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Dear transit services provider:

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April 28, 2008

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Re: Transportation Services and Human Rights

The Ontario Human Rights Code guarantees the rights of persons with disabilities to equal access to adequate, dignified transportation. For the reasons set out in its 2002 consultation report, Human Rights and Public Transit in Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has long been concerned by the significant barriers that persons with disabilities face when attempting to access transportation services. I am writing to share two recent developments in the area of transit and human rights, and to request that you provide the Commission with information on your organization’s accessibility efforts with regard to the announcement of transit stops.

First, in August 2007, the Commission made a submission to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario’s consultation on the Initial Proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard, a copy of which is enclosed. While the Commission believes that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act has the potential to have a profound positive impact on the lives of Ontarians with disabilities, the Commission has significant concerns regarding the proposed standard. In a number of areas, it falls far short of fundamental human rights standards, and not only fails to make progress towards equality for persons with disabilities, but regresses on some gains previously made. The Commission believes that it is essential that these standards be harmonized with the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Failure to do so may result in human rights complaints and the attendant costs for the responsible organizations and individuals, rights-seekers and society as a whole.

In another development, this past July, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario released an important decision, Lepofsky v. Toronto Transit Commission, a copy of which is enclosed for your information. The Tribunal held that the failure of the Toronto Transit Commission to ensure announcement of all stops on buses and streetcars violated the human rights of persons with disabilities, and ordered the commencement of announcements within thirty days of the decision. The Commission believes that the finding in this decision applies to other transit providers, and encourages all transit service providers to immediately consider how they can quickly begin to provide stop announcements to avoid facing human rights complaints.

To this end, and pursuant to its powers under section 29 of the Code, the Commission is requesting that you provide us with information regarding your efforts to ensure this aspect of accessibility. Please send your response to the Commission in writing by December 10, 2007, to the attention of Jacquelin Pegg, Policy Analyst, Policy and Education Branch.

Please provide materials detailing:

  • Whether all stops are currently and consistently being announced
  • Any policies and/or practices currently in place for announcement of stops
  • Steps taken to ensure the policy or practice is carried out

If your organization is not currently and consistently announcing all stops, please take this opportunity to develop plans to implement the Lepofsky v. TTC decision, and provide information to the Commission about:

  • Your organization’s intentions with regard to making stop announcements
  • Steps your organization has taken and will take to ensure all stops are announced, and
  • Timelines for implementation

Over the years, we have appreciated your support of our initiatives, and we hope to be able to showcase your efforts in this area when we report publicly this winter on the responses we receive.

If you have any questions about this letter, or the information requested, please do not hesitate to contact Jacquelin Pegg, by telephone at (416) 314-3574, or by e-mail at you in advance for your cooperation.

Yours sincerely,
Barbara Hall, B.A., LL.B., Ph.D. (hon.)
Chief Commissioner

c.c. : Beatrice Schmied, Executive Director, Ontario Community Transportation Association Michael Roschleu, President and CEO, Canadian Urban Transit Association