Air Canada Discriminates Against Wheelchair User

Disability advocate Tim Rose is attempting to fly to Cleveland to deliver a presentation on the importance of accessibility. But, ironically, he can’t get there because a major airline is refusing to accommodate – or even brainstorm possible ways to meet – his needs. Although Air Canada is the only airline to fly there direct (and thus Tim’s only reasonable option), they are refusing to transport his wheelchair because it is too difficult for them. Despite the fact that he has flown this exact route with Air Canada on a similar plane before (not to mention flown many times around the world). Despite the fact that their own accessibility policy commits to transporting mobility aids that do not fit on smaller planes by another method. and despite the fact that they have almost two months to come up with a solution. They are saying Tim wanting to fly with his wheelchair is the same thing as trying to bring an oversized bag. Tim and his wheelchair are not baggage.

This is hardly the first time people with disabilities have received inequitable treatment by Air Canada, see this article from 2009, and this article from 2015 for just a couple examples.

A while back I also started a petition related to this issue.

See Tim’s video below. Apologies this video is not yet captioned. I will post a captioned video when it becomes available.



Wheelchairs are Not Suitcases: a great opportunity for some #RealChange

Sign the Petition.

Every time I fly I make a silent apology to my wheelchair. I leave the chair at the gate, fingers crossed, as I’m transported to the cushy seat on the plain with a small screen in front to distract me from what’s happening to my wheelchair in the cargo hold.

For my wheelchair this journey will be far more hazardous. Once it leaves my sight, this machine that provides me with daily independence, freedom, and mobility, gets thrown on the carts and on to the loading machines with the similar respect that passengers suitcases would expect.

Imagine watching you 600 pound chair get tossed on its side and just hoping your chair isn’t melted, broken, or taken apart by the time you reach your destination. Yes, these things actually happen to people.

I’ve looked up the standards and regulations, it turns out Transport Canada is really concerned about wheelchair batteries, as they should be. They are also rightly concerned about the accessibility of the aircraft, there are also Training Regulations for Employees and Contractors Who Handle Mobility Aids. These were written in 1994.

They state:

Every carrier shall ensure that, consistent with its type of operation, all employees and contractors of the carrier who may be required to handle mobility aids receive the training described in section 4 (Employees and Contractors who interact with the Public) and a level of training appropriate to the requirements of their function in the following areas:

(a) different types of mobility aids;

(b) requirements, limitations and procedures for securing, carrying and stowing mobility aids in the passenger compartment of a vehicle; and

(c) proper methods of carrying and stowing mobility aids in the baggage compartment of a vehicle, including the disassembling, packaging, unpackaging and assembling of the mobility aids.

Were you expecting more details? Me too.

So here’s my point:

Power wheelchairs cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. I hate to make that argument, but it’s true. It’s also a good thing because that independence allows the people who need the devices to do great things that give back to the economy.

People who use mobility devices do a lot of flying, I don’t have statistics, but I’m fairly certain it has increased since 1994 when that training was put in place.

I think it’s time we treated mobility devices and the people who use them with a little more respect. When Canadians voted in their government last fall Prime Minister Trudeau promised a Canadians with Disabilities Act, and it seems like it’s been forgotten ever since.

I’m hoping he proves me wrong.

Canada makes changes to the way Canadians fly for all kinds of reasons, but changing the way we transport mobility aids would benefit Canadians, save us money in replacing these devices, and boost the economy by encouraging travel.

We can do this! Sign the Petition.

Will Presto Smart Card be Accessible to #TTC Passengers with #Disabilities?

Report from the AODA Alliance

Even though the new Integrated Accessibility Regulation has finally been enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, will Toronto transit passengers face new barriers in the future when paying fares to ride the TTC?

On June 6, 2011, the media reported that the City of Toronto was working out, or had worked out, an agreement for the Toronto Transit Commission to adopt the Ontario Government’s Presto Smart Card for paying TTC transit fares. Yet we have no word that the Ontario Government has removed the serious accessibility barriers in the Presto Smart Card that can impede transit patrons with disabilities from fully using it on a footing of equality.

We have waged an ongoing campaign to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against persons with disabilities. As part of this, last year, the AODA Alliance made public serious concerns about barriers against persons with disabilities in the Presto Smart Card technology, which was custom-designed with public money. We caused the Transportation Minister to revisit this technology, because of these concerns. However, the McGuinty Government did not commit to our request that it halt the roll-out of the Presto Smart Card until the barriers were removed.

Now, on learning of the recent developments in Toronto, the AODA Alliance wrote to the Toronto Mayor, the TTC Chair, and Ontario’s Transportation Minister. We asked them to commit that the Presto Smart Card will not be rolled out in the TTC until those barriers are removed and the Presto Smart Card is fully accessible to transit passengers with disabilities. We reminded them of the requirements for ensuring accessibility under the Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights, and the new Integrated Accessibility Regulation enacted last Friday under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We set out that letter below.

Write your Member of the Legislature about this, to support our position. If you are in Toronto, write the TTC Chair, the mayor and your councillor to raise this issue. Let the media know about it. Everything you need to know is set out in this letter, and the web pages to which its links point.

#Toronto #Mayoral Candidates Debate #Disability Issues

Peter Athanasopoulos apologized to six mayoral candidates: the wheelchair-accessible cab he ordered had arrived 30 minutes late.

His difficulties reaching a debate on disability issues in Toronto, a city whose subway stations won’t be guaranteed accessible until 2024, underscored Athanasopoulos’s argument transportation is a “huge issue” for people like him.

“I would have taken the subway but the gap was just way too big and it wouldn’t be safe for me,” he added during a debate Tuesday, June 29 in which contenders for mayor clashed over whether to keep group homes apart and how best to move disability issues forward at City Hall.

The city’s Disability Issues Committee, an advisory group that meets four times a year, might not serve that purpose, several candidates suggested at the forum hosted by non-profit groups at the University of Toronto’s Innis College.

“What’s there now is a way to appease the community,” said Giorgio Mammoliti, who suggested a dedicated committee of council could make more substantial changes happen.

If the disability committee is only a “feel good” group, “let’s blow it up,” George Smitherman suggested, but said he’d give the committee more power and make senior staff responsible for achieving its goals.

Smitherman, a former MPP, said the city needs to adopt “more exacting targets” for hiring a diverse workforce, including people with disabilities.

Sarah Thomson, a publisher, said her administration will use remote or work-from-home programs and new technologies to open more municipal jobs to the disabled.

Rob Ford, an Etobicoke councillor and business owner, said financial incentives would encourage companies to hire workers with disabilities. Ford, who often names city spending he considers excessive, said more should be spent on making buildings accessible to the disabled.

“You should spend a lot of money helping these people out.”

Ford also said he sees no need to keep the city’s required 250-metre separation between group homes, adding he doesn’t believe in spreading them out. “If there can be four in a row, why not?”

Joe Pantalone, also a city councillor, said the distance requirements for group homes ensure they are distributed fairly. “If you really believe in spreading the wealth around, if you will, then you got to make sure every neighbourhood has its share of everything,” he said.

“Distance requirements achieve that.”

But Rocco Rossi, a former Liberal Party of Canada president, suggested enforcing such “Byzantine” rules for group homes takes options away from people with disabilities and said he was appalled by Pantalone’s view on spreading them out.

“Where does that end? Does that say every fourth house can be Italian, every third house can be Greek?” he asked.

From the audience, John Rae, vice president of Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, said right-wing candidates like to cut programs and contract them out to the private sector, an approach he warned against. “We in the disabled community know trickle-down economics rarely if ever trickles down to us.”

But later, Rae, though still undecided, said he had been most impressed by the performance of Thomson, the candidate whom Pantalone argued “wants to contract out everything.”

Rae said he was impressed with Thomson’s “no nonsense” support for his suggestion the city should stop purchasing all items that cannot be used by everyone who wants to work for the city.

Meanwhile, Athanasopoulos, part of an earlier event in which Rossi and Smitherman experienced the challenges of using a wheelchair for a day, was wearing a Smitherman button. He said he has seen Smitherman’s work with community organizations, and believes he will solve issues for people with disabilities.

Reproduced from–mayoral-candidates-debate-disability-issues

Letter to Thunder Bay city council about #snow removal, #transit

Received: Friday, February 5, 2010, 6:54 AM
Yesterday, I tried to catch the bus just east of Arthur & James on Arthur Street.  It wasn’t cleared out.  I went east to the next stop.  It was cleared out, but barely wide enough to fit a wheelchair on & there is no path from the sidewalk to the bus stop.  There was NO room even for the ramp to rest!  The driver tried.  He said I should have gone to the nearest drive way.  2 problems with that.  Well, 3, really.  1. Driveways are NOT bus stops and some drivers refuse to pick me up, even when the driveway is only right next door to the stop.  2.  When getting on from a driveway, one is often pretty close to road level & it is nearly impossible, not to mention dangerous to climb the ramp.  Sometimes it’s a 45 degree angle!  3. Some people don’t clear their driveways or don’t clear them well enough for a wheelchair to move through. 
I looked out the window at the stops & discovered I would have had to walk ALL the way to Arthur & Ford Street before I found one that was cleared out properly!  It would be ridiculous to expect able-bodied people to walk that far to catch a bus or to expect them to climb up a step that was chest-high to get on.  (I’m comparing a very steep ramp & the effort it takes to go up one to stepping that high.) so why are people who have physical disabilities expected to?

We haven’t had significant snow for SEVERAL days.  It’s getting to the point where I’m starting to think of buying a folding shovel & carrying it with me, so that when I go out, I’ll know that when I go somewhere, I’ll be able to get from the stop to the sidewalk or to catch the bus without having to walk over a mile.  Imagine if visitors to our city drove by & saw me – in a powerchair with1 semi-good arm, clearing out a bus stop with a small folding shovel!
I’m sorry for the long letter, but I am FRUSTRATED because I am late to or miss appointments, meetings, etc. I DO pay busfare – the same as students & (healthy & able-bodied) seniors who don’t have to wander from bus stop to bus stop looking for one they can use.
I know you’re trying, but this issue comes up every winter.  We live in the North.  It WILL snow!  We need to budget for & plan timely removal!
 Tracy Lynn Hurlbert, Thunder Bay, Ontario


Sidewalk Snow is an issue for people with disabilities Across Canada!

If you’ve experienced a simlar issue please check out my Snowiest Sidewalk in Canada contest