Canada’s New Accessibility Laws Should Focus on Employment, Inclusive Buildings, Transport

By Michelle McQuigge The Canadian Press
Mon., May 29, 2017

Carla Qualtrough, the minister tasked with crafting laws to make Canada more accessible to people with disabilities, says employment will be a key focus of her efforts.

Public consultations on Canada’s first national law for disabled people have identified high unemployment rates, inaccessible buildings and barriers in transportation as some of the key issues that need to be addressed.

The priorities were laid out in a report, released by the federal government Monday, summarizing eight months of consultations held with Canadians from coast to coast.

It says participants wanted to see laws that would help lower stubbornly high unemployment rates for those with disabilities, reduce the number of buildings inaccessible to those with physical and intellectual disabilities, and remove accessibility barriers for the country’s air, rail, ferry and bus transportation systems.

Those consulted also named government program and service delivery, information and communications and procurement of goods and services as key areas of focus.

The report also says Canadians have voiced a strong preference for the government to set up an independent body to oversee compliance with the new laws, which are expected to come before the House of Commons in early 2018.

Minister for Sport and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough said the consultations have laid the groundwork for her to begin crafting the legislation.

“It’s definitely marching orders for me in terms of what Canadians want to see in accessibility legislation,” Qualtrough said in an interview. “My goal now is to figure out how we write into law these concepts and these principles and these specific ideas.”

The prospective act, which disability rights advocates have been seeking for years, would govern areas that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as banks, telecommunications, and interprovincial transportation

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