David Baker comments to the Canadian with Disabilities Act Review

  • March 30, 2017
  • David Baker

Bakerlaw’s David Baker recently provided his comments to the Canadians with Disabilities Act Review process focusing on employment. His comments are below:

The Minister will accomplish nothing by tampering with human rights protections for individuals with disabilities under the Canadian Human Rights Act. All she could do is weaken substantive provisions. Presumably it is not her intention to provide people with disabilities with enhanced procedural protection under the Act, since it would need to be explained why that should not be done to benefit all enumerated categories.

What is currently called “employment equity” at the federal level is nothing more than a data crunching exercise which lost its sole means of enhancing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities when the data generated became old news.

Justice Rosalie Abella proposed a form of employment equity that imposed obligations on employers to remove barriers systemically and set employment targets. This was implemented in the Ontario Employment Equity Act that was repealed by the Mike Harris Conservative government within weeks of assuming power.

The current AODA employment regulations found here (link) are useless window dressings. In part because they are unenforceable and in part because they are insubstantial. They represent a poor excuse for failing to re-enact the former Ontario Employment Equity Act.

If the government cares about employment for those with more severe disabilities it will adopt a Canadian variation of the German model that prevails across Europe. I have attached a paper (link) I wrote for the Ontario Employment Equity Commissioner recommending Ontario establishment of such a system to operate in conjunction with the Abella/Ontario model that would have benefitted persons with less severe disabilities, who nonetheless require job accommodation. You would be interested to know that the Swedish government took the criticism I offered of its sheltered employment model very much to heart as it moved towards the European model typified by the description I offer of Germany.

A “grant-levy” system such as that proposed would make a huge difference for persons with disabilities amongst who Statistics Canada has demonstrated the unemployment rate to be beyond the Third World (link).

The data you cite is a clear indictment of generations of repeated failures to address employment barriers for Canadians with disabilities.

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To read another brief submitted to the Review process, check out John Rae’s brief entitled “The Most Critical Element in an Effective National Access and Inclusion Act” found here (link).

You may also want to read this article by Marcel Vander Wier entitled “Feds crafting law for people with disabilities” which was published after the survey showing that half of persons with disabilities are unemployed. You can read that article here (link).

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