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What’s happening? On December 13, 2021, the federal government finally published the Accessible Canada Regulations (the “Regulations“) under the Accessible Canada Act (the “ACA”). The objective of the ACA is to make Canada’s federally regulated employers barrier-free by 2040 in a number of areas, including employment. The Regulations outline the framework for implementing the ACA, providing details on accessibility plans, progress reports, and feedback processes.
Effective Date. The Regulations came into effect immediately on December 13, 2021.
What does it say? Key highlights of the Regulations include:
- Accessibility Plans: The ACA requires federally regulated employers to prepare, publish and regularly update an accessibility plan based on consultation with persons with disabilities. The Regulations outline the format for accessibility plans (i.e., required headings and use of simple, clear, and concise language) and how plans are to be published and made available to those who request it. The first accessibility plans must be published by:
- June 1, 2023 by large employers with 100 or more employees; and
- June 1, 2024 by small employers with 10 to 99 employees.
- Feedback Process and Progress Reports: Employers must implement both a feedback process and progress reports. Like the accessibility plans, the Regulations outline requirements for the feedback process and progress reports, including how to format, communicate, and publish both. Of significance, progress reports must be prepared and published within the first and second anniversaries of publishing the accessibility plan.
- Retention of Records: The Regulations outline a seven-year document retention period for accessibility plans, descriptions of feedback processes, and progress reports.
- Administrative Monetary Penalties: The Regulations establish a framework for administrative monetary penalties for potential violations, which varies based on the severity of the violation.
What should we do? Federally-regulated employers should review the Regulations and begin to take steps to draft initial accessibility plans, especially employers with more than 100 employees, who are required to publish a plan by June 1, 2023. The federal government has published Guidance on accessibility plans, including an optional accessibility plan template, to help employers comply with the ACA’s requirements.
Why should we care? The need to identify and prevent barriers to accessibility continues to grow. The Regulations establish a necessary framework for implementing the ACA and achieving the federal 2 government’s goal of making Canada barrier-free. Some provinces, like Ontario, established accessibility legislation over a decade ago with the goal of becoming more accessible by 2025. Other provinces and territories may be prompted by the federal government’s initiative and use this as an opportunity to develop similar legislation. Employers should continue to monitor updates in their jurisdiction.
The information contained in this document is summary in nature and is intended to provide general guidance only. It should not be viewed as a replacement for legal or professional advice. While every effort is made to provide current information, the law changes regularly and laws may vary depending on the province or territory. You should review applicable law in your jurisdiction and consult experienced counsel for legal advice.
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