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BFM Makes 13 Recommendations to AMA Review

Oct 26, 2018

Train track

BFM submitted a detailed 55-page brief to the comprehensive, four-year review of the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act, including 13 recommendations for measures that need to be taken to ensure that implementation efforts don't fall off the tracks again.

We are pleased to post the brief for you to download

We have also posted the text of the Executive Summary (without the footnotes) below. 

Brief to the Comprehensive Four-Year Review of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act

Executive Summary
October 26, 2018

The landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) was passed by a unanimous, all-member vote in the Manitoba Legislature in December 2013. Described as the most significant human rights legislation enacted in decades, the AMA promised that major progress toward full accessibility for all Manitobans with disabilities would be achieved by 2023.

The strong, non-partisan, support, both for the AMA and for fulfilling its historic promise, were reconfirmed through commitments made by each of the major parties as part of the 2016 general provincial election.

But we are now almost one-half way into this legislated decade of progress and Barrier-Free Manitoba (BFM) has grown increasingly concerned over the implementation efforts to date. There are few indicators that the landmark Act is having a meaningful impact in the lives of the 200,000 Manitobans with disabilities. Moreover, while there has been recent reason for cautious optimism, it is clear that the work completed to date has not established the foundation essential to the AMA’s long-term success.

As required in the AMA, a comprehensive independent review of the Act is now underway. The review, led by Ms. Theresa Harvey-Pruden, is being conducted to assess the effectiveness of the AMA and must include consultations with the province’s diverse disability communities. Based on the review’s Terms of Reference, a final report with recommendations must be submitted to the Minister by no later than December 15, 2018.

This document constitutes our formal brief to the comprehensive review. BFM is pleased to have had the to meet, by invitation, with Ms. Harvey-Pruden in May 2018. We are also pleased to have participated in the only public consultation session that she held as part of her review in Winnipeg in June 2018. These consultations focused primarily on identifying serious implementations issues. As such, we regret that Ms. Harvey-Pruden has not responded to our invitations to consult with us again on the measures needed to address these implementation shortfalls.

Our brief presents disability community perspectives on implementation efforts to date within the broader context of the short history of the AMA. Our brief concludes by making the following 13 recommendations for consideration to ensure that the Act’s promise is fully realized in the years leading up to 2023.

The full version of our brief provides a detailed discussion of the reasons for each of these recommendations.

Acknowledging Weaknesses in Implementation

No. 1: That the major findings from the final review acknowledge that there have been significant shortfalls in the implementation of the landmark AMA that need to be addressed.

Renewing Leadership

No. 2: That the final review report recommend that the Premier reintroduce the designation of the “Minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities” and that this designation be bestowed on the Minister of Families.

No. 3: That the final review report recommend that the Premier include AMA implementation responsibilities in revised mandate letters for selected Ministers beyond the Minister of Families.

No. 4: That the final review report recommend that a new Assistant Deputy Minister position be created with responsibility to provide full time executive level leadership for AMA implementation efforts to complement the Deputy’s current role as Director of the AMA.

Adequate Resources

No. 5: That the final review report recommend that government substantially increase the resources available to support the effective implementation of the AMA in its 2019-20 budget and commit to increase them in future years commensurate with the scope and complexity of implementation responsibilities.

Effective Enforcement

No. 6: That the final review report acknowledge the critical importance of an effective compliance and enforcement framework for the AMA, as well as the reasonable expectation that Manitoba’s disability communities be meaningfully consulted during the development of this framework.

Meaningful Engagement with Disability Communities

No. 7: That the final review report recommend that the Minister of Families adopt the policy of ensuring that at least one-half of the members of the Accessibility Advisory Council and Council committees be comprised of Manitobans with disabilities or representatives from organizations representing Manitobans with disabilities.

No. 8: That the final review report recommend that Standard Development Committees consult with Manitobans with disabilities during the initial stages of their work in developing initial proposals for accessibility standards and thereafter as appropriate.

No. 9: That the final review report recommend that the Minister of Families consider holding and hosting annual in-person, interactive, update sessions, to be live-streamed across the province to supplement current reporting practices and better meet the informational needs and interests of many more of Manitoba’s community members.

No. 10: That the final review report recommend that the Minister of Families provide financial and other resources to Manitoba’s disability communities to ensure their capacity to conduct independent research and to support their fair and equal participation in the implementation of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

Effectively Addressing Built Environment Barriers

No. 11: That the final review report recommend that the Ministers of Families and Growth, Enterprise and Trade and their respective officials work together to ensure that:

  • Clear and timely information is made available to our disability communities on government plans to address accessibility barriers related to buildings and the built environment.
  • There is close and ongoing coordination in communication, consultative and development processes related to work on the Accessible Built Environment Standard and to The Manitoba Building Code.
  • Manitobans with disabilities have timely and meaningful opportunity to contribute to the development of the Standard and revisions to the Code.

Effectively Addressing Educational Barriers

No. 12: That the final review report recommend that the Minister of Families commit to the development of an Accessible Education Standard with initial work to begin in 2019 and with a progress report made public before the next provincial election.

Accessible Procurement and Funding Policies

No. 13: That the final review report recommend that the Government of Manitoba ensure the timely development and implementation of procurement and funding policies and practices to ensure that public money is never used to create, perpetual or exacerbate accessibility barriers.

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