September 19th, 2018

Accessibility Act Needs Substantial Amendments

OTTAWA — With the second reading of the government’s Accessibility Act on Wednesday, New Democrats are renewing their commitment to working with the Liberals to finally pass the comprehensive accessibility legislation that people living with disabilities deserve.

“As it stands, the Liberals’ legislation does not meet the needs of the disability community in Canada. The NDP is working with the community on amendments to improve the Act,” said Cheryl Hardcastle, NDP Critic for Persons with Disabilities. “It’s very confusing – the bill separates enforcement and implementation over four public agencies instead of creating a one-stop-shop. The legislation itself isn’t accessible, which undermines the very purpose of the Act.”

Much to the disappointment of stakeholder groups, the Act lacks mandatory timelines for implementation. Without timelines, the implementation process, including its start-up process, could drag on for years. There are so many holes in this act. For example, it allows – but doesn’t require – the government to adopt accessibility standards. It allows services as important as Via Rail to seek exemptions from accessibility requirements.

“People living with disabilities have waited long enough for a comprehensive accessibility legislation to be implemented in this country that helps make their lives better,” added Brigitte Sansoucy, NDP Critic for Families, Children and Social Development. “That’s why the NDP is working, and will continue to work, towards an improved act that will better serve the disability community.”