Name: Daniel Beals

Constituency: Kingston and the Islands

Political Party: New Democratic Party of Canada

Would you and your Party support legislation such as Bill C-65 “Support for Canadians with Print Disabilities Act”, introduced by the last government, that will allow Canada to accede the Marrakesh Treaty?

NDP MP Peggy Nash (Parkdale – High Park) signalled ongoing NDP support for implementing the Marrakesh Treaty with her 2014 Parliamentary motion M-524 calling on the government to “immediately sign and ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled”.

A New Democratic government will move ahead with legislative measures in support of the Treaty’s implementation in consultation with the CNIB and other advocates who have worked tirelessly for action by the Canadian government on this important issue.

What would you and your party do to ensure that sustainable funding is in place for the production of alternate format literature for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted?

The importance of increasing access to written materials and the role that the CNIB has played as a leading producer of vision-accessible material in Canada is universally acknowledged. Efforts over the past decade such as the IELA, while failing to find an effective path to reaching our goal, have reaffirmed Canadians’ desire to ensure that the literacy rights of the blind and partially sighted are respected and the urgency of putting a system in place to significantly increase access.

As the CNIB has itself pointed out, “Canadians should not be expected to rely in any measure on charitable funding to ensure their basic human right to literacy. This is neither fair nor sustainable.” We must develop a 21st century response to the growing need for accessible materials. Fortunately, with recent technological advances, we now have an opportunity to integrate exciting new technological communication tools into our planning. These advances have dramatically enhanced our potential to disseminate multiple format materials at affordable costs.

A New Democratic government is committed to working collaboratively with other levels of government, advocacy and service organizations to determine a reliable and sustainable path forward backed by adequate financial resources. We hope to initiate this effort as promptly as possible, in order that the respective roles of CNIB and others can be determined and acted on accordingly.

What would you and your Party do to close this gap and help those living with vision loss find employment in your community?

Employment has been consistently identified as the foremost barrier to inclusion and independent living by those living with disabilities such as blindness or partial sight. This has been flagged by New Democrats as a primary target for action. The NDP was the first federal party caucus to endorse the National Action Plan on Disability and we remain committed to its objectives.

An illustration of the NDP approach can be found in NDP MP Don Davies’ Bill C-687. This bill would require the Minister of Employment and Social Development – within specified timelines – to convene an inclusive consultation with stakeholders, followed with an intergovernmental conference to develop a national strategy to increase the economic participation of persons with disabilities and chart its implementation. Progress reports on the achievement of strategy goals would be required to be tabled in Parliament.

With gaps and disparities across the country, national leadership is essential. A New Democratic government will provide that leadership within a renewed spirit of collaboration with provinces and territories.

In broader terms, a New Democratic government will follow-up Canada’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol. Despite signing the Convention, the Conservatives failed to fully implement it, refusing to appoint an independent review body to monitor implementation or to fully engage with civil society. An NDP government will work with Canadians living with disabilities, with provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, experts and civil society actors to fully implement our commitment.

Do you and your Party agree that prescription drug labels should be accessible for all Canadians, including those who are blind or partially sighted?

It is of fundamental importance that those who are blind or partially sighted are able to identify their prescription drugs.

The absence of such access presents a clear threat to the life and well-being of Canadians who are blind or partially sighted.

If elected, would you and your party work with the Canada Standards Association, individual companies and POS machine providers and manufacturers to ensure that all ABM’s and POS machines are accessible in Canada, including keypads and audio output?

A New Democratic government will work with regulators and industry to introduce measures to ensure that ABMs and POS machines under our authority become fully accessible to those who are blind or partially sighted.