Who will oversee the Act

The Accessible Canada Act is a federal law that aims to find, remove and prevent barriers facing people with disabilities. A barrier is anything that prevents people with disabilities from fully and equally participating in society. The goal of the Act is to create a Canada without barriers. Many people and organizations are working together to achieve the goals of the Accessible Canada Act. They all have different roles and responsibilities.

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, is responsible for the Act. She can give advice, support research and create policies and programs about accessibility. She can get information and advice from the Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner. She can also ask the Chief Accessibility Officer for reports about new or systemic accessibility issues. The Minister must try to work with provincial and territorial governments on accessibility issues.

The Minister receives the annual reports of the Accessibility Commissioner, the Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Standards Canada. She presents these reports to Parliament. The Minister orders an independent review of the Act every ten years and presents the reviews to Parliament.

Accessibility Commissioner

The Accessibility Commissioner is a new role created by the Act. The Commissioner has not been chosen yet. They will be a member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The Accessibility Commissioner will be responsible for checking if organizations are following the Act and the Accessible Canada Regulations. These regulations are not in force yet.

The Commissioner will oversee many organizations’ accessibility plans, feedback processes and progress reports. The Commissioner will have different tools to make organizations follow the Act and the Accessible Canada Regulations. They will be able to assign (delegate) some of their powers to other people.

In the future, the Commissioner will be able to receive and investigate complaints from people who have been harmed because organizations did not follow the Accessible Canada Regulations. The Commissioner will be able to order organizations to follow the Act and the Regulations and pay (compensate) people for the harm they have suffered.

Exception: The Accessibility Commissioner will not handle complaints from some federal public service employees, RCMP members and employees of Parliament.

The Accessibility Commissioner’s complaints system is not available yet. For now, people with disabilities can continue to file complaints with:

The Accessibility Commissioner can also give information and advice about the Act to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. Each year the Commissioner must send a report about their activities to the Minister. The reports must include information about the inspections they did, the orders they made and the complaints they received. They can also mention new or systemic accessibility issues.

Canadian Transportation Agency

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is an independent agency that regulates and handles disputes about Canada’s national transportation system. This includes travel between provinces or outside of Canada by plane, train, bus or boat. The CTA’s powers are found in the Canada Transportation Act.

The CTA has been handling complaints about accessibility in transportation for many years and will continue doing this. In 2019, the CTA adopted new regulations about accessible transportation. The Accessible Canada Act gave the CTA more powers and responsibilities around accessibility. For example, the CTA will oversee accessibility plans, feedback processes and progress reports of transportation organizations. The CTA is making regulations that will tell organizations how and when to prepare these documents. The CTA will check if organizations are following these regulations. The CTA’s regulations are not in force yet.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is an independent public agency that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada. Broadcasting includes television and radio programming and services. Telecommunications includes phone and internet services. The CRTC’s powers are found in the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act.

The CRTC has been handling complaints about accessibility in broadcasting and telecommunications for many years and will continue doing this. The Accessible Canada Act also gave the CRTC new responsibilities. For example, the CRTC will oversee accessibility plans, feedback processes and progress reports of broadcasting and telecommunications organizations. The CRTC has made regulations that tell organizations how and when to publish these documents. The CRTC will check if organizations are following these regulations. The CRTC’s regulations are in force now.

Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board

The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board is an independent agency that oversees collective bargaining and grievances in the federal public service and in Parliament. It also handles complaints about internal appointments and layoffs in the federal public service. This Board will handle complaints about accessibility for most federal public servants and parliamentary employees through the grievance and staffing complaint processes. The Board will also deal with appeals of some of the Accessibility Commissioner’s decisions and orders related to parliamentary organizations.

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal will handle appeals from some of the Accessibility Commissioner’s decisions about complaints. This Tribunal is a specialized court that also deals with discrimination complaints under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Chief Accessibility Officer

The Chief Accessibility Officer is a new role created by the Act. The Officer has not been chosen yet. This person will give information and advice to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. This may include advice and reports about new or systemic accessibility issues. The Officer must send a report to the Minister every year on the outcomes of the Act in the last year and on new or systemic accessibility issues. The Minister presents those reports to Parliament.

Accessibility Standards Canada

Accessibility Standards Canada (ASC) is a new organization created by the Act. The majority of the people on its board of directors have disabilities. This organization is responsible for making and reviewing accessibility standards in different areas. The standards will help guide the way organizations remove and prevent barriers. Accessibility Standards Canada can recommend to the government that the standards be made into regulations. Organizations do not have to follow accessibility standards unless the government makes them into regulations.

Accessibility Standards Canada can offer information and services related to accessibility standards. It can do and fund research about accessibility and share best practices. The Minister can give the organization general directions. The organization must send a report about its activities to the Minister every year. The Minister presents these reports to Parliament.

Council of Federal Accessibility Agencies

Some of the organizations overseeing the Act have come together to form the Council of Federal Accessibility Agencies. They are collaborating to make sure the Act is carried out smoothly. They are cooperating in areas where their roles overlap. The Council is made up of:

  • the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC)
  • the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT)
  • the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
  • the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA)
  • the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB)

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