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Ten restaurant chains commit to improve accessibility

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November 19, 2004

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For immediate publication

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today announced that another ten restaurant chains have voluntarily committed to a process that will eliminate barriers for customers with disabilities. They include: Burger King, Coffee Time Donuts, Harvey’s, Kelsey’s Neighbourhood Bar and Grill, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Montana’s Cookhouse and Milestones, Pizza Pizza, Red Lobster, Taco Bell and Timothy’s World Coffee. The Commission is still negotiating similar commitments with another eight chains.

Chief Commissioner Keith Norton stated, "I am very pleased that these chains have agreed to work towards improving the accessibility of their facilities and services for customers with disabilities. Their actions indicate responsible corporate citizenship."

The Commission also announced that it has launched an investigation against another chain, Select Sandwich. In order to be able to investigate, the Commission has to initiate a formal complaint. The Commission has attempted to work cooperatively with Select Sandwich in the same manner as it has worked with other chains. Although Select Sandwich has not as yet responded to the Commission’s requests, the Commission hopes for a positive resolution. 

Commenting on the Commission-initiated complaint, Mr. Norton stated that, "while the Commission favours a voluntary and cooperative approach, we are serious in our resolve to remove and prevent barriers for persons with disabilities", adding that, "accessibility is a sector–wide responsibility - it requires a systemic resolution to a problem that persons with disabilities have been facing for far too long." 

Under subsection 32(2) of the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Commission can initiate a complaint.  The Commission will investigate and then prepare a written report of its findings. If no settlement is reached, the Commission will then decide whether to refer the matter to the independent Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. No such decision has yet been made. 

Following the release of its report on restaurant accessibility earlier this year entitled, Dining Out Accessibly, a total of 17 chains have now agreed to respect the following five commitments.

  1. Develop an accessibility policy and customer complaints procedure;
  2. Review and identify accessibility barriers across corporate-owned and franchised premises;
  3. Develop a standardized accessibility plan for future locations;
  4. Develop a plan for existing facilities and begin removing barriers; and
  5. Monitor progress toward achieving accessibility and report back to the Commission in one years’ time.

In April of this year, the Commission secured commitments from Country Style Donuts, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Subway, Swiss Chalet and Tim Hortons to eliminate barriers for people with disabilities.

Information on similar commitments with another eight chains will be made available once negotiations are complete.

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Afroze Edwards
Sr. Communications Officer
Communications and Issues Management
(416) 314-4528

François Larsen