Letters to The Sun, May 29, 2021: Accessibility legislation opens doors

Accessibility legislation opens doors

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Re: Proposed B.C. accessibility legislation falls short

On April 28, I was honoured to introduce Bill-6, the Accessible British Columbia Act. This bill marks an important step in building an inclusive province that works for all of us.

Bill-6 was informed by extensive consultation with over 7,000 people with disabilities, disability serving organizations, and the broader public. Our Accessibility Legislation Advisory Committee also helped ensure this bill reflects the diversity of the disability community. It has received broad support from all political parties and was celebrated by people with disabilities and disability advocates across the province.

Bill-6 provides a solid foundation to create new accessibility standards and regulations in such areas as employment, the built environment, and transportation. These standards and regulations will be created with the advice of a provincial accessibility committee. At least half of the committee’s members must be persons with disabilities or represent a disability-serving organization, and the committee will include Indigenous representation.


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While the initial focus will be on education to effect change, the bill contains effective compliance and enforcement provisions, including monetary penalties of up to $250,000.

At first, Bill-6 will apply only to government. This will allow us to build momentum, share lessons learned, and ensure that private- and public-sector organizations are supported to follow the regulations once prescribed.

We’ve committed to releasing annual reports outlining the progress made to eliminate barriers. In addition, independent progress reviews will occur at the five- and 10-year mark, and every 10 years after that.

Bringing Bill-6 into law signifies our government’s commitment to building an inclusive province, but there is more to do. In the months ahead, I look forward to continuing to work closely with the disability community to advance our work to build a barrier-free B.C.

Nicholas Simons, minister of social development and poverty reduction

B.C. behind in offering life-saving cancer therapy

In the last month, Alberta became the third province, along with Ontario and Quebec, offering a cure for lymphoma, called CAR T-cell therapy.

Lymphoma is the fifth-most common cancer in Canada, and is the leading cancer in teenagers and young adults. Close to 27,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in B.C., and more than 4,000 die from it.

My husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2013. I reached out to Lymphoma Canada at the time and was told that we were lucky to be living in B.C. — that the province was a leader in treating lymphoma, and in funding access to treatments.


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The same could not be said today.

CAR T-cell therapy was approved for use in Canada in 2018. Despite an election promise to improve cancer care, there was absolutely no mention of cancer in this year’s budget. B.C. continues to deny this province’s lymphoma patients access to this revolutionary treatment here at home, and now trails behind several other provinces.

The new CAR T-cell therapy program in Alberta is for their residents only. So, in the middle of the pandemic, B.C. will fund sending patients to Seattle instead. This is not a reasonable option.

CAR-T treatment takes several trips and many weeks to administer. Travel, food and accommodation costs are not covered by the province, and a caregiver must go with them. And then there’s the fear of contracting COVID, loss of support, and family disruption. Few people have the means, health or support to make it happen. It needs to be accessible at home.

To Health Minister Adrian Dix, you committed to a cancer plan. There has never been a more important time to make the plan a reality for the people who really matter — the people of B.C. who are living with this deadly disease today.

Sharlene Smith, past chair of the board of Lymphoma Canada.

Shot, jab, or tap?

The terms “jab” and “shot” imply pain and even violence, which, I can understand, might result in some people hesitating to receive their vaccine inoculation. Why not replace those terms with “tap,” which is more accurate as the sensation, for most, feels like a light tap for a moment. “Tap” could also lead to the formation of all kinds of encouraging slogans such as : “Get tapped today”, “Be tapped in to an opening future”, “I’m on top of my tap, are you?

Also, instead of showing people while they are being inoculated, which has become trite and boring, show happy, smiling faces afterwards, or show scenes of what the future may hold after enough people are tapped and cases decline.

Theresa Reilkoff, White Rock 

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