August 2016 Newsletter

August 22, 2016

1. Download, Widely Circulate  and Use the Revised Discussion Paper on What the Canadians with Disabilities Act Could Include

A new and improved Discussion Paper on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act could include, is now available for you to download and read. Written by Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky, this revised Discussion Paper uses the excellent feedback that we received from our supporters who reviewed the earlier draft Discussion Paper that we made public for your feedback this past March. It also addresses key points in the Federal Government’s new Discussion Guide on this proposed legislation. We give you a link to the Federal Government’s helpful Discussion Guide later in this Newsletter.

Happily, this revised Discussion Paper is also shorter than the earlier version. The March version was 48 pages. This revised version is 31 pages of text, and then 2 pages of endnotes.

To download in MS Word format the August 19, 2016 Discussion Paper on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act could include, by Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky click here:

Please circulate this Discussion Paper widely. Use it as much as you want when preparing your feedback to the Federal Government on the proposed Canadians with Disabilities Act during its consultation this fall-winter. Post it on your organization’s website, if you wish. It is there for you to use.

At the end of this Newsletter, we set out a summary of this revised Discussion Paper. In the next weeks, we will be making available for you, additional short, easy-to-use materials, including a list of highlights from the Discussion Paper in plain language.

We extend a hearty thank you to all of those who took the time to look over the earlier draft Discussion Paper and to send us their helpful feedback.

2. The Federal Government’s Public Consultation on the Promised Canadians with Disabilities Act is Now Underway!

Here’s more good news. We again congratulate the Federal Government for launching its public consultation across Canada on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act should include. To read the Federal Government’s new Discussion Guide for its consultation, which includes helpful questions you can answer for the Federal Government.

To keep up to date on the Federal Government’s announcements on the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

Over the period from September 2016 to February 2017., the Federal Government will be holding public forums across Canada to receive your input on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act should include. We will circulate more on these events, once the details are announced.

Earlier this summer, the Federal Government invited community organizations to apply for grants to conduct their own meetings, forums and other efforts, to gather input and feedback for the Federal Government on what the Canadians with Disabilities Act should include. As an unincorporated grassroots community coalition, Barrier-Free Canada did not apply for any of that grant money. However we have offered to partner with any community organization or group of organizations that seeks such grants, to assist in any way we can. We have partnered with more than one applicant for the federal funding. The Federal Government’s rules permit us to do this. We are happy to help anyone and everyone as much as we can.

On Tuesday, August 23, 2016, Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough will be making an announcement regarding the Canadians with Disabilities Act in Whitby Ontario. It is possible that this may include announcements about who will be getting those grants. We don’t know. We have accepted the Federal Government’s invitation to attend this event, and will report on it in an upcoming Newsletter.

Stay tuned this fall as we provide you with tips and tools to make it easy for you to have your say in the Federal Government’s upcoming consultations.

3. Media Coverage this Summer, Boosted by Social Media, Shows Why Canada Needs a Strong, Effectively Enforced Canadians with Disabilities Act

The best way to bring our message to the public, through the mainstream media and through social media, is by focusing attention on individual examples of unfair barriers that people with disabilities daily face in Canada, which a strong Canadians with Disabilities Act could address. We are deeply indebted when individuals bring their stories forward directly to the media, and to the public through social media.

Over the past weeks, a stunning example got a great deal of media attention. It helped highlight the need for the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act.

Mr. Tim Rose recently booked a flight for this September, from Toronto to Cleveland, Ohio with Air Canada. He took the same flight last year. Air Canada had no problem at that earlier time, fitting his wheelchair into the plane’s compartment for passenger luggage. However, this time around, Air Canada has said that it cannot accommodate Mr. Rose and his wheelchair, because its smaller plane cannot transport his wheelchair.

Mr. Rose took to the mainstream media and social media. His story got covered in print, TV and radio, including call-in radio programs. At one point, this story was being discussed on two different Toronto radio stations’ call-in programs at the same time.

Below we set out the August 2, 2016 Toronto Star article on this story. It is typical of the reporting on this subject.

We encourage one and all to bring their barriers stories to the media and to social media. Tim Rose creatively invented a new Twitter hashtag for his story. It has gotten a good amount of action on Twitter. It is:  #wheelchairsarentluggage

As well, in its Ontario-based advocacy efforts, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance created the hashtag #AODAfail for examples of barriers in that province. To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s “Picture Our Barriers” campaign, visit

4. How to Keep in Touch with Barrier-Free Canada

We always like to hear from you. To contact us, please send an email to

To keep abreast of our updates visit

Visit us at
Follow us on Twitter @barrierfreeca
And like us on Facebook at

Donna Jodhan and David Lepofsky, Co-Chairs of Barrier-Free Canada

5. Summary of the August 19, 2016 Revised Discussion Paper on What the Canadians with Disabilities Act Could Include by David Lepofsky

(Note: “CDA” here refers to the Canadians with Disabilities Act)

a) The CDA’s purpose should be to ensure that, as far as Parliament can promote this, the Federal Government will lead Canada to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by a deadline that the law sets. It should effectively implement disability equality rights in the Charter of Rights, the Canada Human Rights Act, and the CRPD, without individuals having to battle barriers one at a time, one organization at a time, via human rights/Charter claims. A goal of merely “improving accessibility” is far too weak.

b) The CDA should ensure that all federally-regulated organizations, including all recipients of federal funds, provide accessible goods, services, facilities and employment. It should establish clear, broad, inclusive definitions of “disability” and “barrier”.

c) The CDA should put the Government of Canada in charge of leading Canada to full accessibility. It should create an independent Canada Accessibility Commissioner, reporting to Parliament, to lead the Act’s implementation/enforcement, and to be Canada’s national accessibility champion. The CDA should ensure its effective enforcement.

d) The CDA should require the Federal Government to create all the mandatory, enforceable accessibility standards needed to lead Canada to full accessibility. It should create a prompt, effective, open process for developing and reviewing accessibility standards.

e) The CDA should ensure strong centralized action on disability accessibility among Federal Regulatory Agencies.

f) The CDA should ensure that the strongest accessibility law always prevails, and that no Federal laws authorize or require disability barriers.

g) The CDA should ensure that public money is never used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate accessibility barriers.

h) The CDA should ensure a fully accessible Federal Government, accessibility of all courts within federal authority, and federal elections that are fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities.

i) The CDA should mandate a national strategy for expanding international trade in Canadian accessible goods, services and facilities.

j) The CDA should require interim measures to promote accessibility pending development of CDA accessibility standards.

k) The CDA should ensure that efforts at educating the public on accessibility don’t delay CDA implementation and enforcement.

l) The CDA should mandate the Federal Government to assist and encourage Provincial and Territorial Governments to enact comprehensive accessibility legislation. It should mandate the Federal Government to create national model Accessibility Standards which provinces, territories and other organizations can adopt.

m) The CDA should set timelines for Federal Government CDA implementation/enforcement, and require periodic Independent Reviews of progress.

6. Toronto Star Online August 2, 2016

Originally posted at

Air Canada’s wheelchair policy doesn’t fly, says man denied direct flight

Toronto man with cerebral palsy says he was told his wheelchair was too big to fit in the luggage area of plane.

Tim Rose says he was denied a direct flight to Cleveland on Air Canada because the airline told him they can’t accommodate his wheelchair on the plane that flies that route.  (PHOTO: Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)
Staff Reporter

Tues., Aug. 2, 2016

A Toronto man says that being denied a direct flight by Air Canada because his power wheelchair won’t fit in the plane is the most blatant discrimination he has faced in the 31 years he’s been using a chair.  That he was able to take the same flight to Cleveland only 14 months ago, without issue, is only adding to Tim Rose’s ire.

He has cerebral palsy and has used a power wheelchair his entire life, living and working on three continents and taking upwards of 40 to 50 flights.

“I’ve never ever been treated like this by an airline,” Rose told the Star Monday.

On Sunday, Air Canada told him it wouldn’t be able to accommodate him on a direct flight from Toronto to Cleveland on Sept. 19, because the wheelchair is too tall for the plane the airline now flies on that route.

Rose said the wheelchair is just over 91 centimetres tall. Air Canada told him that is nearly 13 centimetres too high to fit in its luggage area.

It’s an “unfortunate circumstance” due to the use of a smaller aircraft than Air Canada had used in previous years, a spokesman told the Star.

“It has a cargo hold door smaller than the height of the chair the customer uses and we are working to see if there is a way to safely carry this particular sized wheelchair without causing damage,” said Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, in an emailed statement.

Fitzpatrick said the airline offered to accommodate Rose on another flight with an additional stop, or to fly his wheelchair on a separate flight from his, though Rose said he is “99.9 per cent sure they never said this to me.”

If they can’t come to an agreement, Fitzpatrick said Air Canada will offer Rose a full refund.

There aren’t any other airlines offering direct flights from Toronto to Cleveland, Rose said. And because he has a history of medical issues and a service dog to consider, he can’t use flights that are indirect.

“I flew to the same destination 14 months ago and so there are clearly many planes in the Air Canada fleet that can accommodate my wheelchair. I find it really hard to believe that a multi-billion dollar airline with six weeks’ notice … cannot get a different plane for the day that I go to Cleveland or the day that I get back,” Rose said.

Rose, who is the founder of Disability Positive Consulting, is trying to go to Cleveland with his wife to deliver a speech on disability rights — a detail he called “ironic.”

Air Canada’s online policy states they can carry mobility aids as carry-on items or checked baggage “subject to space availability.” If there isn’t space on a plane, Air Canada says it will “arrange for alternate transportation for your large mobility aid when travelling on an aircraft with less than 60 seats.”

After three phone calls with different staff members, Rose took to social media to express his concerns.

“The lady who I called at (Air Canada’s) medical desk said, ‘It’s just like a piece of luggage. If the luggage doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit.’ She’s essentially saying that I am a piece of luggage because the wheelchair is a part of me,” said Rose.

“I’m going to set the record straight once and for all: I am not a piece of oversized luggage and -neither are my legs,” he said in a video blog posted to Facebook.

Usually when he flies, Rose said he gets transferred from his wheelchair to a chair provided by the airline. Then his personal wheelchair is stowed in the luggage cabin for the duration of the flight.

His wife, Natalie Rose, previously worked as an occupational therapist and said most of the people she’s met who use a wheelchair have at least one negative story involving air travel.

“To be honest, media and coverage is the thing that fixes most disability issues,” Natalie Rose said.

David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, said people with disabilities face travel barriers that require systemic fixes.

“Issues with air travel in this country, they’re not limited to Air Canada, but they do recur,” he said. “It is no news to airlines that people with disabilities travel and you need to have airplanes that can accommodate them. They didn’t invent people with disabilities last week.”

Lepofsky pointed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise during the last federal election to produce a Canadians with Disabilities Act.

It’s a task Trudeau laid out in Minister Carla Qualtrough’s mandate letter — she’s the minister responsible for sport and persons with disabilities — and one Lepofsky plans to help with.

Public consultations for assistance in crafting the Canadians with Disabilities Act will occur in the fall, Lepofsky said.

“It shouldn’t be for an individual to have to take on the airline when they book a flight, not knowing whether they’re going to be able to get on it or not,” Lepofsky added. “When you buy a ticket, you should be able to count on the fact that you can get on the plane.”