New Canadian Parliament Elected

New Canadian Parliament Is Elected with Strong Majority of MPs Who Committed to Support Passing a Canadians with Disabilities Act – We Look Forward to Working with the New Canadian Government and All Parties On Developing and Passing a Strong and Effective New National Disabilities Law Promised to Over Four Million Canadians

October 20, 2015


We have made history! Barrier-Free Canada looks forward to working with the new Federal Government, to be headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and with all federal parties, on developing and passing the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act.

We can be very proud of the non-partisan campaign we spearheaded over the past weeks and months to try to secure all-party commitments to support enactment of the Canadians with Disabilities Act. Against the odds, during this election campaign, we won commitments in support of a Canadians with Disabilities Act from the Liberals, the New Democratic Party and the Green party. Between all of them, some 229 MPs of the 338 Members of Parliament who will go to Ottawa have committed to support passage of the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

The Conservative Party, which will now be the Official Opposition, and the Bloc Quebecois did not make a commitment on this during this election. The Conservative party had committed in 2006 to bring forward a national Disabilities Act. We continued right up to voting day to try to get the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois to commit now to support the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

We thank all the many wonderful people around this huge country who helped us wage this blitz. Attention now turns to the next important steps that we will need to take to turn this election commitment into action. Our aim is to get a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act enacted by Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.

To help with this process, Barrier-Free Canada’s Steering Committee has asked David Lepofsky to co-chair Barrier-Free Canada along with its founding co-chair Donna Jodhan. David Lepofsky has agreed to do so.

David Lepofsky is the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, and led the ten-year campaign from 1994 to 2005 that resulted in the enactment of that provincial legislation. Donna Jodhan fought a successful case against the Federal Government under the disability equality provision of the Charter of Rights to force the Federal Government to make all its websites accessible to people with disabilities.

We will have lots more to say about our next steps in the coming days and weeks.


According to media reports this morning, the Liberals have won 184 seats. The NDP have won 44. The Greens have won 1. That totals 229 of the 338 seats in the next Parliament to be occupied by MPs in parties that went on the record in this election to support passage of the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

We are deeply indebted to those journalists and news organizations that provided coverage of this issue. To fill the gap, we made history by largely using social media (mainly Twitter and Facebook) to mount our campaign over the past two months. Once the votes were in, we provided non-partisan Twitter coverage of the election returns. Last night, we kept a running count on Twitter of how many MPs who were elected or leading had commited to supporting a Canadians with Disabilities Act. These tweets got a good amount of attention on social media.

Over this entire campaign, those who re-tweeted our tweets or fired off their own tweets on the CDA issue helped us ramp up pressure for the commitments we won. Our efforts were also reinforced by the disability organizations that lent their support and publicly endorsed our cause.

So what’s next? We propose three important priorities on this agenda for the new Government of Canada:

First, we urge incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ensure that a Canadians with Disabilities Act is a key part of his Government’s agenda as it takes over the reins of power. We ask the new Government to set a goal of enacting the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act and having it in force by the time Canada reaches its 150th birthday, on July 1, 2017.

That is an entirely realistic objective. In October 2003, a new Liberal Government took power in Ontario after being in opposition for 13 years. It, like the Trudeau Liberals, promised a new Disabilities Act. Under Premier Dalton McGuinty, the Ontario Liberal Government pledged to deliver a new accessibility law within one year. On October 12, 2004, one year after taking power, it introduced the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act into the Ontario Legislature for First Reading, after holding promised province-wide consultations on what that law should include. That law was passed 7 months later. It went into effect one month after that, on June 13, 2005.

In other words, that law was developed, passed, and brought into force in 1 year and 8 months. Here, the new Federal Government has the huge advantage of all the policy work that went into the Ontario legislation, and the Manitoba law that was passed in 2013.

Second, we urge incoming Prime Minister Trudeau to designate a minister with lead responsibility for this issue, and to give that minister clear directions to hold his Government’s promised consultation and to come forward with a bill within the time frame here proposed.

Third, we ask that these commitments be included in the Government’s first Throne Speech.

It is especially important for the Government to get right to work on this legislation for an additional reason. The Trudeau Liberals have made new infrastructure a major priority. We want to be sure that any new infrastructure spending complies with the Canadians with Disabilities Act, so that federal public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities. If the Government delays developing the Canadians with Disabilities Act until after it makes any major infrastructure commitments, we will face the very real risk that public money will end up being used to create more disability barriers, or perpetuating existing ones.

We’ll have lots more to say about this in the coming weeks. Among the immediate priorities for Barrier-Free Canada will be the following:

  • Expanding Barrier-Free Canada as a grassroots community coalition, and working together with others in Canada’s disability community on the CDA issue;
  • Drawing on input from Canada’s disability community to develop a more detailed set of proposals of what the Canadians with Disabilities Act should include, building on Barrier-Free Canada’s 14 principles for that legislation.
  • Developing good working relationships with all the federal political parties and the key players within the federal public service that will be dealing with this issue.
  • Mounting a national campaign to build support for the Canadians with Disabilities Act in the public and the media to help ensure that the new Trudeau Government makes it a priority.

Feel free to email us any ideas you have on what the Canadians with Disabilities Act should include, and how we should achieve these goals. Send your input to Please understand that because we are a volunteer organization, we may not be able to answer every email. But we promise that we will review them all, and will take them all into account as we come forward with further proposals for your input.

Let’s all take a deep breath, celebrate our landmark achievements to date, and get ready to plow into the hard work that lies ahead.

Toronto City Council supports Karygiannis’ Motion to urge Parliament to create The Canadians with Disabilities Act

TORONTO – Jim Karygiannis, Councillor for Ward 39, is pleased that Toronto City Councillors have voted to support efforts of a grass roots movement advocating for the establishment of The Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA).

“By passing this Motion, Council has recognized the importance of having a barrier-free Canada for all persons with disabilities.” said Councillor Karygiannis. “Many of the more than four million Canadians with disabilities face far too many barriers to accessibility and equality including government services; employment; housing; and, public information.”

Mr. Karygiannis’ Motion reads:

City Council support efforts by Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barrieres (BFC/CSB) to urge the new Parliament of Canada to enact a Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA).

The organization says The Act should apply to all persons with disabilities whether they have a physical, mental sensory, learning and/or intellectual disability or mental health condition, or are regarded as having one, whether their condition is episodic or permanent, and whether their disability is visible or invisible to others.

“The City of Toronto supports the goals of The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.” Mr. Karygiannis stated. “A Canadians with Disabilities Act would not replace but would complement the provincial legislation.”

Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barrieres (BFC/CSB) is a non-partisan, grassroots movement that is advocating for The Canadians with Disabilities Act, as a catalyst towards Canada becoming fully accessible to all people with disabilities.


For further information, contact:

Kathy Gooch, Media Relations
Office of Councillor Jim Karygiannis
Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt
Tel: 416-392-1374
Fax: 416-392-7431

Great News! Announcement from Barrier-Free Manitoba

We are writing to share the great news on the federal election front: three of the five major parties running in the federal election have now committed to introducing a Canadians with Disabilities Act if they form the next government.

The Liberal Party of Canada made this commitment earlier today:

On September 29, 2015, the NDP made the commitment to:

  • Introduce a Canadians with Disabilities Act which will seek to eliminate systemic barriers that Canadians with disabilities face;
  • Develop a National Action Plan to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Work with provinces, territories, indigenous communities and disability organizations to review and coordinate income supports; and
  • Defend the rights of Canadians with disabilities by reinstating the Court Challenges Program and fixing the CPP disability appeals process.

The Green Party promised to support passage of the Canadians with Disabilities Act earlier in the campaign.

The only two major parties in this federal election that have not yet pledged to support passage of a Canadians with Disabilities Act are the Conservative Party of Canada and the Bloc Quebecois.

This remarkable progress has been made possible by the exceptional work of Barrier-Free Canada. While Barrier-Free Manitoba endorsed their efforts, we cannot take any of the credit. The many involved with Barrier-Free Canada have worked tirelessly to get these commitments. We extend our earnest thanks and hearty congratulations.

This wonderful progress demonstrates yet again the major difference disability communities can make when we work together.

With only 2 weeks left before voting day, a lot of work still remains. We encourage you to get involved. And the best place to start is using the handy dandy Barrier-Free Canada 2015 Federal Election Action Kit. Check it out.

That gets us to the ‘more great news coming’ section of this message. Barrier-Free Manitoba has been busy working on two major plans to advance disability rights in Manitoba in 2016 and beyond. We look forward to sharing information on these two developments soon after the federal election.


Patrick Falconer
Consultant to the Barrier-Free Manitoba Steering Committee
Phone: 204.475.7627
Social media: twitter / facebook / daily digest

The Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières September 2015 newsletter

Table of contents

  1. Special requests to our readers
  2. Summary for the month of September
  3. Next steps
  4. How you can support us
  5. Contact info

Happy early Thanksgiving to everyone and we begin with some breaking news!

On September 29, 2015, the federal New Democratic Party became the first of the three major federal parties in this election to pledge to enact a Canadians with Disabilities Act. Specifically, the NDP promised to:

“Introduce a comprehensive Canadians with Disabilities Act to eliminate barriers and to promote accessibility, effective participation, and equality of opportunity for persons living with disabilities.”

You can read more about this on our news page at

Special request to our readers

We would like to start with an important appeal to our readers.

Please help us make the final push

With just over two weeks before E-Day, BFC/CSB is asking all of our supporters to help us make a final push to get commitments from federal parties to enact a Canadians with Disabilities Act.

We’re introducing a letter writing tool that makes it easier than ever to join the campaign. All you need to do is fill out a short form, and a prewritten letter will automatically be addressed to all the candidates in your riding.

You’ll have the option of changing the letter or sending it as is. And you’ll have the ability to easily share through email and social media.

The beauty of this tool is that there’s no need for you to look up candidates or to try to find their email addresses. We take care of all of that. You simply fill out the form, and you’re ready to go!

The NDP and the Green Party have both committed to introducing a Canadians with Disabilities Act. We know our efforts are having an impact. Let’s make sure that every Liberal and Conservative candidate across the country gets the message that Canadians are calling for a Canadians with Disabilities Act.

Please take two minutes to let candidates in your area know that you support the call for a Canadians with Disabilities Act. Then invite your friends and family to join the campaign. Let’s make these last couple of weeks really count!

Please visit

From now until October 19, we are asking you to please help our cause by taking to social media.

We need as many of you as possible to start tweeting and retweeting. You can either make up your own tweets or retweet any tweet that you come across with the hashtag #canadiansdisabilitiesact. Or write to us at and we will be pleased to provide you with sample tweets.

Every voice and every tweet counts and it is only like this that we will convince our next Canadian Parliament to implement a Canadians Disabilities Act. Use Twitter and Facebook and let’s share each other’s tweets and posts!

We are counting on you!


Summary for September

Welcome to the Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières September newsletter and we’ll start with our summary for September.

September continued to be filled with lots of activity for us. Our efforts on social media continued at a furious pace and we have managed to attract volunteers to help us tweet and retweet. We also managed to snag a few Federal MPs and provincial MPPs to retweet our tweets.

Our list of yes supporters continued to grow at a fast clip and we are delighted to tell you that thousands of visitors have now shared our home page on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Our Election 2015 page now contains a leaflet that you can use to help spread the word about us and we urge you to read it. Visit to learn more and check back regularly as we may be including new content as we go along.

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 21
The Rick Hansen Foundation

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)

July 14
Karen Bell
Manager Policy & Stakeholder Relations
Community Living Toronto

July 21
Roxanna Spruyt Rocks
Chief Executive Officer
Deaf Blind Ontario Services

July 31
Jerry Dias
Unifor National President

September 11
Teren Clarke, BN, MM (Mgmt)
Chief Executive Officer
Spinal Cord Injury Alberta

September 13
Luke Anderson
StopGap Foundation

September 15
Pat Seed
Chair Person
Citizens with Disabilities Ontario

Sep 22
Teren Clarke CEO
Spinal Cord Injury Alberta

In early September we were interviewed by the Association de sphina-bifida et d’hydrocéphalie du Québec. The interview was conducted by Sophie Bernard and the issue is called “Le spinnaker”.

We were also interviewed by Alan Russell of the Insight Radio Station of the RNIB; a United Kingdom based radio station.

Here are some of the questions that were asked of Donna J. Jodhan chair of BFC-CSB.

In the year that we celebrate the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act in the UK, 20 years ago, a campaign is underway in Canada to create similar Equalities legislation. Donna Jodhan is part of a group who are battling to see an improvement in the rights of people with disabilities and in the past she has battled in the courts to get governmental websites made accessible.

Donna, our listeners may find it unusual that Canada does not already have legislation like this on a national level already, why is this?

  • Does the political structure in Canada make it difficult to improve these rights?
  • What is it like for a blind person growing up in Canada?
  • What difficulties have you faced personally?
  • What about support from local and national charities?
  • Has this topic not come up before in terms of a national Act?
  • Does the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have any bearing on this campaign?
  • Where do you begin with this campaign?
  • What stage are you at now?
  • Can individuals get involved to help?
  • Contact details?

On September 24, 2015, Barrier-Free Canada issued a news release to all major media outlets. Set out below, it announces that a series of major disability organizations in Canada have endorsed the call for the next Government of Canada to pass a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act. That law would add to and not replace provincial accessibility laws like the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

So far, only the Green party has committed to support a Canadians with Disabilities Act. This non-partisan grassroots campaign seeks to get all parties to make this pledge. You can read more about this news release by visiting our news link at

Toronto city Councillor Jim Karygiannis, seconded by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, has introduced a motion before Toronto City Council. It calls on the City of Toronto to support Barrier-Free Canada’s call for enactment of the Canadians with Disabilities Act. You can read more about this news release by visiting our news link at

The Durham Region of Ontario recently asked What help can our political parties give persons with disabilities to live comfortable and inclusionary lives in Canada? You can read more about this news release by visiting our news link at

And this is what Debra Scott of the Green Party wrote in support of Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières:

“Thank you for the good work you are doing.

This is an issue that so many of us do not think about because it doesn’t affect us directly and so strong voices like your are imperative to ensure accessibility (in all senses of the word) to all Canadians.

Personally, I am happy to represent the Green Party because we are an inclusive party who believe it’s our job to represent all Canadians, not just the ones who think and look like us. I have been to conferences and gatherings with my fellow Green Party members and candidates and know that accessibility has been a topic of discussion within the party for some time and our inclusive policies reflect that.

Thank you for taking the time to make your voice heard.


We continued to work hard to increase our presence on Facebook and on Twitter and our efforts are continuing to pay off as more visitors are coming to us on Facebook and the number of our followers on Twitter are steadily climbing.

We thank everyone for their support and ask that you continue to help us by spreading the word.


Next steps

Our efforts to attract more media attention will continue along with our efforts to encourage others to spread the word through social media. It is our hope that all federal parties will start noticing our efforts and that this will soon translate into promises to work with us to enact a Canadians Disabilities Act when the new Canadian Parliament convenes after the Federal election.

If you would like to join our growing band of volunteers who have taken to social media to tweet and post to Facebook on our behalf, then please send us an email to and we will provide you with samples of tweets and twitter handles that you can include in your posts and tweets.

In like manner; If you would like to receive our election action kit which you can use to help you spread the word then please send your email to and we would be delighted to send you a copy. Or you can also access our election action kit at

We are also looking for volunteers who can help us to translate our newsletter from English to French. Please, email us at if you can be of assistance.

Also in October, we will be making an appearance on the Welcome to my World program of the 93.1 Ottawa based radio station CKCU

We are calling on everyone to circulate our election action kit far and wide and we will be emailing this kit to all of our founding and supporting organizations as well as to those who have requested updates from us.

We will be calling on all Canadians to lobby the next Canadian Parliament to enact a Canadians Disabilities Act and would it not be a great and wonderful present for Canadians to receive a present in the form of a CDA on Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017?


How you can support us

You can support us in several ways.

First visit us at 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 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

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

To keep abreast of our updates visit

Visit us at
Follow us on Twitter @barrierfreeca
And like us on Facebook at

Yours sincerely
Donna J. Jodhan
Chair; Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières

On behalf of
David Lepofsky, Robert Pearson, Steven Christianson, Marc Workman, Jutta Treviranus (Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières steering committee)
Leo Bissonnette; admin support