With the adoption of An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada (Accessible Canada Act), the Government of Canada is fulfilling its mandate promise to introduce new accessibility legislation. The Accessible Canada Act establishes a framework to create a barrier-free Canada through the proactive identification, removal and prevention of accessibility barriers. It will also ensure that persons with disabilities are no longer required to fight barriers to accessibility on an individual basis.
The Accessible Canada Act applies to the federally regulated private sector, which includes the banking, transportation and telecommunications sectors, as well as the Government of Canada, Crown corporations and Parliament. Under the Act, these organizations will be required to develop and publish accessibility plans that describe how they will identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. They will also be required to establish a mechanism for receiving and addressing feedback on accessibility from anyone who interacts with their organization. Finally, they will have to develop regular progress reports on the implementation of their plan and addressing any feedback they receive.
The Accessible Canada Act also establishes new structures and positions, including:
- the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO), led by a board of directors comprised of a majority of persons with disabilities that will develop accessibility standards in collaboration with the disability community and industry;
- a Chief Accessibility Officer, who will advise the Minister of Accessibility and monitor systemic and emerging accessibility issues; and
- an Accessibility Commissioner, who will spearhead compliance and enforcement activities under the legislation.
The next phase of implementation will include the development of standards and regulations that will provide clear guidance on accessibility requirements.
The coming into force of the Accessible Canada Act also legislates National AccessAbility Week as beginning each year on the last Sunday in May, with the objective of promoting accessibility and celebrating the contributions of persons with disabilities across the country.
- Approximately one in five Canadians, or about 6.2 million people aged 15 and over, report having a disability that limits them in their daily activities.
- The Accessible Canada Act was developed following the most inclusive and accessible consultations with the disability community in our country’s history. More than 6,000 Canadians and 100 accessibility organizations shared their views and ideas about an accessible Canada.
- Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, was tabled in Parliament on June 20, 2018, and passed by the Senate with amendments on May 13, 2019. The House of Commons concurred with all amendments on May 29, 2019, and the Act received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.