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Marking November 1, 2018 as Accessible and Equitable Service Day in Manitoba

Nov 01, 2018

Two figures shaking hands with words Think, Give and Expect above the word Respect 

November 1, 2018 is the third and final compliance deadline related to the Customer Service Standard (Word / PDF) under the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (the 1st of five initial standards promised under the Act). The first two deadlines (November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017) related respectively to the Provincial government and to public sector organizations. This third and final compliance deadline applies to all organizations with 1 or more employees - an estimated 35,000 organizations throughout the province.

This is a historic day both to mark and to celebrate. The human right to accessible and equitable service is not new - it's already been covered in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Human Rights Codes. But for the very first time, standards are now in place that legally require organizations to take specific measures to respect this right.  

Accordingly, while we have no statutory powers, BFM is declaring today "Accessible and Equitable Service Day" in Manitoba.

From here on in, Manitobans with disabilities can and should expect the following when requesting or receiving services:

If the organization has 1 or more employees:

  • Be confident that policies and practices are in place to ensure equitable and accessible services are provided to persons with disabilities.
  • Have communication needs recognized respected and addressed.
  • Have support staff persons welcomed.
  • Have service animals welcomed.
  • Have assistive devices welcomed.
  • Have existing accessibility features (e.g. ramps, elevators) operating as intended or be advised of any related disruptions in service.
  • Be invited to provide feedback on accessibility issues and concerns and receive feedback on actions taken.*
  • Be served by staff and volunteers who have been trained in human rights obligations and how to provide respectful and equitable service to persons with disabilities.

If organization has 20 or more employees:

  • All the above.
  • Be able to ask for and receive a copy of the organization's accessible service policies.*
  • Be able to ask for and receive the organization's training policy, including a summary of the content of the training and when the training is to be provided.*

* Note that documentation is to be provided in a manner that takes into account the barrier faced by person requesting it and it is to be made available within a reasonable time and at no cost to that person.

As you might expect, effective follow through and follow up will be critical. Part of this relates to the Province's responsibility to ensure that all organizations know about their obligations and have access to tools to meet these. Unfortunately, this seems to be a process still in process.

But it will also require much more. At this point in time, the Province of Manitoba still has not developed a framework to monitor, report on and enforce compliance. As BFM has been advocating for a strong and effective compliance framework for 5 years now, this is reason for grave concern. Of equal concern is our call for consultations with disability communities in developing the complinace framework. Not a word on the consultatiions so far.

So all we can suggest for the time being is the direction given by the Province of Manitoba in its December 2017 consumer guide (WordPDF) to the Customer Service Standard. Here's what the guide says:

What do I do if a provider does not follow the standard?

If you are having trouble getting goods or services from a provider because of accessibility barriers:

1.You can give feedback.

You may want to give the service provider ideas on how they can serve you better:

  • Tell the provider about the trouble you have with their service.
  • Make sure the provider understands what you think is wrong with their service. Explain why you cannot access their goods or services.
  • Explain your needs to the service provider. Try to help the provider understand your needs.
  • Explain to the service provider how they can help you.
  • Be specific. Let the provider know what they can do to fix the problem. You can explain what other providers do when they serve you.
  • Ask the service provider about their feedback process and what actions are taken in responding to complaints.
  • You do not need to tell the provider what disability you have.

2. You can learn more about the standard.

You can visit for information about the Customer Service Standard, or to read the actual regulation. Think about whether or not the provider is following the rules under the standard. If it is not, you can remind the provider of what they need to do.

3. You can contact an organization that helps people with disabilities.

There are a number of service providers that work with people with disabilities. It may be a good idea to contact one or more of them. Many service providers like to know if the people they represent are having problems getting services. Some may give you information or advice. They may also have people you can talk to if you have problems with a provider. To find an organization, visit the United Way or its online service: and search People with Disabilities.

4. You can contact the Disabilities Issues Office.

The Disabilities Issues Office is part of the Manitoba government, and it is the main office working on The Accessibility for Manitobans Act. It helps businesses and other service providers learn how to become accessible and to meet the accessibility standards. 

For those wishing to contact the Disability Issues Office, here is how they can be reached:

Disabilities Issues Office

630 - 240 Graham Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0J7

  • Fax: 204-948-2896
  • Call: 204-945-7613
  • Toll Free: 1-800-282-8069 (Ext. 7613)
  • Email:


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