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Ontario



MORE THAN VOTING BOOTHS: ACCESSIBILITY OF ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN ONTARIO is a long article from Ontario about the rather sorry state of accessibility at campaign offices.

The page, on the website of the 

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (AODA) Note: This is NOT a Government run Site!!.

reminds everyone of the ineffectiveness of the Ontario Legislation:

The AODA Clock is Ticking
There are 9 years, 49 weeks, 1 day till a fully Accessible Ontario! Will you be compliant?

This timetable, seemingly based on the end of the world scenario, when asteroid Apophis collides with Earth in 2029, promises four years of accessibility before everyone is blown to smithereens.  

In the lengthy article, no reference is made to Nova Scotia's pioneering requirement that MLA offices be accessible (since 2013, mind you).

Nor do those Ford voters seem to grasp that not being able to get into such an office means a person with a wheelchair could never ever be employed there.  

Of course bodily functions are not a consideration in Ontario, but here in Nova Scotia we treasure our right to pee in constituency offices, where accessible washrooms are mandated.

If I lived in Ontario (shoot me!), the glacial pace of accessibility reform  would drive me crazy.  It's demeaning, counterproductive and just plain cowardly.

As we lead up to our own accessibility legislation in Nova Scotia, let's remind ourselves that the best example is right here at home.  MLA constituency offices must be accessible.

Gus Reed

ps for the not-faint-of-heart, here's more on the failure of The AODA:

PREMIER WYNNE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOP MINISTER DUGUID RESPOND TO AODA ALLIANCES DETAIL PROPOSALS TO GET ONTARIO BACK ON SCHEDULE FOR FULL DISABILITY ACCESSIBILITY BY 2025

and it just gets worse (sorry for the ads):

Selma



I'm reluctant to compare the situation of people with disabilities with the struggle for civil rights by black folks, mostly because the colour barrier is drawn with such hatred and malice, whereas the ability barrier is drawn with ignorance.

There isn't a white guy with a club preventing me from going in the front door of city hall; just many years of neglect, misaligned priorities, laziness and invisibility.

Nevertheless, the effect is the same.  By almost any measure - employment, income, participation, education, health - people with disabilities are second-class Canadians.

If you go to see Selma, which I urge you to do, pay attention to the dynamic between Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Johnson.  I saw an interview with director Ava DuVernay, who said she used considerable artistic license in her portrayal of Johnson.

She contrasts King's campaign for equal rights with Johnson's notion of the Great Society.  In King's vision, people are lifted up by an idea.  In the Great Society, segregation will disappear as income, employment and education improve.  I guess we'll never know for certain about the Great Society, but from the ruins of Jim Crow arose a black president.

Personally, I think there's room for both views, as long as equality comes first.  The US Constitution and Canadian Charter both promise it; that is literally the social contract.  Having acknowledged equality of opportunity, I think we have an obligation to see it made tangible through education, employment and participation.  People of good will can differ on the subject of how government influences outcomes, but we need to operate by the same rules.

I encourage those in the Nova Scotia government who are wrestling with the promised Accessibility Legislation to focus laser-like on equal rights and opportunities.  Equal outcomes may emerge in time, but government can best fulfill its role by keeping its constitutional promise.

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

By confusing equal opportunity and equal outcome, Ontario and Manitoba have gotten it wrong and BC has completely deluded itself.  Nova Scotia can do better.

Visitability Award Nominations

The Canadian Centre on Disability Studies (CCDS) is launching the Awards of Excellence in VisitAble Housing to showcase exemplary designs and practices of VisitAble Housing in Canada.

Please think about making Visitability more visible by making a nomination in Nova Scotia.  Here is the webpage announcing the competition: