Trudeau responds to commissioner’s report on RCMP handling of information requests



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would be examining the recommendations by the information commissioner in a scathing report on the RCMP’s handling of access to information requests, saying they would then implement those that help restore Canadians’ confidence in the access to information system.



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The Ford Government Issues a Very Weak Policy Directive to Ontario School Boards on Addressing Requests by a Student with a Disability to Bring Their Service Animal to School


There Is No Assurance It Will Make It Easier for Students with Disabilities to Bring a Service Animal to an Ontario School

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

September 10, 2019

SUMMARY

On September 9, 2019, the Ford Government issued a palpably weak policy direction to Ontario school boards on how to handle requests by students with disabilities to permit them to bring a service animal to school. It is good that this policy direction requires every Ontario school board to develop a policy for dealing with such requests. However, it falls far short of what students with disabilities and their families need. It does not require those school board policies to be good. It does not ensure that students with disabilities will be more readily able to bring a service animal to school than has been the case in the past, even though the Tories talked about making that easier, during the 2018 Ontario election campaign.

The Ford Government’s new policy direction to school boards, set out below, reads as if the school boards themselves wrote it, in order to require little of them, while appearing to show provincial leadership. The provincial policy wastefully requires each of over 70 school boards to reinvent the wheel. It burdens students with disabilities and their families with having to once again lobby every one of those school boards. Doug Ford’s policy directive provides no assurance of consistency across the province.

There are several deficiencies with the new provincial policy directive. For example:

* The provincial policy directive ultimately leaves it to over 70 school boards to invent their own rules on when they will permit a student with a disability to bring a service animal to school. In that regard, it largely sets no provincial standards at all. Each school is to decide each case, on a case-by-case basis. That really says nothing new.

* While the new provincial policy directive refers in brief and summary terms to the duty to accommodate students with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code, Doug Ford’s policy new directive ultimately leaves it to school boards to decide when it is “appropriate” to allow a student to bring a service animal to school. The Ontario Human Rights Code does not, however, make the test a sweeping open-ended and unpredictable one of “appropriateness”.

* The provincial policy erroneously does not direct school boards that they should allow for trial periods with a service animal before refusing this accommodation outright for a student.

* The provincial policy directive erroneously focuses on requiring or considering documentation from “medical professionals.” Of course, it should be open to a student with a disability or their family to bring forward medical documentation if they wish. However, doctors likely have no expertise in this area. People with disabilities have for years battled against the undue medicalization of their disability accessibility and accommodation needs.

Two years ago, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario rendered a seriously flawed decision in this area. The Waterloo Catholic District School Board had wrongly refused to let a student with autism bring his autism service dog to school. The family took the case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Shockingly, the family lost the case.

In a detailed article to be published in the National Journal of Constitutional Law, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky shows that the human rights ruling is riddled with errors. Doug Ford’s new provincial policy directive does not address and solve those problems. That article can be downloaded by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/how-ontarios-human-rights-tribunal-went-off-the-rails-in-an-important-disability-accessibility-case-read-the-new-article-by-aoda-alliance-chair-david-lepofsky-on-the-tribunals-ruling-against-an/

Here, the Ford Government had a great opportunity to do much better that it has done. For years, Ontario has had a patchwork of different practices from school board to school board. Some allow service animals. Some do not. Some have no policy. The Ford Government could and should have surveyed the policies of those Ontario school boards that allow service animals, and drawn on the best of them to create a strong, inclusive provincial policy for all school boards to follow, that would be more favourable to meeting the needs of students with disabilities . Instead, the Ford Government dropped the ball and did a tremendous disservice to students with disabilities.

Perhaps the most stunning illustration of the deficiency in this new provincial policy is that under it, the family that fought the Waterloo Catholic District School Board a few years ago in that human rights case could well have ended up with the same refusal from that school board, had this provincial policy been in place at that time. It is a matter of public record that the mother of the student in that case, Ms. Amy Fee, has since won a seat in the Ontario Legislature, as a Conservative MPP. The Ford Government should have been prepared to do better for her and for the other families in her situation.

The Ford Government should quickly issue a supplemental policy to strengthen its weak September 9, 2019 provincial directive to school boards. It will also now be up to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee to try to set strong provincial accessibility standards in this area. The Ford Government had frozen its work for over one year. It is having its first preliminary conference call this afternoon to initiate the resumption of its work. MORE DETAILS
New Ford Government Policy Direction to Ontario School Boards on Allowing Students with Disabilities to Bring A Service Animal to School in Ontario

Originally posted at: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/ppm163.pdf Policy/Program Memorandum No. 163
Date of Issue: September 9, 2019
Effective: Subject: Until revoked or modified
Application: School Board Policies on Service Animals
Directors of Education
Supervisory Officers and Secretary-Treasurers of School Authorities Executive Director, Provincial and Demonstration Schools Principals of Elementary Schools
Principals of Secondary Schools

Purpose
All school boards1 in Ontario are required to develop, implement, and maintain a policy on student use of service animals in schools.2 The purpose of this memorandum is to provide direction to school boards on the development and implementation of their policy. The ministry’s expectations regarding the components of a board’s policy are identified in this memorandum as well as the implementation and reporting requirements.

School boards are expected to:
* allow a student to be accompanied by a service animal in school when doing so would be an appropriate accommodation to support the student’s learning needs and would meet the school board’s duty to accommodate students with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code;
* make determinations on whether to approve requests for a service animal on a case-by-case basis, based on the individual needs of each student;
* put in place consistent and transparent processes that allow for meaningful consideration of requests for service animals to accompany students in school.

This memorandum applies to all publicly funded elementary and secondary schools, including extended-day programs operated by school boards. However, this memorandum does not apply to licensed child-care providers, including those operating on the premises of publicly funded schools.

Context

The Ministry of Education is committed to supporting school boards in providing appropriate accommodations to all students with demonstrable learning needs, including special education programs and services in Ontario’s schools.

The term “service animal” refers to any animal that provides support to a person with a disability. Traditionally, service animals have been dogs, and dogs remain the most common species of service animal; however, other species may also provide services to individuals with disabilities. The types of functions performed by service animals are diverse, and may or may not include sensory, medical, therapeutic, and emotional support services.
In Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the “AODA”) sets out a framework related to the use of service animals by individuals with a disability. The Blind Persons’ Rights Act sets out a framework specifically for the use of guide dogs for individuals who are blind.

People with disabilities who use service animals to assist them with disability-related needs are protected under the ground of “disability” in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Under the Human Rights Code, school boards have a duty to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Accessible Education for Students with Disabilities (2018) states that: “Depending on a student’s individual needs and the nature of the education service being provided, accommodations may include . . . modifying ‘no pets’ policies to allow guide dogs and other service animals.”3

Nothing in this memorandum detracts from other legal obligations of school boards under applicable law, including the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Definition of “Service Animal”

In the context of this memorandum, “service animal” means an animal that provides support relating to a student’s disability to assist that student in meaningfully accessing education. Due consideration should be given to any documentation on how the service animal assists with the student’s learning needs, and disability-related needs (e.g., documentation from the student’s medical professionals).

School boards must make a determination, on a case-by-case basis, as to whether a service animal may accompany a student taking into account all the circumstances, including the needs of the student and the school community and a school board’s obligation to provide meaningful access to education.

School boards may also consider including service animals in training in their service animal policies.

Components of School Board Policies on Service Animals
When developing their policy on student use of service animals, school boards must respect their obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the AODA, the Blind Persons’ Rights Act, and collective agreements as well as other applicable laws and government policies. When developing their policies on student use of service animals, school boards are encouraged to consult with local partners, as appropriate.

Each school board policy on student use of service animals must contain, at a minimum, the following components:

Communication Plan. The school board policy should say how the school board will inform the school community about the process by which parents4 can apply to have their child’s service animal in the school. It should also say how it will inform the school community of the presence of any service animals at the school.

Process. The school board policy should lay out how requests for students to be accompanied by service animals in schools can be made and the steps in the school board decision-making process. School board processes must be timely, equitable, and readily available, and decisions must be based on a student’s individual strengths and needs.

Policies should include the following:
* a clearly articulated process for a parent to follow when making a request for a student to be accompanied by a service animal in school, including: o a primary point of contact;
o supporting materials for initiating requests(e.g., templates);
* information around the process through which a determination is made about whether or not a service animal is an appropriate accommodation. This could include:
o a meeting or meetings for all appropriate parties(e.g., parents, school staff) to discuss the request for a service animal; o a list of documentation that a parent must provide;
o a list identifying who must be consulted in making the determination;
* information about the factors the board will consider when making a case-by-case determination, including:
o any documentation on how the service animal supports the student’s learning needs and/or disability-related needs, including documentation from the student’s medical professionals; o the disability-related needs and learning needs of the student; o other accommodations available;
o the rights of other students and the needs of the school community; o any training or certification of the service animal;
o any special considerations that may arise if the animal is a species other than a dog;
* consideration of privacy rights of the student seeking to bring a service animal to school;
* information about how the school board will document its decision regarding a request. For example, if a school board approves a request, that information could be recorded in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), if one exists;
* if the school board approves a request for a service animal: a process for developing a plan that addresses:
o the ongoing documentation required for the animal(e.g., annual vaccination records); o the type of support the service animal will provide to the student; o who will be the handler of the service animal while at the school;
o a plan for how the care of the animal will be provided(including supporting the safety and biological needs of the animal); o how the animal will be readily identifiable;
o transportation of the animal to and from school;
o time line for implementation;
* if the school board approves a request for a service animal: strategies for sharing information with members of the broader school community who may be impacted by the decision (e.g., other students, parents, educators, school staff, volunteers, Special Education Advisory Committees) and organizations that use the school facilities (e.g., licensed child-care providers operating in schools of the board), while identifying how the student’s privacy will be considered;
* if the school board denies a request for a service animal: a statement that the school board will provide a written response to the family that made the request in a timely manner.

Health, Safety, and Other Concerns. The school board policy should include a protocol for the board to hear and address concerns from other students and staff who may come in contact with a service animal, and from parents of other students, including health and safety concerns such as allergies and fear or anxiety associated with the animal. Wherever possible, school boards should take steps to minimize conflict through cooperative problem-solving, and/or other supports which may include training for staff and students.

Roles and Responsibilities. The school board policy should clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of students, parents, and school staff regarding service animals at school, taking into account local circumstances.

Training. The school board policy should consider strategies for providing training related to service animals, as appropriate, for school staff who have direct contact with service animals in schools.

Review of School Board Service Animal Policies and Data Collection. The school board policy should be reviewed by the board on a regular basis.

School boards are expected to develop a process for data collection and to collect data regularly, including, but not limited to:

* total number of requests for students to be accompanied by service animals; * whether requests are for elementary or secondary school students; * the number of requests approved and denied;
* if denied, the rationale for the decision, including a description of other supports and/or services provided to the student to support their access to education; * species of service animals requested and approved;
* types of needs being supported (e.g., medical, physical, emotional).

School boards should use this data to inform their cyclical policy reviews.

Implementation

School boards must implement and make publicly available on their websites their newly developed or updated policies and procedures on student use of service animals by January 1, 2020.

School Board Reporting
School boards are required to report to the Ministry of Education, upon request, regarding their activities to achieve the expectations outlined in this memorandum. This could include specific data collected.
1 In this memorandum, school board(s) and board(s) refer to district school boards and school authorities. This memorandum also applies to Provincial and Demonstration Schools.
2 2. This policy is established under the authority of paragraph 29.5 of subsection 8(1) of the Education Act and school boards are required to develop their policies on service animals in schools in accordance with this policy.
3 Policy on Accessible Education for Students with Disabilities (Ontario: Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2018), pp. 5960.
4 4. In this memorandum, parent(s) refers to parent(s) and guardian(s).




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The Ford Government Issues a Very Weak Policy Directive to Ontario School Boards on Addressing Requests by a Student with a Disability to Bring Their Service Animal to School – There Is No Assurance It Will Make It Easier for Students with Disabilities to Bring a Service Animal to an Ontario School


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

The Ford Government Issues a Very Weak Policy Directive to Ontario School Boards on Addressing Requests by a Student with a Disability to Bring Their Service Animal to School – There Is No Assurance It Will Make It Easier for Students with Disabilities to Bring a Service Animal to an Ontario School

September 10, 2019

          SUMMARY

On September 9, 2019, the Ford Government issued a palpably weak policy direction to Ontario school boards on how to handle requests by students with disabilities to permit them to bring a service animal to school. It is good that this policy direction requires every Ontario school board to develop a policy for dealing with such requests. However, it falls far short of what students with disabilities and their families need. It does not require those school board policies to be good. It does not ensure that students with disabilities will be more readily able to bring a service animal to school than has been the case in the past, even though the Tories talked about making that easier, during the 2018 Ontario election campaign.

The Ford Government’s new policy direction to school boards, set out below, reads as if the school boards themselves wrote it, in order to require little of them, while appearing to show provincial leadership. The provincial policy wastefully requires each of over 70 school boards to reinvent the wheel. It burdens students with disabilities and their families with having to once again lobby every one of those school boards. Doug Ford’s policy directive provides no assurance of consistency across the province.

There are several deficiencies with the new provincial policy directive. For example:

* The provincial policy directive ultimately leaves it to over 70 school boards to invent their own rules on when they will permit a student with a disability to bring a service animal to school. In that regard, it largely sets no provincial standards at all. Each school is to decide each case, on a case-by-case basis. That really says nothing new.

* While the new provincial policy directive  refers in brief and summary terms to the duty to accommodate students with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code, Doug Ford’s policy new directive ultimately leaves it to school boards to decide when it is “appropriate” to allow a student to bring a service animal to school. The Ontario Human Rights Code does not, however, make the test a sweeping open-ended and unpredictable one of “appropriateness”.

* The provincial policy erroneously does not direct school boards that they should allow for trial periods with a service animal before refusing this accommodation outright for a student.

* The provincial policy directive erroneously focuses on requiring or considering documentation from “medical professionals.” Of course, it should be open to a student with a disability or their family to bring forward medical documentation if they wish. However, doctors likely have no expertise in this area. People with disabilities have for years battled against the undue medicalization of their disability accessibility and accommodation needs.

Two years ago, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario rendered a seriously flawed decision in this area. The Waterloo Catholic District School Board had wrongly refused to let a student with autism bring his autism service dog to school. The family took the case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Shockingly, the family lost the case.

In a detailed article to be published in the National Journal of Constitutional Law, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky shows that the human rights ruling is riddled with errors. Doug Ford’s new provincial policy directive does not address and solve those problems. That article can be downloaded by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/how-ontarios-human-rights-tribunal-went-off-the-rails-in-an-important-disability-accessibility-case-read-the-new-article-by-aoda-alliance-chair-david-lepofsky-on-the-tribunals-ruling-against-an/

Here, the Ford Government had a great opportunity to do much better that it has done. For years, Ontario has had a patchwork of different practices from school board to school board. Some allow service animals. Some do not. Some have no policy. The Ford Government could and should have surveyed the policies of those Ontario school boards that allow service animals, and drawn on the best of them to create a strong, inclusive provincial policy for all school boards to follow, that would be more favourable to meeting the needs of students with disabilities . Instead, the Ford Government dropped the ball and did a tremendous disservice to students with disabilities.

Perhaps the most stunning illustration of the deficiency in this new provincial policy is that under it, the family that fought the Waterloo Catholic District School Board a few years ago in that human rights case could well have ended up with the same refusal from that school board, had this provincial policy been in place at that time. It is a matter of public record that the mother of the student in that case, Ms. Amy Fee, has since won a seat in the Ontario Legislature, as a Conservative MPP. The Ford Government should have been prepared to do better for her and for the other families in her situation.

The Ford Government should quickly issue a supplemental policy to strengthen its weak September 9, 2019 provincial directive to school boards. It will also now be up to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee to try to set strong provincial accessibility standards in this area. The Ford Government had frozen its work for over one year. It is having its first preliminary conference call this afternoon to initiate the resumption of its work.

MORE DETAILS

New Ford Government Policy Direction to Ontario School Boards on Allowing Students with Disabilities to Bring A Service Animal to School in Ontario

Originally posted at: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/ppm163.pdf

Policy/Program Memorandum No. 163

Date of Issue: September 9, 2019

Effective: Subject: Until revoked or modified

Application: School Board Policies on Service Animals

Directors of Education

Supervisory Officers and Secretary-Treasurers of School Authorities Executive Director, Provincial and Demonstration Schools

Principals of Elementary Schools

Principals of Secondary Schools

Purpose

All school boards[1] in Ontario are required to develop, implement, and maintain a policy on student use of service animals in schools.[2] The purpose of this memorandum is to provide direction to school boards on the development and implementation of their policy. The ministry’s expectations regarding the components of a board’s policy are identified in this memorandum as well as the implementation and reporting requirements.

School boards are expected to:

  • allow a student to be accompanied by a service animal in school when doing so would be an appropriate accommodation to support the student’s learning needs and would meet the school board’s duty to accommodate students with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code;
  • make determinations on whether to approve requests for a service animal on a case-by-case basis, based on the individual needs of each student;
  • put in place consistent and transparent processes that allow for meaningful consideration of requests for service animals to accompany students in school.

This memorandum applies to all publicly funded elementary and secondary schools, including extended-day programs operated by school boards. However, this memorandum does not apply to licensed child-care providers, including those operating on the premises of publicly funded schools.

Context

 

The Ministry of Education is committed to supporting school boards in providing appropriate accommodations to all students with demonstrable learning needs, including special education programs and services in Ontario’s schools.

The term “service animal” refers to any animal that provides support to a person with a disability. Traditionally, service animals have been dogs, and dogs remain the most common species of service animal; however, other species may also provide services to individuals with disabilities. The types of functions performed by service animals are diverse, and may or may not include sensory, medical, therapeutic, and emotional support services.

In Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the “AODA”) sets out a framework related to the use of service animals by individuals with a disability. The Blind Persons’ Rights Act sets out a framework specifically for the use of guide dogs for individuals who are blind.

People with disabilities who use service animals to assist them with disability-related needs are protected under the ground of “disability” in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Under the Human Rights Code, school boards have a duty to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Accessible Education for Students with Disabilities (2018) states that: “Depending on a student’s individual needs and the nature of the education service being provided, accommodations may include . . . modifying ‘no pets’ policies to allow guide dogs and other service animals.”[3]

Nothing in this memorandum detracts from other legal obligations of school boards under applicable law, including the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Definition of “Service Animal”

 

In the context of this memorandum, “service animal” means an animal that provides support relating to a student’s disability to assist that student in meaningfully accessing education. Due consideration should be given to any documentation on how the service animal assists with the student’s learning needs, and disability-related needs (e.g., documentation from the student’s medical professionals).

School boards must make a determination, on a case-by-case basis, as to whether a service animal may accompany a student taking into account all the circumstances, including the needs of the student and the school community and a school board’s obligation to provide meaningful access to education.

School boards may also consider including service animals in training in their service animal policies.

Components of School Board Policies on Service Animals

When developing their policy on student use of service animals, school boards must respect their obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the AODA, the Blind Persons’ Rights Act, and collective agreements as well as other applicable laws and government policies. When developing their policies on student use of service animals, school boards are encouraged to consult with local partners, as appropriate.

Each school board policy on student use of service animals must contain, at a minimum, the following components:

Communication Plan. The school board policy should say how the school board will inform the school community about the process by which parents[4] can apply to have their child’s service animal in the school. It should also say how it will inform the school community of the presence of any service animals at the school.

Process. The school board policy should lay out how requests for students to be accompanied by service animals in schools can be made and the steps in the school board decision-making process. School board processes must be timely, equitable, and readily available, and decisions must be based on a student’s individual strengths and needs.

Policies should include the following:

  • a clearly articulated process for a parent to follow when making a request for a student to be accompanied by a service animal in school, including:
    • a primary point of contact;
    • supporting materials for initiating requests(e.g., templates);
  • information around the process through which a determination is made about whether or not a service animal is an appropriate accommodation. This could include:
    • a meeting or meetings for all appropriate parties(e.g., parents, school staff) to discuss the request for a service animal;
    • a list of documentation that a parent must provide;
    • a list identifying who must be consulted in making the determination;
  • information about the factors the board will consider when making a case-by-case determination, including:
    • any documentation on how the service animal supports the student’s learning needs and/or disability-related needs, including documentation from the student’s medical professionals;
    • the disability-related needs and learning needs of the student;
    • other accommodations available;
    • the rights of other students and the needs of the school community;
    • any training or certification of the service animal;
    • any special considerations that may arise if the animal is a species other than a dog;
  • consideration of privacy rights of the student seeking to bring a service animal to school;
  • information about how the school board will document its decision regarding a request. For example, if a school board approves a request, that information could be recorded in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), if one exists;
  • if the school board approves a request for a service animal: a process for developing a plan that addresses:
    • the ongoing documentation required for the animal(e.g., annual vaccination records);
    • the type of support the service animal will provide to the student;
    • who will be the handler of the service animal while at the school;
    • a plan for how the care of the animal will be provided(including supporting the safety and biological needs of the animal);
    • how the animal will be readily identifiable;
    • transportation of the animal to and from school;
    • time line for implementation;
  • if the school board approves a request for a service animal: strategies for sharing information with members of the broader school community who may be impacted by the decision (e.g., other students, parents, educators, school staff, volunteers, Special Education Advisory Committees) and organizations that use the school facilities (e.g., licensed child-care providers operating in schools of the board), while identifying how the student’s privacy will be considered;
  • if the school board denies a request for a service animal: a statement that the school board will provide a written response to the family that made the request in a timely manner.

Health, Safety, and Other Concerns. The school board policy should include a protocol for the board to hear and address concerns from other students and staff who may come in contact with a service animal, and from parents of other students, including health and safety concerns such as allergies and fear or anxiety associated with the animal. Wherever possible, school boards should take steps to minimize conflict through cooperative problem-solving, and/or other supports which may include training for staff and students.

Roles and Responsibilities. The school board policy should clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of students, parents, and school staff regarding service animals at school, taking into account local circumstances.

Training. The school board policy should consider strategies for providing training related to service animals, as appropriate, for school staff who have direct contact with service animals in schools.

Review of School Board Service Animal Policies and Data Collection. The school board policy should be reviewed by the board on a regular basis.

School boards are expected to develop a process for data collection and to collect data regularly, including, but not limited to:

  • total number of requests for students to be accompanied by service animals;
  • whether requests are for elementary or secondary school students;
  • the number of requests approved and denied;
  • if denied, the rationale for the decision, including a description of other supports and/or services provided to the student to support their access to education;
  • species of service animals requested and approved;
  • types of needs being supported (e.g., medical, physical, emotional).

School boards should use this data to inform their cyclical policy reviews.

Implementation

School boards must implement and make publicly available on their websites their newly developed or updated policies and procedures on student use of service animals by January 1, 2020.

School Board Reporting

School boards are required to report to the Ministry of Education, upon request, regarding their activities to achieve the expectations outlined in this memorandum. This could include specific

data collected.

[1] In this memorandum, school board(s) and board(s) refer to district school boards and school authorities. This memorandum also applies to Provincial and Demonstration Schools.

[2] 2. This policy is established under the authority of paragraph 29.5 of subsection 8(1) of the Education Act and school boards are required to develop their policies on service animals in schools in accordance with this policy.

[3] Policy on Accessible Education for Students with Disabilities (Ontario: Ontario Human Rights

Commission, 2018), pp. 59–60.

[4] 4. In this memorandum, parent(s) refers to parent(s) and guardian(s).



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Please Tell the Federal Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada, that Requests Amendments to Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Please Tell the Federal Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada, that Requests Amendments to Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

September 28, 2018

          SUMMARY

Here’s a quick and easy way to have your say! The AODA Alliance has just submitted its finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. Our brief asks Parliament to make a series of amendments to the bill, in order to make it a strong, effective and good law. It is the result of months of work.

Please let Parliament and the Federal Government know if you support our brief. If you are really busy, just a one-sentence email to them, would help. We give you the email addresses to use, below.

For example you might say the following, either as an individual, or on behalf of an organization that you can speak for:

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

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

We recommend that you send an email to:

[email protected]

That is the email address for the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities:

Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street

House of Commons

Ottawa ON   K1A 0A6

Fax: 613-947-3089

You should also address your email to the minister who is championing this bill, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister for People with Disabilities. You can email her at:

[email protected]

Please also copy the AODA Alliance on your email, so we know who has voiced their support for us. Email us at:

[email protected]

You can download the AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 finalized brief on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, by clicking here:

https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Sept-27-2018-AODA-Alliance-Brief-to-Parliament-on-Bill-C81-Final-Version.docx

Download the text of Bill C-81 at First Reading in Parliament by visiting:

https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2018/click-here-to-download-in-ms-word-the-text-at-first-reading-june-20-2018-of-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act/

Things are moving quite fast with Bill C-81. This week, Bill C-81 passed Second Reading in the House of Commons. We will have more to report to you on what was said during Second Reading debates in an upcoming AODA Alliance Update.

We anticipate that Bill C-81 will be coming quite soon before the Standing Committee of the House of Commons for public hearings. We have applied to appear at those hearings. Our brief will be the basis of our presentation.

We hope our brief will also help others who present to the Standing Committee, and that as many as possible will support and endorse our brief, in addition to any recommendations that they choose to bring forward. Feel free to make use of, and even cut and paste from our brief, as much as you want!

Below, we set out a five-page summary of the brief. Our brief is quite detailed. This is because Bill C-81 is itself over 100 pages long, and quite complicated.

For each issue we identify in the brief, we explain what the issue is, and quote the relevant part of the bill. We explain our concerns, and make concrete recommendations on how to address those concerns.

At the end of the brief is an appendix. It gathers together in one place all the recommendations set out in the brief. Each recommendation in the appendix has one, two or three *s next to it. These are meant to signal the priority level of each recommendation. All our recommendations are, of course, important.

This brief builds on the AODA Alliance’s preliminary analysis of the bill which we raced to make public the day after the bill was tabled in Parliament. It also builds on the draft brief which we made public on August 3, 2018, in order for one and all to send us their feedback and suggestions. It builds on the Discussion Paper on the promised national accessibility law that we made public two years ago, and on which we received very helpful feedback.

This brief includes almost all of the contents that were in our August 2, 2018 draft brief. A few topics and details were added as a result of our further research and feedback that we received on our August 2, 2018 draft brief.

We are very indebted to all who have shared their input now and in the past. It has really helped with this major project. We want to especially thank the ARCH Disability Law Centre. As ARCH developed its own analysis of the bill, we and ARCH exchanged our drafts in progress, and shared our feedback. This helped improve all our efforts.

We hope that disability organizations and others across Canada will find our ideas helpful. Please circulate our brief and encourage others to support it, using the contact information we set out above.

Do you want to learn the steps a bill like Bill C-81 must go through to get through Canada’s Parliament and become a law? Check out the AODA Alliance’s introductory guide for beginners on how a law gets through Parliament.

          MORE DETAILS

Summary of the AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 Brief on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

a) General

We congratulate the Federal Government for committing in 2015 to pass a national accessibility law, and for introducing Bill C-81 in Parliament in June 2018 for First Reading. This bill is quite a good start. It contains a number of important ingredients. It embodies a number of the ideas that we shared with the Federal Government during its two-year public consultation. It shows a serious effort by the Federal Government to craft constructive legislation.

However, the bill has substantial deficiencies that need significant improvement. These improvements are all readily achievable within the bill’s overall framework. We certainly don’t ask the Federal Government to start again from scratch.

With the amendments proposed in this brief, this bill can be turned into good legislation. Without those amendments, it will not be sufficient to achieve its important goals. The need for these improvements to this bill does not take away from the fact that the Federal Government is commended for bringing this bill forward, and for including in it a number of the core components that it did.

We look forward to working with the Federal Government and with all parties in Parliament to get the bill improved through the debates and hearings process. We strongly urge Parliament to hold robust, open, nation-wide, travelling legislative hearings on this bill, where people with disabilities and all Canadians can offer ideas for improvements.

b) Helpful Features in the Bill

This bill’s good and promising features include the following:

It is good that by its title, this bill aims to create an accessible and barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities.

The bill endeavours to broadly define the key terms “disability” and “barrier.”

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

The bill allows for the development of non-binding accessibility standards, which can guide federally or provincially regulated organizations. It allows for the enactment of these standards, either “as is” or with modifications. When enacted, these would become enforceable regulations, that are binding on organizations that the Federal Government can regulate.

The bill aims to provide effective enforcement and for the public accountability of obligated organizations for accessibility efforts, including a formal complaint process. It also provides for legislative and Independent Reviews of the bill’s effectiveness over a period of years.

The bill includes a regime for federally-related organizations to create multi-year accessibility plans and to update these over a period of years.

c) Areas Where the Bill Needs Improvement

The bill’s deficiencies, needing correction by amendments, include the following:

The bill’s “purpose clause” is too weak. It falls well short of the goal proclaimed in the bill’s title. The purpose clause only seeks the “progressive realization,” of a barrier-free Canada. It does not set a much-needed specific deadline for reaching full accessibility, something the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act commendably has. This means that under this bill, people with disabilities could face the prospect of disability accessibility barriers for the indefinite future.

The bill’s well-intended definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are too narrow.

The bill gives the Federal Government and various accessibility agencies a set of helpful powers to promote accessibility. However, it does not impose any duty on them to use those powers, or any mandatory time lines for the major implementation steps that the Government must take to get this bill effectively implemented. For example, the bill commendably empowers the Government to create accessibility standards or regulations. However, it wrongly does not require the Government to ever make any accessibility regulations. Moreover, it wrongly splinters power to make enforceable accessibility regulations over more than one governmental body. This threatens to create a patchwork of confusing and potentially inconsistent if not contradictory accessibility regulations.

The bill wrongly splinters the important power to enact binding and enforceable accessibility standard regulations among three federal bodies, the Federal Cabinet, the Canada Transportation Agency (CTA) and the Canada Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) All power to enact accessibility standard regulations should be assigned to the Federal Cabinet.

The bill wrongly splinters enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over a number of different public enforcement agencies, rather than providing people with disabilities with the simple, easy-to-navigate, one-stop enforcement process that they need. This wasteful duplication will slow and weaken the bill’s effective implementation, and risks inconsistent and unpredictable enforcement. It unfairly makes it harder for people with disabilities to get effective enforcement of the bill. They risk being unfairly shuffled back and forth from one federal enforcement agency to another.

For example, the bill wrongly leaves enforcement for broadcasting and telecommunications to the CRTC and for transportation to the CTA. It does so despite the CRTC’s and CTA’s inadequate track records on enforcing accessibility over many years.

Each of the Accessibility Commissioner, the CRTC and the CTA will have to get regulations enacted to cover very similar topics. This duplication again risks inconsistencies, even further delays, and the real possibility that some sectors of the economy will have these regulations ready for them before other sectors. It unfairly burdens the disability community to lobby each of these different public oversight agencies on the same issues in these duplicative regulations.

The bill unjustifiably gives various public bodies sweeping, unnecessary, unjustified and unaccountable powers to exempt any or all obligated organizations from a number of important of their accessibility obligations under the bill.

The bill helpfully requires obligated organizations to establish accessibility plans, but does not require them to be good plans. It does not require an obligated organization to implement its accessibility plan. It does not provide people with disabilities with an avenue to lodge complaints against an organization if it has a deficient plan, or no plan at all. It also requires some obligated organizations, namely transportation organizations, telecommunications organizations and broadcasts, to make two sets of plans at the same time, and gives different federal oversight agencies mandates over each of these plans. This confusing and convoluted approach will weaken the bill’s implementation, by unnecessarily making it more complex and confusing.

The bill unnecessarily delays some important duties of obligated organizations, and the corresponding rights of people with disabilities, until certain technical regulations are passed. If those regulations are not passed, obligated organizations won’t have those important duties. Thus, the disability community would have to lobby various federal entities, possibly for years, to get all those regulations passed.

The bill does not effectively ensure that the Federal Government will use all its levers of readily-available power to promote accessibility across Canada. For example, it does not require the Federal Government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds, to create or perpetuate disability barriers, e.g. when federal money contributes to new or renovated infrastructure, or when it is used for federal loans, grants or transfer payments.

The bill commendably has some public accountability requirements for key public organizations or offices that have implementation and enforcement duties, and for obligated organizations. However, these are too weak. Both the Federal Government’s accessibility agencies and obligated organizations should have broader public accountability requirements regarding accessibility.

The bill gives too much power to the federal Cabinet to make regulations. This allows a future Government to weaken or largely gut this bill by mere amendments to regulations, without ever having to bring a bill before Parliament and to publicly debate and vote on such plans.

Several needed ingredients are missing from the bill. This includes, for example, needed provisions on the Federal Government in relation to Indigenous People, and on federal duties to review all federal laws for accessibility issues, to ensure federal elections are accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities, and to ensure that the Federal Government itself operates as a model of an accessible employer and service-provider.

d) Recommended Amendments

This brief recommends that the bill be amended to do such things as the following:

  1. To set the bill’s purpose as achieving a barrier-free Canada by a date the bill will fix, in so far as the Federal Government and Parliament can do so.
  1. To specify that the Federal Government as a whole is responsible for leading Canada to the goal of accessibility, in so far as the Federal Government has constitutional authority to do so.
  1. To ensure that the bill’s definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are broad and inclusive.
  1. To ensure that the bill reaches the actions of all organizations that the Federal Government and Parliament can reach, including any recipients of federal money and all operations within Parliament.
  1. To impose specific duties and implementation time lines on the Federal Government, and on specified public officials and agencies, regarding their roles to implement and enforce the bill. For example, the Federal Government should have a duty to enact and enforce all the accessibility standard regulations needed to achieve the bill’s purpose.
  1. To consolidate all the power to make accessibility standard regulations in the federal Cabinet, rather than splintering this power among other federal agencies, beyond the federal Cabinet.
  1. To consolidate all of the bill’s enforcement in the Accessibility Commissioner, rather than it being splintered among several federal regulatory agencies. If not consolidated, then remove duplicative regulation-making requirements to ensure consistent implementation and enforcement across all accessibility enforcement agencies.
  1. To ensure that key bodies responsible for the bill’s oversight, such as CASDO and the Chief Accessibility Officer, are fully and effectively independent of the Government, and are seen by the public to be independent.
  1. To strengthen the mandates of CASDO, the Accessibility Commissioner and the Chief Accessibility Officer.
  1. To strengthen the openness of the standards development process under the bill, while ensuring that people with disabilities have effective input into accessibility regulations that the Federal Cabinet enacts.
  1. To remove from the bill, or drastically reduce and constrain the sweeping and unnecessary powers to exempt obligated organizations from certain obligations under the bill.
  1. To ensure that obligated organizations’ accessibility plans are good plans, and to ensure that they are implemented and enforceable.
  1. To require that obligated organizations each only have to make one accessibility plan at a time, which will be overseen by the Accessibility Commissioner.
  1. To remove preconditions in the bill that require that certain duties of obligated organizations do not come into effect until and unless certain regulations are enacted.
  1. To increase duties to make public key information on accessibility on a timely basis.
  1. To reduce the power of the Federal Cabinet and key accessibility enforcement agencies to make regulations, especially where regulations could weaken or gut the bill.
  1. To speed up the requirements for future reviews of this bill by Parliament and by an Independent Review which the Federal Government will appoint.
  1. To require the Federal Government to focus specific efforts to address its special responsibilities in relation to Indigenous People with disabilities.
  1. To guarantee that in the case of conflicting legal provisions, the strongest accessibility law always prevails.
  1. To ensure that nothing in the Act, or in its regulations or in any actions taken under it shall reduce in any way any rights which people with disabilities enjoy under law.
  1. To require the Federal Government to review all its statutes and regulations for accessibility barriers.
  1. To enforceably require that no public money can be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, e.g. money spent on procurement, infrastructure, grants, loans or transfer payments.
  1. To require the Federal Government to use all other readily-available levers of power to advance the goal of accessibility.
  1. To require that whenever a federal statute or regulation confers a discretionary power on any federal public official, department or agency, that decision-maker shall take into account, in its exercise, its impact on accessibility for people with disabilities.
  1. To require the Federal Government to ensure that federal elections become barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.
  1. To include effective measures to ensure that the Federal Government becomes a model accessible workplace and service-provider.
  1. To require the Federal Government to develop and implement a plan to ensure that all federally-operated courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts), and federally operated regulatory tribunals (like the CRTC and Canada Transportation Agency) become accessible.



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Please Tell the Federal Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada, that Requests Amendments to Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


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

September 28, 2018

SUMMARY

Here’s a quick and easy way to have your say! The AODA Alliance has just submitted its finalized brief to the Parliament of Canada on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. Our brief asks Parliament to make a series of amendments to the bill, in order to make it a strong, effective and good law. It is the result of months of work.

Please let Parliament and the Federal Government know if you support our brief. If you are really busy, just a one-sentence email to them, would help. We give you the email addresses to use, below.

For example you might say the following, either as an individual, or on behalf of an organization that you can speak for:

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

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

We recommend that you send an email to:
[email protected]

That is the email address for the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities: Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
Fax: 613-947-3089

You should also address your email to the minister who is championing this bill, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister for People with Disabilities. You can email her at: [email protected]

Please also copy the AODA Alliance on your email, so we know who has voiced their support for us. Email us at: [email protected]

You can download the AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 finalized brief on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, by clicking here:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Sept-27-2018-AODA-Alliance-Brief-to-Parliament-on-Bill-C81-Final-Version.docx

Download the text of Bill C-81 at First Reading in Parliament by visiting:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2018/click-here-to-download-in-ms-word-the-text-at-first-reading-june-20-2018-of-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act/ Things are moving quite fast with Bill C-81. This week, Bill C-81 passed Second Reading in the House of Commons. We will have more to report to you on what was said during Second Reading debates in an upcoming AODA Alliance Update.

We anticipate that Bill C-81 will be coming quite soon before the Standing Committee of the House of Commons for public hearings. We have applied to appear at those hearings. Our brief will be the basis of our presentation.

We hope our brief will also help others who present to the Standing Committee, and that as many as possible will support and endorse our brief, in addition to any recommendations that they choose to bring forward. Feel free to make use of, and even cut and paste from our brief, as much as you want!

Below, we set out a five-page summary of the brief. Our brief is quite detailed. This is because Bill C-81 is itself over 100 pages long, and quite complicated.

For each issue we identify in the brief, we explain what the issue is, and quote the relevant part of the bill. We explain our concerns, and make concrete recommendations on how to address those concerns.

At the end of the brief is an appendix. It gathers together in one place all the recommendations set out in the brief. Each recommendation in the appendix has one, two or three *s next to it. These are meant to signal the priority level of each recommendation. All our recommendations are, of course, important.

This brief builds on the AODA Alliance’s preliminary analysis of the bill which we raced to make public the day after the bill was tabled in Parliament. It also builds on the draft brief which we made public on August 3, 2018, in order for one and all to send us their feedback and suggestions. It builds on the Discussion Paper on the promised national accessibility law that we made public two years ago, and on which we received very helpful feedback.

This brief includes almost all of the contents that were in our August 2, 2018 draft brief. A few topics and details were added as a result of our further research and feedback that we received on our August 2, 2018 draft brief.

We are very indebted to all who have shared their input now and in the past. It has really helped with this major project. We want to especially thank the ARCH Disability Law Centre. As ARCH developed its own analysis of the bill, we and ARCH exchanged our drafts in progress, and shared our feedback. This helped improve all our efforts.

We hope that disability organizations and others across Canada will find our ideas helpful. Please circulate our brief and encourage others to support it, using the contact information we set out above.

Do you want to learn the steps a bill like Bill C-81 must go through to get through Canada’s Parliament and become a law? Check out the AODA Alliance’s introductory guide for beginners on how a law gets through Parliament.

MORE DETAILS

Summary of the AODA Alliance’s September 27, 2018 Brief on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

a) General
We congratulate the Federal Government for committing in 2015 to pass a national accessibility law, and for introducing Bill C-81 in Parliament in June 2018 for First Reading. This bill is quite a good start. It contains a number of important ingredients. It embodies a number of the ideas that we shared with the Federal Government during its two-year public consultation. It shows a serious effort by the Federal Government to craft constructive legislation.

However, the bill has substantial deficiencies that need significant improvement. These improvements are all readily achievable within the bill’s overall framework. We certainly don’t ask the Federal Government to start again from scratch.

With the amendments proposed in this brief, this bill can be turned into good legislation. Without those amendments, it will not be sufficient to achieve its important goals. The need for these improvements to this bill does not take away from the fact that the Federal Government is commended for bringing this bill forward, and for including in it a number of the core components that it did.

We look forward to working with the Federal Government and with all parties in Parliament to get the bill improved through the debates and hearings process. We strongly urge Parliament to hold robust, open, nation-wide, travelling legislative hearings on this bill, where people with disabilities and all Canadians can offer ideas for improvements.

b) Helpful Features in the Bill

This bill’s good and promising features include the following:

It is good that by its title, this bill aims to create an accessible and barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities.

The bill endeavours to broadly define the key terms “disability” and “barrier.”

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

The bill allows for the development of non-binding accessibility standards, which can guide federally or provincially regulated organizations. It allows for the enactment of these standards, either “as is” or with modifications. When enacted, these would become enforceable regulations, that are binding on organizations that the Federal Government can regulate.

The bill aims to provide effective enforcement and for the public accountability of obligated organizations for accessibility efforts, including a formal complaint process. It also provides for legislative and Independent Reviews of the bill’s effectiveness over a period of years.

The bill includes a regime for federally-related organizations to create multi-year accessibility plans and to update these over a period of years.

c) Areas Where the Bill Needs Improvement

The bill’s deficiencies, needing correction by amendments, include the following:
The bill’s “purpose clause” is too weak. It falls well short of the goal proclaimed in the bill’s title. The purpose clause only seeks the “progressive realization,” of a barrier-free Canada. It does not set a much-needed specific deadline for reaching full accessibility, something the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act commendably has. This means that under this bill, people with disabilities could face the prospect of disability accessibility barriers for the indefinite future.

The bill’s well-intended definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are too narrow.

The bill gives the Federal Government and various accessibility agencies a set of helpful powers to promote accessibility. However, it does not impose any duty on them to use those powers, or any mandatory time lines for the major implementation steps that the Government must take to get this bill effectively implemented. For example, the bill commendably empowers the Government to create accessibility standards or regulations. However, it wrongly does not require the Government to ever make any accessibility regulations. Moreover, it wrongly splinters power to make enforceable accessibility regulations over more than one governmental body. This threatens to create a patchwork of confusing and potentially inconsistent if not contradictory accessibility regulations.

The bill wrongly splinters the important power to enact binding and enforceable accessibility standard regulations among three federal bodies, the Federal Cabinet, the Canada Transportation Agency (CTA) and the Canada Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) All power to enact accessibility standard regulations should be assigned to the Federal Cabinet.

The bill wrongly splinters enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over a number of different public enforcement agencies, rather than providing people with disabilities with the simple, easy-to-navigate, one-stop enforcement process that they need. This wasteful duplication will slow and weaken the bill’s effective implementation, and risks inconsistent and unpredictable enforcement. It unfairly makes it harder for people with disabilities to get effective enforcement of the bill. They risk being unfairly shuffled back and forth from one federal enforcement agency to another.

For example, the bill wrongly leaves enforcement for broadcasting and telecommunications to the CRTC and for transportation to the CTA. It does so despite the CRTC’s and CTA’s inadequate track records on enforcing accessibility over many years.

Each of the Accessibility Commissioner, the CRTC and the CTA will have to get regulations enacted to cover very similar topics. This duplication again risks inconsistencies, even further delays, and the real possibility that some sectors of the economy will have these regulations ready for them before other sectors. It unfairly burdens the disability community to lobby each of these different public oversight agencies on the same issues in these duplicative regulations.

The bill unjustifiably gives various public bodies sweeping, unnecessary, unjustified and unaccountable powers to exempt any or all obligated organizations from a number of important of their accessibility obligations under the bill.

The bill helpfully requires obligated organizations to establish accessibility plans, but does not require them to be good plans. It does not require an obligated organization to implement its accessibility plan. It does not provide people with disabilities with an avenue to lodge complaints against an organization if it has a deficient plan, or no plan at all. It also requires some obligated organizations, namely transportation organizations, telecommunications organizations and broadcasts, to make two sets of plans at the same time, and gives different federal oversight agencies mandates over each of these plans. This confusing and convoluted approach will weaken the bill’s implementation, by unnecessarily making it more complex and confusing.

The bill unnecessarily delays some important duties of obligated organizations, and the corresponding rights of people with disabilities, until certain technical regulations are passed. If those regulations are not passed, obligated organizations won’t have those important duties. Thus, the disability community would have to lobby various federal entities, possibly for years, to get all those regulations passed.

The bill does not effectively ensure that the Federal Government will use all its levers of readily-available power to promote accessibility across Canada. For example, it does not require the Federal Government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds, to create or perpetuate disability barriers, e.g. when federal money contributes to new or renovated infrastructure, or when it is used for federal loans, grants or transfer payments.

The bill commendably has some public accountability requirements for key public organizations or offices that have implementation and enforcement duties, and for obligated organizations. However, these are too weak. Both the Federal Government’s accessibility agencies and obligated organizations should have broader public accountability requirements regarding accessibility.

The bill gives too much power to the federal Cabinet to make regulations. This allows a future Government to weaken or largely gut this bill by mere amendments to regulations, without ever having to bring a bill before Parliament and to publicly debate and vote on such plans.

Several needed ingredients are missing from the bill. This includes, for example, needed provisions on the Federal Government in relation to Indigenous People, and on federal duties to review all federal laws for accessibility issues, to ensure federal elections are accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities, and to ensure that the Federal Government itself operates as a model of an accessible employer and service-provider.

d) Recommended Amendments

This brief recommends that the bill be amended to do such things as the following:

1. To set the bill’s purpose as achieving a barrier-free Canada by a date the bill will fix, in so far as the Federal Government and Parliament can do so.

2. To specify that the Federal Government as a whole is responsible for leading Canada to the goal of accessibility, in so far as the Federal Government has constitutional authority to do so.

3. To ensure that the bill’s definitions of “disability” and “barrier” are broad and inclusive.

4. To ensure that the bill reaches the actions of all organizations that the Federal Government and Parliament can reach, including any recipients of federal money and all operations within Parliament.

5. To impose specific duties and implementation time lines on the Federal Government, and on specified public officials and agencies, regarding their roles to implement and enforce the bill. For example, the Federal Government should have a duty to enact and enforce all the accessibility standard regulations needed to achieve the bill’s purpose.

6. To consolidate all the power to make accessibility standard regulations in the federal Cabinet, rather than splintering this power among other federal agencies, beyond the federal Cabinet.

7. To consolidate all of the bill’s enforcement in the Accessibility Commissioner, rather than it being splintered among several federal regulatory agencies. If not consolidated, then remove duplicative regulation-making requirements to ensure consistent implementation and enforcement across all accessibility enforcement agencies.

8. To ensure that key bodies responsible for the bill’s oversight, such as CASDO and the Chief Accessibility Officer, are fully and effectively independent of the Government, and are seen by the public to be independent.

9. To strengthen the mandates of CASDO, the Accessibility Commissioner and the Chief Accessibility Officer.

10. To strengthen the openness of the standards development process under the bill, while ensuring that people with disabilities have effective input into accessibility regulations that the Federal Cabinet enacts.

11. To remove from the bill, or drastically reduce and constrain the sweeping and unnecessary powers to exempt obligated organizations from certain obligations under the bill.

12. To ensure that obligated organizations’ accessibility plans are good plans, and to ensure that they are implemented and enforceable.

13. To require that obligated organizations each only have to make one accessibility plan at a time, which will be overseen by the Accessibility Commissioner.

14. To remove preconditions in the bill that require that certain duties of obligated organizations do not come into effect until and unless certain regulations are enacted.

15. To increase duties to make public key information on accessibility on a timely basis.

16. To reduce the power of the Federal Cabinet and key accessibility enforcement agencies to make regulations, especially where regulations could weaken or gut the bill.

17. To speed up the requirements for future reviews of this bill by Parliament and by an Independent Review which the Federal Government will appoint.

18. To require the Federal Government to focus specific efforts to address its special responsibilities in relation to Indigenous People with disabilities.

19. To guarantee that in the case of conflicting legal provisions, the strongest accessibility law always prevails.

20. To ensure that nothing in the Act, or in its regulations or in any actions taken under it shall reduce in any way any rights which people with disabilities enjoy under law.

21. To require the Federal Government to review all its statutes and regulations for accessibility barriers.

22. To enforceably require that no public money can be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, e.g. money spent on procurement, infrastructure, grants, loans or transfer payments.

23. To require the Federal Government to use all other readily-available levers of power to advance the goal of accessibility.

24. To require that whenever a federal statute or regulation confers a discretionary power on any federal public official, department or agency, that decision-maker shall take into account, in its exercise, its impact on accessibility for people with disabilities.

25. To require the Federal Government to ensure that federal elections become barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.

26. To include effective measures to ensure that the Federal Government becomes a model accessible workplace and service-provider.

27. To require the Federal Government to develop and implement a plan to ensure that all federally-operated courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts), and federally operated regulatory tribunals (like the CRTC and Canada Transportation Agency) become accessible.



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