Our Campaign for Strong, Effective Implementation of the AODA

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

AODA ALLIANCE HOLDS JOINT QUEEN’S PARK NEWS CONFERENCE ON THE JUNE 30, 2008 LAUNCH OF BILL 107’S PRIVATIZATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT – UNVEILING LIST OF THE MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT’S 10 COMMITMENTS ON WHAT BILL 107 WILL GIVE YOU, AND INTERNAL GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS CASTING DOUBT ON WHETHER IT WILL DELIVER ON THESE PROMISES

July 2, 2008

On Wednesday, July 2, 2008 the AODA Alliance held a joint news conference with the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. This news conference addressed the June 2, 2008 start-up of Bill 107’s privatization of the enforcement of human rights in Ontario. Below please find below the text of the news release. See the text of the intended presentations distributed at this news conference.

At this news conference, the presenters revealed internal government organization charts of the Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Tribunal and the new Human Rights Legal Support Centre. David Lepofsky had to resort to an application under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain these.

These organization charts, which we understand were given to Human Rights Commission staff in April 2008, show as of then, April (right after the March Ontario Budget was released) the Government’s intended staffing levels for these three agencies. A review of these charts calls into question whether the McGuinty Government can deliver on its major promises regarding Bill 107.

Download the Human Rights Commission’s organization chart (MS Word format).

Download the Human Rights Legal Support Centre’s organization chart (PDF format).

To download the Human Rights Tribunal’s organization chart (MS Word format).

We regret that apart from hard copies one of the three organization charts was only given to us by the Government in PDF format. We got the other two in MS Word format. None is readable via screen-reading software for visually impaired persons. We are posting what we have.

At this news conference, the presenters urged everyone to use this new human Rights system. Call the Human Rights Legal Support Centre if you think you’ve been the victims of discrimination.
Toll Free: 1-866-625-5179.
TTY Toll Free: (416) 314-6651

Ask for the free lawyer to represent you at the Human Rights Tribunal that the McGuinty Government promised. Also, help us monitor how this new system is working. Let us know if you got the free lawyer you were promised to represent you at the Human Rights Tribunal. You can email us about this at a special new email address, which is:
didyougetahumanrightslawyer@rogers.com

We want to keep track of what happens under this new system. Please don’t send us any confidential information. We can’t and won’t be giving advice of any sort to those who email us.

The presenters also released a list of the McGuinty Government’s 10 key commitments on what Bill 107 will deliver to the public, including discrimination victims. See that full list of commitments with quotations to document each, and for some quotations that give a reality check on them.

In summary, the Government has made these 10 commitments:

  1. Commitment of free legal representation for all human rights complainants.
  2. Commitment that the Human Rights Legal Support Centre will investigate the cases of people they represent.
  3. Commitment of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre to meet with everyone who wants legal representation.
  4. Commitment to provide legal services across Ontario.
  5. Commitment of Human Rights Legal Support Centre to pay for expert witnesses for their clients.
  6. Commitment to having human rights cases decided within one year of filing a complaint under Bill 107.
  7. Commitment that legal support to be provided to all regardless of income.
  8. Commitment to establish Anti-Racism Secretariat and Disability Rights Secretariat at the Human Rights Commission.
  9. Commitment that Human Rights Commission will become stronger force for human rights.
  10. Commitment that Bill 107 responds to the Cornish and La Forest reports.

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ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
METRO TORONTO CHINESE AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN LEGAL CLINIC

NEWS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES URGE MCGUINTY TO KEEP COMMITMENTS ON NEW HUMAN RIGHTS PROCESS – BUT REVEALED INTERNAL GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS SHOW THIS DUBIOUS

July 2, 2008, Toronto: At today’s Queens Park news conference, human rights advocates listed Government pledges on Bill 107, launched this week. They questioned if these promises CAN be kept, based on internal government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed today.

Bill 107 privatizes human rights enforcement. It strips from discrimination victims the right to have the Human Rights Commission investigate discrimination cases, and to publicly prosecute IF there’s enough proof. It makes discrimination victims investigate and prosecute their case.

“We’re promised that every discrimination claimant will get a hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal within a year of filing a complaint, and free independent counsel to take their case through the Human Rights Tribunal,” said Avvy Go, Director of the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. “With staffing levels revealed in internal government documents, it’s difficult to see how they’ll do that for the 3,000 cases the Human Rights Tribunal expects each year, plus advising the 60,000 inquiries the Human Rights Commission used to get annually.”

“We’ve been told McGuinty’s new Human Rights Legal Support Centre will investigate their clients’ cases, pay for expert witnesses they need, and meet with everyone who asks for legal representation,” said David Lepofsky, of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. “But that Centre recently couldn’t tell us how many hearings they can annually handle. They conceded they will turn away cases if they think they ‘lack merit.’ That’s what Bill 107’s proponents criticized the Human Rights Commission for doing.“

“The Government promised a stronger, more effective Human Rights Commission, taking public interest cases to the Human Rights Tribunal. They promised to fortify the Commission with new Anti-Racism and Disability Rights Secretariats,” said Prof. Lorne Foster of York University’s School of Public Policy. “Yet we’re releasing internal documents showing the Human Rights Commission plans to lay off up to half its lawyers, and will only have a paltry three investigators to hunt down systemic discrimination across Ontario. We can’t find the promised Secretariats.”

Lepofsky, Go and Foster want the new system to work despite these ominous signs. They urge discrimination victims to actively use the new system, to call the Human Rights Legal Support Centre to ask for the promised free lawyer. Toll Free: 1-866-625-5179. They ask discrimination victims to email to say if they got the McGuinty Government’s promised free human rights lawyer to represent them at the Tribunal: didyougetahumanrightslawyer@rogers.com They urge the media and public to monitor to see if the Government keeps its commitments.

Visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/reform/default.asp