September 4, 2015
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities
1. Action Is Spreading in the Non-Partisan Blitz During this Federal Election to win a Canadians with Disabilities Act
So far none of the leaders of Canada’s Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic Parties has pledged in this election to support passage of the Canadians with Disabilities Act. Only the Green party has done so, though it has not endorsed all the principles for that law which Barrier-Free Canada has developed.
We need your help on this issue now! For background on the proposal for this legislation, including all the principles it needs to embody, visit the website of Barrier-Free Canada, a non-partisan national coalition advocating for it, of which the AODA Alliance is a part. The Barrier-Free Canada website is at www.barrierfreecanada.org
We are delighted that people are so quickly lending their support to the call for all the federal parties to pledge to support enactment of a Canadians with Disabilities Act to supplement disability accessibility laws passed at the provincial level. Here’s a quick sampling:
a) There is a lot of action on this issue on social media. Within hours of the establishment of a new search term on Twitter (called a hashtag) #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct, there have been a great number of tweets and re-tweets to support this campaign. Indeed, our tweets on this topic have already been retweeted by others to thousands and thousands of people.
If you are already on Twitter, or want to get started now, just search on #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct. Please retweet any tweets you see that use that hashtag and that support the blitz for a Canadians with Disabilities Act. Tweets are being directed at the political party leaders and candidates across Canada. We are also tweeting Ontario MPPs to seek their help convincing their federal parties to support the Canadians with Disabilities Act. What’s more, we are tweeting news organizations and reporters to cover this story. If you don’t have the time to write your own tweets, it just takes a second or two to retweet ones that have been sent out by Barrier-Free Canada or by the AODA Alliance. Barrier-Free Canada is on Twitter at @BarrierFreeCa while the AODA Alliance is on Twitter at @aodaalliance.
Already some candidates and other influential figures have tweeted back in response!
Liberal MP Adam Vaughan tweeted this on August 29, 2015, in response to AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky tweeting him to ask if he supported a Canadians with Disabilities Act:
“Adam Vaughan: @DavidLepofsky yes. Cdn Act would be a huge step forward”
On August 23, 2015, former Ontario Premier and former Liberal MP Bob Rae tweeted his support of a Canadians with Disabilities Act to David Lepofsky as well, in response to a tweet seeking his support for this legislation:
“Bob Rae: @DavidLepofsky yes, of course !”
Barrier-Free Canada’s new Election Action Kit is available to you with one click. It is full of great ideas on how you can help this blitz. So far, it has been circulated all over via Twitter. Even organizations and individuals outside Canada have tweeted news about this Election Action Kit to a wide audience inside and outside Canada. For example, the European Blind Union tweeted:
“European Blind Union: Barrier-Free #Canada has useful toolkit to help #PWD lobby for a #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct”
To check out the Barrier-Free Canada Election Action Kit.
Are you on Facebook? All the AODA Alliance Twitter tweets are available to you if you “like” the AODA Alliance’s Facebook page. Just search on Facebook for “AODA Alliance”. Like our page! Share our tweets with your Facebook friends.
b) Among the community organizations that have voiced their support for a Canadians with Disabilities Act are the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. Below we set out the July 29, 2015 news release from the Rick Hansen Foundation, calling on all parties to support this legislation. To see the letters that CCD has sent to the major federal party leaders1.
c) Consider arranging an all-candidates’ debate in your community on disability issues. We have informal word that one will be held in Halifax on September 28 and in Toronto on September 29. We don’t have any more details about them at this time.
d) The Canadians with Disabilities Act issue has gotten good media attention in different parts of Canada. Below we set out:
* An article in the July 31, 2015 Richmond News
* an article in the August 5, 2015 Edmonton Examiner
* an article in the August 5, 2015 Beacon News
* an article in the August 21, 2015 Northumberland View
* an article in the September 2, 2015 Oye! Times
* an article in the September 2, 2015 Waterloo Chronicle
We also encourage you to read and circulate the excellent August 11, 2015 Globe and Mail column on the Canadians with Disabilities Act by Andre Picard.
Please contact your local media and urge them to cover the Canadians with Disabilities Act issue. Media coverage has been full of stories on Mike Duffy, the deficit and the like. People with disabilities want election coverage expanded to include issues that bear on the needs of over 4 million people with disabilities in Canada. With this election campaign dragging out over eleven weeks, there should be plenty of space in the media to include this issue.
2. Make Public any Disability Accessibility Barriers You Encounter During this Federal Election Campaign
Barrier-Free Canada and the AODA Alliance want to ensure that voters and candidates with disabilities face no barriers in this federal election campaign, including in the voting process itself. A barrier-free election campaign is one in which such things as the following are assured:
* all campaign information and websites are fully accessible to people with disabilities;
* All campaign offices and campaign events, including any all-candidates debates, are located in fully accessible premises.
* All polling stations are situated in fully accessible locations, and
* voters with disabilities can independently and privately mark their ballot and verify their choice.
Elections Canada does not have a stellar record for ensuring accessibility of polling stations and the voting process itself. As a result of past problems, it was the subject of a major human rights ruling by the Canada Human Rights Tribunal. To learn more about the Canada Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling against Elections Canada on polling station accessibility.
If you discover any accessibility barriers at any candidate’s campaign office, or any all-candidates’ debate, or any other campaign event, or if you know of any barriers at any expected polling stations, we encourage you to:
* Let Barrier-Free Canada know. Email them at email@example.com
* Take a photo or video of the barrier. Publicize it on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Use the hashtag #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct in your tweet or Facebook posting.
* Send your photo or video of the barrier to your local media. Urge them to cover this issue. Suggest that the media contact Barrier-Free Canada for a comment.
* Let the political party that is hosting the event or that has an inaccessible campaign office know about the barrier. Urge them to fix it.
Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.
Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign.
Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates.
Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting.
Rick Hansen Foundation’s July 29, 2015 News Release
Rick Hansen urges Canada to enact federal disabilities act
July 29, 2015
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.
Be a part of the journey towards a fully accessible Canada; visit Barrier-Free Canada’s “Support Us” page to include your name on their supporters list!
The Richmond News July 31, 2015
Rick Hansen calls for establishing federal disabilities act
Philip Raphael / Richmond News
July 31, 2015 11:12 AM
Rick Hansen has joined the call to establish a federal law protecting the rights of disabled people.
Well-known accessibility advocate and Richmond resident Rick Hansen has added his voice calling for establishing a federal disabilities act.
Hansen, who made his mark during his Man in Motion round the world wheelchair tour in the 1980s, is supporting a non- partisan campaign to ensure accessibility, inclusion, and equal opportunity for Canadians with disabilities.
It’s part of Barrier-Free Canada’s initiative to advocate for an enactment of a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA), which the organization says will enable people with disabilities to live to their full potential.
“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,” Hansen said in a press release. “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.”
Toronto lawyer David Lepofsky, a member of Barrier-Free Canada’s steering committee, told the News while there is protection against discrimination in Canada’s Charter of Rights, a new law would help not only those with disabilities, but those needing specific direction on what to provide in terms of required access.
Some provinces — Ontario and Manitoba — already have such laws on their books, and Nova Scotia is looking at their own, too.
Enacting laws governing accessibility can also often have widespread effect, something Lepofsky experienced when he successfully campaigned for the Toronto Transit Commission to provide audible stop announcements.
After the changes were made Lepofsky, who is blind, received many messages from transit riders who were not disabled, thanking him for the help the audible announcements provided on crowded buses or at night.
Lepofsky added a disability act is especially important given the society’s aging population. According to Barrier-Free Canada more than four million Canadians live with some form of disability — expected to grow to more than nine million over the next 15 years.
The Edmonton Examiner August 5 2015
Canadians with Disabilities Act can’t be left out of the discussion for upcoming federal election
Tait on Eight
Rick Hansen speaks at the Grape Growers of Ontario celebrity luncheon.
My newspaper mentor Jim Taylor — who wrote more than 7,500 sports columns for the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province — has always said a key of a good written piece is to ask two words: what if?
So, we’re going to try that today.
Rick Hansen, Member of Parliament.
How does that sound?
Pretty darn good, I think.
Because his name means so many things. He’s a dreamer. More importantly, someone who followed through on his dreams by wheeling around the globe in a wheelchair, a two-year trek that spanned more than 40,000 kms. (Memo to all politicians: What could you learn from this?)
To Rick’s credit, once he wheeled home to Vancouver in 1987, he kept true to his word — that, the finish line was just the beginning.
Rick has dedicated his life to making a difference for people with disabilities.
Becoming an elected official would certainly put issues for people with disabilities on the agenda, and could challenge people to think about disability differently.
Rick hasn’t announced his candidacy, so him running in this federal election is unlikely.
But what he did Friday has clout, and for the first time in perhaps too long, issues for disabilities have the potential of becoming discussion points in the October 19 federal election, rather than fluff fodder.
Rick issued a news release Friday calling for the Canadian government to hammer details out for a federal disabilities act.
It would fall under Barrier-Free Canada, a current movement to encourage the Canadian parliament to enact the Canadians with Disabilities Act to provide legislation to pave the way for an inclusive country for Canadians with disabilities.
Rick has always employed a profound sense of timing. His announcement came two days before prime minister Stephen Harper called a federal election.
Rick’s challenge — personally, I call it a dare — is most timely.
Think of the provincial election held in Alberta in May.
Now: seriously ask yourself if you heard any parties or candidates have any issues involving disability.
I have a disability, cerebral palsy, and I can honestly say I didn’t hear of any.
And, that by itself, raises several interesting points.
Have political parties parked disability issues — legally with placards in wheelchair stalls, of course — because they don’t see a need for them?
Or, have people with disabilities not been vocal enough recently to make policy makers aware of the issues that need to be on the agenda?
Strong arguments can be made for both points.
It’s interesting to some of the figures in the email from the Rick Hansen Foundation about the Canadians with Disabilities Act: Canada is projected to grow by nine million people over the next nine years.
“Aging is the biggest cause of disability,” the email said of the population numbers.
“That means by 2030, one in five Canadians will have a disability.”
Maybe they are haunting numbers. And we tend not to discuss things that have unsettling, even scary, consequences.
Rick Hansen’s announcement Friday could be a game changer — not as an MP, but someone with a strong influential voice behind the Canadian Disabilities Act. It needs serious consideration from all political parties.
Who knows? One could make it a platform issue.
And then, the wisdom of Jim Taylor — what if? — takes on an exciting new meaning.
(Cam Tait is the special project advisor for Challenge Insurance)
The Beacon News August 5 2015
Originally posted at:
Rick Hansen thinks Canada needs a Disabilities Act
By Beacon Opinion
By Paul Caune
Paul Caune joins Rick Hanson is urging government to support a Canadian Disabilities Act.
Rick Hansen has urged “all [federal] parties to support the enactment of legislation to make accessibility and inclusion a reality throughout Canada.”
On July 29, 2015, the Man in Motion issued a press release “urging government leaders, influencers and the public to support a non-partisan campaign to introduce federal legislation to ensure accessibility, inclusion and equal opportunity for Canadians with disabilities.” This campaign is called Barrier-Free Canada. The reader can find out more about it here.
The press release revealed:
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.
In the press release, David Lepofsky, a member of Barrier-Free Canada’s steering committee, stated:
We live in a world that is not designed for [people with disabilities]: 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.
Why does Canada need to catch up to the 25 year old Americans with Disabilities Act? According to the press release:
Without strong legislation, [Canadians] 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
This means Hansen believes three things:
Canadians with disabilities are not included in their own society
Public awareness campaigns will not remove the barriers in the way of Canadians with disabilities
Only “strong legislation” can remove the barriers
Civil Rights Now has argued this since 2009. Our ultimate objective is that the government of BC enacts a law similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Civil Rights Now has proposed two pieces of legislation that, if enacted, would pave the way for a British Columbians with Disabilities Act.
The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) advised the BC government in 2014 that it “should develop a legislative framework to buttress and support its [disability action plan] and ensure its adoption and implementation.” (The RHF’s advice can be found here.)
The BC government’s ten year Accessibility 2024 action plan promised (page 6) to “consult on options for a made-in-B.C. approach to accessibility related legislation.” Which is a long-winded way of promising to enact an accessibility law. Over one year into the action plan and that promise has still not been kept. Given how many jurisdictions comparable to BC have such legislation, it’s unreasonable for the BC Liberals to expect voters to wait until after the provincial elections of 2017 or 2021 for this promise to be kept (assuming the Libs win both of those elections).
Forgotten by many is the fact that the federal Conservative party’s 2006 election platform promised (page 31) that if elected the Conservatives would “Introduce a National Disability Act to promote reasonable access to medical care, medical equipment, education, employment, transportation, and housing for Canadians with disabilities.” This promise was not kept.
British Columbians should not wait for “Canada’s major political parties” to do the right thing. Voters should demand that the BC government enact the promised accessibility law before the 2017 provincial election. This would enable BC to catch up to the USA, Ontario and Manitoba, which enacted accessibility laws in 1990, 2005 and 2013 respectively.
Or the very least the BC government could do before the next provincial election is enact Civil Rights Now’s Think Twice proposal.
Paul Caune is the Executive Director of CIVIL RIGHTS NOW! Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or his website.
Northumberland View August 21 2015
Originally Posted at:
NPS Votes 2015: This election, Canada must tackle disability rights reform
Contributed by admin on Aug 21, 2015 – 07:50 AM
Picture: for This election, Canada must tackle disability rights reform
The Broadbent Blog
Early into this federal election campaign and, encouragingly, talk of the creation of a Canadians with Disabilities Act has surfaced.
The idea for such national legislation was raised by the group Barrier-Free Canada, remarked on by prominent disabled activist Rick Hansen, and endorsed by journalist André Picard in the pages of The Globe and Mail.
The call for a federal law to address the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities is an important idea concerning a significant and pressing social issue.
The statistics paint a discouraging picture. Depending on the province, one-in-five to one-in-four people in the working age population have a disability in Canada. Throughout their working years (15-64 years of age) people with disabilities remain about twice as likely as those without to live with low income – 21% versus 11% respectively overall. People with disabilities are much less likely than people without to have jobs – 51% vs. 75% respectively.
Even where employed, people with disabilities are one and half times more likely than people without to live with low income. This is unacceptable.
The suggestion for a federal law to address these inequities ought to be seen within an agenda of reforms for advancing reasonable accommodation and equality rights as well as facilitating full participation and opportunities for employment and income support. A broad focus on inequality ought not to leave disabled communities behind.
A research project headed by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) has put forward an ambitious yet practical agenda of reform for advancing the inclusion of Canadians with disabilities.
This reform agenda includes proposals directed at the federal government, other proposal directed at provincial and territorial governments, and still other reforms that concern intergovernmental cooperation.
In terms of federal actions, the CCD recommends three reforms.
One is the introduction of specific federal accessibility legislation to promote access to federal programs, facilities, benefits, communications, and services within and under federal jurisdiction for Canadians with disabilities. This legislation would be based on principles of universal design, effective participation, and equality of opportunity. These principles, in turn, would have standards that would be monitored and enforceable.
The second is that the Court Challenges Program be reinstated. This initiative, which the Harper government cancelled, provided resources to disability associations (and other groups) seeking to establish or to confirm their constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The CCD recommends that the program be re-established as a vehicle for promoting a fuller measure of inclusion and citizenship.
The third concerns the UN Convention of the Rights for Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). While Canada has signed and ratified the Convention, what is now required is that Canada develop an implementation plan that makes the promise of the CRPD a reality for Canadians with disabilities. The Government of Canada should name and support the Canadian Human Rights Commissions as the CRPD monitoring body and, also, should ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention.
There is the necessity for introducing accessibility and inclusion legislation for persons with disabilities by provincial and territorial governments. Those which have not done so already – and that includes most provinces and the territories – need to introduce legislation that aims to eliminate barriers and to enhance access and inclusion for the full participation of people with disabilities in their jurisdiction.
Canadians live in a complex and interdependent federation. This means that federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) collaboration is critical to providing essential supports and services for everyday living for the millions of people with significant impairments.
Governments across Canada need to work together in developing a new statement on inclusion, accessibility, disability, and participation. Such a statement would affirm the central importance of supports, income and employment.
Addressing the disproportionate poverty of Canadians with disabilities will require development of new policy and legislation, legal protections and commitments and the democratic co-construction of public policy. Any such FPT process must engage fully with organizations of people with disabilities in the possible development of a new framework and implementation plan.
To that end, a permanent joint government-disability community advisory group should be established with a mandate and resources to ensure progress on objectives and commitments. This advisory group should also submit an annual report to all responsible cabinet ministers and, through them, to all legislatures.
A basic aim would be to share and design new effective practice models with the goals of making public services and supports, including legal aid and technologies, more accessible for all citizens; and, clarifying policies and programs as they relate to disability issues and human rights, including the UN Convention.
If there is to be robust and coordinated measures to substantially reduce the exclusion and poverty in which so many Canadian with disabilities live, these ideas require wide discussion, and this election campaign is a democratically appropriate and politically hopeful occasion to do so.
Let us seize the moment!
Michael J. Prince is a Broadbent Policy Fellow and Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy at the University of Victoria. Prince was principal investigator with Yvonne Peters of the CCD research project, Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship.
Oye! Times September 2 2015
Where Is The Stephen Harper 2007 Canadians With Disabilities Act?
Will either NDP Tom Mulcair or Liberal Justin Trudeau restore justice for Canadians with disabilities keeping Stephen Harper’s failed promise?
By Stephen Pate – Canada is 8 years beyond Stephen Harper’s promise of a Canadians With Disabilities Act without any legislation. I couldn’t find a single government reference to it online.
In the meantime, the USA celebrates 25 Years of the Americans With Disabilities Act, legislation that actually works promoting equality for Americans living with disabilities.
In his February 2007 speech, Prime Minister Harper promised, along with fiscal controls and tough on crime policies, “We will also move forward with new legislation, the Canadians with Disabilities Act.”Prime Minister Harper outlines agenda for a stronger, safer, better Canada.
Look around and tell me if you think we have a Canadians with Disabilities Act.
Where is the Canadians with Disabilities Act? Where is the government body to enforce fairness for the disabled?
What the ADA gave the 50 million Americans with disabilities was a level playing field, the removal of barriers to work, to public services and to community access. The strange thing is that Canadians consider Canada a more civilized country than the United States. Canadians are nicer and life is safer. For the disabled that is simply not true. The United States has much fairer rights for people with disabilities.
It’s illegal to stop a black, Spanish or other ethnic person from using a restaurant. It only takes a 4 inch step to keep millions of Canadians with disabilities outside. There is no law making automatic door openers the law or ensuring bathrooms are accessible. Canadian hotels don’t bother to enforce accessible guidelines for guests.
In Canada, each province has a human rights organization to investigate disability discrimination. For federal government departments, the Canadian Human Rights Commission is supposed to protect the disabled. However, those are not proactive organizations.
In August 2015, the US Federal EEOC prosecuted or settled 29 discrimination rights court claims on behalf of Americans. 8 were for disability discrimination. That does not include the many cases settled out of court. The Canadian Human Rights Commission took one case to court in August 2015.
If a person with a disability in Canada loses their job due to discrimination or can’t get a public service, they have to hire a lawyer and file a complaint with one of the various commissions. The cost to pursue the discrimination compliant is years of time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Logically, people don’t or can’t pursue their rights in Canada.
If someone steals your car, do you hire private detectives to investigate and then a private prosecutor to charge and try the criminal. Of course not but that is the way the system works for the disabled. We have police and prosecutors to make sure the laws are kept, except laws for the disabled.
Canada has a system that is hollow, without positive effect on the everyday lives of Canadians with disabilities. They are at the whim and good mercy of corporations and individuals.
“In this country, there is no comprehensive legislation protecting the rights of people with disabilities,” wrote Andre Picard in the Globe and Mail. “What we have instead is a mish-mash of vague principles and tame enforcement bodies.”
“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees persons with disabilities the right to “equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on … mental or physical disability.” The Canadian Human Rights Act also prohibits discrimination, as do provincial human rights codes.”
“The fundamental difference in approaches is that, in the United States, the ADA was proactive – it forced governments and private businesses to tear down barriers or face punishing sanctions, and it gave people with disabilities legal tools to demand change.”
“In Canada, we continue to treat inclusion of people with disabilities as a privilege rather than a right.” It’s well past time for a Canadians with Disabilities Act – Globe and Mail August 2015
During the 2015 Federal Election in Canada, will Tom Mulcair of the NDP or Justin Trudeau of the Liberals make a promise to keep Stephen Harper’s failed promises?
Without legislation, Canadian taxpayers are funding billions in added social benefits for people with disabilities when then can’t get jobs, who live in poverty. A Canadians with Disabilities Act may be good human rights policy but it is also better economic policy.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network
Waterloo Chronicle September 2 2015
Originally posted at:
Your online newspaper for Waterloo, Ontario
Making disabilities a federal election issue
Bob Vrbanac: Photo – Jason Tomesch, seen here with his parents Sue and Dave, suffers from Muscular Dystrophy, a neuromuscular disorder that causes his muscles to deteriorate.
By James Jackson
For Jason Tomesch, the talk surrounding the upcoming federal election has been sorely lacking one key discussion — improving the lives of the millions of Canadians who live with one or more disability every day.
Tomesch knows the struggle first-hand. The 22-year-old Waterloo resident is confined to a wheelchair due to Muscular Dystrophy, a neuromuscular disorder that causes his muscles to deteriorate.
“I’ve hardly seen disabilities being discussed in any of the federal debates or by any of the parties,” said Tomesch in an email to the Chronicle Monday. The election is set for Oct. 19, and more than four million Canadians live with a disability.
Tomesch has had two brushes with death due to his condition, most recently in 2012 when food became lodged in his lungs, leading to aspirational pneumonia. He was rushed to Grand River Hospital but his parents were told he had 24 hours to live. He spent five months recovering in the intensive care unit.
He’s calling on all parties to support the creation of a federal Canadians with Disabilities Act. The act is being promoted by the volunteer group Barrier-free Canada.
It is also being supported by disability organizations such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and aims 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.”
The United States adopted an Americans with Disabilities Act 25 years ago, but Canada has no such wide-ranging and comprehensive legislation to protect the rights of people with disabilities.
Tomesch said the creation of a federal disabilities act would help people living with disabilities more easily navigate their communities by removing barriers from their lives. That includes physical, legal, bureaucratic, information, communication, attitudinal and technological barriers, and it would supersede all other legislation, regulations or policies that provide lesser protections and entitlements to persons with disabilities.
More information is available on their website, barrierfreecanada.org.
“Despite the barriers I face, I am a person with a disability, not a disabled person,” said Tomesch.
The Chronicle reached out to the four federal election candidates in the Waterloo riding to ask their thoughts on the act and whether or not their party would help implement it if elected.
Peter Braid, Conservative Party
“It is clear that more needs to be done to support Canadians with disabilities. I support a study of this proposed legislation in the next Parliament, to hear from all stakeholders on this important issue, and to thoughtfully consider its merits.”
He noted the Conservative Government has demonstrated a strong commitment to helping Canadians with disabilities, including the creation of the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) to help people with disabilities and their families save for the future and has taken steps to enhance skills training opportunities for Canadians with disabilities by transferring $222 million to provinces and territories through Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities.
Diane Freeman, NDP
“Canada has made a UN commitment to help persons with disabilities participate fully. Canadians with disabilities often face poverty and get less support than in other OECD countries. And instead of lifting barriers, the Conservatives added a new one by cancelling home mail delivery.”
She said Tom Mulcair and the NDP will live up to Canada’s UN commitments and take real action on issues like housing, poverty and labour market participation.
“Our plan will also address training and assistance devices, affordable housing, transportation, and increasing income security to help individuals reach their full potential.”
Bardish Chagger, Liberal Party
“Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada have pledged to fully implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and take substantive action to address the barriers faced by Canadians with disabilities.”
Four years after ratifying this convention, the Conservative government has yet to implement it, she said. “We need to translate words into action.”
Chagger said her party has a strong record of supporting Canadians with disabilities, and “it was a Liberal government that invested in employment and income supports for Canadians with disabilities, broadened eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit, and expanded the list of disability supports allowable under the Disability Supports Deduction.”
Richard Walsh, Green Party
“The Green Party believes in the principle of full inclusion in society. This should be a right enjoyed by all Canadians, not merely a privilege. Consequently, we Greens support a Canada Disabilities Act to encompass the entire nation … Green MPs will introduce a Canada Disabilities Act in the next Parliament, which I would fully support.”
Walsh said the Green Party proposes Canada should implement a Guaranteed Livable Income, and the government should invest more funding in social housing.
“Canadian physicians know that research shows that economic and social conditions directly affect health as well as illness and disease.
“The Green Party also recognizes this reality and shapes its policies accordingly.”