September 16, 2017
Ontario (2005) and Manitoba (2013) were the first two provinces in Canada to establish legislation to remove barriers that prevent some people from participating fully in the community. Other provinces have been and are following suit, and are in the process of developing their own provincial accessibility legislation.
Veranova has offices in the provinces of Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia which do not have specific legislation of a substantial similar nature as Ontario and Manitoba that encompasses this area, at this time. For those provinces that do not have specific and systemic legislation regarding protection against disability discrimination and providing access and accommodation for individuals, coverage to individuals in the province has historically been governed by various federal and provincial human rights legislation, statutes and/or codes, in Canada and the provinces. This has been a long standing legal standard and process in this country.
Ontario has laws to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA), is a law passed by the Ontario legislature that allows the government to develop specific standards of accessibility and to enforce them.
The Toronto office has completed the mandatory and specific training requirements and is AODA compliant.
The Alberta Human Rights Act recognizes that all people are equal in dignity, rights and responsibilities, regardless of race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation.
Accommodation means making changes to certain rules, standards, policies, workplace cultures and physical environments to ensure that they don’t have a negative effect on a person because of the person’s mental or physical disability, religion, gender or any other protected ground.
Although the Quebec government does not, at this time, have a specific legislative framework available in some of the other provinces, inaccessibility, disability and accessibility is addressed by Statues and Codes such as the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
Another example is the RBQ (Régie du bâtiment du Québec) which is responsible, from the perspective of access to public buildings with disabilities, for applying barrier-free design standards. It takes action under Quebec’s Construction Code.
Nova Scotians are protected by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disability in the provision of or access to services or facilities. Recently the government of Nova Scotia introduced proposed Accessibility Legislation which is going through the steps it takes for a bill to become a law. On November 2nd, 2016, Bill 59 (Accessibility Act) was introduced in the Legislature. Bill 59 (Accessibility Act) passed third reading in the Nova Scotia Legislature on Thursday, April 27, 2017 and received Royal Assent on April 28th, 2017.
The legislation is about access and fairness and the recommendations encourage accessibility as a means of ensuring that all Nova Scotians have the ability to participate fully in their communities.