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September 9, 2012

Change your city!

On the left is  a link to a petition asking HRM Mayoral candidates to show us their plan to comply with the  UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.  This treaty, which the Human Rights Commission says binds HRM and all levels of government, requires a systematic effort to identify and remove barriers.  We ask candidates to outline their plan in 5 steps

  1. make accessibility a central goal of their administration
  2. identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers to accessibility
  3. review procedures and policies and develop plans to ensure equitable access
  4. encourage persons with disabilities to take an active role in government
  5. include accessibility as part of the mission and responsibility of every department

Accessibility is a big issue in HRM, and voters are entitled to know how candidates would improve it.   An accessible city helps such disparate goals as employment, business creation and tourism.  Here are some approaches to each of the 5 items, but we want to hear the candidates ideas.

1.  Articulate a broad and comprehensive statement of why accessibility is important and what measures HRM will take to achieve it.
2.  Publish a map, publish a list, request emails and phone calls, invite the public to participate, ask the CNIB, the CPA, the  Society of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Nova Scotians to participate.  Require municipal departments to report barriers to access.
3.  Ask the HRM Auditor to be sure every program and service meets standards of fairness.
4.  Review the powers, responsibilities, composition and structure of HRM's Accessibility Advisory Committee.  Who do they report to, what is their mandate, what support do they get?  What is their record and how could it be improved?  Develop a staff position to oversee the implementation of full accessibility.
5.  Require a section in each department's annual report detailing which of their responsibilities affects accessibility and what measures are being taken.  Appoint an Accessibility Officer in every department to conduct public discourse.

So please sign the petition and we'll see what develops.

Gus Reed

PS and pass it along! 

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