Advocacy, Independent Mobility

Greyhound is turning off the ignition in Western Canada and leaving persons with disabilities on the side of the road, by Albert Ruel

This is not good news for persons with disabilities and those who opt to function without a Driver’s License.  Below are four articles related to the Greyhound Bus closure topic found on CBC News since September 2017.

 

I have been an intercity bus passenger, mostly on Vancouver Island and the BC Interior since August 3, 1978 when I had to relinquish my BC Driver’s License due to failing vision.  Other than periodic flights to some destinations, riding with others who happen to be heading my way, or sometimes recruiting people to facilitate my getting to a chosen destination, I have long relied on Greyhound to get there.  Yes, we have other options now on Vancouver Island, however neither of those other two options offer wheelchair accessible vehicles nor their schedules often require me to spend additional nights in Hotels due to poor rural service.

 

I live in Parksville and when work keeps me in Victoria beyond 3:00 PM I am not able to get all the way home, necessitating a night in a Hotel.  Also, the earliest I can arrive in Victoria is 12:00 Noon because the first bus out of Parksville doesn’t leave until shortly after 9:00 AM.  I remember in the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s riding on Greyhound busses that were full or nearly full most of the time, and their schedules made sense.  I could leave for Victoria on the 6:30 or 7:00 AM bus, and I could leave Victoria on the 7:45 PM bus and get home to Parksville, and to Port Alberni where I lived then.

 

It’s been my experience that when Greyhound started to cut back on schedules years ago the ridership went down accordingly, to the point that they have become irrelevant to me and many passengers over time.  Also, the cost of a ticket has gone up to the point where many who live on limited incomes find it difficult to take the bus today.

 

I don’t know what the answer is, however it should be well understood that not everyone has a car in the driveway, and our ability to connect with family and our chosen communities has just been curtailed beyond reason for a country as rich and diverse as Canada.  I hope that Provincial and Federal Governments work with affected Canadians to work out solutions that will work for passengers, and that will allow Intercity and transit operators to provide transportation under profitable and sustainable models.

 

Greyhound to end all bus routes in Western Canada except 1 in B.C.

CBC News, the Canadian Press  Posted: Jul 09, 2018 2:40 PM ET

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/greyhound-cancellations-alberta-manitoba-saskatchewan-british-columbia-1.4739459

 

‘It’s very disappointing’: Greyhound opts to cut some rural B.C. Interior stops.

Courtney Dickson CBC News Posted: Feb 23, 2018 4:14 PM PT

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/greyhound-southern-interior-1.4549732

 

Goodbye Greyhound? The thread stitching together Canada’s North wears thin.

Yvette Brend  CBC News

Posted: Sep 01, 2017

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/greyhound-bus-canada-transit-northern-routes-health-bc-1.4270314

 

Greyhound plans to continue freight delivery in northern B.C., even if passenger service ends.

Andrew Kurjata CBC News Posted: Sep 01, 2017

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/greyhound-plans-to-continue-freight-delivery-in-northern-b-c-even-if-passenger-service-ends-1.4272476

 

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Advocacy, blindness

Disability and the job churn:

Disability and the job churn
policyalternatives.ca

Disability and the job churn
Author(s):  Katie Raso

Illustration of woman working at a computer

In 2016, Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters that millennials needed to get used to “job churn,” a career path eked out from short-term and precarious
work. Prime Minister Trudeau welcomed the idea of the churn, saying that changing jobs frequently allowed workers to have new experiences. But treating
growing precarity as the welcome and inevitable evolution of Canada’s job market shifts undue burden onto workers: if you are struggling to exist in this
new system, it’s not the system’s fault. It’s yours for not being resilient enough.

The “job churn” celebrates the notion of the grind, glorifies busyness and encourages abandonment of any semblance of work/life balance. Good things come
to those who hustle, we are told. This new intensified employment landscapeee, with its increased expectations and decreased protections for workers, is
simply not a possibility for many people, and it leaves disabled Canadians totally sidelined.

***

For the 10.1% of working-age Canadians who are disabled, struggling to find full employment is already a churn. Before getting to why that’s the case,
some housekeeping on the term disability is needed.

For the purposes of this article, disabled workers are those individuals who are or want to be in the labour force who also have a physical or mental disability.
Physical disabilities may be visible (related to mobility, for example) or invisible (chronic illnesses). Mental disabilities include mental illness (like
post-traumatic stress disorder), neurodevelopmental disorders (autism) and learning disabilities (dyslexia). Statistics Canada delineates disability into
10 categories: pain related, dexterity, developmental, mobility, flexibility, hearing, mental health, memory, learning, and seeing.

Canadians with disabilities face exceptionally high rates of unemployment. Over 400,000 disabled working-age Canadians are currently unemployed despite
being willing and able to work. While Canada’s unemployment rate is currently sitting at about 5.8%, the rate for disabled Canadians is much higher. Canadians
with “mild” disabilities are most likely to find employment, and their unemployment rate is 35%. For those with “severe” disabilities, the rate jumps to
74%. Put another way, for every one person with a “severe” disability who finds work, three do not.

When disabled workers do find employment it is often in sales, and they make far less money than their abled counterparts. While the median personal income
in 2012 for a Canadian worker was $31,200, for disabled workers it ranged from $10,800 to $24,200 depending on their disability type. “As a result,”
researcher Michael Prince laments,
“Canadians with disabilities have not seen the promise of equality of opportunity in the labour market fulfilled.”

In the 1970s and 1980s, the federal government introduced several anti-discrimination and employment equity measures designed to reduce barriers to employment.
The Employment Equity Act, for example, requires employers to be proactive in identifying and eliminating employment barriers against persons in four designated
groups: women, “visible minorities” or racialized people, people with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples. Similarly, the Canadian Human Rights Act states
that employers have a duty to accommodate disabled employees and to take all steps short of undue hardship to eliminate discrimination.

But legislation on its own has not addressed the divide between disabled workers and the rest of the workforce. Between 13.5% and 34.6% of disabled workers
believe they have been refused a job in the past five years because of their disability. More broadly,
a recent BMO survey
found that 48% of Canadians “believe a person is more likely to be hired or promoted if they hide their disability.” Given both these findings, it is
not surprising that 20.4% to 36.7% of
Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD)
respondents reported that their employer was unaware of their disability.

More than 30 years after anti-discrimination measures were enacted, people with disabilities continue to face discrimination while looking for work and
“experience additional disadvantages such as lower compensation and weaker job tenure,” according to CSD reports. Clearly, the work to eliminate discrimination
and barriers facing disabled Canadians has been left unfinished.

Rather than assessing where the failures are in the policies we’ve enacted, our leaders are pressing ahead with unbridled enthusiasm into the churn, leaving
disabled workers to navigate a gig economy with even fewer protections than the broken system we had before.

***

The gig economy refers to an employment landscape wherein temporary positions are common, if not the norm, and organizations contract with independent
labourers for parcels of work (bit jobs). Though the arrival of app-driven employers like Uber, Upwork and Hyr gets much of the attention when we talk
about “job churn,” temp agencies, zero-hour contracts (i.e., short-notice retail shifts) and declining union membership all contribute to today’s rise
in precarious forms of work. According to
Randstad Canada,
freelancers, independent contractors and consultants now make up 20-30% of the Canadian workforce. More notably, 85% of the companies surveyed by Randstad
intend to adopt a more “agile workforce” in the near future.

What makes the gig economy so alluring for employers is that it shifts a great deal of risk and responsibility to workers. Gig employers have lower overhead
costs. Drivers for Uber, for example, provide their own cars. Workers with
Hyr
are classified as independent contractors and, as such, restaurants hiring them need not contribute to their CPP or EI.
Upwork
allows firms to completely outsource all their creative and clerical needs.

So where do disabled workers fit in? Duty to accommodate states that employers are required to address employment barriers with one exception: the Bona
Fide Occupational Requirement (BFOR). An employer can argue that they do not have a duty to accommodate if an aspect of a job cannot be modified or adapted
without undue hardship for the employer.

The gig economy, which has stripped away employers’ responsibilities to their employees, has created an entire labour ecosystem within the BFOR loophole.
It is a labour market that survives on nimbleness and just-in-time delivery of labour’s services, a system that by design does not have room for accommodation,
especially not a disabled worker’s need for an adapted schedule or access to assistive devices, for example.

***

While the gig economy is a subsection within Canada’s labour market, its ethos helps shape the broader employment environment wherein millennials (born
between the early 1980s and early 2000s) are increasingly told that they need to settle for less.

The
Poverty and Employment in Southern Ontario research project
(PEPSO) reports that 52.9% of non-unionized workers aged 25-44 don’t have health benefits and 47.7% don’t have paid time off from work. Benefits are critically
important for disabled workers as more than three-quarters of people with disabilities take prescription medication.

The medication issue speaks to the larger vulnerability that disabled workers now face in Canada’s changing labour landscape. Increasingly, disabled millennials
looking for work are reading job postings whose details subtly suggest the employer is only interested in hiring abled workers.

In advance of writing this article, I asked a group of disabled millennials to tell me what key words in job postings cause them to self-select out of
applying for work. At the top of the list were ideal candidate descriptors like plucky, high energy, able to go above and beyond, enthusiastic, and always
on. When it comes to duty descriptions, the workers who spoke to me said their red flags were around being expected to take on extra evening and weekend
work, and to strive for perfect attendance (sometimes incentivized through bonuses).

From these conversations, a clear image begins to form of the working world that disabled millennials navigate. Yes, Mr. Morneau, it is one that is shaped
by churn culture.

These postings go beyond a mentality of doing less with more. They are looking for gig-style availability from their employees: always on, always ready
to jump in on a project regardless of the hour, their health at the moment, and whether overtime will be compensated. Even job postings that end with accessibility
statements paint a picture of their ideal candidate as someone who might need accommodation but would never ask for it—because they are so grateful for
the work and so enthusiastic about being part of the team.

This climate leaves disabled millennials with an impossible choice: apply for jobs that expect the successful candidate to be “always on” and risk declining
health to meet these expectations, or try to find a workplace that isn’t operating under a maximum extraction approach to management. Increasingly, those
positions are harder and harder to find.

With the federal government celebrating flexible employment there’s an obvious lack of political will to ensure that disabled Canadians are able to pursue
meaningful careers. It’s not enough to shrug off this marginalization of disabled workers as the cost of innovation. Over a million Canadians are waiting
for the employment equity measures of the last century to take hold and for a guarantee that the coming churn won’t leave them in tatters.

Katie Raso is Digital Communications Officer at the CCPA and has worked with a variety of progressive organizations including Canadian Doctors for Medicare
in Toronto and Media Democracy Days in Vancouver.

 

 

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Advocacy, Facebook

My #PersonalResponsibility and #Facebook

Hey folks, let’s take a step back on this controversial topic and situation.  I believe strongly in our right to access, privacy and openness, so do I believe even more strongly in our personal responsibilities for our lives, access to the world around us and to safeguarding our privacy.  Who among us didn’t know that our data shared on Facebook wasn’t ours once we turned it over?  How many posts and email messages have you all seen that make some sort of statement aimed at Facebook telling them that even though we’ve posted our photos, life stories and the like on Facebook they have no right to use said postings.  Really?  Think about this for a minute.

 

Here is the link to the original story on CBC to which I am responding.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/facebook-users-learn-privacy-1.4611212

 

Facebook provides 2.9 billion people around the world a free platform through which we can share with our friends and family members what’s alive in us, and it allows companies, organizations and media outlets to post what they’re up to and offering their services and goods to us, the consumer.  So, based on the fact that it’s free to us, and they still manage to make billions of dollars each year by selling advertising, what did you actually think was going on?  Did they actually steal your info and share it with others, or did you willingly type all that private info in your profile, post all those interesting things about yourself, click Like on all those ideas you resonate with, click Sad on all those posts that saddened you and comment on the posts you both agreed with and ranted against?  Ladies and gents, each time you did any of this you were providing data points they can use to target advertising and articles of interest.  For some that’s creepy, and yet I find that to be just right in my world.  I don’t ever see advertising for Ford trucks, Honda Fits or chain saws, however see all manner of technology, environmental, self-help, health and political stuff that perfectly fits with my particular interests.  I also don’t get bombarded with Right Wing Fake News, because Facebook has seen through my interactions that I am interested in reading that which leans to the Left.  BTW, Twitter knows a lot about you, as does your credit card company, bank, drug store and any other organization with whom you have shared your private info, and if you look at what they’ve communicated to you they too are targeting you according to what you have shared.

 

So, when you set up your profile and actually shared your birthdate, work history, music and movie preferences and all the other specifics about yourself that others could see on this very public platform, how did it equate that your privacy was to be maintained, let alone desired.  I know some who have not signed up for Facebook, and they’re the folks I know who are truly interested in remaining private.  The rest of us, well we’re open to sharing or we wouldn’t be there either.  I know people who don’t share anything but their name, a fake birthdate and an irrelevant email address in their own attempts to fool the statistics, yet remain able to participate on Facebook for those things they are comfortable and willing to engage with.

 

Here’s what the article says, “It’s estimated the personal information of 622,161 users in Canada was improperly used…”. Did Facebook do anything wrong?  In my opinion they didn’t, although they should perhaps have made it more difficult for companies like the one in this quoted piece to sell my info if they had any notion of keeping us safe from ourselves:

“That Facebook app, called “This is Your Digital Life,” was a personality quiz created in 2014 by an academic researcher named Aleksander Kogan, who paid about 270,000 people to take it. The app vacuumed up not just the data of the people who took it, but also — thanks to Facebook’s loose restrictions — data from their friends, too, including details that they hadn’t intended to share publicly.”

 

So, those 270,000 people who received some minor bit of remuneration for taking the quiz from an app they downloaded from Facebook were fooled into it, or they didn’t bother to read the details of what they were participating in?  Either way, I don’t see that anybody coerced them into it, and that the info was sold to political parties and/or corporations isn’t a surprise to me.  After all, if we’re getting Facebook for free and they’re making millions we have to be able to connect those dots.

 

I think many of us will now go back into our Facebook profiles to set a few more limits on what will be shared and with whom, and I dare say I’ll become a public lire where FB is concerned.  Stay tuned, you’ll now be wishing me a happy birthday on Christmas Day from now on, and you’ll have to guess as to the year I was born.  Hey, 39 was a good age so I think that’ll be my age from now on.  As for all those jobs I said I held in the past, wait until you see what my work history will be on Facebook.  All of a sudden I will have been an Astronaut. Brain Surgeon and a Catholic Priest.  What do those things have in common?  Nothing, however I can’t wait to see how it affects the advertising I’ll receive going forward.  I’m anticipating receiving flight promotions, advertising for really good knives, and offerings of buckets of Holy Water.  After all, I’ve said repeatedly on Facebook that we should protect our water from unscrupulous corporations Hell-bent on dirtying it, fracking with it or selling it to people who have access to good drinking water already.

 

At any rate, I won’t be disconnecting from Facebook, and I’ll be operating differently from now on.  All those apps I use on my iPhone and computer where I log in through Facebook will no longer be used in that way, and just in case, I will be changing my Facebook password soon in order to force me to disconnect those third party apps when I use them again.

 

I do find it ironic that the Facebook Founder is being asked to appear in front of the American Congress to answer for his wrong-doings, and the NRA and those who sell asault rifles to Americans get a pass on answering for their actions.  It’s a weird world we live in folks.  JMO.

 

 

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Advocacy, AEBC

AEBC 26th AGM Awards, April 27-29, 2018

Dear AEBC Members:

 

The AGM Awards committee is pleased to announce that there will be three additional awards presented at this year’s AGM on the evening of Friday, April 27, 2018 during the “Opening Ceremonies”.

 

They are:

 

  1. Peer support recognition

 

  1. Outstanding Community Service Recognition

 

  1. Accessible Website Recognition

 

The criteria for each is as follows:

 

  1. Peer support recognition: Is there a member whom you would like to have recognized for having provided on-going peer support over the years as it relates to the work of AEBC?  Perhaps this person has been a great influence in your life in general?   Please write a summary explaining how this person has been instrumental in providing peer support.

 

All who are nominated and fit the criteria will receive recognition.

 

  1. Outstanding Community Service Award: Which business (in the private or public sectors) of your community would you like to have recognized as having gone the extra mile to provide excellent service to Blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians? This business should be observed as providing its services without any, or very few barriers.  While we know that some businesses are constantly reminded of their obligation to serve members of the public with the thought in mind that we should all be able to take part on an equal basis, we are aware that not all comply nor do they appear to care. Describe the attributes that make this business stand out.

 

Criteria:

From a mobility prospective, is the building accessible inside and out?

Is the lighting adequate to conduct your business in this establishment?

Have staff been trained to serve blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted persons with respect and dignity and in a timely manner?

Are you able to navigate without concerns at this place of business? Is it safe?

Can you independently complete your transaction satisfactorily?

If requested, would this business provide you with their reading materials in the alternate format of your choice?

 

These are a few suggestions as to what you might ask yourselves if you were to nominate a place of business which you feel is deserving of this recognition.

 

All who are nominated and fit the criteria will be recognized.

 

. Accessible Website: Is there a website that you use frequently that is accessible for blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians that you would like recognized? If so, please provide the URL and a summary about the website and explain how it is accessible and why you use this website.

 

All who are nominated and fit the criteria will be recognized.

 

Remember: We can only know your nominee through your submission, so please be specific when explaining why they should be recognized for the award.

 

Please send in your nomination to Betty Nobel by Thursday, March 15, 2018 at

nobel@blindcanadians.ca

 

Sincerely,

 

Betty Nobel, National Secretary

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Advocacy, Independence

BC All Party Discussion With Uber

This is very relevant to Guide Dog users in British Columbia who want fair treatment when using ride sharing services.

 

I have been alerted about the Province having an all Party discussion with Uber about it starting up in BC. A short blurb was on the CBC recently. Someone contacted his/her MLA and was given a phone number to call to give input. Considering what we have seen about how Guide Dog Teams are treated in the Province, this seemed like a good issue for the Province to be contacted about.

If anyone wants to get involved, the Ministry of Transportation is the relevant respondant, at 250 387 1978. From past experience we know that if you are calling from outside Victoria, you can call 1 800 663 7867 and get them to connect you without having to pay Long Distance charges.

 

Thx, Albert

 

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