ARCH Alert Volume 23, Issue 1
ARCH quarterly newsletter with news and information on disability law. Published on December 2, 2022
Inside This Issue
- Note from the Editors
- Email Changes at ARCH
- Creating a National Disability Benefit
- Staff Lawyer Kerri Joffe wins the 2022 Indigenous Partnership Award
- ARCH honoured with the 2021 Leadership in Advocacy Award
- ARCH’s Executive Director receives the prestigious Guthrie Award
- ARCH Co-Hosted event at the United Nations
- Disability Related Barriers to COVID-19 Vaccines: Highlights from the COVID-19 Vaccination Accessibility Survey 2021
- Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of the Eaton Decision and the Future of Inclusive Education
- Celebrating National AccessAbility Week
- New Law can force Institutionalization without Consent
- Important Court Decision Promotes Accessibility
- Respecting Rights launches the Provincial Self-Advocates Circle
- Canadian Transportation Agency Decides to Take Away Accommodations Awarded to Persons with Allergy Disabilities
- COVID-19 and Disruption to Education
- Library Update
- Download This ARCH Alert
Note from the Editors
Note from the Editors
By: Amanda Ward and Robert Lattanzio, Co-editors
ARCH Disability Law Centre is pleased to release this issue of the ARCH Alert in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2022. The United Nations proclaimed December 3rd as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) in 1992 which continues to be celebrated around the world as an opportunity to promote the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.
ARCH observes this date every year by organizing and participating in events and releasing publications that raise awareness on the equality rights, fundamental freedoms, and inclusion of persons with disabilities.
The theme for this year as announced by the United Nations is, “[t]ransformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world”.
You can find more information about this day on the United Nations website by using the following link: International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2022 | United Nations Enable
We hope you enjoy reading this issue. Be well and stay safe.
Email Changes at ARCH
Please be advised that the format for all email addresses at ARCH has changed. If you are seeking legal advice from ARCH, and are unable to contact us via telephone due to disability-related reasons, you can now send an email to: [email protected].
All general email enquiries can now be sent to [email protected].
Emails sent to old email addresses will still be delivered until May 2023. Please take note and update your contacts accordingly.
Creating a National Disability Benefit
Federal Minister Carla Qualtrough once again introduced legislation to the House of Commons to create a national disability monetary benefit for persons with disabilities living in poverty. Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, is currently before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA).
ARCH made a submission to the HUMA Committee on Bill C-22, you can review our submission here: Submission to: Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) .
The AODA Alliance and its partners have released a Call to Action to strengthen Bill C-22. If you are interested in supporting this Call to Action and strengthening Bill C-22, you can find more information here: Call to Action to Strengthen Bill C-22 .
Staff Lawyer Kerri Joffe wins the 2022 Indigenous Partnership Award
ARCH is proud to announce that our staff lawyer, Kerri Joffe, has been awarded the 2022 Indigenous Partnership Award! This award was presented to Kerri by Indigenous Disability Canada at the 2022 Indigenous Disability & Wellness Gathering in Celebration of Indigenous Disability Awareness Month. We are so proud of Kerri and her relentless advocacy and commitment in all her work on behalf of our communities. Kerri attended the event on behalf of ARCH, and presented on several panels about disability rights issues including the UNCRPD and MAiD.
ARCH honoured with the 2021 Leadership in Advocacy Award
ARCH received this award in April of 2022 from Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) for our work in 2021. The Dr. David Green award is presented to recipients who “champion MDC’s mission with courage, determination, passion and show extraordinary commitment to raising funds, increasing awareness, engaging other community members and building positive connections.” Thank you to MDC for this incredible honour!
ARCH’s Executive Director receives the prestigious Guthrie Award
ARCH is thrilled to announce that Robert Lattanzio, our Executive Director, is the 2022 recipient of the Law Foundation of Ontario’s Guthrie Award! Robert has been serving as Executive Director of ARCH since 2015, and works tirelessly and relentlessly in advocating for our clients and communities, and defending the rights of persons with disabilities. Robert is humbled by this prestigious award and sincerely thanks the Law Foundation of Ontario for this recognition. Robert will be presented with the award at a ceremony on December 8, 2022. Learn more about the award in the press release below: Robert Lattanzio receives 2022 Guthrie Award
ARCH Co-Hosted event at the United Nations
In June 2022, ARCH attended the United Nations 15th Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an annual meeting of states that have agreed to abide by and implement the Convention. Together with Inclusion International and Inclusion Canada, ARCH co-hosted an NGO side event at the United Nations to raise awareness about Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying law and its devastating impact on persons with disabilities.
This event was broadcast globally and a recording is available here: The Expansion of Medical Assistance in Dying/Euthanasia in Canada, A Warning to the Global Disability Community
Disability Related Barriers to COVID-19 Vaccines: Highlights from the COVID-19 Vaccination Accessibility Survey 2021
ARCH Disability Law Centre and Independent Living (IL) Canada released a Report with findings from its research on the disability-related barriers to COVID-19 vaccines, titled: Disability Related Barriers to COVID-19 Vaccines: Highlights from the COVID-19 Vaccination Accessibility Survey 2021.
To review our Vaccine Report, go here: Vaccine Report
Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of the Eaton Decision and the Future of Inclusive Education
ARCH co-hosted an event with Inclusion Action in Ontario to commemorate 25 years since the Supreme Court of Canada’s seminal decision of Eaton v. Brant County Board of Education.
The event consisted of two panels discussing the Eaton decision, the current state of the law regarding inclusive education, and perspectives on the practice of inclusive education for students with disabilities. Speakers and panelists included Emily and Clayton Eaton; retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Arbour who wrote the Court of Appeal’s decision in this case; and ARCH’s legal team on the Eaton case, Justice Anne Molloy, Superior Court of Justice, Janet Budgell, Vice President, Legal Aid Ontario, and retired Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Stephen Goudge.
In addition, the panelists included David Lepofsky, AODA Alliance; Sonia Spreafico, parent and Board Member, Inclusion Action Ontario; Dr. Jacqueline Specht, Director of the Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education, Western University; Karen Congram, Head, Special Education, Stratford District Secondary School; and Karen Sheydwasser, Education Assistant, Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour School in Edmonton.
For the complete recording of the event, go here: Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of the Eaton Decision & Future of Inclusive Education in Ontario
Celebrating National AccessAbility Week
ARCH co-hosted our annual National AccessAbility Week event with the Law Society of Ontario on June 1, 2022, with the theme of Advancing Accessibility through Legislation and Litigation. We were honoured to have Canada’s first Accessibility Commissioner, Michael Gottheil, offer us a keynote presentation on his thoughts and reflections on his new role and on advancing accessibility across Canada. Moderated by ARCH staff lawyer, Gabriel Reznick, the panel discussion also featured David Lepofsky, Chair of the AODA Alliance, and Hannah Lee, ARCH staff lawyer. The panel examined critical issues in advancing accessibility, including developments of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and the landmark judicial review decision for equal access in Hejka v. Regional Municipality of Durham – a case centred on access to accessible transit in which ARCH was legal counsel for the applicant. To review the recording, please visit (a name and email address is needed): National AccessAbility Week 2022 recording
New Law can force Institutionalization without Consent
By: Allyya Shahid, ARCH Disability Law Intensive student
On September 21, 2022, the More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022 came into force (the “Act”). i Before the Act was passed, persons with disabilities had rights when deciding whether they wanted to live in a long-term care facility, and a choice in deciding which home. The Act applies to patients who occupy a bed in a hospital under the Public Hospitals Act, and have been labelled by an attending physician as alternate level of care (ALC). ii Under the Act, ALC patients are those who “do not require the intensity of resources or services provided in the hospital care setting.” iii The Act allows placement coordinators to transfer ALC patients to long-term care homes without their consent.
The Act isolates ALC patients from their families
Placement coordinators can select, apply for, and authorize the ALC patient’s transfer to a long- term care home without consent. Regulations limit how far away the long-term care home selected by the placement coordinator can be from the ALC patient’s preferred location. In Southern Ontario, ALC patients can be sent a maximum of 70 km away. iv In Northern Ontario, patients can be sent 150 km away – or further if no beds are available. v
ARCH is deeply concerned that the new law further isolates and excludes persons with disabilities from their communities by forcing them to live in settings not of their choosing, far from friends and family who can support them.
The Act removes ALC patients’ right to privacy
Placement coordinators and long-term care operators are given broad power and control over the collection, use, and disclosure of an ALC patient’s personal health information. Placement coordinators do not need an ALC patient’s consent to collect or share their personal health information with service agencies and certain health service providers vi including service agencies under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act. vii
The Act limits choices and options for ALC patients
ARCH is concerned that the Act takes away choices and power from persons with disabilities. Not only can placement coordinators act without an ALC patient’s consent, ALC patients will be charged $400 per day if they refuse and remain in hospital after being discharged to a long-term care home under the Act. viii This prevents ALC patients from making meaningful decisions about where they live and how they receive treatment.
The Act ignores the needs of persons with disabilities
The Act contributes to a system that continues to neglect the needs of persons with disabilities by pushing ALC patients into long-term care homes, rather than address the root causes of the problem: lack of adequate services and supports in the community, including supportive housing and home care.
In the absence of appropriate services, persons with disabilities are told their needs are “too complicated” to live independently. Adults with developmental disabilities are more likely to have an ALC status and more likely to live in long-term care homes than adults without disabilities. ix Persons with disabilities also begin living in long-term care homes at younger ages – leading to grief, isolation, and loss of autonomy. x
With limited options available, not only are persons with disabilities prevented from exercising their right to live independently, but many resort to an extreme measure to end their suffering: Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) – not because of their disability, but because of their stifling experiences of poverty and limited actionable options.
ARCH is gravely concerned the Act further limits options for persons with disabilities by allowing placement coordinators to transfer ALC patients to long-term care homes without their consent.
These actions by Ontario lawmakers are not consistent with the obligations of States parties, including Canada, who have ratified the United Nations the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. xi The CRPD affirms the rights of persons with disabilities to live inclusively in the community on an equal basis as others. Specifically, Article 19 of the CRPD affirms the rights of persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community. Persons with disabilities have the right to equality in decision-making, to full inclusion and prevention of isolation, and access to health care and supports to maintain housing.
Represented by the law firm Goldblatt Partners LLP, the Ontario Health Coalition and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly have launched a Charter challenge of Bill 7 to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. For more information go here: Release – Ontario Health Coalition and Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
i More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022, SO 2022, c 16 – Bill 7 [“The Act”], online:
Bill 7, More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022.
ii The Act, supra note 1, s 60.1(1).
iii The Act, supra note 1, s 60.1(1)(b).
iv O Reg 484/22: General. s 240.2(8) [“O Reg 484/22”], online: O. Reg. 484/22: GENERAL
v Ibid, s 240.2(8).
vi O Reg 484/22: General, s 240.1(10) [“O Reg 484/22”].
vii O Reg 484/22: General. s 240.1(10)
viii Hospital Management RRO 1990, Regulation 965 (under Public Hospitals Act), s 16(3.1), online:
R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 965: HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT
ix Elizabeth Lin et al, “Addressing Gaps in the Health Care Services Used by Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Ontario” (February 2019), online: ICES: Addressing Gaps in the Health Care Services Used by Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Ontario [Gaps in Health Care Services]:
x ARCH Disability Law Centre, “Submission regarding Bill 37, An Act to enact the Fixing Long-term Care Act, 2021 and amend of repeal various acts” (25 November 2021) online: Submission regarding Bill 37, An Act to enact the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021 and amend or repeal various acts .
xi Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 13 December 2006, 2515 UNTS 3 (entered into force 3 May 2008, Convention ratified by Canada on 11 March 2010, Optional Protocol ratified by Canada on 3 December 2018) [CRPD].
Important Court Decision Promotes Accessibility
By: Gabriel Reznick, Staff Lawyer
On April 12, 2022, the Divisional Court released a landmark judicial review decision about paratransit and accessibility. The case is called Hejka v. The Regional Municipality of Durham, 2022 ONSC 2233, which challenged the decision of the Regional Municipality of Durham and Durham Region Transit to determine that Mr. Hejka was no longer eligible for door-to-door paratransit services. The Court had to decide whether the decision to remove door to door paratransit services was reasonable. The Court decided to substitute its own decision in finding that Mr. Hejka is eligible for door-to-door paratransit services, since he cannot ride conventional transportation safely.
What is this case about?
ARCH represented the Applicant, Mr. Hejka, who is a person with multiple disabilities, and who requires public transit to get to work, activities, and participate in the community. As with many other municipalities, the paratransit services at the Region of Durham were being reviewed following the creation of the family of services model. During this review, Mr. Hejka was found to be ineligible for full paratransit services. He would have to ride conventional transportation for part of his journey and was required to have an attendant with him, at his expense, at all times. This decision removed Mr. Hejka’s independence and assaulted his dignity. In addition, the Region failed to provide Mr. Hejka with sufficient reasoning to defend their decision.
ARCH, on behalf of Mr. Hejka, argued that the decision was unreasonable as it was not in line with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the relevant regulations flowing from the AODA. In addition, ARCH argued that the decision lacked sufficient reasons.
What did the Court decide?
The Court decided that the Regional Municipality of Durham’s decision was unreasonable as it created additional barriers for Mr. Hejka to access transportation. Moreover, the Region did not provide sufficient reasoning for their decision. Specifically, the Court found that the Region’s decision was not in line with the AODA and the transportation regulations, which aim to remove barriers, avoid the creation of new barriers, and ensure paratransit services that best meet the needs of persons with disabilities. The Court found that requiring Mr. Hejka to be accompanied by an attendant at his cost was a significant barrier, further outlining that this decision serves to, “undermine rather than promote Mr. Hejka’s independence and dignity, two fundamental needs of persons with disabilities that have historically been ignored.”
The Court decided to substitute their own decision, finding that Mr. Hejka is eligible for door-to-door paratransit services. They made this decision as they felt that sending it back to the Region would cause undue delay, and that the result was obvious since it was clear that Mr. Hejka cannot ride conventional transportation independently.
Why is this decision important?
This decision is important because it is a rare decision that grapples with how the AODA should be interpreted and applied, so as to ensure the removal of barriers. Although the AODA was passed in 2005, there have not been many decisions that engage with its implementation. This decision is also significant for all persons with disabilities in Ontario, as it clearly states the importance of independence and dignity for persons with disabilities. The decision acknowledges the everyday barriers that persons with disabilities face and the need for equality, to ensure that persons with disabilities have the same access and opportunities.
Although the decision only deals with accessible transportation, its approach to the AODA will hopefully be applicable in employment, customer service, and design of public spaces. Although the regulations allow for discretion of municipalities and employers when implementing the standards, they must do so in a way that ensures equitable access, and removes barriers without erecting new ones.
Lastly, the decision is important as the Court decided to substitute its own decision rather then send it back to the initial decision maker. This is rare for a judicial review as the courts will often send the decision back, as the original decision makers are the experts in the specific issue being decided on. For a court to substitute their own decision, it must be an obvious decision, and one that is necessary to avoid further delay. The Court in this case found that since Mr. Hejka could not ride conventional transportation, the result was inevitable, as a clear reading of the regulation states that a person should receive full paratransit services if they are unable to ride conventional transportation.
Respecting Rights launches the Provincial Self-Advocates Circle
By: Sue Hutton, Respecting Rights Coordinator
As Respecting Rights continues to offer accessible rights education for persons labelled with intellectual disability across the province, our network of committed self-advocates grows stronger and stronger.
On March 2, 2022, Respecting Rights started hosting virtual quarterly sessions with self-advocates coming together from across the province. At these sessions, Respecting Rights will talk about the work we are doing to enhance the rights of persons with disabilities in Ontario. Respecting Rights will also listen to the thoughts and expertise of our self-advocates at these sessions, which we will then use to help inform the work we do to improve and change the laws in Ontario for persons labelled with intellectual disabilities.
There are some clear challenges with the use of technology for persons labelled with intellectual disabilities. We know many people continue to be left out of the self-advocacy conversations that have been happening on Zoom and other virtual platforms during the pandemic. There are many reasons for this including not enough money for internet fees, not enough privacy for virtual calls in shared housing and group home settings, and other concerns. However, the main concern that we learned of from many self-advocates about staying connected with technology, is related to the ability to pay to learn how to use the technology.
Developmental Services Ontario’s Passport Program introduced temporary changes of “admissible expenditures” during the pandemic, which allowed people who receive Passport funding to use their funds to purchase technology to be involved in things like online learning and skill development, but those purchases don’t come with the support to actually learn how to use the devices. Passport funding was not allowed to be spent on lessons to learn how to use the technology that was now allowed to be paid for with Passport funds. We have learned from many self-advocates that their dollars went to purchasing things like iPads, printers, cell phones, and laptops – but those items remain in the box, because nobody showed them how to use them. Respecting Rights continues to urge the provincial government to make sure that developmental services are fully accessible for the people who receive them, and this includes the technology that is funded by Passport.
Barriers such as these are discussed with those self-advocates who are able to participate in the Respecting Rights quarterly virtual meetings.
Also on the agenda is the ongoing work of Respecting Rights to advocate for an accessible way for persons labelled with intellectual disabilities to give feedback to their developmental services agencies. Respecting Rights has been busy delivering virtual rights education on this topic. We are excited to continue this work with 6 developmental services agencies across Ontario who have partnered with Respecting Rights to work together on improving how persons labelled with intellectual disabilities can give feedback, and make complaints, at their agencies when they need to.
Canadian Transportation Agency Decides to Take Away Accommodations Awarded to Persons with Allergy Disabilities
By: Mariam Shanouda and Kerri Joffe, Staff Lawyers
In April 2021, the Canadian Transportation Agency decided to allow several airlines’ request to lessen accessibility requirements on airplanes for people with severe allergies. The Agency’s decision reverses orders it had previously granted to people with disabilities who filed disability-related accommodation complaints. The decision is currently being internally reviewed by the Agency.
What is the case about?
Between 2011 and 2013, the Agency decided several complaints brought by persons with allergies who needed accommodations in order to travel on airplanes. The complainants in these cases had cat allergies and argued that because of the nature of cat dander, a five-row buffer zone should be created to accommodate their allergies on flights. This meant that if a passenger with a cat allergy was scheduled on the same flight as a passenger bringing onboard a cat, then those two passengers must be seated at least five rows apart.
Based on the evidence before it at the time, the Agency agreed with the applicants and granted them the following remedy: that each airline was to provide a buffer zone of at least five rows between any passengers with cat allergies and passengers travelling with cats on the same flight.
Seven years later, in June 2020, Westjet filed an application requesting that the Agency review these decisions and reverse the remedies ordered in light of the passage of the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR). This is because section 53 of the ATPDR states that airlines must provide at least a one-row buffer between persons with allergies and persons travelling with something that might trigger those allergies (either cats, nuts, seeds etc.). According to Westjet, as well as Air Canada and Jazz Aviation LP, the remedies ordered in 2011 and 2013 required much more of airlines than the ATPDR and were contradictory. The airlines argued that the requirements should be streamlined and that the one-row buffer was the more adequate solution.
The Agency agreed and reversed its orders despite the original applicants’ arguing that they should not do so. In light of this decision, all persons with allergies will now only be entitled to a one-row buffer when travelling on any of these airlines’ aircrafts.
Why is this important?
This case is important for a few reasons. First, there is a concern that a five-row buffer will not be available to passengers who need it for disability-related reasons.
Second, is the concern that transportation service providers, like airlines, are using the ATPDR to lessen accessibility requirements that airlines must follow. This is contrary to the purpose of the ATPDR, which is a regulation aimed at making federal transportation more accessible for people with disabilities and ensuring that people with disabilities have equal access to federal transportation services.
A decision like this one may be interpreted by airlines as allowing them to refuse disability accommodation requests if those requests are over and above what is required by the ATPDR. The decision also means that people with disabilities travelling on these three airlines who need a five-row buffer will now need to make an accommodation request, provide medical documents to the airline and then wait for the airline to consider whether it will accommodate them or not. Whereas before, they would not have needed to do this since the airlines were required to provide a five-row buffer if needed.
When the Agency was developing the ATPDR, disability rights organizations, including ARCH, made submissions to the Agency repeatedly emphasizing that these regulations are meant to be treated as a floor and not a ceiling. This means that the requirements in the ATPDR are meant to establish a starting point of minimum requirements for accessibility. They should not be treated as the only measures to be put in place by transportation service providers to ensure accessible transportation.
What happens next?
The decision is currently being internally reviewed by the Agency and a decision should be released in the near future. ARCH continues to monitor this case.
COVID-19 and Disruption to Education
By: Ilinca Stefan and Gabriel Reznick, Staff Lawyers
For almost two years, the COVID-19 crisis significantly disrupted access to education for all students, especially students with disabilities. ARCH continues to learn from students with disabilities and their families about many difficulties they have experienced in school during the pandemic. From Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12), and in post-secondary school, students have had concerns about the accessibility of online learning, health risks of attending school in person, and disability accommodation both in-person and online/virtually.
These barriers continue as students are frequently alternating between learning in the classroom and learning at home. In some areas of Ontario, schools had opened for in-person learning only to close again shortly after, with this occurring multiple times. Even when schools remained open, in-person learning was disrupted for students who needed to isolate at home for COVID-19 related reasons. Repeated transitions between learning environments presents new challenges for students with disabilities and obligations for schools and school boards.
An article published by the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table reveals some concerning new evidence on the impact of education disruption on students and their families.i The research shows that school closures and other hardships associated with COVID-19 are making education even more inequitable. Students with disabilities, racialized students, newcomers, and students with lower socioeconomic backgrounds are disproportionately affected. In addition, school closures can have negative impacts on students’ physical and mental health. Evidence shows that special education services and programs have been closed as a result of the pandemic and resource shortages.
To access this report, go to: COVID-19 and Education Disruption in Ontario: Emerging Evidence on Impacts
Under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, school boards have a duty to accommodate students’ disability-related needs to the point of undue hardship. Many students with disabilities rely on accommodations. Some students may have an Individual Education Plan (“IEP”). Accommodation requirements may be different when the student learns in-person than when the student learns at home.
Prior to the pandemic, accommodations were supposed to be adjusted as disability-related needs changed. As the pandemic continues, students may find they need additional accommodations, or to modify existing accommodations as they adjust to constant changes in their school environment. For example, some students will require accommodations around the transition from home to school. Some students may find some learning assignments accessible in the classroom but inaccessible to complete online from home without accommodations, or vice versa.
Consistent with the research, ARCH has also learned from clients that students are facing negative impacts to their mental health during the COVID-19 crisis. Some students are requiring accommodations for mental health disabilities for the first time. If a student requires accommodations for the first time, it is important to note that they do not have to be identified as an exceptional student through the IPRC process. Now more than ever, school boards must discharge their duty to provide appropriate and timely accommodations.
How to ensure IEPs are followed
An IEP is a living document, which means a student’s IEP should be modified anytime it is no longer responsive to their individualized needs. During the pandemic we have heard from parents and students who have voiced concerns that IEPs are not being followed. It is important to understand that IEPs require both the recognition of the necessary accommodations as well as the implementation of those accommodations. One of the consistent trends we have seen is school boards creating a comprehensive IEP but not following it when the student is learning from home. There are certain accommodations that may be in-person specific such as accommodation to ensure student safety, but for the most part, accommodations outlined in an IEP can and must be followed in both in-person and at home settings as appropriate. These accommodations may need to be modified by, for example, having an EA be in the online classroom with the student or having break-out rooms to allow for 1:1 learning.
There can also be accommodations in an IEP that may be required online, but are not needed in-person. For example, a student may require more breaks as they may have limited screen-time requirements. Students with hearing disabilities may require the school to provide headphones that allow them to hear and understand the teacher. In these examples, the school has the same duty to provide the accommodations despite the student learning online. Although this is an obvious statement, it is one that is worth mentioning as we have seen, especially in transition periods, students not receiving these necessary accommodations and therefore not being engaged in school.
In addition to issues with providing accommodations online, we have also seen the pandemic impact in-person accommodations. As outlined above, the evidence shows that many special-education programs have been cancelled because of the pandemic. One of the main reasons for this is that school boards do not have sufficient staffing resources. We have heard from various school boards that they are unable to provide certain accommodations due to a staffing shortage.
Post-Secondary forced in-person learning
One of the trends we have seen in the post-secondary sector is forced in-person learning. Many post-secondary institutions have been forcing students to return to in-person school, and have been unwilling to accept that students may have disability-related reasons requiring them to stay online. Institutions often fail to understand that being in school online is a form of accommodation, which may be required, and fail to provide a strong undue hardship argument as to why they cannot accommodate. Students with disabilities are often frustrated by the fact that the accommodations they are now requesting were provided without issue to all students when it was unsafe to be at school in-person. Now, these same institutions are unwilling to provide online alternatives to accommodate disability-related needs. This remains a live issue, with many student groups across Canada fighting for this accommodation and facing continued resistance from institutions.
ARCH will continue to monitor these issues experienced by persons with disabilities in K-12 and post-secondary education.
If a student with a disability is not being appropriately accommodated in school in Ontario, they may contact ARCH’s Summary Advice and Referral service for confidential and free legal information and summary legal advice.
 Gallagher-Mackay K, Srivastava P, Underwood K, et al, “COVID-19 and Education Disruption in Ontario: Emerging Evidence on Impacts” (June 2021), online: COVID-19 and Education Disruption in Ontario: Emerging Evidence on Impacts .
By: Mary Hanson, Librarian
Online Catalogue Update
We look forward to welcoming you back when the Resource Centre on the 15th floor reopens. Until then, we remind readers that our Library Catalogue includes digital ARCH submissions and reports, and links to selected online reports from other institutions. Among recent additions:
- Abbas, Jihan and Sonia Alimi. A Qualitative look at serious legal problems for people with disabilities in central Canada = Un examen qualitatif des problèmes d’ordre juridique graves touchant les personnes handicapées dans le centre du Canada. Ottawa: Canada. Dept of Justice, 2021. Available here: A Qualitative Look at Serious Legal Problems for People with Disabilities in Central Canada
DAWN-RAFH study explores how people with disabilities in Ontario and Quebec are negatively affected by a justice system that remains largely inaccessible. The authors offer systemic solutions.
- Accessibility Standards Canada. Accessible practices for returning to the workplace = Pratiques accessibles pour le retour en milieu de travail. Ottawa: Accessibility Standards Canada, 2021 Jan.
Available here: Accessible practices for returning to the workplace
Practical safety guidelines for workers with disabilities and their employers during COVID-19 and other public emergencies. Also available in ASL version.
- Accessibility Standards Canada. Best practices for accessibility when working from home = Pratiques accessibles pour le télétravail. Ottawa: Accessibility Standards Canada, 2021 Jan.
Available here: Best practices for accessibility when working from home
Factors to consider, including tips for accessible online meetings. Also available in ASL version.
- Flood, Colleen, M., Vanessa MacDonnell, Jane Philpott, Sophie Thériault, and Sridhar Venkatapuram (editors). Vulnerable: the law, policy and ethics of COVID-19. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2020.
Available here: Vulnerable: the law, policy and ethics of COVID-19
Authors explore equity issues surrounding those harmed by the pandemic and the vulnerabilities it has exposed in our institutions, governance, and legal structures.
- Minkowitz, Tina. Reimagining crisis support: matrix, roadmap and policy. / Tina Minkowitz. Chestertown, NY: Lilith’s Warrior Press, 2021.
Available here: Reimagining crisis support: matrix, roadmap and policy
Using a rights-based approach, author proposes crisis support as support for making decisions and maintaining an independent life in the community.
- Pichette, Jackie and Sarah Brunwell. Improving the accessibility of remote higher education: lessons from the pandemic and recommendations. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, 2020.
Available here: Improving the accessibility of remote higher education: lessons from the pandemic and recommendations
Survey of students identifies challenges, advantages, and support needs when courses move online.
- Rajan, Doris. Justice denied: people with disabilities face multiple barriers in accessing justice. Toronto: Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society, 2021 Feb. 19.
Available here: Justice denied: people with disabilities face multiple barriers in accessing justice
Findings from a community-driven initiative on the challenges, especially for the marginalized and vulnerable, when interacting with the justice system as victim or when accused of a crime.
Resource Centre Update
These are a few of the items recently added to the ARCH collection. If you want to borrow a copy for reading at home, please check with your local library here: Ontario Public Libraries .
- Borrows, John. Law’s Indigenous ethics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019. (on ARCH shelves at 346.086 CA Bor 2019)
Organized around the seven Anishinaabe grandmother and grandfather teachings of love, truth, bravery, humility, wisdom, honesty, and respect, this book explores ethics in relation to issues including treaties, legal education, and residential schools. Author also discusses the interaction between Canadian state law and Indigenous legal traditions.
- Daley, Andrea, Lucy Costa and Peter Beresford (editors). Madness, violence and power: a critical collection. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019. (on ARCH shelves at 362.21 CA Dal 2019)
Authors explore the infliction of violence on mental health users and survivors by medical, legal, and political systems and institutions.
- Medugno, Richard. Deaf politician: the Gary Malkowski story. Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace, 2020. (on ARCH shelves at 42 CA Med 2020)
Biography traces the life and career of the prominent Ontario disability rights advocate and politician. The first Deaf parliamentarian to serve in government in Canada, the former ARCH board member was also the first in the world to address a legislature in a sign language (ASL).
- Nicols, Naomi. Youth, school and community: participatory institutional ethnographies. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019. (on ARCH shelves at 7 CA Nic 2019)
An examination of institutional policies and procedures that shape the experiences of so many racialized, impoverished, and excluded young people as they move through Canada’s education, child protection and judicial systems.
- Stienstra, Deborah. About Canada: disability rights. 2d ed. Black Point, NS: Fernwood Publishing, 2020. (on ARCH shelves at 087 CA Sti 2020)
An overview of current and historical experiences of Canadians with disabilities, policy and advocacy responses. Author argues that, rather than focusing on simply ‘fixing’ some bodies, a fundamental social transformation through changes in attitudes and approaches is needed to achieve full inclusion.
ARCH on Social Media
ARCH is on social media. You can find us at:
Check ARCH’s website ARCH Disability Law Centre for the latest ARCH news, publications (including past issues of the ARCH Alert), submissions, fact sheets and more.
Become a Member of ARCH
If you would like to become an individual member of ARCH, please visit our website at www.archdisabilitylaw.ca or contact our office to request an Application for Individual Membership form. Membership is free.
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 Canada Helps .
Charitable No. 118 777 994 RR 0001
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 volunteer Board of Directors, the majority of whom are persons with disabilities. Articles may be copied or reprinted provided that they are reproduced in their entirety and appropriate authorship and credit is given.
Co-Editors: Robert Lattanzio & Amanda Ward
Production & Circulation: Theresa Sciberras & Rachel Abitan
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.
Contact ARCH Alert
If you enjoyed this issue of the ARCH Alert, please consider sharing it with others.
Versions of our most recent and older issues of the ARCH Alert are available on our website at https://archdisabilitylaw.ca/resources/arch-alert/
ARCH Disability Law Centre
55 University Avenue, 15th Floor
Toronto, ON M5J 2H7
Telephone Toll-free: 1-866-482-2724
TTY Toll-free: 1-866-482-2728
The TTY is not being answered as ARCH staff work remotely
Fax Toll-free: 1-866-881-2723