Meeting with UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


by Cynthia Brown, LLM Candidate, Windsor Law – April 9, 2019

Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, was in Canada from April 2, to April 12, 2019, for an official visit at the invitation of the federal government. On April 3, 2019, Professor Laverne Jacobs, Professor Tess Sheldon and Cynthia Brown, LLM Student from Windsor Law had the privilege of participating in a telephone meeting with Ms. Devandas Aguilar, and with representatives from several other organizations dedicated to disability issues from across the country. Representing the Law, Disability & Social Change Project at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law, Professor Jacobs spoke on access to justice issues with respect to access to legal aid for people with disabilities and Bill C-81, the proposed federal accessibility legislation (Accessible Canada Act). She highlighted two significant legal cases that have put the concept of access to justice for people with disabilities to the test – Elizabeth Portman’s case and Judy Gayton’s case. She stated that legal aid boards and commissions are usually given the discretion to determine the areas of law in which they will provide legal aid and the process they will follow to decide if applicants are successful. They should be required to consider human rights principles and accommodate people with disabilities to the point of undue hardship in doing so.

Other represented organizations included: the Canadian Association of the Deaf, Communication Disabilities Access Canada, Canadian Association of Community Living/Community Living Toronto, Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, Canadian Federation of Library Associations, British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS), People First of Canada and ARCH Disability Law Centre.

The meeting was very informative and resulted in a number of thoughtful questions from Ms. Devandas Aguilar.  She stated that, at the end of her 10-day visit on April 12th, she will hold a press conference to present the highlights of her visit, along with a mission statement with preliminary findings. Her full report will be presented in March of 2020.


Read our submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities:

Written Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur (Apr2019) (MSWord)

Written Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur (Apr2019)  (PDF)

Final Report of UN Special Rapporteur on Disability (Dec2019) (PDF)

Legislation and Advocacy Resources for People with Disabilities

Prepared by Cynthia Brown, LLM Candidate

March 1, 2019

This information is not intended to provide legal advice. The following is a list of links related to disability rights legislation in Canada and Ontario, as well as some resources for supports and self-advocacy.  This list is not exhaustive.  Sources provided relate to health care, education, employment and accessibility accommodations.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Accessible Canada Act (pending)

Proposed Accessible Canada Act – Summary of the Bill

Ontario Human Rights Code

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)


What Ontario’s accessibility laws mean to you (e-pamphlet)

Alternate formats for this pamphlet can be requested at:

Publications Ontario: Toll free: 1-800-668-9938, 416-326-5300, or TTY toll free: 1-800-268-7095

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Who can I contact if I want to report an AODA violation?

If you are a person with a disability and would like to report a violation of the AODA to the Ontario Government, please call: 1-866-515-2025 or by TTY:  1-800-268-7095.

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

655 Bay Street, 14thFloor, Toronto, ON M7A 2A3


Email:    Phone: 416-326-1312

Toll-free: 1-866-598-0322 TTY: Call the Bell Relay Service at 1-800-855-0511

Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre


Phone: 416-597-4900

Toll Free: 1-866-625-5179

TTY: 416-597-4903

TTY Toll Free: 1-866-612-8627

Your Legal Rights

Steps to Justice

Information related to health care services:

ARCH Disability Law Centre

DAWN Canada (DisAbled Women’s Network Canada)

Phone: (514) 396-0009    Toll free: 1-866-396-0074


Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1420, Toronto, ON  M5G 1Z8

Email:    Phone: 416.595.7170


Legal Assistance of Windsor

443 Ouellette Avenue, Suite 200, Windsor ON N9A 4J2

Phone: 519-256-7831     TTY: 519-256-5287


Windsor Accessibility Advisory Committee (WAAC)–Agendas.aspx

“Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education” by Dr. Jay Dolmage

Please join us on October 22nd, 2018 from 12: 00 – 1:30 for a talk entitled “Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education” by Dr. Jay Dolmage, Associate Professor of English at the University of Waterloo. This event will be held at the Faculty of Law building, Farmer Conference room (Rm 1111), and will have live open captioning. To register for this event please click on this link:

Talk description:

For too long, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual, mental, or physical weakness, even as we gesture toward the value of diversity and innovation. Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, this talk will argue that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.

Dr. Jay Dolmage’s bio:

I am committed to disability rights in my scholarship, service, and teaching. My work brings together rhetoric, writing, disability studies, and critical pedagogy. My first book, entitled Disability Rhetoric, was published with Syracuse University Press in 2014. Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education was published with Michigan University Press in 2017 and is available in an open-access version online. Disabled Upon Arrival: Eugenics, Immigration, and the Construction of Race and Disability was published in 2018 with Ohio State University Press. I am the Founding Editor of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.

This event is being organized by The Law Disability & Social Change Project, in collaboration with the University of Windsor’s Disability Studies Program. This event is free, open to the public and aims to be barrier-free.

We hope to see you there!


Laverne Jacobs, PhD Jijian Voronka, PhD
Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law, University of Windsor School of Social Work
Founding Director, The Law, Disability & Social Change Project University of Windsor

The University of Windsor sits on the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, comprised of the Ojibway, the Odawa, and the Potawatomie.

Disability and Law Learning Series

The Law Disability & Social Change Project at Windsor Law will be running a seminar series called the “Disability and Law Learning Series” in October and November 2018.

We welcome you to join us!

The series is open to public and we hope that members of the disability community and their families, friends, and allies will be able to benefit from it. It’s well known that there is a legal maze that surrounds people with disabilities in everyday life. The seminars aim to provide information on a number of salient legal topics affecting people with disabilities through the lifecourse. The seminars will be delivered by law students. The sessions are not designed to provide legal advice.

The series will be held at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in the Emara Building. They are being held in association with the Beyond Disability Rehabilitation Network.

Please find below the topics and dates, along with links for registering:

1. Tues., October 9 Using Complaint Mechanisms Effectively for Disability-Related Issues

RSVP here:

2. Tues., October 16 Workplace Accommodation (Physical Disabilities, Mental Illness & Addiction)

RSVP here:

3.   Tues., October 30 Social Assistance and Benefits

RSVP here:

4. Tues., November 13 Disability Equality Law Focus I: Service Animals, Chemical Sensitivity and Electromagnetic Sensitivity (Electro Hypersensitivity)

RSVP here:

5. Tues., November 20 Disability Equality Law Focus II:  Migrating to Canada as a PWD & Ontario Works 

RSVP here:


Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare – Address: 1453 Prince Rd, Windsor, ON N9C 3Z4, Canada.

Emara Building. Beside Parking Lot D

Human Rights Tribunal Disability Case Summaries July 2018


There have been some decisions recently from the human rights tribunals relating to disability. The following are a selection of decisions from the Human Rights Tribunals in BC and Ontario and that were rendered during the month of July, 2018. Any relevant Supreme Court of Canada decisions from that month have also been included. This information is not intended to provide legal advice.

Prepared by Research Assistants for the Law, Disability & Social Change Project

Ebony Evans (2L), Valeria Kuri (2L), Maggie Shi (3L)- Windsor Law

August 22, 2018


British Columbia 

J and L obo T v School District No. 63 and others (2018 BCHRT 162)

Date Issued: July 13, 2018

This decision involves a complaint made on behalf of a minor against several parties, including his school and school district (“the Respondents”), for alleged discrimination on the basis of physical and mental disabilities. The minor suffers from Electro Hypersensitivity, a condition that invokes certain severe physiological symptoms when exposed to radiation from commercial Wi-Fi transmitters and wireless devises for prolonged periods of time. The complaint sought, among other accommodations, to have 25% of the school free of Wi-Fi and to turn off some assistive technology installed for hearing impaired children and teachers. The adjudicator dismissed the complaint on the ground that there was no reasonable prospect of success at hearing. Specifically, the Tribunal found that there was no objective support for any causal connection between the symptoms and exposure to Wi-Fi radiation. The adjudicator noted in the decision that, currently, the consensus among agencies charged with monitoring this issue is that there is no reliable evidence establishing such connection. Materials and medical expert opinions tendered by the complainant to the contrary were found not sufficient to establish a connection.


Hasenwinkle v BC Housing (2018 BCHRT 163)

Date Issued:  July 13, 2018

Mr. Hasenwinkle has tinnitus and was a tenant of BC Housing from 2011 to 2015. He made a human rights claim against BC Housing for not effectively accommodating his disability and ultimately terminating his tenancy. During his tenancy, Mr. Hasenwinkle made several noise and odour complaints about his neighbours to the landlord. Similarly, BC Housing had received complaints from other tenants about some of Mr. Hasenwinkle’s behaviour. Later the parties reached a mutual settlement agreement specifying the date on which he must move out. This agreement was not in writing and did not mention a release of human rights claims. Here, BC Housing applied to dismiss Mr. Hasenwinkle’s complaint on the basis that his claim had no reasonable prospect of success. Central to its argument was BC Housing’s purported investigations in response to Mr. Hasenwinkle’s complaint for odour and noise which it concluded was unfounded. It said that Mr.Hasenwinkle was evicted for just cause unrelated to his disability. The Tribunal ultimately decided not to grant the application to dismiss this complaint because there was not enough information submitted by BC Housing to meet its onus to show that the claim had no reasonable prospect of success. More is required than a manager’s affidavit stating that there had been an investigation in response to Mr. Hasenwinkle’s complaint and that it had no merits.


Schwartzman v Mount Seymour Lions Housing Society and another (2018 BCHRT 166)

Date Issued: July 17, 2018

The complainant, Mr. Schwartzman, is a tenant living in a complex that provides housing to people with mobility impairments owned, leased, and managed by the respondents. He does not use a cane, wheelchair or other support to walk. He made a complaint against the respondents for their failure to accommodate and continued failure to accommodate tenants and visitors with disabilities. His allegations were the failure to accommodate the storage of his adult tricycle, the failure to adequately and quickly clear ice and snow and to prepare for future incidences, the failure to accommodate garbage bin access, and the violation of his privacy by sharing his medical information and accommodation request in an email. It must be noted that Mr. Schwartzman’s allegation mainly targeted the Landlord’s failure to accommodate tenants with disabilities other than himself. Mr. Schwartzman claims that he is acting in the public interest but has filed this as an individual complaint. He has not filed on behalf of anyone else nor does he have co-complainants with similar allegations. He could not establish a personal adverse impact. This complaint was ultimately dismissed because the Tribunal found that there was no reasonable prospect for Mr. Schwartzman to prove discrimination.


Champion v Sandalwood Retirement Resort and others (2018 BCHRT 167)

Date Issued: July 17, 2018

Ms. Champion filed a complaint against her former employer for her termination which she claimed to be related to her disability. The issue before the Tribunal was whether the complainant had a disability at the material time, whether the behaviours for which she was fired were related to her disability, and whether the respondents knew or ought to have known about the connection between her disability and alleged performance issues. This decision deals with the respondent’s application to dismiss the complaint. The complainant was on medical leave from work and was admitted to the hospital because of certain medical concerns. Some period after returning to work, she showed deterioration in work performance and attitude and was terminated thereafter. Even though she had a positive recovery and prognosis, the medical evidence before the Tribunal substantiated the fact that Ms. Champion experienced a serious illness with the potential for long-term repercussions on her well-being which may link to her declined performance. The Tribunal also found that the respondent ought to have known of a possible link under these circumstances and inquired after such link prior to taking any actions that would adversely affect the employee pursuant to Gardiner v Ministry of Attorney General, 2003 BCHRT 41. The application to dismiss was denied.


Edwards v Cowichan Valley Regional District (2018 BCHRT 172)

Date Issued: July 19, 2018

The complainant had been an employee for the respondent since 1997. She sustained permanent physical injury which resulted in physical limitations that restricted the work she could perform. She sought permanent accommodations from the respondent in the form of alternative positions which she alleged were refused by the respondent. She filed a complaint for discrimination against her employer on the basis of disability. The parties entered into a settlement agreement facilitated by the Tribunal which, among other terms, set out the conditions under which the complainant agreed to withdraw her complaint. Later, she was not satisfied with her awarded alternative position and chose to proceed with the complaint. Pursuant to their settlement agreement, Ms. Edwards could not pursue her complaint before the Tribunal. The Tribunal held that there are strong policy reasons that favour honouring settlement agreements. The language of finality used in the agreement evidenced the parties’ intention to fully resolve the matter with their agreement. Furthermore, because Ms. Edwards was represented by legal counsel and the negotiation of the agreement occurred with the assistance of a Tribunal mediator, reasons such as unconscionability and undue influence, that may normally allow the Tribunal to hear a dispute in the face of a binding agreement were not present.


Biggings obo Walsh v Pink and others (2018 BCHRT 174)

Date Issued: July 25, 2018

The complainant, Martina Walsh, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) that resulted in the gradual loss of the use of her limbs and her use of a wheelchair. The apartment building in issue is an old building and has stairs-only access. Ms. Walsh’s husband, Mr. Biggings, asked the landlords to consider building a ramp to make it accessible to Ms. Walsh. After investigative efforts, the landlords definitively believed that a ramp is not a feasible or reasonable option. Ms. Walsh, with her husband as her representative, filed this complaint against her landlords (“respondents”) for discrimination in tenancy. At the centre of the issue is whether the respondents have satisfied their obligation to accommodate by taking all reasonable and practical steps to remove a physical barrier that prevents Ms. Walsh from accessing her unit safely. The Tribunal reaffirmed a settled position that moving-out is not an accommodation even when it may be a solution. Although the Tribunal agreed that there are legitimate challenges to building a ramp that could comply with Bylaws, it found the respondent had not exhausted all reasonable steps in its inquiry. The relevant legal analysis provides that the hardship endured by landlords has to become ‘undue’ to justify retaining disability-related barrier. The complaint was justified and an order for compensation and the building of a ramp was made.



Singh v. The Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario (2018 HRTO 858)

Date Issued: July 3, 2018

The applicant filed his complaint 5 years after the last alleged incident of discrimination. The reason for delay was supported by medical evidence indicating that the applicant had suffered from significantly worsened symptoms relating to his disability in the years between the last alleged incident of discrimination in 2012 and his application in 2017. The Tribunal did not accept that the delay was made in good faith, as the medical evidence did not indicate a debilitating disability that would prevent the applicant from filing within the 2-year limitation period. At such, the application was considered untimely, and therefore dismissed by the Tribunal.


Church v. Ontario (Community and Social Services) (2018 HRTO 868)

Date: July 4, 2018

The applicant filed a human rights complaint against her ODSP caseworker. She alleged that the individual respondent had made discriminatory comments and invoked discriminatory stereotypes during several conversations while inquiring into her eligibility for benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act. The applicant’s benefits were suspended. She appealed to the Social Benefits Tribunal (“SBT”). In this case, the respondents sought deferral of the application pending SBT’s decision. The Tribunal refused the request to defer and clarified that such legal action is restricted to matters that strictly relate to applicants’ eligibility for benefits.  However, in this application, the issue concerned alleged discriminatory comments not eligibility and therefore, was outside of the SBT’s jurisdiction. The Tribunal also refused the respondents’ request to remove the named ODSP caseworker as a personal respondent to the application. Despite an available organizational respondent who is able to respond and remedy, the Tribunal noted that in Persaud v Toronto District School Board, 2008 HRTO 31, it was held that where an applicant’s allegation centres the conduct of an individual as it was in this complaint, there exists a compelling reason to name that individual as a party to an application.


M.B. v. Minto Properties Inc., (2018 HRTO 897)

Date Issued: July 11, 2018

Three applicants each filed applications to the Tribunal. Two applications alleged discrimination based on disability and the other alleged discrimination on grounds of association with a person identified by a protected ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code. All three applications dealt with the absence of a lift in the lobby of the apartment where the applicants live. Both requests to amend the applications were granted.  In the amendment, the applicants added to their allegations, the respondents’ failure to keep the building emergency route and accessible parking area clear of snow and ice, the respondents’ property manager’s conduct of parking in the emergency route and accessible parking spots on seven occasions and the respondent’s failure to prevent non-disable persons from parking in accessible spots. This matter is awaiting final hearing and decision from the Tribunal.


Shaw v. Muslim Welfare Centre of Toronto(2018 HRTO 908)

Date Issued: July 12, 2018

The applicant filed an application following a ten-day stay at an emergency shelter operated by the respondent. The applicant submitted that she was treated rudely by staff while she was having a panic attack and alleged this to be an act of discrimination on the basis of her disability. The applicant also claimed that she was asked whether she had applied for social assistance on three occasions and by virtue of this was discriminated against based on her receipt of social assistance. The Tribunal found that the application no reasonable prospect of success under the Code. The applicant was not able to point to any link between her disability and the treatment she received even if it were assumed that she had been treated rudely by staff. The Tribunal also found that the respondents’ requests regarding the applicant’s social assistance status were not discriminatory. The Tribunal clarified that in order for these allegations to constitute a violation of the Code, the actions must deny an individual of housing opportunities due to their receipt of social assistance.


Matthews v. Apple Canada Inc., (2018 HRTO 916)

Date Issued: July 13, 2018

This application was a complaint for alleged discrimination with respect to goods, services and facilities because of disability. The applicant went to the respondent’s store due to an iPad malfunction and advised the respondent’s sales persons of his disability and his reliance on his iPad to access books and the internet. The applicant requested that the respondent replace his iPad due to technological malfunctions, however, the respondent refused, stating that this was not an ordinary practice. The Tribunal could not identify any facts that would indicate the respondent’s failure to provide services to the applicant on the basis of his disability. The Tribunal stated that it was plain and obvious that the applicant had not established a prima facie case of discrimination and thus, the duty to accommodate did not apply.


Panic v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1065 (2018 HRTO 947)

Date Issued: July 18, 2018

The applicant was an employee of a hospital. Her disability was accommodated for a year until 2014 when the employer advised that she could no longer be accommodated within the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) bargaining unit. The employer was willing to provide her with an alternative employment position under the umbrella of CUPE Local 1065. The issue with this alternative was that the applicant’s seniority was not transferable. The Tribunal clarified that the issue in this case was whether CUPE had an obligation to allow the applicant to transfer her seniority. The Tribunal determined that CUPE only had an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation which did not include giving the applicant enhanced seniority. The Tribunal concluded that CUPE Local 1065 did not infringe on the applicant’s rights under the Codewhen it refused to allow her to transfer seniority she had accrued with OPSEU when placed in a job in the CUPE Local as an accommodation to her disability.

Supreme Court of Canada (SCC)

British Columbia v. Phillip Morris International, Inc. (2018 SCC 36)

Date Issued: July 13, 2018

Although the following decision does not directly relate to disability, it does have implications for protecting the privacy and confidentiality of individuals with disabilities with health-care records. The following summary has been taken and shortened from the SCC website:

In 2000, the province of BC passed the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, which allowed the Province to sue tobacco manufacturers for the cost of health-care benefits paid for diseases caused by tobacco exposure. In 2001, BC sued Phillip Morris International and other tobacco manufacturers on an aggregate basis, that is, on behalf of a population. To prove causation and damage, the Province intended to rely on several databases that held health-care records and documents of individual insured persons and documents relating to their health care benefits. Phillip Morris applied for access to these databases, arguing the necessity of this information to its adequate defence of the Province’s claim. The issue was whether the Province could be compelled to provide the requested information. Despite the compellability provisions (s. 2(5)(b) of the Act, the SCC ruled that the Province cannot be compelled regardless of relevance or anonymization of the information. Justice Russell Brown ruled for BC stating that even in instances where identifying information was removed, the databases still contained confidential health-care information about individuals and therefore insulated pursuant the Act when the Province sues on an aggregate basis as it is in this case.

Human Rights Tribunal Disability Case Summaries June 2018



There have been some decisions recently from the human rights tribunals relating to disability. The following are a selection of decisions from the Human Rights Tribunals in BC and Ontario and that were rendered during the month of June, 2018. Any relevant Supreme Court of Canada decisions from that month have also been included. This information is not intended to provide legal advice.


Prepared by Research Assistants for the Law, Disability & Social Change Project

Ebony Evans (2L), Valeria Kuri (2L), Maggie Shi (3L)- Windsor Law


July 6, 2018


British Columbia

Customer v Restaurant and Manager (2018 BCHRT 138)

Date Issued: Jun 7, 2018

The complainant has concurrent mental illnesses. He alleged that he was denied service at a restaurant because of his therapy dog that provides necessary assistance to him at all times. This incident formed the basis of his allegation of discrimination. The complaint was ultimately dismissed. The adjudicator held that it was possible that the incident that the Customer and his friend described may have occurred one morning when they went to a restaurant to have breakfast but found that on a balance of probabilities, the evidence did not support their allegations that the incident described occurred at that Restaurant.  However, the Tribunal commented extensively on stigma and marginalization, making the observation that testimony submitted in this case affirms inaccurate yet persistent misapprehensions of the mentally ill in broader community. An excerpt of the complainant’s testimony of his lived experience of abuse, exclusion and fear was reproduced to promote awareness and educate the public.


Okanagan Valley Association of the Deaf obo others v St. John Society and another (2018 BCHRT 150)

Date Issued: Jun 22, 2018

Okanagan Valley Association (“Association”) of the Deaf filed a complaint against St. John Ambulance (“SJA”) on behalf of the class of individuals who are D/deaf or hard of hearing for having experienced adverse impact because of SJA’s ongoing practice or policy of refusing to fund Sign language interpretation for its courses to accommodate students. The Tribunal decided that the Association’s late-filed complaint should proceed and accepted it on the basis that SJA’s alleged discriminatory actions constitute a continuing contravention and that it was in the public’s interest to accept it. To arrive at this decision, the Tribunal distinguished a body cases for the proposition that “a mere                repetition of a previous request, which elicits the same denial, does not constitute a continuing  contravention” and relied on case law that makes an allegation of continuing contravention possible where there is ongoing state of discriminatory condition.


Worker v Employer and Manager (2018 BCHRT 140)

Date Issued: Jun 12, 2018

The complainant, who has several mental disabilities, filed a complaint against his employer concerning his termination for alleged discrimination. His late-filed complaint was ultimately not accepted by the Tribunal. This decision was primarily based on evidence that he was sufficiently functional to pursue other forms of redress and therefore, his disabling condition, which he claimed to be the main reason for his delay, did not prevent him from filing a human rights complaint to attract public interest.



Weekes v Boudreau (2018 HRTO 741)

Date Issued: June 4, 2018

The applicant, Ms. Weekes filed an application under the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, alleging discrimination with respect to accommodation in housing because of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, citizenship, ethnic origin, family status, marital status, disability, age, association with a person identified by a Code ground, and reprisal. The applicant claimed that the respondents, her neighbours, were spreading rumours that she has a mental health disability. The applicant claimed that the neighbours had called her “crazy” and this term was mentioned to describe her in a number of police reports.

The primary issue in this case was whether the relationship between the applicant and the respondent fell under the social area of “accommodation”, set out in the Code. Subsection 2(2) of the Code lays out specific relationships where the Code can apply to ensure freedom from harassment in accommodations.

The Tribunal found that applicant was an occupant of housing; however, the respondents who are her neighbours were not in the categories of persons named under subsection 2(2) of the Code as they are not categorized as landlords, landlord agent or an occupant of the same building. The application was therefore, dismissed.


Kalkat v The Merchant (2018 HRTO 759)

Date Issued: June 7, 2018

This case concerns an application alleging discrimination because of disability contrary to the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, as amended (the “Code”). Specifically, the applicant alleged that his laptop had been damaged after it was left at the respondent’s establishment.

The Tribunal stated that in order to fall within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, an application must contain allegations that connect a respondent’s conduct to one or more prohibited grounds of discrimination. The Tribunal held that the applicant’s submissions deal with allegations of property damage but failed to point to any connection between this treatment and a ground for discrimination mentioned in the Code. The Tribunal concluded that the application was not within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.


Sprague v Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (2018 HRTO 764)

Date Issued: June 8, 2018

The applicant alleged that he is a person with a disability and required accommodation for seating  at a facility operated by the respondent. The applicant alleged that the respondent charged him  more for his accessible seat than other “non-accessible” seats nearby. The respondent denied the allegations and provided an explanation for what was said to have occurred.

The applicant sought an interim remedy to order the respondent to stop charging more    for certain accessible seating.  In order for an interim remedy to be granted, it is necessary to have:  (1) a detailed description of the order (2) one or more signed declarations by people with firsthand knowledge of the issue and (3) a balance between the harm and convenience of  granting an interim remedy that would be just and appropriate in the circumstance.

The Tribunal held that an interim remedy would not be granted. First, it  was not clear that the application had merit. Second, the balance of harms and convenience did not favour granting the interim remedy request. Finally, it would not be  not fair and just to do so. This case will continue on with the Tribunal.


Guillemette v Bell Technical Solutions (2018 HRTO 766)

Date Issued: June 8, 2018

The applicant in this case alleges discrimination with respect to employment because of   disability. The Tribunal sent the applicant a Notice to Dismiss, inviting the applicant to make submissions on the issue of   whether the respondent is covered by the jurisdiction.

The Tribunal found that the work performed by the employees, including the applicant,   remains an  integral part of Bell’s core federal undertakings in telecommunications. The respondent is a federal agency and falls outside of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.


Moodie v Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (2018 HRTO 775)

Date Issued: June 12, 2018

The applicant in this case alleges discrimination with respect to employment because of    disability. The applicant had identified WSIB as the respondent, alleging that WSIB allowed for her continued torture in the workplace. The applicant was asked to clarify who they considered to be the respondent to their application.

The Tribunal concluded that this application would be outside the jurisdiction of this Tribunal. In its reasoning, the Tribunal emphasizes that the doctrine of judicial immunity prohibits legal proceedings against judicial actors based on their role as adjudicators or decisionmakers. The Tribunal found that WSIAT is protected by the doctrine because it is considered to be a neutral third party that determines disputes between parties. For these reasons the application was dismissed.


Hall v Ontario (Community Safety and Correctional Services) (2018 HRTO 778)

Date Issued: June 13, 2018

The applicant in this case alleges that the respondent discriminated against him on the       basis of disability. He asserts that he was ill, experiencing “severe opiate withdrawal” when he was admitted to a correctional facility of the respondent. The primary complaint is that the doctor who was to administer the medication the applicant was receiving at the time was rarely available and that  he sometimes had to wait over 24 hours between doses.

The Tribunal found that the treatment and decisions from the respondent’s health professionals were not based on the applicant’s disabilities in any arbitrary sense, or anything other than their sincere medical opinions about what he required. The simple          fact that the applicant felt as though the respondent’s doctors were treating him  differently did not constitute a violation of the Code. Accordingly, the application was dismissed as having no reasonable prospect of success.


Supreme Court of Canada (SCC)

Canada (Canadian Human Rights Commission) v Canada (Attorney General) (2018-SCC 31-2018-06-14)

Although it does not deal directly with disability, the following decision has implications for those who use human rights tribunals, a population that includes many people with disabilities. The result of this case is that it requires challenges to the legislation of the federal Human Rights Act and likely other human rights legislation in the country to be taken through the route of a Charter challenge, which is generally more costly. The following summary has been taken from the SCC website :

“This appeal concerns the dismissal of complaints under the Canadian Human Rights Act. R.S.C. 1985, c. H-6 (“CHRA”), that were dismissed by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in two decisions. Said complaints alleged that the “legislative entitlements to registration under the Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c.I-5, were discriminatory practices prohibited by the CHRA. Two issues arose; whether defence is owed to a human rights tribunal interpreting its home statute; and whether the Tribunal’s decision dismissing the complaints as “direct attacks on legislation” was reasonable. All complaints arose from         the effects of “enfranchisement” enshrined in the Indian Act prior to 1985 (stripped individuals of status   and prevented their children from registering as status “Indians”). Although parliament has   ended enfranchisement and enacted remedial provisions, the complainants challenge the sufficiency of these measures, claiming their children continue to face discrimination. Complaints were heard by the Tribunal separately, and in both decisions, the Tribunal decided that the complaints were “a direct attack on the Indian Act”. The Tribunal decided that in order to legitimize these claims (in order for the    Tribunal to respond), the complainants needed to demonstrate that the legislative provisions “fell within the statutory meaning of a service”. After thorough review, the adjudicators   in both decisions conclude that the legislation was not a service under the CHRA and dismissed the complaints. The Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal found the Tribunal decisions to be reasonable and were upheld. The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal.”

The Interplay Between Human Rights and Accessibility Laws: Lessons Learned and Considerations for the Planned Federal Accessibility Legislation

In this study, the author analyzes, comparatively, the administrative governance functions of legislation that provides accessibility standards in six jurisdictions that also offer legal protection from discrimination to people with disabilities:  Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. 

The following governance functions were examined: a) creating accessibility standards, b) enforcing accessibility standards, c) enforcing decisions, d) encouraging compliance, e) raising public awareness (and promoting systemic culture change) and f) public education. The study was conducted with a view to understanding how human rights laws, principles and values can be used to further and strengthen disability access laws on the ground.

Based on the research findings, several recommendations are also made regarding the complete set of governance functions examined. These recommendations include:  incorporating a mechanism for public enforcement within the enforcement of accessibility standards, incorporating human rights supports and technical expertise within the development of standards, strengthening the statutory language to ensure an inclusive equality approach, avoiding confusion between reactive and proactive approaches to accessibility legislation by keeping the two systems distinct, and, establishing a Commissioner to take leadership in promoting awareness and systemic culture change, in encouraging compliance and in public education both across the federal government and with the general public. (A Summary of Recommendations, which provides a list of all recommendations, is available in the report). 

Finally, throughout this report, the author argues that all administrative governance functions in the proposed federal accessibility legislation should be guided by and promote an inclusive equality approach.  Inclusive equality is a theoretical framework put forward by the UN that focuses on recognizing the intersectionality of individuals with disabilities in their experiences of disability discrimination. Power relations and the socio-historical context surrounding legal efforts to realize equality by people with disabilities within a reactive regulatory (complaints-based and adjudicative) system should also be considered through this lens.


Read:  Laverne Jacobs,  The Interplay Between Human Rights and Accessibility Laws: Lessons Learned and Considerations for the Planned Federal Accessibility Legislation (February, 2018)