Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities
Come to the August 16, 2018 Toronto MP’s Town Hall on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act, and Urge your Member of Parliament to Also Hold A Town Hall on This Bill
August 14, 2018
Are you in the Toronto area? Come to the Thursday, August 16, 2018 town hall meeting on Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. This event is being organized by Arif Virani, Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park. The details of this event are set out below. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky will be one of the panelists speaking at this event. To get a free ticket to this event, sign up at www.arif-virani.eventbrite.ca
We thank MP Arif Virani for organizing this event. The AODA Alliance is happy to take part in this event. We are told that there will be American Sign Language interpretation at this event.
The organizers advise that they are trying to also arrange real time captioning, but this has not yet been confirmed. If you wish to find out what accessibility accommodations are provided, or to request any accommodation, contact the organizers by emailing Arif.Virani.C2@parl.gc.ca
Here is our key message about Bill C-81. Bill C-81 is a good start. However, it needs to be strengthened in order to be a good law. Our concerns largely boil down to these five points:
- The bill’s purpose, the progressive realization of a barrier-free Canada, is too weak. The bill needs to set a deadline by which Canada is to become accessible to people with disabilities, in so far as the Federal Government can achieve this.
- It is good that the bill gives the Federal Government a range of powers to promote the goal of accessibility for people with disabilities. However the bill doesn’t impose duties on the Federal Government to use those powers or time lines for action to implement this bill. For example, it lets the Federal Government enact enforceable accessibility standards but doesn’t require the Federal Government to ever do so.
- It is good that the bill aims to have a broad reach. However, it needs to be amended to ensure that it reaches all disabilities, all kinds of accessibility barriers, and all the organizations and activities that the Federal Government can reach.
- It is good that the law includes a range of powers for its implementation and enforcement. However, it will be unnecessarily complicated and confusing for people with disabilities to navigate. The bill splinters the bill’s implementation and enforcement across some four federal agencies. It should be amended to consolidate all of this in the proposed new Accessibility Commissioner, so people with disabilities will have clear, simple one-stop enforcement. The bill leaves too much to future federal regulations. The Federal Government may never enact them. A future Federal Government could gut this bill in private, by amending or repealing those regulations, without a word of public debate in Parliament.
- The bill does not ensure that the Federal Government uses all the levers of power it can to promote accessibility for people with disabilities. For example, it is good that the bill lets the Federal Government require accessibility of the goods and services it purchases. However, the bill doesn’t ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers in all areas, like the infrastructure in which the Federal Government invests public money. It doesn’t require that voting in federal elections become accessible for voters with disabilities, or that all federal laws are screened for accessibility problems.
We will be listening carefully to the input provided at this town hall. We will take that feedback into account as we work towards finalizing our draft brief to the Federal Government on Bill C-81 that we recently posted for public comment. We welcome your feedback by August 24, 2018 on our draft brief or on our short summary of that brief.
We encourage people across Canada to urge their own Member of Parliament from any of the federal parties to organize a similar town hall meeting on Bill C-81. Let us know about any such events, so we can do what we can to publicize them. We’d be happy to provide a speaker, if they’d like, either in person or over the internet.
The AODA Alliance is eager for Bill C-81 to be strengthened through amendments, and to be unanimously passed by Parliament before the fall 2019 federal election. To speed up the process at Parliament, we urge all federal political parties to agree that the House of Commons and Senate will hold one set of joint public hearings on Bill C-81 this fall. Parliament did this in 1980-81, when it debated the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It can do it again. Joint hearings by the House of Commons and Senate will also make it easier for the public, who can present at one set of hearings, rather than having to twice present at House of Commons hearings, and later, at Senate hearings.
We also urge all federal political parties to agree that these hearings will travel across Canada. This will let local communities, and not just Ottawa, host public discussions of the bill.
For more background on this issue, we encourage you to check out Youtube so you can watch the online August 22, 2017 policy experts’ conference on what the promised national accessibility law should include.
Poster for the August 16, 2018 Town Hall Meeting on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act
TOWN HALL ON RIGHTS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
On June 20, 2018, our government introduced the Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-Free Canada. The Accessible Canada Act represents the most significant piece of federal legislation for the rights of persons with disabilities in over 30 years – we are finally putting “Nothing about us without us” into action, legally requiring the participation of people with disabilities in decision making that directly impacts their lives. Join me for an informative Town Hall and bring your questions and comments about this critical issue.
Please RSVP, as space is limited.
We have now confirmed our panel of expert guests! Our panel includes:
- Jeff Adams (Canadian Paralympian and six-time world champion in wheelchair sports)
- Luke Anderson (Executive Director, Stop Gap Foundation)
- Connie Dejak (President and CEO, Runnymede Healthcare Centre)
- Nancy Smith (Accessibility Consultant)
- Deborah Gold (Executive Director, Balance for Blind Adults)
- Renu Mandhane (Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission)
- Madeline Burghardt (Director at Large, West Toronto KEYS to INclusion)
- David Lepofsky (Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance)
Location: Swansea Town Hall (Rousseau Room)
95 Lavinia Ave.
Toronto, ON M6S 3H9
Date: Thursday, August 16, 2018
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.