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