Tuesday, May 30, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on the Accessibility for Manitobans Act and the need to act now to do more to make Manitoba a Barrier Free province. My comments (from Hansard) are below.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, Barrier-Free Manitoba reported today on the 2013 Accessibility for Manitobans Act.
At third reading, in support of this bill I said, it will be up to all of us, and to those in the disability community in particular, to keep a close eye on the government in terms of actually implementing and making sure that those standards are actually set.
Barrier-Free Manitoba reports today that the promise of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act is being broken due to major shortfalls in the act's implementation.
Implementation is also falling well short of clear commitments made by the Progressive Conservative Party leading up to the last provincial election. Government continues to miss its targets.
The government has not yet provided for the development, enactment, operation and reporting on mandatory and date-specific standards in all areas related to accessibility. I am particularly concerned that the government has not yet even committed to the vitally important education standard. The government has not been sufficiently transparent, open and accountable. Legislated deadlines have been missed. Wait times for complaints are lengthening.
The rights and the needs of those in our society who have physical or mental disabilities must be a priority.
In Canada, Mark Wafer of Tim Hortons has led the way in hiring people with disabilities and in showing that they are among the best employees a person can have. Yet the government of Manitoba is delaying making legislated changes to reduce barriers and is breaking its campaign promises to those who are among the most vulnerable in our society.