Ad­vo­cate pleased with pass­ing of Ac­ces­si­bil­ity Act

Cape Breton Post - - News - BY JEREMY FRASER jeremy.fraser@cb­post.com

Mar­cie Sh­w­ery-Stan­ley has been wait­ing for this mo­ment for more than 36 years.

The long­time Cape Bre­ton ad­vo­cate for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties was happy with the pass­ing of the Ac­ces­si­bil­ity Act on Thurs­day. The pas­sage of Bill 59 will be­gin the process of re­mov­ing bar­ri­ers for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in Nova Sco­tia.

“I’ve been an ad­vo­cate for 36 years and it was a very emo­tional time,” said Sh­w­ery-Stan­ley. “There are peo­ple who have spent hours and days and months ad­vo­cat­ing and now we have this act, which is go­ing to be so im­por­tant and im­pact every­body.

“It’s amaz­ing we all worked to­gether, gov­ern­ment, the dis­abil­ity com­mu­nity, ev­ery­one worked to­gether to make this hap­pen and it’s a ma­jor step for­ward,” she said. “I think it’s a his­toric day for Nova Sco­tians.”

Un­der the act, the gov­ern­ment will work with peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, as well as the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors, to cre­ate six stan­dards for an ac­ces­si­ble Nova Sco­tia.

The stan­dards will in­clude the ar­eas of goods and ser­vices, in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, pub­lic trans­porta­tion and trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture, ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment, build­ings and out­door spa­ces.

Nova Sco­tia be­comes the third prov­ince in Canada to pass ac­ces­si­bil­ity leg­is­la­tion, fol­low­ing Man­i­toba and On­tario. The prov­ince’s goal is to be ac­ces­si­ble by 2030 un­der the ac­ces­si­bil­ity act.

“There are prob­a­bly five or six peo­ple that I was very close with ad­vo­cat­ing and they have all died, so they must be up there in heaven and smil­ing down on us,” said an emo­tional Sh­w­ery-Stan­ley. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to the days ahead, it’s go­ing to take a while, but as the say­ing goes, the most im­por­tant step is the first step.”

Pub­lic aware­ness and sup­port will be es­sen­tial in en­cour­ag­ing com­pli­ance with the stan­dards. The act does al­low penal­ties and for the most se­ri­ous cases fines are as high as $250,000.

The gov­ern­ment has set aside $1.8 mil­lion in the 2017-18 bud­get to help in­crease pro­vin­cial ac­cess-abil­ity grants for com­mu­nity build­ings and to also launch a new grant pro­gram to help small busi­nesses to be­come more ac­ces­si­ble for those they serve.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the ac­ces­si­bil­ity act, visit www.no­vas­co­tia.ca/coms/ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

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