Disabilities Issues Office

Accessibility Legislation

Access Legislation Brief (pdf format)

What is it?

Accessibility legislation lays out the vision of the Manitoba that we all want – one where everyone can live, work and play free from barriers to participation.  While the rights of people with disabilities and seniors are laid out in our human rights codes, the path to achieving full accessibility is not always as clear.  Legislation will set out the process to come up with that plan – using the input from all Manitobans and the businesses and public services that affect them.

Who will it affect?

Virtually all Manitobans live with a disability or know someone who does.  Many of us will become disabled as we age or as the result of an injury.  For businesses, making products and services more accessible can increase customers.  Attracting and keeping skilled employees, including people with disabilities and older workers, is important to our economic success. Promoting Manitoba as an accessible destination can increase tourism. Making Manitoba more accessible ultimately benefits everyone.

Why do we need it?

The Manitoba Human Rights Code ensures that people with disabilities have the right to the same services as everyone.  About 40 per cent of complaints to the Human Rights Commission are a result of public and private sector services not meeting this obligation.  While the complaints process will remain an important tool to protect these rights, most Manitobans would agree that preventing the barriers that lead to these complaints is a better option than only increasing accessibility in response to complaints.  Legislation will lay out a plan to eliminate these barriers and prevent new ones, based on the advice of everyone affected, including business, government, people with disabilities and seniors.

When will it come into force?

Building an accessible Manitoba is a long-term goal.  Many businesses and public services have already committed to this goal and are working towards it.  We want to involve everyone in setting out the plan to achieve accessibility, with reasonable timelines and schedules to monitor progress.  Some changes are already happening.  Some changes can happen quickly and some may take several years.  We want to allow for enough time that these changes do not create an undue burden, while also making sure that we make steady progress towards the goal of accessibility.

Where does this legislation already exist?

Several places have this kind of legislation to lay out a vision for full accessibility and a plan to get there.  Countries like the United States and Australia and provinces like Ontario all have introduced accessibility legislation.  We can learn from their experiences and make sure that we design legislation that works for Manitoba.

How does it work?

The commitment to make Manitoba accessible must be shared by all – governments, businesses and public services.  There are many good examples of accessibility in our province, and there’s more we can do.  Legislation will lay out our shared vision and a process to get there.  The final design of the legislation will be guided by what we hear through consultation. In some places that have accessibility legislation, groups of people come together to set standards in a particular area.  These groups include people with disabilities as well as others who will be affected by these standards, such as businesses.  They work towards a consensus and also get public input.  Once the standards are decided they become part of the law and those who must comply receive information and education about the standards.  Often the standards differ in when they will become law so that everyone has enough time to comply with them.  There are regular reports on the progress that is being made towards the goal of accessibility.    

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