13 PRINCIPLES FOR A British Columbians with Disabilities Act
1. The Act SETS A TIMELINE:
The goal of the British Columbians with Disabilities Act is to achieve a Barrier-Free province within a specific and clearly defined deadline set by the legislation; a timeline which begins immediately upon proclamation and will include checkpoints at regular intervals until existing and on-going barriers are removed.
2. The Act APPLIES TO ALL:
The Act will apply to all persons with disabilities whether their disability is considered physical, sensory, cognitive, communication or mental health related and will include visible, invisible, permanent or episodic conditions. The Act will apply to all government departments, crown corporations, companies, organizations and any other entity that is regulated under provincial jurisdiction.
3. The Act SETS THE BAR:
A British Columbians with Disabilities Act will supersede all other legislation, regulations or policies which provide lesser protections or entitlements but will protect any rights which persons with disabilities have already earned and currently enjoy.
4. The Act REMOVES BARRIERS:
The Act will require the Government, including provincial and municipal regulated organizations, to be made fully accessible to all persons with disabilities by the removal of existing barriers and the prevention or creation of new barriers. These barriers may include but are not limited to physical, legal, information, communication, attitudinal, technological or other barriers.
5. The Act CHAMPIONS BARRIER-FREE GOODS, SERVICES & FACILITIES:
The Act will require all provincially regulated service providers to ensure that their services and facilities are fully usable by persons with disabilities based on principles of universal design. Service providers will be required to develop and implement detailed plans to remove existing and to prevent the creation of new barriers.
6. The Act CHAMPIONS BARRIER-FREE WORKPLACES & EMPLOYMENT
7. The Act CHARGES GOVERNMENT TO LEAD, EDUCATE, TRAIN, INFORM & REVIEW:
The British Columbians with Disabilities Act will require Government to lead the province toward achieving the goals of the Act and fulfilling its mandate. It will further require Government to provide education, information and resources for provincially regulated businesses and organizations which must comply with the Act. The BC Government will be required to appoint an independent person to periodically review and publicly report (at regular intervals) on progress towards the goal of full accessibility.
8. The Act IS ENFORCEABLE:
The Act will provide for a prompt, independent and effective process for enforcement. This will include a comprehensive and clearly defined avenue for persons with disabilities who encounter barriers which are in violation of the legislation to raise and submit complaints to enforcement officials.
9. The Act IS MADE REAL THROUGH REGULATIONS:
The BC Government will be required to make regulations that clearly define the steps needed for full compliance under the Act and that said regulations be independently reviewed a minimum of every four years. It will be open to recommendations made on an industry-by-industry or sector-by-sector basis. This will include a requirement that input be obtained from persons with disabilities and disability-related organizations prior to enactment.
10. The Act ENSURES PUBLIC MONIES DO NOT CREATE OR PERPETUATE BARRIERS:
The Act will require that the BC Government ensures that no public money is used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities. Government departments, agencies, and crown corporations should be required to make it a strict condition of funding programs, transfer payments, subsidies, loans, grants, capital or infrastructure projects that no such funds may be used to create or perpetuate barriers. There should also be a requirement that procurement of goods, services or facilities be fully accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. The BC Government should be required to monitor and enforce these requirements and to periodically report to the public on their compliance.
11. The Act IS A LENS THROUGH WHICH TO VET LEGISLATION:
The Act will require the BC Government to review existing legislation and regulations identifying possible accessibility barriers and develop timelines to address the shortcomings. Government will review all future proposed legislation and regulations before they are enacted to insure accessibility barriers are not about to be created.
12. The Act SETS POLICY:
The British Columbians with Disabilities Act will influence and affect the development and implementation of provincial policy thereby enhancing and improving access to a full range of goods, services and programs not currently available to persons with disabilities in BC.
13. The Act HAS REAL FORCE & REAL EFFECT:
The Act must be more than mere window dressing. It should contribute meaningfully to the improvement of the position of persons with disabilities in British Columbia enabling them to fully participate and enjoy community life. It must have real force through effective enforcement mechanisms which lead to real effect.