By Victor Schwartzman
March 30, 2015
Recently Global TV News reported that some Toronto restaurants still deny guide dogs entry. Worse, when the Toronto Police were contacted and asked to help, the police denied they had any role in enforcing access law. When 311 was phoned, Global was told restaurants can deny entry to anyone they wish. Both positions are against the law.
Complicating this situation is Minister Brad Duguid, responsible for implementing the AODA access law. He has promoted cajoling businesses into obeying AODA, stating there is no point trying to enforce the law because businesses will sneak around it anyway. Yet, strangely, Minister Duguid’s Government recently announced 1-866-515-2025 as a toll free number for people to report AODA access violations.
“I have not contradicted myself,” Minister Duguid could have told us, by “not enforcing AODA and at the same time offering a toll free number for AODA complaints. I established this toll free number after much research.”
Welcome (if that is the word) to the frightening world of Toronto’s Bermuda Triangle For Access.
You have certainly heard of the Bermuda Triangle, an area where planes and ships periodically disappear, only to reappear in movies. In Toronto’s situation, businesses, 311 and the police combined to form a Triangle in which access rights disappeared. Hence the Toronto Bermuda Triangle For Access. You will note that Minister Duguid did not mention it when announcing the toll free complaint phone number.
Actually, it is not a Triangle. That is wrong. It is businesses, 311, the police AND the City of Toronto (which runs 311). So it is the Toronto Bermuda Quadrangle For Access. Or Rectangle For Access.
No wait. It is businesses, 311, the police, Toronto, AND the Ontario Government! So it is a Bermuda Quintangle For Access.
And it could get worse. There are a many more angles which could be added. But let’s keep it simple and stick with Triangle.
The Toronto Bermuda Triangle is a zone in which access complaints vanish. Worse, people within the zone are unable to even think about filing a complaintthat thought is whisked straight out of their brains! (Why complain if no one will act on it?) The Global TV crew reported it was lucky to get out alive.
The Bermuda Triangle For Access is not unusual but the Toronto version is unique. There are several reasons. First, in many cities the police and 311 respond to access complaints. Second, many authorities, especially in America with the ADA legislation, take complaints seriously. This includes properly training their entry level staff (who are the ones who take complaint phone calls.) Third, Ontario claims to be a world leader in access but for ten years has not implemented its own access law.
Fourth, this summer Toronto hosts the summer Pan/ParaPan American Games. When living in the gaming “bubble,” the athletes will be fine. But they may have difficulty getting around Toronto itself because only half the subway stations have elevators. The rest of the stations have signs which say “Walk the stairs or stay home, and if you can’t read this, double whammy.”
There are fifth and sixth and seventh reasons, but space on the internet is limited.
How did these multiple elements combine in Toronto to form a unique, devastating Triangle For Access? For an explanation we contacted Dr. Albert Einstein, who was willing to speak with us even though he is dead. “Yah, it is a unique combination of failures, physical and ethical. The space time continuum, it has been disrupted. I cannot help, however. My experience is all theoretical.”
Pursuing information from someone with practical experience in space time continuums, we interviewed Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise. “Our temporal, physical universe is more fragile than we realize,” Jean-Luc told us while sipping Earl Grey tea, which like himself was not real. “In Toronto the Government will not enforce the law, the businesses do not want it and ignore their own access policies. This created the disruption into which all access has disappeared.
“Toronto’s Bermuda Triangle For Access must be destroyed,” Picard told us. “However, the only way to do that is with a tachyon field, and you have not invented it yet. Therefore, as long as the local and provincial authorities continue to avoid implementing AODA, the Access Triangle will remain, absorbing any complaints.
“I told Minister Duguid this when he came asking about whether he should implement an access complaint phone number. I said make it so. But also that it won’t work because of the Triangle. Didn’t he tell you he knows it won’t work?”
If the situation demonstrated anything, it is that Minister Duguid should not be taken lightly. Obviously he researches before he acts.
Next: New Access Hot Line Has Start Up Problems Expected To Last Forever
Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly column to Accessibility News. Buy the first nine chapters of his current satirical fantasy novel, King Of The Planet, for .99 on Kindle at http://www.amazon.ca/King-The-Planet-Victor-Schwartzman-ebook/dp/B00NE0CCRC or read the whole thing, including current polished chapters, for free on the King Of The Planet Facebook page. It has a “4 out of 5 star” review!
His graphic novel The Winnipeg Weakly Herald (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, http://www.redfez.net. He has had poetry and short fiction published, has edited novels and volunteers as host of a writers’ circle at a drop-in. His email is email@example.com.