MLA Dan Coulter played a leading role in the legislation's introduction
By Spencer van Vloten
BC's reign as the largest province without provincial accessibility legislation looks to be nearing an end with the introduction of the Accessible British Columbia Act.
Dan Coulter, Chilliwack MLA and Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility, played a leading role in the introduction of the legislation and spoke with BC Disability.
What will the act do if passed?
"This is enabling legislation. It will help create accessibility standards and regulations in a range of areas for the identification, removal, and prevention of barriers to the inclusion of British Columbians with disabilities. These will be enforced throughout the province."
"The legislation accords with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, reinforcing human rights and recognizing that accessibility is something which needs to be present in all aspects of life."
"That means physical spaces, technology, information, employment, education, and the societal attitudes that create obstacles every day for disabled persons. We have to address specific areas and the broader cultural factors that create inequality."
"The government will also establish a provincial accessibility committee, composed of persons with disabilities, with mandatory annual reports and independent accessibility reviews every 5 years. Accessibility tools and information will be made available throughout BC as well to help support people in building a more inclusive BC."
What was the role of disabled persons in creating the Accessible British Columbia Act?
"We held numerous public consultations, and got feedback from over 7000 people across BC, as well as community organizations. I really think this legislation mirrors the values of disabled British Columbians, and is the type of foundation for accessibility that they want and expect to have."
"Persons with disabilities will continue to to take the lead through the provincial accessibility committee."
What else will be done to improve accessibility?
"My work going forward is to keep listening to public feedback, so that we can continue to address the concerns that disabled British Columbians have. Ensuring full inclusion and equality goes beyond any particular legislation and requires sustained effort and engagement."
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!