The Barrier Free Canada July 2015 newsletter

Table of contents

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

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

Summary for July

The month of July saw a marked increase of individuals signing up as supporters and we welcomed four new organizations to our family and on July 29 we received a very tremendous boost from Rick Hansen and his Foundation. The news release is pasted below.

Man in Motion Rick Hansen urges Canada to enact federal disabilities act

Rick Hansen says accessibility and inclusion are human rights deserved by all Canadians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The CDA would require Canada to be made fully accessible to all persons with disabilities through the removal of existing barriers and the prevention of the creation of new barriers, within the time frames to be set out in the legislation. It would require the Government of Canada to lead Canada to full accessibility; to the extent that federal jurisdiction empowers it.

Enacting a CDA is not meant to replace provincial disability accessibility or human rights legislation, such as existing accessibility laws in Ontario and Manitoba. It is meant to complement existing regional laws and benefit Canadians living in provinces with and without provincial disability legislation.

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

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

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

A further article was also written as a follow up to Rick Hansen’s press release in The Richmond News July 31, 2015 and is also posted to our website.

You can access these two posts directly by visiting the Barrier Free Canada news page.

In addition to our five founding organizations we now have 12 supporting organizations. Letters from all of the supporting organizations are now posted to our website.

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

  • April 02
    Irene Lambert
    (Past president, program director)
    The Low Vision Self-Help Association
    West Island, Montreal Quebec
  • June 01
    Kim White, Manager of Strategic Initiatives
    On behalf of Kelly White, Executive Director
    The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – NL
  • June 12
    Louise Gillis
    National President, Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)
  • June 15
    Dar Wournell
    National President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)
  • June 16
    Shane Holten
    President, SPH Planning & Consulting Limited
  • June 22
    Lucio D’Intino
    President, Quebec Federation of the blind
  • June 26
    Barbara Collier Reg. CASLPO. F. ISAAC
    Executive Director, Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)
  • July 14
    Karen Bell
    Manager Policy & Stakeholder Relations
    Community Living Toronto
  • July 21
    Roxanna Spruyt Rocks
    Chief Executive Officer
    Deaf Blind Ontario Services
  • July 29
    The Rick Hansen Foundation
  • July 31
    Jerry Dias Unifor National President

We continued to work hard to increase our presence on Facebook and on Twitter and our efforts are starting to pay off as more visitors are coming to us on Facebook and the number of our followers on Twitter are steadily climbing. For the month of July the number of persons signing up as supporters increased markedly. We thank everyone for their support and ask that you continue to help us by spreading the word.


Next steps

From now until Elections Day, we will be doubling our efforts to garner support from as many organizations and individuals as possible and for the month of September we will be working to make ourselves known in the media.

We have already started to attract some international attention as some time in August we are going to be interviewed by the Royal National Institution of the Blind’s radio station. The RNIB radio station is a UK based entity.

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 the 150th anniversary of birthday in 2017?


How you can support us

You can support us in several ways.

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

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

If you represent an organization and you wish to register your organization’s support, you can send an email to us at info@barrierfreecanada.org and we will be delighted to acknowledge your support 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 our list of letters from other supporting organizations.

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


Contact info

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

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 committee)
Leo Bissonnette; admin support

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