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Employers need to keep pace with important legislation that affects the way they do business. Ontario was the first province to enact specific legislation establishing a goal and timeframe for accessibility improvements. Since then, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia have passed robust accessibility legislation, as has the Government of Canada. British Columbia is also developing legislation on accessibility. Each jurisdiction has developed their own implementation timelines, and reporting requirements.

What is the Accessible Canada Act?

An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada (the Accessible Canada Act, or ACA) came into force on July 11, 2019. Standards to accompany the Act are under development. The Accessible Canada Act recognizes the existing human rights framework that supports equality for people with disabilities in Canada. This includes:

  • the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,
  • the Canadian Human Rights Act, and
  • Canada’s commitments as a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Accessible Canada Act builds on these frameworks through an emphasis on identifying, removing, and preventing barriers to accessibility. The Act applies to organizations under federal responsibility, including but not limited to:

  • the Government of Canada, including government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations,
  • parts of the private sector that the Government of Canada regulates, such as:
    • Nuclear energy 
    • banks
  • the federal transportation network, including:
    • airlines
    • rail, road, and marine transportation providers that cross provincial or international borders
    • the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors
    • the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Act requires organizations to prepare and publish accessibility policies and plans, set up feedback mechanisms, and report on progress towards accessibility.



What are the accessibility standards that are in place?

Accessibility standards are laws that government, businesses, non-profits and public sector organizations must follow to become more accessible. The Ontario Government has identified five areas of daily life and has established accessibility standards to help organizations identify and remove barriers within them. Click on each area below to learn more:

  1. Employment Standard*
  2. Customer Service Standard
  3. Information and Communications Standard
  4. Design of Public Spaces Standard
  5. Transportation Standard

*The focus of EHRC’s Disability to Inclusion project and of this toolkit is on the Employment Standard. Further information and resources on creating accessible workplaces and policy can be found below.

Many EHRC stakeholders, members and partners are based in Ontario and Alberta. Alberta has yet to develop accessibility legislation, but the accessibility standards and legislation in Ontario are well established. General requirements of existing standards in Ontario and elsewhere are outlined below.

Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) Guidelines

AODA standards are part of the IASR which includes, in addition to requirements specific to each standard, the following general requirements:

  • provide training to staff and volunteers
  • develop an accessibility policy
  • create a multi-year accessibility plan and update it every five years
  • consider accessibility in procurement and when designing or purchasing self-service kiosks

The guidelines for the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation will be undergoing a review. The standards you need to follow and reporting deadlines you need to meet still apply.

How do I Complete my Accessibility Compliance Report in Ontario?

Step-by-step guidance on completing an accessibility compliance report for your business, not-for-profit or public-sector organization.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia do not currently require organizations to report on their accessibility compliance. Organizations must complete accessibility plans, and must describe their progress in identifying, removing, and preventing accessibility barriers.

Federally, under the ACA, organizations must complete reports showing their progress towards identifying and removing accessibility barriers. 

Additional Resources

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