County of Brant: We Have Support from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to Eliminate para transit
By Karen McCall, M.Ed.
A representative from the Accessibility Directorate came and did a presentation at the October Community Services Committee meeting for the County of Brant. As a delegation, they had ten minutes to speak. The representative verified that AODA and the Integrated Accessibility Standards were law as are the Customer Service Standards and the upcoming Built Environment Standards.
The first question asked by elected officials was Do we have to provide this? Is there any legislation that says we have to provide this service?”
The representative referred them to both the Municipal Act and human rights legislation. Here is how the entire sum of what was presented by the Accessibility Directorate representative was interpreted in the latest variant of the transportation scheme report to eliminate Para transit:
“And Whereas the County of Brant has been advised by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario there is no legislative requirement for the County of Brant to provide Subsidized Transportation to persons with disabilities as the County does not provide a conventional transportation system; even though historically the County has been providing this type of service to assist persons with disabilities since 2007;” (November 5 staff report from the County of Brant)
At the October 1, 2012 Community Services Committee Meeting, Darren Cooney, Manager of Public Education and Partnerships with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario confirmed during his presentation that with respect to the Accessibility Standard for Transportation, the County of Brant is not required to provide a subsidized transportation program.” (November 5 staff report from the County of Brant)
At that same meeting, the competition to the current Para transit service provider openly stated before the Community services Committee and the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services Accessibility Directorate representative that “my drivers don’t want to push THOSE people, load or unload them.” Which violates all levels of human rights codes, charters and conventions…AGAIN.
While I acknowledge that the information presented by the Accessibility Directorate has been “selectively modified” to meet the goal of eliminating Para transit in the County of Brant; it should also be noted that the Accessibility Directorate and the Minister of Community and Social Services have been kept updated on every attempt to eliminate para transit in the County of Brant and every variant to the transportation schemes to accomplish this goal.
At the last meeting of the resurrected ad hoc specialized transportation service committee meeting held November 19, 2012, members of the committee were told that if the new variant to the transportation scheme limiting funding for the Para transit service to $25,000 per year for staff approved medical trips only (from a current budget of $100,000) was not approved, Para transit would stop immediately. (The remaining $75,000 of the Para transit budget will be used to fund an administrative position in the County.)
We face immediate social and physical isolation, becoming prisoners in our own homes.
So far the lack of response and enforcement from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario is about as vast as the Grand Canyon. It feels as if we are talking into the wind.
No one is stepping up to protect our rights and enforce the Integrated Accessibility Standards, part IV – Transportation. As an individual it is difficult to advocate against this level of systemic discrimination as is found in the County of Brant.
…And we haven’t talked about Information Communication and Employment Standards yet! Although with no Para transit, we can pretty much eliminate employment from our lives in the County of Brant.