Disability Report Opens Door to Greater Accessibility

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2014 Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

VICTORIA As the B.C. government releases a report summarizing what was heard throughout a disability white paper consultation, it has taken an important first step with a commitment to create an accessibility secretariat.

The Disability Consultation Report: Moving Together Toward an Accessible B.C. is government’s summary of the voices of the thousands of people who participated in the province wide consultation, sharing their ideas and solutions for how we, as a society, can better support people with disabilities to fully participate in their communities. Full details from the consultation can be found at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper

One idea heard loudly and clearly throughout the consultation was that people with disabilities need help navigating the system in order to better understand and access government supports and services. In response, an accessibility secretariat will be created within the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation.

The secretariat will work across government to develop improved navigation support and information sharing about programs, services and resources available for people with disabilities in B.C. It will be fully up and running by fall 2014.

In addition, government will host a summit on June 16 in Vancouver. The summit will include discussions around short-, mid- and long-term strategies to support the goal of B.C. becoming the most progressive place in Canada for people living with disabilities. The summit will bring together the disability community, government and business communities, and will be available province wide via live-streamed video on the consultation website.

The B.C. government is also partnering with the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities offering 100 spots, available through a random selection process, for disability community members to attend. This partnership will ensure a fair and transparent process around the administration of these spots.

Government will invite senior officials involved in supporting accessibility, leaders of disability groups who took the time to submit a written submission and key members from local government, First Nations and the business community.

The disability white paper consultation was launched Dec. 3, 2013, and closed on March 11, 2014, the anniversary of Canada’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Quotes:
Don McRae, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation
“Thousands of British Columbians responded when we asked them to tell us their challenges and share their ideas for breaking down barriers and making life more accessible. They had meaningful stories to share and valuable suggestions to make. We listened and we are starting to take action by creating an accessibility secretariat.”

Carla Qualtrough, lawyer, two-time Paralympian and chair of the Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility
“This report is a good representation of the insights, ideas and solutions shared by people with disabilities, as well as their family, friends and communities, during the consultation process. There is a lot of innovation and contribution within the disability community, and it is good to see that government is moving forward on this initiative with the full involvement of the disability community.”

Tamara Vrooman, chief executive officer, Vancity and co-chair of the Presidents Group
“Recognizing that people with disabilities can play a greater role in the workplace and are an underserved segment of the consumer marketplace is an important message coming out of this report. Inclusion and diversity build vibrant workplaces and create a sense of fulfilment for all employees. We believe moving forward, support for inclusion must come from the business sector if we’re to help remove perceptions about people with disabilities and implement solutions that will attract more employees and consumers with disabilities.”

Jane Dyson, executive director of the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities
“We believe a random selection process for participation at the summit is the fairest process as we anticipate there will be great interest in attending the event. We’re happy to help ensure that as many interested groups and individuals as possible have an opportunity to attend.”

Learn More:

A copy of the Disability Consultation Report: Moving Together Toward an Accessible B.C. is available at: http://www.engage.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper

Learn more about the random selection process on the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities website at: http://www.bccpd.bc.ca

View a list of cross-government services for people with disabilities in B.C. at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/disabilityservices

Media Contact:

Joanne Whittier
Communications Manager
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation
250 387-6490

Reproduced from http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2013-2017/2014SDSI0033-000672.htm