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B.C. government launching consultation on new accessibility standards

Social development minister opens Inclusion B.C. conference in Nanaimo
Sheila Malcolmson, B.C. minister of social development and poverty reduction, front, and Susie Chant, parliamentary secretary for accessibility, speak Thursday, May 30, at the Inclusion B.C. conference at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

British Columbians are being asked to help make their province more accessible by talking about the barriers they face day to day, and how to remove those barriers.

The B.C. government announced this week that it is seeking input on recommended accessibility standards pertaining to employment and service delivery. The province wants to put in place guidelines for creating inclusive work environments, and standards to try to ensure that people with disabilities have equitable access to goods and services.

“It’s developing a standard so that anybody … can be able to fully access their community and that’s what we want for people with disabilities, to remove barriers,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo MLA and B.C. minister of social development and poverty reduction.

Susie Chant, parliamentary secretary for accessibility, co-chaired the provincial accessibility committee that worked on the recommendations and said there was a “really broad spectrum” to cover, with consideration to visible and invisible disabilities. She said it became apparent that rather than focusing on specific disabilities, it was important to focus on the principle of universal access.

“Using universal principles, it’s the same for anybody: What do we expect to receive when we’re looking for a service? Everybody should be able to access that service,” she said.

There’s much to be done in employment accessibility, said Chant, and it starts with hiring people with barriers to employment, a huge and under-employed workforce.

“Recruitment, hiring, training, retention and accommodation. All those things are being looked at and thought about and worked towards,” the parliamentary secretary said.

Malcolmson said the provincial government provides various supports for workers facing barriers, such as skills training, language instruction and culturally informed training, and coaching and mentoring through Work B.C. centres.

“We’re narrowing in on what might prevent somebody from getting a job or doing well in the job…” the minister said. “We don’t just want people to get jobs, we want people to retain jobs and we are putting in place unprecedented supports for those workers, and these accessibility standards are meant to also support employers so they know how they can accommodate good workers.”

Public engagement will begin Friday, May 31, and continue until July 31. As well as an online questionnaire at, there will be various in-person and virtual town halls and small group sessions. People can also e-mail submissions to

READ ALSO: Eight B.C. cities working on improving accessibility through grant initiative

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About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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