Rick Hansen urges Canada to enact federal disabilities act

Vancouver, BC (July 29, 2015) – Rick Hansen is urging government leaders, influencers and the public to support a new non-partisan campaign to introduce federal legislation to ensure accessibility, inclusion and equal opportunity for Canadians with disabilities.

Barrier-Free Canada is an initiative to advocate for enactment of a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA), a law that will enable people with disabilities to live to their full potential. The CDA would apply to all persons in Canada with disabilities whether visible (physical) or invisible (learning and/or intellectual, mental sensory or mental health) and whether temporary or permanent.

Today, more than four million Canadians live with some form of disability. Due to the aging population, this number will grow to more than nine million over the next 15 years. Aging is the biggest cause of disability. That means that by 2030, 1 in 5 people will have a disability.

Unless Canada acts now, in the coming years, these millions of people will be held back from living full lives, not because of their disability, but because of the barriers that exist.

“For this amount of people to face daily physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that limit their full participation in life is unacceptable,” says Rick Hansen, CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, a non-profit that removes barriers to liberate the potential of people with disabilities.

Without strong legislation, people with disabilities will continue to experience barriers that make it impossible to carry out common activities that others take for granted such as:

  • Physical barriers that limit access to the buildings and modes of transportation
  • Economic and social barriers that prevent equal and active participation in society
  • Attitudinal barriers that limit access to employment opportunities

These barriers also create an unsustainable economic burden.  By removing these barriers, Canada will benefit from the participation of citizens who have much to contribute and an expansion of international trade markets. There are one billion people with disabilities around the world. That is a market that Canada cannot afford to continue to ignore.

David Lepofsky, a member of Barrier-Free Canada’s steering committee, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, and a lawyer who is blind says, “We live in a world that’s not designed for us; we live in a society that’s full of barriers, physical, technological, etc. We need to get rid of those barriers so that we can all fully participate. Twenty five years ago last weekend, on July 26, 1990; the U.S. enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s time for Canada to catch up!”

The CDA would require Canada to be made fully accessible to all persons with disabilities through the removal of existing barriers and the prevention of the creation of new barriers, within the time frames to be set out in the legislation. It would require the Government of Canada to lead Canada to full accessibility; to the extent that federal jurisdiction empowers it. Enacting a CDA is not meant to replace provincial disability accessibility or human rights legislation, such as existing accessibility laws in Ontario and Manitoba. It is meant to complement existing regional laws and benefit Canadians living in provinces with and without provincial disability legislation.

On January 26, 2015, Barrier-Free Canada wrote the leaders of Canada’s major political parties, seeking a commitment to support the enactment of a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act. To date, none of the party leaders have replied.

“I strongly urge all parties to support the enactment of legislation to make accessibility and inclusion a reality throughout Canada, for the benefit of Canadians with disabilities, their families and a stronger nation. A Canadians with Disabilities Act would be a fantastic 150th birthday present to help build our country, whose constitution clearly envisions Canadians with disabilities as equal and contributing citizens. Accessibility and inclusion are human rights deserved by all Canadians.” says Hansen.

For more information, please contact:
Sonia Woodward, Public Relations Coordinator, Rick Hansen Foundation
E: swoodward@rickhansen.com
P: 778-296-1559

David Lepofsky, Barrier Free Canada
E: aodafeedback@gmail.com

The Barrier Free Canada June 2015 newsletter

Table of contents

  1. Summary for the month of June
  2. Next steps
  3. How you can support us
  4. Contact info

Welcome to the Barrier Free Canada June newsletter and we’ll start with our summary for June.

Summary for June

The month of June was spent working to garner support from organizations of all kinds and by the end of June we were happy to report that our list of supporters has grown to 12 organizations in total.

In addition to our five founding organizations we now have seven supporting organizations. Letters from all of the supporting organizations are now posted to our website.

Our five founding organizations are:
CNIB, March of Dimes, the MS Society of Canada, the Canadian Hearing Society, and Accessible Media Inc. A list of our supporting organizations is listed below along with the date on which they signed on.

April 02
Irene Lambert
(Past president, program director)
The Low Vision Self-Help Association
West Island, Montreal Quebec

June 01
Kim White, Manager of Strategic Initiatives
On behalf of Kelly White, Executive Director
The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – NL

June 12
Louise Gillis
National President, Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)

June 15
Dar Wournell
National President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)

June 16
Shane Holten
President, SPH Planning & Consulting Limited

June 22
Lucio D’Intino
President, Quebec Federation of the blind

June 26
Barbara Collier Reg. CASLPO. F. ISAAC
Executive Director, Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)

We continued to spread the word about our initiative on Facebook and on Twitter; steadily increasing the number of followers on both platforms and we presently send out messages three times weekly on both platforms.

Our list of individual yes supporters also increased for the month of June but we still need a lot more persons who are willing to have their names published on our website in order to help make a difference.

In June we welcomed Stephen Trumper to our team. Stephen is a well known editor, teacher, writer, and marketer. Among his many awards are:
Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement, the National Magazine Awards
Foundation: June 2013
Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for Public Service: June 2012

Our David Lepofsky was interviewed in late May and early June over an incident which took place with regard to a female passenger whose wheelchair was badly damaged by an airline during her trip outside Canada. David gave in depth interviews to Ontario media and this incident demonstrated a clear example of a glaring need for a Canadians Disabilities Act.

Next steps

With the summer months upon us, it is going to be a challenge to maintain our momentum but we are ready for the task. We will be working to plan some strategic events for September which we hope will help to expand our initiative, increase support, and encourage more people to spread the word. We are counting on you to help us.

It is our hope that we can garner enough support that will be noticed by all Federal Parties and that the new Canadian Parliament will be convinced to enact a Canadians Disabilities Act soon after Parliament resumes.

How you can support us

You can support us in several ways.

First visit us at www.barrierfreecanada.org and read our founding principles.

Next visit our support us page and sign up as a supporter. You can also choose to have your name published on our website, receive updates such as these, or simply register your support by completing our online form.

If you represent an organization and you wish to register your organization’s support, you can send an email to us at info@barrierfreecanada.org and we will be delighted to post the name of your organization on our website.

We will even post your letter of support to our website if you give us permission and you will be able to see your letter of support by visiting http://barrierfreecanada.org/support/from-other-supporting-organizations/

You can also spread the message by word of mouth, write to or visit your MP, your MPP, and even write to your provincial Premier or provincial party leaders.

Contact info

To contact us, please send an email to info@barrierfreecanada.org.

Visit us at www.barrierfreecanada.org

Individual supporters

Below are the supporters who agreed to have their names listed.

Irene Lambert
Karin Godin
Dawn Lambert
Peter Sharp
Sandra Hobson
Dana Levanto
Paula Kilburn
Katherine Jaconello
Gordon Hein
Louis Pereux
Nancy Newton
Michelle Bruneau
Synove Gelinas
Gary Stockden
Yvette Gelinas
Danielle Bruneau
Anita Squire
Wilma Houston
Bonnie Sherr Klein
Gordon J. Hein
Scott Hunter
Patrice Philion
John Ohberg
David Best
Roger P Gervais
Dan Shire
Suzanne Santyr
Kate Chung
Daryl Thomas
Cavita Sharma
Jerry Ford
Victor Schwartzman
Sarah Moore
Penny Leclair
Karen Bell
Brian Kon
Sue Morgan
Derek Giberson
Lorin MacDonald
Anne and Dave Marsden
Jim Hamilton
Edward Rice
Stephen Trumper
Cindy Ferguson
Robert Gaunt
Shane Holten
Catherine Roy
Jason Tomesch
Johnny To
Lauri Sue Robertson
Josephine (Joey) Hewitt