A Barrier Free Canada 2
Speaker of the House of Commons: May it please Your Excellency. The Senate in the House of Commons have passed the following Bills to which they humbly request Your Excellency’s assent. An Act to ensure a Barrier Free Canada. Accessible Canada Act – An Act to Ensure a Barrier Free Canada 2 is the second video interviewing architects of Bill C-81, before it’s Royal Assent.
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough: Well first of all – I’d say Bill C-81 is grounded in human rights, it’s taken a very human rights approach, it’s really – fundamentally we wanted to assert in law that disability rights are human rights. So we have again, you know on the anti-discrimination side it’s against the law and it’s against our constitution to discriminate on the basis of disability but that’s a very reactive right. So we wanted to proactively set, a set, you know – create a set of rights in law that mirrors what we have under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. So we took a very rights based approach to the way we’ve drafted this law, we’ve tried to link it to the convention as much as possible and at the same time, we didn’t want to frustrate any of the existing rights under human rights law.
Sinead Tuite Former Director of Legislation Development, Accessibility Secretariat, Employment and Social Development Canada: I think one of the biggest challenges that we faced as public servants was the level of expectation in the community and with people with disabilities that this legislation could and would solve everything and that was a challenge we faced in terms of our initial cross country tours and in terms of our policy work and analysis, what could the legislation do, what could it not do that maybe could be achieved through other complementary mechanisms that went with the legislation, and what was outside of accessibility in terms of the scope that might have been still very important and very much a priority issue to a lot of people but wasn’t necessarily going to be addressed or improved through the legislation itself. So that was definitely a challenge in terms of starting with the bill, what was the actual scope and what could it do, what would it not do was something I think that we grappled with throughout the development and throughout our engagement with stakeholders.
The Honourable Jim Munson, Senator of Ottawa/Rideau Canal Ontario:In the Senate of Canada, where I have sat for 16 years, history was made when we passed the bill at third reading and I never thought I would be part of a enterprise and initiative of this magnitude because it’s transformative within the disability community and it’s going to show that Canada is a leader when it comes to inclusion and dealing with disabilities and the rights of those.
James van Raalte Director General Accessibility Secretariat: In my experience as a public servant, unless you are working directly on like the deliverable, the piece of legislation, there isn’t an opportunity as an employee to feed into a piece of legislation. This was a unique opportunity for employees with disabilities to actually feed into policy development outside of their normal jobs. So I’m- I’m working at CRA, I work on tax filing, I happen to be an employee with a disability and I can talk about both the barriers that I face in my workplace and that I see tax filers out there in terms of what they experience interacting with CRA and I can feed that input into a policy development process that actually a year from now, two years from now, three years from now is going to make a difference in both my life and the life of the people that I’m – I’m try to help working at CRA. That’s a unique – that is a unique opportunity within the Government of Canada that does not happen every day.
The Honourable Jim Munson, Senator of Ottawa/Rideau Canal Ontario and Bill Adair of Spinal Cord Injury Canada discuss a Barrier Free Canada: People are going to be saying, ‘What’s going to happen to me overnight?’, and I talk about it- … Mhmm. … -that it’s more than just building another ramp onto Parliament Hill, it’s building a ramp to that cultural shift and change- … Right. … of- of being- of being in the mix when it comes to employment. … Mhmm. … But should people have expectations that something will change overnight? Accessible Canada Act – An Act to Ensure a Barrier Free Canada 2 is the second video interviewing architects of Bill C-81, before it’s Royal Assent.
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Bill Adair of Spinal Cord Injury Canada: Well I think it’s a part – this is part of the education that we need to take out to all Canadians, that the journey to remove barriers and to create inclusive culture and inclusive communities will take some time but one of the key things you mentioned earlier as we’re chatting is a significant change will happen in that people with disabilities will no longer have to hire lawyers and fight for their own rights- … Yeah. … -when they’ve been discriminated against, because we will have an accessibility commissioner who protects people’s rights.
Frank Folino, President of Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD-ASC): It’s going to be transforming. It’s going to impact us. It’s quite inspirational really and I feel very positive being part of this moment. You know, for example, you know in the next — we’ll have the Prime Minister making their announcements whether in press conferences or budget announcements and have interpreters by their side in ASL and LSQ.
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough: I think the immediate more culture change or attitudinal shift that we’re seeing today is a recognition by the community at large, the disability community at large, the federal government is now taking on the responsibility to protect this group of marginalized – historically marginalized citizens from discrimination. It’s not going to be up to the one person who’s discriminated against to kind of fight the fight. Accessible Canada Act – An Act to Ensure a Barrier Free Canada 2 is the first video interviewing architects of Bill C-81, before it’s Royal Assent.
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