Why Accessibility Should be a Federal Issue

It seems to be a no-brainer: everyone should have access to public buildings, regardless of disabilities or province. A kid in a wheelchair in Newfoundland should be able to get to Biology, and a blind man should be able to file an income tax return. Yet when accessibility is left to the provinces, it often doesn’t measure  up. My gt;high school; has, in total, five flights of stairs to get from Student Services, in the basement, to the History classrooms, on the top floor. It also, incidentaly, has no elevator. Which means that when a student with a physical disability is required to use a cane, crutches or a wheelchair, it becomes…how shall I put it… difficult. It becomes evident when one tries to, say, apply for a driver’s license, or mail a letter in the Post Office, that our supposedly equal rights are not very equal at all.

When one applies for a summer job with the province, included in the application is the following:

The Government of Ontario is an equal opportunity employer, and will not discriminate by race, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability.

But when one cannot get into the Post Office to mail the application, it becomes evident that the discrimination is institutional.

The standards are not universal, either. Accessibility to public buildings (municipal, provincial and federal) varies from province to province and city to city. Victoria, BC, does very well when it comes to accessibility; Guelph, ON, does not. The rights of the disables are protected in the Charter of Rights, a federal document. Accessibility has to meet a universal standard, across the country, or those rights are simply words, nothing more. As a provincial issue, it is vulnerable to changes in budgets and governments, to disagreements between the municipality and the province, the province and the Federal government, and to funding mishaps. Therefore, accessibility and the rights of the disabled needs to be a federal issue, with a universal standard of accommodation for the disabled and  evaluated nationwide by a single set of standards. We have long ago accepted that every person in this country should be judged, not on race, religion, gender  or sexuality, but on their individual qualities. Ostensibly the same applies to the disabled, but it’s difficult for that to be proven when one can’t even get into the door.

Literally.

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~ by sophiaxiv on July 31, 2009.

2 Responses to “Why Accessibility Should be a Federal Issue”

  1. We have a law here since 2006 I believe which states all shops and public areas (plus rental buildings) should have wheelchair access and be assessable to all members of the public, if not, this can be reported and the company/person fined hefty fines.

    There is clearly discrimination within many parts of the world, it’s just hidden.

    I still don’t understand why I have to place my marital status on applications. It’s nobodies god damn businesses.

  2. Well said. It is high time that the feds stepped up to the plate where clearly the provinces have failed to do so.This should be published in a national magazine such as Macleans, perhaps with a photo attached of Michael Ignatieff with one of his wheelchair bound friends.

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