I am very pleased to say that our campaign office is wheelchair accessible from King St in Bridgewater. This is a good news story from today’s Herald and one I’m glad to see all Parties agree on.
Kevin Murphy, co-founder of the James McGregor Stewart Society, said new rules requiring all MLA offices to be barrier-free are a major advance for people with disabilities. (MICHAEL GORMAN / Staff)
The offices of Nova Scotia MLAs will truly be open to everyone following new rules passed on Wednesday.
The House of Assembly management committee unanimously passed regulations requiring all MLA offices to be barrier-free. The changes call for things such as paved parking lots with at least one space for an accessible van, a cut curb, ramp, level entrance with wider doors and accessible washrooms.
Kevin Murphy, co-founder of the James McGregor Stewart Society, which promotes disabled people’s interests, said he was thrilled to see the changes sail through Wednesday’s meeting, which lasted all of five minutes.
“We have been working on this initiative for a little over three years,” he said. “The big thing for us is we were up against the clock with the pending provincial election.”
Murphy, who will run for the Liberals in the next election, said a significant number of MLA offices present challenges for people with disabilities.
“Any Nova Scotian, regardless of their level of physical ability, should be able to access their democratic representative.”
The changes come into effect immediately for any new MLAs while MLAs re-elected following the next provincial election will have 36 months to make the change.
House Speaker Gordie Gosse, chairman of the commission, said the extra time for re-elected MLAs takes into consideration office leases and time to find new space, although he expects most people to act sooner.
“I do feel in my heart that most of the MLAs will comply by this in a lot shorter than the 36 months that’s in the regulations,” he said.
The changes shouldn’t cost taxpayers more money, said Gosse. He said his office as well as members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal department have looked at all 51 ridings to determine what’s available.
“It’s a very minimal cost,” he said, adding that there is some money in constituency budgets to do work to offices.
Gosse’s constituency office is one of those that isn’t accessible. He said he campaign office would be accessible and his office following the election, should he win, would also be accessible.
Murphy said he hopes this is the first step towards creating a disabled persons act in Nova Scotia, making it a priority to recognize that people with disabilities “are a significant part of our province.”
“That’s sort of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for us.”
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By MICHAEL GORMAN Staff Reporter
Nova Scotia MLA offices to be fully accessible to disabled people | The Chronicle Herald.