March 24, 2009 Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC)
Page Content:
1. Call to Order
2. Approval of Minutes
3. Approval of Agenda
4. Communication Items
5. Presentations
6. Reports
7. Other Business
8. Next Meeting
9. Adjournment

 

REGION OF PEEL

ACCESSIBILITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE (AAC)


MINUTES


AAC-2009-3

 

The Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee met on March 24, 2009 at 1:06 p.m. in the Council Chamber, Region of Peel Administrative Headquarters, Suite A, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Brampton.

Members Present: H. Bajwa; S. McFadden*; W. Goursky; E. Kolb*; J. Spry; M. Tymkow*
 
Members Absent: G. Barnes, due to illness; S. Hames, due to vacation; J. Hardman, due to illness; R. Paterak, due to other municipal business
 
Also Present:

N. Trim, Acting Commissioner of Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer; J. Payne, Deputy Clerk and Acting Director of Clerk's; C. Reid, Director of Transition; M. Hood, Director of Communication Services; M. Sikand, Accessibility Planning Specialist; V. Montesdeoca, Committee Clerk

_____________________________________
*See text for arrivals
¨See text for departures


William Goursky, Chair, presided.


1. CALL TO ORDER

A quorum of voting members was not present, and in accordance with section III-4(g) of the Region of Peel Procedural By-law 57-2006, the Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) received information.

William Goursky, Committee Chair noted that upon arrival of one additional member, quorum would be achieved and at that time the Committee would formally approve the agenda and minutes of the previous meeting.


Communication Items - Items 4a, 4b and 4c were dealt with.

4. COMMUNICATION ITEMS

a. Business Takes Action, February 2009 Newsletter

b. Disability News Asia, Article titled "Emoti-chair Allows Deaf People to Experience Music through Vibrations"

c. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services, Letter addressed to Accessibility Advisory Committee Members, Providing an Update on the Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

Emil Kolb, Regional Chair arrived at 1:12 p.m.

A quorum of voting members was achieved.


5. PRESENTATIONS

a. John Austin, Manager, Workplace Health and Safety, and Anubha Mehta, Specialist, Diversity, Employee and Business Services, Region of Peel, Providing an Overview on the Strategy and Communication Plans for the Diversity Network to Regional Staff and Other Stakeholders

Received

Anubha Mehta, Specialist, Diversity, Employee and Business Services provided an overview of the internally focused staff Diversity Program for the Region of Peel. She noted that diversity at the Region values everyone by promoting and celebrating a diverse workforce through the recognition of talent, skills and work. Anubha Mehta described the "Valuing Diversity Framework" of the Region of Peel, a four phase approach implemented in 2006. She identified various milestones of the program and highlighted various learning events implemented for staff to raise awareness and enhance communication for an inclusive workplace. Anubha Mehta described the Corporate Diversity Network as a staff advisory committee comprised of 30 members. Membership is comprised of staff from each Regional department who come together to share best practices to promote new and existing diversity initiatives. A Corporate Diversity Forum was organized in October 2008 to celebrate the work undertaken by the Network and share the accomplishments of the Diversity Program.

William Goursky, inquired what was involved in the Diversity and Accessibility event held in December 2007. Anubha Mehta explained that it was the International Day of Disabled Persons annual event which was supported by the Diversity Program.

William Goursky expressed concern that the Diversity Program does not appear to adequately address diversity related to disability, as well as, sexual orientation. He responded that most of the events listed as a "milestone" focus on cultural, ethnic and gender diversity only but not accessibility. William Goursky raised further concern for the lack of inclusion of the Accessibility Advisory Committee in the Regional diversity initiative. He stated that the Committee could serve as a resource to provide assistance with raising awareness of diversity and accessibility in the workplace.

Naz Husain, Committee Vice-Chair inquired if the presentation was a policy statement. She noted the hard work carried out by the Accessibility Advisory Committee over the years and requested that the presentation could have provided more information on the improvements made in the area of accessibility. She commented that the purpose of the Committee is to work together with departments to incorporate accessibility into the various programs offered at the Region of Peel. Naz Husain reiterated the comments of William Goursky that the AAC needs to be more involved and should be included in the consultation and planning process. Naz Husain suggested that one representative from the Committee be invited to take part in the various initiatives being carried out.

Regional Chair Kolb highlighted the progress that has been made regarding accessibility at the Region of Peel. He indicated that the work of the AAC is taken very seriously and noted that communication needs to be enhanced to promote the work undertaken by the Committee. Regional Chair Kolb commented that the Executive Management Team has endorsed hiring policies and practices to ensure that the Region of Peel promotes a diverse workplace.

Janet Menard, Executive Director, Human Services, elaborated on comments from the Regional Chair noting that the Region of Peel is currently researching inclusion of newcomers within the community. The research is related to immigration and newcomers with emphasis placed on the labour market, but also to assist newcomers to integrate in the community.

Maureen Tymkow, AAC member suggested that perhaps the Committee review the information provided by the presenters and provide comments to Meenu Sikand.

Jan Spry, AAC member commented that a better connection needs to be created between the AAC and staff at the Region of Peel, pointing out the value of using the Committee as a resource.

2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

RECOMMENDATION AAC-8-2009:

That the minutes of the February 24, 2009 Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting be approved.


3. APPROVAL OF AGENDA

RECOMMENDATION AAC-9-2009:

That the agenda for the March 24, 2009 Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting be amended to include a communication item from the Toronto Star titled “Toronto’s Diversity Not as Perfect as We Think”, to be dealt with under Communication Items - Item 4d;

And further, that the agenda for the March 24, 2009 Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting be amended to include an update from Harvinder Bajwa on the 2009 Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion Event, to be dealt with under Other Business – Item 7a;

And further, that the agenda for the March 24, 2009 Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting be approved, as amended.

See also Communication Items - Items 4d and Other Business - Item 7a

 

4. COMMUNICATION ITEMS

a. Business Takes Action, February 2009 Newsletter

Received

b. Disability News Asia, Article titled "Emoti-chair Allows Deaf People to Experience Music through Vibrations"

Received

c. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services, Letter addressed to Accessibility Advisory Committee Members, Providing an Update on the Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

Received


Additional Item Item 4d

d. Toronto Star, Article dated March 12, 2009, titled "Toronto's Diversity Not as Perfect as We Think"

Received

See also Approval of Agenda


5. PRESENTATIONS

a. John Austin, Manager, Workplace Health and Safety, and Anubha Mehta, Specialist, Diversity, Employee and Business Services, Region of Peel, Providing an Overview on the Strategy and Communication Plans for the Diversity Network to Regional Staff and Other Stakeholders

This item was dealt with earlier in the meeting

b. Janet Menard, Executive Director, Human Services, Region of Peel, Providing an Update on Social Housing Conditions in the Region of Peel

Received

Janet Menard, Executive Director, Human Services thanked the Committee for the invitation to present and noted that an objective of the Human Services Department was accessible high quality client centred services. She stated that she would be happy to meet with the Chair of the AAC to discuss this objective and the various initiatives within the Human Services Department.

Janet Menard provided an overview of the housing programs in the Region of Peel noting that the Region is the Service Manager for social housing. As Service Manager, the Region oversees the budget of a total of 46 providers, including Peel Living. Janet Menard advised that there are 15,000 units under Peel's administration with the majority of the funding coming from the property tax. There are about 400 units modified to accommodate special needs households. A staff report will be presented to Council on April 2, 2009 for approval of the Universal Accessibility Design Standards for Social Housing, an initiative that addresses housing needs of individuals with varying disabilities.

William Goursky thanked the Human Services department staff for their work in creating the Universal Accessibility Design Standards and addressed the collaboration between staff and the Committee to achieve a common purpose for the benefit of the community.

Janet Menard informed the Committee that the Region of Peel has the longest waiting list for social housing in Ontario with over 13,000 households currently on the list. She noted that this is equivalent to a 21 year wait for social housing. Janet Menard identified various housing developments planned or underway within the Region of Peel.

Naz Husain expressed concern with the long waiting list and inquired if the new developments will ease or change the waiting list in any significant way. Janet Menard responded that the new units will assist the waiting list, however, it is suspected that many residents avoid applying for social housing due to the long waiting period and, therefore the list may not accurately reflect the needs of the community.

Maureen Tymkow indicated that a family member has been on the list for 7 years for the Caledon East Supportive Housing location. She expressed concern about the lack of 24 hour personal support for disabled seniors living at this location which had recently undergone an addition of several units.

Harvinder Bajwa questioned how long the waiting list was for people with a disability or mobility issue and wondered if there was a priority to placing these people in an accessible unit. Janet Menard noted that individuals were not classified according to disability. Special priority is only given to victims of family violence, who are placed at the top of the wait list.

Jan Spry commented that she is on the waiting list for social housing but had at one time considered not applying. She feels the wait is too long and unreasonable even for rent subsidy. Janet Menard replied that there have been recent funding announcements from the Federal and Provincial governments. She noted that the current units have Provincial restrictions, however the Region will have more discretion for prioritizing the wait list with new housing developments. Janet Menard welcomed any recommendations from the Committee in giving persons with disabilities special priorities on the wait list.

Meenu Sikand informed the Committee that she will be meeting with staff from the Housing Department to discuss the wait times for modified units within the Peel Living buildings and will report back to a future AAC meeting.

Naz Husain asked what the complaint process was for clients living in the social housing units. She inquired what would be the best use of government funds to reduce wait lists. Janet Menard responded that complaints are addressed with the superintendent. If the client is not satisfied the next step would be to bring the concern before the Board of Directors associated with that housing provider. She noted that on occasion the service manager has been requested to intervene. Janet Menard commented that the service manager works with the providers to ensure proper upkeep and maintenance of the units. As for reducing the long waiting period, Janet Menard noted that building of new stock is important, however, an immediate relief would be to provide rent supplement to assist individuals without having to move them into a social housing unit.

Councillor Sue McFadden arrived at 2:20 p.m.

c. Lisa Jones, Transportation Accessibility Specialist, and Melanie Stone, Transportation Resource Coordinator, Environment, Transportation and Planning Services, Region of Peel, Accessible Transportation Coordination Office Project Status Update

Received

Melanie Stone, Transportation Resource Coordinator, provided an update on the work underway by the Accessible Transportation Coordination Office. She indicated that the Passenger Assistant Program was fully launched in March 2009. The program currently transports 71 individuals who require assistance, but do not qualify for TransHelp.

Melanie Stone addressed the Community Bus Program to be launched in June 2009. The Community Bus Program will provide service for disabled and non-disabled people. The bus will run on a fixed route stopping at seniors' centers and assisted living buildings. The service will inter-connect with conventional transit routes and offer the flexibility to deviate off of the regular route.

Melanie Stone advised that a Conventional Transit Initiative will be launched in the summer of 2009 with the goal of encouraging the use of accessible conventional transit for people living with disabilities. To communicate the initiative, a video will be launched titled "Welcome Aboard" as well as information sessions, training and complimentary bus tickets will be made available. Melanie Stone noted that the program is also working with the school boards in Peel to assist in the creation of a transition training program.

Also to be launched in August 2009, is the Taxi Scrip Pilot Program, an initiative to assist low income passengers with disabilities to travel to urgent medical appointments and to visit family members residing in long term care facilities. The Region will offer a $25.00 subsidy for a $40.00 taxi scrip.

Melanie Stone concluded her presentation by explaining the referral process for the Accessible Transportation Coordination Office. If a member of the public wishes to utilize accessible transit they will contact the main number for the Region of Peel and the caller will be first referred to TransHelp for eligibility determination. If the caller is not eligible for TransHelp they will then be referred to the Accessible Transportation Coordination Office who will provide further assistance.

Jan Spry inquired if training was being provided to conventional transportation drivers and noted some negative experiences with the use of conventional transit. Melanie Stone responded that they are seeking volunteers to sit on a working group that will address these types of issues. Jan Spry volunteered to be part of the working group.

Naz Husain commented that she had attended the training provided to new drivers in the City of Mississauga and noted that experienced transit drivers would also benefit from this training.

Maureen Tymkow inquired if Caledon residents qualified for the Taxi Scrip program. Melanie Stone advised that they were currently in the service procurement stage, ultimately the program will serve the entire Region of Peel.

William Goursky commended the Accessible Transportation Coordination Office for the hard work undertaken by staff and congratulated them on the positive results obtained.

d. Kristina Liivoja Hatton, Coordinator, Peel Children’s Water Festival, Environment, Transportation and Planning Services, Region of Peel, Providing Information on the 2009 Peel Children’s Water Festival

Received

Kristina Liivoja Hatton, Coordinator, Peel Children's Water Festival, provided some background on the Children's Water Festival, currently in its 14th year and requested the assistance of the AAC for the 2009 event. She noted that the festival will be held at Heart Lake Conservation Area from May 21 to 27, 2009, with the exception of Sunday, May 24, 2009, when the festival will be closed. Kristina Liivoja Hatton informed that the annual Family Fun Day will take place on Saturday, May 23, 2009, typically a successful day that attracted over 4,000 visitors in 2008. She stated that the theme for 2009 will be "Climate Change" and went on to explain some of the activities, highlighting the grand opening of a splash pad to be provided free of charge. Kristina Liivoja Hatton further advised that TransHelp will be providing transportation for those individuals with accessibility needs. She also noted that one of the projects for 2009/2010 is the creation of an "activity development guideline" that will assist in making the activities and any related communication materials more accessible.

William Goursky suggested contacting ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development to request their participation in the Family Day event.

Kristina Liivoja Hatton requested the Committee's assistance through attendance and feedback of the event and requested volunteers for the accessibility activity during the Family Day event. The following members volunteered to assist with the activity: William Goursky, Naz Husain, and Jan Spry (weather permitting).

William Goursky inquired if the washroom facilities at the park were accessible. Kristina Liivoja Hatton indicated that all washrooms are now accessible.

Meenu Sikand recommended that Committee members spread the word about the Water Festival and offered her assistance with group arrangements, where required.


6. REPORTS

a. Monthly Activity Report - March 2009 (Oral)
Update Provided by Meenu Sikand, Accessibility Planning Specialist, Region of Peel

Received

Meenu Sikand provided an update on the activities carried out by the Region of Peel Accessibility Planning Program highlighting that staff have been busy developing the learning module for the Customer Service Standard, which is in its final stage. She indicated that promotional items are being developed to be circulated to staff and requested the assistance of the Committee in reviewing the material. Meenu Sikand commented that once the module is finalized it will be provided to the Committee members for feedback and for testing from an accessibility point of view.

b. Employment Accessibility Standards Development Committee Update (Oral)
Update Provided by Naz Husain, Vice-Chair, Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee

Received

Naz Husain provided an update on the Employment Accessibility Standards informing that the public review period has been extended to May 22, 2009. She encouraged everyone to review the proposed standards and offered her assistance should anyone have questions.

c. Accessible Transportation Standard Development Committee (Oral)

Deferred to the April 21, 2009 AAC meeting


7. OTHER BUSINESS

Additional Item - Item 7a

a. 2009 Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion Event (Oral)
Update Provided by Harvinder Bajwa, Member, Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee

Received

See also Approval of Agenda

Harvinder Bajwa, Member, Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee provided information on the 7th Annual Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion event scheduled for June 14, 2009 in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga. The Brampton event will take place at Chinguacousy Park and the Mississauga event will be held at the Lakefront Promenade Park. Harvinder Bajwa thanked Regional Chair Kolb for his continued support as Honorary Chair of the event and suggested that anyone requiring further information can contact William Goursky or herself.

 

8. NEXT MEETING

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Council Chamber, 5th floor
Regional Administrative Headquarters
10 Peel Centre Drive, Suite A
Brampton, Ontario


9. ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.