Great Conventional Media and Social Media Coverage Highlight Serious Problems with the Doug Ford Government Plan to Divert 1.3 Million Dollars to the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Controversial Private Accessibility Certification Program


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

July 29, 2019

SUMMARY

In both conventional media and social media, there has already been good coverage of the serious problems that we have publicly raised with the Ford Government plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars to the controversial Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) private accessibility certification program. This helps reinforce our call for the Government to set this plan aside. Instead of this inappropriate use of public money, the Doug Ford Government should act now to implement the helpful recommendations in the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Last week, the AODA Alliance made public its important July 3, 2019 report. It documents serious problems with the Government plan to spend public money on the RHF private accessibility certification program. Our July 3, 2019 report shows that it is an exaggeration, if not inaccurate, to call an RHF assessment of a building an “accessibility certification”. It is an exaggeration, if not inaccurate, to call someone who took a two-week course from the RHF on accessibility and who passed a multiple-choice test an “accessibility professional”. It is an exaggeration if not inaccurate for the Ford Government to claim that public funding for this will remove barriers against people with disabilities.

Our efforts have triggered quite a good early response. In this Update we highlight early attention that our concerns have gotten in conventional media and social media. We also let you know about a recent article in a BC news publication that reinforces our concerns. We also take a closer look at the first public statement to the media that the Doug Ford Government has made in response to our concerns. We show that the Ford Government’s responses do not eliminate our concerns at all.

In this Update we also identify the specific actions we want the Ford Government to now take. What we seek is rooted in the recommendations of the David Onley report, and in election commitments that Doug Ford made to the AODA Alliance and Ontarians with disabilities during last year’s election campaign.

Just before this Update was sent out, we received a letter from Minister for Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho. It responds to the questions about the plan to publicly fund the problematic RHF private accessibility certification program in our July 3, 2019 letter to the Accessibility Minister. We are hard at work analyzing this letter and will address it in an upcoming AODA Alliance Update.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

1. Great Conventional and Social Media Coverage

On July 24, 2019, the Toronto Star online ran a great article entitled “Advocates slam Ontario plan to rate accessibility of buildings.” This article is included below. It reported on several of the serious problems with the Ford Government’s plan to give $1.3 million to the RHF for this. Below we address the Government’s first public responses to our July 3, 2019 report.

As well, on Thursday, July 25, 2019, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was interviewed on the Kitchener 570 News Radio station, as part of the “Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke” show. CFRB News Talk 1010 Radio in Toronto did a news interview with him on July 26, 2019. We have not heard if it was used on the air. At 4:45 pm today, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is scheduled to be interviewed on CBC Radio 1 in Ottawa.

There has also been quite a positive and vocal reaction to our report on social media. We set out a sampling from Twitter, below, as well as a Facebook post by Optimal Consulting, an accessibility firm that operates in Ontario.

All the feedback we have seen or received from the disability community has echoed and reinforced our concerns about the Ford Government’s plan to publicly fund the troubling RHF private accessibility certification program for 250 as-yet unspecified buildings in Ontario. They have also broadened the discussion with new information. Beyond what they say that is set out in our July 3, 2019 report, we have not investigated or verified facts set out in those posts. We present them to show that there is real controversy swirling around the Government’s plan.

Here are two tweets as examples. They were both replies to the Toronto Star tweeting about its July 24, 2019 article on this topic, which we provide for you later in this Update:

“Liz Hay. @Kurdi @TorontoStar If a building with “hangout steps” can be certified gold under the RHF system, its understanding of #accessibility is hardly gold standard. #AODAfail”

“Thea Kurdi. @TorontoStar Hmmm… as someone who’s been doing #accessibility audits for 18 years we never only use CSA B651 standard, especially in provinces like ON with Ontario Building Code and #AODA . How does a certification that’s not looking at legislation help government & building owners? #a11y

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said it is wrong for the government to fund a private entity like the Rick Hansen Foundation to certify its buildings. torstar.co/b6aY50vaL06”

One of the tweets set out later in this Update , and that arises from our July 3, 2019 report, brought to our attention an important article in the July 9, 2019 edition of the Delta Observer news publication from British Columbia. We also set that article out below. It reports on a human rights complaint that has been filed with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal against a BC restaurant. A customer with a disability alleges that the restaurant has accessibility problems that amount to a violation of their human rights. The article says the RHF had certified that venue as accessible.

This shows, as we have said, that just because the RHF “certifies” that a place is accessible does not mean that people with disabilities will experience that place as accessible. Moreover, the fact that the RHF “certified” a restaurant as accessible is no defence to a human rights complaint, if the complainant shows that they faced accessibility barriers. Calling this “accessibility certification” is therefore inaccurate.

2. A Closer Look Shows that the Ford Government’s First Official Response to the AODA Alliance Report Doesn’t Refute Our Serious Concerns

What has the Ford Government told the media in response to the AODA Alliance’s July 3, 2019 report on the Government’s plan to fund the RHF private accessibility certification program to assess 250 buildings in Ontario over the next two years? Twenty-two days before we made our report public, we sent it to the office of the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho. We asked his office to let us know if there are any factual inaccuracies in our report. We explained that we have done our best to ensure that it is accurate, and don’t want to make any inaccurate statements in that report. We said we’d like to know before we make the report public, in case there is anything we need to correct. Knowing of our request, Minister Cho’s office and ministry has not suggested to us that there was anything inaccurate in the AODA Alliance’s July 3, 2019 report.

The Government’s first public response to the media was in the same Toronto Star July 24, 2019 article that was mentioned in the tweets above. We here take a closer look at that response, which is full of holes. The article’s key passage is:

“In a statement to the Star, Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said the process will be devoid of conflict of interest because those who will conduct the accessibility ratings will not be employed by the government or the RHF.

Instead, Cho said, theyll be contracted by the foundation as independent professionals who have completed accreditation courses offered by the RHF through George Brown and Carleton University and passed exams conducted by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).

CSA Group will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate, he said.

Brad McCannell, RHFs vice-president of access and inclusion, said the foundations certification program is impartial and was developed using extensive research on best practices in accessibility.

When you request (an RHF accessibility certification) rating, you are not hiring the Rick Hansen Foundation, he said in an email. The qualifications for assessors include a diploma in architecture, engineering or urban planning, as well as a minimum of five years experience related to accessibility in building environments, he said.

After the assessment, buildings receive a rating score corresponding to their level of accessibility: certified gold if they score over 80 per cent, certified if they score between 60 and 80 per cent, and noncertified if they score under 60 per cent. The scorecard includes key elements of success and suggestions for improvement for each assessed facility.

McCannell also noted that the foundations program is geared toward industry, not consumers.

The RHFAC is not designed to assist people with disabilities to find the nearest accessible washroom, but rather its an industry program designed to influence professionals in the design and construction industry to recognize the gap between code requirement and the real needs of people with disabilities, he said.

The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility says it chose the RHF based partly on its track record of conducting such certifications in B.C. and Nova Scotia.”

The Government’s response to the Toronto Star does not disprove any of our serious concerns. We address seven points.

First, we have seen no indication that the Ford Government held any open competitive process before it decided whom it would engage to assess the accessibility of 250 buildings in Ontario. There are a number of accessibility experts in Ontario that have been doing this kind of accessibility advisory work for years. There is no indication whether any of them were considered, or even had a chance to bid on this project. We do not know why a Government, acting responsibly with public money, would choose the RHF assessors whose only required accessibility background comes from passing a multiple choice test after a two-week course. A public bidding process would be a more appropriate approach to the responsible use of public money.

On that issue, the Star article includes this Government response:

“The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility says it chose the RHF based partly on its track record of conducting such certifications in B.C. and Nova Scotia.”

Yet that track record in BC is called into question by the problems with the RHF Gold rating for the Vancouver International Airport (addressed in our July 3, 2019 report), and the RHF’s rating a BC restaurant as “accessible” which is now being sued under BC’s human rights legislation for alleged accessibility problems. (as addressed in the news article set out later in this Update).

Second, according to the Toronto Star, an RHF spokesperson said that the RHF program is geared towards industry, not consumers. That will hardly be encouraging for Ontarians with disabilities. We need an increased focus on consumers with disabilities. Even if it is geared for industry, there is no way the public can know if the RHF assessments are useful since they are being kept secret, unless an organization wants its RHF report made public.

Third, the RHF spokesperson said that the RHF program is “an industry program designed to influence professionals in the design and construction industry to recognize the gap between code requirement and the real needs of people with disabilities.” However, as our July 3, 2019 report highlighted, and as a tweet from Ontario-based accessibility consultant Thea Kurdi notes, it is not even clear that the RHF assessments will cover all accessibility requirements in Ontario provincial and municipal laws. Moreover, the “Code” that organizations must meet or exceed is the Ontario Human Rights Code, and not the inferior accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code.

Fourth, according to the Toronto Star, Accessibility Minister Cho said that “CSA Group (i.e. the Canadian Standards Association) will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate.” However, the CSA is itself not a government agency. It is a private organization. To our knowledge, the CSA is not authorized under any law of which we are aware to conduct accessibility assessments of buildings in Ontario or to evaluate the correctness or consistency of assessments done by others. We have seen no proof that the CSA has any expertise in that field. It is certainly not an organization that we would advise a government to engage for that purpose.

Fifth, it is peculiar that the RHF told the Star that: When you request (an RHF accessibility certification) rating, you are not hiring the Rick Hansen Foundation. This flies in the face of the fact that both the Ford Government and the RHF’s website emphasize the Rick Hansen Foundation’s name all over this process. In the Ford Government’s May 23, 2019 news release (included in the appendix to our July 3, 2019 report), the Government states position that is quite contrary to what it here told the Star, where it says:

“Through this investment, the Rick Hansen Foundation will undertake ratings of 250 facilities.”

It would likely come as a troubling surprise to an organization that had paid for the RHF certification and for permission to post an RHF certification sign on their building, as well as to members of the public who see a “Rick Hansen Foundation” accessibility certification sign in front of a building, that the RHF did not actually certify the building’s accessibility. This is especially so since it appears that a bedrock foundation of the RHF private accessibility certification program, and the Government’s promotion of this plan, is its prominent focus on Rick Hansen’s name and notoriety.

Sixth, assuming that the Star quoted it accurately, the RHF statement to the Toronto Star contradicts its own website where the RHF spokesperson said:

“The qualifications for assessors include a diploma in architecture, engineering or urban planning, as well as a minimum of five years experience related to accessibility in building environments”

The admission requirements to be able to take the RHF two-week course and to pass a multiple choice test to qualify to conduct these building accessibility assessments for the RHF do not require a person to have ” a minimum of five years experience related to accessibility in building environments”, as our July 3, 2019 report documents. According to the Guide to RHFAC Professional Designation, posted on the RHF website, the qualifications to take the RHF 2-week course are:

“Prerequisites include the following:
You have a diploma of technology in architecture, engineering, urban planning, interior design or a related program;
You have a Journeyman Certificate of Qualification in
a designated trade related to building construction;
You are an engineer or are eligible for registration as
an engineer;
You are an architect or are eligible for registration as an architect; OR You have a minimum of five years’ experience related to building construction.”

If we are right, then the RHF statement to the Star is inaccurate on a very important issue, namely whether a person needs to have any accessibility experience before taking the RHF course. As noted earlier, the Ford Government did not tell us that we got any of our facts wrong in our July 3, 2019 report.

Seventh and finally, the Government’s response does not disprove our serious concerns with the twin risk of conflicts of interest that are inherent in this plan. Our report explains that there are two conflict of interest risks:

1. The RHF can be asked to assess the building of a public or private organization that has given a donation to the RHF, or that offers to do so in the future, or that otherwise signals a willingness to do so. This creates a conflict of interest for the RHF.

2. The RHF’s accessibility assessors are freelancers. They get hired on an ad hoc basis by an organization to do an RHF accessibility assessment and to submit it to the RHF for its adjudication and approval. These assessors are paid by the job. No doubt, they want to get more jobs. As such, they have an incentive to give more favourable accessibility ratings, so that other organizations will also want to choose them for future certification jobs.

To answer these concerns, the Ford Government told the Star:

“”In a statement to the Star, Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said the process will be devoid of conflict of interest because those who will conduct the accessibility ratings will not be employed by the government or the RHF.

Instead, Cho said, theyll be contracted by the foundation as independent professionals who have completed accreditation courses offered by the RHF through George Brown and Carleton University and passed exams conducted by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).

CSA Group will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate, he said.”

These Government statements do not eliminate any of our conflict of interest concerns. The fact that the assessors work as freelancers does not take away the fact that the RHF, which grants the ultimate award or certification in its own name, has a potential conflict of interest, in the case of organizations that may be past or potential future donors to the RHF.

As well, the fact that these assessors are paid by the job as freelancers is the very basis for the second conflict of interest concern listed above. By emphasizing that they are freelancers, the Minister’s statement simply reaffirms this problem.

3. What Should the Ford Government Do Now?

The Ford Government should take a long second look at this plan in light of our concerns, and should cancel it.

It’s time for the Ford Government instead to come up with a plan to implement the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government received the Onley report six months ago (or 179 days ago(. the Government has announced no plans to implement that report, even though over four months ago, Minister for Accessibility and Seniors said that David Onley did a “marvelous job”.

To create disability accessibility in the built environment, we call on the Ford Government to act on Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance. That is where Premier Ford set out his 2018 election pledges on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

We need Ontario to enact new and modernized accessibility requirements to ensure that the built environment becomes accessible to people with disabilities. The current Ontario Building Code is woefully inadequate. The Onley Report recommended this action. The AODA Alliance has called for this action. On May 15, 2018, Doug Ford pledged:

“Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Codes accessibility provisions.”

We need Ontario to require that design professionals like architects be properly trained to design a built environment that is accessible to people with disabilities. The AODA Alliance has recommended this. So did the Onley Report. In his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, Doug Ford wrote:

“We need Ontarios design professionals, such as architects, to receive substantially improved professional training on disability and accessibility.”

We also need the Ford Government to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. The AODA Alliance has called for this. the Onley Report did the same. In the 2018 election, Doug Ford promised that there would be an end to mismanagement of public money.

Rather than taking these important actions, the Ford Government took the official position in the Legislature on May 30, 2019 that this is all just undesirable “red tape”. The Doug Ford Government proudly pointed to its alternative plan of providing public funding to the RHF private accessibility certification program.

In the face of this, last week, the AODA Alliance launched its new grassroots “Dial Doug” campaign. It is inviting the public to call or email the Premier at his office (416 325-1941 or [email protected]) to ask for his plan to make Ontario accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. Members of the public are already taking up this challenge.

4. Toronto Star Online July 24, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/17/advocates-slam-ontario-plan-to-rate-accessibility-of-buildings.html

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky, seen on hangout steps he says are inaccessible and difficult for people with vision loss, says its wrong for the provincial government to fund a private entity to assess its buildings for accessibility, noting the chosen entity recently gave a certified gold rating to a building with such steps.

Advocates slam Ontario plan to rate accessibility of buildings

By Gilbert Ngabo Staff Reporter

A group that advocates for better accessibility standards in Ontario is voicing concerns about the provinces new assessment plan.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance says the plan to conduct accessibility assessments of public and private buildings will remove few barriers and is bound to be marred by conflicts of interest.

In this springs budget, the province earmarked $1.3 million to conduct accessibility audits of some 250 public and private facilities over two years. The program will be conducted in partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF).

In a report released this week, the AODA Alliance a non-partisan coalition advocating for the implementation of the provinces disability accessibility laws said the government should reconsider its decision.

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said it is wrong for the government to fund a private entity like the RHF to certify its buildings.

You cant say, Hey, youre about to inspect my house, heres some cash. You shouldnt be allowed to do that, said Lepofsky, a lawyer and longtime advocate for people with disabilities. Thats a clear conflict of interest. Its actually quite troubling.

Using properly trained government inspectors would be a better choice, he said, as theyd be bound by the established laws of accessibility.

The alliance is also critical of the government for not consulting members of the disability community before unveiling the certification process. Lepofsky said theres risk of leaving out people whose disabilities are not related to mobility, vision or hearing.

In a statement to the Star, Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said the process will be devoid of conflict of interest because those who will conduct the accessibility ratings will not be employed by the government or the RHF.

Instead, Cho said, theyll be contracted by the foundation as independent professionals who have completed accreditation courses offered by the RHF through George Brown and Carleton University and passed exams conducted by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).

CSA Group will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate, he said.

Brad McCannell, RHFs vice-president of access and inclusion, said the foundations certification program is impartial and was developed using extensive research on best practices in accessibility.

When you request (an RHF accessibility certification) rating, you are not hiring the Rick Hansen Foundation, he said in an email. The qualifications for assessors include a diploma in architecture, engineering or urban planning, as well as a minimum of five years experience related to accessibility in building environments, he said.

After the assessment, buildings receive a rating score corresponding to their level of accessibility: certified gold if they score over 80 per cent, certified if they score between 60 and 80 per cent, and noncertified if they score under 60 per cent. The scorecard includes key elements of success and suggestions for improvement for each assessed facility.

McCannell also noted that the foundations program is geared toward industry, not consumers.

The RHFAC is not designed to assist people with disabilities to find the nearest accessible washroom, but rather its an industry program designed to influence professionals in the design and construction industry to recognize the gap between code requirement and the real needs of people with disabilities, he said.

The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility says it chose the RHF based partly on its track record of conducting such certifications in B.C. and Nova Scotia.

But Lepofsky pointed to the Vancouver airport a RHF certified gold rated building in 2018 as a reason for caution.

In a RHG tweet announcing the rating, a photo shows hangout steps for socializing at the airport, which are inaccessible to people using wheelchairs or other mobility devices and are difficult for people with vision loss or balance issues, he said.

Lepofsky, who raised the problem of hangout steps in Ryerson Universitys Student Learning Centre in an online video in 2017, questioned how a public building with hangout steps can deserve a gold rating for accessibility.

It is troubling that this gold rating signals to the Vancouver International Airport and to the public that having hangout steps is fine from an accessibility perspective, he said. It is also troubling that it signals to design professionals that they should feel free to include them in other buildings without worrying that it raises any accessibility concern.

The provincial government continues to draw criticism from accessibility advocacy communities and experts over AODA.

Earlier this year, former lieutenant-governor David Onley issued a report on the implementation of the 14-year-old act, in which he observed that people with disabilities are still facing soul-crushing barriers in Ontario. The goal of achieving the fully accessible Ontario by 2025 is nowhere in sight, Onleys report concluded.

This month, 21 disability organizations across Ontario sent a letter to the premier decrying a long-standing lack of leadership on the accessibility file and calling for a concrete plan of action on the recommendations from the Onley report.

The Doug Ford government in the past year has done absolutely nothing new to speed up and strengthen the implementation of the AODA. Absolutely nothing, Lepofsky said.

We think (the building certification plan) is just a big distraction rather than doing their job.

With files from Laurie Monsebraatan

Gilbert Ngabo is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @dugilbo

5. The Delta Optimist July 8, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.delta-optimist.com/news/human-rights-tribunal-to-hear-disabled-customer-s-complaint-about-pat-quinn-s-1.23877536?fbclid=IwAR2YQfRum15xPmepCS7c10T4gO7lDhS-bJUfBimDOggHjSK5zzRiUBoB7mg BC Human Rights Tribunal to hear disabled customers complaint about Pat Quinns

An accessibility complaint against Pat Quinns Restaurant & Bar will go before the Human Rights Tribunal later this year.

The complaint has been filed by Tsawwassens Vince Miele who uses a wheelchair and has long been an advocate for people with disabilities.

According to his application, in February 2016 he made a reservation for four and informed the Tsawwassen Springs restaurant that one in the party uses a wheelchair.

When he arrived, he found his friends had been seated at a table in the lower area of the restaurant, but he was unable to independently join them because of three stairs. A server offered to help him down the stairs, but that was not feasible.

As a result, his friends were moved to the upper level of the restaurant. He said the experience attracted undue attention from other diners and that it was an incredibly embarrassing experience.

After the incident, Miele contacted the restaurant to complain about the lack of access to the lower floor.

I received less than a satisfactory response and in correspondence with others looked originally at a class-action lawsuit, Miele told the Optimist. The commissioner of the tribunal determined that a class-action complaint was a lot more complicated. They felt they would not accept it as a class-action, but continue it at the Human Rights Tribunal.

In January, an application was made to dismiss the complaint, but that was denied, so it will now be heard before the tribunal in November.

Miele said since he started the complaint process three years ago, the restaurant has made some improvements, including installing an automatic door opener from the parkade to the elevator and a door to enable access to the patio. As well, it now has a portable ramp, but Miele contends that does not meet the building code and a permanent ramp should be installed to meet all accessibility standards.

Were very surprised by all of this. Its a shame because it is a great restaurant and we love going there, he said. Im not in this to harm the reputation of the restaurant. I thought it was an oversight when I first wrote to them in good faith and thought it would be corrected.

Three years later we are still waiting. What are we to think? Im adamant about what I want and so are they and thats why we are heading to a hearing. To design something like this so poorly is quite surprising. It should be inclusive and accessible for all and its not.

Dave Symington also wrote to the Optimist about a similar experience he had at the restaurant in May.

Its surprising that a building this new still did not take into account that people with mobility-related disabilities might want to use the lower and main portion of the restaurant, he said. The building code specifically states that where there is a change in floor levels it must be made accessible, which means a permanent ramp or other means where an individual can independently access the area. If we have to make a fuss about sitting in an area that anyone else can, we are not being accommodated fairly.

Through its legal counsel, Tsawwassen Springs provided a written response to the Optimist.

We engaged the services of professional engineers and architects who created the building plans for the construction of Pat Quinns Restaurant & Bar along with the entire building in which the restaurant is situate, which plans were in full compliance with the then current B.C. Building Code including the accessibility requirements provided therein, said the response.

Those building plans were approved by the City of Delta, whose representatives issued all necessary permits. The building, including the restaurant, is Accessibility Certified by the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program.

We will not be providing any further comment while this matter is being considered by the tribunal.

6. Sampling of Recent Tweets

Liz Hay. @tkurdi @TorontoStar If a building with “hangout steps” can be certified gold under the RHF system, its understanding of #accessibility is hardly gold standard. #AODAfail

J E Sleeth. @DavidLepofsky @fordnation @HonDavidOnley Excellent article @TorontoStar re. #aoda #ford giving $ 2 @RickHansenFdn which is not bona fide #accessibility nor a means 2 have private sector be #openforbusiness to #peopleofallabilities it’s not just the #wheelchair

Joel Harden. $1.3 million for accessibility audits will not rid Ontario of the “soul-crushing” barriers that exist. We need immediate action to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025, not meager investments. #onpoli #AODA https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/24/advocates-slam-ontario-plan-to-rate-accessibility-of-buildings.html thestar.com/news/gta/2019/ Twitter Web App

Allen Mankewich. This thread highlights concerns with the RHF’s Accessibility Certification Program and reveals a lot of what I’m hearing in private conversations. Thanks @mssinenomine for compiling the thread, and thanks @DavidLepofsky for releasing a report exposing issues with this program. https://twitter.com/mssinenomine/status/1154420373187751936 twitter.com/mssinenomine/s

Michelle Sanders. #Ontario to allocate $1.3 million to #accessibility audits in partnership with @RickHansenFdn . Accessibility Certification requirements not available to the public + not based on public consult. What are we doing?? @fordnation @aodaalliance @AODAontario https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/24/advocates-slam-ontario-plan-to-rate-accessibility-of-buildings.html thestar.com/news/gta/2019/ Twitter for iPhone

Micaela Evans A case is heading to the BC Human Rights Tribunal soon that touches on these important issues of the certification https://twitter.com/micievans13/status/1154622550682456064?s=20

Gabrielle Peters The building is accessibility certified by the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ?. Check out the @aodaalliance report at the top of this thread detailing this wasteful use of public money and their “Dial Doug” campaign

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ?. Trust the Doug Ford government to come up with a way to look like it’s doing something about accessibility when all its doing is spending money on a private foundation to ensure it makes the government look like it’s doing something. Ontario taxpayers deserve better. #onpoli
Dorothy Ellen Palmer ?. Unlike the government this private foundation has no obligation to make anything public. Ontarians won’t know which buildings are rated, or how they’re rated. The Ford gov will release results as it sees fit. There is no enforcement for buildings that fail. This fails us all.
While slashing education and health care the Doug Ford government is paying a private foundation 1.3 million to rate 250 buildings. That’s $5,200 per building. Government inspectors already employed could do this. Is this an attempt to ensure that these buildings pass?

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ?. To work as a building accessibility certfier for RHF all you have to do is take a two week course and pass a multiple choice test. Then you’re fully trained to certify every single building you see as accessible or accessible enough for Doug Ford’s purposes. Right. #Accessibilty
Further to the detailed work of BC’s @mssinenomine Ontario disability activists also reject this ridiculously expensive private accessibility certification company that essentially does nothing but make itself money. twitter.com/DavidLepofsky/

Thea Kurdi. To move the needle on #accessibility , enforce existing laws but face reality we need to radically rewrite building codes. Older buildings need audits using detailed requ’ts from several standards to get even close to Human Rights. After renos *maybe then ready for celebration.

Thea Kurdi. My career has been focused on trying to remove barriers people with disabilities unjustly face in built environments. I wish we were ready for whole building certification by now, but current standard practice & building codes don’t create accessible places. Love encouraging…

…and celebrating progress but at best we are only ready to celebrate features. Areas of most progress? Bathrooms, service desks, parking, signage, but rarely more than minimum, & not what we’ve known for decades is needed. #Education is far more valuable than certification.

Thea Kurdi. …this report from @aodaalliance raises many reasonable questions. And for those who don’t know much about #accessibility in buildings I understand wishing one national standard, like the CSA B651, would cover everything. Sadly, it does not. Why? Read: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-insider-secrets-whats-stopping-full-inclusion-design-thea-kurdi/ linkedin.com/pulse/top-insi

People have been asking what I think of new RHF certification program. I can see why business & government are attracted to what looks like an easy solution to a complex problem that they want to solve. I can see why people like the idea of celebrating through recognition. But… twitter.com/DavidLepofsky/
Thea Kurdi. @TorontoStar Hmmm… as someone who’s been doing #accessibility audits for 18 years we never only use CSA B651 standard, especially in provinces like ON with Ontario Building Code and #AODA . How does a certification that’s not looking at legislation help government & building owners? #a11y

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said it is wrong for the government to fund a private entity like the Rick Hansen Foundation to certify its buildings. torstar.co/b6aY50vaL06

7. Facebook Post by Optimal Consultants, an Ontario-Based Accessibility Consulting Firm

Originally posted at https://www.facebook.com/93712137122/posts/10156628031122123/

(Note: The AODA Alliance has not investigated or verified any statements in this post)

Please read my article in Linked In and in Facebook yesterday about the @RickHansen certification system being flawed. This includes “auditors” who have no formal education in the areas of ergonomics, human factors, psychology or design. As mentioned yesterday we are aware of 1 very important building in Meadowvale Ontario that was deemed by RHF to be accessible and received an award (which is clearly displayed in the building owners website – (note the building is owned by and managed by a real estate company. The certification and award were not in any way pursued by the FI business who leases the building). The two formal audits conducted by Optimal Performance Consultants and paid for by the FI in the building found the building to not meet even basic #OntarioBuildingCode #BarrierFreeDesign let alone provide accessibility for people of ALL abilities. Remember, accessible and inclusive design is NOT just about the #Wheelchair We stand by our University educated, experienced and professional Auditors at Optimal Performance Consultants. Optimizing human performance through the built environment for 30 years. [email protected]





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Great Conventional Media and Social Media Coverage Highlight Serious Problems with the Doug Ford Government Plan to Divert 1.3 Million Dollars to the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Controversial Private Accessibility Certification Program


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

Great Conventional Media and Social Media Coverage Highlight Serious Problems with the Doug Ford Government Plan to Divert 1.3 Million Dollars to the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Controversial Private Accessibility Certification Program

July 29, 2019

SUMMARY

In both conventional media and social media, there has already been good coverage of the serious problems that we have publicly raised with the Ford Government plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars to the controversial Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) private accessibility certification program. This helps reinforce our call for the Government to set this plan aside. Instead of this inappropriate use of public money, the Doug Ford Government should act now to implement the helpful recommendations in the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Last week, the AODA Alliance made public its important July 3, 2019 report. It documents serious problems with the Government plan to spend public money on the RHF private accessibility certification program. Our July 3, 2019 report shows that it is an exaggeration, if not inaccurate, to call an RHF assessment of a building an “accessibility certification”. It is an exaggeration, if not inaccurate, to call someone who took a two-week course from the RHF on accessibility and who passed a multiple-choice test an “accessibility professional”. It is an exaggeration if not inaccurate for the Ford Government to claim that public funding for this will remove barriers against people with disabilities.

Our efforts have triggered quite a good early response. In this Update we highlight early attention that our concerns have gotten in conventional media and social media. We also let you know about a recent article in a BC news publication that reinforces our concerns. We also take a closer look at the first public statement to the media that the Doug Ford Government has made in response to our concerns. We show that the Ford Government’s responses do not eliminate our concerns at all.

In this Update we also identify the specific actions we want the Ford Government to now take. What we seek is rooted in the recommendations of the David Onley report, and in election commitments that Doug Ford made to the AODA Alliance and Ontarians with disabilities during last year’s election campaign.

Just before this Update was sent out, we received a letter from Minister for Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho. It responds to the questions about the plan to publicly fund the problematic RHF private accessibility certification program in our July 3, 2019 letter to the Accessibility Minister. We are hard at work analyzing this letter and will address it in an upcoming AODA Alliance Update.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

1. Great Conventional and Social Media Coverage

On July 24, 2019, the Toronto Star online ran a great article entitled “Advocates slam Ontario plan to rate accessibility of buildings.” This article is included below. It reported on several of the serious problems with the Ford Government’s plan to give $1.3 million to the RHF for this. Below we address the Government’s first public responses to our July 3, 2019 report.

As well, on Thursday, July 25, 2019, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was interviewed on the Kitchener 570 News Radio station, as part of the “Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke” show. CFRB News Talk 1010 Radio in Toronto did a news interview with him on July 26, 2019. We have not heard if it was used on the air. At 4:45 pm today, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is scheduled to be interviewed on CBC Radio 1 in Ottawa.

There has also been quite a positive and vocal reaction to our report on social media. We set out a sampling from Twitter, below, as well as a Facebook post by Optimal Consulting, an accessibility firm that operates in Ontario.

All the feedback we have seen or received from the disability community has echoed and reinforced our concerns about the Ford Government’s plan to publicly fund the troubling RHF private accessibility certification program for 250 as-yet unspecified buildings in Ontario. They have also broadened the discussion with new information. Beyond what they say that is set out in our July 3, 2019 report, we have not investigated or verified facts set out in those posts. We present them to show that there is real controversy swirling around the Government’s plan.

Here are two tweets as examples. They were both replies to the Toronto Star tweeting about its July 24, 2019 article on this topic, which we provide for you later in this Update:

“Liz Hay. @Kurdi @TorontoStar If a building with “hangout steps” can be certified gold under the RHF system, its understanding of #accessibility is hardly gold standard. #AODAfail”

“Thea Kurdi. @TorontoStar Hmmm… as someone who’s been doing #accessibility audits for 18 years we never only use CSA B651 standard, especially in provinces like ON with Ontario Building Code and #AODA . How does a certification that’s not looking at legislation help government & building owners? #a11y

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said it is wrong for the government to fund a private entity like the Rick Hansen Foundation to certify its buildings.

torstar.co/b6aY50vaL06”

One of the tweets set out later in this Update , and that arises from our July 3, 2019 report, brought to our attention an important article in the July 9, 2019 edition of the Delta Observer news publication from British Columbia. We also set that article out below. It reports on a human rights complaint that has been filed with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal against a BC restaurant. A customer with a disability alleges that the restaurant has accessibility problems that amount to a violation of their human rights. The article says the RHF had certified that venue as accessible.

This shows, as we have said, that just because the RHF “certifies” that a place is accessible does not mean that people with disabilities will experience that place as accessible. Moreover, the fact that the RHF “certified” a restaurant as accessible is no defence to a human rights complaint, if the complainant shows that they faced accessibility barriers. Calling this “accessibility certification” is therefore inaccurate.

2. A Closer Look Shows that the Ford Government’s First Official Response to the AODA Alliance Report Doesn’t Refute Our Serious Concerns

What has the Ford Government told the media in response to the AODA Alliance’s July 3, 2019 report on the Government’s plan to fund the RHF private accessibility certification program to assess 250 buildings in Ontario over the next two years? Twenty-two days before we made our report public, we sent it to the office of the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho. We asked his office to let us know if there are any factual inaccuracies in our report. We explained that we have done our best to ensure that it is accurate, and don’t want to make any inaccurate statements in that report. We said we’d like to know before we make the report public, in case there is anything we need to correct. Knowing of our request, Minister Cho’s office and ministry has not suggested to us that there was anything inaccurate in the AODA Alliance’s July 3, 2019 report.

The Government’s first public response to the media was in the same Toronto Star July 24, 2019 article that was mentioned in the tweets above. We here take a closer look at that response, which is full of holes. The article’s key passage is:

“In a statement to the Star, Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said the process will be devoid of conflict of interest because those who will conduct the accessibility ratings will not be employed by the government or the RHF.

Instead, Cho said, they’ll be contracted by the foundation as independent professionals who have completed accreditation courses offered by the RHF through George Brown and Carleton University and passed exams conducted by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).

CSA Group will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate, he said.

Brad McCannell, RHF’s vice-president of access and inclusion, said the foundation’s certification program is impartial and was developed using extensive research on best practices in accessibility.

“When you request (an RHF accessibility certification) rating, you are not hiring the Rick Hansen Foundation,” he said in an email. The qualifications for assessors include a diploma in architecture, engineering or urban planning, as well as a minimum of five years’ experience related to accessibility in building environments, he said.

After the assessment, buildings receive a rating score corresponding to their level of accessibility: “certified gold” if they score over 80 per cent, “certified” if they score between 60 and 80 per cent, and noncertified if they score under 60 per cent. The scorecard includes key elements of success and suggestions for improvement for each assessed facility.

McCannell also noted that the foundation’s program is geared toward industry, not consumers.

“The RHFAC is not designed to assist people with disabilities to find the nearest accessible washroom, but rather it’s an industry program designed to influence professionals in the design and construction industry to recognize the gap between code requirement and the real needs of people with disabilities,” he said.

The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility says it chose the RHF based partly on its track record of conducting such certifications in B.C. and Nova Scotia.”

The Government’s response to the Toronto Star does not disprove any of our serious concerns. We address seven points.

First, we have seen no indication that the Ford Government held any open competitive process before it decided whom it would engage to assess the accessibility of 250 buildings in Ontario. There are a number of accessibility experts in Ontario that have been doing this kind of accessibility advisory work for years. There is no indication whether any of them were considered, or even had a chance to bid on this project. We do not know why a Government, acting responsibly with public money, would choose the RHF assessors whose only required accessibility background comes from passing a multiple choice test after a two-week course. A public bidding process would be a more appropriate approach to the responsible use of public money.

On that issue, the Star article includes this Government response:

“The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility says it chose the RHF based partly on its track record of conducting such certifications in B.C. and Nova Scotia.”

Yet that track record in BC is called into question by the problems with the RHF Gold rating for the Vancouver International Airport (addressed in our July 3, 2019 report), and the RHF’s rating a BC restaurant as “accessible” which is now being sued under BC’s human rights legislation for alleged accessibility problems. (as addressed in the news article set out later in this Update).

Second, according to the Toronto Star, an RHF spokesperson said that the RHF program is geared towards industry, not consumers. That will hardly be encouraging for Ontarians with disabilities. We need an increased focus on consumers with disabilities. Even if it is geared for industry, there is no way the public can know if the RHF assessments are useful since they are being kept secret, unless an organization wants its RHF report made public.

Third, the RHF spokesperson said that the RHF program is “an industry program designed to influence professionals in the design and construction industry to recognize the gap between code requirement and the real needs of people with disabilities.” However, as our July 3, 2019 report highlighted, and as a tweet from Ontario-based accessibility consultant Thea Kurdi notes, it is not even clear that the RHF assessments will cover all accessibility requirements in Ontario provincial and municipal laws. Moreover, the “Code” that organizations must meet or exceed is the Ontario Human Rights Code, and not the inferior accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code.

Fourth, according to the Toronto Star, Accessibility Minister Cho said that “…CSA Group (i.e. the Canadian Standards Association) will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate.” However, the CSA is itself not a government agency. It is a private organization. To our knowledge, the CSA is not authorized under any law of which we are aware to conduct accessibility assessments of buildings in Ontario or to evaluate the correctness or consistency of assessments done by others. We have seen no proof that the CSA has any expertise in that field. It is certainly not an organization that we would advise a government to engage for that purpose.

Fifth, it is peculiar that the RHF told the Star that: “When you request (an RHF accessibility certification) rating, you are not hiring the Rick Hansen Foundation”. This flies in the face of the fact that both the Ford Government and the RHF’s website emphasize the Rick Hansen Foundation’s name all over this process. In the Ford Government’s May 23, 2019 news release (included in the appendix to our July 3, 2019 report), the Government states position that is quite contrary to what it here told the Star, where it says:

“Through this investment, the Rick Hansen Foundation will undertake ratings of 250 facilities.”

It would likely come as a troubling surprise to an organization that had paid for the RHF certification and for permission to post an RHF certification sign on their building, as well as to members of the public who see a “Rick Hansen Foundation” accessibility certification sign in front of a building, that the RHF did not actually certify the building’s accessibility. This is especially so since it appears that a bedrock foundation of the RHF private accessibility certification program, and the Government’s promotion of this plan, is its prominent focus on Rick Hansen’s name and notoriety.

Sixth, assuming that the Star quoted it accurately, the RHF statement to the Toronto Star contradicts its own website where the RHF spokesperson said:

“The qualifications for assessors include a diploma in architecture, engineering or urban planning, as well as a minimum of five years’ experience related to accessibility in building environments…”

The admission requirements to be able to take the RHF two-week course and to pass a multiple choice test to qualify to conduct these building accessibility assessments for the RHF do not require a person to have ” a minimum of five years’ experience related to accessibility in building environments”, as our July 3, 2019 report documents. According to the Guide to RHFAC Professional Designation, posted on the RHF website, the qualifications to take the RHF 2-week course are:

“Prerequisites include the following:

  • You have a diploma of technology in architecture, engineering,

urban planning, interior design or a related program;

  • You have a Journeyman Certificate of Qualification in

a designated trade related to building construction;

  • You are an engineer or are eligible for registration as

an engineer;

  • You are an architect or are eligible for registration as an architect; OR
  • You have a minimum of five years’ experience related to building

construction.”

If we are right, then the RHF statement to the Star is inaccurate on a very important issue, namely whether a person needs to have any accessibility experience before taking the RHF course. As noted earlier, the Ford Government did not tell us that we got any of our facts wrong in our July 3, 2019 report.

Seventh and finally, the Government’s response does not disprove our serious concerns with the twin risk of conflicts of interest that are inherent in this plan. Our report explains that there are two conflict of interest risks:

  1. The RHF can be asked to assess the building of a public or private organization that has given a donation to the RHF, or that offers to do so in the future, or that otherwise signals a willingness to do so. This creates a conflict of interest for the RHF.
  1. The RHF’s accessibility assessors are freelancers. They get hired on an ad hoc basis by an organization to do an RHF accessibility assessment and to submit it to the RHF for its adjudication and approval. These assessors are paid by the job. No doubt, they want to get more jobs. As such, they have an incentive to give more favourable accessibility ratings, so that other organizations will also want to choose them for future certification jobs.

To answer these concerns, the Ford Government told the Star:

“”In a statement to the Star, Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said the process will be devoid of conflict of interest because those who will conduct the accessibility ratings will not be employed by the government or the RHF.

Instead, Cho said, they’ll be contracted by the foundation as independent professionals who have completed accreditation courses offered by the RHF through George Brown and Carleton University and passed exams conducted by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).

CSA Group will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate, he said.”

These Government statements do not eliminate any of our conflict of interest concerns. The fact that the assessors work as freelancers does not take away the fact that the RHF, which grants the ultimate award or certification in its own name, has a potential conflict of interest, in the case of organizations that may be past or potential future donors to the RHF.

As well, the fact that these assessors are paid by the job as freelancers is the very basis for the second conflict of interest concern listed above. By emphasizing that they are freelancers, the Minister’s statement simply reaffirms this problem.

3. What Should the Ford Government Do Now?

The Ford Government should take a long second look at this plan in light of our concerns, and should cancel it.

It’s time for the Ford Government instead to come up with a plan to implement the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government received the Onley report six months ago (or 179 days ago(. the Government has announced no plans to implement that report, even though over four months ago, Minister for Accessibility and Seniors said that David Onley did a “marvelous job”.

To create disability accessibility in the built environment, we call on the Ford Government to act on Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance. That is where Premier Ford set out his 2018 election pledges on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

We need Ontario to enact new and modernized accessibility requirements to ensure that the built environment becomes accessible to people with disabilities. The current Ontario Building Code is woefully inadequate. The Onley Report recommended this action. The AODA Alliance has called for this action. On May 15, 2018, Doug Ford pledged:

“Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions.”

We need Ontario to require that design professionals like architects be properly trained to design a built environment that is accessible to people with disabilities. The AODA Alliance has recommended this. So did the Onley Report. In his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, Doug Ford wrote:

“We need Ontario’s design professionals, such as architects, to receive substantially improved professional training on disability and accessibility.”

We also need the Ford Government to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. The AODA Alliance has called for this. the Onley Report did the same. In the 2018 election, Doug Ford promised that there would be an end to mismanagement of public money.

Rather than taking these important actions, the Ford Government took the official position in the Legislature on May 30, 2019 that this is all just undesirable “red tape”. The Doug Ford Government proudly pointed to its alternative plan of providing public funding to the RHF private accessibility certification program.

In the face of this, last week, the AODA Alliance launched its new grassroots “Dial Doug” campaign. It is inviting the public to call or email the Premier at his office (416 325-1941 or [email protected]) to ask for his plan to make Ontario accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. Members of the public are already taking up this challenge.

4. Toronto Star Online July 24, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/17/advocates-slam-ontario-plan-to-rate-accessibility-of-buildings.html

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky, seen on hangout steps he says are inaccessible and difficult for people with vision loss, says it’s wrong for the provincial government to fund a private entity to assess its buildings for accessibility, noting the chosen entity recently gave a “certified gold” rating to a building with such steps.

Advocates slam Ontario plan to rate accessibility of buildings

By Gilbert Ngabo Staff Reporter

A group that advocates for better accessibility standards in Ontario is voicing concerns about the province’s new assessment plan.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance says the plan to conduct accessibility assessments of public and private buildings will remove few barriers and is bound to be marred by conflicts of interest.

In this spring’s budget, the province earmarked $1.3 million to conduct accessibility audits of some 250 public and private facilities over two years. The program will be conducted in partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF).

In a report released this week, the AODA Alliance — a non-partisan coalition advocating for the implementation of the province’s disability accessibility laws — said the government should reconsider its decision.

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said it is wrong for the government to fund a private entity like the RHF to certify its buildings.

“You can’t say, ‘Hey, you’re about to inspect my house, here’s some cash.’ You shouldn’t be allowed to do that,” said Lepofsky, a lawyer and longtime advocate for people with disabilities. “That’s a clear conflict of interest. It’s actually quite troubling.”

Using properly trained government inspectors would be a better choice, he said, as they’d be bound by the established laws of accessibility.

The alliance is also critical of the government for not consulting members of the disability community before unveiling the certification process. Lepofsky said there’s risk of leaving out people whose disabilities are not related to mobility, vision or hearing.

In a statement to the Star, Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said the process will be devoid of conflict of interest because those who will conduct the accessibility ratings will not be employed by the government or the RHF.

Instead, Cho said, they’ll be contracted by the foundation as independent professionals who have completed accreditation courses offered by the RHF through George Brown and Carleton University and passed exams conducted by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).

CSA Group will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate, he said.

Brad McCannell, RHF’s vice-president of access and inclusion, said the foundation’s certification program is impartial and was developed using extensive research on best practices in accessibility.

“When you request (an RHF accessibility certification) rating, you are not hiring the Rick Hansen Foundation,” he said in an email. The qualifications for assessors include a diploma in architecture, engineering or urban planning, as well as a minimum of five years’ experience related to accessibility in building environments, he said.

After the assessment, buildings receive a rating score corresponding to their level of accessibility: “certified gold” if they score over 80 per cent, “certified” if they score between 60 and 80 per cent, and noncertified if they score under 60 per cent. The scorecard includes key elements of success and suggestions for improvement for each assessed facility.

McCannell also noted that the foundation’s program is geared toward industry, not consumers.

“The RHFAC is not designed to assist people with disabilities to find the nearest accessible washroom, but rather it’s an industry program designed to influence professionals in the design and construction industry to recognize the gap between code requirement and the real needs of people with disabilities,” he said.

The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility says it chose the RHF based partly on its track record of conducting such certifications in B.C. and Nova Scotia.

But Lepofsky pointed to the Vancouver airport — a RHF “certified gold” rated building in 2018 — as a reason for caution.

In a RHG tweet announcing the rating, a photo shows “hangout steps” for socializing at the airport, which are inaccessible to people using wheelchairs or other mobility devices and are difficult for people with vision loss or balance issues, he said.

Lepofsky, who raised the problem of hangout steps in Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre in an online video in 2017, questioned how a public building with hangout steps can deserve a gold rating for accessibility.

“It is troubling that this gold rating signals to the Vancouver International Airport and to the public that having hangout steps is fine from an accessibility perspective,” he said. “It is also troubling that it signals to design professionals that they should feel free to include them in other buildings without worrying that it raises any accessibility concern.”

The provincial government continues to draw criticism from accessibility advocacy communities and experts over AODA.

Earlier this year, former lieutenant-governor David Onley issued a report on the implementation of the 14-year-old act, in which he observed that people with disabilities are still facing “soul-crushing” barriers in Ontario. The goal of achieving the fully accessible Ontario by 2025 is “nowhere in sight,” Onley’s report concluded.

This month, 21 disability organizations across Ontario sent a letter to the premier decrying a long-standing lack of leadership on the accessibility file and calling for a concrete plan of action on the recommendations from the Onley report.

“The Doug Ford government in the past year has done absolutely nothing new to speed up and strengthen the implementation of the AODA. Absolutely nothing,” Lepofsky said.

“We think (the building certification plan) is just a big distraction rather than doing their job.”

With files from Laurie Monsebraatan

Gilbert Ngabo is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @dugilbo

5. The Delta Optimist July 8, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.delta-optimist.com/news/human-rights-tribunal-to-hear-disabled-customer-s-complaint-about-pat-quinn-s-1.23877536?fbclid=IwAR2YQfRum15xPmepCS7c10T4gO7lDhS-bJUfBimDOggHjSK5zzRiUBoB7mg

BC Human Rights Tribunal to hear disabled customer’s complaint about Pat Quinn’s

An accessibility complaint against Pat Quinn’s Restaurant & Bar will go before the Human Rights Tribunal later this year.

The complaint has been filed by Tsawwassen’s Vince Miele who uses a wheelchair and has long been an advocate for people with disabilities.

According to his application, in February 2016 he made a reservation for four and informed the Tsawwassen Springs restaurant that one in the party uses a wheelchair.

When he arrived, he found his friends had been seated at a table in the lower area of the restaurant, but he was unable to independently join them because of three stairs. A server offered to help him down the stairs, but that was not feasible.

As a result, his friends were moved to the upper level of the restaurant. He said the experience attracted undue attention from other diners and that it was an “incredibly embarrassing experience.”

After the incident, Miele contacted the restaurant to complain about the lack of access to the lower floor.

“I received less than a satisfactory response and in correspondence with others looked originally at a class-action lawsuit,” Miele told the Optimist. “The commissioner of the tribunal determined that a class-action complaint was a lot more complicated. They felt they would not accept it as a class-action, but continue it at the Human Rights Tribunal.”

In January, an application was made to dismiss the complaint, but that was denied, so it will now be heard before the tribunal in November.

Miele said since he started the complaint process three years ago, the restaurant has made some improvements, including installing an automatic door opener from the parkade to the elevator and a door to enable access to the patio. As well, it now has a portable ramp, but Miele contends that does not meet the building code and a permanent ramp should be installed to meet all accessibility standards.

“We’re very surprised by all of this. It’s a shame because it is a great restaurant and we love going there,” he said. “I’m not in this to harm the reputation of the restaurant. I thought it was an oversight when I first wrote to them in good faith and thought it would be corrected.

“Three years later we are still waiting. What are we to think? I’m adamant about what I want and so are they and that’s why we are heading to a hearing. To design something like this so poorly is quite surprising. It should be inclusive and accessible for all and it’s not.”

Dave Symington also wrote to the Optimist about a similar experience he had at the restaurant in May.

“It’s surprising that a building this new still did not take into account that people with mobility-related disabilities might want to use the lower and main portion of the restaurant,” he said. “The building code specifically states that where there is a change in floor levels it must be made accessible, which means a permanent ramp or other means where an individual can independently access the area. If we have to make a fuss about sitting in an area that anyone else can, we are not being accommodated fairly.”

Through its legal counsel, Tsawwassen Springs provided a written response to the Optimist.

“We engaged the services of professional engineers and architects who created the building plans for the construction of Pat Quinn’s Restaurant & Bar along with the entire building in which the restaurant is situate, which plans were in full compliance with the then current B.C. Building Code including the accessibility requirements provided therein,” said the response.

“Those building plans were approved by the City of Delta, whose representatives issued all necessary permits. The building, including the restaurant, is Accessibility Certified by the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program.

“We will not be providing any further comment while this matter is being considered by the tribunal.”

6. Sampling of Recent Tweets

Liz Hay. @tkurdi @TorontoStar If a building with “hangout steps” can be certified gold under the RHF system, its understanding of #accessibility is hardly gold standard. #AODAfail

J E Sleeth. @DavidLepofsky @fordnation @HonDavidOnley Excellent article @TorontoStar re. #aoda #ford giving $ 2 @RickHansenFdn which is not bona fide #accessibility nor a means 2 have private sector be #openforbusiness to #peopleofallabilities it’s not just the #wheelchair

Joel Harden. $1.3 million for accessibility audits will not rid Ontario of the “soul-crushing” barriers that exist. We need immediate action to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025, not meager investments.  #onpoli #AODA https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/24/advocates-slam-ontario-plan-to-rate-accessibility-of-buildings.html

thestar.com/news/gta/2019/… Twitter Web App

Allen Mankewich.  This thread highlights concerns with the RHF’s Accessibility Certification Program and reveals a lot of what I’m hearing in private conversations. Thanks  @mssinenomine for compiling the thread, and thanks  @DavidLepofsky for releasing a report exposing issues with this program.  https://twitter.com/mssinenomine/status/1154420373187751936 twitter.com/mssinenomine/s…

Michelle Sanders.  #Ontario to allocate $1.3 million to  #accessibility audits in partnership with  @RickHansenFdn . Accessibility Certification requirements not available to the public + not based on public consult. What are we doing?? @fordnation @aodaalliance @AODAontario https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/24/advocates-slam-ontario-plan-to-rate-accessibility-of-buildings.html thestar.com/news/gta/2019/… Twitter for iPhone

Micaela Evans A case is heading to the BC Human Rights Tribunal soon that touches on these important issues of the certification https://twitter.com/micievans13/status/1154622550682456064?s=20

Gabrielle Peters The building is accessibility certified by the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿.  Check out the  @aodaalliance report at the top of this thread detailing this wasteful use of public money and their “Dial Doug” campaign

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿.  Trust the Doug Ford government to come up with a way to look like it’s doing something about accessibility when all its doing is spending money on a private foundation to ensure it makes the government look like it’s doing something. Ontario taxpayers deserve better.     #onpoli

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿.  Unlike the government this private foundation has no obligation to make anything public. Ontarians won’t know which buildings are rated, or how they’re rated. The Ford gov will release results as it sees fit. There is no enforcement for buildings that fail. This fails us all.

While slashing education and health care the Doug Ford government is paying a private foundation 1.3 million to rate 250 buildings. That’s $5,200 per building. Government inspectors already employed could do this. Is this an attempt to ensure that these buildings pass?

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿.  To work as a building accessibility certfier for RHF all you have to do is take a two week course and pass a multiple choice test. Then you’re fully trained to certify every single building you see as accessible or accessible enough for Doug Ford’s purposes. Right.  #Accessibilty

Further to the detailed work of BC’s @mssinenomine Ontario disability activists also reject this ridiculously expensive private accessibility certification company that essentially does nothing but make itself money. twitter.com/DavidLepofsky/…

Thea Kurdi.  To move the needle on  #accessibility , enforce existing laws but face reality we need to radically rewrite building codes. Older buildings need audits using detailed requ’ts from several standards to get even close to Human Rights. After renos *maybe then ready for celebration.

Thea Kurdi.  My career has been focused on trying to remove barriers people with disabilities unjustly face in built environments. I wish we were ready for whole building certification by now, but current standard practice & building codes don’t create accessible places. Love encouraging…

…and celebrating progress but at best we are only ready to celebrate features. Areas of most progress? Bathrooms, service desks, parking, signage, but rarely more than minimum, & not what we’ve known for decades is needed. #Education is far more valuable than certification.

Thea Kurdi.  …this report from  @aodaalliance raises many reasonable questions. And for those who don’t know much about  #accessibility in buildings I understand wishing one national standard, like the CSA B651, would cover everything. Sadly, it does not. Why? Read:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-insider-secrets-whats-stopping-full-inclusion-design-thea-kurdi/ linkedin.com/pulse/top-insi…

People have been asking what I think of new RHF certification program. I can see why business & government are attracted to what looks like an easy solution to a complex problem that they want to solve. I can see why people like the idea of celebrating through recognition. But… twitter.com/DavidLepofsky/…

Thea Kurdi.  @TorontoStar Hmmm… as someone who’s been doing  #accessibility audits for 18 years we never only use CSA B651 standard, especially in provinces like ON with Ontario Building Code and  #AODA . How does a certification that’s not looking at legislation help government & building owners?  #a11y

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said it is wrong for the government to fund a private entity like the Rick Hansen Foundation to certify its buildings. torstar.co/b6aY50vaL06

7. Facebook Post by Optimal Consultants, an Ontario-Based Accessibility Consulting Firm

Originally posted at https://www.facebook.com/93712137122/posts/10156628031122123/

(Note: The AODA Alliance has not investigated or verified any statements in this post)

Please read my article in Linked In and in Facebook yesterday about the @RickHansen certification system being flawed. This includes “auditors” who have no formal education in the areas of ergonomics, human factors, psychology or design. As mentioned yesterday we are aware of 1 very important building in Meadowvale Ontario that was deemed by RHF to be accessible and received an award (which is clearly displayed in the building owners website – (note the building is owned by and managed by a real estate company. The certification and award were not in any way pursued by the FI business who leases the building). The two formal audits conducted by Optimal Performance Consultants and paid for by the FI in the building found the building to not meet even basic #OntarioBuildingCode #BarrierFreeDesign let alone provide accessibility for people of ALL abilities. Remember, accessible and inclusive design is NOT just about the #Wheelchair  We stand by our University educated, experienced and professional Auditors at Optimal Performance Consultants.  Optimizing human performance through the built environment for 30 years.  [email protected]





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Social Housing Developer Prepares to Open New Affordable Housing Project


Two housing projects are already on the table with hopes for more in the future to come out CBC News · Posted: Jun 20, 2019

Affordable housing developer Indwell is preparing to open the first of two rental properties in hopes of combating homelessness in the city.

Indwell is the largest affordable housing developer in South Western Ontario. They’ve provided affordable housing in communities such as Hamilton, Woodstock and Oxford county.

In London, they are currently working on two affordable building projects, with hopes for more in the future.

Their first project, located at 356 Dundas street, will be opening on July 15. The building has 67 one-bedroom apartments for $560 a month. At the moment, it still has some vacancies.

Graham Cubitt, the director of projects and development with Indwell, says they want to give people a chance to be able to participate in the community.

“Our tenants do experience a wide spectrum of life circumstances. So whether they might have a mental illness, or a physical disability…living with low income due to an intellectual disability or other circumstances….how do we help them achieve their best potential? Living in their own apartment in a community,” he said.

In addition to providing housing and rent at an affordable rate, the agency also provides services for their community members.

“From that starting point, we put out community connections. We do a lot of networking, financial literacy, cooking skills, finding community associations to belong to, opportunities to work or volunteering…Really it’s about fostering that community inclusion for each one of our tenants…and within the community,” Cubitt said.

Indwell is also working in partnership with other mental health agencies around the city to provide support to tenants. The Canadian Mental Health Association and the Parkwood Institute are collaborating with the agency to help break the cycle of re-hospitalization and homelessness.

‘We know that there’s a major problem in the community with people not being able to be discharged from the hospital. We’re trying to help address some of those issues, and give people living in the community who don’t need to be living in hospital [but making sure that] the support systems [are] around them,” said Cubitt.

Indwell’s second affordable housing building will be at 744 Dundas street with 75 one-bedroom apartments. Construction on the 16-month project is expected to start in the spring.

Indwell hopes they can make their work a collaborative effort with other housing providers in London to make a greater impact.

“We would love to work with London-Middlesex Community Housing and other social housing providers to say ‘how can we provide supportive housing alongside the affordable housing that other social housing providers would offer’,” Cubitt said.

He’s confident that Indwell can make a difference in the city alongside other community partners. He says that Indwell hopes to focus on other areas where affordable housing is needed in the city.

“Homelessness is such a problem, it seems pervasive, it seems overwhelming. But knowing that we can actually do things that work and that make a difference in the lives of people…we’re feeling very energized by the community’s response,” Cubitt said.

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/affordable-housing-indwell-london-ontario-canada-accessible-public-1.5181813



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The Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs’ Chair and Vice-Chair Make Strong Speeches in the Senate to Support the Committee’s Amendments to Improve Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


These Speeches Show Why the Federal Government Should Agree to Pass All Those Amendments

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

May 10, 2019

Summary

On Wednesday, May 8, 2019, the full Senate voted to formally accept the report of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. Below we set out the two strong speeches made in the Senate at that time, by the Standing Committee’s chair and vice chair. Together these speeches show why the House of Commons should vote to pass all the amendments to Bill C-81 that the Senate’s Standing Committee adopted. These speeches make a compelling case for those amendments.

On May 6, 2019, the AODA Alliance wrote federal Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough. We asked the Federal Government to agree to pass all the Senate Standing Committee’s amendments. The Minister has not yet responded. To our knowledge, she has not yet made that commitment. If the Federal Government does not pass all those amendments in the House of Commons, that will both weaken Bill C-81 and risk Bill C-81 not being finally passed by Parliament before it rises for the fall election.

The Senate is moving the bill to Third Reading debates. We understand that those debates will occur next week, with a final vote on or before Thursday, May 16, 2019. The Senate’s acceptance of the Standing Committee’s report is a formality, needed to move the bill to Third Reading.

We are eager for you to email or tweet as many Members of Parliament as you can. Press them to agree to pass all the amendments that the Senate Standing Committee made to Bill C-81. For action tips on how you can help press the Federal Government to agree to pass ALL the amendments to Bill C-81 that the Senate passed, and to read our May 6, 2019 letter to federal Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough (explaining why we need all these amendments passed), visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/help-our-new-blitz-to-get-the-house-of-commons-to-swiftly-ratify-all-the-amendments-to-bill-c-81the-proposed-accessible-canada-act-that-the-senate-standing-committee-has-passed/ To find your MP’s email address or Twitter handle, visit https://www.ourcommons.ca/en and search for their contact information.

To read the text of the Senate Standing Committee’s amendments to Bill C-81, and a good explanation of them by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/more-specifics-on-the-amendments-to-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act-that-the-senates-standing-committee-passed-and-that-we-want-the-house-of-commons-to-ratify-still-no-commitment-by /

To watch the captioned video of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s opening statement at the Senate Standing Committee on April 11, 2019 (10 minutes), visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FERCAljHbrw&feature=em-uploademail

To watch a captioned video of the portion of the Senate Standing Committee’s question-and-answer after that opening statement, where the AODA Alliance answers questions directed to us (26 minutes), visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr0fCtB_cyw&feature=em-uploademail

For all the background on our efforts to get the Federal Government to enact a strong and effective national accessibility law, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

Please send us your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

Hansard Senate of Canada May 8, 2019

Originally posted at https://sencanada.ca/en/content/sen/chamber/421/debates/285db_2019-05-08-e

Thirty-fourth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology CommitteeDebate
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the thirty-fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, with amendments and observations), presented in the Senate on May 7, 2019.

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc moved the adoption of the report.
She said:

Honourable senators, I rise today in support of the thirty-fourth report of the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee. The report deals with Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

[English]
Bill C-81 proposes to enact the accessible Canada act, with the objective of enhancing the full and equal participation of all persons living with disabilities in society through the identification, removal and prevention of barriers within areas under federal jurisdiction. It would also make related amendments to a number of other acts.

The proposed legislation adds to the rights and protections currently available to persons with disabilities, including those set out under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Bill C-81 was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on March 21, 2019.

[Translation]
Pursuant to the leaders agreement, the committee was supposed to report back by yesterday, May 7, 2019, and it did. I sincerely thank my committee colleagues who, despite the tight deadlines created by that agreement, were able to study the bill very efficiently. The committee wouldnt have been able to complete its report on time if it werent for our highly efficient clerk, Daniel Charbonneau, and Library of Parliament analysts Laura Munn-Rivard and Mayra Perez-Leclerc. I sincerely thank them.

A few groups wanted to take part in our study. We thank them for their interest and, above all, for their understanding since they were unable to appear in person.

[English]
In its study of the bill, the committee endeavoured to follow the principle, nothing about us without us, consulting with advocacy groups, accessibility experts and other relevant witnesses from the disability community across Canada. On behalf of the committee, thank you to the members of the disability community who offered their knowledge, expertise, ideas and insights on this important piece of legislation.

Over 4 meetings, the committee heard from 20 witnesses and received more than 70 emails from the public and more than a dozen briefs from experts and organizations. Based on the testimony we received, the committee made 11 amendments and 2 observations to Bill C-81 with the goal of strengthening the legislation.

With regard to a timeline, January 1, 2040 has been added to the legislation as a deadline by which Canada must become accessible to persons with disabilities. To address concerns that a deadline acts as a disincentive to quick implementation, Bill C-81 is also amended to state that nothing in the act authorizes any delay in the removal of barriers or the implementation of measures to prevent new barriers as soon as possible.

As well, the preamble section of the bill is amended to state that the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to accessibility must be done without delay.

The deadline of January 1, 2040 was suggested by multiple expert witnesses, including the Honourable David Onley, as a reasonable time frame. Witnesses said that identifying a date was necessary to measure progress, strengthen accountability and propel the implementation of Bill C-81.

[Translation]

Clause 6 of the bill, which sets out the principles of the proposed legislation, is amended by the committee to reflect the fact that people with a disability face many intersecting forms of marginalization and discrimination. This issue was raised several times in committee and in the briefs we received. The purpose of this amendment is to recognize the unique challenges faced by people living with disabilities. For example, handicapped seniors regularly face ageism and may also live in poverty. This enhancement of Bill C-81s principles is important because the legislation provides that the organizations concerned take these principles into consideration when developing their accessibility plans.

[English]

Sign languages in Canada receive express recognition in the amended legislation in two ways.

First, clause 5.1, the clarification provision regarding the identification, removal and prevention of barriers under the area of communication other than information and communication technologies, is amended to include the use of American Sign Language, Quebec Sign Language and Indigenous Sign Languages.

Second, another amendment in the same clause recognizes sign languages as the primary language for communication by deaf persons in Canada.

Many witnesses stated that for people in the Deaf community, sign language is their primary language and a critical part of their culture, enabling them to participate in society.

As well, witnesses pointed to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that:

Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture.

[Translation]

The bill is also amended by adding clause 121.1 to indicate that nothing in any provision of the new accessible Canada act or its potential accompanying regulations limits an otherwise regulated entitys duty to accommodate.

Several witnesses stated that it was important that Bill C-81 not lessen the federal governments existing human rights obligations. Experts from the community of people living with disabilities noted that experience with provincial accessibility legislation suggests that regulated entities could fail to provide accommodations because they mistakenly believe that compliance with accessibility regulations fulfils or eliminates their duty to accommodate.

[English]

(1500)
The legislation is amended to modify section 172(2) of the Canada Transportation Act, with the goal of removing the Canadian Transportation Agencys ability to dismiss a complaint about inaccessibility in the federal transportation system if the transportation provider has complied with regulations made by the agency.

Some witnesses expressed concern that the regulations made by the Canadian Transportation Agency may not meet the legal duty to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship and may not address individual requirements of people with disabilities.

[Translation]

Finally, two committee amendments, to clauses 94(4) and 143, bring Bill C-81 in line with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act. With the adoption of the accessible Canada act, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be able to file complaints with the accessibility commissioner and receive compensation, just like other public servants.

Your committee also made two observations to the federal government, which are appended to the report. The committee encouraged the government to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability-related barriers when it is reasonable to expect that such barriers can be avoided. Furthermore, the committee strongly encouraged the government to create standardized, effective training that will ensure that all Canadians can expect the same level of access to all government services.

Honourable colleagues, the Senates legal counsel discovered a technical error in the French version of amendment 5(b) of the report that the committee tabled on May 7, 2019. The report states, remplacer les lignes 22 et 23. However, it should state, remplacer les lignes 22 à 26. The word et should be replaced by à, and the number 23 should be replaced by 26 in the French version. This is a human error that must be fixed so that we can immediately start building a barrier-free Canada for the 6.2 million Canadians living with a disability.

Motion in Amendment Adopted

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc: Therefore, honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, in amendment, I move:
That the thirty-fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be not now adopted, but that it be amended in amendment 5b), in the French version, by replacing the instruction line with the following: b) remplacer les lignes 22 à 26 par ce qui suit :.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, since Senator Petitclerc moved the adoption of the report, she cannot amend it without leave. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Petitclerc agreed to.) [English]

(Later that day in the Senate)

Thirty-fourth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Adopted On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Petitclerc, seconded by the Honourable Senator Verner, P.C., for the adoption of the thirty-fourth report, as amended, of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, with amendments and observations), presented in the Senate on May 7, 2019.

Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technologys thirty-fourth report on Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

Our committee studied this piece of legislation extensively and heard testimony from 20 advocacy groups and umbrella organizations. These included the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, a network comprised of 85 organizations; the Canadian Association of the Deaf; Barrier Free Canada, advocates for accessibility legislation; AGE-Well, Canadas technology and aging network; March of Dimes Canada, an organization that offers a wide range of programs and services to persons with disabilities; the Canadian National Institute for the Blind; the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a national human rights organization of people with disabilities; Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec; and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, all who bring representation of Canadas disability communities.

Although virtually all of the testimony we heard called on us to pass this bill with a degree of urgency, without exception witnesses expressed concerns about certain omissions they asked us to address. While the reflected desire for this legislation was strong, the desire to improve it was even stronger.

After much deliberation and discussion, our committee adopted 11 amendments. Today, I rise to speak to two of these amendments in particular that were raised with consistency throughout our committee hearings.

First, the amendment that addresses the issue of timelines. What we heard from many advocacy groups is that timelines are an essential accountability measure and are necessary if we are to achieve the purpose of this legislation. For example, Ms. Donna Jodhan, the President of Barrier-Free Canada, said during her testimony on May 1:

Bill C-81 requires timelines. Timelines are essential to ensure that key accessibility measures are taken. Timelines are also required so that progress on accessibility can be measured. In particular, we support recommendations for the bill to include a timeline for achieving a Canada without barriers and timelines with which accessibility standards are developed and enacted by law.

As another example, Ms. Zinnia Batliwalla, the National Manager, Government Relations and Advocacy for March of Dimes Canada, said during her testimony on April 11:
To enable organizations like ours to measure progress and urge change, timelines allow us to better work with our government partners to ensure we are actively moving toward an accessible and inclusive Canada.

Steven Estey, the Government and Community Relations Officer for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, said during his testimony on April 10:

Bill C-81 is silent on those timelines. That concerns us, not because we feel there is a lack of good intention, not because we feel that officials dont want to move forward, but because five or ten years down the road, we can begin to have meetings. If there is no backstop or wall against which we can say the time has come, people can say, Were working very hard. Were doing good things. There is no way to say that were going to get there by a certain time. We are concerned about that.

The former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable David Onley, who has been long involved in developing Ontarios accessibility legislation, made an interesting point. He said that if we make only one amendment to this legislation, it must be around timelines. During his testimony on May 1, the Honourable Mr. Onley stated:

I was part of the discussions at the very beginning in 2005 and the first chair of the ministers advisory committee on the implementation of the act. I, along with most of the members of the first advisory committee, felt that moral suasion and goodwill would be sufficient to achieve the objectives . . . .

Having listened, as I mentioned, to hundreds of people from across the province and taken submissions via email and in person, my views changed. I now believe quite firmly that the only way were going to achieve true and full accessibility is for the various standards and objectives to have a definable date in place and a government that is willing to enforce the implementation of these measures.

(1510)
This is the type of consistent testimony that led the committee to support the date of January 1, 2040, for Canada to become barrier-free. This will give the federal government and the obliged federally regulated entities 21 years to take the necessary steps to reach their accessibility requirements, a time frame that is neither too far nor too near. It was said to be one that is realistic and will be seen in our lifetimes.

However, we also made an amendment to ensure that accessibility measures would not be delayed or postponed but enacted as soon as possible. In fact, we added a new clause to the bill, clause 5.2, which states:

Nothing in this Act, including its purpose of the realization of a Canada without barriers, should be construed as requiring or authorizing any delay in the removal or implementation of measures to prevent new barriers as soon as is reasonably possible.

The other amendment I would like to address is the recognition of sign languages as the language of the deaf community. Many organizations that represent Canadas deaf community spoke about the importance for Bill C-81 to recognize sign languages as a way to ensure that deaf persons have equal access to information, communication, employment, government services, transportation and other federally regulated sectors.

As an example, Bill Adair, the Executive Director of the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, said during his testimony on April 10:

. . . we want Bill C-81 to recognize ASL and LSQ as the languages of people who are deaf in Canada. We are not asking for official language status. We are asking that sign languages be included as an integral part of Bill C-81.

This is why. If it were not for the use of signing here today, any person in this room who is deaf would not be privy to my remarks and to the discussions that will follow. This is true of all public hearings. Indeed, the very name implies that these meetings are for those who can hear.

More importantly, if catastrophe were to suddenly strike us, a person who is deaf would not have access to potentially life-saving information. This was the case recently in Pearson Airport when a fire broke out.

Please ensure that ASL and LSQ are written right into Bill C-81 so that there is an expectation for federally regulated entities to provide resources and newsworthy information in sign languages.

Frank Folino, President of the Canadian Association of the Deaf, said during his testimony on May 1:

We commend the Government of Canada and the minister for introducing Bill C-81, which is an important and positive step toward becoming an accessible Canada. However, an integral part of Bill C-81 will achieve its purposes of a barrier-free Canada with legal recognition of ASL and LSQ as the languages of deaf people because this does make a tremendous difference for deaf Canadians, through accessibility, information, communications and services.

Our committee learned about the deaf culture, one which has its own defining characteristics and includes sign languages, cultural norms, historical traditions and heritage. For all of us, this new understanding was very significant and led us to amend the bill to recognize the important role that sign languages play in the lives of Canadas deaf community.

Honourable colleagues, I am extremely proud of the collaboration of our committee members. We have weighed and considered very carefully the passionate testimony we heard from the disability communities. Although the needs of the disability communities are broad and unique, we believe we were able to focus on a few clear amendments that will add value to Bill C-81 without endangering its passage. Through our work, we are convinced that we have both reaffirmed our committee to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and made a meaningful piece of legislation even better in response to overwhelmingly consistent requests from the disability communities to the benefit of all Canadians.

Honourable colleagues, I hope that you will support the report of our Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee on Bill C-81. Thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Petitclerc, seconded by the Honourable Senator Verner that this report, as amended, be adopted now. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion? Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report, as amended, adopted.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Munson, bill, as amended, placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)



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The Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs’ Chair and Vice-Chair Make Strong Speeches in the Senate to Support the Committee’s Amendments to Improve Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act -These Speeches Show Why the Federal Government Should Agree to Pass All Those Amendments


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 Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs’ Chair and Vice-Chair Make Strong Speeches in the Senate to Support the Committee’s Amendments to Improve Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act –These Speeches Show Why the Federal Government Should Agree to Pass All Those Amendments

May 10, 2019

            Summary

On Wednesday, May 8, 2019, the full Senate voted to formally accept the report of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. Below we set out the two strong speeches made in the Senate at that time, by the Standing Committee’s chair and vice chair. Together these speeches show why the House of Commons should vote to pass all the amendments to Bill C-81 that the Senate’s Standing Committee adopted. These speeches make a compelling case for those amendments.

On May 6, 2019, the AODA Alliance wrote federal Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough. We asked the Federal Government to agree to pass all the Senate Standing Committee’s amendments. The Minister has not yet responded. To our knowledge, she has not yet made that commitment. If the Federal Government does not pass all those amendments in the House of Commons, that will both weaken Bill C-81 and risk Bill C-81 not being finally passed by Parliament before it rises for the fall election.

The Senate is moving the bill to Third Reading debates. We understand that those debates will occur next week, with a final vote on or before Thursday, May 16, 2019. The Senate’s acceptance of the Standing Committee’s report is a formality, needed to move the bill to Third Reading.

We are eager for you to email or tweet as many Members of Parliament as you can. Press them to agree to pass all the amendments that the Senate Standing Committee made to Bill C-81. For action tips on how you can help press the Federal Government to agree to pass ALL the amendments to Bill C-81 that the Senate passed, and to read our May 6, 2019 letter to federal Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough (explaining why we need all these amendments passed), visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/help-our-new-blitz-to-get-the-house-of-commons-to-swiftly-ratify-all-the-amendments-to-bill-c-81the-proposed-accessible-canada-act-that-the-senate-standing-committee-has-passed/

To find your MP’s email address or Twitter handle, visit https://www.ourcommons.ca/en and search for their contact information.

To read the text of the Senate Standing Committee’s amendments to Bill C-81, and a good explanation of them by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/more-specifics-on-the-amendments-to-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act-that-the-senates-standing-committee-passed-and-that-we-want-the-house-of-commons-to-ratify-still-no-commitment-by /

To watch the captioned video of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s opening statement at the Senate Standing Committee on April 11, 2019 (10 minutes), visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FERCAljHbrw&feature=em-uploademail

To watch a captioned video of the portion of the Senate Standing Committee’s question-and-answer after that opening statement, where the AODA Alliance answers questions directed to us (26 minutes), visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr0fCtB_cyw&feature=em-uploademail

For all the background on our efforts to get the Federal Government to enact a strong and effective national accessibility law, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

Please send us your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

            MORE DETAILS

Hansard Senate of Canada May 8, 2019

Originally posted at https://sencanada.ca/en/content/sen/chamber/421/debates/285db_2019-05-08-e

Thirty-fourth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee—Debate

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the thirty-fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, with amendments and observations), presented in the Senate on May 7, 2019.

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc moved the adoption of the report.

She said:

Honourable senators, I rise today in support of the thirty-fourth report of the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee. The report deals with Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

[English]

Bill C-81 proposes to enact the accessible Canada act, with the objective of enhancing the full and equal participation of all persons living with disabilities in society through the identification, removal and prevention of barriers within areas under federal jurisdiction. It would also make related amendments to a number of other acts.

The proposed legislation adds to the rights and protections currently available to persons with disabilities, including those set out under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Bill C-81 was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on March 21, 2019.

[Translation]

Pursuant to the leaders’ agreement, the committee was supposed to report back by yesterday, May 7, 2019, and it did. I sincerely thank my committee colleagues who, despite the tight deadlines created by that agreement, were able to study the bill very efficiently. The committee wouldn’t have been able to complete its report on time if it weren’t for our highly efficient clerk, Daniel Charbonneau, and Library of Parliament analysts Laura Munn-Rivard and Mayra Perez-Leclerc. I sincerely thank them.

A few groups wanted to take part in our study. We thank them for their interest and, above all, for their understanding since they were unable to appear in person.

[English]

In its study of the bill, the committee endeavoured to follow the principle, “nothing about us without us,” consulting with advocacy groups, accessibility experts and other relevant witnesses from the disability community across Canada. On behalf of the committee, thank you to the members of the disability community who offered their knowledge, expertise, ideas and insights on this important piece of legislation.

Over 4 meetings, the committee heard from 20 witnesses and received more than 70 emails from the public and more than a dozen briefs from experts and organizations. Based on the testimony we received, the committee made 11 amendments and 2 observations to Bill C-81 with the goal of strengthening the legislation.

With regard to a timeline, January 1, 2040 has been added to the legislation as a deadline by which Canada must become accessible to persons with disabilities. To address concerns that a deadline acts as a disincentive to quick implementation, Bill C-81 is also amended to state that nothing in the act authorizes any delay in the removal of barriers or the implementation of measures to prevent new barriers as soon as possible.

As well, the preamble section of the bill is amended to state that the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to accessibility must be done without delay.

The deadline of January 1, 2040 was suggested by multiple expert witnesses, including the Honourable David Onley, as a reasonable time frame. Witnesses said that identifying a date was necessary to measure progress, strengthen accountability and propel the implementation of Bill C-81.

[Translation]

Clause 6 of the bill, which sets out the principles of the proposed legislation, is amended by the committee to reflect the fact that people with a disability face many intersecting forms of marginalization and discrimination. This issue was raised several times in committee and in the briefs we received. The purpose of this amendment is to recognize the unique challenges faced by people living with disabilities. For example, handicapped seniors regularly face ageism and may also live in poverty. This enhancement of Bill C-81’s principles is important because the legislation provides that the organizations concerned take these principles into consideration when developing their accessibility plans.

[English]

Sign languages in Canada receive express recognition in the amended legislation in two ways.

First, clause 5.1, the clarification provision regarding the identification, removal and prevention of barriers under the area of communication other than information and communication technologies, is amended to include the use of American Sign Language, Quebec Sign Language and Indigenous Sign Languages.

Second, another amendment in the same clause recognizes sign languages as the primary language for communication by deaf persons in Canada.

Many witnesses stated that for people in the Deaf community, sign language is their primary language and a critical part of their culture, enabling them to participate in society.

As well, witnesses pointed to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that:

Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture.

[Translation]

The bill is also amended by adding clause 121.1 to indicate that nothing in any provision of the new accessible Canada act or its potential accompanying regulations limits an otherwise regulated entity’s duty to accommodate.

Several witnesses stated that it was important that Bill C-81 not lessen the federal government’s existing human rights obligations. Experts from the community of people living with disabilities noted that experience with provincial accessibility legislation suggests that regulated entities could fail to provide accommodations because they mistakenly believe that compliance with accessibility regulations fulfils or eliminates their duty to accommodate.

[English]

(1500)

The legislation is amended to modify section 172(2) of the Canada Transportation Act, with the goal of removing the Canadian Transportation Agency’s ability to dismiss a complaint about inaccessibility in the federal transportation system if the transportation provider has complied with regulations made by the agency.

Some witnesses expressed concern that the regulations made by the Canadian Transportation Agency may not meet the legal duty to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship and may not address individual requirements of people with disabilities.

[Translation]

Finally, two committee amendments, to clauses 94(4) and 143, bring Bill C-81 in line with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act. With the adoption of the accessible Canada act, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be able to file complaints with the accessibility commissioner and receive compensation, just like other public servants.

Your committee also made two observations to the federal government, which are appended to the report. The committee encouraged the government to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability-related barriers when it is reasonable to expect that such barriers can be avoided. Furthermore, the committee strongly encouraged the government to create standardized, effective training that will ensure that all Canadians can expect the same level of access to all government services.

Honourable colleagues, the Senate’s legal counsel discovered a technical error in the French version of amendment 5(b) of the report that the committee tabled on May 7, 2019. The report states, “remplacer les lignes 22 et 23.” However, it should state, “remplacer les lignes 22 à 26.” The word “et” should be replaced by “à,” and the number “23” should be replaced by “26” in the French version. This is a human error that must be fixed so that we can immediately start building a barrier-free Canada for the 6.2 million Canadians living with a disability.

Motion in Amendment Adopted

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc: Therefore, honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, in amendment, I move:

That the thirty-fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be not now adopted, but that it be amended in amendment 5b), in the French version, by replacing the instruction line with the following:

“b) remplacer les lignes 22 à 26 par ce qui suit :”.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, since Senator Petitclerc moved the adoption of the report, she cannot amend it without leave.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Petitclerc agreed to.)

[English]

(Later that day in the Senate)

Thirty-fourth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Petitclerc, seconded by the Honourable Senator Verner, P.C., for the adoption of the thirty-fourth report, as amended, of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, with amendments and observations), presented in the Senate on May 7, 2019.

Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology’s thirty-fourth report on Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

Our committee studied this piece of legislation extensively and heard testimony from 20 advocacy groups and umbrella organizations. These included the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, a network comprised of 85 organizations; the Canadian Association of the Deaf; Barrier Free Canada, advocates for accessibility legislation; AGE-Well, Canada’s technology and aging network; March of Dimes Canada, an organization that offers a wide range of programs and services to persons with disabilities; the Canadian National Institute for the Blind; the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a national human rights organization of people with disabilities; Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec; and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, all who bring representation of Canada’s disability communities.

Although virtually all of the testimony we heard called on us to pass this bill with a degree of urgency, without exception witnesses expressed concerns about certain omissions they asked us to address. While the reflected desire for this legislation was strong, the desire to improve it was even stronger.

After much deliberation and discussion, our committee adopted 11 amendments. Today, I rise to speak to two of these amendments in particular that were raised with consistency throughout our committee hearings.

First, the amendment that addresses the issue of timelines. What we heard from many advocacy groups is that timelines are an essential accountability measure and are necessary if we are to achieve the purpose of this legislation. For example, Ms. Donna Jodhan, the President of Barrier-Free Canada, said during her testimony on May 1:

Bill C-81 requires timelines. Timelines are essential to ensure that key accessibility measures are taken. Timelines are also required so that progress on accessibility can be measured. In particular, we support recommendations for the bill to include a timeline for achieving a Canada without barriers and timelines with which accessibility standards are developed and enacted by law.

As another example, Ms. Zinnia Batliwalla, the National Manager, Government Relations and Advocacy for March of Dimes Canada, said during her testimony on April 11:

To enable organizations like ours to measure progress and urge change, timelines allow us to better work with our government partners to ensure we are actively moving toward an accessible and inclusive Canada.

Steven Estey, the Government and Community Relations Officer for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, said during his testimony on April 10:

Bill C-81 is silent on those timelines. That concerns us, not because we feel there is a lack of good intention, not because we feel that officials don’t want to move forward, but because five or ten years down the road, we can begin to have meetings. If there is no backstop or wall against which we can say the time has come, people can say, “We’re working very hard. We’re doing good things.” There is no way to say that we’re going to get there by a certain time. We are concerned about that.

The former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable David Onley, who has been long involved in developing Ontario’s accessibility legislation, made an interesting point. He said that if we make only one amendment to this legislation, it must be around timelines. During his testimony on May 1, the Honourable Mr. Onley stated:

I was part of the discussions at the very beginning in 2005 and the first chair of the minister’s advisory committee on the implementation of the act. I, along with most of the members of the first advisory committee, felt that moral suasion and goodwill would be sufficient to achieve the objectives . . . .

Having listened, as I mentioned, to hundreds of people from across the province and taken submissions via email and in person, my views changed. I now believe quite firmly that the only way we’re going to achieve true and full accessibility is for the various standards and objectives to have a definable date in place and a government that is willing to enforce the implementation of these measures.

(1510)

This is the type of consistent testimony that led the committee to support the date of January 1, 2040, for Canada to become barrier-free. This will give the federal government and the obliged federally regulated entities 21 years to take the necessary steps to reach their accessibility requirements, a time frame that is neither too far nor too near. It was said to be one that is realistic and will be seen in our lifetimes.

However, we also made an amendment to ensure that accessibility measures would not be delayed or postponed but enacted as soon as possible. In fact, we added a new clause to the bill, clause 5.2, which states:

Nothing in this Act, including its purpose of the realization of a Canada without barriers, should be construed as requiring or authorizing any delay in the removal or implementation of measures to prevent new barriers as soon as is reasonably possible.

The other amendment I would like to address is the recognition of sign languages as the language of the deaf community. Many organizations that represent Canada’s deaf community spoke about the importance for Bill C-81 to recognize sign languages as a way to ensure that deaf persons have equal access to information, communication, employment, government services, transportation and other federally regulated sectors.

As an example, Bill Adair, the Executive Director of the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, said during his testimony on April 10:

. . . we want Bill C-81 to recognize ASL and LSQ as the languages of people who are deaf in Canada. We are not asking for official language status. We are asking that sign languages be included as an integral part of Bill C-81.

This is why. If it were not for the use of signing here today, any person in this room who is deaf would not be privy to my remarks and to the discussions that will follow. This is true of all public hearings. Indeed, the very name implies that these meetings are for those who can hear.

More importantly, if catastrophe were to suddenly strike us, a person who is deaf would not have access to potentially life-saving information. This was the case recently in Pearson Airport when a fire broke out.

Please ensure that ASL and LSQ are written right into Bill C-81 so that there is an expectation for federally regulated entities to provide resources and newsworthy information in sign languages.

Frank Folino, President of the Canadian Association of the Deaf, said during his testimony on May 1:

We commend the Government of Canada and the minister for introducing Bill C-81, which is an important and positive step toward becoming an accessible Canada. However, an integral part of Bill C-81 will achieve its purposes of a barrier-free Canada with legal recognition of ASL and LSQ as the languages of deaf people because this does make a tremendous difference for deaf Canadians, through accessibility, information, communications and services.

Our committee learned about the deaf culture, one which has its own defining characteristics and includes sign languages, cultural norms, historical traditions and heritage. For all of us, this new understanding was very significant and led us to amend the bill to recognize the important role that sign languages play in the lives of Canada’s deaf community.

Honourable colleagues, I am extremely proud of the collaboration of our committee members. We have weighed and considered very carefully the passionate testimony we heard from the disability communities. Although the needs of the disability communities are broad and unique, we believe we were able to focus on a few clear amendments that will add value to Bill C-81 without endangering its passage. Through our work, we are convinced that we have both reaffirmed our committee to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and made a meaningful piece of legislation even better in response to overwhelmingly consistent requests from the disability communities to the benefit of all Canadians.

Honourable colleagues, I hope that you will support the report of our Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee on Bill C-81. Thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

It was moved by the Honourable Senator Petitclerc, seconded by the Honourable Senator Verner that this report, as amended, be adopted now.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report, as amended, adopted.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Munson, bill, as amended, placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)



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Read or Watch What the AODA Alliance Said to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 About the Need to Strengthen the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


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

April 15, 2019

SUMMARY

Here’s a chance to read or watch exactly what AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky said in our April 11, 2019 evidence presented to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on the need to strengthen the weak Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. See the text below (about 14 pages).

In this text we do not include what two other organizations presented at the same time. We will later post on our website the transcript for the entire set of hearings that the Senate held on Bill C-81. That will include the presentations of all the organizations that presented on Bill C-81, including the others that presented at the same time as the AODA Alliance.

To watch the captioned video of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s opening statement at the Senate Standing Committee on April 11, 2019 (10 minutes), visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FERCAljHbrw&feature=em-uploademail

To watch a captioned video of the portion of the Senate Standing Committee’s question-and-answer after that opening statement, where the AODA Alliance answers questions directed to us (26 minutes), visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr0fCtB_cyw&feature=em-uploademail

We encourage you to read the specific amendments we asked the Senate to make to Bill C-81, and the short brief we submitted in support of those amendments. You can also visit the AODA Alliance website, Canada page to see in one place all our efforts over the past four years to campaign for the enactment of a strong and effective national accessibility law.

It’s not too late for you to help our campaign. Send the Senate Standing Committee a short email to express your support for the amendments to Bill C-81 that the AODA Alliance has requested. We are so appreciative of the individuals and organizations that have already done so. Email the Senate at: [email protected]

The Senate Standing Committee will meet on May 2, 2019 to decide what amendments it will make to Bill C-81. The minister leading this bill, Carla Qualtrough, told the Standing Committee on April 3, 2019 that she is open to amendments and wants Bill C-81 to be the best bill it can be. Senator Jim Munson, who is sponsoring this bill in the Senate, told the Standing Committee on April 10, 2019 in clear and categorical terms that there will be amendments. We are campaigning to ensure that these amendments are strong and effective.

During our presentation to the Senate Standing Committee, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky encouraged the Committee to watch the AODA Alliance’s online video about serious accessibility problems in new Toronto area subway stations. It has already been seen thousands of times and has secured good media coverage. Check it out by visiting https://youtu.be/za1UptZq82o

To help our campaign, on April 5, 2019, the AODA Alliance sent a letter to the leaders of all the federal political parties. We asked them to support amendments to Bill C-81 that the Senate makes to strengthen it. We want these passed in the House of Commons before the federal election this fall. We also asked the party leaders to pledge that if Bill C-81 is not properly strengthened, or is not passed before the election, that they’ll bring it back before Parliament after the federal election to be strengthened and passed into law.

Stay tuned. We will keep you posted on new developments. We always welcome your feedback on this presentation and on anything else we are up to! Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

Text of What AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky Presented to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 Regarding Bill C-81

(Note: The evidence of other presenters and their responses to other Senators has been omitted here, but will be available in the full transcript for these hearings which we will post on our website when it becomes available. Also, the full transcript that we will later post will translate any French passages, set out below, into English.)

THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL AFFAIRS, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EVIDENCE
OTTAWA, Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology met this day at 10:30 a.m. to study Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

Senator Chantal Petitclerc (Chair) in the chair. We will continue with our second panel.

David Lepofsky, Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance: Good morning, senators. Bill C-81 is strong on good intentions, but palpably weak on implementation. Its called An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, but it does not require a single barrier anywhere in Canada, ever, to be removed. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.

Bill C-81, at its core and its heart, is driven by the commendable notion that the federal government will enact enforceable regulations called accessibility standards that will tell federally regulated organizations what they have got to do. But it doesnt require any federal accessibility standards to ever be enacted as enforceable regulations. People with disabilities need and deserve better.

Let me be clear: The regulations that the bill requires to be enacted within two years are on procedural things, not substantive accessibility standards. The federal government could meet that deadline merely by prescribing the forms that people with disabilities shall use if they want to give feedback to Air Canada or Bell Canada. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.

This legislation splinters its enforcement and the setting of enforceable regulations among multiple federal agencies. From the ministers defence of her practice, she conceded that if she was starting from scratch, that isnt necessarily how she would do it. But her explanation of why she did it gives triumphant ascendancy to federal bureaucracy over disability equality.

Now the question is: What do we do about it? The question is not: Are you going to pass this bill, senators? Youre going to pass this bill, so lets take that off the table. We all know it. We all understand it. Thats the starting point.

The question before this committee is: Are you going to amend it first? What we say is that you must. The reality is this bill needs a lot of amendments not to make it perfect thats a red herring but to get this bill from the status of weak to one that is closer to what people with disabilities need and deserve.

In the house, there were a couple hundred pages of amendments. Hard work over the past weekend has led us to distill it down to a series of amendments before you that we proposed and you have received e-mails from some witnesses who support them which fill a grand total of 3.5 pages and cover a few core themes. I am only going to address a couple of them, but let me be clear, there is time to do this. Youre going to vote in committee on May 2. I understand you will do third reading by May 16. We are working and approaching the federal parties to urge that, once amendments are passed if they are that the house consider them quickly, so the issue of swift passage of this bill, whether amended or not, is now, procedurally, not a bar to your being able to do what we need you to do.

So what should you do?

Well, let me just focus on a couple, but I invite questions on all of what we proposed. Lets just turn to the headlines. Yesterday, the Government of Ontario announced a multi-billion-dollar plan for new subways in Toronto, but only if other levels of government, including the federal government, add billions to the allocation the province is committing to. Thats not unusual. But we need the federal government to be required, before it spends our money on a project like that, to say a ground rule of getting our federal money is you have to meet certain federal accessibility requirements.

Now, the minister came before you a week ago and said, We cant do that. We dont have constitutional authority to do that. Respectfully, the minister is wrong. Its called the federal spending power. Have you heard of the Canada Health Act? The Canada Health Act says that if provinces get federal money for provincial health programs, they must meet federal accessibility requirements. Not disability accessibility, but their financial accessibility.

If what the minister told you is right, then the Canada Health Act has been unconstitutional for over three decades since it was enacted. I would be staggered to believe that is the position of the current federal government. If they can do it there, they can at least attach strings when they give money, if they agree to, to local projects and not just federal buildings.

You might look at me and say, Oh, come on, in 2019 we wouldnt use public money to build inaccessible public transit. Senators, go to YouTube, search on AODA Alliance and public transit. You will see a video we released during last springs provincial election that has thousands of views and media coverage where we document serious accessibility problems in brand new subway stations in Toronto that just opened within the past year-and-a-half.

This isnt about perfect, folks. This is about basic equality, so we ask for an amendment that would at least require federal ministers or their ministries, if they are agreeing to give our federal money to a province, a municipality, a college or university for a project like that, to put, as a term of the agreement, an enforceable term, just like the Canada Health Act, that accessibility requirements are required. Why should the federal government ever allow federal money to be used to create new barriers or perpetuate existing ones?

Let me give you one other core amendment. My colleague from the CNIB said the minister last week had agreed to amend the bill to ensure that it does not curtail in any way the human rights code and the duty to accommodate. I hope the minister does that, but I dont hear her as having said that. I hear her as having said that she, as a former human rights lawyer, has ensured that this bill doesnt interfere with the duty to accommodate. But senators, it threatens to.

Section 172 of the bill perpetuates a provision in the Canada transportation legislation that would let the CTA enact a regulation, and once it does so, to set standards for accessible transit, no matter how low that standard may be and no matter how deficient from a human rights standard it may be. As a traveller with a disability or others in my coalition or anyone in Canada, we are barred from asking any more under the legislations guarantee against undue barriers.

With that provision in the act, our position is: Please dont ever enact any standards under the CTA because they threaten to take away our rights. A simple amendment would repeal that provision from the act.

Let me conclude by inviting questions on the other areas that weve raised. Im telling you that we are not just about saying whats wrong. We are about proposing constructive suggestions for whats right, and the amendments weve placed before you are designed for a Senate that has a limited time frame to act, a commitment to respect policy decisions made in the House of Commons and an eagerness to ensure that these amendments can be considered by the house quickly and easily, with a realistic chance of them being taken seriously. They are designed to be tailored both to our needs and to what the minister said to you last week. So we ask you to take them all seriously. They are all substantive, and they all bear on the needs of all people with disabilities.

I conclude by saying this: Im speaking for my coalition, but as an individual, I first came before Parliament 39 years ago as a much younger individual my wife said I had hair back then when she saw the video to appear before the standing committee considering the Charter of Rights. At that time, the Charter proposed to guarantee equality but not to people with disabilities. I and a number of other folks argued and succeeded in getting the Charter amended to include that right.

I leave you with two thoughts. First, the amendments we seek are aimed at making that right become a reality, not just as a matter of good intention but as effective implementation.

The Chair: Thank you so much, Mr. Lepofsky. We have a list of senators who are eager to ask questions.

Senator Seidman: Thank you all very much for your presentations.

Mr. Lepofsky, I will take you up on your challenge. Im searching for commonalities. I appreciate the premise you made that we are looking for clear, crisp, focused and meaningful amendments that have a hope of being passed on the other side because thats exactly whats going to have to happen in this process.

I would like to ask you specifically, you submitted three areas that need strengthening with 11 amendments. I would like to ask you very specifically about your amendment about timelines. It is true that HUMA heard testimony around timelines, but they decided not to amend the bill to include a deadline. You have proposed one. In fact, I think you proposed January 1, 2040.

I would like to hear from you why you are pushing that we have a timeline and why it would be that particular one.

Mr. Lepofsky: There are two timelines that we set. One is that the government should be required not just permitted but required to enact accessibility standards regulations within five years and also the timeline for ultimate accessibility in Canada by 2040. Yes, these were pitched to HUMA. The opposition parties, left and right, united in support of that agenda. The government did not agree.

Our hope is that, on your sober second thought, you find wisdom drawing on the experiences that bring you to this Senate, that a return of this issue to the House in June, months before an election, may lead all members of the house to see the wisdom in adopting them.

To be clear, I have an appointment to meet the minister this afternoon to bring that message. We would like to work with the Senate and the house to see if we can broker a package that covers everything.

With respect to the 2040 deadline, I had the privilege of leading the coalition that fought for a decade to win the enactment of Ontarios accessibility law, and I now lead the coalition that has fought for the past 14 years to get it effectively implemented. The minister doubted whether a deadline in the legislation would help. Our front-line grassroots experience of 14 years demonstrates unequivocally that it does. The minister feared that that might lead to a disincentive. People think, Oh, you have to wait until 2039 to start. Not only doesnt it, but weve proposed wording that you can include that will utterly accommodate the ministers worry by making that clear.

What weve learned is if you say, It will become accessible sometime in the next millennium, whatever, action wont happen. If, on the other hand, the 2040 deadline is set, senator, then Air Canada knows that deadline overarches their plans and their accessibility requirements. CASDO knows that the standards they recommend have to meet that requirement, and cabinet and all other regulation-making bodies will know that that is the measure. Without that tool, our efforts in Ontario which have been a hard slog, believe me would be considerably harder.

Senator Seidman: Thank you.

Senator Munson: Thank you for being here. I think we have to acknowledge the work of former Senator David Smith, when, David, you talked about the Charter. He was the person who led the charge to make sure that dealing with disabilities was in the Charter. It had been left out, and I want to acknowledge that.

I have two quick questions, one for Mr. Belanger and one for Mr. Lepofsky.

Mr. Belanger, you support the bill, but it seems Indigenous people have been left off the table, and I cant understand why. I know there have been discussions about nation to nation, but there are more than 600. So you support it, but you have been left out. If you could address that.

Mr. Lepofsky, you have not been much of a fan of the CRTC, CTA and others. You have an amendment here, so could you explain that amendment to us and how that would work? There is supposed to be no wrong door, but there seem to be a lot of doors, so if you could talk about your amendment, to get that on the record.

Mr. Belanger: (not included here)

Senator Munson: Mr. Lepofsky?

Mr. Lepofsky: Thank you. Sometimes it helps when you have someone who is blind and what you are facing is a bit of a smoke screen. The no wrong door stuff that youve been hearing about, respectfully, I think has been raised by those presenting it as a smokescreen, or as least it is serving that way.

What do I mean? Our strong preference from day one would be one-stop shopping one agency, one place to go, one body making the regulations. It is quicker, more efficient, fairer and certainly easier for us.

The current regime only serves the interests of organizations that want to use the splintering to make it harder for us. But we know that in the amendments that you are going to pass in the next two weeks that a total rewrite of the major chunks of the bill is not feasible.

So what do we do? What could fix it? No wrong door talks about where you get in. It is not the most important thing. What happens when you get there? Right now, we have four agencies with four different procedures, with four different policies and practices, and there will be four different sets of forms and four different potential sets of deadlines. It is a guarantee of chaos for us, but it will be great for the airlines because they know them, or the broadcasters because theyve been navigating them and they are lawyered up to be able to do that.

So whats our solution? A simple amendment that says that the major bodies are required to develop, within a timeline that we prescribe, a series of processes to harmonize and have, essentially, the same procedure, or as close as possible, behind the door when you get there.

We heard yesterday from the leads of those agencies that they have started working together on their processes, but there are no commitments whatsoever to ensure that it is the same process. The bill now, in sections 94 to 110, prescribes a series of expedited processes at the accessibility commissioner. We say, great, if they work expeditiously, but neither the CTA nor the CRTC have been experienced by people with disabilities as expeditious much the reverse.

My last point is you heard yesterday from these agencies that are generally serious in saying all theyve done. Thats understandable from them. But can I just take you to the front lines for a minute? I will just tell you my own personal experience. I could aggregate it across all the feedback we get.

CTAs track record historically is pretty lousy. They finally got religion three years ago and are starting to work on regulations. Theyve had the power to do this for over 30 years. Where have they been? As a blind person who travels internationally, I can tell you I dread entering Canadian airspace, not because we never get service, but it is way more unreliable here than I have seen otherwise.

The CRTC. In the U.S., it has been federal law since, I believe, 2016 that cable providers must provide an accessible PVR. In Canada, where is the CRTC? It is not required here. It should be, but it is not.

So please take the track records and understand that our jadedness is well justified. But our solution is what you can do in a short period is at least require the other agencies, if we are stuck with them, to come up with not just statements to you yesterday about how they want to be expeditious, but actually require them to come up with processes that will be expeditious. Thats what our amendment proposes.

(Passage omitted)

Senator M. Deacon: Thank you for that.

Mr. Lepofsky, I will come back to Senator Seidmans question, and that is the whole concept of the balance of getting this through I cant help but bring this up just one more time in an efficient and expedient and respectful way, and balancing what are significant concerns and amendments that, in many cases, are kind of related. Now that we have this, how do we make sure the stuff gets done?

Mr. Lepofsky: Two things. First, we are used to battling uphill. Doing disability rights advocacy is like swimming up Niagara Falls, but that doesnt deter us. We keep doing it. When the people are more jittery and We better just take what we can get and all that stuff, I get that. But weve never taken that view. Weve stared down the risks.

If we took that view, we would not have gotten a disability amendment in 1982. We probably would have settled for a weak accessibility law passed in Ontario in 2001 rather than standing our ground and getting a stronger one in 2005. And in this case, we have all three parties that voted for this law in the house, though the opposition said it is too weak. We wrote to all the party leaders and said : We want to take this risk off the table. Will you promise, if this bill doesnt come through, you will bring it back in the fall?

So we are putting even more heat on them. We are saying: We want to come back with amendments from the Senate, if the Senate agrees, and decide on this bill in time to get it properly considered. Do whatever you have to do, pass it with the amendments or not. That could be dealt with before the house rises. And theyve got the shared pressure of all the groups youve heard from that are jointly saying: Please get this thing through.

So the pressure will be on them. But we also have the good fortune that we have opposition parties we are non-partisan, and we are supporting amendments in the house. We are hoping and I will be seeing the minister this afternoon that they will see the wisdom of strengthening this.

The final thing I will say, senator, is it is a legitimate concern, but I think it is a concern that has been answered. Minister Qualtrough answered your concern last week. Senator Munson asked her: Are you open to amendments? She could have said: Look, it is too tight. We are too busy. We are not going to be able to get it through; please just approve it.

Thats not what she said. She knew as much as anyone else in this room about the legislative timelines in the house. She probably knows more because she is part of the government. She said: No they are open to amendments, and we want this to be the best bill it possibly can be.

The fact of the matter is, with our short three pages of amendments covering a few core issues that cut across what people said at HUMA and the issues they raised here, that these will help move in the direction that she said she is open to. So I suggest you take her up and hold her to what she said.

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Ma question sadresse à Monsieur Lepofsky.)

(après anglais M. Belanger: … but thats what I believe.)

La sénatrice Mégie: Ma question sadresse à Monsieur Lepofsky. Jai cru comprendre que vous avez collaboré à lélaboration de la Loi sur laccessibilité pour les personnes handicapées de lOntario. Ai-je bien compris?

(anglais suit M. Lepofsky: Yes. Heres the quick CV…)

(Following French – Senator Mégie – . . .ai-je bien compris?)

Mr. Lepofsky: Yes, here’s the quick CV in 1980 .

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Je voulais juste ajouter ma. . .)

(après anglais M. Lepofsky: … in 1980 )

La sénatrice Mégie: Je voulais juste ajouter ma réelle question.

Avaient-ils un échéancier? Sils en avaient un, est-ce que vous observez un mouvement pour la mise en uvre de cet échéancier?

(anglais suit M. Lepofsky: There was a movement to get the legislation…)

(Following French – Senator Mégie – . . .de cet échéancier?)

Mr. Lepofsky: There was a movement to get the legislation in place and I had the privilege of leading that movement. It was passed unanimously in 2005. The idea of the deadline of 2025 came from the government, not from us. The minister who brought it in came to the house committee here and said, You should do it, too, and we agreed with her. It was a great idea and we jumped on it and said it was great. It may not be as quick as wed like, but it got action going. Are they on schedule now? No.

Senator, your colleagues were asking questions about the five-year review. Weve had three of these reviews in Ontario. Their core job is to say, Are we on schedule? And all three reviews demonstrated the most recent one in the most blistering terms no, were not and we need strong action.

Now, if we didnt have that deadline, their review could be informative but it certainly wouldnt have the message that it does that we are far behind schedule. This came up in question period as recently as yesterday in the Ontario legislature. It is a critical tool.

Let me give you one more example because you are asking, Will this help? The Toronto Transit Commission runs a subway and has a whole bunch of subway stations. Approximately half of them have no elevator. But to its credit, the TTC has a plan to make them all accessible by 2025 because theyve read the Ontario legislation.

Actually, the Ontario government has not passed a regulation addressing subway stations, but the mere presence of that date in the legislation itself has lead this major subway to adopt that plan.

Let me tell you one more thing. They tried to back down from that plan a few years ago and push it back, and we went to the media and said: Not fair; the act says 2025. And that media pressure led the TTC to back down and stick to 2025.

If the ministers approach to this legislation had prevailed in Ontario, we would be further behind in getting those subway stations accessible.

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Merci.)

(après anglais M. Lepofsky: … those subway stations accessible.)

La sénatrice Mégie: Merci.

Senator Dasko: I will focus specifically on your meeting with the minister this afternoon. In the interests of being efficient and especially effective, in your meeting with the minister could you focus her mind on what she would be willing to do, and could you get back to us with any insights or promises, pledges, intelligence, anything you can? That will help us move forward, given the time frame thats left, given the suggestions you have for us, which in my mind seem serious and extensive. But maybe it is all easy, but Im a new senator.

If you could learn from the minister what she would be willing to do and Im not saying that will determine what we do that will help us very much in what we do. Then we will understand what might be doable and what all of us, in the end, might hope to expect and get from the process. Can I ask you that question?

Mr. Lepofsky: As a deputant who is notorious for long, wordy answers, my answer is yes.

Senator Dasko: We look forward to getting back to you. And I know Senator Omidvar has a question.

Senator Omidvar: Thank you for being here. And Mr. Lepofsky, for the correspondence that you have been in with not just me but everyone. And I want to probe your assessment the capacity, of the CRTC and the CTA on disability accessibility. They were here yesterday. I quoted to them a section of your letter, a rather blistering assessment of their lack of progress. They, in turn, responded by talking about the great pride they have in the progress they have made. And I will quote from a brief submitted to this committee from the CRTC. They talk about the history of their progress: In the mid 1980s, they mandated TTY relay services. In 2009, it was expanded to include the provision of IP relay services, and five years later, the provision of video relay services. A 911 service is currently mandated. In 2009, the CRTC began to require broadcasters to provide described video services four hours per week. Would you still use the word lousy to describe their progress?

Mr. Lepofsky: Only in public. In private, they may be slightly more colourful.

Senator Omidvar: Tell us what you can.

Mr. Lepofsky: I say this not just to be glib, but we are not saying that they did nothing. Full disclosure: Scott Streiner, the head of the CTA, is a good guy with a strong record in human rights. If you could pass an amendment to make him immortal, we would vote for it, okay?

Senator Omidvar: Not in our power.

Mr. Lepofsky: I dont know if you have the authority. That may be provincial.

I say two things in terms of these agencies. The first is that they do not have core expertise. They are not there; they are experts in broadcasting and in transit, not in accessibility. Thats what the accessibility commissioner will be.

Look at the track record of the CTA three decades, their own draft regulation out for comment now acknowledges that they have not done enough. Why couldnt they have done some of this years ago? We didnt just invent people with disabilities using airplanes or trains. This is not new. It is not rocket science.

The final thing I would say is what the amendment focuses on. They have labyrinthian procedures that are designed for major regulatory decision-making. I get that. But it is not suited to us. Thats why we give credit to the government in its design of sections 94 to 110 to come up with something even more streamlined than the sometimes more labyrinthian process of the Human Rights Commission.

But we need those other agencies to talk about not just no wrong door, but equally fast, comparable procedures, once you get behind that door. And I didnt hear them say they were going to do that, or didnt hear them saying they were going to commit to doing that. Thats why we need this amendment.

Senator Omidvar: Fine. Thank you.



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Read or Watch What the AODA Alliance Said to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 About the Need to Strengthen the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


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

 

Read or Watch What the AODA Alliance Said to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 About the Need to Strengthen the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

 

April 15, 2019

 

          SUMMARY

 

Here’s a chance to read or watch exactly what AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky said in our April 11, 2019 evidence presented to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on the need to strengthen the weak Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. See the text below (about 14 pages).

 

In this text we do not include what two other organizations presented at the same time. We will later post on our website the transcript for the entire set of hearings that the Senate held on Bill C-81. That will include the presentations of all the organizations that presented on Bill C-81, including the others that presented at the same time as the AODA Alliance.

 

To watch the captioned video of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s opening statement at the Senate Standing Committee on April 11, 2019 (10 minutes), visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FERCAljHbrw&feature=em-uploademail

To watch a captioned video of the portion of the Senate Standing Committee’s question-and-answer after that opening statement, where the AODA Alliance answers questions directed to us (26 minutes), visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr0fCtB_cyw&feature=em-uploademail

We encourage you to read the specific amendments we asked the Senate to make to Bill C-81, and the short brief we submitted in support of those amendments. You can also visit the AODA Alliance website, Canada page  to see in one place all our efforts over the past four years to campaign for the enactment of a strong and effective national accessibility law.

 

It’s not too late for you to help our campaign. Send the Senate Standing Committee a short email to express your support for the amendments to Bill C-81 that the AODA Alliance has requested. We are so appreciative of the individuals and organizations that have already done so. Email the Senate at:

[email protected]

 

The Senate Standing Committee will meet on May 2, 2019 to decide what amendments it will make to Bill C-81. The minister leading this bill, Carla Qualtrough, told the Standing Committee on April 3, 2019 that she is open to amendments and wants Bill C-81 to be the best bill it can be. Senator Jim Munson, who is sponsoring this bill in the Senate, told the Standing Committee on April 10, 2019 in clear and categorical terms that there will be amendments. We are campaigning to ensure that these amendments are strong and effective.

 

During our presentation to the Senate Standing Committee, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky encouraged the Committee to watch the AODA Alliance’s online video about serious accessibility problems in new Toronto area subway stations. It has already been seen thousands of times and has secured good media coverage. Check it out by visiting https://youtu.be/za1UptZq82o

 

To help our campaign, on April 5, 2019, the AODA Alliance sent a letter to the leaders of all the federal political parties. We asked them to support amendments to Bill C-81 that the Senate makes to strengthen it. We want these passed in the House of Commons before the federal election this fall. We also asked the party leaders to pledge that if Bill C-81 is not properly strengthened, or is not passed before the election, that they’ll bring it back before Parliament after the federal election to be strengthened and passed into law.

 

Stay tuned. We will keep you posted on new developments. We always welcome your feedback on this presentation and on anything else we are up to! Email us at [email protected]

 

          MORE DETAILS

 

Text of What AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky Presented to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs on April 11, 2019 Regarding Bill C-81

 

(Note: The evidence of other presenters and their responses to other Senators has been omitted here, but will be available in the full transcript for these hearings which we will post on our website when it becomes available. Also, the full transcript that we will later post will translate any French passages, set out below, into English.)

 

THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL AFFAIRS, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

EVIDENCE

OTTAWA, Thursday, April 11, 2019

 

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology met this day at 10:30 a.m. to study Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

 

Senator Chantal Petitclerc (Chair) in the chair. We will continue with our second panel.

 

David Lepofsky, Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance:  Good morning, senators. Bill C-81 is strong on good intentions, but palpably weak on implementation. It’s called An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, but it does not require a single barrier anywhere in Canada, ever, to be removed. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.

Bill C-81, at its core and its heart, is driven by the commendable notion that the federal government will enact enforceable regulations called accessibility standards that will tell federally regulated organizations what they have got to do. But it doesn’t require any federal accessibility standards to ever be enacted as enforceable regulations. People with disabilities need and deserve better.

Let me be clear: The regulations that the bill requires to be enacted within two years are on procedural things, not substantive accessibility standards. The federal government could meet that deadline merely by prescribing the forms that people with disabilities shall use if they want to give feedback to Air Canada or Bell Canada. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.

This legislation splinters its enforcement and the setting of enforceable regulations among multiple federal agencies. From the minister’s defence of her practice, she conceded that if she was starting from scratch, that isn’t necessarily how she would do it. But her explanation of why she did it gives triumphant ascendancy to federal bureaucracy over disability equality.

Now the question is: What do we do about it? The question is not: Are you going to pass this bill, senators? You’re going to pass this bill, so let’s take that off the table. We all know it. We all understand it. That’s the starting point.

The question before this committee is: Are you going to amend it first? What we say is that you must. The reality is this bill needs a lot of amendments not to make it perfect — that’s a red herring — but to get this bill from the status of weak to one that is closer to what people with disabilities need and deserve.

In the house, there were a couple hundred pages of amendments. Hard work over the past weekend has led us to distill it down to a series of amendments before you that we proposed — and you have received e-mails from some witnesses who support them — which fill a grand total of 3.5 pages and cover a few core themes. I am only going to address a couple of them, but let me be clear, there is time to do this. You’re going to vote in committee on May 2. I understand you will do third reading by May 16. We are working and approaching the federal parties to urge that, once amendments are passed — if they are — that the house consider them quickly, so the issue of swift passage of this bill, whether amended or not, is now, procedurally, not a bar to your being able to do what we need you to do.

So what should you do?

Well, let me just focus on a couple, but I invite questions on all of what we proposed. Let’s just turn to the headlines. Yesterday, the Government of Ontario announced a multi-billion-dollar plan for new subways in Toronto, but only if other levels of government, including the federal government, add billions to the allocation the province is committing to. That’s not unusual. But we need the federal government to be required, before it spends our money on a project like that, to say a ground rule of getting our federal money is you have to meet certain federal accessibility requirements.

Now, the minister came before you a week ago and said, “We can’t do that. We don’t have constitutional authority to do that.” Respectfully, the minister is wrong. It’s called the federal spending power. Have you heard of the Canada Health Act? The Canada Health Act says that if provinces get federal money for provincial health programs, they must meet federal accessibility requirements. Not disability accessibility, but their financial accessibility.

If what the minister told you is right, then the Canada Health Act has been unconstitutional for over three decades since it was enacted. I would be staggered to believe that is the position of the current federal government. If they can do it there, they can at least attach strings when they give money, if they agree to, to local projects and not just federal buildings.

You might look at me and say, “Oh, come on, in 2019 we wouldn’t use public money to build inaccessible public transit.” Senators, go to YouTube, search on AODA Alliance and public transit. You will see a video we released during last spring’s provincial election that has thousands of views and media coverage where we document serious accessibility problems in brand new subway stations in Toronto that just opened within the past year-and-a-half.

This isn’t about perfect, folks. This is about basic equality, so we ask for an amendment that would at least require federal ministers or their ministries, if they are agreeing to give our federal money to a province, a municipality, a college or university for a project like that, to put, as a term of the agreement, an enforceable term, just like the Canada Health Act, that accessibility requirements are required. Why should the federal government ever allow federal money to be used to create new barriers or perpetuate existing ones?

Let me give you one other core amendment. My colleague from the CNIB said the minister last week had agreed to amend the bill to ensure that it does not curtail in any way the human rights code and the duty to accommodate. I hope the minister does that, but I don’t hear her as having said that. I hear her as having said that she, as a former human rights lawyer, has ensured that this bill doesn’t interfere with the duty to accommodate. But senators, it threatens to.

Section 172 of the bill perpetuates a provision in the Canada transportation legislation that would let the CTA enact a regulation, and once it does so, to set standards for accessible transit, no matter how low that standard may be and no matter how deficient from a human rights standard it may be. As a traveller with a disability or others in my coalition or anyone in Canada, we are barred from asking any more under the legislation’s guarantee against undue barriers.

With that provision in the act, our position is: Please don’t ever enact any standards under the CTA because they threaten to take away our rights. A simple amendment would repeal that provision from the act.

Let me conclude by inviting questions on the other areas that we’ve raised. I’m telling you that we are not just about saying what’s wrong. We are about proposing constructive suggestions for what’s right, and the amendments we’ve placed before you are designed for a Senate that has a limited time frame to act, a commitment to respect policy decisions made in the House of Commons and an eagerness to ensure that these amendments can be considered by the house quickly and easily, with a realistic chance of them being taken seriously. They are designed to be tailored both to our needs and to what the minister said to you last week. So we ask you to take them all seriously. They are all substantive, and they all bear on the needs of all people with disabilities.

I conclude by saying this: I’m speaking for my coalition, but as an individual, I first came before Parliament 39 years ago as a much younger individual — my wife said I had hair back then when she saw the video — to appear before the standing committee considering the Charter of Rights. At that time, the Charter proposed to guarantee equality but not to people with disabilities. I and a number of other folks argued and succeeded in getting the Charter amended to include that right.

I leave you with two thoughts. First, the amendments we seek are aimed at making that right become a reality, not just as a matter of good intention but as effective implementation.

The Chair: Thank you so much, Mr. Lepofsky. We have a list of senators who are eager to ask questions.

Senator Seidman: Thank you all very much for your presentations.

Mr. Lepofsky, I will take you up on your challenge. I’m searching for commonalities. I appreciate the premise you made that we are looking for clear, crisp, focused and meaningful amendments that have a hope of being passed on the other side because that’s exactly what’s going to have to happen in this process.

I would like to ask you specifically, you submitted three areas that need strengthening with 11 amendments. I would like to ask you very specifically about your amendment about timelines. It is true that HUMA heard testimony around timelines, but they decided not to amend the bill to include a deadline. You have proposed one. In fact, I think you proposed January 1, 2040.

I would like to hear from you why you are pushing that we have a timeline and why it would be that particular one.

Mr. Lepofsky: There are two timelines that we set. One is that the government should be required — not just permitted but required — to enact accessibility standards regulations within five years and also the timeline for ultimate accessibility in Canada by 2040. Yes, these were pitched to HUMA. The opposition parties, left and right, united in support of that agenda. The government did not agree.

Our hope is that, on your sober second thought, you find wisdom drawing on the experiences that bring you to this Senate, that a return of this issue to the House in June, months before an election, may lead all members of the house to see the wisdom in adopting them.

To be clear, I have an appointment to meet the minister this afternoon to bring that message. We would like to work with the Senate and the house to see if we can broker a package that covers everything.

With respect to the 2040 deadline, I had the privilege of leading the coalition that fought for a decade to win the enactment of Ontario’s accessibility law, and I now lead the coalition that has fought for the past 14 years to get it effectively implemented. The minister doubted whether a deadline in the legislation would help. Our front-line grassroots experience of 14 years demonstrates unequivocally that it does. The minister feared that that might lead to a disincentive. People think, “Oh, you have to wait until 2039 to start.” Not only doesn’t it, but we’ve proposed wording that you can include that will utterly accommodate the minister’s worry by making that clear.

What we’ve learned is if you say, “It will become accessible sometime in the next millennium, whatever,” action won’t happen. If, on the other hand, the 2040 deadline is set, senator, then Air Canada knows that deadline overarches their plans and their accessibility requirements. CASDO knows that the standards they recommend have to meet that requirement, and cabinet and all other regulation-making bodies will know that that is the measure. Without that tool, our efforts in Ontario — which have been a hard slog, believe me — would be considerably harder.

Senator Seidman: Thank you.

Senator Munson: Thank you for being here. I think we have to acknowledge the work of former Senator David Smith, when, David, you talked about the Charter. He was the person who led the charge to make sure that dealing with disabilities was in the Charter. It had been left out, and I want to acknowledge that.

I have two quick questions, one for Mr. Belanger and one for Mr. Lepofsky.

Mr. Belanger, you support the bill, but it seems Indigenous people have been left off the table, and I can’t understand why. I know there have been discussions about nation to nation, but there are more than 600. So you support it, but you have been left out. If you could address that.

Mr. Lepofsky, you have not been much of a fan of the CRTC, CTA and others. You have an amendment here, so could you explain that amendment to us and how that would work? There is supposed to be no wrong door, but there seem to be a lot of doors, so if you could talk about your amendment, to get that on the record.

Mr. Belanger: (not included here)

 

 

Senator Munson: Mr. Lepofsky?

Mr. Lepofsky: Thank you. Sometimes it helps when you have someone who is blind and what you are facing is a bit of a smoke screen. The “no wrong door stuff” that you’ve been hearing about, respectfully, I think has been raised by those presenting it as a smokescreen, or as least it is serving that way.

What do I mean? Our strong preference from day one would be one-stop shopping — one agency, one place to go, one body making the regulations. It is quicker, more efficient, fairer and certainly easier for us.

The current regime only serves the interests of organizations that want to use the splintering to make it harder for us. But we know that in the amendments that you are going to pass in the next two weeks that a total rewrite of the major chunks of the bill is not feasible.

So what do we do? What could fix it? “No wrong door” talks about where you get in. It is not the most important thing. What happens when you get there? Right now, we have four agencies with four different procedures, with four different policies and practices, and there will be four different sets of forms and four different potential sets of deadlines. It is a guarantee of chaos for us, but it will be great for the airlines because they know them, or the broadcasters because they’ve been navigating them and they are lawyered up to be able to do that.

So what’s our solution? A simple amendment that says that the major bodies are required to develop, within a timeline that we prescribe, a series of processes to harmonize and have, essentially, the same procedure, or as close as possible, behind the door when you get there.

We heard yesterday from the leads of those agencies that they have started working together on their processes, but there are no commitments whatsoever to ensure that it is the same process. The bill now, in sections 94 to 110, prescribes a series of expedited processes at the accessibility commissioner. We say, great, if they work expeditiously, but neither the CTA nor the CRTC have been experienced by people with disabilities as expeditious — much the reverse.

My last point is you heard yesterday from these agencies that are generally serious in saying all they’ve done. That’s understandable from them. But can I just take you to the front lines for a minute? I will just tell you my own personal experience. I could aggregate it across all the feedback we get.

CTA’s track record historically is pretty lousy. They finally got religion three years ago and are starting to work on regulations. They’ve had the power to do this for over 30 years. Where have they been? As a blind person who travels internationally, I can tell you I dread entering Canadian airspace, not because we never get service, but it is way more unreliable here than I have seen otherwise.

The CRTC. In the U.S., it has been federal law since, I believe, 2016 that cable providers must provide an accessible PVR. In Canada, where is the CRTC? It is not required here. It should be, but it is not.

So please take the track records and understand that our jadedness is well justified. But our solution is what you can do in a short period is at least require the other agencies, if we are stuck with them, to come up with not just statements to you yesterday about how they want to be expeditious, but actually require them to come up with processes that will be expeditious. That’s what our amendment proposes….

(Passage omitted)

 

 

Senator M. Deacon: Thank you for that.

Mr. Lepofsky, I will come back to Senator Seidman’s question, and that is the whole concept of the balance of getting this through — I can’t help but bring this up just one more time — in an efficient and expedient and respectful way, and balancing what are significant concerns and amendments that, in many cases, are kind of related. Now that we have this, how do we make sure the stuff gets done?

Mr. Lepofsky: Two things. First, we are used to battling uphill. Doing disability rights advocacy is like swimming up Niagara Falls, but that doesn’t deter us. We keep doing it. When the people are more jittery and “We better just take what we can get” and all that stuff, I get that. But we’ve never taken that view. We’ve stared down the risks.

If we took that view, we would not have gotten a disability amendment in 1982. We probably would have settled for a weak accessibility law passed in Ontario in 2001 rather than standing our ground and getting a stronger one in 2005. And in this case, we have all three parties that voted for this law in the house, though the opposition said it is too weak. We wrote to all the party leaders and said : We want to take this risk off the table. Will you promise, if this bill doesn’t come through, you will bring it back in the fall?

So we are putting even more heat on them. We are saying: We want to come back with amendments from the Senate, if the Senate agrees, and decide on this bill in time to get it properly considered. Do whatever you have to do, pass it with the amendments or not. That could be dealt with before the house rises. And they’ve got the shared pressure of all the groups you’ve heard from that are jointly saying: Please get this thing through.

So the pressure will be on them. But we also have the good fortune that we have opposition parties — we are non-partisan, and we are supporting amendments in the house. We are hoping — and I will be seeing the minister this afternoon — that they will see the wisdom of strengthening this.

The final thing I will say, senator, is it is a legitimate concern, but I think it is a concern that has been answered. Minister Qualtrough answered your concern last week. Senator Munson asked her: Are you open to amendments? She could have said: Look, it is too tight. We are too busy. We are not going to be able to get it through; please just approve it.

That’s not what she said. She knew as much as anyone else in this room about the legislative timelines in the house. She probably knows more because she is part of the government. She said: No they are open to amendments, and we want this to be the best bill it possibly can be.

The fact of the matter is, with our short three pages of amendments covering a few core issues that cut across what people said at HUMA and the issues they raised here, that these will help move in the direction that she said she is open to. So I suggest you take her up and hold her to what she said.

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Ma question s’adresse à Monsieur Lepofsky.)

(après anglais — M. Belanger: … but that’s what I believe.)

La sénatrice Mégie: Ma question s’adresse à Monsieur Lepofsky. J’ai cru comprendre que vous avez collaboré à l’élaboration de la Loi sur l’accessibilité pour les personnes handicapées de l’Ontario. Ai-je bien compris?

(anglais suit — M. Lepofsky: Yes. Here’s the quick CV…)

(Following French – Senator Mégie – . . .ai-je bien compris?)

Mr. Lepofsky: Yes, here’s the quick CV — in 1980 .

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Je voulais juste ajouter ma. . .)

(après anglais — M. Lepofsky: … in 1980 —)

La sénatrice Mégie: Je voulais juste ajouter ma réelle question.

Avaient-ils un échéancier? S’ils en avaient un, est-ce que vous observez un mouvement pour la mise en œuvre de cet échéancier?

(anglais suit — M. Lepofsky: There was a movement to get the legislation…)

(Following French – Senator Mégie – . . .de cet échéancier?)

Mr. Lepofsky: There was a movement to get the legislation in place and I had the privilege of leading that movement. It was passed unanimously in 2005. The idea of the deadline of 2025 came from the government, not from us. The minister who brought it in came to the house committee here and said, “You should do it, too,” and we agreed with her. It was a great idea and we jumped on it and said it was great. It may not be as quick as we’d like, but it got action going. Are they on schedule now? No.

Senator, your colleagues were asking questions about the five-year review. We’ve had three of these reviews in Ontario. Their core job is to say, “Are we on schedule?” And all three reviews demonstrated — the most recent one in the most blistering terms — no, we’re not and we need strong action.

Now, if we didn’t have that deadline, their review could be informative but it certainly wouldn’t have the message that it does that we are far behind schedule. This came up in question period as recently as yesterday in the Ontario legislature. It is a critical tool.

Let me give you one more example because you are asking, “Will this help?” The Toronto Transit Commission runs a subway and has a whole bunch of subway stations. Approximately half of them have no elevator. But to its credit, the TTC has a plan to make them all accessible by 2025 because they’ve read the Ontario legislation.

Actually, the Ontario government has not passed a regulation addressing subway stations, but the mere presence of that date in the legislation itself has lead this major subway to adopt that plan.

Let me tell you one more thing. They tried to back down from that plan a few years ago and push it back, and we went to the media and said: “Not fair; the act says 2025.” And that media pressure led the TTC to back down and stick to 2025.

If the minister’s approach to this legislation had prevailed in Ontario, we would be further behind in getting those subway stations accessible.

(French follows – Senator Mégie – Merci.)

(après anglais — M. Lepofsky: … those subway stations accessible.)

La sénatrice Mégie: Merci.

Senator Dasko: I will focus specifically on your meeting with the minister this afternoon. In the interests of being efficient and especially effective, in your meeting with the minister could you focus her mind on what she would be willing to do, and could you get back to us with any insights or promises, pledges, intelligence, anything you can? That will help us move forward, given the time frame that’s left, given the suggestions you have for us, which in my mind seem serious and extensive. But maybe it is all easy, but I’m a new senator.

If you could learn from the minister what she would be willing to do — and I’m not saying that will determine what we do — that will help us very much in what we do. Then we will understand what might be doable and what all of us, in the end, might hope to expect and get from the process. Can I ask you that question?

Mr. Lepofsky: As a deputant who is notorious for long, wordy answers, my answer is yes.

Senator Dasko: We look forward to getting back to you. And I know Senator Omidvar has a question.

Senator Omidvar: Thank you for being here. And Mr. Lepofsky, for the correspondence that you have been in with not just me but everyone. And I want to probe your assessment the capacity, of the CRTC and the CTA on disability accessibility. They were here yesterday. I quoted to them a section of your letter, a rather blistering assessment of their lack of progress. They, in turn, responded by talking about the great pride they have in the progress they have made. And I will quote from a brief submitted to this committee from the CRTC. They talk about the history of their progress: In the mid 1980s, they —mandated TTY relay services. In 2009, it was expanded to include the provision of IP relay services, and five years later, the provision of video relay services. A 911 service is currently mandated. In 2009, the CRTC began to require broadcasters to provide described video services four hours per week. Would you still use the word “lousy” to describe their progress?

Mr. Lepofsky: Only in public. In private, they may be slightly more colourful.

Senator Omidvar: Tell us what you can.

Mr. Lepofsky: I say this not just to be glib, but we are not saying that they did nothing. Full disclosure: Scott Streiner, the head of the CTA, is a good guy with a strong record in human rights. If you could pass an amendment to make him immortal, we would vote for it, okay?

Senator Omidvar: Not in our power.

Mr. Lepofsky: I don’t know if you have the authority. That may be provincial.

I say two things in terms of these agencies. The first is that they do not have core expertise. They are not there; they are experts in broadcasting and in transit, not in accessibility. That’s what the accessibility commissioner will be.

Look at the track record of the CTA — three decades, their own draft regulation out for comment now acknowledges that they have not done enough. Why couldn’t they have done some of this years ago? We didn’t just invent people with disabilities using airplanes or trains. This is not new. It is not rocket science.

The final thing I would say is what the amendment focuses on. They have labyrinthian procedures that are designed for major regulatory decision-making. I get that. But it is not suited to us. That’s why we give credit to the government in its design of sections 94 to 110 to come up with something even more streamlined than the sometimes more labyrinthian process of the Human Rights Commission.

But we need those other agencies to talk about not just no wrong door, but equally fast, comparable procedures, once you get behind that door. And I didn’t hear them say they were going to do that, or didn’t hear them saying they were going to commit to doing that. That’s why we need this amendment.

Senator Omidvar: Fine. Thank you.



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AODA Alliance to Present to Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs Thursday April 11, 2019 on the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Here are the Specific Amendments We will Ask the Senate to Make to the Bill

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

April 8, 2019

SUMMARY

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs is holding sped-up public hearings on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. The AODA Alliance has been invited to make a presentation to the Standing Committee at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2019. You can come to watch the hearing live at this address:

Room W110, 1 Wellington St. Ottawa Ontario.

You can also watch the hearing live online at http://senparlvu.parl.gc.ca/XRender/en

The online video will be archived for future viewing, for those who watch it live. In the hearing room will be ASL and LSQ. The sign language will not be available on line for a few days.

We are working hard to get ready for these hearings on such short notice. However, we are not complaining. This is because these tight time lines will give the Senate enough time to amend Bill C-81 to strengthen it, if it is willing, and for the bill to return to the House of Commons for a debate and final vote on those amendments.

This strengthens the hand of the many, including the AODA Alliance, who are campaigning to get this weak bill strengthened. There is no need to avoid seeking amendments because the bill can’t get through Parliament before the fall election.

The public hearings are only taking place on April 10 and 11, and then on May 1. The Standing Committee will only have one meeting, on May 2, to undertake its clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. It is at that May 2 meeting when amendments would be considered.

That means the Senate’s Standing Committee will have very little time to debate amendments. Our list of proposed amendments must be very very short. We have thus worked through the weekend to produce the following 4-page document, which we are now submitting to the Senate. It sets out the wording of the absolutely top-priority amendments we are requesting. We know that this list does not include many of the amendments we need. However, given the tight time lines, a longer list of amendments, coming from us, would actually work against our hope for success.

You will also see that this document sets out a series of recommended “observations.” The Senate can attach statements like these to a bill, calling for further action, whether or not it makes amendments to the bill.

We need your help more than ever. Please email the Senate Standing Committee to urge the senators to amend Bill C-81, as we are proposing. We appreciate the efforts of all of you who have already done so. For those who believe people with disabilities deserve a strong national accessibility law, this is the best way you can help us now. Write the Standing Committee at: [email protected]

Visit our website to learn all about the background to Bill C-81 and our efforts to get it strengthened.

If your organization is going to present to the Standing Committee or submit a brief, we invite you to support these amendments and any others that you consider important. As the following document notes, during the April 3, 2019 meeting of this Senate Standing Committee, federal Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough made an important commitment. We plan to hold her and the Federal Government to it. Senator Munson, who is the sponsor of Bill C-81 in the Senate pointed out to her that there are calls from the disability community for this bill to be amended because it does not go far enough. He asked her if she was open to the bill being amended. Minister Qualtrough agreed that she was open to the bill being amended in the Senate. She said she wants this law to be the best it can be. We here take her up on that offer.

We are sorry that we are not now providing more detailed explanations for the following information. We are rushing to get this to you, to Senators, and others whom we need to reach.

MORE DETAILS

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Proposed Amendments to Bill C-81 Submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs April 8, 2019
Speaking to the Senate’s Social Affairs Committee on April 3, 2019, Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough said she would be open to amendments to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, and that she wants to make this bill “the best it can possibly be.”

We offer this short list of vital amendments, given the Senate’s tight time lines. Had there been more time, a number of other important amendments would have been proposed.

A. Setting a Deadline to Achieve Accessibility

Amendment 1
Section 5 of the Act should be amended to add the words “on or before January 1, 2040”, so that it will provide:

“5?The purpose of this Act is to benefit all persons, especially persons with disabilities, through the realization, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040, ”

Amendment 2
The following section should be added to the bill:

“Clarification
5.2. Nothing in this Act, including in its purpose of the realization of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040, should be construed as authorizing or requiring any delay in the removal or prevention of barriers as soon as reasonably possible.”

Amendment 3
Section 11 should be amended to add the words on or before January 1, 2040, so that it would provide:

“11?(1)?The Ministers mandate is the realization of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040”.

Amendment 4
Section 18 should be amended to add the words “on or before January 1, 2040”, so that it would provide in material part:

“18?The Standards Organizations mandate is to contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040, through, among other things,”

B. Setting Mandatory Duties

Amendment 5
The bill should be amended to add this subsection to section 117:

“Obligation

(1.2)?The Governor in Council must make all the regulations under paragraphs 1(c) and (d) necessary to achieving the purposes of this Act, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, must make at least one regulation under paragraphs (1c) and (d) in each of the areas referred to in section 5 within the period of five years that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force.

Amendment 6
Section 2 definition of “barrier” should be amended to add the words “a law”, so that it will read in material part:

“barrier means anything??including anything physical, architectural, technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a law, a policy or a practice??that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation. (obstacle)”

C. Ensuring the Bill Does Not Reduce Rights of People with Disabilities

Amendment 7
Subsection 172(2) of the bill should be removed from the bill. As well, the bill should repeal its counterpart, s. 172(2) of the Canada Transportation Act, which provides:

“in relation to a matter have been complied with or have not been contravened, the Agency shall determine that there is no undue obstacle to the mobility of persons with disabilities.”

Note: s. 172(2) of the bill uses the word “barrier “instead of the word “obstacle”, but is otherwise the same as s. 172(2) of the Canada Transportation Act.

Amendment 8
Section 6 should be amended to add the following to the principles set out in it:

“(2) For greater certainty, in the event of any inconsistency between the provisions of this Act and the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the provisions of that Act prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.”

Amendment 9
The following provision should be added to the bill:

“123?
Section 123.1.

(1) The Canadian Transportation Agency, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board must within the period of six months that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force, establish policies, practices and procedures for expeditiously receiving, investigating, considering and deciding upon complaints under this Act which are the same as or as reasonably close as possible to, those set out for the Accessibility Commissioner in sections 194 to 110 of the Act.”

Amendment 10
The bill should be amended to add the following provision:

11.1.

(1) No one shall use public money distributed by the Government of Canada in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers.

(2) Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, subsection 1 includes payments by the Government of Canada to any person or entity to purchase or rent any goods, services or facilities, or to contribute to the construction, expansion or renovation of any infrastructure or other capital project, or to provide a business development loan or grant to any person or entity.

(3) Within the period of two years that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force, the minister must establish and make public policies and procedures to implement, monitor compliance with, and report to the public on compliance with subsections 1 and 2.

(4) The power to make regulations under clauses 117 (1) (c) and (d) includes the power to make regulations to implement this section.

Amendment 11
Section 72(1) should be amended to add the words “except any entity referred to in paragraphs 7(1) (a), (b) and (c) (the Government of Canada, or a department or agency of the Government of Canada)”, so that the provision will read in material part:

“72?(1)?The Minister may, by order, exempt any regulated entity or class of regulated entities except the any entity referred to in paragraphs 7(1) (a), (b) and (c) (the Government of Canada, or a department or agency of the Government of Canada) from the application of all or any part of sections 69 to 71, on any terms that the Minister considers necessary. The order ceases to have effect on the earlier of the end of the period of three years that begins on the day on which the order is made and the end of any shorter period specified in the order.”

Observations We Ask the Senate to Attach to Bill C-81

1. Since the bill is entitled “An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada” for people with disabilities but does not require any barriers to be removed, the Committee recommends that the bill be strengthened.
2. Because the bill depends on the Federal Government and various agencies to use their new powers, but does not require most of those powers to be used, the Committee recommends that the Federal Government report back to the Senate in one year on what duties and time lines for action could be added to the bill.

3. Because of concerns from the disability community about the bill splintering its implementation and enforcement, the Committee recommends that the Federal Government report to the Senate in one year on the effectiveness and impact of splintering the bill’s implementation and enforcement among four federal agencies, for further study by the Senate.

4. Since the Federal Government spends billions of dollars of the public’s money on procurement of goods, services and facilities, on new infrastructure projects, and on business development loans and grants, the Federal bill should be strengthened to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.



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AODA Alliance to Present to Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs Thursday April 11, 2019 on the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act – Here are the Specific Amendments We will Ask the Senate to Make to the Bill


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

AODA Alliance to Present to Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs Thursday April 11, 2019 on the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act – Here are the Specific Amendments We will Ask the Senate to Make to the Bill

April 8, 2019

          SUMMARY

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs is holding sped-up public hearings on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. The AODA Alliance has been invited to make a presentation to the Standing Committee at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2019. You can come to watch the hearing live at this address:

Room W110, 1 Wellington St. Ottawa Ontario.

You can also watch the hearing live online at http://senparlvu.parl.gc.ca/XRender/en

The online video will be archived for future viewing, for those who watch it live. In the hearing room will be ASL and LSQ. The sign language will not be available on line for a few days.

We are working hard to get ready for these hearings on such short notice. However, we are not complaining. This is because these tight time lines will give the Senate enough time to amend Bill C-81 to strengthen it, if it is willing, and for the bill to return to the House of Commons for a debate and final vote on those amendments.

This strengthens the hand of the many, including the AODA Alliance, who are campaigning to get this weak bill strengthened. There is no need to avoid seeking amendments because the bill can’t get through Parliament before the fall election.

The public hearings are only taking place on April 10 and 11, and then on May 1. The Standing Committee will only have one meeting, on May 2, to undertake its clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. It is at that May 2 meeting when amendments would be considered.

That means the Senate’s Standing Committee will have very little time to debate amendments. Our list of proposed amendments must be very very short. We have thus worked through the weekend to produce the following 4-page document, which we are now submitting to the Senate. It sets out the wording of the absolutely top-priority amendments we are requesting. We know that this list does not include many of the amendments we need. However, given the tight time lines, a longer list of amendments, coming from us, would actually work against our hope for success.

You will also see that this document sets out a series of recommended “observations.” The Senate can attach statements like these to a bill, calling for further action, whether or not it makes amendments to the bill.

We need your help more than ever. Please email the Senate Standing Committee to urge the senators to amend Bill C-81, as we are proposing. We appreciate the efforts of all of you who have already done so. For those who believe people with disabilities deserve a strong national accessibility law, this is the best way you can help us now. Write the Standing Committee at: [email protected]

Visit our website to learn all about the background to Bill C-81 and our efforts to get it strengthened.

If your organization is going to present to the Standing Committee or submit a brief, we invite you to support these amendments and any others that you consider important. As the following document notes, during the April 3, 2019 meeting of this Senate Standing Committee, federal Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough made an important commitment. We plan to hold her and the Federal Government to it. Senator Munson, who is the sponsor of Bill C-81 in the Senate pointed out to her that there are calls from the disability community for this bill to be amended because it does not go far enough. He asked her if she was open to the bill being amended. Minister Qualtrough agreed that she was open to the bill being amended in the Senate. She said she wants this law to be the best it can be. We here take her up on that offer.

We are sorry that we are not now providing more detailed explanations for the following information. We are rushing to get this to you, to Senators, and others whom we need to reach.

          MORE DETAILS

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Proposed Amendments to Bill C-81 Submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs

April 8, 2019

Speaking to the Senate’s Social Affairs Committee on April 3, 2019, Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough said she would be open to amendments to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, and that she wants to make this bill “the best it can possibly be.”

We offer this short list of vital amendments, given the Senate’s tight time lines. Had there been more time, a number of other important amendments would have been proposed.

A. Setting a Deadline to Achieve Accessibility

Amendment 1

Section 5 of the Act should be amended to add the words “on or before January 1, 2040”, so that it will provide:

“5 The purpose of this Act is to benefit all persons, especially persons with disabilities, through the realization, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040, …”

Amendment 2

The following section should be added to the bill:

“Clarification

5.2. Nothing in this Act, including in its purpose of the realization of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040, should be construed as authorizing or requiring any delay in the removal or prevention of barriers as soon as reasonably possible.”

Amendment 3

Section 11 should be amended to add the words on or before January 1, 2040, so that it would provide:

“11 (1) The Minister’s mandate is the realization of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040”.

Amendment 4

Section 18 should be amended to add the words “on or before January 1, 2040”, so that it would provide in material part:

“18 The Standards Organization’s mandate is to contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers on or before January 1, 2040, through, among other things,…”

 B. Setting Mandatory Duties

Amendment 5

The bill should be amended to add this subsection to section 117:

“Obligation

(1.2) The Governor in Council must make all the regulations under paragraphs 1(c) and (d) necessary to achieving the purposes of this Act, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, must make at least one regulation under paragraphs (1c) and (d) in each of the areas referred to in section 5 within the period of five years that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force.

Amendment 6

Section 2 definition of “barrier” should be amended to add the words “a law”, so that it will read in material part:

“barrier means anything — including anything physical, architectural, technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a law, a policy or a practice — that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation. (obstacle)”

C. Ensuring the Bill Does Not Reduce Rights of People with Disabilities

Amendment 7

Subsection 172(2) of the bill should be removed from the bill. As well, the bill should repeal its counterpart, s. 172(2) of the Canada Transportation Act, which provides:

“in relation to a matter have been complied with or have not been contravened, the Agency shall determine that there is no undue obstacle to the mobility of persons with disabilities.”

Note: s. 172(2) of the bill uses the word “barrier “instead of the word “obstacle”, but is otherwise the same as s. 172(2) of the Canada Transportation Act.

Amendment 8

Section 6 should be amended to add the following to the principles set out in it:

“(2) For greater certainty, in the event of any inconsistency between the provisions of this Act and the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the provisions of that Act prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.”

Amendment 9

The following provision should be added to the bill:

“123

Section 123.1.

(1) The Canadian Transportation Agency, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board must within the period of six months that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force, establish policies, practices and procedures for expeditiously receiving, investigating, considering and deciding upon complaints under this Act which are the same as or as reasonably close as possible to, those set out for the Accessibility Commissioner in sections 194 to 110 of the Act.”

Amendment 10

The bill should be amended to add the following provision:

11.1.

(1) No one shall use public money distributed by the Government of Canada in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers.

(2) Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, subsection 1 includes payments by the Government of Canada to any person or entity to purchase or rent any goods, services or facilities, or to contribute to the construction, expansion or renovation of any infrastructure or other capital project, or to provide a business development loan or grant to any person or entity.

(3) Within the period of two years that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force, the minister must establish and make public policies and procedures to implement, monitor compliance with, and report to the public on compliance with subsections 1 and 2.

(4) The power to make regulations under clauses 117 (1) (c) and (d) includes the power to make regulations to implement this section.

Amendment 11

Section 72(1) should be amended to add the words “except any entity referred to in paragraphs 7(1) (a), (b) and (c) (the Government of Canada, or a department or agency of the Government of Canada)”, so that the provision will read in material part:

“72 (1) The Minister may, by order, exempt any regulated entity or class of regulated entities except the any entity referred to in paragraphs 7(1) (a), (b) and (c) (the Government of Canada, or a department or agency of the Government of Canada) from the application of all or any part of sections 69 to 71, on any terms that the Minister considers necessary. The order ceases to have effect on the earlier of the end of the per­iod of three years that begins on the day on which the order is made and the end of any shorter period specified in the order.”

Observations We Ask the Senate to Attach to Bill C-81

  1. Since the bill is entitled “An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada” for people with disabilities but does not require any barriers to be removed, the Committee recommends that the bill be strengthened.
  2. Because the bill depends on the Federal Government and various agencies to use their new powers, but does not require most of those powers to be used, the Committee recommends that the Federal Government report back to the Senate in one year on what duties and time lines for action could be added to the bill.
  1. Because of concerns from the disability community about the bill splintering its implementation and enforcement, the Committee recommends that the Federal Government report to the Senate in one year on the effectiveness and impact of splintering the bill’s implementation and enforcement among four federal agencies, for further study by the Senate.
  1. Since the Federal Government spends billions of dollars of the public’s money on procurement of goods, services and facilities, on new infrastructure projects, and on business development loans and grants, the Federal bill should be strengthened to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.



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Transcript of the November 8, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 2 of the Standing Committee’s Clause-by-Clause Consideration of Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Transcript of the November 8, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 2 of the Standing Committee’s Clause-by-Clause Consideration of Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

Notice of meeting Amended

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 124

Thursday, November 8, 2018, 8:00 a.m.Amended

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

CLAUSE-BY-CLAUSE CONSIDERATION

Witnesses

Department of Employment and Social Development

  • James Van Raalte, Director General, Accessibility Secretariat
  • Benoît Gendron, Director, Accessibility Secretariat
  • Erik Lapalme, Senior Policy Analyst, Accessibility Secretariat

Clerk of the Committee

Stephanie Feldman (613-996-1542)

2018-11-06 11:07 a.m.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

EVIDENCE

Thursday, November 8, 2018

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

(0800)

[English]

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow (Foothills, CPC)):

It’s good to see everyone again. I missed all of you. It’s been at least a minute since we saw each other.

Once again, I will go through the introductions for those who are new guests to our committee.

Today’s meeting is on C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. The objective of today’s meeting is to resume the committee’s clause-by-clause consideration of this bill.

I would like to take a moment to remind those participating in the proceedings as well as those observing the proceedings in person or on video that the committee adopted a motion on September 18 that included instructions for the clerk to explore options to allow for the full participation of all witnesses and members of the public on this study. As a result, the committee has made arrangements to make all meetings in relation to the study of Bill C-81 as accessible as possible in a variety of ways. This includes providing sign language interpretation and near real-time closed captioning in this room.

Please note that both American sign language and Quebec sign language are being offered to our audience. For those who would like to watch the American sign language interpretation, please sit on the benches to my left. For those who would like to watch the Quebec sign language interpretation, please sit on the benches to my right.

In addition, please note that the first two rows of benches have been reserved for those who wish to avail themselves of these interpretation services. Screens displaying a near real-time closed captioning have also been set up, with the English text to my left and the French text to my right. The sign language interpreters in the room are also being video recorded for the eventual broadcast of this meeting on ParlVu through the committee’s website.

In light of these arrangements, the committee would like to ask, if you need to leave the room during the meeting, please do not walk in front of the sign language interpreters. Instead, please use the extremities of the room. In addition, we would ask that those in the room remain seated as much as possible during the meeting to ensure that everyone in the audience can clearly see the sign language interpretation. Finally, if a member of the audience requires assistance at any time, please notify a member of the staff or the committee clerk.

Once again, I would like to welcome our officials from the Department of Employment and Social Development, James Van Raalte, director general, accessibility secretariat; Benoît Gendron, director, accessibility secretariat; and Erik Lapalme, senior policy analyst, accessibility secretariat.

We will now continue with the clause-by-clause consideration.

I want to let everyone on the committee know that we’re going to try to get done by one or two o’clock, before question period. According to the clerk, our sign language interpreters will only be here until 6 p.m. today. That gives us a deadline there as well. I know we are going to try to finish earlier than that.

With that in mind, if you don’t feel you have to read out some clauses in the amendments, if it’s pretty straightforward, we’ll try to move through those as quickly as possible.

We will now pick up where we left off.

(On clause 21)

The Chair: We were on clause 21, PV-6.

(0805)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Lib.):

Chair, just for confirmation, with the motion we passed that one o’clock was the deadline and after one o’clock we would just read and go through, is there a plan to stay until six o’clock?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

According to the motion, today is open. We have that motion on file.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Maybe I’m misunderstanding.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If we can be done by one…but we’ve only gone through 20 clauses.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The debate on the amendments will go until one o’clock.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Right, but the votes could take until past two, depending on how far we get.

It’s not going to be open for debate or anything like that; it’s just that the voting could take us past two.

Moving on to amendment PV-6 on clause 21, is there any discussion?

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte (Edmonton Griesbach, CPC):

I was voting.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The legal counsel was just telling me that CPC-20 is pretty much identical to the previous amendment. Because we would be voting on Green Party amendment PV-6, CPC-20 would not be tabled. If you wanted to comment on CPC-20, I would do it now.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle (Windsor—Tecumseh, NDP):

Mr. Chair, it’s important for us to have as much independence as possible for the organizations that are going to be established under Bill C-81. Some independence from the minister is important, and that’s reflected in both of these amendments.

I just want to say, in regard to PV-6, that I know Ms. May would be here to speak to these motions herself, but she did have to get home for the Kristallnacht commemorations that are taking place.

It does reflect how important it is to all of the members here that we have some independence in the agencies that are going to be established for the work that they’re going to do.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Hardcastle.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 21 agreed to)

(On clause 22)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move to Green Party amendment PV-7.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again we see the importance of having timelines reflected and our expectations for the mandate of Bill C-81 being carried out in a reasonable fashion with this amendment.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 22 agreed to)

(On clause 23)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have CPC-21.

Ms. Falk.

(0810)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC):

Basically, clause 23 would be amended by:

(1.1) The Chair is to be appointed on a full-time basis and the other directors are to be appointed on a part-time basis.

This is just to make sure that this is a full-time position, and it should be a full-time position with the substantial work that is involved.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, Ms. Hardcastle, yours is identical.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes. I believe it is important for us to articulate in this bill that it is a full-time position due to the importance of that place.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We move to Green Party amendment PV-8.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Is this going to cancel out other ones?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, it will, amendment CPC-22.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay, based on that, may I speak to it, then?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Absolutely.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Basically, this would provide fixed-term appointments for CASDO directors, with removal based on behaviour or competence standard.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On CPC-22.1, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Basically the amendment is as follows:

The directors are to be appointed no later than six months after the day on which this subsection comes into force.

Again, as we reiterated last night, our stakeholders who have flown from all over the country to come as witnesses expressed their concern and the importance for timelines. This would just be respecting the testimony that we heard.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any other discussion?

Seeing none, I’ll call the vote.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Could we have a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to CPC-23. If CPC-23 is moved, CPC-24 cannot be moved due to consistency.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I know from testimony we have heard there was a varying degree of recommendations from witnesses. Some organizations wanted to have full representation; others were okay with the 50.1. We are suggesting an amendment that two-thirds of all the directors of CASDO be persons with disabilities.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Are there any further comments on CPC-23?

Ms. Falk again.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Sorry, it’s really early. My nap was short.

Also, with regard to testimony that we heard, the fact that 40% of indigenous people have or will have a disability within their lifetime, it is also, we believe, important there be at least one indigenous person on the board representing indigenous people with disabilities.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Seeing no further comments, I’ll call the vote.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We’d like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings ])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll move to CPC-24.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment states:

that at all times, as far as possible, one of the directors is an Indigenous person; and

Again, it’s that we have at a minimum one person on the CASDO board who is an indigenous person who has a disability.

(0815)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on CPC-24?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I think that this is so important. We heard in testimony that indigenous people weren’t even referenced in this bill. With all the consultation that was done and the nation-to-nation relationship this government has, I would think it’s imperative that there be support for this amendment.

Thank you.

We would like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to LIB-12.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long (Saint John—Rothesay, Lib.):

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning to everybody.

During our witnesses’ presenting, I asked a lot about having a diversity of disabilities represented on the board. We would like to add:

(c) the importance of having directors that are representative of the diversity of disabilities faced by Canadians.

It’s a separate lens, so we’d like it just as a paragraph (c), not added to paragraph (b).

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, this is more innocuous language added to innocuous language. We just defeated amendments that would have been more specific about the two-thirds and actually added indigenous peoples. The language that we actually need to enforce your intent here has been defeated and this is more innocuous language.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 23 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is everybody okay with applying the vote on clauses 24 and 25?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 24 and 25 agreed to)

(On clause 26)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have amendment PV-9.

Are there any comments on PV-9? I’m seeing none.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): No amendments were made to clause 26, so could I get unanimous consent for clauses 26, 27, 28 and 29 to be done together?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 26 to 29 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 30)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): That gets us to PV-10.

Are there any comments on PV-10?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Did we do PV-9?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We just did it. It was defeated.

We’ll call the vote on PV-10.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’re on CPC-25.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Basically, CPC-25 amends this clause for a term of up to eight years. This would provide that the CASDO chief executive officer’s term, subject to renewal, is for up to eight years instead of five. To secure talented candidates, these candidates should be able to have an assurance of a longer term in office. Moreover, especially in the early years, the new CEO could acquire expertise that Canada won’t want to lose.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 30 agreed to)

(On clause 31)

(0820)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on CPC-26.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Is it clause 31 that we’re looking at?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s the clause.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Right. Basically, we feel that the bill should be amended to require the minister to designate an acting replacement for the CEO within 90 days of the CEO’s absence or incapacity, unless the CEO is known to be returning to the office within 90 days. We would ask for a wording change there. It’s pretty straightforward.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 31 agreed to)

(On clause 32)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on to CPC-27.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

The amendment proposes subclause 32(1.1).

We feel the bill should be amended to require the CASDO CEO to consult with the CASDO board when selecting membership of an advisory committee to assist CASDO with developing accessibility standards. Again, it’s pretty straightforward.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 32 agreed to)

(On clause 33)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on to CPC-28.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment states:

Officers and employees must be provided with appropriate training in matters related to accessibility.

I think this is a recurring theme. Even when this committee studied Bill C-65, we saw the importance of training. It’s part of that education component. We should amend this clause so that all officers and employees receive training on accessibility. Even though it seems redundant, and a cliché, even, it’s important to make sure we don’t make any presumptions or assumptions that people have all the education they need. It’s about being able to provide that extra top-up.

(Amendment negatived)

(Clause 33 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now have amendment CPC-29.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We’re asking that Bill C-81 be amended by adding before line 18 on page 12 the following new clause:

33.1(1) In carrying out its mandate, the Standards Organization must, on a continuing basis,
(a) hold public consultations on the accessibility standard it should next develop and on any proposed accessibility standard; and
(b) make available to the public progress reports respecting the development of accessibility standards.
(2) The Standards Organization must make available to the public the minutes of meetings of the board of directors and of advisory or other committees.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (2), the minutes of meetings must include the text of all proposed accessibility standards considered at the meeting.

This is basically adding a level of transparency and accountability to the CASDO board.

(0825)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, Ms. Hardcastle, yours is very similar. Do you want to speak to this now?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes, Mr. Chair.

In order to increase or ensure the transparency, it’s not unreasonable to expect the standards organization to have public meetings, to make public their minutes, to make public their progress reports and to include the text of any standards that are being deliberated on at meetings. That’s very reasonable to expect. Unfortunately, unless it’s articulated, it may not happen and that transparency may not be achieved.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will now ask for unanimous consent for the vote to be applied for clauses 34 and 35 as is. Is everybody okay with that?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Agreed.

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk: Clause 34 was not amended?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It was not amended.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We’re running these two together?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, clauses 34 and 35 together.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

No.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You want to do them separately?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Yes.

(Clause 34 agreed to)

(Clause 35 agreed to)

(On clause 36)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That brings us to clause 36 and NDP-7.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Here again, this amendment is a way for us to ensure transparency:

The Minister must publish the report on the departmental website within 10 days after the day on which the report is received by

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have clauses 36, 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 that are as is. I’m going to ask for unanimous consent to apply the vote to all of those.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 36 to 41 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Look at what we can get done. There’s not as much fight in everybody in the morning.

(On clause 42)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will go to LIB-13.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey (Egmont, Lib.):

Mr. Chair, these are consequential as a result of the amendments made and approved in LIB-5 and LIB-6.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have CPC-30.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

This clause would be amended to say:

The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

Basically, it’s adding a provision requiring accessibility plans to relate to the purpose of the act and to be prepared and implemented in accordance with the principles of the act. Plans should address how they will contribute to achieving a Canada without barriers by the date specified in the act. These changes would strengthen the effectiveness of the accessibility plans and help to ensure that barrier identification, prevention and removal address issues of intersectionality and poverty.

(Amendment negatived)

(0830)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-8.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, this amendment is just underscoring the need for the effectiveness of Bill C-81 moving forward, and the accessibility commissioner is the rightful office that should be notified, not the CRTC.

Basically the CRTC is enforcing and notifying itself where they need to be answerable to the accessibility commissioner.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Ms. Hardcastle.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, you get two in a row. We have NDP-9.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

There are several of these.

I do want to underscore that the way it’s articulated here, because it is federal jurisdictions, these will be people who work in the public sector and have a collective agreement so we need to be able to work that in just for the logistics of being able to carry out these specifics. For people who have collective agreements, these agreements also need to be included in the process.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on NDP-9?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Could we have a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 1 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to LIB-14.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, when we had witnesses before the committee, there was a concern expressed that regulated entities are not required to develop an effective accessibility plan. Even before regulations are in place, this amendment which I will read in a second will help ensure that accessibility plans developed under the act are effective and consistent with the principles that define our approach to accessibility.

I move that Bill C-81, in clause 42, be amended by adding after line 3 on page 17 the following:

(9) The regulated entity must take into account the principles set out in section 6 when it prepares an accessibility plan or an updated version of its accessibility plan.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 42 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, we’re moving quite quickly. Is it okay if we have a three-minute suspension just so we can catch up?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sure. Is everybody okay with that?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll suspend for three minutes.

(0830)

(0840)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re back.

I’m sure everybody is refreshed after a few minutes’ break. Another handful of bacon will get everyone’s energy up for sure.

(On clause 43)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move to clause 43, on which we have NDP-10.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, any regulated entity that is expected to comply with this accessibility act and seeks an exemption or is going to fall short of the mark doesn’t report to the CRTC in this case but reports to the accessibility commissioner.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg (South Surrey—White Rock, Lib.):

I’m in agreement with a number of the principles that have come forward, but the procedure or the placement of them becomes questionable, whether it’s legislation, regulation, or as we heard yesterday, with respect to accreditation and the other areas and responsibilities that they fall in.

As a principle, a number of things that have been said are positive. I just don’t believe they should be placed in the legislation. I believe they should be followed through another place. I just need to clarify that for my own sense of well-being—which, of course, goes with the bacon.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 43 agreed to)

(On clause 44)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-11.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, I do appreciate that we’re going to have nuanced and finessed regulations that are going to be constantly evolving. This is the foundation. This is historic legislation that needs to create the strong foundation of how this is going to take place.

Once again, it is extremely important that the accessibility commissioner be the one who is notified. That has to be in the legislation. That is foundational; that is not regulation.

(0845)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion?

Do you want to wait until they have more bacon and then we’ll see?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Good one.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If not, I’ll call the vote.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Ms. Hardcastle, on NDP-12.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I saw that this was not recognized throughout. As we heard from testimony and specifically from PSAC, sometimes what’s happening with the public sector employees is that there are already collective agreements in place with a process. We need to include that in the legislation. It has to be recognized that there is a framework in place under collective agreements for most of these employees that creates a synergy.

When you include them, it does create that synergy. If you don’t include them, it becomes conflict and confusion, and we don’t need that when we have a new piece of legislation and new offices. It’s better to be clear and articulate that collective agreements are part of the process; they’re not separate.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 44 agreed to)

(On clause 45)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have LIB-15.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this change is for clarity. The amendment ensures the bill is consistent and clear in the language it uses, particularly in granting regulation-making authority, regarding publication of feedback processes to the different regulators under this act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

They shouldn’t be making any regulation. It should be the accessibility commissioner who does that. That’s why this has to be articulated in legislation.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to LIB-16.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Currently, there is no regulation-making authority set out in Bill C-81 regarding requirements for feedback processes. This amendment will ensure regulators are granted the authority to make regulations in relation to feedback processes.(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will move to LIB-16.1.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is about timelines. This amendment will address stakeholder concerns about the delayed regulations, by creating an obligation for all bodies with regulation-making authority under this act to have their first regulations under the act within two years of the act coming into force.

We think the amendment makes the bill stronger and gives—

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The CRTC—

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

—there’s going to be one for each.

We think this gives the bill a little more teeth for timely implementation.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 45 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 46)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will start with LIB-17.

(0850)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Excuse me, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I believe that clause 46 must be omitted from the bill. My understanding in the procedure is that I could not put that in the form of an amendment, so I have to make that statement now. I hope I’m correct in this process now.

Clause 46 must be omitted from the bill. This clause permits the minister, the CRTC, or the CTA to exempt organizations from complying with requirements to prepare and publish accessibility plans, create feedback processes and develop progress reports.

For all of the stakeholders who have testified and given us their input and from consultation across the country, that speaks for itself.

I’d like that exempt please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, you’ll have your opportunity to make that vote when we vote on that clause.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Now, if LIB-17 is adopted, it will make CPC-31 unable to be moved because of consistency.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We want to put a three-year limit on exemptions.

This amendment recognizes that accessibility solutions evolve over time. It also prevents entities from slipping through the cracks, thereby ensuring that everyone does their part to achieve an accessible Canada. Exemptions can’t be unlimited, so that’s why we want to move this one forward.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

From what I understand, if LIB-17 is passed it will cancel out—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

CPC-31.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay.

If the bill allows for regulated entities to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements and if exemptions are to be granted, the reasons should be made public and they should be time-limited.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes, we agree.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

LIB-17 and CPC-31 are quite similar. There’s a difference in the timelines. The difference between the two is that the exemption is either five years or three years.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I’d also like to clarify, Mr. Chair, there is nothing that says that the reasoning be made public.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That is correct.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Through you, Mr. Chair, to the member who made mention of stronger…. I was wondering if he could explain why their amendment is stronger.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’re saying that you can’t have unlimited exemptions and that there’s an automatic trigger after three years. I think yours said five.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

There’s no mention of making anything public.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

We’ll address that in the next one.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

For Ms. Falk’s benefit, if one of the next two—LIB-17 or LIB-18—are adopted, CPC-31 will be inadmissible. If you want to try to make an amendment to LIB-17 or LIB-18, you would have to do that before.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’re on LIB-17.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, but she can do it to LIB-18 as well. LIB-18 will be the same issue.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll move to LIB-18. If it is adopted, CPC-31 is inadmissible due to consistency.

(0855)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, as we were just discussing, there’s always a need for additional transparency. This seeks to require and make public why the exemptions are there. This ensures transparency. We heard that if there were going to be exemptions, they need to know why they’re there and the rationale behind them. The two together actually make it stronger. It speaks directly to it.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, we will be voting down clause 46 in Bill C-81. The bill allows for regulated entities to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements. There is no principled reason why some organizations should be exempted. Any exemptions will weaken the overall purpose of the act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

We don’t believe in exemptions in this. This section needs to be eliminated entirely.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion before I call the vote on clause 46?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’d like a recorded vote.

(Clause 46 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 47)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The first amendment is LIB-19.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, this is just a continuation of ensuring consistency with previous amendments.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on CPC-32.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, we feel the bill in clause 47 should be amended by adding after line 21 on page 19 the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to LIB-20.

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha (Brampton Centre, Lib.):

Mr. Chair, we prefer to withdraw this motion.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much.

Is there any further discussion on LIB-20?

Oh, you want to withdraw it. Sorry, I thought you said you want to move on with the motion.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

That’s fine.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, we’ll move to NDP-13.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Can we suspend for just a minute?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, we’ll suspend for a minute.

(0855)

(0900)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, we’ll reconvene.

Just so we’re clear, LIB-20 has been withdrawn.

We’re still on clause 47, but we move to NDP-13.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Has LIB-20 been withdrawn?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

LIB-20 has been withdrawn, yes.

On NDP-13, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, the government claims to place importance on its relationship with labour. This is an example of having public service employees, from PSAC in particular, talk to us about this issue. In most cases, the people living with disabilities who are coming forward will be doing so through a bargaining agent, because they are part of a collective agreement. They are part of, for instance, the PSAC. Therefore, we need to acknowledge that collective agreements are a part of this.

The interface that will take place because of this legislation will include collective agreements, and it must be articulated.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is LIB-21.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is consequential to the amendments we made in LIB-14. I can read it, but it’s basically the same.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No. I appreciate that.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Chair, before we vote on clause 47, could I have consent to go back just to clarify on LIB-19, it was a subamendment? I’m not sure it that was clear when it was voted on. I can read in the exact text.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

There was a subamendment to LIB-19?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

It was referenced as a subamendment.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We meant to do a subamendment, but we didn’t. So we’re looking for consent to—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

So you need unanimous consent to go back.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Yes.

An hon. member: No.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, you don’t have it. Sorry.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Can we enter that as a separate amendment? No? Do we just leave it?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We leave it if it is too similar.

(0905)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’ll withdraw it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Good decision.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You’re welcome.

Now we’ll have the vote to carry clause 47 as amended.

(Clause 47 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 48 agreed to)

(On clause 49)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have NDP-14.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, as I discussed earlier, we have an example where we have the opportunity for synergy without potential conflict. A regulated body in preparation of its progress report should be enlisting the collective agreement, should be enlisting the bargaining agent to prepare this report.

Otherwise, you’re going against a current. If we’re trying to move this legislation forward and have it be impactful and ensure that we are evolving, then we have to include a very important component of the employer-employee synergy, which is the bargaining agent, the collective agreement.

Under federal jurisdiction, the majority of the people we’re talking to in this legislation have such relationships. These employer-employee relationships include public sector employees who have collective agreements.

I urge you once again to please look at this and let common sense reign and include the collective agreements in these stipulations.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 49 agreed to)

(On clause 50)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have LIB-22.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this is consequential to LIB-17. It’s the same thing for three-year time limits.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is LIB-23.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Chair, this is the publication of rationales on exemptions, a consequential amendment to LIB-18.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 50 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 51)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is amendment LIB-24.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Again, this is consequential to the amendments made earlier.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is amendment CPC-33.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We’d like clause 51 amended by adding after line 2 on page 23, the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

(Amendment negatived)

(0910)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to NDP-15.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, what we’re trying to do is make the accessibility commissioner the one who is responsible for this. Right now it’s splintered. We have these different entities who have responsibility. It’s very problematic for a variety of reasons that I don’t need to go into because we heard a lot of testimony about it.

We have an opportunity here to make sure that we’re moving the position of the accessibility commissioner into the position it should be in, in overseeing all of these different entities—not different entities in charge of themselves. The CRTC or the CTA shouldn’t be notifying itself or enforcing itself, or entities within its jurisdiction. If it’s carrying out direction from the accessibility commissioner, that’s an entirely different matter. That is more in keeping with this legislation.

Right now, as it’s splintered, it is extremely problematic.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I will follow up on those comments.

I think it’s important, too, that within the accessibility commissioner there’s that level of accountability and transparency. I think that sends a statement to the people in the disability community that we’re taking this seriously.

We heard from witnesses, too, on the importance of having the one body being the accessibility commissioner. It was referenced over and over again.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to NDP-16.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Here’s another example of where we need to be embracing our relationship within the labour community which has very clearly told us that they do see opportunity for synergy. Right now they can be included. The collective agreement, the bargaining agents of employees, can certainly be included in a very meaningful way in the preparation of an accessibility plan.

That just makes for smooth sailing for everybody, so include them. You have to prepare an accessibility plan. Why wouldn’t you want your bargaining agent for your employees involved? It makes no sense to me to not include this.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The final amendment for clause 51 is LIB-25.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is consequential to amendments LIB-14 and LIB-21.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 51 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 52)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-17.

Ms. Hardcastle.

(0915)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again we have an issue where it is the accessibility commissioner who should be in charge here, not the CRTC. The issue of splintering the regulatory oversight is a misguided approach and we can correct course with an amendment like this and the others that were already defeated.

I sound like I’m taking a defeatist attitude. But it is important that the accessibility commissioner is the entity that is in charge—truly in charge.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 52 agreed to)

(On clause 53)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to NDP-18.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, this amendment reflects the importance of the accessibility commissioner and that we are not splintering enforcement and regulatory oversight.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to NDP-19.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, it’s important that this bill not undermine workers’ rights and that we do include collective agreements in partnership with realizing our barrier-free Canada.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 53 agreed to)

(On clause 54)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to amendment LIB-26.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this is consequential to amendment LIB-15. We want consistency in language.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On LIB-27, we have Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

The amendment, Mr. Chair, ensures the bill is consistent and clear in the language it uses, particularly in granting regulation-making authority to the different regulators under this bill. The amendment prevents any uncertainty as to the authority of regulators to make regulations in relation to feedback processes by specifically establishing this authority. Regulators must be able to define, adjust and adapt requirements for the feedback process, as necessary, to ensure that all Canadians, especially persons with disabilities, have an effective tool to communicate with regulated entities on accessibility.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Don’t we want the accessibility commissioner doing this job?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Through the chair, yes.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I am trying to get more rationale for this. Shouldn’t it be the accessibility commissioner?

Just going back to some of my arguments and my amendments, what is the accessibility commissioner going to do?

(0920)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just want to follow up with that, too, because in almost all of the testimony that we heard from stakeholders who either came to us by video or flew across the country to come to speak with us, they had said how their….

We consulted with the stakeholders, but the stakeholders consulted with their people, and they had all said that they wanted this to be a simpler process and the accessibility commissioner to just be in charge.

Through you, Mr. Chair, I am also confused with my colleague. What is the reasoning?

Through you, Mr. Chair, could the Liberals please give an explanation for this amendment as to why we wouldn’t have the accessibility commissioner in charge?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, we feel the sectoral approach is the best approach to move forward with this.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Through you, Mr. Chair, I feel that this actually goes against what stakeholder witnesses have testified to us.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Falk.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move to LIB-27.1.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, again, this is just a consequential amendment to LIB-16.

LIB-27.1 makes timelines for regulations.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 54 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 55)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll start with LIB-28. If LIB-28 is adopted, CPC-34 cannot be moved due to consistency with LIB-28 and LIB-29. I just want to give the CPC members of the committee a heads up on that.

On LIB-28, we have Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, it’s consequential to LIB-17 and LIB-22. It’s the same discussion.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On LIB-29, we have Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, again, it relates to the publication of the rationale for exemptions, consequential to amendments LIB-18 and LIB-23.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’ll now call the vote on clause 55 as amended.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sorry, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We believe that clause 55 in Bill C-81 should be voted down. This bill allows entities to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements, as Britain has regulated. There is no principled reason why some organizations should be exempted and not others. Any exemptions will weaken the overall purpose of the act, and we believe that there should be no exemptions in this bill.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, I concur with my colleague. Clause 55 must be omitted from the bill. This clause permits the minister, the CRTC or the CTA to exempt organizations from complying with requirements to prepare and publish accessibility plans, create feedback processes and develop progress reports.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

May I ask for a recorded vote, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I figured you would.

(Clause 55 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 56)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): The first amendment to clause 56 is LIB-30.

Mr. Morrissey.

(0925)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

This is simply adding communication.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, I’d like to propose a subamendment, please.

I want to ensure consistency with similar motions. May I read it?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Please amend LIB-30 to read:

ferred to in paragraphs 5(a), (b), (f) and (g) and in the area referred to in paragraph 5(c.1) as it relates to the areas referred to in those paragraphs; and

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is everybody clear on the subamendment to LIB-30?

Can you read it again, Mr. Long?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

It reads:

ferred to in paragraphs 5(a), (b), (f) and (g) and in the area referred to in paragraph 5(c.1) as it relates to the areas referred to in those paragraphs; and

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

That’s a subamendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’m just wondering what that changes in this clause.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long, do you want to respond to that?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I think it just adds more clarity to the amendment.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Consistency with communication.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on the subamendment?

(Subamendment agreed to)

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Next is CPC-35.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We feel that clause 56 should be amended by adding, after line 21 on page 26, the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

To clarify, LIB-14, LIB-21 and LIB-25, which we’ve already passed, are actually more comprehensive than what’s being proposed right now. I just wanted to point that out.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Ruimy.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just want to make a statement through you, Mr. Chair.

That contradicts a bit of what we’ve heard, We’ve heard that we want simplicity in the legislation and comprehension in the regulations. That’s what we’ve been hearing from the government. I’m a little confused by that last statement.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is NDP-20.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, we have an opportunity where, if applicable, the bargaining agent of employees is included in the preparation of the accessibility plan.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to LIB-31.

Mr. Long.

(0930)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this one is consequential to amendments LIB-14, LIB-21 and LIB-25.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 56 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 57 agreed to)

(On clause 58)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The only amendment is NDP-21.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, as you’ve noted, there are many clauses of this bill that need to be amended to recognize that many affected people will be public workers with collective agreements. It is important that their rights not be undermined, and it is important that we work in synchronicity in this foundational legislation.

Once again, this amendment is an example of areas where the bargaining agents of employees are included in the preparation of a progress report.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 58 agreed to)

(On clause 59)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, we have three amendments proposed: LIB-32, LIB-33 and CPC-36. If LIB-32 and/or LIB-33 are adopted, CPC-36 cannot be moved due to consistency.

We will start with LIB-32 as put forward by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this is consequential to LIB-17, LIB-22 and LIB-28, previously discussed.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

On this side of the table, we have spoken several times about exemptions and how we feel. That’s all I’m going to say.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to LIB-33, submitted by Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Once again, this is regarding publication of rationales for exemptions and are amendments consequential to LIB-18, LIB-23 and LIB-29.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on LIB-33? Seeing none, I will call the vote.

Ms. Falk?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Go ahead.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will now ask if there are any discussion on clause 59 as amended.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, thank you for assuming what I was going to do.

We believe that clause 59 of Bill C-81 should be voted down. Again, this bill allows for regulated entities to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements. There is no principled reason why some organizations should be exempted. Any exemptions will weaken the overall purpose of this act.

Again, we do not agree with exemptions. There shouldn’t be any in this act.

I would also request a recorded vote, please.

(Clause 59 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 60)

(0935)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The first amendment is LIB-34, submitted by Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, this amendment serves to bring this in line with amendments from the Liberal side: LIB-5, LIB-6, LIB-13, LIB-19, LIB-24 and LIB-30.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to CPC-37.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, we feel that clause 60 should be amended by adding after line 31 on page 29 the following:

The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I feel like a broken record, but again, just to reiterate, these changes would strengthen the effectiveness of accessibility plans, which I’m sure we all believe is important and would help ensure that proper barrier identification is done, which I’m sure we all agree with. Also, the prevention and removal address issues of intersectionality and poverty, which I would assume—but I don’t want to assume—we would all agree with.

Thank you.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-22.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, similar to our concerns about exemption with the CRTC, the Canadian Transportation Agency should not be the one that is notified by a regulated entity in terms of the publication and update of its accessibility plan. It should be the accessibility commissioner.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, I just want to be on record that we also agree. We heard from the stakeholders in testimony here and also the ones who have reached out to our offices that this is important. They want that accessibility commissioner to be there and to be accessible to them so the process isn’t confusing. So, again, on the record, I just want to say yes.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-23.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, the bargaining agents of employees must be part of this legislative process; otherwise, you are not using synergy. You are undermining people’s rights. You are splintering again, and you are not maximizing infrastructure and relationships that are already in place. You’re not leveraging those relationships for this new bill.

Once again, bargaining agents of employees must be included as partners in preparing an accessibility plan.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Our final amendment on clause 60 is LIB-35, submitted by Mr. Long.

(0940)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is repetitive, but consequential to LIB-14, LIB-21, LIB-25 and recently LIB-31.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 60 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 61)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

For clause 61 we have one amendment submitted, NDP-24.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, this is another example of a problematic area when we don’t have the accessibility commissioner being the authority that is notified. The regulated entity doesn’t notify their own organization, in this case, the Canadian Transportation Agency. They notify the accessibility commissioner. It’s pretty straightforward.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 61 agreed to)

(On clause 62)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have two amendments submitted, NDP-25 and NDP-26.

Ms. Hardcastle, let’s start with NDP-25.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, I will just underscore the point that we are establishing with Bill C-81 an accessibility commissioner who needs to be given all of the strength and focus in order to be able to implement effectively. That’s who should be notified when these organizations are going through the process to comply with Bill C-81. There’s no other agency that should be in charge of that kind of compliance with Bill C-81.

As you’ll see in further amendments, I keep underscoring this point of an accessibility commissioner. The importance of the accessibility commissioner needs to be bolstered. We have language here that does not substantiate the office and the mandate of the accessibility commissioner without these amendments.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is NDP-26.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Briefly again, Mr. Chair, we have to leverage our partnerships and the collective bargaining agent for many of the employees who are going to be affected by Bill C-81. A partner needs to be included.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 62 agreed to)

(On clause 63)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have three amendments proposed. We’ll begin with LIB-36 submitted by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is consequential to LIB-16. It provides more clarity.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On amendment LIB-37, Mr. Long.

(0945)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, it’s consequential to LIB-15.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On LIB-37.1, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

It’s a timeline to making regulations, consequential to amendments LIB-16.1 and LIB-27.1

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just have a question. It’s to make at least one regulation—at least one regulation—within the period of two years.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

That’s the trigger point.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

One.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

At least one, yes.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

One.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

At least one.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just wanted clarity to make sure I wasn’t seeing wrong. It says to make at least one in two years.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

That’s the trigger point. It has to be able to—

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Sure. Yes, okay.

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

They can do more.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings] )

(Clause 63 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 64)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have three amendments proposed, which we have seen previously. Again, LIB-38 and/or LIB-39, if they are adopted, CPC-38 cannot be moved due to consistency.

We will begin with LIB-38 submitted by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this one is as previously discussed with Liberal amendments LIB-17, LIB-22, LIB-28, and recently, LIB-32.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy, you have LIB-39.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Once again, this is regarding publication of the rationale for exemptions, consequential to LIB-18, LIB-23, LIB-29 and LIB-33.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on clause 64 as amended?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, we believe that clause 64 in Bill C-81 should be voted down. We have heard from our witnesses over and over in the briefings that we have received that this bill as is allows for regulated entities to be exempted from complying—exempted from complying—with accessibility requirements. There is no principled reason—no principled reason—why some organizations should be exempted at all. Again, we don’t believe there should be any exemptions.

We would request a recorded vote, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, I too want to specify that my stance was that clause 64 should be omitted from the bill. Just in the order of the process, where we express those exemptions comes after….

I’ve seen a pattern of what’s happening now in the meetings. I’m trying to keep myself engaged so that I don’t become cynical. In reality, I did vote for the amendments to clause 64 because my colleagues across the way did propose some time limits on exemptions, and publication in the Canada Gazette, which is important transparency that I do support. It’s the lesser of two evils.

I just want to clarify that for anybody else who actually is paying attention to how we are voting today. We actually have to move forward and make the best of this. I will continue trying to be engaged and put forth the amendments that I think will make this meaningful, but indeed clause 64 should be omitted entirely.

(0950)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ve had a request for a recorded vote.

(Clause 64 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 65)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have several amendments proposed to clause 65.

We will begin with LIB-40, submitted by Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

I move it as it is.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Perfect.

Oh, Mr. Long. We were so close.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I know.

Mr. Chair, I’d like to propose a subamendment, please. It’s to address a drafting error.

I’d like to strike out the number “20” in line two of subparagraph 65(1)(a)(ii).

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, so in “passenger 20 trains”, you want to take that “20” out.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You have a good eye.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Next is CPC-39.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We’d like clause 65 to be amended by adding after line 25 on page 33 the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

Basically, the rationale is that part 4 should include an additional provision requiring accessibility plans to relate to the purpose of the act, and to be prepared and implemented in accordance with the principles of the act.

Plans should address how they will contribute to achieving a Canada without barriers by the date specified in the act. These changes would strengthen the effectiveness of accessibility plans and help ensure that barrier identification, prevention and removal address issues of intersectionality and poverty. That’s why we Conservatives believe that should be changed.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is NDP-27.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, the employees of the regulated entities of, in this case, the Canadian Transportation Agency, need to have the bargaining agents of those employees included in the preparation of its accessibility plan.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Now we’ll have the final amendment to clause 65, which is LIB-41, submitted by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, I’m being repetitive and I apologize for that. This is consequential to amendments LIB-14, LIB-21, LIB-25, LIB-31, and recently, LIB-35.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 65 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 66 agreed to)

(On clause 67)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have one amendment proposed, NDP-28.

Ms. Hardcastle.

(0955)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, in the preparation of a progress report, a regulated entity that has employees who have bargaining agents, those bargaining agents need to be included. It’s pretty straightforward.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 67 agreed to)

(On clause 68)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Clause 68 is similar to what we have addressed a few times. We have LIB-42 and LIB-43. If they are both adopted, CPC-40 cannot be moved due to consistency.

We will start with LIB-42.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this is consequential to LIB-17, LIB-22, LIB-28, LIB-32 and recently LIB-38.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll go to amendment LIB-43.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, again, this is for the publication of rationale for exemptions, and is consequential to LIB-18, 23, 29, 33 and 39.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on clause 68 as amended?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, I’m going to repeat myself, but that’s okay; I’m on record.

We believe that clause 68 in Bill C-81 should be voted down. We just don’t believe that exemptions should be granted. Again, there’s no principled reason why some organizations should be exempted, especially if accessibility is the goal, and we’re trying to shift the culture. I don’t think that any federally regulated organization should be exempted.

Could we have a recorded vote, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll have a recorded vote.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, clause 68 is one that gives the power to exempt to the minister on any terms that the minister considers necessary. That must be omitted from the bill.

(Clause 68 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 69)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will finish this clause and then take a bit of a break at 10 o’clock.

We have three amendments proposed for clause 69, and we’ll begin with CPC-41.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, this is all about strengthening CRTC accessibility plans. We propose that clause 69 be amended by adding after line 29 on page 36 the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is NDP-29.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, in the preparation of an accessibility plan, the collective agreement bargaining agents for the employees need to be included.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(1000)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The final amendment on clause 69 is LIB-44.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is consequential of LIB-14, LIB-21, LIB-25, LIB-31, LIB-35 and recently LIB-41.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 69 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 70 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will suspend for about five minutes.

(1000)

(1015)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, everyone. We’ll get back to it.

I’ve been looking through the rest of the clauses. There are quite a few that don’t have amendments, so although it doesn’t look like it, we are getting a bit closer.

I think the plan will be that we’ll be pushing through until about 11:30 or 11:45, in there somewhere, and taking another five-minute break at that point. They are bringing lunch. Lunch will come and we’ll grab it and come back to the table. We’ll keep going through it and will not take a lunch break, if that’s okay with everyone. We will take another five- or 10-minute break closer to noon. It will be for five or 10 minutes and that’s all. We’ll try to get done by that one o’clock deadline.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

The goal should be 12:30.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The goal should be 12:30?

Mr. Gordie Hogg: Higher expectations.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Well, that depends on you guys.

(On clause 71)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): The only amendment we have to clause 71 is NDP-30.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, as you know, a lot of times in employer-employee relationships there are a lot of reasons why people are on two different sides of a fence, so to speak. This is a situation where we are removing barriers for people living with disabilities, and some of those people who are affected are indeed employees in these federal jurisdictions.

Why wouldn’t we want to strengthen the relationship with labour? Why wouldn’t we want to include them in some of the requirements that are laid out in the bill, for instance, to prepare a progress report? This amendment includes the bargaining agents of the employees in the preparation of the progress report. I can’t see why that would be something that isn’t embraced.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 71 agreed to)

(On clause 72)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

There are two amendments proposed, and we will begin with LIB-45.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this has been discussed before. It is consequential to LIB-17, LIB-22, LIB-28, LIB-32, LIB-38 and recently, LIB-42.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now have LIB-46.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, this is referring back to the publication of rationales for exemptions and is consequential to amendments LIB-18, LIB-23, LIB-29, LIB-33, LIB-39 and LIB-43.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 72 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No amendments were proposed for clauses 73 and 74. Do I have unanimous consent to apply the vote? Is everybody okay with that?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 73 and 74 agreed to)

(On clause 75)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have amendment CPC-42.

Ms. Falk.

(1020)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

This would just change some language, so it would be “must” instead of “may”. This would ensure that the accessibility commissioner makes a compliance order every time there is reasonable grounds to believe that an organization is not complying.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, your amendment is identical.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Absolutely, Mr. Chair. Throughout the bill we have language such as “may” where we need to have the word “must”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

As we saw last night, and as we heard from our officials, it’s more that the language is consistent throughout.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, I would like to respond.

With something like this, even though it has always been, sometimes we need to evolve if we’re trying to shift a culture and make a statement and show we care about this. We have expectations and want to add accountability. I think the language we use is very important.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Since clause 75 was not amended, I will ask for unanimous consent that the vote be applied on clauses 75 to 92 inclusive.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

No.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will start with clause 75.

(Clause 75 agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will try that again. Is there unanimous consent to apply the vote to clause 76 to clause 92 inclusive?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 76 to 92 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Great, thank you.

(On clause 93)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have amendment CPC-43.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I have the same argument as before. The language used in this bill is going to set the tone for compliance and for people with disabilities to know we are serious about having this whole process be transparent and about keeping the accessibility commissioner transparent and accountable.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We have all heard the expression, “words matter”. These words very much matter. “May” should be changed to “must” so we can have some teeth in this bill.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, yours is an identical amendment.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes, Mr. Chair. I want to reword for the sake of stakeholders who are listening to the debate between the words “must” and “may”. Right now we’re talking about the accessibility commissioner and enforcement, so the fact that the accessibility commissioner must make public certain notifications of violations and if a penalty were imposed on other information that’s already been specified, it is extremely reasonable to expect in any kind of legislation that they have to do it, which means we will be using the word “must”, not “may”.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 93 agreed to)

(On clause 94)

(1025)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have amendment CPC-44.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, I move that Bill C-81, in clause 94, be amended by replacing line 9 on page 51 to line 3 on page 52 with the following:

(2) For greater certainty, complaints in respect of a contravention of any provision of regulations made under subsection 117(1) may only be filed with the Accessibility Commissioner in accordance with subsection (1), and in the event of any inconsistency between the provisions of this Act and the provisions of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, the Public Service Employment Act or any other Acts of Parliament, the provisions of this Act prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

This amendment is to designate the accessibility commissioner as the one body to handle compliance with accessibility standards and adjudication of complaints. This bill as it stands does not designate one central agency to oversee compliance with accessibility requirements and adjudicate accessibility complaints. Instead, if this amendment is not passed, enforcement will be done by multiple agencies. These would include the accessibility commissioner, CRTC, CTA and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.

As we’ve heard from stakeholders, they requested that the process be simplified and that we have just one body to which complaints would be directed. Stakeholders testified that it would be easiest and more accessible for them if this was achieved through the accessibility commissioner.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Seeing no further discussion, I will call the vote on CPC-44.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Could we have a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

(Clause 94 agreed to)

(On clause 95)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have a few amendments.

Again, Ms. Hardcastle, amendments CPC-45 and NDP-32 are identical.

We’ll start with amendment CPC-45.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, again, it’s very similar. We Conservatives believe that in order to give this bill some teeth, the word “may” should be changed to “must” in clause 95. This change would ensure that the accessibility commissioner does investigate all complaints that fall within its purview. There is no justification for the accessibility commissioner to decline to investigate if all the criteria described in the bill are met, since there would be no other legal mechanism available for pursuing the complaint.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, I would like to reinforce that this language change to the more assertive use of the word “must” is under investigation under the section for investigation when there is no other recourse. We’re saying that the accessibility commissioner must investigate when someone has no other recourse under the provisions that are outlined in this section.

(1030)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We’d like a recorded vote on this as well.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to amendment CPC-46.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We Conservatives believe that clause 95 must be amended to make it clear that the one-year limitation period to file an accessibility complaint begins from the time the complainant became aware of the act or omission that caused them to suffer a loss.

This change will ensure that people are not prevented from filing an accessibility complaint because they were not aware of the organization’s failure to comply with that act that occurred more than one year ago.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 95 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will now ask for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 96 to 102. No amendments were proposed.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 96 to 102 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 103)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will now move to clause 103 and amendment CPC-47.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. We propose:

    That Bill C-81, in Clause 103, be amended by adding after line 6 on page 56 the following:
     The review must be conducted by a different officer or employee than the one who made the decision under review.
     The complainant must be given the opportunity to make representations to the officer or employee conducting the review in a manner that is accessible to the complainant.

With this amendment we are asking to require that the person who reviews the decision not to investigate or to discontinue an investigation of a complaint is not the same person who had made the original decision. Part 6 must include a section that provides that complainants who request a review of the accessibility commissioner’s decisions will have an opportunity to make submissions in a manner and form that is accessible to them.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’d like to propose a subamendment where we will remove the text in subclause (1.1) and replace it with the text currently in subclause (1.2), so subclause (1.2) becomes subclause (1.1).

(1035)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on the proposed subamendment to CPC-47?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Subclause (1.1), as it is, states:

(1.1) The review must be conducted by a different officer or employee than the one who made the decision under review.

That seems like common sense to me. That’s keeping impartiality. There is no conflict of interest in this. What is the reasoning for this amendment? I feel that this subamendment would actually weaken what is trying to be accomplished with this amendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We want the Human Rights Commission to keep its independence. It’s just a suggestion. If you would strike (1.1), we would support it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Do you guys have a comment down at the other end? I thought yesterday that the Human Rights Commission already had that right. They’re above this. I don’t understand, because yesterday, I’m pretty sure, unless I dreamt it in my short nap last night, I understood that the Human Rights Commission would already have the final say.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I understood that the Human Rights Commission was already immune to having its independence eroded, so I don’t understand. I think it’s redundant then.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Because we have the interpretation, I’m asking you to go one at a time.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We don’t want to bind the Human Rights Commission’s hands, but again, we can certainly go back to your proposal if you want.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have the subamendment on the floor.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

That, to me, implies that there are aspects that could be potentially binding the Human Rights Commission’s hands, then. I thought the Human Rights Commission was untouchable. I need to clarify some of this, because we’re going to need another lens to look at this through, if it is true that we indeed can tie its hands.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I’ll defer to the department.

(1040)

[Expand]

Mr. John Barlow:

Mr. Van Raalte.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte (Director General, Accessibility Secretariat, Department of Employment and Social Development):

Mr. Chair, maybe I’ll just clarify the point.

The Human Rights Act will always prevail. This is an administrative procedure amendment. The Human Rights Commission has a great deal of independence in how it operates and how it sets its rules from an administrative justice perspective. The distinction, I believe, if I’m hearing things correctly, and I could be wrong…. This is about telling the Human Rights Commission how to conduct its business as opposed to how it applies human rights laws and its human rights lens to different decisions.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Van Raalte.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 103 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 104)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): On clause 104, we have several amendments proposed, beginning with LIB-47.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal expressed concern that there might be insufficient detail set out in Bill C-81 in relation to appeals and that there was a risk there could be future legal challenges regarding what the tribunal can do and cannot do with an appeal.

It has also been raised by the Department of Justice that 30 days may not be a sufficient amount of time for persons with disabilities who are self-represented to file an appeal.

The effects of this motion would amend clause 104 to provide greater detail for the appeal power of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and provide the tribunal with the ability to extend an individual’s time to make an appeal if the circumstances warrant it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on LIB-47?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Is this giving a suggestion to the Human Rights Tribunal? I thought we had heard discussion in the last one, in which we had the subamendment debate, from the department about telling CHRT what to do.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The CHRT, in consultations on all of this, are the ones who are actually recommending this to avoid future legal challenges regarding what the tribunal can or cannot do. It’s something they feel they need to have in there to protect their process.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Just to clarify, because I don’t feel my question was answered, in discussion of the subamendment to the previous clause, we somewhat were told that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal does not want to be told how to do its job, but this amendment here would suggest to it what to do. I’m just trying to understand, because I’m feeling there’s not a consistency.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This actually comes from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. I will say it again. They are the ones who feel that, without this amendment, it could create problems down the line. This is just trying to speak to where they feel there may be court challenges. It gives them the ability to continue doing what they are doing.

(1045)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I find it quite interesting that there was reason before not to change something, or to change something, whatever it was. There’s this inconsistency. I don’t understand.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Van Raalte.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

I hope I can make the distinction.

The previous amendment concerned the review process carried out by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Your first level of recourse is through a process within the commission. It was an amendment that would prescribe how the commission was to conduct its work. There are always concerns about the independence of the commission and telling the commission how to undertake its work.

This is an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which is the appeal body to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It is my understanding from the testimony and the submission that they have requested flexibility in their appeal powers.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay, thank you. That clarifies some things. It’s interesting that we’re taking some things we hear and we’re not taking other things we hear, for example, timelines. We’re cherry-picking what we want to take.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move LIB-48 submitted by Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

This is consistent with the discussion we’ve just had. It puts us in line with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and subclause 104(1.1) would read:

The appeal lies on any ground of appeal that involves a question of law or fact alone, or a question of mixed law and fact, including a principle of natural justice.

This is to go in alignment with the CHRT and their actions, so it’s to come into compliance and alignment with them.

(Amendment agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We are on LIB-49.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

We’re suggesting adding in:

the grounds of appeal and set out the evidence that supports those grounds.

It’s just keeping in line with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on LIB-49?

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 104 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 105 agreed to)

(On clause 106)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): I understand that there will be some changes to the amendments in clause 106. We’ll start with LIB-50.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I would like to withdraw LIB-50 and replace it with a new amendment, reference 10151430. Copies have been distributed.

Clause 106 would be amended by replacing lines 9 and 10 on page 57 with the following:

may, by order, confirm, vary, give the decision that the Accessibility Commissioner should have given or rescind the decision or order to which the appeal relates or refer the complaint back to the Accessibility Commissioner for reconsideration in accordance with any direction the Human Rights Tribunal may give.

(1050)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will call the vote on the new reference 10151430.

(Amendment agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Now we move to LIB-51.

Mr. Hogg, that was submitted by you.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Despite the principles and brilliance of the original intent, it has been pointed out to me that it is not consistent with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

I would recommend that we withdraw and replace.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Does everybody have a copy of the replacement amendment, reference 10151332? No.

Mr. Hogg, I’ll get you to read your new amendment, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

It would be subclause 106(1.1):

An appeal shall be on the merits based on the record of the proceedings before the Accessibility Commissioner, but the member or panel of members of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal shall allow oral argument and, if he, she or it considers it necessary for the purpose of the appeal, shall hear evidence not previously available.

That is wording to put us in alignment with the CHRT.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It says, “allow oral argument”. What about deaf persons?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

My belief is that sign language will be accepted within that, as part of that.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Van Raalte, I know it’s not your amendment.

Does that stipulate other options being used, or is it being very specific that only oral arguments—

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Or I would assume, written arguments.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Mr. Chairman, may I have a moment to confer?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, absolutely.

While they’re conferring, we’ll have Ms. Falk.

(1055)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I was just assuming that it would be written, and then say, “including oral”.

If this is coming from the tribunal, have they used an accessibility lens? Are they already using an accessibility lens? I don’t know if that makes sense, but it would be a shame to take something, and then if somebody comes who is deaf and has to sign….

It would be unfortunate if in the bureaucracy they’re not able to—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It seems that the focus of the amendment is new evidence not previously available. If that is the focus, maybe we can play with that oral part, that it’s being overly specific.

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Mr. Chair, the word here is, shall “hear”. It’s not just to hear with the ears. It’s the word used technically for the term, legally, to give them an opportunity to represent. It’s to give him, her or it an opportunity to represent.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I see what you’re saying, but the concern here is that it’s very specific with “oral” arguments and I don’t think that’s necessarily the goal from the discussions on the Liberal side.

Mr. Van Raalte, do you have any input?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Thank you for your patience, Mr. Chair.

From an inclusion perspective, I believe “oral” would be better, more inclusive, if it were “in person”, which can be by video conference or by telephone. The person doesn’t have to appear physically. The words “in person” would facilitate the accommodation necessary for anybody who was appearing in person.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Van Raalte.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

When I hear “in person” that means a person with disabilities has to appear in person, so I think “or by video conference” should be spelled out. That’s very specific.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Can’t we just change “oral” to “appropriate format”? “Shall allow alternate”….

“Appropriate formatted arguments” sounds wordy. How do they word that? “Braille and alternate formats in oral and alternative formats”…. “Accessible”…. Yes, whatever is accessible to the person. Maybe we should change “shall allow”.

What happens if you take out the word “oral”? I think the chair mentioned that. “Shall allow argument”…. If “oral” limits us, in saying “argument”, does it then imply sufficiently in the context of accessibility legislation that all appropriate accessible formats are acceptable?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

There are technically two ways to express yourself in the courts or in the tribunals: written and oral. Written is a written presentation. Oral can be speaking directly to the court or presenting where you want to present to the court. I think “oral” is technically for every other thing except the written representation.

(1100)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is “oral” a legal term?

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

I said two terms only: “oral” and “written”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I appreciate that feedback. That concern with the disability accessibility act is where we—

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

“Oral” will include everything.

You can’t give one specific term for every…not even to listen, not even to speak and not even to see. Orally using other instruments…to express to the tribunal.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I don’t want to get too involved but because we’re dealing with a disability accessibility act, we don’t want to be very specific on “oral”. I think that’s where the confusion is coming from, even if it may be a legal term. That’s great input. I appreciate that.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I find that comment a little ironic because we had witnesses here who couldn’t speak and they signed. That was their language.

This is obviously a greater problem if our only two definitions are “oral” and “written”. This is much deeper and bigger than this act.

I’m really concerned about that, because, as I said yesterday, to have this pass and look 20 years down the road and have people not being able to access because we didn’t do our job here would do an injustice to people who need accessibility.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

If we were to replace “allow oral” with “accommodate or accept arguments” that would accommodate arguments that he or she considers necessary for the purpose of the appeal.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Maybe we could get some clarification from the legislative clerk regarding their opinion on whether “hear” suffices for “accept”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thus far they don’t believe that “oral” is sufficient to include everything. The feeling is that “oral” is specific.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

It does.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

They don’t want to give advice on that. It’s a legal question, not a procedural one, but we do have another suggestion on the table.

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

As Mr. Hogg says, it can be “oral, with accommodations, and written”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s not what I heard from Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Can we just take one minute?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sure, we’ll suspend for one minute.

(1100)

(1105)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have a couple of different suggestions. Mr. Hogg had put a bit of a change forward.

Do you have a new suggestion?

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

If we were to take out “oral” and just say “allow arguments”, make that plural, then I think that’s probably the simplest way of addressing it and allowing the intent that Ms. Falk put forward.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much. That was a roundabout way of getting to where we started.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

We’re not exactly where we started.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, we added the plural.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

And we took “oral” out.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s right. That’s the most important part. It’s a huge leap.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Thank you for bringing that up.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will call the vote on reference 10151332.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Thank you, everyone. That was a good discussion.

We now move to amendment LIB-52. That was put forward by Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This refers back to the appeals of the CHRT and is consequential to amendments LIB-47, LIB-49 and LIB-50.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’m just wondering if it has to state “in accessible format”, because pending even the accessibility commissioner…, and if they are somebody who has disabilities, that’s just so that it would be in a format that’s accessible.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

So you’re adding that as a suggestion for subclause 106(3) and that’s after “and the parties to the appeal”? So it’s “A copy of the order…must be…in accessible format”.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Yes.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

It would be “A copy of the order made by the”—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

—“must be provided in accessible format” is what I think they are—

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I think that’s implied.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

When we read the definitions at clause 2 of the bill, I think it’s totally described there who is in need of the benefits and how they are to be provided. If it is not, that has to be in the definitions. The rest, everything, will flow throughout the whole act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I think right now we’re looking at everything through an accessibility lens. But even, for example, with the prior amendment, we can’t assume that it’s implied, because it clearly wasn’t previously. I think that we just have to be extra cautious that we are looking through the lens and putting that accessibility hat on, and looking through every one of these clauses just so we don’t become complacent.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It hasn’t been put forward as a subamendment. I think it’s just a discussion right now.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

No, no. What we’re trying, number one, is to keep it consistent with the rest of the motions we have been putting through on the CHRT. This motion will facilitate by clearly setting out what the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal can and cannot do in dealing with an appeal, avoiding confusion and uncertainty in the process.

Perhaps James can help us here, because from my recollection of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, 60% of complaints came from disability.

We need to keep consistent throughout the whole bill with this. What can you tell us about that?

(1110)

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Apologies, Mr. Chair, I’m not clear on the question.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Yes, I’m not clear on the question either.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Does it have to be specific in the wording, James, that submissions to the commission or the tribunal have to be accessible documents that can be accessed by people with various disabilities?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

No it does not. Further, I would say the tribunal’s administrative structure that sits in behind it would be a regulated entity, and so it would be subject to the regulations and standards brought forward under the act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I guess this goes back to my question. If this is coming from other departments or the tribunal or whatever it is, I don’t see them looking at something with the disability or accessibility lens. Again, I just really hope that there is not going to be a hole in there, and 10 or 20 years down the road we find out that, oh look, they’re providing inaccessible documents, and the commissioner can’t even access them, maybe because of their disability or accessibility requirements.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Again, the big lens is this act. This act provides everything about barriers: how to be barrier-free, what a disability is, what a barrier is. Everything is explained in clause 2. Let’s leave everything for subclause 117(1) to form the regulations and bylaws under that. That’s where things will be regulated.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 106 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will ask for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 107 to 110.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 107 to 110 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 111)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): On clause 111, the first amendment is NDP-33.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Just for the record, this section deals with the appointment of the chief accessibility officer. It says, “the Governor in Council may appoint”. We propose to change the wording to “must appoint”.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move on to CPC-47.1.

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Bill C-81 must include timelines for when the chief accessibility officer is to be appointed. The amendment proposes to add:

The Chief Accessibility Officer is to be appointed no later than six months after the day on which this subsection comes into force.

I think that by agreeing to this amendment, it’s not only going to show our stakeholders that this is something the government cares about, but also that it’s something the government will take action on immediately after it receives royal assent.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I think it’s important to note that, throughout our amendments, we’ve been talking about the chief accessibility officer based on the premise that this officer exists. With the previous motion being defeated, we don’t have decisive language that says “must”.

I would hope that my honourable colleagues would at least consider a timeline. This chief accessibility officer isn’t going to exist without that language. We’re discussing based on the fact that the officer does exist. Let’s give it a timeline. The way it stands now, if the Governor in Council doesn’t have to appoint a chief accessibility officer…. They may, but there’s no timeline.

It’s too precarious for this legislation. This is foundational legislation

(1115)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll have a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

(Clause 111 agreed to)

(Clause 112 agreed to)

(On clause 113)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): For clause 113, we have LIB-53.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

In effect, this motion would create an amendment to the existing duty to the chief accessibility officer. It will provide the officer with the authority to give information and advice to the minister.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 113 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on PV-11?

(Amendment negatived)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): I’m going to ask for unanimous consent to group the vote on clauses 114 to 116.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 114 to 116 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 117)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have several amendments on clause 117. I will begin with LIB-54, which was submitted by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

This is consequential to amendments already discussed: LIB-15, LIB-37.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to CPC-48.

Whatever the vote is on CPC-48 will also apply to CPC-53, which is on page 136 of your package. The vote is consequential and it deals with both clauses.

Ms. Hardcastle, on this one, your NDP-33.1 is identical.

(1120)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We are suggesting with CPC-48:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 117, be amended by deleting lines 3 to 15 on page 61.

These should be omitted from the bill. This section permits the government to exempt certain organizations or undertakings from producing and publishing accessibility plans, feedback processes and progress reports.

This is just another opportunity for transparency and accountability.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

As we heard again and again from our witnesses, there is simply no good reason why any parliament or obligated organization should be exempted from these requirements or any requirements imposed under the bill.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’d like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to Liberal amendment 54.1, submitted by Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Again, this is just referencing back to the timeline to making regulations in the consequential amendments of LIB-16.1, LIB-27.1 and LIB-54.1.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, last night in our discussion I believe the timeline described to us was that it would be the summer of 2020. Is this the same timeline? No?

Okay. Never mind.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to CPC-49.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

With this proposal from the Conservatives, Parliament would see every regulation to be made under paragraph 117(1)(c) providing more oversight. We suggest amending clause 117 by adding, after line 28 on page 61, the following:

(5) The Minister must table in each House of Parliament every regulation that the Governor in Council proposes to make under paragraph 117(1)(c).
(6) Each House may refer the proposed regulation to any commitee that is appropriate under the rules of that House and, if the proposed regulation is so referred, the committee may review it and report its recommendations to the House.
(7) A regulation may not be made before the earliest of
(a) 30 sitting days after the proposed regulation is tabled in both Houses;
(b) 160 calendar days after the proposed regulation is tabled in both Houses; and
(c) the day after the committee reports its recommendations or, if the proposed regulation was referred to more than one committee, the day after the last report.
(8) For the purposes of subsection (7), sitting day means a day on which either House sits.
(9) The Minister must take into account any report of the committee of either House. If a regulation does not incorporate a recommendation of the committee of either House, the Minister must table before that House a statement of the reason for not incorporating it.
(10) A proposed regulation that has been tabled in Parliament need not be tabled again before the regulation is made, whether or not it has been altered.

(1125)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I believe I have a similar or the same amendment, so I would just like to concur with my colleague, who spoke before me on his amendment and underscore a few added points to that.

This amendment is under general regulations. That is part 8, for those people who are listening and following along today. Under general regulations, right now, it is the Governor in Council. This amendment creates transparency and some independence by providing stipulations that these documents be tabled in Parliament, independently of the Governor in Council. That way we do have some transparency as well, which is extremely important in building the indoctrinated support that we need in this legislation.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We’d like a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 4; yeas 3)

(Clause 117 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 118)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to clause 118. There is one amendment proposed, LIB-55.

Go ahead, Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

We need to ensure consistency with a subamendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I’d like to propose a subamendment, please, to ensure consistency with similar motions. Please amend LIB-55 to read: “paragraphs 5(a), (b), (f) and (g) and in the area referred to in paragraph 5(c.i) as it relates to the areas referred to in those paragraphs.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment agreed to as amended [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Clause 118, and incidentally clauses 118 to 121, of the bill should be removed along with any similar provisions in the bill, where they limit federal regulations under this act from reaching all aspects of all obligated organizations under this act. The bill should be amended to repose all power to make accessibility standard regulations in the federal cabinet and to remove the bill’s grant of the power to make some accessibility standard regulations to the Canadian Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission.

Once again, I will repeat that clause 118 should be removed.

(1130)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Is it the communication part that you want removed?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, she doesn’t want clause 118 in the legislation.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The communication part.

(Clause 118 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 119)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On clause 119, there is one amendment proposed, LIB-56.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Again, it’s to ensure consistency with similar motions, and it will be subamended.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I have a subamendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

For crying out loud.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Do you want me to read this or can we all mouth it together here? Please amend Liberal—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sorry, Mr. Long, just one second.

Are you going to have a few of these throughout as we go?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I have one more.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

One more? Okay, then we’ll just carry on.

I’m assuming it’s the same. Okay.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

“As it relates to”.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment agreed to as amended [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I just want to note that clause 119 is another one of these provisions in the bill that should be removed because it limits federal regulations under this act from reaching all aspects of all obligated organizations that are supposed to be under this act.

(Clause 119 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

(On clause 120)

We’re into clause 120. There are two amendments proposed.

The first is LIB-57, by Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, these are consequential to amendments LIB-5, 6, 13, 19, 24, 30, 34, 40, 55 and 56.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now turn to LIB-58.

Mr. Morrissey again.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

This is to ensure consistency with similar motions related to the mobility of persons, with a subamendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long, the same subamendment?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

The same subamendment, yes.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Clause 120 of the bill should also be removed. It is another one of those provisions in the bill that limits federal regulations under this act. It limits them from reaching all aspects of all obligated organizations.

(Clause 120 as amended agreed to)

(1135)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

(On clause 121)

I’ll move to clause 121. Again, there are two amendments proposed, beginning with LIB-59.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Again, exemptions can’t be unlimited, so we propose what we proposed in 17, 22, 28, 32, 38, 42 and recently 45.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On LIB-60, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Again, it’s just referring back to publication of rationale for exemptions, consequential amendments to LIB-18, 23, 29, 33, 39, 43 and 46.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Clause 121 of the bill should be removed, and any other similar provisions in the bill should be removed because they limit federal regulations under the act. They limit these regulations from reaching all aspects of all obligated organizations under this act.

(Clause 121 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have two amendments, PV-12 and PV-13.

I will begin with PV-12. PV-12 is identical to CPC-54, page 137. If the decision on PV-12 will impact CPC-54, it would not be admissible.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Do we have to make comments on that now?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It’s the same amendment. It’s being added to a different part of the bill, but because it’s the same amendment, the Green Party has put theirs ahead of the CPC. Therefore it’s dealt with first. So any decision on PV-12 will be reciprocated on CPC-54.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

So if it fails, does CPC-54 fail?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If it fails, CPC-54 fails.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I’m going to speak in support of this amendment as put forth by the member from Saanich—Gulf Islands. I know that she wanted to be here today but can’t be, because she had an important event in her riding for Kristallnacht.

I do concur with my colleagues in their similar amendment. It is extremely important that we have accountability and transparency worked into this bill in a more substantial way and that we have timelines. This does help us do that, and it rolls in the independence aspect in answering to Parliament rather than to the Governor in Council. I think it’s a very significant amendment and an improvement that I welcome.

(1140)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, we Conservatives agree, for instance, that if no regulations are made under paragraph 117(1)(c) within 12 months after the day on which this clause comes into force, the minister must cause a report to be tabled before each House of Parliament, on any of the first 10 days on which that House is sitting after the expiry of that 12-month period.

Two, if no such regulations are made within 12 months after tabling the report referred to in subclause (1), the minister must cause a report to be tabled before each House of Parliament on any of the first 10 days on which the House is sitting after the expiry of the 12-month period, and at least once every subsequent 12-month period, as long as no regulations have been made.

Three, the reports must include an explanation for regulations not being made and must establish a schedule for the making of such regulations.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just want to add, too, that I don’t believe that this is partisan legislation. I think we should all have the best intentions for people who need accessibility. That being said, I want to somewhat repeat my colleague’s comments yesterday. We don’t know who the government is going to be in 10 or 20 years, and this ensures that accessibility is going to be a priority and that it’s not going to be something that is overlooked. It holds that level of accountability and transparency.

We request a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to PV-13.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): No amendments were made to clause 122, so I’m going to ask for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 122 to 130. Do I have unanimous consent to do so?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

No.

(Clause 122 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’ll give it one more try and ask for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 123 to 130.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 123 to 130 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 131)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On clause 131, the first amendment is PV-14. Again, if this one is adopted, CPC-50 cannot be moved due to a conflict, as the Green Party amendment will change the same lines as CPC-50. That’s only if it’s adopted.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(1145)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will move on to CPC-50.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We are requesting an amendment stating, “Five years after the day on which this Act receives royal assent, or as soon as feasible after that day, a comprehensive review of its provisions and operation is to be commenced by a”.

What we’re saying is that clause 131 should be amended to require that the committee conduct its first review five years after the date on which the act is proclaimed into law. This change will prevent the review from being delayed if the regulations are not promptly passed.

We request a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 131 agreed to)

(On clause 132)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On clause 132, we’ll start with PV-15, which is identical to amendments put forward as CPC-51 and NDP-34, so whatever decision is made on PV-15 will be reciprocal on CPC-51 and NDP-34.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I think that what we heard from witnesses and testimony was that timelines were important. It is important to measure how well the government is doing with accessibility. It is important to make sure that there’s direction given that will prompt people to move forward and want to move forward.

This amendment would require the first independent review of the act to be held in 2025 and every four years thereafter. This will coincide with Canada’s reporting obligations under the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

We know that a timeline for independent review is an important component, not only to our stakeholders but to ready us for the day when we implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which we are signatories to, but this bill falls short of implementing.

It will position us so that we can evolve into that position. I think all of us here want to see this legislation be effectual. I would hope that we’re all prepared for a compromise here. If there is a compromise on a specific date that would provide for the passing of this amendment, then I think we should discuss that. I’m open to that.

I’ll like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will move to LIB-61 put forward by Mr. Ruimy.

(1150)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This motion would provide an amendment to the independent review of the act to ensure that the person or persons conducting the independent review is required to consult all implicated parties.

With this amendment, we make sure that the minister responsible under this act is not limited in executing their responsibility to appoint a single independent reviewer.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 132 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 133 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We go to Green Party-16. The feeling is that it is inadmissible due to making specific declaration on the specifics of sign language that is beyond the scope of the bill. It introduces new concepts that were not included in other parts of the bill. That would include PV-16 and CPC-52 as inadmissible.

I’ll now be asking for unanimous consent to group the votes on clause 134 to clause 141.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

No. I have something to say about clause 138.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, do I have unanimous consent to group clauses 134 to 137?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 134 to 137 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 138)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will now go to clause 138. Is there any discussion?

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Clause 138 of the bill should be removed because it gives the Speaker of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Commons the power to exempt a parliamentary entity from certain aspects of the bill’s requirements.

That’s not good.

(Clause 138 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’m asking for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 139 to 141.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 139 to 141 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): That takes us to clause 142.

Because these two amendments were dealt with in previous proposals, can I get unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 142 to 146?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 142 to 146 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): New clause 146.1 has already been dealt with.

(Clause 147 agreed to)

(On clause 148)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll now move to clause 148. We have two amendments proposed. We’ll begin with CPC-54.1, on page 137.2.

Ms. Falk.

(1155)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Basically, this amendment is again on timelines:

The Accessibility Commissioner is to be appointed no later than six months after the day on which this subsection comes into force.

It’s pretty straightforward, just timelines, accountability.

Can we have a recorded vote?

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Now we’ll go to amendment CPC-55.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment is:

Section 26 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (5):
(6) The Accessibility Commissioner must receive appropriate training in matters related to accessibility and discrimination.

I know I spoke to something such as this earlier. Knowledge is power. Sometimes it’s just even having a conversation or some type of additional training that makes people more aware of their words and actions.

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on CPC-55?

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The accessibility commissioner should receive anti-racism, anti-oppression and cultural competency training to ensure that a complaint process does not perpetuate systematic discrimination experienced by ethno-racial persons with disabilities, or even indigenous persons with disabilities.

It’s just becoming aware that different things have different meaning in different cultures. In some cultures, you don’t make eye contact with people—it’s actually disrespectful to do that. Unless people are educated and aware, they are causing more harm than good.

(Amendment negatived)

(Clause 148 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

As you can see, lunch is being set up now. We have a bunch we can carry here. If we can get through those really quickly in the next two minutes before noon, we’ll do that. Then we’ll break for 10 minutes to grab lunch.

(On clause 149)

On clause 149, we have CPC-56.

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Clause 149 should ensure that persons with disabilities participate meaningfully in the monitoring and implementation of the CRPD. Such participation is required under article 33(3) of the CRPD.

Clause 149 must be amended to require the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor in accordance with articles 33(2) and 33(3) of the CRPD.

Sufficient resources must be provided to the commission and disability communities to support them in their roles.

(Amendment negatived)

(1200)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Can I have unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 149 to 153?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

No.

(Clause 149 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’m asking for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 150 to 153.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 150 to 153 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 154)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Mr. Ruimy, please present LIB-62.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This is replacing the word “emotional” with the word “psychological”. The bill generally refers to psychological harm, except in two instances where it interchangeably refers to emotional harm. This amendment will ensure the bill consistently uses the term “psychological harm”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I understand consistency, but why can’t it be psychological and emotional harm?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I know we had conversations. I’m just trying to think of what the witnesses were telling us.

Honestly, it’s because there are two instances of “emotional harm”. We’re making it more consistent throughout the entire act. Why would you have two sections referring to it as “emotional harm”, when we’re referring to it as “psychological harm”?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I see psychological and emotional as two different things.

Is the government proposing that we specifically remove “emotional harm”?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Yes. We’re replacing “emotional” with “psychological” to make it consistent throughout.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

They’re two different things, I’m just wondering about this. Is psychological harm more important than emotional harm? I’m just trying to understand.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Can I ask Mr. Van Raalte to chime in here a bit?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Our apologies to the committee. It is a drafting error. The intent all the way through was to use “psychological”. It is a broader and more accepted term and it encompasses the emotional aspect.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

That’s how the department sees it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much for your intervention.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 154 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 155)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll move to clause 155. If we get through this, you can go and have lunch, probably, by the looks of it.

We have LIB-63, with Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Again, this is referring back to replacing “emotional” with “psychological” as a consequential amendment to LIB-62.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, it’s just changing “emotional” to “psychological”.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 155 as amended agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Can I have unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 156 to 162?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 156 to 162 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll take a 10-minute recess to grab some food and take a break. We’re now suspended.

(1205)

(1220)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you. We’ll come back in session.

We will start back at clause 163. I appreciate everybody’s diligence in getting through this. I feel very good about our finishing this by one o’clock, so we’ll see how well we do.

We’re on LIB-64.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The bill incorrectly refers to the accessible Canada act in French as La loi sur l’accessibilité fédérale. The amendment will ensure that the bill is consistent and correct by referring to the correct title, which should be La loi canadienne sur l’accessibilité.

[Translation]

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

[English]

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

They gave it to me because of my French.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, I could tell.

[Translation]

Me too.

[English]

Are there any comments?

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 163 as amended agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Could I get unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 164 to 168?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 164 to 168 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 169)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll now move to clause 169. Two amendments are proposed. We’ll begin with LIB-65.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

LIB-65 is a consequential amendment in reference to LIB-1 and LIB-2, which have already been approved.

(Amendment agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on to LIB-66.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Many stakeholder groups have reacted positively to the definition of “disability” in Bill C-81, and some have stated that the definition advances beyond the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by recognizing that certain impairments may cause the experience of barriers to be episodic. This amendment recognizes that.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 169 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 170)

(1225)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to clause 170 with proposed amendment LIB-67.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

This is a consequential amendment resulting from amendments LIB-5, LIB-6, LIB-13, LIB-19, LIB-24, LIB-30, LIB-34, LIB-40, LIB-55, LIB-56, LIB-57 and LIB-58. They broaden the scope by including communication.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on to LIB-68.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Exemptions can’t be unlimited, and consequential to previous amendments, we’d like to change this part.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 170 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Can I get unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 171 to 206?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 171 to 206 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 207)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Is there any discussion on CPC-57?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

This amendment basically would make it so that “on the 90th day after the day on which this Act receives royal assent” it would come into force. It’s giving 90 days for this act to come into force.

The current coming into force provision does not require the government to act. Additionally, if this clause is left as is, according to the Statutes Repeal Act, this act would be automatically repealed within 10 years of receiving royal assent.

I would like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Can I move an amendment, if possible?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It’s that Bill C-81, in clause 207, be amended by replacing lines 28 and 29 on page 301 with the following, “206, come into force on the 60th day after the day on which this Act receives royal assent.”

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sorry, I’ll just say, it’s the same amendment, different day.

(1230)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I would like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

May I move another amendment?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It’s that Bill C-81, in clause 207, be amended by replacing lines 28 and 29 on page 301 with the following, “206, come into force on the 30th day after the day on which this Act receives royal assent.”

Again, the current coming into force provision does not require the government to act. Additionally, if the clause is left as is, according to the Statutes Repeal Act, this act would be automatically repealed within 10 years of receiving royal assent.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Can we ask Mr. Van Raalte what the practices normally are in these instances in terms of the dates coming into effect and whether there’s a rationale for this?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

There are a range of practices. Some pieces of legislation are left to the discretion of the Governor in Council. Some pieces of legislation have different coming into force dates for different sections, depending on the requirements.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

That will remain silent on it now?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

The Governor in Council will come forward with a coming into force date.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Make a determination, thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Further to that, is there a timeline when the Governor in Council does bring forward that timeline or that date? Do we have that, then?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, as the bill sits now, my understanding is there is no timeline.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Right, that’s how I understand it too, but we just heard in an explanation that this was going to be provided later, a timeline.

Is that not what you just said, Mr. Van Raalte, that a timeline would be provided later?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

The Governor in Council will have to come forward, publish through the Canada Gazette, with the coming into force date.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

There is no requirement right now. Nothing changes. That explanation doesn’t change our situation at all. We still have nothing. We still don’t have any dates for anything required.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, as it sits now, the bill will sunset in 10 years if there are no steps taken or regulations or anything in force. However, from Mr. Van Raalte, that possibly could change.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay, that’s all. I wanted to make sure we heard.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We request a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We believe that clause 207 in Bill C-81 should be voted down. We have tried to improve it, through a few amendments here, and that didn’t work so we weren’t able to improve it. Again, the current coming into force provision does not require the government to act. Additionally, if the clause is left as is, according to the Statutes Repeal Act this act would be automatically repealed within 10 years of receiving royal assent.

(1235)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It will be a recorded vote.

(Clause 207 agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I’d like to ask my colleagues if we could get unanimous consent for a subamendment to LIB-19, which we missed earlier, just for consistency.

A voice: No.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will move on to the preamble. We had a couple of amendments proposed earlier in the process last night that were withdrawn, dealing specifically with the interpretation of indigenous peoples of Canada. That was LIB-3, so it was very early on in the process.

We have two proposed amendments as part of the preamble, LIB-69 and CPC-58, but they are deemed to be inadmissible because they deal with the preamble but there is no coordinating part of the bill itself. You can’t have something in the preamble that doesn’t have a coordinating portion or amendment within the bill itself.

Does anybody need any additional clarification on that?

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, I think we need clarification. What about paragraphs (b) and (c) of amendment LIB-69?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That amendment is coming up next as CPC-59, which would be almost identical to what you’re proposing, but that CPC amendment would have precedence over yours because it was submitted prior. It would have to be a new amendment.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Can we just have a moment?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, we’ll suspend for one minute.

(1235)

(1240)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The Liberal amendment is inadmissible, as well as CPC-58.

You could not make an amendment to that one as CPC-59 is pretty much identical and would have precedence.

We now move to CPC-59.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

This is an amendment to the preamble to change “Canadians” to “persons in Canada”. The change is necessary to help ensure that everyone in Canada, regardless of their citizenship, status or identification with Canada, gets benefits from accessibility requirements under the act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, Ms. Hardcastle, this amendment is identical to yours right after. If you want to make a comment, I would suggest you do it now.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay. As it reads now, somebody could interpret that if they’re in Canada but are not a Canadian, the rules don’t apply to them either way. I think it’s pretty simple and straightforward.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

I would move a subamendment to strike “abilities or” in part (b) of CPC-59.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, so it would just be “regardless of their disabilities”.

Is there any discussion on the proposed subamendment?

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I had a similar amendment early on, and there was some debate. Didn’t we keep that in? We kept “abilities” in for some reason, or did that…?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We took it out.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

We did? Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I believe that we were keeping “disabilities” throughout the bill to retain that consistency, so “abilities” was removed in favour of “disabilities”, if I recall correctly.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): I have to commend all of you on your diligence. We’re almost there. We just have the last few to go.

(Preamble as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the short title carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the title carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the bill as amended carry?

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

First of all, I am very disappointed that this bill does not have teeth. We heard very clearly from our stakeholders that they cared about timelines, about accountability, about transparency, about ease of accessibility, about having one body to oversee complaints, about enforcement—all of that. Two amendments were adopted that weren’t Liberal amendments, but I’m disappointed that this seemed to turn into a partisan issue and what the minister wanted—we heard that a couple of times, that “the minister wanted this”.

We serve Canadians. We serve our stakeholders. I’m terribly disappointed that we brought them in here. We heard them speak passionately. These are people who have lived with disabilities. They lack accessibility to the majority of everything. That they were being heard at the table was historical, in the sense of groundbreaking. I’m just so disappointed that we as a committee couldn’t add more teeth.

(1245)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I know intimately that in the disabilities community people are very pleased to be asked and to be engaged, and they are actually very easy to please. They’ve done without so much and they have so many struggles; they take what they can get.

They are watching closely today. They know some of the fundamental problems with this bill, one of them being that the government can exempt itself from many of these regulations; another being the splintering of implementation and enforcement, which is really insensitive to the actual, lived experience of people living with disabilities. The bill needed to be greatly simplified. However, I know that people are going to be ecstatic. They’re going to want to see us be diligent in moving forward on this.

I’m feeling very mixed emotions right now for people, just because we had expected that in earnest we were going to come here to debate these amendments. It was very clear that there was a preconceived notion of what should be happening and an agenda, which has been realized, that really didn’t take into account that testimony.

I know it sounds harsh, but I need to say this in a very clear and concise way, because we have stakeholders listening who are very frustrated and who want to have an acknowledgement that we know that they know that we know that they know that these amendments and the language in this bill do not meet their needs sufficiently.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Since we’re all having a say here, I first of all want to thank all the stakeholders in the disability community for the months of consultations that went on to get us to where we are today. We heard testimony and recommendations for amendments from multitudes of people, and we put forward 69 of our own amendments. Many of them were very similar to what the opposition had put forward, but which were improved upon.

While it’s easy to say right now that there’s disappointment, I think there’s excitement for what we have accomplished.

We heard from every witness who came through that while they wanted to see amendments, they were excited that we were moving forward. This is the end result. On our side we heard, we listened and we made adjustments to the legislation.

I want to thank everybody for all their hard work and for getting us to where we are today.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

It is a start, I would say, but it falls far below the bar. We could have done far better. I think we Conservatives fought very hard to try to get some real teeth, but this is really like a toothless guard dog.

I believe that the Liberals are failing Canadians with disabilities. I think the fact that there are no implementation timelines is a huge thing. It’s just unacceptable. We certainly heard some pretty strong language from the countless witnesses who came here. I was quite shocked at how strong their language was, but they’re the people we are trying to serve. We listened to them and I truly don’t think that, overall, they were heard.

It is not nearly as good as it could be, and I’m quite disappointed. The very fact that there are no timelines and there are exemptions where entities can get out of even having to deal with the bill is shameful, I think.

Of the amendments, how many were taken? Two or three, perhaps, were taken of the 60 amendments that I think would have improved the bill. It’s quite disappointing. As I say, it’s a start, but it falls far below the bar.

(1250)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

The timelines and extensions have been referenced a number of times, and I think there’s a lot more commonality than is being portrayed.

There are a number of principles that we talked about, and the principles can be implemented in a number of different fashions. Not everything should be in legislation. We’ve referred to the standards, the practices and to accreditation. All of those are important variables in the provision of any types of disabilities.

I was an active participant in the development of disabilities legislation in British Columbia, where we created Community Living B.C. We went through a very similar process and we relied heavily upon input from the people who were part of it. Any good public policy has to have the people who it impacts having not just an important say in it, but also a say in the process by which it becomes implemented.

I believe we have followed the majority of principles that have been put forward. I think there is pretty good agreement on both sides of the House, or all around the House, in terms of those principles. I think there’s a disagreement in terms of how they can best be implemented to respond most effectively to the needs of making our country most accessible.

We heard many people coming before us say that we are leading the world in terms of moving forward with this legislation. We’re really at the forefront and I think we should be relying on those people who have the ability and the skills within the framework of the legislation, and the practices and the accreditation that we have available to us. I think we have come to a very good balance in terms of being able to do that.

I’m very pleased, delighted and darned excited about what we’ve been able to achieve.

An hon. member: Hear, hear!

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Chair, thank you for your leadership over the last two days. It’s very much appreciated.

Certainly on behalf of my riding and on behalf of countless groups across New Brunswick, and in particular southern New Brunswick, we are absolutely thrilled to move forward with Bill C-81.

I’m proud to be part of a government that is moving forward with this legislation after what I would call the previous government’s 10 years of non-action—no action. I’m very proud of Bill C-81 and the movements we are taking to move this forward.

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion?

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

I’d like to add that you did a marvellous job as the chairperson. You handled that extremely well.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks very much.

Now we will continue on with the vote.

Shall the bill as amended carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the chair report the bill as amended to the House?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the committee order a reprint of the bill as amended for the House at report stage?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Excellent.

Well done, everyone.

I appreciate everyone’s support to get us through what I have to say is probably a pleasant surprise to all of us, to get this done as expediently as we did.

Certainly, my final comments would be that our thoughts are with Bryan May and his family. I know he was watching last night. Apparently, he is a glutton for punishment.

But, again, just on the number of amendments that were brought through on Bill C-81, I think all of us saw that there was work to do on this bill to ensure it met the goals that were brought forward by our stakeholders. I think as parliamentarians, and as this committee, it now behooves us to ensure that we hold this government, and whatever the next government is, accountable to ensure that they follow through with what we heard from our stakeholders and certainly from the discussions we had here among us as a committee.

Thank you very much for everyone’s commitment to this.

Thank you very much to the staff, the clerk and our legislative clerks who guided me through this over the last two days.

I hope everybody has a great constituency week and spends some time with their family and friends.

The meeting is adjourned.



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