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Powerful Words of Support during Second Reading Debate

Sep 13, 2013

It is with great pleasure that we are able to advise you that Bill 26 (The Accessibiity for Manitobans Act) passed Second Reading in the Legislative Assembly yesterday.

The debate featured powerful words from four opposition MLAs that expressed strong support for the Bill while calling on the Government to strenghten it before it comes back to the Legislature for Third (final) Reading. You can download the record of the debate as excerpts from Hansard (Word / PDF) or the full Hansard version (see Vol 107a on September 12 near the bottom of the page).

Following are short, selected quotes from Hansard.

Comments from Members of the Official Opposition

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach):

And we waited eagerly for this bill to be called so we could discuss this, so we could have a debate about a priority issue. And we think it is a priority issue, and yet the government refused to call it.

Mrs. Leanne Rowat (Riding Mountain):

Mr. Speaker, the government needs to act in the spirit of groups like Barrier-Free Manitoba and the Independent Living Resource Centre and work on innovative approaches to providing opportunities and promoting access for Manitobans with disabilities. The goal of eliminating barriers to accessibility for Manitobans with disabilities is a worthy one. The problem I see is that there are a number of areas requiring improvement, and I will now take some time to outline them. . .

Mr. Speaker, I have said this many times, being in government is about priorities. Universal accessibility is a noble priority, however, there are several areas where this bill needs to be improved. Many of those areas I have outlined today.

Thank you for the opportunity to put a few words on the record regarding Bill 26, The Accessibility for Manitobans Act. I think it's a step forward, but, obviously, there's more work to do.

Mr. Ralph Eichler (Lakeside):

When they introduced this legislation, they had people in the gallery, the minister said it fell short. If it falls so short, is that because they haven't called it in their top 10? And I'm very disappointed the government hasn't made this their priority.

Comments from The Leader of the Liberal Party

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights):

Now, I'm going to vote for this bill because I think that any step in terms of improving the process and moving in this direction is positive, but I would hope that when this comes to committee stage, there are others there who will take up the call and say, this bill is not good enough. We need a target. We are not, in 2013, going to accept this bill alone without at least a major target of when we're going to have every newly building–new building constructed in this province fully accessible.

And now it is on to the Standing Committee hearing, likely to be scheduled for late October. And next, the final passage of a strengthened Bill 26 before December 5, 2013.


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