‘You’ve got to keep pushing’: CTA rules in woman’s favour over Regina bus accessibility


After waiting over two years, a Regina woman who uses a wheelchair is happy the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruled in her favour against a bus company.

In October 2018, Terri Sleeva called Rider Express Transportation to book a ride from Regina to Saskatoon for a date in November.

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Sleeva told the operator that she uses a wheelchair and was told that the bus was not wheelchair accessible. The operator told Sleeva the company would be receiving wheelchair-accessible buses in the future but was not told a specific date.

Sleeva is part of a group called Transportation for All with individuals who mostly use wheelchairs. The group was founded when Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) closed in 2017.

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“They couldn’t go home for Christmas. They couldn’t go to funerals, they couldn’t go to weddings. Nothing, because the (Saskatchewan Transportation Company) was gone and a (taxi) trip to Saskatoon and back costs $600,” Sleeva told Global News.

Armed with knowledge of Canadian transportation and accessibility rights, Sleeva filed a claim against Rider Express with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Sleeva’s claim was passed onto the Canadian Human Rights Commission because the company is headquartered in Calgary. The claim was passed on again for a final time to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

Sleeva said it was frustrating process. She was even told by peers that her claim wasn’t going to get anywhere and it was “no action thing.”

“The thing is you’ve got keep pushing, you’ve got to. If you feel that’s the right way to do things, keep going and persevere, it comes to pass eventually.”

According to subsection 172(3) of the CTA, the agency may require corrective measures be taken on determining that there is an undue obstacle to the mobility of a persons with disability.

“Transportation service providers, including (Rider Express), have a duty to accommodate persons with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship,” the CTA added.

In their decision, released on April 14, the agency found that there is no basis to conclude that removing the obstacle to Sleeva’s mobility would cause undue hardship for Rider Express.

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“The agency therefore finds that appropriate corrective actions should be ordered,” the decision read.


Click to play video: 'Advocacy group sounding alarm on ‘extreme’ wait times for specialized mobility aids in Alberta'







Advocacy group sounding alarm on ‘extreme’ wait times for specialized mobility aids in Alberta


Advocacy group sounding alarm on ‘extreme’ wait times for specialized mobility aids in Alberta – Jan 21, 2021

The CTA added in their ruling that in order for Rider Express to meet its obligation to provide accessible services to persons with disabilities, they must provide bus services that are wheelchair accessible.

Rider Express has until May 12 to confirm that a number of measures set out by the CTA are in place for all of its routes.

The decision adds that if Rider Express does not have buses that can accommodate a wheelchair or if not all of its routes are served by wheelchair-accommodating buses, they must provide alternate transportation for someone who makes the request 48 hours before scheduled departure time, or make a reasonable effort to do so if the request is made 48 hours before departure time. This may include providing a wheelchair-accessible van or taxi for a person in need.

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Read more:
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Rider Express is required to confirm that the alternate transportation means are in place no later than June 10.

Sleeva said she went into disbelief when she received the decision.

Dylan Morin from Transportation for All said the decision was “fantastic.”

Morin said people with disabilities and mobility issues face a number of challenges since the STC shut down.

“If they can’t get a ride, they stay home. They can’t go and see family, they can’t go and see friends. They can’t go to community events. If you’re on a provincial board, you may not be able to get to meetings, if you don’t have transportation,” he said.

Morin is hoping that things will change now based on this ruling.

Read more:
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In their decision, CTA said that Rider Express chose not to participate in the proceeding though CTA made several attempts to contact the company by phone, email and mail.

“(Rider Express) remained silent throughout the process and did not respond at any point, even when the onus shifted to it, in the second part of the proceeding, to explain how it would remove the obstacle or why it believed it could not do so without experiencing undue hardship,” the CTA decision read.

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Rider Express did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls from Global News. This story will be updated when a statement is provided.




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





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Toronto Restaurant Discriminated Against Woman Who Uses Mobility Aids, Tribunal Rules


By Paola Loriggio
The Canadian Press
Posted August 13, 2020

TORONTO – A Toronto restaurant discriminated against a woman who uses mobility devices and publicly humiliated her by refusing to let her use its bathroom four years ago, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled.

In a decision issued this week, the tribunal says Haily ButlerHenderson “experienced adverse treatment” when she was repeatedly refused access to a downstairs washroom at the Pentagram Bar and Grill on Aug. 19, 2016.

The tribunal says a server also physically blocked ButlerHenderson’s path and loudly proclaimed to other patrons that the then23yearold was accepting the risk and liability associated with going down the stairs.

“Instead of asking the applicant if she needed any accommodation or assistance to use the facilities, the server made a spectacle of the applicant in front of its other patrons which was discriminatory,” adjudicator Romona Gananathan wrote.

“She was eventually allowed to use the facilities but only with conditions.”

The tribunal ordered Pentagram, which did not participate in the proceedings, to pay ButlerHenderson $10,000 in compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and selfrespect.

The restaurant’s current management and staff must also undergo training on their obligations under the Human Rights Code of Ontario, and post signs related to those responsibilities on the premises.

ButlerHenderson welcomed the ruling on social media, saying it “sets a huge precedent for disabled people in the future.”

Her lawyer, Lorin MacDonald, said the ruling will “serve restaurateurs to take notice.”

“While it was distressing to have the restaurant owners completely ignore the human rights application and to wait so long for validation of the discrimination, the decision is important for two reasons: it is now a matter of public record, and it initiated and continues a worldwide discussion around the broader issue of access to public restrooms,” MacDonald said in a statement.

In her complaint, ButlerHenderson, who has spina bifida and uses forearm crutches as a mobility aid, said the incident took place as she was waiting for friends at a nearby coffee shop.

Lineups for the washroom there were too long so she went down the block to Pentagram and asked for permission to use the facilities, she said.

ButlerHenderson said the server specifically cited her use of crutches as a reason to deny her access to the washroom, stressing the restaurant would be held liable if she were to fall.

At one point, she said, the server physically barred her from going down the stairs. Eventually, staff relented and allowed her to use the washroom, but ButlerHenderson said the incident was humiliating and infringed on a basic human right.

The human rights complaint argues people with disabilities have the right to assume a certain amount of risk for themselves.

ButlerHenderson said it was not the server’s place to assess her ability to navigate the stairwell on the basis that she has a disability and relies on a mobility aid.

Original at https://globalnews.ca/news/7272464/torontorestaurantdiscriminatedwomanmobilityaidstribunal/




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Toronto restaurant discriminated against woman who uses mobility aids, tribunal rules – Toronto


TORONTO — A Toronto restaurant discriminated against a woman who uses mobility devices and “publicly humiliated” her by refusing to let her use its bathroom four years ago, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled.

In a decision issued this week, the tribunal says Haily Butler-Henderson “experienced adverse treatment” when she was repeatedly refused access to a downstairs washroom at the Pentagram Bar and Grill on Aug. 19, 2016.

The tribunal says a server also physically blocked Butler-Henderson’s path and loudly proclaimed to other patrons that the then-23-year-old was accepting the risk and liability associated with going down the stairs.

Read more:
Toronto woman launches human rights complaint over washroom access issue

“Instead of asking the applicant if she needed any accommodation or assistance to use the facilities, the server made a spectacle of the applicant in front of its other patrons which was discriminatory,” adjudicator Romona Gananathan wrote.

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“She was eventually allowed to use the facilities but only with conditions.”

The tribunal ordered Pentagram, which did not participate in the proceedings, to pay Butler-Henderson $10,000 in compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.

The restaurant’s current management and staff must also undergo training on their obligations under the Human Rights Code of Ontario, and post signs related to those responsibilities on the premises.

Butler-Henderson welcomed the ruling on social media, saying it “sets a huge precedent for disabled people in the future.”

Her lawyer, Lorin MacDonald, said the ruling will “serve restaurateurs to take notice.”

“While it was distressing to have the restaurant owners completely ignore the human rights application and to wait so long for validation of the discrimination, the decision is important for two reasons: it is now a matter of public record, and it initiated and continues a worldwide discussion around the broader issue of access to public restrooms,” MacDonald said in a statement.

Read more:
As economy recovers, some Toronto restaurants to end tipping

In her complaint, Butler-Henderson, who has spina bifida and uses forearm crutches as a mobility aid, said the incident took place as she was waiting for friends at a nearby coffee shop.

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Lineups for the washroom there were too long so she went down the block to Pentagram and asked for permission to use the facilities, she said.

Butler-Henderson said the server specifically cited her use of crutches as a reason to deny her access to the washroom, stressing the restaurant would be held liable if she were to fall.

At one point, she said, the server physically barred her from going down the stairs. Eventually, staff relented and allowed her to use the washroom, but Butler-Henderson said the incident was humiliating and infringed on a basic human right.

The human rights complaint argues people with disabilities have the right to assume a certain amount of risk for themselves.

Butler-Henderson said it was not the server’s place to assess her ability to navigate the stairwell on the basis that she has a disability and relies on a mobility aid.




© 2020 The Canadian Press





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‘There are No Rules’ When it Comes to Restaurant Accessibility in Halifax


Date prep takes on a whole different meaning for mobility device users in this city. By Abby Surrette

Abby Surrette says people with disabilities are expected to “hermit away,” but the reality is they live vibrant social lives.

It was date night. We’d called ahead and made our arrangements. We arrived at the restaurant early to avoid the crowds. Yet we were met with looks of uncertainty and a 10-inch step at the entrance. The server left to find a ramp; turns out the only one was the loading ramp to the kitchen. I would have accepted parading through the back, but my small-frame wheelchair couldn’t fit through the narrow, bustling kitchen.

Back at square one, several servers surrounded me and took hold of my chair to hoist it up the step. Despite my continued objections to this invasion of personal space, they insisted, “It’s no trouble at all!” Once airborne they realized the heavy ornate door actually swung outward, causing a flurry of commotion and shifting hands as they repositioned to fit through the now open doorway.

Several minutes later I had made it through the front door with only two near-drops and a hopefully buffable scuff on my wheelchair. Out of breath, the server insisted we let them know if there’s anything else they could do and left us to peruse our menus, which they’d left on the high-top table above my head. Even with prior warning of my arrival, and assurance of accessibility, this was the best solution their staff could offer.

While you might be inclined to think that this kerfuffle is the exception rather than the rule in Halifax, you’d be mistaken, because there are no rules. Currently Halifax has no municipal legislation in place regarding accessibility, meaning this restaurant had done everything by the book. On a provincial level, in 2017 the Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia was passed. While this is a step forward, it primarily focuses on public sector spaces, and even then those spaces have until 2022 to simply come up with a plan to improve. They have until 2030 before any of the accessibility requirements in the act will be enforced.

In the meantime new developments and private businesses are freely allowed to actively worsen accessibility in Halifax. Thirty percent of Nova Scotians currently identify as disabled, and if you’re lucky to live long enough, it’s inevitable that you will too.

If the goal is a barrier-free Nova Scotia by 2030, why are we allowing new barriers to be built in the meantime? Disabled people don’t just live in libraries and courthouses; they shop, they dine, they live their lives. Improving public spaces will be meaningless if private spaces are allowed to continue putting disabled people out of sight and out of mind. When you become disabled, do you intend to hermit away in your hopefully accessible home, never to be seen again unless you need a library book or have jury duty?

In the end, our date night ended shortly after appetizers, not because we weren’t hungry, but because I needed to pee and the bathroom was upstairs.

Original at https://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/there-are-no-rules-when-it-comes-to-restaurant-accessibility-in-halifax/Content?oid=23416825




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‘There are No Rules’ When it Comes to Restaurant Accessibility in Halifax


Date prep takes on a whole different meaning for mobility device users in this city. By Abby Surrette

Abby Surrette says people with disabilities are expected to “hermit away,” but the reality is they live vibrant social lives.

It was date night. We’d called ahead and made our arrangements. We arrived at the restaurant early to avoid the crowds. Yet we were met with looks of uncertainty and a 10-inch step at the entrance. The server left to find a ramp; turns out the only one was the loading ramp to the kitchen. I would have accepted parading through the back, but my small-frame wheelchair couldn’t fit through the narrow, bustling kitchen.

Back at square one, several servers surrounded me and took hold of my chair to hoist it up the step. Despite my continued objections to this invasion of personal space, they insisted, “It’s no trouble at all!” Once airborne they realized the heavy ornate door actually swung outward, causing a flurry of commotion and shifting hands as they repositioned to fit through the now open doorway.

Several minutes later I had made it through the front door with only two near-drops and a hopefully buffable scuff on my wheelchair. Out of breath, the server insisted we let them know if there’s anything else they could do and left us to peruse our menus, which they’d left on the high-top table above my head. Even with prior warning of my arrival, and assurance of accessibility, this was the best solution their staff could offer.

While you might be inclined to think that this kerfuffle is the exception rather than the rule in Halifax, you’d be mistaken, because there are no rules. Currently Halifax has no municipal legislation in place regarding accessibility, meaning this restaurant had done everything by the book. On a provincial level, in 2017 the Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia was passed. While this is a step forward, it primarily focuses on public sector spaces, and even then those spaces have until 2022 to simply come up with a plan to improve. They have until 2030 before any of the accessibility requirements in the act will be enforced.

In the meantime new developments and private businesses are freely allowed to actively worsen accessibility in Halifax. Thirty percent of Nova Scotians currently identify as disabled, and if you’re lucky to live long enough, it’s inevitable that you will too.

If the goal is a barrier-free Nova Scotia by 2030, why are we allowing new barriers to be built in the meantime? Disabled people don’t just live in libraries and courthouses; they shop, they dine, they live their lives. Improving public spaces will be meaningless if private spaces are allowed to continue putting disabled people out of sight and out of mind. When you become disabled, do you intend to hermit away in your hopefully accessible home, never to be seen again unless you need a library book or have jury duty?

In the end, our date night ended shortly after appetizers, not because we weren’t hungry, but because I needed to pee and the bathroom was upstairs.

Original at https://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/there-are-no-rules-when-it-comes-to-restaurant-accessibility-in-halifax/Content?oid=23416825




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What’s Up With the Rules Around Emotional Support Animals on Campus?


November 26, 2019 By Farah Khan

Juvi Gardner, a student in the general arts and science, music industry arts program, was asked earlier this fall not to bring his emotional support dog, Zeke, with him while he played for Thunders varsity basketball team.

Martha Peak, the Student Associations athletics administrator, delivered the news to Gardner in an email on Sept. 10, stating its for the safety of the dog and the students.

Gardner still has questions surrounding emotional support animals on campus. And he is not alone.

I was confused as to why youre telling me no, because Im asking for the rules, said Gardner. I just want to know what the rules are.

Though many people believe that an emotional support animal classifies as a service animal – it doesnt.

An emotional support animal is not defined nor protected by the law unlike a service animal.

According to Lending a Helping Paw: An Overview of the Law of Service Animals in Ontario, emotional support animals are not specifically trained to perform a task-such as guiding a person with a visual or physical impairment. However, they do provide comfort and support to the owner.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) has clearly stated that emotional support animals do not qualify as service animals thus, it is up to colleges to decide whether the animal is permitted on the premises.

So, at anytime, students with emotional support animals can be denied having their support animal on certain premises.

It turns out the increase in the number of students with emotional service animals across Ontario is starting to gain attention.

For example, George Brown Colleges AODA policy classifies an emotional support animal as a service animal and allows students to bring them on campus.

George Brown has already implemented it in their policies, said Gardner. Theres other schools that are already adhering to the emotional support dog laws.

At present, Algonquin has not yet done this. But this is now changing.

This is starting to come up that Im aware of, said Claude Brulé, president of Algonquin College. We need to pay attention to this. Under our vice president of student services, were looking at the policies and were looking at it as well provincially.

For the moment, Gardner still has no clear answers about his emotional support dog.

But for Algonquin students with emotional support animals in general, the hope is that this will soon change.

Were aware that we need to have better policies so that everyone is aware of what they can do, or they shouldnt do but were not there yet, said Brulé. Its a work in progress.

Original at http://algonquintimes.com/news/whats-up-with-the-rules-around-emotional-support-animals-on-campus/




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Man Challenges Ontario Pot Rules, Argues Discrimination Against People With Disabilities


By Paola Loriggio The Canadian Press

TORONTO A Toronto man who uses a wheelchair has filed a human rights complaint challenging Ontario’s cannabis sales regulations, arguing the province’s system discriminates against those with disabilities and limited financial means.

Ken Harrower, who uses cannabis to relieve symptoms from a condition affecting his joints and other medical issues, says the city has too few private retail stores, which he alleges are not wheelchair-accessible.

He also alleges the province’s government-run online cannabis store is too slow to deliver the product and too expensive for those on government assistance or without credit.

“I often need (cannabis) urgently for pain relief and to help me to sleep. I need cannabis on an on-demand basis,” he said Wednesday in a news conference.

“I am on (the Ontario Disability Support Program) and have very limited funds that barely cover my day-to-day expenses, I do not have enough money or the ability to purchase through the (Ontario Cannabis Store) system because I do not have available credit.”

Harrower, 57, said he faces the same financial barriers and delays trying to purchase medicinal cannabis, which is also sold online.

His lawyer, Selwyn Pieters, said he hopes the case brings change to Ontario’s “flawed and undignified” cannabis sales system.

“The poorly planned, phased approach for the roll-out of retail cannabis outlets as outlined by the Ontario government has neglected to take into account the needs of all Canadians,” he said.

Pieters said they will be asking the tribunal for an expedited hearing to deal with the case, and are seeking a stay on enforcement of the cannabis regulations until the issues highlighted in the complaint are resolved.

That would allow illegal dispensaries where Harrower said he was previously able to obtain cannabis once or twice a day to operate. Harrower said several dispensaries he used to buy from have been shut down by police.

The Ontario government did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has previously said it had to cap the number of retail cannabis stores at 25 indefinitely due to a national supply shortage.

The province’s first private brick-and-mortar cannabis stores opened their doors on April 1, though not all those approved are ready for business even a month later. Licences for stores are granted through a lottery system followed by an approval process.

The provincial corporation tasked with the online sale and distribution of recreational cannabis also recently cancelled its tender for couriers to make same-day deliveries on pot orders.

The website faced criticism in the weeks after it launched last fall as consumers reported lengthy delivery delays and product shortages.

An organization that advocates for safe and responsible cannabis retailing practices, the Canadian Cannabis Retailers’ Union, is seeking to intervene in the human rights challenge.

The group’s lawyer, Jack Lloyd, said the case raises serious questions about the province’s obligations to consumers both as a pot seller and distributor, and as the body regulating private sales of cannabis.

Lloyd said while cannabis supply is a national issue, the sales structure is provincial purview and the Ontario government has “regulated itself into this position.”

“It’s fairly urgent that the government act here,” he said.

Original at https://globalnews.ca/news/5226042/ontario-pot-challenge-discriminate-people-with-disabilities/



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New Ontario customer service accessibility rules inadequate, advocacy group says – Toronto


TORONTO – Coming changes to the rules governing accessible customer service in Ontario are being decried as inadequate by at least one group representing the clientele the regulations are meant to help.

They argue that changes increasing the number of workers requiring accessibility training, and expanding the number of professionals authorized to vouch for the need for a service animal, do little to directly impact the lives of people with disabilities.

The province’s Liberal government announced the amendments to the customer service section of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) on Monday, three years after undertaking a review of the rules that originally went into effect in 2008.

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, which oversees the act, made the changes after reviewing recommendations from an advisory council that sought public input on how best to reduce accessibility barriers for the estimated 1.8 million Ontario residents currently living with a disability.

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READ MORE: Despite ongoing issues, Ontario plans to reduce small business accessibility requirements

The new rules, which go into effect on July 1 and apply to all organizations providing goods, services or facilities, now specify that all employees must undergo accessibility training. Previously only staff who dealt directly with the public had to be trained on accessibility issues.

The government has also expanded the list of professionals authorized to provide documents indicating the need for a service animal. Doctors and nurses were originally the only ones allowed to provide such authorization, but the list now includes psychologists, psychotherapists, audiologists, chiropractors and optometrists.

David Lepofsky, chair of advocacy group the AODA Alliance, described the changes as “minor tinkering.”

He lamented that the new rules would have very little practical impact on the day-to-day challenges the people with disabilities continue to face.

“Changing the documentation for service animals, that’s helpful, but we certainly don’t hear the number of people using service animals who get refused admission to a taxi or restaurant are refused because someone looked at the documentation and said, ‘oh, if only it was signed by this professional instead of that one, we’d let you in,”‘ he said in a telephone interview.

“What we hear is the taxi that won’t even stop or the person at the restaurant who simply says, ‘no dogs allowed.”‘

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A member of the advisory council tasked with recommending changes to the rules said the service animal requirements will have a more widespread, if less visible, impact.

Former CNIB President Jim Sanders said the ranks of service animal users have swollen to include far more than simply blind people relying on a guide dog for travel assistance.

Expanding the list of professionals, he said, makes it easier for those with less visible disabilities such as epilepsy, diabetes or post-traumatic stress disorder to move through society with the supports they need.

“When you need a service animal in order to carry out your day-to-day activities, the last thing you need is a level of bureaucracy that places the individual using a service animal in the awkward position of constantly verifying that this is, in fact, legitimate,” he said.

Sanders said the council at one point toyed with changing the rules to specify only dogs as valid service animals, but opted to keep the regulations broad for maximum flexibility.

READ MORE: Woman challenged by Tim Hortons over guide dog last year not happy with response

He described the changes to employee training requirements as “ideal,” but did acknowledge one area that caused the council some trepidation.

The current rules distinguish between large and small corporations, defining small ones as those with fewer than 20 employees.

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The latest amendments will see the definition of small organizations shift to those with fewer than 50 staff members, greatly increasing the number of companies that would now fall under this classification.

Current rules have less stringent documentation requirements for small organizations, which do not have to have written accessibility policies in place and are not subject to government compliance audits.

“For organizations with 20 to 49 employees, which is a huge part of the private sector, they don’t have to have documentation of any of this anymore, which essentially means all the policy has to be is in someone’s head,” Lepofsky said.

The new rules will effectively leave a large swath of the province’s businesses free from audit requirements and efforts to see that accessibility laws are being enforced, he added.

READ MORE: Toronto woman drops human rights complaint over guide dog after apology

Sanders said council members did “struggle” with the issue, but said it made sense to change the classifications to bring them in line with similar government policies.

“The perception by moving it up is that some organizations will be let off the hook. That’s a perception only,” he said, adding the AODA applies to companies whether they have written policies or not.

“The value in having the basic administrative rules harmonized outweighed the perception and the value of having to sit down and fill out a form every year.”

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Sanders said public education will be critical to making sure accessibility rules are enforced throughout Ontario, adding the council got very little feedback during the public consultation phase of its review.

Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid acknowledged the AODA remains a work in progress as Ontario tries to make the entire province fully accessible by 2025.

“There’s more work to be done, but steps like these (new rules) are the foundation to developing a culture of inclusion, where economic and social opportunities exist for people of all abilities,” Duguid said in a statement.




© 2016 The Canadian Press





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