Letter from M. Boulerice (NDP) and CEO response (re: electors with visual impairment) – CEO Appearance on Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (COVID-19 response)
Chief Electoral Officer
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M6
Montreal, December 2, 2020
Subject: Barriers to universal suffrage for people with physical disabilities
Dear Mr. Perrault:
I am writing to you today to inform you of strong concerns regarding serious barriers that many citizens in my electoral district are facing. In the last federal election, a visually impaired person living in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie was unable to exercise their right to vote despite their prior request for access to a braille ballot. Another citizen, with a leg disability, had major difficulties accessing their assigned polling station because it was not universally accessible. Similar situations were reported to us in other Canadian electoral districts.
According to Elections Canada, it appears that the organization guarantees the provision of braille ballots (template) and large print ballots everywhere in Canada. In addition, a Canadian legislative initiative requires that Elections Canada report on the accessibility of polling stations.
Access to voting for voters with a physical disability is essential to ensuring that their individual rights and freedoms are respected. Limiting or restricting the electoral participation of citizens is a serious violation of human rights as stipulated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I am therefore asking you to assess the situation and to strengthen inclusive measures that facilitate and promote universal access to the vote in each electoral district in Canada.
Member of Parliament for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie NDP Deputy Leader
Member of Parliament for Elmwood—Transcona NDP Democratic Reform Critic
1453 Beaubien Street East, Suite 208
Our ref.: 2020-102429
Dear Mr. Boulerice:
Thank you for drawing my attention to situations involving accessibility in federal elections. Elections Canada places great importance on the accessibility of its services to Canadians. In this regard, our strategic plan highlights our commitment to offer Canadians electoral information and services that meet their needs and that provide an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process.
To this end, Elections Canada has an Advisory Group on Disability Issues to help us understand the different situations faced by our constituents and to improve our service offering. In fact, we have an accessibility service policy and service offering as well as a policy on selecting polling locations that imposes rigorous criteria. Control measures are in place and we actively solicit feedback on our services to ensure their quality and to understand the voter experience.
Despite these efforts, situations may arise that do not meet our expectations and commitments. It is important to understand these particular situations in order to be able to address them. To this end, I invite you to encourage constituents in your electoral district who faced challenges in the last federal election to contact 1-800-463-6868 so that we can learn about the issues and where and under what circumstances they occurred. For questions related to our accessibility policy, you may also contact Juan Melara-Pinada at Juan.Melara Pineda@elections.ca.
Rest assured that accessibility and inclusion remain our top priorities and that we are always striving for an optimal experience for all constituents.
The Chief Electoral Officer
c.c.: Daniel Blaikie, Member of Parliament for Elmwood–Transcona, NPD Democratic Reform Critic
Michelle Perrault, Returning Officer, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie (24064)