More than 6,300 people have shared their experiences and feedback on proposed accessibility legislation for B.C.
“I thank everyone who took the time to share their views and experiences,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We undertook public consultation with the United Nations principle of ‘nothing about us, without us.’ We heard overwhelmingly about the need for accessibility legislation to enhance education and awareness and the importance of creating a culture of inclusion, as well as eliminating barriers for all British Columbians.”
Dec. 3 is also the United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The day was first proclaimed in 1992 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to raise awareness. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was introduced in 2006 and has been ratified by 177 countries, including Canada.
“I am also pleased to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities today,” said Simpson. “As we move forward with accessibility legislation in 2020, it is fitting that this year’s theme is ‘the future is accessible.’ We are committed to making life more affordable and more accessible for all British Columbians.”
The public consultation was held from Sept. 16 to Nov. 29, 2019. Nearly 500 people attended one of the 10 community meetings around the province, while 75 independent community consultations were held and over 50 formal submissions were received. Of the 6,352 people who filled out the online questionnaire, 3,776 identify as having a disability. There were more than 23,000 visits to the accessibility engagement website.
Ministry staff will analyze all the feedback and a summary report is expected to be released early in 2020. Feedback will be used to inform the development of accessibility legislation for B.C., which will build on work by the federal government and other provinces.
There are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 with some form of disability. This represents almost 25% of the population.
As the population ages, the number of people with disabilities and the severity of their disabilities are likely to increase.
The federal government, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba have accessibility legislation in place.