David Onley Independent Review of Ontario’s Disabilities Act Cancels Its Thunder Bay Public Hearings Due to Poor Enrollment, After the Review Poorly Publicized these Hearings- Northern Ontario Deserves Better

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

David Onley Independent Review of Ontario’s Disabilities Act Cancels Its Thunder Bay Public Hearings Due to Poor Enrollment, After the Review Poorly Publicized these Hearings– Northern Ontario Deserves Better

September 17, 2018

          SUMMARY

Here is the latest concern regarding the Third Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act which is now being conducted by David Onley. According to the David Onley AODA Independent Review’s website, its scheduled September 13, 2018 Thunder Bay public hearing was cancelled “due to low registration”. That website states this at http://www.aodareview2018.ca/how-to-participate/events/

“Public Consultation – Thunder Bay, Ontario

Location: Lakehead University

Room: Conference Room A & the Fireside Lounge

Address: 955 Oliver Rd, Thunder Bay, ON, P7B 5E1

Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018

Time: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Event canceled due to low registration. Stay tuned for a Northern Virtual Consultation. If you would like to receive the information directly about the consultation please email info@aodareview2018.ca

We call on the David Onley AODA Independent Review to re-schedule its cancelled Thunder Bay public hearing, and to properly publicize it. It is not good enough to tell people in and around Thunder Bay that they can only have input online. We say the same regarding its earlier consultation hearings elsewhere, which were not properly publicized.

The reason why more people did not sign up for the Thunder Bay public hearing is no doubt because it was so poorly publicized. We have seen nothing from the Ontario Government or the David Onley AODA Independent Review to publicize it, beyond a short posting on the Onley Independent Review’s website. When the AODA Alliance heard about this upcoming event via the grapevine, we took it upon ourselves to publicize it via our email Update and social media network.

Neither the Onley AODA Independent Review nor the Ontario Government notified us about any of the Review’s hearings, nor asked the AODA Alliance to publicize them to our many supporters and followers. We have arguably done more to publicize this event than has either the Onley Independent Review or the Ontario Government.

The AODA Alliance has earlier made public its serious concerns about the David Onley AODA Independent Review’s insufficient publicity of its public hearings. We did so in our August 24, 2018 AODA Alliance Update, and in our September 11, 2018 letter to the David Onley AODA Independent Review.

Sadly, history is repeating itself. In 2012, the Ontario Government appointed Toronto lawyer Andrew Pinto to conduct an Independent Review of Bill 107. That Ontario legislation had privatized the enforcement of human rights in Ontario. The Pinto Human Rights Independent Review did a similarly poor job of publicizing public hearings in Thunder Bay. The Pinto Review then cancelled its Thunder Bay public hearing due to poor registration for it.

Back in 2012, the AODA Alliance swung into action when we learned of that Independent Review’s cancellation of its Thunder Bay hearing. We brought the story to the Thunder Bay media. The media covered this. Below we set out the February 20, 2012 report on CBC Thunder Bay Radio.

The resulting media coverage and attention led the Andrew Pinto Human Rights Independent Review to back down and agree to schedule a new public hearing in Thunder Bay. It went ahead. From what we heard, it had a good turnout.

We have every reason to believe that people with disabilities in Thunder Bay would like to have their say, in person, face to face, with the David Onley AODA Independent Review. They should be able to let him know what disability accessibility barriers they still face, and whether they think Ontario is now on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. They should have a chance to say face-to-face whether they think the Ontario Government is doing a good enough job of enforcing AODA, and whether Ontario’s accessibility standards and the Ontario Building Code are sufficiently strong and comprehensive.

The last AODA Independent Review, conducted in 2014 by Mayo Moran, did a better job of publicizing its consultation hearings. It held a successful public hearing in Thunder Bay in the spring of 2014. Below we set out the text of the April 21, 2014 CBC Thunder Bay Radio news report on that successful consultation.

When we wrote the David Onley AODA Independent Review on September 11, 2018, we also asked it to extend its October 1, 2018 deadline for written submissions t to the end of November. We have not received an answer to that request. Mr. Onley has agreed to meet, in response to that letter.

We always welcome your feedback. Email us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

You can send your input to the David Onley AODA Independent Review by emailing info@aodareview2018.ca

There have been 88 days since the work of five Ontario accessibility Standards Development Committees was frozen by the Ontario Government, pending briefing the new Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho. We have called on the Ford Government to lift its freeze on their work so they can get back to their work in progress, developing recommendations on which disability barriers need to be removed and prevented in the important areas of education, employment, health care, and information and communication.

          MORE DETAILS

Text of CBC Radio Thunder Bay News February 20, 2012

Originally posted at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/story/2012/02/20/tbay-human-rights.html

Human Rights Review Bypasses Thunder Bay

February 21, 2012 Advocate

Organizers cite lack of interest

CBC News Posted: Feb 20, 2012

An advocacy group is upset Andrew Pinto, the head of an Ontario Human Rights review, is bypassing Thunder Bay. (Pinto Wray James LLP)

A lawyer has been appointed by the Attorney-General to consult the public and visit cities across the province for feedback about the way human rights are enforced.

He decided not to travel to Thunder Bay due to a lack of interest.

David Lepofsky is the chair of the lobby group, Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act Alliance. He blamed poor marketing and poor communication for lack of interest.

“This review has done an extremely paltry job of publicizing the availability of public forum. The only way this has been publicized is by sending an email to a group of people,” he said.

Andrew Pinto is conducting the review. He said he emailed hundreds of organizations with thousands of members. Pinto said enough interest was shown in six other Ontario cities.

“We actually received only one inquiry to come out to Thunder Bay and we have to be responsible for me to fly to Thunder Bay for one meeting,” Pinto said. Pinto said if interest picked up in Thunder Bay, he would set up a consultation in the city.

Text of the April 21, 2014 CBC Thunder Bay Radio News Report

CBC NEWS April 21, 2014

Thunder Bay

Originally posted at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/progress-of-ontario-s-disabilities-act-being-reviewed-1.2616503

Progress of Ontario’s disabilities act being reviewed

Mayo Moran, University of Toronto’s law dean, holding public consultations across Ontario

CBC News Posted: Apr 21, 2014 8:02 AM ET| Last Updated: Apr 21, 2014 8:02 AM ET

An independent reviewer is checking on the progress of making Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.

An independent reviewer is checking on the progress of making Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.

The dean of law at the University of Toronto is holding public consultations across the province and online.

Mayo Moran was recently in Thunder Bay hearing from the public.

Tracy Hurlbert, who uses a wheelchair to get around, was one of several people with various disabilities who gathered at the conference at a Thunder Bay hotel last week.

Hurlbert made a presentation noting the barriers of getting public transportation, for example.

University of Toronto Dean of Law, Mayo Moran, is reviewing progress of Ontario disabilities act. (Nicole Ireland/CBC News)

The accessible transit service in Thunder Bay requires users to pre-book their trips, including doctor’s appointments, days in advance.

“Why should we be expected to … book our rides and our lives a week in advance?” Hurlbert said. “Do you know today that you’re going to get sick next Tuesday? Of course not. Neither do I.”

Hurlbert told the hearing she missed two funerals because she couldn’t give enough notice to book the accessible transit service.

Hurlbert said there are smaller, everyday barriers, too. Hurlbert said many establishments, such as restaurants, call themselves accessible because they have wheelchair-friendly entrances. But that’s where the accessibility ends, she said.

“Imagine going to a restaurant, eating your meal, only to discover that there are no washrooms,” she said. “The bathrooms are in the basement or they’re upstairs.”

Toronto law dean Moran said concerns like Hurlbert’s have come up before.

“I think what that points to is … the really significant need for awareness and for people to have training that helps them think through everything that would matter to someone who doesn’t have the same mobility that they do,” Moran said.

Moran said people are also worried about how — even whether — the accessibility law will be enforced.

“It’s like having a hockey game without any referee. You need enforcement; proper, court-appointed enforcement,” said Eugene Lefrancois, who became disabled while working in forestry more than 25 years ago.

There will be online consultation Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m ET. It’s open to anyone in Ontario who wants to participate.

Another live meeting is scheduled in Toronto on April 29.