Friday, December 02, 2011

December 2, 2011


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Council to Build Greater Accessibility in Manitoba: Minister
At a Winnipeg forum organized by the provincial Disabilities Issues Office (DIO) to recognize the United Nations International Day for Persons with Disabilities tomorrow, Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard, minister responsible for persons with disabilities, today announced the membership of the 12-person Accessibility Advisory Council, appointed to help identify, remove or prevent barriers faced by people with disabilities.
“The Manitoba government is taking strong action to create greater accessibility for people with disabilities,” said Howard.  “Building an accessible province is a long-term goal and we want to invite Manitobans to share their views on how best to do that.”
The council is made up of members of the disability community and other stakeholders and will make recommendations on:
  • introducing legislation or regulations that would establish a process to identify, prevent and remove barriers faced by people with disabilities;
  • determining policies, practices and requirements that can be implemented by government to improve accessibility; and
  • developing long-term accessibility objectives.
Jim Derksen of Winnipeg has been named council chair.  He has played a key role in the development of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Disabled Peoples’ International and the Canadian Disability Rights Council, Howard said.  Derksen also served as the first executive director of the Disabilities Issues Office.  He recently received an honourary doctorate from the University of Manitoba recognizing his work on disability issues.
The advisory council will consult with people with disabilities and organizations that may be affected by its recommendation.  This includes employers and businesses as well as representatives from Manitoba municipalities.  One of the council’s first tasks will be to further develop the legislation that will set out accessibility standards, Howard said.  A new website link from the DIO to the council will keep the public informed about the ongoing discussions of the council, as well as future opportunities for community involvement.  It can be found at
The council will make initial recommendations to the minister by early summer.
Today’s forum offered a venue to discuss the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:  The Way Forward.  Through panel presentations, the forum provided an update on the implementation of the convention.  Representatives from a variety of provincial initiatives, including the Accessibility Advisory Council, offered highlights about plans for Manitoba.
The minister also noted the province recently launched a new grant to support the delivery of regional handi-transit services in communities across Manitoba.  Funding will be targeted initially to five communities including Selkirk, Gimli, Portage la Prairie, Stonewall and Teulon.  The province will work with municipalities in the coming months to expand this new grant program to help support other communities operating regional services.
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