For immediate publication
Toronto - In a recent ruling by a Board of Inquiry (Human Rights), Famous Players Theatres has been ordered to make three of its theatres accessible to persons with disabilities.
The theatres to be upgraded are the Uptown, Backstage and Eglinton. The Plaza was also named in the group of inaccessible theatres in the complaint, but Famous Players Theatres chose not to renew its lease.
"The Ontario Human Rights Code entitles persons with disabilities to equal access. I am now calling upon Famous Players Theatres to do what is right and that is to comply promptly with the order so that moviegoers with disabilities can enjoy these facilities along with everyone else," stated Chief Commissioner Keith Norton.
During the public hearing, Famous Players Theatres refused to provide any financial data, arguing that its ability to pay for the renovations was not an issue. However, in March, a spokesperson for Famous Players Theatres was quoted in the media as saying that the cost of the renovations could force two theatres to close.
"If these expenses were a genuine issue causing undue hardship to Famous Players Theatres, the Board of Inquiry could have addressed the matter. Instead, the corporation attempted to try its case in the court of public opinion and in doing so, unfairly pitted the legitimate desire of those who want to protect heritage buildings against the rights of persons with disabilities," stated Chief Commissioner Keith Norton.
On March 22nd, the Commission released the new Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate. At the time, Chief Commissioner Norton emphasized the need to step up efforts so that persons with disabilities can fully participate in community life, stating that, "This decision by the Board of Inquiry is a move in the right direction and can help us achieve meaningful progress in ensuring accessible premises for persons with disabilities."
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