Letter to Minister Fielding


The June 30 Letter to Minister Fielding

In 2013, Manitoba passed the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) to break down barriers faced by those living with disabilities. The AMA became the law through a unanimous, all-party, all member vote in the Legislative Assembly.  While current areas for standard development focus on customer service, employment, the built environment, information and communication and transportation, education has not been included within its framework. 

Quality, inclusive education is an essential gateway to labour market success, as well as to lifelong capacities to contribute to one’s community and to the social and economic well-being of our province.

This past June, in response to overwhelming support from education system stakeholders and Manitoba citizens, a formal letter was delivered to Minister Scott Fielding requesting government commitment to develop an accessible education standard, covering from child care through to post-secondary, under the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act. In just two weeks, more than 1,100 individuals and 59 organizations representing over 100,000 Manitobans signed on in support of the letter and the request (links to versions of the letter with and without the signatories is posted at: http://www.barrierfreemb.com/whatsnew/173/383)

The case for the development of an accessible education standard is a strong one.

While Manitobans can be proud of progress made over recent decades to improve the educational opportunities and outcomes for students with disabilities, these students and their families continue to face a myriad of serious barriers throughout our educational systems. For many, these barriers result in markedly diminished opportunity.

Two other provinces that have enacted accessibility-rights legislation to date (Ontario and Nova Scotia) and both have committed to develop accessible education standards under their respective Acts. Manitoba now stands alone as the only province that has not yet made this commitment.
The Minister’s Response

Minister Fielding’s July 12 response (Word / PDF) to our letter thanked us and acknowledged the breadth of support expressed for the development of this standard. The Minister did not say "yes" and he did not say "no.”  He acknowledged the important points made in the letter and committed to monitoring progress made on similar standards in both Ontario and Nova Scotia. He suggested concerned citizens/groups/organizations raise the need for this crucial standard during an independent review of the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act that will begin later this year.
Renewing the Call for Your Support

Due to the overwhelming support expressed by education system stakeholders for the letter this spring, and the Minister’s encouragement in his response, we are once again opening the letter for additional signatures.

All those who sign on in support of a standard dedicated to accessible education will be included in an updated list that will be sent to the Minister on New Years Day 2018.

Please consider adding your support. Just click on "next" to read the letter and, and, if you and/or your organization agree with the requests, express your support by completing the brief online form. 

Finally, we encourage you to share this invitation and to encourage others to provide their support to this request for government's commitment to develop this ‘missing’ but essential accessible standard in Manitoba.

Thank You
Education Solutions Manitoba and Barrier-Free Manitoba were pleased to have taken the lead role in organizing the June 9 accessible education event. Our two organizations are now also pleased to be taking the lead role in acting on the recommendations from the participants by having developed the letter to the Minister, as well as in developing and administering this site to invite stakeholder and citizen support.