Community Living Ontario Supports Recommendations for Change to the Accessible Canada Act

Community Living Ontario this week expressed its support for a brief by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance to the Parliament of Canada. It was submitted on September 27th and recommends improvements to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act.

The Chair of the AODA Alliance, David Lepofsky, appeared before a Standing Committee of the House of Commons on October 25th to speak to the bill.

Chris Beesley, Community Living Ontaro’s Chief Executive Officer sent a letter to the Federal Minister for People with Disabilities, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, as well as to the Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities expressing the organization’s support for the brief.

Beesley wrote that “Ontario has had significant experience with accessibility legislation through the implementation of the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Over the years, the AODA Alliance has been a tremendous resource to the provincial government and citizens of Ontario as it has worked to analyze and respond to the implementation of that legislation.”

He encourages the Federal Government to consider the comprehensive response that the Alliance has provided to Bill C-81 and to act on its recommendations.

The AODA Alliance brief is exceedingly comprehensive, building on the years of experience here in Ontario in pushing for this province’s advocacy legislation. While the brief concludes that the Federal Government got a lot right in the draft legislation, there are still many improvements that could be made. The following is a summary of a few of the key area addressed by the recommendations:

  • The bill proposes a “progressive realization” approach to implementation. The Alliance recommends that the bill be amended to set a clear deadline for Canada to become accessible as Ontario did with its 20-year target.
  • While the bill gives the Federal Government and federal accessibility agencies/officials helpful powers to promote accessibility, it imposes no duty on them to use those powers. The alliance recommends that the bill be amended to impose duties on the Federal Government and its accessibility officials and agencies to use the bill’s powers and set timelines within which they must act.
  • While the bill requires federally-regulated organizations to establish accessibility plans, it does not require that they be good plans nor do they require that they be implemented. The Alliance asks that the bill be amended to correct this.
  • The alliance argues that the bill is unnecessarily confusing and complicated. It will be hard for people with disabilities and others to figure out what it means, and to navigate its complicated provisions. This is because the bill wrongly splinters the power to make accessibility standard regulations and the power to enforce the bill among a number of federal agencies. The Alliance recommends ways to simplify the bill and make it more effective.
  • The Alliance identifies a number of loopholes in the bill and ways to address them.
  • The Alliance recommends that all federal allocations related to the bill require the application of a disability lens with respect to how the funds are used.
  • The Alliance recommends that the key federal accessibility agencies that will oversee and enforce the legislation be independent of the Federal Government. Under the bill, they are not. They all report to the Federal Government.

You can find the brief by clicking here.

If you wish to express your support for this brief, you can do so by sending an email to the Standing Committee of the House of Commons. The committee’s email address is HUMA@parl.gc.ca.

Please also email the minister who is championing this bill, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister for People with Disabilities, at Carla.Qualtrough@parl.gc.ca, and be sure to copy the AODA Alliance on your email at aodafeedback@gmail.com.