Our Campaign for Strong, Effective Implementation of the AODA

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION ORDERED TO HOLD PUBLIC FORUM ON MEETING NEEDS OF PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES – UPCOMING MAY 20 TTC FORUM A GOOD MODEL FOR ALL ONTARIO TRANSIT AUTHORITIES TO FOLLOW

May 13, 2008

SUMMARY

On May 20, 2008 at 7 p.m., the Toronto Transit Commission will hold a public forum to hear from members of the public on what needs to be done to make TTC services fully accessible to passengers with disabilities. We encourage you to attend. Tell others about this event.

TTC was ordered to hold this forum by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In Lepofsky v. TTC #2, the Tribunal found that TTC violated the human rights of blind TTC passengers by not requiring its bus and streetcar drivers to announce each bus stop. In an order issued on November 21, 2007, the Tribunal ordered TTC to take several steps in an effort to make TTC more responsive to the human rights of passengers with disabilities, beyond announcing all route stops. Among these orders was the following:

“6.      Within six months of this Tribunal’s Order, the TTC will hold an open, accessible and advertised public forum on issues of accessibility and accommodation of persons with disabilities on TTC transit services. It shall hold such forums at least annually for the next three years. This forum will be held outside regular business hours. The Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (“ACAT”) will be invited to attend and co-chair the forum with the TTC. All TTC Commissioners will be required to attend and participate in the forum. The forum will be scheduled so as to allow the attendance of as many members of TTC’s senior management team as is possible. In any event, the Chief General Manager and all senior managers who report directly to him shall be expected to attend this forum. The terms of reference, the participants, TTC staff, and general plans for this forum shall be approved by the Monitor.”

Why did the Tribunal order TTC to hold this public forum? Here are its reasons for this and other remedies that the Tribunal ordered:

“[3]      The Toronto Transit Commission (“TTC”) is a two-time offender. The hearing of this Complaint involving its surface fleet (i.e., buses and streetcars) occurred after my ruling against the TTC in a separate Complaint about subway station stop announcements: 2005 HRTO 20.

[4]      The TTC should have asked themselves many years ago, what can we do to help? How can we accommodate these visually impaired patrons? Instead they resisted with all means at their disposal. Surely they must have realized that it cannot be undue hardship to announce all surface stops when their own policy requires that they announce major stops, and all stops under some circumstances.

[5]      The appropriate remedies are determined with this history in mind.

[6]      In determining the remedies I have also considered that the TTC is a quasi-government agency and that the breaches of the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19 (“Code”) are serious and substantial. Section 41 of the Code allows that the Tribunal fashion remedies to:

1.      rectify past breaches
2.      ensure that the TTC will not breach the Code in the future.

[7]      In his factum, the Complainant argues that:

TTC’s protracted recalcitrance has imposed enormous burdens on Lepofsky. Lepofsky has had to invest an extraordinary number of hours of his time into fighting TTC. This case has required fully six hearing days, plus a substantial amount of time to make his disclosures, review TTC disclosures, and prepare to testify, to cross examine TTC’s witness, to prepare this factum, and to argue the case. This comes after 11 hearing days in TTC #1 [Complaint about subway announcements]. Few have the time for such battles against their own municipal government or its commissions like TTC. Pitted against him are all the public resources the TTC can muster. This will understandably deter most from enforcing their human rights. No one should have to undergo this once, much less twice, just to have their basic human rights respected, even if a complainant is fortunate enough to have legal training and access to generous pro bono legal assistance. The remedies issued in this case should make TTC significantly change how it handles disability accommodation requests in the future, so that Lepofsky or another TTC patron does not have to run this gauntlet again.

[8]      The TTC causes irreparable harm to visually impaired patrons every day it refuses to announce all stops. The Complainant has proven that the TTC is in breach of the Code, notwithstanding its elaborate defence that it provided the appropriate means of accommodating visually impaired patrons.

[9]      I reject the argument that there is in place sufficient safeguards to prevent Code violations. These so called safeguards have not stopped the Code violations nor has the TTC attempted to do so, prior to my ruling.”

During oral argument at the Tribunal in Lepofsky v. TTC #2, TTC opposed Lepofsky’s proposal that it be ordered to hold these public forums. The Human Rights Tribunal rejected TTC’s argument.

It is important to attend this forum. Let TTC know what barriers you experience on TTC and what can be done to fix this. TTC Commissioners and senior staff will be attending to hear your views. This is especially important. At the two human rights hearings brought by David Lepofsky against TTC (the first dealing with announcing subway stops, and the second dealing with announcing bus and streetcar stops) evidence came out showing that senior TTC officials don’t reliably hear about complaints and concerns that persons with disabilities report to TTC via TTC’s public complaints process. TTC had received phoned-in complaints for years about its bus, subway and streetcar drivers not reliably announcing route stops. Yet this information didn’t get conveyed by TTC staff to senior TTC management.

For others around Ontario, this public forum provides a great example of what your local transit authorities should also do to hear from passengers with disabilities. The same goes for other public institutions such as municipalities, hospitals, colleges and universities. Some have held such forums in the past. Others would benefit from doing so.

Send us your feedback at:

aodafeedback@rogers.com

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TTC ACCESSIBILITY and DISABILITY ACCOMMODATION

2008 Public Forum

You are invited to give us ideas on how to make the TTC services and facilities better for our customers with disabilities.

Your comments will be assessed by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation (ACAT).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Canadian National Institute for the Blind
1929 Bayview Ave.

At the corner of Bayview Avenue and Kilgour Road. Regularly scheduled accessible bus service available on the 11 Bayview from Davisville Station.

If you can not attend, but would like to contribute suggestions on TTC conventional and Wheel-Trans services, call 416-393-3030, Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

www.ttc.ca
416-393-INFO