Update on Accessible Canada Act and Open Letter

Thank you again for signing on to the Open Letter calling on Minister Qualtrough and MPs to strengthen Bill C-81 – Accessible Canada Act. 

As you likely know, on November 27, 2018 Bill C-81 passed third reading in the House of Commons and will now go to the Senate for review and study.  To read the House of Commons Third Reading debates, go to:https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/C-81/

Before passing third reading, Bill C-81 was amended by the House of Commons HUMA Committee. Some of the amendments made to the Bill include the following:

  • the definitions of “barrier” and “disability” were expanded by adding cognitive to the list of types of disabilities
  • the definition of disability was expanded by clarifying that it includes disabilities that may not be evident
  • communication was added as an area in which barriers must be identified, removed and prevented
  • facilities was added as an area in which barriers must be identified, removed and prevented
  • barriers must now be identified, removed and prevented in design and delivery of programs and services (not just delivery of programs and services)
  • an additional principle was added to Bill C-81 that the development and revision of accessibility standards and the making of regulations must be done with the objective of achieving the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities
  • the CTA, CRTC and government must now make at least one regulation about accessibility plans, feedback processes or progress reports, within 2 years of Bill C-81 becoming law
  • any exemptions from complying with accessibility standards are now limited to 3 years, and reasons for the exemptions must be made public
  • an additional consideration was added to the appointment of CASDO directors, regarding the importance of having directors that are representative of the diversity of disabilities faced by Canadians
  • when Accessibility Commissioner reviews a decision not to investigate a complaint or to discontinue an investigation, the complainant can make submissions in a manner that is accessible to them.

 These amendments are good, but they do not go far enough in strengthening Bill C-81. Key issues outlined in the Open Letter were not addressed in the amendments passed by the HUMA Committee.

 There remains a need to let government know that the Accessible Canada Act must be strengthened.

There are now over 90 organizations who have signed on to the Open Letter and shown their commitment to robust federal accessibility legislation.

We have set a goal of having 100 disability rights organizations from across Canada signed on to the Open Letter.  Please reach out to disability rights organizations you may know, share the Open Letter with them, and ask if they too will sign on.  Organizations who are interested in signing on to the Open Letter can send an email to:strengthenACA@gmail.com

Updated versions of the Open Letter in English and French are available on the websites of ARCH Disability Law Centre, CCD, and the AODA Alliance. To read the Open Letter, go to one of the following:

http://archdisabilitylaw.ca/node/1351

http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/socialpolicy/fda/Open-Letter-30October2018

https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/in-a-powerful-open-letter-sent-to-the-federal-government-an-extraordinary-lineup-of-thirty-four-disability-organizations-unite-to-press-for-key-amendments-to-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada/

To read the AODA Alliance’s recent analysis of the amendments made to Bill C-81, go to:

https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/canadas-house-of-commons-unanimously-passes-bill-c-81-the-proposed-accessible-canada-act-sending-it-to-the-senate-but-the-federal-liberal-government-blocked-many-key-amendments-that-would-have-m/

 We hope to continue sharing information about the Accessible Canada Act with you, through a google account and email address. If your organization does not wish to receive additional communication and electronic information from us, please let us know by emailing strengthenACA@gmail.com

For more information about the Accessible Canada Act, go to: http://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&billId=9990870

 

Sincerely,

Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director

ARCH Disability Law Centre

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