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Check out the Arguments the Information and Privacy Commission Will Hear Tomorrow in AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s Freedom of Information Appeal Against the Wynne Government

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

January 30, 2017

SUMMARY

Tomorrow at 10 a.m., AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky will personally argue his Freedom of Information appeal against the Wynne Government. He is appealing the Ontario Government’s refusal to waive the $4,250 fee the Wynne Government is charging to fully answer his June 4, 2015 Freedom of Information application. He seeks information on the Government’s implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Government gave him information it said it could quickly acquire, but is insisting on this fee for all the other information, due to the search time involved.

Below we set out:

* the January 30, 2017 media advisory which the AODA Alliance sent out earlier today about this appeal;

* a summary of the key points which David Lepofsky makes in his January 30, 2017 reply memorandum of argument he filed today with the Information and Privacy Commission.

Here is how to find other key documents at the core of this appeal.

To read David Lepofsky’s June 4, 2015 Freedom of Information application which is the subject of this appeal, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06092015.asp

To read David Lepofsky’s memorandum of argument, filed on this appeal last March, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03102016.asp

To read the January 24, 2017 affidavit which the Ontario Government filed (appendices excluded) in opposition to ‘David Lepofskys appeal, visit http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/
To read the January 24, 2017 memorandum of argument that the Wynne Government filed with the Information and Privacy Commission in opposition to David Lepofsky’s appeal, visit http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/
To read David Lepofskys reply affidavit, that he is providing in response, visit http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/
To read David Lepofsky’s reply memorandum of argument that he has filed in response, visit http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our “Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

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We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

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Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org

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MORE DETAILS

1. AODA Alliance January 30, 2017 Media Advisory

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario Information and Privacy Commission to Hold Rare Public Hearing Tomorrow in Toronto on Blind Disability Rights Advocate David Lepofsky’s Freedom of Information Appeal Against the Wynne Government

January 30, 2017 Toronto: On Tuesday, January 31, 2017, at 10 am, in Suite 140, 2 Bloor Street East, Toronto, David Lepofsky will argue his own appeal against the Wynne Government’s refusal to waive a hefty $4,250 fee to get access to information he seeks on the Government’s implementation and enforcement of Ontario’s landmark Disabilities Act. It is rare that Freedom of Information appeals are orally argued.

The chair of Ontario’s widely-recognized non-partisan AODA Alliance and a visiting professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School, Lepofsky will argue that the Wynne Government should waive the fee as an “undue financial hardship” on the unfunded coalition he leads. On the eve of this appeal, the Government finally conceded in its legal filings that it knows the AODA Alliance has no money, but still refuses to waive the fee.

“Premier Wynne promised the most open and transparent Government in Canada, but it is mounting a formidable effort against me,” said Lepofsky. “In 2013, the Government backed down from charging a similar stiff fee, only after it was blasted in a Toronto Star editorial and in the Legislature. The Government promised to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act. I’m now trying to get up-to-date information on what they’re doing to implement and enforce that law.”

Over 1.8 million Ontarians have a physical, mental, sensory or other disability. They still face too many accessibility barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, go to school, or use our health care system. Ontario’s Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become fully disability-accessible by 2025, less than 8 years from now.

Ontario lags behind schedule for full accessibility by 2025. Premier Wynne promised the AODA Alliance she’d ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. Lepofsky’s Freedom of Information application seeks records to see what’s being done to get Ontario back on schedule.

Lepofsky’s past efforts under the Freedom of Information Act, as the AODA Alliance chair, revealed that there have been rampant private sector violations of the Disabilities Act as far back as 2013, that the Wynne Government knew it, that the Government has taken insufficient action to enforce the law, and that the Government had ample unused funds on hand that it could have used to beef up this enforcement. These led to headlines in the media, and calls for strengthened Government action on accessibility.

Contact: David Lepofsky aodafeedback@gmail.com or Twitter @davidlepofsky

To read David Lepofsky’s June 4, 2015 Freedom of Information application which is the subject of this appeal, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06092015.asp

To read David Lepofsky’s memorandum of argument, filed on this appeal last March, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03102016.asp

For more background on the AODA Alliance, visit www.aodaalliance.org appeal, visit ##

2. Summary of David Lepofsky’s January 30, 2017 Reply Memorandum of Argument

Note: “The appellant” is David Lepofsky.

The appellant’s reply position is summarized as follows:

a) By conceding now that the AODA Alliance has no money, the Ministry has in effect conceded that a fee waiver is warranted here.

b) The Ministry’s last-minute position that the AODA Alliance should have engaged in private fund-raising should be rejected in this case’s specific facts, due to the AODA Alliance’s distinctive circumstances on this issue, to which the appellant’s reply affidavit attests.

c) The Ministry wrongly dismissed out of hand as irrelevant the important consideration that the Ministry gave the appellant similar information in 2013 in response to his earlier Freedom of Information application for similar (though not identical) information, after he pressed that the AODA Alliance had no money to pay a fee for it.

d) The Information and Privacy Commission should reject the impoverished approach that the Ministry urges for the interpretation of Ontario’s Freedom of Information legislation.

e) A fee waiver on grounds of public health and safety is also warranted here. The Ministry calls on the Information and Privacy Commission to draw an unjustified and unprincipled legal line to differentiate between accessibility on the one hand, and public health and safety on the other. Yet the two often overlap, coincide, and are inextricably intertwined.

f) The Ministry’s $4,250 fee is excessive. The Ministry’s arguments to the contrary should be rejected.

g) A fee waiver would be fair and equitable here.

h) The appellant offers several reasons why an adverse inference should be drawn against the Ministry here.

i) The fact that unbeknownst to the appellant, in the 2015 summer, the Government searched for and gathered the requested information before the appellant ever agreed to pay the fee, supports a strong inference that the Ministry was willing and able to do this work, with no assurance that it would ever be paid.

j) The Ministry has rallied a battle against disclosure here that is disproportionate to the $4,250 in dispute and the case’s issues.

k) Given the long, protracted ordeal to which the appellant has already been subjected, the appellant asks the Information and Privacy Commission to ensure that all issues regarding disclosure of the requested information are dealt with at once on this appeal, so that the appellant does not have to face yet more delays, and a possible second appeal to this commission. The Ministry waited 18 months to first let the appellant know it would claim that some information or records, or parts of records he has requested may be withheld from him, on grounds that they are protected by exemptions in the Freedom of Information legislation.

l) The appellant’s reply affidavit and memorandum have had to be so extensive, because the Ministry did not reveal key elements of its detailed position before filing the Ministry’s appeal materials, five days ago.