Thank you for an amazing march!

Thank you for joining us for the 5th annual Toronto Disability Pride March on October 3, 2015.  There are so many thanks to give and so much to share. Roughly 100 people braved the cold to march this year!

We have so much to share about this and our upcoming projects, but until then you can check out the speeches from this year’s speakers, this interview, and photo essay.

Keep in touch there’s more to come!

Marchers from the 2015 march

Banner making Party!

In keeping with the tradition, you are invited again this year to join us for a DIY Banner making Party.

Where?

99 Gerrard Street East –  Board Room(5th. Floor)

Ryerson University – School of Disability Studies

When?

Saturday, September 19, 2015  from 2:00 to 6:00 pm

What do I bring?  

Your enthusiasm; your creative spirit; your friends and allies.

Whatever material you would like to contribute for the banner making.

The details of the march:

Like the previous year, the march will begin at Queen’s Park at 1:00 and end at Ryerson’s School of Disability, 99 Gerrard Street East, where the marchers will take a moment to hear concluding speeches and to celebrate in solidarity.

The Toronto Disability Pride March promotes a cross-disability atmosphere that also recognizes other forms of oppression based on race, class, gender, sexuality, age, etc. The organizers believe the disability movement is strongest in a harmony of voices, not one homogeneous voice and urge those who plan to attend the march to respect this approach and the other people within the space of the march. The invitation is for all; take it as political or celebratory, either way,  be LOUD be PROUD and come out to march!
TDPM organizers:  torontodisabilitypride@gmail.com

Access Awareness: “The Carter decision on physician-assisted suicide event

ARCH Disability Law Centre and The Law Society of Upper Canada are hosting an event for Access Awareness: “The Carter decision on physician-assisted suicide: where do people with disabilities go from here?”

To access the event listing, copy and paste or click on http://archdisabilitylaw.ca/node/1036
The recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter has raised serious questions about its impact on persons with disabilities — many are concerned that the decision leaves them vulnerable.

Join the ARCH Disability Law Centre and the Law Society for a discussion about the Carter decision. The discussion will address what Carter means for persons with disabilities; explore the community’s concerns about the decision; and offer guidance on how community members can ensure that their voices are heard in any legislative process that develops, in order to guarantee that the interests of all persons with disabilities are recognized and protected.

When: June 4, 2015
4:00 – 6:00 pm – Panel Discussion
6:00 – 8:00 pm – Reception

Where: Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen St. W., Toronto
Please enter through east-side doors facing Nathan Phillips Square

RSVP
This public event is free, but space is limited.

Please note RSVPs are required for this event and are being received by the Law Society of Upper Canada. The invitation provides these details.

For additional information, visit: http://www.lawsocietygazette.ca/event/access-awareness-event-the-carter-decision/

To provide the optimal level of accessibility for participants, please let us know in advance of any accommodation requirements. Please do not wear fragrances and colognes.

 

New Toll-Free Number for Reporting AODA Violations

We need to send a clear message on the importance of AODA Enforcement by using this toll-free number when we see a violation of the Act. To report an AODA violation to the Government, call 1-866-515-2025. TTY: 1-800-268-7095

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) became law on June 13, 2005. Under this landmark legislation, the government of Ontario has developed mandatory accessibility standards that identifies, removes, and prevents barriers for people with disabilities.The AODA applies to all levels of government, nonprofits, and private sector businesses across Ontario who have one or more staff.

Ontario plans to conduct fewer compliance inspections this year, even though more than 60 per cent of businesses are still in violation of the province’s landmark accessibility legislation, according to new government data. We need to send a clear message on the importance of AODA Enforcement by using this toll-free number when we see a violation of the Act.

The following is from the AODA Alliance:

The Ontario Government has  established a toll-free phone number for the public to report violations of the AODA. This is an interim victory for us, on the long road of our ongoing effort to get the Government to keep its promise to effectively enforce the AODA.

Use this line if you encounter an organization in Ontario which you believe is violating the AODA.

To report an AODA violation to the Government, call 1-866-515-2025.

TTY: 1-800-268-7095

Take the steps we describe here, and then tell the Government operator you reach the specifics of the AODA violation, including what happened and when, and the name of the organization that violated the AODA.

When you call this number, it is not immediately clear from the Government’s audio announcement that this is the number to call to report AODA violations to the Government. Stick with it!

To reach a human being in order to report a violation of the AODA, first press 1 for English or 2 for French. The automated phone system will then offer to press 1 if you are an individual, or 2 for a business. Press 1, if you want to report an AODA violation.

You will then hear a longer audio announcement. At any time during that audio announcement, just press 0, to reach an operator. Tell the operator you want to report a violation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The first operator you reach does not take that information down from you.
Instead, that first operator is supposed to then connect you with a second operator, one who works at the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, located at the Economic Development Ministry. That second operator is the person to whom you can report an AODA violation.

We encourage you to:

* Call this toll-free number if you know of a situation where an obligated organization is violating the AODA, or any accessibility standards under it.

* Ask the Ontario Government operator you reach what the Government will do with the information you give them. Ask them to be sure that the obligated organization is notified that you have contacted the Government with this report of an AODA violation.

* It is not necessary to yourself first notify the obligated organization of your concern that it has violated the AODA. However, it is quite worthwhile to first let that obligated organization know about the accessibility problem. When you call the Government’s toll-free number, you can include in your report any information on your efforts to get the obligated organization to fix the problem, and the response you received from the obligated organization.

* Encourage your friends and family members to also use this toll-free number to report violations of the AODA.

* Widely publicize the availability of this toll-free number. Include it in newsletters, letters to the editor, Facebook pages, etc.

Let us know what happens when you call this number. You can give us your feedback on your experience by emailing us at aodafeedback[at]gmail[dot]com

This International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Let’s Remember our Rights – Sign the Petition!

In 2010 Prime Minister Stephen Harper ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities  (CRPD). This historic document recognized specific ways that disabled people are often left out of society such as Access to Justice (Article 13), Living independently and being included in the community (Article 19), Education (Article 24), Adequate standard of living and social protection (Article 28), as well as participation in political and public life (Article 29); the CRPD also recognized that women and children are further disenfranchised (Articles 6 and 7).

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities states that the CRPD marks a paradigm shift by addressing the human rights of persons with disabilities from a progressive social model approach to disability. In many instances, this new approach requires a new way of understanding the exercise of key human rights.

However, CRPD also has an Optional Protocol that Harper left unsigned. The Optional Protocol on Communications (OP) provides for a complaints mechanism whereby groups and individuals, after having exhausted all national resources, can have the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities consider a claim that a State Party has violated the provisions in the CRPD. In other words, while the Harper government was agreeable to these rights for disabled people, it did not want to be held accountable for upholding these rights.

Disabled people face different levels of oppression depending on the communities they come from. This varies not only on an international level, but also across province and territories, genders, age, race, class, disability, and whether or not the person is Aboriginal.

This International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3, 2014, we call on Canadians with Disabilities and organizations to demand that the federal government of Canada sign the Optional Protocol in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Let this be a first step towards greater social justice for Canadians with Disabilities, and the international communities we come from.

Melissa Graham, on behalf of the Toronto Disability Pride March.

Sign the Petition

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

RACHEL MENDLESON / TORONTO STAR
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.

Corporate-driven
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