Use Election to Recommit to Access and Inclusion for Manitobans with Disabilities

September 6, 2011

Winnipeg, MB--Today, the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) issue a challenge to Manitobans, candidates running in the provincial election and Manitoba’s political parties. “We urge all Manitobans to use the provincial election as a focal point to bring attention to (1) the discrimination faced by people with disabilities in the province, and (2) the need for solutions, such as implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), that would make Manitoba an inclusive and accessible province for all Manitobans,” states Paula Keirstead, an MLPD co-chair.

Both MLPD and the national coalition to which it belongs, CCD, hear regularly from members about instances of discrimination they encounter. In recent weeks, the Manitoba media has made all Canadians aware of such discrimination. For example, national media have covered the story of Donna Chartrand who has been denied housing by Manitoba landlords because she has a service animal, which is a violation of Manitoba’s human rights law. APTN covered MLPD’s vigil for murder victim Harvey Sanderson, during which Manitobans with disabilities expressed concern that the police have indicated that Mr. Sanderson’s disability, brittle bone disease, may result in his killers NOT facing murder charges.

Further, University of Ottawa law professor Ravi Malhotra’s Winnipeg Free Press article (24/08/2011) “Manitoba law discriminatory”, explained that Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have laws that allow people with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage and has sent shock waves across Canada’s disability community.

“This recent media coverage highlights that not enough is being done in Manitoba to ensure that people with disabilities are free from discrimination and that systemic barriers to participation are being eliminated in a relentless and progressive manner,” states Terry McIntosh, MLPD Past Chair and MLPD representative on the CCD National Council.

As in many provincial jurisdictions and at the federal government level, Manitoba lacks a comprehensive strategy to make Manitoban society accessible and inclusive. Like many other disability organizations, the MLPD has endorsed the disability community’s National Action Plan and the more recent Call to Action. These documents call upon Governments in Canada to fulfill the commitments made to Canadians with disabilities when this country ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). “Rather than conveying new rights, the CRPD articulates what governments need to achieve to ensure that people with disabilities experience full enjoyment of their human rights. In a province where everyone understood and supported the right to disability accommodations by people with disabilities, landlords would not be refusing to rent to the user of a service animal, such as Ms. Chartrand,” states Vangelis Nikias, CCD’s CRPD Project Manager.

Manitoba’s upcoming provincial election is the opportunity for all Manitobans to put on the political agenda the need for swift action to remedy the discrimination faced by people with disabilities living in Manitoba. We are moms and dads; workers and job-seekers; students and retirees; we are people with disabilities; we are not other; we are you.

“We encourage all Manitobans, disabled or not, to speak out during the provincial election campaign to help put an end to disability-related discrimination. Speak out in support of our province implementing the CRPD. Speak out as voters and candidates alike to form a government that puts disability issues high on the list of priorities. Speak out and stand in solidarity with Manitobans with disabilities who want to build a community free of discrimination,” states Jess Turner, an MLPD co-chair.


For More Information Contact:

Diane Driedger, MLPD Provincial Coordinator, Tel: 204-943-6099

Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator, Tel: 204-947-0303