Manitoba will be holding public discussions over the next few months around the design of accessibility legislation to improve access for seniors and people with disabilities.
“We believe Manitobans share a vision of a province where we can all work, live and play without barriers,” said Jennifer Howard, minister of labour and immigration and minister responsible for persons with disabilities. “Legislation can help us put together the plan that will achieve this vision.”
A discussion document outlining the province’s vision of a barrier-free society, the benefits of achieving this vision and the existing barriers that can be addressed through new legislation was released by Howard and Jim Rondeau, minister of healthy living, youth and seniors.
In 2009, almost one-half of the formal complaints made to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission related to disability discrimination and 37 per cent of formal complaints to the commission were related to disability discrimination in the previous six years. The number of Manitobans with disabilities is expected to increase by 38 per cent between 2006 and 2031, while the number of seniors is expected to increase by 43 per cent in the next 20 years.
“We plan to remove barriers by working with the public and private sectors on long-term proactive solutions rather than only relying on human rights complaints to address issues,” said Howard. “We want to work with everyone to find practical ways to reduce barriers and prevent new ones. We believe that this approach will ultimately benefit everyone.”
One out of every six people in Manitoba had a disability in 2006, or 170,000 people, according to Statistics Canada.
“It is projected that the number of Manitobans with a disability will rise sharply in the future,” said the discussion paper. “Due mostly to the aging of Manitoba’s population, but also as a result of the major projected increase in incidence of chronic diseases like diabetes, it is estimated that the number of Manitobans with disabilities will increase by 38 per cent between 2006 and 2031.”
Manitobans are encouraged to provide written submissions after reviewing the discussion paper, found at www.gov.mb.ca/dio and www.gov.mb.ca/shas.
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