Media Release

April 3, 2012

Ministerial Statement: NLHC First in Canada to Make Universal Design Standards Mandatory  

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister Responsible for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation:

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in this Honourable House to congratulate Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation on being recognized for providing a Canadian first in accessible design.

This recognition comes from the Canadian Housing Renewal Association - an organization accepted as the national voice regarding affordable housing and homelessness issues. Recently, in its national newsletter, the association recognized Newfoundland and Labrador as the first province in the country to make Universal Design features mandatory for all new affordable and social housing constructions.

Mr. Speaker this is a progressive move. The Universal Design principles are internationally recognized and used for establishing accessible building standards, codes and regulations. Universal Design makes living spaces more accessible for many people, with or without disabilities, at as many stages in life as possible.

Requirements such as level entry, wider doorways and halls, and washrooms on the main floor create housing that leads to more inclusive neighborhoods for the tenants, friends, neighbours and family members with mobility disabilities.

Including Universal Design principles in future affordable and social housing construction supports the goals of the Provincial Government’s Social Housing Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador – Secure Foundations. The plan, which was established in 2009, places a high priority on developing affordable housing for persons with disabilities, seniors, and those who require supports to live independently. The decision to make Universal Design features mandatory for new constructions is also cost effective, as it creates living spaces that suit a wide variety of needs, thereby reducing future renovation costs. In addition, this new direction for accessible housing construction is in keeping with other efforts to enhance inclusion, such as the establishment of the Disability Policy Office and the creation of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities. It is also supportive of our Healthy Aging Policy Framework and the work of the Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors.

Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation is demonstrating national leadership in the development of affordable housing options for the people of our province, and I ask fellow members to join me in applauding these efforts to advance accessibility and inclusion in Newfoundland and Labrador.