Summary Note: Bill C-81 Parliamentary Study - Tuesday October 2, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

As you are aware Parliament is presently holding hearings on Bill C-81 (The Accessible Canada Act).  The CNIB has undertaken to provide brief daily summaries of these hearings, and they have generously agreed to allow CCD to have them translated for circulation across the country, in both English and French.  Therefore, please find attached the CNIB summary for the hearing on October 2, 2018.  We will continue to translate and share these summaries as quickly as we are able.  Meantime thanks to the CNIB for this collaboration! 

Steven Estey
Government & Community Relations Manager
Council of Canadians with Disabilities
343 Preston Street, 11th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1S 1N4

Summary Note: Bill C-81 Parliamentary Study - Tuesday October 2, 2018

Please find a summary of the Parliamentary Committee study on Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. Thank you for Alice Clark, Specialist, Government Relations and Advocacy, for monitoring and reporting on this meeting.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and Status of Person with Disabilities (HUMA) Committee Meeting October 2, 2018

Time: 8:45am – 10:45am

Minister Carla Qualtrough appeared before the HUMA committee to kick off the study of Bill C-81. She used the accessibility of ATMs as an example of where Bill C-81 could take the burden off the disability community. Currently, if an ATM isn't accessible a human rights complaint would need to be filed and would only apply to the one ATM in question. Under Bill C-81, it would fall to the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) to create new standards that would apply to all federally regulated banks.

Minister Qualtrough also spoke about exemptions that will be done on a case by case basis and will be published publicly in the Canada Gazette. A "no wrong door" approach will be taken to ensure collaboration across sectors. Minister Qualtrough noted that the Bill proposes a strong framework that will allow for technical standards moving forward – she said it is not very helpful, to have a very prescriptive law, as thinking and expectations evolve.

When asked about timelines, Minister Qualtrough said it is difficult to predict how long it will take to establish full accessibility, and setting a future timeline allows people to sit back and wait because they have the time. She said, for example, in the Criminal Code, Canada doesn’t prescribe a date for a crime-free Canada.

A number of Conservative MPs asked for a cost analysis. Minister Qualtrough said we only know the cost of not doing anything, and she suggested that we should not set a threshold beyond which this would cost too much. Fines for public sector agencies who do not comply with regulations will go towards general revenue. Alex Nuttall, Conservative MP Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, asked if money could go into opportunities fund, or something that will help to further reduce barriers. Cheryl Hardcastle, NPD MP Windsor-Tecumseh, noted that nothing is required or mandatory in the bill. She wants to see some requirements made in the Bill to set clear timelines within the standards.

Future summaries will be sent after the completion of ongoing committee study meetings. Please feel free to share with your connections.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or Alice Clark.

Thomas Simpson
Head, Public Affairs
1355 Bank St, Ottawa ON, K1H 8K7