One of the biggest problems with the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) aside from the gross lack of enforcement, is the dependence of compliance on self?reports submitted by municipalities and organizations.
Recently I had the opportunity to read the self-report draft prepared by my municipality. For those who are aware of the specialized transportation service nightmare we’ve been struggling with over the past two years, you may recall that staff and elected officials had stated that “AODA is not a real law” and that “if we rebrand specialized transportation as subsidized transportation, we can get rid of the AODA.”
AODA: The failure of a self-reporting structure full Complaint
For those who are familiar with the successful rebranding of a specialized transportation service as a “subsidized transportation program” in one municipality to “get rid of AODA, you will be familiar with the attitudes toward those of us with disabilities and this form of public transit.
What has become clear from our struggle is that very few people know that specialized transportation service or Para Transit is a form of public transportation.
AODA: The need to clarify public transportation in the standards full Complaint
For those of us with disabilities who travel through Toronto Pearson Airport, hearing that violinist Itzhak Perlman was treated without respect or dignity came as no surprise. The surprise was that treating us like cattle or cargo hasn’t received media attention before now.
One has to only look at the comments that this news story generated to find those of us who are treated without dignity and respect.
Will we Finally get Reform of Disability Services at Toronto Pearson International Airport? full Complaint
It was with little surprise that I read the AODA Alliance article “Ontario Government Sat on A Detailed Plan for Enforcing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act since at Least May 2012”
For those who have been following the struggle of those of us with disabilities in the County of Brant Ontario to retain Para transit, you may remember that the issue first arose in May of 2012, the same time the brief on the enforcement framework was available. There are several blog articles in this blog on the topic if you weren’t aware of our struggle.
Is it Time for a UN Investigation into AODA Compliance and Enforcement? full Complaint
The winner of the four month, yes only 4 month, contract for specialized transportation service or Para transit in the County , approved by County Council at the July 23 Council meeting has no wheelchair accessible vehicles according to the company web site which can be viewed doing a simple Internet search. The information is not hidden.
“People using wheelchairs must transfer to a seat and the wheelchair will be stored as baggage.”
“Subsidized Transportation Program” not Accessible for People with Disabilities in County of Brant? full Complaint
The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the “subsidized transportation program” is now out although the language in the document is confusing and appears to use “subsidized” and “specialized” interchangeably.
We still have no clear idea of the budget except it is $200,000 for this year…maybe.
We have no clear idea of what the eligibility criteria is, whether it will follow Ontario Regulation 191/11, or what the process is to qualify for the transportation scheme.
County of Brant Closer to Eliminating Para Transit full Complaint
On April 19, in the agenda for the Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting for April 23, an inaccessible PDF document called a “Draft” for a new variant of the “subsidized transportation program” was attached and did contain language that did suggest that comments were welcome. There was no deadline for comments in the document or the agenda.
County of Brant Seeks Comments on “Subsidized Transportation Program!” April Fool’s Day in May! full Complaint
As the City of Hamilton considers a means test to access conventional transit services by people with disabilities, it should be pointed out that this approach to transit access may cause some human rights complaints.
The County of Brant has rebranded its specialized transportation service as a “subsidized” transportation program to avoid implementing the IASR transportation standards. It too wanted to base access to public transit by people with disabilities based on income.
Specialized versus Subsidized Transportation: Are class based transit systems in the future for Ontario? full Complaint
There was a recent post on the Enforcement Blog about Barrie Transit and how people with disabilities are asked to move from the seating area designated for people with disabilities if someone with a stroller or grocery cart enters the vehicle.
In the area of accessibility, an analogy to how curb cuts in sidewalks is always made to show how people without disabilities can benefit from accessibility features designed for people with disabilities.
Enforcing the IASR Transportation Standards: Where do we go for help? full Complaint
At the County Council meeting on February 5, 2013, Council voted to extend the existing Para transit service (now that they found an additional $100,000 for 2013) and stated that they were going to hold two (yes only 2) public meetings to get input from the community. In addition elected officials stated with the motion, that staff would gather what was said at the two public meetings and come up with a report for March 5, 2013.
County of Brant “Inaccessibility in Motion” Scheme: Everything old is new again! full Complaint
In the January 23 Brantford Expositor there was an article on the Brantford Para transit (Operation Lift) contract being over budget despite diligent management and oversight.
Budget issues with para transit organizations are not new and will increase as the population ages and more people join the ranks of those of us with disabilities.
I am writing about the issues in Brantford to show the dramatic contrast in how people with disabilities are being treated by the city compared to its surrounding County.
Why are People with Disabilities Treated with dignity and Respect in Brantford but not the County of Brant? full Complaint
Seconds before the gavel to start the January 22, 2013 meeting of County Council, with dramatic flourish (lacking only a drum roll), to an audience packed with parents and caregivers of adult children with disabilities and their children and relatives with disabilities, the Mayor announced that after meeting for several hours that afternoon that they had “found” an additional $100,000 to add to the existing $100,000 budget for the 2013 Para transit service.
County of Brant “Finds” Additional $100,000 for Para Transit! Now What? full Complaint
The County of Brant has a new Accessibility Coordinator!
In November of 2012 Community Services staff and committee decided to take $75,000 of the total budget for Para transit of $100,000 to pay for an Accessibility Coordinator whose job it would be to “manage” the remaining $25,000 for the service itself. This idea was reversed in December 2012 and at the December 3 meeting of the Community Services Committee it was decided to ask Council if they would approve the position of Accessibility Coordinator and “find some funding for it.”
Does the New Accessibility Coordinator for the County of Brant have a Conflict of Interest? full Complaint
This letter was submitted to County Council, County of Brant at the January 8, 2013 Council meeting. The letter was written by former County of Brant Counsellor Roy Haggart and is posted in the County of Brant, County Council agenda.
Anyone who wants to support us in getting affordable sustainable specialized transportation service that complies with the Integrated Accessibility Standards, Part IV – Transportation can send comments to County Council and they will be received/published as communications received by Council.
People with Disabilities get Support from Former County of Brant Councellor in Specialized Transportation Service Struggle full Complaint
Although we have a reprieve until March 1, 2013, the County of Brant is going ahead with its plans to eliminate specialized transportation service/Para transit in the County.
County of Brant Setting Legal Precedence by Continuing to Defy Integrated Accessibility Standards full Complaint
On December 10, 2013, the United Nations International Human Rights Day, two more members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee for the County of Brant resigned due to the systemic discrimination and lack of dignity and respect toward people with disabilities. This brings the total number to three members who have resigned in the last month including the Chair of the committee for the same reason.
County of Brant “Celebrates” International Human Rights Day with Resignation of Two More Members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee full Complaint
I wrote an article in assistance of the Hamilton Council decision to stop letting those of us who are blind or visually disabled ride the conventional transportation service free as a misinterpretation of the Integrated Accessibility Standards. I thought that this was an “honest” mistake and would be corrected at the next Council meeting. Turns out it was a good thing I also reserved further comment until I saw what they would do!
Hamilton Turns an “Oops” into a HUGE Mess! full Complaint
I’m going to start this article with a PostScript: Within the past month, three of us serving on the Accessibility Advisory Committee have resigned, including the Chair, because of the systemic discrimination against people with disabilities. The resignations represent half of the Accessibility Advisory Committee.
December 10, 2012
To: Paul Emerson, Mayor Ron Eddy, members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee, County Council, and People with Disabilities in the county of Brant
Resignation from County of Brant AAC Over Systemic Discrimination/Para Transit Scheme full Complaint
For those of you who have been following the misadventures of specialized transportation in the County of Brant, it may be surprising to hear me come to the aid of Hamilton Council in light of their decision to charge people with disabilities to ride the conventional bus system. Although I may not agree with the decision, it is easy to see how Hamilton Council could have come to it.
Hamilton Council Decision Highlights the Need for Clearer Standards Language full Complaint
Ironically on the United Nations International Day for people with Disabilities, the County of Brant Community Services Committee approved yet another variant to their unaffordable transportation scheme which ignores any of the Integrated Accessibility Standards for specialized transportation, is not fiscally responsible, has no budget to administer the scheme and as with the other variants, will lead to the elimination of Para transit in the County and the erosion of our basic and protected human rights.
“If an Ontario Human Rights Complaint is filed, we will stop providing Para transit” County of Brant full Complaint