By Andrew Tutty
Independent Free Press
The Americans with Disabilities Act was established by the U.S. Congress in 1988 and signed into law at the White House in July of 1990, more than 25 years ago. This was the culmination of decades of the disability rights movement that saw both advocates and activists in the United States demanding equal access to societal institutions, programs, and places without discrimination based on a person’s disability.
This grassroots movement used many of the American Civil Rights activism methods to bring the issue of discrimination against people with disabilities to government and force a change in policy.
During the recent Canadian federal election, three of the four major parties included promises to develop and implement federal legislation similar to the ADA in the U.S. I can only say that it is high time. What has been the delay here in Canada, a signatory to the United Nations treaty on disability rights? Why has it taken over 25 years for this to become a plank in election platforms?
The Liberal government under Justin Trudeau was one of the three parties mentioned above so it is incumbent upon them to move forward with long overdue legislation. To this end, I would implore you to write both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough. Email: Carla.Qualtrough@parl.gc.ca.
Hold them to their election promise. Millions of Canadians would benefit in their ability to access government buildings, programs, and communications as well as making private sector business regulated by the government conform to standards and guidelines across the country.
Remind them that legislation, as we are finding out here in Ontario, is only as good as the government’s willingness to enforce it. This commitment for legislative action is long overdue. It’s time to walk the talk.
Andrew Tutty is a member of the Town’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and writes about issues that affect people of all abilities.