In June 2018, the Canadian Government introduced Bill C-81, aimed at establishing new accessibility standards for federally regulated organisations. The aim is to identify, remove and prevent barriers to inclusion experienced by individuals with disabilities. Bill C-81 has received royal assent and is set to come into law as the Accessible Canada Act (the ‘ACA’) on a date to be set by the Governor in Council.
The accessibility standards requirements will roll out in stages, with the objective of achieving full accessibility compliance by 2040.
Similar to provincial accessibility legislation (already in force in Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia), regulations made under the ACA will establish accessibility standards setting out how organisations are to identify, remove and prevent barriers in the following areas:
- the built environment;
- information and communication technologies;
- communication, other than information and communication technologies;
- the procurement of goods, services and facilities;
- the design and delivery of programs and services;
The ACA outlines three primary duties for federally regulated employers, set out below.
Creating and publishing accessibility plans in consultation with individuals with disabilities.
Establishing and publishing a feedback process, detailing ways to receive and respond to feedback from both employees and customers.
In consultation with individuals with disabilities, preparing and publishing progress reports that detail how they fulfill their accessibility plans.
It is important for federally regulated employers to understand and comply with the ACA. They should also be aware of the compliance and enforcement powers of the Accessibility Commissioner. The ACA provides the Accessibility Commissioner with the ability to conduct inspections, make production and compliance orders, and impose administrative monetary penalties up to CAD 250,000.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Jessica Visser, a Student-at-Law in the firm’s Toronto office.