BC ministry of social development and poverty reduction launches consultation on accessibility through legislation

17 September 2019

By Kevin Zakreski

The ministry of social development and poverty reduction has just opened a consultation on proposed legislation to enhance accessibility for people with disabilities. According to the ministry’s news release, the consultation will “help define future legislation that will make B.C. a more accessible and inclusive province.”

Concurrent with the opening of the consultation, the ministry has published a consultation paper called British Columbia Framework for Accessibility Legislation. This 40-page consultation paper sets out the rationale for accessibility legislation and discusses some of the policy choices that may be made in crafting the legislation.

The consultation asks for comments on:

  • the models for and scope of the legislation;
  • the purposes and principles that will guide interpretation and application of the legislation;
  • the legislation’s approach to setting accessibility standards (“Government envisions accessibility legislation that allows for the creation of both voluntary accessibility standards as well as mandatory accessibility regulations. Accessibility legislation would allow the Government of British Columbia to adopt standards as binding regulations in part or in whole.”);
  • the governance structure of the organizations that will develop accessibility standards and ensure compliance with the legislation;
  • incentives, compliance, and enforcement issues; and
  • frequency of legislative reviews.

The consultation paper notes that “[v[arious sources have guided the development of this document, including”:

  1. The principles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) (PDF) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) (PDF);
  2. The voices of people with disabilities expressed in previous consultations such as Canada’s consultation on accessibility legislation in 2016/17 and British Columbia’s consultation on disability in 2013/14;
  3. Canada’s Bill C-81, The Accessible Canada Act (Accessible Canada Act); and
  4. Accessibility legislation from other provinces and countries.

(On the last point, four Canadian provinces already have accessibility legislation: Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, and Nova Scotia.)

Comments may be submitted through an online questionnaire. Other options for commenting include email, telephone, and virtual town halls, all as explained more fully on the ministry’s consultation webpage.

The public consultation and questionnaire are open until 4:00 p.m., Friday, 29 November 2019.

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