Advances in Accessibility
Bill C-81 the Accessible Canada Act has passed in the House of Commons with unanimous support! The SCIO community and many other champions have had a hand in making this important legislation a reality. Lots to celebrate during National Accessibility Week 2019.
Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, was passed in the House of Commons on May 29, 2019. The next and final step is the bill proceeding to Royal Assent. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, (pictured with SCIO’s Director of Advocacy Peter Athanasopoulos) announced May 23 that she was “Pleased to share that our government intends to accept all Senate amendments to Bill C-81, the #AccessibleCanada Act. This historic Bill reflects the work, commitment and contributions of the disability community and has been improved upon through each phase of the process.”
Bill Adair, Executive Director of SCI Canada and spokesperson for the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, a group of 96 organizations including SCIO, said in a recent Globe and Mail article that more than a thousand people and non-profit groups have sent letters to MPs in a blitz aimed at getting Bill C-81 passed by Parliament and written into law before the summer break begins. Clearly, this work from our community has paid off!
Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) Accessibility Certification
On May 23, The Honourable Minister Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, was joined by Rick Hansen for an announcement about removing barriers for people with disabilities. Just in time for National AccessAbility Week May 26 to June 1, it was confirmed that the province has invested $1.3 million to support a certification program that will provide accessibility ratings of businesses and public buildings by trained professionals, and will help property managers and owners determine ways to remove identified barriers. Read more here.
Rick Hansen (centre), Minister Cho (to Rick’s left) and SCIO’s Director of Advocacy Peter Athanasopoulos (second from left, front row) gather with friends and colleagues at the May 23 announcement of the provincial investment in RHF Accessibility Certification program.
All of us at SCIO support meaningful steps towards accessibility, which make way for people to live the life they choose in a fully inclusive Ontario. We have heard from our community members how rewarding it will be to go back to school and seek gainful employment as an accessibility auditor through this new RHF certification program and we are proud to support RHF in this initiative in this province. The built environment is a significant piece, but only one piece of ensuring Ontario is fully accessible. We look forward to working with the government to take meaningful steps to address the many other barriers to full inclusion.
In honour of the 32nd anniversary of the end of the Man In Motion World Tour and National AccessAbility Week, our friend and partner RHF has launched a campaign called #EveryoneEverywhere to raise awareness of the critical importance of improving accessibility. Visit the #EveryoneEverywhere campaign web page and see an interview with Rick in the CBC Morning Live.
SCIO’s work for greater accessibility and inclusion in Ontario is ongoing and very active – check out our latest initiatives through the Ontario SCI Alliance.