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The Short Case for Accessibility-Rights Legislation

Barrier-Free Manitoba believes that strong and effective accessibility-rights legislation is required to remove the myriad of barriers still facing persons with disabilities, as well as to prevent the ongoing creation of new ones.

The case for such legislation is not about extending new rights, it's simply about enforcing the basic human rights that are already established in law for 170,000 Manitobans.

It's about recognizing that these rights affect everyone. Every Manitoban either now has a disability, knows someone with a disability, or will acquire a disability in the coming years.

It's about being honest enough to acknowledge that the methods and approaches currently available to enforce these human rights, while essential, have proven to be inadequate. As the Canadian Human Rights Commission concluded in its 2001 Annual Report:

For those who are discriminated against because of their disability, the human rights complaints system is not necessarily the answer. . . Eliminating obstacles one at a time, step by step, or ramp by ramp, so to speak, is not the best way to achieve a barrier-free and inclusive world.

It's about taking our new obligations under the recently ratified International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities seriously.

It's about acting on the increasing international evidence that accessibility-right legislation and mandatory standards are the only way to resolutely, equitably and efficiently introduce full accessibility over a reasonable period of time.

It's about learning and building from models of accessibility-rights laws and legislation that have been enacted in the United States (1990), Australia (1992), the United Kingdom (1995) and now Ontario (2005) that have all had a substantial impact on improving accessibility.

It's about creating an inclusive province that Manitobans can be proud of by committing ourselves to this goal, working together to develop a reasonable plan to achieve this by an agreed upon date, and then putting the plan into action.

Principles for Provincial Accessibility-Rights Legislation

Based on the review of models in place in other jurisdictions, Barrier-Free Manitoba is calling for accessibility-rights legislation that:

  1. Covers all disabilities.
  2. Reflects a principled approach to equality.
  3. Moves beyond the complaints-driven system to comprehensively address discrimination and barriers.
  4. Establishes a definite target date to achieve a barrier-free Manitoba.
  5. Requires the development of clear, progressive, mandatory and date-specific standards in all major areas related to accessibility that will apply to public and private sectors.
  6. Establishes a timely and effective process for monitoring and enforcement of the standards.
  7. Incorporates ongoing leadership roles for the disability community.
  8. Supersedes all other provincial legislation, regulations or policies which provide lesser protections.
  9. Does not diminish other legal and human rights protections