We’re excited to share significant progress on a key priority of CIJA, JFC-UIA, and many of our social service agency partners across the country.
As some of you may be aware, the federal government introduced the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) yesterday in the House of Commons.
Our community can be proud to have played a meaningful role in pushing for this historic legislation. A federal accessibility/inclusion law was among the proposals we raised with key officials we met with during our national disability policy “fly-ins” conducted for the past two years as part of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month – a successful annual collaboration between CIJA, JFC-UIA, and our Federation and social service agency colleagues across Canada.
The full text of the bill, which we are currently studying, may be found here. A few highlights include:
- Creating a Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization to formulate national standards and promote the removal of barriers, with cabinet having the authority to pass regulations to make these standards binding;
- Requiring regulated entities (federal departments, federal crown corporations, etc.) to prepare accessibility plans and progress reports in consultation with persons with disabilities;
- Establishing key authorities to uphold Canada’s accessibility/inclusion framework. A Chief Accessibility Officer will be appointed to provide the Minister with policy guidance on systemic or emerging accessibility challenges. An Accessibility Commissioner, located within the Canadian Human Rights Commission, will have the power to inspect, issue compliance orders, and impose monetary penalties – and will be required to provide the Minister with an annual report to be tabled in Parliament;
- Establishing a complaints process to enable individuals to obtain compensation for enduring harm (physical, psychological, economic loss, etc.) as the result of the contravention of regulations under the new act; and
- Designating the week starting on the last Sunday in May as National AccessAbility Week.
We’re pleased to say that a number of these elements – particularly those related to the creation of an Accessibility Commissioner and strong compliance and enforcement provisions – mirror the proposals CIJA and our partners shared directly with the government.
CIJA’s next step will be to further analyze the draft legislation and consult with our social service agencies to gather insights on how it may affect their clients, with the goal of providing constructive feedback about this important bill to all parties on Parliament Hill.