May 31st, 2019
NDP Statement on the Adoption of the Government Accessibility Act
Cheryl Hardcastle, NDP Critic for Persons Living with Disabilities, issued the following statement:
“New Democrats welcome the adoption of Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada. However, there is still much work to do to make Canada barrier-free for people living with disability.
We have worked with leading disability advocacy organizations to identify and address the many shortcomings that still exist in this Act. The Bill lacks implementation timelines, for instance. In addition, C-81 confusingly splinters enforcement and implementation over four different public agencies, rather than providing people with disabilities with the simple one-stop-shopping they need.
With this Bill, agencies such as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) would be allowed to craft accessibility plans without quality or timeline criteria. Provisions were also written in such a way as to allow the bill to supersede obligations under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Amendments made to the bill by the Senate fail to address the lack of implementation timelines for the CRTC or CTA or even the Government of Canada, should bring in their own accessibility plans. The process is entirely open-ended, and C-81 fails to apply any serious pressure that would force regulated bodies to bring in and implement accessibility plans in a timely fashion.
An NDP government in 2020 will table legislation designed to specifically address these shortcomings. Only New Democrats can be trusted to fully realize a Canada that is barrier-free for people living with disabilities.”