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Feature Issue: The Stronger Measures Required

The Manitoba Accessibility Advisory Council's recommendations represent important steps forward but they are simply not enough to provide the basis for the strong and effective legislation that is required.

Folllowing are the details on the five areas where stronger measures are required.

1. A Definite Target Date by Which to Achieve Full Accessibility

The core lesson learned from Ontario’s experience since 2005 – when similar legislation was enacted – is the power of establishing full accessibility as the goal in the legislation and defining a target date by when this will be achieved. The cost of ignoring this lesson will fall on the hundreds of thousands of Manitobans affected by disabilities.

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2. More Effective Penalties for Non-Compliance

The maximum $25,000 fine recommended by the MAAC for parties guilty of flagrant non-compliance with the legislation is wholly inadequate. This limited penalty is inconsistent with fines under many other provincial statutes. This human rights legislation needs to be substantial and have serious ‘teeth.’

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3. Inclusive and Proactive Public Sector Leadership

The MAAC reversal in not recommending special leadership and reporting requirements for any public sector bodies is deeply concerning. It is fundamentally inconsistent with the special legal and public trust responsibilities of these bodies. This is another key lesson from the Ontario experience.

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4. Greater Transparency and Accountability

While setting out how committees it establishes report to the Council, the MAAC’s recommendations did not contain any measures to ensure it’s own public transparency and accountability. Without clear measures, the Council’s early difficulties will only increase in complexity and gravity as new committees are established and the actual work of developing accessibility standards begins.

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5. Early and Meaningful Progress on Implementation

Manitoba should plan now for early and meaningful progress in developing and implementing accessibility standards to demonstrate success and build momentum. Reviewing and revising standards that are already established elsewhere needs to be central in this plan to speed progress in the systemic prevention and removal of barriers.

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