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

Members of the RCMP’s traffic services team examine police markers on Range Road after a six-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near the Takhini Arena in Whitehorse on Oct. 25. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Six-year-old hit by vehicle near Takhini Arena

Police were called to the scene around 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 25

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. Two new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Watson Lake over the weekend. The cases are connected to three others in the community previously announced by officials on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two additional COVID-19 cases in Watson Lake bring total up to five

Individuals with symptoms and connections to the three other cases were tested over the weekend

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Teagan Wiebe, left, and Amie Wiebe pose for a photo with props during The Guild’s haunted house dress rehearsal on Oct. 23. The Heart of Riverdale Community Centre will be hosting its second annual Halloween haunted house on Oct. 30 and 31, with this year’s theme being a plague. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Plague-themed haunted house to take over Heart of Riverdale for Halloween

A plague will be descending upon the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre… Continue reading

Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Oct. 21. Elected officials in the Yukon, including all 19 members of the legislature, are backing the right of Mi’kmaq fishers on the East Coast to launch a moderate livelihood fishery. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)
Yukon legislature passes motion to support Mi’kmaw fishery

“It’s not easy, but it’s also necessary for us to have these very difficult conversations”

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Most Read