Accessibility Action Plan 2022-2025

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Message from Deputy Minister

It’s with great pride that Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) presents its Accessibility Action Plan and reiterates its commitment to building a barrier-free, diverse, and inclusive Canada that is accessible to everyone.

The Department is grateful to its many partners and employees for their vital contribution towards the development of its Accessibility Action Plan, which serves as a valuable pillar for its organization.

WAGE aspires to become a leader in the implementation of progressive accessibility policies, and in removing barriers that hinder the full and equal participation of all individuals in their workplace and community.

We want to foster a culture that understands why accessibility matters and prioritizes the integration of accessibility in everyday business activities, simply because it puts us in touch with reality and makes us a better organization.

Building a barrier-free workplace starts with demonstrating leadership and WAGE’s management team and employees are committed to taking action to advance accessibility and inclusivity.

We will monitor our progress as we go, and we will learn and grow as we aim to be better.

Let’s all think about what we can do individually, and collectively, to make our workplaces, our communities, and our country accessible and inclusive. It’s by working together that we’ll have the biggest impact.

Frances McRae
Deputy Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth

General

This Plan is an evergreen document. This document will be updated based on employee feedback and ongoing consultations. Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) will actively monitor, measure and report annually on its progress. This document will be completely reviewed and revised in 3 years.

Contact us

Anyone may contact the Director General, Human Resources Branch using the communication methods below to:

Mailing address:

Women and Gender Equality Canada
P.O. Box 8097, Station T CSC
Ottawa, ON K1G 3H6
Attn: Director General, Human Resources Branch

Phone:

Toll-Free: 1-855-969-9922
Local: 613-995-7835
TTY: 819-420-6905

Email: fegc.rhprogrammes-hrprograms.wage@fegc-wage.gc.ca

You can also use our online feedback form to contact us.

All requests will be acknowledged according to the same means by which we received the request. For feedback purpose, the information will be kept anonymous. All answers will be compiled and used to address future actions in a later plan.

We look forward to receiving feedback, questions, concerns, and suggestions on this Plan or other matters related to accessibility.

For more information, please visit our reply process page.

Executive summary

In 2010, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and committed to furthering the rights of persons with disabilities. The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) came into force in 2019 with a goal to realize a barrier-free Canada by 2040 and uphold the Government of Canada’s commitment to accessibility and the rights of persons with disabilities. A key principle of the ACA is “Nothing Without Us”, which means that persons with disabilities should be consulted when developing laws, policies and programs that impact them. The legislation focusses on identifying, removing, and preventing barriers to accessibility in 7 priority areas: employment; the built environment; information and communication technologies (ICT); communication other than ICT; the design and delivery of programs and services; the procurement of goods and services and facilities; and transportation.

The Department for Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) is committed to building a barrier-free workplace that is inclusive and accessible to its employees, stakeholders, and clients. WAGE aspires to be a leader in implementing progressive accessibility policies and removing barriers that hinder the full and equal participation of all individuals in their day to day lives.

WAGE’s Action Plan was informed by consultations with an internal working group and external partners. This includes feedback gathered through the accessibility employee survey and focus groups. Some of the major barriers identified were:

This Plan describes actions that address these barriers and support the ACA, including:

Accessibility in action at WAGE includes contributing to building an accessible and confident public service. There is great value in ensuring that public servants understand what accessibility means, why it matters, and prioritizing the integration of accessibility in everyday business activities to make WAGE a more accessible and inclusive employer and service provider.

Accessibility statement

The Government of Canada has taken actions to address persistent gender inequalities in Canada. To make progress towards a country where people of all genders are equal in every way and can achieve their full potential, Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) will continue to take action to advance more equitable social, political, and economic outcomes for women, girls, and people of all genders in Canada.

In particular, the department will focus on four priority areas:

WAGE’s Accessibility Action Plan is a framework for building an accessible and inclusive workplace, at all levels within the organization, that is representative of the population it serves. Providing accessibility training, raising awareness, and equipping employees with the right tools will help ensure that policies, programs, and services prioritize accessibility in their design, development and delivery, and that business decisions support accessibility goals. All employees at all levels play a key role in supporting WAGE’s accessibility goals, which include:

Consultations

Consultation activities undertaken in support of WAGE’s Accessibility and Action Plan support the principle of “Nothing Without Us” by encouraging the participation of those affected by the policy. This principle also served as the theme for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It reinforces the need to actively engage persons with disabilities in the design, development, and decision-making process.

WAGE, in partnership with the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) engaged in a process to review, assess and strengthen policies and planning, as guided by the ACA. The CCRW is a national not-for-profit organization that promotes and supports the meaningful and equitable employment of persons with disabilities. The review was undertaken in alignment with the principles of WAGE’s Accessibility Action Plan for the 2022-2025 cycle. These principles include:

In December 2021, WAGE established an internal Accessibility Working Group (AWG) comprised of members from various parts of the organization with expertise in the different areas as described in Section 5 of the ACA. Members have the mandate to represent their sector, analyze information collected and develop action plans to address the identified barriers.  They also validate the feasibility of these actions in relation to their respective fields of expertise.  Members ensure that the Action Plan is progressing according to pre-established timelines. They report any relevant information, training, or emerging topics on accessibility for discussion purposes and work on developing innovative approaches, on an ongoing basis.

In February 2022, a self-assessment tool was developed, in collaboration with the AWG, to assess the organization’s current accessibility readiness. This provided information on whether internal stakeholders had developed and/or implemented plans within their respective sectors to address relevant barriers.

WAGE launched its first Accessibility Survey in June 2022, during National AccessAbility Week (NAAW), to give employees a voice, and to inform the design of the Accessibility Action Plan. The objective of the survey was to:

Approximately 30% of the WAGE workforce completed the survey. Of that percentage, 26% of respondents identified as having a disability.

The methodology used for the survey was as follows:

The following diagram highlights survey results which illustrate the perception of accessibility in general of the current work environment for WAGE employees:

Text description
How would you rate the accessibility of your current work environment in general?

Somewhat Accessible

Very accessible

Completely accessible

Employees with disabilities

41%

39%

18%

Employees without disabilities

23%

30%

46%

The organization held two voluntary consultation sessions with persons with disabilities. For those who wished to participate in other ways, a questionnaire was sent to them to obtain their feedback. Questions were asked related to barriers they might have encountered or witnessed, that were either physical and/or architectural, technological, related to information and/or communication, attitudinal and systemic. They were also invited to propose solutions.

Overarching barriers identified within WAGE based on survey results, consultation with persons with disabilities and shared policy documentation include, but are not limited to:

Areas described under section 7 of the ACA

WAGE’s Accessibility Action Plan focuses on the seven (7) priority areas of the ACA and includes continuous engagement and consultations with persons with disabilities.

Text description

Build an accessibility-confident public service

Continuous engagement and consultation with persons with disabilities

  • Improve recruitment, retention, and promotion of persons with disabilities
  • Enhance the accessibility of the built environment
  • Make information and communications technology (ICT) usable by all
  • Communication other than ICT
  • Equip public servants to design and deliver accessible programs and services
  • Improve procurement of goods, services, and facilities
  • Share transportation information

Employment

Accessible employment at WAGE means that job seekers and public servants with disabilities have equal access to employment opportunities and can contribute at their full potential.

Barriers that have been identified within WAGE include, but are not limited to:  

OPI: Office of Primary Interest, HR: Human Resources

Actions OPI 2022–2023 2023–2024 2024–2025

Examine accommodation processes to increase timeliness and quality of service and to move to a yes-by-default approach

HR

 

Planned

 

Hold targeted recruitment processes to fill identified gaps, and access government-wide program to achieve this goal

HR

In progress

To implement

 

Identify and establish a hiring/recruitment and promotion target and plan based on context, staffing requirements, and gaps to significantly increase departmental representation in order for the public service to achieve a target of 7% representation of persons with disabilities by 2025

HR

Continuous

Continuous

Continuous

Ensure that anyone involved in the hiring process completes the following training: Inclusive Hiring Practices for a Diverse Workforce (H205)

HR

Continuous

Continuous

Continuous

Develop process and allocate resources regarding adjustments or accommodations during the staffing process

HR

In progress

To implement

Continuous

Build accessibility considerations into departmental human resources plans and all other plans (employment equity, diversity, and inclusion; wellness; official languages; etc.)

HR

In progress

To implement

Continuous

Develop guidance documents and tools for hiring managers

HR

In progress

To implement

 

Establish an accessibility sub-committee within the Diversity and Inclusion Committee (including employees with disabilities) to review and identify gaps when needed in order to be more accessible and inclusive

HR

In progress

To implement

 

Develop departmental development programs to focus more on opportunities for persons with disabilities

HR

To initialize

To implement

Built environment

Enhancing the accessibility of the built environment at WAGE works to ensure clients and employees have barrier-free access.

Barriers that have been identified within WAGE include, but are not limited to:  

OPI: Office of Primary Interest, CSB:  Corporate Services Branch, OHS: Occupational Health and Safety

Actions OPI 2022–2023 2023–2024 2024–2025

Review the built environment in consultation with persons with disabilities (employees, clients, and other people who regularly conduct business in buildings)

CSB

OHS

In progress

Continuous

Continuous

Review the new built environment in consultation with persons with disabilities (employees, clients, and other people who regularly conduct business in the building) in regional workspaces to identify how it could be more accessible and inclusive

CSB

OHS

 

To initialize

Continuous

Actively promote accessibility features and services offered in workspaces and public-facing spaces  

CSB

In progress

Continuous

 

Ensure that events and meetings are accessible to all employees and, where applicable, the public 

CSB

In progress

Continuous

Continuous

Information and communication technologies (ICT)

Make information and communication technologies at WAGE usable by all.

Barriers that have been identified within WAGE include, but are not limited to:  

OPI: Office of Primary Interest, CSB:  Corporate Services Branch, HR: Human Resources, Comms: Communications

Actions OPI 2022–2023 2023–2024 2024–2025

Ensure that accessibility considerations are included in departmental IT plan  

CSB  

Completed

   

Integrate and partner with accessibility, accommodation, and adaptive computer technology programs in order to offer a wide range of adaptations, alternate approaches, tools, training, services, resources, and adaptive computer technologies for employees with disabilities    

HR 

Comms

CSB 

Continuous

Continuous

Continuous

Review systems, software, websites, and equipment to ensure that they are accessible, and develop a plan to address barriers  

Comms

CSB

 

To initialize

To implement

Ensure accessibility features can be enabled on devices

CSB

Completed

   

Provide and promote resources for employees to generate (internal and external) accessible content with common tools (for example, Microsoft Office) 

CSB

Comms

HR

In progress

To implement

Continuous

Adopt measures and procedures to enable accessible, inclusive, and barrier-free IT equipment installations  

HR

CSB 

 

Planned

 

Deliver presentation on accessibility of IT to all employees  

Comms

CSB  

 

Planned

 

Communication, other than ICT

Provide a barrier-free environment at WAGE that offers accessible communications.

Barriers that have been identified within WAGE include, but are not limited to:  

OPI: Office of Primary Interest, CC: champions and committee, HR: Human Resources, Comms: Communications

Actions OPI 2022–2023 2023–2024 2024–2025

Provide documents in accessible formats, where possible, to promote accessibility  

HR

Comms

In progress 

Continuous

Continuous  

Identify resources to review documentation that will be shared with all employees in order to ensure accessibility

Comms

 

Planned

 

Develop an accessibility strategy to analyze barriers for persons with disabilities, and develop an action plan

HR

Completed  

Identify an accessibility champion who will provide visible and sustained leadership in the development and launch of a network of employees with disabilities within the Department (AccessAbility Ambassadors)  

HR

In progress

To implement

Develop a process to ensure that concerns from employees with disabilities can be provided confidentially, including through the ombuds office and confidential questionnaires  

HR

In progress

To implement  

 

Identify, promote, and encourage training from Canada School of Public Service and awareness-raising events, such as internal information sessions, to combat myths and remove stigma regarding disability  

CC

HR

Continuous

Continuous 

Continuous 

Promote self-identification form and self-declaration of employees with disabilities in order to reduce the stigma regarding disability and to improve reporting on the state of persons with disabilities in the public service  

CC

HR

Continuous

Continuous

Continuous

Develop tools for employees and managers to focus on developing inclusive and accessible environments from the start rather than seeking accommodations after the fact, including by implementing the Accessibility Passport from the beginning of the onboarding process  

HR

In progress  

To implement

Design and delivery of programs and services

Ensure WAGE is equipped to design and deliver programs and services that are inclusive, accessible, and benefit all.

Barriers that have been identified within WAGE include, but are not limited to:  

OPI: Office of Primary Interest, HR: Human Resources, PROG: Programs, POL: Policy

Actions OPI 2022–2023 2023–2024 2024–2025

Build accessibility into all new policies and programs by applying the GBA+ tool which includes a disability lens and incorporate an accessibility and inclusion checklist

POL

To initialize

Continuous

Provide assistance to employees and managers in navigating the accommodation process in order to provide employees with the tools needed to do their job

HR  

 

Planned

 

Gradually assess internal programs, in consultation with persons with disabilities at WAGE, to identify and remove barriers for persons with disabilities

PROG  

 

To initialized

Continuous

Obtain data on client satisfaction from the perspective of persons with disabilities by conducting an accessibility survey in the Department

HR

Completed

Continuous

Continuous

Monitor the provision of Grants and Contributions (G&C) assigned to organisations that provide support to persons with disabilities

PROG

Continuous

Continuous

Continuous

Procurement of goods, services, and facilities

This ACA priority was not identified as a major priority for the department. WAGE supports prioritizing accessibility in all procurement.

However, WAGE is committed to ensuring that all facets are considered to improve the accessibility to the end user and those involved in the process.

OPI: Office of Primary Interest, CSB: Corporate Services Branch, COMMS: Communications

Actions OPI 2022–2023 2023–2024 2024–2025

Consider accessibility in the early stages of the procurement process so as not to create barriers for end users

CSB

 

To initialize

Continuous

Transportation

This priority is not applicable to WAGE’s mandate. However, the topic was raised during consultations to broaden the perspective and no barriers were identified.

The Accessibility Working Group identified an opportunity to improve communication and information about what might be applicable in terms of transportation for employees.

OPI: Office of Primary Interest, CSB: Corporate Services Branch

Actions OPI 2022–2023 2023–2024 2024–2025

Share information about transportation services available near WAGE buildings (parking, cabs, public transport, and adapted transport)

CSB 

Comms

 

Planned

 

Roles and responsibilities

The Deputy Minister approves this plan and the Accessibility Champion, the Departmental Program and Operations Sector and the Strategic Policy Sector, and the Accessibility Working Group will support the Deputy Minister in its implementation, according to their expertise. Managers and staff also play a role in ensuring agreement, mutual accord, and compliance.

The accessibility champion

A member of the Executive Committee who reports to the DM and carries special responsibility for overseeing and ensuring that the work identified in the Action Plan is progressing satisfactorily and, if not, determines what management steps could be taken to ensure progress proceeds as planned.

Strategic policy sector

Departmental program and operations sector

Working groups

Executives (including Assistant Deputy Ministers, Directors General, and Directors)

Managers and Supervisors

Employees

Budget and resource allocation

In addition to current resources that support work to advance accessibility at WAGE, we are exploring the feasibility of creating a one-stop shop to support employees and managers in accessing services and resources.

Training

As part of its mandate, WAGE is focussed on actions to promote inclusion and remove barriers. These efforts are also focussed internally by offering its employees various training opportunities such as “Unconscious Bias Training.” Practices have also been initiated, at all levels within the organization, to build an inclusive workforce and foster a barrier-free environment such as introducing a mandatory requirement for all selection process board members to have completed unconscious bias training.

As part of its Accessibility Action Plan, WAGE will establish mandatory accessibility awareness training for all employees, including training specifically tailored to managers. Training will highlight the benefits of an environment that is welcoming and accessible for everyone and describe the role everyone can play in fostering an inclusive culture.

Recommended training will be delivered in consultation with persons with disabilities.

Oversight, monitoring and reporting

In accordance with the Accessible Canada Act and Regulations, we will publish an updated accessibility plan every 3 years. Progress reports will be published every year in between. In our progress reports, we will present an overview of the feedback we have received and how we have used it.

While the DM has assumed overall responsibility for the achievement of results, day to day oversight and monitoring has been delegate to the Human Resources Branch who, in turn, is assisted by several stakeholders and partners to monitor and report on progress. 

WAGE will monitor the efficiency of measures, practices, and activities outlined in this plan on a yearly basis and make necessary modifications and realignments as required based on external and internal factors. 

Glossary

Act:

Means the Accessible Canada Act

Accessibility:

The degree to which a product, service, program, or environment is available to be used or accessed easily by persons with and without disabilities. Improving accessibility helps everyone participate fully and equally in society and realize their full potential.

Accommodation (adjustment):

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 the equipment or tools
  • flexible work hours or 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
  • 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.

All-access (universal) washrooms:

Single-stall washrooms that are gender-neutral and have enhanced accessibility requirements. Universal washrooms grant a diverse range of people (in particular, trans and non-binary people and persons with disabilities) privacy, and the ability to avoid potential harassment in gendered washrooms. Additionally, universal accessible washrooms reduce barriers for people with disabilities, people who require aid or accompaniment, families, and anyone who has an enhanced need for privacy or physical space.

All of these washrooms’ fixtures (toilet, faucet, soap dispenser, paper towel dispenser, and toilet paper dispenser) are touchless. A swipe of your hand will allow you to enter and exit. The lights are automatically activated once the door is open, and the door will automatically lock shortly after entrance. There is also an emergency button with communication to the commissionaires for assistance if required.

Assistive Devices:

Means any piece of equipment or any product used to remove barriers to accessibility of or for persons with disabilities.

Barrier:

Anything — including anything physical, architectural, technological, or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a policy or a practice — that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation.

Bias:

A preconceived judgment that is held by a person and that influences their perception of or their behaviour towards another person or group of people.

Disability:

A broad category that encompasses a wide range of impairments, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment, or a functional limitation, whether permanent, temporary, or episodic in nature, visible or invisible, that hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society.

Diversity:

The inclusion of different types of people. A diverse workforce in the public service is made up of individuals who have an array of identities, abilities, backgrounds, cultures, skills, perspectives, and experiences that are representative of Canada’s current and evolving population.

Inclusion:

The act of including someone or something as part of a group. An inclusive workplace is fair, equitable, supportive, welcoming, and respectful.

Inclusion recognizes, values, and leverages differences in identities, abilities, backgrounds, cultures, skills, experiences, and perspectives that support and reinforce Canada’s evolving human rights framework.

Prejudice:

A preconceived judgment that is held by a person and that influences their perception of or their behaviour towards another person or group of people.

Persons with disabilities:

Persons who have a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric, or learning impairment and who a) consider themselves to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment, or b) 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.

Related Acts and regulations

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