Accessibility

People with disabilities forgotten in Quebec’s election campaign

Three parties leading in the polls unconcerned about sad state of disability law in province
Photo: Andy Nystrom
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As voting day approaches, Quebec Accessible is disappointed that only one of the main provincial political parties has proposed a new accessibility law to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.

People with disabilities continue to face numerous barriers in their daily lives. The urban environment, businesses, housing, workplaces, and public transit remain largely inaccessible, and services remain unadapted. These barriers constitute systemic discrimination, which prevents many people with disabilities from living independently and with dignity and from participating in society as full citizens.

When the Act to secure handicapped persons in the exercise of their rights was adopted in 1978, Quebec was a world leader in the area of inclusion. This law was amended in 2004 to adapt to changes in society. However, it is clear that those amendments weren’t sufficient. The current legal framework provides no incentives, and it has no clear objectives, deadlines, or penalties for non-compliance.

Therein lies the problem: the law uses neither carrot nor stick. It is obsolete, no more than words on paper. It must be replaced with a stronger law based on Quebec Accessible’s 12 principles.

Though politicians don’t seem to realize it, people with disabilities have sufficient electoral clout to force this issue onto the campaign agenda.

The three parties leading in the polls don’t seem too concerned about the sad state of disability law in Quebec. Clearly, the situation of persons with disabilities is not seen as a winning issue in this election. But it is undeniably a social justice issue.

Québec Solidaire has committed to adopting an accessibility law and recognizing the Quebec Sign Language. The other parties must now commit to improving the legal framework to finally make Quebec the inclusive society it claims to be. We must draw inspiration from the ambitious accessibility laws that exist elsewhere. In Canada, we need look no further than Ontario.

Though politicians don’t seem to realize it, people with disabilities have sufficient electoral clout to force this issue onto the campaign agenda. People with visible and invisible disabilities represent 10 to 20 per cent of the population. Anyone can develop a disability at any time in their life. Disability impacts thousands of families. Who can consider themselves a “winner” in this election if they sweep the rights and needs of people with disabilities under the rug?

Quebec Accessible calls on people with disabilities and their allies to say loud and clear that they reject inaction by electing representatives who will lead the fight against ableism.

Political campaigns generally pay little attention to people with disabilities in the mistaken belief that they aren’t mobilized. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Melanie Benard, co-founder, Quebec Accessible

Susie Arioli, Jody Aveline, Lise Baucher-Morency, Gabriel Bégin, Isabelle Boisclair, Jean-Pierre Boivin, Nicole Bourque, Kéven Breton, Michel Camus, épidémiologue, ex-président de Projet Montréal, Isabelle Carreau, Nathalie Castaing, Michèle Chappaz, Violaine Cousineau, Ethan Cox, Nicolas Crampon, Yves Daoust, Mary Ann Davis, Solange Debrat, Martine Delvaux, Frédéric Dénommé, Denise Ferron, Caroline Filler, Rémi Francoeur, Michel Gagnon, Pierre Gauthier, Jules Gauvin, François Giguère, Tania Gonzalez, Barbara Heath Lopez, Natasha Henderson, Balarama Holness, Jennifer Jerome, Shawn Kearney, Andrea Kneeland, Me Lucie Lamarche, Ph.D., Ad. E., MSRC, Stefana Lamasanu, Véronique Leduc, Ph.D., Jeffrey Mackie, Ken McLaughlin, Diego Madina Creimer, Jency Mercier, Laurent Morissette, Jody Negley, Katsienhaion Nelson, Caissey Nicole, Laurence Parent, Brian R. Perron, Sylvain Plourde, Will Prosper, Didier Rabette, Mélanie Rabette, Jérôme Saunier, Géraldine Schibler, Udayan Sen, Marie-Loïc Sénamaud, Michel Seymour, département de philosophie, Université de Montréal, Vanessa Vaillant, Marie-Ève Veilleux, Fabrice Vil, Francisco Villanueva, Francis Waddell

Quebec Accessible is a grassroots initiative advocating for a strong provincial accessibility law.

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