Public Services and Procurement Canada
2023 Accessibility progress report

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Message from the deputy ministers

As we prioritize our commitment to becoming an accessible workplace and an employer of choice for persons with disabilities, we are happy to share the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) 2023 Accessibility Progress Report.

This Report highlights progress that our department is making on the activities within PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan. Although it has only been a year since the Plan was published, we are encouraged by the work already under way across the department to remove barriers and create a workplace where every employee feels welcomed and included. Yet we realize that it is crucial to ensure that PSPC becomes truly representative of the population of persons with disabilities we serve, both as an employer and in key areas of responsibility such as procurement and the built environment.

In the spirit of the “Nothing About Us” principle, this year we engaged broadly with persons with disabilities and allies to learn more about what is working and the barriers that remain. We learned that a lot of work is still needed to prepare our department to become fully accessible, and we are committed to making this goal a reality. Increased recruitment, retention, and building a culture which encourages self-identification as a person with a disability are among key priorities for PSPC looking to 2025 and beyond.

Our workplace has undergone considerable change in recent years, and we continue to learn and adjust as we go. Accessibility remains front of mind in our transition to the hybrid work model to ensure that all employees receive the supports they need.

Our leadership team is sincerely committed to taking meaningful action through listening, learning and responding so that no employee with a disability is left behind. Prioritizing and being proactive in providing accommodations is key to our vision of inclusion and to building a workplace where accessibility is considered in everything we do. As a common service provider, we firmly believe that PSPC will be better able to serve our government partners and Canadians if we can draw on the knowledge and skills of employees whose lived experience of disability provides invaluable perspectives to help make our workplace ultimately better. Whether you are a manager, an employee or a partner, we are calling on you to join us in achieving this vision together.

Arianne Reza
Deputy Minister

Alex Benay
Associate Deputy Minister

Executive summary

As we continue in our journey to become an accessible workplace, we are happy to share the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) Accessibility Progress Report for 2023. It supports PSPC's commitment to remove barriers to accessibility for its employees, and as a common service provider in the programs and services it delivers to government and the Canadian public.

This Progress Report follows the December 2022 publication of PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan. It highlights the work which has taken place at PSPC over the past year to improve accessibility under the PSPC priority of an accessible culture, as well as the 7 priority areas of the Accessible Canada Act. In all, the 8 priorities are:

Visit the section Accessibility Plan: Eight Priorities of this Progress Report for an update on achievements and activities that occurred since PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan was released.

With this Progress Report, each activity in PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan is aligned with a Key Performance Indicator and a measurement framework for tracking progress and reporting on achievements. These Key Performance Indicators were co-developed with branches in early 2023. Results from January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023 will be published in PSPC's 2024 Progress Report. Visit Annex B: Key performance indicators in this Report for an outline of all activities, indicators, desired outcomes and branch offices of primary interest for each priority area of the Accessibility Plan.

In the spirit of the “Nothing About Us Without Us” principle, this year PSPC engaged broadly with persons with disabilities and allies to learn more about what is working, as well as barriers that remain to improving accessibility. We learned that a lot of work is still needed before our department can become fully accessible for PSPC employees, and for those to whom we provide services, and we are committed to making this goal a reality.

Consultations took place in spring 2023 and we heard from over 1,400 employees across the department, as well as from members of PSPC's Accessibility Advisory Panel, made up of experts from external organizations representing persons with disabilities. A summary report was developed to share common themes and emerging issues which came to light during consultations. This report was made available to participants and shared widely across the department, including with senior management. The PSPC Accessibility Office is continuing to engage broadly towards addressing issues and sharing ideas raised by participants.

In addition, a department-wide survey gave employees a chance to respond to various questions about the current state of accessibility at PSPC. A summary of the consultations and survey feedback can be found in Annex A: Consultations results.

The feedback process developed as part of PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan has been in place since December 2022, and invites respondents to reach out to the Accessibility Office by telephone, mail, email or using an online contact form. A summary of the responses submitted from the period of December 20, 2022 until October 10, 2023 can be found in the Feedback section of this report. In response to feedback received, American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) versions of this Progress Report are being made available in collaboration with Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees to ensure the content developed reflects the needs of the community.

Several pieces of feedback regarding operations and policies have been flagged for future consideration when developing PSPC's next Accessibility Plan, including the need to account for intersectionality, and suggestions for activities to enhance an accessible culture.

We are grateful to the many partners at PSPC, across government and externally for their advice and collaboration towards removing barriers to accessibility. Thank you also to the persons with disabilities and allies who shared their perspectives via consultations, PSPC's accessibility survey and the Accessibility Plan feedback process.

Everybody can support a more accessible workplace. Accessibility comes about from openness, learning from one another and taking often simple actions to create environments where inclusion is built in. The past year has revealed many opportunities to make progress on accessibility and PSPC looks forward to continuing this meaningful work in the years ahead.

Introduction

This is Public Services and Procurement Canada's (PSPC) 2023 Progress Report on Accessibility. It presents work to improve accessibility across the department over the past year. This Report supports PSPC's commitment to remove barriers to accessibility for its employees, and as a common service provider in the programs and services it delivers to government and the Canadian public.

This Progress Report follows the December 2022 publication of PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan to remove barriers faced by employees, partners and all Canadians who access our programs and services. Under the Accessible Canada Act, federal departments and agencies must publish accessibility plans every 3 years. Progress Reports on accessibility are then released in the years between publication of accessibility plans.

PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan seeks to create conditions for a more equitable and inclusive department for persons with disabilities. The Plan also aligns with PSPC's 2021 to 2025 Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), which calls for equity and inclusion across the department's diverse workforce.

This Report highlights work which has taken place at PSPC over the past year to improve accessibility under a culture priority, as well as each of the 7 priority areas of the Accessible Canada Act. These 8 priorities are:

In keeping with the “Nothing Without Us” guiding principle of the Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada, persons with disabilities have also been consulted broadly in the development of this Report. Consultation helps us to learn about areas which need attention and where improvements have been made. Key findings are presented later in this Report.

General

Alternate formats:
Alternate formats are available on demand. You can contact us to request a version of this Progress Report or our feedback process in an alternate format.
Feedback:

Should you wish to provide feedback about PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan, this 2023 Accessibility Progress Report or any barriers you have experienced when interacting with PSPC, please contact us using any one of the following methods.

For more information on how to provide feedback to PSPC and what PSPC will use this feedback for, please see Feedback Process.

Contact:
Director of the Accessibility Office
Phone:
1‑873‑353‑9495 (between 8 am and 4 pm EST)
E-mail:
spac.directeuraccessibilite-directoraccessibility.pspc@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca
Mailing address:
Public Services and Procurement Canada
2nd Floor
11 Laurier St Portage III Place du Portage
Gatineau QC K1A 0S5

Message from the Chairperson, Persons with Disabilities Network

It has been a privilege for me to serve as the first full-time Chair of PSPC's Persons with Disabilities Network from May 2021 to May 2023. In my first days on the job, I clearly remember our first town hall virtual event hosted by our then Deputy Minister, who was looking for our frank feedback. Over 900 attendees participated and the discussion was refreshing, engaging and meaningful.

I would like to acknowledge the hard work of those who came before me and who built and led our Network over many years. Persons with disabilities networks offer a valuable community for employees and provide an important challenge function to help ensure that accessibility and inclusion are considered at the centre of decision-making.

It would be difficult for me to express everything that has been accomplished over the past 2 years, but despite making progress as change agents, I believe the true impact of our work has yet to be felt across the breadth of our organization. While we have seen commitment and concrete actions taken by senior management to remove barriers and advance change, I believe the most difficult work still lies ahead.

Real change must permeate through our business roles at all levels, and this will happen only when individuals can shift their mindsets towards inclusion by default in the workplace. There are now rules and accessibility legislation in place; yet reports and action plans alone will not cut it. Employees with disabilities cannot be an afterthought over daily work priorities.

The pandemic has forced a shift in how we view work. As is often the case, overcoming systemic barriers is leading persons with disabilities to become pioneers by obligation in discovering tools and attitudes which ultimately benefit society as a whole. As we continue to advocate for change, I invite you to gauge your own wellness and level of enthusiasm. Do you feel safe, appreciated, generally happy, and able to express your authentic self at work?

When more persons with disabilities feel included and appreciated for their unique contributions, the workplace will by default be better for each and every PSPC employee. This change will permeate more largely into society and in Canada. This is what we collectively work towards every day.

In closing, a sincere thanks to Jennifer MacDonald for leading with me during my time in this role, and to senior leaders for their vote of confidence and for inspiring me along the way. I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past 2 years and am looking forward to our work continuing.

Pierre Losier
Former Chairperson, Persons with Disabilities Network

Accessibility plan: Eight priorities

In this section

In this section of the Progress Report, the 8 priorities of PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan are revisited, with progress updates on the activities under each priority area. Annex B: Key performance indicators provides details of how PSPC is measuring progress on the activities under each priority area of the Accessibility Plan over the course of the calendar year.

The barriers listed in the following sections were gathered from consultations conducted in 2022 prior to publishing PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan. PSPC has been working to address these barriers over the past year, while also responding to emerging barriers from this year's consultations held in spring 2023. See Annex A for a discussion of key findings shared by participants during the most recent consultations.

Culture

Although culture is difficult to measure, it is key to meaningful advancement in accessibility. In its commitment as an employer of choice for persons with disabilities, PSPC is steadfast in its commitment to creating a workplace where all employees feel fully welcomed and included.

2023 to 2025 Accessibility plan objective

Strengthen a culture of accessibility and disability inclusion in all areas of PSPC's work.

Barriers

During consultations, participants told us that culture shift is a key to meaningful and lasting change. Participants also shared that leaders play an important part in creating expectations and setting an inclusive tone. Employees with disabilities told us that attitudinal barriers are still among the biggest obstacles they face.

In addition, the importance of empathy and open-mindedness were repeated themes in all discussions about culture. We heard that individuals need to feel safe in identifying as a person with a disability, given that they can work just as effectively as others.

Progress to remove barriers and prevent new ones

Many activities have taken place across the department this year in support of this objective, notably:

Culture change occurs in many ways and it influences progress in all other areas of accessibility. PSPC will continue to prioritize a welcoming and inclusive workplace for its employees, stakeholders and the Canadians it serves in the year to come.

Employment

PSPC has been prioritizing recruitment of employees with disabilities in support of the government's commitment to hire 5000 new public servants with disabilities by 2025.

While just 5.5% of PSPC's employees currently self-identify as having a disability compared with current workforce availability of 9.4%, recruitment slightly surpassed exit rates in 2022 to 2023 for the first time in 3 years. This is a promising step in the right direction. The department intends to build on this momentum by:

2023 to 2025 Accessibility plan objective

Through accessible and inclusive human resource practices, create conditions to support recruitment, onboarding, retention, career development and accommodation of employees with disabilities.

Barriers

During consultations, we heard about inaccessible and burdensome hiring processes which negatively impact all candidates with disabilities, but especially those with invisible limitations. While some progress has been made at PSPC and across government, participants shared that a lot of work is still needed. We also heard that there are still degrees of exclusion which make it even more difficult for candidates with hidden disabilities to join the public service. As one participant told us, it will be important to adapt hiring to support specific disability groups, otherwise, we will not truly have a level playing field. A number of employees also mentioned being hesitant to disclose their disability for fear of not being selected out of human resources (HR) pools or being looked over for promotions even when fully qualified.

Progress to remove barriers and prevent new ones

In order to further increase numbers of employees with disabilities, ongoing work at PSPC includes:

Other areas of focus this year have included:

PSPC will take concerted action in the year ahead towards building a representative workforce which reflects the strength of Canada's diversity.

Built environment

As the government's common service provider for the built environment, removing barriers to accessibility across the real property portfolio has continued to be a leading priority this year. The Government of Canada has transitioned to a hybrid work model emerging out of the pandemic, and this has placed an emphasis on accessibility with the return-to-office.

2023 to 2025 Accessibility plan objective

Be a leader for the government by removing barriers in the PSPC built environment.

Barriers

During consultations, participants highlighted barriers related to and uncertainty around the future of work and the hybrid work model as a source of deep anxiety. Some felt that transitioning back to working in-person would take away from time which could be otherwise used for rest and physical rehabilitation which telework during the pandemic allowed. Concerns related to mobility and adaptive technology were also raised. Participants wondered how realistic it might be for employees with disabilities to access a hybrid work model involving open office work on some days and teleworking on others. For this reason, maintaining flexibility with where and when employees with disabilities were working was recommended as an important departmental consideration.

Progress to remove barriers and prevent new ones

PSPC's Real Property Services (RPS) has been making progress in a number of areas, namely:

In addition, the Science and Parliamentary Infrastructure Branch (SPIB), responsible for stewardship of the Parliamentary Precinct buildings and Laboratories is continuing to ensure that universal accessibility remains at the centre of work to rehabilitate existing facilities and build new ones. Among key activities this year, SPIB has:

PSPC will continue to be a leader for the government through its commitment to removing barriers in the built environment in the year ahead.

Information and communication technologies

Digital communication has become an increasingly important aspect of the way we work at PSPC, particularly when it comes to ensuring employees with disabilities have the accessible tools they need. This past year, an increase in requests related to the procurement of accessible technology suggests increased awareness of, and need for, adaptive tools and supports.

2023 to 2025 Accessibility plan objective

Improved access to technology for all employees in order to do their job.

Barriers

During consultations, we heard that despite efforts to enhance accommodations for employees with disabilities, it can sometimes still take weeks or months to receive support. While not common, this should not happen at all. Individuals we spoke with also shared that certain adapted software is not supported. In addition, the lack of integration of certain technologies with main systems can make it difficult or impossible for employees with disabilities to work efficiently.

Progress to remove barriers and prevent new ones

PSPC's Digital Services Branch (DSB) has been hard at work to improve accessibility performance of IT assets and resources through various initiatives including:

PSPC is also continuing its work to support government partners to create accessible documents in digital format. Led by the Digital Imaging Solutions Directorate within the Receiver General and Pensions Branch (RGPB), the initiative is progressing and Phase 2, evaluating vendor bids, is underway.

Digital accessibility will continue to be at the forefront of PSPC's work to accommodate and include persons with disabilities in 2024.

Communication, other than information and communication technologies

Effective communication is a cornerstone of accessibility, and easy access to online content is critical to ensuring people obtain the information they need. Accessibility must be built into all areas of communication to meet a range of needs. PSPC encourages its employees and partners to support accessible communication in our daily work and interactions, and with the services and programs we deliver to the public.

2023 to 2025 Accessibility plan objective

Provide equitable access to information for PSPC employees, partners and the public.

Barriers

During consultations, we heard concerns from employees who are deaf or hard of hearing about the complex process to book an American Sign Language (ASL) or Langue des signes Québécoise (LSQ) interpreter. Employees also talked about the importance of plain language as a key to accessible communication.

Progress to remove barriers and prevent new ones

This year, in efforts to remove barriers to access for persons with disabilities, PSPC is:

As a federal government leader in the area of sign language interpretation and accessible communications, the Translation Bureau continued this year to support access to Government of Canada information to Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Deaf Disabled, Deafened and Hard of Hearing Federal employees and Canadian citizens. While the Translation Bureau's work to deliver sign language interpretation is an ongoing permanent service, one challenge in meeting the increasing demand for American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) interpretation has been the global shortage of qualified interpreters. The Bureau is working with various stakeholders in Canada's language sector, including academia, to support training and accreditation of new interpreters in efforts to address this shortage. The Bureau is also exploring various business models in the creation of a sign language translation service line (translation from written English or French to ASL or LSQ).

The Receiver General and Pensions Branch (RGPB) has also been promoting accessibility in communications this year in a number of ways, notably:

Accessibility must be built into all areas of communication to meet a range of needs. PSPC will continue to encourage its employees and partners to support accessible communications going forward.

Procurement of goods and services

In addition to its common service provider role for the built environment, PSPC supports federal departments and agencies in their daily operations as their central purchasing agent. As a result, federal procurement is another leading priority for the department. PSPC is committed to modernizing government procurement practices so that the goods, services and facilities it procures are accessible and inclusive for all.

2023 to 2025 Accessibility plan objective

Modernize procurement practices so that goods, services and facilities procured by the government are accessible and inclusive for all.

Barriers

During consultations, participants shared that there is a need to promote a deeper understanding of what accessible procurement really means. We also heard that concrete steps are needed to further educate and support contracting authorities to uphold accessibility. Participants told us that while there continues to be an emphasis on social procurement, there is a need to do more to encourage disability entrepreneurship and enhance community awareness.

Progress to remove barriers and prevent new ones

This past year the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre (APRC) at PSPC:

Procurement Assistance Canada (PAC), which encourages small and medium businesses to take part in federal procurement has also been promoting accessibility with key partners. This includes the Inclusive Workplace and Supply Council of Canada (IWSCC). Discussions this past year focussed on identifying barriers and opportunities for businesses owned or led by persons with disabilities to access federal procurement.

In addition to increased provision of ASL and LSQ interpretation at PAC's outreach events, PAC also launched a new Coaching Service this year. It offers tailored guidance and advice to businesses led or owned by persons with disabilities who have experienced limited success in federal procurement bid processes. The service is available to members of equity-seeking groups including persons with disabilities. It can assist with some of the typical barriers faced by suppliers, including the use of complex procurement systems.

PSPC will continue to support the government by sharing information to help federal buyers and procurement professionals understand accessible procurement. It will do this by creating conditions for accessibility in federal procurement and promoting the value of accessible goods and services on an ongoing basis.

Design and delivery of programs and services

As a common service provider, PSPC offers a wide range of programs and services to the government and to Canadians. The department is committed to prioritizing accessible program and service delivery by listening to and acting on feedback from persons with disabilities on an ongoing basis.

2023 to 2025 Accessibility plan objective

Strive to offer programs and services that are easily accessible to all.

Barriers

During consultations, we heard about the importance of accessibility by default as a key principle to bring about meaningful change. Individuals talked about the need to apply accessibility as a consistent lens in all aspects of program and service delivery.

Progress to remove barriers and prevent new ones

Acting on a commitment to create a process for policy development which considers accessibility, PSPC's Accessibility Office is working with the Persons with Disabilities Network to form a sub-committee of employees. The sub-committee will review new and revised PSPC policies and directives through an accessibility lens. A Terms of Reference is being developed to support the work of this committee.

The Receiver General and Pensions Branch (RGPB) has also been promoting accessible program and service delivery this year by:

PSPC will continue to prioritize accessibility in its mandate to offer programs and services to Canadians of all abilities.

Transportation

PSPC is committed to understanding and addressing the barriers which impact transportation at our buildings for persons with disabilities. This is particularly important moving forward from the pandemic and with the transition to the Common Hybrid Work Model.

2023 to 2025 Accessibility plan objective

Support accessible transportation for employees and members of the public by removing known barriers at PSPC buildings.

Barriers

During consultations, we heard a variety of perspectives related to the return to work and considerations with commuting to and between workspace locations. One topic which generated a great deal of discussion was the need to consider accessible parking. Participants suggested that reserving accessible parking should be included as an option within PSPC's Archibus office space reservation system.

Progress to remove barriers and prevent new barriers

Consultations were held with members of PSPC's Persons with Disabilities Network in order to dig deeper into challenges faced by employees and other visitors to PSPC buildings. Input from these consultations enabled PSPC's Real Property Services to identify high impact, low-cost accessibility improvements in Crown-Owned assets. This work has come to be referred to as the Lean Forward Initiative. To date, 73% of these initiatives have been completed across PSPC's national Crown-Owned portfolio. This includes work to improve access to accessible parking at PSPC Crown-owned facilities.

Accessible parking is a necessary accommodation for many employees with disabilities and other visitors to PSPC. The department will continue to look for ways to improve the availability of accessible parking going forward.

Message from PSPC's Co-Champions for Diversity and Inclusion

This Progress Report is a testament to the work which is ongoing at PSPC to remove barriers for our employees with disabilities, our partners, and the public we serve. Every day we see the steps which teams of professionals in human resources, digital services, real property, procurement, communications and many other areas of our department are taking to create inclusive conditions for employees of all abilities.

We recognize, however, that there is still a lot more work to do. From processes which pose barriers to hiring and retaining candidates with disabilities, to timeliness in implementing the right accommodations, our transition to an accessible employer and service provider will only be strengthened through action.

Building an accessible workplace is a key priority for PSPC. We believe strongly that diversity and inclusion is one of our defining strengths. We are also committed to ensuring that accommodations go beyond technical aspects to a workplace culture within which our employees, stakeholders and those we serve feel psychologically safe. This is consistent with the feedback brought to our attention during the consultations outlined in this report.

We remain committed to advocating for improvements to accessibility in our joint role as Co-Champions of Diversity and Inclusion. We hope you will share our aspiration for a PSPC without accessibility barriers.

Alexia Touralias
Ontario Regional Director-General and PSPC Co-Champion for Diversity and Inclusion

Lorenzo Ieraci
Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Planning and Communications Branch and Co-Champion for Diversity and Inclusion

Consultations

In the spirit of “Nothing Without Us”, consultations were held with PSPC employees and other stakeholders between January and May 2023. The consultation process enabled employees to provide feedback on general accessibility concerns and the early implementation of PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan.

In addition to an online survey, consultations included a series of 3 virtual employee consultation sessions, and a specific consultation engaging members of PSPC's Accessibility Committee made up of branch and regional accessibility representatives as well as participation from PSPC's Persons with Disabilities Network. A consultation was also held with PSPC's external Accessibility Advisory Panel The panel is a working group made up of experts from organizations representing persons with disabilities across Canada. Members of this panel include representatives from the Rick Hansen Foundation, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Canadian Association of the Deaf, Canadian Hearing Services, Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, LiveWorkPlay, the Environmental Health Association of Quebec, the Office of Public Service Accessibility within the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Accessibility Standards Canada.

Consultations were well-attended. It was difficult to track precise numbers, as participants joined and departed throughout the sessions. In addition, the default maximum participation rate reported on MS Teams as 1,000 when actual numbers were greater. Approximate numbers of participants are outlined below:

In addition, 117 participants completed the online survey in all or in part.

Consultation sessions

Each virtual consultation was moderated by the PSPC Accessibility Office. All efforts were made to create a safe space for attendees. However, by nature of the virtual format, comments submitted via the Microsoft Teams Chat function were visible to all participants. Nonetheless, all input was tracked and recorded anonymously. Attendance was open to PSPC employees of all levels, including senior management and executives, regardless of their connection to the disability community.

Please visit Annex A for an analysis of results from the consultation sessions.

Anonymous online survey

An online survey, available to all PSPC employees from May 9 to 31, 2023 provided an additional method for employees to express their opinions. The questions covered topics across the priorities of the Accessible Canada Act. They were developed in collaboration with PSPC branches towards supporting them in their efforts to improve accessibility in their areas of work.

Please visit Annex A for an analysis of results from the survey.

How consultations were taken into consideration

A summary report was developed to communicate common themes and emerging issues which came to light during virtual consultations. This report was shared with participants and more widely across the department, including with senior management. The Accessibility Office is continuing to engage on an ongoing basis with relevant branches towards addressing issues shared by participants during consultations and the survey. Several suggestions regarding operations and policies have also been flagged for future consideration in refocussing activities within the Accessibility Plan. There was a particular focus on issues involving potential areas for improvement in the built environment, along with ideas to address concerns related to the accommodations process.

Message from PSPC's Ombud for Mental Health

As Ombud, Mental Health, I am pleased to contribute to our collective priority of making our workplaces inclusive, safe, psychologically healthy, and productive for all employees.

PSPC is leading in many ways. We have recently integrated the Task Force on Anti-Racism, Workplace Culture and Equity, and 5 Diversity Networks into the Ombud Office, Mental Health.

In the past years, there have been government-wide discussions about the importance of creating safe spaces where employees can discuss how they are facing workplace issues and barriers. The second survey for the Public Service Accessibility Strategy identified key areas strongly aligned with the mandate of an Ombud's Office, given our standards of practice of independence, confidentiality, impartiality and informality. Many respondents identified the need to establish a confidential mechanism for employees with disabilities to address their accessibility and inclusion concerns. They also identified the need to better enable managers to address accessibility requirements with confidence.

I am pleased to report that as of May 1, 2023, PSPC welcomed Dr. Katie Kamkar into the new position of Executive Advisor to the Deputy Minister on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and as Associate Ombud to support this very important work. Along with Dr. Kamkar, we are currently delivering workshops on empathetic leadership across all branches and regions of PSPC. Our delivery is based on leading-edge research on employee engagement, productivity and innovation. We are also developing our work plan with PSPC's Persons with Disabilities Network, and through the Advisory Council on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to discuss how we address workplace issues, recruitment and retention. From an Ombud's perspective, our priority is our employees' experience in the workplace and how we ensure equitable processes in support of employees needs.

We will work with key stakeholders in the department to ensure that this employee experience is optimal, that we address concerns as they come up, equip our managers with best practices in empathetic leadership, and monitor the retention of our employees. We appreciate this very important Progress Report and recognize the strong and valuable contribution towards our agenda for an equitable, inclusive and diversified public service. All employees and managers of PSPC are welcome to reach out to the Ombud's Office to discuss their own lived experience.

Mario Baril
Ombud for Mental Health

Feedback

The feedback process developed as part of PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan invited respondents to reach out via telephone, mail, email, or using an online contact form where feedback could be provided anonymously. PSPC's Accessibility Office is the primary contact for individuals to provide feedback via the methods noted above. All feedback has been kept confidential and continues to be stored electronically as per Accessible Canada Act requirements.

In all, 51 instances of feedback were submitted from the time of the Accessibility Plan's publication on December 20, 2022 until October 10, 2023. 37 instances of feedback were provided via an online form, 13 by email, and 1 via telephone voicemail. No instances of feedback were received by mail.

Feedback has been summarized into themes spanning a variety of topics, as follows:

There were many helpful suggestions on actions PSPC could consider taking to improve accessibility and remove barriers, notably:

How feedback was taken into consideration

Feedback related to specific practices and policies was shared for awareness and consideration with branch offices of primary interest (OPIs). Several pieces of feedback related to policies and operations have also been flagged for future consideration in refocussing activities within the Accessibility Plan. In particular, this involved ideas and suggestions for culture activities and intersectionality considerations. In addition, input from consultations discussed in Annex A of the Progress Report has been shared with various levels of senior management. This has been done through the approvals process for this report, as well as a presentation to PSPC's Executive Committee in September 2023.

Concerns flagged with respect to minor errors in the Accessibility Plan are also being corrected, along with a more rigorous inspection of the French translation. In response to feedback, ASL and LSQ versions of this Progress Report are also being made available in collaboration with Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees. This will ensure the content developed reflects the needs of the community.

Conclusion

In this 2023 Accessibility Progress Report, we have highlighted work from the past year to make PSPC more accessible and inclusive. However, there is always more work needed to ensure accommodations for our employees and build accessibility into the programs and services we deliver as a common service provider. At the same time, the actions of many individuals and teams across our department and beyond are making a positive difference in furthering accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

We are grateful to the many partners at PSPC, across government and externally for their advice and collaboration towards removing barriers to accessibility. Thank you also to the persons with disabilities and allies who shared their perspectives via consultations, the Accessibility Plan feedback mechanism, and PSPC's accessibility survey.

Accessibility comes about from openness, learning from one another and taking simple actions to create environments where inclusion is built in. Everybody can support a more accessible workplace. The past year has revealed many opportunities to make progress on accessibility. PSPC looks forward to continuing this meaningful work in the years ahead.

Annex A: Consultations results

In this section

Specific input into the results from the 3 virtual consultation sessions and the online survey which engaged PSPC employees in spring 2023 have been anonymized and summarized in the following sections.

Virtual consultations sessions

Following consultations on the implementation of the Accessibility Plan and accessibility in general at PSPC, the Accessibility Office developed a Summary Report. It contained a synopsis of the key topics and themes discussed, as well as anonymized quotations from participants. Notes from specific consultations remain confidential and have been retained by the Accessibility Office as per the Accessible Canada Act.

The summary report was shared across the department through our internal “In the Know” weekly newsletter, as well as with senior management. Major themes captured in the summary report are as follows:

Self-identification and accommodations

Many participants told us that receiving accessibility accommodations, both during the hiring process and on the job is challenging due to the need to disclose their disability, and the administrative process of self-identification itself. Participants shared that they would like the accommodations process to, among other things:

Mental health, invisible disabilities and accessibility training

Some participants noted that their experiences with stigma surrounding invisible disabilities and mental health conditions can lead to a workplace environment which does not feel psychologically safe. Participants would like to see:

Information and communication technologies (ICT)

As we move forward from the pandemic and transition to hybrid work, reliable and accessible information and communications technologies are essential, and participants had the following suggestions:

Accessible physical workspaces

Many participants felt that the physical office workspace needs improvement to become more accessible in the following ways:

Return to office transition

While there was some acknowledgement that we are in an extended period of transition, participants had many concerns and ideas regarding the hybrid by design concept across government for the return to office (RTO). Many participants shared that work from home (WFH) measures during COVID-19 removed accessibility barriers and as a result, they would like to continue to telework exclusively. Others shared that they felt less concerned about returning to the office itself than about logistics of hoteling workstations and transporting ergonomic equipment under the new hybrid by design model. Participants made the following suggestions to create a more inclusive and accessible return-to-office transition:

Survey results

A survey which invited all employees to respond to a variety of questions on their experiences with accessibility at PSPC was launched in May 2023. 117 participants completed the online survey in all or in part. While the survey was open to all PSPC employees whether or not they identified as a person with a disability, a number of questions were restricted to those who identified as a person with a disability by selecting the yes response to question 8. This allowed more targeted questions related to the implementation of the PSPC Accessibility Plan and accessibility of PSPC in general. Of the 95 respondents who completed question 8, 44 respondents identified as a person with a disability.

The survey asked employees about a range of topics, and some highlights from the survey are as follows:

Accessibility plan and activities

53% of respondents reported having knowledge of PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan. Of these respondents, 58% strongly or somewhat agreed that activities within the Plan will make PSPC more accessible, 21% strongly or somewhat disagreed, and 21% were either unsure, or neither agreed nor disagreed.

Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed that their work environment was safe for persons with disabilities. 49% strongly or somewhat agreed, while 36% strongly or somewhat disagreed, and 15% were either unsure, or neither agreed nor disagreed.

Accommodations process and new positions

There were several questions regarding the accommodations process. In terms of perceptions around whether PSPC is making improvements to accessibility accommodations, just 34% of persons with disabilities agreed, compared to 51% of those without a disability.

Respondents who identified as persons with disabilities were asked at what point they would disclose that they required disability-related accommodations during the hiring process. 32% selected that they would disclose their need for accessibility accommodations before an offer was made, while 46% indicated they would wait until after receiving an offer; 22% of respondents told us they would never disclose their disability during a hiring process.

Respondents who identified as persons with disabilities were asked if they had ever felt unable to accept a new position out of fear that being accommodated for their disability would take too long. 72% responded that this hadn't been the case or that the question wasn't applicable, while 28% indicated that they had previously turned down a position for fear it would take too long to be accommodated. These respondents were also asked how recently this had occurred, with 31% reporting the most recent instance being more than 3 years ago, 23% indicating it had happened within the past 6 months to 3 years, and 46% who shared that this had taken place within the past 6 months.

Physical barriers in the office

Respondents who identified as persons with disabilities were asked to rate the extent to which certain building features currently present barriers to accessibility, as follows:

Washroom access presented the most extensive barriers, with 26% of respondents pointing to significant barriers, 17% noting moderate barriers, and 57% observing that washroom access was not a barrier.

In terms of accessible parking, 24% of respondents indicated facing moderate barriers, 12% noted significant barriers, and 64% reported that accessible parking was not a barrier.

With respect to signage, 21% of respondents faced moderate barriers, 12% significant barriers, and 67% who noted that signage was not a barrier.

Entrances and elevator access also presented barriers to differing extents, with 21% of respondents stating they faced moderate barriers, 10% significant barriers and 69% for whom entrances and elevator access did not pose a barrier.

Annex B: Key performance indicators

Each activity listed in PSPC's 2023 to 2025 Accessibility Plan is now aligned with a Key Performance Indicator and a measurement framework for tracking progress and reporting on achievements. These Key Performance Indicators were co-developed with branches in early 2023 and can be found in the tables below, categorized by priority area and activity.

Results that align with the fiscal reporting period of April 30, 2023 to March 31, 2024 will be published in PSPC's 2024 progress report.

Table 1: Priority 1: Culture
Plan activity Indicator Desired outcome Office of Primary Interest (OPI)
1.1 Raise awareness about the benefits of accessibility and disability inclusion across the organization Number of accessibility and disability inclusion learning events and communications and number of participants reached More employees across the organization are aware of increased access and availability of learning opportunities across the organization Human Resources Branch (HRB) Policy, Planning and Communications Branch (PPCB) -Accessibility Office (AO) All branches and regions
1.2 Work together to share information about accessibility and inclusion among PSPC's employee networks Number of employees reached to raise awareness about accessibility Increased collaboration through bi-monthly meetings of the Workplace Equity and Inclusion Committee to help ensure open lines of communication HRB - Persons with Disabilities Network (PWDN) PPCB - AO
1.3 Consult with PSPC's external Accessibility Advisory Panel for guidance and advice on PSPC's strategic accessibility priorities Perception of effectiveness of the Panel among branch stakeholders and Panel members Effectively leverage external subject matter expertise to help inform more robust departmental accessibility initiatives PPCB - AO
1.4 Promote awareness about various disabilities in the workplace Rating of participant awareness levels before and after accessing an AO accessibility awareness learning initiative Increase awareness about various disabilities in the workplace PPCB - AO
Table 2: Priority 2: Employment
Plan activity Indicator Desired outcome Office of Primary Interest (OPI)
2.1 Support managers and employees with disabilities to use centralized PSPC accommodation and disability management services Number of new case files supported by the centralized PSPC accommodation and disability management programs and services Promote and raise awareness of the centralized PSPC accommodation and disability management services HRB
2.2 Launch a strategy to recruit, onboard, accommodate, retain and develop people with disabilities Percentage of persons with disabilities working at PSPC at all levels, including executives, management and employees as a proportion of all PSPC employees PSPC will have a proportional increase in representation of employees with disabilities at all levels, including percentage of new hires to support the government's overall recruitment targets HRB
Table 3: Priority 3: Built environment
Plan activity Indicator Desired outcome Office of Primary Interest (OPI)
3.1 Consult persons with disabilities and subject matter experts to learn about best practices and how to improve accessibility in the built environment Number of participants consulted and/or engaged with Leverage findings from accessibility assessments, employee input and subject matter experts to prioritize accessibility improvements in the built environment Real Property Services (RPS) Science and Parliamentary Infrastructure Branch (SPIB)
3.2 Update policies to support a barrier-free workplace Number of new or updated policies, processes and guidance documents New and updated policies, processes and guidance to support a barrier-free workplace RPS SPIB
3.3 Make accessibility improvements based on input from persons with disabilities Increase in the CSA Accessibility Score for PSPC crown-owned assets. (CSA B651-18) Improved accessibility informed by input from persons with disabilities RPS SPIB
Table 4: Priority 4: Information and communication technologies
Plan activity Indicator Desired outcome Office of Primary Interest (OPI)
4.1 Improve accessibility performance of information technology assets and resources Number of designers, developers and client requests for information about digital accessibility Accessibility performance of IT assets is enhanced, providing employees of all abilities greater access to internal systems Digital Services Branch (DSB)
4.2 Develop a more effective process to purchase and distribute adaptive technology and ensure users have timely access to ongoing support Develop new service phase one: positions staffed, training underway Adaptive technologies and timely accommodation supports are available to users as required DSB
4.3 Continue to support government partners to create accessible documents in digital format Successful development of an accessible imaging solution - measured in phases 1 to 3 PSPC supports government partners to create accessible documents in digital format Receiver General and Pensions Branch (RGPB)
Table 5: Priority 5: Communication, other than information and communication technologies
Plan activity Indicator Desired outcome Office of Primary Interest (OPI)
5.1 Move PSPC's public website to the more accessible Canada.ca
  1. Improved percentage of PSPC's public website content migrated to Canada.ca that is accessible based on Site Improve results
  2. Improved percentage of PSPC's public web content on Canada.ca intended for general audiences that has a reading level of grade 8 or lower based on Site Improve results
  3. All digital communications advisors have completed at least one WCAG course
New content pages are accessible, readable and usable, and advisors are applying the latest accessibility standards when creating web content PPCB - Digital Communications Directorate
5.2 Support access to sign language interpretation: at high-visibility public events, through a new sign language translation service line, and by developing partnership opportunities with teaching institutions to address the long-standing global shortage of qualified interpreters Percentage of requests fulfilled by the Translation Bureau within established service standards Increased capacity in the provision of sign language interpretation Translation Bureau
5.3 Use plain language in correspondence sent by the Government of Canada Pension Centre Percentage completion rate in plain language redesign of member-facing correspondence for new public service Pension Centre correspondence is developed in plain language Receiver General and Pensions Branch (RGPB) 
5.4 Encourage departments to publish accessible material on Government of Canada Publications Percentage of Government of Canada publishing departments advised annually on accessibility-related best practices, tools and resources Increased publication of accessible material on the Government of Canada Publications website RGPB
Table 6: Priority 6: Procurement of goods and services
Plan activity Indicator Desired outcome Office of Primary Interest (OPI)
6.1 Share information to help government buyers understand accessible procurement Percentage of procurement professionals within PSPC and departments or agencies who report awareness and capacity to consider accessibility in procurement Federal client departments and procurement professionals gain a greater understanding of accessible procurement and the resources available Procurement Branch -Accessible Procurement Resource Centre (APRC)
6.2 Promote awareness about federal procurement opportunities to businesses owned by persons with disabilities Number of events targeting persons with disabilities Businesses owned by persons with disabilities become more aware of federal procurement opportunities Procurement Branch - Procurement Assistance Canada (PAC)
Table 7: Priority 7: Design and delivery of programs and services
Plan activity Indicator Desired outcome Office of Primary Interest (OPI)
7.1 All new PSPC policies are to consider accessibility Number of new or revised policies and directives reviewed by the sub-committee All new or revised policies and directives have accessibility considerations built in HRB - PWDN PPCBAO All branches and regions
7.2 Efforts are made to ensure all programs and services are developed with accessibility in mind Number of workshops, advisory panels and working group meeting consultations held Dialogue between persons with disabilities and Programs and Services teams on improving accessibility and inclusion in programs and services is ongoing PPCBAO All branches and regions
7.3 Offer accessibility support to clients publishing in the Canada Gazette Number of client interactions which address accessibility Clients are able to access support on publishing accessible content in the Canada Gazette RGPB DSB
Table 8: Priority 8: Transportation
Plan activity Indicator Desired outcome Office of Primary Interest (OPI)
8.1 Improve access to accessible parking at PSPC Crown-owned facilities for all users Ratio of existing accessible parking spaces Employees with disabilities have increased access to safe and accessible parking spaces, with clear access to reception areas RPS SPIB

© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, 2023, ISSN 2817-9382

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