The Barrier-Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières June 2017 newsletter

Table of Contents:

  1. Word from the President
  2. Meet our Board of Directors
  3. Our Partners and affiliates
  4. Canada’s first United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) report
  5. News on the Canada Disability Act
  6. So what about the Ontario Government
  7. From Coast to coast to coast…
  8. Looking ahead to 2017/18
  9. In summary

Word from the President

As many of you may have heard, there have been lots of discussions about the future of BFC and how it will move forward now that the public forums on the upcoming federal accessibility act have now been completed.

Rest assured; our work has just begun. There is much more to do and in a very short amount of time and we need your on-going support and engagement

In response to this growing demand for accessibility and inclusion and in order to position ourselves as a leader in advocacy and education, BFC/CSB is pleased to announce that effective April 19 2017 we are now officially a registered not for profit organization.

We continue to thank and count on our numerous founding partners, affiliates and supporters to carry our mission forward to be the voice of all people for all people.

Meet our Board of Directors:

Donna Jodhan, President Donna@barrierfreecanada.org

Pina D’Intino, Vice President Pina.dintino@gmail.com

Anthony Tips, Treasurer and Secretary Atibbs@merchantlaw.com

Robin East, Director easttogo@gmail.com

Paul Edwards, Director Edwards.paul955@gmail.com

As we begin building the formal structure, we will add additional Directors ensuring we have solid representation from coast to coast to coast. Stay tuned.

If you have any questions regarding our new structure, please forward to info@barrierfreecanada.org.

Our Partners and affiliates

Without you it would not be possible. We want to take a moment to recognize the undeniable support we receive from our partners and affiliates. Together we have a strong voice and have the power to be heard. The support, resource, knowledge and experience each of you bring to BFC.CSB is immeasurable and greatly appreciated. As we continue to build the new organization, we will be reaching out to you to help us in growing our network and ensuring our mandate is carried out to its full term.

Thank you to:

Our partners –

CNIB, March of Dimes, the MS Society of Canada, the Canadian Hearing Society, and Accessible Media Inc.

Our supporting organizations –

  • The Low Vision Self-Help Association
  • West Island, Montreal Quebec
  • The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – NL
  • Guide Dog Users of Canada (GDUC)
  • Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)
  • Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)
  • SPH Planning & Consulting Limited
  • The Rick Hansen Foundation
  • Quebec Federation of the blind
  • Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)
  • Community Living Toronto
  • Deaf Blind Ontario Services
  • Unifor
  • StopGap Foundation
  • Citizens with Disabilities Ontario
  • Spinal Cord Injury Alberta
  • Easter seals canada
  • Access for Sight-Impaired consumers
  • Every Canadian Counts Coalition
  • Québec Accessible
  • Centre for Equitable Library Access / Centre d’accès équitable aux bibliothèques
  • Deaf & Hear Alberta
  • Autism Canada
  • Mayor of Halifax Novascotia
  • Braille Literacy Canada
  • League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada

Canada’s first United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) report

Earlier this year, the Canadian delegation headed by Ms. Kathryn McDade, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Income Security and Social Development Branch, Employment and Social Development Canada, and delegates from various departments and agencies of the Government of Canada and from the Governments of Quebec and Ontario made their way to Geneva to deposit Canada’s first UNCRPD report.

Concluding observations includes 63 points covering areas on the need to further address the needs of aboriginals, persons with hearing disabilities and the protections of women. Below is an extract of those points…

  1. The Committee welcomes the State party engagement in a process towards the accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention. The Committee also commends the State party for its constitutional and statutory frameworks, in particular the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) which recognises a human rights-based definition of disability and prohibits discrimination based on multiple grounds and on their compounded effects, as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of “mental or physical disability”.
  2. The Committee welcomes the adoption and/or establishment of legislative and public policy measures at the federal, provincial and territorial level, aimed at implementing the Convention, including the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity adopted in 2016, which requires federal departments to release information in accessible formats; the endorsement of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) in 2015; and provisions in its Criminal Code to ensure that victims and witnesses with disabilities can provide testimony during criminal proceedings.

Furthermore, The Committee requests that the State party submit its combined second and third reports by no later than 11 April 2020, and include therein information on the implementation of the present concluding observations.

Additional monitoring reports such as one on employment are being developed to further support the implementation plans of the UNCRPD. If you would like a full copy of the summary report, e-mail Bernadette@ccdonline.ca .

News on the Canada Disability Act.

It has been a busy time for the office of Minister Qualtrough and the Office of Disability issues as they wrapped up the public forums and began their work in assimilating all the feedback. In May, the feds released their ‘what was heard’ report yesterday. A quick summary is below with a more comprehensive analysis to follow in the coming weeks.

Participation

  • Over 6,000 people participated, both online and in-person
  • 18 public meetings and 9 roundtables

Key findings

  • The legislation should lead to the development of detailed standards for federal organizations on how to improve accessibility, while also supporting them in removing barriers for their employees and customers;
  • The legislation should include strong compliance and enforcement mechanisms;
  • It’s understood that new legislation alone cannot remove all barriers and there is recognition that complementary supports and programs will be necessary to create new opportunities to ensure participation for persons with disabilities and to help change the way people think about accessibility; and
  • The Government of Canada should be a leader, both in its own practices and in supporting organizations to be successful, and also set ambitious goals with clear and measurable targets.

Link to report

“What Was Heard” Report:

https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/esdc-edsc/documents/programs/planned-accessibility-legislation/reports/consultations-what-we-learned/naaw-2017-en.PDF

For those of us who have participated in these forums, the report did not surprise us and reaffirmed our own perspectives and experiences. As the Feds now move to the next phase of the process which includes the drafting of the first draft of the regulation, they continue to capture feedback from several disability agencies and industry leaders. We anticipate the first draft to be released in early 2018.

In the meantime, BFC/CSB must continue to lobby hard with MPPs, provincial and regional officers and municipalities for the development of a strong and effective regulation that removes barriers, affects true and concrete cultural change that will result in measurable economic prosperity for all including persons with disabilities. From education to employment, from transportation to social engagement, persons with disabilities want to be full contributors in Canada’s economic and social fabric and want to be counted and engaged.

Please continue to bring your thoughts and feedback forward by e-mail the CDA directly or at info@barrierfreeCanada.org.

Attached you will find a link to the full release of the summary report “Creating new national accessibility legislation: What we learned.”

A National Accessibility Week of celebration.

On May 11 The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities announced National Access Ability Week and indicated that that week would celebrate, highlight and promote inclusion and accessibility in our communities and workplaces across the country.

So how have you celebrated National Accessibility week?

Please share your stories at info@barrierfreecanada.org and we will highlight them in our next issue.

We hope that this will be a continuing effort to recognize the talents and different abilities of all people in Canada for many more years to come.

So what about the Ontario Government

In Ontario, the Accessibility Directorate Office has been very busy in responding to increased pressures from the public on the efficacy of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). With less than 8 years to go until Ontario is required to be accessible there is still lots to do. Fortunately though they are in full swing.

As we speak, the revised transportation standards are in for public review, the information and communications and employment standards are being reviewed and two new standards have been announced. The standards for Health services have begun, while applications for the education standards committee are currently being reviewed. The recruitment process for a Standards Development Committee for Education will continue until July 31, 2017. For information on how to apply, please contact Phil Simeon, Manager of Standards Development at phil.simeon@ontario.ca. As active participants on several of the standards committees, we will be asked to continue the consultation process with various stakeholders to ensure we are on the right track. So on occasions, we may reach out to our BFC/CSB members for additional feedback.

Here is an example of continuous outreach:

The Accessibility Directorate Office is inviting Ontario citizens to continue to be part of the standards review process”. We want to hear your views about accessibility in education – both the barriers you have witnessed or experienced, and success stories you would like to share. We have developed a confidential survey to collect your input. “

Please click on the following links to complete the survey:

If you prefer, you may complete the attached accessible Word version of the survey and return it to aoda.input@ontario.ca.

A response by July 14, 2017 is appreciated. You are encouraged to share this survey with appropriate members of your organization or with your broader network.

Your input through this survey will be shared with a Standards Development Committee and will help to provide the foundation for a new accessibility standard for education in Ontario.

From Coast to coast to coast…

About Barrier Free Saskatchewan

Barrier Free Saskatchewan (BFSK) has developed fourteen principles to be the foundation of a Saskatchewan Disability and Inclusion Act.

We want the Province of Saskatchewan to pass an Accessibility Act with these principles intact so we can become a barrier free province.

A Barrier Free Saskatchewan is for everyone. Using these principles, BFSK is building a non-partisan coalition from the provincial community of individuals and organizations of and for persons with disabilities, Saskatchewan citizens, organizations, and companies who will endorse this worthwhile endeavor.

www.barrierfreesaskatchewan.org

In May members of Barrier Free Saskatchewan filed 520 complaints with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission against 40 restaurants due to their lack of basic access. Not able or to maneuver through a facility to a table is an access barrier for those persons using a wheelchair. “Such a barrier is a form of discrimination and discrimination against people with disabilities is prohibited by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Act, Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” says Lynnett Boris member of BFSK.

Unfortunately the province of Saskatchewan has done little to address the systemic access issues for persons with disabilities instead of getting down to business and ensuring that services and facilities like restaurants are accessible to everyone. We are disappointed that it has been necessary for a few individuals with disabilities to file 520 human right complaints against 40 restaurants in the Saskatoon area.

“I am still dumbfounded over the number of restaurants that are not accessible to a person in a wheelchair. Imagine trying to find a restaurant where the front door, the washrooms, or the general layout is accessible so one can join friends and colleagues for a social event,” says Robin East Chair and Founder of BFSK. “What a struggle it is to secure access to what is considered a “normal “activity Saskatchewanians take for granted”, stated east. “We expect more from the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission to ensure goods and services are free of barriers and to not avoid their legal and mandated obligations to people with disabilities,” said east.

“We should not have to resort to the filing of human right complaints to ensure the Saskatchewan Government fulfills its obligations to people with disabilities”, stated Len Boser, BFSK member. “This is why we need a province that is “Barrier Free””, says Boser.

For more information contact:

Robin East – Chair and Founder Barrier Free Saskatchewan – 306 241 2623

Lynnett Boris – Member Barrier Free Saskatchewan – 306 655 5508

Len Boser – Member Barrier free Saskatchewan – 306 955 5051

Nova Scotia 3rd province in Canada to have an Accessibility Act.

On April 27, 2017 Bill 59 (Accessibility Act of Nova Scotia) passed 3rd reading in the House.

Nova Scotia has set a goal to be accessible by 2030 under the Accessibility Act, passed today, April 27.

Nova Scotia is only the third province in Canada to pass accessibility legislation. The passage of Bill 59 will start the process of removing barriers for persons with disabilities.

“We are proud to have worked with people with disabilities and business to take this historic step toward an accessible Nova Scotia,” said Justice Minister Diana Whalen. “This act commits us to a timeline to make the province an accessible place to live, work, learn and play.”

Under the act, government will work with persons with disabilities, and the public and private sectors to create six standards for an accessible Nova Scotia.

The standards will be in the areas of goods and services, information and communication, public transportation and transportation infrastructure, employment, education and the built environment which includes buildings, rights-of-way and outdoor spaces.

The legislation puts in place a new Accessibility Advisory Board. The majority of the board’s members will be persons with disabilities. A new accessibility Directorate will be responsible for supporting accessibility initiatives and advancing broader disability-related issues.

While public awareness and support will be essential in encouraging compliance with the standards the act allows for penalties and, for the most serious cases, fines up to $250,000.

“We’re very pleased with the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act and commend the government for its leadership,” said Gerry Post, from the Bill 59 Alliance.

“The collaborative approach taken in drafting the act has established a wonderful climate for communal partnerships, including the business community, to implement the legislation. We also thank the opposition parties for giving the government the space to engage key stakeholders and for supporting this Act.”

Bill 59 was amended after witnesses appeared at the law amendments committee and staff consulted with representatives of persons with disabilities.

Government also invested $1.8 million in the 2017-18 budgets to increase provincial ACCESS-Ability grants for community buildings and to launch a new grant program for small businesses to become more accessible.

A copy of the Accessibility Act can be found at www.nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/bills/bill_59_-_accessibility_act.

Accessible versions of government information related to disability in Nova Scotia are available at www.novascotia.ca/coms/accessibility.

“Everyone! This is yet another example of very hard work on the part of a very committed group and its hats off to our Nova Scotia affiliate for a very huge victory! Well done to you Pat and your team! We’re very proud of you!” Donna

Looking ahead to 2017/18

As we look ahead to a reaffirmed mandate, we look forward to planning our initiatives along with you.

We want to increase our network and increase our level of community based activities.

We want to ensure we are at the forefront of new developments as it relates to new federal and provincial legislation across Canada.

We want to have a much stronger voice to influence decisions and gain support for our local and regional politicians.

We want to empower Canadians with tools to better advocate for themselves.

From an operational perspective we hope to be able to redevelop our website to better reflect our vision and hope to begin looking at ways we can increase outreach to our French speaking members.

As you can attest, this will require resources and commitment from us all. If you know of anyone who is willing and able to provide us with any support to address our operational needs, please feel free to connect them with Donna at donna@barrierfreecanada.org.

In summary

BFC/CSB is proud to be at the forefront of several governmental offices to promote equal opportunity for all Canadian citizens as you can see, much has happened since our last communication. Now that we have a formal entity, we hope you will join us in becoming even stronger as we advocate for everyone’s rights and strong legislation across Canada.

A call to action:

We need your ongoing support to thrive. So please join us in adding additional chapters across Canada to support our cause. If you are interested in joining the current board as a director or partner, if you are interested in beginning your own local chapter, we welcome your energy and passion. Please contact Donna at Donna@barrierfreecanada.org.

We hope you have enjoyed this recap of the various accessibility events and invite you to send your stories and feedback at info@barrierfreecanada.org. In the meantime, enjoy Canada’s 150 birthday and please share your stories of inclusion with us.

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