Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Group for Disabled Calls Accessibility Bill Weakest in Canada

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Group for Disabled Calls Accessibility Bill Weakest in Canada

Article excerpt

Group for disabled calls proposed bill weak

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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's proposed accessibility legislation needs to be significantly strengthened, advocates for the disabled told lawmakers Thursday.

Bill 59 was delayed last fall after heavy criticism from the groups it was supposed to help.

Sue Uteck, of the March of Dimes Canada, told the legislature's law amendments committee that the Accessibility Act is weaker than similar legislation in Ontario and Manitoba -- the only provinces with accessibility laws.

"If enacted as is, it would be the weakest such law in effect in any province that has enacted a comprehensive disability accessibility law," said Uteck.

Uteck said the bill needs a deadline for accessibility, and provide for effective enforcement of regulations.

"Effective enforcement is fundamental to a law's failure or success," she said.

She said responsibility for accessibility standards recommendations should be left to an arms-length independent body, as should any inspection regime.

"An inspector's compliance order is not a political issue and should not be made into one," said Uteck.

Uteck said the bill's mandatory economic impact assessment for each standard should be eliminated, because costs are hard to predict and are often exaggerated.

Gerry Post, who represents a coalition of 35 disabled groups, said the bill's economic analysis provisions would render it "stillborn."

"Accessibility is a basic human right," said Post. "We know there are concerns in the private sector and alarmists say that this act will put them out of business. This is furthest from the truth."

He said the legislation as written is only a promise to act and needed some teeth, including a broader definition of disability. …

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