PEI

P.E.I. disabilities council applauds new federal bill

A bill tabled this week in Ottawa, designed to "identify, remove and prevent" barriers for people with disabilities, is a step forward for human rights in Canada, says the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities.

Bill would simplify process for accessible services

The bill changes attitudes, says Marcia Carroll. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

A bill tabled this week in Ottawa, designed to "identify, remove and prevent" barriers for people with disabilities, is a step forward for human rights in Canada, says the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities.

Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, focuses on accessibility barriers in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. That includes buildings, federal programs and services, banking, telecommunications and transportation.

Marcia Carroll, executive director for the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, said the act lays out a new legal framework for people with disabilities trying to access services.

"What this act really does is change attitudes towards people with disabilities," said Carroll.

"It's no longer a movement that you have to engage press or do a human rights complaint to have your needs met. You have a legal framework where you say, 'Look, I'm a citizen, I have rights, I need to be able to access services like everybody else in the country.'"

Some shortcomings

With disability commissioners and offices of disability standards in place, the process of getting access to services should be much easier, said Carroll, as a opposed to the current process of Charter challenges or human rights commission complaints.

Carroll said the bill is still lacking language regarding considering disabilities when drafting legislation.

As an example, she said legislators need to be careful about banning plastic straws. While reducing plastic use is a good idea, she said, some disabled people need straws to feed themselves.

MPs adjourned for the summer after the tabling of the bill. It will be debated in the fall.

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With files from Island Morning

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