Accessibility plan at the Privy Council Office



The Privy Council Office (PCO or department) has developed a comprehensive departmental Accessibility Plan. This plan is part of the PCO’s continued commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and compliance with the Accessible Canada Act (ACA).

The ACA is the Government of Canada’s federal legislation to create a barrier-free Canada by 2040. The ACA requires regulated entities to identify barriers and develop actions to eliminate barriers across the following seven accessibility priority areas:

The Act requires all regulated entities, including government departments such as the PCO, to do the following:

The ACA includes the key principle “Nothing Without Us”, which means that persons with disabilities should be consulted when developing laws, policies and programs that impact them. The PCO recognizes the importance of consulting with persons with disabilities in the development of its accessibility plan and ongoing evaluation of the plan’s effectiveness.

About the Privy Council Office

The PCO serves Canada and Canadians by providing advice and support to the Prime Minister, portfolio ministers, and Cabinet. Led by the Clerk of the Privy Council, the department helps the government in implementing its vision, goals, and decisions in a timely manner.

The PCO exists to:

Accessibility statement

At the PCO, we believe that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity, which is why our Accessibility Plan is so important. Our plan demonstrates the department’s commitment to creating a barrier-free experience for persons with disabilities through deliberate action in the PCO’s applicable accessibility focus areas. The plan will make sure the department remains compliant with the ACA, but more importantly foster a culture of accessibility and disability inclusion.

Guiding principles

We have established the following guiding principles to help us achieve our vision:

Feedback process and contact information

The PCO has a feedback process to accept feedback relating to accessibility and the accessibility plan. You can submit feedback by contacting: Director, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility

You can provide contact information or submit feedback anonymously. The PCO is only able to acknowledge receipt and respond directly to feedback if contact information is provided.

Alternate formats

You can request an alternate version of our feedback process description, accessibility plan or progress reports by email at or telephone at 613-957-5153.

Formats available:

An overview of the department’s accessibility plan

The PCO’s Accessibility Plan represents the commitments the department is making to address the most significant known accessibility barriers within our organization. The PCO identified barriers through consultation with management and departmental employees. This consultation included obtaining feedback directly from employees with disabilities through:

Refer to the Consultations section of this Plan for more details on the consultations performed.

The department identified barriers across accessibility focus areas. These barriers represent both systemic themes and individual employee experiences. The PCO used the barriers reported by employees as the foundation for the development of commitments, which include:

The department aims to embody a culture of continuous improvement. As the PCO monitors the implementation of the plan, we will continue to seek feedback from persons with disabilities to ensure it achieves the desired impact and results.

Accessibility areas included in the accessibility plan

Our plan focuses on five priority accessibility areas we believe are critical to achieving our accessibility vision and creating a barrier-free environment for our employees and stakeholders:

Given the nature of the PCO’s mandate and operations, the ACA’s federal transportation network priority area, and design and delivery of public facing programs and services priority area are not applicable.

Areas described under section 5 of the Accessible Canada Act (ACA)


Where is the PCO now?

The PCO is committed to providing persons with disabilities equal participation in every aspect of employment. We continue to monitor employee self-identification data to measure the department’s effectiveness in recruiting, retaining, and promoting persons with disabilities.

We have seen a steady increase in the number of employees self-identifying as having disabilities. A representation gap currently exists when compared to workforce availability (WFA). As of September 2022, the department had 5.2% representation of persons with disabilities vs. 8.8% WFA. (Source: 2016 Census and the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability). This gap fluctuates based on business area and level within the department. The PCO is continuing to take steps to foster an inclusive culture and encourage employees to self-identify their disabilities.

The PCO has taken actions to increase the recruitment, onboarding, retention, promotion, and inclusion of persons with disabilities within the organization, specifically:

What we heard

We heard that effective and timely accommodations are critical to supporting some persons with disabilities in their roles. Employees shared the importance of a defined, centralized, transparent, and efficient process. This includes transparent communication and engagement during the process.

We also heard about the importance of education and awareness about accessibility in creating a culture of disability inclusion. Employees and management shared a desire for increased dialogue and learning around accessibility and disability inclusion. The PCO recognizes that this commitment to learning is essential as the department seeks to eliminate existing barriers.

Looking forward

Looking forward, the PCO is committed to:

Employment key commitments


Built environment

Where is the PCO now?

The PCO is on a journey to improve the universal accessibility of all departmental offices. As we seek to enhance accessibility, we are also balancing our heritage, sustainability, and security commitments. The PCO has taken steps over the past two years to improve workspace accessibility, including providing:

Universal accessibility (UA) audits of departmental offices are underway by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) and the PCO. The goal of the audits is to assess compliance with UA Best Practices and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards for accessibility. While the audits are an ongoing activity, some early recommendations include:

Some opportunities to improve accessibility within secure spaces are at odds with security requirements and the PCO will work to balance both these priorities. The PCO will continue to work closely with PSPC in the performance of the audits, monitor ongoing UA compliance and support improvements as needed.

What we heard

Employees shared positive feedback about workspace features such as:

While some departmental employee survey respondents who self-identified as having a disability shared that they do not have difficulties accessing or navigating PCO offices, others reported challenges. Barriers identified include:

Some employees also shared opportunities for the built environment to be improved to better support neurodiverse employees. For example through sensory-friendly workspaces and designated areas with adjusted lighting and limited distractions.

Looking forward

The PCO will:

Built environment key commitments


Information and communication technologies

Where is the PCO now?

Web content
Social media
Other information and communications technology
IT accommodations

What we heard

The PCO’s IT accommodations process supports employees in accessing assistive technology needed to be successful in their roles. Some employees with disabilities shared positive experiences relating to:

Some employees with disabilities reported opportunities to improve:

Looking forward

The PCO is committed to:

Information and communication technologies key commitments

2022 (ongoing)

Communication, other than information and communications technologies

Where is the PCO now?

The department offers alternate communication formats to the public or employees upon request, such as plain text, print copies and audio versions.

The PCO strives to provide the following for department events:

The PCO must continue to develop relationships with a broader range of alternate communication format providers to provide timely access when needed.

Within the Communications and Consultations Secretariat, the Editing Services team provides plain language editing and consultation services in both official languages. The editing process includes:

To raise awareness about accessibility and disability inclusion, the PCO has:

The department has identified opportunities to:

We have an EDI Corner within the department’s intranet which provides employees with resources and guidance. There is an opportunity for the PCO to provide increased resources and guidance relating to accessibility, including guidance relating to:

What we heard

We heard that meeting option flexibility, including the ability to attend meetings virtually has positively contributed to a more inclusive environment. This appears particularly true for employees with physical and visual impairments, and for neurodivergent employees. Employees identified an opportunity for the PCO to embed this flexibility more consistently across the organization.

We heard from some employees that there is a perception that the PCO is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion and is beginning to foster more dialogue around accessibility. Employees shared a desire for increased communication about the PCO’s commitment to accessibility and resources to support the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Some employees with disabilities also reported:

Looking forward

The PCO will focus on increasing access to information, resources and guidance relating to accessible communication. These commitments will complement the actions taken to improve the accessibility of information and communication technology. Together these commitments will improve accessibility within all communications.

Communications, other than information and communications technologies key commitments


The procurement of goods and services

Where is the PCO now?

The PCO procures good and services from suppliers when needed and follows PSPC procedures. As needed, Requests for proposals (RFPs) are issued through the Government of Canada’s site using standard Government of Canada templates.

The PCO has identified opportunities to:

Looking forward

The PCO will:

Procurement key commitments


The design and delivery of programs and services

This ACA priority accessibility area relates to eliminating and preventing barriers to enable receipt of services that are accessible to all.

The PCO supports the Prime Minister and Cabinet in helping the government implement its vision, goals, and decisions in a timely manner. The PCO is not a front-line service department which provides services to Canadians.

The PCO considered opportunities for accessibility as it relates to supporting the Prime Minister and Cabinet and determined that opportunities for improvement are covered by the information and communication technologies, communication and procurement accessibility areas in this plan.


This ACA priority accessibility area relates to eliminating and preventing barriers within the federal transportation network. The PCO has not included this area in the scope of the accessibility plan given the nature of the PCO’s mandate and operations.


The principle of “Nothing without us” recognizes that persons with disabilities are equal participants in all areas of life and should contribute to all decision-making on:

The PCO consulted with persons with disabilities throughout every step of the accessibility plan development process. We consulted persons with disabilities to:

The PCO’s approach to consultation included:

The PCO took an accessible approach to consultation. The approach included the accessible design of the survey and offering multiple ways for departmental employees to share feedback.

Consultations with persons with disabilities focus group

The PCO assembled a Persons with Disabilities Focus Group in September 2022. The Focus Group consists of employees with both visible and invisible disabilities. The department formed the Focus Group following a callout sent by email looking for employees interested in joining the group. The Focus Group will play a consultative role working with key partners to promote disability inclusion in:

Moving forward, the Focus Group will also:

The Focus Group currently consists of 13 employees, along with the Persons with Disabilities and Visible Minorities Co-Champion. The Focus Group was consulted in Fall 2022 during the development of the PCO’s accessibility plan. Focus Group sessions were conducted to gather members’ input to understand barriers and identify actions to address identified barriers. The Focus Group will continue to be consulted regularly for feedback on the implementation of the plan.

Employee accessibility survey

An anonymous organization-wide accessibility survey was performed to seek feedback from PCO employees on accessibility barriers experienced relating to:

The PCO received more than 250 responses to the accessibility survey. The barriers identified, along with barriers identified by the Persons with Disabilities Focus Group were reviewed together and formed the basis for the PCO’s development of accessibility commitments.

Leveraging Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) and Shared Services Canada (SSC) guidance and resources

The PCO leveraged the expertise and direction of PSPC and SSC with respect to certain priority accessibility areas. The PCO leveraged past work performed and guidance from both departments in the development of the accessibility plan.

Consultations with external subject matter advisor

The PCO consulted with accessibility subject matter advisors from Deloitte Canada. These consultations enabled the PCO to learn and identify leading accessibility practices to consider in the development of the accessibility plan.



The degree to which a product, service, program, or environment is available to be accessed or used by all.


Any change in the working environment that allows a person with functional limitations in their abilities to do their job. Changes can include:

  • adjustments to the physical workspace
  • adaptations to equipment and tools
  • flexible work hours
  • job-sharing
  • relocation of the workspace within the greater workplace
  • the ability to work from home
  • reallocation or exchange of some non-essential tasks for others, and
  • time off for medical appointments

Accommodations (adjustments) can be temporary, periodic, or long-term, depending on the employee’s situation or changes in the workplace.


Anything that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment. This includes:

  • physical
  • mental
  • intellectual
  • cognitive
  • learning
  • communication or sensory impairment, or
  • a functional limitation

Barriers can be physical, architectural, technological, or attitudinal. (Source: Accessible Canada Act)


Any of the following impairments that in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society:

  • physical
  • mental
  • intellectual
  • cognitive
  • learning
  • communication or sensory impairment, or
  • a functional limitation

(Source: Accessible Canada Act)


A person employed by the Privy Council Office.

Persons with disabilities

Persons who have a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric, or learning impairment and who:

  • consider themselves to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment, or
  • believe that an employer or potential employer is likely to consider them to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment

Persons with disabilities include persons whose functional limitations owing to their impairment have been accommodated in their current job or workplace. (Source: Employment Equity Act)


Self-identification is the term used for the collection of employment equity information voluntarily provided by employees, under the authority of the Employment Equity Act. The information is used for the purposes of analyzing and monitoring the progress of employment equity groups and for reporting on workforce representation. (Source: Public Service Commission of Canada Self-Declaration Information)

Workforce availability

For the core public administration, workforce availability refers to the estimated availability of people in designated groups as a percentage of the workforce population. (Source: Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada for Fiscal Year 2017 to 2018)

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada (2022)

All rights reserved. 
All requests for permission to reproduce this document or any part thereof shall be addressed to the Privy Council Office.

ISSN : 2817-0806

Cette publication est également disponible en français : Plan sur l’accessibilité au Bureau du Conseil privé

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