Released: Friday, June 18, 2021 8:00 AM
Applications are open for people to serve on the new Provincial Accessibility Committee.
The Accessible British Columbia Act is now law, and the first step is to form the Provincial Accessibility Committee to advise the minister of social development and poverty reduction on matters related to accessibility and support the development of accessibility standards.
“In many ways, the passing of the act today marks an important step in our work to build an inclusive province that works for all of us,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “People with disabilities and people who face barriers have been involved in this process from the beginning, and it’s with their continued input that we’ll ensure we build a barrier-free B.C.”
People interested in serving on the 11-member Provincial Accessibility Committee have until Thursday, July 29, 2021, to apply. As outlined in the act, the committee will represent the diversity of British Columbians and at least half of the membership will include people with disabilities or people or organizations that support people with disabilities, with a minimum of one Indigenous representative.
“For too long, the barriers faced by people with disabilities have been overlooked,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “We know people experience barriers differently, and our approach will reflect that. I’m looking forward to working with advocates, communities and businesses across the province in the months and years ahead to ensure all voices are heard.”
The act will allow government, with the guidance of the Provincial Accessibility Committee, to develop new accessibility standards that will address barriers in a range of areas such as employment, education and transportation, as well as buildings and infrastructure.
Next steps also include creating a forward-looking, three-year government accessibility plan, determining which other organizations the law will apply to and developing a feedback tool to ensure people throughout the province can provide input on identifying, preventing and removing barriers.
“As a person living with a disability, I know first-hand that 90% of the barriers I face are not related to my disability, but rather as a result of the often-inaccessible systems and environments I am expected to live within,” said Stephen Lytton, board president, British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society. “The Accessible British Columba Act is much needed and overdue enabling legislation that, when fully realized, will see positive impacts for so many, and take us closer to the goal of a fully accessible province where all people are respected and included, which is a right of us all.”
The act was shaped by public consultations throughout B.C. in fall 2019. The consultation efforts were guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the principle of “nothing about us without us,” as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- In 2017, there were an estimated 926,100 British Columbians over the age of 15 who reported having a disability.
- Government will issue an annual progress report each year, and implementation of the act will be reviewed independently every five years for the first 10 years.
- British Columbia is the fifth province to introduce comprehensive accessibility legislation.
Access the Notice of Position on the Crown Agencies and Board Resources Office website:
More information about the act and a plain language summary can be found on the ministry website: www.gov.bc.ca\accessibility
Read the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: