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ARCH Alert Volume 17, Issue 2

ARCH quarterly newsletter with news and information on disability law. Published on September 21, 2016.

Inside This Issue

Note from the Editors

Welcome to the September 2016 ARCH Alert!

September is back to school time for students all over Ontario. For some students with disabilities (and their parents), September also means back to advocating for appropriate disability accommodations from their schools. This issue of ARCH Alert has a particular focus on the right to equal access to education for students with disabilities. Included in this issue is an article about the recently released United Nations’ General Comment on the Right to Inclusive Education, an article with back to school advocacy tips for parents of students with disabilities, and finally our resource centre librarian has compiled a list of selected inclusive education resources that can be found online or in ARCH`s Resource Centre.

We hope you find the information and resources in this edition of ARCH Alert helpful and informative.


Kerri Joffe & Amanda Ward

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Annual General Meeting

ARCH logo


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Metro Hall – 55 John Street, Suite 308

(King Street West and John Street)

Parking details at

Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.

Meeting runs from 6:00 p.m. until approximately 8:15 p.m.

Keynote Speaker:

Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner

Ontario Human Rights Commission


Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, will join the AGM to launch the OHRC’s new Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability. This update of the OHRC policy released in 2000 includes updated case law references and examples, and takes a fresh look at emerging issues in dealing with ableism and the duty to accommodate. The Chief Commissioner’s presentation will include an overview of the updated policy and a question and answer session. Both electronic and printed copies of the new policy will be available at the meeting.




Tel.: 416-482-8255  or  1-866-482-2724 ext. 2229

Fax: 416-482-2981  or  1-866-482-2728

TTY: 416-482-1254  or  1-866-482-2723


Please Note:        ASL Interpreters, CART (captioning) and attendant services will be provided. If you require accommodations other than these, or have specific dietary needs, please contact Theresa Sciberras at ARCH by phone, TTY or e-mail at A.S.A.P.

Metro Hall is a physically accessible building. All ARCH activities are scent-free.   Please do not use products that have scents, fragrances or essential oils in them as they may cause health problems for some people. Some products to consider include shampoo, conditioner, perfume, cologne, lotion, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, body sprays, etc

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ARCH has Moved!!

ARCH has now moved to its new home at:

55 University Avenue

15th Floor

Toronto, Ontario M5J 2H7


Our new address is located just south of King Street, on the east side of University Avenue. It is near the St. Andrew subway station. This station is fully accessible!  Our phone, fax and TTY numbers as well as our website and email contact remain the same.

ARCH moved into the same building as seven of Ontario’s Community Specialty Legal Clinics, namely the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC), the Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario (IAVGO), Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY) and the Landlords Self-Help Centre (LSHC). The Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO) is also located in the same building.

While ARCH will be sharing some common space with the above clinics, ARCH is still a separate organization and will continue to provide the same services to the communities of persons with disabilities in Ontario, including our Resource Centre which will continue to be open to the public. Please visit our website at to review our services.

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UN Releases General Comment on the Right to Inclusive Education

By Kerri Joffe, Staff Lawyer


The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the first legally binding international law to discuss the right to quality inclusive education.  Article 24 of the CRPD provides that all persons with disabilities have a right to education.  In order to realize the right to education without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunities, States Parties have an obligation to ensure an inclusive education system at all levels.

This is significant since millions of persons with disabilities around the world are denied an education, and many others receive inferior education or segregated education in spaces where they are isolated from their peers.[1]  In Ontario, students with disabilities are excluded from their neighbourhood schools and classrooms, and often face multiple barriers that prevent them from receiving education on an equal basis as others.[2]

On September 2, 2016 the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities released General Comment No. 4, which provides more detailed information about the right to inclusive education. Inclusive education is important because it is central to achieving high quality education for all learners, and for developing inclusive, peaceful and fair societies.  It is also a way for people with disabilities to lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully in their communities.

Article 24 of the CRPD provides that States Parties must create inclusive education systems at all levels, including pre-schools, primary, secondary and tertiary education, vocational training and extracurricular activities.

The General Comment highlights the difference between integration and inclusion. Integration occurs when persons with disabilities are placed in regular classrooms, and are expected to adjust to standard requirements in those classrooms. This is different than inclusion.  Inclusion aims to provide all students with an equitable and participatory learning experience and environment that best corresponds to their individual needs.  Inclusion involves a process of systemic reform, including making changes to content, teaching methods, approaches, and educational structures in order to remove barriers and create truly inclusive classrooms.

In order to implement inclusive education, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has encouraged States Parties to apply the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach. UDL is an educational approach that recognizes that each student learns in a unique way, and develops flexible methods of learning and meeting educational requirements. Employing UDL is one way in which schools can create learning environments that are inclusive and educational for all students, including students with disabilities.

The right to inclusive education also includes the right to be provided with accommodation to meet an individual student’s disability-related needs. The General Comment recognizes

that it is discriminatory to deny accommodation. States Parties have an obligation to monitor the effectiveness of individual accommodations, and to ensure there is a timely and accessible way to obtain redress if an accommodation has been denied or is not appropriate.

The General Comment discusses specific opportunities that States Parties must provide to students with particular disabilities. For example, students with vision disabilities must be given opportunities to learn Braille, alternative script and augmentative and alternative means of communication. Deaf and hard of hearing students must be given opportunities to learn sign language and Deaf culture. Students labelled with intellectual disabilities must be given concrete, clear language learning materials in a safe learning environment.

The General Comment states that the right to education is a matter of access and content.  Inclusive education must aim to promote mutual respect and value for all persons, as well as a culture of tolerance and diversity.

These are just some of the highlights from the General Comment. The General Comment is 24 pages long and contains a lot of inspiring and detailed information about the actions that States Parties must take in order to create and maintain inclusive education systems. To read the General Comment, go to:

[1] UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, General Comment No. 4 (2016) Article 24: Right to inclusive education, 2 September 2016, CRPD/C/GC/4, available at: [accessed 12 September 2016]

[2] Through our Summary Advice and Referral Service, and through our community development work, ARCH regularly hears from students with disabilities and their families about the barriers they experience in Ontario education services.

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Back to School Advocacy Tips

By Luke Reid, Staff Lawyer


The start of a new school year often brings challenges for students with disabilities and their parents with respect to getting the supports and accommodations the student needs to be successful in school. ARCH receives numerous calls from parents who have children with disabilities who are not receiving appropriate disability accommodations in school. While ARCH lawyers provide individualized legal information and advice to each parent who calls us, there are some common tips which we often give parents who are advocating on behalf of their child:

  1. Involve your Child – Involve your child as much as possible in discussions regarding his or her disability-related accommodation needs. The more you communicate with your child and understand his or her accommodation needs, the more likely that you will be advocating for an educational environment which is best suited to help your child succeed. When children reach a certain age, they gain participatory rights when it comes to making decisions about their education. The more involved they have been up to this point, the better prepared they will be to advocate on their own behalf.
  2. Stay Involved – As a parent, try to go to as many meetings related to your child’s education as possible, even when the school tells you that you do not need to be there. This will ensure that you are fully updated on your child’s progress in the classroom, informed of steps the school is taking to implement accommodations, and become aware of any problems or issues early on.
  3. Document – Take notes from meetings with the school or conversations you have with teachers. Confirm important decisions, agreements or meetings with written correspondence such as a letter or email. Ask school staff to respond in writing if they do not agree. Keep report cards, assessment reports, Individualized Education Plans and other documentation from the school in a file with your notes and correspondence. A clear paper trail can help to provide accountability for all parties.
  4. Know Your Child’s Rights – Understanding your child’s rights under the Education Act and Ontario’s Human Rights Code can empower you to advocate for the disability accommodations and education services your child needs. There are many legal information resources you can use to educate yourself about the law. For example, you can consult the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policy document called “Guidelines on Accessible Education”. Go to Guidelines on Accessible Education or copy and paste .

ARCH has a fact sheet called “An introduction to disability and human rights in Ontario’s education system”. Go to An introduction to disability and human rights in Ontario’s education system or copy and paste .

  1. Stay Calm – Ensuring that your child is receiving a proper education is a very significant issue for many parents. ARCH regularly hears from parents who are frustrated and angry by delays or failure to implement accommodations for their child. Generally, the most effective approach is to remain calm, polite and assertive when interacting with school and school board staff
  2. Work with the Teacher – Do your best to work with your child’s teacher as much as possible. Your child’s teacher spends a great deal of time with your child and will have important insights into his or her education and disability-related needs in the classroom.
  3. Be Persistent – These issues are often complicated and rarely are they resolved quickly. Be vigilant and persistent when it comes to advocating on behalf of your child.

Following these tips will not guarantee that a child receives the accommodations he or she needs. However, these tips will help to ensure that parents advocate for their children in the most effective way possible.

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Library Corner: Inclusive Education Resources

By Mary Hanson, ARCH Librarian                                                        



The ARCH Library holds material on inclusive education covering its history, law, policy and practical issues. Below is a list of selected works available online or held in our Resource Centre at 55 University Ave, 15th Floor. You can also check your local library. Go to Ontario Public Libraries or copy and paste for borrowing copies of these and other books on inclusive education.

We look forward to seeing you at our Resource Centre!

Inclusive Education Materials Held at ARCH Library


  • Towle, Helena. Disability and Inclusion in Canadian Education: Policy, Procedure and Practice. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2015This critical look at special education policies across Canada finds most are more than 10 years old and out of step with current practices around inclusive education (available online. Go to Disability and Inclusion in Canadian Education: Policy, Procedure and Practice or copy and paste ).
  • Ontario. Ministry of Education website. Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy A collection of Ontario’s current strategy and policies for removing discriminatory barriers in the public education system in order to support diversity among all learners (available online. Go to Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy or copy and paste ).
  • Inclusive Education Canada website. Toronto: Inclusive Education Canada (available online. Go to or copy and paste Find news, real-life stories, videos, and the online newsletter “Education Watch
  • Lawrence-Brown, Diana, and Mara Sapon-Shevin. Condition Critical: Key Principles for Equitable and Inclusive Education. New York: Teachers College Press, 2014 Guide for teachers on promoting equity and educating students with a broad range of traditionally marginalized differences (disabilities, cultural/linguistic/racial background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and class). (on ARCH shelves at 371.9 US Law 2014).
  • Kanter, Arlene S., and Beth A. Ferri, eds. Righting Educational Wrongs: Disability Studies in Law and Education. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2013 An examination of disability-related policies and practices as they help or hinder inclusion and access to education (on ARCH shelves at 344.0791 US Kan 2013).
  • McDonnell, Kathleen. Emily Included: A True Story. Toronto: Second Story Press, 2011. (on ARCH shelves at 371.91 CA Mcd 2011). The story of Emily Eaton, born with severe cerebral palsy, and her fight for the right to be educated with other children in a regular classroom. Her victory at the Supreme Court was an important step in the fight for inclusive education. Emily went on to graduate from high school, proving the skeptics wrong
  • Joffe, Kerri and Roberto Lattanzio, ARCH. “Inclusive Education: Opportunities for Re-design.” In CAPSLE 2010: The Rocky Road Ahead: Balancing Competing Interests, edited by Roderick C. Flynn. Toronto: CAPSLE, 2011 Authors discuss the role of universal design in international disability rights law and application of the concept to education. They suggest that universal design principles could be usefully adopted in meeting legal obligations under Ontario’s accessibility legislation in a way that assists in achieving inclusive school cultures (on ARCH library shelves at 344.07 CA Cap 2010 – or online. Go to Inclusive Education: Opportunities for Re-design or copy and paste ).
  • Porter, Gordon L. and Deidre Smith, eds. Exploring Inclusive Educational Practices Through Professional Inquiry. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2011 25 stories from parents, teachers, principals and specialists on actual experiences help better understanding of the meaning of inclusion and its challenges (on ARCH shelves at 371.9 Por 2011).
  • Bunch, Gary, Rima Al-Salah and Jack Pearpoint. Equity, Social Justice, Disability and Secondary Schools: What Regular Subject Teachers Can Do. Toronto: Inclusion Press, 2011   A curriculum resource to help teachers create a sense of belonging for all (on ARCH library shelves at 371.91 371.91 CA Bun 2011)
  • Bunch, Gary, and Angelo Valeo, eds. Inclusive Education – Emergent Solutions: England, Germany, Croatia, Canada, India, Spain, Malta. Toronto: Inclusion Press, Toronto, 2009 (on ARCH library shelves at 371.9 IN Bun 2009).


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Nova Scotia’s Court of Appeal Refuses Custody of Children to Parents Labeled with Intellectual Disabilities

By Tess Sheldon, Staff Lawyer


The Nova Scotia Minister of Community Services recently asked for an order for the permanent custody of two young children of two parents labeled with intellectual disabilities. The Minister asked the Court to refuse to give the parents access to the children.  In the case, the mother is known by her initials, CKZ, and the father is known as GLP, in order to protect their privacy and the privacy of their two children.

On April 13, 2016, the Family Court of Nova Scotia found that the children no longer needed protection. The Family Court trial judge returned the children to their parents’ care. The trial judge found that the Minister was slow to identify the parents’ disability-related needs. Instead, the parents’ abilities were “invariably measured and assessed as if there was no disability”.  The trial judge characterized the parents as “intellectually disabled citizens who deserved “a more nuanced and insightful approach.   Even though counsel made no submissions, the trial judge raised the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). He pointed especially to Article 23, which is called “Respect for Home and Family”.  It requires governments to provide “appropriate assistance to persons with disabilities in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities”. Canada ratified the CRPD in 2010.

On July 29, 2016, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Family Court. The Court of Appeal found that the Family Court judge was wrong to prioritize the parents’ rights over the children’s rights.  They found that the parents had the benefit of “appropriate services for an extended period.” The Court of Appeal found that “the parents lack the ability and capacity to resume safely the care of their children” and that “this is not likely to change”. The Court of Appeal was very critical of the trial judge for relying on the CRPD and “overlook[ing] the existence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Rather than ordering a new trial, the Court of Appeal substituted their own decision. The children were placed in the permanent custody and care of the Minister.

This is an important case for parents with disabilities for many reasons. Parents with disabilities are overrepresented in child protection proceedings across Canada. This case is also about the government’s responsibility to provide appropriate supports and services to parents with disabilities.  This case is also important because of the different ways that the Family Court and the Court of Appeal treated the CRPD.  The trial judge raised the CRPD on his own, as support for his finding that “society has failed [the parents]”.  The Court of Appeal, however, limited the role of the CRPD and the authority of judges to raise international legal instruments on their own.


To read the Court of Appeal’s decision go to Nova Scotia (Community Services) v C.K.Z., 2016 NSCA 61 (CanLII) or copy and paste .

ARCH will monitor this case and will report back with any updates or developments.

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Court of Appeal Orders Employer to Pay Over $246,000, including $40,000 for discriminatory conduct and $55,000 in punitive damages

By Dianne Wintermute, Staff Lawyer


An important decision was released by the Court of Appeal for Ontario on June 30, 2016. This decision has significant impact for persons with disabilities seeking damages for wrongful dismissal.

Ms. Strudwick was an employee of Applied Consumer and Clinical Evaluations (ACCE) for over 15 years. She suddenly became deaf in 2010.  Ms. Strudwick’s direct supervisor and the acting general manager of ACCE began an intentional and particularly vicious campaign of harassment and discrimination against her. Their behaviour was designed to force Ms. Strudwick to resign from her job.  Despite Ms. Strudwick’s many requests for accommodation, none were offered to her. Indeed, many of the actions of these two employees were designed to humiliate and abuse her.  The final straw came on May 27, 2011 when Ms. Strudwick was terminated for a “stunt [she] had [allegedly] pulled at a company event”.  This turned out to be a totally false accusation.

Ms. Strudwick sued ACCE for wrongful dismissal and other claims arising from the abuse. In total she asked for $240,000.00 in damages.

ACCE did not file a statement of defense and was noted in default. The court awarded Ms. Strudwick a total of $113,782.89 in damages and an additional $40,000.00 in legal costs.

Ms. Strudwick appealed this damages assessment. She argued that given the appalling conduct of ACCE, the judge’s assessment of damages was too low.

Ms. Strudwick asked the Court of Appeal to grant an amount in excess of the $240,000.00 she had initially claimed, given the degree of abuse and discrimination she was forced to endure. The Court found that it was bound by the amount originally claimed in the statement of claim.  To do otherwise would mean that defendants, like ACCE, would not have any certainty about the amount of damages they might have to pay and that would be unfair. Therefore, Ms. Strudwick’s award could not exceed the $240,000.00 asked for in her original statement of claim.

The Court of Appeal then looked at every head of damage claimed by Ms. Strudwick, and the amount awarded to her in that category by the judge. In every category the Court of Appeal ordered a higher amount of damages.  With compensation for benefits lost, the total amount awarded to Ms. Strudwick was $246,049.92.  The legal costs award stayed the same.

There are many interesting aspects to this case, but we will only focus on two. One is the amount ordered under violations of Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The other is the amount ordered for punitive damages.


Violations of the Human Rights Code

Section 46.1(1) of the Code provides that if, in a civil proceeding such as Ms. Strudwick’s claim, the court finds that there has been a violation of Code protected rights, a court can order monetary compensation, “including compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect”.  The court can also make an order for restitution for any losses arising out of the violation, “including injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect”. Despite their similarity, these are treated as separate kinds of damages addressing two different types of wrongs committed against a claimant.

Damages under the Code are remedial.  They are meant to address the effects of discrimination.  They are not intended to punish the defendant.  These damages are intended to compensate claimants for their right to be free from discrimination and their experience of victimization.

There is no upper limit on compensation for pain and suffering, or “general damages” under the Code. Indeed, courts have held that damages for violations of the Code should not be set too low because that would trivialize the importance of the Code and its protection against discrimination.

In Ms. Strudwick’s case, the Court looked at a number of factors when it decided on its award for violations of the Code. These include:

  • The immediate and ongoing impact of the discrimination on the claimant’s physical and/or mental health;
  • The vulnerability of the claimant;
  • Whether the claimant objected to the offensive conduct and if she didn’t why not;
  • The respondent’s knowledge that their conduct constituted harassment or discrimination;
  • The degree of anxiety caused by the frequency and intensity of the respondent’s conduct.

The Court of Appeal found the judge’s award was insufficient for two reasons. First, the judge failed to assess the impact of the discriminatory conduct on Ms. Strudwick.  Second, not only did ACCE not accommodate Ms. Strudwick, but the conduct of the two employees who perpetrated the abuse was actually calculated to escalate the difficulties she was experiencing at work as a result of her disability. The motion judge’s award of $20,000.00 for Code violations was increased to $40,000.00, given the intentionally malicious abuse experienced by Ms. Strudwick.


Punitive Damages

Not every claim is entitled to a punitive damages award. Punitive damages are only ordered if the defendant’s conduct is reprehensible.  In this case, the Court of Appeal increased the punitive damages award from $15,000 to $55,000 to show its disapproval of the defendant’s conduct.



The decision of the Court of Appeal is extremely thorough and principled. It is available online. Go to Strudwick v. Applied Consumer & Clinical Evaluations Inc., 2016 ONCA 520 (CanLII)  or copy and paste . It is well worth reading in its entirety. It is clear that Ms. Strudwick was vindicated by the assessment of damages she received as compensation for the egregious conduct of ACCE.

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Ministry Announces New Task Force on Environmental Health

By Dianne Wintermute, Staff Lawyer


In June 2013, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced the creation of a Task Force to broadly consider environmental health disabilities, which include Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, and others.

The Task Force is chaired by Dr. Howard Hu, Dean of the Dalla Lanna School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

The Task Force has a mandate to:

  • inform guidelines and policies to support people with environmental sensitives;
  • increase public and health care providers’ awareness of these disabilities;
  • recommend effective changes and access to much needed supports and services to people with these disabilities; and
  • identify patient focused initiatives to improve the health outcomes for persons with these disabilities.

ARCH, in collaboration with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), has been working on a report about the challenges faced by people with multiple chemical and/or environmental sensitivities. Our report was informed by consultations with persons who experience these disabilities.  One of our major findings is the significant extent of attitudinal barriers faced by this group of people.  Often, they find that they are not believed when they ask that scents, fragrances or other products not be worn in the workplace, educational settings, health care settings or places where services are received.  We believe that a large awareness campaign is needed to educate the public about the impact of these disabilities on all aspects of a person’s life.

For more information about the Task Force, including information about its members, go to Task Force on Environmental Health or copy and paste .

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Changes to SSAH Funding and ODSP Applications for People who Receive Developmental Services

By Kerri Joffe, Staff Lawyer


On September 2 the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) announced changes to Special Services at Home (SSAH) funding and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) applications.

SSAH provides funding to families who have children labelled with developmental disabilities. This funding can be used to purchase services and supports for the child and services such as respite for the family. Under the changes announced by the Ministry, families who receive SSAH funding will no longer have to re-apply every year for this funding.  Instead, a family’s SSAH funding will be automatically renewed each year until their child with a disability turns 18. The Ministry has stated that if a family’s circumstances change, they should contact their regional MCSS office.

The changes announced also mean that people labelled with intellectual disabilities who are eligible for developmental services and supports will not have to prove their disability for a second time when they apply for ODSP benefits.

The Ministry stated that these changes are “…part of Ontario’s commitment to providing integrated supports and services that best meet people’s needs with seamless transition at key life and care stages.”[1] The changes may well have been motivated by the recent release of the Ontario Ombudsman’s report, ‘Nowhere to Turn’.  The report was the culmination of almost 4 years of investigation into the Ministry’s handling of situations in which adults labelled with developmental disabilities and their families found themselves in crisis because the developmental services system was not able to respond appropriately to their needs.  The Ombudsman’s report concluded that the Ministry’s handling of these situations was unreasonable and wrong.  60 recommendations were made for improving the developmental services system. To read the Ombudsman’s full report go to Ombudsmans Full Report or copy and paste .

ARCH, in partnership with People First Ontario, wrote an accessible, clear language response to the Ombudsman’s report. To read our response go to or copy and paste: .

ARCH hopes that the changes to SSAH and ODSP announced by the Ministry are the first of many more improvements the Ministry will make to developmental services in Ontario.

[1] MCSS, Ontario Making Access to Services Easier for People with Developmental Disabilities, 2 September 2016, available online:



DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada

Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées Canada


EDITORS’ NOTE: ARCH is pleased to include this article by DAWN Canada, in English and French – thank-you for your contribution! More information about DAWN Canada is available at the end of the article.

Amplifying Our Voices: Violence Prevention for Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women

By Laurie Alphonse, Professor at Centre for Continuing Education and Online Learning at Algonquin College, Owner of Access Infinity Management, Leader of DAWN Canada’s “Legislation, Policy and Service Responses to Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women in Canada” initiative in the greater Ottawa area. Laurie can be found on

Linked In (, or follow her on Twitter @LaurieAlphonse (

The DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada is excited to be able to share information with ARCH members and supporters about our current project “Legislation, Policy and Service Responses to Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women in Canada”, a multi-year initiative examining gaps in policy and service provision, when we already have the highest rates of victimization.

Through DAWN Canada’s many years of research and numerous projects, we know that when women with disabilities try to access violence prevention services, they face secondary/systemic violence, due to a lack of capacity or knowledge on the part of service providers to respond to their particular needs. This initiative seeks to bridge the gap between policy and service delivery by providing women with disabilities with an opportunity to propose responses directly to policy makers and service providers.

The project will look at both indirect and direct legislation, policies and services that affect women with disabilities and Deaf women both at a national level and in 3 regions, Quebec, Ontario and BC. It will examine existing mechanisms for support in violence-prevention services and peripheral support mechanisms that are designed to assist women with disabilities escaping violence.

The first phase of the project, already in progress, includes an examination of existing legislation and policy documentation as well as stakeholder interviews in the areas of police services, victim services and violence-prevention and support services. The outcomes of this phase will deepen our understanding of the secondary forms of discrimination experienced by women with disabilities and Deaf women when they seek violence support services. These forms of discrimination may include:

  • Physical barriers such as accessibility of shelters services or transportation;
  • Communication barriers such as lack of interpretation services, or availability of service literature in alternative formats;
  • Knowledge gaps on the part of service providers on how to provide accessible services; and / or
  • Discriminatory attitudes towards women with disabilities and Deaf women.

In Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the mandatory reporting provisions of the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act of 2008, provide unique Ontario-specific strategies to improve and protect the rights and freedoms of women with disabilities and Deaf Women living in Ontario. This project will examine to what degree these and other legislative instruments meet their aims within the context of accessibility and inclusion in the provision of violence-prevention services. This provides an opportunity for the examination of these strategic responses for overall effectiveness while looking at possibilities for improvement and opportunities for knowledge and good practice sharing.The project will address the issues through the formation of Provincial/Regional Advisory Teams which will be composed of policy makers, service providers, community and advocacy organizations, and women with disabilities and Deaf women. The project will culminate in provincial roundtables, where women with disabilities and Deaf women will have an opportunity to present their recommendations directly to policy makers. The roundtables will also allow policy and decision makers to consider implementing the policy and service recommendations we bring forward. “This project is especially timely given pending federal accessibility legislation ( as we will have an opportunity to juxtapose Quebec and British Columbia to Ontario where we’ve had ten years of legislation in the form of the AODA to two provinces where they have yet to go the legislative route”, said Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director of DAWN Canada. In 2010 the Honourable David Onley, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario said, In those words Mr. Onley spoke about many of the secondary barriers faced by people with disabilities and discuses the same themes that this project seeks to address.Over the next two years, DAWN Canada and its provincial teams are excited to open lines of communication between policy and service providers, and women with disabilities and Deaf women.For more information or to get involved, consult DAWN Canada’s website ( or contact Josée Ann Maurais, National Director of Projects at 1-866-396-0074 Ext. 2506 or by email at

About DAWN Canada

“Accessibility encompasses more than curb cuts and wheelchair ramps. It is about being able to communicate with people. Without communication, people cannot give vital information in a hospital or in a court. They are not well protected by police services, and they forfeit equal access to opportunities, businesses and services.”

DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada is a national, feminist, cross-disability organization whose mission is to end the poverty, isolation, discrimination and violence experienced by Canadian women with disabilities and Deaf women. DAWN-RAFH is an organization that works towards the advancement and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities and Deaf women in Canada. Our overarching strategic theme is one of leadership, partnership and networking to engage all levels of government and the wider disability and women’s sectors and other stakeholders in addressing our key issues.

Amplifier nos voix: Prévenir la violence envers les femmes en situation de handicap et les femmes Sourdes

Par : Laurie Alphonse

Le Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées du Canada (RAFH Canada) est vraiment heureux de partager des informations avec les membres et partenaires de ARCH sur notre projet en cours intitulé “Législation, politiques et services répondant à la violence envers les femmes en situation de handicap et les femmes Sourdes au Canada”. Etalée sur trois années, cette initiative examine les écarts entre la politique et les prestations de service, alors que nous avons déjà les plus hauts taux de victimisation!

A travers les différents projets et recherches sur plusieurs années du RAFH Canada, nous savons que quand les femmes en situation de handicap essaient d’accéder aux services de prévention de la violence, elles font face à de la violence secondaire/systémique, en raison du manque de connaissance des fournisseurs de services et de leur incapacité à répondre adéquatement à leurs besoins spécifiques. Cette initiative cherche donc à combler le fossé entre la politique et la prestation de services, en fournissant aux femmes en situation de handicap l’opportunité de proposer des réponses directement aux décideurs politiques et aux fournisseurs de services

Le projet va examiner les législations, politiques et services directs et indirectes qui affectent les femmes en situation de handicap et les femmes Sourdes au niveau national et dans trois régions: Québec, Ontario et la Colombie Britannique. Il va examiner les mécanismes existants d’aide dans les services de prévention de la violence ainsi que les mécanismes d’aide périphériques qui sont conçus pour assister les femmes en situation de handicap fuyant la violence.

La première étape du projet, déjà en cours, inclut une analyse de documents existants de la législation et politique ainsi que des entrevues avec les acteurs dans les secteurs des services de police, services aux victimes et des services d’aide et de prévention de la violence. Les résultats de cette phase nous permettront d’approfondir la compréhension des formes secondaires de discrimination auxquelles font face les femmes en situation de handicap et les femmes Sourdes quand elles cherchent des services d’aide à la violence. Ces formes de discrimination incluent:

  • Les barrières physiques comme l’accessibilité des services d’hébergement ou le transport;
  • Les barrières de communication comme le manque de services d’interprétation (ASL-LSQ), ou la disponibilité des services de littérature dans des formats alternatifs;
  • Les écarts de connaissance de la part des fournisseurs de services sur comment fournir des services accessibles; et / ou
  • Les attitudes discriminatoires envers les femmes en situation de handicap et les femmes Sourdes.

En Ontario, la loi sur l’accessibilité pour les personnes en situation de handicap d’Ontario et la loi de 2008 sur les services et soutiens favorisant l’inclusion sociale des personnes ayant une déficience intellectuelle fournissent des stratégies uniques et spécifiques pour améliorer et protéger les droits et les libertés des femmes en situation de handicap et des femmes Sourdes vivant en Ontario.

Ce projet va examiner à quel point ces lois et autres instruments législatifs répondent à leurs objectifs dans le contexte d’accessibilité et d’inclusion quand les services de prévention de la violence sont fournis. Cela apporte une occasion pour l’examen de ces réponses stratégiques pour une efficacité globale, tout en cherchant des possibilités d’amélioration et de partage des connaissances et de bonnes pratiques.

Le projet va traiter les problématiques via la formation d’équipes consultatives provinciales/régionales qui vont être composés de politiciens, fournisseurs de services, des organisations communautaires et de défense des droits, et de femmes en situation de handicap et femmes Sourdes. Le projet culminera par des tables rondes provinciales où les femmes en situation de handicap et les femmes Sourdes vont avoir l’occasion de présenter leurs recommandations directement aux politiciens. Les tables rondes vont aussi permettre aux politiciens et décideurs de considérer la mise en oeuvre des recommandations de politique et service que nous apporterons.

“Ce projet est particulièrement opportun étant donné les consultations sur la loi fédérale sur l’accessibilité ( en cours, comme nous allons avoir l’occasion de comparer le Québec et la Colombie Britannique à l’Ontario où nous avions dix années de loi sous la forme de loi sur l’accessibilité pour les personnes en situation de handicap de l’Ontario à deux provinces où elles ont encore à légiférer,” a dit Bonnie Brayton, Directrice exécutive nationale du Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées du Canada.

En 2010, l’Honorable David Onley, ancien Lieutenant gouverneur de l’Ontario disait: “L’accessibilité inclut plus que des bordures de trottoir et des rampes pour fauteuils roulants. Il s’agit d’être capable de communiquer avec les gens. Sans communication, les gens ne peuvent pas fournir de l’information vitale dans un hôpital ou dans une cour de justice. Ils ne sont pas bien protégés par les services de police et ils renoncent à un accès égal aux occasions, aux affaires et aux services.”

Avec ces mots, Monsieur Onley a parlé des nombreuses barrières secondaires auxquelles font face les personnes en situation de handicap et donc vise les mèmes thèmes que ce projet traite.

Pour les deux prochaines années, le Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées du Canada et ses équipes provinciales ont hâte d’ouvrir les lignes de communication entre les politiciens, les fournisseurs de services et les femmes en situation de handicap et les femmes Sourdes.

Pour plus d’information ou pour s’impliquer, consultez le site web ( du Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées du Canada ou contactez Josée Ann Maurais, Directrice de projets nationale au 1-866-396-0074 poste 2506 ou par courriel à

Au sujet du Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées du Canada (RAFH Canada)

Le Réseau des femmes handicapées du Canada (RAFHC) est un organisme national et féministe qui défend les intérêts des femmes vivant avec différents handicaps ou déficiences. Sa mission est de mettre fin à la pauvreté, à l’isolement, à la discrimination et à la violence que connaissent ces femmes. L’organisme œuvre pour l’avancement et l’inclusion des femmes handicapées et des femmes Sourdes. Le thème stratégique – leadership, partenariat et réseautage – vise l’engagement de tous les ordres de gouvernement, des fournisseurs de services aux femmes handicapées et des autres intervenants concernés dans le but de régler les grandes questions qui nous occupent..

Copyright: 2016 DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada


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Consultations on Federal Accessibility Legislation

By Kerri Joffe, Staff Lawyer


Over the summer, the federal government announced that it plans to develop new accessibility legislation. This new law is intended to promote equality of opportunity and increase the inclusion and participation of Canadians with disabilities.

The federal government is presently consulting with Canadians. The government is interested in hearing from Canadians about who should be covered by the new law, what accessibility issues and barriers it should address, how it can be monitored and enforced, and how the government should report to Canadians on implementation of the law.

The public consultation is open until February 2017. You can participate by filling in a questionnaire online, attending an in-person meeting, or writing to the government.

For more information about the consultation and how to participate go to Consulting with Canadians on planned accessibility legislation or copy and paste


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Wheel-Trans Services Expanding

By Ed Montigny, Staff Lawyer


Wheel-Trans provides accessible transit services for some persons with disabilities in Toronto. Wheel-Trans has eligibility requirements that a person must meet in order to use the service.  Many persons with sensory and other disabilities need accessible transit, but have largely been excluded from Wheel-Trans services because they do not meet these eligibility requirements.

Wheel-Trans has announced new eligibility rules that should offer better access to Wheel-Trans services for many persons with sensory disabilities as well as episodic and temporary disabilities.

Here is a summary of the changes:

In accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), by January 1, 2017 eligibility for Wheel-Trans services will be extended to persons who have disabilities that prevent them from using conventional transit services. There will be three categories of eligibility:

  • Unconditional eligibility: a person with a disability that prevents them from using conventional transportation services
  • Temporary eligibility: a person with a temporary disability that prevents them from using conventional transportation services for a period of time
  • Conditional eligibility: a person with a disability where environmental or physical barriers limit their ability to consistently use conventional transportation services

People with sensory, cognitive, mental health or physical disabilities may be eligible for Wheel-Trans service and the eligibility could be short or long-term. Eligibility will be based on the person’s ability to use conventional transit (i.e. bus, subway train and streetcar) and not based on disability type, income or age.

For more information on these changes go to:

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ARCH Welcomes New Group of Students to Disability Law Intensive Program

By Ed Montigny, Staff Lawyer


ARCH recently welcomed eleven students from Osgoode Hall Law School as part of the Disability Law Intensive Program (DLI). This is the fourth year that ARCH has run this program. The DLI program offers students a unique opportunity to develop their legal skills and achieve an understanding of disability law issues, accommodation and human rights. Students gain this knowledge in a client focused context as well as in a broader policy and law reform approach. Students work at ARCH two days a week for the academic year, in addition to attending classes at Osgoode.

Supervised by ARCH lawyers, students provide legal advice to persons with disabilities, work on disability law cases, law reform initiatives, and other projects. They will also spend some time at St. Michael’s hospital, providing legal information and advice to clients of the Health Justice Initiative. Students will also appear before boards and tribunals to advocate for clients, thanks to a new partnership with Neighborhood Legal Services.

ARCH would like to thank our academic partner, Osgoode Hall Law School, and in particular Professor Roxanne Mykitiuk, Academic Director of the DLI, for the continued commitment and support given to this program.

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Update on Forcillo Appeal

By Mariam Shanouda, Staff Lawyer


On July 28, 2016, James Forcillo, the Toronto police officer convicted of attempted murder in the fatal shooting of 18-year old Sammy Yatim was sentenced to 6 years in prison by the Honourable Justice Then.[1]  The sentencing was unprecedented since no other police officer before Forcillo had ever been convicted of the murder of a civilian (attempted or otherwise). The sentence reflected the brutality of Yatim’s death.

In providing his reasoning for Forcillo’s sentence, Judge Then emphasized the seriousness of attempted murder and the moral blameworthiness that is attached to the intent component of that crime.[2]  In particular, he noted that the second round of bullets shot by

Forcillo was unnecessary, unreasonable and excessive from the outset.[3]  In short, the jury found that those shots should have never been fired, and the Judge needed to impose a sentence that reflected that conviction accurately.  Judge Then took several factors into consideration, but also placed considerable weight on the fact that Forcillo’s actions constituted a serious breach of trust that the public have in police officers[4]:

“… when a police officer has committed a serious crime of violence by breaking the law which the officer is sworn to uphold it is the duty of the court to firmly denounce that conduct in an effort to repair and to affirm the trust that must exist between the community and the police to whom we entrust the use of lethal weapons within the limits prescribed by the criminal law.”[5]

It is important to note that Forcillo has maintained his innocence against the charges and has never expressed remorse for his actions. Taking all of these factors into consideration, Judge Then sentenced Forcillo to 6 years in prison.

However, despite the 6-year sentence, Forcillo only spent one night in jail before being granted bail. On July 29, 2016 the Honourable Judge Gillese in the Court of Appeal of Ontario granted Forcillo bail as he prepared to appeal his conviction before the Court.[6]

This was confusing and, to some extent, frustrating to the public. In reaching her decision, Judge Gillese considered four factors: was the appeal frivolous, would Forcillo surrender into custody, public safety, and public confidence in the administration of justice.  Of the four factors, Judge Gillese seems to have given considerable weight to the public’s confidence in the justice system.

Judge Gillese found that it is within the public’s interest that judgments be reviewed for errors and that, if there are any errors they should be corrected. At the same time, the Judge noted that this is the first case of its kind – the conviction was based on the attempted murder of a civilian who was killed.[7]  This is a unique legal argument and a legal finding that has not been present in other criminal cases.  As such, because the basis of Forcillo’s conviction is unprecedented it warrants a review by the Court of Appeal.

In order to reassure the public that steps are being taken to address the appeal, Judge Gillese imposed a surrender date of November 9, 2016 at which time Forcillo will have to

surrender himself and the defence must appear before the Court to update them with respect to the appeal.[8]

It is sometimes difficult to reconcile the public’s need for justice and the mechanics of the justice system itself. In other words, the justice system and judges are concerned with long-term consequences of certain decisions that are made, especially when we take into consideration the kind of conviction that was set down in Forcillo’s case.  If the Judge thinks it is fit to grant bail while Forcillo appeals the conviction, and therefore his sentence, it is because she has given appropriate weight to all of the factors that should be taken into consideration.  It should be noted however, that as it stands, Forcillo is still guilty of the attempted murder of Yatim, until the Court of Appeal releases its decision.

ARCH will continue to monitor this case and will report on any further developments

[1] R v. Forcillo, 2016 ONSC 4850

[2] R v. Forcillo, 2016 ONSC 4850 at par. 48

[3] Ibid., par. 51

[4] Ibid., par. 92

[5] Ibid., para. 95

[6] R v. Forcillo, 2016 ONCA 606

[7] R v. Forcillo, 2016 ONCA 606, par. 15

[8] Ibid., par. 17

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Claiming money from the Schedule 1 Class Action Lawsuit

By Yedida Zalik, Staff Lawyer


The Schedule 1 class action is a lawsuit about institutions where many people with disabilities were neglected and abused. We gave more information about the lawsuit in the June 2016 ARCH Alert, and we explained that it had settled. We also gave the list of institutions that are part of the settlement. If you lived at a Schedule 1 institution, you may be able to get money from the settlement.

You should ask for your file from the institution where you lived.

It may have important information that can help with your claim.

September 27, 2016 is the deadline to ask for your file.

Please read below for more information about making a claim and asking for your file.

How do I ask for money from the settlement?

You need to fill in a Claim Form. You must send the form to the claims office by February 28, 2017.


It is a good idea to get legal help to fill in your Claim Form.

You can get a Claim Form from this website:

The website has different claim forms for each of the institutions. You should use the form with the name of the place where you lived. If you lived at more than one place, fill in a separate form for each institution where you lived. You may be able to get money for each institution.


What else is important for my claim?

Your file from the institution may have important information that can help with your claim. You should ask for your file by September 27, 2016. If you ask after that date, then you might get it after the deadline to send in your Claim Form.

You do not need to pay for your file.

ARCH or your community legal clinic can help you to ask for your file. You can also ask for your file yourself.

When you get your file, some information may be blacked out or covered up. If you think the information is important for your claim, you should get legal help. You should do that as soon as possible, because you only have 30 days to appeal for that information.


How do I ask for my file?

You can ask for your file by sending a letter to Cate Parker, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Coordinator. You can send your letter by email or regular mail, with a photocopy of a piece of your ID that shows your photo. This could be your:

Health card                      Passport

Driver’s license               Status card

Ontario photo card          Canadian citizenship card

If you do not have photo ID, you can send copies of two pieces of other ID instead. You can also contact Cate Parker for help.

At the end of this article is a sample letter to Cate Parker. You can fill in the lines with your information and send it to her. You can also call or email her at:

Phone: 416-327-6101

Where can I get legal help with my claim?

Some community legal clinics are helping people to make claims. ARCH can tell you if the community legal clinic in your area can help.   If not, ARCH can help with your claim.


ARCH can also help if you are not sure if you can make a claim.

You can call Yedida at ARCH by:

– Phone:     1-866-482-2724 ext. 2223

– TTY:          1-866-482-2728 ext. 2223

You might remember painful things when you fill in your Claim Form. You might become angry, sad, scared or upset. Take the time you need to write everything you want to say. Make sure you are in a safe place when you do this. It may help to ask someone you trust to stay with you.

You will not get in trouble for telling what happened. You did not do anything wrong. No one has the right to hurt or abuse you.

ARCH says thanks for Schedule 1 support!

Many people and agencies have helped ARCH in our Schedule 1 work. If your agency was accidentally left off the list below, please tell us! We sincerely apologize and we will correct the mistake.

ARCH has held appointment days around the province for people with Schedule 1 claims. We are very grateful to the following agencies that hosted and organized these clinic days:

Brampton Caledon Community Living
Community Living Hamilton 

Community Living Kingston and District
Community Living Mississauga

Community Living Thunder Bay
Community Living Toronto
Durham Family Respite

KW Habilitation (Kitchener)
Legal Clinic of Guelph and Wellington County, Guelph Community Health Centre and Minto Rural Health Centre
Rygiel Supports for Community Living (Hamilton)

ARCH especially wants to thank Gordon Kyle of Community Living Ontario for all his work to support the appointment days and get local agencies involved.

Connecting Ottawa hosted an ARCH workshop on the settlement at their May conference. Thank you!

The Provincial Learning Action Committee (PLAC) hosted a webinar for Legal Aid clinic staff. Thanks!

ARCH also sends a big thank you to Your Legal Rights for facilitating and hosting of English and French language webinars on the claims process. You can access those webinars at:

We also say “Merci beaucoup!” to the Réseau Francophone and René Guitard of la Clinique juridique francophone de l’Est d’Ottawa and Amy Lavoie of la Clinique juridique bilingue de Windsor-Essex/ Windsor-Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic. René translated and Amy presented the French version of the webinar.



Day___________ and Month______________, 2016

Cate Parker
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Coordinator
Ministry of Community and Social Services
PO Box 978
77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto ON  M7A 1N3

Dear Ms Parker:

I lived at one or more of the institutions listed below.  I want all my files and any of my information from when I lived there. I need the files for the Schedule 1 settlement:

  • St. Lawrence Regional Centre
  • D’Arcy Place
  • Adult Occupational Centre
  • Pine Ridge
  • Muskoka Centre
  • Oxford Regional Centre  or Oxford Mental Health Centre
  • Midwestern Regional Centre
  • L.S. Penrose Centre
  • Bluewater Centre
  • Durham Centre for Developmentally Handicapped
  • Prince Edward Heights
  • Northwestern Regional Centre

My first name is ______________________________________________.

My last name is ______________________________________________.

Please send the information to this address:

Street and number_____________________________________________

Apartment number if there is one ___________________________________

City or town ____________________________________________________

Province __________________________________

Country __________________________________

Postal Code _______________________________

If you need to call me, please use this number:

Area code  and phone or TTY number_________________________________

Thank you.

Sign your name here:_______________________________________________

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ARCH on Social Media

ARCH on Social Media

ARCH is on social media. You can find us at:

Check ARCH’s website for the Latest ARCH News, publications (including past issues of the ARCH Alert), submissions, fact sheets and more.

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Become a Member of ARCH

If you would like to become an individual member of ARCH, please visit our website at or contact our office to request an Application for Individual Membership form. Membership is free.

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Donating to ARCH

While ARCH receives core funding from Legal Aid Ontario and grant funding from other sources, we also rely on the donations from individuals. We ask you to consider being a part of our work by contributing whatever you can. If you are able to assist please donate to ARCH through

Or you can send your donation cheque to:

Office Manager
ARCH Disability Law Centre
55 University Avenue, 15th Floor
Toronto, ON M5J 2H7
We will promptly send you a charitable receipt. Charitable No. 118 777 994 RR 0001

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About ARCH Alert

ARCH ALERT is published by ARCH Disability Law Centre. It is distributed free via e-mail or mail to ARCH members, community legal clinics, and others with an interest in disability issues. ARCH is a non-profit community legal clinic, which defends and promotes the equality rights of persons with disabilities through test case litigation, law/policy reform and legal education. ARCH is governed by a Board of Directors elected by representatives of member groups reflecting the disability community. The goal of ARCH ALERT is to provide concise information, so that people are aware of important developments and resources. Articles may be copied or reprinted to share with others provided that they are reproduced in their entirety and that the appropriate credit is given. We encourage those who receive it to assist with distribution of information in this way. We do ask that both Word and Text Formats are distributed to ensure accessibility.

Co-Editor: Kerri Joffe
Co-Editor: Amanda Ward
Production & Circulation: Theresa Sciberras

We welcome your comments, questions and feedback. We will endeavour to include all information of general interest to the community of persons with disabilities and their organizations, but reserve the right to edit or reject material if necessary. Please address communications regarding ARCH ALERT to:

Theresa Sciberras, Operations, Program and Administrative Assistant,
ARCH Disability Law Centre,
55 University Avenue, 15th Floor
Toronto, ON M5J 2H7

Fax: 416-482-2981 or 1-866-881-2723
TTY: 416-482-1254 or 1-866-482-2728
e- mail:

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Contact ARCH Alert

If you enjoyed this issue of the ARCH Alert, please consider sharing it with others. Word and text versions of our most recent and older issues of the newsletters are available on our website at

ARCH Disability Law Centre
55 University Avenue, 15th Floor
Toronto, ON M5J 2H7

  • Telephone: 416-482-8255
  • Telephone Toll-free: 1-866-482-2724
  • TTY: 416-482-1254
  • TTY Toll-free: 1-866-482-2728
  • Fax: 416-482-2981
  • Fax Toll-free: 1-866-881-2723

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Last Updated: September 21, 2016