I'm writing in response to yesterday's News Release regarding your presentation of Canada's Voluntary National Review at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on Tuesday, July 17th. I'm quite concerned that SDG 11 doesn't mention Universal Design of new dwellings even though our National Housing Strategy specifically makes reference to Universal Design. When mentioning Social Inclusion, Fairness, Equality, Livable, Sustainable and Safe on page 84 of the VNR, my mind automatically thinks of Universal Design:
a) Universal Design and Social Inclusion: building new dwellings with Universal Design ensures social inclusion by welcoming everyone into dwellings, irrespective of disability. The negative impact of architectural barriers is significant; Canadians with mobility disabilities are excluded from the majority of new dwellings because building codes continue to exempt homes from barrier-free design requirements in section 184.108.40.206, a violation of 33 years of Equality Rights in section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [delayed to 1985 in section 32 (2)]. I submitted Code Change Request 964 for VisitAbility of new dwellings to the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes on June 30, 2015 because I felt that it was the most economical and simple way to achieve inclusion for Canadians with disabilities in new dwellings. Three years later, this CCR is still in its infancy due to long delays by the Executive Committee, the Use and Egress Committee and the Housing and Small Buildings Committee in reviewing my CCR.
b) Universal Design and Fairness & Equality: how does the National Building Code of Canada, the National Housing Strategy and Canada's efforts with SDG 11 hope to achieve fairness and equality if we continue to condone systemic discrimination in new dwellings with the exemption found in building code section 220.127.116.11? By excluding a growing percentage of Canadians with mobility disabilities from our new dwellings (because there's a correlation between aging and an increase in disability rates), we eliminate any fairness or equality (let alone the many Canadians with mobility disabilities who aren't seniors because all ages are faced with mobility disabilities).
c) Universal Design and Livability: new dwellings with Universal Design make these homes far more livable across the life span of each home, which often impacts multiple families across more than one generation (if you think of how many occupants each home has in its life span of many decades).
d) Universal Design and Sustainability: Sustainability is a significant area of interest of mine as it relates to Universal Design. If we make reference to the New Urban Agenda 2030 and its Social, Environmental and Financial Sustainability, Universal Design has a positive impact on all three:
i) Social Sustainability: Universal Design of new dwellings would ensure social inclusion of all Canadians by welcoming everyone into any new home. The benefits of social interaction and inclusion for Canadians with mobility disabilities in universally designed new dwellings in significant, let's think of family gatherings where a member of a family with a mobility disability cannot participate because of architectural barriers resulting from our current building codes.
ii) Environmental Sustainability: having to modify a home to suit a person's changing abilities is very carbon intensive. There were the Green House Gases for the original construction, the GHG relating to the demolition and disposal of the original construction, and the GHG for the renovations for the required modifications to suit the person's changing abilities. Not considering Universal Design in the planning stage of any new dwelling has a negative impact on our already fragile environment.
iii) Financial Sustainability: the United Nations has shown that Universal Design in new development only adds one percent of additional cost so it's very economical when planned into a new dwelling. Research from Australia indicates that modifying a home for accessibility can cost up to twenty times more than doing so during the planning stage of a new dwelling. The financial implications of incorporating Universal Design during the planning stage of a new dwelling is significant enough to not be overlooked.
e) Universal Design and Safety: the Public Health Agency of Canada has indicated that seniors' falls in their homes costs our public health system approximately one billion dollars per year (and it also has a devastating impact on their quality of life post-injury). Universal Design of new dwellings creates a much safer environment, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation research involved in FlexHousing in the 1990s proved this long ago. The adaptability of FlexHousing is based on a number of Universal Design features being incorporated into a home; doing so in a new home decreases the GHG effect of adapting it later on when abilities change.
Page 84 of the Voluntary National Review has the "Rising to the challenge" heading which then speaks of sustainable homes. I hope that my points made above have clarified the positive impacts of Universal Design on Social Inclusion, Fairness, Equality, Livability, Sustainability and Safety. I would be pleased to offer supporting documents if any part of my email needs clarification. I would also be honored to discuss this further if any of your team members at ESDC are interested in the many benefits of Universal Design in new dwellings as part of our National Housing Strategy. In order to champion the advancement of the 2030 Agenda, it is my humble belief that Minister Kirsty Duncan must be included with the eight other ministers that have been given this task by the Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if we intend to leave no one behind, including Canadians with mobility disabilities.
Here's the link to yesterday's News Release:
employment-social-development/ news/2018/07/minister-duclos- will-lead-the-canadian- delegation-for-the-2018- united-nations-high-level- political-forum-on- sustainable-development.html
Here's the link to the Voluntary National Review that Minister Duclos will be presenting on Tuesday at the United Nations HLPF meeting (refer to pages 83 to 89 for SDG 11).