Launch PDF: Canada-Gazette-02-13-2021-155-7.
Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 155, Number 7: Accessible Canada Regulations
February 13, 2021
Accessible Canada Act
Department of Employment and Social Development
Issues: It is estimated that 6.2 million Canadians have a disability, and this number is expected to grow. Therefore, the need to identify, remove and prevent accessibility barriers in Canada has never been greater. These barriers include physical obstacles, such as buildings without access ramps, as well as non-physical barriers, such as employment practices and hiring processes that can hinder the full participation of Canadians with disabilities in their communities.
To address these gaps, in 2019, Parliament enacted the Accessible Canada Act (the “Act” or “ACA”). The purpose of the Act includes the identification and removal of existing barriers, and the prevention of new barriers, in specific areas. Under the ACA, federally regulated entities must report to the public on their policies and practices in relation to the identification and removal of barriers by publishing their accessibility plans, feedback processes, and progress reports (“planning and reporting requirements”). The ACA also outlines the scope of the actions that the Accessibility Commissioner may take to ensure that federally regulated entities are meeting their accessibility obligations.
Description: The proposed Accessible Canada Regulations (the proposed Regulations) would operationalize the planning and reporting requirements in the ACA and establish a framework to promote compliance with accessibility requirements under the ACA. The proposed Regulations would apply to entities under federal jurisdiction, including federal departments and agencies; parliamentary entities; Crown corporations; the Canadian Forces; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; federally regulated private sector entities; and First Nations Band Councils (collectively referred to herein as “entities”). The proposed Regulations would establish specific criteria for the development and publication of accessibility plans, progress reports and feedback processes, and for determining the details of the administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) framework designed to promote compliance with the ACA.
Rationale: The proposed regulatory package is a key part of implementing the ACA and working toward the realization of a Canada without barriers by 2040. Taking no regulatory action would not be an option, as it would leave important provisions of the ACA unimplemented. For example, federally regulated entities are not required to publish their first accessibility plans until after a date set by regulations. In other words, the proposed Regulations are necessary to require entities to meet their planning and reporting requirements under the ACA.
In addition, while the ACA allows the Accessibility Commissioner to use AMPs as a tool to promote compliance, regulations determining penalty amounts for violations must be made under the authority of the ACA to operationalize this compliance and enforcement tool.
Without the proposed Regulations, the Accessibility Commissioner would not be able to issue AMPs, leaving the Commissioner without the strongest compliance and enforcement tool. The proposed Regulations are expected to primarily benefit clients and employers: Benefits to clients: The expected benefits are time savings in obtaining information about accessibility as a result of having this information in an alternate format and increased quality of life and social participation.
Benefits to employers: The expected benefit is more efficient use of employees’ time as a result of having accessibility information in alternate formats, increased job satisfaction and reduced anxiety, which improves the quality of life and social participation of people with disabilities.
According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, it is estimated that 6.2 million Canadians aged 15 and over (22% of the population) have a disability, and it is estimated that the actual numbers are likely higher.
As a result of the physical, administrative, institutional, technological, and attitudinal barriers that exist in the workplace, persons with disabilities are underrepresented in the Canadian labour force. Only 59% of Canadians with disabilities aged 25 to 64 are employed, compared to 80% of Canadians without disabilities.
Canadians with disabilities earn less than Canadians without disabilities (12% less for those with milder disabilities and 51% less for those with more severe disabilities) and are more likely to live in poverty.
It is estimated that increases in output and productivity associated with a higher level of labour-force participation and associated earnings of persons with disabilities could raise Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 3.2%.
Persons with disabilities also represent a significant potential client base for businesses. As the number of persons living with a physical disability is expected to rise from 2.9 million to 3.6 million over the next 13 years/
Nearly double the pace of the population as a whole, their real spending is expected to rise from 14 to 21% of the total consumer market. Removing barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from purchasing goods and services (e.g. financial services) is critical to both improving their quality of life and growing the Canadian economy.
To help address this issue, the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), which came into force on July 11, 2019, requires federally regulated entities to report on their policies and practices in relation to identifying and removing existing barriers, and preventing any future barriers in their organizations. However, for the ACA to work as intended, regulations are required to establish certain requirements regarding accessibility plans, feedback processes and progress reports and to establish details of the administrative monetary penalties framework.
In 2016, the Government of Canada began consultations with Canadians with the purpose of developing new federal accessibility legislation. In 2018, the Government introduced An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada (the Accessible Canada Act), which came into force on July 11, 2019. The ACA takes a proactive and inclusive approach to the identification and elimination of barriers in the federal jurisdiction. It includes seven areas for action:
– built environment;
– information and communication technologies (ICT);
– communication (non-ICT);
– procurement of goods, services and facilities;
– design and delivery of programs and services; and
The ACA provides the Governor in Council with the authority to make regulations regarding exempting entities from the application of the regulations; timing for publishing of accessibility plans, progress reports and description of feedback processes; how and when to notify the Accessibility Commissioner of the publication of accessibility plans, progress reports and descriptions of feedback processes; types of alternate formats that an individual may request and when they need to be provided by; retention of documents; service of documents; and administrative monetary penalties, including the classification of violations and associated penalty ranges.
These will apply to sectors and industries within the federal jurisdiction, such as banking, telecommunications, transportation, as well as federal government organizations. The ACA also establishes compliance and enforcement measures, as well as a mechanism for addressing accessibility complaints.
The ACA uses a sectoral approach that builds upon existing accessibility mandates. Therefore, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) continue to be responsible for accessibility within their respective jurisdictions. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is responsible for developing regulations for the sectors which are outside of the jurisdiction of the CTA or CRTC. These include Federal departments and agencies; Crown corporations, such as the National Gallery of Canada; Canadian Forces; Parliamentary entities; Banks; Grain elevators, feed and seed mills, feed warehouses and grain-seed cleaning plants; Uranium mining and processing and atomic energy; Postal sector; Canals; and Pipelines that cross inter-provincial or international boundaries.
Under the ACA, the Governor in Council may also make regulations for specific priority areas for sectors that fall under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). For telecommunications and broadcasting sectors, these include Employment; Built environment; Transportation; and Communication, other than information and communication technologies (as it relates to the areas mentioned above). For transportation sectors these include Employment; Built environment (other than a passenger aircraft, passenger train, passenger bus, passenger vessel, aerodrome passenger terminal, railway passenger station, bus passenger station or marine passenger terminal); and Communication, other than information and communication technologies (as it relates to the priority areas mentioned above).
Planning and Reporting Requirements of the ACA
The ACA requires that regulated entities prepare and publish their accessibility plans, descriptions of their feedback processes, and progress reports, but leaves it to regulations to specify how and when they are to be published.
ACA Rrequirements for Accessibility Plans
The ACA states that accessibility plans must be published and updated every three years, in consultation with persons with disabilities. Initial plans must be published within a year from the day set in regulations. Accessibility plans must indicate the regulated entities’ policies, programs, and practices in relation to the identification and removal of accessibility barriers and the prevention of new barriers.
ACA Requirements for Feedback Processes
Regulated entities must establish a process for receiving and dealing with feedback from persons with disabilities regarding the implementation of their accessibility plans and the barriers encountered by the regulated entity’s employees and other persons that deal with the entity.
ACA Requirements for Progress Reports
Under the ACA, regulated entities must prepare and publish progress reports, which updates the public on the implementation of their accessibility plan. The progress reports, published in the years between accessibility plans, must include information on the feedback received from persons with disabilities and how that feedback was taken into consideration. As with accessibility plans, entities must consult persons with disabilities every time they prepare a progress report. The report must include a description of the manner in which they consulted persons with disabilities.
ACA Requirements for Publication and Notification
The ACA requires that entities notify the Accessibility Commissioner of the publication of all planning and reporting requirements (accessibility plans, progress reports, and descriptions of feedback processes).
Compliance and Enforcement
To help ensure compliance with its requirements, the ACA provides for the appointment of an Accessibility Commissioner within the Canada Human Rights Commissioner (CHRC) who will be responsible for proactive compliance and enforcement, and dealing with complaints.
Administrative Monetary Penalties
The ACA provides the Accessibility Commissioner with a range of enforcement tools to verify, promote, and enforce compliance with the ACA and its regulations, including the power to conduct inspections and issue orders and notices of violation, including with penalties, and enter into compliance agreements. However, it leaves specific details around administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) to regulations.
The ACA gives the Governor in Council the authority to make regulations related to compliance and enforcement. Regulations would be needed to operationalize components of the AMP regime of the ACA.
Under the ACA, administrative monetary penalties do not apply to Parliament. Parliamentary entities that contravene relevant portions of the Act may request to enter into compliance agreements. The Speaker of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Commons must table every notice of default of a compliance agreement and every compliance order that has not been complied with received in the respective House.
The objective of this proposal is to contribute to the realization of a barrier-free Canada by 2040 by operationalizing the components of the ACA that promote compliance and require regulated entities to report on preventing, identifying and removing existing and future barriers within their organization.
For a more detailed description of the requirements, timing, next steps, and enforcement options, please go to the following link: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2021/2021-02-13/html/reg2-eng.html