Skip to main content Skip to main menu >Toggle high contrast

An Historic Step On the Road to a Barrier-Free Canada for 4 Million Canadians with Disabilities Today – the Trudeau Government Just Introduced in Parliament for First Reading “An Act to Ensure a Barrier-Free Canada” – Disability Advocates Rushing Now to Size it Up

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
News Release For Immediate Release

June 20, 2018 Toronto: In a major step forward in the national grassroots campaign to make Canada become accessible to four million people with disabilities in this country, the Trudeau Government just introduced in Parliament for First Reading its promised new Canadian accessibility law, called “An Act to Ensure a Barrier-Free Canada”. This law was promised in the 2015 federal election at the request of Canadians with disabilities, to ensure that Canada becomes fully accessible to four million people with a physical, sensory, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or other disabilities.

“Even in 2018, four million people with disabilities in Canada face too many disability barriers when they try to travel by air or train, or to bank, or to enjoy cable TV, or to use Federal Government services,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, a grassroots community coalition that advocates for accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. “It is essential that strong and effective national accessibility legislation is enacted and its implementation gets well underway before the 2019 federal election. We’re happy to get Parliament’s law-making process started today.”

“We will analyze the bill as fast as we can, and make public our analysis of it,” said Lepofsky. “But no matter what, this is an historic day because it starts the Parliamentary process for which we’ve advocated. We want Parliament to hold televised public hearings on this bill across Canada, to enable as many as possible to have their say.”

This is an exciting moment for the many who have campaigned for years for national accessibility legislation. As disability advocates now rush to dive into the bill’s technical wording, in order to prepare a preliminary response to the bill, they are asking important questions like these:

* Does the bill have the purpose of ensuring that Canada becomes accessible and barrier-free for people with disabilities in Canada?

* Does the bill require the Federal Government to lead our country to this goal?

* Does the bill include all disabilities of all kinds, visible and invisible, and all barriers (not just physical barriers in the built environment)?

* Does the bill require the Federal Government to create all the national accessibility standards we need, in order to specify what must be done to remove and prevent disability barriers?

* Does the bill ensure effective enforcement through an independent enforcement agency?

* Does the bill ensure that public money will never be used to create or perpetuate accessibility barriers against people with disabilities?

In the 2015 federal election, Canadians with disabilities pressed the federal parties to promise to enact a national accessibility law to tear down the many barriers that still impede people with disabilities from getting a job, using public services and enjoying all that life has to offer. They urged Canada’s Parliament to pass strong legislation to do what it can within federal power. That includes the accessibility of the services of the Federal Government, air travel, banking, telecommunications and the like.

Disability advocates also called on the Federal Government to ensure that this legislation does what it can to remove and prevent barriers in the provincial sphere. For example, when the Federal Government gives money to a province or city to build public transit, hospitals or other infrastructure, it should impose and enforce strong federal accessibility requirements to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities.

A recent widely-viewed AODA Alliance online video exposed how public money too often is used to create new barriers against people with disabilities. This video shows serious accessibility problems in new and recently renovated Toronto area public transit stations. 4 minute version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrk5jRYpmfA&feature=youtu.be 16 minute version: https://youtu.be/za1UptZq82o
30 minute version: https://youtu.be/2VZLGGfFg1g

It is encouraging that the title of this law is “An Act to Ensure a Barrier-Free Canada.” Provincial accessibility legislation was passed with all-party support in Ontario in 2005, in Manitoba in 2013 and in Nova Scotia in 2017. Legislation is needed at both the federal and provincial levels to ensure that all barriers impeding people with disabilities are removed and that new ones are never again created.

The AODA Alliance is eager for a strong national accessibility law to be passed with all-party support. In the 2015 election, the Liberals, NDP and Green Parties each promised to support national accessibility legislation. In 2006, the previous Harper Conservative Government promised to enact a national Disabilities Act, but did not bring one before Parliament.

Last fall, the Federal Government committed to introduce this bill this spring. The AODA Alliance has run a daily Twitter countdown on the days left to keep this promise. To track developments on this front, follow @aodaalliance and #AccessibleCanada

Contact: David Lepofsky, aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance @davidlepofsky Web: www.aodaalliance.org

Links to Key Background Information

To read the Federal Liberal Party’s 2015 election pledge to enact a national accessibility law, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015/federal-liberal-party-promises-to-introduce-canadians-with-disabilities-act-time-for-federal-conservatives-and-bloc-quebecois-to-make-the-same-promise/ To watch the August 22, 2017 online policy experts’ conference on what the promised national accessibility legislation should include, moderated by AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky and hosted by the Alliance for an Accessible and Inclusive Canada, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94PEEbhI4TU

To read the Federal Government’s 2017 report on its public consultation on what the promised national accessibility law should include, and the AODA Alliance’s analysis of that report, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-federal-government-releases-report-of-its-public-consultation-on-what-the-promised-canadians-with-disabilities-act-should-include-lots-of-good-content-but-some-areas-where-the-federal-re/ To get a copy of the Discussion Paper on what the promised national accessibility law should include, written by AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky, send a request to aodafeedback@gmail.com