Canada Eyeing Nationwide Accessibility Legislation

by: David Titmus

Canada is expected to forge ahead this year on long-sought legislation designed to increase accessibility nationwide.

The Canadian federal government is expected to introduce a bill before the House of Commons this spring that would remove barriers in federally regulated sectors such as banking, transportation, telecommunications, and government-run services.

Though specifics on the bill have not been released, officials say they intend to focus on the issues disabled Canadians identified as priorities — such as improved access to government programs and services — during eight months of consultations held with Canadians across the country.

Birds flying in front of the Canadian FlagThose taking part in the review wanted to see laws that would help lower unemployment rates for people with disabilities, reduce the number of non-accessible buildings for those with physical and intellectual disabilities, and remove accessibility barriers for Canada’s air, rail, ferry, and bus transportation systems.

The federal legislation would mark the first time Canada has moved to tackle accessibility at the national level. The provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia have laws in place to address the needs of disabled residents. Other provincial governments have yet to address access issues.

Canada already is a leader in accessible television with legislation mandating that all English- and French-language TV programs, commercials, messages, and promos are broadcast with captions.