Introducing the Accessible Customer Service standard: a part of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act
Written by: CPHR Manitoba
When you read the term “barrier”, what comes to mind?
[Take a moment to close your eyes and think about what a barrier means to you]
How about “types of barriers” – including negative, presumable or judgmental attitudes; lack of communication; physical challenges; technological issues; or systematic failures?
[Take another moment to think while observing your surroundings]
Barriers are all around us and affect all of us. Some individuals may be stronger communicators but may not understand certain advances in technology; others may be physically able to walk into a room but are held back by a negative attitude, filled with presumptions and judgements, that prevents them from meeting others.
Now take a moment to think, “what if I had a disability” – could you overcome those barriers the same way you would normally approach them? It depends – are you visually-impaired, suffer from a mental health condition, or physically disabled? There are many factors at play here, in this thought-process alone, and unfortunately over 200,000 Manitobans are living with some form of a disability and facing different types of barriers every single day.
The fact is: we need to remove the barriers and create accessibility for all Manitobans.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) provides a clear and proactive process for the identification, prevention and removal of barriers with respect to five key pillars, customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation and the built environment.
The first standard to be implemented under AMA is the Accessible Customer Service standard. This standard is built on the requirements of the Human Rights Code and addresses business practices and training needed to provide better customer service for people with disabilities.
Fred Dugdale, Board Treasurer at the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities and Manitoba Brain Injury Association who suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury, says that the hardest barrier to overcome is attitude.
“When learning about the Accessibility for Manitobans Act and reviewing your current workplace environment, you have to be realistic and find a way where this works for everyone. People that can work, will work – you just need to find a middle ground where your measures, practices and requirements to identify, prevent and remove barriers are a win-win for everyone,” says Dugdale. “The investment you make to remove barriers will bring long-term benefits and cater to all colleagues and clients in your workplace.”
The deadlines for compliance is structured under a three-year period – Manitoba Government (November 2016), large public sector organizations (November 2017), and companies/organizations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors (November 2018).
To assist you in the review and development of your workplace policies and practices that will welcome and serve everyone, CPHR Manitoba and the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities have partnered to present the Accessibility for Manitobans Act – First of Five Standards: The Customer Service Standard workshop.
The workshop will cover an overview of the AMA legislation with a focus on the Customer Service Standard, review and compare the AMA with the Manitoba Human Rights Code, identify your organizational responsibilities and learn the key principles to offering accessible customer service in your workplace.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act – First of Five Standards: The Customer Service Standard workshop takes place on Tuesday, November 13, from 8:30 a.m. – noon at the Viscount Gort Hotel in Winnipeg. Registration fees are $150/CPHR Manitoba members and $200/non-members. To register, visit cphrmb.ca. Registration deadline is November 8.
On October 17, Canada will become the first G7 country to fully legalize recreational cannabis. Is your business ready?
Here are 5 impacts that the legalization of cannabis will have on the workplace:
1. Safety concerns
Despite cannabis legalization, adult cannabis use is not new. However, employers are concerned that with legalization a subsequent increased use will impact the workplace. Safety concerns include employees operating motor vehicles and employees using heavy machinery while under the influence of cannabis.
2. Alcohol, drug policies and testing
Cannabis is already the most commonly encountered substance in workplace drug testing, but with legalization, its use is expected to grow. Employers have the right to regulate cannabis use at work, and employees have the right to a safe workplace. It’s important to communicate any changes made to alcohol and drug policies, and focus on treatment and recovery during disciplinary actions.
3. Drug use or dependence
Due to legalization, experts expect a rise in recreational cannabis use. Effects of cannabis on individuals vary widely depending on numerous factors, so it’s important to educate employees on its effects and any new workplace policies.
4. Medicinal cannabis use
Because many people use cannabis for medical reasons, it’s important to clearly outline your workplace policies on cannabis while being cognisant of those who require cannabis to treat or relieve the symptoms of a disability. As an employer, you need to accommodate your employees’ needs and that may include the use of medicinal cannabis.
5. Problematic drug use or dependence
Just because cannabis is being legalized, it does not mean it’s a license for poor behaviour. Cannabis use can become problematic for many reasons, such as when workplace performance and attendance decreases. Employers should prepare for a potential rise in problematic cannabis use and dependence in the workplace.
On August 28th, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce was one of a select group of stakeholders invited to participate in a consultation with the federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.
Established as part of Budget 2018, the Council has been tasked with providing advice to the government on how best to implement a national prescription drug coverage program.
While the Chamber was happy to represent Winnipeg’s business community in this important discussion, Chamber CEO Loren Remillard noted it’ a concern the government appears to have decided to proceed with an expensive national program without understanding what problem it’s trying to solve.
“If the issue is coverage for those who aren’t currently insured, then a national program should complement what the private sector is already doing,” Remillard said. “If this is about the expense of drugs, then let’s look at ways to reduce those costs for everyone.”
Currently, more than 25 million Canadians have access to prescription drug coverage through their group health benefit plans. Many employer-sponsored plans cover a wider range of medications than existing provincial plans and also offer innovations like case management programs for individuals with chronic conditions.
“What has worked best in this country is an approach that embraces the best of the private, public and non-profit sectors,” said Remillard. “With Pharmacare, we urge the government to proceed with caution, and to recognize the role the private sector plays in providing health care, and the significant number of Canadians who are employed in the health benefits industry.”
The federal government has released a discussion paper on National Pharmacare and is seeking feedback from the public. This will also be one of the topics of discussion at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM taking place in Thunder Bay later this month.
What do you think about a national prescription drug program, and how might it impact your business? Send your thoughts to Colin Fast, Director of Policy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winnipeg is expected to grow to over one million people in the next 15 years. Are we building a livable city for the 21st century? Will Winnipeg's development, transportation and urban planning transform our economy in this time of imperative change?
As our city nears completion of its review of OurWinnipeg – the city’s long-range growth planning strategy – we explore five issues facing our city's growth:
Transportation remains a top concern for Winnipeggers. As our city grows, so will traffic congestion and commute times unless we find better ways of getting around. How can we achieve friction-free movement of people and goods? Building viable trade routes could improve economic opportunity for local industries and divert semi-trucks and trains away from our city center and residential neighbourhoods. Public transit, ridesharing, carsharing, bikesharing and even electric scooters could work together to form a mobility network that provides a viable alternative to car ownership.
We’ve all heard the cries to “fix the damn roads!” While progress has been made over the past few years, 43% of all respondents in the most recent Citizen Survey said we need to improve road conditions*. We still need to fill potholes, but we also need to prioritize investments in green infrastructure to reduce our environmental impact and build facilities such as recreation centres, libraries and parks that make our community more livable.
Over the next 25 years, Winnipeg's population is expected to grow by over 200,000 people – creating an annual demand for about 4,000 housing units*. Where are those people going to live and how can we provide the infrastructure and services they need as efficiently as possible? Building new, mixed-use communities is one option, but also needed is more infill-housing to increase density and make more efficient use of roads, sewers and services already in place.
4. Preserving the Natural Environment
With a city growing as fast as ours, it's important we remain cognizant of our urban development and lifestyle choices. Whether it's making an effort to lessen our carbon footprint by living in a multi-family home, moving to a smaller home, or taking public transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have the power to create positive change.
5. Social Change and Equity
Winnipeg needs to continue to strive to be a city that treats people fairly and respectfully while accommodating social differences. As our city develops, we need to create an environment designed to benefit all ages and abilities. Winnipeggers want to see increased community programming and gardens, a vibrant arts & culture scene and more recreation services. Let's remove systemic barriers and create places where everyone feels welcome.
Join us on Wednesday, September 19 for a half-day conference on Building a Smart Livable Winnipeg for the 21st Century with special guest speaker Jan Gehl, a global leader in people-centered urban design. Learn how we compare with other Canadian cities and hear how local and national leaders create smart livable cities.
Conference + Jan Gehl Luncheon package:
$105 +GST ($25 savings) | available to members only
$75 + GST
“We’re looking to create careers, not jobs.” – Minister Pedersen.
Recognizing the economy’s health is tied to the health of our communities, The Winnipeg Chamber has been an outspoken advocate for a comprehensive provincial strategy to support Manitoba business. We’re deeply pleased with the province’s recent work to build that plan (including a summit co-hosted with The Chamber for private business owners) as we look for action that leverages our strengths, addresses modern opportunities and shares prosperity with all Manitobans.
That dialogue and relationship with Minister Blaine Pedersen and the team at Growth, Enterprise and Trade continues. Today we hosted the Minister, Deputy Minister Dave Dyson and a number of our members for a wide ranging discussion, including
Online submissions to shape Manitoba economic strategy are open until May 18. You can share your insights, priorities and feedback here.
This op-ed first appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
There’s an outdated notion that support for business growth and success comes at the expense of social programs and community well-being - and vice versa. Nothing could be further from the truth. Business and community prosperity are interwoven. We are in this together.
That’s one reason The Winnipeg Chamber weighed in during the province’s just-concluded consultation phase on a new poverty reduction strategy.
The Winnipeg Chamber believes the best way out of poverty remains a good job. Median household incomes are close to 10 per cent lower in Manitoba than our Saskatchewan neighbours, and we lag below the Canadian average. Raising Manitoba’s median household income levels to the national average would constitute an over $1-billion income increase.
To create the jobs that foster this rise in income, we’ve pushed the province to develop a provincial economic development strategy – one that works in lockstep with a poverty reduction strategy.
We’ve also advocated for actions that improve educational outcomes, given the well-documented link between higher education and good incomes. Among other suggestions, we recommend re-profiling the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative and increasing investment by $14 million a year to offer significant tuition reductions to students from Manitoba families earning less than $70,000 a year.
We should also ensure younger students can actually get to the place of considering post-secondary. It’s critical we address a child’s physical needs so they can bring their whole selves to class. The Chamber strongly recommends Manitoba strengthen breakfast and lunch programs with a focus on our most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, setting the conditions for young minds to excel. In a recent Toronto study of over 6,000 students in a high poverty neighbourhood, a breakfast program was credited with increasing high school graduation rates by 20 per cent. Not only were there more graduates, but they had higher test scores as well.
Statistics show Indigenous Manitobans face disproportionately higher poverty rates. A specific focus in Manitoba’s strategy is required. Our full submission included a number of suggestions around culturally appropriate, specifically tailored training programs to elevate education and employment outcomes aligned with Indigenous communities’ needs and aspirations. Likewise, new immigrants, who are projected to be a growing part of our community and workforce, need tailored programs to address the disproportionate poverty they face.
We also believe it’s time to revisit mincome and an overhaul of our social support framework. Other Canadian jurisdictions have drastically raised the minimum wage in a misguided effort to address poverty – the right objective, but the wrong tool for the job.
The Winnipeg Chamber believes a guaranteed annual income is a more targeted tool that may prove to be more effective in helping people meet their basic living needs. Such a study was done in Dauphin in the 1970’s. It is time for another, evaluating measures such as social outcomes and employment impacts. Perhaps the study may find a guaranteed minimum income actually works in reducing poverty while reducing administrative costs of the current myriad of social supports.
That is the key to the new strategy: focusing on what works. The province has limited resources at its disposal, and it should only put them into programs that have shown to have the greatest impact.
The province doesn’t have to and shouldn’t go it alone. Delivering an effective poverty reduction strategy will require partnering with the private and non-profit sectors. Both are ready and willing to lend their expertise and knowledge.
The private sector is well-positioned to build affordable housing options if the right regulatory and tax regimes are in place. The new federal housing strategy provides an ideal opportunity for collaboration, and we recommend moving to a housing-first model. While there is a higher upfront cost in providing housing for homeless individuals, having them housed can drop the cost of delivering services by 70 per cent. The long term savings are immense; Alberta recently estimated a fully implemented housing first model could save their province billions over the long term.
Another example of a skilled partner is Manitoba’s growing social enterprise sector. Several organizations, for example, have demonstrated effectiveness in re-integrating those with a history in our justice system into the workforce. The province has made steps in reforming our justice system, and we encourage them to work with our social enterprise sector members to reduce recidivism, which leads to savings for taxpayers.
There are no easy, quick fixes. We all need to pull in the same direction – a direction the province needs to provide guidance on. That direction needs to be grounded in a concrete, measurable goal.
So why not be bold? If Manitoba is to be Canada’s most improved province, let it be in changing the lives of far too Manitobans for whom daily life is a constant hardship. If we can do that, then Manitoba will be more than the most improved province – it will be the model for shared prosperity.
Read full Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Poverty Reduction policy
After many years of limited to no progress, a milestone was reached today in regards to the development of the former Canadian Air Forces based in Winnipeg, Kapyong Barracks.
An agreement in principle was signed between the Canadian government and the seven Treaty 1 First Nations Chiefs. The terms of this agreement in principle will guide the development of a final settlement agreement. While no time frame was given for a final agreement, all parties are optimistic one can be reached in short order.
In the immediate future you won’t notice many changes to the site. The Department of Defense plans to continue with demolition and removal work, which should be completed in the next two years. Vacant since 2004, at the very least the site will be cleaned up over the next few years, but now is the time to start imaging potential uses for this massive plot of land.
It’s not often a community gets the chance to rejuvenate a 160-acre area, valued at tens of millions of dollars. In Manitoba BOLD, The Winnipeg Chamber called for the creation of an urban reserve on the site, as one of several measure to improve economic reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Other recommendations included creating an Indigenous business incubator where participants would receive specialized supports and mentorship opportunities. Kapyong Barracks could be an ideal spot to host such an incubator.
Negotiations will hopefully soon start with the City of Winnipeg, with a top priority for the site being widening Kenaston Boulevard. It will take years for the site to be fully developed, but today’s agreements shows there is finally some positive momentum behind the re-development process.
On Wednesday, April 4, your Winnipeg Chamber hosts one of Canada's busiest leaders and the person tasked with guiding national interests through NAFTA negotiations - Minister Chrystia Freeland.
With a mandate that includes rapidly developing geopolitical events and relationships, it's hard to keep up with Ms. Freeland. Check the headlines - her To Do list likely overlaps with several breaking items.
Nevertheless, as we prepare to discuss NAFTA, supporting rules-based international order and increasing gender equity in Canadian leadership (whether the boardroom or the caucus meeting), we'd like to offer some suggested reading.
Earlier today Mayor Brian Bowman gave his fourth State of the City address to 1,200 business and community leaders at the RBC Convention Centre. The Mayor announced several new initiatives, some of which were based on Winnipeg Chamber policy. They included:
It is also exciting to see Winnipeg take a leadership role with the new national committee, and it is always good for governments to share best practices. As well improving online services is much needed, especially as more and more of those citizen requests are taking place on mobile devices.
Other announcements focused on working to electrify our transit system, reducing aggressive panhandling and the creation of an illicit drug strategy. A lot was announced in the speech, but the real work begins now.
When Canada first became a country 150 years ago, only 20 per cent of the population lived in urban areas. We had only one city with more than 100,000 residents.
Today, we have more than 50 municipalities with over 100,000 residents, and only 20 per cent of our population lives in rural areas. We have long been an urban country, yet we lack a national strategy that will help our urban centres grow, thrive and compete in the 21st century.
Recently the Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC) released Planning for an Urban Future: Our Call for a National Urban Strategy for Canada. The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is a founding member of the CGCC, which represents the eight largest urban chambers of commerce and boards of trade in Canada. These eight city-regions combined account for over half of Canada’s GDP.
The report calls for the development of a national urban strategy in Canada. The cornerstone of that strategy will be the development of national urban infrastructure goals and objectives. It is imperative we measure progress against those goals by a clear set of metrics.
Federal infrastructure spending has increased by billions over the past several years, and yet we have no common measure to judge whether that spending was successful. Data is sparse, and poor data leads to poor decision making. With no indication of where shortfalls are, governments have little incentive to change their approach to infrastructure.
Below the broad national level, the strategy calls for city-regional agreements with clear goals and targets. These more localized agreements would spell out the city-regions priorities, and showcase where private-public partnerships could best be utilized. Longer-term contractual agreements would then be developed to deliver on those local priorities. This would mean funding the regional plans, not specific projects. It would allow for greater flexibility and speed up construction times.
Why does this matter to Winnipeg and Manitoba?
As we have recently seen, local priorities are often drowned out by higher levels of government. The City of Winnipeg’s $182-million ask to the Building Canada Fund to accelerate regional road repair lies in limbo. Not only is that an issue, but the current ask is again based on the outdated model of funding projects, not plans. Current federal infrastructure funding methods lack flexibility, and force governments to put forward projects that may not best meet local needs, but instead check off the right funding box.
Instead of going cap in hand to higher levels of government, a national strategy will set the goals and objectives for all governments to meet. While a national strategy must be federal government driven, it will rely on provincial and civic governments as well as the private sector to come together to set those local priorities under the national objectives. However, with no national objectives or priorities currently in place, federal infrastructure funding is currently too unfocused.
We need high quality infrastructure in order to move people and goods in an efficient and safe manner. You can have the best tax rates and regulations in the world, but if you can’t move your country’s goods and citizens effectively, your economy isn’t going anywhere fast. Improving the quality of our infrastructure will increase our country’s competitiveness – an urgent issues as other countries move on their own urban policies.
Right now Canada is one of only two OECD countries with a federal government system that doesn’t have a national urban policy. Developing one will take time, effort and federal leadership. With billions more being spent on infrastructure, we need to ensure all that spending’s effectiveness is clearly measured against strategic goals and objectives.