Presentation to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs Science and Technology on Bill C-81

Speaking Notes

Marie-Claude Landry

Chief Commissioner
Canadian Human Rights Commission

Presentation to the
Senate Committee on Social Affairs Science and Technology
on Bill C-81

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Ottawa, Ontario

4:15 p.m.

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Good evening,

Thank you for inviting the Canadian Human Rights Commission to participate in your study of Bill C-81.

I bring three main messages to the Committee today.

First: Bill C-81 has the full support of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

As you know, we are Canada’ s federal human rights watchdog, and an independent agency reporting to Parliament.

Our mission is to promote and protect human rights in Canada to ensure that every person in Canada can live the life they choose, free from discrimination.

Bill C-81 has the potential to bring Canada closer to that vision.

When I appeared before the House of Commons’  Standing Committee last October, I told them:

the Commission welcomes this bill, we support it, and we want to see it go forward without delay.

We still feel that way.

We had outlined key recommendations that we believed would help make the bill even more inclusive. We are pleased that some of those recommendations have been integrated.

We are encouraged that Bill C-81 is applying a broad , human rights-based approach to accessibility. That it recognizes that a “ barrier free Canada”  is not just about our physical spaces, but is also about:

... technology,

… employment opportunities,

… and the social attitudes and stigma that prevent people with intellectual disabilities, cognitive disabilities and  physical disabilities from fully participating in  society. 

These are just some of the reasons why Bill C-81 has the full support of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and we hope for its swift passage.

My second message is this: equally urgent to the passing of this bill, will be the swift adoption of regulations to support it.

This law has been a long-time coming. Decades in the making. We join the thousands across Canada who are eager to see it come into force.

But this historic law will be meaningless without a set of clear regulations that will transform mere intentions into action.

We call on this government to move quickly to the regulatory process.  We will welcome the opportunity to lend our expertise to help ensure the application of this law is broad and far-reaching.

In the meantime, we have already begun the work.

That is my third message: that we are already preparing for implementation.

As you know, once passed, Bill C-81 will bring expanded roles and responsibilities to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. We welcome these new responsibilities, and are already taking steps to get our house in order.

We have also begun to engage with the other four members of the Council of Heads of Federal Accessibility Agencies:

the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board;

the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission;

the Canadian Transportation Agency;

and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Together, we are exploring a “ no wrong door”  approach to ensure that we are all getting it right, and making Canada barrier-free for all.

In conclusion, this bill has the full backing of the Commission. We are eager to lend our expertise to discussions about next steps, regulations, and full implementation.

Throughout it all, we trust that the voices of persons with disabilities will continue to be heard so that this historic law can reflect the diversity of the people it is meant to serve and protect.

Thank you. I look forward to your questions. 

 

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