Issue Three: Fully Accessible Manitoba
Disability Matters Vote is committed to providing Manitobans with detailed information to help eligible voters make informed voting decisions. We asked all four of Manitoba’s political parties to answer questions on the five priority disability issues in focus during this campaign. Here are the questions, and the parties’ answers in alphabetic order of the party:
Issue Three: Fully Accessible Manitoba
1. How will your party ensure that the Accessibility For Manitobans Act’s legislated promise of substantial progress towards full accessibility by 2023 is met in the next four years, and will you commit to meaningful consultations?
2. How will your party ensure the timely and comprehensive prevention and removal of barriers in facilities, buildings, and structures?
Green Party of Manitoba
1. The Green Party of Manitoba plans to fully implement the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) within our first term.
We recognize that we do not have all the answers, and we will absolutely consult with those who have lived experience of living with a disability and/or caring for someone living with a disability to ensure that we implement the act to the highest possible standard.
Ultimately, we believe that this will be best accomplished by creating a task force that is composed of those with lived experience and relevant stakeholders. This could be achieved by either building upon the current Accessibility Advisory Council, or by designing a separate process if appropriate.
We also recognize that it is important to consult on the design of the consultation process itself, to ensure the most inclusive and effective consultation process possible. Such a process must include providing support to the disability community to access technical and legal resources as appropriate.
We believe that the employment accessibility standards need to apply all employers in this province, not just companies with more than 50 employees. We will work with our small business community and the disability community to make this a reality.
We will also work at enhancing measures to ensure enforcement of the AMA standards.
2. All new buildings and public spaces should be designed to be fully accessible. Unfortunately, accessibility is all too often an afterthought. Mandating that all new buildings and public spaces must be fully accessible is something that we need to make standard policy now.
Updating our existing building will be more of a challenge. That said, we also need to upgrade many of our older buildings to be more energy efficient to deal with climate change. It makes sense that while we are upgrading buildings to be more energy efficient, that we also work on making them more accessible at the same time.
It should also be noted that creating accessible spaces often goes hand-in-hand with creating more walkable cities that are not only better for those living with a disability, but for mothers with strollers, people who commute via active transportation, and many others.
Liberal Party of Manitoba
1. Manitoba Liberals believe that we need to partner with our Accessibility Groups to ensure that these goals and the needs of our communities are met. We have committed to infrastructure funding with a focus on accessibility.
2. The province needs to ensure that new buildings and existing government building adhere to accessibility standards. This involves developing a plan to take stock of inaccessible spaces, create a compliance action plan with funding to get the work done and reporting on progress.
New Democratic Party of Manitoba
1. We will work towards the realization of the AMA’s legislated promise by, in the first instance, listening to the voices of Manitobans with disabilities in the course of the implementation of the regulations and standards that fall under the AMA. We do believe that ongoing and meaningful consultation will not only allow for the development of regulations that meet the spirit and letter of the AMA, it will reflect the real needs of members of our community. We believe meaningful consultation requires listening, but also it requires equitable participation in the development of regulation and in its implementation and monitoring. The Pallister PCs use of outside consultants has in the past obscured the voices of people with disabilities who are impacted by the choices that have been made. We commit to not only listening but to acting on the suggestions and recommendations of people with disabilities in our province.
2. The NDP is committed to developing a disability policy lens and provincial disability strategy to address issues such as transportation, access to technology and housing. These will complement the provisions of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act.
Moreover, we have announced a significant infrastructure program. It commits $6.64 billion dollars to infrastructure funding for roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, municipal buildings, parks and recreational facilities and other government structures. We have committed to ensuring our infrastructure investments not only build our province but make it more accessible in the process. We are committed to making sure our infrastructure investments are viewed through a disability lens so that we can reduce and remove barriers to access when building or renovating buildings and structures in our province.
Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba
Our PC team remains committed to having all five AMA standards implemented by the end of 2020, much earlier than the deadline of 2023 stipulated in the Act, which the NDP was not on pace to meet, and faster than nearby jurisdictions—Ontario took eight years to achieve a similar goal.
Since taking office in 2016, our PC government has passed 4 Customer Service Standards—an average of one per year, double the pace of the NDP which passed only 5 in their last 10 years of government.
The P.C. government has consulted extensively with the public respecting the Customer Service and Employment Accessibility Standards, and we remain committed to continue with accessible consultations moving forward for the remaining standards.
In consultation to-date, we’ve also heard that a greater emphasis is needed on ensuring compliance as the standards are implemented. That’s why we are committed to extending government’s working relationship with and financial support of the Manitoba League for Persons with Disabilities, who will assist in framing our continued focus on compliance activities that will uphold the intent of the AMA. We will rely on this partnership and compliance framework to assist with the timely and comprehensive prevention and removal of barriers in facilities, buildings and structures, as well as well as compliance under other standards.
Under our PC government, departments have been proactively identifying and removing barriers and increasing accessibility for the public and for employees. For example, Manitoba Justice will implement video-conferencing as a boardroom upgrade that adds an accessibility option, removing the need for physical travel to the Consumer Protection Division offices for hearings. A re-elected PC government will continue to improve accessibility and remove barriers.