TORONTO, Feb. 9 /CNW/ - After being refused a transfer five times by their landlord, Peter and Louise Dixon turned to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for help. Mr. Dixon, a bilateral amputee, viewed several empty units in his building and was told they were not "suitable."
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ordered the Dixons' landlord to rent them the next available ground floor unit, make the entrances to the building wheelchair accessible, and pay them the difference between their current rent and what they would have been paying if their first transfer request had been approved. The Tribunal also awarded $10,000 in general damages as compensation for the discriminatory treatment by the landlord. He was also ordered to train all managerial staff on anti-discrimination practices relevant to tenants.
"I'm sure looking forward to moving," said Mr. Dixon. "I can't believe it had to get to this point - I thought feeling like an outcast because you were disabled was ancient history." Mr Dixon testified about the severe physical and emotional impact of the lengthy wait for a transfer because of the unreliable elevator and being unable to leave home unassisted.
During testimony at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario the landlord openly acknowledged that he might not have rented to the Dixons if he had known Mr. Dixon used a wheelchair, insisting the building is "not equipped" for people with wheelchairs and having suggested a "facility" might be more appropriate.
Grace Vaccarelli, Mr. Dixon's lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre commented, "It's hard to believe these kinds of insulting actions persist in 2010. The law is clear and it is incumbent on every housing provider to know the law and comply with the clear obligations in Ontario's Human Rights Code - it's about equal treatment and it's not optional."
Vice Chair Judith Keene of the Human Rights Tribunal found that "(The landlord) appeared to take the position that he was entitled to substitute his judgement for that of the Dixons as to what they needed and where and how they should live." The Vice Chair continued in her written decision, "Both persons with disabilities and persons on social assistance tend to be subjected to harmful stereotyping as well as societal barriers that have an effect on their dignity."
SOURCE Human Rights Legal Support Centre
For further information: For further information: or to arrange interviews: Jennifer Ramsay, Human Rights Legal Support Centre, (416) 326-7253, mobile: (416) 522-5931