CCD Calls on Senate to Address Significant Silences in Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

April 11, 2019 | For Immediate Release

On April 10, 2019, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national organization of people with various disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada, testified before the Senate Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee during its study of Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.  Steven Estey, CCD Government and Community Relations Officer, appeared on a panel with Kerri Joffe (ARCH) and Bill Adair (Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance).

CCD recognizes that with the Accessible Canada Act the Government of Canada will be making progress toward the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Canada ratified in 2010. Article 9 requires Canada to “take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.”  To more fully implement Article 9, a number of silences in Bill C-81 need to be remedied.

“CCD wants the Bill strengthened so that the Accessible Canada Act has the scope to truly address the diverse barriers that affect people with disabilities,” stated Pat Danforth, 1st Vice Chair of CCD.  “We want the Accessible Canada Act to articulate timelines for the achievement of accessibility, legal recognition of ASL and LSQ as the languages of Deaf people in Canada and inclusion of intersectionality and Indigenous persons with disabilities including the recognition of Indigenous Sign Languages,” explained Ms. Danforth. 

The disability community is diverse and its members experience multiple and intersecting barriers on the basis of disability or multiple disabilities, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, and/or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

“In 2017-18, through the Alliance for an Inclusive and Accessible Canada project, we consulted with people with disabilities across Canada on the content of accessibility legislation.  They called for an approach that specifically addresses multiple and intersecting barriers, such as those faced by women and girls with disabilities, Indigenous persons with disabilities and others,” stated Steven Estey, CCD Government and Community Relations Officer.

On April 3, 2019, Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough told the Senate Social Affairs Committee she wants Bill C-81 to be "the best it can possibly be" and that she is open to amendments.  The Minister and the Senate have the Open Letter, endorsed by 95 organizations, calling for 9 amendments to improve Bill C-81 and the recommendations of the Federal Accessible Legislation Alliance.  These documents provide the formula for achieving the goal set out by Minister Qualtrough.


For More Information Contact:
Pat Danforth, CCD 1st Vice Chair – Tel.: 250 383-4443, Cell: 250 896-8545, Email:
Steven Estey, Government and Community Relations Officer – Email:
April D’Aubin, Research Analyst – Tel.: 204-947-0303, Email: