Guest Post: Barrier Free Canada Press Release, June 22, 2018

Barrier Free Canada applauds the tabling of the Accessible Canada Act by the

Minister of Science, Sport, and Persons with Disabilities

OTTAWA (June 22, 2018) – Barrier Free Canada/Canada sans barrières (BFC/CSB)

is celebrating the introduction on Wednesday of the long-awaited federal

accessibility legislation, the Accessible Canada Act. It is hoped that the

legislation will help to make accessibility and inclusion a priority for all

federally-regulated and federally-funded organizations.

Over the past several years, BFC/CSB and a myriad of other charitable and

not-for-profit organizations have worked tirelessly holding consultations,

conducting research, and preparing recommendations and advisory reports to

inform the content of this federal legislation.

“Wednesday was a momentous day,” said Donna Jodhan, President and founder of

BFC/CSB. “Canadians with disabilities have long dreamt of the day when

accessibility and inclusion in government services would be clearly

mandated, and we are now one step closer to that full inclusion.”

In 2010, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of

Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), pledging to address the exclusion and

accessibility barriers that people with disabilities face in Canada. The

introduction of this legislation is a tangible step toward making this a

lived reality for Canadians with disabilities.

Legislation exists to protect the rights of Canadians with disabilities

within the federal sector, such as the Canadian Human Rights Code, the

Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the UNCRPD itself. But as Anthony Tibbs,

Treasurer of BFC/CSB and a lawyer with Merchant Law Group explained, “These

tools are reactive and provide remediation for people whose rights have been

denied – but only if the person is willing or able to fight through a court

process. What Canada needs, and what we hope this legislation will offer,

are proactive standards (and meaningful oversight) to prevent the

discrimination from happening and take the enforcement obligation off the

backs of the people who are meant to be protected.”

Jodhan added, “A few years ago I was forced to take the federal government

to Court because government web sites and online services were needlessly

inaccessible to me as a person who is blind. I hope that federal legislation

mandating accessibility will avoid anyone else having to repeat that

adventure in the future.”

BFC/CSB will be reviewing the proposed law in detail in preparation for

hearings anticipated to be held after parliament returns by the committees

tasked with reviewing the legislation.

BFC/CSB is a non-partisan not-for-profit organization that has been

advocating for legislation to ensure accessibility and inclusion for

Canadians with disabilities at both the federal and provincial levels for

more than five years.

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For more information, write to info@barrierfreecanada.org or call Anthony

Tibbs (514-248-7777).

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