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Between July 2016 and February 2017, the federal government is consulting Canadians on planned federal accessibility legislation. The goal of the law would be to promote equality of opportunity and increase the inclusion and participation of Canadians who have disabilities or functional limitations in all areas of every day life. It is expected that the new legislation will incorporate many features from Ontario and Manitoba’s accessibility laws that would include the process or processes that the Government would use to develop the accessibility standards, as well as the areas or activities to which the standards would apply.
It is also important to note that the federal accessibility legislation is in addition to obligations under the Canadian Human Rights Act duty to accommodate persons with disabilities to the point of undue hardship.
The federal government is seeking input to develop the planned new Canadians with Disabilities Act, including:
- feedback on the overall goal and approach the government should take;
- whom it should cover. Should it apply to federally regulated employers, such as banks, cross-border transportation providers, and telecommunications companies; Parliament of Canada; Departments, agencies and institutions of the Government of Canada etc.?
- what accessibility issues and barriers it should address? For example, the legislation could state that it will improve accessibility and remove barriers in specific areas, such as: the built environment; program and service delivery; the procurement of goods and services; employment; online services; transportation; and information and communications;
- how it could be monitored and enforced. The legislation would likely contain a section or sections that describe how compliance with the legislation would be monitored and enforced. The legislation could also describe mechanisms to address issues of non-compliance;
- when or how often it should be reviewed;
- how and when to report to Canadians on its implementation; and
- how to raise accessibility awareness more generally and support organizations in improving accessibility.
A discussion guide has been prepared to help interested stakeholders provide meaningful feedback.
These interested stakeholders can provide their input by completing the online questionnaire or by:
Or by mail at the following address:
Consultation – Accessibility Legislation
c/o Office for Disability Issues
Employment and Social Development Canada
105, rue Hôtel de ville, 1st floor, Bag 62
In my opinion…
In my opinion, this would have been a great opportunity for the federal government to take the lead in this area, and implement a national law and standards regarding accessibility. Now what will happen is a mismatch of accessibility legislation in each province being enforced differently, instead of a harmonized set of guidelines that both businesses and employers across Canada can follow.