Backgrounder: Accessible Government
The Government of Canada tabled the proposed accessible Canada act that would increase the inclusion and participation of Canadians who have disabilities or functional limitations and promote equality of opportunity by increasing accessibility and removing barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction. To support the implementation of the legislation and the accompanying culture change, the Government of Canada will lead by example and become a model for accessibility.
To this end, approximately $53 million over six years will be invested in support of a new Strategy for an Accessible Government of Canada that will be developed and released to the public within one year of the passage of the legislation. This strategy will serve as a roadmap that enables the Government to meet and exceed its new accessibility obligations under the legislation.
The Treasury Board Secretariat, in collaboration with people with disabilities and their organizations, will ensure a coordinated and cohesive approach to the design and implementation of the Strategy across government. This will be accomplished through the establishment of an “Accessibility Hub” that will provide leadership, coordination and oversight in making the Government of Canada accessible to its clients and employees.
According to the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada 2015–2016 report, the recruitment of people with disabilities to the federal public service decreased from 3.5 percent to 3.3 percent (workforce availability was
4.4 percent). Furthermore, the representation of people with disabilities under the age
of 35 was lower than workforce availability, and the percentage of separations (i.e. number of employees removed from the public service payroll) for people with disabilities was higher than for those without disabilities.
The Government of Canada will work to address these types of challenges. As part of the Strategy, and as Canada’s largest employer, the Government of Canada commits to hiring at least 5,000 people with disabilities over the next five years. Furthermore, the Government of Canada will foster a diverse and inclusive workforce by introducing a federal internship program for Canadians with disabilities, and establishing a Centralized Workplace Accommodation Fund to better manage workplace accessibility for federal public service employees with disabilities. These initiatives will support Canadians with disabilities in accessing secure, gainful employment opportunities in the areas of recruitment, retention and promotion.
Over the next six years, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) will evaluate the physical accessibility of federal buildings. This work will inform an action plan to address accessibility in the existing federal portfolio. PSPC will set up a centralized team to oversee this work. In addition, the team will provide technical support, best practices, guidance and assessment services to other government departments on a fee-for-service basis to help them improve the accessibility of their built environments.
The Government of Canada is the country’s single largest purchaser of goods and services. This represents a leadership opportunity to make an impact on accessibility through its procurement practices and processes. To this end, Public Services and Procurement Canada will establish an accessible procurement resource centre. The Government of Canada will adjust policy and other instruments to ensure that goods and services procured by the Government of Canada are accessible.
The Government of Canada recognizes the unique needs and culture of the Deaf Community, and will be engaging the Deaf Community to identify their priorities for the delivery of Government of Canada services to this community.
Finally, the Government of Canada is committed to upholding the principle of “nothing about us, without us”. Through multi-year accessibility plans, federal departments and agencies will demonstrate how they consult people with disabilities as they develop accessibility plans that lead to real improvements for people with disabilities.
Taken together, these initiatives will establish Canada as a world leader in accessibility and ensure greater accessibility and opportunities for people with disabilities.
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