Take a Look at the May and June 2016 Newsletters from Barrier-Free Canada

June 28, 2016


Below we share with you the May and June 2016 newsletters from Barrier-Free Canada. The AODA Alliance is proud to serve as the Ontario affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada.

These newsletters show that the Federal Government is moving ahead with enthusiasm on its pledge to enact the Canadians with Disabilities Act after consulting the public and other levels of government. This momentum and enthusiasm stands in marked contrast to the painfully slow pace of progress on accessibility at the hands of the Ontario Government.

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our “Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign.

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

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.

Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.www.aodaalliance.org

Please also join the campaign for a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act, spearheaded by Barrier-Free Canada. The AODA Alliance is proud to be the Ontario affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada. Sign up for Barrier-Free Canada updates by emailing info@BarrierFreeCanada.org

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


June 2016 Newsletter

June 28, 2016

Government of Canada Announces Nation-wide Public Consultations on What to Include in the Promised Canadians with Disabilities Act

On June 22, 2016, the Government of Canada made a major announcement, launching its public consultation on what to include in the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act. The consultation will run from September 2016 to February 2017, and will include federally-sponsored public forums across Canada.

We will keep you posted on the dates and times of public consultations once they are announced. We will also develop and circulate an Action Kit for taking part in those public consultations later this year.

The Federal Government has also invited community organizations to submit proposals for receiving federal funding to take part in these public consultations, and to help bring together people with disabilities to share their views. Barrier-Free Canada will not itself be applying to the Federal Government for any of this funding. We are not incorporated and do not have any capacity for this.

However, community organizations like Barrier-Free Canada can “partner” with other organizations that apply for these federal grants, to offer to support their activities. In fact, we are allowed to partner with as many grant applicants as we wish. We shall be doing so, and sharing our advice on how to make this consultation as inclusive, open and accessible as possible.

In this public consultation process over the next months, Barrier-Free Canada will focus on the following:

* Working towards presenting the Federal Government with a common message from the disability perspective on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act should include;

* Helping get as many people with disabilities involved in taking part in the Federal Government’s public consultation on the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act, and

* Helping spread the word to the public, to politicians and to the media of what a strong, effective Canadians with Disabilities Act needs to include.

It is exciting that our message has hit an international stage. From June 14 to 16, 2016, the United Nations hosted its annual Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York. At a side-event panel hosted by Beit Issie Shapiro, an Israeli non-government organization that provides services to children and adults with disabilities, and consults with countries around the world, David Lepofsky, co-chair of Barrier-Free Canada and chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, spoke as an invited panelist, about what national accessibility legislation needs to include. The United Nations has posted a link to watch this panel online, but did not include captioning even though the event itself had live captioning. We strongly urge the UN to caption this video.

We’d love to hear from you, on what you would like the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act to include. Barrier-Free Canada’s supporters endorse 14 principles for the contents of the Canadians with Disabilities Act. We encourage you to read Barrier-Free Canada’s 14 principles for the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act.

To help people across Canada come up with their thoughts on this topic, Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky has written a detailed Discussion Paper on what the Canadians with Disabilities Act could include. It draws on experience in Ontario and Manitoba with accessibility laws, on experience across Canada with human rights legislation, and on experience in this area around the world. Down load it. Read it. Send us your ideas. Email us your ideas by writing us at info@barrierfreecanada.org

To keep up to date on what the Federal Government announces on this issue, here’s what you can do:

* On Twitter follow @Barrierfreeca and Follow @AccessibleGC   and search on the hashtags (search terms) #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct and/or #accessibleCanada

* On the web, visit the Federal Government at www.Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada and Barrier-Free Canada at www.barrierfreecanada.org

* On Facebook, please like Barrier-Free Canada and share our posts at www.facebook.com/barrierfreeca

Below we set out:

* The Federal Government’s June 22, 2016 news release;

* The June 22, 2016 public statement by Canada’s Disabilities Minister, Carla Qualtrough, who will lead the development of the Canadians with Disabilities Act, and

* An excerpt on the Canadians with Disabilities Act from Minister Qualtrough’s May 6, 2016 speech in Vancouver to the Canadian Vision Teachers conference.

June 22, 2016 Government of Canada News Release

What does an Accessible Canada mean to you?

Government of Canada launches consultation on planned new accessibility legislation               

June 22, 2016         Ottawa, Ontario         Employment and Social Development Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to eliminating systemic barriers and delivering equality of opportunity to all Canadians living with disabilities.

Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities announced the launch of a national consultation process to inform the development of planned legislation that will transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility.

Minister Qualtrough highlighted the critical importance of accessibility and affirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to ensuring all Canadians are able to participate equally in their communities and workplaces. She outlined that many Canadians continue to face barriers that affect their ability to participate in daily activities that most people take for granted. Barriers could include:

  • physical, architectural  and electronic barriers that impact the ability of people with disabilities to move freely in the built environment, to use public transportation or to access information or use technology;
  • attitudes, beliefs and misconceptions that some people may have about people with disabilities and what they can and cannot do; and
  • outdated policies and practices that do not take into account the varying abilities and disabilities that people may have.

The Government of Canada is seeking input for this planned legislation, including:

  • feedback on the overall goal and approach;
  • to whom would apply;
  • what accessibility issues and barriers it could address;
  • how it could be monitored and enforced; and
  • what else the Government of Canada could do to improve accessibility.

Canadians from around the country have already begun sharing their views on what an accessible Canada means to them. Minister Qualtrough encouraged all Canadians to have their say in the consultation process, either by attending an in-person engagement session or by participating in the online consultation which will be launched in the coming weeks. In-person consultations, including roundtables and town halls, will start in September across Canada. Canadians are also encouraged to follow @AccessibleGC on Twitter, Accessible Canada on Facebook and to follow the #AccessibleCanada hashtag. The consultation process will run until February 2017.

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada has launched a consultation process that will be open until February 2017. Canadians are encouraged to participate in the consultation by visiting Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada.
  • Approximately 14% of Canadians aged 15 years or older reported having a disability that limited them in their daily activities. There are approximately 411,600 working-aged Canadians with disabilities who are not working but whose disability does not prevent them from doing so; almost half of these potential workers are post-secondary graduates.
  • Many Canadians with disabilities and functional limitations face challenges that other Canadians do not in accessing buildings and services from the Government of Canada and organizations within federal jurisdiction. For example, between 2011 and 2015, disability-related complaints represented just over half of all the discrimination complaints received by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Of these, at least six percent touched on issues of accessibility in service delivery.
  • More broadly, an analysis of data from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability found that, approximately 2.1 million Canadians aged 15 years or older are at risk of facing barriers in the built environment and/or in relation to information and communications.
  • The Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) provides funding for projects in Canadian communities and workplaces to help improve accessibility. Since the creation of the EAF, the Government of Canada has funded over 2,300 projects, helping thousands of Canadians gain access to their communities’ programs, services and workplaces. The program has an annual budget of $15 million. Budget 2016 committed to providing an additional $4 million over two years, starting in 2016-17. A Call for proposals is presently open until Tuesday, July 26th.
  • Bill C-11 An Act to Amend the Copyright Act will make changes to the Copyright Act to ensure that it is fully in line with the Marrakesh Treaty and to enable Canada to accede to the treaty. This treaty aims to bring the global community together to better address the universal challenge of ensuring timely access to, and wider availability of, alternate-format published materials for those with print disabilities.


“We have made considerable progress in making our society more inclusive, but there is still work to do. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers in their daily lives. What does an accessible Canada mean to you? Please take the time to participate in our online consultation or to attend one of our public sessions in person. Together, we will make history.”

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

– 30 –

Associated Links

Accessibility Legislation
Enabling Accessibility Fund
Marrakesh Treaty

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

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
Follow us on Twitter


Consultation to Inform Planned Accessibility Legislation

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

The consultation process will be open from June 2016 until February 2017. Starting in July, Canadians will be able to participate in the online consultation by completing a questionnaire, replying to questions, or by submitting videos in the language of their choice (English, French, American Sign Language or Langue du signe du Quebec). Canadians can also participate through telephone, mail, email fax or telephone. Starting in September, in-person public consultations are planned to take place in the following cities:

  • St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Moncton, New Brunswick
  • Québec City, Quebec
  • Montréal, Quebec
  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Regina, Saskatchewan
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Edmonton, Alberta
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • Iqaluit, Nunavut
  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
  • Whitehorse, Yukon.

As well, Minister Qualtrough is planning a number of more focused roundtable discussions with key stakeholders, as well as a National Youth Forum that will engage youth with disabilities to engage in the policy discussion.

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

Enabling Accessibility Fund

The Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) was originally announced as a three-year, $45-million program to support community-based projects across Canada. It was then renewed for another three years prior to being renewed on an ongoing basis at $15 million per year to continue to improve accessibility for Canadians with disabilities. Since its creation, the EAF has funded over 2,300 projects.

The EAF offers up to $50,000 in funding. Project costs will be shared between the recipient and government. Contributions equal to or greater than 35 percent of the total eligible costs of the project must be provided by sources other than the federal government (which can include the applicant’s own organization). This call for proposals will close on July 26, 2016.

For more information about how to submit proposals, please visit: Canada.ca/accessibility-fund

The Marrakesh Treaty

The Government of Canada is providing $2 million in funding this year to CNIB through the Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability component to continue to support CNIB in its production of alternate format published materials for people with print disabilities. People with print disabilities include those with visual impairments, people with impairments which affect reading comprehension (such as learning disabilities), and people who are unable to hold or turn the pages of a book.

The Disability Component of the Social Development Partnerships Program supports projects intended to improve the participation and integration of people with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society. More specifically, the Program supports not-for-profit organizations across Canada in tackling barriers faced by people with disabilities with respect to social inclusion.

June 22, 2016 Statement by Canada Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough

Originally posted at http://www.esdc.gc.ca/en/consultations/disability/legislation/index.page

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

In Canada we’ve made considerable progress in making our society more inclusive. We see this throughout our communities. But there is still work to do.

Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers in their daily lives. Persistent gaps remain in areas such as employment, income and social inclusion.

As Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, I have been asked to lead a consultation process that will inform the development of new accessibility legislation.

Canadians with disabilities, their families, and the organizations that represent them have been integral to many of the advancements Canada has made in accessibility. To draw on this knowledge and experience, as well as that of businesses, community organizations and government partners, the Government of Canada is conducting consultations to gather input on options for the new legislation.

We have a long road ahead, but this is a big step in helping to ensure our communities become more inclusive for all Canadians.

What does an Accessible Canada mean to you? Please take the time to participate in our online consultation or attend one of our in-person public sessions.

Together, we will make history.

Excerpt from the May 6, 2016 Speech by Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough to the Canadian Vision Teachers Conference

When the Prime Minister gave me responsibility for my two life’s passions, he told me to go out and change the world. I take this responsibility very seriously.

Federal Accessibility Legislation

As Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities – my main priority is to lead an engagement process on federal accessibility legislation.

The goal of the legislation will be to increase the inclusion and participation of Canadians in society – and promote equality of opportunity by improving accessibility and removing barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction.

To help reach this goal, our Budget 2016 announced $2 million over two years to support the full participation of Canadians with disabilities in this process.

This is an enormous undertaking – and it will be the first of its kind in the country.

There’s a significant legislative gap in Canada around accessibility and inclusion. While we have very strong anti-discrimination laws, you have to wait until somebody’s discriminated against in order to help them.

What we need to do is create a legislative tool that helps us avoid discrimination and exclusion from the beginning.

This kind of legislation will be transformational if we do it right.

That’s why we will consult with provinces – territories – municipalities – stakeholders and Canadians of all abilities.

Together, we will make history.

The Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières May 2016 newsletter

Summary of Recent Events

April and May have been busy for people around our country who are advocating for laws to remove and prevent barriers against people with disabilities. That includes great efforts by provincial coalitions that have also agreed to be affiliates of Barrier-Free Canada.

In British Columbia, Barrier Free BC held a major kick-off event for its campaign for a British Columbians with Disabilities Act, and continues to get more organizations to support its cause.

Barrier-Free Saskatchewan worked on setting up contacts with elected politicians to build support for a Saskatchewan disability Act.

In Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance has worked on several fronts to press the Ontario Government to beef up its implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

In Manitoba, Barrier-Free Manitoba engaged in a major collaborative effort to mount an impressive campaign during the recent provincial election in that province to raise disabilities issues, entitled “Disability Matters”.

This included a focus on the implementation of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

All the front-line work of those provincial coalitions will serve to lay a fantastic foundation for participation later this year in the forthcoming Federal Government Consultation on the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act. There is also some grassroots work brewing in Québec that can help with this upcoming effort.

We continued to expand our social media presence; steadily increasing our Facebookand Twitter followers. Many supporters have been using social media to communicate with us and we are pleased to announce that we are now including posts in French to our Facebook page.

In the most recent news, the Federal Government’s Cabinet Minister responsible for developing the Canadians with Disabilities Act, Carla Qualtrough, reached out to seek a meeting with the co-chairs of Barrier-Free Canada. The meeting took place in Toronto on May 2, 2016. Only co-chair David Lepofsky was able to attend. It was a very positive first meeting. We shared our ideas on what the new Act should include and what we are looking for in the public consultations that the Federal Government is now preparing to conduct. We offered to do whatever we can to help the Federal Government on both the consultation process itself, and on what the law needs to do to be strong and effective. The Minister was very welcoming and receptive to receiving our input.


News Coverage

Media coverage of the Canadians with Disabilities Act is slowly expanding.

In April, Donna Jodhan was interviewed by Accessible Media Inc and by Radio Connect; the official radio station of the Royal National Institute for the Blind in England.

Below are two interesting news articles and we believe that these are further evidence for Canada to pass a Canadians with disabilities Act.

* Toronto Star Online April 25, 2016

Originally posted at

Family protests airline’s rejection of special seat for son who has cerebral palsy

Cathay Pacific had approved the seat months before but turned it away at Pearson, says mother of boy with cerebral palsy, who can’t sit up without it.

Alastair Sharp, daughter Tallula, 3, son Sebastian, 7, and wife Kara found themselves turned away from a flight to Australia at Pearson Airport last week because the airline refused to let them use Sebastian’s special seat designed to help him sit upright.
Richard Lautens / Toronto Star Order this photo

By: Michael Robinson Staff Reporter, Published on Mon Apr 25 2016

Kara has a moment with Sebastian, who was anxious to get on the Cathay Pacific plane. After the standoff about the special seat, the airline arranged for an alternative flight through Air Canada.

A Toronto family’s vacation plans were temporarily grounded last week when they clashed with Cathay Pacific Airways over a special seat used by a child who has a disability.

Kara Sharp said her family faced disability discrimination twice after the Hong Kong-based airline barred her from using a specially designed seat for her 7-year-old son, Sebastian, who has cerebral palsy.

Sharp, along with her husband and two other children, had been planning to depart from Toronto’s Pearson Airport for Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday afternoon, when they were turned away from the gate.

“We were going to see his grandparents,” she said last Thursday. “Sebastian is upset, stressed … he doesn’t want to do anything but go on the plane.”

The family has routinely used the seat for international flights before, she explained, adding Sebastian cannot sit upright without it.

Sharp refused the airline’s offer to use Cathay’s in-house five-point harness instead. She argued it was designed for children much larger than her son and wouldn’t be as secure.

“Their solution was to use their own five-point harness and a pillow to prop him up while we have a $4,000 special-needs seat they had pre-approved in the first place,” she said. In an effort to avoid any last-minute issues, Sharp added she called Cathay four months prior to the trip and staff approved the seat, an orange-red seat called the Carrot 3.

In an emailed statement, the airline expressed “how sorry it was to learn of the difficulties the Sharp family faced,” but emphasized that Sebastian’s safety and comfort was their top priority.

Spokesperson Jennifer Pearson said reservation staff failed to provide Sharp with the correct information on car safety seats and posture support equipment.

“Cathay Pacific prides itself in providing our customers with a positive travel experience and clearly we failed in this particular case,” said Pearson, adding staff provided the family with hotel accommodation, meals and vouchers.

The Sharps’ struggle has sparked the ire of disability lawyer and accessibility advocate David Lepofsky, who said the clash with Cathay illustrates the need for a national transportation accessibility standard.

“Air travel in this country is not pretty for people with disabilities,” he said. “The laws on the books right now are not working. We need federal legislation with teeth to ensure barriers like these do not happen again.”

A spokesperson for Canada’s aeronautical watchdog said airlines are responsible for their own seating policies. However, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) also requires them to “provide accommodation that considers disabled passengers’ unique needs.”

But while the CTA lays out the expectations for aircraft accessibility, whether or not a seat is safe and sound is actually up to Transport Canada.

Further, it isn’t clear if foreign carriers are required to abide by Canada’s accessibility standards or stick to those of their native country.

“Canada should have a clear rule: If you want to land your plane on our property, you play by our rules,” said Lepofsky.

Lepofsky’s comments were echoed by the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, a non-profit that advocates for those living with the illness.

The group’s president, Victor Gascon, said the situation was “unacceptable” and blasted Cathay for failing to be flexible.

“Cerebral palsy is one of those disabilities where one or two cases are not alike,” he said. Airlines should consult with disability groups before drafting their accessibility policies, he said, so situations like these don’t occur in the future.

By late Thursday evening, the Sharp family finally departed Toronto to Sydney via Vancouver, albeit via Air Canada and arranged for by Cathay.

“Just got cozy for our flight,” Sharp wrote above a photo caption of Sebastian tucked into his orange-red seat. “Australia here we come!”

The family has since touched down safely in Oz, landing on the beach shortly after their arrival. As for how they will eventually make it home, Sharp said those travel plans are still up in the air depending on whether Cathay eventually decides to clear the seat for take-off.

*Ottawa Citizen May 5, 2016


Malhotra and Lieffers: Assisted dying? Let’s talk about accessible living first Doctor and patient sitting on the desk . Art gathered for future stories on doctor assisted dying and suicide Assisted dying debate may be overshadowing other important discussions.
lenetsnikolai – Fotolia

Since the Supreme Court of Canada’s “Carter” decision finding the prohibition on assisted dying to be unconstitutional, disability rights advocates have devoted considerable time and energy to debating and publicizing this multifaceted issue. Assisted dying is understandably a difficult and challenging matter for policymakers as it raises complex legal, ethical and religious questions. Finding complete consensus is likely impossible, both in society in general and within the disability community.

As we debate the issue of death, let’s not forget the ongoing matter of life with a disability in Canada. Assisted dying is an important and closely related conversation, but the current focus on this problem should not lead policymakers to forget the many other disability rights issues that create barriers for people on a daily basis. As disability rights advocates who are neutral on assisted dying, we think it is important that public dialogue on disability should not happen exclusively through the prism of this one issue.

From taxation policy, to modernizing income support programs for the 21st century, to the need for a Canadians with Disabilities Act, there are numerous initiatives that could help remove the pernicious barriers that still limit people with disabilities in employment, transportation and beyond. About 3.8 million adult Canadians reported having a disability in 2012, and many of us will become disabled over the course of our lives. Ensuring that people with disabilities are able to participate fully in society is a project that deserves our concern.

A federal Canadians with Disabilities Act could be modelled on the successful legislation enacted in 2005 in Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. By requiring the removal of barriers on a set timeline, it would fulfil the promise of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with specific, enforceable rights. It would also be consonant with Canada’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living have argued, such a framework ought to include a Commissioner of Disability and Inclusion who would report directly to Parliament and recommend detailed standards in tandem with the legislation.

As proposed by advocacy organizations, a second valuable feature of a Canadians with Disabilities Act would be the creation of an Accessibility Design Centre that could serve as a clearinghouse to monitor barrier removal and enforce appropriate accessibility standards.

Finally, such legislation could also create a Full Inclusion Policy Centre that would develop best practices to remove barriers in federal government departments.

Laws do much more than lay out rules to be followed. Legal scholars Frank Munger and David Engel have demonstrated that in the United States the mere passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) empowered individuals with disabilities, even if they themselves never filed litigation. The simple existence of the law often changed the self-perception of individuals with disabilities, who gained more confidence to succeed in the workplace and in completing post-secondary education.

Some would argue that adding to the regulatory web governing businesses is counterproductive. They would suggest that in a time of economic austerity, we can simply not afford new expenses. However, a quick visit to American airports, train stations and restaurants will quickly reveal how far behind Canada is in providing accessibility for people with disabilities. Inclusion of people with disabilities – people who want to work, go to school, travel, and patronize accessible businesses – in the economy means greater productivity.

This is a challenge and a moral imperative that we cannot afford to avoid.

While we’re talking about death, let’s also talk about life.

Ravi Malhotra is Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, a graduate of Harvard Law School and a member of the Human Rights Committee of the Council of Canadians with  Disabilities.
Caroline Lieffers is a PhD student in the history of science and medicine at Yale University and a 2015 Trudeau Scholar.

* From the Ottawa Citizen

the disabled, slowing traffic
Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board
More from Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board Published on: May 9, 2016 | Last Updated: May 9, 2016 7:00 AM EDT Man sitting on a wheelchair Time for a ‘Canadians with Disabilities’ Act?
Simone Becchetti / Getty Images/iStockphoto Let’s do more for the disabled
Re: We need assisted living too, May 5.

Indeed we do! Ravi Malhotra and Caroline Lieffers make excellent suggestions for people with disabilities. Our neighbours to the south have had the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) since 1990 and, over 25 years, some Canadians have benefited from the ADA standards for barrier-free living, which are adopted by American international companies.

For example, American-owned hotel chains offer a minimum number of parking spaces for the handicapped, automatic-opening front doors, levered (not rounded) door handles, wide doorways for wheelchairs, and accessible rooms with support grip bars for the showers and toilets.

At Lansdowne Park, as another example, Whole Foods provides underground parking for the disabled, automatic-opening doors, large elevators and easily accessible travelling spaces in the store for electric wheelchairs and scooters. However, other new facilities at Lansdowne do not provide automatic or push-button opening doors. There do not appear to be above-ground designated parking spaces with blue and white signs. City officials issue parking tickets and fines to the disabled, although free parking for the handicapped is provided on city streets.

Universal accessibility is a human rights issue. Federal facilities have gradually improved, especially airports. The National Building Code needs strengthening and enforcement by regulators. Although the Accessibility for Ontarians Act is being slowly enacted, many other provinces do not have equivalent guidelines and requirements. At the municipal level, Ottawa, despite an accessibility policy, is allowing new construction that does not incorporate universal accessible design elements.

Canada may be entering a new era of compassion, consultations, consensus-building and progressive social policies. In 2016, there might be a multi-partisan, multi-jurisdictional, multi-stakeholder development of a Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA) and related initiatives to improve the quality of life of all. Let us hope so.

Padraig Finlay, Ottawa


Next steps

Our next steps include encouraging individuals and organizations to send feedback to us on David Lepofsky’s discussion paper on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act should include, and to continue our effort to ensure that the upcoming public Federal Government public consultations on this law are broad, open, accessible and inclusive.


Contact info

To contact us, please send an email to info@barrierfreecanada.org.
To keep abreast of our updates visit

Visit us at www.barrierfreecanada.org
Follow us on Twitter @barrierfreeca
And like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/barrierfreeca


Donna Jodhan founder and co-chair
David Lepofsky co-chair

The Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières steering committee includes Steven Christianson, Marc Workman, Jutta Treviranus.

Our five initial founding organizations are:
CNIB, March of Dimes, the MS Society of Canada, the Canadian Hearing Society, and Accessible Media Inc.  A list of our supporting organizations is listed below 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 10
Penny Leclair
President, Guide Dog Users of Canada (GDUC)

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 21
The Rick Hansen Foundation

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 31
Jerry Dias
Unifor National President

September 11
Teren Clarke, BN, MM (Mgmt)
Chief Executive Officer
Spinal Cord Injury Alberta

September 13
Luke Anderson
StopGap Foundation

September 15
Pat Seed
Chair Person Citizens with  Disabilities Ontario

September 22
Teren Clarke CEO
Spinal Cord Injury Alberta

October 1
Dave starrett, president and CEO
Easter seals canada

October 25
R. E. (Rob) Sleath
Chair, Access for Sight-Impaired consumers

November 19
Bill Cowie
Chief, Every Canadian Counts Coalition

March 9, 2016
Québec Accessible
Melanie Benard

April 18, 2016
Michael Ciccone
Executive Director
Centre for Equitable Library Access / Centre d’accès équitable aux bibliothèques

May 13
Rytch Newmiller
Accessibility Services Manager
Deaf & Hear Alberta