Pat Berrel, the president of the Yukon Association of Community Living (YACL), announces an new accessible bathroom and kitchen at the YACL offices in Whitehorse on June 28. Berrel says the territory should come up with its own accessibility legislation after Ottawa rolled out its own proposed version. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon should have accessibility legislation: YACL president

‘Whether it’s 10 minutes before you die or 10 years as you’re getting older you will be disabled’

The president of the Yukon Association of Community Living says the territory should come up with its own accessibility legislation after Ottawa rolled out its own proposed version.

The Accessible Canada Act was presented hours before the house rose for the summer. If passed, it would only cover areas where the federal government has jurisdiction such as federally run programs and services, banking, telecommunications and transportation that crosses provincial or territorial borders.

Ottawa’s legislation promises to remove “architectural, physical, technological or attitudinal” barriers that hinder “the full participation in society of a physical, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or sensory impairment.”

The federal government says it will set standards for accessibility, require regulated services to come up with a plan for becoming accessible and eventually set regulations to enforce those standards.

Ottawa has promised $290 million over six years towards supporting its implementation.

When federal officials were in town to consult on the legislation they said some provinces and territories were considering following suit with similar legislation of their own.

Pat Berrel, the president of the Yukon Association of Community Living (YACL), which offers programs and services for people with disabilities, said the territory should come up with its own legislation.

“It just makes sense,” Berrel said.

“And I understand for some buildings it’s really hard to get accessible but there are ways to do that and I think provincial governments or territorial governments and federal governments should help business make sure that it is accessible.”

Yukon’s MP Larry Bagnell was at the YACL offices June 28 to announce approximately $40,000 in federal funding for a revamped accessible bathroom that was completed in April.

The money came from a federal government fund to help businesses and community organizations become more accessible.

“In this day and age 14 per cent of Canadians have a disability, that’s one in seven and the number is only going to grow as people are aging,” Bagnell said. “And it’s bad if you’re a business owner and you had to say that one in seven of your customers can’t come in.”

Berrel said the previous washroom was “virtually impossible” for people who use wheelchairs and walkers to use.

The organization rearranged the plumbing and moved the door so that people who use wheelchairs can get in directly without having to make multiple difficult turns.

Bagnell said he couldn’t comment on another government’s need for legislation. He said he has spoken to his federal colleagues to make sure disabilities like fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are included in Ottawa’s law.

An email from Yukon cabinet press secretary Sunny Patch only said that the “Yukon government will review the federal legislation that was tabled on June 20 before determining a Yukon specific approach.”

Berrel argued that everyone is going to be disabled at some point in their lives and should care about accessibility.

“Whether it’s 10 minutes before you die or 10 years as you’re getting older, you will be disabled. So it’s not something that just the disabled community needs to get behind, it’s something that every human being that lives in the Yukon needs to get behind.”

With files from the Canadian Press

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

accessibilityLarry BagnellYukon Association of Community Living

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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read