ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
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UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO
ANDREW PINTO REFUSES TO READ THE AODA ALLIANCE'S SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEF TO THE PINTO HUMAN RIGHTS CODE REVIEW – AODA ALLIANCE URGES MR. PINTO TO RECONSIDER THAT DECISION – AND MORE MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE PINTO REVIEW
April 24, 2012
On April 12, 2012 the AODA Alliance submitted a supplemental brief to the Andrew Pinto Human Rights Code Review. The McGuinty Government appointed Toronto lawyer Andrew Pinto to conduct an Independent Review of how effectively human rights are enforced in Ontario.
On April 16, 2012, we received an email from Mr. Pinto's assistant. It states that Mr. Pinto has refused to read our supplemental brief, because it was delivered after Mr. Pinto's stated deadline for receiving submissions. We set out that email below.
On April 24, 2012 we wrote to Andrew Pinto to urge him to reconsider his decision. We believe it is important for him to read our supplemental brief.
In related news, we set out below three additional news articles on the Pinto Review, all from the Thunder Bay media. Back on December 23, 2012, the Pinto Review announced public hearings around Ontario, including public hearings in Thunder Bay to be held on February 23, 2012. On February 7, 2012, Mr. Pinto announced that he was cancelling the February 23, 2012 Thunder Bay public hearings because he got so little response to his invitation for public presentations there.
We objected to his cancelling those public hearings, and felt they had been poorly publicized. We took this issue to the Thunder Bay media. After that, Mr. Pinto reversed his cancellation, and scheduled public hearings for April 4, 2012 in Thunder Bay.
We earlier reported that CBC Thunder Bay had covered the initial cancellation of those hearings in February. We learned since then that there was also coverage of this in the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal. We set out below the February 21, 2012 article in that newspaper.
On March 27, 2012 the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal reported on the restoration of the Pinto Review's Thunder Bay public hearings. We set out that article below.
Finally, on April 4, 2012, Thunder Bay's Newswatch reported on the actual Thunder Bay public hearings themselves. We set out the text of that report below. As you read it, you can see why it was so important for us to press for the Pinto Review to restore its cancelled ublic hearings in Thunder Bay.
You can download our main March 1, 2012 brief to the Pinto Review in MS Word format by visiting: http://www.aodaalliance.org/docs/march%201%202012%20entire%20final%20aoda%20alliance%20brief%20to%20andrew%20pinto%20human%20rights%20code%20review.doc
You can download our April 12, 2012 supplemental brief to the Pinto Review in MS Word format by visiting: http://www.aodaalliance.org/docs/AODA-Brief-to-Pinto-Review.doc
You can find more background on the pinto Human Rights Code Review by visiting: http://www.aodaalliance.org/reform/default.asp
Send us your feedback on any or all of this information. Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
APRIL 16, 2012 EAMIL TO THE AODA ALLIANCE FROM THE ANDREW PINTO HUMAN RIGHTS CODE REVIEW
Dear Mr. Lepofsky:
The Review is not accepting supplementary written submissions from organizations or individuals; therefore the supplementary brief that you sent on April 12, 2012 will not be considered. Regrettably, Mr. Pinto only became aware today that you attempted to submit a supplementary brief last week when he checked the junk mail folder of his email.
I'm sure you will appreciate that it is impractical to permit organizations to file multiple submissions to the Review well past established deadlines. We note that the AODA Alliance submitted an extremely lengthy brief that was well over 100 pages in length. As well, the AODA Alliance has engaged in detailed correspondence with the three human rights agencies and copied the Review on this correspondence. Mr. Pinto also had a two hour stakeholder meeting with your group. The AODA Alliance's concerns are important to the Review however, having received approximately 60 written submissions it would be unfair and impractical to now make an exception for your organization.
Thank you for your participation in the Review.
On behalf of the Chair
393 University Avenue, Suite 2000
Toronto, ON M5G 1E6
AODA ALLIANCE'S APRIL 23, 2012 LETTER TO THE PINTO REVIEW
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
New Email Address: email@example.com
April 24, 2012
Andrew Pinto, Chair
Ontario Human Rights Review
393 University Avenue, Suite 2000
Fax: (416) 593-4923
Dear Mr. Pinto,
Re: Independent Review of Bill 107's Privatizing of Human Rights Enforcement in Ontario
We were very troubled to receive your assistant's April 16, 2012 email. It says you refuse to consider our April 12, 2012 Supplemental Brief to your Review of the Ontario Human Rights Code. We urge you to reconsider your decision. To refuse to read our supplemental brief will not help build public confidence in this Human Rights Code Review.
Our coalition, its predecessor (the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee), and I myself, have taken part in many public consultation processes. We have found such reviews and consultations often open to ongoing input even as they are writing a final report. That was our experience with the 2008-09 Charles Beer Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and with the Ontario Government when holding several public consultations concerning the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
The same is true for the Honourable Rosalie Abella, when she conducted her 1983 inquiry into how Ontario's legal profession served persons with disabilities and her 1985 commission into employment equality. In each, she convened lively stakeholder round table discussions as she finalized her recommendations.
As well, our Supplemental Brief covers new information we obtained, after we submitted our main March 1, 2012 brief. We could not have anticipated it before your March 1, 2012 deadline.
For example, our supplemental brief addresses the Human Rights Legal Support Centre's 2008-09 and 2010-11 Annual Reports. The Centre unjustifiably withheld disclosing those reports until the March 1, 2012 afternoon. We received them that day after we sent you our main brief. As you know, we were trying to get those Annual Reports since as far back as November 14, 2011.
Our supplemental brief also addresses criticisms of us that the Human Rights Legal Support Centre publicly levelled at us, and copied to you, in its March 13, 2012 letter to us. That letter included, among other things, statistical data we had not earlier seen. That letter was sent to us almost two weeks after we submitted our March 1, 2012 brief to you. We cannot be expected to have answered those criticisms of us, before we knew about them.
Our supplemental brief also synthesizes and supplements responses to issues you raised at our March 2, 2012 Stakeholder Meeting. That meeting was the day after we submitted our main brief.
For example, at our Stakeholder Meeting, you raised the possibility that the Government's broken 2006 promise of free publicly-funded lawyers for all human rights applicants was superseded or otherwise outside your Review's mandate, because the Government defeated a 2006 opposition motion to amend Bill 107 to enshrine that promise in law. We had not anticipated that line of argument. At our Stakeholder Meeting we offered a spontaneous response. With further reflection, we had added points to make. Our supplemental brief synthesizes these. If your final Report decides that the Government's breach of that promise is outside your Review's mandate or is in some other way superseded, without your considering our supplemental brief on that issue, this won't strengthen your final report.
We jammed as much information as we could into our two-hour Stakeholder Meeting. We had lots left over. We offered to meet with you again. To date, you have not accepted that offer.
In addition, to read our supplemental brief won't delay your final report. At our Stakeholder Meeting, we asked you to extend your submissions deadline. You said you first wanted to review submissions received and that you won't "artificially do one thing or the other" You said that you would not extend the deadline to avoid the criticism that your time lines are too short. You also said you were not going to do the opposite i.e. not extend the deadline, out of fear of criticism. You said you would be open and transparent, that you had limited time and want to put appropriate time into your report. You weren't inclined to extend the deadline but hadn't firmly decided. You said you'd decide in the next few days, and that we'd be the first to know.
We've seen no announced final decision on whether you would extend your deadline. However, since then, you held more Stakeholder Meetings past your announced plans to restrict them to the first week of March. As well, since then, you restored your cancelled Thunder Bay public hearings. You held them on April 4, 2012, just eight days before we submitted our supplemental brief. Your public hearings were originally slated to be wrapped up before the end of February.
As mentioned earlier, on March 13, 2012, almost two weeks after your deadline for receiving written submissions, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre sent us a very detailed letter. It criticized certain points in our main brief and related website posting. The Centre's copying that letter to you and posting it on its Government-funded website (which bears the Government of Ontario logo) makes it clear that it serves as a very public written submission to you by the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.
You have not indicated to us that you refused to read the Centre's letter at all, much less that you did so due to its being sent after the March 1, 2012 submissions deadline. To the contrary, your assistant's April 16, 2012 email to us unconditionally acknowledges this correspondence: "As well, the AODA Alliance has engaged in detailed correspondence with the three human rights agencies and copied the Review on this correspondence."
In fairness, if you were prepared to read the Centre's March 13, 2012 letter to us, copied to you, then you should also read and consider our April 11, 2012 letter that responds to the Centre (also copied to you). If you read our April 11, 2012 letter to the Centre, then you can read our Supplemental Brief that was submitted the very next day. That brief incorporates and builds upon those letters. We should not have to now paste our Supplemental brief into a letter to the Centre, and copy that letter to you, for you to read it.
It would be understandable if you wanted to speak to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, Commission and/or Tribunal after your submissions deadlines passed, to get responses to issues the public raised with you. If you did so, then that too would show that you were open to receiving further input after your March 1 deadline. For that reason, it would be helpful to know whether you have had any discussions since March 1, 2012 with any representatives of the Human Rights Commission, Tribunal or Legal Support Centre.
You will have ample time to complete this Review on time. A media report said that you hope to finish your Report by this spring. However under section 57 of the Ontario Human Rights Code, you have up to August to finish it. It would be unfair to set a premature deadline for finishing the report, and for that deadline to then stop you from reading our supplemental brief.
Your assistant's April 16, 2012 email says you received some 60 submissions. That is not so massive a volume that a 61st would present an undue hardship for you to read. Our Supplemental Brief has 18 pages of new submissions. It also includes the letters between us and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre described above.
Your assistant's email states: "I'm sure you will appreciate that it is impractical to permit organizations to file multiple submissions to the Review well past established deadlines." We do not agree. Your assistant wrote "…it would be unfair and impractical to now make an exception for your organization." We see no reason why not. We doubt many others asked for such an extension. If you don't want to create an "exception" just for us, you can announce that any others can do the same. Back on February 7, 2012, you were prepared to retroactively extend the January 23 deadline for signing up for your public hearings.
We invested a great deal of effort in preparing submissions for you. Our main brief has been supported by others beyond the AODA Alliance itself. Your Review is not a formal court proceeding, bound by rigid rules and inflexible limitation periods. We ask you, out of respect for our efforts, to take the time to read our Supplemental Brief.
David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont.
Chair, AODA Alliance
cc: Michael Gottheil, Executive Chair,
Social Justice Tribunals Ontario
Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner,
Ontario Human Rights Commission
Kathy Laird, Executive Director,
Human Rights Legal Support Centre
David Wright, Associate Chair,
Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal
City News, Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Access review session cancelled
NORTH SHORE BUREAU
A group that works to ensure disabled people have access to services says a province-wide review into Ontario's human rights system shouldn't have cancelled a forum in Thunder Bay that was supposed to have taken place on Thursday.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) alliance said if review organizers were concerned about a low turnout in Thunder Bay, it's because the event wasn't publicized enough in advance of the forum.
"We do not believe that there is a lack of interest in the effectiveness of Ontario's human rights enforcement system in Thunder Bay and Northwest Ontario," the group said in a news release. Review organizers "announced public forums' dates and cities back on the eve of the December holidays. That is a standard government tactic for ensuring that the announcement is overlooked by many," the release added.
In August last year, the province appointed Toronto human rights lawyer Andrew Pinto to assess Ontario's human rights system and offer advice for "enhancing the effectiveness" of it. Hearings have occurred this month in Windsor, London, Toronto and Ottawa, and are to take place today in Sudbury.
Online written submissions can be made to the Pinto review, by March 1, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal March 27, 2012
Review panel to be in Thunder Bay on April 4
BY CARL CLUTCHEY
NORTH SHORE BUREAU
Anyone wanting to participate in a review of human rights enforcement in the province can so do during a hearing next week in Thunder Bay.
A review into the enforcement process headed by Toronto lawyer Andrew Pinto was supposed to hold a hearing in Thunder Bay on Feb. 23. But the event was postponed because of an apparent lack of interest. Pinto, who was appointed by the attorney general’s office last August, said Monday he later determined that there is sufficient interest to justify the expense of a Thunder Bay hearing.
The Toronto-based Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance protested the February cancellation, which received some media coverage.
Alliance chairman David Lepofsky said Monday that it appears to him the coverage influenced the decision to reschedule the Thunder Bay hearing.
Hearings have already been held in other Ontario cities, including Sudbury. “We’re delighted that they’ve decided to come back to Thunder Bay,” said Lepofsky.
Pinto, a well-respected human rights lawyer, must deliver his report to Ontario’s attorney general within a year of his appointment, but he said he’s aiming to have it complete by early summer.
Lepofsky, who is blind, is known for bringing forward an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal case that ultimately required Toronto Transit Commission drivers to call out the names of streets for passengers.
In 2008, the province began referring anyone with a human rights complaint directly to the tribunal. Before that, cases were reviewed by the Ontario Human Rights Commission and could be referred to the tribunal if the commission deemed them to have merit.
Under the old system, only six per cent of claims submitted to the commission were referred to the tribunal; the rest were mediated by the commission, or found to be without merit. That process was determined to take too long and created backlogs, but it also allowed some complainants to have their cases argued at the tribunal by commission legal counsel if a case was deemed to be in the public interest.
Lepofsky’s group argues that referring complainants directly to the tribunal can leave them at a disadvantage, especially if they don’t have the resources to hire a lawyer. On the other hand, the new “direct access model” allows complainants who previously might have been turned down by the commission to pursue their case at the tribunal.
Thunder Bay’s hearing is to take place April 4 at the Victoria Inn. The session is to run from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
April 4 2012 from website tbnewswatch.com.doc
Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com
PHOTO: Human Rights Review chairman Andrew Pinto speaks at a public meeting Wednesday at the Victoria Inn.
A lack of access to and the delivery of public services to the province’s Aboriginal people is a growing concern for many local organizations.
“The province seems to be moving towards an automated approach to service delivery and that effectively eliminates the greater majority of Aboriginal people simply because a lot of Aboriginal people don’t have access to phone, Internet connection or a computer,” said Deanna Therriault, housing policy analyst for the Ontario Native Women’s Association.
ONWA was just one of several organizations that had representatives attend an Ontario Human Rights Review meeting at the Victoria Inn Wednesday.
More than 30 people attended the meeting to express their concerns and ideas about human rights issues.
Therriault said the majority of people discussing Aboriginal issues at the meeting commented on the need for an Aboriginal-specific policy. She wants to see the initiation of a human rights strategic framework for Aboriginal people.
“There needs to be some relationship development between the province and the Aboriginal community,” she said.
“There are aspects of the (human rights) code that are not inclusive of Aboriginal people, specifically the delivery and access of support.”
Ontario Human Rights Review chairman Andrew Pinto has been travelling the province meeting with various community groups and the general public to find out what the major human rights issues facing Ontarians are.
He said Thunder Bay has many regional issues, but what he heard Wednesday was that many Aboriginal communities face challenges of accessing the system.
He also heard the formal legal system is daunting to many marginalized people.
“They really feel intimidated by filling out complex forms or putting their experience into a formal legal setting,” Pinto said.
That causes people to not proceed with their complaint, causing them to live with discrimination or harassment.
“I’m looking for creative ways to bridge that gap and at the same time accept that we can’t change the human rights legal system overnight,” he said
Once the public consultations are complete, Pinto will sort through that information along with issues raised in various stakeholder meetings and more than 50 written submissions he has received and then write a report of recommendations to be given to the provincial government.