About accessibility

The Accessible Canada Act is a federal law that aims to find, remove and prevent barriers facing people with disabilities. The Act applies to the federal government and to organizations regulated by the federal government.

Human rights protections

There are over six million people with disabilities in Canada. Many laws protect their right to equality. For example:

These laws make it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their disability. Discrimination is when a person or an organization treats someone badly because they belong to a certain group or groups. Discrimination against people with disabilities is called ableism.

People can face different types of discrimination that combine and overlap. This is called intersectionality. For example, a black woman who uses a wheelchair might face ableism, racism and sexism at the same time.

Equality does not mean treating everyone the same way. Sometimes we need to treat people differently to give them equal access to opportunities. Human rights laws require organizations to adapt their policies and practices to meet people’s unique needs. This is called the duty to accommodate.

Human rights complaints

People with disabilities who face discrimination can file human rights complaints. The Canadian Human Rights Commission deals with complaints about discrimination by the federal government and federally regulated organizations.

The Commission receives more complaints about disability discrimination than any other type of discrimination. In 2020, more than half of the complaints the Commission accepted were about disability discrimination.

Accessible Canada Act

People with disabilities still face many barriers that limit their full and equal participation in society. For example, people with disabilities are less likely to have jobs. They are also more likely to live in poverty.

The federal government adopted the Accessible Canada Act in 2019 to remove and prevent these barriers. The goal of the Act is to create a Canada without barriers by 2040. The Act applies to the federal government and organizations regulated by the federal government.

The Act takes a new approach to accessibility. Instead of waiting for people with disabilities to ask for barriers to be removed, organizations must start finding, removing and preventing barriers now. Organizations must:

  • Consult people with disabilities;
  • Publish accessibility plans about how they are finding, removing and preventing barriers;
  • Set up ways to receive and respond to feedback about accessibility;
  • Publish progress reports about how they are following their accessibility plans.

Find out more about how the Act will remove barriers.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

Canada has agreed to follow the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention is an international agreement that promotes and protects the rights of people with disabilities. The Convention covers many rights, including the right to access things like physical spaces, transportation, information and communications. The Convention says countries must take steps to remove barriers to accessibility. Countries must also create and enforce accessibility standards.

The Act will help Canada follow the Convention by removing barriers and improving accessibility.

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