Guelph Transit will comply with Human Rights Tribunal orders, says Deputy CAO
A Guelph woman alleged she was discriminated against on the basis of disability and age
by: Kenneth Armstrong, Guelph Today
Deputy CAO Colleen Clack says the city will immediately implement orders made against it during a recent Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario decision.
The City of Guelph was found to have contravened the terms of settlement of a 2015 Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario application after Guelphite Eileen LaBerge alleged the city discriminated against her on the basis or disability and age through incidents which occurred on Guelph Transit buses.
The main complaint, said adjudicator Dawn J. Kershaw in the Oct. 31 decision, was that LaBerge said she had altercations with other passenger on Guelph Transit buses because they wanted her to move out of the priority seating she requires so they could sit there with their strollers.
LaBerge, who identifies as being disabled, said people continue to harass her on city buses while she is seated in the priority section.
“(LeBerge) states that the tribunal should tell the respondent not to aid and abet criminal behaviour,” said Kershaw.
On July 22, 2015, the City and LaBerge entered into a Minutes of Settlement (MOS) in relation to the allegations, after which the city was to install revised signage on all of its conventional buses, conduct a public awareness campaign relating to priority seating and complete refresher training for all 150 of its bus operators.
The city admitted the revised signage had not been installed by the end of 2015, as required by the MOS, but was complete by the time of the Aug. 17, 2017 hearing.
Kershaw said it was clear the City did not fulfill this term of the MOS.
The refresher training for bus operators was to be carried out by March of 2016, but in LaBerge’s view it had not occurred people would not have continued to harass her on City buses while she was seated in priority seating, said Kershaw.
A new module called May I Help You? has been added to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) training, in which operators are trained they can not always tell if a person has a disability and to not ask questions.
Organizational-wide changes within Guelph Transit prevented the completion of the refresher training before the deadline.
As a result of Kershaw’s findings, the city is ordered to train the remaining bus operators within six months of their returning to work and to remind all bus operators within 10 days of the order to implement the terms of the training they received with respect to educating other passengers who take exception with a person sitting in priority seating that not all disabilities are visible ones.
The city complied with the public awareness component of the MOS, Kershaw said.
LaBerge did not ask for, nor did she receive any financial compensation for the complaint and Kershaw said the HRTO does not have the power to order the city to cease, in LaBerge’s words, aiding and abetting criminal behaviour.
In an email sent to GuelphToday on Tuesday, Deputy CAO Colleen Clack said the city will ‘immediately implement’ the orders in the Oct. 31 HRTO decision.