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NDP Leadership Candidates Respond to BFM's Accessibility and AMA-Related Questions

Jul 30, 2017

We're pleased to share the responses from the two candidates in the New Democratic Party's current leadership race to BFM's accessibility and AMA-related questions related. The order of the response are presented in alphabtic order of the last names of the candidates.


Steve Ashton

Steve Ashton 

Question 1: Will you commit to provide for the full participation of Manitobans with disabilities in your leadership campaign? 

Response: As a candidate for the leadership of the NDP I have made it a priority to speak out for the need to ensure the full participation of Manitoban's with disabilities not only in my leadership campaign but in all aspects of the leadership contest. This includes participating in leadership related activities as well as the voting process. I am pleased the New Democratic Party has responded with a number of measures that will ensure the full participation of people with disabilities.

Question 2: What is your overall position on the landmark 2013 Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) and what do you see as the priorities that need to be addressed to ensure its full and timely implementation?

Response: I was proud as a member of the legislature to support the passage of the landmark Accessibility for Manitoban's Act in 2013. It is important to note that it was passed with unanimous, all-party support. The act commits government to act to achieve significant progress toward full accessibility by 2023. Clearly time is of the essence. 

I am concerned that there has been limited progress in implementing the act thus far. In particular that only one of the five promised standards has been put in place.

I also believe another priority is to develop an effective monitoring and compliance framework.

Question 3: Do you support the call for government commitment to develop and enforce a strong accessible education standard within the next three years under the AMA? If so, why?

Response: The provincial government must act within the next three years to bring in and enforce a strong accessible education standard.

Why? Fundamentally it starts with the fact that education is a right. It must be accessible to all. 
It is also an important issue because there are clearly many barriers currently that impact on people's ability to access education

I am encouraged that more than  1,100 individual citizens and 59 organizations, representing over 100,000 Manitobans have called on the minister to develop these key standards to ensure that Manitobans with disabilities have equitable access to quality education from child care through to post-secondary education. 

Manitoba has reached a critical point in the implementation of the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA). If I am elected leader of the new Democratic Party I will advocate for the full implementation of the act. If I am elected Premier of the province in 2020 I will ensure that the government will act decisively to fully implement the act in both a legal sense and in the fullest sense.

This is a human rights issue that should be of concern at all  Manitoban's. It is time for action.


Wab Kinew

Wab Kinew

Question No. 1: Will you commit to provide for the full participation of Manitobans with disabilities in your leadership campaign?

Response: Absolutely. My campaign team is made up of folks with many different abilities, and we work together to make sure that everyone is able to participate in whatever ways they want to. We have made our video content available with captioning and located our office space in an accessible building with this commitment in mind.
 
Question No. 2: What is your overall position on the landmark 2013 Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) and what do you see as the priorities that need to be addressed to ensure its full and timely implementation?

Response: I fully support the Accessibility for Manitobans Act. I want to congratulate Barrier-Free Manitoba and all the other organizations that came together and made the AMA possible. Building and lobbying for groundbreaking legislation like this is a challenge, and having it passed into law is an accomplishment that deserves congratulations. Thank you for your leadership in showing us that there is a better path forward. 

I echo the calls made by BFM for the development of a strong employment standard. Employment is critical to our identity - we build a strong sense of self, of purpose, and of community through our jobs. Those with disabilities are entitled to the same opportunities in the workplace as those without. I hope that as Minister Fielding considers the recommendations from the Accessibility Advisory Council seriously, as well as the feedback from BFM, and puts forwards a standard that we can all get behind. 

At the same time, I recognize that we can go further than just paid employment. Volunteering is such an important part of our identity as friendly Manitobans, but for many there aren't opportunities to donate their time and energy that fit their abilities. We should ensure that there are fully-accessible volunteering opportunities available to everyone who wants to give back to their community. 

Question No. 3: Do you support the call for government commitment to develop and enforce a strong accessible education standard within the next three years under the AMA? If so, why?

Response: I do. Education has the power to transform our lives and the communities we come from. During my time working at the University of Winnipeg, I could see how important accessibility services and standards were to the success of students. We must open the doors of our schools as wide as possible, for everyone. 

Like many, I'm disappointed that Minister Fielding's action plan for this year doesn't mention an education standard. Unless this government provides the outstanding advocates on the Advisory Council and the civil service the resources they need to work quickly and dilligently, we are missing out on opportunities to help people. 

Children only get to be in school once - we don't get a second chance to give them the education they deserve. We rely on schools to be places where young people are safe and supported, and so we need to act in order to make sure that this is the case for every young person, whether they're in kindergarten or university. I know that so much work has already been done in the K-12 and university systems, but I also know there is much work ahead. 
 

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