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Landmark Manitoba Bill 26 was given Royal Assent on December 5th. It's no longer just a Bill. It's now the law in Manitoba.
And with this, we have finally achieved the goal of securing strong and effective provincial accessibility-rights legislation. It's been five long, joyous and challenging years.
Next stage in this human rights saga will start soon - ensuring the full and effective implementation of the new law. Having shown leadership and commitment in enacting the legislation, the government will need some time to develop and begin to implement a robust plan to realize the law's transformative power and promise.
Bill 26 passed Third Reading on the afternoon of December 3, 2013 (The International Day of Persons with Disabilites). The bill received all-party, unanimous support.
Minister Jennifer Howard introduced the bill for Third Reading and spoke about the historic importance of the legislation. Here's how she concluded her remarks:
"It [Bill 26] is going to benefit generations and generations and generations of Manitobans, and I am so thankful that we will stand united today in this Chamber and give approval to third reading of this bill, because I think today we are changing the world and those opportunities don't come along that often in this line of work.
So I want to thank the members opposite of all parties who've been along on this journey, who've offered helpful advice and their support. This is a good day, Mr. Speaker. We should celebrate. Thank you."
Both Leanne Rowat (PC) and Jon Gerrard (Liberal) also spoke with passion in support of the bill while noting several areas where they would like to have seen it strengthened.
What a great day for Manitobans!
You can listen to the audio transcript of the Third Party debate by clisking here (31 minutes). Full versions of the Hansard from the Third Reading are posted here. Selected highlights from remarks by Minister Jennifer Howard, Leanne Rowat (PC) and Jon Gerrard (Liberal) are posted here.
The two history celebrating/making events of October 29, 2013 lasted a little over seven hours.
The Barrier-Free Manitoba hosted reception was grand (if we do say so ourselves) with many kind words spoken by our Steering Committee, Minister Howard, PC Critic Ms. Rowat and Dr. Gerrard, lots of wonderful food and a spectacular performance by Canada's first Deaf hoop dancer.
The Standing Committee meeting started shortly after 6 pm. The place was beyond packed and they had to open an 'overflow room to accommodate the crowd. The meeting featured a range of thoughtful, moving and passionate public presentations in support of both Bill 26 and of the measures still needed to strengthen it. Click here for selected highlights from the community presentations.
The Standing Committee's review of the Bill ended a little after 11:30 pm (the meeting itself went on to 4 am). The Committee passed the Bill with six government sponsored amendments. Three amendments moved by PC Critic Leanne Rowat were debated but defeated.
Big gains in the changes passed include:
Click here for a summary of the amendments passed and also those which were defeated.
A good night's work. We walked out with what we had called for - a strengthened bill now set to go forward for Third Reading.
We did not get all we wanted. The bill is not perfect but it is now much improved. Dare we say that Bill 26 is now truly game changing, landmark legislation of which we all can be proud?
Special kudos to the ASL interpreters (Brenda and Tessa) and Darcia who provided the CART services. They all did an amazing job at the reception and the Standing Committee meeting.
We will be able to share more once Hansard from the meeting is available (this might be a week or more given the tremendous volume that must be transcribed). We may begin by posting some pictures taken at the events.
We extend our thanks to so many for their interest and unfailing support.
Barrier-Free Manitoba is a non-partisan, non-profit, cross-disability initiative. We have been working since 2008 to secure strong and effective accessibility-rights legislation in Manitoba.
Nearly 200,000 Manitobans with disabilities face barriers everyday that prevent their full participation in activities that most others take for granted.
These barriers harm individuals, families and communities. These barriers are also in fundamental conflict with the basic rights of persons with disabilities established in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in federal and provincial human rights codes.
It’s the sad and unjust reality. But we are on the road to change it!
With the support of many, Barrier-Free 1.0 concluded with the passage of The Accessibility Advisory Council Act. Barrier-Free 2.0 represents the next stage of our work – the drive to the passage of substantive and landmark legislation that requires the timely removal of current barriers and the prevention of new ones.
It has been a rather exceptional journey to date. We invite you to join us along this rights path toward an inclusive Manitoba that ensures and celebrates opportunity and equity for all.
December 11, 2013
Canada Post announced earlier today that it will to phase out urban home mail delivery over the next five years.
December 10, 2013
Barrier-Free Manitoba is pleased to propose nine principles for the full and effective implementation of The Accessibility for Manitoba Act. These build from the principles set back in 2008 for the development of the legislation.