Ontario to stop disclosure of expired medical suspensions on driver’s abstracts
A human rights lawyer is praising a decision by the Ministry of Transportation to stop disclosing expired medical suspensions on driver’s abstracts as of Jan. 1, calling the old policy a barrier to employment.
Previously, license suspensions because of medical reasons remained on a driver’s abstract for three years. Under the new policy, once the person has served the suspension and has a full driver’s licence again, that information will be removed.
A settlement was reached last month between the ministry and the applicant after an application was filed to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
“I think keeping the information on the driver’s abstracts was a real barrier for employment for people with disabilities,” said Kate Sellar, counsel at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.
“It’s always good to break down a barrier.”
The change will be implemented next year but until then, drivers can call the ministry to obtain an abstract which leaves out concluded medical suspensions. The change will be reflected on the ministry’s website once it is implemented, Sellar said.
Sellar’s client, who asked not to be named, filed the application in December, 2015 after he discovered two concluded medical suspensions still appeared on his abstract. When applying for jobs, he was sometimes asked for a clean driver’s abstract, which he couldn’t provide despite having been cleared by his doctor to resume driving.
“It invites discussions of one’s medical situation. In the province of Ontario you’re not required to disclose a disability when looking for a job, particularly when you don’t have any specific accommodations,” Sellar said. “It put him in the situation of having to have a discussion about his medical history that wasn’t relevant to his ability to do the job.”
In the application, Sellar said her client claimed “providing this information in his driver’s abstract was discriminatory.” A settlement was reached March 13.
“This settlement says that past suspensions aren’t anyone’s business once your licence is active again,” Sellar said. “This settlement says people with disabilities get a fair shot at a job without starting the recruitment process on the defensive about their disabilities.”
Bob Nichols, senior media liaison officer for the Ministry of Transportation, said this was “the first time that this particular concern was ever brought to the ministry’s attention.”
“Since the ministry determined that it would be possible to accommodate the requested change, MTO was happy to accommodate this driver’s privacy concern,” Nichols told the Star in an email.
Drew Woodley, director of communications for Epilepsy Toronto, said the settlement is important because now “the experts are deciding.”
“Having (concluded suspensions) on your licence in a public way means somebody who isn’t an expert in the field, either in transportation policy or neurology, is evaluating whether you’re safe to drive or not,” Woodley said. “The doctor has made a determination. The Ministry of Transportation has made a determination. Allowing an employer to second guess that decision is a problem.”
Camille Quenneville, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division, said “sometimes these things are not intentional” and they have “unintended consequences.”
“We obviously don’t feel anyone struggling with mental health and addiction should be penalized in any way for past illnesses,” Quenneville said. “I just think it’s great when people advocate to make this kind of change that everybody can agree just makes sense.”