Trudeau Government’s Proposed Federal Law on Accessibility for People with Disabilities Falls Far Short and Must be Substantially Beefed Up, Disability Advocates to Tell Parliamentary Committee Today

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

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Trudeau Government’s Proposed Federal Law on Accessibility for People with Disabilities Falls Far Short and Must be Substantially Beefed Up, Disability Advocates to Tell Parliamentary Committee Today

 

October 25, 2018 Ottawa: Bill C-81, a bill now before Parliament, which aims  to ensure that Canada becomes accessible to over 5 million people with disabilities, must be amended to make it strong and effective, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities will be told from 8 to 10 a.m. today at the Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street, Ottawa. Among the presenters from 8 to 9 a.m. will be AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who led the campaign from 1994 to 2005 to get Ontario’s 2005 accessibility law passed, and now leads the campaign to get it effectively implemented.

“It’s good the Federal Government agrees that Canada needs a new federal law because people with disabilities face too many barriers when travelling by air or train, when trying to use banks, cell phone or cable TV services, or when dealing with the Federal Government itself,” said David Lepofsky. However, he cautioned: “This bill is great on intentions but palpably weak on implementation and enforcement.”

The AODA Alliance is one of many groups presenting similar strong concerns with Bill C-81, although they heartily commend the Federal Government for agreeing to bring forward a bill and for consulting widely on it. For its part, the AODA Alliance submitted a 114-page brief, tabling 97 specific amendments, backed by detailed analysis. Seven key amendments are summarized in an easy-to-read 4-page summary sent to MPs.

“With a federal election coming next year, MPs from all parties will want to be sure this bill is amended to make it a historic law,” said Lepofsky. “We’ll remind MPs at the hearings today that people with disabilities are the minority of everyone, since everyone either has a disability now or is bound to get one later. No politician or party can afford to disregard the needs of the minority of everyone!”

“For me, this day has a real feel of history,” said Lepofsky. Thirty-eight years ago, Lepofsky, now a visiting professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School, appeared before a Standing Committee of Parliament on CNIB’s behalf, to urge the Pierre Trudeau Government to amend the proposed Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms so it would guarantee equal rights for people with disabilities in Canada. (That December 12, 1980 presentation to Parliament is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBdYFUtAslc “Today’s presentation aims to get the proposed new Accessible Canada Act amended so that it will make the Charter’s guarantee of disability equality at last become a reality in the lives of over 5 million people with disabilities in Canada and all others, who are bound to get a disability later in life,” Lepofsky explained.

The AODA Alliance is tweeting MPs one at a time, to urge them to support these amendments. Follow @aodaalliance

The AODA Alliance’s proposed amendments draw on front-line experience with accessibility legislation in Ontario since 2005, in Manitoba since 2013, in Nova Scotia since 2017, in the US since 1990 and in Israel since 1998. The hearings are open to the public, and streamed live at www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/HUMA Presenters will be available to media after the Committee adjourns at 10am.

Presenters at the hearing will include:

8-9 a.m. AODA Alliance, CNIB and the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association

9-10 a.m. Canadian Association of the Deaf and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

Contact:  David Lepofsky, aodafeedback@gmail.com

Twitter: @aodaalliance

All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for strong national accessibility legislation is available at www.aodaalliance.org/Canada

All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in Ontario is available at: www.aodaalliance.org