Released on December 4, 2023
The Government of Saskatchewan is recognizing December 3, 2023, as International Day of Persons with Disabilities, in partnership with Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. On the same day, The Accessible Saskatchewan Act came into force. This new legislation will prevent and remove accessibility barriers for persons with disabilities.
"Accessibility ensures persons with disabilities are able to fully enjoy their communities," Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky said. "Nearly one quarter of Saskatchewan residents experience disabilities, and this number is expected to rise as the population ages. This is why it is important to identify barriers to accessibility and plan for ways to overcome those barriers."
The International Day for Persons with Disabilities was first proclaimed by the United Nations in 1992 to promote the rights and wellbeing of people with disabilities, and to increase awareness and understanding of disability issues.
"We recognize the Government of Saskatchewan has made huge efforts to create a more inclusive province by passing accessibility legislation and recognizing American Sign Language as the language of the Deaf in Saskatchewan," Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Executive Director Narin Gillies said. "We know the best way to reduce or eliminate the impact of disability is to provide access to full rich language."
The Accessible Saskatchewan Regulations also came into effect on December 3, 2023. The regulations identify organizations that are prescribed as public sector bodies. Under the Act, public sector bodies will be required to develop and publicly post their own accessibility plans by December 3, 2025. Government will lead by example, and post its accessibility plan by December 3, 2024, and share learnings and recommendations from its development.
"To meet this target, our government will engage the public on the current accessibility barriers they experience when accessing government services and facilities and then prioritize the actions government is going to take over the next three years to address these barriers," Makowsky said.
In September, the Ministry of Social Services issued a call for applications to create the first Accessibility Advisory Committee. The ministry received over 150 applications for the committee, which will advise government on the development of accessibility standards. At least half of the committee members will be persons with disabilities or from organizations that represent and support people with disabilities. Successful candidates will be contacted in the coming weeks.
For information about The Accessible Saskatchewan Act and related regulations, visit the Accessible SK website at accessiblesk.saskatchewan.ca.
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