Please Use and Widely Circulate Two New Helpful Resources We Here Give You, Helpful for Anyone Taking Part in the Government of Canada’s Current Public Consultation on the Promised Canadians with Disabilities Act – Our Short Leaflet and Our Longer, More Detailed Tip Sheet

The Federal Government is asking the public to give it input on what should be included in the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act, a new federal disability accessibility law. Are you thinking of taking part in that public consultation and giving the Government feedback? You can do so by attending one of the Federal Government’s public forums taking place across Canada, or by filling out the Government’s online questionnaire, or taking part in other activities and events that will be coming up over the next months.

Barrier-Free Canada wants to share ideas with you on what you might wish to say to the Federal Government. Here’s what we set out below.

First, for those of you who want ideas at a quick glance, we set out below a short 2-page leaflet. It gives you a punchy easy-to-use list of the most important ideas.

Second, we set out below a longer, more detailed Tip sheet. It gives more ideas. If you don’t have much time, or just want the key points, we encourage you to use the shorter 2-page leaflet.

You can download these two documents as accessible MS Word documents. This is helpful if you want to print them up, or include them on your website or Facebook page, or circulate them some other way. Here’s where to find them for download:

To download Barrier-Free Canada’s new 2-page leaflet on what the promised new federal accessibility law should include, in an accessible MS Word format, visit http://barrierfreecanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2-page-BFC-leaflet-for-public-consultations-on-federal-accessibility-law-sept-22-2016.docx

To download Barrier-Free Canada’s longer, more detailed 10-page Tip Sheet on what the promised new federal accessibility law should include, in an accessible MS Word format, visit http://barrierfreecanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/12-page-BFC-tip-sheet-for-public-consultations-on-federal-accessibility-law-sept-22-2016.docx

Feel free to use our ideas, and even borrow our words, if you want. We welcome your feedback on these two documents. We may update them, as the public consultation continues, based on feedback we receive. Email us your feedback at info@Barrierfreecanada.org

Ideas in these two documents come from feedback we have received from Barrier-Free Canada’s supporters across Canada, and are reflected in Barrier-Free Canada’s 14 principles for the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act.

For those of you who want lots more information than these two documents give, much more detail are in the 33-page Discussion Paper on the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act, written by Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky.

Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barrières

www.barrierfreecanada.org Email: info@barrierfreecanada.org

A Non-Partisan Campaign for a Barrier-Free Canada for All Persons with Disabilities

What Should the Promised New Federal Disability Accessibility Law Include? – At a Glance

The Federal Government promised a new law to create accessibility for people with disabilities. It is now consulting Canadians on what this law should include. Here are ideas we hope you like.

  • This law’s goal should be for Canada to become fully accessible to people with any kind of disabilities, by a deadline the law sets. The goal should not just be to “improve accessibility.” That weak goal would just require one new ramp to be installed somewhere in Canada. After that, accessibility would have been “improved.”
  • This law should require organizations to remove accessibility barriers, and to be sure not to create any new ones. The law should cover the accessibility of all goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment and buildings, that the Federal Government can reach. “Disability” and “barrier” should be defined broadly.
  • This law should create a new federal office, the Canada Accessibility Commissioner. It would recommend accessibility rules to the Government and enforce those rules once the Federal Government passes them. It would also be Canada’s independent accessibility watchdog.
  • This law should require the Federal Government to do whatever it can to lead Canada to full accessibility.
  • This law should require the Federal Government to create a series of regulations or rules, called “accessibility standards.” These will tell organizations what steps they must take to become accessible. They would set the deadlines for organizations to take action on accessibility. People with disabilities should have an equal seat at the table when the Canada Accessibility Commissioner proposes these rules and when the Government decides whether to adopt them.
  • Any organization that the Federal Government can reach should have to obey this new law. This includes organizations that the Federal Government regulates (like the Federal Government itself, banks, airlines, the post office, Crown corporations, TV and radio stations, and companies that provide phone, cell phone and cable TV services). Any organization that gets money from the Federal Government should also have to obey this law.
  • The law should be effectively enforced, without people with disabilities having to privately take organizations to court under the Charter of Rights or the Canada Human Rights Act, to fight each barrier they face. One federal office, the new Canada Accessibility Commissioner, should enforce this law. It should audit and inspect organizations, issue orders to obey, and impose monetary penalties where the law is disobeyed. People with disabilities should not have to run back and forth between different federal agencies to get this new law implemented and enforced.
  • This new law should make sure that no one uses public money to create new barriers against people with disabilities, or to perpetuate existing barriers.
  • The Federal Government should have to check each federal law on the books to see if there are any accessibility barriers that block people with disabilities from getting the full benefit of those laws. Any of these barriers should be removed from those laws.
  • This law should say what the Federal Government must do to make sure federal elections are accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities. All polling stations must be in accessible locations. Voters with vision loss, dyslexia or other disabilities should have a way to independently and privately mark their ballot and to check to make sure it was correctly marked.
  • This law should ensure that the Federal Government takes needed steps to make sure its workplaces and services are fully accessible to people with disabilities. For example, the Federal Government should be audited periodically for accessibility.
  • The Federal Government should encourage all provinces to pass accessibility laws. The federal government should also create model national accessibility standards for areas like education, health, employment, transportation, housing, information and communications, customer service, and the built environment. A provincial or territorial government would be free to adopt, as law, a model national standard, if it wishes, or to modify it for that province or territory.
  • This law should ensure that the Federal Government works with Canadian businesses to create accessible products and services to sell on the international market to the one billion people with disabilities around the world.
  • Whichever law guarantees the most accessibility to people with disabilities always should prevail. Nothing in this new law or anything done under it should be able to cut back on the rights people with disabilities enjoy under the Charter of rights, the Canada Human Rights Act, or any other law.
  • The best way to raise awareness and change attitudes about accessibility is to pass and effectively enforce a strong federal accessibility law. The Federal Government should set up a centre and a hotline to give organizations free advice on what exactly to do to remove and prevent accessibility barriers. It should send out periodic guidelines giving more details on how to remove and prevent barriers. This makes it easier for organizations and reduces their cost.
  • The Federal Government should report each year on what specifically it will do in the next years to implement the federal accessibility law, and to remove and prevent accessibility barriers. The Auditor General should audit these reports. The new Canada Accessibility Commissioner should report to the public annually on progress. The law’s effectiveness should be independently reviewed after four years, and every three years after that.

Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barrières

www.barrierfreecanada.org

info@barrierfreecanada.org

A Non-Partisan Campaign for a Barrier-Free Canada for All Persons with Disabilities

Canadians with Disabilities Act Consultation Tip Sheet: Detailed Points to Present to the Federal Government’s Public Consultation on What To Include in the Promised Federal Accessibility Law

September 22, 2016

1. Introduction

In the 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau promised to pass a Canadians with Disabilities Act. The Federal Government is consulting Canadians on what to include in this new national disability accessibility law. Here are points you might make when giving the Federal Government feedback on its online questionnaire, or at the Federal Government’s public forums taking place across Canada.

Tell your own stories about barriers you face that the Federal Government can address. The Federal Government has authority over federal programs, banking, air travel, radio, TV, telephone, cell phone and cable TV, Crown corporations and the post office. Use your own words if you wish. Borrow our ideas and our words if you want!

This Tip Sheet’s ideas use questions asked in the Federal Government’s Discussion Guide. These ideas come from feedback we have received from our supporters across Canada. Much more detail on these ideas are in the 33-page Discussion Paper on the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act, written by Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky.

At the end of this Tip Sheet, we give you links to more information and background.

We welcome your feedback on this Tip Sheet. Is it helpful? Tell us how to improve it. Email suggestions to us at info@barrierfreecanada.org. For those who want something shorter, watch out for Barrier-Free Canada’s leaflet, entitled: What A Strong Federal Accessibility Law Needs to Do – At a Glance.”

2. How can the Federal Government raise awareness of and change attitudes towards accessibility for people with disabilities? How can the Federal Government change the way government officials and private companies handle accessibility issues?

The best way to raise awareness and change attitudes is to pass and effectively enforce a strong, clear federal accessibility law.

3. What is the goal of a federal accessibility law?

The federal accessibility law’s purpose should be to ensure that the Federal Government will lead Canada to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by a deadline the law sets, as far as the Federal Government can.

The law should ensure that all federally-reachable organizations, including all organizations that get federal funds, have accessible goods, services and jobs. The Charter of Rights and Canada Human Rights Act guarantee those rights. People with disabilities should not have to fight one barrier at a time, one organization at a time, in legal proceedings under the Charter of Rights and the Canada Human Rights Act.

In 2005, the Ontario legislature set 2025 as the deadline for Ontario to reach full accessibility. The fact that Ontario is behind schedule has helped press for more action on accessibility.

The federal accessibility law’s purpose should also be to help ensure that Canada fully meets its duties under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This law should adopt that Convention’s Optional Protocol. That would give the UN some oversight over Canada if Canada falls short on disability accessibility.

The law shouldn’t just seek to “improve accessibility.” That is too weak. If just one ramp is installed somewhere in Canada, accessibility is “improved,” and the law has done all it needs to do. We need this law to do much more.

It is insufficient for the new law to aim just to make Canada the most accessible country in the world. That only requires Canada to be slightly better than other countries, no matter how inaccessible they are. Canada’s Charter and human rights laws require much more.

4. Who should have to obey the federal accessibility law?

The federal accessibility law should extend to every organization that the Federal Government can reach. This includes organizations like banks and airlines that the Federal Government normally regulates. It also includes any organization that gets grants, loans or other payments from the Federal Government.

5. How should the federal accessibility law define “disability,” “accessibility,” and “barrier”?

The federal accessibility law should define “accessibility,” barrier,” and “disability” in a clear, broad, inclusive way. If they are too narrow, the law will be weak.

The law should protect all disabilities whether they are visible or invisible, and whether they are permanent or they come and go. It should include physical disabilities, mental disabilities, sensory disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health conditions, communication disabilities, intellectual disabilities, autism, environmental sensitivities and all other kinds of disabilities.

“Accessibility” means “barrier-free.” An accessible workplace or goods or services are ones in which people with disabilities can fully participate to the extent of their individual abilities.

The law should address all kinds of accessibility barriers, such as physical barriers in the built environment inside and outside buildings, communication barriers, technology barriers, information barriers, attitude barriers, legal barriers, and policy or bureaucratic barriers. “Barrier” should mean anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of a disability.

6. How should the law get organizations to remove and prevent barriers?

The Federal Government’s Discussion Guide asks about two different ways the law could get organizations to tear down disability barriers. That Discussion Guide says the federal accessibility law could include either or both of them. the Federal Government asks whether this law should include one or both of these options.

The first option: The federal accessibility law could let the Federal Government create regulations, called accessibility standards. These standards tell organizations exactly what they must do to get rid of barriers, and to avoid creating new ones. They would spell out the specifics and set deadlines for action. Different accessibility standards could be created for different parts of the economy. There could be a Transportation Accessibility Standard, a Banking Accessibility Standard etc. An accessibility standard can also address an entire kind of activity in all organizations, like an Employment Accessibility Standard.

If Canada creates good accessibility standards, people with disabilities won’t have to battle accessibility barriers one at a time, one organization at a time. Good accessibility standards can save obligated organizations time and money. Each organization won’t have to reinvent the accessibility wheel, having to hire accessibility consultants to tell each organization the same thing. Instead, a good accessibility standard shows organizations exactly what to do to become accessible.

The second option: The law could set goals of how accessible organizations must become, and then require each organization to write plans on how to get there. The Government would then review these plans to see if they are good enough.

Here’s a good answer about what the new federal accessibility law should include: The federal accessibility law should put the Federal Government in charge of leading Canada to full accessibility. This doesn’t mean that the Federal Government must fix every barrier in Canada.

The law should create a new independent federal office, the Canada Accessibility Commissioner. The Commissioner should lead the law’s implementation and enforcement. The Commissioner should be Canada’s national accessibility champion and independent watchdog.

The federal accessibility law should not just let the Federal Government create accessibility standards. It should require the Government to create all the accessibility standards needed to lead Canada to full accessibility by the law’s accessibility deadline. Government organizations and private companies must be told in clear, specific terms what to do, and when, to tear down barriers and to avoid creating new ones. Any federal accessibility standards should at least rise to the level of accessibility that the Charter of Rights and the Canada Human Rights Act set.

Without strong, enforceable accessibility standards, the law will fail. It would be wrong to have no accessibility standards, and instead to have each organization come up with its own plans for action on accessibility. That won’t work. It would be wasteful. Each organization would have to re-invent the same wheel.

Organizations need accessibility standards. They want to know what they have to do. People with disabilities also need accessibility standards to tell them what barriers will be removed, and when.

7. How should the Government create accessibility standards?

The federal accessibility law should create a prompt, fair, effective, open process for creating accessibility standards. People with disabilities should be guaranteed an equal say in what these accessibility standards include, with an equal seat at the table.

First, the new Canada Accessibility Commissioner should get input from people with disabilities and from obligated organizations on the barriers that need to be fixed, and how to fix them. Then the Canada Accessibility Commissioner should recommend to the Government what standards are needed. It should recommend what specific rules and deadlines an accessibility standard should include, e.g. in an area like transportation or banking. After this, the Federal Government can create an accessibility standard, just as the Accessibility Commissioner recommended, or with changes.

8. What else could a federal accessibility law include to get organizations to remove barriers and avoid creating new ones?

  • The federal accessibility law should set mandatory timelines for the Federal Government to take steps to implement the law, like appointing the Canada Accessibility Commissioner, and creating accessibility standards. It should give the public a good, fast way to get the Federal Government to meet those time lines for action, if the Government does not meet them.
  • The federal accessibility law should require the Federal Government to make sure that no one uses public money to create or perpetuate disability barriers. The federal accessibility law should require the Federal Government and federal agencies to attach and enforce clear, strong accessibility strings to all federal spending. For example, the Federal Government should make sure that any time it gives money for capital or infrastructure projects to anyone such as provincial governments, municipalities, hospitals, universities or private businesses, these projects must be fully accessible to people with disabilities.
    1. The Federal Government should ensure that any goods or services it buys are fully accessible to people with disabilities.
    2. the Federal Government should set accessibility conditions when it gives out business development grants and loans, and research grants for universities and other organizations.
    3. When the federal Government makes transfer payments to provinces or territories for provincial programs like health care, that provincial program must be required to fulfil new federal disability accessibility requirements, just like it must meet other federal requirements.
  • The federal accessibility law should require the Federal Government to ensure that all federal laws are barrier-free and include measures that ensure the accessibility for people with disabilities of the programs, policies, rights and opportunities these laws provide. The Federal Government should review all its laws for accessibility barriers, with a priority on the Criminal Code and Canada’s immigration laws. Where barriers are found, these laws must be amended to ensure they are barrier-free. The Federal Government must also ensure that any new laws are barrier-free.
  • The federal accessibility law should require the Federal Government to ensure that federal elections are barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities. Polling stations must be accessible. Voters with limited or no vision, or with other print disabilities or motor limitations, must be able to mark their own ballot independently and in private, and be sure that their ballot was properly marked. Election campaign information, including materials from parties or candidates, must be accessible to people with vision loss, dyslexia or hearing loss.
  • Large governments lag behind other organizations on accessibility. The federal accessibility law should include six additional measures, to ensure that the Federal Government becomes a fully accessible workplace and service-provider:
    1. One minister and full time deputy minister should be responsible for ensuring that the Federal Public Service becomes fully accessible.
    2. The Federal Government should be periodically audited for accessibility. This includes its workplaces and services. The Government should make the audit results public.
    3. Federal public servants should be accountable for their accessibility duties. Each federal department should have an accessibility champion, to ensure from the top, that accessibility is embedded throughout that organization.
    4. The Federal Government should make public a multi-year plan for accessibility action. It should report each year on its progress.
    5. The Federal Government should maintain a central fund to pay for workplace accommodations for federal public servants with disabilities.
    6. The Federal Government should develop and implement a plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts) become fully accessible to court participants with disabilities.
  • The federal accessibility law should require the Federal Government to promote the removal and prevention of barriers that fall within provincial responsibility, while respecting provincial authority.
    1. The Federal Government should encourage all provinces to pass accessibility laws.
    2. The federal government should create model national accessibility standards for areas like education, health, employment, transportation, residential housing, information and communications, customer service, and the built environment. These should at least fulfil accessibility requirements in human rights legislation and the Charter of Rights. They should meet or exceed any provincial accessibility standards. A provincial or territorial government would be free to adopt, as law, a model national standard, if it wishes, or to modify it for that province or territory.
      Model national accessibility standards would help provinces that have no disabilities act, or that haven’t created accessibility standards in all these areas.
      Model national accessibility standards would help organizations operating in different parts of Canada. They now face a patchwork of provincial accessibility requirements. They prefer to meet one national accessibility standard that ensures that they fulfil all provincial requirements.
  • One billion people with disabilities around the world need accessible products and services. The federal accessibility law should require the Federal Government to create a strategy to expand Canadian businesses’ efforts to sell to worldwide markets for accessible goods, services and facilities.
    Canadian businesses will make more money and Canadian employment will increase if Canadian businesses produce accessible products to sell internationally. This also helps Canadians with disabilities who will buy these products.

9. Should the federal accessibility law set different rules or deadlines for different organizations?

The federal accessibility law can set different time lines for action for big organizations than it sets for smaller organizations. However, this law should not let the private sector sit back and wait until the Federal Government removes its own disability barriers. All organizations should have to get to work right away. Sometimes it is easier for smaller organizations to make progress more quickly than bigger organizations. In those situations, it is wrong to give those smaller organizations more, longer deadlines.

10. What accessibility issues and barriers should the federal accessibility law address?

The federal accessibility law should not limit the accessibility issues it covers. It should cover accessibility of all goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment and buildings, that the Federal Government can reach.

This law should not be limited to the list of areas in the Government’s Discussion Guide. It lists the built environment, program and service delivery, the Government’s procurement of goods and services, employment, transportation and information and communications.

These are important areas for this law to address. However, they are not the only areas it needs to cover. If the federal accessibility law lists every area it covers, it can leave out something important. For example, the Federal Government’s Discussion Guide doesn’t mention an important federal responsibility that is now full of barriers, namely telecommunication (like TV, radio, cell phones, land line phones, etc.) As well, when Ontario passed its disabilities Act in 2005, smart phones or tablet computers hadn’t yet been invented. Fortunately, the Ontario accessibility law included no such list, so it didn’t risk leaving these out.

The Federal Government’s Discussion Guide asks which of those six areas that it lists are most important. All are very important. It is wrong to create a priority list among them. That unfairly pits one disability group against another. For some, the built environment is more important. For others, it’s information and communication. People with disabilities stand together. All barriers any of us face must be addressed.

11. How should the new federal accessibility law work with the disability accessibility rights in Charter of Rights and the Canada Human Rights Act?

The new federal accessibility law should make it clear that whatever law guarantees the most accessibility to people with disabilities always prevails. Nothing in this new law or anything done under it should be able to cut back on the rights people with disabilities enjoy under the Charter of rights, the Canada Human Rights Act, or any other law.

12. How should the federal accessibility law be enforced?

The federal accessibility law must be effectively enforced. The Federal Government should not be responsible to enforce the law against itself. That won’t work.

The Government’s Discussion Guide says it may carve up accessibility. Different federal agencies may be responsible for different parts. That would be bad.

Transportation accessibility shouldn’t be left to the Canada Transportation Agency. The CRTC (Canada Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission) should not have final say on accessibility in TV, cable, cell phone and telephone services. Those agencies had years to do much better.

There should be one federal agency for all federal accessibility standards and enforcement, the new Canada Accessibility Commissioner. People with disabilities shouldn’t have to chase around the Federal Government, to find out which agency or agencies will enforce accessibility. Now if people with disabilities file a human rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, they can find that all or part of it gets punted to another regulatory agency, like the CRTC or the Canada Transportation Agency. This unfairly drags out cases and wears down people with disabilities.

It is not good enough for the federal accessibility law to just give someone the power to enforce it. They must have a strong duty to effectively enforce it, and to report to the public every three months on what they did to enforce it. They should have the power and duty to audit and inspect organizations, to issue orders to obey, to impose monetary penalties, and to order stronger remedies for organizations that fall far behind.

A few token monetary penalties won’t spur organizations to obey. An audit or inspection should look at how accessible an organization really is, and not just at an organization’s accessibility forms and files.

The law should require organizations to submit and make public accessibility compliance reports. These should include details on what the organization has done and plans to do on accessibility. Ontario’s accessibility reports are less effective, to the extent that an organization just ticks boxes on a form.

These reports should be posted on line. The Government should have them available in an online database that the public can search for free.

The Canada Accessibility Commissioner should be able to receive an investigate complaints from the public, that can lead to enforcement action. Ontario’s and Manitoba’s Disabilities Acts lack this. The Ontario Government has used this as a weak excuse for not encouraging complaints and following up with enforcement.

The Federal Government should not simply tell members of the public that if they run into an accessibility barrier, they must privately launch a human rights or Charter complaint. The federal accessibility law aims to dramatically reduce the need for individuals to endure that hardship. However, nothing in the federal accessibility law should reduce their rights to do so if they wish.

13. How should organizations be supported to improve accessibility?

The Federal Government should set up a centre and a hotline to give organizations free advice on what exactly to do to remove and prevent accessibility barriers. It should send out periodic guidelines giving more details on how to remove and prevent accessibility barriers. This makes it easier for organizations to comply and reduces their cost.

This should include something like the U.S. Job Accommodation Network. It gives employers free advice on how to accommodate employees with disabilities. Provinces and territories should be invited to opt into such a new federal service.

Federal efforts to educate organizations on accessibility must not become an excuse for delaying federal implementation/enforcement action. The Federal Government shouldn’t proceed on the wrong-headed basis that until an obligated organization is federally educated on its accessibility obligations, it need not comply and won’t face enforcement. These are not new accessibility duties. They have been required under the Charter of Rights and Human Rights laws for over three decades.

The Federal Government’s Discussion Guide addresses goals of “raising awareness” and “changing attitudes” on accessibility. “Raising awareness” and “changing attitudes” should not be the federal accessibility law’s goals. That would delay and side-track action. The federal accessibility law’s goal instead should be to change action on accessibility. When people take action on accessibility, they eventually increase their own awareness about accessibility. Many find that raising awareness on accessibility doesn’t change action on accessibility. Instead, as mentioned above, a strong, effectively enforced accessibility law is the most effective way to change action on accessibility, and thus, to change attitudes towards accessibility.

14. How will we know if the law is working well at creating real accessibility?

It can be helpful for the Government to have to report each year on what specifically it will do in the next years to implement the federal accessibility law, and to remove and prevent accessibility barriers. The Auditor General should audit these reports, to make sure that what the Government announces as promised new action is not action it has earlier completed or promised.

The new Canada Accessibility Commissioner should report to the public annually on what progress has been made, and where more progress is needed.

The Federal Government should appoint an independent person to report four years after the law is passed and after that, every three years. They would report on how effectively the new federal accessibility law is implemented and enforced, and on whether Canada is on schedule for full accessibility by the law’s deadline.

The Independent Review should consult with Canadians including people with disabilities. Both Ontario and Manitoba accessibility laws require such Independent Reviews. These Independent Reviews have been important in Ontario, pointing out where there has been progress and where things fall short. Manitoba’s first review begins in 2017.

15. Links to More Background Information

For more background on the efforts of Barrier-Free Canada, visit www.barrierfreecanada.org

For more on the Federal Government’s work on the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act, including the schedule for the Federal Government’s public forums and its Discussion Guide, visit www.Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada

To download in an accessible MS Word document the Discussion Paper on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act could include, by Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/august-19-2016-discussion-paper-on-a-Canadians-with-Disabilities-Act-by-David-Lepofsky.docx.

The Barrier-Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières September 2016 newsletter

Table of contents

  1. Recent Breaking Events in the Campaign for a Strong, Effectively Enforced Canadians with Disabilities Act
  2. Some Reflections on These Recent Events
  3. The Toronto Star August 28, 2016 article
  4. Canadians with disabilities: By the numbers
  5. Government of Canada’s August 23, 2016 Announcement of Public Consultation Forums Across Ontario
  6. See who presently supports Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières
  7. How to Contact Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières

Recent Breaking Events in the Campaign for a Strong, Effectively Enforced Canadians with Disabilities Act

Right on the heels of our August 2016 Barrier-Free Canada Newsletter, we bring you this September Newsletter, because of late-breaking developments.

The Federal Government has now announced the dates for the public forums it will host over the fall and winter to gather input from the public on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act should include. We set out the announcement below. The dates and locations are as follows, which we re-organized into their chronological order:

  • Whitehorse, Yukon / September 22, 2016.
  • Iqaluit, Nunavut / September 24, 2016
  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories / September 26, 2016
  • Regina, Saskatchewan / September 28, 2016
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba / October 3, 2016
  • Edmonton, Alberta / October 7, 2016
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario / October 12, 2016
  • Calgary, Alberta / October 13, 2016
  • Moncton, New Brunswick / October 20, 2016
  • St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador / November 3, 2016
  • Québec, Quebec / November 10, 2016
  • Victoria, British Columbia / November 7, 2016
  • Montréal, Quebec / November 16, 2016
  • Vancouver, British Columbia / November 26, 2016
  • Ottawa, Ontario / November 30, 2016
  • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island / December 8, 2016
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia / December 9, 2016
  • Toronto, Ontario / February 8, 2017

The date for the Thunder Bay Ontario forum, October 12, 2016, is also Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. We have brought this to the Federal Government’s attention in order that an alternate date can be found. These forums should not be held on the major holidays of any faith community.

The Federal Government has also announced that on November 1, 2016 it will hold a National Youth Forum on accessibility to get input on this legislation. We encourage anyone who is eligible and interested to apply to the Federal Government to take part in this event by the September 15, 2016 2016 deadline.

Barrier-Free Canada is hard at work preparing an Action Kit for you. It will give tips and ideas for anyone interested in taking part in these public forums. Please stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you want to read a detailed discussion of what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act should include, read you should take a look at the revised Discussion Paper on this topic which Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky has written. You can download the revised Discussion Paper on the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/august-19-2016-discussion-paper-on-a-Canadians-with-Disabilities-Act-by-David-Lepofsky.docx or by sending an email to us at info@barrierfreecanada.org

We continue to welcome your ideas and feedback on what you would like to see this legislation include.

Below we also set out an excellent article in the August 28, 2016 edition of the Toronto Star on the Federal Government’s recent announcement of its Canadians with Disabilities Act consultation. In that article, the Toronto Star quotes Barrier-Free Canada as responding positively to this announcement.

We also set out the speaking notes for the speech that National Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough at her August 23, 2016 media event at the Abilities Centre in Whitby, which had Barrier-Free Canada representation among the large audience in attendance.


Some Reflections on These Recent Events

This is an exciting time in Canada for anyone concerned about making Canada an accessible place for people with disabilities. We commend the Federal Government for planning a nationwide public consultation on the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act. We commend Minister Qualtrough for demonstrating so much energy and enthusiasm in connection with this legislation.

It was especially encouraging that in her speech at the Abilities Centre on August 23, 2016, Minister Qualtrough commendably recognized the core reason why Canada needs a strong, effectively enforced Canadians with Disabilities Act. She said:

“The current system unfairly burdens individual Canadians to identify a barrier or instances of discrimination which are then brought forward for examination and resolution. Needless to say—this vigilance is exhausting, prohibitively expensive, and I know you agree with me that it is fundamentally wrong.”

It is great that the new minister is thinking about big, bold action, and not mere tinkering. At the same time, it is important for us to offer reflections on two points that arose from these events. First, the Federal Government has at several points said that the goal of this legislation is to “improve accessibility”. It is important for us to tell the Federal Government during the upcoming public consultation process that this is too weak a goal. The goal should be to make Canada accessible to people with disabilities. If one single ramp is installed somewhere in Canada, we have “improved” accessibility.

Second, in the Toronto Star’s August 28, 2016 article, set out below, Minister Qualtrough is quoted as considering the possibility of establishing one uniform legal definition for “disability” to be used across the Federal Government. The article states:

“One of Qualtrough’s main goals is to develop a common definition for disability that would apply to all federal laws and regulations and eventually be adopted by the provinces.

“Let’s try and harmonize our approach to disability across the federal government. That would be huge for Canadians.””

This is the first we had heard of this idea from the Federal Government. Harmonizing programs across Canada has some real advantages for people with disabilities. However, the idea of creating a single definition of “disability” for all legislation and all programs, federal or provincial, has very serious problems and should not be pursued.

There is no one “right” all-purpose definition of “disability” for all laws and all Government programs across Canada. The definition of “disability” needs to vary, depending on the law or program where it is used.

For example, a broad definition of “disability” is desirable in a human rights code, or in an accessibility law like the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or the Accessibility for Manitobans Act. A serious problem with the Americans with Disabilities Act that we have striven to avoid in Canada has been the use of a “disability” definition that was too narrow.

On the other hand, it is desirable to use a narrower definition of “disability” in an employment equity law or program. If a very broad definition of “disability” were used in an employment equity law, then employers could argue that they have already met any targets to be expected of them, for hiring people with disabilities, because they have employees who wear glasses or who are colour blind. By that approach, people with more substantial disabilities, who face huge unemployment rates, may end up still being left out in the cold.

A leading book on this issue is “Physical Disability and Social Policy” by Jerome Bickenbach, University of Toronto Press 1993.

Therefore, the Minister’s commendable desire to harmonize programs and laws on disability should be pursued, but not by trying to come up with a “one size fits all” definition of “disability”. That can only work to the disadvantage of people with disabilities. In saying this, we don’t want to discourage the minister from a desire to go bold in her efforts.


The Toronto Star August 28, 2016 article

News

Blind MP to draft national accessibility law; Human rights lawyer and Paralympian seeks input in crafting new legislation

Graphic: Carla Qualtrough, minister responsible for Canadians with disabilities, meets with Catherine Partlow, a gold medal Special Olympian. Andrew Lahodynskyj/Toronto Star

Carla Qualtrough, who is legally blind, grew up learning alternative ways of doing almost everything.

“When I was growing up, it was called accommodation. But today it’s called innovation,” said Qualtrough, 44, Canada’s federal minister of sport and first-ever minister responsible for people with disabilities.

The human rights lawyer and former Paralympics and world championship swimming medallist is helping Canadians think about disability in a new way as she crafts the country’s first national accessibility legislation.

Under the current legal framework, people with disabilities can only defend their rights once they have been ignored, a process the minister called “exhausting, expensive and unfairly burdensome.”

“When systems and spaces are accessible, every Canadian wins. Barriers are bad for business,” Qualtrough told a gathering last week at Whitby’s Abilities Centre, where she announced a series of national round-tables and town hall meetings this fall.

The government has received more than 700 submissions since online consultations on the new law began in July.

Canadians have until February 2017 to give their views.

Qualtrough will report on the consultations next spring and said she hopes to have legislation ready to introduce in the Commons by the end of 2017 or early 2018.

The MP from Delta, B.C., said she was thrilled when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave her the double-barrelled portfolio – encompassing her two life passions – and told her to “go out and change the world.”

“No pressure,” she quipped. “The creation of this cabinet position makes it very clear that people with disabilities are important to our government and that we deserve to be considered in every decision around the cabinet table.”

Just as Ginger Rogers once noted how she had to perform the same artistic feats as her dance partner, Fred Astaire – but backwards and in high heels – people with disabilities are masters of innovation, Qualtrough said.

“Imagine the creativity that persons with disabilities must employ every day to navigate buildings, products and services that were not designed with their needs in mind,” she said.

“Development of creative products, ways of doing things and – ultimately – a different way of looking at the world” are key to Canada’s quest for accessibility, she added.

Qualtrough, who has worked in human rights at both the federal and provincial levels and served as staff for several Liberal cabinet ministers on Parliament Hill between 1999 and 2005, knows her way around Ottawa.

But the busy mother of four, including two teenage stepchildren and her own 6- and 3-year-old kids, admits she hesitated when asked to run for office a year and a half ago.

She’s glad she took the plunge.

“It’s a very interesting time in the evolution of disability rights,” she said.

For the government to create a cabinet position and to give it to someone with a disability, “it’s a big deal.”

Toronto lawyer David Lepofsky, co-chair of Barrier-Free Canada, which called for a national law during last year’s election, is also excited about Qualtrough’s appointment and her mandate.

“It’s great that the federal government is going to do a national consultation on this to hear from people,” said Lepofsky, who is also blind.

Canada is late to the table when it comes to accessibility legislation. The United States has had the Americans with Disabilities Act since 1990. The landmark Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was introduced in 2005, with a goal of making the province fully accessible by 2025.

Ontario’s experience will help guide the federal law, Qualtrough said. But she will also be looking at how other provinces and countries legislate accessibility and learn from their successes and shortcomings.

One of Qualtrough’s main goals is to develop a common definition for disability that would apply to all federal laws and regulations and eventually be adopted by the provinces.

“Let’s try and harmonize our approach to disability across the federal government. That would be huge for Canadians.”

Qualtrough expects public consultations, the country’s first national conversation about accessibility, will provide valuable input for Ottawa’s legislation and other federal programs such as the Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit, the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan.

It may even show provincial and municipal governments where they are coming up short.

“We know we are going to hear way more than what is going to be covered by the law. And that is intentional,” she said.

Laurie Monsebraaten Toronto Star


Canadians with disabilities: By the numbers

14 Percentage of Canadians aged 15 and older with a disability that limits their daily activities.

411,600 People aged 15 to 64 not employed, whose disability does not prevent them from working.

127,700 Unemployed people with disabilities who have post-secondary educations.

50 Percentage of Canadian human rights complaints related to disabilities between 2011 and 2015.

6 Percentage of Canadian human rights complaints related to inaccessible services.

2.1 million Canadians 15 or older at risk of facing physical or communication barriers.

$15 million Annual budget of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund, which helps improve accessibility in communities and workplaces.

$4 million Increase in annual federal accessibility fund by 2018.


Government of Canada’s August 23, 2016 Announcement of Public Consultation Forums Across Ontario

Originally posted at: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1115409&tp=1

How accessibility is driving innovation in Canada

In-person consultations to inform the development of planned accessibility legislation announced

August 23, 2016
Whitby, Ontario
Employment and Social Development Canada

Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, visited the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ontario, and hosted a panel with three young Canadian innovators to discuss how accessibility drives innovation. The Minister toured the centre, noting the accessibility measures in place there, which serve as an example for other communities across Canada. Minister Qualtrough also announced the schedule of the in-person consultations organized to inform planned accessibility legislation.

Minister Qualtrough participated in a dynamic discussion with the three young Canadian innovators:

  • Maayan Ziv, the creator of an online platform that uses crowdsourcing to pinpoint the accessibility status of locations on an interactive map;
  • Micah Rakoff Bellman, the designer of Lift, a height-adjustable and movable table with integrated storage that provides home cooks a comfortable and flexible work surface in the kitchen; and
  • Quayce Thomas, an architecture student who has developed Timsle, a Fitbit-type app that promotes healthy, active living using social networks.

Many more thought-provoking discussions such as these will happen in the next few months, as the Minister travels across the country to engage and consult with Canadians about what an Accessible Canada could look like. In-person public sessions will be held in 18 cities from September to December. Canadians are encouraged to visit Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada to find an in-person consultation session in their area. These sessions will provide all Canadians with an opportunity to share their ideas on how to improve accessibility and inclusion across Canada.

Canadians can also participate in the consultation exercise online at Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada, and can follow @AccessibleGC and the hashtag #AccessibleCanada on Twitter and Accessible Canada on Facebook. The consultation process will run until February 2017.

Minister Qualtrough also encouraged young people from across Canada to apply to participate in the National Youth Forum on Accessibility, which will take place on November 1st. This event will provide Canadian youth who have experience and expertise in disabilities and accessibility with an opportunity to engage in the policy discussion. More information is available at Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada.

Quotes

Today we are taking another exciting step in our discussion on accessibility. Increasing accessibility is not only the right thing to do, but it also has social and economic benefits for all Canadians. Canada is well positioned to become a global leader in innovative service delivery, technology and universal design. Together, we will reshape the landscape for Canadians with disabilities.”

– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Further Information

News Release: What does an accessible Canada mean to you?

Planned Accessibility Legislation

#AccessibleCanada

Contacts

Ashley Michnowski
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
819-934-1122 / TTY: 1-866-702-6967

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
Follow us on Twitter                   
Follow us on Facebook

Backgrounder

Abilities Centre

The Abilities Centre is an internationally renowned, innovative community hub where people of all ages and abilities enrich their lives by engaging in social, health and cultural programs. The centre delivers sports, health and fitness, arts and culture, leading-edge research, education and life skills programming in a welcoming, positive, energetic environment. The Abilities Centre is a not-for-profit corporation and a registered charity operating in Whitby, Ontario. The centre is a 2016 winner of the Ontario David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility.

Consultation to inform the development of accessibility legislation

Minister Qualtrough, Canada’s first Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, was mandated by the Prime Minister to lead an engagement process with stakeholders—including Canadians with disabilities, provinces, territories and municipalities—that would inform planned legislation to transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility.

The consultation process is now open, until February 2017.

Starting in September, Canadians across Canada will be able to participate in the in-person consultation engagement process. In-person public consultations are planned to take place in the following cities:

  • St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador / November 3, 2016
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia / December 9, 2016
  • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island / December 8, 2016
  • Moncton, New Brunswick / October 20, 2016
  • Québec, Quebec / November 10, 2016
  • Montréal, Quebec / November 16, 2016
  • Ottawa, Ontario / November 30, 2016
  • Toronto, Ontario / February 8, 2017
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario / October 12, 2016
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba / October 3, 2016
  • Regina, Saskatchewan / September 28, 2016
  • Calgary, Alberta / October 13, 2016
  • Edmonton, Alberta / October 7, 2016
  • Vancouver, British Columbia / November 26, 2016
  • Victoria, British Columbia / November 7, 2016
  • Iqaluit, Nunavut / September 24, 2016
  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories / September 26, 2016
  • Whitehorse, Yukon / September 22, 2016.

For the most up-to-date information on in-person venues and dates, and to participate online, please visit Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada.

Minister Qualtrough will also participate in roundtable discussions, as well as a National Youth Forum that will engage Canadian youth with disabilities in the policy discussion.

National Youth Forum

Minister Qualtrough, as part of her mandate to consult with Canadians on the development of new accessibility legislation, will host a one-day National Youth Forum in Ottawa on November 1st 2016. The Forum will provide an opportunity for Canadian youth with disabilities to discuss what accessibility means to them, share ideas for the new legislation, connect with peers and celebrate youth leadership in building a more accessible Canada.

Applicants must:

  • be between 15 and 30 years old in November, 2016;
  • be residents of Canada;
  • have a disability or have life, academic or work experience related to disability and accessibility; and
  • demonstrate their leadership or involvement in an area related to disability and accessibility in their community, region or nationally.

The deadline to submit an application is September 15, 2016. Successful applicants will be contacted by The Office for Disability Issues in the fall.

For more information about how to submit an application to participate in the National Youth Forum please visit: Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada.

Innovator Bios

Maayan Ziv – Founder and CEO of AccessNow

Mayaan has a passion for creating a more accessible world for people who use a wheelchair. Mayaan created the AccessNow mobile app, which uses crowd sourcing to collect and share accessibility information all around the world.

Micah Rakoff Bellman – Winner of the 2016 annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) 

Micah is a student at Carleton University’s Industrial Design program. Micah has developed an invention called Lift, which is a height-adjustable, movable table which integrates storage that provides home cooks with a comfortable and flexible surface in the kitchen. The device strives to give more freedom to older individuals and people with disabilities.

Quayce Thomas, Winner of the 2015 annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA)

Quayce is an entrepreneur and architecture student at Carleton University, has seen his app taking the top prize in the IDeA competition in 2015. Timsle is an app that promotes healthy active living by checking in to make sure users are meeting the goals they’ve shared with their social network. This “accountability network” helps meeting academic or other goals and preventing depression.


Speaking Notes for Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough’s August 23, 2016 Speech at the Abilities Centre, Whitby Ontario

Speaking Notes

for the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities,

How Accessibility is Driving Innovation: Launch of in-person Accessibility Consultations

at Abilities Centre

August 23, 2016, Whitby, Ontario

Check against delivery

2016 PASRB 006822

Hello everyone. It’s my pleasure to be here with you at Whitby’s state-of-the-art Abilities Centre. What a wonderful facility! Wouldn’t it be great if we had centres like this in communities across Canada?

This space and this community are true example of what we can do when we start from a place of inclusion and keep opportunity in mind.

I was deeply honoured to be named the first federal Minister dedicated to persons with disabilities.

The creation of this cabinet position makes it very clear that people with disabilities are important to our government and that we deserve to be considered in every decision around the Cabinet table.

We must consider the needs of Canadians with disabilities in every aspect of society. We need to create services—workplaces—transit systems and communities that consider accessibility from the outset.

We want to move from a model where accessibility is the exception and accommodations come after we discover barriers to one in which we incorporate accessibility—in every sense of the word – into everything we build and use.

This shift – both monumental and simple at once – is a game changer.

To start—we need a legal framework that protects and promotes accessibility.

Right now—within our current legal framework, people with disabilities can only defend their rights after they’ve been violated.

The current system unfairly burdens individual Canadians to identify a barrier or instances of discrimination which are then brought forward for examination and resolution. Needless to say—this vigilance is exhausting, prohibitively expensive, and I know you agree with me that it is fundamentally wrong.

That’s exactly why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked me to lead a process on planned accessibility legislation.

In order to create relevant and robust legislation—I need to get input from Canadians like you. I appreciate you taking time to be here – to help us get this right.

In a few minutes, I look forward to speaking with several outstanding “Accessibility Innovators” about their take on what an accessible Canada means. These young Canadians are demonstrating how accessibility can drive innovation, and create a new way of doing things. Better ways of creating and thinking about accessibility. I have said this before and expect you will hear it from our Accessibility Innovators as well – when systems and spaces are accessible, every Canadian wins. Barriers are bad for business.

When asked about Fred Astaire’s dance ability, Ginger Rogers once responded that she had to do everything that he did, but backwards and in heels. Imagine the creativity that persons with disabilities must employ every day to navigate buildings, products and services that were not designed with their needs in mind. Development of creative products, ways of doing things and – ultimately – a different way of looking at the world. These young innovators have done exactly that: tackled barriers that could otherwise impede people with disabilities from easily and seamlessly participating in their communities.

Their work takes innovation, drive, determination and yes, creativity. In fact, I find their work tremendously inspirational.

I am honoured be share a bit about them with you.

Maayan Ziv is founder and CEO of AccessNow, an on-line platform that uses crowdsourcing to pin-point the accessibility status of locations on an interactive map. Living with muscular dystrophy, Maayan is motivated to create a more accessible world.

Micah Rakoff Bellmana student of Carleton’s Industrial Design program, has seen his invention called Lift taking the top prize in this year’s IDeA competition through which Ontario’s university undergraduate students compete to come up with inventions that help remove barriers for people with disabilities. His innovation is a height-adjustable, movable table with integrated storage that provides home cooks a comfortable and flexible work surface in the kitchen. The height adjustability allows Lift to be used as a counter at a suitable height for users of any level of ability. This device strives to give more freedom to older individuals and people with disabilities in the kitchen.

Quayce Thomas, an entrepreneur and architecture student at Carleton University, saw his app take the top prize in the IDeA competition in 2015. Timsle is an app that promotes healthy active living using social networks. This “accountability network” helps people with disabilities to meet academic or other goals and prevent depression.

I can’t wait to hear what these inspiring young people have to say.

Cette discussion sur l’accessibilité est tellement importante et comme tous les voyages – elle pourrait nous entraîner sur une foule d’avenues. L’accessibilité veut-elle dire rendre les immeubles accessibles? Ou s’assurer que les programmes et services sont réellement accessibles pour tous les Canadiens? Ou encore veut-elle dire éliminer les obstacles à l’emploi pour les Canadiens handicapés?

J’ai quelques idées sur ce qu’elle signifie pour moi.

Premièrement – l’accessibilité veut dire donner des choix aux gens.

Lorsque les Canadiens s’impliquent dans leur collectivité ou dans leur milieu de travail ou communiquent avec leur gouvernement – ces interactions devraient être conçues pour tenir compte des besoins de tout le monde. Les obstacles à l’accessibilité limitent le choix : « Je ne peux pas… », « Elle n’est pas en mesure de… », « Ce serait bien s’il pouvait… »

Je crois que les Canadiens ne devraient pas avoir à surmonter des obstacles pour faire partie d’un monde que la société considère comme la normalité. Tout le monde devrait se sentir membre à part entière de la société et avoir des options pour participer de façon égale. Si je veux conduire un autobus – entrer dans un immeuble par la porte avant – ou consulter un site Web – c’est mon choix. Et je veux avoir la possibilité de le faire.

Deuxièmement – l’accessibilité veut dire éliminer les préjugés au sujet de l’incapacité – notamment pour les Canadiens ayant une incapacité qui n’est pas apparente pour tout le monde. Nous devons nous concentrer sur le potentiel et la contribution des gens – pas sur leurs limites. Changer les perceptions est une dure bataille – mais je sais que nous pouvons relever le défi.

And lastly—I want all Canadians to see accessibility and inclusion as the keys to productivity. Accessibility is good for business. Barriers are bad for business. That might be a good hashtag?

Canadians with disabilities are an untapped resource who can offer so much to our communities and our economy. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Canadians with disabilities and helping to create environments where they can be independent and participate equally in their communities and workplaces. Removing barriers and creating opportunities for a more active and prosperous society is good for our collective health and for our economy.

When I was growing up—my world was not as accessible as it is now.

I can tell you that I learned some of the most important lessons in my life by considering my choices. I learned that I had a right to be accommodated. I learned that asking for help was not a weakness—in fact it was a strength.

And I learned that there was always another way of doing things if you couldn’t do something the way that it had always been done. Today we call this innovation.

Who better to inspire innovation than people who innovate every day of their lives?

Designing the physical environment, programs, products and services in a way that accommodates people with varying needs can only lead to bigger and better ideas.

That’s what I think about accessibility. But that’s just one small voice—I want to hear from our innovators here today, I want to hear from all of you—and from all Canadians.

As many of you already know—in July we launched our online consultation at Canada.ca/ AccessibleCanada. To date—we have received close to 700 responses, ranging from stakeholder organizations, employers, families and people with disabilities themselves. And the rate of participation continues to grow.

Les Canadiens ont hâte de raconter leur histoire et nous avons hâte de les entendre.

Aujourd’hui, nous franchissons un autre grand pas dans notre discussion sur l’accessibilité.

Augmenter l’accessibilité est non seulement la bonne chose à faire – mais cela présente aussi des avantages sociaux et économiques pour tous les Canadiens.

Le Canada est en bonne voie de devenir un chef de file mondial en matière d’innovation dans la prestation de services – la technologie et la conception universelle. Ensemble – nous transformerons la réalité des Canadiens handicapés.

And today I’m here to celebrate the launch of our in-person consultations on accessibility legislation.

These consultations will be starting soon in cities across the country and continue throughout the fall. And I am looking forward to hearing from all Canadians.

On November 1st — I’ll also be hosting a one-day national forum for young Canadians with disabilities and those involved with disability and accessibility issues. This will give young people a chance to share their ideas on accessibility—to showcase their accomplishments—and to inspire other youth.

The bottom line is our government is eager to get your input. So I’m asking you and all Canadians to join the conversation.

You can participate online or find a session near you at Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada.

We need your ideas, your insight and your advice.

Together we will reshape the legislative landscape for Canadians with disabilities.

Together we will make history!

-30-


See who presently supports Barrier-Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières

You can join this illustrious group by visiting www.barrierfreecanada.org.

Our five initial 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.

  • 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

How to Contact Barrier-Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières

We always like to hear from you. To contact us, please send an email to info@barrierfreecanada.org.

To keep abreast of our updates visit
http://www.barrierfreecanada.org/category/general

Visit us at www.barrierfreecanada.org

Follow us on Twitter @barrierfreeca

And like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/barrierfreeca

Donna Jodhan and David Lepofsky, Co-Chairs of Barrier-Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières