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Canada - Disability

It is illegal throughout Canada to discriminate on the grounds of disability. This is covered by the Canadian Charter of Rights and individual legislation in each province. Employers are encouraged to make suitable arrangements for those who have mobility issues or other disabilities and there are programmes run by local and federal governments which educate employers about how to work with employees.

Canada has a reputation for being a very tolerant country and discrimination of any kind is frowned upon. Those who are discriminated against for a disability are supported by the community in general and there are procedures in place to prevent this from happening in the workplace and in social situations.

People who have disabilities can turn to both local and federal governments for help with a variety of issues. Finding work and obtaining suitable training, finding suitable housing, benefits to help with costs that are related to disability, benefits to supplement income and cover medical costs. If you are a carer for a disabled person then you can also get help from the government. The Service Canada department is the one to contact for information on all disability related issues and there is a document which is published by the department ‘Services for People with Disabilities: Guide to Government of Canada Services for People with Disabilities and their Families’ which is available in many different formats, including download from the Service Canada website.

Similar programs are run at provincial level and you should contact your local Social Development office for details of programs that are run locally. In addition local charities can help a great deal in obtaining the assistance that you require.

Accessibility is a large part of the services which are provided for the disabled and across the country there are a series of programs being run by local authorities, charities, disability organisations and tourism groups that aim to ensure that all services and buildings are accessible by those with mobility problems. They produce guides to those buildings that are fully accessible and give details of companies that ensure that other essentials such as visual aids and hearing assistance are available.

Public transport in urban areas is also fully accessible. Airports have ticket counters and check-in desks that have amplified handsets for those with hearing problems, message boards for public messages, documentation in Braille and fully accessible washroom facilities. The metro systems have easy access for wheelchairs with ramps and lifts on some vehicles. Signs will announce stops as well as a recorded voice and if you have a guide dog or another type of assistance dog then these are usually permitted on public transport and it is very rare that you cannot take them with you. Assistance dogs are also permitted in places where it is not usual to take the family dog, such as supermarkets and public buildings such as museums.

Those who need additional assistance can make use of a program called Handydart, which runs in some urban areas. The vehicles have been specially designed for disabled travellers and you can enjoy a door to door service. In order to take advantage of this service you will need to be registered on the Handydart system. Ferries have accessibility at most levels although it is a good idea to call and check in advance about the facilities that are available on the boats before you sail. The Greyhound buses which travel across the country often have lifts on board to assist with wheelchair users, although it is a good idea to call and request this in advance if you need it. On some routes reduced fares are offered to passengers with mobility problems and staff are always on hand to help with luggage and boarding if needed.

Urban areas have many taxi companies and most will have vehicles which are suitable for those who are mobility impaired. When booking a taxi you need to be sure that you request a vehicle that meets your needs.

Local organisations provide services in the community. They can assist with obtaining the relevant benefits, mobility aids and help the disabled to adapt and live as independently as possible. Information is available from sources such as the Disability Resource Network, located in British Columbia and this covers a wide range of illnesses and disabilities.

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