Recent case illustrates need for building accessibility

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To the editor,

Apartment building landlords and people with disabilities here in Pictou County and throughout Nova Scotia should be interested in and take notice of a recent decision in a case where British Columbia's Human Rights Tribunal has awarded more than $15,000 to an elderly woman who said she was discriminated against when her apartment building's landlord refused to construct a ramp.

The case, reported by the Globe and Mail on Dec. 26, concerned 68-year-old Joyce Stewart who lives in the Vancouver area and has severe osteoporosis and a clubfoot. In June 2010, she was forced to shift from a cane to a walker. Stewart said she spoke to the landlord in August 2010 about constructing the ramp and broached the subject again in October. Both times he declined, so she filed her human-rights complaint in December, 2010. She provided the Human Tights Tribunal with a report from the physiotherapist and told them that getting down the five steps outside the building's entrance had become extremely difficult.

Tribunal member Marlene Tyshynski, based on the ruling, ordered the landlord to construct the ramp. She also ordered the landlord to pay Ms. Stewart $15,000 for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect.

Here in this province, as elsewhere across Canada, our population is aging and so the numbers of people with disabilities is rising. Thus, we are likely to see more such cases arise and we should be taking the steps necessary to make all of our buildings more accessible for all.

Ralph Ferguson, Pictou

Chair, Let Abilities Work Partnership Society

Organizations: Human Rights Tribunal, Globe and Mail, Let Abilities Work Partnership Society

Geographic location: Pictou County, Nova Scotia, British Columbia Vancouver Canada

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