ARCH Blog

FOCUS: The Law of Service Animals in Ontario

July 13, 2018

The term “service animal” is often perceived to refer to one particular type of service animal for one particular disability: the service animal being a guide dog and that disability being a vision disability.  However, the scope of what a service animal is and what accommodation it provides to other disability-related needs is much wider.  

Persons with epilepsy, persons with mental health disabilities and persons with other non-evident disabilities may all require the support of a service animal. That service animal may or may not be a guide dog; in fact, miniature horses, birds or even monkeys are sometimes used as service animals by persons with disabilities.

For persons who require the support of a service animal, the handler-animal relationship is an essential tool for independent living and full participation in society. 

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FOCUS: A More Contextual Approach to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s One-Year Limitation Period

June 29, 2018

Generally, the one-year limitation period at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (the Tribunal) has been applied quite stringently by the Tribunal with the threshold applied being so high that most applicants who fall outside the one-year limitation period are often shut out from being able to have their applications heard. 

An analysis of a recent decision, however, demonstrates that if the Tribunal adopts a more contextual approach to the one-year limitation period then more applicants may be able to have their applications heard provided they have a reasonable explanation for their delay in filing an application within the one-year limitation period. 

The One-Year Limitation Period at the Tribunal  

Section 34 of the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) stipulates that an applicant seeking to have their matter heard by the Tribunal must file their application within one year from the date of the incident (or the last incident in a series of incidents). 

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ARCH Celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day - Highlights Work of BCANDS

June 21, 2018

The Board and Staff of ARCH Disability Law Centre recognize that our work takes place on traditional Indigenous territories across Ontario, which have been home to Indigenous peoples since time immemorial. We further recognize that the land on which our office is located is a sacred gathering place of the many Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. We are grateful to have the opportunity to meet and work on this territory. We are also mindful of broken covenants and the need to strive for justice for all persons. We heed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action.

To mark National Indigenous Peoples Day, ARCH is highlighting the work of our community partner organization, British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS). On Monday, June 18, 2018 ARCH Staff Lawyer, Kerri Joffe, spoke with BCANDS Executive Director, Neil Belanger, about BCANDS work and the results of their recent federally funded consultation with Indigenous communities on the forthcoming federal accessibility legislation.

KJ: Tell us about BCANDS and the services you provide.

NB: The British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society or BCANDS, is an award winning, Indigenous disability, not-for-profit organization, incorporated in 1991. BCANDS is the only Indigenous organization of its type in Canada and enjoys Special Consultative Status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council. BCANDS provides disability related services to Indigenous (First Nation, Métis and Inuit) individuals and families residing within Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous communities. BCANDS has won a number of awards for our work. 

Our Mission is: “Advancing the unique disability and health priorities of Indigenous persons through collaboration, consultation, and the delivery of comprehensive client services.”

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Accessible Practice: The Importance of Privacy for Clients with Disabilities

June 15, 2018

There is no question that privacy is of utmost importance to all clients. However, there are privacy concerns that are specific to clients with disabilities that may not arise in matters where the litigant/applicant/complainant is not a person with a disability.  What are these privacy concerns and what can you do in your legal practice to proactively address these issues?   

Why Privacy is a Concern to Clients with Disabilities

When a client with a disability approaches a clinic or firm, it is often because they have been on the receiving end of unfair, unjust and/or discriminatory behaviour. Their experience may include facts that are hurtful and demonstrative of ableist behaviour that results in an injury to the prospective client’s dignity and self-respect. By this time, the client may be wary of divulging their information to more strangers. 

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New Federal Accessibility Legislation on the Horizon

June 8, 2018

New legislation intended to increase accessibility and remove barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating in society is expected to be introduced in the House of Commons this month. The legislation is likely to create new accessibility requirements for federally-regulated employers and service providers, such as banks, interprovincial transportation, telecommunications, and Government of Canada services. It is also expected to impact federal lands and First Nations reserves.

Background 

In 2016 the Government of Canada announced its intention to create federal accessibility legislation. The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, then Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, stated that the new legislation was intended to create "…an inclusive society where all Canadians have an equal opportunity to succeed, and are equal participants."

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Accessible Practice: When Your Client Cannot Sign Documents

June 1, 2018

A version of this article was first published in the June 2017 ARCH Alert issue 

As lawyers, we depend a lot on the power of a signature. Our solicitor-client relationship does not begin until our client agrees to and signs a retainer. We require clients to sign everything from consent to release information forms, affidavits, and settlement agreements, to powers of attorneys and wills just to name a few. A signature is an acknowledgment by the client that he or she understands what the document is stating and is indicative of a client’s consent or a client’s instruction to their legal counsel to act in a specific manner on their behalf. 

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Letter from the Executive Director: National AccessAbility Week

May 28, 2018 

I write this post in celebration of this year’s National AccessAbility Week, a week dedicated to celebrating and promoting inclusion and accessibility in Canada. ARCH is involved in several events throughout this week that are meant to inform and encourage discussion on issues that are of importance to disability communities. 

But first … 

A (Brief) History Lesson 

In the spring of 2017, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, then Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities launched the annual National AccessAbility Week, aimed at promoting inclusivity and the full participation of persons with disabilities,

“We need to change the way we think, talk and act about barriers to participation and accessibility, and we need to do it right from the start, not as an afterthought. An inclusive Canada is where all Canadians can participate and have an equal opportunity to succeed.” 

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