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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Quebec Superior Court Authorizes Disability Discrimination Class Action Suit against Montreal Public Transit

A Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized a class action lawsuit against the City of Montreal, the STM and the AMT which alleges discrimination against all people with a physical disability.

article by CTV Montreal on May 29, 2017 

                                            Of Montreal's 68 metro stations, 11 are wheelchair accessible.                                                 
Justice Marie-Anne Paquette authorized the suit Monday, a moment Laurent Morissette said he feels has been a long time coming.

“It's a small victory in a sea of battles to come but we're confident this is a step in the right direction,” said Morissette, who works with Regroupement des Activistes Pour L’Inclusion au Qu├ębec(RAPLIQ), a group dedicated to fighting for the rights of people who have disabilities.

The class action suit includes about 20,000 people and alleges systemic discrimination by public transit services the STM and AMT.

Anyone in quebec who uses a uses a wheelchair, or is visually impaired is automatically included in the suit and potentially each could receive $75,000.

RAPLIQ President Linda Gauthier is fighting on their behalf.

“I have to work hard to ask justice for them, to lead them toward justice, to have their rights recognized,” she said.

Of Montreal's 68 metro stations, 11 are wheelchair accessible.

Of 71 commuter train stations, nine are.

The suit is also going after the City of Montreal for what they call a failure to act.

“It’s the effect of the failure to do something that will result in people being denied the right to full equality, in terms of access to public transit,” explained Fo Niemi of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, or CRARR.

Lawyer Gilles Gareau is gearing up for a long fight, but said he hopes it won’t come to that.

“Probably, however if we're dealing with common sense -- if there was ever a case that should be settled, this is one. It's seems plain and obvious if people can’t have access, there's discrimination,” he said.
Other cities, they argue, have far better access:
  • Toronto's metro stations are 49 per cent accessible
  • Cities such as Seoul and Stockholm are 100 per cent
  • Chicago is 69 per cent metro and rail accessible
  • Montreal is at 13 per cent
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said the city is working to change that and this suit will have to run its course.
“If there's a legal process, well the legal process will go. But I know one thing is we have a policy for universal access and we're totally dedicated to that. We've been putting up a new plan in urban planning to make sure everyone feels like a first-class citizen,” he said.
Morissette said it doesn't feel that way when he can't get on a bus or into a metro.
“They definitely forget that this is a question of basic human rights and dignity,” he said.
A judge will now determine if Montreal's transit system is accessible enough.

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