Accessibility is a human right

June 21, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Following the announcement by the Government of Canada of new federal accessibility legislation, Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues this statement:

“Yesterday’s announcement is a historic moment for the rights of persons with disabilities, and for all of Canada. 

“The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) welcomes this new bill as a critical step that not only provides a new human rights framework for accessibility, but enables Canada to better meet its human rights obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). 

“We applaud the government for taking an inclusive approach to the development of this Bill, including consultations with persons with disabilities and the organizations that represent them. 

“The CHRC was pleased to participate in the consultations on this new law, where we stressed the importance of ensuring this legislation was strong and enforceable. We also highlighted the need for oversight and monitoring against both domestic law and international obligations.

“The CHRC welcomes its proposed new roles under this legislation. We will ensure that we continue to listen to and work with persons with disabilities as we prepare to undertake these important new responsibilities. 

“Every person has the right equal with others to make for themselves the life they envision. But right now in Canada, we know that not everyone is free to do so without barriers. Across Canada, across jurisdictions, the majority of discrimination complaints brought to human rights commissions are from persons with disabilities. Close to half of those complaints are about a lack of accessibility. These barriers exist in many forms, in many places. They’re in our policies, workplaces, in our buildings and public spaces, in our public and private transportation, in our media and our broadcasting, in our banks, in our schools, even in our attitudes - the very way people with disabilities are treated when seeking services or information. Accessibility is a human right that must be vigilantly protected. Accessibility legislation must work to remove barriers for all, including women, Indigenous persons, racialized persons, older persons, and 2SLGBTQI folks with disabilities. 

“We look forward to analyzing the Bill further as it proceeds through Parliament, and providing our comments as it is considered at Committees. We hope that persons with disabilities and their representative organizations will continue to engage at all stages of the legislative process, so that this legislative journey will continue to be a powerful illustration of the guiding principle of the UNCRPD, ‘nothing about us without us.’ 

“As we continue to work together, it is our hope that this legislation will provide a strong foundation to help ensure that every person in Canada can participate in society, barrier-free. It is a vital part of ensuring equality in our nation.

“We invite this government and all Canadians to help make accessibility and full inclusion for every person in our society, a reality. Let that be our ultimate aspiration and goal.”

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