Law Times

January 7, 2019

The premier weekly newspaper for the legal profession in Ontario

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 2 of 15

Law Times • January 7, 2019 Page 3 Should include benchmarks Lawyers say accessibility legislation needs timelines BY DALE SMITH For Law Times T he federal government's accessibility legislation has gone to the Sen- ate after seeing several amendments in the House of Commons, but lawyers who work with those who have dis- abilities say that more amend- ments are still needed to the bill — particularly when it comes to timelines and the complexity of the complaints process. Bill C-81, e Accessible Canada Act, aims to set acces- sibility standards in federally regulated areas, which include private and Crown corporations involved in the transportation industry, banking, and telecom- munications. It will create an accessibility commissioner who will work out of the Canadian Human Rights Commission; it will also create the Canadian Accessibility Standards Devel- opment Organization, which will create the standards that federally regulated bodies will need to adhere to, in consulta- tion with provincial and territo- rial counterparts. Brendon Pooran of Pooran Law PC in Toronto, says that the federal bill doesn't include any specific timelines on when the government will achieve full accessibility for people with dis- abilities, as compared to Ontario legislation, which states that ac- cessibility standards must be developed, implemented and enforced before Jan. 1, 2025. "ere are no deadlines that speak to when regulations need to be implemented," says Pooran. "Including some piece around specific deadlines for achieving full accessibility would be an improvement." Robert Lattanzio, a lawyer and the executive director of the ARCH Disability Law Centre in Toronto, says that timelines should include benchmarks on when certain aspects of the bill will be completed. "When will the first regula- tions be enacted? When will there be a review?" asks Lattan- zio. "All those pieces remain up in the air." Lattanzio says that experi- ence with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act — which became law in 2005 — shows that having timelines has been an important tool for the disability communities to push and advocate for change. Pooran says he would also like amendments to clarify the enforcement and compliance measures in the bill. "While the federal legisla- tion is a little bit more effective than what Ontario has, when it comes to enforcing accessibility standards, that responsibility is spread among various entities," says Pooran. "ere's potential for duplication and inconsisten- cies." Laverne Jacobs, associate dean of research and graduate studies in the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor, says that the enforcement can be tricky. "It's important to have gov- ernment will to put into place the discretion in order to en- sure that inspectors are put into place, that investigations are done," says Jacobs. She adds that the federal commissioner's job is fairly elaborately set out, and there is the inclusion of a complaint mechanism that doesn't exist in the Ontario legislation. "ere are provisions for remedies if an individual has suffered monetary or psycho- logical damage because of a lack of accessibility," says Jacobs. "Investigations can be done and matters can then be brought be- fore the Human Rights Tribunal. It's quite well thought-out." Jacobs adds that while the federal commissioner will have great tools and powers, the leg- islation says that existing au- thorities such as the Canadian Transportation Agency, or the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commis- sion will still take complaints and do enforcement based in their own jurisdictions. Paul Champ, principal at Champ & Associates in Ottawa, says that for complainants who feel that their rights have been violated under the new act, there isn't much guidance in the legislation as to where to make complaints, and that can lead to "bounce-back," similar to pro- visions in the Canada Labour Code. "ey kind of point at each other," says Champ, citing cases he's dealt with where a dismiss- al under a federally regulated sector under discriminatory grounds meant trying to deter- mine whether to file the com- plaint under the Canada Labour Code or the Canadian Human Rights Act. "ere's a complex answer to this that makes it work," says Champ. "You file a complaint with the commissioner and you ask them to hold it in abeyance while you make a complaint un- der the Canada Labour Code Provisions. It's unclear how that will unfold under the new statu- tory regime." LT NEWS THE POWER OF PERSISTENCE: MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LITIGATION No matter how challenging, complex or costly the case may be, we will not stop in our pursuit of justice. READ HOW SOME OF OUR CASES ARE ADVANCING THE LAW: Surujdeo (2017 ONCA 41), and Stirrett (2018 ONSC 2595). 416-599-1700 | BOGOROCH.COM REFERRALS HONOURED AND APPRECIATED 150 KING STREET WEST, SUITE 1901 TORONTO, ONTARIO M5H 1J9 Bogoroch_LT_Oct_18.indd 1 2018-10-18 10:24 AM Brendon Pooran says that a federal bill doesn't include any specific timelines on when the federal government will achieve full accessibility for people with disabili- ties, compared with Ontario legislation CORRECTION A quote at the end of the article in the December 3 edition of Law Times, Impact of summary judgments still evolving from David Elmaleh was incorrectly attributed to Stephen Ross during editing. Law Times apologizes for the error.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Law Times - January 7, 2019