Face-to-face with Canada’s planned accessibility legislation

Last May we asked Canadians affected by MS what independence means to them.  The resounding answer was that having the ability to work, to get around and to make informed choices about course of treatment are all essential to maintaining independence. The common thread here is accessibility.

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There are a lot of ways to advocate for better accessibility in Canada. Our federal government is currently developing new planned accessibility legislation to promote equality of opportunity and increase the inclusion and participation of Canadians with disabilities in our communities – and you can be part of this discussion.

Remember when we shared a list of government consultations you can participate in online?

There are also a series of in-person consultations happening across the country over the next few months. Take a look at the list below to see when and where you can participate.

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Note: Dates and locations are subject to change. Please consult Canada.ca/Accessible-Canada for the most up-to-date information.

“I attended two consultations here in Saskatchewan. The first one was a public consultation in Regina, and I was invited to a second one about program & service delivery.

Minister of Sports and Disability Carla Qualtrough attended the latter of the two, and it was such a great opportunity to speak with her directly. It was exciting to have a say. We clarified language around the legislation. We talked about the need to move away from a disability act towards an accessibility act. We also addressed the importance of creating a similar act for caregivers – since one is nearly worthless without the other.

Attending these consultations is the key to effecting change. The government is genuinely looking at doing something and doing something soon. If we don’t take advantage of this opportunity, we’re going to miss it. The government has a window to effect change of about a year to a year and a half before they’re entering the next election cycle. So we have to be present, we have to talk about accessibility and legislation to support that, including an implementation plan.” — Eugene Paquin, caregiver

“It was such a positive experience, particularly for people with MS. Especially in terms of how they set up the room for people with mobility issues. They set it up very thoughtfully.  The facility itself was accessible, washrooms were accessible, and they had real-time captioning for those who have sensory impairments.

The speakers that touched my heart the most were the people who were working with the poverty coalition and other poverty groups. The financial implications of disability are very much on the minds of people. This consultation is so important to ensure a better future for Canadians with MS and other disabilities.”

— Debby Paquin, diagnosed in 1994

People living with MS have strong voices. Those voices will not be ignored as we raise awareness of the many ways we need the world to change in order to accommodate people living with disabilities – not the other way around. We hope to see widespread engagement by our stakeholders at these consultations. Don’t miss your opportunity to make your voice heard.

If you’re in Ontario, get involved in the e-Action campaign currently underway by sending a message to your MPP. http://bit.ly/2dt821I

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