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ODA Committee Update
dated January 27, 2005
posted March 7, 2005


Bits And Pieces Of News About Upcoming Public Hearings On Bill 118

January 27, 2005


Here are bits and pieces of news concerning Bill 118, the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as next week's public hearings on that bill quickly approach.

* Room change for Toronto public hearings on Bill 118

* Exciting news that all Bill 118 public hearings will be televised across Ontario and webcast around the world.

* Announcement of disability accommodations arranged to date to make the Bill 118 public hearings disability accessible.* An announcement that last September's Michael Lewis Memorial Symposium on Disability Accessibility Legislation will be broadcast this weekend on cable TV's "Voiceprint" service, available across Canada on cable TV and around the world on the web.

* A reminder when to attend or watch on TV the ODA Committee's oral submission to the Standing Committee.

* A copy of the December 23, 2004 letter to the City of Toronto from the Ontario Human Rights Commission's Chief Commissioner on a specific issue that demonstrates why we need strong, new accessibility legislation.

Send us your feedback at:



* The room number for the Toronto public hearings on Monday, January 31 and
Tuesday February 1 has been changed to Committee Room 1 at the Ontario
Legislature.It will not be held in room 228 as earlier announced.

* We have exciting news. Most if not all of the public hearings will be
televised on the Ontario Legislature channel and webcast on the Ontario
Legislature website. We are given to understand that this is the first time
this has happened for legislative public hearings that travel outside
Toronto. This makes these hearings far more accessible to a wider audience.

The January 31 and February 1 Toronto public hearings will be shown live on
the Ontario Legislature channel of your local cable company. The hearings
outside Toronto will be time-delayed. Here is the schedule we received from
the clerk of the Standing Committee on Social Policy:

Monday, Jan 31 and Tuesday, Feb 1 in Toronto will be broadcast and webcast

The meeting in Niagara Falls on Feb 2 will be broadcast and webcast on
Friday, February 4.

The meeting in London on Feb 3 will be broadcast and webcast on Saturday,
February 5.

The meeting in Thunder Bay on Feb 7 will be broadcast and webcast on
Wednesday, February 9

The meeting in Ottawa on Feb 8 will be broadcast and webcast on Thursday,
February 10.

The broadcast will be on the Parliamentary Channel on TV and the webcast is
available on the Legislative Assembly website at


They will also be archived for the month of February.

* The Standing Committee on Social Policy has been working on providing
accommodations needed at the public hearings on Bill 118 to ensure that
persons with disabilities can fully participate in the hearings. We have
been advised that the following has been arranged for certain, and that they
continue to work on making arrangements to fill any gaps:

Closed Captioning: available every day for the full time of the hearings.
Captioning will be projected on a screen or monitor

Attendant care: They are working on having this available in all centers.

American Sign Language Interpretation: As of now, they have arranged for

Toronto - Jan 31; 3 interpreters from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Toronto - Feb 1; 3 interpreters from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and 2 interpreters
from 5:00 to 6:00 pm

Niagara Falls - Feb 2; 3 interpreters.

London - Feb 3; At least 2 interpreters from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Not had
confirmed whether they will be able to stay until 7:00 pm

Thunder Bay - Feb 7; 1 interpreter for the full day

Ottawa - Feb 8; 3 interpreters from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, not confirmed yet
from 5:00 to 6:00

* Voiceprint Canada, a channel available on cable TV via either on a
specified channel or on News World using your TV's or VCR's "Second Audio
Program" feature, will be airing last September's London Ontario Public
Policy Forum on the ODA, in memory of ODA activist Michael Lewis. Here is
the Voiceprint news release:




ODA Meeting Described on VoicePrint Canada

January 26, 2005 (Toronto, ON) - VoicePrint Canada presents a detailed
examination of the issues in making one province fully accessible. On
Saturday, January

29th and Sunday, January 30th at 1pm (ET), VoicePrint Canada will air the "Michael Lewis Memorial Policy Forum on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act" in a described format.

The forum was held in London, ON in September 2004 and focused on what the new law, Bill 118, should contain. Bill 118 is aimed at updating the province's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to extend its obligations to the private sector in addition to government and other public sector operations.

This symposium will air on VoicePrint Canada in two parts, beginning at 1pm on both days. The conference was previously aired by Rogers Cable in London;

VoicePrint Canada is now providing the conference in a described version.

VoicePrint Canada is a not-for-profit charity established in 1989 to enhance access to printed news, information and entertainment by more than 3.2 million vision- and print-restricted Canadians. VoicePrint Canada can be accessed on the S.A.P. of CBC Newsworld; Star Choice, ExpressVu and Look TV audio channels;

and on the web at www.voiceprintcanada.com.


For more information:

Steve Pownall
Program Manager
1-800-567-6755 x. 233


* Remember to attend in person or tune in on TV to watch the ODA Committee's
presentation to the Standing Committee, scheduled for around 3:45 p.m. on
Tuesday February 1, 2005.


* In the ODA Committee brief submitted to the Standing Committee, we refer
to a December 23, 2004 letter which the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario
Human Rights Commission sent to City of Toronto officials. It was copied to
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act committee. We thought it would be
interesting for you to see this letter, as it helps illustrate the need for
strong new accessibility legislation.

Ontario Human Commission ontarienne
Rights Commission des droits de la personne
Office of the Chief Commissioner Cabinet du commissaire en chef
180 Dundas Street West, 8th Floor 180, rue Dundas ouest, 8e étage
Toronto ON M7A 2R9 Toronto ON M7A 2R9
Courier postal code: M5G 1Z8 Code postal pour livraison : M5G 1Z8
Tel.: (416) 314-4537 Tél. : (416) 314-4537
Fax.: (416) 314-7752 Télél. : (416) 314-7752

December 23, 2004

Ann Borooah
Executive Director and Chief Building Official, Building
Toronto City Hall
12th Floor East Tower
100 Queen Street West
Toronto ON M5H 2N2

Dear Ann Borooah,

I am writing to you in keeping with my public duty under s. 29 of Ontario's
Human Rights Code to inquire into human rights matters. It has recently
come to my attention that recent renovations to the "Village Centre" complex
(formerly the "Churwell Centre") at 65 Wellesley Street East and 540 Church
Street in Toronto have rendered these storefront businesses newly
inaccessible for persons with disabilities.

Businesses in the Village Centre complex that were, but are now no longer
accessible, include Second Cup, Booster Juice, a bakery, and Subway
sandwiches. There is also a PharmaPlus drugstore and a TD Canada Trust, but
they remain in an accessible area of the complex.

I understand that the Building Division of the City of Toronto's department
of Urban Development Services is responsible for issuing building permits,
including for renovations, and conducting inspections in accordance with the
Ontario Building Code, the City of Toronto's zoning by-laws and other

Section 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Code states that every person has the
right to equal treatment with respect to goods, services and facilities,
without discrimination, including because of disability. The Code has
primacy over most other legislation including the Building Code Act. The
Code therefore creates a right to accessible restaurants, shops, hotels,
movie theatres etc. and places a positive obligation on businesses operating
in Ontario to make their facilities accessible. A failure to provide equal
access to a facility or equal treatment in a service constitutes a violation
of the Code and can be the subject of a human rights complaint to the
Commission (see for example, Turnbull v. Famous Players Inc. ((2001),
C.H.R.R. Doc. 01-183 (Ont. Bd Inq.)).

In March 2002, the Commission made a submission to the Ontario Government
concerning deficiencies in barrier-free standards under the Ontario Building
Code. In addition to the responsibilities of services provides, the
Commission identified municipalities as having an important role in better
enforcement of the Building Code.

The City of Toronto Web page states that the goal of the Building Division
is to help make the buildings where we live, work and play safe. This goal
should include to also help make buildings accessible for Torontonians with
disabilities, and at the very least, prevent them from becoming newly

The Commission finds that dealing with complaints one at a time is too
onerous for all involved and is not an effective use of our resources. More
importantly, it does not facilitate an effective systemic remedy. And
although the Commission has the power under s. 32(2) of the Code to initiate
its own complaint on any such matter, the Commission feels that seeking a
cooperative approach to preventing and removing barriers is preferable and
will hopefully prove much more effective.

The Ontarians with Disabilities Act helps facilitate a cooperative approach
and sets out responsibilities and a mechanism for municipalities to plan and
report on the identification and removal of barriers, including municipal
policies and procedures that might adversely affect accessibility for
persons with disabilities.

In this regard, I am seeking clarification on whether it is possible that
the issuing of building permits and subsequent inspections might result in a
situation where a once accessible commercial building could be permitted to
undertake renovations that would render storefronts newly inaccessible to
customers with disabilities. If this could be the case, I would ask that:
(1) the City of Toronto take steps to review this matter and report back to
the Commission on how its policies and procedures might be revised to ensure
that no new barriers are permitted in the issuing of building permits and
inspections; and (2), that the City identify this problem and appropriate
remedy in its next accessibility plan in accordance with the ODA.

If not being done so already, when issuing building permits and undertaking
inspections, the City of Toronto might, for example, apply the comprehensive
Accessibility Design Guidelines it developed to ensure that proposed
renovations and new building plans meet up-to-date best practices in barrier
free design.

Thank you for considering this matter. I look forward to your response and I
would be pleased to discuss this matter further.

In the meantime, if there are any questions about the Ontario Human Rights
Code, the Commission's Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to
Accommodate, or the Commission's Submission on the Building Code please
contact Lauren Bates, Senior Policy Analyst, at 416-314-4522.


Keith C. Norton, Q.C., B.A., LL.B.
Chief Commissioner


Paula M. Dill, Commissioner
Urban Development Services
City of Toronto

Mayor David Miller
City of Toronto

Nadia Temple
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

Barry McMahon, Interim Chair
Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario

David Lepovsky, Chair
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee

Jason Fane
65 Wellesley Ltd.

Paula M. Dill, Commissioner
Urban Development Services
Toronto City Hall
12th Floor East Tower
100 Queen Street West
Toronto ON M5H 2N2

Mayor David Miller
Toronto City Hall
2nd Floor East Tower
100 Queen Street West
Toronto ON M5H 2N2

Nadia Temple
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
3rd Floor
400 University Ave
Toronto ON M7A 2R9

Barry McMahon, Interim Chair
3rd Floor
400 University Ave
Toronto ON M7A 2R9

David Lepofsky, Chair
Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee
c/o Marg Thomas
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto ON M4G 3E8


Jason Fane
65 Wellesley Ltd.
10 Bellair Street Suite 1702
Toronto, Ontario
M5R 3T8


The only available defence to such discrimination is showing that providing
access or services would constitute undue hardship having regard to cost,
outside sources of funding, or health and safety factors.


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