“Just Say Yes” Action Kit

Welcome to our “JUST SAY YES” Campaign resource page.

Here you will find our “JUST SAY YES” Action Kit containing information you can use to champion a British Columbians with Disabilities Act in your local community. If you have any questions – or other ideas for action – please contact us at barrierfreebc@gmail.com.

A Non-Partisan Campaign for a Barrier Free BC for All Persons with Disabilities. Advocating for the Enactment of a Strong and Effective British Columbians with Disabilities Act

Barrier Free BC “JUST SAY YES” Action Kit
Updated: April 22, 2016

1. Introduction

Do you think British Columbians with disabilities should be able to travel on public transit, shop in stores, eat in restaurants and go to the theatre? Do you think children with disabilities should be able to learn in public schools, study in colleges and universities? Do you think people with disabilities should have equal access to services provided by all levels of government? Should they be able to shop on the internet and read web postings about public services? Should voters with disabilities be able to go to their neighbourhood polling stations during an election and mark their ballot independently and accurately in private?

A great many of the approximately 604,000(1) British Columbians who have disabilities still don’t enjoy all of these opportunities that other members of the public take for granted. They face too many accessibility barriers. They should not have to individually fight these barriers one at a time through endless human rights complaints. They need the BC Legislature to pass a new law – the British Columbians with Disabilities Act – to provide the authority for the provincial government to do all it can to ensure that British Columbians with disabilities can live in a province that is accessible and barrier-free.

British Columbians now have the opportunity to move forward on the road to a barrier-free BC for the approximately 604,000(1) British Columbians with physical, sensory, cognitive or other disabilities. In June 2014, the BC Government announced that it would “consult on options for a made-in-BC approach to accessibility-related legislation.” To date, it has announced no decision. We need to convince the BC Government to say “YES!” Please join our “Just Say Yes” campaign!

We are ready and eager to work with the Government of BC, with all MLAs, and all parties in the BC Legislature on the development of a strong, effective and enforceable British Columbians with Disabilities Act.

British Columbians throughout the province have the power to influence the government of BC and all MLAs from all political parties. Imagine if people with disabilities, their families, friends, colleagues and co-workers pressed MLAs in their communities to support the passage of a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. Imagine if every British Columbian with a disability and every British Columbian who is the parent, relative or friend of a person with a disability worked to convince at least two other people to influence government to take into account the needs of British Columbians with disabilities. That adds up to a strong united voice with significant influential and, most importantly, voting power.

Barrier-Free BC is a non-partisan, voluntary grass roots movement recently established in 2015.  It advocates for the enactment of a strong, effective and enforceable British Columbians with Disabilities Act that would lead BC to becoming fully accessible to all people with disabilities.

As a non-partisan community organization, Barrier-Free BC neither endorses nor opposes any political party or candidate. Barrier-Free BC will seek to get all the parties to commit to supporting the enactment of a strong, effective and enforceable British Columbians with Disabilities Act. We cannot do this alone… we need your help!

Contributing to the cause takes only a short time. This Action Kit tells you everything you need to know… even if you have never spoken to an MLA before, never given thought to a British Columbians with Disabilities Act.  Just pick the one or two actions in Section V that fit your comfort zone and go at it!  We will update this Kit periodically via our website at www.barrierfreebc.org as new developments and strategies arise.

Be creative. Come up with your own ideas, too. Share them with us. We can pass them on to others. Contact us via our website: www.barrierfreebc.org or write to us at barrierfreebc@gmail.com.

2. Why Does BC Need a British Columbians with Disabilities Act?

Approximately 604,000(1) British Columbians with disabilities face unfair accessibility barriers in areas that the Provincial Government can regulate. This includes accessibility barriers in areas such as public transit, schools, colleges, universities, provincial and regional parks, playgrounds, libraries, provincial and municipal government programs and services, provincial and municipal elections, health care, stores, restaurants and workplaces. The Provincial Government has no authority to regulate barriers associated with federal government services or those relating to air travel, telecommunication services or financial institutions. (That is why the new Federal Government has promised to pass a Canadians with Disabilities Act – to cover barriers that the provincial governments cannot regulate.)

Examples of barriers preventing accessibility include:

  • physical barriers – limiting access to buildings;
  • technological barriers – preventing full use of provincial government websites or electronic kiosks at public transit stations;
  • communication barriers – such as the lack of sign language interpretation services when accessing an important public service;
  • information barriers – such as the lack of tactile graphic/braille signs adjacent to public washroom doors;
  • legal barriers – such as laws that unfairly limit people with disabilities; or
  • attitudinal barriers – unfair stereotypes about disabilities limiting access to education, health care and employment opportunities in workplaces

The number of British Columbians with disabilities is expected to increase dramatically over the next 15 years. Our society is aging, and growing older leads to age-related limitations, physical challenges and/or permanent disabilities.

Without disability legislation that sets out a comprehensive legislated plan to remove existing barriers and to prevent the creation of new ones, far too many British Columbians will be unnecessarily challenged and prevented from fully participating in their communities. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a part of Canada’s Constitution, and the BC Human Rights Code make it illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability. However, those laws do not set specific, detailed standards for accessibility; instead, they require those who experience discrimination to individually investigate and fight their own private legal cases, to try to remove one barrier at a time.

A British Columbians with Disabilities Act would build on, and not replace or weaken, any existing disability or human rights protections. Disability legislation is already enacted in Ontario and Manitoba. It is gradually spreading to other provinces.  The Government of Nova Scotia has promised a provincial disabilities act in 2016 and is currently drafting the legislation. The new Federal Government has promised a Canadians with Disabilities Act that would supplement, and not replace or dilute, provincial disability acts.

A British Columbians with Disabilities Act would apply to all people with disabilities whether theirs be physical, sensory, cognitive, communication related or any other kind of disability. It would apply to any disability regardless of whether it was episodic, permanent, visible or invisible to others.

Barrier-Free BC is based on 13 principles to guide the development of a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. These principles ensure that the Act is strong, effective, comprehensive and effectively enforced. You can read these principles by visiting the Barrier-Free BC website at www.barrierfreebc.org.

3. What could the British Columbians with Disabilities Act do?

The British Columbians with Disabilities Act should:

  • set the goal of making BC a fully accessible and barrier-free province for all people with disabilities by a designated date;
  • require the Government of BC to lead BC to this goal as much as it can within its provincial powers;
  • require the Government of BC to create and enforce accessibility standards that ensure organizations know what they must do to remove and prevent barriers against people with disabilities;
  • ensure that the Government of BC and provincially-regulated organizations never use public money to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities;
  • ensure that organizations develop fully accessible goods and services for sale in local markets and to international markets, based on principles of universal design.

4. Where Do the Parties in the BC Legislature Stand?

In a public consultation from December 3, 2013 to March 11, 2014, the BC Government sought input from British Columbians with disabilities, disability-related organizations, members of the public and other stakeholders. British Columbians were asked for their thoughts on what government, businesses and communities can do to reduce barriers and to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

On June 16, 2014, the premier of BC Christy Clark announced a new initiative entitled Accessibility 2024: Making BC the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities by the year 2024. This was a positive step. However, the shortcoming of this initiative is that it is neither mandatory nor enforceable legislation.  Under this initiative, the obligation of business and service providers to ensure their goods, services and facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities is strictly voluntary. The Government said they would “consult on options for a made-in-BC approach to accessibility-related legislation”.  To date, there has been no call for a comprehensive, province-wide public consultation in this regard – the Barrier-Free BC campaign will not only let government know that the community of persons with disabilities is ready but it will also tell them what is needed.

No party in the BC Legislature has yet committed to the enactment of a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. Every Member of the Legislative Assembly has received an individualized written request to support the enactment of a Disability Act, including the Premier, the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, and the Leader of the Opposition. As we march closer to the general election scheduled for May 2017, our aim is to acquire a commitment from each Party Leader that they will develop and enact disability legislation during the next term of government if an Act is not proclaimed prior to the upcoming general election.

5. What You Can Do to Help 

Here are some simple ways you can make a significant contribution. Every action, no matter how seemingly small or brief, can make the difference.

Please let Barrier-Free BC know when you have undertaken one of these suggestions.  If you ask, we can help! Please reach out to us at barrierfreebc@gmail.org.

  • Phone, email or visit the MLA’s office in your riding.
  • Go to a local public community meeting with municipal or provincial government politicians. These are often held at a school, church or community hall. Ask a question about the British Columbians with Disabilities Act. Ask each politician to support the enactment of this legislation.
  • Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about the need for a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. Tell them what the politicians have said so far about this issue.
  • Call your local radio or TV station or your local newspaper. Tell them about accessibility barriers that impede you or others you know, especially in areas like education, health, public transit, retail stores, restaurants or public services. Call in to call-in shows. Raise public awareness about the need for a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. Write letters to the editor. If you are especially eager, write a guest column and urge your local newspaper to print it. Borrow as much as you want from this Action Kit and from our website. We are delighted when others make use of our resources.
  • Are you a member of a city’s accessibility advisory committee? If so, get other committee members to support the “Just Say Yes” campaign. Get your advisory committee to pass a resolution that calls on the BC Government to pass a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. Urge your committee to also call on your city council to do the same.
  • Are you connected with a community disability organization, as an employee, board member, volunteer or client? Urge this organization to support the Barrier-Free BC “Just Say Yes” campaign and to join Barrier-Free BC. Get this organization to circulate this Action Kit to its members/constituents encouraging them to add their voice to the campaign. Appoint a staff person who could take responsibility for this issue. That staff person can contact Barrier-Free BC to learn more and get involved.
  • Are you connected with other community organizations, like a church, synagogue, mosque or service club? Tell the organization about the need for a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. Encourage the organization to learn more, to support Barrier-Free BC, to circulate this Action Kit and to join our “Just Say Yes” campaign.
  • Spread the word about the campaign for the British Columbians with Disabilities Act on social media like Twitter and Facebook. These social media channels provide gateways to directly reach politicians, the public-at-large and media outlets. Later in this Kit, we provide sample tweets you might wish to use on Twitter and/or Facebook.
  • Listen to and spread the word about a great new radio program – Soapbox Radio – that is devoted to the topic of the need for the British Columbians with Disabilities Act. The program and archives are at coopradio.org.
  • Use your Smartphone and, with the help of your friends (if necessary), make a video of a barrier that you have encountered. Use caution to talk only about the barrier without reference or identification of the party responsible for creating the barrier.  Upload the video to YouTube and tag it with “Barrier in BC” (without the quotes) so others can easily search for and find your video.  Uploading to YouTube is free! Inform us at barrierfreebc@gmail.com and we will advise others to view your video. Also, share the YouTube or audio recording link to your video via social media like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Use your Smartphone to video or make an audio recording of politicians as they answer questions about a British Columbians with Disabilities Act at a public meeting. Again, upload the video to YouTube and tag it with “Barrier in BC” (without the quotes) so others can easily search for and find your video.
  • Write to Barrier-Free BC at barrierfreebc@gmail.com and tell us about your barrier. We will post your barrier description on our website and share it with others on our social media channels.
  • We, and others, are tweeting about the Barrier-Free BC campaign on Twitter. Just search for the hashtag #BCDA and you will see tweets on this subject. Follow Barrier-Free BC on Twitter @BarrierFreeBC. Then you can quickly and easily retweet our tweets to others. Every re-tweet helps!
  • You can “like” our Facebook page at facebook.com/barrierfreebc and share our posts with your Facebook friends.
  • We have posted this Action Kit on our website at barrierfreebc.org/action-tool-kit.html, you can spread the word about this Action Kit via Twitter and Facebook, by sharing the link to it.
  • Tweet provincial and municipal politicians and leaders in your community and elsewhere to ask where they stand on our proposal to pass a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. Just include their Twitter name in the tweet. Among our sample tweets later in this Action Kit are ones individually addressed to Premier Christy Clark @ChristyClarkBC and NDP Leader John Horgan @JJHorgan.
  • On a smart phone or digital camera, take photos or videos of any accessibility barriers you find in public places, such as government offices, hospitals, schools or other establishments such as stores or restaurants. Share those photos on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Use the hash tag #BCDA when you post them.

6. Let Us Help You Turn Your Ideas Into Action!

What You Might Say to Politicians, Media Reporters and the Public

It is best if you say it in your own words, not ours. However, if you don’t have time to re-phrase our suggestions, just use them as is!

  • Provide examples of barriers you have faced that demonstrate why we need a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. 
  • Explain why you or others should not have to fight these accessibility barriers one at a time by launching your own human rights complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, or by launching legal action under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Achieving full accessibility is good for all British Columbians.  We are all likely to eventually develop limitations or perhaps a permanent life-altering disability as we age. People with disabilities are the minority of everyone! These barriers hurt our economy. They are bad for business. They create an unnecessary burden on the public purse. 
  • A British Columbians with Disabilities Act is long past due. The United States passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Ontario proclaimed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. Manitoba enacted their Accessibility for Manitobans Act in 2013. British Columbia is lagging behind the US by a quarter century, a decade behind Ontario and three years behind Manitoba. BC can and should recognize it’s 2016 and catch up! 

Be brief – Politicians and news reporters are extremely busy.

Be personal and personable. People remember stories better than statistics. By sharing a bit about your own personal situation and the impact it has on your family, you make your story far more memorable and compelling.

Tips for Phoning or Visiting a Politicians Office:

Usually, a receptionist or aide will take your call. Here is what you might say when they answer your call or meet you at their office. You should try to get the receptionist or aide on your side by getting them interested in a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. We have found that often staff and aides have their own personal or family experience with a disability issue and/or an accessibility barrier.

ME: Hello, my name is [insert name] and I’m a voter and constituent of [insert name of riding]. I’d like to speak with (insert name of politician) to introduce myself. Would he/she be available?

RECEPTIONIST: No, he/she is out at the moment. Can I take a message?

ME: Yes, please. My name is [insert name], and I’m a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability advocating for the Legislature to enact a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. I can be reached at [insert number].

I want to know (insert politician`s name) position on this issue, and to know what their personal position is. I am eager to know if they will support the call from British Columbians with disabilities to pass a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. We need this law to make BC become fully accessible to all people with disabilities, as much as the BC Government can make this happen. It would be great if you can let the (insert politician`s name) know about this issue. It’s all available and easy to quickly read, if you visit www.barrierfreebc.org.

NOTE: It is helpful to try to convince a staff member. If they get really excited about this issue, they can really help by talking it up and turning up the heat on this issue within their office and political party.

What You Might Say When Talking to a Provincial or Municipal Politician Wherever You Meet Them:

ME: My name is [insert name] and I am a voter in [insert riding]. I’m also a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability trying to get the provincial government to pass a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. [Describe your connection to disability.]

You may not realize this, but there are approximately 604,000(1) British Columbians with disabilities. This number will keep growing as society ages. Disability affects everyone. Everyone will develop limitations eventually, or perhaps a permanent life-altering disability, as they age.

Even now, British Columbians with disabilities continue to face barriers in areas that the provincial government can address, like education, health care, recreation, public transit, libraries and other public services such as stores and restaurants. The British Columbians with Disabilities Act would set standards for accessibility so we can start removing and preventing these barriers without individuals having to battle these situations, often through a human rights complaint one barrier at a time.

We’re asking you personally and your party to promise to enact a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. A non-partisan grassroots organization called Barrier-Free BC is gaining public support as they spread the word about this.

Will you contact your party leader and try to get them to make the pledge? Would you personally support this kind of law? Would you speak with others in your party to let them know that this issue is important to your constituents? Will you help us win support for this legislation?

Everyone either has a disability now or will develop one as they age. So this issue has an impact on every voter.

What You Might Say When Emailing a politician:

Email is a quick and easy way to get your message to a politician’s office. However, politicians often don’t personally read these emails. They have staff that monitor email accounts for them. If you want to be sure you are reaching the politician him/herself, it is best to email them, and then phone their office. NOTE: It is always better to use your own words if you have time to fashion your own message similar to the sample which follows. Politicians give less attention to form letters or email messages. Here is a sample email:

Dear [insert name],

As an engaged citizen, I would like to congratulate you on your work in public office. You will have dealt with many issues. As a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability, I would like to raise a few points about the need for a British Columbians with Disabilities Act.

[Insert a paragraph about your personal connection to disability.]

Today there are approximately 604,000(1) British Columbians with disabilities. This number is expected to grow over the next 15 years. These people continue to face unnecessary and unfair barriers in areas of provincial jurisdiction such as provincial and municipal government services, public transit, education, health services and public establishments like stores and restaurants. These barriers mean that British Columbians with disabilities can’t fully participate in all that our great province has to offer.

Existing disability protections like the BC Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms require individuals to bear the undue hardship of having to personally fight to remove and prevent barriers one at a time. A British Columbians with Disabilities Act would set out enforceable accessibility standards so that all barriers are systematically removed and prevented along reasonable timelines.

Will you support the passage of a strong and effective British Columbians with Disabilities Act? Will you urge your party leader to do the same? I would appreciate it if you would tell others in your party that this issue is important to your constituents.

If you have any questions or require further information, please feel free to email Barrier-Free BC at barrierfreebc@gmail.com or you can contact me at [insert your personal contact info].

Yours sincerely,

Tips for Attending a Local All-Candidates’ Debate/Forum in a Provincial or Municipal Election or Other Public Event:

Election or by-elections are especially great times to raise this issue with politicians. They want the public’s vote and so are most keenly attentive to what the public asks of them.

Some all-candidates debates let you ask a question from the floor. Others require you to write it out and submit it. Either way, you should write it out in advance, to make sure it is short and to the point. If the event’s format presents accessibility challenges, let the organizers know. You may even wish to highlight the challenges as part of your question.

ME: My name is [insert name], and I live in this riding. Approximately 604,000(1) British Columbians have disabilities. This number will grow as the population ages. They face unfair accessibility barriers in areas of provincial jurisdiction like provincial and municipal government services, education, health care, public transit, retail stores and restaurants. My question for all the candidates is:

If elected, will your party support the enactment of a strong, effective and enforceable British Columbians with Disabilities Act so that the provincial government will do what it can to ensure that barriers facing people with disabilities are removed once and for all?

Will you personally support the enactment of the British Columbians with Disabilities Act and ask your party leader to do the same?

Even if there is no election or by-election going on, you can raise these same questions with politicians at any public gathering, town hall meeting, or other public event. It would benefit the Barrier-Free BC campaign if you could get someone to video or record what question(s) you asked and the answer(s) you receive for posting on YouTube and sharing with Barrier-Free BC and the media.

Tweets You Might Wish to Send on Twitter or Facebook

The Barrier-Free BC campaign is asking followers to post all tweets inclusive of #BCDA for cataloguing and search retrieval purposes. #BCDA is the campaign’s primary hash tag. You should include  the hash tag  #accessibility to ensure your tweet is catalogued into a broader global search on Twitter.

Join campaign 4 British Columbians with Disabilities Act @BarrierFreeBC #BCDA #accessibility 

Meet Barrier-Free BC @barrierfreebc campaigning for #British ColumbiansWithDisabilitiesAct www.barrierfreebc.org #BCDA #accessibility

@ChristyClarkBC please support passing British Columbians with Disabilities Act #BCDA #accessibility

@ChristyClark Just Say yes! Please support passing BC Disabilities Act #BCDA #accessibility

@JJHorgan please support passing British Columbians with Disabilities Act #BCDA #accessibility

@JJHorgan Just Say yes! Please support passing BC Disabilities Act #BCDA #accessibility

Ontario passed #accessibility law, Then Manitoba. NS & Canada working on 1! BC should say yes too! #BCDA

Please visit www.barrierfreebc.org Register support for passing #British Columbians with Disabilities Act #BCDA #accessibility

Sample Resolution that a City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee Could Pass

Whereas approximately 604,000 British Columbians with disabilities encounter physical, sensory, cognitive, learning and intellectual barriers including ones related to technology, education, communication, employment, attitudes and others on a daily basis;

And whereas it is a natural progression of the aging process for people to experience physical and/or sensory limitations or even a permanent life-altering disability as they grow older;

And whereas the Federal Government of Canada is working toward the goal of enacting a Canadians with Disabilities Act which will require goods, services and facilities that come under their jurisdiction to be accessible to all persons with disabilities;

And whereas a Canadians with Disabilities Act will only apply to goods, services and facilities made available through Federal Ministries and federally funded programs with no ability to apply a similar requirement on goods, services or facilities made available through provincial governments or provincially regulated businesses;

And whereas both the Province of Ontario and the Province of Manitoba have enacted disability legislation, with the Province of Nova Scotia working toward the introduction and enactment of disability legislation in 2016;

And whereas the Government of British Columbia launched an initiative entitled Accessibility 2024 on June 16, 2014 with the goal of making BC the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities by the year 2024, an initiative which is neither mandatory or legislated;

And whereas the Government of BC is considering whether to develop and enact a British Columbians with Disabilities Act;

And whereas our organization endorses the thirteen principles upon which a British Columbians with Disabilities Act should be based as we believe it is important to achieve a barrier-free province for all persons with disabilities;

Be it resolved that the {name of organization}:
1.    formally supports the Barrier-Free BC campaign that is calling upon BC’s Legislative Assembly to enact a strong and effective British Columbians with Disabilities Act.
2.    call on the Council for the city of {name} to pass a resolution that calls on the BC Government to develop and pass a British Columbians with Disabilities Act.

7. About the Parallel Campaign for the Passage of a Canadians with Disabilities Act 

This Action Kit focuses on getting the Government of BC to agree to develop and pass a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. Barrier-Free BC is also proud to serve as the BC affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada. Barrier-Free Canada is a voluntary national non-partisan community coalition which seeks to get the Parliament of Canada to enact a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act. Barrier-Free BC supports that important cause.

Why do we need both a national Disabilities Act and a provincial Disabilities Act? Canada’s Parliament needs to ensure the removal and prevention of accessibility barriers against people with disabilities in areas that only the Government of Canada can regulate, like Federal Government Services, air travel and banking. Provincial laws like the British Columbians with Disabilities Act are needed to ensure removal and prevention of barriers that only a provincial government can regulate, like those in schools, local public transit, local stores and restaurants, and in provincial and municipal government services.

In the lead-up to the 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau promised that his government would pass the Canadians with Disabilities Act after holding consultations on what it should include. He has appointed BC MP Carla Qualtrough as Canada’s Minister for People with Disabilities. He has given her the responsibility of leading the development of the Canadians with Disabilities Act. To learn more about the national campaign for the Canadians with Disabilities Act, visit www.barrierfreecanada.org. You can also follow @BarrierFreeCa on Twitter.

Reference:
(1)Extrapolated from Statistics Canada – 2012 Canadian Survey of Disability and Statistics Canada 2015 Annual Population Estimates


File Type - Doc
Download Barrier-Free BC Action Kit 
File Type - Docx
Barrier-Free BC Sample Motion of Support 
File Type - Doc
BC MLAs Full Contact Information.doc 

A web version of BC MLA contact information can be found here.