Background on the Accessible Canada Act
The Accessible Canada Act came into effect in July 2019.
The reason the Act was put in place is to make sure that all organizations under the control of the federal government are barrier-free by 2040. These organizations are often called “federally regulated entities”. They include:
- Federal government departments and agencies
- Federal Crown corporations
- Canadian Forces
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Officials and organizations of Parliament
- Constituency offices of federal Members of Parliament
The Act also impacts many private businesses, such as:
- Banking and finance
- Broadcasting and communications technology
Long-term changes in these organizations around access and inclusion will affect the rest of Canada in a good way. The federally regulated private sector alone has over 910,000 employees and 18,000 employers. The more the people of Canada become aware of barriers, the greater chance we have to remove them.
There were lots of consultations with disability and Deaf communities before the Act became law. In fact, one of the big recommendations was that the Act provided enforcement. Michael Gottheil became the first Accessibility Commissioner in early May 2022. In this new role, he is responsible for making sure organizations comply with the Act. There is a fine of up to $250,000 for those who choose not to do so.
The focus of the Act is on seven main areas. They are:
- the built environment (buildings and public spaces)
- information and communication technologies
- communication, other than information and communication technologies
- the buying and selling of goods, services and facilities
- the design and delivery of programs and services, and
- transportation (airlines, as well as rail, road and marine transportation providers that cross provincial or international borders)
Another new position created in the Act is the Chief Accessibility Officer. Stephanie Cadieux was also appointed to this position in May 2022. She will report to the Minister on progress in the priority areas. The Minister will then report to Parliament.
What Does A Federally Regulated Organization Have to Do
One of the expectations of the Act is that organizations develop and publish accessibility plans. The following questions need to be answered in the report and then the report must be shared publicly:
- How were accessibility plans put into action?
- How were people with disabilities involved in making the report?
- What were the main concerns in the feedback from people with disabilities?
- What was done about the concerns in the feedback?
Assistance with Accessibility Plans
If your organization needs to be working on its accessibility plan, join The Accessibility Exchange. People from disability and Deaf communities will assist you in making sure you are compliant. There are also lots of resources to get you started and to help you develop and update your plan when the time comes.
- a wide range of people with disabilities, Deaf people and organizations ready and willing to work on plans and projects that will get rid of barriers to access and inclusion
- regulated organizations that want to complete plans and projects required by the Accessible Canada Act
- a Resource Hub with tools, links and training to help both groups work together
Sign up to stay in touch! You will be glad you did!