Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) and Enhancement to the Opportunities Fund Offers Significant Progress for Persons with an Intellectual Disability and Their Families
TORONTO, ON - The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) is greatly encouraged by the introduction of the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81). The Bill has many promising components, and CACL looks forward to participating in the legislative review to ensure strong and effective legislation that makes real progress in building an inclusive and accessible Canada for all persons, including people with an intellectual disability and their families.
Joy Bacon, President of CACL, said, "Canadians with an intellectual disability continue to face systemic barriers in their day-to-day lives. The requirements of this legislation mark considerable progress in making Canada an inclusive society."
Although traditional bricks and mortar accessibility initiatives are vitally important for persons with an intellectual disability, the proposed legislation includes and goes beyond conventional approaches to accessibility. By providing approximately $290 million over the next six years, Bill C-81 requires organizations under federal jurisdiction to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, including in employment, information and communication technology, the procurement of goods, transportation, and the delivery of programs and services.
Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) requires state parties to ensure that persons with disabilities live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life. CACL commends Canada's efforts to make its international commitments under UNCRPD a reality.
"The introduction of Bill C-81 has the potential to enable Canadians with an intellectual disability to have equal opportunities to access employment, transportation, information and communication technology, and more," said Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of CACL. "CACL looks forward to continued work with the Government of Canada in ensuring the voice and needs of people with an intellectual disability are included in the legislation."
In addition to the introduction of the legislation, CACL welcomes the creation of the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO), Canada's first standards development organization exclusively focused on accessibility and led by persons with disabilities. An Accessibility Commissioner will provide the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, with information, advice, and written reports on the administration and enforcement of the Act and will provide an annual report for tabling in the House of Commons. CACL looks forward to facilitating and supporting capacity of persons with an intellectual disability to access, fully participate and bring the voice of persons with an intellectual disability and their families to CASDO and its new Commissioner.
Lastly, CACL is pleased to learn that alongside the introduction of the Accessible Canada Act, the Government of Canada is expanding funding to the existing Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF). This new funding will invest approximately $18 million over six years to better support employers who have demonstrated a commitment to hiring persons with disabilities.
CACL's national Ready, Willing & Able employment program has benefited from the Opportunities Fund in the past and is pleased there will be a more significant investment in the program with explicitly supporting two areas; matching services that connect employers with persons with disabilities, and helping businesses develop effective recruitment and retention strategies. This strategic investment will continue to break the link that exists between persons with an intellectual disability and systemic poverty.
Once the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) passes CACL looks forward to working with the Government of Canada to make sure that accessibility needs of persons with an intellectual disability are at the forefront and exceed our highest standards.
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Media Contact: Agata Zieba, Senior Communications Officer, CACL, firstname.lastname@example.org.