OTTAWA, June 22, 2016 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is committed to eliminating systemic barriers and delivering equality of opportunity to all Canadians living with disabilities.
Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities announced the launch of a national consultation process to inform the development of planned legislation that will transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility.
Minister Qualtrough highlighted the critical importance of accessibility and affirmed the Government of Canada's commitment to ensuring all Canadians are able to participate equally in their communities and workplaces. She outlined that many Canadians continue to face barriers that affect their ability to participate in daily activities that most people take for granted. Barriers could include:
- physical, architectural and electronic barriers that impact the ability of people with disabilities to move freely in the built environment, to use public transportation or to access information or use technology;
- attitudes, beliefs and misconceptions that some people may have about people with disabilities and what they can and cannot do; and
- outdated policies and practices that do not take into account the varying abilities and disabilities that people may have.
The Government of Canada is seeking input for this planned legislation, including:
- feedback on the overall goal and approach;
- to whom would apply;
- what accessibility issues and barriers it could address;
- how it could be monitored and enforced; and
- what else the Government of Canada could do to improve accessibility.
Canadians from around the country have already begun sharing their views on what an accessible Canada means to them. Minister Qualtrough encouraged all Canadians to have their say in the consultation process, either by attending an in-person engagement session or by participating in the online consultation which will be launched in the coming weeks. In-person consultations, including roundtables and town halls, will start in September across Canada. Canadians are also encouraged to follow @AccessibleGC on Twitter, Accessible Canada on Facebook and to follow the #AccessibleCanada hashtag. The consultation process will run until February 2017.
- The Government of Canada has launched a consultation process that will be open until February 2017. Canadians are encouraged to participate in the consultation by visiting Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada.
- Approximately 14% of Canadians aged 15 years or older reported having a disability that limited them in their daily activities. There are approximately 411,600 working-aged Canadians with disabilities who are not working but whose disability does not prevent them from doing so; almost half of these potential workers are post-secondary graduates.
- Many Canadians with disabilities and functional limitations face challenges that other Canadians do not in accessing buildings and services from the Government of Canada and organizations within federal jurisdiction. For example, between 2011 and 2015, disability-related complaints represented just over half of all the discrimination complaints received by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Of these, at least six percent touched on issues of accessibility in service delivery.
- More broadly, an analysis of data from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability found that, approximately 2.1 million Canadians aged 15 years or older are at risk of facing barriers in the built environment and/or in relation to information and communications.
- The Government of Canada's Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) provides funding for projects in Canadian communities and workplaces to help improve accessibility. Since the creation of the EAF, the Government of Canada has funded over 2,300 projects, helping thousands of Canadians gain access to their communities' programs, services and workplaces. The program has an annual budget of $15 million. Budget 2016 committed to providing an additional $4 million over two years, starting in 2016-17. A Call for proposals is presently open until Tuesday, July 26th.
- Bill C-11 An Act to Amend the Copyright Act will make changes to the Copyright Act to ensure that it is fully in line with the Marrakesh Treaty and to enable Canada to accede to the treaty. This treaty aims to bring the global community together to better address the universal challenge of ensuring timely access to, and wider availability of, alternate-format published materials for those with print disabilities.
"We have made considerable progress in making our society more inclusive, but there is still work to do. Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers in their daily lives. What does an accessible Canada mean to you? Please take the time to participate in our online consultation or to attend one of our public sessions in person. Together, we will make history."
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
Consultation to Inform Planned Accessibility Legislation
Minister Qualtrough, Canada's first Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, has been mandated by the Prime Minister to lead an engagement process with Canadians, including Canadians with disabilities, provinces, territories, municipalities, and other stakeholders, that would inform planned legislation that will transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility.
The consultation process will be open from June 2016 until February 2017. Starting in July, Canadians will be able to participate in the online consultation by completing a questionnaire, replying to questions, or by submitting videos in the language of their choice (English, French, American Sign Language or Langue du signe du Quebec). Canadians can also participate through telephone, mail, email fax or telephone. Starting in September, in-person public consultations are planned to take place in the following cities:
- St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
- Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
- Moncton, New Brunswick
- Québec City, Quebec
- Montréal, Quebec
- Ottawa, Ontario
- Toronto, Ontario
- Thunder Bay, Ontario
- Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Regina, Saskatchewan
- Calgary, Alberta
- Edmonton, Alberta
- Vancouver, British Columbia
- Victoria, British Columbia
- Iqaluit, Nunavut
- Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
- Whitehorse, Yukon.
As well, Minister Qualtrough is planning a number of more focused roundtable discussions with key stakeholders, as well as a National Youth Forum that will engage youth with disabilities to engage in the policy discussion.
For the most up-to-date information on in-person venues and dates, and to participate online, please visit www.Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada
Enabling Accessibility Fund
The Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) was originally announced as a three-year, $45-million program to support community-based projects across Canada. It was then renewed for another three years prior to being renewed on an ongoing basis at $15 million per year to continue to improve accessibility for Canadians with disabilities. Since its creation, the EAF has funded over 2,300 projects.
The EAF offers up to $50,000 in funding. Project costs will be shared between the recipient and government. Contributions equal to or greater than 35 percent of the total eligible costs of the project must be provided by sources other than the federal government (which can include the applicant's own organization). This call for proposals will close on July 26, 2016.
For more information about how to submit proposals, please visit: Canada.ca/accessibility-fund
The Marrakesh Treaty
The Government of Canada is providing $2 million in funding this year to CNIB through the Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability component to continue to support CNIB in its production of alternate format published materials for people with print disabilities. People with print disabilities include those with visual impairments, people with impairments which affect reading comprehension (such as learning disabilities), and people who are unable to hold or turn the pages of a book.
The Disability Component of the Social Development Partnerships Program supports projects intended to improve the participation and integration of people with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society. More specifically, the Program supports not-for-profit organizations across Canada in tackling barriers faced by people with disabilities with respect to social inclusion.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information: Ashley Michnowski, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities,819-934-1122 / TTY: 1-866-702-6967; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, [email protected], Follow us on Twitter