Ford Government Finally Makes Public the Initial Recommendations by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee on How to Make Ontario Schools Accessible for Students with Disabilities


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

June 1, 2021

At long last, the Ford Government today belatedly made public the initial or draft recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include. The Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee submitted these initial or draft recommendations to the Government over two and a half months ago.

These will be available online for the public to submit feedback up to September 2, 2021, according to the Government announcement. That feedback will be sent to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee is then required to review that feedback and take it into account as it works to finalize its recommendations for the Government.

In addition to finding them on the Ford Government’s website, you can go to the AODA Alliance’s website to find the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Committee-Approved-K-12-Initial-Recommendations-Report-Submission-2021.docx In addition to finding it on the Government’s website, you can also go to the AODA Alliance website to download the survey that the Government created and is inviting the public to answer to give feedback on these draft recommendations at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/K-12-Initial-Recommendations-Report-Survey-Word-Version.docx

In contravention of s, 10(1) of the AODA, the Ford Government has still not publicly posted the initial or draft recommendations of the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee. On May 7, 2021 AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky had to resort to filing a court application, arguing that the Ford Government is in breach of its duty to post the initial or final recommendations it receives from these Standards Development Committees upon receiving them. You can read more about that court application in the May 7, 2021 AODA Alliance Update.

The Government finally posted the initial recommendations of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee today, just two days before an upcoming conference call, scheduled for June 3, 2021 with a Superior Court judge. Lepofsky requested that call to ask that the Court schedule a hearing in court on his application as soon as possible on an urgent or expedited basis.

We will later have much to say about these initial or draft recommendations. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. He took active part in the development of these initial recommendations. Lepofsky believes that the members of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee with whom he worked did an excellent job of undertaking the most thorough top-to-bottom review of Ontario’s education system in decades, if not ever, from the perspective of students with disabilities. He shares the committee’s eagerness for public feedback to help with the finalization of these recommendations.

The AODA Alliance welcomes your feedback on these initial or draft recommendations. To assist us in preparing a written brief to submit to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, send your feedback to us at [email protected]

We want all Standards Development Committees that are now underway to get their finalized recommendations completed, submitted to the Ford Government, and posted publicly well before the Ontario Election campaign begins next spring. We want to be able to press all major political parties and candidates for commitments to detailed reforms in Ontario’s education and health care systems, to make them barrier-free for people with disabilities. Any delay in posting a Standards Development Committee’s initial or final recommendations hurts people with disabilities, delays progress on accessibility, and makes it harder for us to effectively avail ourselves of the democratic process during a provincial election.

Parents of students with disabilities can benefit from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s captioned online video, already seen over 2,000 times. It offers practical tips on how to advocate for students with disabilities in the school system. This video fits well within the focus of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations.

For more background on the AODA Alliances multi-year campaign to tear down the barriers facing students with disabilities at all levels of Ontario’s education system, check out the AODA Alliance website’s education page.

You can also read the AODA Alliance’s October 10, 2019 Framework for what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include.

In honour of this week, National AccessAbility Week, read the report card that the AODA Alliance made public on the Ford Government’s performance on disability accessibility issues during its first three years in office. The Ford Government was awarded an “F” grade.




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Ford Government Finally Makes Public the Initial Recommendations by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee on How to Make Ontario Schools Accessible for Students 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/

Ford Government Finally Makes Public the Initial Recommendations by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee on How to Make Ontario Schools Accessible for Students with Disabilities

June 1, 2021

At long last, the Ford Government today belatedly made public the initial or draft recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include. The Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee submitted these initial or draft recommendations to the Government over two and a half months ago.

These will be available online for the public to submit feedback up to September 2, 2021, according to the Government announcement. That feedback will be sent to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee is then required to review that feedback and take it into account as it works to finalize its recommendations for the Government.

In addition to finding them on the Ford Government’s website, you can go to the AODA Alliance’s website to find the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Committee-Approved-K-12-Initial-Recommendations-Report-Submission-2021.docx

In addition to finding it on the Government’s website, you can also go to the AODA Alliance website to download the survey that the Government created and is inviting the public to answer to give feedback on these draft recommendations at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/K-12-Initial-Recommendations-Report-Survey-Word-Version.docx

In contravention of s, 10(1) of the AODA, the Ford Government has still not publicly posted the initial or draft recommendations of the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee. On May 7, 2021 AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky had to resort to filing a court application, arguing that the Ford Government is in breach of its duty to post the initial or final recommendations it receives from these Standards Development Committees upon receiving them. You can read more about that court application in the May 7, 2021 AODA Alliance Update.

The Government finally posted the initial recommendations of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee today, just two days before an upcoming conference call, scheduled for June 3, 2021 with a Superior Court judge. Lepofsky requested that call to ask that the Court schedule a hearing in court on his application as soon as possible on an urgent or expedited basis.

We will later have much to say about these initial or draft recommendations. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. He took active part in the development of these initial recommendations. Lepofsky believes that the members of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee with whom he worked did an excellent job of undertaking the most thorough top-to-bottom review of Ontario’s education system in decades, if not ever, from the perspective of students with disabilities. He shares the committee’s eagerness for public feedback to help with the finalization of these recommendations.

The AODA Alliance welcomes your feedback on these initial or draft recommendations. To assist us in preparing a written brief to submit to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, send your feedback to us at [email protected].

We want all Standards Development Committees that are now underway to get their finalized recommendations completed, submitted to the Ford Government, and posted publicly well before the Ontario Election campaign begins next spring. We want to be able to press all major political parties and candidates for commitments to detailed reforms in Ontario’s education and health care systems, to make them barrier-free for people with disabilities. Any delay in posting a Standards Development Committee’s initial or final recommendations hurts people with disabilities, delays progress on accessibility, and makes it harder for us to effectively avail ourselves of the democratic process during a provincial election.

Parents of students with disabilities can benefit from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky‘s captioned online video, already seen over 2,000 times. It offers practical tips on how to advocate for students with disabilities in the school system. This video fits well within the focus of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations.

For more background on the AODA Alliances multi-year campaign to tear down the barriers facing students with disabilities at all levels of Ontario’s education system, check out the AODA Alliance website’s education page.

You can also read the AODA Alliance’s October 10, 2019 Framework for what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include.

In honour of this week, National AccessAbility Week, read the report card that the AODA Alliance made public on the Ford Government’s performance on disability accessibility issues during its first three years in office. The Ford Government was awarded an “F” grade.



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In a Detailed Report Card Delivered During National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Gets a Blistering “F” Grade for Its Three Year Record Since Taking Office on Action to Make Ontario Accessible for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In a Detailed Report Card Delivered During National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Gets a Blistering “F” Grade for Its Three Year Record Since Taking Office on Action to Make Ontario Accessible for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

May 31, 2021 Toronto: During National AccessAbility Week, the non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance releases a report card (set out below) on the Ford Government’s record for tearing down the barriers that people with disabilities face, awarding the Government an “F” grade.

When he was campaigning for votes in the 2018 election, Doug Ford said that our issues “are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus” and that:

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

Yet three years after taking office, people with disabilities are no better off, and in some important ways, are worse off, according to today’s new report card. Passed unanimously in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to lead this province to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Ontario is nowhere near that goal with under four years left. The Ford Government has no effective plan to meet that deadline.

This report card’s key findings include:

  1. The Ford Government has no comprehensive plan of action on accessibility, 851 days after receiving the Report of David Onley’s AODA Independent Review.
  1. The Government has not ensured that public money will never be used to create new accessibility barriers.
  1. The Ford Government has failed to enact or strengthen any accessibility standards under the AODA.

 

  1. The Ford Government has announced no new action to effectively ensure the accessibility of public transportation.

 

  1. The Ford Government imposed substantial and harmful delays in the work of Five important AODA Standards Development Committees that was underway before the Government took office.

 

  1. The Ford Government has repeatedly violated its mandatory duty under the AODA to make public the initial or final recommendations of a Government-appointed Standards Development Committee “upon receiving” those recommendations.

 

  1. The Ford Government has failed for 3 years to fulfil its mandatory duty to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard.

 

  1. The Ford Government has made public no detailed plan for effective AODA enforcement.

 

  1. In a waste of public money, the Ford Government diverted 1.3 million dollars into the Rick Hansen Foundation’s controversial private accessibility certification process. This has resulted in no disability barriers being removed or prevented.

 

  1. The Ford Government unfairly burdened Ontarians with disabilities with having to fight against new safety dangers being created by municipalities allowing electric scooters.

 

  1. The Ford Government’s rhetoric has been harmfully diluting the AODA’s goal of full accessibility.

 

  1. The Ford Government has given public voice to false and troubling stereotypes About disability accessibility.

 

  1. The Ford Government has failed to effectively address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

  1. The lives of vulnerable Ontarians with disabilities are endangered by the Ford Government’s secret plans for critical care triage during the COVID-19 pandemic, If hospitals cannot serve All critical care Patients.

“We keep offering the Ford Government constructive ideas, but too often, they are disregarded,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance which campaigns for accessibility for people with disabilities. “Premier Ford hasn’t even met with us, and has turned down every request for a meeting.”

AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has had to resort to a court application (now pending) to get the Ford Government to fulfil one of its important duties under the AODA, and a Freedom of Information application to try to force the Ford Government to release its secret plans for critical care triage if the COVID-19pandemic worsens, requiring rationing of critical care.

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

Twitter: @aodaalliance

 A Report Card on the Ford Government’s Record, After Three Years in Office, on Achieving Disability Accessibility

May 31, 2021

Prepared by the AODA Alliance

 Introduction

This year’s National AccessAbility Week takes place when Ontario’s Ford Government is completing its third year of a four year term in office. This is an especially appropriate time to take stock of how well the Ford Government is doing at advancing the goal of making Ontario accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, the deadline which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act enshrines in Ontario law.

It is with a strong sense of frustration that we award the Ford Government a failing “F” grade for its record on this issue.

The Ontario Public Service includes quite a number of public officials who are deeply and profoundly dedicated to the goal of tearing down barriers impeding people with disabilities, and preventing the creation of new disability barriers. They have commendably found quite a number of willing partners within the disability community (both individuals and disability organizations), and among obligated organizations in the public and private sectors. These partners are also committed to the goal of accessibility, and have in their spheres of influenced tried to move things forward. To all these people we and people with disabilities generally are indebted.

For example, several Standards Development Committees have been appointed under the AODA to craft recommendations on what enforceable AODA accessibility standards should include to be strong and effective. They have invested many hours, trying to come up with workable recommendations.

As well, over the past three years, the Ontario Government has continued to operate voluntary programs that have existed for years to contribute to the goal of accessibility. The Ford Government has also, we believe, improved things by freeing its Standards Development Committees from excessive involvement by Public Service staff. This has enabled those staff to support the work of those committees, while leaving them free to do their own work, devising recommendations for the Government.

However, all of that cannot succeed in bringing Ontario to the goal of an accessible province by 2025, without strong leadership by the Ontario Government and those who steer it. This has been the conclusion of three successive Independent Reviews, conducted under the AODA, by Charles Beer in 2010, by Mayo Moran in 2014 and by David Onley in 2018.

Over the past three years, we regret that that leadership has continued to be lacking. The result is that Ontario is falling further and further behind the goal of an accessible province by 2025. Less and less time is available to correct that.

This report details several of the key ways that the Ontario Government has fallen far short of what Ontarians with disabilities need. As the Government’s mandatory annual report on its efforts on accessibility back in 2019 reveals, the Government’s prime focus has been on trying to raise awareness about accessibility. As has been the Ontario Government’s practice for years, that 2019 annual report was belatedly posted on line on the eve of the 2021 National AccessAbility Week, two years after many of the events reported in it.

Decades of experience, leading to the enactment of the AODA in 2005, has proven over and over that such awareness-raising and voluntary measures won’t get Ontario to the goal of accessibility by 2025, or indeed, ever. As always, the AODA Alliance, as a non-partisan coalition, remains ready, willing, able, and eager to work with the Government, and to offer constructive ideas on how it can change course and fulfil the AODA’s dream that the Legislature unanimously endorsed in May 2005.

1. The Ford Government Has No Comprehensive Plan of Action on Accessibility, 851 Days After Receiving the Report of David Onley’s AODA Independent Review

We have been urging the Ford Government to develop a detailed plan on accessibility since shortly after it took office, to lay out how it will get Ontario to the AODA’s mandatory goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. It has never done so.

In December 2018, the Ford Government said it was awaiting the final report of former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, before deciding what it would do regarding accessibility for people with disabilities. On January 31, 2019, the Government received the final report of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Minister for Accessibility Raymond Cho publicly said on April 10, 2019 that David Onley did a “marvelous job.”

The Onley report found that Ontario is still full of “soul-crushing” barriers impeding people with disabilities. It concluded that progress on accessibility has taken place at a “glacial pace.” It determined that that the goal of accessibility by 2025 is nowhere in sight, and that specific new Government actions, spelled out in the report, are needed.

However, in the 851 days since receiving the Onley Report, the Ford Government has not made public a detailed plan to implement that report’s findings and recommendations. The Government has staged some media events with the Accessibility Minister to make announcements, but little if anything new was ever announced. The Government repeated pledges to lead by example on accessibility, and to take an all-of-Government approach to accessibility. But these pledges were backed by nothing new to make them mean anything more than when previous governments and ministers engaged in similar rhetorical flourishes.

2. The Government Has Not Ensured that Public Money Will Never Be Used to Create New Accessibility Barriers

In its three years in office, we have seen no effective action by the Ford Government to ensure that public money is never used to create new disability barriers or to perpetuate existing barriers. The Ontario Government spends billions of public dollars on infrastructure and on procuring goods, services and facilities, without ensuring that no new barriers are thereby created, and that no existing barriers are thereby perpetuated.

As but one example, last summer, the Ford Government announced that it would spend a half a billion dollars on the construction of new schools and on additions to existing schools. However, it announced no action to ensure that those new construction projects are fully accessible to students, teachers, school staff and parents with disabilities. The Ontario Ministry of Education has no effective standards or policies in place to ensure this accessibility, and has announced no plans to create any.

3. The Ford Government Has Enacted or Strengthened No Accessibility Standards

In its three years in power, the Ford Government has enacted no new AODA accessibility standards. It has revised no existing accessibility standards to strengthen them. It has not begun the process of developing any new accessibility standards that were not already under development when the Ford Government took office in June 2018.

As one major example, the Ford Government has not committed to develop and enact a Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA, to ensure that the built environment becomes accessible to people with disabilities. No AODA Built Environment Accessibility Standard now exists. None is under development.

This failure to act is especially striking for two reasons. First, the last two AODA Independent Reviews, the 2014 Independent Review by Mayo Moran and the 2019 Independent Review by David Onley, each identified the disability barriers in the built environment as a priority. They both called for new action under the AODA. Second, when he was seeking the public’s votes in the 2018 Ontario election, Doug Ford made specific commitments regarding the disability barriers in the built environment. Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out his party’s election commitments on disability accessibility, included this:

  1. a) “Your issues are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus and Candidates, which is why they will play an outstanding role in shaping policy for the Ontario PC Party to assist Ontarians in need.”
  1. b) “Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA in 2005 was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities.”
  1. c) “Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.”
  1. d) “This is why we’re disappointed the current government has not kept its promise with respect to accessibility standards. An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards.

Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions. We need Ontario’s design professionals, such as architects, to receive substantially improved professional training on disability and accessibility.”

4. The Ford Government Has Announced No New Action to Effectively Ensure the Accessibility of Public Transportation

Just before the 2018 Ontario election, the Ontario Government received the final recommendations for reforms to the Transportation Accessibility Standard from the AODA Transportation Standards Development committee. Since then, and over the ensuing three years in office, the Ford Government announced no action on those recommendations. It has not publicly invited any input or consultation on those recommendations. At the same time, the Ford Government has made major announcements about the future of public transit infrastructure in Ontario. As such, barriers in public transportation remained while the risk remains that new ones will continue to be created.

 5. The Ford Government Imposed Substantial and Harmful Delays in the Work of Five Important AODA Standards Development Committees that was Underway Before the Government Took Office

When the Ford Government won the 2018 Ontario election, the work of five AODA Standards Development Committees were all frozen, pending the new Minister for Accessibility getting a briefing. Any delay in the work of those committees would further slow the AODA’s sluggish implementation documented in the Onley Report.

Those Standards Development Committees remained frozen for months, long after the minister needed time to be briefed. We had to campaign for months to get that freeze lifted.

Over four months later, in November 2018, the Ford Government belatedly lifted its freeze on the work of the Employment Standards Development Committee and the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. However it did not then also lift the freeze on the work of the three other Standards Development Committees, those working on proposals for accessibility standards in health care and education.

We had to keep up the pressure for months. The Ford Government waited until March 7, 2019 before it announced that it was lifting its freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee and the two Education Standards Development Committees. It was as long as half a year after that announcement that those three Standards Development Committees finally got back to work.

In the meantime, the many unfair disability barriers in Ontario’s education system and Ontario’s health care system remained in place, while new ones continued to be created. The final enactment of new accessibility standards in the areas of health care and education was delayed commensurately, as was the enactment of revisions to strengthen Ontario’s 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard and Ontario’s 2011 Employment Accessibility Standard.

6. The Ford Government Has Repeatedly Violated Its Mandatory Duty Under the AODA to Make Public the Initial or Final Recommendations of a Government-Appointed Standards Development Committee “Upon Receiving” Those Recommendations

Section 10(1) of the AODA requires the Government to make public the initial or final recommendations that it receives from a Standards Development Committee, appointed under the AODA “upon receiving” those recommendations. The Ontario Government under successive governments and ministers has wrongly taken the approach that it can delay making those recommendations public for months despite the AODA‘s clear, mandatory and unambiguous language.

The Ford Government has certainly taken this troubling approach. It delayed some two years before making public the final recommendations of the Employment Standards Development Committee earlier this year. It delayed some six months before making public the final recommendations of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee last year. It delayed over five months before making public the initial recommendations of the Health Care Standards Development Committee earlier this month. It has delayed over two months so far in making public the initial recommendations of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee.

As a result, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has brought a court application, now pending, to seek an order compelling the Ford Government to obey the AODA. This is especially disturbing, because the Government is leading by such a poor example when it comes to the AODA. Its delay in complying with s. 10 of the AODA slows the already-slow process of developing and enacting or revising accessibility standards under the AODA.

7. The Ford Government Has for 3 Years Failed to Fulfil Its Mandatory Duty to Appoint A Standards Development Committee to Review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard

The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard by the end of 2017. Neither the previous Wynne Government nor the current Ford Government have fulfilled this legal duty. This is a mandatory AODA requirement.

The Ford Government has had three years in office to learn about this duty and to fulfil it. We flagged it for the Government very soon after it took office in 2018.

8. The Ford Government Has Made Public No Detailed Plan for Effective AODA Enforcement

During its three years in office, the Ford Government has announced no public plan to substantially strengthen the AODA’s weak enforcement. Three years ago, the Ford Government inherited the previous McGuinty Government’s and Wynne Government’s multi-year failure to effectively and vigourously enforce the AODA. What little enforcement that took place fell far short of what people with disabilities needed, as is confirmed in both the 2015 Moran Report and the 2019 Onley Report. The failure to effectively enforce the AODA has contributed to Ontario falling so far behind the goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

 

9. In a Waste of Public Money, the Ford Government Diverted 1.3 Million Dollars into the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Controversial Private Accessibility Certification Process

The only significant new action that the Ford Government has announced on accessibility over its first three years in office was its announcement over two years ago in the April 11, 2019 Ontario Budget that it would spend 1.3 million public dollars over two years to have the Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification process “certify” some 250 buildings, belonging to business or the public sector, for accessibility. In two years, this has not been shown to lead to the removal or prevention of a single barrier against people with disabilities anywhere in the built environment. It has predictably been a waste of public money.

The Ford Government did not consult the AODA Alliance or, to our knowledge, the disability community, before embarking on this wasteful project. It ignored serious concerns with spending public money on such a private accessibility certification process. These concerns have been public for well over five years. The Ford Government gave no public reasons for rejecting these concerns.

A private accessibility certification risks misleading the public, including people with disabilities. It also risks misleading the organization that seeks this so-called certification. It “certifies” nothing.

A private organization might certify a building as accessible, and yet people with disabilities may well find that the building itself, or the services offered in the building, still have serious accessibility problems. Such a certification provides no defence to an accessibility complaint or proceeding under the AODA, under the Ontario Building Code, under a municipal bylaw, under the Ontario Human Rights Code, or under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If an organization gets a good -level accessibility certification, it may think they have done all they need to do on accessibility. The public, including people with disabilities, and design professionals may be misled to think that this is a model of accessibility to be emulated, and that it is a place that will be easy to fully access. This can turn out not to be the case, especially if the assessor uses the Rick Hansen Foundation’s insufficient standard to assess accessibility, and/or if it does not do an accurate job of assessing the building and/or if the assessor’s only training is the inadequate short training that the Rick Hansen Foundation created.

For example, the Ford Government got the Rick Hansen Foundation to certify as accessible the huge New Toronto Courthouse now under construction. Yet we have shown that its plans are replete with serious accessibility problems. The Rick Hansen Foundation’s assessor never contacted the AODA Alliance to find out about our serious concerns with the courthouse’s design before giving it a rating of “accessible.”

The Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification process lacks much-needed public accountability. The public has no way to know if the private accessibility assessor is making accurate assessments. It is not subject to Freedom of Information laws. It operates behind closed doors. It lacks the kind of public accountability that applies to a government audit or inspection or other enforcement. For more details on the problems with private accessibility certification processes, read the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 brief on the problems with publicly funding any private accessibility certification process.

10. The Ford Government Unfairly Burdened Ontarians with Disabilities with Having to Fight Against New Barriers Being Created by Municipalities Allowing Electric Scooters

It is bad enough that the Ford Government did too little in its first three years in office to tear down the many existing barriers that impede people with disabilities. It is even worse that the Government took action that will create new disability barriers, and against which people with disabilities must organize to battle at the municipal level.

When the Ford Government took office in June 2018, it was illegal to ride electric scooters (e-scooters) in public places. In January 2019, over the strenuous objection of Ontario’s disability community, the Ford Government passed a new regulation. It lets each municipality permit the use of e-scooters in public places, if they wish. It did not require municipalities to protect people with disabilities from the dangers that e-scooters pose to them.

Silent, high-speed e-scooters racing towards pedestrians at over 20 KPH, ridden by an unlicensed, untrained, uninsured joy-riders, endanger people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. Leaving e-scooters strewn all over in public places, as happens in other cities that permit them, creates physical barriers to people using wheelchairs and walkers. They create tripping hazards for people with vision loss.

Torontonians with disabilities had to mount a major campaign to convince Toronto City Council to reject the idea of allowing e-scooters. They were up against a feeding-frenzy of well-funded and well-connected corporate lobbyists, the lobbyists who clearly hold sway with the Ontario Premier’s office.

Unlike Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor have allowed e-scooters, disregarding the danger they now pose for people with disabilities. Some other Ontario cities are considering allowing them.

Thanks to the Ford Government, people with disabilities must now campaign against e-scooters, city by city. This is a huge, unfair burden that people with disabilities did not need, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a cruel irony that the Ford Government unleashed the danger of personal injuries by e-scooters at the same time as it has said it wants to reduce the number of concussions in Ontario.

11. The Ford Government’s Rhetoric Has Been Harmfully Diluting the AODA’s Goal of Full Accessibility

A core feature of the AODA is that it requires Ontario become “accessible” to people with disabilities by 2025. It does not merely say that Ontario should become “more accessible” by that deadline.

Yet, the Ford Government too often only talks about making Ontario more accessible. In fairness, the previous Ontario Liberal Government under Premier Dalton McGuinty and later Premier Kathleen Wynne too often did the same.

This dilutes the goal of the AODA, for which people with disabilities fought so hard for a decade. It hurts people with disabilities. It is no doubt used to try to lower expectations and over-inflate any accomplishments.

 

12. The Ford Government Has Given Public Voice to False Troubling Stereotypes About Disability Accessibility

 

Two years ago, the Ford Government publicly voiced very troubling and harmful stereotypes about the AODA and disability accessibility during National AccessAbility Week.

In 2019, during National AccessAbility Week, NDP MPP Joel Harden proposed a that the Legislature pass a resolution that called for the Government to bring forward a plan in response to the Onley Report. The resolution was worded in benign and non-partisan words, which in key ways tracked Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance. The proposed resolution stated:

“That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should release a plan of action on accessibility in response to David Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.”

Premier Ford had every good reason to support this proposed resolution, as we explained in the June 10, 2019 AODA Alliance Update. Yet, as described in detail in the June 11, 2019 AODA Alliance Update, the Doug Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature to defeat this resolution on May 30, 2019, right in the middle of National Access Abilities Week.

The speeches by Conservative MPPs in the Legislature on the Government’s behalf, in opposition to that motion, voiced false and harmful stereotypes about disability accessibility. Those statements in effect called into serious question the Ford Government’s commitment to the effective implementation and enforcement of the AODA. They denigrated the creation and enforcement of AODA accessibility standards as red tape that threatened to imperil businesses and hurt people with disabilities.

13. The Ford Government Has Failed to Effectively Address the Urgent Needs of Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

All of the foregoing would be enough in ordinary times to merit the “F” grade which the Ford Government is here awarded. However, its treatment of people with disabilities and their accessibility needs during the COVID-19 pandemic makes that grade all the more deserved.

In the earliest weeks, the Government deserved a great deal of leeway for responding to the pandemic, because it was understandably caught off guard, as was the world, by the enormity of this nightmare. However, even well after the initial shock period when the pandemic hit and for the year or more since then, the Ford Government has systemically failed to effectively address the distinctive and heightened urgent needs of people with disabilities in the pandemic.

People with disabilities were foreseeably exposed to disproportionately contract COVID-19, to suffer its worst hardships and to die from it. Yet too often the Government took a failed “one size fits all” approach to its emergency planning, that failed to address the urgent needs of people with disabilities. This issue has preoccupied the work of the AODA Alliance and many other disability organizations over the past 14 months.

Two of the areas where the Government most obviously failed were in health care and education. This is especially inexcusable since the Government had the benefit of a Health Care Standards Development Committee, a K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and a Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee to give the Government ideas and advice throughout the pandemic. The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee delivered a detailed package of recommendations for the pandemic response four months into the pandemic. Yet those recommendations have largely if not totally gone unimplemented.

The Government repeatedly left it to each school board, college, university, and health care provider to each separately figure out what disability barriers had arisen during the pandemic, and how to remove and prevent those barriers. This is a predictable formula for wasteful duplication of effort, for increased costs and workloads, all in the middle of a pandemic.

For example, the Ford Government largely left it to each frontline teacher and principal to figure out how to accommodate the recurring needs of students with different disabilities during distance learning. The Government relied on TVO as a major partner in delivering distance learning to school students, even though TVO’s distance learning offerings have accessibility barriers that are unforgivable at any time, and especially during a pandemic.

As another example, the Ford Government did not properly plan to ensure that the process for booking and arranging a COVID-19 vaccine was disability-accessible. There is no specific accessible booking hotline to help people with disabilities navigate the booking process from beginning to end.

There is no assurance that drug stores or others through whom vaccines can be booked have accessible websites. We have received complaints that the Government’s own online booking portal has accessibility problems. Arranging for a barrier-free vaccination for People with Disabilities is even harder than the public is finding for just booking a vaccination for those with no disabilities.

14. The Lives of Vulnerable People with Disabilities are Endangered by the Ford Government’s Secret Plans for Critical Care Triage During the COVID-19 Pandemic, If Hospitals Cannot Serve All Critical Care Patients

The AODA Alliance, working together with other disability organizations, has also had to devote a great deal of effort to try to combat the danger that vulnerable people with disabilities would face disability discrimination in access to life-saving critical care if the pandemic overloads hospitals, leading to critical care triage. The Ford Government has created new disability barriers by allowing clear disability discrimination to be entrenched in Ontario’s critical care triage protocol. Even though formal critical care triage has not yet been directed, there is a real danger that it has occurred on the front lines without proper public accountability e.g. by ambulance crews declining to offer critical care to some patients at roadside, when called via 911.

The Ford Government has allowed a concerted disinformation campaign to be led by those who designed the Ontario critical care triage protocol, and who are falsely claiming that there is no disability discrimination in that protocol.

Further Background

Further background on all of the issues addressed in this report card can be found on the AODA Alliance’s web site. It has separate pages, linked to its home page, addressing such topics as accessibility issues in transportation, health care, education, information and communication, the built environment, AODA enforcement, and disability issues arising during the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. Follow @aodaalliance



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In a Detailed Report Card Delivered During National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Gets a Blistering “F” Grade for Its Three Year Record Since Taking Office on Action to Make Ontario Accessible for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities


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

May 31, 2021 Toronto: During National AccessAbility Week, the non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance releases a report card (set out below) on the Ford Government’s record for tearing down the barriers that people with disabilities face, awarding the Government an “F” grade.

When he was campaigning for votes in the 2018 election, Doug Ford said that our issues “are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus” and that:

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

Yet three years after taking office, people with disabilities are no better off, and in some important ways, are worse off, according to today’s new report card. Passed unanimously in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to lead this province to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Ontario is nowhere near that goal with under four years left. The Ford Government has no effective plan to meet that deadline. This report card’s key findings include:

1. The Ford Government has no comprehensive plan of action on accessibility, 851 days after receiving the Report of David Onley’s AODA Independent Review.

2. The Government has not ensured that public money will never be used to create new accessibility barriers.

3. The Ford Government has failed to enact or strengthen any accessibility standards under the AODA.

4. The Ford Government has announced no new action to effectively ensure the accessibility of public transportation.

5. The Ford Government imposed substantial and harmful delays in the work of Five important AODA Standards Development Committees that was underway before the Government took office.

6. The Ford Government has repeatedly violated its mandatory duty under the AODA to make public the initial or final recommendations of a Government-appointed Standards Development Committee “upon receiving” those recommendations.

7. The Ford Government has failed for 3 years to fulfil its mandatory duty to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard.

8. The Ford Government has made public no detailed plan for effective AODA enforcement.

9. In a waste of public money, the Ford Government diverted 1.3 million dollars into the Rick Hansen Foundation’s controversial private accessibility certification process. This has resulted in no disability barriers being removed or prevented.

10. The Ford Government unfairly burdened Ontarians with disabilities with having to fight against new safety dangers being created by municipalities allowing electric scooters.

11. The Ford Government’s rhetoric has been harmfully diluting the AODA’s goal of full accessibility.

12. The Ford Government has given public voice to false and troubling stereotypes About disability accessibility.

13. The Ford Government has failed to effectively address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

14. The lives of vulnerable Ontarians with disabilities are endangered by the Ford Government’s secret plans for critical care triage during the COVID-19 pandemic, If hospitals cannot serve All critical care Patients.

“We keep offering the Ford Government constructive ideas, but too often, they are disregarded,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance which campaigns for accessibility for people with disabilities. “Premier Ford hasn’t even met with us, and has turned down every request for a meeting.”

AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has had to resort to a court application (now pending) to get the Ford Government to fulfil one of its important duties under the AODA, and a Freedom of Information application to try to force the Ford Government to release its secret plans for critical care triage if the COVID-19pandemic worsens, requiring rationing of critical care.

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

A Report Card on the Ford Government’s Record, After Three Years in Office, on Achieving Disability Accessibility

May 31, 2021

Prepared by the AODA Alliance

Introduction

This year’s National AccessAbility Week takes place when Ontario’s Ford Government is completing its third year of a four year term in office. This is an especially appropriate time to take stock of how well the Ford Government is doing at advancing the goal of making Ontario accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, the deadline which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act enshrines in Ontario law.

It is with a strong sense of frustration that we award the Ford Government a failing “F” grade for its record on this issue.

The Ontario Public Service includes quite a number of public officials who are deeply and profoundly dedicated to the goal of tearing down barriers impeding people with disabilities, and preventing the creation of new disability barriers. They have commendably found quite a number of willing partners within the disability community (both individuals and disability organizations), and among obligated organizations in the public and private sectors. These partners are also committed to the goal of accessibility, and have in their spheres of influenced tried to move things forward. To all these people we and people with disabilities generally are indebted.

For example, several Standards Development Committees have been appointed under the AODA to craft recommendations on what enforceable AODA accessibility standards should include to be strong and effective. They have invested many hours, trying to come up with workable recommendations.

As well, over the past three years, the Ontario Government has continued to operate voluntary programs that have existed for years to contribute to the goal of accessibility. The Ford Government has also, we believe, improved things by freeing its Standards Development Committees from excessive involvement by Public Service staff. This has enabled those staff to support the work of those committees, while leaving them free to do their own work, devising recommendations for the Government.

However, all of that cannot succeed in bringing Ontario to the goal of an accessible province by 2025, without strong leadership by the Ontario Government and those who steer it. This has been the conclusion of three successive Independent Reviews, conducted under the AODA, by Charles Beer in 2010, by Mayo Moran in 2014 and by David Onley in 2018.

Over the past three years, we regret that that leadership has continued to be lacking. The result is that Ontario is falling further and further behind the goal of an accessible province by 2025. Less and less time is available to correct that.

This report details several of the key ways that the Ontario Government has fallen far short of what Ontarians with disabilities need. As the Government’s mandatory annual report on its efforts on accessibility back in 2019 reveals, the Government’s prime focus has been on trying to raise awareness about accessibility. As has been the Ontario Government’s practice for years, that 2019 annual report was belatedly posted on line on the eve of the 2021 National AccessAbility Week, two years after many of the events reported in it.

Decades of experience, leading to the enactment of the AODA in 2005, has proven over and over that such awareness-raising and voluntary measures won’t get Ontario to the goal of accessibility by 2025, or indeed, ever. As always, the AODA Alliance, as a non-partisan coalition, remains ready, willing, able, and eager to work with the Government, and to offer constructive ideas on how it can change course and fulfil the AODA’s dream that the Legislature unanimously endorsed in May 2005.

1. The Ford Government Has No Comprehensive Plan of Action on Accessibility, 851 Days After Receiving the Report of David Onley’s AODA Independent Review

We have been urging the Ford Government to develop a detailed plan on accessibility since shortly after it took office, to lay out how it will get Ontario to the AODA’s mandatory goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. It has never done so.

In December 2018, the Ford Government said it was awaiting the final report of former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, before deciding what it would do regarding accessibility for people with disabilities. On January 31, 2019, the Government received the final report of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Minister for Accessibility Raymond Cho publicly said on April 10, 2019 that David Onley did a “marvelous job.”

The Onley report found that Ontario is still full of “soul-crushing” barriers impeding people with disabilities. It concluded that progress on accessibility has taken place at a “glacial pace.” It determined that that the goal of accessibility by 2025 is nowhere in sight, and that specific new Government actions, spelled out in the report, are needed.

However, in the 851 days since receiving the Onley Report, the Ford Government has not made public a detailed plan to implement that report’s findings and recommendations. The Government has staged some media events with the Accessibility Minister to make announcements, but little if anything new was ever announced. The Government repeated pledges to lead by example on accessibility, and to take an all-of-Government approach to accessibility. But these pledges were backed by nothing new to make them mean anything more than when previous governments and ministers engaged in similar rhetorical flourishes.

2. The Government Has Not Ensured that Public Money Will Never Be Used to Create New Accessibility Barriers

In its three years in office, we have seen no effective action by the Ford Government to ensure that public money is never used to create new disability barriers or to perpetuate existing barriers. The Ontario Government spends billions of public dollars on infrastructure and on procuring goods, services and facilities, without ensuring that no new barriers are thereby created, and that no existing barriers are thereby perpetuated.

As but one example, last summer, the Ford Government announced that it would spend a half a billion dollars on the construction of new schools and on additions to existing schools. However, it announced no action to ensure that those new construction projects are fully accessible to students, teachers, school staff and parents with disabilities. The Ontario Ministry of Education has no effective standards or policies in place to ensure this accessibility, and has announced no plans to create any.

3. The Ford Government Has Enacted or Strengthened No Accessibility Standards

In its three years in power, the Ford Government has enacted no new AODA accessibility standards. It has revised no existing accessibility standards to strengthen them. It has not begun the process of developing any new accessibility standards that were not already under development when the Ford Government took office in June 2018.

As one major example, the Ford Government has not committed to develop and enact a Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA, to ensure that the built environment becomes accessible to people with disabilities. No AODA Built Environment Accessibility Standard now exists. None is under development.

This failure to act is especially striking for two reasons. First, the last two AODA Independent Reviews, the 2014 Independent Review by Mayo Moran and the 2019 Independent Review by David Onley, each identified the disability barriers in the built environment as a priority. They both called for new action under the AODA. Second, when he was seeking the public’s votes in the 2018 Ontario election, Doug Ford made specific commitments regarding the disability barriers in the built environment. Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out his party’s election commitments on disability accessibility, included this:

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

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

c) “Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.”

d) “This is why we’re disappointed the current government has not kept its promise with respect to accessibility standards. An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards.

Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions. We need Ontario’s design professionals, such as architects, to receive substantially improved professional training on disability and accessibility.”

4. The Ford Government Has Announced No New Action to Effectively Ensure the Accessibility of Public Transportation

Just before the 2018 Ontario election, the Ontario Government received the final recommendations for reforms to the Transportation Accessibility Standard from the AODA Transportation Standards Development committee. Since then, and over the ensuing three years in office, the Ford Government announced no action on those recommendations. It has not publicly invited any input or consultation on those recommendations. At the same time, the Ford Government has made major announcements about the future of public transit infrastructure in Ontario. As such, barriers in public transportation remained while the risk remains that new ones will continue to be created.

5. The Ford Government Imposed Substantial and Harmful Delays in the Work of Five Important AODA Standards Development Committees that was Underway Before the Government Took Office

When the Ford Government won the 2018 Ontario election, the work of five AODA Standards Development Committees were all frozen, pending the new Minister for Accessibility getting a briefing. Any delay in the work of those committees would further slow the AODA’s sluggish implementation documented in the Onley Report.

Those Standards Development Committees remained frozen for months, long after the minister needed time to be briefed. We had to campaign for months to get that freeze lifted.

Over four months later, in November 2018, the Ford Government belatedly lifted its freeze on the work of the Employment Standards Development Committee and the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. However it did not then also lift the freeze on the work of the three other Standards Development Committees, those working on proposals for accessibility standards in health care and education.

We had to keep up the pressure for months. The Ford Government waited until March 7, 2019 before it announced that it was lifting its freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee and the two Education Standards Development Committees. It was as long as half a year after that announcement that those three Standards Development Committees finally got back to work.

In the meantime, the many unfair disability barriers in Ontario’s education system and Ontario’s health care system remained in place, while new ones continued to be created. The final enactment of new accessibility standards in the areas of health care and education was delayed commensurately, as was the enactment of revisions to strengthen Ontario’s 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard and Ontario’s 2011 Employment Accessibility Standard.

6. The Ford Government Has Repeatedly Violated Its Mandatory Duty Under the AODA to Make Public the Initial or Final Recommendations of a Government-Appointed Standards Development Committee “Upon Receiving” Those Recommendations

Section 10(1) of the AODA requires the Government to make public the initial or final recommendations that it receives from a Standards Development Committee, appointed under the AODA “upon receiving” those recommendations. The Ontario Government under successive governments and ministers has wrongly taken the approach that it can delay making those recommendations public for months despite the AODA’s clear, mandatory and unambiguous language.

The Ford Government has certainly taken this troubling approach. It delayed some two years before making public the final recommendations of the Employment Standards Development Committee earlier this year. It delayed some six months before making public the final recommendations of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee last year. It delayed over five months before making public the initial recommendations of the Health Care Standards Development Committee earlier this month. It has delayed over two months so far in making public the initial recommendations of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee.

As a result, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has brought a court application, now pending, to seek an order compelling the Ford Government to obey the AODA. This is especially disturbing, because the Government is leading by such a poor example when it comes to the AODA. Its delay in complying with s. 10 of the AODA slows the already-slow process of developing and enacting or revising accessibility standards under the AODA.

7. The Ford Government Has for 3 Years Failed to Fulfil Its Mandatory Duty to Appoint A Standards Development Committee to Review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard

The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard by the end of 2017. Neither the previous Wynne Government nor the current Ford Government have fulfilled this legal duty. This is a mandatory AODA requirement.

The Ford Government has had three years in office to learn about this duty and to fulfil it. We flagged it for the Government very soon after it took office in 2018.

8. The Ford Government Has Made Public No Detailed Plan for Effective AODA Enforcement

During its three years in office, the Ford Government has announced no public plan to substantially strengthen the AODA’s weak enforcement. Three years ago, the Ford Government inherited the previous McGuinty Government’s and Wynne Government’s multi-year failure to effectively and vigourously enforce the AODA. What little enforcement that took place fell far short of what people with disabilities needed, as is confirmed in both the 2015 Moran Report and the 2019 Onley Report. The failure to effectively enforce the AODA has contributed to Ontario falling so far behind the goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

9. In a Waste of Public Money, the Ford Government Diverted 1.3 Million Dollars into the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Controversial Private Accessibility Certification Process

The only significant new action that the Ford Government has announced on accessibility over its first three years in office was its announcement over two years ago in the April 11, 2019 Ontario Budget that it would spend 1.3 million public dollars over two years to have the Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification process “certify” some 250 buildings, belonging to business or the public sector, for accessibility. In two years, this has not been shown to lead to the removal or prevention of a single barrier against people with disabilities anywhere in the built environment. It has predictably been a waste of public money.

The Ford Government did not consult the AODA Alliance or, to our knowledge, the disability community, before embarking on this wasteful project. It ignored serious concerns with spending public money on such a private accessibility certification process. These concerns have been public for well over five years. The Ford Government gave no public reasons for rejecting these concerns.

A private accessibility certification risks misleading the public, including people with disabilities. It also risks misleading the organization that seeks this so-called certification. It “certifies” nothing.

A private organization might certify a building as accessible, and yet people with disabilities may well find that the building itself, or the services offered in the building, still have serious accessibility problems. Such a certification provides no defence to an accessibility complaint or proceeding under the AODA, under the Ontario Building Code, under a municipal bylaw, under the Ontario Human Rights Code, or under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If an organization gets a good -level accessibility certification, it may think they have done all they need to do on accessibility. The public, including people with disabilities, and design professionals may be misled to think that this is a model of accessibility to be emulated, and that it is a place that will be easy to fully access. This can turn out not to be the case, especially if the assessor uses the Rick Hansen Foundation’s insufficient standard to assess accessibility, and/or if it does not do an accurate job of assessing the building and/or if the assessor’s only training is the inadequate short training that the Rick Hansen Foundation created.

For example, the Ford Government got the Rick Hansen Foundation to certify as accessible the huge New Toronto Courthouse now under construction. Yet we have shown that its plans are replete with serious accessibility problems. The Rick Hansen Foundation’s assessor never contacted the AODA Alliance to find out about our serious concerns with the courthouse’s design before giving it a rating of “accessible.”

The Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification process lacks much-needed public accountability. The public has no way to know if the private accessibility assessor is making accurate assessments. It is not subject to Freedom of Information laws. It operates behind closed doors. It lacks the kind of public accountability that applies to a government audit or inspection or other enforcement. For more details on the problems with private accessibility certification processes, read the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 brief on the problems with publicly funding any private accessibility certification process.

10. The Ford Government Unfairly Burdened Ontarians with Disabilities with Having to Fight Against New Barriers Being Created by Municipalities Allowing Electric Scooters

It is bad enough that the Ford Government did too little in its first three years in office to tear down the many existing barriers that impede people with disabilities. It is even worse that the Government took action that will create new disability barriers, and against which people with disabilities must organize to battle at the municipal level.

When the Ford Government took office in June 2018, it was illegal to ride electric scooters (e-scooters) in public places. In January 2019, over the strenuous objection of Ontario’s disability community, the Ford Government passed a new regulation. It lets each municipality permit the use of e-scooters in public places, if they wish. It did not require municipalities to protect people with disabilities from the dangers that e-scooters pose to them.

Silent, high-speed e-scooters racing towards pedestrians at over 20 KPH, ridden by an unlicensed, untrained, uninsured joy-riders, endanger people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. Leaving e-scooters strewn all over in public places, as happens in other cities that permit them, creates physical barriers to people using wheelchairs and walkers. They create tripping hazards for people with vision loss.

Torontonians with disabilities had to mount a major campaign to convince Toronto City Council to reject the idea of allowing e-scooters. They were up against a feeding-frenzy of well-funded and well-connected corporate lobbyists, the lobbyists who clearly hold sway with the Ontario Premier’s office.

Unlike Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor have allowed e-scooters, disregarding the danger they now pose for people with disabilities. Some other Ontario cities are considering allowing them.

Thanks to the Ford Government, people with disabilities must now campaign against e-scooters, city by city. This is a huge, unfair burden that people with disabilities did not need, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a cruel irony that the Ford Government unleashed the danger of personal injuries by e-scooters at the same time as it has said it wants to reduce the number of concussions in Ontario.

11. The Ford Government’s Rhetoric Has Been Harmfully Diluting the AODA’s Goal of Full Accessibility

A core feature of the AODA is that it requires Ontario become “accessible” to people with disabilities by 2025. It does not merely say that Ontario should become “more accessible” by that deadline.

Yet, the Ford Government too often only talks about making Ontario more accessible. In fairness, the previous Ontario Liberal Government under Premier Dalton McGuinty and later Premier Kathleen Wynne too often did the same.

This dilutes the goal of the AODA, for which people with disabilities fought so hard for a decade. It hurts people with disabilities. It is no doubt used to try to lower expectations and over-inflate any accomplishments.

12. The Ford Government Has Given Public Voice to False Troubling Stereotypes About Disability Accessibility

Two years ago, the Ford Government publicly voiced very troubling and harmful stereotypes about the AODA and disability accessibility during National AccessAbility Week.
In 2019, during National AccessAbility Week, NDP MPP Joel Harden proposed a that the Legislature pass a resolution that called for the Government to bring forward a plan in response to the Onley Report. The resolution was worded in benign and non-partisan words, which in key ways tracked Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance. The proposed resolution stated:

“That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should release a plan of action on accessibility in response to David Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.”

Premier Ford had every good reason to support this proposed resolution, as we explained in the June 10, 2019 AODA Alliance Update. Yet, as described in detail in the June 11, 2019 AODA Alliance Update, the Doug Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature to defeat this resolution on May 30, 2019, right in the middle of National Access Abilities Week.

The speeches by Conservative MPPs in the Legislature on the Government’s behalf, in opposition to that motion, voiced false and harmful stereotypes about disability accessibility. Those statements in effect called into serious question the Ford Government’s commitment to the effective implementation and enforcement of the AODA. They denigrated the creation and enforcement of AODA accessibility standards as red tape that threatened to imperil businesses and hurt people with disabilities.

13. The Ford Government Has Failed to Effectively Address the Urgent Needs of Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

All of the foregoing would be enough in ordinary times to merit the “F” grade which the Ford Government is here awarded. However, its treatment of people with disabilities and their accessibility needs during the COVID-19 pandemic makes that grade all the more deserved.

In the earliest weeks, the Government deserved a great deal of leeway for responding to the pandemic, because it was understandably caught off guard, as was the world, by the enormity of this nightmare. However, even well after the initial shock period when the pandemic hit and for the year or more since then, the Ford Government has systemically failed to effectively address the distinctive and heightened urgent needs of people with disabilities in the pandemic.

People with disabilities were foreseeably exposed to disproportionately contract COVID-19, to suffer its worst hardships and to die from it. Yet too often the Government took a failed “one size fits all” approach to its emergency planning, that failed to address the urgent needs of people with disabilities. This issue has preoccupied the work of the AODA Alliance and many other disability organizations over the past 14 months.

Two of the areas where the Government most obviously failed were in health care and education. This is especially inexcusable since the Government had the benefit of a Health Care Standards Development Committee, a K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and a Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee to give the Government ideas and advice throughout the pandemic. The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee delivered a detailed package of recommendations for the pandemic response four months into the pandemic. Yet those recommendations have largely if not totally gone unimplemented.

The Government repeatedly left it to each school board, college, university, and health care provider to each separately figure out what disability barriers had arisen during the pandemic, and how to remove and prevent those barriers. This is a predictable formula for wasteful duplication of effort, for increased costs and workloads, all in the middle of a pandemic.

For example, the Ford Government largely left it to each frontline teacher and principal to figure out how to accommodate the recurring needs of students with different disabilities during distance learning. The Government relied on TVO as a major partner in delivering distance learning to school students, even though TVO’s distance learning offerings have accessibility barriers that are unforgivable at any time, and especially during a pandemic.

As another example, the Ford Government did not properly plan to ensure that the process for booking and arranging a COVID-19 vaccine was disability-accessible. There is no specific accessible booking hotline to help people with disabilities navigate the booking process from beginning to end.

There is no assurance that drug stores or others through whom vaccines can be booked have accessible websites. We have received complaints that the Government’s own online booking portal has accessibility problems. Arranging for a barrier-free vaccination for People with Disabilities is even harder than the public is finding for just booking a vaccination for those with no disabilities.

14. The Lives of Vulnerable People with Disabilities are Endangered by the Ford Government’s Secret Plans for Critical Care Triage During the COVID-19 Pandemic, If Hospitals Cannot Serve All Critical Care Patients

The AODA Alliance, working together with other disability organizations, has also had to devote a great deal of effort to try to combat the danger that vulnerable people with disabilities would face disability discrimination in access to life-saving critical care if the pandemic overloads hospitals, leading to critical care triage. The Ford Government has created new disability barriers by allowing clear disability discrimination to be entrenched in Ontario’s critical care triage protocol. Even though formal critical care triage has not yet been directed, there is a real danger that it has occurred on the front lines without proper public accountability e.g. by ambulance crews declining to offer critical care to some patients at roadside, when called via 911.

The Ford Government has allowed a concerted disinformation campaign to be led by those who designed the Ontario critical care triage protocol, and who are falsely claiming that there is no disability discrimination in that protocol.

Further Background

Further background on all of the issues addressed in this report card can be found on the AODA Alliance’s web site. It has separate pages, linked to its home page, addressing such topics as accessibility issues in transportation, health care, education, information and communication, the built environment, AODA enforcement, and disability issues arising during the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. Follow @aodaalliance




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Ontario is Not Out of the Woods When It Comes to the Danger of Disability Discrimination in Critical Care Triage – AODA Alliance


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 is Not Out of the Woods When It Comes to the Danger of Disability Discrimination in Critical Care Triage

May 19, 2021

            SUMMARY

It is very good that new daily COVID-19 infection rates are dropping and that more and more people are getting vaccinated. This makes it less likely that Ontario must resort to critical care triage in the immediate future.

However, disability discrimination in critical care triage remains a critical issue (pun intended). We have learned that things can take a turn for the worse very rapidly. With new COVID-19 variants, there is a risk of a later fourth surge. As well, emergency and ambulance crews may well be engaging in critical care triage right now, with no public accountability for it.

We know that behind closed doors, Ontario hospitals have been training their staffs to make critical care triage decisions. They are using the disability-discriminatory January 13, 2021 Critical Care Triage Protocol in that training. As such, disability discrimination is getting more and more embedded in our health care system, all publicly financed.

We will continue bringing these issues to the public’s and media’s attention. Here is the latest news on this issue.

 1. Urge Doctors, Nurses, Ambulance Crews and Hospital Administrators You Know to Watch the AODA Alliance’s Informative New Captioned Video on Disability Discrimination Problems with Ontario’s Critical care Triage Protocol

Do you know any doctors, nurses or others who work in hospital emergency rooms or intensive care units (ICUs)? Do you know any hospital administrators or people who work as part of ambulance crews?

Please encourage them all to watch the AODA Alliance’s new captioned video that explains the serious disability discrimination problems with Ontario’s critical care triage protocol. Those health care staff may have gotten some training on that protocol. We fear they are getting no training on the disability discrimination that permeates it.

We also recommend that you ask your family doctor to watch this video. If you end up in hospital, and if critical care triage is going on, you will want your doctor to help advocate for you in the face of the critical care triage protocol’s disability discrimination.

If you have not seen it, we invite you to also watch this video. This video is available for one and all at https://youtu.be/Ju8cyH7TbQo Hundreds have watched it in the two weeks since it was publicly posted. We’ve gotten very positive feedback about it. Please help us reach those on the front lines of Ontario’s health care system.. We believe that they won’t want to be engaging in any disability discrimination, and will wanted to be forewarned about it.

 2. Media Shines Much-Needed Spotlight on the Ford Government’s Relentless Secrecy over Its Critical Care Triage Plans

The Ford Government’s relentless secrecy still persists when it comes to its critical care triage protocol and plans. No doubt, senior Government officials think that the recent drop in new daily COVID infections and ICU occupancy means this whole issue may go away without them having to face public scrutiny for their disability discriminatory critical care triage plans. If so, we beg to differ.

Below we set out an excellent report in the May 6, 2021 edition of the online publication Press Progress. It reports on this protracted Government secrecy, and on criticism of it from the disability community and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

This article reports on the fact that we and some others from the disability community have had a chance, months ago, to speak to the Ontario Government-appointed advisory Bioethics Table. We emphasize that that Table does not make any decisions in this area. It only gives advice. We don’t know what happens with that advice once the Bioethics Table gives it.

We don’t know what the Bioethics Table has advised the Government at any time after September 11, 2020. We don’t have any proof that the Bioethics Table ever reviewed and advised on the January 13, 2021 Critical Care Triage Protocol itself, or if it did, whether the Government accepted and implemented that advice. It is all shielded behind the Government-created fog of secrecy.

In this article, the argument is made that among other things, we need clarity on the Government’s critical care triage plans. We add that people with disabilities need much, much more than clarity about those plans. We have utter clarity that these plans are replete with disability discrimination. We need that disability discrimination removed.

In sharp contrast to Ontario’s paternalistic secrecy over its critical care triage protocol and plans, the media has reported that Alberta has made public its critical care triage protocol. We set out below an Edmonton Journal news report on this. We have not had an opportunity to review the Alberta critical care triage protocol and cannot comment on its contents.

 3. A Unique Chance to Read the Ford Government’s Talking Points For Defending Its Disability Discriminatory Critical Care Triage Protocol

The Ford Government’s strategy for several months has been to avoid saying anything about Ontario’s critical care triage protocol and plans wherever possible. When the media asks the Ford Government questions in this area, and if the Government responds at all, it typically deflects media questions to doctors. The doctor who seems to be very often the person to whom the Ford Government points, and who is in effect serving as the Government’s spokesperson, is Dr. James Downar. Dr. Downar has often been identified as the author or co-author of the January 13, 2021 Critical Care Triage Protocol. He is also a member of the Government-appointed advisory Bioethics Table.

Below we set out a statement which Dr. Downar has sent to a media outlet in response to a media inquiry. We offer these reflections on it:

  1. a) Dr. Downar’s response is similar to or the same as other quotations attributed to him that we have seen in other media reports. It reads like it is a set response.
  1. b) This statement reads like it could have been carefully written or vetted by someone within Ford Government. It has the flavour of a Government-drafted or Government-approved communications document.
  1. c) Dr. Downar’s statement is demonstrably inaccurate and misleading on important points. It is misleading where it talks about consultations being ongoing. We have repeatedly sought chances to get the Government to consult us on this issue. We have been very public about the fact that the Government has refused to do so.

This statement is also inaccurate and misleading where it seeks to claim that disability discrimination plays no part in the Ontario critical care triage protocol. Contrary to what this statement claims, the January 13, 2021 Critical Care Triage Protocol explicitly directs that a patient’s disability IS a factor that in some cases is to be weighed AGAINST their getting access to the life-saving critical care they need, if Ontario has more patients needing critical care than it has critical care beds and supports.

For example, if a cancer patient needs critical care, they will be deprioritized if a patient is “Completely disabled and cannot carry out any self-care; totally confined to bed or chair”. As another example, if a patient needing critical care is over 65 and has a progressive disease (like MS, arthritis or Parkinson’s), their access to critical care is reduced depending on how few of eleven activities of daily living they can perform without assistance. This includes dressing, bathing, eating, walking, getting in and out of bed, using the telephone, going shopping, preparing meals, doing housework, taking medication, or handling their finances. In both examples, this is disability discrimination, pure and simple.

This statement tries to defend Ontario’s critical care triage protocol by arguing that it does not make the Clinical Frailty Scale (which we have shown to be disability-discriminatory) because, among other things it does not apply that tool to assessing patients with a stable disability. As we have publicly emphasized, this is no defence. You cannot justify discriminating against some people with disabilities, e.g. those with progressive disabilities, by pleading that you don’t also discriminate against those with stable non-progressive disabilities. In the same way, you cannot defend discrimination against Muslims by pleading that you don’t also discriminate against Catholics.

It is deeply troubling that the Government’s defender keeps repeating these bogus arguments long after we have shown them to be so obviously incorrect. The Government has certainly not disavowed these statements that are made in its defence.

 4. The Call for the Ontario Government to Remove the Disability Discrimination from Its Critical Care Triage Protocol Has Come From the Trade Union Sector

Below we set out a recent public statement by the Canadian Union of Public Employees CUPE Ontario echoing our concerns about Ontario’s critical care triage protocol and plans. We welcome support from any and all parts of our society.

 5. Delay and Delay and Delay

There have now been 839 days, or over 2 and a third years, 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 effective plan of new action to implement that report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. The Ontario Government only has 1,323 days left until 2025, the deadline by which the Government must have led Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities.

            MORE DETAILS

 Press Progress May 6, 2021

Originally posted at https://pressprogress.ca/disability-groups-say-ontario-government-did-not-consult-them-on-life-and-death-covid-19-triage-decisions/

Disability Groups Say Ontario Government Did Not Consult Them on Life and Death COVID-19 ‘Triage’ Decisions

Ontario Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner says vulnerable groups deserve certainty on ’life and death triage decisions’

by PressProgress

May 6, 2021

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott promised to involve disability advocates in the drafting of possible “triage protocols” to decide who may be health denied care should hospitals be overwhelmed.

But the province’s major disability advocacy groups say they haven’t been consulted by the Ministry on the current drafts. They worry those drafts could be discriminatory and that they could be implemented on short notice.

According to The Globe and Mail, hospitals across Toronto were practicing triage protocols to reserve Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for those most likely to survive, through last week.

Draft triage protocols, which were sent to hospitals on January 13, have not been finalized according to Ontario’s Health Minister. But the drafts’ emphasis on testing patients’ abilities to live “without assistance” — to weigh whether care should be allocated — has many advocates for people with disabilities worried.

On April 21, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott told the legislative assembly:

“I asked that this issue be dealt with—with the people with disabilities groups as well as with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. There have been numerous discussions, but nothing has been activated yet, and I can assure you that nothing has been approved at this point.”

Lawyer and AODA alliance chair David Lepofsky says the January 13 draft protocols discriminate against certain disabled people by ranking patients based on their ability to conduct Instrumental Activities Of Daily Living.

“For a person with cancer they look explicitly at whether a person is disabled and can’t get out of bed or less,” Lepofsky told PressProgress. “If it’s a person over 65 with a progressive disease it asks if they can do 11 Activities of Daily Living — getting up, shopping, eating, using the phone, doing your finances — without assistance. If not, you rank lower.”

“That’s disability.”

Yet, Lepofsky said he hasn’t been able to discuss the organization’s concerns with the minister or ministry representatives. “The only consulting that’s gone on at all is a body external to the government called the Bioethics Table. Our consultations with them were last summer — ending August 31 — and then one meeting virtually on December 17. Many of us said we needed more time and needed to prepare.”

Since the draft was leaked, on January 13, Lepofsky said the group has received no further contact.

Ontario Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha told PressProgress the OHRC has been telling the government for over a year it needs to consult with concerned advocates for people with disabilities on any triage protocol. Chadha said that wasn’t done.

While an advisory body, the Bioethics Table, consulted some affected groups ahead of the January 13 drafts, since December 2020, Chadha said no other notable consultations appear to have followed. “Since then human rights experts, and vulnerable groups disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including people with disabilities, older persons, Indigenous peoples and racialized communities, have not been consulted on these latest protocols.”

“They have a right to clarity and certainty on how life and death triage decisions would affect them. Health care practitioners who would be compelled to make these difficult decisions deserve the same clarity and certainty,” Chadha said.

“Human rights groups are concerned that, despite the Minister’s expressed comments, the reality on the ground will be that the Emergency Standard of Care document circulated to hospitals in January will be used anyway out of necessity.”

On April 28, the Ontario Medical Association hosted a panel featuring Peel Region Medical Officer Lawrence Loh and OMA head Samantha Hill titled Making Difficult Decisions During the Pandemic. Included on the agenda was “Who should be ventilated if resources are limited?”

A spokesperson for the OMA confirmed the discussion was “focusing on existing guidelines” as per the January 13 proposals from Critical Care Services.

“We were sent notice that the triage protocol could be initiated within days,” a doctor at Markham Stouffville hospital told PressProgress. “They’ve been talking about this for sometime. I can’t believe I and my colleagues will be asked to make life and death decisions for people.”

Further, an early May memo obtained by the Globe from Ontario’s “critical care command centre”signalled the health system had plans to utilize the existing drafts. The memo noted, cautiously, that recent increases in capacity may mean “we will not need to activate the Emergency Standard of Care or recommend the use of the triage protocol.”

Community Living CEO Chris Beesley said his organization has been frustrated by a lack of communication from Ontario’s Ministry of Health.

“Since last Spring, we’ve been working with a coalition of disability focused organizations, to try and get some transparency on the triage protocol,” Beesley told PressProgress.

However, Beesley said, “Neither Minister Elliott nor anyone from her staff had communicated with us since last July.”

Arch Disability Law Centre lawyer Mariam Shanouda also told PressProgress “We have never been consulted by the Ministry of Health.”

“We have met several times now with the Bioethics Table which is a Table that was struck by the Ministry to advise them on the Triage Protocol. The last time we were invited to meet with the Bioethics Table was in December 2020, which is especially concerning since the latest version of the Triage Protocol is dated January 13, 2021,” Shanouda said. The organization said it has not been consulted since.

Six members of Ontario’s Bioethics Table additionally warned April 15 that “without public discussion, the vulnerability of already marginalized groups is intensified and trust eroded.”

PressProgress contacted Critical Care Services to respond to concerns advocates had that the consultations were insufficient and the draft it sent out could be discriminatory. CCSO referred PressProgress to Bioethics table member Dr. James Downar, who, CBC News reports, wrote the January 13 drafts.

Dr. Downar told PressProgress:

“The Emergency Standard of Care is a contingency plan to be used as an option of last resort. It was based on recommendations that were developed by the Ontario COVID-19 Bioethics table, which conducted extensive consultations with multiple stakeholders including disability advocates and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The consultations are continuing, and the process of generating, reviewing and updating any triage plan should always be an ongoing process, responding to changing conditions, emerging evidence and an evolving understanding of the ethical, social and legal implications.”

Ontario’s Ministry of Health did not respond to requests for comment from PressProgress.

On April 27, the Ministry called for special medical assistance from Canada’s armed forces as hospitals face a surge in COVID-19 ICU patients.”

PressProgress

PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

@pressprogress

PressProgress is a news division of the Broadbent Institute

 Written Statement in April 2021 to News Outlet by Dr. James Downar in Response to Media Inquiry Regarding Critical Care Triage Protocol

  1. Critical care triage has not yet been initiated anywhere in Ontario. The focus of the critical care community is on building capacity to see us through this surge.
  2. The Emergency Standard of Care is a contingency plan to be used as an option of last resort. It was based on recommendations that were developed by the Ontario COVID-19 Bioethics table, which conducted extensive consultations with multiple stakeholders including disability advocates and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The consultations are continuing, and the process of generating, reviewing and updating any triage plan should always be an ongoing process, responding to changing conditions, emerging evidence and an evolving understanding of the ethical, social and legal implications.
  3. The only criterion used to prioritize critical care would be short-term mortality risk. This is always based on an individualized assessment, and clinical guidance is provided to help assess risk in people depending on their medical condition. But assessment tools should only be used in situations where they help indicate mortality risk, and with respect to disabilities, there are clear and explicit instructions not to use the Clinical Frailty Scale for people under the age of 65, or for anyone with chronic, stable disabilities or other conditions where it would not indicate mortality risk. For other conditions, mortality risk can be determined without any assessment of function. In other words, people with identical disabilities would be prioritized very differently if their mortality risks were different, and people with no disabilities at all receive a lower priority if their mortality risk is high. The focus is squarely on mortality risk, not ability or function. This is very important.”

 Edmonton Journal April 30, 2021

Originally posted at https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/ahs-releases-triage-protocol-outlining-which-patients-would-receive-care-if-icus-become-overwhelmed-by-covid-19

AHS releases triage protocol outlining which patients would receive care if ICUs become overwhelmed by COVID-19

Author of the article: Anna Junker

The Royal Alexandra Hospital is pictured in Edmonton. The hospital’s ICU unit has seen COVID-19 surges during the pandemic. PHOTO BY SHAUGHN BUTTS /Postmedia, file

Alberta Health Services has released a triage plan for determining who will receive critical care in the event that COVID-19 patients outnumber available ICU beds in the province.

The 50-page Critical Care Triage plan, unveiled Friday, would not be activated until the health authority has exhausted all other options, such as transferring patients, health-care staff, equipment and medication between different hospitals in the same health zone or across the province. It would be implemented based on direction from the AHS CEO, in consultation with the executive leadership team.

“When activated the triage protocol will be utilized in all health-care facilities and critical care units in Alberta to prioritize patients who have the greatest likelihood of overall survival,” the report states.

The plan lays out four “pandemic or disaster” stages, which would determine whether triaging is necessary.

In a “minor surge,” the number of patients requiring critical care would exceed resources. As a result, staff may be pulled from other critical care units to help with care and patients may be moved into recovery rooms.

A “moderate surge” would see staff brought in from other areas of hospitals and patients moved to recovery rooms or subspecialty ICUs. Transfers for patients in emergency departments would be delayed.

Triaging may be required in a “major surge,” which would occur when 90 per cent or more of available ICU beds in the province are occupied. The first phase of triaging would only allow patients who are predicted to have more than 20 per cent likelihood of surviving one year to enter the ICU.

A “large-scale surge” would see 95 per cent or more of available ICUs in the province occupied and could see the second phase of triaging activated. Under that scenario, those with a 50 per cent chance of surviving one year would be admitted to the ICU. Pediatric triaging will be considered.

“Information about a patient’s underlying illness, disease, or disability will not be taken into consideration unless they directly impact a patient’s likelihood of surviving the next year,” the report states.

Decisions for critical care eligibility will not include a person’s age, sex, socioeconomic status, race, disability, employment status, or the cost of future care. Once a decision has been made on who gets care, it cannot be appealed by the patient or family.

Alberta has the capacity to fully staff 425 ICU beds for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. As of Friday, there are 152 COVID-19 patients in the ICU – the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.

Kerry Williamson, spokesman for AHS, said in a statement the Edmonton Zone currently has 102 ICU beds open — a base of 72 general adult beds and an additional 30 spaces.

This week, the Edmonton Zone was between 86 and 88 per cent capacity for all ICU beds.

‘I just can’t imagine’

Dr. Noel Gibney, co-chair of the Strategic COVID-19 Pandemic Committee for the Edmonton Zone, said the triage plan is well-developed, but it is not a situation to ever want to be in.

“I just can’t imagine, explaining to the patients or their families why these individuals are not going to get the care that they need,” Gibney said. “I can’t imagine doing that day after day after day, or multiple times in the day. I mean that the moral distress associated with that would be extreme.”

He said the postponement of surgeries and release of the triage protocol suggests AHS is extremely worried about a “disaster-type situation.”

Gibney said the public health restrictions that are currently in place are “absolutely not” enough, and warned that the protocol could need to be activated this month.

“I get the sense that the government has some notion that they may be able to just vaccinate the province out of trouble this time. But we’re not going to do that,” Gibney said.

“We’re in a situation where modelling shows that in about three weeks, so that by May 22, we will be at a point where we may reach Phase 1 of the pandemic triage protocol.”

He said the province needs to implement a strict lockdown and use the same health measures that were in place last April – moving all schooling online, limiting retail to essential-only, closing non health-related personal services like hair and nail salons, severely limiting or close places of worship, and closing patios.

Adequate sick pay also needs to be implemented, he said.

“Some of the components of what the government has been doing with targeted vaccinations, I think that’s great, but it simply isn’t going to be enough in time to get us out of that danger that we’re in,” Gibney said.

[email protected]

Twitter.com/JunkerAnna

 Financial Post May 12, 2021

f

Originally posted at https://financialpost.com/pmn/press-releases-pmn/business-wire-news-releases-pmn/theres-no-room-for-discrimination-against-people-with-disabilities-cupe-ontario-and-joel-harden-call-for-consultation-and-revision-of-triage-protocol

Press Releases Business Wire News Releases

“There’s No Room for Discrimination Against People With Disabilities”: CUPE Ontario and Joel Harden Call for Consultation and Revision of Triage Protocol

Author of the article: Business Wire

Business Wire

Publishing date: May 12, 2021 • 23 hours ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation

TORONTO — The Ontario Government’s draft plan to ration access to at-capacity critical-care is discriminatory and must be revised immediately, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario and Joel Harden, NDP MPP for Ottawa Centre and the Critic for Accessibility & Persons with Disabilities.

“The fact that the draft plan says that doctors will look at your short-term mortality risk or your capacity for self-care to decide if you get access to limited intensive care units is nothing more than blatant discrimination against people with disabilities,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “This dangerously violates the foundational rights of Ontarians our members care for and the rights of many of our members themselves.”

While Health Minister Christine Elliott recently said that Ontario may not need to resort to rationing, due to reduced demand for ICUs, concerns raised by CUPE Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), disability organizations, and the six bioethicists on the government’s advisory Bioethics Table remain.

“I’m not reassured by that at all,” said Michele Gardner, member of CUPE Ontario’s Workers with Disabilities Committee. “This discriminatory triage protocol can still be used at any time. It makes it clear that people with disabilities are at risk of not getting the critical-care they need because of explicitly biased criteria.”

“The protocol must be revised to remove any discrimination and we must be consulted moving forward,” added Gardner. “The OHRC has raised the problem of lack of consultation, and so have the six members of the bioethics table, who rightly said that without it this government is only intensifying the vulnerability of people with disabilities.”

“More than a year has passed since over 200 community organizations wrote to the Ford government urging it to remove disability discrimination from its triage protocol. The response so far has been silence,” said Harden. “It’s time to stop the secrecy surrounding critical care triage and for the Ford government to remove disability discrimination from its protocol.”

Contacts

Daniel Tseghay

Communications Representative, CUPE

[email protected]





Source link

Ontario is Not Out of the Woods When It Comes to the Danger of Disability Discrimination in Critical Care Triage


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

May 19, 2021

SUMMARY

It is very good that new daily COVID-19 infection rates are dropping and that more and more people are getting vaccinated. This makes it less likely that Ontario must resort to critical care triage in the immediate future.

However, disability discrimination in critical care triage remains a critical issue (pun intended). We have learned that things can take a turn for the worse very rapidly. With new COVID-19 variants, there is a risk of a later fourth surge. As well, emergency and ambulance crews may well be engaging in critical care triage right now, with no public accountability for it.

We know that behind closed doors, Ontario hospitals have been training their staffs to make critical care triage decisions. They are using the disability-discriminatory January 13, 2021 Critical Care Triage Protocol in that training. As such, disability discrimination is getting more and more embedded in our health care system, all publicly financed.

We will continue bringing these issues to the publics and medias attention. Here is the latest news on this issue.

1. Urge Doctors, Nurses, Ambulance Crews and Hospital Administrators You Know to Watch the AODA Alliances Informative New Captioned Video on Disability Discrimination Problems with Ontarios Critical care Triage Protocol

Do you know any doctors, nurses or others who work in hospital emergency rooms or intensive care units (ICUs)? Do you know any hospital administrators or people who work as part of ambulance crews?

Please encourage them all to watch the AODA Alliances new captioned video that explains the serious disability discrimination problems with Ontarios critical care triage protocol. Those health care staff may have gotten some training on that protocol. We fear they are getting no training on the disability discrimination that permeates it.

We also recommend that you ask your family doctor to watch this video. If you end up in hospital, and if critical care triage is going on, you will want your doctor to help advocate for you in the face of the critical care triage protocols disability discrimination.

If you have not seen it, we invite you to also watch this video. This video is available for one and all at https://youtu.be/Ju8cyH7TbQo Hundreds have watched it in the two weeks since it was publicly posted. Weve gotten very positive feedback about it. Please help us reach those on the front lines of Ontarios health care system.. We believe that they wont want to be engaging in any disability discrimination, and will wanted to be forewarned about it.

2. Media Shines Much-Needed Spotlight on the Ford Governments Relentless Secrecy over Its Critical Care Triage Plans

The Ford Governments relentless secrecy still persists when it comes to its critical care triage protocol and plans. No doubt, senior Government officials think that the recent drop in new daily COVID infections and ICU occupancy means this whole issue may go away without them having to face public scrutiny for their disability discriminatory critical care triage plans. If so, we beg to differ.

Below we set out an excellent report in the May 6, 2021 edition of the online publication Press Progress. It reports on this protracted Government secrecy, and on criticism of it from the disability community and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

This article reports on the fact that we and some others from the disability community have had a chance, months ago, to speak to the Ontario Government-appointed advisory Bioethics Table. We emphasize that that Table does not make any decisions in this area. It only gives advice. We dont know what happens with that advice once the Bioethics Table gives it.

We dont know what the Bioethics Table has advised the Government at any time after September 11, 2020. We dont have any proof that the Bioethics Table ever reviewed and advised on the January 13, 2021 Critical Care Triage Protocol itself, or if it did, whether the Government accepted and implemented that advice. It is all shielded behind the Government-created fog of secrecy.

In this article, the argument is made that among other things, we need clarity on the Governments critical care triage plans. We add that people with disabilities need much, much more than clarity about those plans. We have utter clarity that these plans are replete with disability discrimination. We need that disability discrimination removed.

In sharp contrast to Ontarios paternalistic secrecy over its critical care triage protocol and plans, the media has reported that Alberta has made public its critical care triage protocol. We set out below an Edmonton Journal news report on this. We have not had an opportunity to review the Alberta critical care triage protocol and cannot comment on its contents.

3. A Unique Chance to Read the Ford Governments Talking Points For Defending Its Disability Discriminatory Critical Care Triage Protocol

The Ford Governments strategy for several months has been to avoid saying anything about Ontarios critical care triage protocol and plans wherever possible. When the media asks the Ford Government questions in this area, and if the Government responds at all, it typically deflects media questions to doctors. The doctor who seems to be very often the person to whom the Ford Government points, and who is in effect serving as the Governments spokesperson, is Dr. James Downar. Dr. Downar has often been identified as the author or co-author of the January 13, 2021 Critical Care Triage Protocol. He is also a member of the Government-appointed advisory Bioethics Table.

Below we set out a statement which Dr. Downar has sent to a media outlet in response to a media inquiry. We offer these reflections on it:

a) Dr. Downars response is similar to or the same as other quotations attributed to him that we have seen in other media reports. It reads like it is a set response.

b) This statement reads like it could have been carefully written or vetted by someone within Ford Government. It has the flavour of a Government-drafted or Government-approved communications document.

c) Dr. Downars statement is demonstrably inaccurate and misleading on important points. It is misleading where it talks about consultations being ongoing. We have repeatedly sought chances to get the Government to consult us on this issue. We have been very public about the fact that the Government has refused to do so.

This statement is also inaccurate and misleading where it seeks to claim that disability discrimination plays no part in the Ontario critical care triage protocol. Contrary to what this statement claims, the January 13, 2021 Critical Care Triage Protocol explicitly directs that a patients disability IS a factor that in some cases is to be weighed AGAINST their getting access to the life-saving critical care they need, if Ontario has more patients needing critical care than it has critical care beds and supports.

For example, if a cancer patient needs critical care, they will be deprioritized if a patient is Completely disabled and cannot carry out any self-care; totally confined to bed or chair. As another example, if a patient needing critical care is over 65 and has a progressive disease (like MS, arthritis or Parkinsons), their access to critical care is reduced depending on how few of eleven activities of daily living they can perform without assistance. This includes dressing, bathing, eating, walking, getting in and out of bed, using the telephone, going shopping, preparing meals, doing housework, taking medication, or handling their finances. In both examples, this is disability discrimination, pure and simple.

This statement tries to defend Ontarios critical care triage protocol by arguing that it does not make the Clinical Frailty Scale (which we have shown to be disability-discriminatory) because, among other things it does not apply that tool to assessing patients with a stable disability. As we have publicly emphasized, this is no defence. You cannot justify discriminating against some people with disabilities, e.g. those with progressive disabilities, by pleading that you dont also discriminate against those with stable non-progressive disabilities. In the same way, you cannot defend discrimination against Muslims by pleading that you dont also discriminate against Catholics.

It is deeply troubling that the Governments defender keeps repeating these bogus arguments long after we have shown them to be so obviously incorrect. The Government has certainly not disavowed these statements that are made in its defence.

4. The Call for the Ontario Government to Remove the Disability Discrimination from Its Critical Care Triage Protocol Has Come From the Trade Union Sector

Below we set out a recent public statement by the Canadian Union of Public Employees CUPE Ontario echoing our concerns about Ontarios critical care triage protocol and plans. We welcome support from any and all parts of our society.

5. Delay and Delay and Delay

There have now been 839 days, or over 2 and a third years, 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 effective plan of new action to implement that report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. The Ontario Government only has 1,323 days left until 2025, the deadline by which the Government must have led Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities.

MORE DETAILS

Press Progress May 6, 2021

Originally posted at https://pressprogress.ca/disability-groups-say-ontario-government-did-not-consult-them-on-life-and-death-covid-19-triage-decisions/ Disability Groups Say Ontario Government Did Not Consult Them on Life and Death COVID-19 Triage Decisions
Ontario Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner says vulnerable groups deserve certainty on life and death triage decisions

by PressProgress
May 6, 2021
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott promised to involve disability advocates in the drafting of possible triage protocols to decide who may be health denied care should hospitals be overwhelmed.

But the provinces major disability advocacy groups say they havent been consulted by the Ministry on the current drafts. They worry those drafts could be discriminatory and that they could be implemented on short notice.

According to The Globe and Mail, hospitals across Toronto were practicing triage protocols to reserve Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for those most likely to survive, through last week.

Draft triage protocols, which were sent to hospitals on January 13, have not been finalized according to Ontarios Health Minister. But the drafts emphasis on testing patients abilities to live without assistance to weigh whether care should be allocated has many advocates for people with disabilities worried.

On April 21, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott told the legislative assembly:

I asked that this issue be dealt withwith the people with disabilities groups as well as with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. There have been numerous discussions, but nothing has been activated yet, and I can assure you that nothing has been approved at this point.

Lawyer and AODA alliance chair David Lepofsky says the January 13 draft protocols discriminate against certain disabled people by ranking patients based on their ability to conduct Instrumental Activities Of Daily Living.

For a person with cancer they look explicitly at whether a person is disabled and cant get out of bed or less, Lepofsky told PressProgress. If its a person over 65 with a progressive disease it asks if they can do 11 Activities of Daily Living getting up, shopping, eating, using the phone, doing your finances without assistance. If not, you rank lower.

Thats disability.

Yet, Lepofsky said he hasnt been able to discuss the organizations concerns with the minister or ministry representatives. The only consulting thats gone on at all is a body external to the government called the Bioethics Table. Our consultations with them were last summer ending August 31 and then one meeting virtually on December 17. Many of us said we needed more time and needed to prepare.

Since the draft was leaked, on January 13, Lepofsky said the group has received no further contact.

Ontario Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha told PressProgress the OHRC has been telling the government for over a year it needs to consult with concerned advocates for people with disabilities on any triage protocol. Chadha said that wasnt done.

While an advisory body, the Bioethics Table, consulted some affected groups ahead of the January 13 drafts, since December 2020, Chadha said no other notable consultations appear to have followed. Since then human rights experts, and vulnerable groups disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including people with disabilities, older persons, Indigenous peoples and racialized communities, have not been consulted on these latest protocols.

They have a right to clarity and certainty on how life and death triage decisions would affect them. Health care practitioners who would be compelled to make these difficult decisions deserve the same clarity and certainty, Chadha said.

Human rights groups are concerned that, despite the Ministers expressed comments, the reality on the ground will be that the Emergency Standard of Care document circulated to hospitals in January will be used anyway out of necessity.

On April 28, the Ontario Medical Association hosted a panel featuring Peel Region Medical Officer Lawrence Loh and OMA head Samantha Hill titled Making Difficult Decisions During the Pandemic. Included on the agenda was Who should be ventilated if resources are limited?

A spokesperson for the OMA confirmed the discussion was focusing on existing guidelines as per the January 13 proposals from Critical Care Services.

We were sent notice that the triage protocol could be initiated within days, a doctor at Markham Stouffville hospital told PressProgress. Theyve been talking about this for sometime. I cant believe I and my colleagues will be asked to make life and death decisions for people.

Further, an early May memo obtained by the Globe from Ontarios critical care command centresignalled the health system had plans to utilize the existing drafts. The memo noted, cautiously, that recent increases in capacity may mean we will not need to activate the Emergency Standard of Care or recommend the use of the triage protocol.

Community Living CEO Chris Beesley said his organization has been frustrated by a lack of communication from Ontarios Ministry of Health.

Since last Spring, weve been working with a coalition of disability focused organizations, to try and get some transparency on the triage protocol, Beesley told PressProgress.

However, Beesley said, Neither Minister Elliott nor anyone from her staff had communicated with us since last July.

Arch Disability Law Centre lawyer Mariam Shanouda also told PressProgress We have never been consulted by the Ministry of Health.

We have met several times now with the Bioethics Table which is a Table that was struck by the Ministry to advise them on the Triage Protocol. The last time we were invited to meet with the Bioethics Table was in December 2020, which is especially concerning since the latest version of the Triage Protocol is dated January 13, 2021, Shanouda said. The organization said it has not been consulted since.

Six members of Ontarios Bioethics Table additionally warned April 15 that without public discussion, the vulnerability of already marginalized groups is intensified and trust eroded.

PressProgress contacted Critical Care Services to respond to concerns advocates had that the consultations were insufficient and the draft it sent out could be discriminatory. CCSO referred PressProgress to Bioethics table member Dr. James Downar, who, CBC News reports, wrote the January 13 drafts.

Dr. Downar told PressProgress:

The Emergency Standard of Care is a contingency plan to be used as an option of last resort. It was based on recommendations that were developed by the Ontario COVID-19 Bioethics table, which conducted extensive consultations with multiple stakeholders including disability advocates and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The consultations are continuing, and the process of generating, reviewing and updating any triage plan should always be an ongoing process, responding to changing conditions, emerging evidence and an evolving understanding of the ethical, social and legal implications.

Ontarios Ministry of Health did not respond to requests for comment from PressProgress.

On April 27, the Ministry called for special medical assistance from Canadas armed forces as hospitals face a surge in COVID-19 ICU patients.

PressProgress
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism. @pressprogress
PressProgress is a news division of the Broadbent Institute

Written Statement in April 2021 to News Outlet by Dr. James Downar in Response to Media Inquiry Regarding Critical Care Triage Protocol

1. Critical caretriagehas not yet been initiated anywhere in Ontario. The focus of the critical care community is on building capacity to see us through this surge.
2. The Emergency Standard of Care is a contingency plan to be used as an option of last resort. It was based on recommendations that were developed by the Ontario COVID-19 Bioethics table, which conducted extensive consultations with multiple stakeholders including disability advocates and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The consultations are continuing, and the process of generating, reviewing and updating anytriageplan should always be an ongoing process, responding to changing conditions, emerging evidence and an evolving understanding of the ethical, social and legal implications.
3. The only criterion used to prioritize critical care would be short-term mortality risk. This is always based on an individualized assessment, and clinical guidance is provided to help assess risk in people depending on their medical condition. But assessment tools should only be used in situations where they help indicate mortality risk, and with respect to disabilities, there are clear and explicit instructions not to use the Clinical Frailty Scale for people under the age of 65, or for anyone with chronic, stable disabilities or other conditions where it would not indicate mortality risk. For other conditions, mortality risk can be determined without any assessment of function. In other words, people with identical disabilities would be prioritized very differently if their mortality risks were different, and people with no disabilities at all receive a lower priority if their mortality risk is high. The focus is squarely on mortality risk, not ability or function. This is very important.”

Edmonton Journal April 30, 2021

Originally posted at https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/ahs-releases-triage-protocol-outlining-which-patients-would-receive-care-if-icus-become-overwhelmed-by-covid-19
AHS releases triage protocol outlining which patients would receive care if ICUs become overwhelmed by COVID-19 Author of the article: Anna Junker
The Royal Alexandra Hospital is pictured in Edmonton. The hospital’s ICU unit has seen COVID-19 surges during the pandemic. PHOTO BY SHAUGHN BUTTS /Postmedia, file
Alberta Health Services has released a triage plan for determining who will receive critical care in the event that COVID-19 patients outnumber available ICU beds in the province.

The 50-page Critical Care Triage plan, unveiled Friday, would not be activated until the health authority has exhausted all other options, such as transferring patients, health-care staff, equipment and medication between different hospitals in the same health zone or across the province. It would be implemented based on direction from the AHS CEO, in consultation with the executive leadership team.

When activated the triage protocol will be utilized in all health-care facilities and critical care units in Alberta to prioritize patients who have the greatest likelihood of overall survival, the report states.

The plan lays out four pandemic or disaster stages, which would determine whether triaging is necessary.

In a minor surge, the number of patients requiring critical care would exceed resources. As a result, staff may be pulled from other critical care units to help with care and patients may be moved into recovery rooms.

A moderate surge would see staff brought in from other areas of hospitals and patients moved to recovery rooms or subspecialty ICUs. Transfers for patients in emergency departments would be delayed.

Triaging may be required in a major surge, which would occur when 90 per cent or more of available ICU beds in the province are occupied. The first phase of triaging would only allow patients who are predicted to have more than 20 per cent likelihood of surviving one year to enter the ICU.

A large-scale surge would see 95 per cent or more of available ICUs in the province occupied and could see the second phase of triaging activated. Under that scenario, those with a 50 per cent chance of surviving one year would be admitted to the ICU. Pediatric triaging will be considered.

Information about a patients underlying illness, disease, or disability will not be taken into consideration unless they directly impact a patients likelihood of surviving the next year, the report states.

Decisions for critical care eligibility will not include a persons age, sex, socioeconomic status, race, disability, employment status, or the cost of future care. Once a decision has been made on who gets care, it cannot be appealed by the patient or family.

Alberta has the capacity to fully staff 425 ICU beds for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. As of Friday, there are 152 COVID-19 patients in the ICU the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.

Kerry Williamson, spokesman for AHS, said in a statement the Edmonton Zone currently has 102 ICU beds open a base of 72 general adult beds and an additional 30 spaces.

This week, the Edmonton Zone was between 86 and 88 per cent capacity for all ICU beds.

I just cant imagine
Dr. Noel Gibney, co-chair of the Strategic COVID-19 Pandemic Committee for the Edmonton Zone, said the triage plan is well-developed, but it is not a situation to ever want to be in.

I just cant imagine, explaining to the patients or their families why these individuals are not going to get the care that they need, Gibney said. I cant imagine doing that day after day after day, or multiple times in the day. I mean that the moral distress associated with that would be extreme.

He said the postponement of surgeries and release of the triage protocol suggests AHS is extremely worried about a disaster-type situation.

Gibney said the public health restrictions that are currently in place are absolutely not enough, and warned that the protocol could need to be activated this month.

I get the sense that the government has some notion that they may be able to just vaccinate the province out of trouble this time. But were not going to do that, Gibney said.

Were in a situation where modelling shows that in about three weeks, so that by May 22, we will be at a point where we may reach Phase 1 of the pandemic triage protocol.

He said the province needs to implement a strict lockdown and use the same health measures that were in place last April moving all schooling online, limiting retail to essential-only, closing non health-related personal services like hair and nail salons, severely limiting or close places of worship, and closing patios.

Adequate sick pay also needs to be implemented, he said.

Some of the components of what the government has been doing with targeted vaccinations, I think thats great, but it simply isnt going to be enough in time to get us out of that danger that were in, Gibney said.

[email protected]

Twitter.com/JunkerAnna

Financial Post May 12, 2021
f
Originally posted at https://financialpost.com/pmn/press-releases-pmn/business-wire-news-releases-pmn/theres-no-room-for-discrimination-against-people-with-disabilities-cupe-ontario-and-joel-harden-call-for-consultation-and-revision-of-triage-protocol

Press Releases Business Wire News Releases

“There’s No Room for Discrimination Against People With Disabilities”: CUPE Ontario and Joel Harden Call for Consultation and Revision of Triage Protocol Author of the article: Business Wire
Business Wire
Publishing date: May 12, 2021 23 hours ago 2 minute read Join the conversation
TORONTO The Ontario Governments draft plan to ration access to at-capacity critical-care is discriminatory and must be revised immediately, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario and Joel Harden, NDP MPP for Ottawa Centre and the Critic for Accessibility & Persons with Disabilities.

The fact that the draft plan says that doctors will look at your short-term mortality risk or your capacity for self-care to decide if you get access to limited intensive care units is nothing more than blatant discrimination against people with disabilities, said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. This dangerously violates the foundational rights of Ontarians our members care for and the rights of many of our members themselves.

While Health Minister Christine Elliott recently said that Ontario may not need to resort to rationing, due to reduced demand for ICUs, concerns raised by CUPE Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), disability organizations, and the six bioethicists on the governments advisory Bioethics Table remain.

Im not reassured by that at all, said Michele Gardner, member of CUPE Ontarios Workers with Disabilities Committee. This discriminatory triage protocol can still be used at any time. It makes it clear that people with disabilities are at risk of not getting the critical-care they need because of explicitly biased criteria.

The protocol must be revised to remove any discrimination and we must be consulted moving forward, added Gardner. The OHRC has raised the problem of lack of consultation, and so have the six members of the bioethics table, who rightly said that without it this government is only intensifying the vulnerability of people with disabilities.

More than a year has passed since over 200 community organizations wrote to the Ford government urging it to remove disability discrimination from its triage protocol. The response so far has been silence, said Harden. Its time to stop the secrecy surrounding critical care triage and for the Ford government to remove disability discrimination from its protocol.

Contacts

Daniel Tseghay
Communications Representative, CUPE
[email protected]






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London, Ont., MPP introduces bill to cover devices that help with mental health treatment


With the number of people struggling with mental health on the rise, a local MPP is proposing a new bill that would cover devices used to support mental health treatment.

NDP London North Centre MPP Terence Kernaghan says if approved, the bill would extend Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program to cover technological devices used to support mental health care treatments and the data costs associated with them.

“This would include coverage of devices which allow patients to virtually access medical and counselling appointments, relay heart rate, physical activity, and sleep data to health-care providers and automatically dispense medications,” said Kernaghan.

Read more:
‘It’s so frustrating’ — Small businesses struggling to get money from Ontario support grant

Kernaghan says this is especially important with the ongoing issue of hallway health care.

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“We have to ensure Ontarians experiencing mental health crisis are not left stranded in hospital hallways or beds because our health-care system simply does not have space for them,” Kernaghan said.

“By providing mental health supports right at home with assistive devices, this bill can help people lead fuller more independent and safer lives and help people end the cycle of crisis and hospitalization.”

Research by the London Health Science Centre researchers showed Ontarians with mental health needs showed positive health outcomes once they had access to devices that support their treatment plan.

Read more:
Looking after your kids’ mental health during COVID-19 — Be present, be aware

A study by researcher Cheryl Forchuk of Lawson Health Research Institute found that Ontarians who use assistive devices for their mental health felt more empowered, less isolated and more integrated in their communities.

According to the study, nearly 80 per cent of participants found assistive devices for mental health improved their overall health and resulted in fewer visits to a social service provider or a hospital emergency department.

“The pandemic has reaffirmed that there can be no health without mental health. In the 21st century, we know new technologies are available to support mental as well as physical health,” Forchuk said.

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“We need legislation that does not discriminate based on the type of disability.”

Kernaghan’s private member’s bill, Bill 277, will be debated in the legislature and voted on Thursday.




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





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Court tosses Ontario vaccine rollout discrimination lawsuit over jurisdiction


TORONTO — A claim that alleges Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout discriminated against the vulnerable raises important issues, Divisional Court said on Wednesday as it nevertheless tossed the case.

In its decision, the court declined to declare the rollout unconstitutional on the grounds that it had no jurisdiction to do so and not because the application was without merit.

“The broader issues raised by the applicant are important and pressing issues,” the court said. “There is nothing frivolous and vexatious about the issue of vaccine equity in the context of a global deadly pandemic.”

Read more:
Thousands of Ontarians book COVID-19 vaccine appointments within hours of expanded eligibility

The constitutional challenge, launched in March by David Daneshvar, of Toronto, turned on whether vulnerable people have had fair access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Those include some people with disabilities, homebound seniors, residents of hot spot neighbourhoods and the homeless.

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Daneshvar, 28, who has several disabilities, wanted the government to ensure public health units made equity central to their vaccination plans, and to give them the necessary resources to do so. He also wanted the court to declare the rollout had violated his constitutional rights.

“The applicant’s concerns with accessing a vaccine and with ensuring that he and other Ontarians have equitable access to a vaccine are understandable and likely shared by many people in the province,” the court said. “However, the applicant has not established that the Divisional Court has jurisdiction to grant the broad declaratory relief he seeks.”

In a statement, Daneshvar’s lawyers stood by their assertion that the Ontario government had neglected its duty to provide fair and equitable vaccination access.

“For months, it has been clear the government had the scientific evidence but lacked the will to design a vaccine strategy that prioritized and protected the most vulnerable among us,” David Baker and Chris Holcroft said. “Repeated failures have increased the risk of infection and death for some people.”

The court hearing, they said, had demonstrated the government’s lack of plans to vaccinate people without internet or phone, or who faced language, mobility, or communications challenges.


Click to play video: 'Thousands book COVID-19 vaccine appointment within hours of expanded eligibility in Toronto'







Thousands book COVID-19 vaccine appointment within hours of expanded eligibility in Toronto


Thousands book COVID-19 vaccine appointment within hours of expanded eligibility in Toronto

In its legal filings, the province argued the application was premised on a “fundamental factual and legal misunderstanding” of how COVID-19 vaccines are administered in Ontario.

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While the government devised high-level policy directions, it is up to the province’s 34 public health units to administer vaccines and implement a rollout suitable to their local populations, the province argued.

“Neither the minister nor any other provincial official approved or purported to approve the individual vaccination plans prepared by Ontario’s 34 public health units,” the government said. “The applicant has simply sued the wrong respondent.”

A request from the government to bar Daneshvar’s lawyers from getting paid, including by legal aid, for presenting the “ill advised” case drew sharp rebuke from Divisional Court.

“This request is unprecedented and certainly not warranted,” the court said.





© 2021 The Canadian Press





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