News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

October 21, 2015

NEW PROVINCIAL REGULATION REMOVES CUSTOMER SERVICE BARRIERS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES


Regulation is First of Five Standards Established Under Accessibility for Manitobans Act: Minister Irvin-Ross

Effective Nov. 1, the Manitoba government regulation that removes customer service barriers for people with disabilities comes into effect, Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, minister responsible for persons with disabilities, announced today.

“Accessing goods and services is something most of us take for granted but it can present challenges for the 200,000 Manitobans who are disabled by barriers,” said Minister Irvin-Ross.  “In some cases, reducing or eliminating barriers to customer service can be as simple as asking, “How can I help?”.

The new customer service accessibility standard focuses on policy, training and good communication practices to provide barrier-free customer service, the minister said.

The new standard requires all Manitoba organizations with one or more employees to establish and implement measures, policies and practices that:

  • identify any barriers to accessible customer service;
  • seek to remove existing barriers so people with disabilities can reasonably obtain, use or benefit its goods or services;
  • find alternatives for customers with disabilities if an identified barrier cannot be removed; and
  • ensure additional costs to accommodate a person with a disability are only charged if the organization cannot reasonably accommodate the person otherwise.

Organizations have different timelines to meet the new standard, Minister Irvin-Ross noted.  Government has one year, public-sector bodies two years and private and non-profit organizations three years, she said.

“People with disabilities have an estimated buying power of about $40 million each year in Canada,” said Lanny McInnes, Retail Council of Canada.  “Improving accessibility is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.”

In 2013, the Manitoba government established the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, providing a clear, proactive process to prevent and remove barriers that hinder a significant portion of the population from fully participating in daily living.  The act requires the development of accessibility standards in five areas including customer service, employment, information and communication, transportation and the built environment.  The customer service accessibility standard is the first of the five standards to be developed.

More information on theAccessibility for Manitobans Act and the new standard is available at www.AccessibilityMB.ca.

 

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