Making an accessible Canada for persons with disabilities
Accessibility in Canada is about creating communities, workplaces and services that enable everyone to participate fully in society without barriers.
According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, more than 6 million Canadians aged 15 and over (22% of the population) identify as having a disability, and it is expected actual numbers are likely higher. Only 59% of Canadians with disabilities aged 25 to 64 are employed compared to 80% of Canadians without disabilities. Persons with disabilities earn less than Canadians without disabilities (12% less for those with milder disabilities and 51% less for those with more severe disabilities) and are more likely to live in poverty.
The advocacy of disability stakeholders and organizations in Canada has been critical to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. The Government of Canada is building on this legacy to improve accessibility and promote inclusion for everyone in Canada.
The Accessible Canada Act
With the adoption of An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada (Accessible Canada Act), the Government of Canada is fulfilling its mandate promise to introduce new accessibility legislation. The Government of Canada will continue to work with persons with disabilities and the disability community, as well as with provinces and territories, towards the realization of an accessible Canada.
This legislation will benefit everyone in Canada, especially persons with disabilities, by helping to create a barrier-free Canada through the proactive identification, removal and prevention of barriers to accessibility wherever Canadians interact with areas under federal jurisdiction. The Accessible Canada Act provides for the development of accessibility standards and gives the Government of Canada the authority to work with stakeholders and persons with disabilities to create new accessibility regulations that will apply to sectors within the federal jurisdiction, such as banking, telecommunications, transportation industries and the Government of Canada itself. These new regulations will set out requirements for organizations to follow in order to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. The Accessible Canada Act will also put in place compliance and enforcement measures, as well as an accessibility complaints mechanism.
To support the development of the Accessible Canada Act, the Government of Canada consulted with Canadians, from July 2016 to February 2017, to find out what an accessible Canada means to them. The report, "Creating new national accessibility legislation: What we learned from Canadians," released in May 2017, shares the key findings of these consultations.
During the consultations, Canadians identified the following key areas where the Government of Canada should focus its efforts under the legislation: programs and service delivery, employment, the built environment, information and communications technology, procurement and transportation. During the parliamentary process, the disability community identified communications as another key priority area and it was added to the list.
The Accessible Canada Act will help to change the way that the Government of Canada and organizations within federal jurisdiction address disability and accessibility and interact with Canadians.
View the accessible summary of the Accessible Canada Act, which received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019 and came into force on July 11, 2019.
National AccessAbility Week
The Government of Canada first launched National AccessAbility Week in 2017. With the coming into force of the Accessible Canada Act in 2019, National AccessAbility Week became legislated to take place every year, starting on the last Sunday in May.
During National AccessAbility Week, a number of activities and events planned by accessibility and disability stakeholders, persons with disabilities, as well as provincial and territorial partners, take place to celebrate:
- the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities; and
- the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion
The removal of existing accessibility barriers and prevention of new barriers will create a more inclusive society that provides greater access and opportunities for persons with disabilities. This helps communities to thrive and the economy to prosper, which benefits all Canadians.
Information and promotional materials for National AccessAbility Week 2022 will be posted online soon.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Canada joined the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010. The Convention protects and promotes the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities without discrimination and on an equal basis with others.
In December 2018, Canada also joined the Optional Protocol to the Convention. The Optional Protocol allows individuals and organizations to make a complaint to the UN if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.
What we are doing
- Government legislation to support Canadian workers businesses persons with disabilities and legal rights receives royal assent
- Minister Qualtrough announces new details on proposed financial support for persons with disabilities during COVID-19
- Statement by Minister Qualtrough on the anniversary of the Accessible Canada Act
- Government of Canada announces appointments to the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization
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