Province to introduce accessibility legislation in 2013


To ensure Manitobans continue to benefit from the removal of accessibility barriers and to prevent new barriers from being introduced, family services and labour minister Jennifer Howard, minister responsible for persons with disabilities, accepted the recommendations of the Manitoba Accessibility Advisory Council on enacting new accessibility legislation on Monday.

"More than 180,000 Manitobans face barriers that prevent their full participation in activities others take for granted and this is very detrimental to people with disabilities, their families and friends, and the community," said Howard in a release.  "We accept the recommendations for new legislation and thank the council for its significant contribution."

The minister noted the government is also examining broader questions surrounding compliance with the new legislation such as inspections and penalties for non-compliance.

The recommendations of the council have defined critical elements essential to accessibility legislation including:

* the process should develop clear and achievable goals;

* accessibility standards should affect both public and private sectors;

* people with disabilities and other stakeholders, such as businesses and municipalities, should play a central role in the development of legislation standards;

* guarantees in human rights codes should not be affected; and

* a regular review of progress should take place.

The main goal of the new accessibility legislation would be to prevent barriers by working with public and private sectors on long-range plans to ensure accessibility, Howard said, adding the introduction of the legislation would lay out a framework for the development and implementation of accessibility standards and serve as an important step in fulfilling the vision of a fully accessible society.

"Education will be key to introducing the new legislation, to boost public awareness of the benefits of full accessibility and to create a clear understanding of the obligations individuals and organizations will have under standards established by the act," Howard said.

The Manitoba Accessibility Advisory Council was created to make recommendations on enacting legislation for the prevention and removal of barriers and on other action the government can take to improve accessibility.

The council has 12 members with diverse backgrounds and experiences including representatives of organizations of people with disabilities, business and municipalities.

Manitoba news release