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Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act: What to Know

Bill C-81, an Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada (Accessible Canada Act), is the proposed federal accessibility legislation. Tabled June 20, 2018, The Act’s purpose is to identify, remove and prevent accessibility barriers in several areas, including the following: information and communication technologies, procurement of goods and services and the delivery of programs and services.

Under the Act, there are three key duties federally regulated entities must fulfill:

  1. Create accessibility plans
  2. Set up feedback toolsImage of a gavel with law books in the background demonstrating T-Base’s expertise on accessible communications regulations and standards.
  3. Publish progress reports

Government agencies, banks and telecommunications providers are among the federally regulated entities that must fulfill these duties should Bill C-81 become law.

Accessibility plans

Regulated entities must consult people with disabilities to create accessibility plans. Accessibility plans must describe strategies for meeting legal obligations and improving accessibility; plans may cover services, practices or policies pertaining to the prevention, detection and removal of barriers. They must publicly publish these plans and tell the Government when and where they are published. Every three years—or sooner, if there are new rules—they must update the plans.

Feedback tools

Regulated entities must set up ways to receive and respond to feedback from employees and customers on their fulfillment of the plan and any barriers.

Progress reports

Regulated entities must consult people with disabilities to prepare and publish progress reports on the fulfillment of their plan. Reports must describe how the organization consulted people with disabilities, main concerns in the feedback received and how the organization responded to the feedback.

Enforcement of the Act

To ensure regulated entities are complying with the Accessible Canada Act, an enforcement officer will use proactive compliance activities: inspections and compliance audits.

If an officer finds an entity to be non-compliant, the following may occur:

  • Compliance order – An officer may issue an order to the regulated entity to stop or start an activity to achieve compliance with the Act.
  • Notice of violation – An officer may issue a notice of violation with either a warning or a penalty.
  • Administrative monetary penalties – Depending on the nature and severity of the violation, an officer may issue an administrative monetary penalty (a fine up to $250,000).
  • Compliance agreement – Regulated entities may agree to address the violation in a specific way by a specific time, potentially reducing the fine.

Stay updated on Bill C-81

Before becoming a law, Bill C-81 must be debated in both the House of Commons and the Senate and undergo additional readings. Only after this can it receive royal assent and officially become law. This process will begin once Parliament resumes in the fall of 2018. We will stay informed and continue to share updates via Twitter—so follow T-Base on Twitter!

Accessible Canada Act – resources:

First Reading – Bill C-81

Charter Statement – Bill C-81: An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

Making an accessible Canada for people with disabilities

In the news:

CTV News – Canada’s first national accessibility law tabled in Ottawa

CBC News – P.E.I. disabilities council applauds new federal bill

Cassandra Peterson

Author Cassandra Peterson

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