Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities
Media Coverage of the AODA Alliance’s Preliminary Analysis of bill C-81, the Federal Government’s Proposed Accessible Canada Act – and – Helpful Federal Government Plain Language Guide to Bill C-81
June 22, 2018
Today’s online edition of the Toronto Star includes a superb article by Star social policy reporter Laurie Monsebraaten on the Federal Government’s introduction into Parliament of Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, for First Reading. This article, set out below, gives great attention to the AODA Alliance’s preliminary analysis of Bill C-81, which we just made public yesterday afternoon (just 24 hours after this 105-page bill was made public)
Earlier, within a few hours of the bill’s introduction, and while our preliminary analysis of the bill was still being feverishly prepared, the Canadian press published an excellent article by reporter Michelle McQuigge on the bill. This is also set out below.
We also set out the Federal Government’s helpful plain language guide to the bill, and its news release on the bill and related backgrounder.
For anyone wanting more background, we conclude below with links to key background information, such as the text of Bill C-81, the AODA Alliance’s preliminary analysis of the bill, and other helpful information.
In the long saga of our campaign for accessibility in Ontario and in Canada, this has been, to put it mildly, one heck of a week! It started on Saturday, June 16, 2018 when we held a very successful accessibility forum in Barrie Ontario, organized by the ever-efficient and reliable DeafBlind Ontario Services. We were delighted that three new Conservative MPPs from the Barrie area attended and gave words of welcome, Jill Dunlop, Andrea Kanjin and Doug Downey. It was great to get this early chance to build a working relationship with them, and for them to show such a strong interest in learning about our issues. As well, we were delighted that federal MP Bruce Stanton attended. All these elected officials gave words of welcome and voiced support for the accessibility cause. Two local Green Party candidates in the recent Ontario election attended and voiced their support for our efforts.
Our Week then progressed to the suspense of whether the Federal Government would keep its word to introduce its promised disability accessibility legislation into Parliament before the spring turned into summer. It did so. We live-tweeted these unfolding events on Twitter. It has concluded with our releasing our preliminary assessment of this bill, and with this securing good media attention.
We always welcome your feedback! Write us at: email@example.com
Toronto Star Online June 22, 2018
Originally posted at:
Disability rights advocates welcome national legislation
By Laurie Monsebraaten Social Justice Reporter
Disability rights advocates welcome long-awaited national accessibility legislation, tabled in Ottawa Wednesday, but say the law needs significant strengthening to meet its goals.
“It’s a good starting point and certainly the most substantial piece of legislation introduced by any government in Canada,” said Toronto lawyer David Lepofsky, who is blind.
David Lepofsky calls Ottawa’s Accessible Canada Act a good start but he worries it doesn’t have a deadline to reach full accessibility.
David Lepofsky calls Ottawa’s Accessible Canada Act a good start but he worries it doesn’t have a deadline to reach full accessibility. (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star) “But it’s going to need substantial additions and improvements to be effective, including a deadline to reach full accessibility,” said Lepofsky, who has been advocating for provincial and national and accessibility legislation more than 30 years.
“It is an historic moment because it starts the parliamentary process we have been calling for,” he added.
The Accessible Canada Act, which covers federally regulated sectors such as banking, inter-provincial and international transportation, telecommunications and government-run services such as Canada Post, aims to “identify, remove and prevent” barriers for an estimated 4 million Canadians with a physical, sensory, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or other disabilities.
The government has earmarked $290 million over six years to implement the legislation, which includes fines of up to $250,000 for violations.
Kirsty Duncan, minister for sport and persons with disabilities, praised advocates for helping to shape the legislation during cross-country consultations held in 2016.
“We are here because of the disability community and their advocacy for decades,” Duncan said Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Duncan said concerns raised by advocates “would definitely be discussed in committee hearings” next fall before the act becomes law.
Under the legislation, a barrier is defined as anything “architectural, physical, technological or attitudinal” that “hinders the full participation in society of a physical, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or sensory impairment or functional limitation.”
Some of the barriers raised by people with disabilities over the years include banks with counters that can’t be reached by someone in a wheelchair, airport check-in kiosks that can’t be used by people who are blind, Via Rail trains that can only accommodate one person in a wheelchair at a time, and the lack of employment opportunities for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
To address these accessibility concerns and others, the legislation focuses on six areas including:
- Buildings and public spaces
- Information and communication technology
- Procurement of goods and services
- Delivering programs and services
- Transportation by air, ferry, rail or bus crossing provincial and international borders.
The Canadian Association for Community Living, which advocates for people with intellectual disabilities, lauded the legislation for going beyond conventional approaches to disability.
“Canadians with an intellectual disability continue to face systemic barriers in their day-to-day lives,” said Joy Bacon, the association’s president. “The requirements of this legislation mark considerable progress in making Canada an inclusive society.”
Advocates also praised the act’s proposed creation of a chief accessibility officer to monitor implementation and an accessibility commissioner to oversee enforcement. But they said both positions should report to Parliament rather than the minister responsible for the act.
“We have to make sure we have safeguards built-in to ensure they aren’t under the thumb of the bureaucracy, as we have seen in Ontario,” Lepofsky said, referring to accessibility legislation in that province.
The federal act also proposes a Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, overseen by a board made up largely of people with disabilities, to research, develop and recommend standards to the minister responsible for accessibility. Standards would become law by cabinet order.
Lepofsky agreed cabinet should be able to decide what standards become law, but he said cabinet should also have “a duty” to enact standards to achieve full accessibility.
“If cabinet doesn’t have a duty to enact standards, a future government may decide to never enact standards,” he said, noting this is what happened with a 2001 Ontario accessibility law under the Mike Harris government.
Public- and private-sector entities regulated by the proposed act are required to develop and publish accessibility plans in consultation with people with disabilities, with updates every three years. They must also create public feedback tools and publish regular progress reports.
But Lepofsky criticized the act’s proposal to make the Canadian Transportation Agency responsible for transportation accessibility and for telecommunications issues to be handled by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC.)
“That kind of splintered approach to implementation and enforcement is a formula for confusion, delay, duplication and ineffectiveness,” he said. “We would rather have it all under one roof.”
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, passed in 2005, mandates the province to develop accessibility standards in areas such as customer service, built environment and employment and ensure the public and private sector meet them. The goal of the act, the first of its kind in Canada, is to ensure the province is fully accessible to Ontario’s 1.8 million people with disabilities by 2025.
Manitoba enacted legislation in 2012 and Nova Scotia in 2017. But this is the first time Ottawa has tried to address the issue at a national level. The United States, United Kingdom and Australia have all had federal legislation in place for years or decades.
With files from the Canadian Press
Laurie Monsebraaten is a Toronto-based reporter covering social justice. Follow her on Twitter: @lmonseb
Canadian Press June 20, 2018
Originally posted at(Published on websites such as the Globe and Mail)
Federal government tables Canada’s first national accessibility law
The Canadian Press
Canadians with disabilities felt a surge of tempered optimism on Wednesday as they watched Canada table its first piece of federal legislation aimed at improving accessibility for people with disabilities.
Disabled residents and advocacy organizations said the introduction of the Accessible Canada Act marked a key step towards greater inclusion and contained several critical points community members had named as priorities during a lengthy cross-country consultation process that helped shape the new bill.
But they also raised concerns about provisions the draft bill appears to lack, such as measures to ensure new accessibility barriers do not work their way into future government laws.
Minister for Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kirsty Duncan, the third person to oversee the legislation in as many years, celebrated the “historic” act as a victory for disabled Canadians.
“We are here because of the disability community and their advocacy for decades,” Duncan told The Canadian Press. “This is the community’s legislation.”
The Accessible Canada Act, presented hours before the house rose for the summer, fulfils a promise to have disability-related legislation on the table by spring 2018.
The Act’s stated purpose is to “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. This includes built environments, federally run programs and services, banking, telecommunications and transportation that crosses provincial lines.
Barrier, as defined by the Act, includes anything “architectural, physical, technological or attitudinal” that “hinders the full participation in society of a physical, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or sensory impairment.”
The government pledged $290-million over six years towards supporting its implementation.
The six primary areas of focus laid out in the draft legislation echo the priorities that emerged during an eight-month consultation with advocacy groups and disabled individuals across the country.
Those who took part in the 2016 consultations wanted to see laws that would help lower unemployment rates that hover around 50 per cent for those with disabilities, reduce the number of buildings inaccessible to those with physical and intellectual disabilities, and remove accessibility barriers for the country’s interprovincial air, rail, ferry and bus transportation systems.
Those consulted also named government program and service delivery as another key area of focus, in addition to government procurement and information-technology.
Another key demand involved enforcement, as those consulted emphasized the legislation needed to have teeth in order to be effective.
To that end, the Act will see the creation of three new bodies to bolster the new law.
A Chief Accessibility Officer will oversee the implementation of the legislation across all sectors, while a new Accessibility Commissioner will be responsible for compliance. Fines for violating the law could be as high as $250,000.
A new Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization would also be put in place. The board of this organization should be comprised primarily of people with disabilities who reflect the diversity of the population, the government said.
Those that fall under the purview of the new law will be responsible for outlining detailed accessibility plans that must be drafted in consultation with disabled people and revisited every three years.
They will also be required to set up tools to gather feedback on their efforts and produce regular progress reports and the degree to which disabled people were consulted.
The persons with disabilities minister would continue to be responsible for most aspects of the legislation, though Transport Canada would have enhanced powers to handle transportation matters and telecommunications issues would remain before the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission.
Bill C-81 is not yet final. It will be debated in both the House and Senate and undergo additional readings before receiving royal assent and officially becoming law, a process that will not even begin until Parliament resumes in the fall.
The people who stand to gain the most from the bill greeted its introduction with a mixture of anxiety and relief.
Gabrielle Peters, a wheelchair user from Vancouver, said the introduction of national accessibility legislation represents significant progress for a country that’s long lagged behind Western nations that have had such laws on the books for decades.
Even flawed legislation, she contended, changes the conversation by forcing government to tackle systemic issues rather than focusing on individual stories of hardship.
“We are now engaging on a policy level,” she said. “We are being treated as citizens. Accessibility and disability rights are being regarded as part of the responsibility of our elected officials. It is a human rights understanding as opposed to a human interest story in the newspaper.”
James Hicks, national co-ordinator of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, also hailed the bill as a step in the right direction. But he also said a critical community demand had been ignored.
The council and other advocates had insisted the new law make it mandatory for the government to put its own policies, legislation and program decisions through a disability analysis, just as it currently does for gender-related issues.
They said such an approach would help identify instances of discriminatory laws on the books and signal that the feds are willing to get their own house in order before compelling others to do the same.
Duncan said the act does not currently include such language, but said the law will change the culture of how things are done in government.
For Hicks, this represents a missed opportunity that will limit the law’s effectiveness.
“There absolutely has to be a disability lens that’s applied to every budget and every new initiative that the government brings out so that we know how to ensure that people with disabilities are not going to be left behind.”
Blind Ontario resident Marcia Yale voiced concerns about the standards development process, saying the law won’t initially have much to enforce when it hits the books.
“The criminal code did not come in as a list of standards to be created later,” she said. “I would rather have seen them miss the spring deadline and have the law completely written.”
Currently only Ontario, Nova Scotia and Manitoba have provincial legislation on the books. Duncan said she hopes the incoming federal legislation will help others follow suit.
“Many provinces are waiting to see what this legislation looks like,” she said. “We hope the government will be a leader in this area.”
Proposed Accessible Canada Act — Plain Language Summary of the Bill
Prepared by the Government of Canada
This document is an overview of the Government of Canada’s bill for the Accessible Canada Act. A bill is a proposal to make a new law or change existing laws that is presented to Parliament for consideration.
Following extensive consultation with Canadians with disabilities, the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities is proud to propose accessibility legislation to Parliament. This meets the Government’s commitment to improve accessibility for all Canadians and would apply to matters under federal authority. The Minister’s proposal, in response to the mandate from the Prime Minister, would lead to more consistent accessibility in areas within federal jurisdiction across Canada and would ensure that the Government of Canada leads by example.
Once approved by Parliament, the Act would add to the existing rights and protections for people with disabilities, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act and Canada’s approval of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The preamble also describes the rationale for the Act, including the impact that barriers to accessibility continue to have on Canadians with disabilities and their families, the compounding effects of multiple forms of discrimination, and the need to address ongoing and systemic inequalities between people with and without disabilities in Canada. Lastly, the preamble talks more broadly about the benefits that improved accessibility would have for all Canadians, regardless of their abilities.
The purpose of the bill is to make Canada barrier-free in areas under federal jurisdiction.
The bill outlines how to identify and remove accessibility barriers and prevent new barriers, under federal rule, including in:
- built environments (buildings and public spaces);
- employment (job opportunities and employment policies and practices);
- information and communication technologies (digital content and technologies used to access it);
- procurement of goods and services;
- delivering programs and services; and
- transportation (by air as well as by rail, ferry and bus carriers that operate across a provincial or international border).
The bill also allows the Government to identify other priorities in the future.
The bill defines key terms used in the law. The terms “disability” and “barrier” are important because they describe who the Act is directly intended to benefit and how the Act would be successful.
The principles of the bill are meant to guide its future interpretation. They are rooted in the understanding that barriers to accessibility are at the heart of inequalities between Canadians with and without disabilities. The principles are consistent with Canadian and international law and communicate the goals of the bill. The main principles are:
- inherent dignity
- equal opportunity
- barrier-free government
- inclusive design
- meaningful involvement
The Act would apply broadly to organizations under federal responsibility (“regulated entities”):
- Parliament, including the Senate, the House of Commons, the Library of Parliament and the Parliamentary Protective Service (with some tailoring of compliance and enforcement provisions to respect parliamentary privilege);
- the Government of Canada, including government departments, Crown Corporations and agencies;
- the federally regulated private sector, including organizations in the transportation sectors, broadcasting and telecommunications services, and the banking and financial sectors; and
- the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), while allowing for considerations related to bona fide occupational requirements, such as certain physical requirements necessary in order to carry out certain jobs.
Canada has a strong framework for protecting the human rights of Canadians. The Canadian Human Rights Act promotes equality of opportunity and protects people from discrimination. The bill supports the objectives of the Canadian Human Rights Act and does not diminish any obligations under that Act.
The bill allows the Government to name a minister to be responsible for the Act, and describes that minister’s powers and responsibilities under the Act. This Government has identified the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities to take on these powers and responsibilities, which include:
- implementing policies and programs related to accessibility;
- collecting, analyzing and publishing data related to accessibility;
- cooperating with provincial and territorial governments to organize efforts on accessibility; and
- reporting annually to Parliament on their activities in support of accessibility.
The Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities would also be responsible for launching periodic independent reviews of the Act and reporting on those reviews to Parliament.
In addition, the Government of Canada will appoint, by Order in Council, an independent Chief Accessibility Officer who will be responsible for monitoring and reporting to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities on the implementation of this Act across all sectors. The independent Chief Accessibility Officer will also be responsible for reporting and providing advice to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities on emerging and systemic issues.
Parliament itself will undertake a review of this Act five years after the first regulation is made under the Act.
The Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities would not be the only person or organization with responsibilities for accessibility. The Minister of Transport and the Canadian Transportation Agency would continue to be responsible for ensuring accessible transportation in the federal transportation network, with an enhanced mandate, responsibilities, and powers. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission would continue to be responsible for accessibility with respect to broadcasting and telecommunications services, with new responsibilities for accessibility plans and progress reports. New powers may be considered as part of the review of the legal framework for broadcasting and telecommunications announced in Budget 2017.
The Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities would implement the Act for all other sectors, and for employment and the built environment.
The bill outlines three duties for all regulated entities.
Accessibility plans: Regulated entities would have to create accessibility plans in consultation with people with disabilities. These plans would describe their strategies for improving accessibility and meeting their legal duties. They would have to publicly publish these plans (and let the Government of Canada know when and where they are published) and update them every three years (or sooner, if there are new rules).
Feedback tools: Regulated entities would have to set up ways to receive and respond to feedback from their employees and customers. Feedback could include complaints about how the organization is fulfilling its accessibility plan or barriers encountered by individuals.
Progress reports: Regulated entities, in consultation with people with disabilities, would have to prepare and publish progress reports that detail how they fulfill their accessibility plans. In the reports, they would also have to explain how they consulted people with disabilities. Progress reports must describe the main concerns of the feedback they received and how they responded to it.
Future regulations would detail how regulated entities must implement these requirements. Details may include when and how accessibility plans and progress reports must be published.
The bill proposes creating the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, which would develop model accessibility standards. In general, these standards would set out how organizations can identify, remove, and prevent barriers. The accessibility standards would only create legal obligations for organizations when they are made into regulations by the Government of Canada.
The standards organization would have a board of directors to set its strategic direction, oversee its activities and give advice to its Chief Executive Officer. The bill also specifies that the majority of the directors should be people with disabilities and should reflect the diversity of Canadian society. Director positions would be part-time and would be appointed by the Governor in Council for terms of up to four years.
To develop accessibility standards, the bill allows the standards organization to form technical committees that include experts, persons with disabilities, and representatives from sectors or organizations that would have to meet the standards. Accessibility standards would be published and submitted to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, who would consider making them mandatory under the law. Stakeholders and the public would have opportunities to comment on the standards and the standards organization would undertake research and give technical help. Finally, the bill proposes that the standards organization will submit an annual report on its operations to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, who would then table it in Parliament.
The bill proposes new obligations for regulated entities: accessibility plans, accessibility feedback tools and progress reports. As accessibility standards in the priority areas are developed and adopted into regulation, regulated entities would have more responsibilities.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will be responsible for compliance and enforcement with respect to broadcasting and telecommunications services using their existing powers. The Canadian Transportation Agency will be responsible for compliance and enforcement activities within the transportation sector with enhanced powers. An Accessibility Commissioner will be appointed by the Governor in Council and will report to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities who will be responsible for compliance and enforcement activities as well as handling complaints for all other activities and sectors in federal jurisdiction.
To make sure regulated entities meet their obligations, the bill proposes that a mix of proactive compliance activities be used. These activities include:
- Inspections: Officers would carry out inspections to make sure regulated entities are following the requirements of the Act and its regulations.
- Compliance audits: Officers could examine records and other relevant information from regulated entities to make sure they are following the Act and its regulations.
- Compliance orders: If an officer thinks that a regulated entity is not meeting its responsibilities, they could issue an order to the regulated entity to stop or start any activity to meet the responsibilities.
- Notice of violation with warning: If there is good reason to believe that a regulated entity has violated the law, officers could issue this notice with a warning to comply with the Act and its regulations.
- Notice of violation with penalty: If there is good reason to believe that a regulated entity has violated the law, officers could issue this notice and a fine.
- Administrative monetary penalties: Depending on the nature and severity of non-compliance, an officer could require that the regulated entity pay a fine (up to $250,000).
- Compliance agreement: Once a notice of violation has been issued, regulated entities could enter into compliance agreements to agree to address the violation in a specific way by a specific time. Entering into a compliance agreement could also reduce the fine.
Within these enforcement activities, regulated entities would have rights to appeal decisions or ask for administrative review to ensure that there were no errors.
The legislation provides the right for individuals to complain and receive compensation, if they experience physical, psychological, or monetary harm because an organization did not meet their new obligations under the Act and regulations.
Four bodies will be responsible for dealing with accessibility complaints:
- The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission would continue to receive complaints related to accessibility barriers in relation to broadcasting and telecommunications services;
- Complaints related to the federal transportation system would continue to be dealt with by the Canadian Transportation Agency;
- Complaints by federal public servants and Parliamentary employees who are eligible to bring an issue to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board would be dealt with by the Board;
- All other complaints would be submitted and decided by the Accessibility Commissioner.
This right does not negate the existing complaints process under the Canadian Human Rights Act, which authorizes the Canadian Human Rights Commission to deal with complaints related to discrimination under the Act.
Since 2016, National AccessAbility Week has been held each year from the last week of May to the first week of June. It is a week for Canadians to promote inclusion and accessibility in their communities and workplaces, to celebrate progress and to be inspired to further break down barriers. The Act would set National AccessAbility Week to start officially on the last Sunday of May.
The proposed Act would come into force (or effect) on a day or days set by the Governor in Council.
If Parliament passes the bill, some other Acts which deal with matters under federal authority would need to be revised: including the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act.
June 20, 2018 News Release from: Employment and Social Development Canada
Originally posted at:
Most significant progress for people with disabilities in over 30 years
June 20, 2018 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
Today, following the most inclusive and accessible consultation with Canadians with disabilities and with the disability community, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, introduced the proposed Accessible Canada Act to Parliament. This historic legislation would enable the Government of Canada to take a proactive approach to end systemic discrimination of people with disabilities.
The goal of the legislation is to benefit all Canadians, especially Canadians with disabilities, through the progressive realization of a barrier-free Canada. The act would establish a model to eliminate accessibility barriers and lead to more consistent accessibility in areas under federal jurisdiction across Canada.
The bill outlines how the Government of Canada will require organizations under federal jurisdiction to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, including in:
the built environment (buildings and public spaces);employment (job opportunities and employment policies and practices);information and communication technologies (digital content and technologies used to access it);the procurement of goods and services; the delivery of programs and services; and transportation (by air as well as by rail, ferry and bus carriers that operate across provincial, territorial or international borders).
The Government of Canada is providing funding of approximately $290 million over six years that will further the objectives of the new legislation.
The act would strengthen the existing rights and protections for people with disabilities, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act and Canada’s approval of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It will do this through the development, implementation and enforcement of accessibility standards, as well as the monitoring of outcomes in priority areas. These requirements will be enforced by the new powers and enforcement measures needed to ensure compliance, and overall implementation will be monitored. No longer will Canadians with disabilities be expected to fix the system through human rights complaints, instead, new proactive compliance measures will ensure that organizations under federal jurisdiction are held accountable to ensuring accessible practices.
As the Government of Canada moves forward with the implementation of the proposed act, continued and meaningful participation by Canadians with disabilities will be crucial towards realizing a barrier-free Canada.
The Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) will be Canada’s first-ever standards development organization exclusively dedicated to accessibility issues and will be led by persons with disabilities.
In keeping with the objectives of the bill and respecting the Government’s approach to historic and modern treaties, we will also support the work of First Nations leaders and communities to improve accessibility on reserve.
While this legislation is a significant first step in ensuring a barrier-free Canada for all Canadians, the Government of Canada will work collaboratively with partners in both the public and private sectors to create opportunities for full participation by people with disabilities in their communities and workplaces, and to help change the way society thinks, talks and acts about disability and accessibility.
“Society benefits when all Canadians can fully participate. The proposed accessible Canada act represents the most important federal legislative advancement of disability rights in Canada in over 30 years. Thank you to the many community leaders and advocates who have worked for years and decades to make this happen. With the proposed act now in Parliament, we are one step closer to our goal: to have a truly inclusive and accessible Canada.”
– The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in improving accessibility for all Canadians. As a life-long advocate for disability rights and a person living with a disability myself, I am proud to lead a portfolio tasked with enhancing accessibility in federal buildings and establishing an accessible procurement resource centre. This important work will help ensure the goods and services purchased and offered by the Government of Canada are more accessible for all Canadians.”
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement
In 2012, approximately 14 percent of Canadians aged 15 years or older reported having a disability.
Between 2011 and 2016, disability-related complaints represented just over half of all the discrimination complaints received by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
The 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability indicates that there are approximately 412,000 people with disabilities who had the potential and willingness to work, but who were unable to secure or retain employment.
According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, 49 percent of people with disabilities aged 25 to 64 were employed, compared with 79 percent of Canadians without disabilities.
Proposed Accessible Canada Act – Backgrounder
Originally posted at:
Engagement From: Employment and Social Development Canada
A key principle of the proposed legislation is respecting the philosophy of the disability community of “nothing about us, without us.” For years, persons with disabilities have underlined that full participation and equality of opportunity can only be realized when people with disabilities are meaningfully involved in the planning, development, and implementation of legislation, policies, and strategies that affect their lives.
Accessible Canada Consultations
This principle was embraced for the Accessible Canada Consultations – which asked all Canadians to think about what accessibility means to them and what it could mean for their communities. The consultations were the most inclusive and accessible ones with Canadians with disabilities and the disability community in our country’s history.
- More than 6,000 Canadians participated, through various channels: 18 public engagement sessions; nine roundtables; a National Youth Forum; and an online questionnaire.
- Additionally, since 2016, over $2.3 million has been provided to disability and Indigenous organizations to engage their members and communities.
The consultations were also historic in that they set a new standard for accessibility.
- In-person meetings were made accessible for a range of persons with disabilities and included English and French real-time captioning, American Sign Language and Quebec Sign Language, and intervenor services for participants who are deaf-blind. In Northern Canada, Inuit sign language was also provided.
- The online consultation questions were available in Braille, large print, e-text, audio and sign language.
- Participants were invited to share their ideas by email, phone or TTY or by sending audio or video recordings.
Proposed Accessible Canada Act
Stemming from this landmark process, the proposed accessible Canada act is the cornerstone of the Government of Canada’s plan for the progressive realization of a barrier-free Canada. To accomplish this, the Act would put in place key mechanisms and processes to remove barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction, including:
- Establishing proactive compliance and enforcement measures;
- Providing accessibility standards for regulated parties to achieve and maintain; and
- Creating a system for ongoing monitoring to ensure Canadians see results.
A crucial foundation for success in the journey towards realizing a barrier-free Canada will be the continued and meaningful participation of Canadians with disabilities in the implementation of the proposed act.
Key provisions of the legislative approach will reflect the perspectives of people with disabilities:
- Multi-Year Accessibility Plans (MYAPs) will be required to detail the actions that regulated entities would take to identify, remove barriers and prevent new barriers for persons with disabilities in the following areas: employment; built environment; information and communication technologies; the procurement of goods and services; the delivery of programs and services; and transportation (as applicable). In developing their MYAPS, entities would be required to consult persons with disabilities. In addition to plans, entities would be required to establish and publish a process for receiving and responding to feedback on the accessibility of their operations. Entities would also be required to prepare and publish regular progress reports, which would consider the feedback they received.
- The Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) will be Canada’s first standards development organization exclusively dedicated to accessibility issues. New standards to eliminate and prevent accessibility barriers would benefit all Canadians, especially those with disabilities. Standards would be developed by technical committees comprised of experts, persons with disabilities and representatives from sectors or organizations that would have to meet the standards. In addition, CASDO would be led by persons with disabilities – e.g., the Board would have a majority representation of Canadians with disabilities; and it would consult widely with persons with disabilities and other stakeholders in developing standards.
- In keeping with the objectives of the bill and respecting the Government’s approach to historic and modern treaties, we will support the work of First Nations leaders and communities to improve accessibility on reserve.
Now and looking forward, the vision is that people with disabilities will be at the helm – providing their direction, interpretation and expertise – as we proceed on the journey to take proactive measures to remove barriers and be an accessible Canada.
Links to Key Background Information
To download Bill C-81 in MS Word format, click on: #https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/bill-c81-1st-reading-.docx
To read the preliminary AODA Alliance analysis of Bill C-81, visit:
To download Bill C-81 as of June 20, 2018 First Reading in Parliament, visit:
To read the AODA Alliance’s guide for beginners, on how a bill gets through Parliament and becomes a law, visit:
To read the AODA Alliance’s June 20, 2018 news release, issued right after Bill C-81 was introduced in Parliament for First Reading, visit:
To read the Federal Liberal Party’s 2015 election pledge to enact a national accessibility law, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015/federal-liberal-party-promises-to-introduce-canadians-with-disabilities-act-time-for-federal-conservatives-and-bloc-quebecois-to-make-the-same-promise/
To watch the August 22, 2017 online policy experts’ conference on what the promised national accessibility legislation should include, moderated by AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky and hosted by the Alliance for an Accessible and Inclusive Canada, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94PEEbhI4TU
To read the Federal Government’s 2017 report on its public consultation on what the promised national accessibility law should include, and the AODA Alliance’s analysis of that report, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-federal-government-releases-report-of-its-public-consultation-on-what-the-promised-canadians-with-disabilities-act-should-include-lots-of-good-content-but-some-areas-where-the-federal-re/
To get a copy of the Discussion Paper on what the promised national accessibility law should include, written by AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org