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Recommendations for New Manitoba Legislation to Remove Barriers Faced by People With Disabilities

Manitoba is the second province in Canada that intends to make their province accessible for persons with disabilities by developing specific standards of accessibility in a number of key areas.

Accessibility [1] “is the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible. Accessibility can be viewed as the “ability to access” and benefit from some system or entity. The concept is often used to focus on people with disabilities or special needs (such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and their right of access to entities, often through use of assistive technology.”

Many disability advocates believe that only with the enactment of proper laws that require governments and companies to implement accessibility measures will accessibility be achieved. It may be so.

As can be seen with the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), this form of legislation creates awareness in companies and individuals. The government, experts and advocates are taking advantage of such laws to try to educate and sell accessibility. However, my worry is, can it be enforced? And, I still cannot get my head around the overlap and conflict that is evident in Ontario between the Human Rights Code and the AODA regarding workplace accommodation.

Ok! back to Manitoba…

Manitoba’s new Accessibility Advisory Council has published its initial recommendations for legislation and standards that would help identify, remove and prevent barriers faced by people with disabilities in that province. Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard, minister responsible for persons with disabilities is inviting the public and interested stakeholders to provide comments on the report until October 21.

The council, made up of representatives from the disability community and other stakeholders, has submitted recommendations very similar to what has been done in Ontario under the AODA calling for:

Of significant importance, Manitoba proposes that,

The report can be viewed or downloaded at the Disabilities Issues Office website, www.manitoba.ca/dio [2].