We hope you are
all enjoying a well-deserved rest after last fall's frantic
pace of ODA activity. We plan to swing into action with a new Action
Kit in a
couple of weeks. However we wanted to update you in the meantime on
ODA media coverage. This coverage helps sustain our momentum even
when we take
that well-deserved break, and rest up for the next phase.
* The January
21, 2001 Toronto Star editorial which talks
about the inadequate ODA as one indication of our need to gain ground
on the battle for equality.
* An "Op-Ed"
or guest column in the January 28, 2002 Oxford County Sentinel Review.
January 28, 2002 by Bette Jones.
* A letter to
the editor in the January 24, 2002 Kitchener- Waterloo Record by Cathy
* A letter to
the editor in the January 13, 2002 London Free Press by Mary
* A letter to
the editor in the January 7, 2002 London Free Press by Shirley
* An article in
the University of Toronto Law Faculty newspaper "Ultra
Vires" from January 2002 by Mindy Noble and Pauline Rosenbaum.
* An "Op-Ed"
Column in the December 20, 2001 Toronto Star by Barbara
* A translation
of an article which appeared in Korean in the Korea
Times, a Korean Canadian newspaper, on November 7, 2001.
January 21, 2002
ground in battle for equality
of Rights states clearly that "every individual is equal before and
under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal
benefit of the law without discrimination and in particular, without
discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion,
sex, age or mental or physical disability."
Real life doesn't
work that way.
There has always
been a gap between what the law says and what actually happens. What
is frightening, for the 4.6 million Canadians with disabilities, is
that it is getting wider - and no one seems to care.
Three recent cases
have highlighted that trend:
- A lawyer representing
the immigration department told the court this month that Ottawa had
every right to turn down a disabled woman's request to live and work
is married to a Canadian citizen, has two post-graduate degrees and
extensive work history. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
11 years ago.
According to federal
lawyer Debra McAllister, Chesters might someday impose an "excessive
demand" on Canada's health and social services.
This is not discrimination,
McAllister insisted. It is a legitimate way of ensuring the sustainability
- Last week, VIA
Rail Canada, a government-owned corporation, refused to widen the
doors of its new high-speed trains to accommodate wheelchairs.
looking at millions of additional dollars" to modify the French-made
rail cars, explained company official Malcolm Andrews.
that the narrow coaches meet industry standards and accommodate some
types of wheelchairs. That is good enough for VIA.
It is not good
enough for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. The non-profit
agency has pleaded with the government to intervene.
David Collenette, to whom VIA Rail reports, has been silent on the
- Last month at
Queen's Park, Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson announced with great
fanfare that Ontario had just passed "Canada's most far-reaching
legislation" for persons with disabilities.
the 1.6 million Ontarians with disabilities didn't see it that way.
The bill didn't
eliminate any of the barriers they faced in their daily lives. It
didn't set a date by which public buildings had to be accessible.
It didn't require stores, restaurants or businesses to become accessible
They begged the
government to strengthen the bill before passing it. Jackson blithely
These sorts of
rebuffs hurt. The lack of any public outcry hurts even more.
It is tough to
fight for equality from a wheelchair, especially when many of the
country's courtrooms are inaccessible.
Despite the courage
and determination of those who do challenge discriminatory treatment,
individuals with disabilities are losing ground in Canada.
The reason is
simple: Public officials think it is safe to ignore a vulnerable,
It is up to able-bodied,
fair-minded Canadians to let their governments know that it is not
safe, not acceptable and not right.
County Sentinel Review
January 28, 2002
is government to the disabled?
I read with interest
the column written by MPP Ernie Hardeman on Jan. 18, 2002.
He stated that health-care funding has been this government's number
priority and yet I received a letter from Cheshire Home Care of London
that some services would be cut off, such as grocery shopping as a
job, meal preparation and respite hours due to lack of funds. It is,
has been my understanding that it was less expensive to keep people
homes than to institutionalize them, not to mention the effect on
who may end up in institutions.
I also read that
this government had passed Canada's broadest legislation for
people with disabilities in passing The Ontarians with Disabilities
exactly has this act done for us? It adopted 1 of the 11 principles
the ODA Committee and recognized brain injury as a disability. It
all newly-built government buildings be made barrier-free. As I see
gives us two things -- it can possibly but not probably give us a
job if we are
qualified and we can pay our taxes. All structurally-renovated government
buildings can be made barrier- free but all that takes is the premier's
signature and does not have to be mandated. The other thing mandated
$5000 fine for parking in a handicapped parking zone. This sounds
what they failed to say was this nor anything else applies to the
sector. If the $500 fine had been enforced in the public and private
that would have been sufficient. There is an accessibility advisory
being set up with no time frame given from a letter I received from
Why is this council
I attended by
invitation only back when the then minister of citizenship was in
office along with about 25 other organizations representing the different
disabilities. We were asked to present and submit proposals regarding
barriers for the disabled. These meetings were held all across Ontario.
much more information do they need and what was done with all those
If they were read, they certainly would not have come up with this
ODA. Mike Harris would not meet with the ODA Committee. Does this
anything? I watched with disgust as our own MPP, time after time,
held up his
hand to defeat the very amendments proposed by the opposition that
benefit the disabled the most.
Hardeman, of all
people, should understand our frustrations after accepting a
challenge to be disabled made by myself as the founder and spokesperson
Coalition ROAM (Remove Obstacles to Access and Mobility) in 1997.
included not knowing how we could ride these contraptions, referring
scooters, how good it felt to get up and stretch his legs after only
6 hours of
a day in a wheelchair and scooter and the fact he did not make it
to a washroom
because there was not one he could get into.
If this is Canada's
broadest ODA legislation, then the Harris Tories have
looked to the wrong country for their model as many countries in the
disability legislation that totally surpasses this act.
Thursday, January 24, 2002
Letter to the Editor
Give them a
I found Frank
Etherington's Jan. 19 story about quadriplegic Rocky Boyd,
Quadriplegic Calls Cramped Motel Room Home, to be balanced, fair and
well-researched. Repeatedly, we learn that the crux of a serious problem
and others are facing is the shortage of affordable, barrier-free
people with disabilities. Repeatedly, we learn that Ontarians are
their taxes for the unnecessary barriers to people with disabilities.
with disabilities and their supporters are telling their stories to
newspapers in the desperate hope that the government will be embarrassed
What, we should
all be asking our MPPs, will be any different for people with
disabilities on the waiting lists for housing now that we have an
With Disabilities Act? How will the government make good on its claim
new act will put people with disabilities in "the driver's seat"
on the road to
a barrier-free Ontario?
Given that the
government ignored most of our excellent recommendations for
amendments to Bill 125, and that the new bill does not require the
sector to do anything, I fear that the answers are no closer at hand
were before Dec. 14, 2001.
Member of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee,
January 13, 2002
Letters to the Editor
brunt of under-funding
I read with interest
the letter from Shirley Van Hoof (Access centre cuts the
latest crisis, Jan. 7) concerning the Ontarians with Disabilities
especially with regard to being allotted one bath or shower per week.
have the same criteria. Last summer was extremely hot and humid.
Many of us showered at least once a day and went about our business
air-conditioned environment. Many seniors, paying to be looked after,
have the same advantage. When I asked about this, I was told that
was all they
were allowed under funding by the Ministry of Health.
I wish I could
quote Health Minister Tony Clement on the reasons why, but he
has yet to answer my letter from last July.
Unless you have
a loved one in this situation, the general public has no idea
about health criteria in nursing homes. Sadly, we will all be in this
some time in the future. Think about what living conditions you would
especially if you have no alternative due to no fault of your own.
Monday, January 7, 2002
Letters to the Editor
cuts the latest 'crisis'
in service by the local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC).
While the Ontario
government is bragging about Bill 125, the Ontarians with
Disability Act (ODA), and how persons with disabilities will be treated
dignity, persons under their care at home are only allowed one bath
or shower a
week. If they are incontinent, they are allowed two. No assistance
is given for
sponge baths in between or for housekeeping, including laundry. There
changes, such as decreased nursing visits, but lack of the ability
daily is the biggest insult to our dignity.
The ODA was supposed
to prevent new barriers, but these changes to CCAC service
are the biggest barriers to be erected in years.
97-year-old patients (post-hip replacement), persons with
multiple sclerosis are all subject to these new unreasonable guidelines.
the 1980s all of these people would have qualified for assistance
care as well as housekeeping and laundry. Now, few qualify.
Funding is frozen
at last year's levels while more and more people need the
services, from those prematurely discharged from cash- strapped acute
hospitals to the increasing numbers coping at home with the frailties
of age or
disability. The CCAC has little choice but to chop services to those
the rolls and to refuse to add new people to their rosters as they
discharged from hospital or who need help to stay in their homes.
It seems the government
deliberately crippled community-care access centres by
freezing funding and making it illegal for them to incur deficits.
It seems as
if the ploy, "We must create a crisis," is being used again.
Vires - A Student Newspaper at the University of Toronto Faculty of
Disabilities Act Deficient
by Mindy Noble & Pauline Rosenbaum
The Ontario government
has introduced a bill on equality for people with
disabilities that is akin to old Swiss cheese: stinky and full of
On November 6,
the government finally introduced the legislation that Mike
Harris had promised in his 1995 campaign. After more than six years
government stalling and broken promises, Ontario Citizenship Minister
Jackson introduced Bill 125, "An Act to improve the identification,
prevention of barriers faced by persons with disabilities," commonly
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In the public gallery were many
who have lobbied for this legislation for years, including the chair
of the ODA
Committee, David Lepofsky. This bill was the first in Ontario's history
provided to the Legislature in Braille, audiotape, electronic disc
According to the
government, the bill aims to ensure for persons with
disabilities "the right to lead lives with dignity and quality,
seeking the same rights to experience the same fullness of opportunity,
experience and participation as all other members of our Society."
portrayal of the bill suggests an increased emphasis on collaboration
consultation with persons with disabilities across the province, so
diverse experiences, needs and abilities can be represented in public
In addition, the
bill aims to ensure that provincial and municipal governments,
as well as all public sector employers and service providers, plan
accessibility and equity for persons with disabilities. All of these
could serve to break down attitudinal and physical barriers that are
impeding participation and equality for persons with disabilities.
Bill 125 could
be an important step towards equality in Ontario. The right to
participate in civic, economic and social life is fundamental for
Ontarians. Removing barriers to restaurants, movie theatres and shopping
providing accessible and affordable public transportation - these
only benefit those persons who use wheelchairs, guide dogs, or other
also assist many other members of society, such as parents with strollers,
people with shopping carts, and the elderly.
However, the bill
as it currently stands does not accord with the goals
articulated by the Minister. One of its deficiencies is that it is
retroactive. Moreover, the standards of accessibility are vague. And,
does not address barriers in the private sector. The bill allows for
development of regulations in this area, but places no obligation
government to do so. Finally, the bill requires that a plan be developed
ministries, municipalities and public service organizations and agencies,
as those dealing with transportation. However, it does not require
implementation, and contains no enforcement mechanism or time limit.
The ODA process
and product stand in stark contrast to the Americans with
Disabilities Act. Over a decade ago, that legislation mirrored the
barrier removal in transportation, employment, housing and communications.
ADA includes enforcement mechanisms, includes deadlines for changes
public and private sector, as well as fines for those companies or
providers who fail to comply with its requirements.
writes Helen Henderson of the Toronto Star, "Ontario's proposed
law is a masterpiece of waffling. It sets up no mandatory changes,
for accomplishing anything, no means of enforcing anything. For the
responsibility for bringing any ideas to fruition is downloaded on
Aside from these
substantive lacunae, the legislative process itself left much
to be desired. Not only was this legislation over six years in the
its introduction and subsequent proposed "consultation"
showed a blatant
disregard for the expressed needs of the community affected. The government
announced second reading without even one day's notice, ignoring how
it is for people with mobility or sensory impairments to arrange to
get to the
legislature. Arrangements need to be made well in advance, for example
language interpretation, appropriate child care, accessible transportation
Wheeltrans or taxis, and to get Braille or large-print copies of relevant
documents. Moreover, the quick public consultation announcement specifically
went against the request for 3 weeks' notice put forward by the ODA
claims that this bill is the beginning of the consultation
process. That is not good enough. The consultation should be over;
of barriers, with legislated compliance and timelines, should have
implemented by now. Recall that Mike Harris first promised this bill
Recall also that about 3 years ago, the Tories introduced and withdrew
three-page, small-print bill on disability that was not worth the
paper it was
People with disabilities
in Ontario deserve much more than these thin and
flimsy guarantees. The introduction of this bill was the government's
opportunity to show Ontarians that they are committed to ensuring
with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect. Instead, after
years of promises, the government has created a bill that is so full
and so lacking in any enforcement that it suggests a reluctance, if
refusal, to acknowledge and promote full societal integration and
of people living with disabilities in Ontario.
Thursday, December 20, 2001
Don't blame the victims
by Barbara Turnbull
I love movies
and I love to see them in theatres.
That is why I
launched a human rights complaint against Famous Players in 1993.
I use a wheelchair and, at the time, it was operating 10 downtown
not one of which was accessible. Over the years four other disabled
launched complaints that challenged both physical and attitudinal
after suffering humiliating and appalling experiences at various Famous
theatres throughout Toronto.
Over these eight
long years, as we persisted with this battle, things have
changed. New multi-screen, high-tech - and more accessible - movie
have opened. At the same time, Famous Players has been closing its
older theatres, so that the only inaccessible venues remaining were
Backstage, Uptown and Eglinton.
In the case of
the Uptown and Eglinton, they are arguably the city's two
best-loved cinemas, steeped in history and grandeur.
Three months ago,
an independent adjudicator ruled against the cinema chain,
giving it three months to implement a plan that would make its theatres
accessible to everybody.
Last week, the
plan Famous Players filed was to close all three theatres,
causing a reaction that was swift and unforgiving toward "selfish"
Some folks are
under the mistaken impression that any film shown at an
inaccessible venue can be seen at an accessible venue, which is not
the case. The company continues to use these theatres for glitzy premieres
it did this past Monday night for an exclusive screening of The Shipping
The screening, a fundraiser for PEN Canada, was open to able-bodied
According to the
Human Rights Code, businesses should be wheelchair accessible,
unless they show undue financial hardship for making themselves so.
During this whole
process, Famous Players has never said it couldn't afford the
renovations - a legal defence under the code. It refused to disclose
And I highly doubt
the company would now disclose how much it spent fighting
this complaint for eight years. It hired a senior partner from one
most prestigious law firms to head its legal team on this matter.
The hearing alone
stretched over 26 days. That does not include preparation.
That money could have gone a long way toward renovations.
made it clear it is focusing on new theatres and that the older
ones have been losing money. The company admitted as much two years
it would have closed these theatres anyway - just as it has closed
most of the
other small theatres it was operating, even ones that had been made
That was the business decision the company made.
Rather than facing
the public's anger over the announced plan to close these
venerable landmarks, Famous Players appears to have preferred to channel
public's hostility toward the disabled complainants. It must be recognized
the decision of the Ontario Human Rights Commission to require these
was based on due process, in response to legislation that has existed
In fighting for
an effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act - one that would
set standards for these kinds of changes to be made gradually - many
have argued that people like me should not have to go to these lengths
barriers one at a time. They argue that effective legislation encompassing
private sector would in fact create a landscape whereby all business
would eventually provide barrier-free business environments.
proves that they are right.
A fair hearing
decided that Famous Players is wrong, yet I am still denied
Here's a cruel
irony: We were first victimized by the denial of access to these
theatres. We were then victimized by subjection to an eight-year process
vindicate our rights. Now we face a backlash because the public is
left with an
unfair impression that we are to blame for these theatres closing.
should erase the impression that disabled people are to blame
for its business decision.
Wednesday November 7, 2001
FINE FOR PARKING IN A SPOT RESERVED FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.
In the province
of Ontario, if a certificate for parking in a spot reserved for people
with disabilities is lent or counterfeited, the maximum fine is 50
This bill was
presented in a meeting of the provincial legislature ... It applies
only to provincial government buildings so its actual effect is questionable.
In the Province
of Ontario, if a driver without a disability parks in a spot reserved
for a driver with a disability and is detected, whether it is his
fault or not, a $5000 fine must be paid.
The Ontario Citizenship
Ministry presented a disability issues bill in the Ontario Legislature
on November 5, 2001, to increase parking violation fines and create
a committee to focus on disability issues. If this becomes law, then
if one parks in a spot reserved for a disabled person, or lends or
counterfeits a certificate, there is a fine of $500 to $5000. Until
now, if one parked in a spot reserved for a disabled person, the fine
was $ 100. If one did not stop at a cross-walk when a person with
a disability was about to cross, the fine was $90. Cam Jackson, the
Citizenship Minister, said this bill was presented to help broaden
social opportunities and facilitate more independent activity for
1.6 million people with disabilities. Mike Harris, the Premier, promised
this amendment in 1995. Now, six years later, the bill has been presented.
In March 1999,
the Progressive Conservative government was going to present this
bill, but it did not become law because of scheduling problems. The
fact that these strengthened penalties only apply to provincial government
buildings, and municipal or privately-owned facilities will only be
advised to apply them, is being pointed out as the weak point of this
bill. Chairman of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, David
Lepofsky, who is blind, raised questions about the law's real effect
- it does not include any regulation to compel door thresholds to
be lowered for people with disabilities.
said that through public hearings, public opinions will be heard and
relayed to the Committee regarding construction standards for new
buildings, so that people with disabilities can approach buildings
easily and construction rules can be finalized; however, he did not
clearly indicate a date for this. Howard Hampton, Ontario NDP leader,
said that the Human Rights Commission already has the right to examine
construction rules, so the creation of another committee is meaningless.
He claimed that 2/3 of the proposal is not for the improvement of
the rights of people with disabilities, but is public relations propaganda
to ODA Bill 125 Index page