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Onward to Full Accessibility

Surveys on Barriers to Accessible Education 

classroomschool room

Recent national research has reconfirmed that that equitable access to quality education continues to be struggle for students with disabilities. The barriers to accessible education start in child care and continue on through to post-secondary. At the same time, those working in educational settings continue to do their best.

While this seems to be common knowledge, we still don't have a good handle on the nature and scope of the barriers. So Barrier-Free Manitoba, in conjunction with Education Solutions Manitoba, is conducting province-wide surveys of:

Parents/families of students with disabilities
Students with disabilities (Grade 7 to post-secondary)
Staff and officials who work in educational settings

These are the first ever surveys on accessible education in Manitoba that cover all these critical stakeholder groups.

If you are a member of one of these stakeholder groups, please complete a survey by clicking on applicable link in the list above.

For more information on the surveys, click here.


Launch of Participation is Your Right Campaign

Campaign logo

We, along with partner groups, are pleased to launch the "Accessibility is the Law / Participation is Your Right" public information campaign. Click here for more information on the campaign and the rights of all Manitobans with disabilities to attend and participate in public meetings and events.


We Asked, They Answered

Barrier-Free Manitoba asked both of the our province's major political parties with leadership races underway to answer three accessibiity questions. We are also asking all the leadership candidates to respond to three other accessibility and AMA-related questions.

The New Democratic Party

Click here to see the responses we recieved from the NDP and click here to see the responses from that party's two leadership candidates. The NDP's leadership convention was held on September 16, 2017. Wab Kinew was elected the new leader of the party.

The Liberal Party of Manitoba

Click here to see the responses from the Liberals and click here to see the responses from the three leadership contestants. The Liberal leadership convention is scheduled for October 21, 2017.  


BFM Calls On Minister to to Include Stronger Accessible Employment Measures

Bison

Barrier-Free sent a letter to Minister Fielding on July 24 to ask him to consider including stronger measures than had been recommended by the Accessiblity Advisory Council in his final proposal for an accessible employment standard, expected to be released early this fall.

We are pleased to post the letter for your review (Word / PDF).

For more informaion on the letter, please click here


Accessibility and Leadership Races

One of the best times to engage in political processes is during election time. With not one but two leadership contests now underway among major parties in Manitoba, Barrier-Free Manitoba has reached out to the Liberal and NDP parties, and has or will reach our to all leadership candidates with some basic but important requests and questions.

For more information on the requests and questions, just click here


Recommendations for the Proposed Accessible Employment Standard

Employee with a disability

The provincial government has just released the Accessibility Advisory Council’s (the Council) report and recommendations for an Accessibility Standard for Employment under the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA).

Long awaited (it is dated March 31, 2017), the Council's report incorporates many but not all of BFM's 19 recommendations for the stronger measures needed to make meaningful strides forward toward equitable employment for Manitobans with disabilities.

For more on the AAC's report and BFM's review, click here.


Close the Accessible Gap in Manitoba

Children painting on a wall

You can help. Join over 1,100+ concerned citizens and 59 organizations, both small and large and representing over 100,000 Manitobans, who are requesting government's commitment to develop and enforce a strong accessible education standard.

Please act today at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/lettertominister

Here's why your support is so important.

Quality education is an essential gateway to labour market success, as well as to the life-long capacity to participate in and make meaningful contributions to one’s family, one’s community and the social and economic well-being of our province. Not only that but equitable access to quality education for those with disabilities is basic human right enshrined in The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, The Human Rights Code and the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Sadly, while progress has been made over recent decades to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for students with disabilities, Manitoba students and their families continue to face a myriad of serious barriers. 

Unlike the two other provinces that have enacted accessibility-rights legislation to date (Ontario and Nova Scotia), the Manitoba government has not yet committed to develop an accessible education standard under the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

Barrier-Free Manitoba recommended that the government commit to this in February 2017 (Recommendation No. 15 in our report on the proposed accessible employment standard). Based on direction endorsed by educational stakeholders at a MAAW event held on June 9, 2017, a letter has been prepared to again request this same commitment.

An invitation to 'sign on' in support of the 2+ page letter first went out on June 15. By June 30, when the letter was delivered to Minister Fielding, we had to add another 42 pages to include all the signatories. For more information on the June 30 delivery, please click here

But it's not too late to 'sign on'. We will be sending an updated list of those who support the letter and the request for a strong accessible education standard to Minister Fielding later this year.

So, if you are committed to disability and human rights and to the accessibility of our educational systems, from child care through to post secondary, please add your support today! 

To read the letter and 'sign on', please go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/lettertominister

For more information on the letter and the request, click here

Please act today to ensure the full accessibility of educational systems in Manitoba.


BFM Makes 19 Recommendations to Strengthen Proposed Standard

expect, employ, empower

Barrier-Free Manitoba has submitted the report with our final comments on the proposed accessible employment standard. The report is based on our best efforts to answer one essential question:

  • If implemented as described, will the proposed employment standard ensure that substantial progress toward a fully accessible labour market is achieved by 2023 as required under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act?

Our answer to this question is an unequivocal ‘No’. While what is proposed in the discussion paper may ‘inch’ us forward, achieving the substantial progress that is required under the Act will depend on much stronger and considerably expanded measures.

Accordingly, we are making 19 recommendations to build on key strengths, address significant limitations and complete further work that will be needed to establish and implement a strong and effective accessible employment standard in Manitoba.

For more info and to download a copy of the report, click here.


Proposed Accessibility Standard for Employment
The word job in block letters

The Accessibility Advisory Council (AAC) has released "Discussion Paper on a Proposed Accessibility Standard for Employment". This sets out the AAC's proposal for an accessibility standard to address the myriad of barriers to equitable employment opportunities and outcomes faced by Manitobans with disabilities.

This is the second of five accessibility standards that will be developed under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA). The first of the standards, the Customer Service Standard, came into force in November 2015.

Interested stakeholders and the public are asked to provide comment and feedback on the proposed standard by February 15, 2017. Barrier-Free Manitoba will be preparing a detailed review.

For more information on the proposed standard, the consultation process and Barrier-Free Manitoba's plans to respond, click here.


Fast Approaching AMA Compliance Deadlines

The first deadlines for action under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act are finally arriving.

1. The very first deadline is November 1, 2016. This is when all of the 14 provincial government departments are required to:

  • Have developed policies that ensure accessible customer service and make these policies available on request.
  • Have trained or ensured that all staff that provide services are trained in The Manitoba Human Rights Code and accessible customer service.
  • Ensure that all public meetings are accessible to persons with disabilities.

2. The second deadline, December 31, 2016, relates to multi-year accessibility plans. By that date, all provincial government departments, crown corps, health authorities, colleges, universities, school divisions and many large municipalities are required to have developed comprehensive plans on what measures that they have taken and will take in the coming years to identify, prevent and remove barriers that disable people. And these plans must have been developed in consultation with Manitobans with disabilities.

Click here for more on the compliance requirements and deadlines, and the related information that Barrier-Free Manitoba has formally requested from government.


December 3, 2016 - SAVE THAT DATE

Remember the 1,600 persons who crammed into the Legislative Building last December 3 to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (and to launch the Disability Matters: Vote 2016 campaign). It was a great and powerful event - see the picture below to jog your memory!

Plans are now in place to hold a similarly large scale event to mark the International Day this year.

Time/Date/Place

  • 1 pm to 3 pm
  • Saturday, December 3, 2016
  • Canadian Museum for Human Rights

ASL and computer note taking supports have been already booked. Please contact Jennifer Rodrigue if you require other accommodations.

Please help us make this a scent-free event.

Stay tuned for more details.


Thank You

Front table at consultations

Thanks to all who were able to attend the federal government's consultation held in Winnipeg on October 3rd. And thanks to all those who even considered attending given the extermely short notice that was provided by the government.

We believe that Minister Qualtrough is committed to addressing disability rights in Canada. Let's hope that they listened to what we had to say.

We encourage all who were unable to attend and/or have more they want to say to complete the online survey posted at: https://hrsdc-rhdcc.sondages-surveys.ca/s/Accessibility_accessibilite_TXT/?l=en

For more information on the consultation process and participation options, please view our primer.


Details on the October 3 Federal Consultation

The federal Office of Disability Issues has finalized arrangements for the consultation event to be held in Winnipeg on October 3, 2016.

4:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Monday, October 3rd
Room: Delta AB
Delta Hotel by Marriott
350 St. Mary Avenue

The following is the agenda for the public sessions:

Agenda

  • Welcome and opening remarks
  • Public discussion
  1. What are the main barriers to accessibility that Canadians with disabilities face?
  2. What would it take to fix those barriers?
  3. How can we change attitudes in Canada to better include and respect people with disabilities?

Pre-registration for the public event is optional but recommended, especially for individuals who require accessibility accommodations. Persons and organizations wishing to pre-register have been asked to contact the Office of Disability Issues:

Phone: 1-844-836-8126
TTY: 819-934-6649
Fax: 819-953-4797
Email address: accessible-canada@hrsdc.gc.ca
Mailing address:
Consultation - Federal Accessibility Legislation
c/o Office for Disability Issues
Employment and Social Development Canada
105 Hotel-de-ville St., 1st floor, Bag 62
Gatineau QC K1A 0J9

For more complete information on how to particiate in the consultation process, view our primer or visit the federal government website.


National Consultation Events / Options

Barrier-Free Manitoba encourages Manitobans to use any or all of three available options to participate in the consultation process to inform the legislation that will transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility.

1. Complete an online questionnaire.

2. Apply to attend the National Youth Forum schedule to be held in Ottawa on Nov. 1, 2016 (application deadline is Sept. 15).

3. Attend the in-person consultation event that will be held in Winnipeg on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016.

Please click here for more information on each of these options.


Consultation Process Launched on Proposed National Disability Act

On June 22, 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.

All Canadians are encouraged to have their say in the consultation process, either by attending one of the 18 in-person engagement sessions, which will start in September and be held across Canada, or by participating in the online consultation which will be launched in the coming weeks. 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.

For more info on the annoucement, please click here.

Watch the You Tube video here.

Minister Qualtrough


Recent Changes for BFM's Steering Committee

A number of changes have recently been made to Barrier-Free Manitoba's Steering Committee. Following is a revised list of the members of the Steering Committee and, where applicable, their organizational affiliations:

  • Dale Kendel
  • David Steen
  • Jeannette DeLong (Abilities Manitoba)
  • Janet Forbes (Children's Coalition)
  • Jennifer Frain (New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families)
  • Marion Cooper (Canadian Metal Health Association, Manitoba and Winnipeg Branch)
  • Oly Backstrom (Manitoba Supported Employment Network)

For more information, please click here.


CHANGE and CONTINUITY
Train tracks at swtich

The election of a new government and the swearing in of Premier Pallister and his smaller cabinet on May 3rd have ushered in a period of significant change. The change will provide new opportunities, as well as new challenges.

At this point, the contours of these opportunities and challenges remain unclear. Forming a new government and assuming new responsibilities for a $15+ billion operation are massive tasks. There are thousands of priorities competing for immediate attention, a host of foundational decisions are required, and the Premier and the Ministers need to be briefed on all their key areas of responsibility.

Barrier-Free Manitoba will also be making some changes. We look forward to announcing these soon. And those who have had leadership roles in the historic Disability Matters: Vote 2016 campaign will need to decide what comes next.

Despite these changes, there will also be many areas of continuity. The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) will be one of these. The AMA passed Third Reading in December 2013 with all-party, unanimous member support. As part of the 2016 election campaign, the Progressive Conservative Party committed to the timely and effective implementation of the AMA (click here to see the party's responses to questions about the Act) and pledged, if elected, to establishing standards in the following areas during their first term in office:

  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Information and communication
  • Built environment

This means that the next four years will be very busy ones in realizing a fully accessible Manitoba. One of the first steps will be the tabling of an annual implementation plan by the Minister responsible for the AMA (as required by the Act). But as Cabinet announcement on May 3 did not include a Minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities, we don't yet know which Minister will be tabling the plan.

We look forward to providing updates to you as developments unfold.


Thanks to the thousands of Manitobans who shared their passion and commitment for rights, equity and justice through the wondrous Disability Matters: Vote 2016 campaign.


The Provincial Election

While disability issues affect almost every Manitoban, these issues have historically been overlooked in provincial elections. With an estimated 168,000 Manitobans with disabilities eligible to vote this April, and with significant representation in all constituencies (including those that will be most closely contested), Disability Matters: Vote 2016 (DMV2016) is already changing this history.

As DMV2016's has demonstrated, disabilities matter a great deal.

Focus on Priority Disability Issues

DMV2016 asked each of the major political party to provide clear position statements and commitments on five priority issues of greatest importance to Manitobans with disabilities.

Click here to see the responses from the four major parties.

DMV2016 also asked each and every candidate (with a campaign email address) running in the election for answer two questions about their personal experience with, and views about, disability issues. Almost two-thirds of the candidates answered these questions.

Click here to see candidate responses.


WOW!
We Rocked It!

An estimated 1,600+ Manitobans literally jam-packed the Legislative Building today to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and launch Disability Matters: Vote 2016.

Indeed, it was an overflow crowd with some folks turned back at the front door (including a few media staff).

An extraordinary turnout to be sure. Sister events were also held throughout the province (Brandon and Thompson for sure).

Thanks to all who turned out or watched the live stream. Apologies to all who experienced communication and other barriers that limited their participation - our plans for accommodations were overcome by the sheer size of the crowd.

And thanks to all who helped us promote the event.

With the provincial election scheduled for April 19, 2016, we have an awful lot of work ahead.

If you want to help out, please sign up as a volunteer at: http://www.disabilitymatters2016.ca

For more coverage of the extraordinary day, click here.


The Next BIG Thing: Disability Matters: Vote 2016

DMV2016 Logo

In partnership with Abilities Manitoba, Barrier-Free Manitoba is pleased to announce Disability Matters: Vote 2016, a non-partisan, cross-disability community project to more fully engage Manitobans with disabilities in the next Manitoba general election.

The official launch of Disability Matters: Vote 2016 will coincide with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

December 3, 11am – Noon
Manitoba Legislature – Rotunda
Refreshments will be served

Please join us. Note taking and ASL supports have been arranged for the event.

Work on this important community project has really only started and there is just so much to do.


Drive Thru Five

Gears

Barrier-Free Manitoba has launched Drive Thru Five to ensure strong community advocacy throughout the critical first five years of implementation of the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) that was passed in 2013.

Two years have already passed and we need to step up our game for the three years that remain before 2018. And we need your help.

We are urging all Manitobans committed to disability and human rights to now endorse the call for the AMA's timely and effective implementation. It's one thing to have a new law on the books. It's quite another to ensure timely and game changing action.

Not only is this very important but it is also really easy. Just complete the webform at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BFMandAMA

We've made an incredible difference by working together to secure passage of the AMA in December 2013, and last week’s completion of the Customer Service Standard. We now need to redouble our collective efforts to further disability rights through to 2016 and beyond.


First Manitoba Accessibility Standard Finalized

100% Service

After over 7 years of spirited advocacy, Manitoba finally has its very first Accessibility Standard. On the morning of October 21, 2015, Minister Irvin-Ross announced (see the Press Release) that the Customer Service Standard has now been made into regulation and will come into force on November 1st. Following are links for downloadable versions of the new regulation: (Word / PDF).

This a major step forward in the implementation of the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA). We are very pleased that the regulation addresses three of the primary concerns identified in our final May 2015 brief. The regulation also addresses the majority of the recommendations we made in earlier reports stretching all the way back to May 2014. Read our primer for a summary of highlights of the standard.

There are plenty of reasons for celebration! The Customer Service Standard will provide real and lasting improvements in the lives of the 175,000 Manitobans with disabilities, their families and their communities. These improvements will continue as the first legacy of our work to date, benefiting Manitobans throughout the decades to come.

Please join us in celebrating this accomplishment!


Public Sector Charged with Lead Role in Making Manitoba Fully Accessible

Abstract of umbrellas

The development and enforcement of accessibility standards is the best known feature of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA). But another key requirement under the AMA is the creation of Accessibility Plans by public sector bodies. The plans are on top of the standards.

In 2016, all government of Manitoba departments and large public sector bodies with significant interaction with the public are required to create Accessibility Plans. This includes government departments, crown corporations, regional health organizations, colleges, school divisions and cities of more than 10,000.

Each of these plans must be made in consultation with the disability community and must incorporate the following:

  • A report on the measures taken to identify, prevent and remove barriers that disable people.
  • Measures that will be taken in the period covered by the plan to identify, prevent and remove barriers.
  • Measures that are in place to assess the effect on accessibility for persons disabled by barriers when new policies, activities or initiatives are undertaken.

These plans must be made public. The plans must also be reviewed and renewed every two years.

What's New

Final Proposal for the Accessible Employment Standard Released

November 03, 2017 Minister Scott Fielding, the Minister responsible for the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act, has now released his final proposal for the Accessible Employment Standard
Read More...

Surveys on Barriers to Accessible Education in Manitoba

November 01, 2017 Barrier-Free Manitoba, in conjunction with Education Solutions Manitoba, is conducting province-wide surveys of parents/families of students with disabilities, students with disabilities and educational staff and officials
Read More...

Poll

Which area should be the priority for a new additional standard under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act?