Vol. 2
Catch up on our work this winter and get a sneak-peak of what we’re up to this spring.
What's Inside
OUR WORK                                                                        



Physician Assisted Suicide

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) struck down the laws prohibiting physician assisted suicide in Carter v Canada. Bakerlaw represented the Council for Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living, as an intervenor. The ruling required new legislation to be put in place by February 2016.

In December, the Attorney General of Canada submitted a motion to the Court requesting that the February 2016 deadline be extended by six months. The motion cited the change in government and that more time was needed to ensure adequate safeguards as required in the judgment could be built in to the legislation.

Bakerlaw drafted written submissions on behalf of its clients Council for Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) and Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL). Our submissions supported the request to extend given the fact that adequate safeguards are required in order to protect vulnerable persons from being pressured to commit suicide with the assistance of a doctor. The SCC rejected Bakerlaw's request to present oral arguments.

Bakerlaw's David Baker, Bakerlaw's articling student Kimberly Ruiter and members of CCD and CACL were present for the hearing on January 11, 2016. While the Court reserved its judgment, CCD and CACL made their position known to the media following the hearing. David Baker also engaged with the media as he appeared on CBC's Power and Politics show discussing the issues. To view David's debate click here (link).

On January 15, the Court released its judgment granting a 4 month extension to the government. The Court also approved for individual exemptions to be made by Superior Court judges during the 4 month interim period. The Court also granted Quebec an exemption from the suspension as it already has legislation in place. Unfortunately, the legislation is lacking the safeguards that the Court said was necessary to protect the vulnerable. Interestingly, while the Court was unanimous in its judgment, it was divided on the extension with a narrow 5-4 split. To view the ruling on the extension click here (link).

Bakerlaw's David Baker and collaborator Gilbert Sharpe drafted legislation which would provide the necessary protections to vulnerable persons. You can view the draft legislation here (link) and the explanatory paper here (link).

Read the Carter v Canada decision here (link).

To view CCD and CACL's submissions to the SCC on the request to extend the declaration of invalidity, click here (link).

To view the Federal Report on the subject click here (link).

TDSB Discriminated Against Student with Mental Health Disability


Recently, Bakerlaw has requested the Human Rights Tribunal (HRTO) reconsider its decision in LB v Toronto District School Board, 2015 HRTO 1622. To review the case click here (link). To see a redacted version of the reconsideration application click here (link).

In this case, the Tribunal found that the TDSB had discriminated against a student by failing to provide him with the support that he needed for his anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, the Tribunal failed to award damages for the student's private school tuition. Bakerlaw has requested that the Tribunal reconsider its decision on this category of damages, and has argued that the Tribunal's decision is inconsistent with the Supreme Court of Canada's precedent in Moore v British Columbia (Education), 2012 SCC 61. To read the Moore case click here (link).

Bakerlaw is awaiting the Tribunal's decision on this reconsideration application.

Student with ADHD Allowed to Return to School

Bakerlaw recently represented a student with ADHD who was at risk of being expelled. The student had accidentally injured another student and as a result was suspended for 20 days and was recommended for expulsion. Bakerlaw was retained for the expulsion hearing and argued that the school had failed to accommodate the student's ADHD, and this failure to accommodate had led to the accident at school. Bakerlaw also argued that it was discriminatory to recommend expulsion without considering the role that the student's disability played in the accident and how non-attendance a school could worsen the student's self-esteem and ability to manage his ADHD.

Bakerlaw successfully advocated for this student and he was not expelled.

To see an earlier blog post on this case our work in education law, visit our website (link).

If you or someone you know may require assistance with an expulsion hearing or suspension appeal, or you think you may have been discriminated against feel free to get in touch with bakerlaw to see if we can help!

Going Nowhere Fast ... Yet

Bakerlaw is currently representing an individual with a disability who has been denied accessible transportation in York Region. Our client cannot take public transportation because of her multiple disabilities. For years, she received door-to-door transportation from York Region, but was recently removed to a "family of services" designation which requires her to use public transportation for some routes. Even after York Region received some strong medical evidence that our client was unable to use public transportation, York Region refused to provide her with door-to-door service.

Without access to transportation, our client has been severely limited in her participation within the community. She no longer has ready access to her religious, educational or social meetings.

An application has been submitted to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario outlining the client's need for door-to-door service. Bakerlaw has also submitted a systemic claim, arguing that York Region is placing people in the "family of services" category without regard to their disability-related needs.

Lack of access to accessible transportation and the exclusion that results has been a significant issue for people with disabilities for some time. Bakerlaw has advocated for accessible transportation in many different contexts. Some highlights include:

  • The 1 person, 1 fare case, which resulted in the ruling that every person requiring two seats to accommodate a disability need, only has to pay one fare on domestic flights. See more (link).
  • Council for Canadians with Disabilities v Via Rail case where inaccessible rail cars were required to be retrofitted to become accessible. See more (link).

To read more about exciting developments improving the accessibility of transportation for persons with disabilities, read our blog post here (link).

1 Person, 1 Fare International

Bakerlaw is again teaming up with Council for Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) to try to build on its earlier success in the 1 person, 1 fare domestic case. In this case, Bakerlaw advocated for the right of disabled persons who require two seats (either for an attendant for another disability-related reason) to only have to pay one fare. This decision only applied to Air Canada and WestJet on domestic flights. To read the full decision click here (link).

While bakerlaw was hopeful that this decision made by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) would encourage other airlines to follow suit, this has unfortunately not been the case. As a result, bakerlaw and CCD are attempting to bring a new case to the CTA to expand the 1 person, 1 fare ruling to other airlines and to international flights. 

Bakerlaw intends to build on the work done in Cheung v WestJet where a disabled woman attempted to book a flight from Vancouver to Hawaii. She required two seats for disability related-needs, however WestJet failed to provide the additional seat at no cost. Ms. Cheung brought the case to the CTA. At the CTA the Agency concluded that the scope of the Application was too narrow for it to consider such a systemic remedy. To read the full case click here (link).

Expanding the 1 person, 1 fare principle internationally would help to reduce undue obstacles and dramatically increase the ease with which persons with disabilities can travel. Given CCD's limited financial means, bakerlaw intends to request an advanced order for costs. Such a request is rarely granted, but bakerlaw believes the issues to be raised in the case are critical and that CCD meets the criteria required to be granted the award.

If you want to learn more about how you can help, please contact bakerlaw (link).

Education Discrimination Cases Settled

Bakerlaw recently represented a client in an education case against Wilfred Laurier University. The student had been denied admission because of poor grades he received at a different institution when his disability-related needs were un-accommodated. While the details of the settlement are confidential, Wilfred Laurier University has issued a statement regarding the issues that arose in the case.

The statement affirms that the client was initially denied admission to the university but has reconsidered. The statement also recognizes the important role the Accessible Learning Centre at the university can play in regards to unique applications such as our client's.

Bakerlaw was also involved in representing another client in her attempts to be reinstated in her post-secondary program. The terms of the settlement are again confidential, but we can report that she is able to return to school and will be provided with the disability-related accommodations she requires!

These settlements are positives step forward in education law and the unique challenges presented when applicants have disability-related needs which require accommodation. These cases also demonstrate that grades earned while the student is unaccommodated do not have to hold the student back indefinitely.

To view our blog post on the subject click here (link).


In Other News . . .

Students No Longer Have to Disclose Their Disability to Receive Academic Accommodations

In a recent settlement regarding an application at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, an important victory took place. Students at York University no longer have to disclose their disability in order to receive academic accommodations.

This result comes from the work of Navi Dhanota, a student at York University who didn't think it was right that she should have to share her diagnosis. This is in line with the view that disabilities manifest themselves in a variety of ways and that schools should focus on the particular needs of each student rather than applying the same accommodations on the basis of a medical label. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has committed to engaging with other universities to encourage similar changes at institutions across the province.

While the details of the settlement are confidential, the changes to the University's Guidelines regarding academic accommodations are public. To learn more about these changes here (link) and here (link).

Citizens with Disabilities - Ontario


Citizens with Disabilities - Ontario (CWDO) "actively promotes the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of persons with disabilities". Bakerlaw has worked with CWDO representatives in many cases and greatly admires its work. To learn more about CWDO or sign up for its newsletter, visit its website here (link).

bakerlaw - who we are and what we do

Bakerlaw is committed to accessible justice.

Our lawyers are experienced in human rights, disability, education and accommodation law. If you, or someone you know might require our services, visit our website to learn more (link).


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