Ontario Human rights Reform - A call to Action
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
Come To A Toronto Public Event Where Bill 107 To Be Discussed
and More Media Coverage Of Bill 107
July 11, 2006
Here’s what’s new:
1. You are invited and encouraged to come to a community event on July 18, 2006, at 5:30 pm, at Toronto City Hall’s Nathan Phillips Square. One of the speakers, AODA Alliance Human rights Reform Representative David Lepofsky, will be addressing the concerns about Bill 107. See the announcement for this event below from the community group sponsoring this public event.
2. The AODA Alliance’s concerns regarding Bill 107 received more positive media coverage last week. This came in the wake of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s news conference about accessibility issues at fast food chains.
Our coverage included newspaper, radio and television. Below is an article which appeared in the July 7, 2006 Ottawa Citizen. The same article also appeared in the Windsor Star. There is also a brief reference to this issue in the July 7, 2006 Toronto Star article below.
3. We want to give you the “heads up” about a forthcoming email update from the AODA Alliance. In the next few days, we hope to circulate for your feedback and input a draft brief on Bill 107. Using the successful practice of the AODA Alliance’s predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, we are developing a detailed draft full of analysis of Bill 107 and suggested recommendations for amendments.
We emphasize that what we will be sending out to you, hopefully later this week, is only a draft. It has not yet been adopted by the AODA alliance. We will ask for your thoughts and suggestions. Your feedback will be incorporated into the AODA Alliance’s final brief. We plan to have the brief finalized later this summer.
We hope that this forthcoming draft brief will help you develop your own presentations to the Legislature’s Standing Committee on Justice Policy, when it holds its public hearings on Bill 107. We are eager for as many as possible, both individuals and organizations, to freely borrow from, use, and improve upon ideas we include in this draft. Stay tuned!
Come celebrate this day with us. Please bring your friends and family. There will be some fabulous speakers and performers!!
SIMPLY PEOPLE 2006
CELEBRATING OUR LIVES & IDENTITIES
3rd annual disability celebration for all to attend!
This FREE outdoor event will feature several guest speakers and a diversity of performers.
Tuesday, July 18th, 2006 from 5:30PM to 8:00PM
Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto (Queen St. W. & Bay St.)
Guest Speakers - City of Toronto Mayor David Miller, Toronto City Councillor Joe Mihevc, Disability Rights Activist/Advocate David Lepofsky (Human Rights
Reform Representative for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance)
Performers - Libby Thaw and the Houseband, Christina Doyle, Emma Cook, Last Friday, Luna
NOTE: ASL interpretation and attendant care will be provided.
If you have any questions/concerns or if you have any other particular accessibility requirements, please contact Uzma Khan at:
This event is brought to you by Canada-Wide Accessibility for Post-Secondary Students (CANWAPSS) with the assistance of the University of Toronto Access
Centre / Students For Barrier-free Access (UTAC/SFBA) and Microcomputer Science Centre Inc.
Ottawa Citizen July 7, 2006
Disabled rights set to suffer, advocate says: Ontario tribunal's loss of power would hurt restaurant access, group fears
TORONTO - Fast-food chains and other restaurants will be under less pressure to improve accessibility for disabled customers if the Ontario Liberal government
proceeds with changes that strip the Ontario Human Rights Commission of its investigative and enforcement functions, a leading disabled-rights advocate
"What is important is that you have a major law-enforcement agency, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, that can bring 26 fast-food chains to the table
and get from them a range of commitments," David Lepofsky told reporters following the release of the commission's latest report on restaurant accessibility.
"What brings those organizations to the table is (that) it's a good thing to do, but also the fact that the Human Rights Commission can back its position
with a threat of enforcement proceedings," Mr. Lepofsky said.
He says the Liberal government's human-rights bill would remove the commission's investigative powers and most of its prosecution powers, making it "way
less effective -- therefore less threatening -- at the bargaining table."
Mr. Lipofsky, a spokesman for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, suggested the changes proposed by Ontario Attorney General
Michael Bryant are supported by only a "small group of lawyers who do human-rights cases." The proposed measures have come under fire from representatives
of the poor and minorities, including the Canadian Arab Federation.
Ontario Human Rights commissioner Barbara Hall has also expressed concern.
"There are many questions and details that are not a part of the legislation, and we, together with others, are asking to have those details so that we
can be sure that the bill meets the needs of Ontarians who face discrimination," she said yesterday.
The Human Rights Commission accepts complaints from individuals who feel they have been victims of discrimination. It has the power to investigate such
claims, to try to mediate a settlement and to send cases to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for a full hearing. Commission lawyers oversee the cases
so that complainants do not need to hire lawyers.
Bill 107, which last month passed second reading in the Ontario legislature, would require people to file discrimination complaints directly to the human
rights tribunal with the help and representation of lawyers from a vaguely defined legal-support centre that so far does not have a budget. The commission
would refocus on public education and advocacy related to issues of systemic discrimination, rather than specific cases.
Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ministry of the attorney general, said the restaurant-accessibility issue "is precisely what we want to see the commission
doing more of, and it's our position that Bill 107 frees the commission to do more of that."
Mr. Crawley said the changes "are all about modernizing and strengthening the human-rights system in Ontario to better prevent discrimination and resolve
complaints more quickly and efficiently." Mr. Bryant has insisted that the four-to-five years it takes some cases to go through the current process is
Mr. Bryant has indicated he is open to amendments to the proposed legislation, and legislative-committee hearings will be held Aug. 8-10 in Thunder Bay,
London, Ont., and Ottawa. Additional hearings are planned for Toronto in the fall.
The commission report released yesterday said 26 fast-food and restaurant chains ranging from Tim Horton's to McDonald's have now committed to taking five
steps aimed at making their stores more accessible to the disabled. Those commitments include identifying and removing existing barriers and developing
standard accessibility plans for future locations.
McDonald's Restaurants of Canada president Louie Mele said 20 new stores in Ontario include a full range of accessibility features, including automatic
doors, movable chairs at restaurant tables, large-print and high-contrast menus, and wheelchair-accessible washrooms.
"All our restaurants are under a five-year plan to get renovated like this one," Mr. Mele said, referring to the Toronto location where the press conference
"As we rebuild restaurants, this is what they are going to look like."
The Toronto Star July 7, 2006
Can do more for disabled Athlete; Paralympian asks for 'open doors' Complying would also help seniors
If Greece can put an elevator in the ancient Acropolis, surely Ontario restaurants can also be made accessible, says paralympian Jeff Adams.
Canada's gold medallist wheelchair racer was at yesterday's release of the Ontario Human Rights Commission report on restaurant accessibility.
But making it possible for people, regardless of disability, to get in and around restaurants isn't just about helping the 1.5 million disabled Ontarians,
"The accessibility I need is the same accessibility a parent pushing a stroller needs. When you make something accessible for me, you also open the door
for (others)," Adams said. Automatic doors, needed for power wheelchairs, also make it easier for seniors who cannot handle heavy doors, for example.
Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall released the report, Moving Toward Barrier-Free Service, outlining the commitments and progress of 26 restaurant
chains, including McDonald's, Subway, Starbucks and Tim Hortons.
Madeleine Meilleur, the minister responsible for Ontarians with disabilities, hopes "other organizations will take their lead from these forward-thinking
Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, people with disabilities have a legal right to access premises with dignity and without impediment.
"We can have every person in every individual restaurant experiencing a barrier and then filing a complaint, clearly a lengthy, costly, cumbersome process,"
Hall said, explaining why the commission has worked for five years to get restaurants to comply voluntarily.
Each restaurant is different, so there aren't any estimates about what it would cost to make them all more accessible, said Michelle Saunders of the Ontario
Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association.
Some fear that a controversial bill before the Legislature will take away the commission's ability to force businesses to comply with the code if they don't
do so voluntarily.