Canadian Disability Act Communication and Information Round Table Discussion

Moncton Roundtable on Accessibility Legislation

Mandate letter for Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
Survey for Consulting with Canadians on federal disability legislation
Feedback by David Best
Response from Minister Carla Qualtrough
Bringing Canadians With Disabilities Into the Mainstream of Canadian Society, January 2017, By John Rae
Accessible Canada submission - Blinding Grinding Poverty In 2016, By Chris Stark
Honourable Carla Qualtrough, released a report on May 29 entitled, "Creating new national accessibility legislation: What we learned from Canadians".

CDA Round Table Feedback

As a follow up to the Information and Communications round table discussion, that took place in Moncton New Brunswick on Friday October 21, I would like to offer my conclusion for next steps in the Canadians with Disability Act development process. The round table participants openly shared important information about their life experiences and the digital communication challenges that a Canadian with Disabilities Act must address. Once the consultation process is complete, the following next steps need to be considered. My only disappointment was that as I was flying out of Niagara Falls to Moncton Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was flying into Niagara Falls for the Liberal convention, and that Minister Carla Qualtrough did not attend the round table session but possibly the Liberal convention was higher priority. I appreciate the opportunity in having a voice at the table, and can only hope that someone is listening. I congratulate the federal government in taking a bold step with initiating a consultation for developing a Canadians with Disabilities Act.

Round Table Follow Up Steps

Step One - Establish an Advisory Council based on a framework of trust and credibility

This historical and major undertaking will take a great deal of time and expertise, but must consider past experiences without repeating the past mistakes. The Advisory Council must provide senior government decision makers with current and accurate information that correctly reflects disability challenges in Canadian society, and must possess the influential power to have impact for real change.

Step One Recommendations

Step Two - Implement the legislation based on a framework of accountability and responsibility

The purpose of legislation is to raise the social standards in expectations and behaviours, to achieve greater safety, health, and economic prosperity for all Canadians. The Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA) will improve the quality of life for all Canadians by raising the social standards for inclusion expectations. The intent of the CDA is to protect the rights of disabled Canadians, but if constructed with a focus on Canadian values and Ministry responsibilities, then the benefits will extend to all Canadians. That is, the CDA must be developed in line with a supporting framework of Ministry accountability. The measure of CDA success will depend upon the strategic processes of integrating accessibility solutions and disability collaboration into all government Ministries. As we transition into the digital age, accessibility standards will establish a new level of societal expectations for inclusion, and the government information technology infrastructure must support the CDA demands.

Step Two Recommendations

Step Three - Create enforcement processes and procedures based on a framework of partnership collaboration

Enforcement can be handled through voluntary or legal processes. As seen from the U.S. and Ontario disability legislative inclusion experience, people for the most part want to do the right thing but need guidance. The U.S. structured negotiation settlement process has revealed that organizations are very willing to comply and that lawsuits are not necessary. the U.S. federal government Department Of Justice (DOJ) recognizes that access to information and electronic technologies is a civil right and a vital employment issue for individuals with disabilities. As of May 2016, DOJ has entered into 167 information communication technology (ICT) accessibility settlement agreements, and has provided rules and guidance for proactive ADA compliance. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of Ontario private organizations fail the AODA compliance requirements and have not filed their disability strategy report. Despite this knowledge, the Ontario government has reduced the number of annual organization audits. Since AODA began applying to the public sector in 2010, we have seen about a half dozen disability complaint cases involving both public and private organizations. In all cases the penalty has been minimal or dismissed. The Ministry of Economic Development and Growth is responsible for enforcing the AODA regime, as define by the statutory framework for Director's orders and administrative penalties set out in the AODA. However, individuals must take their complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), but the HRTO has no power to enforce the AODA. Thus, only those Ontario organizations that are audited may be held accountable, and there is no formal AODA individual complaint process.

Step 3 Recommendations