The federal government has commenced a national consultation process to inform the development of new planned federal accessibility legislation that will transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility. The planned legislation would apply to organizations and areas under federal jurisdiction. The goal of such legislation will be to promote equality of opportunity and increase the inclusion and participation of Canadians who have disabilities or functional limitations. In the consultation process, the government is specifically seeking input in the following areas:
- the public’s feedback on the overall goal and approach;
- the scope of the planned legislation, including to whom it should apply and what accessibility issues and barriers it should address;
- monitoring and enforcement of the planned legislation and review processes;
- when and how to report to Canadians on implementation;
- how to raise accessibility awareness, generally; and
- how to support organizations in improving accessibility.
The new legislation will likely complement and work in conjunction with the Canadian Human Rights Act in protecting the rights of people with disabilities.
While it is still early in the process, we expect that the planned legislation will take a proactive and systemic approach to improving accessibility and removing barriers. We also expect that the development of federal accessibility legislation will be informed by the experiences of provinces that have implemented accessibility legislation, such as Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and Manitoba’s Accessibility for Manitobans Act. In addition, Nova Scotia announced its intention to introduce accessibility legislation and British Columbia has put in place a ten-year action plan to make British Columbia more accessible for people with disabilities.
The consultation process will continue until February of 2017. Canadians can participate in the Government of Canada’s consultation process by completing a questionnaire online. In addition, in-person public consultations began in September in cities across Canada.
Miller Thomson will provide regular updates as developments occur.