Government released a panel report today, June 3, on accessibility legislation for Nova Scotia. The report provides government with direction and recommendations on what the legislation should contain to make Nova Scotia accessible to all.
A panel of 22 people from community and government organizations, assisted by volunteer subcommittees, developed the report.
Nova Scotians also had the opportunity to provide ideas and feedback through 11 consultation sessions that were held across the province last year.
“Being a part of this panel has been the highlight of my 36 years of advocacy work,” said panel member Marcie Shwery-Stanley. “As a person with a disability, I look forward to my dream of living in an inclusive and barrier-free Nova Scotia.”
“Accessibility is the right of all Nova Scotians,” said Joanne Bernard, Minister of Community Services. “This report will lead us to a place where barriers in all facets of life are torn down, and opportunities are built.”
In response to the report, Ms. Bernard is creating a team to guide the legislative drafting process. Some of the team’s key priorities include identifying a detailed timeline for the legislative process, and key milestones and checkpoints to ensure the work progresses.
The team is also tasked with laying out an education and awareness plan so Nova Scotians and businesses understand the new legislation.
Following United Nations conventions, the province will phase in accessibility standards over time to make it easier for people, organizations and governments to implement them.
“Some time will be afforded for organizations to be compliant, but not indefinitely. We need to continue to make progress, because we all gain when every Nova Scotian has access and is treated fairly,” said Ms. Bernard.
Once in place, the accessibility legislation will ensure:
— every Nova Scotian has the right to live and work to their potential
— persons with disabilities are able to participate fully in our society
— barriers are eliminated in employment, public spaces and buildings, service delivery and public transportation
— better communication between government and businesses
— a focus on creating better awareness of the need for accessibility in Nova Scotia
Government is expected to introduce the new accessibility legislation in the fall of 2016.
The report is available online and in various accessible formats at http://novascotia.ca/coms/accessibility/ .