treatment,” said Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition.

“Access to testing must not discriminate based on ability,” said Joel Harden, NDP critic for Accessibility and People with Disabilities. “If we are truly all in this together, that means making sure every Ontarian who should get a test can get one.”

Harden said that for people like John Mossa, the testing system simply excludes them. Mossa has a mobility disability, and fragile health with limited lung function. When he came down with cold-like symptoms, including a cough, he felt he needed a test — but would have needed a PSW to go along with him to a hospital or assessment centre, and worried about exposing his weak system to transit staff and others along the way. Ultimately, medical professionals advised him not to get a test, because the risks were too great and supports too few.

“People with disabilities, their families, and their caregivers cannot be an afterthought in the government’s response to COVID-19,” said Harden. “We need urgent action to ensure that their needs are met during this pandemic.”

Home-based tests for people with disabilities should be delivered by workers wearing full personal protective equipment, noted Harden.

Horwath and Harden wrote to Doug Ford calling for his government to adopt a plan in consultation with experts and grassroots disability community leaders. The plan should include, but not be limited to:

  • Adopting a clinical triage protocol that respects the human rights of people with disabilities
  • Ensuring that attendant care workers who help people with disabilities in their own homes have access to personal protective equipment
  • Resources and clear guidelines to support 330,000 special education students with e-learning
  • Provide remote and distance supports to assist the families of people with developmental or intellectual disabilities living with them, to provide respite for family members during mandatory periods of isolation at home
  • Declaring the Assistive Devices Program an essential service so that no one is deprived of critical mobility or medical aides

Media contact: Jodie Shupac, 416-806-9147

Quotes

 

John Mossa, Toronto:

“There should be COVID testing in the home of people with disabilities, especially if they are symptomatic, to prevent community spread and properly treat their illness. It is an accessibility accommodation the government should provide to vulnerable Ontarians – in keeping with the AODA.”

April 17, 2020 Letter to Premier Doug Ford from the Ontario New Democratic Party

April 17, 2020

Premier Doug Ford

Room 281

Legislative Building, Queen’s Park

Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Dear Premier,

We write to you having convened an urgent discussion with disability rights groups and leaders within this important sector. We are urging your government to adopt a comprehensive plan in consultation with them that ensures people with disabilities’ needs are met during this pandemic.

There are 2.6 million people with disabilities in Ontario, and their concerns are not being properly addressed in our province’s response to COVID-19. The same is true for their paid and unpaid caregivers. These are among the most vulnerable people to the spread of the virus.

Ontario has not announced a disability strategy for COVID-19, and the government has not responded to repeated appeals by grassroots disability rights groups. These groups have identified a number of concerns with respect to the government’s response, including but not limited to:

  • Attendant care for Ontarians with disabilities is also precarious given the lack of access to personal protective equipment. Social distancing is impossible between care workers and their disabled clients, so the lack of access to PPE presents a real threat to the spread of COVID-19.
  • Over 330,000 children with disabilities are currently attempting to learn from home with little or no strategy or support from the Ministry of Education. We cannot assume that all families and students can easily adjust to online learning, particularly when the format itself can be a barrier.
  • Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program was not declared an essential service under COVID-19, and has effectively ceased functioning. This has left thousands of disabled Ontarians without access to the crucial supports they need.

Last week, the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition convened a virtual town hall that brought together a variety of experts and disability rights organizations. They presented a number of recommendations that would help key departments, including health and education, in the fight against the virus. We urge your office to reach out to them without delay so these ministries get the best advice possible.

Ontario has a legal obligation to ensure no new barriers are created for people with disabilities, and that requires ensuring their voices are heard as our COVID-19 response continues.

In the end, Ontario will be judged by how we care for the most vulnerable among us during COVID-19. We urge you to consult experts and grassroots leaders from the disability community, and take immediate action given what you hear.

Sincerely,

Andrea Horwath                                                        Joel Harden

Leader of the Official Opposition                              MPP for Ottawa-Centre

Cc: Minister Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility

April 6, 2020 Letter from Ontario NDP to the Ontario Health Minister

Hon. Christine Elliott                                                             April 6, 2020

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

5th Floor, 777 Bay Street

Toronto, Ontario M7A 2J3

Minister Elliott,

I understand the need to keep employees safe and take the advice of Public Health during this pandemic. Your office has shared with me that the ADP is closed. I am concerned with the impact the closure of the Assistive Devices Program office is having on families across Ontario. I would like to share a few examples with you.

In London, a palliative cancer care patient was taken home by her husband in order to decrease the occupancy rate and free up a bed at the hospital. Dave Houghton tried to re-apply to ADP to restore his wife’s grant for ostomy supplies and possibly rent/purchase a chair lift. The LHIN agreed to provide the ostomy supplies this month but supplies for next month are in limbo. Approval of funding for the needed chair lift, remains in limbo too as the ADP is closed.

In Windsor, a family needed an enteral feeding pump for the first time. They rented this from an ADP vendor. They tried to apply to ADP for funding to purchase a pump outright – but the Office is closed. The LHIN paid to rent the pump for April but no one knows where funding will come from for May, since the ADP is closed.

In Barrie, 16-year old Ten Morgan needs a power wheelchair. She has an undiagnosed muscular condition that leaves her flat in bed most of the time. She is unable to hold herself upright. Her second-hand wheelchair was sized for a 7-year old so she cannot attend school as a result. Her family applied for a power wheelchair to ADP over one year ago, but a response was not received before the Office closed.

These situations create hardship for families in this stressful time. The services of the Assistive Devices Program are needed now, during the pandemic, as hospitals try to free up as many beds as possible. I know ADP has made financial arrangements so vendors are not too affected. Similar arrangements are needed for patients. Families with loved ones living with serious medical conditions have enough to deal with and they should not be left scrambling to find funding for medically necessary supplies and mobility devices because the ADP is closed.

Minister, I hope you will find a way to make the services of the ADP accessible to the families who need them.

Regards,

France Gelinas

Official Opposition Health Critic

MPP, Nickel Belt

April 9 2020 Letter to the Ontario Minister of Health from the Ontario Human Rights Commission

April 9, 2020

The Honourable Christine Elliott

Minister of Health

College Park, 5th Floor

777 Bay Street

Toronto, Ontario

M7A 2J3

[email protected]

Dear Minister Elliott:

RE: Potential human rights issues in the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 response

I hope this finds you and your team safe and healthy. On behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), thank you for your ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OHRC is ready and willing to assist the government to proactively consider, assess and address human rights concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As you may know, last week, the OHRC released policy guidance to help Ontario adopt a human rights-based approach to pandemic management.

I am writing today to encourage the Ministry of Health (MOH) to engage with the OHRC on COVID-19 responses that raise potential human rights issues, including but not limited to:

  1. MOH’s development of a “clinical triage protocol”
  2. Collection and public reporting of human rights-based data related to COVID-19.
  1. Clinical triage protocol

The media has recently reported that Ontario is developing a clinical triage protocol to address limited critical care capacity in anticipation of a potential major surge in COVID-19 cases. Disability rights groups have contacted the OHRC because they are concerned that such a protocol could have a disproportionate and discriminatory effect on Ontarians with disabilities.

Development of such protocols is obviously complex, raising many difficult ethical and moral questions. However, it is vitally important that any process to develop clinical triage protocols include, not only medical professionals and ethicists, but also human rights experts and representatives from vulnerable groups that may be disproportionately affected by its operation, including people with disabilities, older persons, Indigenous and racialized people, etc.

 

Consistent with the its Actions consistent with a human rights-based approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic, the OHRC strongly recommends that MOH establish a mechanism to ensure human rights oversight and accountability before finalizing any clinical triage protocol.

To this end, the OHRC would be pleased to support MOH by providing input on the protocol, either informally or as part of the ethics table established for the government’s coordinated COVID-19 response.

  1. Human rights-based pandemic data

The OHRC is also concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic may have a disproportionate and potentially discriminatory effect on Code-protected groups. As such, MOH must collect and publicly report on human rights data to properly assess and address these impacts.

It is clear that some vulnerable groups may have a more difficult time following public health guidance around isolation and physical distancing, which may increase their risk of contracting COVID-19. These vulnerable groups include people with disabilities and addictions, Indigenous and racialized people, women and children facing domestic violence, people who do not have access to stable housing, amongst others. At the same time, people from vulnerable groups may be over-represented in essential service professions (cleaners, cashiers, construction workers etc.) and tend to be recipients of essential services themselves.

The immediate risk to vulnerable groups is amplified when one considers pre-existing health inequalities and poor health outcomes within these communities, especially and including Indigenous communities. In the United States, for example, media reports indicate that Black Americans comprise 70% of reported COVID-19 deaths in Chicago while making up only 29% of the population. In Louisiana, where Black Americans make up one-third of the population, the media reports that they represent 70% of COVID-19-related deaths.

Unfortunately, unlike many jurisdictions outside Canada, MOH’s public data on COVID-19 is not disaggregated on human rights grounds and cannot be used to identify any disparate impacts on vulnerable groups. This is a serious problem and should be immediately remedied to ensure that Ontario’s short-term and long-term response to the pandemic is effective and equitable.

The OHRC has extensive experience advising governments and other public bodies on the collective and reporting of human rights-based data, and would be pleased to assist MOH in developing the necessary protocols in the context of COVID-19.

Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss these issues further.

Sincerely,

Original Signed by

Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.

Chief Commissioner

cc:        Hon. Doug Downey, Attorney General

Roberto Lattanzio, Executive Director, ARCH Disability Law Centre

David Lepofsky, Chair, AODA Alliance

OHRC Commissioners



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