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Québec accessible: the beginning of a great adventure!

We are five socially engaged citizens who have all directly or indirectly experienced disability discrimination. We have observed a serious lack of awareness about disability rights in our province. People with disabilities continue to face countless barriers on a daily basis, including physical obstacles and discriminatory attitudes. We are constantly forced to navigate inaccessible environments. Those who also experience other forms of oppression (like racism or sexism) feel the effects of this discrimination even more profoundly.

To date, we have had to tackle each barrier one at a time, or simply endure inequality due to a lack of time and energy. People with disabilities should not have to wage long and difficult personal and legal battles to have their rights respected. Discrimination is a complex, systemic problem that requires a far-reaching, proactive solution.

We believe that a strong accessibility law is a necessary part of this solution. A stronger law would provide people with disabilities with an additional tool in asserting their rights.

Other Canadian provinces such as Ontario and Manitoba, and other countries such as the United States and France have already enacted strong accessibility laws. Although Quebec has had a disability law in place since 1978, this law has proven largely ineffective in bringing about real change. Most people in Quebec, including those with disabilities, don’t even know that this law exists!

We are therefore calling on the Quebec government to adopt a stronger law to promote accessibility throughout the province. This new law must be reviewed and endorsed by the disability community prior to its adoption. It must include clear goals and deadlines for the elimination of barriers, as well as monitoring mechanisms and penalties to ensure compliance.

In order to successfully lobby the government for a strong accessibility law, we must take action together. We have therefore created this platform to educate, unite and advocate for a stronger accessibility law in Quebec. We look forward to collaborating with groups and individuals from within and outside of the disability community, including Deaf people, people with mental illness, and people from other oppressed groups.

We invite you to join us in advocating for a stronger accessibility law in Quebec. Together, we can change things!

Melanie Benard, Michel Lemay, Pierre Lemay, Laurence Parent and Marie-Eve Veilleux

In the news

Many articles and news segments talked about an accessibility law during the Quebec Disability Week:

Une pétition demande une loi cadre sur l’accessibilité universelle, Journal Métro

Editorial: Public transit is not nearly accessible enough, The Montreal Gazette

Pour de meilleures lois favorisant l'inclusion des personnes à mobilité réduite, Radio-Canada

Se déplacer en ville en fauteuil roulant, Radio-Canada

Une exposition pour le transport accessible, Journal de Montréal


We also want to highlight the launch of the virtual exhibit At the door. We invite you to check it out. We want to congratulate the Portraits of Montréal team for their work. It was a pleasure writing the petition with you.
Our week

The Semaine québécoise des personnes handicapées has just ended. While the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec (OPHQ) showed a clear preference for talking about Martin Deschamps rather than about accessibility, Québec accessible released six documents addressing issues that are central for disabled people.

On Monday, we issued a document related to Québec law and the accessibility of public transportation. On Tuesday, we reported on the conspicuous lack of accessible taxis in Montréal. On Wednesday, we spotlighted the launching of a petition calling for the adoption of Québec accessibility law, as well as participating in the opening of the À la porte exhibition. On Thursday, we republished a letter by two Québec accessible members that had previously appeared in le Devoir. The letter denounced the lack of activity on the part of the OPHQ in response to the serious cutbacks many disabled people face. On Friday, we issued a document written by Québec accessible member Marie-Eve Veilleux addressing the negative impact of the OPHQ’s awareness-raising campaign. Finally, on Sunday, we published a text critical of the Québec government’s new plan of action.

We were thrilled to discover that numerous disabled peoples’ groups had already spoken in favour of the adoption of a Québec disability law. Québec’s undeniable inactivity in this area is an increasing topic of conversation. That’s all good news!

Even if our current demands are limited to an accessibility law, we must nonetheless express our outrage at the numerous cutbacks that undermine the rights of disabled people. Even our past gains are now in question. As the social safety net frays, it is marginalized people who feel it the most. In our current climate, it might even seem risky to campaign for a new accessibility law. We think otherwise; it is the right time for a strong and united movement against discrimination on the basis of disability.

There are two things you can do now:

Sign the petition calling for the establishment of a Québec accessibility law
Consult the documents related to Me Mélanie Bénard and Laurence Parent’s presentations
Follow us on social media 
(Facebook and Twitter)

Please talk about Québec accessible within your networks!

Translation by Michael Ryan

Access to public transit and the Quebec law
People with disabilities are increasingly turning to the media to denounce their experiences of discrimination. Among the most commonly cited barriers they face are the lack of accessibility of public transportation. For example, the accessibility of Montreal’s public transit system lags far behind other cities in North America and Europe. In Montreal, only 8 metro stations out of 68 have elevators. At that pace, the metro system will be fully accessible in 2090.

What does the Quebec Act to secure handicapped persons in the exercise of their rights with a view to achieving social, school and workplace integration say?



  • All public transit agencies had to submit an accessibility plan by 2005.
  • In 2011, only 16 out of 34 had submitted a plan.
  • No penalties if don’t submit plans.
  • No obligation to follow through with plans.

Meanwhile in Ontario…

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires all public transit services to be fully accessible by 2025.

Quebec, we have a problem.

Taxi accessibility in Montreal and the Quebec law
Last winter, four members of Québec accessible experienced difficulties with using wheelchair accessible taxis in Montréal. Some taxi companies claim that they can provide accessible taxis within an hour. However, this nearly never happens. The reason is simple. There are not enough accessible taxis. They wrote an open letter (French only) to share their experiences.

Why is it still impossible for disabled people to hail a taxi in Montréal? Why cities across Québec do not have a plan to make their taxi fleet accessible within a reasonable timeframe? How does Québec compare with other Canadian provinces?

Lettre ouverte

Au cours des dernières années, de nombreuses personnes handicapées ont exprimé leur ras-le-bol face à l’inaccessibilité du transport en commun à Montréal. Jour après jour, plus de personnes handicapées témoignent pour illustrer les multiples difficultés rencontrées, ce qui contribue à faire connaître cette réalité au grand public.

Lorsque le réseau de transport en commun tombe en panne ou subit des retards, bien des Montréalaises et Montréalais ont le réflexe de prendre un taxi. Lorsqu’elles font face à un problème de transport, on peut penser que les personnes handicapées ont le même réflexe. Par contre, elles se butent à un problème majeur… En effet, la flotte de taxis accessibles est si petite que vous avez probablement plus de chances de gagner le million que de réussir à attraper un taxi accessible sur Sainte-Catherine. Ce n’est pas une blague. Il arrive même fréquemment d’être incapable de réserver un taxi accessible à l’avance.

Vendredi soir dernier, trois personnes en fauteuil roulant se sont retrouvées prises dans un restaurant au centre-ville. Pourquoi? Le service au restaurant était plus lent que prévu et le transport adapté de la Société de transport de Montréal (STM), qu’ils avaient réservé deux jours à l’avance, ne pouvait pas venir les chercher un peu plus tard. Elles ont alors contacté trois compagnies de taxi pour réserver un véhicule accessible. Toutefois, aucun taxi n’était disponible pour elles, même si elles ont appelé près de 2 h à l’avance… Pourtant, elles demandaient un taxi pour 21 h 30, pas minuit ou deux heures du matin… et encore moins à l’heure de pointe! Puisque seulement huit stations de métro sont accessibles sur tout le réseau et aucune n’était proche d’elles ou de leur destination, elles ont dû attendre dans un froid hivernal des autobus à plancher bas et allonger considérablement leur temps de transport.

La veille, une autre personne handicapée a appelé une compagnie de taxi à 9 h 40 pour réserver un taxi pour 15 h 45. La réponse? “Non madame, nous n’avons pas de voitures disponibles avant 20 h”. Elle a donc contacté une autre compagnie qui lui a dit : “Rappelez-moi dans 30 minutes, je vais voir ce que je peux faire.” Elle a finalement obtenu une voiture. Quelle chance! Des histoires du genre, nous en avons trop à raconter.

Il y a quelques années, certaines compagnies de taxi ont commencé à faire la promotion de leurs services accessibles et avaient pour objectif de répondre aux demandes dans un délai d’une heure.  Pourtant, nos expériences démontrent plutôt qu’il est quasi-impossible d’obtenir un véhicule accessible dans les délais convenus même si le nombre a augmenté de façon substantielle depuis le début des années 2000. Pourquoi? Ces taxis sont utilisés par la STM qui sous-traite la majeure partie du service de transport adapté à l’industrie du taxi. Les taxis accessibles sont donc peu disponibles pour les personnes dont les besoins ne sont pas comblés par le transport adapté de la STM.

La situation montréalaise est d’autant plus choquante lorsqu’on la compare à celle de plusieurs municipalités situées dans des états où une solide législation en matière d’accessibilité a été adoptée. Déjà en 2006, héler un taxi accessible à Vancouver était un geste plutôt banal. De son côté, la ville de Toronto prévoit avoir une flotte de taxis complètement accessible d’ici 2025, afin de se conformer à la loi sur l’accessibilité pour les Ontariens handicapés. Pour sa part, la ville de New York vient de signer une entente historique avec un groupe de personnes handicapées afin de rendre 50 % de sa flotte accessible d’ici 2020. Et, exemple par excellence, Londres a une flotte de taxis complètement accessible depuis déjà plusieurs années. Mais il n’existe au Québec aucune loi comparable sur l’accessibilité.

Si Montréal veut devenir une ville intelligente, elle devrait commencer par rattraper l’immense retard qu’elle a accumulé en matière d’accessibilité aux transports, situation qui nuit à l’inclusion des personnes handicapées. Nous voulons, nous aussi, bénéficier de la même liberté de déplacement que toutes les citoyennes et tous les citoyens de la métropole.

Et, tant et aussi longtemps que l’État québécois ne se dotera pas d’une solide loi encadrant l’accessibilité, tout porte à croire que Montréal continuera à faire des choix qui ne sont pas dignes d’une ville intelligente…

Michel Lemay, actuaire

Pierre Lemay, coordonnateur à l’évaluation de la performance

Laurence Parent, candidate au doctorat en sciences sociales

Marie-Eve Veilleux, traductrice scientifique
 




                        
At the door project and the need for an umbrella act
In the last few months, we collaborated with the At the door team (alaporte.org) whose project aims at putting faces on accessibility issues. As the project progressed, Kéven Breton and the photographs from Portraits de/of Montréal decided to expand the scope of their message and today, they are launching a petition to demand an umbrella act for accessibility in Québec.

The facts speak for themselves: the current law is deficient. We need a legislative reform. To make it a reality, we need to unite. We know the road ahead will have its share of obstacles. We also know we can make it. After all, we know all about obstacles!

We are not reinventing the wheel. We only want Quebec to adopt a law that will ensure that our rights and freedoms already guaranteed by the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms since 1978 are respected.



We think this umbrella act should:

  1. Extend obligations to private sector :
  • Submit accessibility plans periodically;
  • Establish guidelines for providing services to persons with disabilities;
  • Train employees.
  1. Establish deadlines and targets for barrier removal:
  • Developed with people with disabilities, the disability community and any entity concerned with the new regulations;
  • Reviewed and updated periodically.
  1. Effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance:
  • Investigations by an independent body;
  • Penalties sufficiently large to discourage non-compliance;
  • Incentives to exceed requirements (e.g. tax credits, financial aid, etc.).

The law itself should be developed by an independent body. This organization should include a majority of people with disabilities.

We all have a role to play. During the Week for the disabled (not our translation), the Office québécoise des personnes handicapées invites you to take small actions in our day-to-day life to help people with disabilities. Instead, we invite you to join this grassroot movement to make the province of Quebec accessible. Together, we can achieve great things!


The unfortunate silence of the OPHQ
Last December, two of our members published an open letter in Le Devoir to denounce OPHQ’s inaction. They were already asking for a law on accessibility to bring real changes. Here is what they wrote in French:

Le triste silence de l’Office des personnes handicapées du Québec

Nous sommes deux femmes handicapées. Nous sommes nées au Québec après l’ajout du handicap à la Charte des droits et libertés du Québec et l’adoption de la Loi assurant l’exercice des droits des personnes handicapées en vue de leur intégration scolaire, professionnelle et sociale, en 1978. Plusieurs années après ces moments historiques qui avaient pour but d’éliminer les obstacles pour les personnes handicapées, avons-nous le cœur à la fête aujourd’hui ? Pas vraiment. Être une personne handicapée au Québec en 2014 signifie être davantage exposé à l’exclusion et à la pauvreté. En voici quelques exemples.
 



Nouvelles gares sans accès

Le 1er décembre, l’Agence métropolitaine de transport inaugurait sa toute nouvelle ligne de train reliant Mascouche à la gare Centrale de Montréal. Des 13 gares composant le circuit, seulement 3 sont accessibles aux personnes utilisant un fauteuil roulant. Apparemment, toutes les gares deviendront accessibles. Quand ? Nous n’en avons aucune idée ; l’AMT n’a pas cru bon d’informer les usagers. En 2014, il est encore possible, au Québec, de construire de nouvelles installations inaccessibles.

La semaine dernière, la Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec a annoncé que le gouvernement avait rejeté la proposition d’inclure de nouvelles exigences d’adaptabilité pour l’intérieur des habitations au Code de construction. Cela s’ajoute aux récentes incertitudes quant au financement du programme provincial d’adaptation de domicile qui a été coupé lors du dernier budget et dont les sommes budgétées étaient écoulées en novembre.

En ce qui concerne les transports, le Service de transport adapté de la capitale se retrouvait face à un manque à gagner de 500 000 dollars l’année passée et elle espère que la situation ne se reproduise pas cette année. Même son de cloche à la Société de transport de l’Outaouais : si les subventions gouvernementales n’arrivent pas, le service pourrait en souffrir. Dans son budget 2015, la Société de transport de Montréal a indiqué que la subvention provinciale accordée au transport adapté n’était pas bonifiée, l’obligeant ainsi à assumer les coûts supplémentaires liés à l’augmentation de l’achalandage.

Dégradation

On apprenait également que les nouveaux contrats d’intégration au travail (CIT) ont été gelés en juin dernier. Ce programme permet d’encourager l’embauche et le maintien en emploi des personnes handicapées en offrant une compensation à l’employeur pour permettre l’embauche d’un accompagnateur, l’adaptation du lieu de travail, etc.

Les services de santé et de soutien à domicile, pour leur part, continuent d’être sous-financés. Les personnes ayant des besoins plus complexes sont les premières touchées. Elles ont de moins en moins leur place dans un système où les usagers sont de plus en plus des numéros. Plusieurs de ces personnes sont contraintes de vivre en CHSLD. Certaines d’entre elles décident même de mettre fin à leur vie pour éviter de vivre en institution ou d’être un fardeau pour leurs proches. Depuis avril, trois personnes tétraplégiques se sont enlevé la vie. Le manque de ressources pour vivre chez soi brise des vies, et ce, depuis trop longtemps. Les mesures d’austérité nous laissent présager une aggravation de la situation.

Si les droits des personnes handicapées ont été reconnus dès 1978, la révolution devant mener à leur libération n’a jamais été achevée. La vague néolibérale ayant touché le Québec dès les années 1990 a mis en péril le développement de nombreux services et programmes pourtant nécessaires à l’exercice des droits des personnes handicapées. En freinant des initiatives comme celles énumérées ci-dessus, les nouvelles mesures d’austérité aggravent l’exclusion de ces personnes. Cette exclusion est d’autant plus inquiétante du fait que la discrimination fondée sur le handicap demeure méconnue et que la législation en matière d’accessibilité est trop faible pour faire face aux impératifs économiques de notre époque.

Devoir d’agir

Qu’a fait l’Office des personnes handicapées du Québec en cette journée internationale ? Elle a encouragé les individus à faire de bonnes actions dans les lieux de travail. Chaque année, elle remet des prix. Il faut en faire beaucoup plus. L’Office doit se prononcer sur les réductions budgétaires et les décisions gouvernementales qui ont un impact direct sur la vie des personnes handicapées. Elle doit aussi se positionner en faveur de l’adoption d’une loi contraignante visant à éliminer les obstacles rencontrés par les personnes handicapées.

Cela fait déjà 30 ans que les personnes handicapées le disent : l’Office des personnes handicapées n’existe pas pour les personnes handicapées, mais plutôt pour le gouvernement. Son silence quant aux récentes mesures ne laisse aucun doute.

Laurence Parent et Marie-Eve Veilleux – Respectivement candidate au doctorat en Humanities à l’Université Concordia et étudiante au deuxième cycle en bioéthique à l’Université de Montréal
 


The negative effects of the OPHQ awareness campaign

This text was written by one of our co-founders, Marie-Eve Veilleux.

Beyond normality

This week, the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec (OPHQ) celebrated the Quebec Disability Week. Citizens and businesses were invited, from June 1st to 7th, to take simple actions to help disabled people participate in society. To promote the week, OPHQ developed posters showing different humans that appear to be “nothing but normal”. They are esthetically pleasing and do not “look disabled”. The only thing giving away that these people live with a disability is either the shadow behind them showing the international logo of different disabilities (mobility, blindness, deafness) or a text in the description for disabilities that do not have a logo. OPHQ explains that these images were chosen to show social participation in a positive way in order to put the person first (1).

Affiche représentant Philippe, qui a une incapacité visuelle. Dans cette affiche, on voit Philippe en situation de participation sociale. Il est debout, devant un fauteuil et une lampe. Son ombre, projetée sur le sol, représente une personne se déplaçant avec une canne.Affiche représentant Fabien, qui a une incapacité motrice. Dans cette affiche, on voit Fabien en situation de participation sociale. Il est assis sur une chaise devant son ordinateur. Son ombre, projetée sur le sol, représente une personne en fauteuil roulant.

The consequence of using “people first” language and representation is that disability is relegated to the background. However, this way of thinking about disability is very common. It is also very criticized. By removing the signs of a disability, like a wheelchair, deformities or a different glance, don’t we add to the pressure that disabled people feel to fit in the norm?



Supressing disability is also turning disability into a personal problem. To overcome their disability and participate in society, disabled people must have the right attitude, show courage, be strong. OPHQ’s removal of any visible sign of disability by showing a person who meets the standards dictated by our society doesn’t contribute to the recognition that disabled people are equal to non-disabled people. Kathleen Downes notes “if you can only see me as a person when you don’t see the wheelchair, it implies that the presence of the wheelchair negates the ability to treat its occupant as a human being” (2).

Removing visible signs of disability hides the need to question social norms about beauty or abilities. Titchkosky writes that “people first” representation sees “disability as a condition of limitation and lack that some people ‘have’” (3). She argues that “it thus overrides more political conceptions of disability” (4) with which disabled people can identify, as is the case in the black culture. Remember the outrage after a white actor painted his face black in a play at the Théâtre du Rideau vert. Meanwhile, this spring, Luc Guérin’s portrayal of a disabled person was not criticized. Internationally, however, many people and media denounced the portrayal of Stephen Hawking by the non-disabled actor Eddie Redmayne. Comparing both phenomenon, The Guardian wrote “while ‘blacking up’ is rightly now greeted with outrage, ‘cripping up’ is still greeted with awards” (5).

OPHQ was founded in 1978. Its existence was supposed to be short – until Quebec was fully accessible to disabled people. Now that we are approaching its 40th anniversary, we have to admit that it is still there and Quebec is considerably late when it comes to accessibility. By turning disability into a personal problem that we can overcome with “simple actions”, I believe that OPHQ contributes to deny that disability is also a social and political phenomenon. Consequently, progress on accessibility and social inclusion is extremely slow and rely on people’s goodwill.

But disability is political. To borrow the word of Titchkosky, disabled people should be allowed to identify as “belong[ing] to the largest physical minority in Canada” or as “experienc[ing the] world […] differently” (6). They should also have the opportunity to acknowledge that society “has been built to exclude people like [them]” (7). OPHQ plays a role in changing this perception. In order to finally live in an inclusive province, disabled people must be considered as equals with their wheelchair, deformities or different glance.

References

(1)https://www.ophq.gouv.qc.ca/evenements/semaine-quebecoise-des-personnes-handicapees/edition-2015/ensemble-un-theme-daction.html

(2)https://www.ophq.gouv.qc.ca/evenements/semaine-quebecoise-des-personnes-handicapees/edition-2015/ensemble-un-theme-daction.html

(3)http://thesqueakywheelchair.blogspot.ca/2015/01/hey-you-my-name-is-not-wheelchair.html

(4)Titchkosky, Tanya. “Disability: A Rose by Any Other Name?‘People-First’ Language in Canadian Society.” Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue Canadienne de Sociologie 38, no. 2 (May 1, 2001): 125–40.

(5)http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/13/eddie-redmayne-golden-globe-stephen-hawking-disabled-actors-characters

(6)Titchkosky, Tanya. “Disability: A Rose by Any Other Name?‘People-First’ Language in Canadian Society.” Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue Canadienne de Sociologie 38, no. 2 (May 1, 2001): 125–40.

(7)Titchkosky, Tanya. “Disability: A Rose by Any Other Name?‘People-First’ Language in Canadian Society.” Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue Canadienne de Sociologie 38, no. 2 (May 1, 2001): 125–40.


The Government’s Plan of Action: Making Public Transportation Accessible Will Just Have to Wait

On June 1, the ministre déléguée à la Réadaptation, à la Protection de la jeunesse et à la Santé publique, Mme Lucie Charlebois, presented the new 2015-2019 government plan of action, À part entière. The announcement of a new plan seemed like a positive sign, as it was perfectly timed for the launching of the Semaine québécoise des personnes handicapées. For its part, the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec (OPHQ) was delighted with the adoption of this plan, which includes 63 commitments that will affect 24 ministries. During an interview with Luc Fortin on Canal M, Minister Charlebois confirmed that the new plan was meant to provide a “second wind or a renewed push towards some significant achievements.” Responding to questions about how effective such an approach would be in guaranteeing disabled people the free exercise of their rights, the minister was firm in her support for the plan, which she described as both impressive and ambitious. “Speaking honestly,” she said, “it’s a big thing.”

What about this new plan? What’s does it say? Should we all be as enthusiastic as Minister Charlebois? Leaving aside the interview with Luc Fortin, I have not found a single article or report addressing the plan. Both for reasons of time and expertise, I haven’t analyzed the 63 commitments, but the commitment addressing transportation drew my attention. My reading made it clear to me that Québec’s delays in this area can be expected to worsen in the coming years. Disabled people certainly can’t join the minister in her rejoicing.



A weak commitment

Commitment 47: Identify options for harmonizing and optimizing adapted and collective transportation services in Québec to facilitate unimpeded travel for disabled people.

Director: MTQ

Associate: OPHQ

 Steps:

  • Identify and examine the problems with adapted and collective transportation in Québec.
  • Identify positive regional practices and promising initiatives.
  • Consider possible pilot projects or test particular strategies for determining potential options for harmonization and optimization.

 Deadline: 2019

First of all, this commitment raises an important question that I can only pose with a certain degree of exasperation: “How come that hasn’t been done yet?” The goal of a society that is accessible is more than a few days old. In 1978, the Act to secure handicapped people in the exercise of their rights was unanimously adopted by the National Assembly. The law was modified in 2004. In 2009, the À part entière policy was adopted, with the goal of increasing the social participation of disabled people over a period of 10 years. An action plan that included 400 commitments was deposited. On Canal M, Minister Charlebois asserted that “almost all of the 400 commitments have been fulfilled, and those that haven’t yet been are in the process of being fulfilled, while others are part of an ongoing process.” To which she added, “Some of the commitments must be renewed annually until they become outdated.” Okay. All of that’s a bit confusing. Commitments that are renewed annually – is that another way to say that some of the commitments have goals that are vague at best, or worse, are we talking about promises repeated ceaselessly but never kept? The commitment regarding transportation leaves us thinking the worst.

We need to consider the thinking behind this commitment. From the government’s point of view, it’s possible to do more with the existing resources. Be that as it may, the sociétés de transport and the users have clearly shown in recent years that both adapted transportation and regular transportation require major investments if they are to develop. How do you harmonize and optimize deficient services – in some cases even nonexistent services? Such thinking is completely disconnected from reality and has no place outside of the neoliberal discourse about rationalizing resources.

It’s alarming to think that in 2015, almost 40 years after the adoption of the 1978 law, the Québec government still doesn’t know what the problems and positive practices related to both adapted and regular transportation are. Theoretically, the development plans for accessibilizing public transportation deposited by the sociétés de transport should answer these questions. Why is it that the government needs four years to get a grasp of the reality on the ground? Why are we still at the stage where we must “consider possible pilot projects or test particular strategies”?

This commitment regarding transportation is a major embarrassment for the Québec government. Disabled people know full well what the problems with both adapted and regular transportation services are. Maybe you should listen to them … then do something.

“Have a nice week!”

The government’s new plan of action clearly lacks concrete goals. The weakness of commitment 47 indicates that the government has no intention – not even the slightest – of shaking things up for public transportation organizations. Access to transportation is the necessary cornerstone if disabled people are to exercise their rights. Commitment 47 lacks substance – and it makes light of the Semaine québécoise des personnes handicapées.

Message soulignant la fin de la Semaine des personnes handicapées avec trois mentions de Martin Deschamps

Again this year, the Semaine québécoise des personnes handicapées organized by the OPHQ kept everything light and summery. We had several opportunities to see Martin Deschamps perform and the OPHQ encouraged the population to make small gestures of inclusion for disabled people. During her interview with Canal M’s Luc Fortin, Minister Charlebois wished us a “happy semaine des handicapés,” claiming the “disabled people’s cause is close to my heart,” all the while clarifying that she prefers to sensitize the many social actors who offer services to the population rather than punish those who fail to respect the rights of disabled people.

For its part, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse released a communiqué in which it expressed concern about the impact of the current budget on disabled people’s right to equality. The Commission reminded people that discrimination based on disability accounts for 33% of the complaints filed in 2013-2014. It is the most common source of discrimination. The minister and the OPHQ maintained radio silence. A search of the OPHQ’s website for the word “austerity” provided zero results. The search engine suggested searching under “budget restrictions.” That produced 6 results, the most recent being from 2013.

Capture d'écran-recherche avec le terme austéritéCapture d'écran-recherche avec le terme restrictions budgétaires

Minister Charlebois and the OPHQ’s discourse about inclusion and the importance of small daily gestures serves to obscure an antiquated law and represents an appalling silence in the face of the cutbacks affecting disabled people. This is a serious situation, and it fully illustrates the necessity to build a strong movement that can reverse this trend.

Translation: Michael Ryan



                        
We are disabled people and allies advocating for a law on accessibility in Quebec.

If you are interested in our mission and want to share your talents with us, please contact us at quebecaccessible@gmail.com
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