Information on accessible Lower Mainland businesses and public spaces is now easier to find thanks to a Job Creation Partnership project between the B.C. government and the Rick Hansen Foundation.
More than $240,000 in provincial funding has helped seven people complete 75 accessibility assessments of local businesses and public spaces over the last year. Today, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell and Rick Hansen, CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, participated in an accessibility assessment at the South Arm Community Centre.
During the 52-week project, participants with a range of disabilities became accessibility specialists on the foundation’s Accessibility Team. The team developed a survey and evaluation process to rate building features like entranceways, restrooms, corridors and lighting against universal accessibility standards. The final assessment provided to participating businesses and organizations shared advice and resources on how to make their business or venues more welcoming to people with a range of abilities.
Common accessibility issues include lack of accessible parking spaces and washrooms, narrow entryways that lack an automatic door opener, as well as understanding what accessibility features benefit people with visual impairments or are deaf or hard of hearing. The team highlighted accessibility ‘easy fixes’ that included replacing door handles with levers, using large print or braille signage and providing consistent flicker-free lighting.
The highlights of the accessibility assessments are now available on the foundation’s website, www.planat.com, boosting the number of B.C. entries in the online directory of accessible Canadian businesses and public locations. By expanding the information available on Planat.com, British Columbians and visitors to B.C. can quickly and easily find information about accessible hotels, restaurants and public spaces.
The project supports two building blocks - employment and consumer experience, in Accessibility 2024, government’s 10-year plan to make B.C. the most progressive place in Canada for people with disabilities.
The Job Creation Partnership project is funded through the Community and Employer Partnerships program, which was introduced in April 2012 as part of the Employment Program of BC.
Government is taking action to address the rapidly changing labour market. Government created the B.C. Skills for Jobs Blueprint to ensure more British Columbians have the skills they need to be first in line for in-demand jobs in B.C.'s diverse, strong and growing economy.
The Community and Employer Partnerships program is featured in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and provides more support to people who are struggling to gain a foothold in the job market. It helps build stronger partnerships with industry and labour to connect British Columbians with classroom and on-the-job training, while making it easier for employers to hire the skilled workers they need – when and where they need them.
To date, the program has helped more than 800 job seekers benefit from work experience and funded nearly 180 projects throughout the province.
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“Working with organizations across the private and public sector is important for our government to move forward with the vision of becoming the most progressive place in Canada for people with disabilities, as proclaimed with Accessibility 2024. Our partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation advances that goal by using the foundation’s Accessibility Team to provide local business and municipalities with information and resources that help them improve accessibility. Innovative projects like this are providing valuable work experience while helping make our communities more accessible to all.”
Rick Hansen, chief executive officer, Rick Hansen Foundation –
“This partnership was able to create great impact and remove barriers for people with disabilities on a number of levels. Work experience is key to closing the employment gap for people with disabilities and this project was able to provide that while making businesses and public spaces more accessible. By continuing to work together, we can ensure that everyone gets an equal chance to access the world we live in.”
Ellen Eaton, project participant –
“After a difficult journey of being hit with Multiple Sclerosis, I couldn’t imagine how I would continue my life with the health problems that confined me so much. The program brought me back to life in a way. I was able to see my life rather than only see limitations. It offered opportunity again. Working with the Jobs Creation Partnership team was incredible. I was privileged to be a part of it.”
- There are almost 550,000 British Columbians that self-identify as having a disability.
- Of the 75 venues surveyed by the Accessibility Team to date, 52 rated favourable for current physical accessibility. Detailed information on the accessibility assessments is available on the Accessibility Team section at: www.RickHansen.com
- Planat.com contains accessibility reviews on hundreds of venues across British Columbia.
- According to a study by the Royal Bank of Canada, people with disabilities have an estimated spending power of $25 billion annually across Canada.
- According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability approximately half of persons with disabilities aged 15-64 are employed. 55% of persons with disabilities aged 15-64 participate in the labour market, compared to 78% of persons without disabilities.
- From Dec. 3, 2013, to March 11, 2014, the B.C government held a public consultation to provide British Columbians with a disability, their families and members of the public the opportunity to share their thoughts on what government, businesses and communities can do to reduce barriers and increase accessibility for people living with disabilities.
- In 2015-16, the ministry has committed to investing $331 million in employment and labour market programs under the Employment Program of BC.
- The Employment Program of BC is funded by the Province of British Columbia as well as the Government of Canada through the Labour Market Development Agreement.
- Funding supports 84 WorkBC Employment Services Centres throughout the province and the four components of the Community and Employer Partnerships fund:
- Job Creation Partnerships
- Labour Market Partnerships
- Project-Based Labour Market Training
- Research and Innovation
Who is eligible?
- Non-profit organizations
- Crown corporations
- Municipalities, agencies or territorial governments
- Bands/tribal councils
- Public health and educational institutions
For more information on PlanatTM: http://planat.com/
For more information about the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Team: http://www.rickhansen.com/Our-Work/Accessibility-Team
For more information on Community and Employer Partnerships: www.workbc.ca/CEP
Find a local WorkBC Employment Services Centre: www.workbccentres.ca
Learn more about the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: www.gov.bc.ca/sdsi
For more information on B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/skills