Staff Recommend Against Online Voting in 2026 city Election

In addition to traditional ballots, staff suggest vote-by-mail and vote-from-home options Richard Vivian
April 27, 2024

Now is not the time for online voting, say city staff, which raises a variety of potential concerns with the election method in a report heading to city council next month, including the potential influence of “malicious actors.”

Instead, council is being asked to approve vote-by-mail and vote-from-home as accessible alternatives to traditional paper ballots for the 2026 municipal election.

The city’s accessibility advisory committee (AAC), however, is championing a return to online voting. It passed a motion to that effect in December, followed by a motion earlier this month stressing it does not support the staff recommendations.

Council is set to weigh in on the matter during its committee of the whole meeting on May 7. In order for any decision made that day to be finalized, it would need to be ratified during a formal council session, likely on May 28.

“Staff acknowledge (online voting) is the most accessible option and is the alternative voting method most preferred based on public engagement feedback,” the report reads, before listing a variety of concerns with the process that lead to it not being recommended.

Among them is the potential for online voting systems to be manipulated.

“While there are no proven instances of an internet voting system being hacked or tampered with, municipalities are increasingly targets for malicious actors looking to hold information for ransom,” the report states. “If staff (is) directed to offer this method, technical security testing including penetration testing leading up to threat risk assessment may be required.”

Other concerns expressed in the report include a “higher risk of service interruptions” that could impact the electoral process and/or its integrity, as well as limited ability to verify voter eligibility, in addition to audit and recount processes.

Additionally, while some municipalities have adopted online voting, upper levels of government have not, the report notes.

The AAC doesn’t support city staff’s recommended alternative voting methods.

“We believe that this leaves insurmountable barriers to accessibility and denies many members of the community access to a confidential, independent, and verifiable voting method. Failure to provide a voting method to disabled individuals serves to disenfranchise a vulnerable population,” reads its April 16 motion, which goes on to urge council to move forward with online voting and a remote accessible vote-from-home option.

City council approved the use of online voting during advanced polling days for the 2014 election but nixed the idea ahead of the 2018 and 2022 contests, with privacy concerns cited as the main reason.

City staff consider the vote-from-home option, which was provided as a pilot project in 2022, to be a low risk election method.

“Feedback from the previous 2022 pilot indicated that this option supports voters with disabilities and offers added barrier reduction for people with limited transportation and no access to online services that could impact access to voting.

Similarly, the vote by mail method is considered a low risk. It was also offered during the 2022 election.

Also up for discussion during the May 7 committee of the whole meeting are staff recommendations to provide free Guelph Transit service on election day, as well as no-cost parking at Market Parade beside city hall.

The free parking recommendation is an expansion of what’s been done in the past – two free hours of parking in the downtown for voters to cast their ballot at city hall.

Original at https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/staff-recommend-against-online-voting-in-2026-city-election-8658171

Mobility Bus Offers On-Demand Personalized Service for Riders

Author of the article:Derek Baldwin
Published Apr 25, 2024

Personalized transit services will help Belleville riders who can book their trips through a new online portal.

But, users of Belleville’s Mobility Bus “must first register for the mobility bus to confirm eligibility,” the municipality has advised.

“When determining eligibility, we consider barriers that affect an individual’s ability to use our fixed-route transit system including distance to an accessible bus stop, accessible paths of travel to and from bus stops, navigation and way-finding of the fixed-route transit system, and more,” the city said in an advisory.

The Mobility Bus can be used by eligible riders to schedule a trip, be picked up at their location, dropped off at their requested destination and, if necessary, schedule a return trip.

It is a great solution for those with mobility challenges who may be concerned with getting to and from bus stops. You are eligible to use the Mobility Bus if you are a resident of Ward 1 or 2 and are a person with a disability who experiences challenges in using our fixed-route system, the city said.

The Mobility Bus operates seven days a week from 5 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, 5:30 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.

Rides can be booked by calling or emailing the dispatch office between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily and starting in June, the service will also be available through a new online booking portal. Riders will be able to schedule a ride through their web browser or the app, and even track where their ride is in real-time.

Further details on the new portal will be made available in coming weeks.

Those who think they may be eligible for the Mobility Bus service are encouraged to review the requirements on our Mobility Bus webpage and apply. For more information, please contact Transit at 613-962-1925

The latest advisory follows the approval earlier this year of a new five-year Multi-Year Accessibility Plan to make the city’s Mobility Transit buses a permanent core service across the entire municipality for more than 1,500 regular riders.

Coun. Barb Enright Miller, chair of the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, said in council in January the new plan moves the city forward on the heels of earlier such plans to reduce barriers for city residents with disabilities.

“This plan sets out goals to address barriers in the transit system. Accessible public transit is essential for people with disabilities to access employment, education, community services, leisure and recreation,” she said.

“Public transit is an important part of the transportation standard that is established in the integrated accessibility standard that is part of the Accessibility of Ontario Disabilities Act. The AODA is a provincial legislation which sets accessibility standards in key areas. The goal is for all citizens to have equal opportunity to use spaces without barriers and have access to goods and services freely.”

Council has also agreed to confirm mobility bus services as a core service.

For more information and to register for the mobility bus visit http://www.Belleville.ca/MobilityBus.

Original at https://www.intelligencer.ca/news/mobility-bus-offers-on-demand-personalized-service-for-riders

Huge Interim Victory for Torontonians with Disabilities — Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee Says No to Electric Scooters — Disability Advocates Pressing Full City Council to Agree

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 3, 2024 Toronto: Yesterday, Wednesday, May 2, 2024, witnessed a major but interim victory for vulnerable people with disabilities and seniors in Toronto. Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee voted with no dissenting votes to leave in place the ban on riding dangerous e-scooters in public. It approved other micromobility options to reduce car traffic and greenhouse gases but accepted a compelling new Toronto City Staff Report that concluded that there are no effective measures to prevent the proven dangers that e-scooters pose for vulnerable pedestrians.

Disability advocates from the AODA Alliance, the CNIB, the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, and the Canadian Council of the Blind all told the Infrastructure and Environment Committee not to permit e-scooters. They are a silent menace, endangering public safety in places that allow them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.

Blind people don’t know when silent e-scooters rocket at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmeted, fun-seeking joyriders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for blind people and accessibility nightmares for wheelchair users.

On May 5, 2021, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to ban e-scooters. Three years later, the Infrastructure and Environment Committee heard yesterday from people with disabilities that spiffy new technology that e-scooter corporate lobbyists promote has not prevented these dangers.

The City has been advised not to allow e-scooters by two successive City Staff Reports in 2021 and 2024, by three strong recommendations by Toronto’s official Accessibility Advisory Committee passed in 2020, 2021 and 2024, and by a compelling open letter to Toronto City Council signed by at least 21 community organizations.

The Infrastructure and Environment Committee called on City Staff to take new action to address the fact that quite a number of people are illegally riding e-scooters on public roads and sidewalks in Toronto, with no effective law enforcement.

“It’s great that Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee stood up for people with disabilities and stood up to the well-financed e-scooter corporate lobbyists,” said David Lepofsky, AODA Alliance Chair. “We must keep up our grassroots advocacy blitz so that the entire Toronto City Council agrees when it considers this issue on May 22, 2024.”

Unfortunately, during a later part of yesterday’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, the Committee disregarded serious disability safety concerns when it discussed future plans for bike paths and other changes to Eglinton Avenue. The AODA Alliance’s deputation to the Committee on that issue, backed by the CNIB, called for the City to stop building new bike paths on top of sidewalks. They endanger vulnerable pedestrians with disabilities such as blind people, as was revealed last fall in a widely viewed 8-minute AODA Alliance online video.

“No City Council members on the Infrastructure and Environment Committee asked City Staff about this problem or proposed any motions to stop the City from using public money to create new disability barriers,” said Lepofsky. “We need our elected leaders to take action now to protect us. These new bike lanes are bad for both pedestrians and cyclists.”

The AODA Alliance supports expansion of Toronto’s network of bike lanes but urges that it must be designed in a way that does not endanger cyclists or vulnerable pedestrians, such as people with disabilities.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

For more background, check out:
* AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofskys 3 minute deputation to the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee on May 2, 2024 regarding e-scooters.
* AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofskys 3 minute May 2, 2024 deputation to Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee calling for no new bike paths that are built on top of sidewalks.
* The AODA Alliance’s April 30,2024 brief to the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee.
* The AODA Alliance’s 8-minute November 20, 2023 captioned video revealing the dangerous new bike path on Toronto’s Eglinton Avenue West. * The AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

Email Toronto City Council’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee to Support the AODA Alliance Brief Calling for No E-Scooters and No bike Paths built On Top of Sidewalks

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities Website: https://www.aodaalliance.org
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

April 30, 2024

SUMMARY

At a Glance

Do you have a few moments to help the accessibility cause between now and Wednesday night?
The AODA Alliance has filed a brief with the City of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee. It is set out below, and shockingly, it is only six pages long.

We will be presenting this brief this Thursday, May 2, 2024 at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting that starts at 9:30 am. We address the first two agenda items:

* On Item 1 (micromobility), we urge the Committee to adopt the new Toronto City Staff Report on Micromobility. It calls for Toronto to leave in place the ban on riding e-scooters in public.
* On Item 2, the Eglinton Avenue reconstruction, we call on the Committee to get Toronto to stop building bike paths on top of sidewalks, where they endanger pedestrians with disabilities, such as blind people. We call for bike paths to be built at road level, not on the sidewalk. Last fall, we released a widely viewed captioned 8-minute video that shows why these bike paths are so dangerous.

How You Can Help

Act fast! We need action before this Thursday morning!

Please email the City of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee. Please tell them if you support the AODA Alliance’s April 30, 2024 brief. Write the Infrastructure and Environment Committee at this email address: iec@Toronto.ca

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Brief to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee of Toronto City Council

Re: May 2, 2024 Meeting Agenda item:
IE13.1 – A Micromobility Strategy for Toronto
and
IE13.2 eglintonTOday Phase 1 Complete Street Project:

Riding Electric Scooters in Toronto is Dangerous and Must Remain Banned and Toronto Must Never Build Bike Paths on Sidewalks

Agenda Item IE13.1 – A Micromobility Strategy for Toronto

Overview

Toronto City Council must not unleash the silent menace of dangerous electric scooters in Toronto. Riding e-scooters in public places in Toronto is now banned. It remains banned unless Council legalizes them. A new Toronto City Staff Report and three separate motions by Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee all recommend that Toronto leave in place the ban on riding e-scooters in public.

We applaud the excellent new City Staff Report on Micromobility. We call on Toronto City Council to adopt it 100% with no changes.

Toronto City Council exhaustively debated this issue three years ago. On May 5, 2021, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to ban riding e-scooters in public places in Toronto. The disability community fought hard for this result, because the silent menace of e-scooters endangers people with disabilities, seniors, and others. They fought against the feeding frenzy of lobbying at City Hall by well-financed corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies.

The Blight of E-Scooters

Vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others are endangered by e-scooters racing silently at high speeds on sidewalks, roads and park paths around Ontario. They create twin dangers.

* A silent menace, e-scooters appear out of nowhere and are ridden on sidewalks in cities where they are banned from doing so. Uninsured, unlicensed, untrained, unhelmeted joyriders racing at 20 kph endanger the safety of innocent pedestrians, especially people who cannot see them coming or who cannot quickly dodge them.

* Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters have been tripping hazards for blind people. They are an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

There are news reports from around the world documenting very serious injuries caused by e-scooters. Several major disability organizations, as well as several municipal accessibility advisory committees have called on city after city to not allow e-scooters and to enforce any ban on them that is in place. Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee has pleaded with Toronto City Council three times in four years to say no to e-scooters, in 2020, 2021 and 2024.

E-scooter batteries have spontaneously caught fire. That is another safety danger.

We are talking about the motorized kick-style scooters that a person stands on to ride. We of course seek no restrictions on mobility assistance devices for people with disabilities, such as the very different powered scooters on which a person sits when riding.

What Did the New City Staff Report Say?

Like earlier Toronto City Staff Reports in 2020 and 2021, this new Report concluded that e-scooters pose a real danger to safety and accessibility for vulnerable members of the public, including people with disabilities. There is no effective way to protect the public from these dangers short of banning them. There are good forms of micromobility other than e-scooters that can effectively help Toronto reduce road traffic and global warming.

The Report showed that e-scooters do not materially reduce car traffic on the roads. They do not have the benefit of reducing the danger of climate change, despite claims to the contrary by proponents of e-scooters.

The Report calls for City Council to approve certain other options for micromobility. We have no opposition to those other recommendations. If those are approved, then the weak case in favour of e-scooters becomes even weaker.

The new Toronto City Staff Report is far more thorough than any other Staff Report by any other Ontario city that has allowed e-scooters. None of those other cities’ staff reports addressed all or even most of the data and issues that are so comprehensively covered here by Toronto City Staff.

Those other cities wrongly ended up giving short shrift to serious concerns about safety and accessibility for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others that e-scooters create. There is thus no good reason to allow e-scooters in Toronto just because some other Ontario cities have made the harmful decision to allow them.

Other Arguments Against Allowing E-Scooters in Toronto

It’s not good enough to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. As the new City Staff Report reaffirms, in cities that have banned e-scooters from sidewalks but allowed them on the roads, people still keep riding e-scooters on sidewalks. We add that Toronto cannot afford to have a cop on every sidewalk to police such regulations.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Creating new barriers flies in the face of that.

Some might claim that e-scooters are inevitable, so Toronto might as well just regulate them. Yet they are only inevitable if we let them be so. Moreover, regulating them is much harder than banning them. It is easier for police to prove that someone rode an e-scooter in public when that is forbidden. It is much harder for police to prove that the e-scooter was a prohibited size or weight or that it exceeded a permissible speed.

Some might suggest that e-scooters promote equity for poor people. Yet equity must never come at the price of endangering safety and accessibility for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others, including poor people.

Some might say e-scooters should be allowed on bike paths. Yet in Toronto, that would allow e-scooters on a growing number of sidewalks, endangering vulnerable pedestrians (as we further address below). This is because Toronto is unfortunately building new bike paths on sidewalks. This widely watched video shows that Toronto’s building bike paths on sidewalks endangers people with disabilities.

E-scooter corporate lobbyists claim that there’s new technology to avoid all the dangers. It’s simply not true. E-scooter corporate lobbyists have been making this claim for years. Moreover, privately owned e-scooters don’t include any of that unproven or non-existent technology.

Some might claim that some other Ontario cities are allowing e-scooters, so why not Toronto? Yet those other cities have wrongly created new dangers for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. They too often have disregarded pleas from Ontarians with disabilities not to allow e-scooters. Toronto should not make the same mistake. Moreover, at least some of those cities have wrongly allowed e-scooter rental companies to take part in the enforcement of the city’s e-scooter rules and regulations. That is very inappropriate. The private e-scooter rental companies are in a hopeless conflict of interest.

Toronto must battle climate change. But we don’t need e-scooters for that. Many other forms of micromobility, such as bicycles, will do the job. E-scooters add no benefits to climate change and instead create serious new dangers.

More background is available on the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.

Action Requested

We call on the Infrastructure and Environment Committee to vote to adopt the new Toronto City Staff Report on Micromobility with no changes. To vote against its e-scooter recommendations would be a vote to endanger vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others.

Agenda Item IIE13.2 eglintonTOday Phase 1 Complete Street Project:

Overview

The City of Toronto has built new bike paths in the midst of a midtown Eglinton Avenue West sidewalk that seriously endangers blind pedestrians. This was revealed in the AODA Alliance’s widely viewed, captioned, 8-minute video available at https://youtu.be/tJuF8-EbOME

The Disability Equivalent to the Vacant Property Tax Debacle

For Toronto to establish a new bike path right on the sidewalk, and not at road level, very obviously endangers blind pedestrians who have no way of knowing they’re straying into a bike path. No one would want to walk in the middle of a bike path. When pedestrians with vision loss are walking on such a sidewalk, they have no way of knowing there is a bike path there and that they are right in the middle of it.

This video explains to the public, including to Toronto’s Public Service, how a blind person can safely navigate a typical sidewalk. When a bike path is added to the sidewalk, a serious and entirely unnecessary danger is created.

It is especially inexcusable that this is happening in a city and province which are required by Ontario law to become accessible and barrier-free to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. Toronto should not treat people with disabilities as if they were expendable second-class citizens.

This video shows that this troubling bike path design also endangers pedestrians and cyclists without disabilities. The video heartily supports the need to build more bike paths and contends that designing them to be safe is not rocket science.

The video also shows that this bike path is illegal. It violates the right to equality for people with disabilities in the Charter of Rights, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is illegal to create new accessibility barriers like this, which is all the worse when it is done using public money.

In this video, the AODA Alliance called on the City of Toronto to remove such dangers and to prevent them from being created in the future. Yet, as far as we can tell, Toronto has done nothing new in response. It certainly never reached out to discuss this with the AODA Alliance in the five months since it garnered significant public and media attention.

Since releasing this video, the AODA Alliance has received substantial feedback from the disability community and the broader public. It has been universal in its condemnation of the whole idea of situating bike paths on a sidewalk, rather than at road level. We have received feedback about how Toronto is harmfully spreading this bike path design to other parts of the city.

Toronto City Staff have not announced any reforms despite this issue getting significant media attention last November. To the contrary, City Staff have publicly doubled down, denying that there is any problem with this bike path design, claiming its newer design is accessible (despite its also having serious accessibility problems), and continuing to use public money to create these barriers even on Eglinton Avenue, within a few blocks of the bike path displayed in the video.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the provincial government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025 by enacting and enforcing accessibility standards to prevent barriers such as the one that this video exposes. Government-appointed Independent Reviews of that legislation by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley and by Rich Donovan document how far behind the Ontario Government is in fulfilling its duties under the Disabilities Act.

Action Requested

We recommend that the Infrastructure and Environment Committee:

1. Vote for an immediate halt to the construction of any new bike paths that are to be located on a sidewalk rather than at road level.
2. Vote to require all new bike paths be built at road level, using a safe and accessible design.
3. Vote to require that all bike paths now built on sidewalks be retrofitted to be situated at road level, using a safe and accessible design. This bike path debacle is the disability counterpart to the disastrous City roll-out of the vacant home tax. It requires a similar rebuke by City Council.
4. Call on City Staff to make public all the steps taken to design these bike paths so that there can be proper public accountability for this major accessibility blunder.

For More Information

Contact the AODA Alliance: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Website: www.aodaalliance.org
Twitter: @aodaalliance

Accessibility News April 27,2024 Update

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The AODA Clock is Ticking

There are 35 weeks, 3 days until a fully Accessible Ontario! Will you be compliant?

In this Issue

*Understanding and Accessing Canadian Disability Benefits
*Disability Expert resigns from federal advisory group over benefit program
*UPEI Student Frustrated by Lack of Wheelchair Access on Campus
*Higher Education was Easily Accessible to Disabled People During Covid. Why are We Being Shut Out Now?
*Para Transpo Riders Challenge City Council to Experience ‘Horrible’ System
*AODA Alliance Updates{2}

ARTICLES:

Understanding and Accessing Canadian Disability Benefits

As a practising psychologist, I wish there existed a single resource where Canadians could familiarize themselves with the diverse social assistance programs funded by our taxes. Many of the families I work with need to be made aware of the available governmental support or guided through how to obtain it. And as a mother of a child with special needs, I myself was keen to learn about the Canada Disability Benefit introduced in the 2024 budget. So here is an overview of how to obtain the CDB – and other disability supports.

Read more at

Understanding and Accessing Canadian Disability Benefits

Disability Expert resigns from federal advisory group over benefit program

OTTAWA – One of Canada’s leading disability scholars is quitting a federal advisory board, saying the government failed to properly fund the disability benefit.

Read more at

Disability Expert resigns from federal advisory group over benefit program

UPEI Student Frustrated by Lack of Wheelchair Access on Campus

A University of Prince Edward Island [UPEI] student says he’s spent the past six years feeling frustrated about his inability to get around campus.

Read more at

UPEI Student Frustrated by Lack of Wheelchair Access on Campus

Higher Education was Easily Accessible to Disabled People During Covid. Why are We Being Shut Out Now?

The pandemic showed that remote learning is effective. It’s absurd that universities are going back to processes that exclude us

Read more at

Higher Education was Easily Accessible to Disabled People During Covid. Why are We Being Shut Out Now?

Para Transpo Riders Challenge City Council to Experience ‘Horrible’ System

Two representatives of riders who use Ottawa’s Para Transpo system say they’re still battling to achieve even the same level of “horrible” service that many local residents complain about when using OC Transpo.

Read more at

Para Transpo Riders Challenge City Council to Experience ‘Horrible’ System

AODA Alliance Updates:

Toronto City Staff’s Excellent and Thorough New Report to Toronto City Council Recommends that the City Continue to Say No to E-Scooters

Read more at

Toronto City Staff’s Excellent and Thorough New Report to Toronto City Council Recommends that the City Continue to Say No to E-Scooters

2024 Federal Budget is a Colossal Betrayal of Tens of Thousands of People with Disabilities in Canada Languishing in Poverty

Read more at

2024 Federal Budget is a Colossal Betrayal of Tens of Thousands of People with Disabilities in Canada Languishing in Poverty

Past Newsletters

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Accessibility News, since November 8, 2006

Understanding and Accessing Canadian Disability Benefits

As a practising psychologist, I wish there existed a single resource where Canadians could familiarize themselves with the diverse social assistance programs funded by our taxes. Many of the families I work with need to be made aware of the available governmental support or guided through how to obtain it. And as a mother of a child with special needs, I myself was keen to learn about the Canada Disability Benefit introduced in the 2024 budget. So here is an overview of how to obtain the CDB – and other disability supports.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/understanding-and-accessing-canadian-disability-benefits/

Disability Expert resigns from federal advisory group over benefit program

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Posted April 19, 2024

OTTAWA – One of Canada’s leading disability scholars is quitting a federal advisory board, saying the government failed to properly fund the disability benefit.

Michael Prince, a professor of social policy at the University of Victoria, says he’s deeply disappointed with the Canada Disability Benefit.

He’s resigning from Disabilities Minister Kamal Khera’s advisory group effective immediately, saying he has concluded his voice is no longer making a difference.

Prince says the amount of funding for the benefit in this week’s federal budget is too small, covers too few people and is too complicated to access.

The government is setting aside $6.1 billion over five years to run the program and has set the maximum annual benefit at $2,400 per person.

That works out to $200 a month, or around $6 per day.

Advocates, who have unanimously expressed disappointment with the program since the budget was released, say that falls well short of what’s needed to help the estimated 1.2 million Canadians with disabilities who are living in poverty.

Prince noted that the government estimates the benefit will go to just 600,000 people and won’t be available until sometime in 2025.

The Liberal government has talked about creating the disability benefit program for years.

It introduced legislation in 2021, conducted lengthy consultations and finally passed the Canada Disability Benefit Act in July 2023.

The law’s stated intent is to create a benefit to “reduce poverty and support the financial security of working-age people with disabilities.”

“In contrast to previous statements about the intended effects of the Canada Disability Benefit, there is no mention (in the budget) of having significant poverty-reduction effects,” Prince wrote in his resignation letter.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland defended the program at a press conference in Toronto on Friday, saying the Liberals have done more than any other federal government in history to help people living with disabilities.

“It would be great to be able to do more and we aspire to that,” she said.

Freeland also said her government will be working with provinces and territories to ensure the federal money does not result in other benefits being clawed back. Advocates had lobbied hard to include specific language about that in the law, but the Liberals did not include it.

Prince said the government has failed to take strong federal responsibility on this issue.

“History teaches us that major reform in income support often comes from federal leadership in investments and program reform,” he wrote.

Original at https://toronto.citynews.ca/2024/04/19/disability-expert-resigns-federal-advisory-group-over-benefit-program/

UPEI Student Frustrated by Lack of Wheelchair Access on Campus

A University of Prince Edward Island [UPEI] student says he’s spent the past six years feeling frustrated about his inability to get around campus.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/upei-student-frustrated-by-lack-of-wheelchair-access-on-campus/

Higher Education was Easily Accessible to Disabled People During Covid. Why are We Being Shut Out Now?

The pandemic showed that remote learning is effective. It’s absurd that universities are going back to processes that exclude us

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/higher-education-was-easily-accessible-to-disabled-people-during-covid-why-are-we-being-shut-out-now/

Para Transpo Riders Challenge City Council to Experience ‘Horrible’ System

By Jessica Campbell
April 15, 2024

Two representatives of riders who use Ottawa’s Para Transpo system say they’re still battling to achieve even the same level of “horrible” service that many local residents complain about when using OC Transpo.

Kyle Humphrey, an accessibility advocate and member of the Para Parity advocacy group – a branch of Ottawa Transit Riders – said accessibility concerns with Para Transpo have been going on for decades.

“This is an access issue that has existed for 44 years, plus,” Humphrey said. “If you are 44 years old and all you got done was one thing, you’d feel pretty crummy. So how’s Para Transpo feel today?”

Humphrey, fellow Para Parity activist Sally Thomas and other organizers have launched the 2024 Para Transpo Challenge to raise awareness of the challenges these riders face daily. Between March 28 and May 31, the Ottawa Transit Riders are challenging Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and the 24 other members of city council to take a ride on Para Transpo to learn more about what regular users experience with the system.

Humphrey said he recommended a number of changes five years ago, but none have implemented them.

“What do I have to go do to prove to Transit Commission that I’m a human being that deserves transit?” Humphrey said. “We’re fighting for our transit to be as good as the horrible transit that everybody complains about.”

Some of their demands include same-day and on-demand booking, 24-hour booking service, flexibility with cancellations, coordination of how riders and dispatchers choose destination and pick-up locations and having a planning session with first responders to discuss evacuation plans in the event passengers with disabilities are required to quickly exit any train or bus in the OC Transpo or Para Transpo systems.

Thomas, a high-profile accessibility advocate in Ottawaf or decades, explained how unreliable Para Transpo service can be and how much planning it takes to reach the rider’s destination. She explained that it has been and still is a hard fight with Para Transpo.

“I’m not giving up, but this is exhausting,” Thomas said. “This is getting old to say these things over and over again. It’s willful discrimination – there is no other way to describe this. They are they are willfully discriminating against an entire community.”

She explained that, at times, she has to plan to leave hours before needing to be at her appointment, work, or any other plans. Thomas explained that in one instance when she was going to work, she left two hours before her start time and was still an hour late.

Para Transpo users say this is unreliable and that they should not have to give themselves three hours to get somewhere when it is only 30 minutes away.

Para Transpo users say they could not get exact answers when asked about the issue.

“No one has been willing to get to the bottom of this and take a deep dive into it,” Humphrey said, explaining that Para Transpo has failed to explain why certain trips take so long.

These are just a few issues people have with Para Transpo.

Three councillors promptly agreed to take on the challenge to better understand and to try to address some of the issues raised by Humphrey and Thomas.

Glen Gower, chair of the Transit Commission and councillor for Stittsville, Alta Vista Coun. Marty Carr and Somerset Ward Coun. Ariel Troster each agreed to take the challenge.

“We often hear from Para Transpo users about their challenges, and I think it’s really important that us elected officials – councillors –
that we experience what they experience every day,” said Carr. “It helps us to better understand their challenges.”

She explained that she plans to ride Para Transpo to The Ottawa Hospital, as many people in her ward use the service to go there.

The representatives of Para Parity and Ottawa Transit Riders said they hope the campaign will bring improvements to Para Transpo service. They said they want to go out with friends and make it to work and events on time without having to plan days in advance.

Last September, Humphrey and Thomas generated headlines in local media when they raised concerns about a proposed OC Transpo on-demand booking pilot project that would not include Para Transpo service – even though users of Para Transpo had been seeking enhanced booking for years.

“It is a slap in the face,” Thomas told reporters at the time.

But the city’s transit manager Rene Amilcar said at the time that extending the pilot project to include Para Transpo riders wasn’t possible.

“Para Transpo is not the same model of service. It’s totally different,” Amilcar told reporters with the Ottawa Citizen and other news outlets. “We would need buses. We would need drivers. We would need to spread them around the city,” she said.

“We are not close on this. I want to be frank. With my financial situation now, I’m looking for savings.”

Original at https://capitalcurrent.ca/para-transpo-riders-challenge-city-council-to-experience-horrible-system/