Backgrounder: Mandate letter – Chair of the Board of Directors
Dear Paul-Claude Bérubé:
Congratulations on your appointment as the first Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO), effective August 26, 2019. Your work at the national level to promote an inclusive and accessible society through the active and meaningful involvement of persons with disabilities, along with your legal training and knowledge of legislation and regulation development, will be strong assets to the organization.
We are looking to a brighter future for persons with disabilities. Our government is working hard to strengthen the rights of all persons with disabilities and to promote a culture of inclusion that values everyone’s contributions to society. In support of this, the Government recently passed the Accessible Canada Act. Its purpose is to benefit all persons, especially persons with disabilities, working towards a Canada without barriers.
The Accessible Canada Act will support a long overdue culture shift. It sends a clear message to Canadians that persons with disabilities will no longer be treated as an afterthought: that systems will be designed inclusively from the start. It is our systems, our policies, our practices and our laws that need to be fixed, not our people. Making real and lasting progress will require changing attitudes and perceptions about accessibility, inclusion and persons with disabilities. Helping to achieve this broad culture change will form part of the core of your work moving forward.
Mandated with contributing to a barrier-free Canada, CASDO is responsible for developing and reviewing accessibility standards, promoting research on barrier identification, prevention and removal, and sharing information related to accessibility.
CASDO will play a critical role in achieving the objectives of this historic piece of legislation. As the Chair of CASDO’s Board of Directors, you, together with the Chief Executive Officer, will ensure that the organization is set up quickly, that the work of the organization reflects the priorities and diverse experiences of persons with disabilities, and that there is transparent accountability to Canadians.
In fulfilling its mandate, CASDO will need to draw on the experience and expertise of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, Indigenous people, organizations and governments, provincial and territorial governments, municipal governments, technical experts, and industry, while ensuring that standards development and review processes are open and inclusive.
The importance of the standards that CASDO will develop cannot be understated. They will inform regulations, serve as a resource to governments and businesses outside of federal jurisdiction, and could be applied internationally as accessibility best practices.
Within the Canadian context, harmonization of standards between the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories will be critical to ensure that persons with disabilities can expect consistent experiences across the country.
As CASDO begins its work, you may wish to focus on the following:
- In consultation with persons with disabilities, establish priorities for the development of accessibility standards. You may want to note that, during the consultation that informed the development of the Accessible Canada Act, the disability community identified employment and emergency services management, under the areas of communication and service delivery, as key priorities.
- In consultation with persons with disabilities, identify priorities for research, supported by grants and contributions programming, to inform the next generation of accessibility standards.
- Consider the landscape of existing standards and how these can be incorporated and improved as basis for early standards development.
- Prioritize barrier-free and inclusive practices for employees, as a means to supporting larger culture change. CASDO should be looked to as a model of an inclusive and accessible workplace.
CASDO is the first institution of its kind in Canada, and one of only a few in the world, that ensures persons with disabilities have leadership in identifying the accessibility standards that are required. It is an embodiment of the disability community’s philosophy of “Nothing without us.”
I know that I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted to you. In turn, please know that you have my support in your role as Chair of the Board of Directors. I look forward to a productive and collaborative working relationship.
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility
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