Statement on the BC Government’s Announcement on Accessibility Requirements for Organizations Under Part 3 of the Accessible BC Act
Disability Alliance BC
April 14, 2022
Disability Alliance BC (DABC) wishes to first express our support and appreciation of the actions the BC Government is taking to move forward with the implementation of the Accessible BC Act (ABCA). Since the Act became law in May 2021, the BC Government has successfully appointed a Provincial Accessibility Committee and has begun developing regulations under the Act.
When the ABCA was first introduced in BC’s Legislative Assembly as “Bill 6” in early May 2021, DABC and a group of disability advocacy organizations produced a review document outlining our six major concerns with the bill. This review can be found on DABC’s website here: https://disabilityalliancebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Disability-Alliance-BC-Review-on-Bill-6.pdf
In a recent news announcement, the BC Government has contracted DABC over the course of the next three years to allocate, distribute and administer one-time grants to Hub Organizations that will provide support to Prescribed Organizations under Part 3 of the Accessible BC Act.
The BC Government has announced that over 750 organizations in the public sector have been listed as Prescribed Organizations under Part 3 of the ABCA. The Government and each of these organizations will be required to create an accessibility committee, an accessibility plan, and a public feedback mechanism on accessibility. These Prescribed Organizations come from the following areas of the public sector: school districts, municipalities, municipal police, libraries, post-secondary institutions, health authorities, crown agencies, tribunals and other independent agencies, boards and commissions under the BC Government.
DABC believes this is a good start in implementing Part 3 of the Act, and encourages the BC Government to consider expanding its list of Prescribed Organizations to the private sector in future. DABC notes that accessibility legislation in Manitoba and Nova Scotia has taken a similar approach as BC in prescribing only public sector organizations to create accessibility plans, however we wish to point out that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires all organizations that provide goods or services to the public, with more than fifty employees, to create accessibility plans (this includes private businesses and non-profit organizations) . The federal Accessible Canada Act (ACA) requires all federally regulated organisations  with 10 or more employees, including private businesses, to create accessibility plans.
DABC raises the concern that without the involvement in the private sector in creating accessibility plans and public feedback mechanisms on accessibility, Part 3 of the ABCA may have less of a direct effect on meaningfully addressing barriers to accessibility in many essential areas, for example, at grocery stores, pharmacies, malls and shopping centres, taxis and privately-owned bus services. The benefit of accessibility plans and having a public feedback mechanism on accessibility for private businesses is that they empower consumers to express their accessibility expectations and ensure that there is appropriate follow up when their accessibility needs are not met.
DABC acknowledges that it is possible for the BC Government to prescribe certain organizations in the private sector under Part 4 of the ABCA, which covers the accessibility regulations across the following standards: employment; delivery of services; the built environment; information and communications; transportation; health; education; and procurement. We express our hope that these regulations will involve meaningful participation by the private sector in working towards eliminating barriers and promoting accessibility through every level of our society.
However, as Part 4 of the ABCA is separate from the requirement under Part 3 to create an accessibility committee, an accessibility plan, and a public feedback mechanism on accessibility, DABC advocates for the expansion of Prescribed Organizations under Part 3 to be inclusive of the private sector in future.
Download this statement here.
 This can include such federally regulated businesses as banks, telecommunication companies and airlines, for example.
Article: What Does Disability Justice Mean to Me?
This article was written by Harmony Bongat, and originally appeared in DABC’s Transition magazine on Disability Justice (Spring 2022). Read the issue here.
If you’re interested in contributing to Transition as an individual or an organization, please email email@example.com. _________________________________________________________
I was introduced to Disability Justice through a friend a few years ago. I had just received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and my visual impairments were worsening, as were my mental health issues.
I was stuck in a medical system that left me feeling hopeless. My circle of non-disabled friends didn’t understand what I was going through. My family minimized my anguish, inundating me with toxic positivity, telling me “I’d get through it” or “I’ll get better.” Everyone around me offered unsolicited advice. I felt confused, scared and lonely — I wasn’t being comforted or supported.
One day, I started attending a group support meeting called Chronically Queer and was introduced to the Disability Justice movement. To me, Disability Justice means: compassion, kindness, resilience and community.
An ableist society says, “You are not welcome.” Disability Justice says, “We want you here.”
Disability Justice understands that, as a disabled, queer, Filipino, solo parent, living in poverty, my experience as a person with a disability is different from the experiences of many other people with disabilities.
Within the medical system, for example, female, queer, people of colour are just not given the same standard of care as white, straight, cisgender men.
I minimize my emotions and mask or hide my queerness. I‘m often asked inappropriate questions or not taken seriously.
And, worst of all, I have no choice but to be entangled within this system. It’s disheartening and exhausting, and wears away at my dignity and self-worth.
But, within the Disability Justice movement, I am given back what the health system and other systems of care have taken away. It sees my lived experience as a wealth of knowledge that I can share knowing it will be valued.
Furthermore, people with disabilities who are not able to “sustain gainful employment” (their words), like myself, must undergo scrutiny in applying for financial assistance. I must show just how disabled I am by divulging details I know will be scrutinized without the compassion and empathy I need–all this, despite having doctors’ diagnoses of chronic conditions I will have for the rest of my life.
People with disabilities know that disability labels come with negative stigma, perpetuated by systems of oppression that all of us are living under. But in a room of people with disabilities, there is joy and comfort and excitement! Other people with disabilities just get it (get US), understand and sympathize. There is an air of excitement and community. We can work together for social change, and, at the same time, talk about everyday life.
We talk about movies where a character with a disability is a well-rounded person, not one that exists for the benefit of someone else. We play board games where everyone can participate, regardless of their level of functioning.
We try to meet everyone’s lighting, seating, scent and sound needs. We offer food or go to restaurants where everyone can eat, regardless of dietary restrictions, paying attention to how much meals cost. We know a lot of us have been through trauma, so we use content and trigger warnings before talking about difficult subjects.
Creating inclusion can be as easy as asking someone if they have what they need and, if they don’t, working with them to see how you can help — and giving that help in a way that doesn’t infantilize, shame or “other” them.
Within the Disability Justice movement, we purposefully engage with others and share what we learn about our conditions, symptom management techniques, self-care treatments, mental health resources and self-advocacy measures.
Disability Justice reminds us to take care of ourselves first. I am reminded that I don’t need to be at the front lines to be part of the movement. I want to know that I can make a difference and that I contribute whatever I can to fight ableism. Just existing each day as a person with a disability means that I’m doing enough.
Right now, one of my contributions is my story. I share it in the hope that it will be listened to and — right now — that is enough.
Chronically Queer is a support group for anyone who is 2SLGBTQIA+?; and who has a disability, chronic condition and/or mental health issue. Come and join us: https://www.canbc.org/queer/chronically-queer/.
Harmony Bongat is a disability justice advocate and educator through Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods (CAN), as well as a researcher of 2SLGBTQIA+ history.
OCASI (Ontario Council of Agencies Seeking Immigrants) is seeking Allies in Accessibility!
OCASI (Ontario Council of Agencies Seeking Immigrants) is seeking Allies in Accessibility!
What are Allies in Accessibility?
Allies in Accessibility (AiA’s) are people who are passionate about advocating and working towards creating welcoming, accessible and affirming agencies that benefit im/migrant and refugees with in/visible disabilities and empower the community. This volunteer position recognizes the work that you are already doing in your community, gives you an opportunity to build your skills, contacts, and experience, and connects you with other people doing similar work across Canada.
More information about the role and a link to the application form in English and French is available here.