Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Excellent Toronto Star Article Reports on Our Call for Canada’s Senate to Hold Public Hearings and Amend the Weak Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act
December 5, 2018
Page A-3 of the December 4, 2018 Toronto Star included a great report on our call for Canada’s Senate to hold public hearings early in 2019, and to amend the weak Bill C-81. That bill is the Federal Government’s proposed Accessible Canada Act. We set out the Toronto Star article below.
Proposed by the Federal Government, Bill C-81 is supposed to make Canada become barrier-free for people with disabilities. However, its well-intentioned provisions are quite weak. They let the Federal Government do a lot of things to advance the goal of accessibility, if it wishes. However this bill doesn’t require the Federal Government to do very much. It allows for the bill’s enforcement. However it creates a confusing and complicated enforcement process that people with disabilities will often find hard to navigate.
We will have lots more to say about this in the New Year. In the meantime, we welcome your help with this effort. Please contact any senators you can. Send them this article, and the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2018 news release. Senators are identified by the province they represent. Feel free to reach out to any senator, whether or not they come from your province. You can find out which senators come from your province. For each senator, you can find out their political party affiliation, if any, and their contact information such as their email address and Twitter handle by visiting https://sencanada.ca/en/senators/
Emphasize to them that this is all about equality for people with disabilities, a vulnerable population in our society. Urge senators to agree to hold public hearings on Bill C-81 early in 2019. Urge them to amend Bill C-81, especially in light of the concerns set out in the October 30, 2018 Open Letter to the Federal Government on Bill C-81, which is included in our December 3, 2018 news release.
Let us know what you do and what response you get. Email us at [email protected]
In the build-up to the holiday break, there will be more AODA Alliance Updates than usual this week. All the news we will share is important. Please circulate our updates to your friends.
For tons of background on our campaign to get Bill C-81 strengthened, and to read all the debates in the House of Commons on this bill, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada
The Toronto Star December 4, 2018 Page A-3
National accessibility legislation ‘falls short’
Advocates for disabled cite lack of timeline in asking Senate for change
Laurie Monsebraaten Toronto Star
Disability activists say Ottawa has ignored their calls to strengthen Canada’s first national accessibility legislation and are urging the Senate to intervene.
More than 90 groups, including the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and Ontario-based ARCH Disability Law, say the proposed Accessible Canada Act, passed by Parliament on Nov. 27, is too weak to achieve its goal of making Canada barrier-free for over five million Canadians with disabilities.
They want the Senate to hold public hearings next year and make amendments to improve the legislation before it becomes law.
“People with disabilities still face too many accessibility barriers in areas that the federal government regulates, like air or train travel, cable and internet TV service, and dealing with the federal government,” said David Lepofsky, head of the AODA Alliance, an Ontario disability coalition working to ensure the province achieves its goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025.
“The federal legislation has good intentions, but falls short on implementation and enforcement,” said Lepofsky, whose coalition is leading the disability community’s appeal to the Senate.
Carla Qualtrough, minister for public services and procurement and accessibility, said the government is grateful for the participation and contribution of Canadians with disabilities in developing the law.
“Like other members of the disability community, I am eager to see meaningful progress in a timely manner,” said Qualtrough, who is blind.
“For that reason, we are working to achieve significant progress within the first year following the passage of the act. This includes opening the doors of the new Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization in the summer of 2019.”
The Accessible Canada Act, introduced in June, covers federally regulated sectors such as banking, interprovincial and international transportation, telecommunications and government-run services such as Canada Post.
In an open letter Oct. 30 to Qualtrough and the federal standing committee studying the legislation, disability activists urged the government to make nine amendments to beef up the law.
Currently, the legislation sets no timetable for Ottawa to meet its goal of a “barrier-free” Canada and nothing in the legislation compels the government to act, activists say.