Realize the Right to Equality

Graphic of Barrier Free Logo.
Put an End to Disrespectiful Service / Realize the Right to Equality

Dear VIRN Community:

How much longer will tens of thousands of Manitobans with disabilities have to put up with second or third class service or no service at all?

It's our last chance to ensure that the Minister gets it 'right'! True, the latest draft regulation is an improvement from what was proposed back in the spring 2014. But, after more than a year of work, it is still not nearly good enough.

We strongly encourage you to:
• Review our preliminary report on the proposed regulation (the full version and the Executive Summary are attached).
• Send us your feedback by April 30, 2015 on the seven changes we are calling for (send us an email message or complete a short online survey - Just Click Here).
• Share this email with others you know who are concerned about disability and human rights.
Based on the feedback we receive, we will prepare and submit our final review on the draft regulation by the May 11th deadline. We will also send you an advance copy of out final report and may ask you to contact the Minister directly.

Please read on for more information.

The Details

In mid-March 2015, the Minister released what is referred to as the “Consultation Draft” of the proposed accessible customer service regulation.

The public now has until May 11, 2015 to provide comment on this Consultation Draft. Thereafter, the Minister will review the public feedback and consider revising the regulation before forwarding it to Cabinet for final approval. Once approved by Cabinet, the regulation will have the force of law and be binding on all public, private and non-profit organizations with one or more employees that operate in Manitoba.

For the very first time ever, the regulation will set out mandatory minimum standards for accessible customer services throughout Manitoba.

Potentially pretty powerful stuff. But most of the potential rests in the details.
• Does the regulation as proposed cover the essentials?
• Does it create clear obligations that will ensure that persons with disabilities receive the same quality and responsiveness of service as those without disabilities?
Our Review

Based on Barrier-Free Manitoba’s preliminary review, we believe that the draft regulation goes a long way toward meeting these criteria.

But we have also found that the draft regulation still does not go nearly far enough. Further improvements, some of them substantial, are needed to ensure that the regulation is both strong and effective.

Getting this standard ‘right’ is crucial. As the first deliverable from this landmark legislation, the regulation must set a high bar for the standards that are expected to follow in the areas of employment, transportation, communication and information, and the built environment.

The Essential Changes

The draft regulation needs to be revised to:
• Ensure that it applies to those who own or operate buildings and organizations that provide information, not just those who provide goods and services.
• Require that accessible customer service policies and practices developed by organizations are consistent with The Accessibility for Manitobans Act and The Human Rights Code.

• Require that all persons (staff and volunteers) involved in developing customer service policies receive training on accessibility issues.

• Require that reviews of both The Accessibility for Manitobans Act and The Human Rights Code are covered in training.

• Require that organizations be responsible for providing public notice when any services and barrier-free equipment and facilities (e.g., lifts, accessible washrooms) are temporarily unavailable.

• Prohibit organizations from charging any additional fees to persons with disabilities when using accessible customer services or alternative customer services that are provided until barriers are removed or equivalent service is available.

• Set out how government will monitor and assess whether organizations are meeting requirements, and any responsibilities this will place on these organizations to report on the actions they have taken.
And finally, we are calling for these changes to be made without any further delay. The Province of Manitoba has had more than enough time to develop the first regulation under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act. Any further delays are unacceptable.

The Kicker

During the recent NDP leadership race, Barrier-Free Manitoba was understandably delighted that Premier Selinger publicly re-stated his commitment to:
• The timely implementation of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act.
• Ensuring the necessary government resources are in place to get this work done properly.
With only one year left in the mandate of this government, which rightfuly took great pride in passing the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act, the time to act on this commitment is NOW!

Thank you, as always, for your ongoing interest and support. Together we are moving Manitoba toward being an inclusive society that values and celebrates persons of all abilities.

Regards,

Patrick Falconer
Consultant to the Barrier-Free Manitoba Steering Committee
Email: barrierfreemanitoba@shaw.ca