Elections Canada will make sure all polling stations in the next federal election are barrier free after reaching a settlement with a Guelph man who filed a human rights complaint. The complaint was settled through mediation and will ensure all polling stations have either a power assisted door or someone there to help anyone with accessibility issues enter the polling station. “This will be a great step forward for all persons with disabilities in Canada,” said Matt Wozenilek of Guelph. Wozenilek, who is confined to a wheelchair due to a rare neurological disease, took Elections Canada to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal after he went to cast his ballot in the 2011 federal election and found there was no automatic door opener or anyone to help him get into the polling station. A passerby eventually helped him into the polling station. Wozenilek felt this is a violation of his human rights and an act of discrimination.
In a statement released Thursday, Elections Canada said it is conducting a survey of the roughly 20,000 polling stations in its data bank to ensure those measures are in place. The results of that survey will be published and shared with the Advisory Group for Disability Issues,
Wozenilek and Elections Canada issued a joint statement on the mediated settlement on Thursday. “As part of Elections Canada’s commitment to accessibility to all Canadian voters, Elections Canada and Matthew Wozenilek, a Guelph accessibility advocate, are pleased to announce that in the next federal election all polling sites in Canada will feature either power assisted door openers or dedicated staff to assist door openings.
“We are building on our previous commitments with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and the Hughes case to ensure that all Canadians can access our voting sites in a barrier-free manner,” said Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.