Stephanie Cadieux, recently re-elected as MLA for Surrey South, has been named BC Liberal caucus chair and critic for Gender Equality, Accessibility and Inclusion. (contributed photo)

Stephanie Cadieux, recently re-elected as MLA for Surrey South, has been named BC Liberal caucus chair and critic for Gender Equality, Accessibility and Inclusion. (contributed photo)

OPINION: A call to action on International Day of People with Disabilities

People with disabilities must seen, heard and supported, writes MLA Stephanie Cadieux

When we think about how we can reduce barriers and improve equity and inclusion for those living with disabilities, we tend to think about innovations to our built environment, to transportation and to improving other physical obstacles for those whose disabilities we can see. But what about those whose disabilities aren’t so visible? How do we ensure we are meeting their needs and improving their experiences and outcomes, when we can’t always see the challenges they are facing?

These are questions we need to be asking ourselves on Thursday, Dec. 3, as we mark International Day of People with Disabilities. It is an important call to action to ensure that all people with disabilities are seen, heard and supported. We need to consider those living with mental illnesses, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences, hearing impairments, and chronic pain or fatigue that we can’t always see.

This is particularly important in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. With all British Columbians being asked to stay at home as much as possible, it is especially important that we check in with those whose access to medical supplies and resources may be more limited right now.

For everyone living with a disability, it is also important that decision-makers put an accessibility lens on all that they do. At the provincial level, in 2014 our former BC Liberal government launched Accessibility 2024, an ambitious 10-year plan to improve the lives of those living with disabilities that contained specific, measurable outcomes. We are four years away from the goal we set of being the most progressive jurisdiction for people with disabilities in Canada, and still have much work to do— albeit with a new government in place.

We hope Premier John Horgan and the NDP will deliver on the commitments our former government made after consulting widely with community members and stakeholder groups. They are counting on us as their representatives to turn their ideas into action.

For my part, this spring I intend to continue to pursue legislation to mandate the inclusion of accessible housing in multi-unit developments and initiate a discussion of much-needed improvements to accessible parking in British Columbia. We need to end people’s careless attitudes towards parking in these designated spots, to help improve safety and accessibility for those who truly need the extra space and better proximity to their destination.

While the disability community was promised Accessibility Legislation this fall, government has now postponed that to the spring. After the introduction of the federal Accessible Canada Act, advocates’ focus rightly turned to the province and I anxiously await the introduction and debate of the legislation.

After the recent October provincial election, it was Premier John Horgan himself who said, “I’ll be influenced by good ideas wherever they come from… if it makes sense we’re going to implement it. That’s how I will approach working with all members of the legislature.”

Rest assured, I will hold him to his word.

Stephanie Cadieux is MLA for Surrey South and BC Liberal critic for Gender Equality, Accessibility and Inclusion.

AccessibilityBC politicsdisabilities

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the provincial government to implement a temporary paid sick-leave program. (Unsplash.com photo by Kelly Sikkema)
Surrey Board of Trade calls for temporary paid sick-leave program

Reccomendations sent to provincial labour minister, news release notes

Low tide offered plenty of space for people to relax on White Rock's beach Sunday afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
City of White Rock asking outside visitors to stay away

South Surrey residents encouraged to visit, while others urged to stick close to home

North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex. (Photo: larkgroup.com)
North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex earns B.C. facility excellence award

Award is among four presented by BC Recreation and Parks Association

Surrey Central SkyTrain Station. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Suspect accused of ‘abhorrent’ assaults at Surrey SkyTrain stations

Transit Police say assaults were on April 9, 14 and 17

Closing down the west-bound lane of Marine Drive to allow increased patio space for restaurants and a larger walkway for pedestrians would be a challenging and costly measure, according to a city staff report. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock City council, BIA to further mull Marine Drive one-way

Businesses contend that challenges of measure can be mitigated

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Ripy Jubbal of Abbotsford has received a 30-month jail sentence for the fraudulent use of credit cards and credit card data. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford woman sentenced for $80K in fraudulent credit card purchases

Ripy Jubbal and spouse used identities of 19 different victims, court hears

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

Most Read