Jul 31, 2008

Fallout from Human Rights ruling

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the TTC violated the rights of blind lawyer David Lepofsky by failing to call all stops on surface routes. Since that time transit systems across Ontario have been instructing their drivers to announce all stops.

This has become a complicated project for Mississauga Transit. Drivers were to announce stops in advance by shouting or using a microphone. The employee’s union rejected Mississauga Transit’s plan as being unsafe.

The union filed a complaint using the Health and Safety Act. After an investigation the Ontario Ministry of Labour agreed with the union’s position.

As result of the findings Mississauga Transit has spent $40,000 moving the microphones to position so that driver’s do not have to lean forward to make an announcement. Other changes in policy were also required. It is expected a computerized system of stop announcements will be up and running in two years.

People with vision impairments should be able to use public transit with confidence. We are living in a day and age when progress is being made with accessibility for all. My own personal experince with announcing stops has shown me it can be a challenge for transit drivers to call stops in today’s driving conditions. Over my years of driving I don’t ever recall having a vision impaired person missing thier stop. This was not because I had been announcing the stops but because I tried to take the extra effort to ensure they reach their destination. In fact many times at the TTC I have let blind people off between stops and escorted them to the building they wanted. I know that I was not the only driver making transit user friendly for blind commuters.

Complaints complicate Mississauga stop announcement plan


Nick J Boragina said...

IMVHO, public sector unions are evil by nature, and I'm not surprised that they'd come up with this kind of anti-vulernable-people ruling. Public Sector unions, after all [though thier strike actions] have always proven themselvs more then willing to purposfully hurt the most vulernable in our society to *TRY* and get at others [politicos] it seems as though the public is nothing more then pawns to them.

(I highly doubt this comment gets accepted BTW)

Andy said...

Nick… I got a chuckle from your statement "I highly doubt this comment gets accepted BTW." The only reason I use comment moderation is to protect the blog from spam. You are a regular contributor to the comments on my blog and others. I have learned from you comments.

In this case there was no strike action that would as you suggest, "purposefully hurt the most vulnerable." It is too bad the union did not live up to your image.

The facts are that the Ontario Health and Safety act states, it is the employees duty under law to report any known workplace hazard to the employer or supervisor.

Mississauga Transit encourages it employees to speak to their Supervisor first about a health and safety concern. If corrective action is not taken, then the employee is to report matter to their Health & Safety representative. This was done on February 25, 2008.

This was just a simple case to ensure that drivers, passengers, pedestrians and other users of the roadway would be safe. Instead it turned into an investigation by the Ministry of Labour under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The MOL in turn found other issues that they order changed.

In fact the City's response to the orders from the Ministry on calling out stops has been acceptance. October 31, 2008 is the deadline to comply with the orders from the Ministry. Also the Ministry is doing a safety audit on the City of Mississauga due to recent WSIB claims.

Nick, I fail to see your point. You should be happy to know that in Ontario, there are laws to protect workers against health and safety hazards on the job.

Calvin Henry-Cotnam said...

It strikes me that more often than not, many actions (whether through Human Rights tribunals, or through initial legislation) have a way of hurting those it was intended to help in the first place.

The original blind instigator (David Lepofsky) was attempting to make it a better world for all persons with sight impairment. The whole issue of Human Rights tribunals is beyond the scope of this blog, but I find it difficult to understand what human right was violated when he could easily have requested his stop to be called out and it would have. Heck, prior to all this, the TTC had a not-too-well-known policy of reimbursing people for cab fare used to return to a missed stop when the rider specifically asked for it to be called out. Rights seemed to be well protected under all that.

It seems to me that someone needing a stop to be called out (either because of blindness, or because one is not familiar with the area) is better served by their requested announcement than by the calling of every stop along the way. Calling every stop has the effect of making each announcement sink into the background of everyone's consciousness. This increases the chance of someone missing their stop.

It makes one wonder if Mr. Lepofsky's efforts were not so altruistic as they first seem. It seems his efforts were more of a publicity stunt for his own legal career rather than a genuine effort to make life better for others.

Anonymous said...

I'm a vip (visually impaired person) I moved to Toronto in November 2006, BECAUSE of the accessibility of the TTC and the awesome TTC drivers, I grew up in a city where they dont call stops, they never have and they NEVER will without a lot of fuss and arguments, heck they dont even put priority seating stickers on the buses unless you call them many times and fight them, the new drivers they're hiring are not dedicated to their jobs compared to the old-timers I grew up with, they seem to be hiring whatever and whoever walks off the street, they dont have the hiring process that TTC does, I hate even going back to that city to work my seasonal job or even to go see my Mum, if your blind or visually impaired you better know the feel of the route and/or have s sighted person with you, if you dont, your screwed! CNIB has cut 80% of services there and the CNIB that is left is supposed to cover 10 times the amount of area it used to, with 1/2 the staff it used to have.
I brought in a and fought for a "bus Hailing Kit" a few years ago so that blind people would have a easier time getting thier bus at a common stop, as there are hundreds of them in that city.
I Also helped to bring Urban Braille to fruition there, I am proud of the stuff that I did and that my friends in the accessibility movement continue to do..
I have been a Transit Advocate for more than 15 years, and a Blind Advocate for close to 10 years..
I dont agree with HOW David Lepofsky did what he did, but I DO think that the Automated Stop calling system was LONG overdue...
I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU on This comment: ""It makes one wonder if Mr. Lepofsky's efforts were not so altruistic as they first seem. It seems his efforts were more of a publicity stunt for his own legal career rather than a genuine effort to make life better for others."""
He is one of the 4% of blind/visually impaired that have a career and make more than minimum wage or are is stuck on ODSP...