Accessibility Legislation Across Canada: The current situation.

AuthorMcKay-Panos, Linda

The Accessible Canada Act and similar legislation in four provinces address systemic barriers of accessibility.

According to Statistics Canada (2017), 22% of Canadians over the age of 15 live with at least one disability that limits their everyday activities. Federal and provincial human rights legislation prohibit discrimination based on mental and physical disability. However, many believe there is a need to proactively address systemic barriers. In 2019, Canada passed the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), which applies to matters under federal jurisdiction (e.g., banks, communications and transportation). In the preamble, the ACA recognizes the existing human rights framework that supports equality for people with disabilities in Canada. This includes:

* the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

* the Canadian Human Rights Act, and

* Canada's commitments as a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The federal government notes that the ACA builds on this framework through a proactive and systemic approach that identifies, removes and prevents barriers to accessibility. According to the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance. a barrier is "anything that does not allow people with disabilities to be included and take part in all areas of life and society. Barriers prevent people with disabilities from taking part in the same way that people without disabilities can".

The ACA defines barrier as:

barrier means 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. The purpose of the ACA is stated:

5 The purpose of this Act is to benefit all persons, especially persons with disabilities, through the realization, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, of a Canada without barriers, on or before January 1, 2040, particularly by the identification and removal of barriers, and the prevention of new barriers, in the following areas: (a) employment;

(b) the built environment;

(c) information and communication technologies;

(c.1) communication, other than information and communication technologies;


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