For Immediate Release:
December 3, 2008

Disability Settlements

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities with two successful settlements

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission is pleased to announce today, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, two settlements, which will improve the lives of many people with disabilities in Manitoba.

The first, announced earlier today by Minister of Family Services and Housing Gord Mackintosh, is an agreement facilitated by the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. This agreement addresses the discrepancy in financial support adults with disabilities face when they reside with their families.

The second is an agreement with the City of Winnipeg, which benefits people with disabilities when they are attempting to cross streets at controlled intersections. This settlement will result in all intersections with pedestrian traffic signals eventually having audible cues.

Both these settlements are the result of human rights complaints.

In the first settlement, in April 2009, the Province will increase the board and room allowance for persons with disabilities receiving social assistance who live with a family member. Board and room rates will increase from $441 per month to $566 per month for single adults, a 28% increase. This will bring the rate in line with what is available to someone who is living in a private home with a non-relative. Providing more financial support to families caring for their adult children with disabilities will promote more independence for adults with disabilities and more stability for their families’ support and care.

With regards to the settlement with the City of Winnipeg, the City has agreed to install audible signals at all controlled intersections over a set time period. It will also remove pushbuttons from most of the downtown area and at many locations in the rest of Winnipeg, and will test alternate methods of activating signals that are accessible. A feasible alternative to pushbuttons, once found, will be implemented. In carrying out the settlement, the City will consult a team of representatives from the community, Commission and City and report publicly each year on the progress made to date.

Executive Director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission says “The City of Winnipeg’s commitment to evaluate and use pedestrian technology will ensure its Public Works Department is on the cutting edge of innovative solutions in Canada.”

Ms Scarth also says that 42 per cent of human rights complaints in Manitoba in 2007 were based on disability. This high percentage is a trend recognized across the country.

“It is, however, gratifying to note the progress being made in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through systemic complaints like these,” she says. “We are pleased, too, that the Commission continues to be an effective and valued mechanism for achieving such important gains.

Ms Scarth says that these successful settlements resulted from individual complaints filed against the City of Winnipeg and the Government of Manitoba, adding that the Commission recognizes the contributions of individuals who come forward with complaints such as these. “Individuals who file complaints put in a lot of time and effort and selflessly place the interest of others ahead of their own. The hard work of a few individuals often improves the lives of many other people,” she says.

The Commission is increasingly focusing on identifying other emerging disability issues such as the significant and unique barriers faced by children with disabilities living in the north, and the increasing number of complaints filed on the basis of mental disabilities

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains made from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Patricia Knipe
Communications Director
Manitoba Human Rights Commission