There are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 with some level of disability. (Photo: Pixabay)

There are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 with some level of disability. (Photo: Pixabay)

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

GUEST COLUMN: People with disabilities deserve inclusive communities

But to get there, we all need to be part of the change, writes Surrey MLA

My quality of life has never been diminished by my disability. I am not unhealthy or unwell because of my disability. It is not a personal tragedy, nor something that needs to be cured or overcome. My disability is simply part of what makes me — me.

Thankfully, I believe that society’s understanding of disability is improving. We are starting to shift the definition of “disability” from a personal deficit, to what occurs because a person’s needs are not addressed in the physical and social environment.

There are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 with some level of disability — some form of barrier to full and equitable participation. That encompasses nearly 25 per cent of the population here in British Columbia, however, only 59 per cent of Canadians with disabilities aged 25 to 64 are employed compared to 80 per cent of Canadians without.

We can change that. To get to that point we must be honest and acknowledge that the biggest barrier of all is ourselves — our own biases. In fact, attitudinal barriers are the most pervasive.

I was recently told by a business when I suggested some improvement to their accessibility, “I’ve done what I am required to do by law.” It’s this type of attitude that we must all work together to change.

SEE ALSO: South Surrey self-advocates help give voice to accessibility concerns

I had hoped that people’s thinking would have evolved by now, nearly 30 years after my injury, but I have been disappointed by the lack of progress. I want to believe that education and positive reinforcement are the answer — more carrot, less stick. But I have evolved my thinking and believe more stick is required.

As responsible legislators, we have an obligation to step in when the market has not or cannot meet a societal need. We have had accessible standards for public spaces for decades, however, we have missed a fundamental need — housing.

It is critical that we are ensuring that housing is being built that works for everyone. That’s why I introduced The Building (New Housing Access) Amendment Act, 2019 this year.

Being truly inclusive means that people of all abilities have the opportunity to fully participate in their communities. It means we continually challenge our attitudes and beliefs about disabilities, and we recognize and value the contributions that people with disabilities make to our workplaces, communities and the economy.

That is why a few years ago, our BC Liberal government moved forward with Accessibility 2024, it’s why the Government of Canada has passed the Accessible Canada Act and it’s why all parties in British Columbia have committed to B.C. Accessibility legislation.

I encourage everyone to be a part of the change. See the ability. Remove the barriers.

Stephanie Cadieux is Liberal MLA representing Surrey South.



edit@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

In one of her most memorable assignments, Amy Reid tests the ‘drunk driving suit’ that was developed to emulate the physical impact of alcohol impairment. This was in 2017. (Trevor Beggs file photo)
REID: My passion for helping the vulnerable continues – just not with ‘Surrey Now-Leader’

Some of the happiest and most fulfilling memories have been with this newspaper and this team

Ramona Kaptyn. (Submitted photo)
Ramona Kaptyn to run as Surrey Connect candidate in next election

She’ll be joining councillors Brenda Locke and Jack Hundial as the slate’s third candidate

Surrey RCMP is asking for the public’s help to find Jasvir Singh, who was last seen crossing the border into Canada on Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo: Surrey RCMP handout)
Surrey RCMP looking for missing man last seen crossing border into Canada

Police say Jasvir Singh hasn’t been seen since shortly after midnight on Nov. 24

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (Now-Leader file photo)
LETTER: Nobody in Surrey believes Doug McCallum and his half-truths

Policing promises remind me of mayor’s vow to build SkyTrain at half the projected cost

White Rock Whalers head coach Jason Rogers (centre) along with other members of the team show off their whale-tail-inspired moustaches in support of Movember. (Photo courtesy of White Rock Whalers)
White Rock Whalers raise thousands through Movember campaign

Junior ‘B’ hockey team fundraising for men’s health initiatives

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

Jessica Peters is a reporter at the Chilliwack Progress.
COLUMN: Bouncing back from a brain injury isn’t easy

‘We didn’t know how bad it was until I tried to return to work’

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Most Read