People with Disabilities Lose Jobs in County of Brant While Federal Funding Increases Job Opportunities in Brantford

Posted under:Brant County,EmploymentbyKaren McCallon November 26, 2012

While the federal Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development the Honourable , Diane Finlay through Phil McColeman, Member of Parliament for Brant announced that the federal government will be funding a program to assist people with disabilities in the Brantford area to develop the skills to obtain and retain work, the County of Brant which surrounds Brantford is poised to eliminate Para transit. Currently 33% of the Para transit trips in the County of Brant are for work.

The announcement states “Our government’s top priorities are job creation and economic growth. To support Canada’s long?term prosperity, we must ensure that everyone who wants to work has the opportunity,” said Mr. McColeman. “People with disabilities face particular challenges entering the job market and that’s why partnerships with organizations like L. Tara Hooper and Associates Inc. are so important.”

The announcement further states: Canadians with disabilities have a tremendous amount to offer employers but they remain under?represented in the workforce. That is why the Government of Canada, through Economic Action Plan 2012, is investing an additional $30 million in the Opportunities Fund to help more people with disabilities gain the hands-on experience they need to find jobs.

And: In addition, as part of Economic Action Plan 2012, Minister Finley and the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, announced the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The panel will identify private-sector successes and best practices, as well as barriers regarding

Mr. McColeman’s office was contacted back in May when the County of Brant decided that those of us using Para transit were abusing the service by going shopping and to the casino. Since that time, the ability to go to work has also been cut from the proposed Para transit scheme. The response was that “this is a municipal matter” and no assistance was provided.

The subsequent transportation schemes put forward by the County of Brant cut funding for Para transit and attempt to restrict access to both Para transit for people with disabilities and to restrict where people with disabilities can travel within the county. Both of these violate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities which Canada ratified in 2010, the Ontario Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Human Rights Law, the Ontario Human Rights Code with specific reference to Section 11 identifying additional layers of discrimination on a group already identified by the OHRC, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and the Integrated Accessibility Standards or Ontario Regulation 191/11 which includes specialized transportation standards.

Those of us participating in the resurrected ad hoc specialized transportation service committee for the County of Brant have repeatedly been told that we either approve the violation of our basic and protected human rights and the AODA/IAS or we will lose Para transit/specialized transportation immediately.

The County of Brant sums up their position in the following statements:

“People with disabilities need to learn how to budget their money like everyone else. If they can’t afford the luxuries, they need to consider moving or changing their lifestyle.”

“If they work they can afford to pay full fare.”

“If they can afford to go shopping, they can afford to pay full fare.”

“I thought you people didn’t want to be special and get special treatment?”

When a question was asked about people with disabilities getting to work or buying groceries under the latest variant to the proposed transportation scheme, the response from one elected official was “they can call an ambulance.”

The Para transit service for the County of Brant is taxi-based. There is no fixed route conventional transit. While trips within the small towns may be affordable, travelling into Brantford for medical, work, social or recreational activities may cost a person with a disability anywhere from $1,300 per month and upward depending on the destination in Brantford. The County has not investigated any model of program delivery other than the elimination of service and the denial of our basic and protected human rights.

So while we applaud the initiative and increased opportunities for those living in the city of Brantford Ontario, it is with equal sadness that those of us with disabilities living in the surrounding County of Brant will lose our jobs by or before January 1, 2013. And no one is championing our cause and protecting our human rights.