Making an accessible Canada for people with disabilities

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Accessibility in Canada is about creating communities, workplaces and services that enable everyone to participate fully in society without barriers.

Today, 3.8 million Canadians over the age of 15 (almost 14% of Canadians), identify as having a disability. However, the actual numbers are likely higher. Persons with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed, to live in poverty and to earn less than people without a disability. But we are talking about more than just numbers - these are our family members, our friends, our neighbours, and our colleagues. Only 49% of Canadians with disabilities, aged 25 to 64, are employed, compared to 79% of Canadians without disabilities. Canadians with disabilities earn 44% less than Canadians without disabilities; and are more likely to live in poverty.

The advocacy of disability stakeholders and organizations in Canada has been critical to promote the rights of people with disabilities. The Government of Canada is building on their legacies to improve accessibility and promote inclusion for all Canadians.

By working together with provinces and territories and the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, the Government of Canada can work to ensure equality, inclusion and full participation in society for all Canadians.

With Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada, the Government of Canada is fulfilling its mandate promise to introduce new accessibility legislation. The Government of Canada will continue to work with Canadians with disabilities across the country towards an accessible Canada.

Bill C-81: The Accessible Canada Act

The Government of Canada is introducing Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada. If passed, Bill C-81 would benefit all Canadians, especially Canadians with disabilities, by helping create a barrier-free Canada.

This would be achieved through the proactive identification, removal, and prevention of barriers to accessibility wherever Canadians interact with areas under federal jurisdiction. Building on the significant consultations that have already taken place involving provinces, territories, municipalities, various organizations, and thousands of Canadians, Bill C-81 would work to ensure more consistent experiences of accessibility across Canada.

To support the development of Bill C-81, the Government of Canada consulted with Canadians, starting in July 2016, 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, we listened to Canadians to find out about their priorities for accessibility. The key areas identified include: programs and service delivery, employment, the built environment, information and communications technology, procurement, and transportation.

Once passed, Bill C-81 would give the Government of Canada the authority to work with stakeholders and Canadians with disabilities to create new accessibility standards and regulations that would apply to sectors in the federal jurisdiction, such as banking, telecommunications, transportation industries like air and rail, and the Government of Canada itself. These new regulated standards would set out requirements for organizations to follow in order to identify, remove, and prevent barriers to accessibility.

If passed, Bill C-81 will help to change the way that the Government of Canada and organizations in the federal jurisdiction interact with Canadians. It defines a proposal for standards development, regulations, compliance and enforcement measures, the complaints process, and roles and responsibilities for implementation. For an accessible summary of Bill C-81 as tabled on June 20, 2018, please select the format that works best for you here:

Summary of the legislation

American Sign Language (ASL) version of the summary of the legislation

Text version of the summary of the legislation

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