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October 27, 2016

Confusing civil rights and two-by-fours

Contrarian has a good post today about my desire to be treated like a real person.  I can't improve upon it.

But I'd like to tell you how sick and tired I am of having the building code as the Charter of
Rights for people with disabilities.

Back when this society advocated for accessible constituency offices, the building code and it's arbitrary exemptions were the excuse for people with disabilities to be denied a fundamental democratic right.  That was 2013.

Now we have the building code being used as an excuse for jeopardizing the health of people like me (see Contrarian).

Not to mention that it's a primary cause of unemployment among people with disabilities.  People like Mickey MacDonald, in the case of the downtown Chickenburger, get to say to me "I don't have to have a ramp,  so you can't have a job".

I like and respect Jim Donovan, Manager of Buildings and Compliance at HRM. But he is not now nor will he ever be a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.  Yet his decisions have more impact on my rights every day than anything Chief Justice Joseph P. Kennedy has ever done.

The building code is useful in telling me where the grab bars need to be, how far apart the joists can be, what the wire gauge has to be for a run of 30 feet and how wide the door should be.  But it can't be used to keep me from getting a job, from observing basic rules of sanitation, from seeing my MLA or living where I want.

The building code can tell you how to make a voting booth safe, but it can't keep you from voting.  It can tell you how to make a safe ramp, but it's the Charter that says when a ramp is needed.  The Charter doesn't say:

 (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.  Except:

    • Where discrimination has always been the rule
    • In buildings under 200 square meters
    • In buildings constructed before 1987 

Or does it?  It's time the building code was just the building code, and not an excuse to treat people as second class citizens.

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