Newsletter

Barrier-Free BC – January 2016 newsletter

Table of contents

  1. Welcome! We’re pleased you’ve joint the team
  2. Current activities
  3. Summary to January 31, 2016
  4. How you can add your voice and support our campaign
  5. Contact info

1. Welcome! We’re pleased you’ve joined the team.
We begin this inaugural monthly newsletter with a warm welcome from those of us on the Barrier-Free BC Steering Committee. We’re encouraged by the growing number of supporters who have already joined our campaign and appreciate all those who have added their voice to the call for the Legislative Assembly to enact a strong, effective and enforceable British Columbians with Disabilities Act (BCDA). It is our intention to provide monthly newsletters with information regarding the campaign’s progress and most recent activities as we gain momentum. We’ll include other information and ideas that are helping us to move closer to our shared vision in this edition and future newsletters. With the next provincial general election just 16 months away, the primary focus will be to obtain commitments from all party leaders (Christy Clark, John Horgan, Andrew Weaver and any others) to the enactment of a BCDA as quickly as possible following the election. Every voice counts! Your voice is not only important and valued but it demonstrates leadership and a determined willingness to stand with others who support the 13 principles upon which a British Columbians with Disabilities Act should be based. Please continue to support us!  Help us to spread the word in any way that you can!  By word of mouth, via email, and through your various social media channels. Again, welcome aboard! Together we can turn our shared vision of a British Columbians with Disabilities Act into a reality.

2. Current activities
Brent Page (March of Dimes – Canada) currently serves as Barrier-Free BC’s webmaster. He is busy updating most of the pages on our web site at www.barrierfreebc.org and we anticipate all updates will be complete by February 19 if not sooner. The web site provides an on-line opportunity for individuals and organizations to add their voice and join the Barrier-Free BC team. The 13 principles and Action Kit can be viewed on-line or downloaded from the site. The list of supporting organizations and other information is also just a mouse click away. We recommend regular visits to our site. Information and updated documents are regularly posted to our site. Revised editions of the “Just say Yes” Action Kit (updated February 7 2016) and the Sample Motion of Support for organization boards and committees (updated February 7 2016) is now available and downloadable from our site.
Barrier-Free BC will officially launch its “Just say Yes!” campaign calling for the enactment of a British Columbians with Disabilities Act on the steps of the Legislature at 11:00 AM on Wednesday February 24 2016. If the weather fails to cooperate, we will conduct our media conference in the Legislature’s Hemlock Room. We encourage everyone to join us as we publicly announce the 13 principles and invite others to join our campaign. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute tweets with sound bites and video coverage.

3. Summary to January 31, 2016
As of January 11 2016, every Member of the Legislative Assembly, including Premier Christy Clark, the Honourable Michelle Stilwell – Minister of Social Development/Social Innovation, John Horgan – Leader of the Official Opposition and Andrew Weaver – Leader of the Green Party received our letter seeking either their commitment to or their support for a BCDA. The letter is garnering attention in Victoria and requests for a meeting to discuss the principles further are beginning to come in from individual MLAs on both sides of the House. Below, we share the text of the letter sent to Premier Clark, keeping in mind a similarly worded letter was also sent to all MLAs in the Legislature:

January 11, 2016
The Honourable Christy Clark
Premier, British Columbia
PO Box 9041 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2

SENT VIA EMAIL

Dear Madam Premier:

RE: British Columbians with Disabilities Act
As a member of the Barrier-Free BC Steering Committee, I write to seek your Government’s support for, and the enactment of, a yet-to-be-developed British Columbians with Disabilities Act.  On November 25th 2015, a diverse group of seniors and people with disabilities from various locations throughout the province gathered together and began Barrier-Free BC, a non-partisan campaign of particular interest to this large segment of the BC population. We ratified 13 principles (copy attached) upon which such an Act should be based. Our focus is to obtain your Government’s commitment  for the enactment of a strong and effective disabilities Act which will lead BC to become fully accessible to all people currently
with a disability or to those who will likely acquire one as they age.

In 2005, Mr. McGuinty’s government enacted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requiring Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025.  Manitoba, under the leadership of Mr. Selinger, enacted the Manitobans with Disabilities Act in 2013.  Nova Scotia is committed to introducing the province’s first accessibility legislation this year and is currently working on the drafting of its bill. In Prime Minister Trudeau’s mandate letter addressed to the Minister for Sport and Persons with Disabilities Ms. Carla Qualtrough, he instructed her to “lead an engagement process with provinces, territories, municipalities and stakeholders that will lead to the passage of a Canadians with Disabilities Act.”  When enacted, it will require programs, services and facilities that fall under federal jurisdiction to be accessible to Canadians with disabilities.

On June 16th 2014, I was pleased to attend your announcement of a new initiative entitled “Accessibility 2024: Making BC the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities by the year 2024.” While this was a positive step, the shortcoming of this initiative is that it is neither mandatory nor enforceable.  The print material circulated that day, under the heading Inclusive Government, stated your government would “Consult on options for a made-in-BC approach to accessibility-related legislation.” Enacting a Provincial Disabilities Act which would be developed through the collaborative efforts of Government, representatives from business and people with disabilities would further enhance the Accessibility 2024 initiative and serve to benefit every citizen of British Columbia.

It is our vision that a 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 will let 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;
•    Help ensure that BC companies develop fully accessible goods and services for sale in domestic and international markets, based on the principles of universal design.

In less than six weeks, Barrier-Free BC has acquired the support of 11 prominent seniors’ and disability organizations and their members.  The list of organizations and individual supporters is growing each week – please visit www.barrierfreebc.org.

Barrier-Free BC supporters are calling on you and all Members of the Legislative Assembly to commit to the development and implementation of a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. With Ontario leading the way with the enactment of such invaluable legislation, followed by Manitoba and Nova Scotia, may we count on your Government to ensure that British Columbia is next to enact strong and effective disability legislation?

I am readily available, as are the other members of the Barrier-Free BC Steering Committee, to discuss our vision should you have any questions.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request. I look forward to your earliest response.
Respectfully,

cc:     Minister Michelle Stilwell
All BC Liberal MLAs

To date, this letter has resulted in 7 face-to-face or teleconference meetings with MLAs from Government and Opposition with several more scheduled. Some Constituency Assistants have noted the mailing address of the writer and referred them back to the MLA in their riding. This is where everyone on the team can help! See the section below entitled “How you can add your voice and support our campaign.”

January 2016 concluded with more than 4,350 visits to the Barrier-Free BC web site and 15 organizations endorsing the campaign’s goal and principles. The Facebook page has garnered88 Likes and barrierfreebc has accumulated 45 followers. Again, see the section below entitled “How you can add your voice and support our campaign” to help us grow the number of campaign supporters.

4. How you can add your voice and support our campaign
You can support the Barrier-Free BC campaign in several ways.
1. Visit the Barrier-Free BC web site at www.barrierfreebc.org and read the founding principles and “Just say Yes” Action Kit.
2. Visit the Add Your Voice page and sign up as a supporter.  You can choose to have your name published along with other supporters on the Barrier-Free BC website, receive updates such as these, or simply register your support by completing the online form.
3. If you represent an organization and you wish to register your organization’s support, you can send an email to us at barrierfreebc@gmail.com and we will be delighted to acknowledge your support on our website. Alternately, if you are affiliated with an organization, bring the Barrier-Free BC campaign to the attention of the Executive Director and/or the board chair. Encourage them to visit our web site and add the organization’s support to our campaign.
4. You can make a significant contribution by spreading the message by word of mouth, writing to, placing a telephone call or visiting your MLA and/or even writing to the Premier or provincial party leaders. The “Just say Yes” Action Kit provides detailed information on what you might ask or say when speaking with your MLA or his/her assistant. It also provides some suggestions when emailing or tweeting your MLA.
5. Follow Barrier-Free BC on Twitter – @barrierfreebc and re-tweet postings along to your followers. Encourage all your followers to add their voice to the Barrier-Free BC campaign.

5. Contact info
To contact us, please send an email to  barrierfreebc@gmail.com Visit our web page at www.barrierfreebc.org
Follow us on Twitter @barrierfreebc
like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Barrier-Free-BC-1641624442754106/?ref=bookmarks

Yours Sincerely,
Barrier-Free BC Steering Committee
Cathy Browne
David Lepofsky
Shawn Marsolais
John Mulka
Brent Page
Reed Poynter
Albert Ruel
Marilyn Rushton
Victor Schwartzman
Rob Sleath

Barrier-Free BC – January 2016 newsletter