Canada’s first federal accessibility legislation receives Royal Assent

News release

June 21, 2019              Ottawa, Ontario              Employment and Social Development Canada

Every Canadian deserves the opportunity to participate fully in their community and workplace, and to have an equal chance at success. The Government of Canada developed the Accessible Canada Act to remove the barriers to inclusion persons with disabilities continue to face in society every day.

Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, attended the Royal Assent Ceremony at the Senate of Canada for Bill C-81, the Government of Canada’s landmark accessibility legislation.

Passed in both the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada with unanimous support from all parliamentarians, the new Accessible Canada Act will transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility across the country. It will apply to Parliament, Crown corporations, the federal government and private sector businesses under federal jurisdiction, such as banking, telecommunications and transportation. By proactively identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility and by putting in place new mechanisms to address the systems that uphold these barriers, this legislation will help create a barrier-free Canada.

Under this legislation, the Government of Canada will develop accessibility standards and regulations in priority areas such as employment, the built environment, and the design and delivery of programs and services. Organizations under federal jurisdiction will be required to follow accessibility regulations and to develop accessibility plans describing how they will identify, remove and prevent barriers across their operations. They will also be required to establish processes for receiving and dealing with feedback about the implementation of their accessibility plan and about any barriers that a person may have encountered in dealing with the organization. Organizations will also have to publish regular progress reports describing the implementation of their plans, feedback received, and how that feedback has been taken into consideration.

The Accessible Canada Act establishes new structures and positions, including:

  • the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO), which will be led by a board of directors comprised of a majority of persons with disabilities and will develop accessibility standards in collaboration with industry and the disability community;
  • a Chief Accessibility Officer (CAO), who will provide advice to the Minister of Accessibility and monitor systemic and emerging accessibility issues; and
  • the Accessibility Commissioner, who will spearhead compliance and enforcement activities under the legislation.

The Accessible Canada Act will come into force on a date set by the Governor in Council.


“The Accessible Canada Act will fundamentally change the way the Government of Canada addresses disability issues in our country. This legislation will help improve the lives of millions of Canadians with disabilities by proactively identifying, removing and preventing barriers to inclusion. I am beyond thrilled that, thanks to the unwavering support and tireless advocacy of the disability community, we are on our way to realizing a truly barrier-free and accessible Canada.
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility

Quick facts

  • Approximately one in five Canadians, or about 6.2 million people aged 15 and over, report having a disability that limits them in their daily activities.

  • Persons with disabilities face lower employment rates as approximately 59% of working-age adults with disabilities report being employed, versus 80% of those without disabilities.

  • The Accessible Canada Act was developed following the most inclusive and accessible consultations with the disability community in our country’s history. More than 100 accessibility organizations and 6,000 Canadians shared their views and ideas about an accessible Canada.

  • Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, was tabled in Parliament on June 20, 2018, and was passed by the Senate, with amendments, on May 13, 2019. The House of Commons concurred with all amendments on May 29, 2019.

Associated links


For media enquiries, please contact:
Marielle Hossack
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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