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Recent Changes to Barrier-Free Manitoba Steering Committee

Jun 10, 2016

Recent Changes to Barrier-Free Manitoba Steering Committee

Barrier-Free Manitoba’s (BFM’s) work to realize the human right to equitable accessibility has been guided by the five founding members of our Steering Committee. Based on a consensus decision making model, BMF’s Steering Committee established the clear strategic priorities that led to the passage of the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) in December 2013 and now directs BFM’s work to ensure the AMA’s timely and effective implementation.

Changes to Steering Committee membership were made recently for the first time in BFM’s eight-year history. These changes broaden representation while also providing for continuity and the recommitment of the Steering Committee membership.

One of the changes is the loss of representation from the Society of Manitobans with Disabilities (SMD). SMD is currently focused internally on reorganizing its leadership and will be devoting all the attention that this important transition requires. Given these demands, SMD has decided to step away from participation on the BFM Steering Committee.

As those who have followed BFM’s work will know, SMD played a primary and pivotal role in the formation of BFM. Beyond participation in the Steering Committee, SMD also played key roles in providing financial and administrative support to BFM through to March 31, 2016. It’s fair to say that accessibility-rights legislation would not have been secured in the absence of SMD’s leadership.

BFM’s Steering Committee would like to acknowledge SMD’s immeasurable contributions over the last eight years. The Steering Committee also greatly appreciates SMD’s intention to remain as an endorser of BFM’s work.

Furthermore, the Steering Committee is very pleased that David Steen, the retired CEO of SMD, has accepted the invitation to continue as a member of BFM’s Steering Committee. His participation, however, will be as an individual and long-time community leader, not as a representative from SMD.

Two other changes relate to the addition of new Steering Committee members. Jennifer Frain, CEO of New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families (New Directions), has agreed to serve on the Steering Committee. New Directions has also agreed to assume responsibility for BFM’s financial administration formerly carried out by SMD.

The Steering Committee’s second new member is Marion Cooper, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Manitoba and Winnipeg Branch.

Both new members bring to the Steering Committee, a wealth of experience and insights related to disability issues, and broaden the expertise available to guide BFM’s work in the years ahead.

With these changes, the members of the Steering Committee and, where applicable, their organizational affiliations are:

  • Dale Kendel
  • David Steen
  • Jeannette DeLong (Abilities Manitoba)
  • Janet Forbes (Children's Coalition)
  • Jennifer Frain (New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families)
  • Marion Cooper (Canadian Metal Health Association, Manitoba and Winnipeg Branch)
  • Oly Backstrom (Manitoba Supported Employment Network)

As in the past, decisions made by the BFM Steering Committee will continue to be made on a consensus basis.

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