Equal Access Movement 20 Years Old

Two occasions cause me to reflect on my campaign to improve accessibility in my community.

Last week the AODA Alliance gathered at Queen’s Park to celebrate the November 29, 1994 birth of Ontario’s tireless grassroots movement for a fully accessible Ontario and December 3 is the International Day for People with Disabilities.

Prior to the ODA 2001, I endured a decade long battle with the Town of Amherstburg to obtain equal access to the town’s historic Carnegie library. Funding opportunities were lost because the town prioritized other amenities even when the grants specified accessibility came first.

Finally, as a result of my human rights settlement in 2004, an elevator was installed at the library. I was not invited, but the council of the day held a ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiled a plaque crediting council.

A second human rights complaint, merged with the library complaint, resulted in the creation of two accessible parking spaces in the rear parking lot of General Amherst High School.

I recently filed another complaint when I encountered difficulty entering a physiotherapy clinic in a building owned by a corporation. Following a September 2013 Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario Hearing, a February 20, 2014 decision was issued against two Respondents: the landord, 1762668 Ontario Inc., owned by Rene and Anne Rota, and the tenant Anna Maria Fiorito Physiotherapy.

The Tribunal ordered both respondents to pay monetary compensation and install an automatic door with a 4 inch diameter push button. Additionally, the landlord was ordered to retain a consultant with expertise in human rights, disability and access who will provide training to Mr. Rota, and any managers, on the landlord’s obligations under the Code with respect to accommodating disability, and the landlord must provide to the applicant by June 1, 2014, a copy of a letter from the consultant verifying that the training is completed.

The adjudicator noted, “It is obvious that the landlord does not appreciate its obligations under the Code with respect to making its facilities accessible to people with disabilities.”

Mr. Rota did not comply with the training requirement by June 1, nor did he respond to my July 21, 2014 letter reminding him of his obligation.

Any discussion regarding the removal of barriers should include the lack of redress for the non-compliance of an HRTO Order without imposing any additional bureaucracy and/or expense to the victim of discrimination.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

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5 thoughts on “Equal Access Movement 20 Years Old

  1. Hello Linda: I would have thought the landlord’s form of lease would have required the tenant to comply with the statute, city by-laws, etc in its lease form. Can you explain to me why that is not the case?

    Do I have to change my “net-net” commercial lease precedents, AND write letters to every landlord for whom I’ve ever prepared a lease, warning them that they may have a new liability by statute, despite the “care-free’ lease we thought we had entered into???
    thxs,
    bill Jeffery

    • this particular lease was a standard form and did not include any stipulation for either party to comply with any legislation, although i would guess it could be negotiated.

      regardless, the human rights code supersedes all and this decision made it clear that both parties share equal liability should an application be filed with the tribunal.

      if landlords are not aware of their obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, then i would think they would appreciate being informed, or warned, that they would be liable, up to the point of undue hardship, to accommodate persons with disabilities.

  2. Pingback: Accessibility News December 6,2014 Update

  3. Pingback: Equal Access Movement 20 Years Old

  4. Pingback: 1762668 Ontario Inc. Added To Accessibility Hall Of Shame | the burg watch

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