Brief From: John Rae
Brief To: Consultation Accessibility Legislation
My name is John Rae, I am totally blind and live in Toronto. Over the past 40 years, I have worked for the Ontario Government held elective offices in Canadas labour movement at the local, provincial national levels and actively participated with numerous community-based organizations dealing with disability and broader human rights issues.
I am working on a much lengthier and more comprehensive Brief which I expect to complete and submit in the next couple of weeks. In the interim I would like to file this short Brief in order to give focus to what I consider to be the most important elements of a productive and successful National Accessibility and Inclusion Act.
I have reviewed the list of Principles from Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barriers (BFC/CSB, http://barrierfreecanada.org/principles), and generally endorse them, however the Act must go far, far beyond simply enunciating a list of desirable principles and provides for the development of standards. The Act must further increase measures to improve awareness and change outdated negative attitudes; the Act must enhance and not take away from existing legal protection; the Act must recognize that universal design principles are essential to the successful achievement of full inclusion; and the Act must bring about tangible and meaningful advances for Canadians with disabilities now. As we have waited far too long to join the mainstream of Canadian Society.
The National Accessibility and Inclusion Act must recognize that the adoption and application of universal design principles is essential to the successful achievement of full inclusion.
The National Act must considerably go beyond Principles and standards, and include strong enforcement measures that will remove existing barriers and prevent the introduction of new barriers. To be perfectly clear, it should use words like shall, must, or implement whenever a manufacturer, employer, and/or service provider is required to implement provisions of the act.
The Act must explicitly demonstrate that it does not undermine existing legal rights under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the UN Convention or any other equality legislation.
THE CRITICAL ELEMENT:
The Liberal government has committed to the passage of a National Act; the only National Act at this time, thus, it must be designed to help bring Canadians with various disabilities into the mainstream of life in Canada.
To achieve these lofty objectives, the Act absolutely must include tangible advances based on the amendment of a number of existing statutes to bring them in line with the non-discriminatory provisions of Canadas Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.
There are aspects of the Act in need of amendments and the Act should include; the Canadian Transportation Act, the Canada Student Loan Act, the Canada Elections Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the CRTC, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and others that will be identified through the current legislative review.
The proposed National Act should go beyond merely enunciating Principles and developing Standards; as these are useful if accompanied by vigorous and measureable enforcement measures. The National Act must give high priority to the amendment of existing statutes to remove barriers and to bring them into line with the Government of Canadas obligations under the Charter of rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities
** End of Brief
Consultation Accessibility Legislation
c/o Office for Disability Issues
Employment and Social Development Canada
105, rue Hôtel de ville, 1st floor, Bag 62
Gatineau, QC K1A 0J9
#304 192 Jarvis Street
Toronto, ON M5B 2J9