ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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Barrier-Free Canada’s January 2016 Newsletter Fills You in on Progress to Date in the Campaign for the Promised Canadians with Disabilities Act and Offers Tips on How You Can Help

January 21, 2016

SUMMARY

Below we set out the January 2016 Barrier-Free Canada Newsletter. The AODA Alliance is proud to be the Ontario affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada, and to help with the campaign to win a strong, effective and effectively enforced Canadians with Disabilities Act.  We encourage you to read this Newsletter, circulate it, and use the great action tips that it offers.

Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barrière
www.barrierfreecanada.org
info@barrierfreecanada.org
A Non-Partisan Campaign for a Barrier-Free Canada for All Persons with Disabilities

January 2016 Newsletter

1. Introduction

Why does Canada need a strong, effective and effectively enforced Canadians with Disabilities Act? Because it’s 2016!

We are poised and ready for a new year of action on the Canadians with Disabilities Act. Canada now has a federal government that has promised a Canadians with Disabilities Act, its first Disabilities Minister, and a clear Mandate Letter from the Prime Minister to the Disabilities Minister that set out leading the development of the Canadians with Disabilities Act as her first priority.

Despite our advocacy efforts, the Trudeau Government did not include any reference to the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act in its first throne Speech on December 4, 2015. However we do not consider this a major setback. That Throne speech was unusually brief. It is still open to the Trudeau Government to announce that the Canadians with Disabilities Act is an early priority, even if it was not mentioned in last month’s throne speech.    

To bring you right up to date, in this Newsletter you will find news about:

* Barrier-Free Canada’s proposals to the new Trudeau Government on how to conduct its consultations leading to the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act.

* the great motion that the Toronto City Council passed last fall, supporting Barrier-Free Canada’s call for Parliament to pass the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

* news on how the grassroots movement, supporting passage of the Canadians with Disabilities Act, is quickly growing.

* action tips on what you can do to help our efforts.

* sad news about the untimely death of one of Barrier-Free Canada’s founding members, Robert Pearson, and

* a handy time line of key events so far on the road to the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

2. Barrier-Free Canada Sends Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtro Recommendations on How to Most Effectively Consult on the Promised Canadians with Disabilities Act

On January 12, 2016, Barrier-Free Canada wrote the new federal Minister responsible for People with Disabilities, Carla Qualtro. We set that letter out below. In our letter, we congratulated her on her appointment to this ground-braking new ministerial position, and on Prime Minister Trudeau’s appointing her to lead the development of the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act.

Our letter also gave Minister Qualtro a series of detailed recommendations on how to conduct her consultations as she develops the Canadians with Disabilities Act. These recommendations are designed to ensure that her consultations are open, accessible, inclusive and prompt. They build on past grassroots experience at the provincial level with public consultations on accessibility legislation.  

3. Toronto City council Shows Great Leadership by Passing a Resolution Supporting Barrier-Free Canada’s call for Parliament to Pass the Canadians with Disabilities Act

Amidst the flurry of activity during last fall’s federal election, an important event took place that could get lost in the shuffle.

 On October 1, 2015, the Toronto City Council passed a resolution that supports Barrier-Free Canada’s call for Parliament to pass the Canadians with Disabilities Act. We set out below the original motion.

We applaud the city council members who brought this motion forward on their own initiative. We were delighted to learn that they had taken this fantastic initiative.

From 1995to 2003, as the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee (predecessor of the current Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance) campaigned for passage of Ontario’s accessibility legislation, disability advocates got an impressive number of city councils around Ontario to pass resolutions. Those resolutions called on the Ontario Legislature to pass a new disabilities Act. It really helped the campaign for Ontairo’s accessibility legislation. Similarly, Toronto’s resolution on the Canadians with Disabilities Act is a great strategy for us to use now, to help build support across Canada for national accessibility legislation.

4. the Grassroots Movement supporting the Canadians with Disabilities Act Keeps Growing!

We are delighted that the grassroots movement supporting the Canadians with Disabilities Act keeps growing at quite a fast pace!

During the 2015 federal election, an impressive number of major national disability organizations united with Barrier-Free Canada to issue a joint news release. It called for all-party support for the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

While all of these organizations are of course key to this campaign, we especially acknowledge the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. It has played a pivotal role for many years, advocating on disability issues at the national level.

In addition, Barrier-Free Canada now Has these official Affiliate Organizations in three provinces:

* In Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance leads the campaign for effective enforcement and implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005.

* In Manitoba, Barrier-Free Manitoba led the campaign for the enactment of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act 2013, and now leads the campaign to get it effectively implemented.  

* In British Columbia, the brand-new Barrier-Free BC leads the campaign to get the BC Legislature to enact the British Columbians with Disabilities Act.

We are thrilled to have all these boots and wheels on the ground to help our campaign in these three provinces. They reflect over half of the entire population in Canada.

If you are interested in pulling together an affiliate organization in any other of Canada’s province, just let us know. contact us at the email address at the top of this Newsletter.  

5. Action Tips – How You can Help

Even before Minister Qualtro announces her plans for public consultations on the Canadians with Disabilities Act, you can help our cause. Here are some action tips. All are easy to use:

* Contact Minister Qualtro and your own Member of Parliament. Tell them you support Barrier-Free Canada’s January 12, 2016 letter to Disabilities Minister Qualtro, and our recommendations on how the Trudeau Government should conduct its consultations leading to the enactment of the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act. If you are part of a community organization, get your organization to write Minister Qualtro to endorse our January 12, 2016 letter.
 
Snail mail letters to Members of Parliament do not require postage. You can send an email or snail mail to Minister Qualtro at the following address:    

Via Email:   Carla.Qualtrough@parl.gc.ca
Via Snail Mail: The Hon. Carla Qualtro
Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6

Of course, feel free to add your own suggestions on what Minister Qualtro can do to ensure that her consultations are open, accessible, inclusive and prompt.

* Urge your city or town council to pass a resolution supporting the call for Parliament to pass a strong, effective Canadians with Disabilities Act. If the Toronto City Council can do it, so can other municipal councils! You might wish to use the Toronto City council’s October 1, 2015 resolution, set out below.

* Do you have ideas on what the Canadians with Disabilities Act should include? Email them to us? We are working on a submission to present the Trudeau Government on this topic. We will circulate a draft of it to you for your feedback. Even before then, we’d welcome your ideas. They will help us prepare our draft submission. Email us at the email address at the top of this newsletter.

* Help spread the word about the Canadians with Disabilities Act issue. Encourage your family, friends and co-workers to sign up for Barrier-Free Canada newsletters. Just send a request to our email address, at the top of this newsletter.

* follow Barrier-Free Canada on Twitter @BarrierFreeCa and re-tweet our tweets. Twitter played a decisive role in our winning election pledges for the Canadians with Disabilities Act during the 2015 federal election.

* Tell your local media about the Trudeau Government’s promise to enact the Canadians with Disabilities Act. Highlight disability accessibility barriers that this law could fix. Get the media to contact Barrier-Free Canada for interviews on this often-overlooked issue.

6. In Memory

We honour with great sadness the memory of Robert Pearson, who recently died at age 39. He was a tireless advocate for accessibility for people with disabilities and a key force within AMI-TV.

Robert Pearson was one of the founders of Barrier-Free Canada, and a key member of our founding steering committee. Our continued efforts to win the enactment of a strong, effective and effectively-enforced Canadians with Disabilities Act are dedicated in memory of Robert Pearson. We will always be guided by his indomitable spirit and dedication to our cause.

7. The Road to the Canadians with Disabilities Act -- Timeline to Date

December 2001: The   Ontario Legislature passed the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001

May 2005: The Ontario Legislature passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005

2006: the Federal Conservative Party election platform includes:

“Introduce a National Disability Act to promote reasonable access to medical care, medical equipment, education, employment, transportation, and housing for Canadians with disabilities.”

February 6, 2007 Prime Minister Stephen Harper again promised to enact a national Disabilities Act. No legislation is enacted or introduced for debate in Parliament.

December 2013: the Manitoba Legislature enacted the Accessibility for Manitobans Act

Fall 2014: Barrier-Free Canada was established to advocate for a strong, effective and effectively-enforced Canadians with Disabilities Act. It sets out 14 principles for the Canadians with Disabilities Act. It drew on efforts in Ontario and Manitoba to win accessibility legislation in those provinces.

January 26, 2015: Barrier-Free Canada wrote major federal party leaders seeking commitments during the 2015 election campaign to support passage of a strong, effective Canadians with Disabilities Act. It asked that this legislation reflect 14 principles that Barrier-Free Canada formulated. These principles were based on the principles underlying the campaigns for the Ontario and Manitoba accessibility laws.  

July 29, 2015: The Rick Hansen Foundation issued a news release calling on all parties to support passage of the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

Summer 2015: the Green Party of Canada’s election platform committed to support passage of the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

August 11, 2015: The Globe and Mail published a powerful column by influential columnist andre Picard, supporting the call for the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

 August 20, 2015: The council of Canadians with Disabilities wrote the major federal parties, raising various disability issues, including a call for support for the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

August 24, 2015: Barrier-Free Canada made public an Election Action Kit to kick off its non-partisan campaign during the 2015 election to win support for the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

September 24, 2015: Barrier-Free Canada issued a news release announcing that an impressive number of major national disability organizations support the call for the Canadians with Disabilities Act.     

September 29, 2015: The federal New Democratic Party announced that it will support the enactment of the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

October 1, 2015: Toronto City Council passed a resolution supporting Barrier-Free Canada’s call for Parliament to enact the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

October 5, 2015: The federal Liberal Party announced that it will support the passage of the Canadians with Disabilities Act. Its announcement stated:

“To eliminate systemic barriers and deliver equality of opportunity to all Canadians living with disabilities, we will consult with provinces, territories, and other stakeholders to introduce a National Disabilities Act.”

October 19, 2015: The federal Liberal Party won a majority federal government. As between all the parties that supported the Canadians with Disabilities Act, the new Parliament will include a huge majority of MPs whose parties are on record support such legislation.

November 4, 2015: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Carla Qualtro Canada’s Minister for Sport and for People with Disabilities. This is the first time Canada has ever had a national minister responsible for people with disabilities. Minister Qualtro announced to the media her enthusiasm about the Government’s promise to enact the Canadians with Disabilities Act moments after she is sworn in as minister. The new cabinet includes two ministers who have visible disabilities, the Minister Responsible for People with Disabilities and the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs. This was part of the Government’s commitment to an inclusive cabinet representative of the diversity of the public.

November 5 and 6, 2015: During CBC and Global media interviews, Minister Qualtro   discussed her excitement about the Trudeau Government’s promise to enact the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

November 13, 2015: Prime Minister Trudeau made public the Mandate Letters he has sent to each federal cabinet minister, setting out their priorities. The Mandate Letter to Minister Qualtro listed first among her priorities, her leading the Government’s work on developing the Canadians with Disabilities Act. It stated:

“In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:
•           Lead an engagement process with provinces, territories, municipalities, and stakeholders that will lead to the passage of a Canadians with Disabilities Act. In this work, you will be supported by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.”

January 12, 2016: Barrier-Free Canada wrote Minister Qualtro a detailed letter, setting out detailed recommendations on how she should conduct her consultations leading to the development of the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

8. Text of Barrier-Free Canada’s January 12, 2016 Letter to Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtro

Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barrière
www.barrierfreecanada.org
info@barrierfreecanada.org
Toward a Barrier-Free Canada for all persons with disabilities

January 12, 2016

To: The Hon. Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6

Via email:   Carla.Qualtrough@parl.gc.ca

Dear Minister,

Re: Ensuring a Barrier-Free Canada by Enacting and Implementing a Strong and Effective Canadians with Disabilities Act

On behalf of Barrier-Free Canada, please accept our congratulations on your appointment as Canada’s first Minister Responsible for People with Disabilities, and for Prime Minister Trudeau’s assigning you with responsibility for leading the development and enactment of the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act.

Barrier-Free Canada is a non-partisan, national grassroots community coalition. We united to advocate for the enactment and implementation of a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act, to ensure that Canada becomes a barrier-free society for all people with disabilities. We played a leading role over the past year in advocating for all political parties to support such legislation, and in securing your Party’s 2015 election commitment to pass the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

We draw on the grassroots within Canada’s diverse disability community. We include, among others, people and community organizations who successfully campaigned for the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, those who successfully campaigned for the passage of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act 2013, and those who are now campaigning for the enactment of a British Columbians with Disabilities Act.

Your Government’s commitment to pass the Canadians with Disabilities Act, and Prime Minister Trudeau’s decision to appoint a minister responsible for people with disabilities, are ground-breaking. They set an excellent example that all provinces should follow. They spawned real optimism within Canada’s disability community. We are eager to assist your Government in the task of turning that optimism into concrete, bold action.

Barrier-Free Canada has developed 14 principles for the Canadians with Disabilities Act, to ensure that it is strong and effective. We set these out at the end of this letter. These principles are built on extensive experience with the development and implementation of accessibility legislation in Ontario and Manitoba. Beyond Ontario’s experience, they also closely parallel the principles that Barrier-Free BC has enunciated for the British Columbians with Disabilities Act for which that grassroots organization is advocating at the provincial level.

As a first step to assist you, the Government, and Parliament with the development of the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act, we here write to offer constructive suggestions on how your Government should consult the public on the development of this legislation. Our supporters have a great deal of experience with government consultations on accessibility legislation and regulations at all levels. We also have extensive experience with the design, operation and enforcement of such legislation. This is enriched by our international connections and contacts to inform us about experience elsewhere around the world.

In offering the ideas below, we recommend that your Government draw heavily on the excellent example set by the Ontario Government under Premier Dalton McGuinty between 2003 and 2005, when it was developing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. While there are serious concerns about the Ontario Government’s implementation and enforcement of that legislation in recent years, its consultations prior to that law’s enactment stand as a very good model for other governments to follow.

Before listing our recommendations for you, we first give you a brief summary of the Ontario experience with the creation of similar provincial legislation. As an important early step, on October 29, 1998, the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed a resolution that enshrined the 11 principles to govern Ontario’s forthcoming accessibility legislation. Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty promised that the accessibility law it would pass would fulfil those principles.

From the outset after taking office in 2003, the Ontario Government under Premier McGuinty embraced those 11 principles for that legislation. Barrier-Free Canada drew heavily on those 11 principles when designing our 14 principles for the Canadians with Disabilities Act, set out at the end of this letter.

The McGuinty Government promptly held open, accessible, advertised public consultation forums around Ontario to receive feedback from people with disabilities, people who don’t yet have a disability, businesses, and local public sector organizations. Those consultations focused on what the promised Ontario disability accessibility legislation should include. As the disability community had urged, they were open to all, and were not “invitation-only.”

To the McGuinty Government’s credit, all stakeholders were heard together, rather than being segregated in isolation from each other. In other words, disability sector speakers were together in the same room with speakers from the business sector and the broader public sector. The earlier Ontario Government under Premier Mike Harris had refused to bring stakeholders together. We found that having diverse perspectives voiced in the room together created a helpful dialogue, initiated far more progress toward common ground, and led to far more support for strong, mandatory, effectively-enforced legislation.

During the same period, the Ontario Government also commendably held candid policy roundtables. These included leadership from diverse stakeholders in the same room together, including business, disability and broader public sector representatives. At all these public forums and stakeholder roundtables, the Ontario Government commendably had a member or members of the Ontario Legislature present and presiding. It was extremely important that the public’s perspectives were shared directly with MPPs, and not just with public servants working under them.

It was very helpful that the Ontario Government made it clear from the outset that it intended its forthcoming Disabilities Act to be strong, effective, mandatory and effectively enforced. It would cover all disabilities, all barriers, and all sectors of the Ontario economy, both the public and private sectors. This made it clear to stakeholders from the outset of those consultations that the Ontario Government meant business. It intended its new law to be far more than window-dressing.

As the consultation process unfolded, the Ontario minister with lead responsibility for this legislation, Dr. Marie Bountrogianni, publicly shared some principles she was hearing back from her consultations, and which had made an impact on her and the Government. An important example of this occurred at a major conference on the forthcoming Ontario accessibility legislation at which she spoke in London Ontario in the 2004 fall. That conference was later seen publicly on cable TV, helping spread the word to the broader public.   

On October 12, 2004, when the Ontario Government introduced Bill 118, the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, for First Reading in the Legislature, it signaled that it treated this as important legacy legislation. It was the first bill introduced at that legislative sittings, speaking in the Legislature on First Reading were both Premier McGuinty and Minister Bountrogianni. We understand that typically a premier does not speak on First Reading when a bill is introduced.

The Ontario Government gave people with disabilities and the public ample notice of each legislative session when Bill 118 was to be debated, to make it easier to plan for accessible transportation to attend these sessions. The Ontario Government also provided added accessibility accommodations at the Legislature, to better enable people with disabilities to attend and watch those debates.

The McGuinty Government sent the bill to a Standing Committee for several days of public hearings. The public hearings were held around Ontario, to make it easier for Ontarians to participate in them. For the first time in Ontario history, those Standing Committee public hearings around Ontario were all televised. Prior to that, only legislative hearings held at Queen's Park in Toronto had ever been televised. At those hearings a wide range of presenters had the chance to express their views. This helped build support for this legislation.

Finally, during clause-by-clause debates, the Ontario Government commendably made several substantive amendments to the bill to strengthen it. As a result of these efforts, that bill passed in May 2005 on Third Reading, with the unanimous support of all parties and MPPs. It then secured a resounding standing ovation within the Legislature by all MPPs present.

Moments after this law was passed on Third Reading, a Queen's Park News Conference was held. There, the bill was applauded from the Government, disability and business perspectives. Such unity both on the legislative floor and at a news conference with such diverse perspectives present is not a common event.

To its credit, the Ontario Government completed the entire large project of developing this legislation from scratch, and getting it through the Ontario Legislature, all within 19 months of the McGuinty Government taking power for the first time. It achieved this while its cabinet was new at the task of handling the reins of power, and while there was no comparable experience anywhere in Canada with such comprehensive, mandatory, enforceable accessibility legislation.

Finally, to its credit, the Ontario Government was ready to let this legislation go into operation promptly, rather than delaying its start-up. It proclaimed the entire Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act fully in force on June 13, 2005, just four weeks after it passed Third Reading.

From all our experience, including the good example that Ontario set over a decade ago, we recommend the following to you and your Government:

1. We urge you and your Government to adopt Barrier-Free Canada’s 14 principles for the Canadians with Disabilities Act as a bedrock foundation for the Canadians with Disabilities Act. They are time-tested and proven effective within Canada. Nothing in them should be seen as controversial or unrealistic.

2. We recommend that your Government set as a goal getting the Canadians with Disabilities Act enacted and in force by Canada’s 150th birthday, July 1, 2017. The experience In Ontario shows that this is a realistic timetable, for a new minister and a new government that has just taken power.

Your Government has the huge advantage that the Ontario Government did not have between 2003 and 2005. You have access to all the experience accumulated since then, e.g. in Ontario and Manitoba. You have the reports of two Ontario Government-appointed AODA Independent Reviews. They explored the effectiveness of Ontario’s accessibility legislation, conducted in 2010 and 2014. These Reviews consulted a wide spectrum of stakeholders, and offered detailed findings and recommendations to the provincial Ontario Government. We would be delighted to help your Government plug into and benefit from all that experience. 

3. Before bringing a bill to Parliament, your Government should hold open, accessible, widely-advertised public forums around Canada. These should enable the public, including people with disabilities as well as people with no disabilities and other stakeholders to together share their experiences with accessibility barriers, and to offer proposals on what the Canadians with Disabilities Act should include. Just like those which the Ontario Government held in 2003-2005, these should be open to all, and not “invitation-only.” As well, your Government should hear from all sectors at once. You should not isolate people with disabilities in one session, and others like regulated industries in a separate venue.

4. Your Government should also hold stakeholder roundtables, that will enable sector spokespeople, leadership, and others to further explore detailed options for this legislation.

5. At both these public forums and stakeholder roundtables, it is important, as was the case a decade ago in Ontario, for MPs to preside and attend. This helps ensure that the perspectives at all reach MPs in a fulsome, unfiltered way. Also important, it will help you include MPs from across Canada as this legislation is developed. This will help build support for strong and effective legislation within your caucus, and indeed, across Parliament.

6. As early as possible, and again during the process, it will be very helpful if you can offer some reflections to the public, including stakeholders, on what you have heard, and on your thinking. It can be made clear to all that any such reflections are tentative and not finalized proclamations of immutable Government policy. This will help those participating in the process focus their input, and not simply repeat messages that you have already heard loud and clear.

7. In the Liberal Party of Canada’s October 5, 2015 announcement of its commitment to enact the Canadians with Disabilities Act, your Party stated:

"To eliminate systemic barriers and deliver equality of opportunity to all Canadians living with disabilities, we will consult with provinces, territories, and other stakeholders to introduce a National Disabilities Act."

It can be helpful to get input from provincial and territorial governments on this legislation. We recommend the following regarding your consultations with the provinces and territories:

a) We recommend that your Government promptly make public the feedback you receive from each provincial government.

b) In the case of Ontario, the Ontario Government’s experience in developing and implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act will of course be informative. However, it is important to be aware that, especially in recent years, the Ontario Government’s implementation and enforcement of its accessibility legislation has come under significant scrutiny and criticism. Two successive Government-appointed Independent Reviews of that legislation to which we referred earlier, each called on the Ontario Government to revitalize its flagging implementation of that law, breathe new life into it, and show new leadership on accessibility.

c) It will be important for your Government to remember that the key stakeholders in the case of the Canadians with Disabilities Act are people in Canada who now have a disability, and those who are likely to get a disability. They are the ones whose rights are at stake under laws like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canada Human Rights Act.

8. Once a bill is before Parliament, your Government should ensure that televised and accessible legislative public hearings are held on the bill, and available online, with appropriate accessibility supports. These hearings should be held around the country, and not just in Ottawa. This would build on the Ontario experience we described earlier in this letter.

To avoid unnecessary duplication, it would be worthwhile, if feasible, to hold joint legislative hearings with the Senate and House of Commons. This would save time. It would also help stakeholders, including those who have very limited resources within the disability community, so that they do not have to trek to public hearings twice on the same bill.

9. Beyond these formal avenues for public consultation, we urge you to take active personal part in the consultation process, and to be open to informal discussions with those who can be helpful on this topic.

In closing, we emphasize that action by your Government on other actions concerning people with disabilities should, of course, not be held off or delayed in any way pending the development and enactment of the Canadians with Disabilities Act. Strategies on fighting poverty simply cannot wait. Moreover, the Public service of Canada could take action much sooner to start ensuring that public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, e.g. via imposing accessibility conditions on capital and infrastructure spending, and procurement of goods and services that are fully accessible to people with disabilities.

We welcome the opportunity to do whatever we can to assist you with this important effort, and wish you every success in your new portfolio.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont, and
Donna Jodhan
Co-Chairs, Barrier-Free Canada

cc:        Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada via email justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

BARRIER-FREE CANADA’S PRINCIPLES FOR THE CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

1. The Canadians with Disabilities Act's purpose is to achieve a barrier-free Canada for persons with disabilities by a deadline that the Act will set, and that will be within as short a time as is reasonably possible, with implementation to begin immediately upon proclamation, to effectively ensure to all persons with disabilities in Canada the equal opportunity to fully and meaningfully participate in all aspects of life in Canada based on their individual merit.

2. The Canadians with Disabilities 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, and whether their disability is visible or invisible to others. It should apply to all accessibility barriers, for example physical, legal, bureaucratic, information, communication, attitudinal, technological, policy or other barriers. It should apply to the Parliament of Canada as well as to all federal government entities, federally-owned public premises and facilities, federally-regulated companies and organizations, recipients of federal grants, subsidies, loans or other funds, and any other persons or organizations to whom the Government of Canada can apply it. 

3. The Canadians with Disabilities Act's requirements should supersede all other legislation, regulations or policies which provide lesser protections and entitlements to persons with disabilities. The Act and regulations made under it should not take away any rights that Canadians with disabilities now enjoy;

4. The Canadians with Disabilities Act should require Canada, including organizations to whom it applies, 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 strict time frames to be prescribed in the legislation or regulations;

5. The Canadians with Disabilities Act should require providers of goods, services and facilities to whom the Act applies to ensure that their goods, services and facilities are fully usable by persons with disabilities, and that they are designed based on principles of universal design, to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities. Providers of these goods, services and facilities should be required to devise and implement detailed plans to remove existing barriers and to prevent new barriers within legislated timetables;

6. The Canadians with Disabilities Act should require organizations to whom it applies to take proactive steps to achieve barrier-free workplaces and employment within prescribed time limits. Among other things, those employers should be required to identify existing employment and workplace barriers which impede persons with disabilities, and then to devise and implement plans for the removal of these barriers, and for the prevention of new workplace and employment barriers;

7. The Canadians with Disabilities Act should require the Government of Canada to lead Canada to achieving the Act's goals. It should specify actions the Government of Canada must take to fulfil this mandate. Among other things, it should require the Government of Canada to provide education and other information resources to organizations, individuals and groups who need to comply with the Act. It should also require the Government of Canada to appoint an independent person to periodically review and publicly report on progress toward full accessibility, and to make recommendations on any actions needed to achieve the Act's goals;

8. The Canadians with Disabilities Act should provide for a prompt, independent and effective process for enforcement, and should require that the Act be effectively enforced. This should include, among other things, an effective avenue for persons with disabilities to raise with enforcement officials violations of the Act that they have encountered. It should not simply incorporate the existing procedures for filing discrimination complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission or under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as these are too slow and cumbersome, and can yield inadequate remedies;

9. As part of its requirement that the Government of Canada lead Canada to the goal of full accessibility for Canadians with disabilities, the Act should require the Government of Canada to make regulations needed to define with clarity the steps required for compliance with the Canadians with Disabilities Act. It should be open for such regulations to be made on an industry-by-industry or sector-by-sector basis. This should include a requirement that input be obtained from affected groups such as persons with disabilities and obligated organizations, before such regulations are enacted. It should also provide persons with disabilities with the opportunity to apply to have regulations made in specific sectors of the economy to which the Act can apply. The Act should require the Government of Canada to make all the accessibility standards regulations needed to ensure that its goals are achieved, and that these regulations be independently reviewed for sufficiency every four years after they were enacted;

10. The Canadians with Disabilities Act should require that the Government of Canada ensure that no public money is used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities. For example, all federal departments, agencies, and crown corporations should be required to make it a strict condition of funding any program, or any capital or other infrastructure project, or of any transfer payment, subsidy, loan, grant (such as research grants) or other payment of public funds, that no such funds may be used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities. They should also be required to make it a condition of any procurement of any services, goods or facilities, that these be designed to be fully accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. Any grant (including for example, research grant), loan, subsidy, contract or other such payment which does not so provide is void and unenforceable by the grant-recipient or contractor with the department, agency, or crown corporation in question. The Government of Canada should be required to monitor and enforce these requirements and to periodically report to the public on compliance.

11. The Canadians with Disabilities Act should require the Government of Canada to review all federal legislation and regulations to identify possible accessibility barriers that they may impose or permit, and to propose omnibus legislation within a specified time to address these barriers. It should require the Government of Canada to review all future proposed legislation and regulations, before they are enacted, to certify and ensure that they do not create, perpetuate or allow for accessibility barriers in them or in activity or programs operated under them. As an immediate priority under these activities, the Government of Canada should get input from voters with disabilities on accessibility barriers in election campaigns and the voting process, and should develop reforms to remove and prevent such barriers. 

12. The Canadians with Disabilities Act should set as a national policy the fostering of international trade aimed at better meeting the market of up to one billion persons with disabilities around the world.

13. The Canadians with Disabilities Act should require the Government of Canada to encourage all provincial governments to pass disability accessibility legislation to help ensure that barriers impeding persons with disabilities are removed and prevented throughout Canada and to convene a federal/provincial conference to that end, which will include representatives of persons with disabilities across Canada.

14. The Canadians with Disabilities Act must be more than mere window dressing. It should contribute meaningfully to the improvement of the position of persons with disabilities in Canada. It must have real force, effect and teeth.

9 Toronto City Council Motion on the Canadians with Disabilities Act

Notice of Motion

City Council support efforts by Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barrieres (BFC/CSB) to urge the new Parliament of Canada to enact The Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA) - Councillor Jim Karygiannis, seconded by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

Recommendations:

Councillor Jim Karygiannis, seconded by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, recommends that:                                     

1.  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).  

Summary:

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. 

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.

The purpose of The Canadians with Disabilities Act is to achieve a barrier-free Canada for persons with disabilities.  According to the (BFC/CSB), The Canadians with Disabilities Act would not replace The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act but would complement the provincial legislation.

In its set of principles with respect to the proposed Act the organization states:

'The Canadians with Disabilities 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.

It should apply to all accessibility barriers, for example physical, legal, bureaucratic, information, communication, attitudinal, technological, policy or other barriers.  It should apply to the Parliament of Canada as well as to all federal government entities, federally-owned public premises and facilities, federally-regulated companies and organizations, recipients of federal grants, subsidies, loans or other funds, and any other persons or organizations to whom the Government of Canada can apply it.'

September 30 and October 1, 2015