Disability and Stigma

January 22, 2016 - The profile of Quebec condominiums is expected to change in the coming years. With the aging population, the number of residents in co-ownerships with reduced mobility will increase.

Unfortunately, these persons are often stigmatized by their syndicate of co-owners who often refuse to respond to their requests for reasonable accommodation.

The story of Melanie Castonguay, the mother of a sick child  in a wheelchair, is an eloquent testimony of the refusal to show an open attitude by the community of co-owners. The lady wanted to change a common portion to build an access ramp, and it was refused by the Board of Directors.

"They told me that building a ramp in front of the condo, or on the side, would cause the loss of the uniqueness of the units," reports Melanie Castonguay. She tried in earnest to find a solution so that the project could be allowed, for example by installing the ramp on her land, in front of her apartment, all to no avail.

After her insistent demands and threats of    calling the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec, (Office for Disabled Persons of Québec), as well as the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Human and Youth Rights Commission), the Board finally folded .However it imposed a condition,:  in the event she left the co-ownership, she had to restore the premises to its original condition.

Melanie finally gave up and put her condo for sale. "I think there are people in life who think that this kind of story happens only to others. For her "this refusal is tantamount to denying the liberty of a person."

Yves Joli-Coeur, Distinguished lawyer and Secretary General of the RGCQ, confirms that "the Civil Code of Québec provides, specifically, that we must act in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Failing respecting it, the syndicate concerned may be sanctioned by the Human Rights Tribunal, for non-compliance with the Charter. "

Obviously, in relation to costs, the work to satisfy a demand concerning a disabled person should not be excessive. He stated; «for example, if a ramp must be installed in a co- ownership, and it requires investments of $ 300,000 in a building with only four apartments, it could then be considered an "undue hardship".

Requests for reasonable accommodation presented by disabled people (in co-ownership) are handled on a case by case basis. "Everything depends on the size of the co-ownership, i.e. the number of units, the cost of the work and its impact on the immovable," concluded Yves Joli-Coeur.

Montreal, January 22, 2016

Source : CBC