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Nova Scotia advances towards greater accessibility following independent review

by HR Law Canada

Nova Scotia is taking significant steps to enhance accessibility across the province, following the recommendations from the first independent review of its Accessibility Act, the government said.

Brad Johns, the Minister responsible for the Accessibility Act, has affirmed the government’s commitment to creating a more equitable and accessible province by 2030.

“This is about ensuring our actions and policies effectively remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities. These recommendations are crucial for refining our efforts towards this goal,” stated Minister Johns.

The review was led by disability scholar and St. Francis Xavier University associate professor Katie Aubrecht. Her recommendations have spurred the provincial government to initiate improvements in six critical areas: hastening the development of accessibility standards, diversifying participation among disabled communities, enhancing communication strategies, boosting support for designated public sector bodies, overseeing improvements in healthcare, justice, and housing, and fortifying the framework for monitoring, accountability, and reporting.

Over the upcoming three years, the province’s agenda will include formulating and applying new accessibility standards, aiding public sector entities in updating and executing their accessibility strategies, and amplifying outreach and community involvement.

The enactment of the Accessibility Act in April 2017 marked a significant commitment to inclusivity, requiring a thorough external evaluation within four years of its implementation, followed by subsequent reviews every five years. The recent review involved consultations with nearly 800 individuals, including people with disabilities, community organizations, municipalities, and other stakeholders.

Since the introduction of the Accessibility Act, notable advancements have been made, particularly in the development of six standard domains: education, employment, goods and services, the built environment, information and communications, and public transportation. Additionally, efforts are ongoing to develop and implement accessibility plans by the government and 107 public sector bodies. Out of the 48 recommendations from the independent review, 47 have been accepted, with only the proposal to modify the Accessibility Advisory Board’s governance structure being declined.

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