Lawyers say accessibility legislation needs timelines

January 8, 2019
Article Source
Law Times

The federal government's accessibility legislation has gone to the Senate after seeing several amendments in the House of Commons, but lawyers who work with those who have disabilities say that more amendments are still needed to the bill -- particularly when it comes to timelines and the complexity of the complaints process.
Bill C-81, The Accessible Canada Act, aims to set accessibility standards in federally regulated areas, which include private and Crown corporations involved in the transportation industry, banking, and telecommunications. It will create an accessibility commissioner who will work out of the Canadian Human Rights Commission; it will also create the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, which will create the standards that federally regulated bodies will need to adhere to, in consultation with provincial and territorial counterparts.
Brendon Pooran of Pooran Law PC in Toronto, says that the federal bill doesn't include any specific timelines on when the government will achieve full accessibility for people with disabilities, as compared to Ontario legislation, which states that accessibility standards must be developed, implemented and enforced before Jan. 1, 2025.
"There are no deadlines that speak to when regulations need to be implemented," says Pooran. "Including some piece around specific deadlines for achieving full accessibility would be an improvement."
Robert Lattanzio, a lawyer and the executive director of the ARCH Disability Law Centre in Toronto, says that timelines should include benchmarks on when certain aspects of the bill will be completed.
"When will the first regulations be enacted? When will there be a review?" asks Lattanzio. "All those pieces remain up in the air."
Lattanzio says that experience with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act-- which became law in 2005 -- shows that having timelines has been an important tool for the disability communities to push and advocate for change.

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