Senate Committee Corrects Some Weaknesses in Bill C-81

May 4, 2019 | For Immediate Release

With the Accessible Canada Act, Bill C-81, the federal government introduced measures that will help bring Canada into compliance with the commitments that it made when it ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2010.  While the federal government made a good start with C-81, the community of persons with disabilities identified a number of weaknesses and proposed corrective action.  “The disability community has been steadfast in its commitment to the principle of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ at every step of the way for Bill C-81 and we are pleased with Senate's proposed amendments,” stated Jewelles Smith, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national organization of persons with disabilities working for an inclusive and accessible Canada.

In October 2018 an open letter, signed by over 95 disability organizations across the country, calling for 9 key reforms needed to strengthen Bill-81 was sent to Minister Qualtrough and the House of Commons HUMA Committee and Ms. Smith summarized these reforms in her testimony before the HUMA Committee. The 9 recommendations were also shared with the Senate’s SOCI Committee.

“These proposed reforms did not get much traction with the HUMA Committee. So we were very pleased on May 2nd to see the SOCI Committee’s much more accommodating response to our calls for reform,” stated Steven Estey, CCD Government and Community Relations Officer, who testified before both the HUMA Committee and the Senate SOCI Committee.

“For example, in CCD’s testimony before the Senate last month we stressed the importance of timelines. The Senate included a new timeline calling for Canada to be accessible 'on or before January 1, 2040,' stated Mr. Estey.

Mr. Estey also notes that “... in our testimony we supported Deaf Canadians’ call for ASL/LSQ to be recognized as the languages of Deaf people in Canada and again the Social Affairs Committee responded positively with an amendment.”

“There was also an amendment on intersectionality, to take into account multiple and intersecting forms of disability and discrimination, as I recommended to the HUMA Committee, when I testified before it in the fall, stated CCD Chairperson Jewelles Smith.  

“Finally, we are pleased to note that the Committee also amended Section 172 (2) of the Transportation Act to address concerns identified by the AODA Alliance and the ARCH Disability Law Centre.”

“Overall, CCD is pleased by the way that the Social Affairs Committee has responded to concerns with Bill C-81 that have been highlighted by Canada’s disability community; we believe the amendments strengthen the Bill,” stated Ms. Smith.

CCD calls on the Government to accept the SOCI Committee’s amendments and to incorporate them into Bill C-81.


For More Information Contact:

Jewelles Smith, CCD Chairperson – Email:
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:

About the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD):

Founded in 1976, CCD works for an inclusive and accessible Canada and its mission and mandate is as follows:

Mission: The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is a social justice organization of people with all disabilities that champions the voices of people with disabilities, advocating an inclusive and accessible Canada, where people with disabilities have full realization of their human rights, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mandate: The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) unites advocacy organizations of people with disabilities to defend and extend human rights for persons with disabilities through public education, advocacy, intervention in litigation, research, consultation and partnerships.  CCD amplifies the expertise of our partners by acting as a convening body and consensus builder.