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5 for 5 Leadership Candidates Support Call for an Accessible Education Standard

Oct 04, 2017

Father and children on way to school

All five leadership candidates for the two opposition parties have expressed support for the call for the development and enforcement of a strong accessibility education standard. And they provided strong reasons for their support.

Barrier-Free Manitoba, along with 1,100+ individuals and organizations representing over 1 in 10 Manitobans sent a letter to Minister Fielding ask for the government's commitment to establish this missing but essential standard. The governments of Ontario and Nva Scotia have already made this commitment.

While Minister Fielding did not say no to our request, he has not said yes yet either. We're hoping that he will agree to make this commitment very soon.

The Question

Here's the question that we asked each of the candidates:

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?

The Responses

Here's the responses the candidates gave us, presented in alphabetic order of last name.

Steve Ashton (NDP)

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.

Jon Gerrard (Liberal)

Manitoba to develop a strong accessible education standard which applies to individuals with physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities (including hearing, speech and language disabilities). There are rapid advances occurring in the field of neuroscience and in our understanding of neuroplasticity. It is important that we are organized in Manitoba to benefit from these developments. As examples I mention the following. Dr. Karen Pape’s book “The Boy who could run but not walk,” provides details of the progress occurring in neuroscience as it relates to children with disabilities like cerebral palsy and our improved understanding of therapeutic approaches and the potential of these children to overcome their disabilities. Barbara Arrowsmith-Young’s book “The Woman who changed her brain,” identifies therapeutic approaches which can transform the learning abilities of children and adults. Breaking down barriers is not just about making spaces and information accessible. It is also about making the best therapeutic approaches accessible so that barriers to movement and barriers to learning are overcome. Currently, for example, the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba offers the Arrowsmith program. However, it is too expensive for most families. We need to move toward having it fully accessible to all children and adults who need it. This needs to be a part of what is included in the education standard.

Web Kinew (NDP)

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.

Dougald Lamont (Liberal)

Yes. The previous government passed the act but has been paying lip service to its implementation. Of course there are costs involved, but they are far outweighed by the benefits in the long run. We are all better off when we are all better off, especially when each person gets the opportunity to contribute and be their best selves.

Cindy Lamoureux (Liberal)

Yes. Education plays an important role in Manitoba. It is a means by which Manitobans can achieve, excel and have better opportunities for the future. Everyone has the same potential to learn and no amount of disadvantage, including disabilities, hampers that.


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