The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, today issued the following statement:
“On June 21, 2019, the Accessible Canada Act received Royal Assent.
On this one-year anniversary, we celebrate the passage of this law as one of the most significant achievements for disability rights in Canada.
Reaching this milestone demonstrates our commitment to creating a more inclusive society by ensuring greater access and opportunities for persons with disabilities. Disability equality benefits everyone and contributes to building a stronger economy – and a stronger country.
We developed the Accessible Canada Act following one of the most inclusive consultations in our country’s history. More than 6,000 Canadians and 100 organizations participated and shared their views and ideas on what an accessible Canada meant to them.
The Accessible Canada Act is based on human rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It builds upon existing mechanisms and demands accountability and compliance.
Through a proactive and systemic approach, the Act helps identify, remove, and prevent barriers to accessibility in key areas within the federal jurisdiction including employment, the built environment, information and communication technologies (ICT), communication other than ICT, the procurement of goods, services and facilities, the design and delivery of programs and services and transportation. The Act also sets out requirements for federally regulated entities to prepare and publish accessibility plans and progress reports, and to establish feedback processes.
A long overdue culture shift has started as a result of the Accessible Canada Act. Its coming into force sent a clear message to Canadians that systems will be designed inclusively from the start and persons with disabilities will no longer be treated as an afterthought. Helping to shift attitudes and perceptions, this will lead to a better understanding and engagement on accessibility and inclusion in Canada.
The Act formalized National AccessAbility Week, an annual celebration, to help promote accessibility and highlight the contributions of persons with disabilities across the country.
Another key element was the establishment of Accessibility Standards Canada. This new organization was launched on July 11, 2019, and it has the unique characteristic of being the first departmental corporation led by a majority of persons with disabilities. The organization works with persons with disabilities, the disability community, industry and other partners to create accessibility standards. It has already launched its first competitive call for proposals under the Advancing Accessibility Standards Research program, which supports research projects that try to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility.
In the spirit of ‘Nothing Without Us’, the Accessible Canada Act has guided the Government’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. To support Canadians with disabilities:
- the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group was created, to advise on the real-time, lived experiences of persons with disabilities during the crisis;
- the National Workplace Accessibility Stream was also created, through the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities; and,
- a one-time payment of up to $600 to certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit was announced.
As we mark the anniversary of the Accessible Canada Act, the Government of Canada reiterates its commitment to fully supporting Canadians with disabilities and ensuring their health, safety and needs are taken into consideration during the current pandemic and beyond.”