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Feature Issue: Public Comments from Rob McInnes

Rob McInnes, Partner in Diversity World, is highly regarded human services professional with over 30 years of experience in management and innovative program design - focused on issues of employment and diversity. Mr, McInnes is editor/co-author of several publications on disability and employment issues and has an management career that spans senior positions in local and national disability organizations, as well as experience gained in his past role as a Diversity Consultant with IBM in California. Most recently, Mr. McInnes has spearheaded the development of the Ability Axis Employment Expo.

We are honoured that Mr. McInnes shared the comments he sent to Minister Howard with us. We have included his full comments below and are pleased to provide them as PDF and Word documents.

October 16, 2012

Disabilities Issues Office
Room 630 - 240 Graham Avenue
Winnipeg MB R3C 0J7

RE: Recommendations of the Accessibility Advisory Council On Accessibility Legislation

Let me preface this response by saying that has been truly exciting to watch this legislative initiative unfold. My hat is off to all the players, within and without government, whose vision, diligence and persistence have brought us to this point. For those of us who are actively engaged in efforts to create a more inclusive community and who are heavily invested in seeing accessibility legislation that will undergird those efforts, the recommendations of the Advisory Council are extremely heartening. However, I am also strongly in favour of the enhancements proposed in Barrier-Free Manitoba’s recommendations.

From my perspective (here on the sidelines), it seems that the difference between Barrier Free’s position and the Advisory Council’s recommendations is the difference between what should be and what can “sell” – between what effective legislation would look like and what is perceived as being more likely to be acceptable/passed.

While we all want something in place – some legislation that promises to improve the life experience of ongoing exclusion that is the lot of too many Manitobans with disabilities…we have to be careful not to be content with something watered down to be more palatable, but too watered down to be effective. It is human rights that are at stake here. I am not confident that we are being fully guided by the poignancy of that. Perhaps we are so used to responding to people with disabilities in patterns of behavior that are kind and “helpful”, that we are responding so, legislatively. I can’t help but feel that if inclusionary legislation was now being drafted for a different group of people who were collectively experiencing similar systemic exclusion and discriminatory practices (e.g. as women and Jewish people have in the past), that it would reflect a greater sense of urgency and fortitude.

We are at a unique point in history… with a strong band of committed people in leadership roles both within and without the government... at an opportune time to enact progressive legislation. We should do everything possible to do it right this first time… to ensure that, once enacted, its objectives are achieved... as there is no guarantee that there will be the will or the opportunity to revisit/revise it in the foreseeable future.


Rob McInnes
Partner, Diversity World
Home of the Ability Axis Employment Expo