Universal Design in School


Our last article explored how an education standard could mandate an individual accommodation process for students with disabilities. In this article, we discuss universal design, a different way to make learning accessible for students. We describe what universal design is and how it makes school more accessible.

Universal Design in School

Universal design means creating products, services, and places that every person can use. When something is universally designed, creators are thinking about people’s accessibility needs during the design process. Thinking about accessibility at the design stage often saves time and money later, because retrofits are more costly and time-consuming than accessibility from the start.

Benefits of Universal Design

Timing

School spaces, lessons, and services outside the classroom can all be created using universal design. When school spaces and services are accessible from the start, students can start learning when their sighted peers do. For example, a universally-designed online database for accessible-format E-textbooks would give all students access to textbooks at the same time. Under the individual accommodation model, each student needing accessible books must find out whether each of their textbooks is already accessible. Then, the school must request access to alternate-format books, ask publishers to make accessible copies, or convert the books themselves. This process takes time, so students may need to wait weeks or months for their books. As a result, they may fall behind in their course work while waiting for books they can read. In contrast, universally-designed resources ensure that all students have timely access.

Flexibility

In addition, universal design ensures that students whose abilities and needs change always have access to lessons. For instance, someone’s ability to concentrate might change over time, or from day to day. Under the individual accommodation model, this student would need to ask for different accommodations whenever their level of concentration changed. Universally designed lessons would enable students to use different learning strategies at different times. This way the student doesn’t need to wait for new accommodations.

Accessibility for Everyone

Furthermore, universal design also allows more students to benefit from accessible features. For instance, Real-Time Captioning (RTC) gives students who are deaf access to word-for-word lesson content. A trained captioner records speech and it appears almost right away on a large screen. However, many other students could find visual display of a teacher’s words useful. For example, students learning English may understand written words more easily than spoken ones. As a result, they might understand lessons better by seeing the words as well as hearing them. Moreover, other students learn more when they can access content by both listening and reading. Therefore, teachers could help many students by making and showing written scripts of their lessons. If they used computers and large screens similar to an RTC set-up, they could make changes to their transcripts in class.

Universal Design and Accommodation Together

Universal design may not make every element of a lesson accessible to all students. Some students may always need a few individual accommodations. For instance, some students may need one-on-one guidance as they learn memory aids or organizational skills. Similarly, other students may learn best using Braille or Sign language interpretation. These accommodations will need to be arranged individually. However, universal design can make these individual accommodations easier to put in place. For instance, a regular classroom routine can support students as they implement memory or organizational aids. Similarly, students can access Braille more easily using accessible-format documents with a Braille display or Braille printer. Likewise, interpretation is easier when teachers are already used to staying in one place, to help students focus.

In addition, some students may be able to use a combination of individual accommodation and universal design in school. For instance, a student might read some textbooks in Braille and others as accessible e-books. Similarly, a student might use Sign language interpretation for some classes and captioning for others. Universal design in school means that students have more flexibility to learn in ways that are best for them.




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Federal Liberals Promise to Use a Disability Lens in All Government Decisions


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

October 18, 2019

SUMMARY

In a news article published today, just three days before the federal election, the Canadian Press reported that the federal Liberals have committed that if re-elected, they will apply a “disability lens” to all Federal Government decisions. We set out the October 18, 2019 Canadian Press article by reporter Michelle McQuigge, below, which was posted on the National Post’s website.

It would be very helpful for the Federal Government to apply a disability lens to all of its decisions, to ensure that they do not work against people with disabilities. We provide some context to this commitment.

First, as reported in the Canadian Press article, below, federal Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough appears to implicitly acknowledge that the new Accessible Canada Act, whose development she led, does not require the Federal Government to apply a disability lens to each of its decisions. That, regrettably, would be an accurate reading of the Accessible Canada Act. Minister Qualtrough also is reported in this article as saying that the Liberals would not make any amendments to the Accessible Canada Act. As such, this disability lens would be a voluntary measure that any future Federal Government could reject without needing to bring it before Parliament for a vote.

Second, during debates over the Accessible Canada Act over the past year, opposition members pointed out (at the request of disability advocates) that this proposed legislation lacked such a disability lens. They urged that a requirement for a disability lens should be added to the bill. None ultimately was added.

The Federal Government had an ideal opportunity to establish such a disability lens in Bill C-81 when it was before Parliament, and when all parties were focused on the need for national accessibility legislation. It is difficult to understand why the Federal Government did not add a disability lens then, and yet promises a voluntary disability lens now, just four months after Parliament passed Bill C-81. It would be preferable to entrench a disability lens into the Accessible Canada Act through an amendment once the new Parliament is elected. The AODA Alliance expects to propose such an amendment.

Third, during Second Reading debates last year in the House of Commons over Bill C-81, Liberal MP Kent Hehr actually said that Bill C-81 includes a disability lens, and praised the bill for having it. He had earlier been the Government’s minister responsible for developing this legislation for about half a year. On September 24, 2018, during Second Reading debates in the House of Commons, Mr. Hehr made these two statements on point:

1. “I can also highlight this bill and its effects on government service. The day and age of people not getting through the door is essentially over with this legislation. It puts a proactive onus on government to move forward and look at things with an accessibility lens that I believe will be very helpful for people with disabilities and those trying to navigate an often complex system.”

2. “I mentioned at the start of my speech that there are still very many inequalities in this country. In particular, people with disabilities are more likely to be poor and have difficulties finding employment, even getting services through government departments. This legislation would put that proactive emphasis on governments and systems within the federal jurisdiction having an accessibility lens to look at how we are not only going to get people through the door but help them come out the other side and succeed, whether it be through employment, accessing technology or getting government services. It is now incumbent upon us as government to follow through with what would be put in place through this legislation to make things better for people with disabilities in this country.”

We also alert you to the news that as this election campaign races to its conclusion, CTV national news broke the overwhelming silence of most conventional media outlets on this issue. It led its October 17, 2019 national television newscast with a report on how the parties have had so little to say in this campaign about accessibility for people with disabilities, and how voters with disabilities are unhappy with this. We do not have the text of this news report at this time. It can be watched online by visiting https://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1807311&jwsource=twi

You can read our non-partisan comparison of the parties’ commitments on disability accessibility (which was written yesterday, and hence before this Canadian Press news report) by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/non-partisan-issue-by-issue-comparison-of-the-positions-of-the-6-major-federal-political-parties-on-achieving-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

Follow @aodaalliance on Twitter for up-to-the-instant updates on our analysis of election returns as they come in, from the perspective of our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities.

MORE DETAILS

National Post Online October 28, 2019
https://www.bing.com/search?q=Accessible+Canada+Act&go=Submit&qs=n&form=QBLH&pq=Accessible+Canada+Act&sc=10-14&sp=-1&sk=&cvid=d63c261e27184bb7b950c2bd9c5a8240

Liberals vow to implement disability lens for all government policies if re-elected The Canadian Press
Michelle McQuigge
October 18, 2019
The federal Liberals say they will evaluate all existing and future government policies for their impact on disabled residents if voted back into power next week.

The pledge from Carla Qualtrough, the Liberals minister for accessibility issues, comes days before Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21 and shortly after disabled voters raised concerns about the lack of discussion of issues affecting their lives during the current campaign.

The Liberals released a disability equality statement earlier this week, a document that was not in their original platform.

Qualtrough clarified its contents in an interview with The Canadian Press, saying the party was committing to applying a disability lens to government decisions, a formal consideration of how each would affect people with disabilities.

The Liberals mandated that all policies be subjected to a gender-based analysis over the past several years, assessing whether government policies are affecting men and women in different ways.

Qualtrough says the Liberals would take the same approach with disability, reviewing existing policies and studying new ones to make sure government moves dont exclude or adversely affect anyone.

This is the next step, to kind of systematically entrench disability inclusion into the way government does business, into the way government makes decisions, she said in a telephone interview from Delta, B.C., where she is seeking re-election.

Qualtrough said such analysis would build upon the Accessible Canada Act, the countrys first federal piece of accessibility legislation, which passed into law in June. The act was the fulfillment of a 2015 Liberal campaign promise and is widely seen as a milestone in disability rights, though dozens of advocacy groups have expressed concern that its currently too weak to be effective.

Qualtrough said a re-elected Liberal government does not plan to amend the law, but said a disability lens would offer additional safeguards. The partys new equality statement also pledges timely implementation of the new act.

The Liberal announcement earned praise from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a national advocacy group that has been calling for such analysis for years.

During the national consultation that led to the ACA, council members argued the government needed to duplicate the approach used for gender when considering disability issues.

The Liberals applied gender-based-analysis-plus, which extends to characteristics such as age, religion and ethnicity, to a federal budget for the first time in 2017 and mandated it be used across the board. But internal documents obtained earlier this year showed fewer than half of departments and agencies had GBA+ plans in place.

Council spokesman John Rae said adopting the same approach for disability would be an important practice that may ensure disabled voices are heard even if they arent in the room to speak up for themselves.

We arent present in sufficient numbers in places where decisions about important aspects of life are made, Rae said. Its very easy for our needs to get overlooked if not consciously ignored.

Rae declined to comment on the timing of the Liberal announcement, but said he hoped other parties would follow suit.

Despite the recent passage of the ACA, neither the Liberals nor the other federal parties had made significant reference to disability issues for the bulk of the election campaign.

The Green party did not respond to request for comment on accessibility measures, and the Peoples Party of Canada said its platform contained no policy related to disabled persons.

The NDP did not provide comment to The Canadian Press, but made several commitments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act in a letter sent to an Ontario-based disability advocacy group.

The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures, reads the NDPs letter to the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal party rhetoric.

The Conservatives, too, pledged to work closely with the disability community to ensure that our laws reflect their lived realities.

At a Thursday campaign stop in Brampton, Ont., leader Andrew Scheer said his party would implement the ACA and criticized the Liberals for their handling of other disability-related files.

We made commitments to make it easier to qualify for the disability tax credit, something that Justin Trudeaus government made harder especially for people with Type 1 diabetes, he said.

While campaigning in Trois-Rivieres, Que., also on Thursday, Trudeau said his governments approach was about fundamental equality, adding there is more to be done to achieve that goal.

Some disabled voters expressed concerns about the handful of relevant promises that have been put forward on the campaign trail. In addition to pledging expanded eligibility for the disability tax credit, the Conservatives have said they would implement a $50-million national autism strategy focusing on research and services for children. The NDP and Greens have followed suit with similar proposals and larger pots of cash.

While widely lauded among parent-led advocacy groups, some autistic adults said theyd prefer to see their concerns addressed in a broader strategy focusing on disability as a whole.

We face similar issues that people with other disabilities face, said Anne Borden of the self-advocacy group Autistics For Autistics. We all need access, human rights, dignity, self-determination We have more in common across our disabilities than any differences.

Qualtrough said she, too, favours that approach.

I am very much a proponent of a more overarching strategy that includes everyone and doesnt focus on diagnosis, she said, adding that research focusing on individual disabilities still has value and should be encouraged.




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Federal Liberals Promise to Use a Disability Lens in All Government Decisions – View This Pledge Through the Lens of Some Helpful Context


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org  [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Federal Liberals Promise to Use a Disability Lens in All Government Decisions – View This Pledge Through the Lens of Some Helpful Context

October 18, 2019

            SUMMARY

In a news article published today, just three days before the federal election, the Canadian Press reported that the federal Liberals have committed that if re-elected, they will apply a “disability lens” to all Federal Government decisions. We set out the October 18, 2019 Canadian Press article by reporter Michelle McQuigge, below, which was posted on the National Post’s website.

It would be very helpful for the Federal Government to apply a disability lens to all of its decisions, to ensure that they do not work against people with disabilities. We provide some context to this commitment.

First, as reported in the Canadian Press article, below, federal Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough appears to implicitly acknowledge that the new Accessible Canada Act, whose development she led, does not require the Federal Government to apply a disability lens to each of its decisions. That, regrettably, would be an accurate reading of the Accessible Canada Act. Minister Qualtrough also is reported in this article as saying that the Liberals would not make any amendments to the Accessible Canada Act. As such, this disability lens would be a voluntary measure that any future Federal Government could reject without needing to bring it before Parliament for a vote.

Second, during debates over the Accessible Canada Act over the past year, opposition members pointed out (at the request of disability advocates) that this proposed legislation lacked such a disability lens. They urged that a requirement for a disability lens should be added to the bill. None ultimately was added.

The Federal Government had an ideal opportunity to establish such a disability lens in Bill C-81 when it was before Parliament, and when all parties were focused on the need for national accessibility legislation. It is difficult to understand why the Federal Government did not add a disability lens then, and yet promises a voluntary disability lens now, just four months after Parliament passed Bill C-81. It would be preferable to entrench a disability lens into the Accessible Canada Act through an amendment once the new Parliament is elected. The AODA Alliance expects to propose such an amendment.

Third, during Second Reading debates last year in the House of Commons over Bill C-81, Liberal MP Kent Hehr actually said that Bill C-81 includes a disability lens, and praised the bill for having it. He had earlier been the Government’s minister responsible for developing this legislation for about half a year. On September 24, 2018, during Second Reading debates in the House of Commons, Mr. Hehr made these two statements on point:

  1. “I can also highlight this bill and its effects on government service. The day and age of people not getting through the door is essentially over with this legislation. It puts a proactive onus on government to move forward and look at things with an accessibility lens that I believe will be very helpful for people with disabilities and those trying to navigate an often complex system.”
  1. “I mentioned at the start of my speech that there are still very many inequalities in this country. In particular, people with disabilities are more likely to be poor and have difficulties finding employment, even getting services through government departments. This legislation would put that proactive emphasis on governments and systems within the federal jurisdiction having an accessibility lens to look at how we are not only going to get people through the door but help them come out the other side and succeed, whether it be through employment, accessing technology or getting government services. It is now incumbent upon us as government to follow through with what would be put in place through this legislation to make things better for people with disabilities in this country.”

We also alert you to the news that as this election campaign races to its conclusion, CTV national news broke the overwhelming silence of most conventional media outlets on this issue. It led its October 17, 2019 national television newscast with a report on how the parties have had so little to say in this campaign about accessibility for people with disabilities, and how voters with disabilities are unhappy with this. We do not have the text of this news report at this time. It can be watched online by visiting https://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1807311&jwsource=twi

You can read our non-partisan comparison of the parties’ commitments on disability accessibility (which was written yesterday, and hence before this Canadian Press news report) by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/non-partisan-issue-by-issue-comparison-of-the-positions-of-the-6-major-federal-political-parties-on-achieving-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

Follow @aodaalliance on Twitter for up-to-the-instant updates on our analysis of election returns as they come in, from the perspective of our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities.

            MORE DETAILS

National Post Online October 28, 2019

https://www.bing.com/search?q=Accessible+Canada+Act&go=Submit&qs=n&form=QBLH&pq=Accessible+Canada+Act&sc=10-14&sp=-1&sk=&cvid=d63c261e27184bb7b950c2bd9c5a8240

Liberals vow to implement disability lens for all government policies if re-elected

The Canadian Press

Michelle McQuigge

October 18, 2019

The federal Liberals say they will evaluate all existing and future government policies for their impact on disabled residents if voted back into power next week.

The pledge from Carla Qualtrough, the Liberals’ minister for accessibility issues, comes days before Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21 and shortly after disabled voters raised concerns about the lack of discussion of issues affecting their lives during the current campaign.

The Liberals released a disability equality statement earlier this week, a document that was not in their original platform.

Qualtrough clarified its contents in an interview with The Canadian Press, saying the party was committing to applying a disability lens to government decisions, a formal consideration of how each would affect people with disabilities.

The Liberals mandated that all policies be subjected to a gender-based analysis over the past several years, assessing whether government policies are affecting men and women in different ways.

Qualtrough says the Liberals would take the same approach with disability, reviewing existing policies and studying new ones to make sure government moves don’t exclude or adversely affect anyone.

“This … is the next step, to kind of systematically entrench disability inclusion into the way government does business, into the way government makes decisions,” ” she said in a telephone interview from Delta, B.C., where she is seeking re-election.

Qualtrough said such analysis would build upon the Accessible Canada Act, the country’s first federal piece of accessibility legislation, which passed into law in June. The act was the fulfillment of a 2015 Liberal campaign promise and is widely seen as a milestone in disability rights, though dozens of advocacy groups have expressed concern that it’s currently too weak to be effective.

Qualtrough said a re-elected Liberal government does not plan to amend the law, but said a disability lens would offer additional safeguards. The party’s new equality statement also pledges timely implementation of the new act.

The Liberal announcement earned praise from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a national advocacy group that has been calling for such analysis for years.

During the national consultation that led to the ACA, council members argued the government needed to duplicate the approach used for gender when considering disability issues.

The Liberals applied “gender-based-analysis-plus,” which extends to characteristics such as age, religion and ethnicity, to a federal budget for the first time in 2017 and mandated it be used across the board. But internal documents obtained earlier this year showed fewer than half of departments and agencies had GBA+ plans in place.

Council spokesman John Rae said adopting the same approach for disability would be an “important practice” that may ensure disabled voices are heard even if they aren’t in the room to speak up for themselves.

“We aren’t present in sufficient numbers in places where decisions about important aspects of life are made,” Rae said. “It’s very easy for our needs to get overlooked if not consciously ignored.”

Rae declined to comment on the timing of the Liberal announcement, but said he hoped other parties would follow suit.

Despite the recent passage of the ACA, neither the Liberals nor the other federal parties had made significant reference to disability issues for the bulk of the election campaign.

The Green party did not respond to request for comment on accessibility measures, and the People’s Party of Canada said its platform contained “no policy related to disabled persons.”

The NDP did not provide comment to The Canadian Press, but made several commitments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act in a letter sent to an Ontario-based disability advocacy group.

“The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures,” reads the NDP’s letter to the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. “New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal party rhetoric.”

The Conservatives, too, pledged to “work closely with the disability community to ensure that our laws reflect their lived realities.”

At a Thursday campaign stop in Brampton, Ont., leader Andrew Scheer said his party would implement the ACA and criticized the Liberals for their handling of other disability-related files.

“We made commitments to make it easier to qualify for the disability tax credit, something that Justin Trudeau’s government made harder especially for people with Type 1 diabetes,” he said.

While campaigning in Trois-Rivieres, Que., also on Thursday, Trudeau said his government’s approach was about “fundamental equality,” adding there is more to be done to achieve that goal.

Some disabled voters expressed concerns about the handful of relevant promises that have been put forward on the campaign trail. In addition to pledging expanded eligibility for the disability tax credit, the Conservatives have said they would implement a $50-million national autism strategy focusing on research and services for children. The NDP and Greens have followed suit with similar proposals and larger pots of cash.

While widely lauded among parent-led advocacy groups, some autistic adults said they’d prefer to see their concerns addressed in a broader strategy focusing on disability as a whole.

“We face similar issues that people with other disabilities face,” said Anne Borden of the self-advocacy group Autistics For Autistics. “We all need access, human rights, dignity, self-determination … We have more in common across our disabilities than any differences.”

Qualtrough said she, too, favours that approach.

“I am very much a proponent of a more overarching strategy that includes everyone and doesn’t focus on diagnosis,” she said, adding that research focusing on individual disabilities still has value and should be encouraged.



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Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Positions of the 6 Major Federal Political Parties on Achieving Accessibility for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities in Canada


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

October 17, 2019

SUMMARY

With the federal election only four days away, the AODA Alliance now makes public a non-partisan issue-by-issue comparison of the position of the 6 major federal political parties on what they would do, if elected, to ensure that Canada becomes accessible to over 6 million people with disabilities.

Just four months ago, all parties in Canada’s Parliament united to unanimously pass the Accessible Canada Act. It has the purpose of achieving a barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities by 2040. This election gives the parties an excellent first chance to say what they would do to fulfil that important goal. The AODA Alliance has extensive experience in this area, having done this in the past federal election and the past seven Ontario elections.

What’s the bottom line? The votes of millions of voters with disabilities are on the line. It is therefore very regrettable if not deeply troubling that only two of the major parties, the NDP and Liberals, even answered the AODA Alliances July 18, 2019 letter to the party leaders. That letter sought 11 concrete commitments on this topic. Of those two parties, the NDP clearly gave stronger specific commitments. The Liberals did not give specific commitments to take most of the actions we were seeking. It is especially troubling that only one of the six parties, the NDP, explicitly committed in responses to our July 18, 2019 letter, not to allow public money to be used to create new accessibility barriers against people with disabilities in Canada.

The Conservatives and Greens were strong critics of Bill C-81 because it was so weak, and commendably pressed to have it strengthened. Whether or not they respond to the AODA Alliances July 18, 2019 letter before the October 21, 2019, we will hold them to those positions, and to the Tories’ commitments to strengthen this law if elected. The Liberals proclaimed that the Accessible Canada Act is historic legislation. It is therefore hard to see why they would give such non-specific responses to our requests for clear, specific commitments.

In this comparison, we refer to the responses to our July 18, 2019 letter to the party leaders, and to positions that parties expressed in Parliament during debates over Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. The 11 commitments which the AODA Alliance sought from the parties are based on key issues which the AODA Alliance and many other disability organizations raised regarding Bill C-81 during extensive public hearings before the House of Commons’ Standing Committee last fall, and before the Senate’s Standing Committee last spring. The entire history of these efforts is available at www.aodaalliance.org/canada

It is during an election campaign when politicians put their best political foot forward and are most eager to show their interest in and support of causes that affect millions of Canadians. The federal parties have had ample opportunity to let us know their position on our issues. We wrote them fully three months ago, and have tweeted many of their candidates across Canada over a good number of weeks to try to get them to answer us.

For over 6 million people in Canada who now have a disability, and for all others who will later acquire a disability there is a powerful message here. It emanates from the comparison that is set out below. During public hearings on Bill C-81, one disability organization after the next emphasized that this legislation is deficient because it gives the Federal Government a series of helpful powers, but it does not require the Government to use those powers or set time lines for their exercise. The opposition NDP, Conservatives and Green Parties repeatedly echoed this serious concern.

However despite this, the bill was not substantially amended to eliminate this problem. Here we now are, just four months after this law was passed, and yet most of the parties are not prepared to say what, if anything, they would do to use those powers. This proves, beyond any doubt, why the Accessible Canada Act must be strengthened to make it strong and effective, and to require its effective implementation and enforcement.

We in the disability community were correct to push for amendments last year to achieve this goal. We will be wise to do it again when parliament resumes. The AODA Alliance will be ready to work with all parties, and with whomever forms Canada’s next government, to achieve that goal.

In providing this comparison, we yet again repeat that the non-partisan, AODA Alliance does not seek to support or oppose any party or candidate. We try to get the strongest commitments from all the parties and candidates.

If we receive any further responses from any of the parties before voting day, we will make them public as fast as we can. We will continue up to the last minute, trying to get all parties to make commitments on this issue.

The AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter to the major party leaders is available at: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliances available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

The Liberal Party’s October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance’s letter is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/liberal-party-of-canada-answers-request-for-election-commitments-on-achieving-an-accessible-canada-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-liberals-promise-less-than-the-ndp-tories-greens-peop/ The AODA Alliance’s federal election action kit that gives the public ideas on how to raise these issues during the election campaign is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/federal-election-action-kit-raise-disability-accessibility-issues-in-canadas-2019-federal-election/

Follow @aodaalliance to see our relentless stream of tweets to federal candidates, seeking their commitments on this issue, and to follow our analysis of election returns, as they bear on this issue.

MORE DETAILS
Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Major Federal Parties’ Positions on Ensuring that Canada Becomes Barrier-Free for Over Six Million People with Disabilities

General

All parties that were in Parliament before the current federal election voted for the Accessible Canada Act. As such, they have all agreed with the goal of Canada becoming barrier-free for people with disabilities by 2040.

Here is a summary of the 11 commitments that the AODA Alliance asked each party to make in its July 18, 2019 letter to the leaders of the six major federal parties:

1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this about this issue:

“We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make accessibility standards in a timely manner.

The NDP made multiple attempts to include implementation of timelines. During Committee meetings of Persons Living with Disabilities, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us aligned with the leading experts’ proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties. A New Democrat government will work hard to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in a timely fashion.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders. 2. The ACA should be effectively enforced.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

Yes, it’s critical to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced. Once again, the NDP made multiple attempts to ensure the ACA is effectively enforced. During Committee, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us were taken from their proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

3. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“The Liberal government missed a sizable opportunity in C-81. Federal money should never used by any recipient to create or perpetuate disability barriers. We proposed such an amendment during committee hearing.

Our ultimate goal is to help foster a society in which all of our citizens are able to participate fully and equally. We believe that this cannot happen until all of our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. The NDP would require that federal public money would never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers, including federal money received for procurement; infrastructure; transfer payments; research grants; business development loans or grants, or for any other kind of payment, including purpose under a contract.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance gave this response:

“Disability rights are human rights and we will always stand up to see these rights brought to life across government. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act. This builds on the work we have done over the past four years, putting into place measures that harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre, as well as the update to procurement policies across government.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

4. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“Yes, if a provision of the Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

5. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“We will review section 172(3) of the ACA a take the appropriate corrective measures to make sure airlines and railways pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to pay up.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

6. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in one federal agency, not splintered among several of them.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“Yes. The Liberal government’s Bill C-81 wrongly gave several public agencies or officials far too much sweeping power to grant partial or blanket exemptions to specific organizations from important parts of this bill. C-81 separated enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies. Rather it should be providing people with disabilities with what they need: the single service location or, one-stop shop..
We will assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the ACA to the Federal Cabinet.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders. 7. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.

New Democratic Party:

The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue, which can be read as directly or indirectly committing to what we seek:

“The NDP has long been committed to the rights of persons with disabilities. It has been our longstanding position that all of government-every budget,
every policy and regulation-should be viewed through a disability lens. The NDP has supported the establishment of a Canadians with Disabilities Act for many years.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“As stated above, we are fully committed to continuing to work with stakeholders and the disability community as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented to ensure it is fulfilling its objectives.

We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes.

We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders. 8. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

New Democrats have always fought to remove the barriers keeping persons with disabilities from living with dignity and independence, because when barriers are removed all Canadians are empowered to participate fully in society and we all benefit.

We brought forward amendments to C-81 that require the Accessibility Commissioner to appoint, within 12 months of the bill being enacted, an independent person (with no current or prior involvement in administering elections) to conduct an Independent Review of disability barriers in the election process, with a requirement to consult the public, including persons with disabilities, and to report within 12 months to the Federal Government. Their report should immediately be made public. Additionally, we would require the Federal Government to designate a minister with responsibility to bring forward a bill to reform elections legislation within 12 months of the completion of that Independent Review.”

Liberal Party:

The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote. As we do after every election, we will review lessons learned from these changes and work with stakeholders and the disability community on further steps we can take to address barriers that may exist.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.
9. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance included the following on this issue:

“Nine years ago, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Though the Liberal government has tabled a new Accessibility Act, its’ exemptions mean C-81 falls short of meeting Canada’s goal of creating an inclusive and barrier-free country. An NDP government will reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment to amend the Accessible Canada Act on this issue, but a commitment that would in practice narrow the use of this power. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response said the following on this issue:

“Should any exemptions be implemented in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act these will be limited and due to very exceptional circumstances. The rationale for the exemptions will also be made public.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

10. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“The amendment we brought forward during the C-81 proceedings would have required the Minister of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Government, to develop and implement a multi- year plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts) as well as federally-created administrative tribunals become fully accessible to court participants with disabilities, by the bill’s accessibility deadline. This should adopt and build upon the work of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee, which oversees efforts on accessibility for provincially-regulated courts in Ontario.”

Liberal Party:

A commitment to “examine this issue”. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“We will examine this issue as part of promised comprehensive review of federal policies and programs. In doing so we will work closely with provinces, territories, stakeholders and the disability community to effectively identify and reduce barriers.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

11. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“Absolutely! The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal Party rhetoric.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment on this issue. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. We will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”
Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.




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Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Positions of the 6 Major Federal Political Parties on Achieving Accessibility for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities in Canada


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Positions of the 6 Major Federal Political Parties on Achieving Accessibility for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities in Canada

October 17, 2019

               SUMMARY

With the federal election only four days away, the AODA Alliance now makes public a non-partisan issue-by-issue comparison of the position of the 6 major federal political parties on what they would do, if elected, to ensure that Canada becomes accessible to over 6 million people with disabilities.

Just four months ago, all parties in Canada’s Parliament united to unanimously pass the Accessible Canada Act. It has the purpose of achieving a barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities by 2040. This election gives the parties an excellent first chance to say what they would do to fulfil that important goal. The AODA Alliance has extensive experience in this area, having done this in the past federal election and the past seven Ontario elections.

What’s the bottom line? The votes of millions of voters with disabilities are on the line. It is therefore very regrettable if not deeply troubling that only two of the major parties, the NDP and Liberals, even answered the AODA Alliances July 18, 2019 letter to the party leaders. That letter sought 11 concrete commitments on this topic. Of those two parties, the NDP clearly gave stronger specific commitments. The Liberals did not give specific commitments to take most of the actions we were seeking. It is especially troubling that only one of the six parties, the NDP, explicitly committed in responses to our July 18, 2019 letter, not to allow public money to be used to create new accessibility barriers against people with disabilities in Canada.

The Conservatives and Greens were strong critics of Bill C-81 because it was so weak, and commendably pressed to have it strengthened. Whether or not they respond to the AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter before the October 21, 2019, we will hold them to those positions, and to the Tories’ commitments to strengthen this law if elected. The Liberals proclaimed that the Accessible Canada Act is historic legislation. It is therefore hard to see why they would give such non-specific responses to our requests for clear, specific commitments.

In this comparison, we refer to the responses to our July 18, 2019 letter to the party leaders, and to positions that parties expressed in Parliament during debates over Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. The 11 commitments which the AODA Alliance sought from the parties are based on key issues which the AODA Alliance and many other disability organizations raised regarding Bill C-81 during extensive public hearings before the House of Commons’ Standing Committee last fall, and before the Senate’s Standing Committee last spring. The entire history of these efforts is available at www.aodaalliance.org/canada

It is during an election campaign when politicians put their best political foot forward and are most eager to show their interest in and support of causes that affect millions of Canadians. The federal parties have had ample opportunity to let us know their position on our issues. We wrote them fully three months ago, and have tweeted many of their candidates across Canada over a good number of weeks to try to get them to answer us.

For over 6 million people in Canada who now have a disability, and for all others who will later acquire a disability there is a powerful message here. It emanates from the comparison that is set out below. During public hearings on Bill C-81, one disability organization after the next emphasized that this legislation is deficient because it gives the Federal Government a series of helpful powers, but it does not require the Government to use those powers or set time lines for their exercise. The opposition NDP, Conservatives and Green Parties repeatedly echoed this serious concern.

However despite this, the bill was not substantially amended to eliminate this problem. Here we now are, just four months after this law was passed, and yet most of the parties are not prepared to say what, if anything, they would do to use those powers. This proves, beyond any doubt, why the Accessible Canada Act must be strengthened to make it strong and effective, and to require its effective implementation and enforcement.

We in the disability community were correct to push for amendments last year to achieve this goal. We will be wise to do it again when parliament resumes. The AODA Alliance will be ready to work with all parties, and with whomever forms Canada’s next government, to achieve that goal.

In providing this comparison, we yet again repeat that the non-partisan, AODA Alliance does not seek to support or oppose any party or candidate. We try to get the strongest commitments from all the parties and candidates.

If we receive any further responses from any of the parties before voting day, we will make them public as fast as we can. We will continue up to the last minute, trying to get all parties to make commitments on this issue.

The AODA Alliance’s July 18, 2019 letter to the major party leaders is available at: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-federal-party-leaders-seeking-election-commitments-on-advancing-the-cause-of-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliances available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

The Liberal Party’s October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance’s letter is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/liberal-party-of-canada-answers-request-for-election-commitments-on-achieving-an-accessible-canada-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-liberals-promise-less-than-the-ndp-tories-greens-peop/

The AODA Alliance’s federal election action kit that gives the public ideas on how to raise these issues during the election campaign is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/federal-election-action-kit-raise-disability-accessibility-issues-in-canadas-2019-federal-election/

Follow @aodaalliance to see our relentless stream of tweets to federal candidates, seeking their commitments on this issue, and to follow our analysis of election returns, as they bear on this issue.

            MORE DETAILS

 Non-Partisan Issue-By-Issue Comparison of the Major Federal Parties’ Positions on Ensuring that Canada Becomes Barrier-Free for Over Six Million People with Disabilities

 General

All parties that were in Parliament before the current federal election voted for the Accessible Canada Act. As such, they have all agreed with the goal of Canada becoming barrier-free for people with disabilities by 2040.

Here is a summary of the 11 commitments that the AODA Alliance asked each party to make in its July 18, 2019 letter to the leaders of the six major federal parties:

 1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this about this issue:

“We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make accessibility standards in a timely manner.

The NDP made multiple attempts to include implementation of timelines. During Committee meetings of Persons Living with Disabilities, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us aligned with the leading experts’ proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties. A New Democrat government will work hard to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in a timely fashion.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 2. The ACA should be effectively enforced.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“Yes, it’s critical to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced. Once again, the NDP made multiple attempts to ensure the ACA is effectively enforced. During Committee, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us were taken from their proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 3. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“The Liberal government missed a sizable opportunity in C-81. Federal money should never used by any recipient to create or perpetuate disability barriers. We proposed such an amendment during committee hearing.

Our ultimate goal is to help foster a society in which all of our citizens are able to participate fully and equally. We believe that this cannot happen until all of our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. The NDP would require that federal public money would never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers, including federal money received for procurement; infrastructure; transfer payments; research grants; business development loans or grants, or for any other kind of payment, including purpose under a contract.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance gave this response:

“Disability rights are human rights and we will always stand up to see these rights brought to life across government. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act. This builds on the work we have done over the past four years, putting into place measures that harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre, as well as the update to procurement policies across government.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 4. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“Yes, if a provision of the Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any  other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 5. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said this on this issue:

“We will review section 172(3) of the ACA a take the appropriate corrective measures to make sure airlines and railways pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to pay up.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 6. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in one federal agency, not splintered among several of them.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“Yes. The Liberal government’s Bill C-81 wrongly gave several public agencies or officials far too much sweeping power to grant partial or blanket exemptions to specific organizations from important parts of this bill. C-81 separated enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies. Rather it should be providing people with disabilities with what they need: the single service location or, one-stop shop..

We will assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the ACA to the Federal Cabinet.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

7. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.

New Democratic Party:

The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue, which can be read as directly or indirectly committing to what we seek:

“The NDP has long been committed to the rights of persons with disabilities. It has been our longstanding position that all of government-every budget,

every policy and regulation-should be viewed through a disability lens. The NDP has supported the establishment of a Canadians with Disabilities Act for many years.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“As stated above, we are fully committed to continuing to work with stakeholders and the disability community as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented to ensure it is fulfilling its objectives.

We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes.

We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 8. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“New Democrats have always fought to remove the barriers keeping persons with disabilities from living with dignity and independence, because when barriers are removed all Canadians are empowered to participate fully in society and we all benefit.

We brought forward amendments to C-81 that require the Accessibility Commissioner to appoint, within 12 months of the bill being enacted, an independent person (with no current or prior involvement in administering elections) to conduct an Independent Review of disability barriers in the election process, with a requirement to consult the public, including persons with disabilities, and to report within 12 months to the Federal Government. Their report should immediately be made public. Additionally, we would require the Federal Government to designate a minister with responsibility to bring forward a bill to reform elections legislation within 12 months of the completion of that Independent Review.”

Liberal Party:

The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response gave this answer on this issue:

“We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote. As we do after every election, we will review lessons learned from these changes and work with stakeholders and the disability community on further steps we can take to address barriers that may exist.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 9. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance included the following on this issue:

“Nine years ago, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Though the Liberal government has tabled a new Accessibility Act, its’ exemptions mean C-81 falls short of meeting Canada’s goal of creating an inclusive and barrier-free country. An NDP government will reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment to amend the Accessible Canada Act on this issue, but a commitment that would in practice narrow the use of this power. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response said the following on this issue:

“Should any exemptions be implemented in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act these will be limited and due to very exceptional circumstances. The rationale for the exemptions will also be made public.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 10. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“The amendment we brought forward during the C-81 proceedings would have required the Minister of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Government, to develop and implement a multi- year plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts) as well as federally-created administrative tribunals become fully accessible to court participants with disabilities, by the bill’s accessibility deadline. This should adopt and build upon the work of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee, which oversees efforts on accessibility for provincially-regulated courts in Ontario.”

Liberal Party:

A commitment to “examine this issue”. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“We will examine this issue as part of promised comprehensive review of federal policies and programs. In doing so we will work closely with provinces, territories, stakeholders and the disability community to effectively identify and reduce barriers.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

 11. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.

New Democratic Party:

Specific affirmative commitment. The NDP’s September 16, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“Absolutely! The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal Party rhetoric.”

Liberal Party:

No specific commitment on this issue. The Liberals’ October 15, 2019 response to the AODA Alliance said the following on this issue:

“We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. We will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.”

Conservative Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Conservative Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support. On November 22, 2019, the Conservative Party promised in the House of Commons, if elected, to strengthen Bill C-81:

Conservative MP John Barlow: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.”

Conservative MP: Alex Nuttall “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Green Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

During debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-81, The Green Party pointed out that the bill was too weak and needed to be strengthened. It quoted the AODA Alliance among others in support.

Bloc Quebecois:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.

People’s Party:

No response to the July 18, 2019 letter from the AODA Alliance to all major federal party leaders.



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Part 2 of Accommodation in University and College


In Part 1 of this article, we discussed how an education standard could mandate a process for accommodation in university and college. We also explored how this process could be based on the AODA’s existing guidelines for accommodating workers with disabilities. In Part 2, we will outline how a standardized process for creating accommodation plans could help more students succeed in school.

Accommodation in University and College

Currently, there are no rules in the AODA outlining a single process for accommodation in university and college. Instead, according to a report by the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), each school must develop its own process. As a result, schools’ accommodation policies may differ widely.

For instance, schools may ask students to prove their need for accommodation in different ways. Some schools, as in the Employment Standards’ guidelines, may ask for proof of the tasks a student performs differently. For example, a student may submit a medical form stating that they have severe, moderate, mild, or no difficulty with tasks involving:

  • Attention or concentration
  • Fine motor or gross motor skills
  • Hearing
  • Managing distractions or stress
  • Physical stamina
  • Short-term or long-term memory
  • Sitting or standing
  • Social or emotional skills
  • Speech
  • Vision

Once a student hands in their form, they can talk to an accessibility counsellor about the accommodations the school can offer them.

Accommodation Based on Diagnosis

In contrast, other schools may tell students that they must disclose a medical diagnosis of disability before receiving accommodations. As a result, students waiting to see a doctor and be diagnosed may not receive the support they need. In addition, schools may require that students prove their disability through different assessments. For example, there are different assessments that people can take to diagnose a learning disability. A student may qualify for accommodations under one assessment, but not under a different assessment. Therefore, if a school only accepts one assessment, it denies accommodation to people who have proof of disability through another assessment.

Lack of Accommodation Policies

Furthermore, some schools do not have accommodation policies at all. In this case, a student must approach a school administrator, or arrange separate accommodations for every class with each of their professors. Staff with little training about students with disabilities may reject a student’s accommodation request because they do not understand it. For instance, a professor might not know about the need to accommodate students with invisible disabilities, such as mental health challenges.

A standard process for accommodation in university and college, similar to the Employment Standard’s process, would solve all these problems. Moreover, students could bring their accommodation plans with them from one school to another. For instance, a student in a program involving courses at college and university would not need two accommodation plans. Similarly, a student starting graduate school at a new university could bring their undergraduate accommodation plan with them. The new school could update the plan if needed, to address new tasks or contexts. However, they would not have to spend time rewriting a plan that has been written before.

Another way to make accommodation easier for everyone involved is universal design. Our next article will describe what universal design is and how it makes school more accessible.




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Liberal Party of Canada Answers Request for Election Commitments on Achieving an Accessible Canada for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities


Liberals Promise Less Than the NDP Tories Greens, People’s Party and the Bloc Haven’t Answered the AODA Alliance’s Request for 11 Commitments

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

October 16, 2019

SUMMARY

With the October 21 federal election so near, so close in the polls, and with every vote so important, what are the federal parties committing to do for over six million people with disabilities in Canada? The grassroots AODA Alliance has sought 11 specific commitments to strengthen the recently-enacted Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and to ensure that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced. So far, only two federal parties have even answered.

Polls are suggesting that Canadians are about to elect a minority government. If there is a minority government, no matter who is our next Prime Minister, there is a real potential that Canada’s next Parliament could be persuaded to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. While in opposition last year, the Greens, NDP and Conservatives all advocated for this law to be strengthened.

On October 15, 2019, the Liberal Party of Canada announced which election pledges it would make to people with disabilities, in response to the July 18, 2019 request for 11 major commitments which the AODA Alliance directed to the leaders of the six major federal parties. The Liberals’ response and its accompanying online statement on disability equality which it posted on its website on October 15, 2019, both set out below, give fewer promises than the only other federal party to respond to date.

On September 16, 2019, the federal New Democratic Party became the first federal party to answer the AODA Alliance’s request for these 11 commitments. The NDP response is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

With only five days left before voting day, the AODA Alliance is continuing its blitz. The federal Conservatives, Greens, People’s Party and Bloc Quebecois have not yet answered. Last year, the Greens and Tories teamed up with the NDP in an unsuccessful to press for amendments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act, at the request of a number of disability organizations including the AODA Alliance. During debates on the bill in the House of Commons last fall, the Tories promised to make it a priority to strengthen this law if they form the next Government. On November 22, 2018, Tory MPP John Barlow pledged: “when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.” Tory MP Alex Nuttall promised Parliament “we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Below we also set out the excellent October 15, 2019 Canadian Press article by reporter Michelle McQuigge, posted online by Global News. It is the only news article we have seen in this election campaign covering the parties positions on this issue, and disability community efforts to secure such commitments. We urge the media to give this issue more coverage in the election campaign’s final days.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any party or candidate. It seeks to secure the strongest commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities from all the parties. As part of this campaign, it is tweeting to as many federal candidates across Canada as possible to press for the commitments it seeks. This evening, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to speak on a panel that will give action tips for the election campaign’s final days at a federal election disability issues public forum in Toronto, organized by a number of disability organizations. It takes place from 7 to 9 pm at Ryerson University’s Tecumseh Auditorium, Ryerson Student Centre, 55 Gould Street, Toronto.

Here is a summary of the 11 commitments that the AODA Alliance asked each party to make in its July 18, 2019 letter to the leaders of the six major federal parties:

1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.

2. The ACA should be effectively enforced.

3. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.

4. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.

5. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.

6. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in One federal agency, not splintered among several of them.

7. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.

8. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.

9. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.

10. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.

11. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.

The AODA Alliance is deeply concerned that the voting process in federal elections has not been assured to be barrier-free for voters with disabilities. We will be monitoring for these barriers, and are urging voters with disabilities to alert us of any problems they encounter. To follow all the action on Twitter over the last days leading to the election, follow @aodaalliance Email reports of voting barriers to us at [email protected]

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance
For background on the AODA Alliance’s participation in the grassroots non-partisan campaign since 2015 for the Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

MORE DETAILS

October 15, 2019 Response from the Liberal Party of Canada to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Disability equality benefits everyone. When Canadians with disabilities have equal opportunities to contribute to their communities, to have the same quality of service from their government, to have equal opportunities to work, and to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else, we build a stronger economy and a stronger country.

Since 2015, weve worked to make this the reality for more Canadians. We started with a human rights-based approach to disability equality fundamentally changing the way we, as a country, treat inclusion and accessibility. Part of that meant moving beyond individual accommodation and instead addressing discrimination as a whole.

Now, were making another choice. Were choosing forward taking the progress weve achieved and going even further to make Canada a more fair, equal and affordable place to live.

Over the past four years, we have made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. For a full list of these actions please refer to Appendix A.

There is more work to be done. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers and experience discrimination.

Canada requires strong leadership to ensure that a human rights-based approach to disability is reflected in all Government of Canada policies, programmes, practices and results. To ensure systemic disability inclusion and to lead by example as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented, a re-elected Liberal government will put these policies and practices into place, in consultation with the disability community. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act.

We heard from Canadians with disabilities that the most significant economic and social barrier they face to full economic and social participation is in the area of employment. This is particularly so for youth with disabilities. From the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know that approximately 59% of working-age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities.

Thats why a re-elected Liberal government will improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities through various measures that target these barriers, address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses in a coordinated way. One component of this will be the creation of a workplace accessibility fund to help increase the availability of accommodations that help close gaps in access to good paying jobs and education. We know that improving workplace accessibility and employment outcomes for Canadians with disabilities will have an overwhelmingly positive impact, leading to increased productivity and greater profits for businesses, as well as financial independence and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

We will also focus on the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Canada needs continued leadership to make sure people with disabilities can not only find good jobs, but can succeed for years and decades to come.

We wont get that leadership from the Conservatives, whove proved that they only want to give a break to the very wealthiest Canadians and cut programs and services for everyone else. Of the $53 billion they promise to cut, $14 billion is in hidden, mystery cuts could hurt Canadians with disabilities the most.

Only a re-elected Liberal government will continue on the progress weve made together. To help more Canadians with disabilities find and keep good jobs, well address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses.

These and other measures will ensure that disability inclusion is a priority for a re-elected Liberal government. We know that this is the best way to ensure that all Canadians have an equal and fair chance to succeed.

To read our full statement on disability equality and inclusion, as well as consult our 2019 platform, please visit: https://www.liberal.ca/disability-equality-statement/

Specific Additional Information in Response to Your Questions

Questions 1 and 2:
We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 3 (application to public policy):
Disability rights are human rights and we will always stand up to see these rights brought to life across government. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act. This builds on the work we have done over the past four years, putting into place measures that harness the Government of Canadas purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre, as well as the update to procurement policies across government.

Questions 4 to 6 (implementation and enforcement issues):
We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 7
As stated above, we are fully committed to continuing to work with stakeholders and the disability community as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented to ensure it is fulfilling its objectives.

We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes.

We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 8:
We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote. As we do after every election, we will review lessons learned from these changes and work with stakeholders and the disability community on further steps we can take to address barriers that may exist.

Question 9:
Should any exemptions be implemented in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act these will be limited and due to very exceptional circumstances. The rationale for the exemptions will also be made public.

Question 10:
We will examine this issue as part of promised comprehensive review of federal policies and programs. In doing so we will work closely with provinces, territories, stakeholders and the disability community to effectively identify and reduce barriers.

Question 11:
We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. We will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

Appendix A: Our shared progress

After a decade of neglect from Harpers Conservatives, over the past four years weve made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. This started with the appointment of Canadas first-ever Cabinet Minister responsible for Canadians with Disabilities. We also held a national discourse on disability issues through what would become the most inclusive consultation any government has ever had in the history of our country on any topic. We held the first ever national summit for youth with disabilities, attended by the Prime Minister. The result: the Accessible Canada Act.

Canada is a proud signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Since 2015, we taken a human rights-based approach to disability equality, making fundamental changes to the way we put the principles of inclusion and accessibility into practice. We recognized the need for systems, policies and practices to be designed inclusively from the start. We recognized the need to move beyond relying on individual accommodation to address discrimination. We recognized the economic benefit of disability inclusion. And we moved beyond Nothing About Us, Without Us, to Nothing Without Us, because every decision the federal government makes impacts its citizens with disabilities. Our efforts culminated in the Accessible Canada Act, which is considered the most significant advancement in disability rights since the Charter in 1982.

At the same time, we worked across government to make federal laws, policies, procedures and programs more equitable and inclusive of Canadians with disabilities:

? We applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy, and the National Infrastructure Program.

? We improved tax policies through measures such as permitting registered nurse practitioners to complete Disability Tax Credit (DTC) medical forms, and the enhanced caregiver credit.

? We addressed the financial security of Canadians with disabilities through important changes to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

? We improved our immigration system by amending the outdated provisions on medical inadmissibility. And we removed the processing fee to hire foreign caregivers, making these services more affordable.

? We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote.

? We increased access to alternate format material, including the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016.

? We created the Accessible Technology Fund.

? We included persons with disabilities in decision-making. Examples include the Disability Advisory Group to Elections Canada, the Canada Post Accessibility Advisory Panel, and the reconstituted Disability Advisory Group to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which was disbanded by Harpers Conservatives.

? We focused on data collection to inform government decision-making. This included enhancements the Canadian Survey on Disability, and funding a study on intersectionality as it relates to gender and disability called More than a Footnote.

? We appointed the first-ever Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility, and committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years into the federal public service. This will be complemented by a new internship program that will provide placements across the federal government for persons with disabilities.

? We invested in making government workspaces more accessible, and began working towards ensuring our buildings and properties meet the highest standards of accessibility. We put into places measures that will harness the Government of Canadas purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre.

? We adhered to our international human rights obligations: we signed the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD, and appointed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor the UNCRPD.

October 15, 2019 Online Statement on Disability Equality by the Liberal Party of Canada

DISABILITY EQUALITY STATEMENT

Originally posted at https://www.liberal.ca/disability-equality-statement/

Disability equality benefits everyone. When Canadians with disabilities have equal opportunities to contribute to their communities, to have the same quality of service from their government, to have equal opportunities to work, and to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else, we build a stronger economy and a stronger country.

Since 2015, weve worked to make this the reality for more Canadians. We started with a human rights-based approach to disability equality fundamentally changing the way we, as a country, treat inclusion and accessibility. Part of that meant moving beyond individual accommodation and instead addressing discrimination as a whole.

Now, were making another choice. Were choosing forward taking the progress weve achieved and going even further to make Canada a more fair, equal and affordable place to live.

OUR SHARED PROGRESS
After a decade of neglect from Harpers Conservatives, over the past four years weve made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. This started with the appointment of Canadas first-ever Cabinet Minister responsible for Canadians with Disabilities. We also held a national discourse on disability issues through what would become the most inclusive consultation any government has ever had in the history of our country on any topic. We held the first ever national summit for youth with disabilities, attended by the Prime Minister. The result: the Accessible Canada Act.

Canada is a proud signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Since 2015, we taken a human rights-based approach to disability equality, making fundamental changes to the way we put the principles of inclusion and accessibility into practice. We recognized the need for systems, policies and practices to be designed inclusively from the start. We recognized the need to move beyond relying on individual accommodation to address discrimination. We recognized the economic benefit of disability inclusion. And we moved beyond Nothing About Us, Without Us, to Nothing Without Us, because every decision the federal government makes impacts its citizens with disabilities. Our efforts culminated in the Accessible Canada Act, which is considered the most significant advancement in disability rights since the Charter in 1982.

At the same time, we worked across government to make federal laws, policies, procedures and programs more equitable and inclusive of Canadians with disabilities:

We applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy, and the National Infrastructure Program.

We improved tax policies through measures such as permitting registered nurse practitioners to complete Disability Tax Credit (DTC) medical forms, and the enhanced caregiver credit.

We addressed the financial security of Canadians with disabilities through important changes to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

We improved our immigration system by amending the outdated provisions on medical inadmissibility. And we removed the processing fee to hire foreign caregivers, making these services more affordable.

We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote.

We increased access to alternate format material, including the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016.

We created the Accessible Technology Fund.

We included persons with disabilities in decision-making. Examples include the Disability Advisory Group to Elections Canada, the Canada Post Accessibility Advisory Panel, and the reconstituted Disability Advisory Group to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which was disbanded by Harpers Conservatives.

We focused on data collection to inform government decision-making. This included enhancements the Canadian Survey on Disability, and funding a study on intersectionality as it relates to gender and disability called More than a Footnote.

We appointed the first-ever Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility, and committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years into the federal public service. This will be complemented by a new internship program that will provide placements across the federal government for persons with disabilities.

We invested in making government workspaces more accessible, and began working towards ensuring our buildings and properties meet the highest standards of accessibility. We put into places measures that will harness the Government of Canadas purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre.

We adhered to our international human rights obligations: we signed the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD, and appointed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor the UNCRPD.

THE PATH TO EQUALITY THROUGH DISABILITY INCLUSION

Moving forward, there is more work to be done. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers and experience discrimination.

Canada requires strong leadership to ensure that a human rights-based approach to disability is reflected in all Government of Canada policies, programmes, practices and results. To ensure systemic disability inclusion and to lead by example as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented, a re-elected Liberal government will put these policies and practices into place, in consultation with the disability community. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act.

We heard from Canadians with disabilities that the most significant economic and social barrier they face to full economic and social participation is in the area of employment. This is particularly so for youth with disabilities. From the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know that approximately 59% of working-age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities.

Thats why a re-elected Liberal government will improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities through various measures that target these barriers, address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses in a coordinated way. One component of this will be the creation of a workplace accessibility fund to help increase the availability of accommodations that help close gaps in access to good paying jobs and education. We know that improving workplace accessibility and employment outcomes for Canadians with disabilities will have an overwhelmingly positive impact, leading to increased productivity and greater profits for businesses, as well as financial independence and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

We will also focus on the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Canada needs continued leadership to make sure people with disabilities can not only find good jobs, but can succeed for years and decades to come.

We wont get that leadership from the Conservatives, whove proved that they only want to give a break to the very wealthiest Canadians and cut programs and services for everyone else. Of the $53 billion they promise to cut, $14 billion is in hidden, mystery cuts could hurt Canadians with disabilities the most.

Only a re-elected Liberal government will continue on the progress weve made together. To help more Canadians with disabilities find and keep good jobs, well address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses.

These and other measures will ensure that disability inclusion is a priority for a re-elected Liberal government. We know that this is the best way to ensure that all Canadians have an equal and fair chance to succeed.

Global News October 15, 2019

Originally posted at https://globalnews.ca/news/6034294/canadians-disabilities-election-campaign/

Canadians with disabilities cast doubt next federal government will address needs BY MICHELLE MCQUIGGE -THE CANADIAN PRESS

Amy Amantea, who lost her eyesight due to complications while undergoing surgery more than a decade ago, poses for a photograph at her home in North Vancouver, on Oct. 11, 2019.

Amy Amantea tuned in to the English-language federal leaders debate with modest hope there would be at least some discussion of issues relevant to disabled Canadians.

The first half of the campaign had passed with barely a reference, even from the party that had delivered a historic achievement in national disability policy. Earlier this year, the Liberals made good on a 2015 campaign promise when the Accessible Canada Act received royal assent, marking the first time any government had enacted accessibility legislation at the federal level.

The government estimates one in five Canadians over the age of 15 is disabled, and Amantea, who is legally blind, hoped leaders would use the Oct. 7 debate to address some of the many issues they face. But those hopes faded as the debate progressed, giving way instead to doubts about how Canadas disabled residents would fare after the Oct. 21 election.

We have a lot of very unique needs and circumstances in our community that dont get addressed, Amantea said in a telephone interview from Vancouver. Just a nod, just a mention would have been kind of nice, but it was not to be.

Amantea said that relative silence has persisted into the final week of the campaign, giving rise to concerns throughout Canadas disabled community. Many fear that parties who fail to make mention of key issues facing disabled Canadians while courting votes may prove even more dismissive once those votes have been cast.

They point to party platforms and public pledges, most of which make scant mention of either the Accessible Canada Act or disability-specific measures on issues such as infrastructure, health and affordable housing.

The Liberals response to questions on disability policy largely focused on past achievements. Spokesman Joe Pickerill did offer some future plans, including doubling the disability child benefit, establishing a $40-million-per-year national fund meant to help disabled Canadians find work, and simplifying the process veterans use to access disability benefits.

The Green party did not respond to request for comment, and the Peoples Party of Canada said its platform contained no policy related to disabled persons.

The NDP did not provide comment to The Canadian Press, but made several commitments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act in a letter sent to an Ontario-based disability advocacy group.

The act, while widely acknowledged as a significant milestone, was also broadly criticized by nearly a hundred grass-roots organizations across the country as too weak to be truly effective. Such critiques continued even after the government agreed to adopt some Senate amendments sought by the disability groups, who hoped future governments would continue to build on the new law.

Only the NDP agreed to do so when approached by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, which contacted all major parties in July.

The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures, reads the NDPs response. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal party rhetoric.

The Conservatives, too, pledged to work closely with the disability community to ensure that our laws reflect their lived realities. Spokesman Simon Jefferies also noted party members pushed to strengthen the act but saw their amendments voted down by the government.

The vagueness of these commitments troubles Gabrielle Peters, a wheelchair-user and writer.

Canadas approach to accessibility has been to grant it as a gift they give us rather than a right we deserve, Peters said. Now that we have the ACA, the concern is that the broader public and the government think the issue is resolved when this law is, at best, a beginning.

Other disabled voters expressed concerns about the handful of relevant promises that have been put forward on the campaign trail. In addition to pledging expanded eligibility for the disability tax credit, the Conservatives have said they would implement a $50-million national autism strategy focusing on research and services for children. The NDP and Greens have followed suit with similar proposals and larger pots of cash.

While widely lauded among parent-led advocacy groups, some autistic adults view the proposals with skepticism.

Alex Haagaard, who is autistic and uses a wheelchair, said that while much modern disability policy including the ACA tends to apply a social lens, discussion of autism is still framed through the outmoded medical model that positions the disability as an ailment to be cured rather than a part of a persons identity.

Haagaard said action is clearly needed to help parents seeking supports for their children and teachers working to integrate autistic students into their classrooms, but said current attitudes at the heart of the campaign rhetoric are troubling.

A national strategy, Haagaard said, also risks undermining the goal of broader inclusion for other disabled populations.

That is counter to the goals of disability justice to silo autism as this individual condition that warrants this level of attention compared to other disabilities, Haagaard said.

Like Amantea, Peters felt let down by the leaders debates, citing the prevalence of discussion around medical assistance in dying over other issues that affect disabled people. The subject is polarizing, with many advocacy groups and individuals asserting such legislation devalues the lives of disabled people and places them at greater risk.

Such a narrow focus, Peters said, shows all parties failure to reckon with or address the diverse, complex needs of an overlooked demographic.

What strikes me as missing in policy and in this election is us, she said. Disabled people. The not inspirational, not motivational, not middle class, not white, disabled people of this country. In other words most of us.




Source link

Liberal Party of Canada Answers Request for Election Commitments on Achieving an Accessible Canada for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities- Liberals Promise Less Than the NDP – Tories Greens, People’s Party and the Bloc Haven’t Answered the AODA Alliance’s Request for 11 Commitments


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

 

Liberal Party of Canada Answers Request for Election Commitments on Achieving an Accessible Canada for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities– Liberals Promise Less Than the NDP – Tories Greens, People’s Party and the Bloc Haven’t Answered the AODA Alliance’s Request for 11 Commitments

 

October 16, 2019

 

            SUMMARY

 

With the October 21 federal election so near, so close in the polls, and with every vote so important, what are the federal parties committing to do for over six million people with disabilities in Canada? The grassroots AODA Alliance has sought 11 specific commitments to strengthen the recently-enacted Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and to ensure that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced. So far, only two federal parties have even answered.

Polls are suggesting that Canadians are about to elect a minority government. If there is a minority government, no matter who is our next Prime Minister, there is a real potential that Canada’s next Parliament could be persuaded to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. While in opposition last year, the Greens, NDP and Conservatives all advocated for this law to be strengthened.

On October 15, 2019, the Liberal Party of Canada announced which election pledges it would make to people with disabilities, in response to the July 18, 2019 request for 11 major commitments which the AODA Alliance directed to the leaders of the six major federal parties. The Liberals’ response and its accompanying online statement on disability equality which it posted on its website on October 15, 2019, both set out below, give fewer promises than the only other federal party to respond to date.

On September 16, 2019, the federal New Democratic Party became the first federal party to answer the AODA Alliance’s request for these 11 commitments. The NDP response is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/what-pledges-will-the-federal-party-leaders-make-in-this-election-to-make-canada-accessible-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-federal-ndp-leader-jagmeet-singh-is-first-national-leader-to-wr/

With only five days left before voting day, the AODA Alliance is continuing its blitz. The federal Conservatives, Greens, People’s Party and Bloc Quebecois have not yet answered. Last year, the Greens and Tories teamed up with the NDP in an unsuccessful to press for amendments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act, at the request of a number of disability organizations including the AODA Alliance. During debates on the bill in the House of Commons last fall, the Tories promised to make it a priority to strengthen this law if they form the next Government. On November 22, 2018, Tory MPP John Barlow pledged: “…when a Conservative government comes into power, we will do everything we can to address the shortcomings of Bill C-81.” Tory MP Alex Nuttall promised Parliament “…we will get it right, right after the next election. This will be among the first things we ensure we put right, because it is concerning the most vulnerable Canadians.”

Below we also set out the excellent October 15, 2019 Canadian Press article by reporter Michelle McQuigge, posted online by Global News. It is the only news article we have seen in this election campaign covering the parties’ positions on this issue, and disability community efforts to secure such commitments. We urge the media to give this issue more coverage in the election campaign’s final days.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any party or candidate. It seeks to secure the strongest commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities from all the parties. As part of this campaign, it is tweeting to as many federal candidates across Canada as possible to press for the commitments it seeks. This evening, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to speak on a panel that will give action tips for the election campaign’s final days at a federal election disability issues public forum in Toronto, organized by a number of disability organizations. It takes place from 7 to 9 pm at Ryerson University’s Tecumseh Auditorium, Ryerson Student Centre, 55 Gould Street, Toronto.

Here is a summary of the 11 commitments that the AODA Alliance asked each party to make in its July 18, 2019 letter to the leaders of the six major federal parties:

  1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.
  1. The ACA should be effectively enforced.
  1. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.
  1. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.
  1. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.
  1. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in One federal agency, not splintered among several of them.
  1. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.
  1. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.
  1. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.
  1. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.
  1. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.

The AODA Alliance is deeply concerned that the voting process in federal elections has not been assured to be barrier-free for voters with disabilities. We will be monitoring for these barriers, and are urging voters with disabilities to alert us of any problems they encounter. To follow all the action on Twitter over the last days leading to the election, follow @aodaalliance Email reports of voting barriers to us at [email protected]

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

For background on the AODA Alliance’s participation in the grassroots non-partisan campaign since 2015 for the Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

          MORE DETAILS

October 15, 2019 Response from the Liberal Party of Canada to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Disability equality benefits everyone. When Canadians with disabilities have equal opportunities to contribute to their communities, to have the same quality of service from their government, to have equal opportunities to work, and to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else, we build a stronger economy – and a stronger country.

Since 2015, we’ve worked to make this the reality for more Canadians. We started with a human rights-based approach to disability equality — fundamentally changing the way we, as a country, treat inclusion and accessibility. Part of that meant moving beyond individual accommodation and instead addressing discrimination as a whole.

Now, we’re making another choice. We’re choosing forward — taking the progress we’ve achieved and going even further to make Canada a more fair, equal and affordable place to live.

Over the past four years, we have made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. For a full list of these actions please refer to Appendix A.

There is more work to be done. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers and experience discrimination.

Canada requires strong leadership to ensure that a human rights-based approach to disability is reflected in all Government of Canada policies, programmes, practices and results. To ensure systemic disability inclusion and to lead by example as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented, a re-elected Liberal government will put these policies and practices into place, in consultation with the disability community. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act.

We heard from Canadians with disabilities that the most significant economic and social barrier they face to full economic and social participation is in the area of employment. This is particularly so for youth with disabilities. From the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know that approximately 59% of working-age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities.

That’s why a re-elected Liberal government will improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities through various measures that target these barriers, address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses in a coordinated way. One component of this will be the creation of a workplace accessibility fund to help increase the availability of accommodations that help close gaps in access to good paying jobs and education. We know that improving workplace accessibility and employment outcomes for Canadians with disabilities will have an overwhelmingly positive impact, leading to increased productivity and greater profits for businesses, as well as financial independence and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

We will also focus on the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Canada needs continued leadership to make sure people with disabilities can not only find good jobs, but can succeed for years and decades to come.

We won’t get that leadership from the Conservatives, who’ve proved that they only want to give a break to the very wealthiest Canadians — and cut programs and services for everyone else. Of the $53 billion they promise to cut, $14 billion is in hidden, mystery cuts could hurt Canadians with disabilities the most.

Only a re-elected Liberal government will continue on the progress we’ve made together. To help more Canadians with disabilities find and keep good jobs, we’ll address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses.

These and other measures will ensure that disability inclusion is a priority for a re-elected Liberal government. We know that this is the best way to ensure that all Canadians have an equal and fair chance to succeed.

To read our full statement on disability equality and inclusion, as well as consult our 2019 platform, please visit: https://www.liberal.ca/disability-equality-statement/

Specific Additional Information in Response to Your Questions

Questions 1 and 2:

We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 3 (application to public policy):

Disability rights are human rights and we will always stand up to see these rights brought to life across government. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act. This builds on the work we have done over the past four years, putting into place measures that harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre, as well as the update to procurement policies across government.

Questions 4 to 6 (implementation and enforcement issues):

We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. Our government established the broadest definitions of disability and barrier to date within federal legislation, and we will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

We have already established a working group that includes all agencies involved in the ACA, and they have already started working on the coordination of the implementation and enforcement. This will be furthered by the leadership of the Minister of Accessibility, the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new ways to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are able to identify and resolve complaints in a timely and effective way.

As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will also ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 7

As stated above, we are fully committed to continuing to work with stakeholders and the disability community as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented to ensure it is fulfilling its objectives.

We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes.

We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Question 8:

We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote. As we do after every election, we will review lessons learned from these changes and work with stakeholders and the disability community on further steps we can take to address barriers that may exist.

Question 9:

Should any exemptions be implemented in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act these will be limited and due to very exceptional circumstances. The rationale for the exemptions will also be made public.

Question 10:

We will examine this issue as part of promised comprehensive review of federal policies and programs. In doing so we will work closely with provinces, territories, stakeholders and the disability community to effectively identify and reduce barriers.

Question 11:

We are fully committed to the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act so that it can fully benefit all Canadians. We will continue to work with stakeholders and the disability community to ensure the Act is implemented effectively and achieves its objectives.

Appendix A: Our shared progress

After a decade of neglect from Harper’s Conservatives, over the past four years we’ve made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. This started with the appointment of Canada’s first-ever Cabinet Minister responsible for Canadians with Disabilities. We also held a national discourse on disability issues through what would become the most inclusive consultation any government has ever had in the history of our country – on any topic. We held the first ever national summit for youth with disabilities, attended by the Prime Minister. The result: the Accessible Canada Act.

Canada is a proud signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Since 2015, we taken a human rights-based approach to disability equality, making fundamental changes to the way we put the principles of inclusion and accessibility into practice. We recognized the need for systems, policies and practices to be designed inclusively from the start. We recognized the need to move beyond relying on individual accommodation to address discrimination. We recognized the economic benefit of disability inclusion. And we moved beyond “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, to “Nothing Without Us”, because every decision the federal government makes impacts its citizens with disabilities. Our efforts culminated in the Accessible Canada Act, which is considered the most significant advancement in disability rights since the Charter in 1982.

At the same time, we worked across government to make federal laws, policies, procedures and programs more equitable and inclusive of Canadians with disabilities:

        We applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy, and the National Infrastructure Program.

         We improved tax policies through measures such as permitting registered nurse practitioners to complete Disability Tax Credit (DTC) medical forms, and the enhanced caregiver credit.

         We addressed the financial security of Canadians with disabilities through important changes to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

         We improved our immigration system by amending the outdated provisions on medical inadmissibility.  And we removed the processing fee to hire foreign caregivers, making these services more affordable.

         We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote.

         We increased access to alternate format material, including the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016.

         We created the Accessible Technology Fund.

         We included persons with disabilities in decision-making. Examples include the Disability Advisory Group to Elections Canada, the Canada Post Accessibility Advisory Panel, and the reconstituted Disability Advisory Group to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) — which was disbanded by Harper’s Conservatives.

         We focused on data collection to inform government decision-making.  This included enhancements the Canadian Survey on Disability, and funding a study on intersectionality as it relates to gender and disability called “More than a Footnote”.

         We appointed the first-ever Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility, and committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years into the federal public service. This will be complemented by a new internship program that will provide placements across the federal government for persons with disabilities.

         We invested in making government workspaces more accessible, and began working towards ensuring our buildings and properties meet the highest standards of accessibility.  We put into places measures that will harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre.

         We adhered to our international human rights obligations: we signed the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD, and appointed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor the UNCRPD.

October 15, 2019 Online Statement on Disability Equality by the Liberal Party of Canada

DISABILITY EQUALITY STATEMENT

Originally posted at https://www.liberal.ca/disability-equality-statement/

Disability equality benefits everyone. When Canadians with disabilities have equal opportunities to contribute to their communities, to have the same quality of service from their government, to have equal opportunities to work, and to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else, we build a stronger economy – and a stronger country.

Since 2015, we’ve worked to make this the reality for more Canadians. We started with a human rights-based approach to disability equality — fundamentally changing the way we, as a country, treat inclusion and accessibility. Part of that meant moving beyond individual accommodation and instead addressing discrimination as a whole.

Now, we’re making another choice. We’re choosing forward — taking the progress we’ve achieved and going even further to make Canada a more fair, equal and affordable place to live.

OUR SHARED PROGRESS

After a decade of neglect from Harper’s Conservatives, over the past four years we’ve made accessibility and disability inclusion a priority. This started with the appointment of Canada’s first-ever Cabinet Minister responsible for Canadians with Disabilities. We also held a national discourse on disability issues through what would become the most inclusive consultation any government has ever had in the history of our country – on any topic. We held the first ever national summit for youth with disabilities, attended by the Prime Minister. The result: the Accessible Canada Act.

Canada is a proud signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Since 2015, we taken a human rights-based approach to disability equality, making fundamental changes to the way we put the principles of inclusion and accessibility into practice. We recognized the need for systems, policies and practices to be designed inclusively from the start. We recognized the need to move beyond relying on individual accommodation to address discrimination. We recognized the economic benefit of disability inclusion. And we moved beyond “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, to “Nothing Without Us”, because every decision the federal government makes impacts its citizens with disabilities. Our efforts culminated in the Accessible Canada Act, which is considered the most significant advancement in disability rights since the Charter in 1982.

At the same time, we worked across government to make federal laws, policies, procedures and programs more equitable and inclusive of Canadians with disabilities:

We applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy, and the National Infrastructure Program.

We improved tax policies through measures such as permitting registered nurse practitioners to complete Disability Tax Credit (DTC) medical forms, and the enhanced caregiver credit.

We addressed the financial security of Canadians with disabilities through important changes to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

We improved our immigration system by amending the outdated provisions on medical inadmissibility. And we removed the processing fee to hire foreign caregivers, making these services more affordable.

We modernized our electoral system, making it easier for citizens with disabilities to vote.

We increased access to alternate format material, including the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016.

We created the Accessible Technology Fund.

We included persons with disabilities in decision-making. Examples include the Disability Advisory Group to Elections Canada, the Canada Post Accessibility Advisory Panel, and the reconstituted Disability Advisory Group to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) — which was disbanded by Harper’s Conservatives.

We focused on data collection to inform government decision-making. This included enhancements the Canadian Survey on Disability, and funding a study on intersectionality as it relates to gender and disability called “More than a Footnote”.

We appointed the first-ever Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility, and committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years into the federal public service. This will be complemented by a new internship program that will provide placements across the federal government for persons with disabilities.

We invested in making government workspaces more accessible, and began working towards ensuring our buildings and properties meet the highest standards of accessibility. We put into places measures that will harness the Government of Canada’s purchasing and contracting power to advance accessibility, including creating the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre.

We adhered to our international human rights obligations: we signed the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD, and appointed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor the UNCRPD.

THE PATH TO EQUALITY THROUGH DISABILITY INCLUSION

Moving forward, there is more work to be done. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers and experience discrimination.

Canada requires strong leadership to ensure that a human rights-based approach to disability is reflected in all Government of Canada policies, programmes, practices and results. To ensure systemic disability inclusion and to lead by example as the Accessible Canada Act is implemented, a re-elected Liberal government will put these policies and practices into place, in consultation with the disability community. We will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in our programs and services, and challenges the biases built into our processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act.

We heard from Canadians with disabilities that the most significant economic and social barrier they face to full economic and social participation is in the area of employment. This is particularly so for youth with disabilities. From the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know that approximately 59% of working-age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities.

That’s why a re-elected Liberal government will improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities through various measures that target these barriers, address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses in a coordinated way. One component of this will be the creation of a workplace accessibility fund to help increase the availability of accommodations that help close gaps in access to good paying jobs and education. We know that improving workplace accessibility and employment outcomes for Canadians with disabilities will have an overwhelmingly positive impact, leading to increased productivity and greater profits for businesses, as well as financial independence and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

We will also focus on the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act. As we operationalize the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, we will ensure that Canadians with disabilities and stakeholder groups are engaged in the process. We will also work with Provincial and Territorial governments, and Indigenous peoples to promote consistency in accessibility standards and a consistent experience of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.

Canada needs continued leadership to make sure people with disabilities can not only find good jobs, but can succeed for years and decades to come.

We won’t get that leadership from the Conservatives, who’ve proved that they only want to give a break to the very wealthiest Canadians — and cut programs and services for everyone else. Of the $53 billion they promise to cut, $14 billion is in hidden, mystery cuts could hurt Canadians with disabilities the most.

Only a re-elected Liberal government will continue on the progress we’ve made together. To help more Canadians with disabilities find and keep good jobs, we’ll address discrimination and stigma, raise public awareness, and work with employers and businesses.

These and other measures will ensure that disability inclusion is a priority for a re-elected Liberal government. We know that this is the best way to ensure that all Canadians have an equal and fair chance to succeed.

 Global News October 15, 2019

Originally posted at https://globalnews.ca/news/6034294/canadians-disabilities-election-campaign/

Canadians with disabilities cast doubt next federal government will address needs

BY MICHELLE MCQUIGGE -THE CANADIAN PRESS

Amy Amantea, who lost her eyesight due to complications while undergoing surgery more than a decade ago, poses for a photograph at her home in North Vancouver, on Oct. 11, 2019.

Amy Amantea tuned in to the English-language federal leaders’ debate with modest hope there would be at least some discussion of issues relevant to disabled Canadians.

The first half of the campaign had passed with barely a reference, even from the party that had delivered a historic achievement in national disability policy. Earlier this year, the Liberals made good on a 2015 campaign promise when the Accessible Canada Act received royal assent, marking the first time any government had enacted accessibility legislation at the federal level.

The government estimates one in five Canadians over the age of 15 is disabled, and Amantea, who is legally blind, hoped leaders would use the Oct. 7 debate to address some of the many issues they face. But those hopes faded as the debate progressed, giving way instead to doubts about how Canada’s disabled residents would fare after the Oct. 21 election.

“We have a lot of very unique needs and circumstances in our community that don’t get addressed,” Amantea said in a telephone interview from Vancouver. “Just a nod, just a mention would have been kind of nice, but it was not to be.”

Amantea said that relative silence has persisted into the final week of the campaign, giving rise to concerns throughout Canada’s disabled community. Many fear that parties who fail to make mention of key issues facing disabled Canadians while courting votes may prove even more dismissive once those votes have been cast.

They point to party platforms and public pledges, most of which make scant mention of either the Accessible Canada Act or disability-specific measures on issues such as infrastructure, health and affordable housing.

The Liberals response to questions on disability policy largely focused on past achievements. Spokesman Joe Pickerill did offer some future plans, including doubling the disability child benefit, establishing a $40-million-per-year national fund meant to help disabled Canadians find work, and simplifying the process veterans use to access disability benefits.

The Green party did not respond to request for comment, and the People’s Party of Canada said its platform contained “no policy related to disabled persons.”

The NDP did not provide comment to The Canadian Press, but made several commitments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act in a letter sent to an Ontario-based disability advocacy group.

The act, while widely acknowledged as a significant milestone, was also broadly criticized by nearly a hundred grass-roots organizations across the country as too weak to be truly effective. Such critiques continued even after the government agreed to adopt some Senate amendments sought by the disability groups, who hoped future governments would continue to build on the new law.

Only the NDP agreed to do so when approached by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, which contacted all major parties in July.

“The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures,” reads the NDP’s response. “New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal party rhetoric.”

The Conservatives, too, pledged to “work closely with the disability community to ensure that our laws reflect their lived realities.” Spokesman Simon Jefferies also noted party members pushed to strengthen the act but saw their amendments voted down by the government.

The vagueness of these commitments troubles Gabrielle Peters, a wheelchair-user and writer.

“Canada’s approach to accessibility has been to grant it as a gift they give us rather than a right we deserve,” Peters said. “Now that we have the ACA, the concern is that the broader public and the government think the issue is resolved when this law is, at best, a beginning.”

Other disabled voters expressed concerns about the handful of relevant promises that have been put forward on the campaign trail. In addition to pledging expanded eligibility for the disability tax credit, the Conservatives have said they would implement a $50-million national autism strategy focusing on research and services for children. The NDP and Greens have followed suit with similar proposals and larger pots of cash.

While widely lauded among parent-led advocacy groups, some autistic adults view the proposals with skepticism.

Alex Haagaard, who is autistic and uses a wheelchair, said that while much modern disability policy including the ACA tends to apply a social lens, discussion of autism is still framed through the outmoded medical model that positions the disability as an ailment to be cured rather than a part of a person’s identity.

Haagaard said action is clearly needed to help parents seeking supports for their children and teachers working to integrate autistic students into their classrooms, but said current attitudes at the heart of the campaign rhetoric are troubling.

A national strategy, Haagaard said, also risks undermining the goal of broader inclusion for other disabled populations.

“That is counter to the goals of disability justice to silo autism as this individual condition that warrants this level of attention compared to other disabilities,” Haagaard said.

Like Amantea, Peters felt let down by the leaders debates, citing the prevalence of discussion around medical assistance in dying over other issues that affect disabled people. The subject is polarizing, with many advocacy groups and individuals asserting such legislation devalues the lives of disabled people and places them at greater risk.

Such a narrow focus, Peters said, shows all parties’ failure to reckon with or address the diverse, complex needs of an overlooked demographic.

“What strikes me as missing in policy and in this election is us,” she said. “Disabled people. The not inspirational, not motivational, not middle class, not white, disabled people of this country. In other  words — most of us.”



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Part 1 of Accommodation in University and College


The AODA does not yet have an education standard. Two committees are making recommendations about what an education standard should include. Some of these recommendations could be based on elements from the existing AODA. For instance, the Employment Standards have rules about individual accommodation plans for workers with disabilities. An education standard could mandate similar rules for accommodation in university and college.

Accommodation in University and College

In elementary and high school, students are learning about themselves, their abilities, and the accommodations that help them succeed in school. Their families, classroom teachers, and other support staff are also finding out which accommodations work best for them and which ones work less well. In contrast, students in higher education often have enough experience to know which accommodations they will need. In this way, they are similar to people who need accommodations to do their jobs. Therefore, the AODA’s regulation on workplace accommodation processes could also apply to students in university and college.

Likewise, the Employment Standards also have rules about return-to-work processes for workers who have been absent from work due to disability. Unlike other workers with disabilities, workers new to disability may not know what accommodations they need. As a result, they work with medical or technology professionals, and their managers, to plan their accommodations. Students taking a leave of absence from university or college because of a new disability could benefit from a standard return-to-school process. Similarly, students new to disability at the start of university or college could use a similar process to find out what their accommodations should be.

Accommodation Plans at Work

Under the Employment Standards, workers needing accommodations meet with their managers to arrange them. During this discussion, the worker and employer do not need to talk about exactly what the worker’s disability is. Instead, they should talk about how the worker will perform certain functions of the job. The worker’s accommodation plan must list strategies or arrangements that would allow the worker to perform each job function. An employer may deny the worker’s accommodation request. However, this denial must be in writing.

Accommodations in Higher Education

In contrast, there is no single process for planning accommodation in university or college. Instead, according to a report by the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), each school must develop its own process. As a result, schools’ accommodation policies may differ widely. Students’ chances to succeed in class may depend not on their needs, but on where they go to school.

In Part 2 of this article, we will outline how a standardized process for creating accommodation plans could help more students succeed in school.




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Neighbours Oppose Sidewalk Upgrades in Galt Heritage District


Character of Dickson Hill Heritage District takes another hit News 12:20 PM
by Ray Martin
Cambridge Times

Width matters

The battle of the boulevards continued this week in the Dickson Hill Heritage District as the city’s planning committee decided to widen this sidewalk along Salisbury Avenue despite to wishes of residents.

The battle of the boulevards in west Galt’s heritage district continued at Cambridge City Hall Oct. 8 and residents were the losers of the latest skirmish.

Ten residents objected to including newer, wider sidewalks to accommodate wheelchairs on their section of Salisbury Avenue which is earmarked for major reconstruction arguing that it would take away from the character of the Dickson Hill Heritage District, which includes their street.

Salisbury resident and former chair of the city’s heritage advisory committee David Smart was one those opposed to changing the widths of the sidewalks from four foot to five feet to better accommodate people with mobility issues.

Smart argued that the current sidewalks are in good repair and do not need to be replaced as part of the Salisbury Avenue reconstruction project, and noted that the sidewalks and wide boulevards are part of character of the Dickson Hill Heritage District and should not be altered.

Smart reminded council that a deal had been agreed upon in 2018 between the city and residents not to touch the existing sidewalks, which would have saved money on the project. Following a staff change at the city the project was reviewed again and the city changed its mind regarding the sidewalk.

“This is a waste of taxpayers’ money that could be used elsewhere,” he said, noting that it would make sense to replace the existing sidewalk during construction if the sidewalks were in bad shape, however that isn’t the case here.

“The money that would be saved by exempting the heritage district from this policy and practice would more than pay for the odd sidewalk panel that needs to be replaced from time to time.”

Smart noted there was a similar battle on Blair Road, which pitted the city’s accessibility advisory committee against the city’s heritage advisory committee until a compromise could be worked out.

All new city sidewalks are now being built to the standards set in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), however there is a clause within the act that protects heritage buildings and features. In the case of the Dickson Hill Heritage District this protection extends to trees, lamp posts, sidewalks and boulevards.

Heritage consultant Chesley Tyers told the planning committee that in this case there are no trees or vintage lamp posts in the path of the new sidewalk and that the boulevard is wide enough to accommodate a five-foot-wide sidewalk.

Sheri-lyn Roberts, chair of the accessibility committee, thanked the city for reviewing the project again and including her committee and giving it a voice.

“Just because a community is deemed a heritage community we can’t automatically stand up and say they don’t have to comply with the AODA,” she said, noting that city staff, the heritage advisory committee and city staff committee all support the wider sidewalks in this case.

In addition to replacing the existing sidewalks, the city has also proposed installing a new sidewalk on the north side of Salisbury Avenue, along the edge of Victoria Park.

The planning committee voted in favour of the changes and the proposal will now go to council for final consideration.

Ray Martin

Ray Martin is a reporter/photographer with more than 40 years of experience in the industry. These days, in addition to general reporting, he covers the circus that is Cambridge city hall and keeps tabs on what’s going on in North Dumfries Township. Email: [email protected]

Original at https://www.cambridgetimes.ca/news-story/9641292–a-waste-of-taxpayers-money-neighbours-oppose-sidewalk-upgrades-in-galt-heritage-district/




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