These recommendations have been developed by the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance
Oct 11, 2018
Who We Are
The Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance (FALA) is 56 disability-related organizations joined together to help develop strong and effective legislation.
FALA requests that the proposed Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) be strengthened by the recommendations provided in this document. We want Bill C-81 to receive Royal Assent in the current Parliament, no later than the spring of 2019.
Guiding Principles for this Document
- FALA recommendations use the term “people(s) with disabilities” to describe individuals, groups and organizations of people with disabilities. The phrase includes people who do and do not identify as having a disability and Indigenous Peoples.
- We support the definition of disability used in Bill C-81: “a physical, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or sensory impairment – or a functional limitation – whether permanent, temporary, episodic in nature, that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society”. However, we recommend that the words “evident or not” be added to the description of a functional limitation in this definition.
- Typically, FALA recommendations have been developed to address issues raised by, and relevant to, people(s) with disabilities. We defer to reports from David Shannon Law, ARCH Disability Law Centre and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance to provide legal and technical recommendations.
- FALA promotes a clear understanding of Bill C-81. This can be achieved by reading FALA’s plain language explanation developed in partnership with People First of Canada. Link to: https://include-me.ca/BillC81-plain-language
- FALA recognizes that there is a depth of rich input from organizations of and for people with disabilities. There is value in considering all submissions for improvements to Bill C-81.
- FALA welcomes feedback on these recommendations. This is a living document and changes to the recommendations may occur as the legislative process progresses. Please send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommendations for Improving Bill C-81
- In all areas of Bill C-81, the term “may” must be changed to “shall”. This change will make it clear that specific actions are mandated to drive the effective implementation of the new legislation.
- In all areas of Bill C-81, the terminology “Canadians with disabilities” must be changed to “people(s) in Canada with disabilities.” This will include landed immigrants and others who do not hold Canadian citizenship.
Timelines for Achieving a Barrier-Free Canada:
- Specific timelines/deadlines must be created for:
- Establishing the infrastructure to implement the Accessible Canada Act:
- Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization
- Standards and regulations committees
- Chief Accessibility Officer and office
- Accessibility Commissioner and office
- Setting and implementing the standards and regulations
- Progress Reports
- Establishing the infrastructure to implement the Accessible Canada Act:
- For substantive and progressive change:
- A deadline date must be set within a five-year period following Royal Assent for approving ALL standards and regulations in each specific area required.
- A deadline for full implementation of each standard and regulation, following their approval, must be set within 18-month period.
- It must be understood that there will always be continual progression towards a barrier-free society. It is not realistic to think that a deadline date will mark full compliance or completion of accessibility in Canada. Therefore, a review must occur every three years and a public report of progress must be developed with the intention of constant improvement.
Creating a Culture of Inclusion and Equity:
- All people employed by the federal public sector including parliamentarians and their staff, must engage in an intensive education program that ensures they understand and demonstrate inclusive attitudes and equitable practices that promote dignity for all people(s) with disabilities.
- All employees of the federal public sector must be exemplary role models for creating a culture of inclusion and equity.
- Policies and practices must be set and followed that change ablest attitudes.
- Employment outreach strategies must include actively recruiting people(s) with disabilities.
Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization and Chief Accessibility Officer Independence:
- The Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) and the Chief Accessibility Officer must operate at arm’s length of the Government of Canada.
- The CASDO staff, board and committee members must have experience in accessibility issues and regulations development.
- The CASDO staff, board and committees must include a minimum of 2/3 of people(s) with disabilities and represent diversity, inclusive of Indigenous peoples.
- Participation from services departments is required on CASDO standards and regulations committees. For example, when justice standards and regulations are being developed, a Department of Justice representative must participate.
- The Government of Canada must promote compliance, and in some cases require compliance, of federal standards and regulations by funding recipients.
- Where the funding recipient is subject to provincial/territorial standards that are distinct from federal standards, the best standard of the two will apply.
- Funding provided by the Government of Canada cannot support entities that have existing barriers for people(s) with disabilities. Nor can funding be provided to entities if new barriers will be created for people(s) with disabilities.
Address All Barriers:
- The new legislation must recognize the need to focus on all barriers for people(s) with disabilities that are subject to federal jurisdiction.
- Barriers in all facets of priority areas identified within Bill C-81 must be removed (i.e. built environment, employment, information and communication technologies, procurement of goods and services, program and service delivery, communication and transportation).
- Action must be taken to support people with disabilities who experience multiple barriers and those who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization.
- The six targeted barrier areas must be expanded to include the domain of Communication. This change will bring focus to barriers, accommodations and supports for people(s) with communication disabilities and as well for people who are Deaf. The ability to communicate impacts all service areas through face-to-face interactions, telecommunications, public forums and consultations, reading, writing and e-communications. Therefore, it is too important to not be included as one of the targeted areas.
Access to Communication Accommodations and Supports:
- ASL/lsq, as well as other forms of communication accommodations and supports as required (e.g., CART, plain language, and communication assistance) must be made mandatory through standards and regulations.
ASL/LSQ Language Recognition:
- Recognize ASL/LSQ as the official languages of people who are Deaf in Canada.
Effective Complaints Management and Enforcement System:
- A complaints management and enforcement system must be in place to receive and direct complaints to the appropriate government agency or department (e.g., the Accessibility Commissioner, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission).
- Safeguards must be established to:
- prevent compliance disputes between regulated agencies
- ensure that complaints are resolved expeditiously while using a standard process.
- Annual complaint summary reports that outline types of complaints, numbers of complaints and resolutions for complaints, must be made public to provide transparency, however, individual privacy must be maintained.
- There must be a mechanism in place to ensure the timely enforcement of regulations and a description for how monetary penalties will be used to force compliance.
- Unique barriers faced by Indigenous peoples must be a priority issue to be addressed in areas that fall within the jurisdiction of First Nations governments. The legislation must include recognition of Indigenous rights, the unique relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, and the fiduciary responsibilities owed by the Government of Canada to First Nations.
- Consideration must be given to the final determination regarding First Nations communities in Canada and their involvement/compliance with new legislation or under a distinct First Nation accessibility legislation (as requested by the Assembly of First Nations through Resolution no - 98/2017). Regardless of this determination, First Nations funding levels and policies must incorporate a disability lens/component to fully address barriers listed above within all First Nations communities in Canada.
- Funding must be made available so that people(s) with disabilities are properly compensated for their contributions to the design and implementation of this legislation. Too often people(s) with disabilities are asked for their lived experience and disability expertise with no financial compensation.
- Funding is also needed to develop toolkits, guides, trainings and other resources to ensure successful implementation.