NEW accessibility legislation will set British Columbia on the path to a more accessible and inclusive province for people with disabilities and their support networks, the province said on Wednesday.
If passed, the accessible British Columbia act will allow government to establish accessibility standards aimed at identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility and inclusion. Standards will be developed in a range of areas such as employment, the delivery of services and the built environment.
“We’re committed to improving the lives of people living with disabilities, and today’s introduction of the accessible British Columbia act marks an important step in building an accessible province that works for all of us,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “To be a truly inclusive province, we must integrate accessibility into all aspects of our lives. This legislation will support the development of new accessibility standards, which will help ensure all British Columbians can participate more fully in their communities.”
As part of government’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the principle of “nothing about us without us,” in fall 2019 the ministry consulted with people with disabilities, advocates, business owners, Indigenous peoples, stakeholder groups and the public.
“People with disabilities have been leaders in shaping the act from the beginning, and it’s with their continued input that we’ll be able to build a barrier-free B.C.,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “This legislation provides us with the framework to improve the lives of over 900,000 British Columbians living with a disability, and I’m looking forward to the work we’ll do in the coming years.”
If passed, the legislation will allow government to establish accessibility standards and regulations in a range of areas, helping ensure people with disabilities can fully participate in their communities. Initially, government will also be required to establish a provincial accessibility committee, an accessibility plan and create tools for public feedback on accessibility. Through regulation, these same requirements will be extended to other organizations.
Public engagement and consultation will remain a priority as government develops regulations and standards to address the barriers people with disabilities face. Government will also provide legislated annual reports on actions taken and independent reviews on the progress and success of implementing accessibility legislation.
As part of the process to develop the legislation, government’s obligations under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act were carefully considered, and the ministry proactively consulted with Indigenous partners to seek their input and perspectives on the legislation.
B.C.’s new legislation will complement the federal Accessible Canada Act in recognizing that inclusive communities are places where all people have the equal opportunity to succeed and meet their full potential.
Through the proposed accessibility legislation, government remains committed to making life better for people living with disabilities and to building a barrier-free B.C.
* B.C. is the largest province (by population) in Canada that has not passed comprehensive accessibility legislation.
* In 2017, there were an estimated 926,100 British Columbians (over 20% of the population) who reported having a disability.
* People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty.