Have your say on the future of the Canadians with Disabilities Act

Sit Down, Fight Back

The Federal Government will be hosting a public forum to get input from the public on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act should include.

where and when this takes place:

When: Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Time: 4:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Where: Chelsea Hotel Toronto – Churchill Ballroom, 33 Gerrard Street West, Toronto, ON

If you would like to attend this event, you will need to contact the Office for Disability Issues in advance so they can send you a short form with your contact information and accessibility needs.

Pro-Tip: Go with a group and plan the questions you want answered.

Would you like some suggestions of what you might say to the Federal Government at these consultations?

Here are a few starting points from the AODA Alliance.

Here are a few points that I’ve made regarding an Accessible Canada for All.

  • The need for accessible, affordable…

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Come Out for TTC Accessibility for All!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 4:00pm
Please join us at Yonge and Bloor Station, Toronto, Ontario

D!ONNE Renée is the organizer behind this event. If you have any questions, want to throw your virtual support behind her, or have comments, reach out to her via email or on Twitter at @OnElectionDay.

Click to listen to audio announcement.

The announcement reads:

Accessibility is a Right — Not an Option

On Wednesday, August 31, 2016 – Between 4pm – 8pm, on behalf of community and Public interests, an #AccessibilityNow! TTC campaign/protest will take place starting in the Yonge and Bloor area to raise issues concerning discrimination based on disability, barriers, and ableism in transit and its services.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets out the interpretation for “barriers.” Too many barriers exist within the TTC. It is not acceptable to take a “minimum/at least” approach in improving access for all. The standard should be a model that reflects an equal to or greater than the access that is currently available, model. The equal to or greater than the access that is currently available model is a model of equity and equality.

People have a right to access public systems; in this right, people should feel that they have the option to be free to choose whether they access those systems or not. We are all not free just to be.

Approximately 35 out of 65 subway stations are “partially accessible,” on good days. Functioning equipment = good days. “Partially accessible” means that all patrons don’t have the option to access the system for lack of elevators, Braille information and helps, proper signage (large print, clear, large-enough digital boards), functional escalators, inaccessible entrances/exits (now including Presto Card gates and readers) to subway stations, buses, streetcars, and extraordinary Wheel Trans wait/scheduling. Plus the TTC worsened accessibility when they began replacing the names of Toronto’s subway lines with confusing numbers.

TTC (and transit across Ontario and Canada) must be proactive in its operations and provide equality in its services and not discriminate against anyone, including people with disabilities and/or people requiring accessible access in order to use its systems. TTC was able to find money to implement Presto Card systems into its subway, bus, and streetcar services even though the gate systems being used at subway and bus stations are all not accessible; but TTC seems to be unable to be actively proactive in ensuring that all areas of TTC are fully accessible.

While this event will take place in downtown Toronto, the issues and concerns being raised affect all of Ontario and Canada. We want everyone to have the ability to travel independently, or in group, as we so choose.

We want a barrier-free Canada.

Will you help?

Will you join the protest and invite others to do so too? Will you gather with community in accessibility advocacy? #AccessibilityNow #GetItRight #AODA #AODAFail

Coming Up:Reclaiming Our Bodies & Minds Conference

Reposted from https://reclaimingourbodiesandminds.wordpress.com/

Reclaiming Our Bodies & Minds: Navigating Our Spaces, Places, and Histories is the second annual inter-university/college disability conference in Toronto.

The Conference:

The Reclaiming Our Bodies & Minds Conference was initially hosted at Ryerson University in 2012. In 2014, student groups and campus/community activists from Ryerson University, York University, University of Toronto and George Brown College came together to imagine an inter-campus conference that brought together disability community activists, service providers, academics, and everybody in between. This is the second year of the Reclaiming Our Bodies & Minds Inter-University Conference.

The Theme:

The 2016 theme for the Reclaiming Our Bodies & Minds Conference is Navigating Our Spaces, Places, and Histories.

Disability is ever-present within our spaces, places, and histories…but is it evident?
This conference will explore the ways that disability exists within discourse, community-building, and lived experience, as well as the many ways disability erasure and resistance have occurred.
Join us for a weekend of empowerment, dialogue, and celebration.

The Details:

The Reclaiming Our Bodies & Minds Conference will be hosted on two-half days and one full-day between Friday, March 11th, 2016 and Sunday, March 13th, 2016.

Friday, March 11th, 2016 – Ryerson Student Centre, Ryerson University
Saturday, March 12th, 2016 – Ryerson Student Centre, Ryerson University
Sunday, March 13th, 2016 – University of Toronto

Accessibility Statement:

The conference will be a safe, consumer/survivor/mad-positive, wheelchair-accessible space. ASL and live-captioning will be present at workshops and panels, ASL will be present for performances. Attendants, childcare and active listeners are available on request at registration. There will be a debriefing space and a quiet space available on Saturday for the entire day. Overhead room lighting will be used in all spaces, but can be dimmed/turned off in the quiet and debriefing spaces. There will be no loud abrupt sounds in panels or workshops, and trigger/content warnings will be announced prior to performances. Should it not interfere with access to the conference, we ask for all attendees’ participation in making the conference fragrance-free.

TDPM supports the Accessible Canada for All Campaign

Thursday December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It is also the day before Prime Minister Trudeau’s Throne Speech.

That is why on December 3rd we’re asking all of you to show our new Prime Minister and his Cabinet what an Accessible Canada for all looks like.

  • The need for accessible, affordable housing.
  • Protection of the rights of parents with disabilities.
  • Accessibility in healthcare, including Indigenous Peoples and refugees.
  • Police training in effectively and sensitively working with disabled people.
  • Distribution of Health and Social transfers to address the inequities in the systemic barriers that exist between provinces and territories.

Using the hashtag #AccessibleCanada4All please take to social media and remind them that real change is not a continuation of the status quo, where only the most advantaged of us move forward.

This is our time. Let’s make it count.

Please share the #AccessibleCanada4All campaign with your networks.

For more information check out https://exposingableism.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/accessible-canada-for-all/

Huronia lawsuit against Ontario government delayed without explanation

Former residents of the Huronia home for developmentally delayed children in Orillia are anxious to share their stories.
Huronia lawsuit against Ontario government delayed without explanation

Edgar Riel was upset by news that the hearing had been delayed. “I spent six years of hell in that place, being beat up … told that my mother had left me for good, that I was useless, a nobody,” he said.
By: Rachel Mendleson News reporter, Published on Mon Sep 16 2013
There were tears of disappointment outside a Toronto courtroom Monday as former residents of the Huronia Regional Centre learned that a historic class-action lawsuit against the Ontario government had been postponed.
Without explanation or warning to some of the plaintiffs, the $1 billion lawsuit over allegations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the facility for developmentally disabled children in Orillia, Ont., was adjourned until Tuesday, prompting concern among victims that their stories might never be heard.
Former resident Carrie Ford, who lived at Huronia as a teenager in the late ’60s, said it felt as though she was being mistreated once again. During her time at the facility, Ford said, she was forced to perform manual labour.
“We were working their jobs and we were not getting paid. They were the ones getting the money. We had to do the slavery,” Ford said.
The lawsuit, which covers those who lived at Huronia between 1945 and 2009, maintains the Crown failed to take action to prevent abuse it was aware was occurring there. In their written opening argument, the plaintiffs’ lawyers allege that residents were left to “aimlessly walk or crawl” around, were forced to perform the everyday tasks of running the facility, were often not bathed and were paid little or nothing for physical labour. Some 2,000 children are buried in the cemetery there.
None of the allegations has been proven in court. In its statement of defence, the Ontario government denies that abuse, mistreatment or assault occurred at Huronia, and maintains that if it did occur, “the Crown was not made aware of these allegations at the relevant time.”
In the absence of a hearing, former residents, many of whom had travelled several hours to attend the trial, engaged in an impromptu sharing session with lead plaintiffs Patricia Seth and Marie Slark, trading disturbing memories that still haunt them, even decades later.
Edgar Riel, whose mother dropped him off at Huronia in the early ’60s, when he was 9, broke down as he reacted to the news.
“I spent six years of hell in that place, being beat up … told that my mother had left me for good, that I was useless, a nobody,” he told the crowd gathered outside a courtroom in the old Canada Life building.
“Why didn’t they listen to us 50 years ago? We told them and they just ignored us. It was our word against theirs.”
Riel said he was made to haul gravel on a beach.
“I thought I was there to be helped,” he said. “All I want is justice. I think that’s what we all want.”
Jody Brown, an associate at Koskie Minsky, the Toronto-based law firm that launched the lawsuit against the province, said he could not disclose the reasons for the 24-hour adjournment or comment on discussions that have occurred with specific clients.
“We’ve been trying to communicate with as many class members as we can that the adjournment happened, or was going to happen, so they wouldn’t attend. Unfortunately we weren’t able to communicate with everyone,” he said.
Jim Dolmage, who is the litigation guardian for one of the lead plaintiffs, described the adjournment as a “shocking turn of events.”
“This whole case was about people in power making decisions for vulnerable people without their input. We are very, very concerned that that is exactly what’s happening at this point in time,” Dolmage said.
A media relations officer for the Ministry of the Attorney General said the parties agreed to adjourn the start of trial for one day, but said it would be “inappropriate” to comment further because the matter is before the court.
There are dozens of reasons why a case can be adjourned, including lawyers falling ill, witnesses being unavailable, or discussions with opposing counsel.
Kirk Baert, lead lawyer in the class-action lawsuit, told the Star last week that the trial would go ahead “no matter what.”
Founded in 1876 as the Orillia Asylum for Idiots, Huronia operated until 2009. About 3,900 former residents of the facility are still alive — 600 fewer than when Baert launched the suit in 2010.

Social Assistance Reforms will Divide the Disability Movement in Ontario

On February 19, 2013, in its first Throne Speech, the Ontario Liberal Government announced is shifting lead responsibility for implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act from the Community and Social Services Ministry (where it has resided since 2005) to the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. 
The speech included this statement: “Your government will ensure that all individuals can find their role in this economy. And so it calls on the private sector to increase the number of people with disabilities in the Ontario workforce. As a demonstration of its commitment to this goal, your government will shift the Accessibility Directorate from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. Because men and women with disabilities deserve a level playing field.”

At first glance, this might sound like great news, as is often the case with speeches like this. Most people with disabilities in Ontario live in poverty, and this change will certainly benefit some people, but some important questions we need to be asking is who will benefit and how.

Socialist assistance cuts
It is interesting timing that this announcement was made right around the same time that recommendations to overhaul social assistance in Ontario were released. These recommendations will have serious impacts on people with disabilities who depend on social assistance for their survival. The mandate of the Commission that made these recommendations was to move people into work, decrease caseloads, and simplify the system for the people who run it. It is also based on the disgusting and ridiculous assumption that the less money a person receives, the harder they will look for work. These cuts follow the elimination a few months ago of theCommunity Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit.

Some of these recommendations could become regulation at any time, such as the recommendation that the rates must always be lower than minimum wage, even for people with disabilities who are working but not paid enough to survive without social assistance. Another recommendation states that parents with disabilities would receive the same rate as parents without disabilities; there is no regard in any of these recommendations for the extra costs that capitalism imposes on people with disabilities.

One of the major recommendations is to combine Ontario’s two social assistance programs, Ontario Works and ODSP, into one program. Right now ODSP is specific for people with disabilities, and Ontario Works is the social assistance program for anyone not recognized as having a disability. The combination of these two programs would require significant legislative change, and would take much longer to impact people’s lives, but the Ontario Conservatives have already put forward a private members bill totry and push this ahead.

The implications of this recommended legislation are disturbing. People with and without disabilities on social assistance would be required to sign Pathway to Employment Plans—similar to the Participation Agreement that people on Ontario Works now sign—in order to receive assistance. Participation Agreements require people to attend employment programs and actively seek employment in order to receive assistance; these programs have historically been underfunded. People are forced to take multiple unnecessary resumé writing workshops to receive their income.

It is not clear how they will determine who is employment ready under this new program, or whether they will have to take the first job available.  It was also recommended that there be corporate “champions,” making it likely that some companies will be subsidized or prioritized for taking on employees with disabilities. There are already problems with programs like this, people with disabilities go into job support programs with a business degree and wind up with a job at a big box retail store, if anything. The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, that was just charged with the task of overseeing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act works extensively with Ontario’s private sector.

Solidarity against austerity
There are some who say that our government would not make changes that would impact people with disabilities in such a negative way. People with disabilities in the UK would disagree with that. As of April 2013 people with disabilities in the UK are faced with substantial cuts to their income, including loss of transportation and equipment benefits, tougher assessments to determine “who is disabled enough” to receive assistance, and even a tax for having an extra bedroom. Some people with disabilities in that country doubt they will survive the year.

Before we commend Premier Wynne for her announcement, we need to keep in mind what other people with disabilities are facing. While the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act will benefit people with physical and sensory disabilities, people with mental health issues are likely to be hurt the most by social assistance recommendations. We cannot let the ruling class continue to divide us; it’s time to fight for the rights of us all.

Reproduced from: http://www.socialist.ca/node/1684

“Brighter Prospects” for Austerity: What the Social Assistance Reform Recommendations Really Mean for People with Disabilities

“Brighter Prospects” for Austerity: Understanding the Latest Recommended Reforms to OW and ODSP

A Toronto Disability Pride March Report

The mandate of the Commission that made these recommendations was to move people into work, decrease caseloads, and simplify the system for the people that run it. It is also based on the incorrect assumption that the less money a person receives, the harder they will look for work. Here are some of their recommendations.

  • The rates for social assistance must always be lower than minimum wage, even for people with disabilities who are working.
  • Use a lower measure of poverty to determine how much money a person receives, including lowering the maximum housing amount, and no recognition of additional costs of disability
  • Loss of needs based funding (like CSUMB), mandatory benefits, and appeal rights.
  • It would effectively cap the rate for a single person on ODSP.
  • Parents with disabilities would receive the same rate as parents without disabilities with no difference for the child’s age.

The Key Recommendation is to combine OW and ODSP into one program run by municipalities and First Nations

  • It is not clear how they will determine who is “employment ready”, or whether they will have to take the first job available.
  • People with and without disabilities on social assistance would be required to sign Pathway to Employment Plans – Similar to the Participation Agreement that people on OW now must sign, in order to receive assistance.
  • The Ontario Conservatives have put forward a private members bill to try and push this ahead.
  • No clear plans or outcomes were recommended in any of the “benefits” to people on ODSP that were given in the recommendation to combine these programs.

They also recommend increased access to employment supports, but these have historically not worked well

  • One of the recommendations is to have corporate “champions”, making it likely that some companies will be subsidized or prioritized for hiring employees with disabilities.
  • People with disabilities are currently going into job support programs with a business degree and winding up with a job at a big box retail store, if anything.
  • In these recommendations the key priority for getting people with mental health and addictions off ODSP is employment.  We believe health should be the key priority over employment.

Fight Back – For Everyone on Social Assistance!

  • Contact your MPP
  • Join us, find us on Facebook, on Twitter @DisabilityPM, or come to a meeting at …

For more information about these facts see this flyer or the ODSP Action Coalition website: http://sareview.ca